- Explore restaurants and galleries in Lima's Barranco and Miraflores districts
- Marvel at the enormity and ingenuity of Machu Picchu
- Climb Inca ruins in Ollantaytambo
- Experience a Pachamama ceremony at Lake Humantay
|Day 1||Arrive in Lima||Lima|
|Day 2||Lima Architecture & Food Tour||Lima|
|Day 3||Fly to Cusco, Explore Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 4||Drive to Ollantaytambo & Sacred Valley||Ollantaytambo|
|Day 5||Paddle on Lake Piuray, Drive to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 6||Drive to Soraypampa, Soraypampa Hike||Soraypampa|
|Day 7||Hike to Lake Humantay||Soraypampa|
|Day 8||Cross Salkantay Pass||Salkantay Trek|
|Day 9||Descend The Cloud Forest to Colcapampa||Colcapampa|
|Day 10||Hike Santa Teresa River Valley, Transfer to Lucmabamba||Lucmabamba|
|Day 11||Lucmabamba to Aobamba River & Aguas Calientes||Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu|
|Day 12||Machu Picchu, Drive to Ollantaytambo||Ollantaytambo|
|Day 13||Drive to Cusco, Explore||Cusco|
|Day 14||Cusco, Tipón & Pikillacta||Cusco|
|Day 15||Depart Cusco|
Day 1: Arrive in Lima
Welcome to Lima! Your driver will meet you in the arrivals hall and take you to your hotel. Settle in and then get out and explore with a walk to the historical center of Peru's capital city. Start with the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century cathedral, which took 80 years to construct. Then visit Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion given by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga (one of his captains) in 1535—it's the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family.
In the evening, find your way to Love Park in the upscale district of Miraflores to admire its huge kissing statue and mosaic walls. Sit along the cliffs and see a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. Then go back to Miraflores for dinner at one of the neighborhood's restaurants for a modern take on Peruvian food, perhaps trying your first ceviche of the trip.
Day 2: Lima: Architecture & Food Tour
Lima was a pre-Columbian Indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish. Learn about its fascinating history and diverse mix of cultures on a walking tour. Through its food, neighborhoods, and architecture, see Lima's Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, Chinese, and Japanese influences as you explore the dynamic city with 43 districts. With its coastal location facing the Pacific Ocean, Lima's climate makes it ideal to explore on foot.
At a local mercado (market), taste spices, fruits, baked goods, a lúcuma fruit smoothie, and different types of piscos—a high-proof brandy. Eat at the market or go for lunch on a patio with views of the Pacific Ocean. In the Barranco artists' district, drink coffee and sample alfajores (cookies). Walk across the 100-foot (30 m) Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) and make a wish, as the legend says, doing so will make your desires come true. Take photos of the area's vibrant street art, and then head to Miraflores for dinner at an open-air restaurant.
Day 3: Fly to Cusco, Explore
Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes, is the destination today, and the journey begins at Lima International Airport after a pick-up at your hotel. From there, catch an approximately one-hour flight southeast to Cusco and then transfer to the city center. The former capital of the Inca Empire is known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. See this history in the Plaza de Armas central square with its wooden balconies and buildings covering Inca ruins. At Santo Domingo's Baroque convent, notice how the church was also built over Inca ruins, with some of them still visible.
Day 4: Drive to Ollantaytambo & Sacred Valley
The scenic floodplain between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the Urubamba River Valley is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and from Cusco, it's about a one-hour drive north to Pisac. This cobbled village is also home to the largest handicraft market in the region and a huge Inca fortress. Take some time to walk around and browse the market, then go to Pisac Archaeological Park, a hilltop Inca citadel, to travel back in time.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Paddle Lake Piuray, Drive to Cusco
Get ready for another type of adventure today with stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Piuray, 32 miles (52 km) south of Ollantaytambo. After a full briefing and warm-up, spend the morning on the serene lake to relax and take a break from cultural sightseeing. Breathe fresh air and see Peru's natural beauty from your board.
In the afternoon, explore the charming church and expansive mountain terraces of Chinchero right by the lake. Visit a textile workshop and learn about local weavers and how they make ponchos, hats, capes, and tapestries. From the lake, go back to Cusco, where you'll spend the night in preparation for the hiking itinerary of your Peruvian journey.
Day 6: Drive to Soraypampa, Soraypampa Hike
After an early breakfast, a guide will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco for the drive about two hours west to Soraypampa. The first stop will be at Quillarumiyoc archaeological site. Learn about its history with moon worship and feminine energy as your guide explains how the Incas used the site. Then, stop in the mountain village Mollepata for lunch at El Pedregal, a farmhouse with a chance to learn about local agriculture and livestock.
Day 7: Hike to Lake Humantay
After breakfast, begin an ascent to the turquoise waters of Lake Humantay on a four-hour moderate hike reaching 12,690 feet (3,869 m). The lake is named for Mount Humantay and is also at the base of the snow-capped Salkantay mountains. At the top of the lake, relax and see the tranquility of this magical place while participating in a Pachamama (Mother Earth) ceremony. Take time to rest before making the descent down to the lodge.
