While Machu Picchu is a must-see in Peru, there's more than one way to reach the iconic Inca site. During this 15-day itinerary, take on the lesser-known, more challenging Salkantay Trail on your way to the 15th-century citadel, catching stunning mountain views and visiting villages, coffee farms, and archaeological sites along the way. Once you've completed the trek, kick up your feet for a four-day cruise within the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.


  • Pick up unique souvenirs at the Sacred Valley's largest handicrafts market
  • Hike the lesser-known Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu
  • Visit an organic coffee farm in the cloud forest near Lucmabamba
  • Cruise along the Marañón River, the mainstem source of the Amazon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima Lima
Day 2 Fly to Cusco Cusco
Day 3 Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour Cusco
Day 4 Whitewater Raft the Urubamba River Cusco
Day 5 Cusco City Tour Cusco
Day 6 Hike to Soraypampa (Salkantay Trek Day 1) Soraypampa
Day 7 Cross Salkantay Pass (Salkantay Trek Day 2) Rayampata
Day 8 Visit a Coffee Farm (Salkantay Trek Day 3) Lucmabamba
Day 9 Hike to Llactapata (Salkantay Trek Day 4) Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu
Day 10 Tour Machu Picchu (Salkantay Trek Day 5) Cusco
Day 11 Fly to Iquitos Iquitos City
Day 12 Cruise the Amazon (La Perla Cruise Day 1) Iquitos
Day 13 Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (La Perla Cruise Day 2) Iquitos
Day 14 Fish Shiriyacu Creek (La Perla Cruise Day 3) Iquitos
Day 15 Disembark La Perla, Fly to Lima & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Aerial view of the coast of Lima, with the road and beach on the left and cliffs on the right. Two paragliders soar above the scene.
Aerial view of the coast of Lima

Welcome to Lima! Once you land in Peru's capital city, a private transfer will take you to your accommodations. If you have time, consider exploring the city on your own. Check out the chic shopping centers in Miraflores, visit Museo Larco's massive collection of pre-Columbian art, or take a walk past the lemon-yellow buildings surrounding the Plaza Mayor de Lima.

Day 2: Fly to Cusco

The main square in Cusco

Today, it's off to Cusco to acclimate for your trek—and to check out the former capital city of the Inca Empire, of course! After you've been transferred from the airport to your hotel, head out into the city to walk its narrow streets, peruse local markets, or drink a cup of coca tea to help adjust to its 11,000-foot (3,000 m) elevation. For an early taste of the Inca architecture, you'll find later in the trip, head uphill to the sacred site Sacsayhuamán, known for its walls made of huge boulders. 

Day 3: Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour

Wide angle aerial view of the terraces and fortress on Temple Hill, Ollantaytambo
A view of the terraces and fortress on Temple Hill, Ollantaytambo

Tour three of the Sacred Valley's gems today on a tour of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero. Start at Pisac Archaeological Park and check out the Inca-era complex, where you can find remnants of burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Later, head down the hill to the modern town's handicraft market, the largest in the region. Then stop for lunch at a local Peruvian-Andean restaurant with views of the Urubamba River, which flows through the Sacred Valley.

From here, head to Ollantaytambo, 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 for a bird's-eye-view of the valley. You'll be able to see some of the quarries from where the Ollantaytambo stone was sourced and marvel at the feat of engineering that brought them to the site.

Then, head back toward Cusco and stop at Chinchero, a small Andean village sitting at a higher elevation than the other villages at 12,342 feet (3,762 m) above sea level. Enjoy breathtaking views of snowy mountains like Salkantay, which you'll hike to later in the trip, as you explore the Inca terraces, a colonial stucco church, and another artisanal market. 

Day 4: Whitewater Raft the Urubamba River

View of Urubamba River looking out from the middle of the river with green slopes on either side
Rapids in the Urubamba River
Get ready for an adrenaline rush today! You'll be picked up from your hotel and driven for 1.5 hours to the Chuquicahuana area of the Urubamba River, affectionately known as "Chuqui," for an exhilarating day of white-water rafting. Experienced guides will help you prepare for the Class III and higher rapids in the area, and you'll be rewarded with lunch at the Cusipata River Lodge after two hours on the water. If that's not enough adventure, try the zip line that spans 328 feet (100 m) across the river!

Day 5: Cusco City Tour

Bird's-eye-view of Cusco at sunset with mountains in the background
Get to know Cusco on a guided tour through the city. First, walk Plaza de Armas and explore the Cathedral of Cusco, home to several paintings from the Escuela Cuzquena ("Cusco School"), known for their gold leaf accents. From there, head to the ruins of the legendary Qoricancha ("Temple of the Sun"), once the Inca's most important temple, whose walls were said to be plated with gold. Wrap up the tour with visits to other archaeological sites, like Q'enqo, Tambomachay, and Puka Pukara.

Day 6: Hike to Soraypampa (Salkantay Trek Day 1)

three mules with blue bundles tied to their backs walk up a hiking trail in a valley. the snowy peak of salkantay is visible in the distance
Mules carry gear on the trail to Salkantay
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Today, the Salkantay trek begins! Spend the next few days on the trail on the slopes of Salkantay, the highest mountain in the Vilcabamba range in the Peruvian Andes. Get an early start this morning when you leave Cusco and ride toward Marcoccasa, where the trail starts. Muleteers and their steeds will help carry the heavier items as you climb toward your first camp, Soraypampa, passing villagers and farmers. It can get quite chilly at camp at 12,631 feet (3,850 m) in elevation, so enjoy a well-deserved hot meal and a warm drink.

