For a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Peru, you'll want to see it all—and this two-week itinerary comes close. After an exciting food tour in Lima, set off for the epic landscapes, starting with a remote lodge in the lush Amazon. Next, fly to the high-altitude Andes for hikes and cultural activities—including time in Machu Picchu—before ending at a Sahara-like desert next to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you'll meet local artisans, llama herders, and even marine life in the "Peruvian Galápagos."


  • Choose your own activities with a naturalist guide at a lodge in the Amazon
  • Take an easy hike with llamas (and their herders) to a grazing site with views
  • Use a new via ferrata and zipline in the Andes followed by a five-course lunch
  • Join local artisans and learn how to make ceramics, chocolate, and corn beer
  • Spend your last evening of the trip enjoying a sunset picnic in the desert

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima, Explore Lima
Day 2 Food Tour in Lima's Historic City Center Lima
Day 3 Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Transfer to the Amazon Tambopata
Day 4 Explore the Amazon Tambopata
Day 5 Transfer to Puerto Maldonado, Fly to Cusco, Transfer to the Sacred Valley Sacred Valley
Day 6 Morning Hike with Llamas, Afternoon Artisan Workshops Sacred Valley
Day 7 Via Ferrata & Zipline Experience, Glamping in Huilloc  Sacred Valley
Day 8 Hike to Ollantaytambo, Lunch at Alqa Sacred Valley
Day 9 Transfer to Aguas Calientes, Explore Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes
Day 10 Transfer to Cusco, Free Afternoon Cusco
Day 11 Art Workshop at Sacsayhuaman, Fly to Lima Lima
Day 12 Transfer to Paracas, Explore Paracas National Reserve Paracas
Day 13 Private Boat Tour in the Ballestas Islands, Sunset Picnic & Desert Adventure Paracas
Day 14 Transfer to Lima, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Explore

Walk to Lima's scenic coastline upon arrival and catch the sunset
Welcome to Peru! Your adventure begins in the capital city of Lima. This sprawling metropolis of about 10 million people offers plenty of Peruvian history, culture, and delicious food. From the moment you land at the airport, your private guide and local host will be waiting to greet you. If there are any issues meeting up, you'll have each other's phone numbers in advance (and Lima's airport has free WiFi).

Together, you'll begin the drive into the city. Most of Lima's hotels are located in Miraflores and Barranco—two neighborhoods next to each other that offer easy access to the dramatic cliffs along the Pacific Ocean. Depending on traffic, the journey should take around one hour. Once you arrive at your hotel, you'll be assisted during check-in and provided with local recommendations to make the most of your time in Lima. Perhaps you want to start with a sunset stroll before dinner, followed by a good night's rest!

Day 2: Food Tour in Lima's Historic City Center

El Bolivarcito
The stylish El Bolivarcito is your first stop on today's food tour
Wake up refreshed today and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel. Save some room, though, as around mid-morning, you'll take a half-day food tour to sample some classic Peruvian treats. Meet your guide at the hotel and then drive down Avenida Arequipa, one of the most elegant roads in the city. Begin your walking tour at Plaza San Martín, a beautiful square inaugurated in 1921 to commemorate 100 years of Peru's independence.
Your first stop is El Bolivarcito, a stylish little bar located behind the Grand Bolivar Hotel, where you'll try a humita (corn cake made with onions and chilies) and an emollient (herbal drink), which can be sipped with a splash of pisco (grape brandy). Next, you'll walk up to Jiron Carabaya toward Lima's Plaza de Armas, the city's main square. Here you'll find a small restaurant called El Chinito, where you can try the delicious pan con chicharron (pork sandwich).
From here, make your way to Mercado Central to see fresh seafood, superfoods, medicinal plants, and exotic fruits, including tuna (prickly pear). Try the colorful produce and taste ponche de maca (a superfood beverage). Chinatown is your next destination offering street foods, like anticuchos (grilled skewers) and churros (fried dough). Then sample a chilcano (pisco cocktail) at the traditional Cordanos Bar. Your last stop is Chabuca Granda Boulevard for desserts such as picarones (doughnuts) and mazamorra (jelly-like treat). Afterward, return to your hotel for some time to rest.

Day 3: Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Transfer to the Amazon

Take a leisurely boat ride to get to your lodge in the Amazon rainforest
It is time to leave the city and head into the jungle! Your private transport will pick you up from your hotel and drive you to Lima's airport, where you'll fly to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to Peru's Southern Amazon and Tambopata National Reserve. Upon arrival, you'll be met by the lodge staff for the 10-minute drive to the lodge's comfortable office and lounge. Here you'll be provided with duffle bags so that you take only what is necessary to the lodge. The rest of your belongings will be kept safely in a storage room. There is a small café here, too, where you can purchase coffee and snacks.

