- Travel a lesser known route on the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Bathe in the crystal clear hot springs of Cocalmayo
- Visit the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo overlooking the Sacred Valley
- Harvest, roast, and grind your own coffee deep in the cloud forest
|Day 1||Arrival in Lima||Lima|
|Day 2||Arrival in the Imperial City of Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 3||Roam the streets of Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 4||Inca Trail to Huchuy Qosqo||Ollantaytambo|
|Day 5||Ollantaytambo Village||Ollantaytambo|
|Day 6||Crystalline hot springs and organic coffee farm||Homestay|
|Day 7||Inca Trail to Llactapata||Aguas Calientes|
|Day 8||Machu Picchu||Ollantaytambo or Cusco|
|Day 9||Return to Cusco||Cusco|
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
¡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.
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: Arrival in the Imperial City of Cusco
Head to the Lima airport for your transfer flight to Cusco. This ancient city 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.
When you arrive, take a taxi from the airport to your lodging. You will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy today! Remember to drink lots of water and relax as you let your body get used to the altitude. 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.
Day 3: Roam the Streets of Cusco
Today is free for you to explore the city! Keep drinking water and taking rest breaks while you adjust to the higher elevation. Visit a museum or check out some of many local architectural ruins. Discover Peruvian cuisine through a chocolate making class — a fun way to learn something new. Cusco is very pedestrian-friendly — take a walk to one of the amazing restaurants and enjoy the buzzing nightlife. There's something for everyone!
Day 4: Inca Trail to Huchuy Qosqo
In the morning, your guide will pick you up bright and early for a hike to the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo. This is a beautiful section of the Inca Trail that leads to ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley. It's filled with Inca stair sections, tight, twisting canyons, and a perfectly maintained Inca road. Amid the gorgeous views here, you'll catch your first glimpse of the spectacular Andes. The trail ends in the small town of Lamay in the Sacred Valley. A private car will be waiting to take you to the historic village of Ollantaytambo, where you will spend the night.
Day 5: Ollantaytambo Village
Once an Incan city, the modern-day small town of Ollantaytambo is surrounded by huge mountains on all sides. There are two sets of ruins: one which can be seen from your lodging in town, and another a short 10-minute walk away. Hike a couple of hours up to the Sun Gate to see views of the spectacular 19,000-foot-tall (5,900 m) Willka Weqe Mountain (Mt. Veronica) and its huge glaciers. There is plenty to see and do in this town, and the rest of the day is free for you to explore.
Day 6: Crystalline Hot Springs and Organic Coffee Farm
Today, explore the varied and beautiful Andean terrain on a drive from a 15,000-foot-high (4,570 m) pass down into the cloud forest. Take a dip in the best hot springs Peru has to offer at Cocalmayo. Relax in crystal clear water in natural rock tubs, listen to the roaring river below you as it flows from the foot of Machu Picchu, and gaze at the mountains towering above.
Afterward, take a trip to an organic coffee farm deep in the cloud forest. Local coffee specialists will help you harvest the ripe, red beans, show you the fermentation process, and help you roast your own coffee. To celebrate, grind and prepare your very own cup of Peruvian coffee! A local family will host you for the night. Sleep well — tomorrow the Inca Trail to Llactapata awaits.
Day 7: Inca Trail to Llactapata
Enjoy a hearty breakfast with fresh coffee and local ingredients. Say goodbye to your host family and start your trek on the Inca Trail from their backyard. Together with your guide, head up the well-preserved Inca Trail to the ruins of Llactapata, which offer a rare view of Machu Picchu. Tomorrow almost 2,000 people will visit the historical site, but today you are alone and can view the site from the vantage point of the very Incas who built it!
After exploring the ruins, head 20 minutes down the trail and eat lunch at a small local lodge, which also overlooks Machu Picchu. After lunch, walk down to the hydroelectric plant that supplies electricity to all of Cusco. From there take a short train ride along the riverside to the foot of Machu Picchu. Spend the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
Day 8: Machu Picchu
Wake up early and hike to Machu Picchu to catch the sunrise and beat the crowds! Your guide will give you a fully guided two-hour tour of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Included with your Machu Picchu entrance ticket are a hike to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. After exploring the incredible ruins to your heart's content, take a comfortable train ride back to either Ollantaytambo or Cusco, depending on which you prefer.
Day 9: Return to Cusco
Return to Cusco and make your way to your hotel. In the afternoon, explore the small winding streets of Cusco. If you choose, add on an optional stop at the salt mines and Moray ruins, where you'll learn about ancient Incan salt-harvesting methods.
Day 10: Departure
Take a taxi to the airport for your flight to Lima, and connect to your flight home from there. Alternatively, extend your trip in Peru, either from Cusco or Lima. The options are endless!