Experience the beautiful landscapes, culture, and history of Peru during this 15-day journey. Explore Lima, Peru's largest city, and explore its historical center that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the Sacred Valley via quad and hiking, and visit the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu. Take the time to walk the city of Cisco at your leisure, and sample all the local Peruvian flavors along the way. You'll also get to hike through the Andean landscape, accompanied by llamas, to the blue lagoon of Uyumayo.

Highlights

  • Explore metropolitan Lima and the neighborhood of Barranco
  • Visit the Sacred Valley and its ancient Incan monuments 
  • Walk the Short Inca Trail ending at Machu Picchu
  • Witness the beauty of Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain
  • Learn about the culture and history of Lake Titicaca 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima Lima
Day 2 Explore Lima & the District of Barranco Lima
Day 3 Arrive in Cusco & The Sacred Valley Sacred Valley
Day 4 Quad Bike Tour to Moray & Maras Sacred Valley
Day 5 Hike the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 6 Visit the Ruins of Machu Picchu Sacred Valley
Day 7 Relaxing Day at The Sacred Valley Sacred Valley
Day 8 Sacred Valley to Cusco Cusco
Day 9 Explore Cusco City, Sacsayhuamán, & San Pedro Market Cusco
Day 10 Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain Trek Cusco
Day 11 Explore South of the Sacred Valley Cusco
Day 12 Cusco to Puno via the Titicaca Train  Puno
Day 13 Visit the islands on Lake Titicaca Puno
Day 14 Trek with Llamas Through Andean Landscapes Lima
Day 15 Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Lima coastline in the evening
Lima coastline in the evening

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population.

Take today to explore Lima at your leisure. Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts, as well as pieces of erotic art.
  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood. 

Day 2: Explore Lima & the District of Barranco

A scenic, waterfront view of Lima

Spend the day discovering Lima through its food. With a vibrant combination of Indigenous American, African, Asian, and European culinary influences, Lima is one of the world's most impressive gastronomic and cultural centers. 

Start the day early in Lima's Historical Center to visit a local mercacado—a fresh food market—to taste the local produce and sample spices, fruits, and various baked bread. Taste different types of Piscos—a high proof brandy produced locally in the wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. Attend a cooking class and learn how to make ceviche, a fresh seafood dish marinated with salt and lime juice, and the traditional pisco sour—a Peruvian classic.  

Stop for lunch at one of Lima's top restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. Stroll to the bohemian district of Barranco—a popular oceanside neighborhood for artists, tourists, and locals alike—for a relaxed afternoon drinking coffee and sampling Peruvian desserts.

Day 3: Arrive in Cusco & The Sacred Valley

The amazing terraces of the Sacred Valley

This morning you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Cusco. Upon arrival, transfer to the Sacred Valley

The elevation in the Sacred Valley is, on average, 9,416 ft (2870 m), and it's full of scenic Andean landscapes and great archaeological sites from the times of the Incas. The valley was important for the Incan Empire as an agricultural, spiritual, and political center.

Your first stop is the Cochahuasi Rescue Center, a family-run private organization dedicated to rescuing and looking after mistreated animals from previous owners, illegal hunters, and poachers. Here you'll have the opportunity to see Andean animals like vicunas, llama, alpaca, and the Andean condor while you learn the importance of the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity.

From here, continue to Awanakancha Llama Sanctuary, where you will see llamas, alpacas, and a weaving demonstration. Then, continue to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. Here you'll explore the 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.

Finally, transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Day 4: Quad Bike Tour to Moray & Maras

Quad riding across Moray and Maras

After breakfast this morning, get ready for another pulse-quickening day of activity as you are picked up and transferred to Cruzpata, the base from which your quad bike tour to Moray and Maras begins.

You will get instructions on how to use a quad bike before setting off across rolling green farmland for the first of the two major sights on this adventure, Moray. This is an incredible and utterly distinctive complex of stone amphitheaters developed by the Incas, with the exact reason for their construction unknown. However, historians believe the Incas built Moray to experiment with crop production in different micro-climates. Arriving at Moray in this way, you are less likely to encounter many other tourists, the majority of which hike or get their own transport to the ruins.