At the coordinated time, the lodge's shuttle bus departs toward a local community about 1.5 hours away. At the river port, you'll board a type of local boat that is specially designed for navigating the Amazon. Keep your eyes open during the journey, as it is highly likely you see some wildlife along the way, like howler monkeys, capybaras, and various birds. The boat journey lasts about 2.5 hours, and you'll be served a box lunch along the way.

Upon arrival, the lodge manager will greet you and introduce you to the property, which often attracts scientists who give lectures. Tambopata Research Center is located deep in the virgin rainforest, and private rooms come with showers and comfortable beds (with mosquito nets) that open toward the elements. Meals are buffet-style and based on simple but fresh seafood and local produce. You can always find fruits, snacks, and a beverage station (including cocktails) available in the common areas. After dinner, consider an evening walk provided by your naturalist guide. 

Day 4: Explore the Amazon

Start your day by watching colorful macaws feed on clay
Wake up to the peaceful sounds of the jungle this morning. From here, you'll have the entire day to take advantage of over 20 different excursions available at the lodge, depending on weather conditions and your interests. You can select up to four activities per day, as most last between one and three hours.

It's highly recommended that you wake up early to visit a macaw clay lick (a steep wall of red clay). You'll take a boat ride as the sun rises (the best moment to spot wildlife) to reach a river beach where you can settle for the spectacle. As the morning warms up, hundreds of different birds visit these locations to feed on the minerals in the clay, and it's common to see over 12 different species of macaws, as well as parakeets and toucans. As this is a rather long activity, it is frequently combined with a simple breakfast on the sandy beaches of the Río Tambopata

Other fun activities to join during the day include various jungle hikes, where you'll see different monkeys, birds, and bizarre insects. A relaxing way to finish the day, if you so choose, is by joining a sunset boat ride before dinner.

Day 5: Transfer to Puerto Maldonado, Fly to Cusco, Transfer to the Sacred Valley

Enjoy the views as you fly into Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley
Say goodbye to your new friends at the lodge this morning! You'll likely set off early, around 8 am, though the exact departure time is decided by the staff depending on the flight schedules of everyone leaving on that specific day. You'll first take the boat ride back to your original port, which is a little shorter now as you are navigating downriver. From here, the lodge's shuttle will transfer you back to the lounge in Puerto Maldonado. Pick up anything that you left here and then relax in the waiting area until it's time to head to the airport for your flight to Cusco.

Upon arrival in Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you'll be picked up by a guide and given a brief introduction. Make your way through the dramatic Andean scenery as you look for rice fields, eucalyptus forests, small Andean villages, and the imposing peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range. As you slowly descend into the Sacred Valley (also known as the Urubamba River Valley), there will be plenty of opportunities to stop at viewpoints and other interesting sites.

Because of its elevation of approximately 9,000 feet (2,743 m) and its peaceful atmosphere, the Sacred Valley is the perfect place to enjoy your first days in the Andes while you acclimatize to the altitude. Some of the most beautiful villages are located in this area—and it's strategically placed between Cusco and Machu Picchu, making the journey to the famous Inca site a little faster in the coming days. 

Day 6: Morning Hike with Llamas, Afternoon Artisan Workshops

Plan your trip to Peru
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Lead a group of llamas to a grazing area with views of the valley
Spend your first morning in the Sacred Valley by meeting a group of llamas. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Inca traveled with massive herds of llamas to carry commerce from one region to the next. These adorable creatures were fundamental in daily life, crossing mountains, forests, and deserts through the complex Inca road system from Colombia to Chile. This is your chance to learn about this hardworking animal and the communities that own them through the Llamapack Project, an initiative that emphasizes the value of llamas and helps the herding communities.

The adventure starts with a short drive to Pumahuanca. You and the herders will then take the llamas to their grazing spot by walking along an easy 40-minute trail. Eventually, you'll reach a grassy mountain slope that is perfect for llamas to graze, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the valley. The activity includes a light lunch served from a huatia (a type of oven). This is a traditional way of cooking potatoes, mashuas, corn, and board beans, using fire and hot mud bricks. After the rest and snack, you and the llamas will return to the starting point following the same trail. 

After the hike, it's time to transfer to the charming Chichubamba neighborhood, where families combine their daily chores with interactive workshops for visitors. First, spend an hour with two ceramists who have been producing decorative pottery for years. Next, take an hour-long crash course in artisanal chocolate-making using local cacao beans. Finally, meet an expert in producing chica (traditional corn beer), where you can discover (and taste) the complexities of this ancient beverage. Return to your hotel after the excursion. 

