Experience the rich culture, tastes, and history across Peru and Bolivia during this exciting 11-day trip. Start in the imperial city of Cusco in Peru, where you'll visit ancient temples and religious sites that speak to its incredible history, then pop by the San Pedro Market for local produce and treats. Explore the Sacred Valley and see the ruins of Machu Picchu. Cross the border into Bolivia and explore the city of La Paz, then spend the next three days touring the Uyuni Salt Flats and all its wonders. Wrap up your journey with a catamaran cruise to the city of Puno and a scenic drive accompanied by llamas through the Andes.

Highlights

  • Discover ancient Inca ruins and culture in Cusco
  • Be dazzled by the beauty of the Sacred Valley
  • Delve into the secrets of Machu Picchu's ruins
  • Take unbelievable pictures at Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Board a catamaran and cruise on Lake Titicaca

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima & Cusco: Free day Cusco
Day 2 Cusco History Tour Cusco
Day 3 Explore the Sacred Valley: Chinchero - Moray - Maras - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes Aguas Calientes
Day 4 Machu Picchu Excursion Cusco
Day 5 Cusco to La Paz La Paz
Day 6 Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 1/3 San Juan
Day 7 Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 2/3 Huayllajara
Day 8 Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 3/3 La Paz
Day 9 Sun Island By Catamaran & Arrive in Puno Puno
Day 10 Cultural Sillustani & Llama Trek Lima
Day 11 Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Cusco: Free day

The city of Cusco

This morning, you will arrive in Lima and transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Cusco. Cusco is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement in the same location.    

Remember that you will be 11,000 ft (3,352 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. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • 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.
  • Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.
  • Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.
  • Eat lunch 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 2: Cusco History Tour

View of Cusco's Plaza de Armas
View of Cusco's Plaza de Armas

Today's tour will begin at the local San Pedro Market. The locals shop at this market every day in order to stock up on produce and groceries making this market experience as authentic as Peru gets. The market is located indoors and includes many different food stalls and vendors. Be sure to try their endless selection of fresh fruit smoothies, which are the perfect refreshing treat.

From the market, you will head to the most important temple of the Inca Empire, the Sun Temple, known as Qoricancha. Here, you can observe detailed and intact architecture, and within the temple, you will see smaller temples dedicated to the moon, rainbow, stars, lightning, and thunder, among others.

From Qoricancha, you will walk to an important religious site called Sacsayhuaman, which features immense stones. Although the site was religious, the Spanish considered it a military fortress because of its location and the way it was built. After your tour, head back to your hotel for some rest.

Day 3: Explore the Sacred Valley: Chinchero - Moray - Maras - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes

The Sacred Valley

This morning you will depart to the town of Chinchero, which the Inca believed to be the birthplace of the rainbow. In this typical Andean village you can see extensive Inca terracing and some pretty colonial-era churches. The town is also known for its weaving studios—you'll have a chance to see the weavers producing handmade products.

From Chinchero, you'll continue to Moray, an incredible complex of stone amphitheaters developed by the Inca. While the exact reason for the construction of this site remains unknown, historians believe the Inca constructed in order to experiment with crop production in different micro-climates.  

From Moray, you will continue to Salineras of Maras, an incredible patchwork of stone pools and paths developed by the Inca as a means to harvest salt. 

In the afternoon, you will go to Ollantaytambo ruins, 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.

Finally, take the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) for an overnight.

Day 4: Machu Picchu Excursion

Scenic views of 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 Inca Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and 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 in the picturesque town center. Connect to your train to Ollantaytambo and your connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 5: Cusco to La Paz

The city of La Paz

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Bolivia. Today, you'll have your breath taken away at 12,000 ft (3,658 m) above sea level in La Paz. A colorful jumble of tradition and modernity where cholitas (Bolivian women in typical dress) travel in the world’s most modern urban gondola system, this one-of-a-kind city is a travelers' favorite. You'll have time to explore the popular Witches' Market, where you can purchase medicinal herbs, and visit the San Francisco Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the city. You’ll see the main square, Plaza Murillo, continuing onward to the southern neighborhoods and a fascinating geological anomaly called Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) because of its bizarre, moon-like surface. End with a cable car ride, taking in panoramic views of La Paz.

Day 6: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 1/3

Uyuni Salt Flats

Early in the morning, you will take your flight to Uyuni. Upon arrival at Uyuni, you will be transferred to the main offices, then take some time for breakfast.  

