If you have just eight days to spend in Peru, this action-packed itinerary is an ideal choice. The trip starts in Lima, where you'll have a day to sightsee before continuing onward to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Visit pre-Inca ruins, sacred temples, picturesque terraces, and the magnificent "salt ponds" of Maras before catching the train for a scenic ride to Aguas Calientes. You'll rise early to explore Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then spend the last day of the trip hiking to the shimmering blue lakes and lagoons of Ausangate, going for a dip in natural hot springs before returning to Cusco for one last night on the town.

Highlights

  • Spend a full day exploring the magical city of Cusco
  • Discover magnificent Inca and pre-Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley
  • Explore Machu Picchu on a private tour
  • Go on a guided hike accompanied by llamas
  • Trek to the lakes and lagoons of Ausangate
  • Soak in natural hot springs after a day of hiking

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented Lima
Day 2 Travel to Cusco  Cusco
Day 3 Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Cusco
Day 4 Discover the Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Cusco
Day 5 Enjoy a Llama Trek  Aguas Calientes
Day 6 Visit Machu Picchu Cusco
Day 7 See the Seven Lakes & Hot Springs of Ausangate Cusco
Day 8 Depart Lima - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented

High cliffs over the ocean in Miraflores, Lima

Welcome to Lima, Peru! The country's largest city is home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous settlement, conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian — especially Chinese and Japanese — influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean makes it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of many award-winning restaurants. Or take in views over the ocean in the clifftop neighborhood of Miraflores

Day 2: Travel to Cusco 

Private Transfer Cusco Airport (CUZ) - Cusco
 Cusco, Peru

Head back to Lima's airport this morning for your flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries. Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a walk through the plaza — if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation. 

Visit the Coricancha, also known as "The Temple of the Sun." The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards, it became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. See the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the central Plaza de Armas and a repository for Cusco's colonial art. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654. Walk to Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. Or explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.

Day 3: Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero 

Ruins of Pisac
Terraces in the Sacred Valley
This morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. In this area, you'll explore ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Next, go down to the town of Pisac, located at the bottom of the valley. This town is famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.

Next, you'll stop for lunch, enjoying traditional Andean cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. Then head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained their original Inca urban planning. Walk through the streets with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From the top, you’ll be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported from, especially considering the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. Finish the day's tour in Chinchero, exploring more ruins before making your way back to Cusco for the evening.

Day 4: Discover the Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines

Maras Salt Flats
The salt flats of Maras
This morning, you'll sightsee in the Sacred Valley. On arrival in Moray, you'll see three famous amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These bowl-shaped terraces are carved deep into the earth. It is believed that the Incas once used these terraces as agricultural laboratories to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. When you are done exploring Moray, continue onward to the salt mines of Maras. This village is known as a former salt-producing center and is thought to date back to pre-Incan times. There are over 3,000 salt pools carved into the mountainside, filled daily by a stream of water. Return to Cusco to relax or continue exploring.

Day 5: Enjoy a Llama Trek 

Peruvians posing with llamas
Start the day early, setting off on a scenic drive to Umasbamba in Chinchero, where you'll go on a walk with llamas and local guides along a light blue shimmering lagoon surrounded by Andean landscapes. Arriving in a village, you'll learn about the techniques and traditions of Inca weaving, including the use of natural plant dyes. Afterward, continue to Ollantaytambo to have lunch and catch a train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. You'll have dinner in town before venturing to the site on day six.

Day 6: Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in the early morning
From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people; during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. 
 
Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel.  After the tour,  you will have time to explore Machu Picchu on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and have a late lunch or drinks in the picturesque town center. Then ride the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 7: See the Seven Lakes & Hot Springs of Ausangate

Groupal Ausangate  Seven Lakes tour & Hot Springs
One of the seven lakes of Ausangate
Today you'll experience the best of Ausangate! Rise early for the drive to Pacchanta at an elevation of 14,108 feet (4,300 m), passing by quaint villages and mountain scenery on the trip. After breakfast, you will start hiking towards a series of lakes and lagoons, including Azulcocha, Otorongococha, Pucacocha, Alqacocha, and Q’omercocha. Each lake has a stunning view of surrounding mountains. Soaring ice-tipped peaks, native Quechua people, native flowers, and songbirds will complement your hike through highlands, spotting llamas and alpacas along the way. At the end of the hike, you will soak in the hot springs to relax the muscles. You'll head back to Cusco in the evening and enjoy one last Peruvian-style dinner before the trip ends on day eight.

Day 8: Depart Peru - End of Trip

Cusco's Plaza de Armas after dark

Today the trip comes to an end. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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