Your quad bike tour now continues to the salt mines of Maras, a few miles from Moray. This striking patchwork of stone pools and paths was developed by the Inca as a way of harvesting salt. Having seen Maras, return by quad bike to Cruzpata for your transfer back to the Sacred Valley.

Day 5: Hike the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Travelers hiking the short Inca Trail

Early in the morning, you will take the train from Ollantaytambo to Km 104 where the short Inca Trail starts. By train, you'll see how the valley turns into a canyon, and how the scenery begins to alter as the cloud forests appear on your approach to Machu Picchu. You will disembark the train at Km 104 and start the hike along a challenging uphill path. 

Start the trek to your first archeological site—Chachabamba. This beautiful site is very well preserved thanks to its location in the valley, and it was likely used for religious purposes and as a gatekeeping point for this entrance to Machu Picchu. 

From here, ascend for 3 hours to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (8964 ft / 2732), an ancient rest area for travelers on the Inca trail. Here, you'll stop to enjoy delicious boxed lunch, with superb views of the massive green mountains and native orchids.

The trail then becomes gentler and continues through the semi-tropical cloud forest to Intipunku (Sun Gate), where you'll enjoy your first panoramic views of Machu Picchu. Descend half an hour to the citadel for a short break and an opportunity for photos.

You won't be exploring the ruins today, as it will be getting dark. After passing through the Sun Gate, you'll cross the site to take the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where you'll check into our hotel to rest and relax in anticipation of a full-day visit to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

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Day 6: Visit the Ruins of Machu Picchu

The Ruins of Machu Picchu

Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu.

This 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 ft (2,430 m) 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 considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Built as a seasonal residence for the Inca family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people, and 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 due to the Spanish conquest 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 for the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel. 

After the tour, take the bus back to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then board the train to Ollantaytambo. Upon arrival in Ollantaytambo, meet your driver for your transfer back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Day 7: Relaxing Day at the Sacred Valley

Sweeping views of the Sacred Valley

Start your morning by fueling up with a nutritional green juice, then head out to explore the Sacred Valley. Choose to spend the day exploring the natural beauty on foot, or on horseback. As the heart of the ancient Inca Empire, this valley is full of impressive ruins, breathtaking vistas, and sacred plants. Reconnect with yourself while enjoying the mountain scenery around you. Breathe in the clear mountain air and feel your body awaken and re-energize. 

Day 8: Sacred Valley to Cusco

Cusco's neighborhood of San Blas

Wake up surrounded of beautiful landscapes, enjoy a delicious breakfast, and get ready for your transfer to Cusco.

Today is a free day to explore Cusco and the surrounding ancient ruins. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets by foot, go for a short hike in the hills outside the city, or simply relax in the mountain sun. Go for a walk in the neighborhood of San Blas—it's popular with both locals and tourists for its scenic views and colorful buildings.

Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal.

Day 9: Explore Cusco City, Sacsayhuamán, & San Pedro Market

View of Cusco's Plaza de Armas
View of Cusco's Plaza de Armas

Cusco is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement on the same location.    

Remember: you will be 11,000 ft (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and 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. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • 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 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 next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from the city of Cusco. Built by the Killke people, Sacsayhuamán is a marvel of ancient architecture, a monolithic fortress built from giant blocks of stone, the origins and assembly of which remain a mystery.
  • Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.
  • Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.
  • Experience the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro, a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, breads, vegetables, and other necessities.
  • Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal. 

Day 10: Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain Trek

The vibrant colors of Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain "Palcoyo" is only about 12 miles (20 km) from its famous sister "Vinicunca." While Vinicunca attracts thousands of visitors, its smaller sister Palcoyo is a real insider tip with no over-tourism. This mini trek is perfect for travelers who want to view the Colorful Rainbow Mountains in a relatively shorter and more gentle trek, and it's a great option for those traveling with kids.

