- Explore the Sacred Valley, the heart of the Inca Empire
- Marvel at the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu
- Spend the night with a local family in Raqchi
- Visit the stunning islands of Lake Titicaca
Peru’s sheer diversity and incredible mix of culture and scenic beauty mean there are boundless activities to suit all tastes. This 15-day itinerary will introduce you to the country’s rich cultural legacy and spectacular natural scenery.
You’ll overnight with local families, take part in religious ceremonies and learn about local traditions from pottery making to coffee harvesting. The tour will also take you to some of the country’s most impressive natural and man-made sights, including the famed ruins of Machu Picchu.
|Day 1||Arrival in Lima||Lima|
|Day 2||Introduction to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 3||Discover the sights of the Sacred Valley||Sacred Valley|
|Day 4||Weaving, terraced depressions and salt pans||Sacred Valley|
|Day 5||Amazonian Adventures||Santa Teresa|
|Day 6||Coffee plantation tour||Aguas Calientes|
|Day 7||Marvel at the ruins of Machu Picchu||Cusco|
|Day 8||Explore Cusco in your own time||Cusco|
|Day 9||Indulge in an Andean Feast in the South Valley||Raqchi|
|Day 10||Try pottery and take part in local religious ceremony||Raqchi|
|Day 11||Visit the Majestic Altiplano||Marangani|
|Day 12||Gaze at Lampa’s forgotten riches||Puno|
|Day 13||Visit Lake Titicaca’s southern shore||Puno|
|Day 14||Explore Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca||Puno|
|Day 15||Departure Day|
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: Introduction to Cusco
You'll start your tour in beautiful Cusco, the former capital of the mighty Inca Empire. Your guide will meet you at 1 pm to enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal together at a local restaurant. In the afternoon you will be shown around Cusco’s gorgeous historical center, home to majestic Spanish colonial buildings and impressive Inca remains.
You’ll have to take it easy today, as you will need some time to acclimatize to the altitude. Don’t forget, Cusco is located at 11,200 ft (3400 m) above sea level, and altitude sickness - or soroche, as it’s commonly known - affects most travelers.
Day 3: Discover the sights of the Sacred Valley
The fertile Sacred Valley surrounds the Urubamba River, spreading from Pisac to Ollantaytambo. You will visit both towns, starting off in Pisac. Renowned for its bustling market, one of the region’s largest, the cobbled town of Pisac is also famous for its impressive Inca ruins. From here you will continue your trip deeper into the valley, stopping off for photos as you pass through awe-inspiring Andean landscapes of snow-capped peaks, Inca terraces, and age-old irrigation canals.
In the afternoon you’ll visit Ollantaytambo, home to some of the area’s best-preserved ruins. You will explore its pretty center, characterized by narrow cobbled lanes and small plazas. You will visit the town’s impressive ruins, a former Incan fortress built in the shape of a llama. After this culture-packed day, you will bed down at a cozy family-run hotel for the night.
Day 4: Weaving, terraced depressions, and salt pans
You will start your day in Chinchero, renowned for its weaving studios and Inca agricultural terraces. Then you’ll explore Moray, an archaeological site consisting of a series of terraced depressions of magnificent beauty.
A short stroll (or bus ride) through rolling farmland will take you to the Salineras de Maras, incredible terraced salt ponds that to this day produce salt using Inca technology.
Day 5: Amazonian Adventures
From the arid side of the Andes, you’ll venture over to its lush western slope leading to the upper reaches of the Amazon Basin. You'll descend from the icy high pass of Abra Malaga 14,000 ft (4350 m) all the way down to the lush ceja de selva (eyebrow of the jungle).
Your destination is the sleepy town of Santa Teresa (1,550 metres/5,085 feet), home to the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo, bubbling hot springs located by a gushing river. You will spend some time here, relaxing after your long journey.
If you like mountain biking and are up for a little fun, you can ride part or all of the long descent into the jungle. Freewheeling downhill in this part of the country is hugely enjoyable and is suitable for anyone who can ride a bike (we can provide bikes). You can ride as much or as little as you wish.
Day 6: Coffee Plantation Tour
Today you'll delve into the world of coffee, the backbone of this area’s economy. The coffee is exported to countries around the world through growers’ co-operatives. You will tour a coffee plantation with a local coffee producer and will learn about where coffee is harvested and milled.
