Embark on a journey through Peru into the incredible world of the Incas and other Andean civilizations. You'll visit some of the most significant archaeological sites of Peru while also experiencing the unforgettable nature of the Andes. Wander through the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, feel the mists of one of the world's highest waterfalls at Gocta, taste new flavors and dishes on a unique culinary tour of Cusco, and much more.

Highlights

  • Walk through the clouds at Kuélap, a fortress in the sky
  • See the Sarcophagi of Karajia, cliffside remnants of the Chachapoyas civilization
  • Visit Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the modern world
  • Hike to Waqrapukara, a site of ancient ruins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Fly to Trujillo - Explore the City Trujillo
Day 3 Discover the Mystical Monuments of El Brujo Trujillo
Day 4 Travel to Chiclayo - Visit the Museum of Royal Tombs Chiclayo
Day 5 A Journey through the Valley of the Pyramids Chiclayo
Day 6 Travel to Jaén - Explore the City on Your Own Jaen
Day 7 A Tour of the Ancient Karajia Sarcophagi Jaen
Day 8 Explore Kuélap, A Fortress in the Sky Jaen
Day 9 Hike to the Gocta Waterfalls, a Hidden Gem of the Andes Jaen
Day 10 Fly to Cusco - Explore Cusco on Your Own Cusco
Day 11 A Historical Tour of Cusco Cusco
Day 12 Discover Peru through a Culinary Tour Cusco
Day 13 Hike to Wakrapukara Cusco
Day 14 Explore the Ruins of Waqrapukara Cusco
Day 15 An Introduction to the Sacred Valley Ollantaytambo
Day 16 A Day with the Incas in Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco Cusco
Day 17 Depart Cusco  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was 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. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start with a tour of colonial downtown and later, stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral of Lima to get a taste of the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion given by Francisco Pizarro, chief conquistador, to one of his captains, Jerónimo de Aliaga in 1535. This is the oldest colonial mansion in Lima and the only one that still belongs to the same family.
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district and visit the Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. 
  • 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: Fly to Trujillo - Explore the City

Colonial houses in downtown Trujillo
Colonial houses in downtown Trujillo

Today, you will fly from Lima to Trujillo, where a member of our team will take you from the airport to your hotel. Our local guide will take you on a tour of this historic city. Trujillo was the first capital city of Peru, following the country's emancipation from Spain. 

The first stop will be the Plaza de Armas, where you can see the Liberty Monument, which was constructed in 1929 to mark the independence of Trujillo in 1820 as this was the first Peruvian city to declare its independence from Spanish rule.

You will continue on to the 17th century Trujillo Cathedral before you visit some of the colonial mansions. The first of these is the Garci Holguin Mansion, where you will see some of the oldest murals in Trujillo. You will move on to the Urquiaga House, where Simón Bolívar once stayed.

Later, you can stroll along the Pizarro promenade, where you can see the 17th century La Merced Church. The next stop is the Emancipation House, a significant historical site where José Bernardo de Tagle declared Trujillo's independence from Spain. You'll move on to the 19th century Iturregui Palace, an example of Neo-Classical Civil architecture.

You'll end the tour in Recreo Plaza, a bustling square in the heart of the historic center of Trujillo, where you will be able to relax and grab a drink or snack.

Day 3: Discover the Mystical Monuments of El Brujo

Ancient sculptures and carvings at El Brujo
Ancient sculptures and carvings at El Brujo

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before your guide takes you to El Brujo (which means "the sorcerer"), an ancient archaeological complex in the nearby Chicama Valley.

This site contains various huacas, which are objects or monuments that represent something revered. You will be able to see the Huaca Prieta, Huaca El Brujo and Huaca de Cao and learn about the various cultural practices and history that led to the creation of these monuments.

You will visit the Cao Museum, which holds the Lady of Cao, whose tomb was discovered in 2006. This female Moche mummy is covered in tattoos and was found buried with ceremonial items such as weapons and jewelry. In fact, she is believed to have been a high priestess or Moche ruler, which was a surprising discovery as previously, it was thought that only men held high rank in Moche culture.

After enjoying this day traveling back to ancient civilizations, you will be taken back to your hotel in Trujillo.

Day 4: Travel to Chiclayo - Visit the Museum of Royal Tombs

Royal Tombs Museum, which represents the style of Moche pyramids
Royal Tombs Museum, which represents the style of Moche pyramids

After breakfast, you will be taken from the hotel to the bus terminal, where you will hop on a bus to Chiclayo in theLambayeque region, three hours away. 

Once you arrive in Chiclayo, we will transfer you to your hotel before you set out on a tour of the Royal Tombs Museum, which houses the remains of the Lord of Sipán, a Moche mummy. The design of this museum is modeled on the architecture of Mochica pyramids. 

After visiting the museum, you will head to Huaca Rajada or Sipán, an archaeological site where you can see several ancient pyramids that were once dedicated to religious worship.