Day 8: Cross Salkantay Pass
Reaching Salkantay Peak is today's challenge, on a six-hour hike. Heading up, circle Humantay Peak, gradually making your way along expansive plateaus connected by enormous boulders—remnants of the Rio Blanco Valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river.
On the last and most challenging part of the ascent, conquer mountain switchbacks leading to the pass—the highest point on the trek at 15,213 feet (4,636 m). The journey continues with a dramatic descent through boulder fields, and natural stone formations often shrouded in fog, followed by a hot picnic lunch. After lunch, rest before the final hike through the area's bucolic countryside, as rolling hills lead through marsh-like plateaus to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay. Settle in for an early night after another day of hiking with the Incas.
Day 9: Descend The Cloud Forest to Colcapampa
After breakfast, it's time to hike into the "Cloud Forest." It's an easy three- or four-hour descent toward Colcapampa, your home for the night. Hike along the Salkantay River's banks with its verdant scenery, reaching an altitude of 9,414 feet (2,870 m). Feel warm air rise from the edge of the jungle, along with colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Meet local Andean people as you pass villages, and arrive at Colpa Lodge on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers.
At Colpa Lodge, you can unwind as you experience the traditional method of cooking food below ground with hot stones that create a natural oven for lunch. After lunch, relax, surrounded by panoramic lush green mountains, and settle into the lodge for the evening.
Day 10: Hike Santa Teresa River Valley, Transfer to Lucmabamba
Santa Teresa River Valley is known for its hot springs and lush landscapes. Today's five-hour moderate hike will follow the valley along a rolling trail that crosses fertile fruit orchards and bisects streams originating from glacier-fed waterfalls. The trail goes up to 7,003 feet (2,135 m), and there will be time for a picnic by the river and to relax before heading down to the point where you'll get a ride to Lucmabamba Lodge.
Rest your legs as you ride to the lodge, and stop to visit an organic coffee plantation and sample some of its finest beans. Arriving in Lucmabamba at the base of the Temple of the Moon and along the Urubamba River, notice a shift in the air. This hot air and increased humidity signals your approach to the Amazon. Rest at Lucmabamba Lodge, where you'll spend the night.
Day 11: Lucmabamba to Aobamba River & Aguas Calientes
Today, get ready for your first glimpse of what you've been waiting for: Machu Picchu. From Lucuma Lodge, set off on a moderate four-to-six-hour hike to the Aobamba River Valley and the approach to Machu Picchu, passing through cloud forest up an Inca path. Feel the shade of a lush tree line that creates green canopies overhead, and hear the sound of rushing water from the Aobamba River. At the Llactapata Pass, reaching 8,974 feet (2,736 m), at last, you can marvel at a southeast view of Machu Picchu.
After exploring Llactapata, and the Inca tambo (fort) that marks the pass, enjoy a picnic lunch at a mountain lookout point with panoramic views. On the final descent along a trail that zigzags down the roaring Aobamba River, see lush bamboo forests, fruit orchards, and coffee plantations. Celebrate as you cross the bridge over the river and take the final steps of your trek. Then catch a scenic one-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes, on the banks of the Urubamba River—the entry point to catch the bus to Machu Picchu.
Day 12: Explore Machu Picchu, Drive to Ollantaytambo
Wake up before sunrise today to have a spectacular view of the ancient city surrounded by mountains. As you ride the bus up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, get ready for the feeling that you are entering a time warp of a lost civilization to be discovered. Machu Picchu is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and your guide will help uncover some of the meaning behind this awe-inspiring place.
Take a tour to learn about the major sites at Machu Picchu's main citadel, such as the Temple of the Condor, the Temple of the Sun, and the Intihuatana sundial, which was used to predict the solstice. Also, learn about some hidden places and appreciate the calm before the crowds arrive. After getting an overview of the massive former city, take some time to explore and see what mysteries you can uncover. Take your last photos from your favorite views and then catch a transfer to Ollantaytambo for a final dinner with your guide and another night in the Sacred Valley village.
Day 13: Drive to Cusco, Explore
After the last morning in Ollantaytambo, take a one-hour private transfer along the scenic countryside traveling southeast to Cusco. In Cusco, visit the sites and neighborhoods that you didn't get to explore during the first part of the trip. Climb hills filled with art galleries and cafés, or go for a horseback ride or rafting excursion outside of the city.
Day 14: Explore Cusco, Tipón & Pikillacta
The area around Cusco is rich in folkloric culture. Today's road trip will stop at archaeological sites in Tipón and Pikillacta, with some surprises to learn about the area's traditions. Learn the mysteries of coca leaves with a brujo (sorcerer) who claims to see the future. For lunch, explore a market to taste sweet anise chuta bread, queso frito (fried cheese), chicharron (fried pork belly), and toqto (fried pork skin).
Learn about another aspect of Inca culture, exploring Tipón, with its agricultural terraces and panoramic views. In Pikillacta, hear stories about what is known as "the flea village" because of its ever-expanding population, which was once home to a 10,000-member pre-Inca tribe. Appreciate the grandeur of the church Andahuaylillas, known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas. At the end of the day, travel back to Cusco and toast your last night in Peru with a Pisco Sour.
Day 15: Depart Cusco
Say your goodbyes to Peru for now, and get a transfer from your hotel to the Cusco airport to catch a flight to your next destination.