Explore the best of Peru on this eleven-day adventure, covering everything from the metropolitan city of Lima to the ancient ruins of the Sacred Valley. You'll explore the depths of Colca Canyon, hike on Rainbow Mountain, and see Macchu Picchu — all while staying in comfortable accommodations in some of the wildest areas of Peru's landscapes.

Highlights

  • Visit the deep Colca Canyon
  • Explore culture and history of Lake Titicaca
  • Visit ancient Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley
  • Trek along the Inca Trail to the Machu Picchu citadel
  • Hike on the famed Rainbow Mountain

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima - Bienvenidos! Lima
Day 2 Arrive in Arequipa - Free Day Arequipa
Day 3 Colca Canyon trek 2D 1/2: Arequipa - Colca  Colca
Day 4 Colca Canyon trek 2D 2/2: Colca - Puno Puno
Day 5 Kayaking to Uros, Taquile Tour Puno
Day 6 Arrive in Cusco: Puno - Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero tour Cusco
Day 8 Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 9 Visit Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu & Back to Cusco Cusco
Day 10 Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek Cusco
Day 11 Adiós: Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima - Bienvenidos!

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.

Upon your arrival at Lima Airport, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will take you to your hotel in Miraflores/San Isidro. You will have the remainder of the day free to relax and get acquainted with the city at your own pace.

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. 

Depending on your arrival time, we have plenty of suggestions for you so you can make the most of your day in Lima.

Suggested activities: 

  • 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. 

  • 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: Arrive in Arequipa - Free Day

Today you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Arequipa. Upon your arrival, you will be greeted and taken to your hotel to settle in. 

Arequipa is located at an altitude of 7,627 ft (2,325 m) in the desert mountains of the Andes. This beautiful city is practically completely built out of Sillar, a kind of white volcanic stone. This material has earned Arequipa the name "The White City". With its one million inhabitants, Arequipa is the second biggest city in Peru. 

Depending on your arrival time, opt for one of the following suggestions to make the most of your day. 

Suggested activities:

  • Explore the Monasterio of Santa Catalina: A town within a town, this expansive monastery is packed full of chapels, bedrooms, and cooking quarters which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of devout catholic nuns back in the 16th century.
  • Visit Yanahuara: You'll have unbeatable views of the majestic ice-capped volcanoes that encircle the city.
  • Try delicious food: The cuisine of Arequipa is one of the most varied and rich from Peruvian Cuisine.

Day 3: Colca Canyon Trek 2D 1/2: Arequipa - Colca 

Hiking near Colca

Start your day early with a hotel pick-up, then start the journey to Colca Canyon, stopping for breakfast on the way. After approximately 4 hours of travel, you'll reach the main town of Valle, Chivay — stop here for food, then continue to Cabanaconde, the start point to descend into Colca Canyon.

Start the hiking tour of the canyon as you take in the spectacular views. Once at the bottom of the canyon, you'll cross a bridge and head to the town of San Juan de Chuccho to rest and have lunch. After lunch, continue the journey down a winding road for approximately an hour towards the town of Cosnihua, and from here along a flatter route towards the town of Malta

After approximately seven hours, you'll arrive in Sangalle, a beautiful oasis nestled in the canyon where you can rest, relax, and rejuvenate in the refreshing pools. 

Enjoy dinner and a good night's sleep. 

Day 4: Colca Canyon Trek 2D 2/2:  Colca - Puno

Condors in the canyon

Start the day with another early morning as you begin the winding ascending path up the canyon. After approximately three hours of hiking, you'll reach the rim of the canyon, then stop for breakfast at a local family-run restaurant. From here, transfer to Cruz del Condor viewpoint — a famed viewing area for the canyon, and a great place to spot Andean Condors. 

Afterward, return to Chivay for lunch, then start your afternoon travel through the zig-zagging mountain roads of the Andes.

Along the way, you'll spot the grand Bosque de Piedras de Imata in the distance. You will then arrive in Lagunillas, which sits at 13,684 ft / 4,170 m above sea level. Here you can observe numerous species of migratory and Andean birds, among them, Andean flamingos and crakes.

You will end your trip at Puno, upon your arrival a transfer will take you to your hotel.

Day 5: Kayaking to Uros, Taquile Tour

Lake Titicaca

Be sure to fuel up at breakfast this morning, as this full-day experience will last around 8 hours.

Your adventure begins with a pick-up from your hotel in Puno between 6:30 am and 7:30 am. Head to the beach of Esteves Island, where your guide will be waiting for you along with the kayaks or sport canoes. 

Your paddle to the floating Islands of the Uros will last about an hour and a half. On the route, enjoy beautiful landscapes and see a variety of birds such as herons, Andean flamingos, and seagulls. In addition, you can observe how the bulrush grows — the plant that was used for the construction of the floating islands.