Day 7: Cross Salkantay Pass (Salkantay Trek Day 2)

Panoramic view across the valley to Mr. Humantay
The Salkantay Mountain trail offers views of Mount Humantay
Today will be one of the longest and most challenging days of the trek as you make your way up and over Salkantay Pass, but it will also be the most rewarding. Once again, get an early start and climb past boulder fields and switchback trails until you reach the pass at 15,190 feet (4,630 m). From there, continue downhill past more ancient boulders, rock formations, mountain fog, and wildlife until you reach camp at Chaullay

Day 8: Visit a Coffee Farm (Salkantay Trek Day 3)

Photo of a small building in a lush coffee farm
A coffee farm in Lucmabamba
Follow the Salkantay River as you enter the cloud forest. As your elevation decreases, the air will get warmer, and the surrounding vegetation will grow denser—keep an eye out for orchids and bromeliads clinging to the trees. Your destination today is Lucmabamba, a village at 6,561 feet (2,000 m) that's home to a coffee plantation where you'll spend the night. Upon arrival, take a guided tour and learn how the beans are harvested and roasted to create some of the best coffee in the world.

Day 9: Hike to Llactapata (Salkantay Trek Day 4)

Aerial distant view of Llactapata ruins, made up of curving terraces on the valley floor between high mountains
Aerial view of Llactapata

Today marks the last day of hiking on the Salkantay trail! Trek along an old Inca trail up to Llactapata Pass. It's here, at 8,974 feet (2,736 m), that you can look across the valley to spot Machu Picchu for the first time and enjoy views of Vilcanota Canyon, weather permitting. There is no shortage of archaeological sightseeing to do on your side of the valley, though—the pass is home to Llactapata, an Inca tambo (fort). Once you've explored the site, catch the train for the one-hour ride to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Day 10: Tour Machu Picchu (Salkantay Trek Day 5)

Groupal 05-Days Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5/5 - Cusco
Machu Picchu
Presiding nearly 8,000 feet (2,438 m) above the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu has been stunning visitors for centuries. Ride the bus up early in the morning to catch a breathtaking sunrise over the mountain. Then, take a guided tour through 15th-century dry-stone walls and check out the three most famous structures—the Intihuatana ritual stone, The Temple of the Sun, and The Temple of the Three Windows—as well as some lesser-known spots around the area. At the end of the day, catch the train to Cusco.

Day 11: Fly to Iquitos 

Aerial view of Iquitos, Peru. Tin roofs, a small square, and the Itaya River are visible

Now that your trek in the Peruvian Andes has ended gear up for your cruise through the Amazon. A private transfer will take you to the Cusco Airport for your flight to Iquitos, known as "the capital of the Peruvian Amazon." Once at your accommodations in town, you'll have some time to check out the city. Head to the Plaza de Armas to see buildings constructed during the 20th-century rubber boom, or explore Belén, a neighborhood famous for its street market and houses suspended on stilts.

Day 12: Cruise the Amazon (La Perla Cruise Day 1)

view from the river toward the bank, with vegetation and small huts on stilts
View from the Marañon River
A private transfer will take you from Iquitos to Nauta to board your cruise ship, La Perla, and start your adventure on the Peruvian Amazon. Today's leg of the trip takes you along the Marañon River to its confluence with the Ucayali River, forming the Amazon. Visit the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, a sprawling, 8,000-square-mile (20,800-sq-km) protected area of seasonally flooded forest. Here you can find freshwater charapa turtles, and then later tonight, you and your guides can head into the rainforest to try and spot the nocturnal residents of the area.

Day 13: Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (La Perla Cruise Day 2)

a pink river dolphin rising out of the water
You may see pink river dolphins in the Pacaya-Samiria National Park
Today, you'll revisit the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and enjoy a picnic breakfast—keep an eye out for its famous pink river dolphins! There are plenty of other animals to seek out, including blue and yellow macaws, toucans, and several species of monkeys. Later on, meet a shaman from San Regis, a local community, who will share insights about Amazonian culture and rituals, and then join a tree-planting ceremony. This evening, take a ride through Nauta Creek, known as the mirrored forest, thanks to the still, reflective floodwaters framing the trees.

Day 14: Fish Shiriyacu Creek (La Perla Cruise Day 3)

Aerial view over a tropical forest with a river meandering through the canopy of the rainforest and houses of indigenous people of the amazon visible along the rive
Aerial view of the meandering Amazon River

Experience a little action today as you head to Shiriyacu Creek for a little piranha fishing. Guides will show you the traditional techniques developed by the local people in the area. You'll get to learn even more about the people who call this corner of the Amazon rainforest home when you visit Kukama Prado, a local village. Later this afternoon, you'll have the chance to take one last boat ride along the Amazon River to spot any wildlife you might have missed previously, like caimans, frogs, tarantulas, and snakes.

Day 15: Disembark La Perla, Fly to Lima & Depart

Aerial view of Chorillos neighborhood in Lima
Sunset over the beach in Lima

After enjoying one last morning on La Perla, disembark and take a bus to Nauta and then onto Iquitos. Take a pit stop at Amazon Rescue Center, a rescue and rehab facility for wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon. Learn about the center's mission and come face-to-face with some of their rescues, including manatees, pink river dolphins, and land creatures like sloths and anteaters. 

Once you arrive in Iquitos, take a flight back to Lima for your next connection. Whether you're headed back home or onto the next adventure, you'll leave Peru with memories that will last a lifetime.

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Map of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu & Amazon River Cruise  - 15 Days
Map of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu & Amazon River Cruise - 15 Days