- Explore Cusco's historical center and its mix of Inca and Spanish influences
- Embarking on a trek to Huchuy Qosqo and discover the town of Ollantaytambo
- See Machu Picchu, the most important site in all of Peru
- Stop by the Inca amphitheaters of Moray and the salt fields of Salineras
- Learn about Andean life in Amaru through hands-on activities
The villagers of the Andes lead a unique way of life, centered around agriculture, herding, and weaving. This itinerary will allow you to fully understand everything about them, from how they tend their fields to how they make their textiles. Accommodations will include both traditional hotels and homestays.
The trip will span a little over a week and start in the cities of Lima and Cusco, continuing on to the highlands towards Ollantaytambo for the first few days. This will require a good amount of trekking, so prepare for ascents and descents that can last up to six hours. After making it to Machu Picchu, the next part of the trip will be more culture-focused and include excursions to experience both the past and present. We will visit several small towns and spend a day with villagers before one last hike and our return to Cusco. Therefore, this tour will be best suited for those who are physically fit and also have an interest in cultural interactions.
|Arrival in Lima
|Arrival in Cusco, Exploring the City
|Cusco - Patambamba - Huchuy Qosqo
|Homestay (Huchuy Qoosqo)
|Huchuy Qosqo - Lamay/Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes
|Hotel (Aguas Calientes)
|Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo
|Chinchero/Moray/Salineras - Ollantaytambo
|Amaru - Pisac - 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 Cusco, Exploring the City
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.
After arriving at the airport, we will meet you at 1 pm for a traditional Peruvian meal at a popular local restaurant. In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a casual walking tour around Cusco’s stunning historic center, featuring a plethora of stunning colonial architecture. For the rest of the day, get some free time. Since you will need to acclimatize to Cusco’s 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) altitude, make sure to take it easy and rest up, as we will start hiking tomorrow.
Day 3: Highland hike to Huchuy Qosqo
We will start the day by driving an hour out to Patambaba to start our 6-mile (10 km) hike, which will last 4-6 hours. Walk through the countryside and appreciate the rugged views of the surrounding farmland and mountains. After traversing part of the Sacred Valley, we will reach the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, or "Little Cusco". Irene, a local, will warmly welcome us with dinner and comfortable beds. Tonight's homestay will be just above the ruins, allowing for a great view in a quaint, rustic location.
Day 4: Explore Huchuy Qosqo and Ollantaytambo
Wake up and take a short walk around Huchuy Qosqo to a rarely-visited vantage point that offers a sweeping view of the Sacred Valley below. After exploring the area and the ruins a bit more, we will start heading downhill to Lamay. Then, follow the main trail along the Sacred Valley for another 3 miles (5 km), which will take around 2 hours. Eventually, we will stop for a quick lunch near Urubamba.
Soon, we will arrive at Ollantaytambo for the afternoon, a town famed for its Inca fortress and cobblestone streets. Explore Ollantaytambo's unique charm, then take a train to Aguas Calientes, the closest settlement to Machu Picchu.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Machu Picchu!
Rise and shine early and immediately head up to Machu Picchu to watch the stunning sunrise slowly light up the mountains amidst the clouds. Then, go on a tour headed by our guide and fully understand the story of Machu Picchu, the pinnacle of Inca architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Explore the massive complex completely, from the main plazas to the more intricate stone carvings. Towards the end, you will get time to venture off on your own to roam more around the site and even head to some of the surrounding peaks. Finally, catch the train back to Ollantaytambo as we gear up for the next leg of our adventure.
Day 6: Chinchero, Moray, and Salineras
Today's excursion out of Ollantaytambo starts with Chinchero, a peaceful little town known for its outdoor weaving studios, terraced Inca ruins, and intricately-decorated colonial church. Next, we will continue on to Moray, which features three centuries-old amphitheaters that highlight the incredible and precise engineering of the Incas.
After lunch, we will either walk or ride the bus through rolling fields of crops as mountains peer over in the distance. We will then reach our final destination for the day, Salineras. This terraced salt field has been around for ages and still operated today based on Inca technology. Explore the extensive networks of water and fields of salt crystals. Finally, head back to Ollantaytambo for the night.
Day 7: Andean life in Amaru
This day will focus entirely on the community as we make our way to the village of Amaru to interact with the locals. Indigenous families here have preserved a way of life for hundreds of years, based on the subsistence farming of Andean crops. In the morning, we will meet the farmers and help them in the fields, which can be anything from herding pigs to plowing fields depending on the time of year and harvest.
In the afternoon, expert weavers will break down the process of textile weaving for us. These women produce everything from start to finish, first picking the plants for dyes and finally finishing with touches of color on the loom-weaved fabrics. Get to participate in each stage, then spend the rest of the night in a family home.
Day 8: Hike from Amaru to Pisac ruin
Bid farewell to the villagers of Amaru as we set off to continue our journey. Approach and walk across a ridgeline, which will offer incredible views few have seen before arriving at the town of Pisac. See the nearby terraced Inca fortress, a massive, imposing site that will take some time to explore.
Afterward, we will hike down to investigate the famous handicraft market, one of the largest and best-known in the region and the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs. We will head back to Cusco in the afternoon and enjoy a gourmet dinner as we celebrate the last moments of the trip together.
Day 9: Departure day
Your journey comes to an end as you prepare to fly out of Cusco. We will accommodate all flight times and help with any further advice if you plan on spending more time in Peru. If not, say goodbye to the Sacred Valley and return home after an unforgettable experience!