After the visit to Huaca Rajada, we will return to the hotel in Chiclayo.

Day 5: A Journey through the Valley of the Pyramids

The Valley of the Pyramids
The Valley of the Pyramids

After breakfast, you'll be taken to Túcume, known as the Valley of the Pyramids. This area was the capital of the kingdom of Lambayeque in pre-Hispanic times.

Túcume is the site of 26 huacas or adobe pyramids, which served as residential palaces for the elite before becoming the center of administrative political power of the Chimu and Inca peoples. 

You will visit the Túcume Museum, where you can see architectural styles of the 16th century in the old chapels that still stand. You will also be able to see artifacts of the Lambayeque, Chimu and Inca cultures as you learn about various cultural and historical practices of these civilizations.

After the museum, you will explore the main pyramids of Túcume: Huaca las Estacas, Huaca el Mirador and Huaca Larga. Huaca Larga, as indicated by its name, is the largest pyramid on site and was a significant center of worship for the Incas.

After this day of learning about the history of these ancient civilizations, you will be taken back to your hotel in Chiclayo.

Day 6: Travel to Jaén - Explore the City on Your Own

Church in Jaén
Church in Jaén

This morning, you'll be picked up to go to the airport, where you'll fly to Jaén, a city situated in the high jungle of Northern Peru. You will be taken to your accommodations in Jaén, where you'll be able to rest and take in the sights of the city on your own.

Suggested activities include:

  • Stroll through the Plaza de Armas, where you can visit the Cathedral and its statue of the Lord of Huamantanga, the patron saint of the city.
  • Visit the Hermogenes Museum Mejía Solf to view regional art and artifacts.
  • This region is known for its coffee production, so grab a coffee and try a local dish.

Day 7: A Tour of the Ancient Karajia Sarcophagi

Sarcophagi watch over those below
Sarcophagi watch over those below

Take in an early breakfast before we take you to Cruzpata, where you will begin the journey to see the Karajia Sarcophagi.

This half-mile tour will take two hours as you make your way to these amazing clay coffins, whose shape mimics human bodies. These seven (originally eight) coffins nestled in a cliffside hold Chachapoyas mummies and date back to the 15th century, before the conquest of the Incas.

You'll learn about the Chachapoyas funeral rites and traditions as you take in these figures, whom locals refer to as the "ancient wise men."

In the afternoon, you'll return to your accommodations and then can enjoy the rest of the day to yourself.

Day 8: Explore Kuélap, A Fortress in the Sky

The circular structures of Kuélap
The circular structures of Kuélap

Have a café with your breakfast before we leave for the archaeological ruins of Kuélap, the fortress of the Chachapoyas, who were known as the "Warriors of the Clouds."

You'll begin the tour in the town of Longuita Maria, where you will enter Kuélap. A guide will teach you about this fortress, which stands 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level. Most of the structures were built between the 10th and 12th centuries CE while the fortress was only discovered in the 19th century.

Kuélap is made up of around 550 structures, all of which are circular, except for five. You will see sites such as the Major Temple and El Torreón (the Tower)

This tour will take two hours and you'll return to Jaén afterwards to relax for the rest of the day.

Day 9: Hike to the Gocta Waterfalls, a Hidden Gem of the Andes

Some believe that a mermaid lives in these waters
Some believe that a mermaid lives in these waters

Your nature adventure will begin early this morning after breakfast as you'll embark on a 4-mile hike to the Gocta Waterfalls

You'll see a diverse landscape as you will pass by sugarcane crop fields, marked by traditional trapiches (mills). You will make your way to a cloud forest of with trees covered by orchids, lichens and mosses. Keep an eye out for gallito de las rocas, the national bird of Peru.

Gocta is one of the highest waterfalls in the world, standing tall at 2,500 feet (771 meters). For centuries, it was known only to local communities, who kept it a secret based on a legend that a mermaid protecting its waters would curse those who revealed its whereabouts. So, enjoy the views of this mystical place, and perhaps you'll even want to take a dip in its clear waters.

Be aware that the altitude of this waterfall makes this a more challenging hike, which takes about six hours total. 

After hiking back to the starting point, we'll transfer you back to the hotel in Jaén.

Day 10: Fly to Cusco - Explore Cusco on Your Own

La Compania church in Cusco
La Compania church in Cusco

After breakfast, you will be taken to the Jaén airport, which is 3.5 hours away, and then board your flight to Cusco.

You'll be transferred from the Cusco airport to your hotel, where you'll have the rest of the day to settle in and acclimate as the altitude there is 11,150 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level.

If you're in the mood to explore, you'll find a variety of things to do in this historic capital of the Inca Empire. 

Suggested activities include:

Walk around the Plaza de Armas, built on one of the most important gathering spots for the Incas. The Plaza has been central to Peruvian history and while there, you can visit the Church La Compañía de Jesús and the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin.  