Day 7: Via Ferrata & Zipline Experience, Glamping in Huilloc 

There is no shortage of views in the Ollantaytambo area
This morning, your guide will take you to a particularly special mountain just past Ollantaytambo that offers some of the best Sacred Valley views. Your destination is Vertikal Sky Suites, a new experience in the area that combines outdoor activities with a modern restaurant. Your transport will do most of the work as it ascends the mountain dirt road, and then you'll need to hike for 10-20 minutes (or get picked up in a quad) to reach the reception office surrounded by unexpectedly beautiful views.

After a safety meeting, you'll begin an adventure on the mountain cliffs. Connected to two security cables, you'll first descend a rocky path that leads to a hanging bridge. The next section of the trail travels up a rocky wall and through the via ferrata circuit, a safe way of climbing in which you are always connected via special cables. Then it's time to zipline. At the starting platform, you'll be connected to more safety cables and given a couple of simple instructions before you glide through the air. Finish the experience with five-course lunch at the glass-walled restaurant while you sit back and enjoy the views.

This afternoon (and evening), you'll enjoy a very different Sacred Valley experience in an Andean community called Huilloc. This is where you'll spend the evening in glamping tents. Upon arrival, your host family will welcome you to the community and show you around. You can participate in agricultural activities or textile-making before dinner is served. Then spend a night you'll always remember in a stylish glamping tent in the middle of the countryside. Enjoy a fire under the stars, sip a cup of muña (a mint-like medicinal herb), and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.

Day 8: Hike to Ollantaytambo, Lunch at Alqa

Say hello to the locals as you hike from Huilloc to Ollantaytambo
After breakfast, say farewell to your glamping hosts, tighten your hiking boots, and set off along an old 6.5-mile (12 km) trail from Huilloc down the valley to Ollantaytambo. The scenic route takes about four hours and is mostly downhill except for one or two ascents. Make your way through some terraces and eventually follow a small stream that leads to Ollantaytambo. Sections of this hike belong to an original Inca trail, and you'll be able to see old stone steps during the route. 

By now, you've worked up an appetite. Tucked away in the narrow roads of Ollantaytambo is Alqa, a family-run museum, coffee bar, and restaurant that is unique in the Sacred Valley. The husband and wife owners are passionate art collectors and travelers that have spent the last 15 years visiting communities throughout Peru. During these times, they managed to befriend many families from the most remote corners of the country and slowly build a collection of contemporary artistic expressions that would otherwise go unnoticed. 

You'll have lunch in the restaurant's pretty garden with a menu inspired by the local produce of the surrounding communities. Finish the meal with a glass of organic wine from a boutique Peruvian vineyard, or sample the best specialty coffee in Peru, pressed on an Italian hydraulic espresso machine. Afterward, return to your hotel.

Day 9: Transfer to Aguas Calientes, Explore Machu Picchu

Visit this famous site in the late afternoon, one of the quietest parts of the day
Enjoy some free time this morning to explore Ollantaytambo and its famous Inca archaeological site—a fascinating complex with high terraces, stairways, temples, and fountains. You can also get lost in the small streets of the village by having a look at its markets and cafés. Next, head to the train station for your journey to Machu Picchu. Get there a little early so you can try some homemade snacks and locally-roasted coffee at Mayu Café (their chocolate chip cookies deserve a special mention).
There are a few possible trains you can take to Machu Picchu, and they all have large scenic windows to enjoy the landscapes. Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, you and your guide will take a 30-minute shuttle to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Once inside the Inca citadel, you'll find a spot with good views for an introduction to the highlights. The experience usually lasts between two to three hours, during which your guide will be happy to explain just about everything about this marvelous site. Luckily, you'll be there in the late afternoon, which is one of the quietest parts of the day.
It is important to point out in advance that the exact circuit you'll be doing may vary depending on ticket availability at the time of booking. There are four possible circuits, plus three extra viewpoints. All circuits are very entertaining, offering different views of this fascinating place. After this pinch-me-now experience, take the shuttle bus back down to Aguas Calientes, where you'll spend the night. Get settled and then explore the village's many cafés and restaurants.

Day 10: Transfer to Cusco, Free Afternoon

Ride a comfortable train to Ollantaytambo, where you'll transfer to Cusco
After an unforgettable afternoon in Machu Picchu, it is now time to return to Cusco. The fastest possible journey is to take the train back to Ollantaytambo (1.5 hours) and, from here, a private transport back to Cusco (about 1.5 hours, depending on traffic). If you want to maximize your time in Cusco, the morning train is the best choice. If you would like to squeeze in a second-morning visit to Machu Picchu, then the late-morning train is the way to go. 