In the afternoon you will enjoy a short train journey to Aguas Calientes, the jumping off point for Machu Picchu. You’ll have time to explore the market and admire the surrounding scenery characterized by lush jungle. You will spend the night in a comfortable hotel in town.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Marvel at the ruins of Machu Picchu
Today you will visit South America’s most impressive sight: the ruins of Machu Picchu. It’ll be an early start as you’ll visit the ruins at sunrise, a magical time of day. Surrounded by steep lush peaks, this spectacular stone city is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. You will enjoy a guided tour with your trip leader who will orient you and shed light on the site’s incredible history. You’ll be able to explore the ruins and surrounding peaks on your own before you catch the train back to Cusco, where you will spend the night.
Day 8: Explore Cusco in your own time
With its plethora of churches, museums and art galleries, Cusco has plenty to suit all tastes. It’s also a great place to shop, with local artisan stores and trendy boutiques selling Andean clothing and souvenirs. You’ll be able to wander around the cobbled center and explore the city’s steep narrow alleyways, enjoying Cusco’s great mountain views and charming architecture. The city is also a great base for adventure activities, including rafting and horse riding.
Day 9: Indulge in an Andean feast in the South Valley
The Valle Sur, just outside Cusco, is a popular weekend getaway for locals, who come here for the famous delicacies served at special restaurants. Try some chicharrones, chunks of pork that are deep-fried with corn and mint, or if you’re daring, sample some guinea pig (cuy)!
In addition to enjoying a traditional lunch in a local restaurant, you will visit the archaeological sites of Tipón and Pikillacta. You'll also stop at the Church of Andahuaylillas, dubbed the Sistine Chapel of the Americas for its incredibly ornate interiors.
In the late afternoon, you will arrive in the village of Raqchi, where locals will open their homes and lives to you, providing a unique insight into traditional Andean life and customs.
Day 10: Try your hand at pottery and take part in a ceremony of propitiation
Today you will explore the surrounding countryside, stopping off at lookouts and the extinct volcano of Kimsach’ata. You can also try your hand at pottery-making. Pottery production has long been part of the Raqchi community, and you will be shown how to make a pot on a pedal-powered potter’s wheel.
Later in the day, you will attend a ceremony of propitiation of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), known as a ch’alla. Held by the Catholic community, the ceremonies are a telling example of the syncretism of Catholic and Andean beliefs.
Day 11: Visit the Altiplano
In our last morning in Raqchi, we will explore the imposing adobe ruins that dwarf the humble homes of the nearby villagers. Next, we travel to Altiplano, one of the highest inhabited regions on the planet.
After we reach higher ground and cooler temperatures, we will stop at Marangani, a complex of five natural hot springs connected by streams of steaming water. Go for a dip and enjoy the relaxing heat of the pools. We will spend the rest of the day at a historic hacienda. First built as a convent in the 18th century, the hacienda now operates a dairy farm where we can sample some of the locally-produced cheeses and yogurts. Afterward, we will stay overnight on the hacienda grounds.
Day 12: Gaze at Lampa's forgotten riches
Today you’ll explore the ghost town of Lampa. Once one of the country’s richest towns, it is home to an impressive cathedral that is undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights around. It houses a catacomb, human skeletons, hundreds of skulls, and a replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
You will arrive on Lake Titicaca in time to enjoy a memorable dinner at one of Puno’s many excellent restaurants.
Day 13: Visit Lake Titicaca’s southern shore
Past Puno lies a string of unique sights constructed over the course of millennia, from burial monuments dedicated to dwarves to ruins partially buried in farmers’ field.
Carved in solid rock, the stone door of Amaru Meru is said to open into other dimensions of time and space. Whether you have an interest in interdimensional portals or not, you will enjoy the impressive rock formations and sweeping views of Lake Titicaca. You will also visit Chucuito, an ancient fertility temple scattered with 88 large stone phalluses. Some locals believe it to be a hoax. Either way, it’s an impressive sight!
Day 14: Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca
Today we will venture out onto Lake Titicaca. We will stop off at the Uros, the floating reed islands of the lake, before heading on to Taquile, one of the world’s most incredible lake islands. Isolated until the 1950s, its inhabitants continue to lead a unique way of life. Decisions are made communally, economic activity is co-operative, and society is based on the Inca principles "Ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella" (Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy). It’s car-free, with few dogs and little electricity.
Taquile is renowned for its colorful storytelling textiles that are designed and woven by the island’s women from thread spun by local men. It’s a quiet welcoming place where life has changed little over the centuries. Its stunning scenery, peace and tranquillity are like nowhere else on Earth.
Day 15: Departure Day
Juliaca Airport is just over one hour’s drive from Puno. You can book your flight out at any time you’d like. If you’re planning on staying on in the country, we will happily advise you on places to go and see during the rest of your trip.