It is believed that the Uros were one of the first ethnic groups to populate the Andean region. The Uros people live on man-made floating islands, which are constructed out of the totora reeds that grow in abundance around the lake. Upon your arrival to these islands, you'll learn about their everyday life and traditions.

After your visit to the floating island, you'll join the rest of the group and continue by boat to lunch at a local restaurant on Taquile Island*. Quinoa soup, fresh fish from the lake, and vegetables are typical lunchtime meals in Taquile.

After lunch, explore Taquile Island. This island remained mostly isolated from the outside world until the 1950s, and as a result, the Taquileños follow a very different way of life. On the island, decisions are made communally, there are no cars, and there is very little electricity - just the way the Taquileños like it. Taquile is also famous for the exquisite weavings created by local artists. Traditionally, the men spin the thread, and the women design and weave each piece. You'll have the opportunity to learn about the lives and traditions of the Taquileños and appreciate the stunning views of Lake Titicaca from the island's shores. 

*Note: Visiting Taquile requires a strenuous climb up 500 steps to the main part of the island. Elevation ranges from around 12,000 ft (3660 m) at the lakeshore up to 13,000 ft (3960 m) at the highest point.

Walk back to the main dock in Taquile and board a boat back to Puno. Upon arrival in Puno, transfer to your hotel.

Day 6: Arrive in Cusco: Puno - Cusco

After early breakfast in your hotel, make your way to the bus station to start the journey to Cusco. Cusco is located 6-7 hours from Puno, and you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Andean landscapes on the way.

Upon your arrival in Cusco, you will be transferred to your hotel.

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 de Armas — 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: 

  • 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, bread, vegetables, and other necessities. 

  • Eat dinner 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 7: Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour

This morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel 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.

You'll stop for lunch, and enjoy a traditional Peruvian - Andean cuisine at a restaurant in the same Urubamba, conveniently located in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River.

From here, head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained its 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. 

After, you will head to Chinchero, the small rustic Andean town where you will get to explore the ruins before making your way back to Cusco.

Day 8: Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Hiking along the Inca Trail

After breakfast, you'll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the train station in Ollantaytambo where your train will take you to the marker at km 104, where you will disembark from the train and start the short Inca Trail.

On the train ride, enjoy the scenery of the valley as it turns into a canyon and the train ascends into the cloud forest on the approach to Machu Picchu.  

Start the trek to your first archeological site—Chachabamba. This beautiful site is very well preserved thanks to its location in the valley and 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 at 8,964 ft (2732 m), an ancient rest area for travelers on the Inca trail. Stop here to enjoy your box 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.

After passing through the Sun Gate, take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and check into a hotel to rest and relax in anticipation of your visit to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Maximum Altitude: 8964 ft  (2732 m)                   
Minimum Altitude: 6850 ft (2088 m)
Distance Travelled: 6.67 miles (10.79 km) 
Approximate Walking Time: 7 hours

Day 9: Visit Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes - 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 the Machu Picchu ruins.

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 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 the citadel on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and grab lunch (not included) in the picturesque town center.  Connect to your train to Ollantaytambo and your connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 10: Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Trek

Hiking on Rainbow Mountain

The Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain is an undiscovered land full of wildly desert landscapes, snow-capped glaciated peaks, herds of alpaca, and pristine beauty. 

Your guide will pick you up early from your Cusco hotel around 3:00 AM and set out on a drive through the South Valley. The drive to the trailhead at Quesiuno (4,326 m / 14,189 ft) is 3 hours long (don't worry, you'll stop for breakfast along the way).

You then start off on your hike, following a lovely stream. You'll see herds of alpacas and llamas, as well as views of the Ausangate Mountain. You'll hike through villages and interact with the local residents, see potato fields and unique fauna, and possibly spot chinchillas and vicunas, which are the only non-domesticated animal of the llama family in Peru. Many red mountains are also a highlight of this hike.

After a total hike of approximately 2 hours, you finally reach our destination, what you came to see —The Rainbow Mountains! (16,466 ft/ 5,020 m). You'll have approximately half an hour to explore the area, take pictures, and soak in the environment.

At this point, it is time to go back down. Hike downhill the way we came, returning to the trailhead after 90 minutes on the trail. Embark on the 3-hour drive back to Cusco, stopping on the way for a buffet lunch.

Upon arrival to Cusco, you'll be dropped off at your Cusco hotel. The approximate arrival time is 5:30 PM.

Day 11: Adiós: Fly from Cusco to Lima, Depart Peru

Adios Peru

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Cusco Airport, where you will catch your flight back to Lima and then transfer to your international departure.

¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Essential Perú Adventure: Lima, Colca Canyon, Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain - 11 Days
Map of Essential Perú Adventure: Lima, Colca Canyon, Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain - 11 Days