Upon arrival in Cusco, you'll have the rest of the day to explore this truly unique city. You can immediately sense the history of the place as you walk through its charming streets with a mix of Inca walls and Spanish architecture. It's a very lively place, too, with little shops, cafés, and restaurants popping out of ancient stone doorways and colonial balconies. This afternoon is entirely free to explore the city as you prefer. Your tour guide can provide you with the best possible recommendations to make the most out of your time.

Day 11: Art Workshop at Sacsayhuaman, Fly to Lima

0 - Picnic and art workshop at Sacsayhuaman
Get into a creative groove while tasting wine and cheese in Sacsayhuaman
Today you'll spend time enjoying Cusco from a rather different perspective—away from the crowds. First, take a short drive from your hotel to a nice viewpoint on the outskirts of the city near the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Here you'll find a picnic setting, canvases, and all the necessary materials to have a morning of creativity and inspiration. Together with your art teacher, let your imagination flow as you paint mountains, taste local cheese, and sip wine (or tea).
This activity is open to anyone—even those who consider themselves to be unartistic. It's one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy your time in Cusco with some pleasant company. You can also try painting something a little more traditional, like a "Pucará bull"—a popular local ceramic that families place on their rooftops to bring prosperity and safety. You'll see many of them during your time in the mountains, so give it a try!

After your excursion, it's time to say farewell to Cusco. A private driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight back to Lima. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel for one more night in the city. Just like before, you'll be assisted during check-in and provided with more recommendations to make the most of your time in Peru's capital.

Day 12: Transfer to Paracas, Explore the Paracas National Reserve

Finish your trip where the desert meets the Pacific Ocean
After breakfast at your hotel in Lima, you'll be picked up for the road transfer to Paracas. When people think of Peru, the first things that usually come to mind are Machu Picchu and maybe the Amazon rainforest. It is seldom that someone mentions its Sahara-like coastal desert, and that's what you'll experience in the last few days.
To get there, you'll travel along a 180-mile (290 km) journey that takes between three and four hours from Lima. Along the way, you'll have plenty of time to chat with your local guide about everything you wish to see in Paracas. Additionally, there are a few possible short stops, including a popular road café that sells freshly baked stuffed bread throughout the day. If you wish for something a little different, there is an interesting beach town halfway to Paracas called Cerro Azul, with an old pier offering views of some pre-Hispanic pyramids.
Once at Paracas, you'll be taken to your hotel. In the afternoon, spend a few hours exploring the Paracas National Reserve. This is one of Peru's most important protected areas that aims to take care of the desert and ocean ecosystems in the region. Not only that, but the park offers beautiful and dramatic views of rocky desert cliffs colliding with the Pacific Ocean, which your guide will show you. All you need to bring is your camera and a jacket, as it's usually windy here in the afternoons.

Day 13: Private Boat Tour in the Ballestas Islands, Sunset Picnic & Desert Adventure

The Ballestas Islands are often called the Peruvian Galápagos
Often compared to the Galápagos due to the amount of wildlife, the Ballestas Islands are a definite must-see during a visit to Paracas. Though there are many boat tours in the area, you'll see the islands today on a private tour. The main advantage of this is that you'll depart before everyone else (and beat the crowds). You'll also have more time at your disposal to explore the area (close to three hours). Finally, the main advantage is that when the weather impedes most groups from sailing to Ballestas, you'll be offered an alternative boat ride inside Paracas' protected bay.
From your hotel, take a short drive or walk to the pier. Here, you'll board your fully equipped speedboat and set off. During the circumnavigation, spot sea lions, penguins, and other bird species living here. Additionally, you'll be able to observe an enigmatic figure on a sandy hill slope called El Candelabro. There are different theories about the origins of this prehistoric geoglyph, which you'll hear about on the tour.  

Next, replace the ocean waves with sand dunes in the desert. Here you'll meet a team of expert drivers and board specially designed sand buggies. Once ready, depart on a fun driving circuit up and down the dunes. Your guide will stop along the way in case anyone wants to test their skills at sand boarding, which is more like sand sledding! Just before sunset, you'll arrive at an area with rugs and pillows to enjoy a picnic with fruit, nuts, cheese, wine, and other beverages. Enjoy a magic moment in the desert, and when you are ready, return to the base and transfer back to your hotel in Paracas. 

Day 14: Transfer to Lima, Depart

Until next time, Paracas!

After a fantastic time in Peru, it is now time to say farewell. At the appointed time, you'll begin the road transfer from Paracas back to Lima. Once you've arrived at the airport, your guide will assist you with anything you need during the check-in process before saying goodbye. Head home full of happy memories, new friends, and amazing pictures from your epic adventure. Safe travels!

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