You'll be picked up early in the morning from the hotel and driven to Rainbow Mountain Palcoyo. In about a 3.5-hour drive, you'll get to the starting point of the short hike. On the way there, you could possibly see different Andean crops and animals like llamas, sheep, vicuñas, and alpacas.

From the starting point of the path to the Rainbow Mountain, it takes approximately 50 minutes via a short, relatively flat path. The summit lies on about 16,404 ft (5000 m) above sea level. Once there, you'll have time to enjoy the panorama and take pictures. Then head back to Cusco, and on the way, stop for a buffet lunch. 

Day 11: Explore South of the Sacred Valley

A local woman shaping a ceramic bowl, one aspect of daily life you will see in Raqchi.

The Valle Sur, just outside Cusco, is a popular weekend getaway for locals, who come here for the famous delicacies served at special restaurants. Try some chicharrones, chunks of pork that are deep-fried with corn and mint, or if you’re daring, sample some guinea pig (cuy)!

In addition to enjoying a traditional lunch in a local restaurant, you will visit the archaeological sites of Tipón and Pikillacta. You'll also stop at the Church of Andahuaylillas, dubbed the Sistine Chapel of the Americas for its incredibly ornate interiors.

In the late afternoon, you will arrive in the village of Raqchi, where locals will open their homes and lives to you, providing a unique insight into traditional Andean life and customs.

Day 12: Cusco to Puno via the Titicaca Train 

All aboard the Titicaca train

Today, transfer to the train station of Cusco and board the Titicaca train to Puno.

The unforgettable experience of crossing the Peruvian Andes between Cusco and Puno, and visiting the world’s highest navigable lake, is made even more magical aboard PeruRail Titicaca. This train was created to provide passengers with all the luxuries they could want on a trip while offering them a chance to forge a mystical connection with nature.

Enjoy unrivaled service aboard this beautiful train, dining in 1920s-style Pullman carriages and absorbing breathtaking landscapes. The open-air Observation Car is a dream for photographers keen to capture the quintessential panoramas. The route covered by the PeruRail Titicaca train is considered by many travel magazines to be one of the most beautiful in the world.

The once-in-a-lifetime adventure lasts approximately 10 hours, 30 minutes. At the start of the journey, you are welcomed at the Wanchaq Station (Cusco) or the Puno Station, where local musicians will provide background music as you board the train. Once aboard, you can enjoy the two dining cars decorated in the style of the Pullman cars of the 1920s. Also, during the trip, you will have the finest in gourmet food and indulgent afternoon tea.

On your arrival at the train station of Puno, a transfer will take you to your hotel.

Day 13: Visit the islands on Lake Titicaca

Uros floating island on Lake Titicaca

In the morning, you'll start your trip around Lake Titicaca by visiting the village of Llachon.

Here, you'll be welcomed by the village community and have lunch. The islanders of Lake Titicaca are known throughout the country for their fine weavings. After being shown the weaving techniques, you'll go fishing with traditional fishing boats. At the end of the tour, you'll make a 40-minute hike where you'll get to know the island with its terraces, temples, and breathtaking viewpoints on Lake Titicaca.

On the way back to Puno, you'll visit the Uros Islands. It is believed that the Uros were one of the first ethnic groups to populate the Andean region. The communities live on some of the world's only inhabited, man-made floating islands, which are constructed out of the totora reeds that grow in abundance around the lake. During your visit, you will be able to learn about everyday life and traditions in this special and unusual place.

In the early evening, arrive in Puno and head to your hotel.

Day 14: Trek with Llamas Through Andean Landscapes

A Bolivian woman with llamas

Start the day early, setting off on a scenic drive to Atuncolla. From there, accompanied by llamas, you'll hike through the Andean landscape until you arrive at the shimmering blue lagoon of Uyumayo. Board a traditional boat to cross the lagoon on your way to Necropolis Sillustani. The pre-Inca "dead city" is a complex of volcanic stone tombs. In the evening, you'll travel to Lima and enjoy a night out on the town before the trip comes to an end.

Day 15: Depart Peru

The bustling city of Lima

Today, you will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Lima Airport for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!

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