Sit under the stars of the Cusco Planetarium to learn about how Andean civilizations studied and understood the skies.

Settle in at a restaurant to try local dishes such as cuy (guinea pig), lomo de alpaca (alpaca sirloin) or a torreja (a special omelette).

Day 11: A Historical Tour of Cusco

Sacsayhuaman, ruins outside of Cusco
Sacsayhuaman, ruins outside of Cusco

You'll travel through the centuries today as you learn about the remarkable history of Cusco, which is visible in its architecture and Andean cultural practices.

You will start the day in the city's historic center, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983. The first stop is the majestic Cusco Cathedral, followed by Qoricancha or the Temple of the Sun.

You'll then drive out to the countryside to see the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Tambomachay, and Pukapukara and learn about the history of the civilizations who lived in the areas and built the sites.

Day 12: Discover Peru through a Culinary Tour

Rainbow drinks at the San Pedro Market
Rainbow drinks at the San Pedro Market

After breakfast, get ready for a day of culinary exploration. Your guide will pick you up to take you to San Pedro Market, the oldest market in Cusco, where you can purchase supplies for today's cooking classes.

Next stop is Saylla, a town famous for specializing in chicharrón, a local pork dish. You will learn how this meal is prepared and get to taste it for yourself.

We will then go on to Tipón, which is famous for cuy, roasted guinea pig. You'll get the chance to see the preparation of this specialty before you try it.

You'll end the day in Cai Cay, where you'll help prepare dishes using traditional ingredients and utensils that many people living in the countryside still use today.

Sit back and relax as you enjoy the meal you've prepared and after lunch, you'll either be able to walk through this community or just spend some more time in this authentic Peruvian kitchen.

Overnight: Cai Cay

Day 13: Hike to Wakrapukara

The site of Waqrapukara
The site of Waqrapukara

Your day will start early as you're picked up to head to Pitumarca, where you will begin the trek to the archaeological site of Waqrapukara.

The first part of this trek is a light hike to help you acclimatize to the high altitude. Take in the landscapes before reaching the Yanacocha Lagoon, where you'll stop for lunch.

After lunch, you'll begin the descent towards Waqrapukara. The area is full of wildlife, such as alpacas and vicuñas, as well as birds like Andean geese. The landscape is marked by large rocks with figures that resemble animals.

In an hour, you'll arrive at the Waqrapukara site, where we will set up our campsite and have dinner.

Overnight: camping at Waqrapukara

Day 14: Explore the Ruins of Waqrapukara

Waqrapukara under clear skies (c) Viator
Waqrapukara under clear skies (c) Viator

Take in a heart breakfast before beginning your tour of the archaeological site of Waqrapukara. This two-hour tour will teach you about the architecture, history and legends of Waqrapukara.

These ancient ruins include stone buildings on top of a mountain, enclosures with windows that face the Apurímac Canyon, and agricultural terraces. From the high altitude of the Waqrapukara site, you'll be able to see an Inca cemetery and take in this fantastic mix of nature and ancient civilizations.

After the tour, you will be taken to the town of Wayxi, before continuing on to Cai Cay to spend the night.

Overnight: Cai Cay

Day 15: An Introduction to the Sacred Valley

Landscape of the Sacred Valley
Landscape of the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley was the spiritual center of the Inca Empire, where emperors built private estates, temples, fortifications, and thousands of agricultural terraces.

Today, you'll get to explore some of the Sacred Valley's remarkable sites. You'll begin with the Písac ruins, which include military, religious and agricultural structures and helped Písac serve as defender of the south side of the Sacred Valley.

Work up an appetite as you wander the ruins and then make your way to the famous artisan market in the village plaza, which draws in tourists and Cusco locals alike.

The next stop is Ollantaytambo, where you can scale the heights of the Temple Hill, commonly known as the Fortress. You can wander the stone-lined streets of the village, where you can see water flowing through ancient channels built during the time of the Incas.

You'll end the day taking the train to Aguas Calientes, where you'll spend the night.

Day 16: A Day with the Incas in Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco

Dramatic colors over Machu Picchu
Dramatic colors over Machu Picchu

Breakfast will be early today as you'll leave the hotel at 5:30 AM to take a bus to Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca citadel that's considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

A guide will take you around the citadel to offer insight into Inca life, culture and architecture. After this two-hour tour, you'll get the chance to take in the incredible views and history as you wander around Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu, the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu.

After spending several hours at Machu Picchu, you'll return to Aguas Calientes. You will have some time to enjoy lunch in a local restaurant or even jump into the hot springs to relax. In the late afternoon or evening, you'll take the train back to Cusco.

Day 17: Depart Cusco

Don't leave Cusco for too long
Don't leave Cusco for too long

After breakfast, you will be taken to the airport for your flight back to Lima, where you can continue on to your next destination.

We hope you enjoyed your unique Peruvian adventure!