- Go "surfing" down the massive sand dunes of Huacachina
- Visit one of the oldest wineries in Peru and sample pisco
- Explore the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu
- Hike around colorful Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain
- Spend a few days discovering wildlife in the Amazon
|Day 1||Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented||Lima|
|Day 2||Travel Along the Coast to Huacachina||Huacachina|
|Day 3||Visit the Vista Alegre Winery||Huacachina|
|Day 4||Transfer to Cusco & Sightsee||Cusco|
|Day 5||Tour Pisac & Ollantaytambo||Aguas Calientes|
|Day 6||Explore Machu Picchu||Cusco|
|Day 7||Trek Around Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain||Cusco|
|Day 8||Discover the Amazon||Puerto Maldonado|
|Day 9||Go on Jungle Excursions to Tres Chimbadas & Parrot Clay Lick||Puerto Maldonado|
|Day 10||Depart Peru - End of Trip|
Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented
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 Along the Coast to HuacachinaEarly in the morning, transfer to the bus station for the ride to the city of Ica. Take in the beauty of the coastline along the journey. When you arrive in Ica, check into your hotel and take off for an afternoon adventure in the desert sand dunes of Huacachina. Hop on a sandboard to surf down the larger dunes. You'll return to Ica for dinner and an overnight.
Day 3: Visit the Vista Alegre WineryIca is the center of Peru's red wine production. It's also where the famous Peruvian spirit of pisco is made. Just north of town in the La Tinguiña district, visit Vista Alegre Winery. One of the oldest and largest wineries in Peru, it was a Jesuit hacienda until the late 18th century. Taste wines and sample a pisco sour, the beloved cocktail made with pisco, fresh-squeezed limes, sugar, and egg whites.
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Day 4: Transfer to Cusco & Sightsee
Today you will travel 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 5: Tour Pisac & Ollantaytambo
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.
Day 6: Explore Machu PicchuFrom 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.
Day 7: Trek Around Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain
Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain is only about 12.5 miles (20 km) from its famous sister Vinicunca. While Vinicunca attracts thousands of visitors, its smaller sister Palcoyo (16,000 ft/ 4900m) has fewer crowds and equal beauty. This mini trek is perfect for travelers who want to view the colorful rainbow mountains in a relatively shorter and more gentle trek, and a great option for those traveling with kids.
Start the morning with an early pickup. You'll stop for breakfast along the way. Your drive this morning will be along the Red River, with plenty of opportunities for photos and stops. The drive will take roughly 3.5 hours, after which you'll arrive at the starting point of the short hike. From here, the hike is approximately an hour via a short, relatively flat path. Along the way, you'll see llamas, sheep, vicuñas, and alpacas. The summit lies about 16,400 ft (5,000 m) above sea level. Once you reach the top, you'll have time to enjoy the panorama and take pictures.
At this point, it is time to hike downhill. Once you reach the bottom, start the drive back to Cusco. You'll have the evening free to relax.
Day 8: Discover the Amazon
This morning you will transfer from your hotel to the Cusco airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to the port for a boat journey along the Tambopata River. Arrive at Posada Amazonas Lodge. Get settled and review your activity options for the next couple of days. Kick back in a hammock and relax for the rest of the day, or if you'd prefer to get in a little adventure, take a trip in a dugout canoe to see some local wildlife, including a wide variety of tropical birds. After dinner at the lodge, you can go on a nighttime boat trip to search for caimans.
Day 9: Go on Jungle Excursions to Tres Chimbadas & Parrot Clay Lick
Today you will explore the lush rainforest around you in a series of short guided adventure treks. Start by heading to Tres Chimbadas. Explore the lake to search for the resident family of giant river otters and other local wildlife. Continue to the Parrot Clay Lick to watch hundreds of vibrant parrots and parakeets descend onto the river bank to eat the mineral-rich clay. Brightly-colored species like the Yellow-headed Amazon, Blue-headed Parrot, and Dusky Headed Parakeet love to visit this location — late morning is an ideal time to spot them.
Take a break for lunch, then take a botany tour with a community organization that derives natural medicines from plants found in the rainforest. After dinner, you'll have the option to go on a relaxing night hike during a time when most mammals are active. Listen to the chorus of from and amphibian calls, and bring a flashlight to try and spot the small animals as they camouflage in the vegetation.
Day 10: Depart Peru - End of Trip
More Peru Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Peru? Check out these other Peru itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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