First, you will visit the Train Cemetery to see the first locomotives in Bolivia, then head to Colchani to see handicrafts made of salt as well as the process of making domestic salt.

From here, you will enter the world’s largest white salt desert. You'll be able to see Ojos del Sal—the outlets for subterranean rivers flowing from the inside, where the salt flat has particular acidic concentrations and is considered medicinal waters by the locals.

Next, you will visit the Salt Hotel (Salar de Uyuni) made completely of salt. From here, head to Incahuasi Island (Fish Island), where you will have time for a hike to the top of the island and see the Cactus Valley. Take some time to snap fun perspective- and proportion-distorted pictures with the giant cacti and rock formations made of petrified coral. Finally, enjoy the sunset. 

Day 7: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 2/3

Reflections in the water

Today you will visit the National Reserve of Andean Fauna Eduardo Avaró.

Start the day with a panoramic view of the Altiplano de Lipez, then continue your way surrounded by volcanoes, such as the Ollague Volcano. You'll also see some lagoons, including ‘Cañapa’ where you can spot some flamingos, ‘Hedionda’, and ‘Chiarcota’ where you will see a variety of birds and fauna.

From here, enter the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve and visit the Desert of Siloli, considered the highest and driest desert in the world. Here, you'll be able to see the Stone Tree and other eroded rock formations.  Afterward, you will arrive at the viewpoint of Laguna Colorada—a shallow salt lake with a spectacular setting, with the deep crimson lake a stark contrast to the clear blue sky and the white snow on the distant mountain. Here, you will be able to see three of the world’s six species of flamingo.

Day 8: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Day 3/3

The Green Lagoon

This day will start early today, around 5 am. You'll have an early breakfast, then start with a visit to Sol de Mañana Geyser. You’ll walk alongside fumaroles and steaming craters filled with boiling pots of mud at 150-200 Cº. Continue to the open-air hot springs of Polques and take a bath in the healing waters. 

Afterward, visit the Dali Desert, where Salvador Dali found inspiration for his work from the scattered boulders. Continue to the Green Lagoon, which sits at the foot of the big Licancabur and Juriques volcanoes.

Finally, head back to Uyuni, passing by the Valley of the Rocks, Villamar, and Alota. You'll arrive in Uyuni at approximately between 5 pm and 6 pm.

Day 9: Sun Island By Catamaran & Arrive in Puno

A catamaran cruise 

Early in the morning, around 5:30 am Bolivia time, transfer to Copacabana Sanctuary for a brief guided visit. At the Copacabana harbor, you will board the catamaran cruise ship to sail to Sun Island, the birthplace of the Inca Empire. In this legendary island, you will visit the Inca Garden, Stairs, and Fountain.

The itinerary continues with a visit to the Inti Wata Cultural Complex which includes the underground Museums of Archeology and Anthropology, the Traditional Medicine and the Titikaka Reed Shipbuilders Display Centers, the Pachamama Agricultural Inca Terraces, a handicraft display, the Intica Lounge, and an exhibit of a variety of Andean camelids. The Inti Wata Cultural Complex is the main tourist attraction in Bolivia and includes a unique sailing experience onboard a huge Titicaca traditional reed vessel for a panoramic visit to the Pilkokaina Inca Palace.

Afterward, board the catamaran cruise again to sail back to Copacabana while enjoying a buffet lunch. From here, you'll transfer by land to the city of Puno, arriving around 7 pm.

Day 10: Cultural Sillustani & Llama Trek

Andean llamas

Start the day early and set off on a scenic drive to Atuncolla, accompanied by llamas as you walk through the lonely Andean landscape until you arrive at the light blue shimmering lagoon of Uyumayo. Cross the beautiful lagoon in traditional boats to reach the Necropolis Sillustani. The dead city from the pre-Inca period houses 90 monoliths that stand up to 49 ft (15 m) high, built of volcanic stone tombs.

Enjoy the unique panorama of the ancient tomb overlooking the Andes and the beautiful lagoon as the tour guide takes you through the necropolis and teaches you about the Inca and Aymara culture.

Afterward, head to Juliaca Airport for your flight to Lima.

Day 11: Depart Peru

Adios Peru!

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the airport, where you will catch your international departure.

¡Buen viaje!

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