Explore Peru's picturesque coast, the snowcapped Andes, and the Amazon rainforest on this 10-day adventure. Start in cosmopolitan Lima, then ride a motorized canoe deep into the jungle for guided hikes and nocturnal wildlife tours. Continue to Cusco to explore ancient ruins and the stunning Sacred Valley, spending a day at the famed Machu Picchu citadel. Finish the trip at Lake Titicaca—South America's largest lake—learning about native cultures and boating to floating islands.


  • Explore Lima's bustling nightlife and Cusco's cobblestone streets
  • Spot Amazonian wildlife like macaws, caimans, and anacondas
  • Discover the mysteries of the ancient city of Machu Picchu
  • Boat to the famous floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima, Explore Lima
Day 2 Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Boat Into the Jungle Puerto Maldonado
Day 3 Spot Rare Wildlife at the Tambopata National Reserve Puerto Maldonado
Day 4 Fly to Cusco, Transfer to the Sacred Valley, Explore Ollantaytambo Ollantaytambo
Day 5 Discover Machu Picchu  Ollantaytambo
Day 6 Tour the Sacred Valley, Transfer to Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Explore the Ancient City of Cusco Cusco
Day 8 Enjoy a Scenic Drive to Lake Titicaca Puno
Day 9 Boat to Floating Islands & Taquile Puno
Day 10 Fly to Lima, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Explore

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Stroll around Lima's colorful Plaza Mayor

Welcome to Lima, Peru! The country's largest city is home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian settlement, 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. The city's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean makes it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Get out and explore this afternoon on a guided tour.

First, you'll head to the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Stroll over to the 16th-century cathedral, which took 80 years to construct in grandiose Spanish colonial style. Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion that dates from 1535. Walk around the Pucllana Pyramid, a magnificent ceremonial center built in the fourth century CE. Visit the monumental San Francisco Convent, which displays the largest collection of religious art in America. Finally, take in sunset views over the ocean in the clifftop neighborhood of Miraflores

Day 2: Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Boat Into the Jungle

Stay in a warm and welcoming hacienda
Sleep tonight in a hacienda in the Amazon

This morning, you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the southern Amazon rainforest. Then take a short motorized canoe trip down the Río Madre de Dios to a hacienda in the jungle, your home base for the next two nights. Take a break for lunch, then explore the jungle trails around the hacienda, learning about local flora and fauna. As the sun sets, you'll embark on a twilight boating excursion. Your expert guide will point out nocturnal wildlife and constellations before you head back to the lodge for a relaxing night. 

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Day 3: Spot Rare Wildlife at the Tambopata National Reserve

The dazzling Blue Morpho butterfly
Observe the dazzling blue morpho butterfly in its natural habitat

Explore the Tambopata National Reserve today. You'll navigate by dugout canoe across a mirror-like lake, looking for endangered giant river otters, blue-and-yellow macaws, red howler monkeys, and black caimans. Return to the lodge for lunch, then head out for a tour of the canopy walkway, where you might be able to spot anacondas.

Continue the excursion on a 20-minute boat ride to an interpretation center. Ascend one of two 98-foot (30 m) towers and walk across hanging bridges amid the treetops to see a bird's-eye view of the jungle. Enjoy breathtaking vistas and catch glimpses of white-throated toucans, woodpeckers, trogons, squirrel monkeys, and three-toed sloths. Tonight, you'll go on another nocturnal wildlife tour. Listen to the sounds of the rainforest at night and try to spot wildlife in the trees with provided flashlights. Then return to the hacienda for the night. 

Day 4: Fly to Cusco, Transfer to the Sacred Valley, Explore Ollantaytambo

Narrow streets in Cusco frame the dry hills
Discover the narrow streets of Cusco

After breakfast, boat back to Puerto Maldonado, then transfer to the airport to catch a one-hour flight to the imperial Inca city of Cusco. A driver will be waiting to take you on a scenic ride through the valley to your hotel in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. On arrival, you'll sit down for a traditional Peruvian meal at a restaurant overlooking the Río Urubamba.

Afterward, explore Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that has 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; from the top, you'll be able to see some of the quarries where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. Return to your hotel for dinner and a relaxing night. 

Day 5: Discover Machu Picchu 

Marvel at the 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu

After breakfast, take the train to Aguas Calientes. The ride takes you through a valley, into the Río Urubamba canyon, and then into the cloud forest. From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (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 a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people. During the royals' absence, 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden from 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 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 Machu Picchu on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and have a late lunch or drinks in the picturesque town center. Then ride the train to Ollantaytambo for the night. 

Day 6: Tour the Sacred Valley, Transfer to Cusco

Maras Salt Flats
Take in spectacular views of the Maras salt flats

Today you'll explore the Sacred Valley. Begin with a visit to the village of Chinchero, believed by the Inca to be the birthplace of the rainbow. View Inca terraces and small colonial-era churches before exploring Chinchero's famous textile production and weaving crafts. Tour a weaver's studio and learn about the process of cleaning and producing the wool, then browse the selection of vibrant textiles for the perfect handmade gift. 

Continue to Moray, where you'll see three famous amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These bowl-shaped terraces are carved deep into the earth. It is believed that the Incas once used these terraces as agricultural laboratories to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. Finally, you'll travel onward to the salt mines of Maras. Over 3,000 salt pools are carved into the mountainside, filled daily by a stream of water. After the tour, you'll travel to Cusco and check into a hotel for the night.

Day 7: Explore the Ancient City of Cusco

Picturesque San Blas
Discover the picturesque neighborhood of San Blas

Today you'll tour Cusco and its surrounding area, starting with Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. From here, walk through San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. Continue to the Plaza de Armas to see the cathedral's exquisite interiors and priceless paintings. Its construction lasted almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.

Just a few blocks away, explore one of Cusco's most impressive buildings, Qoricancha (The Temple of the Sun). With interior walls once covered in gold, the temple was built by the Inca Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572). After the arrival of the Spaniards, it became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. Your guide will point out smaller temples dedicated to the moon, rainbow, stars, lightning, and thunder, among others. Finish your tour at the San Pedro Market, sampling a fresh fruit smoothie from one of the market's many food vendors.

Day 8: Enjoy a Scenic Drive to Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the largest high-elevation lake in the world
Venture to Lake Titicaca, the largest high-elevation lake in the world

After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the bus station to catch a bus to Puno. During the journey, which takes about 10 hours, you will visit several points of interest. You'll stop at the pre-Inca museum in Pukara, the high-elevation Raya Pass, and the Temple of Raqchi. Break for lunch at a traditional Andean restaurant before arriving in Puno, a port city on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Although many bodies of water exist at higher elevations, Lake Titicaca's surface elevation of 12,507 feet (3,812 m) makes it the highest lake in the world that is navigatable by large commercial vessels.

The coastline outside of Puno is home to the Uros people, who live on floating reed islands made from totora, a thick, buoyant reed. The same material is used to make local homes and boats. Several other native groups, most notably the Quechua and Taquileños, inhabit larger islands on the lake. You'll learn more about it tomorrow! For now, spend a relaxed evening in Puno, checking out some of the town's restaurants and cafés before getting some rest.

Day 9: Boat to Floating Islands & Taquile

Uros floating island on Lake Titicaca
Boat to floating islands on Lake Titicaca

Today's nine-hour tour embarks from Puno by boat to floating islands on Lake Titicaca to learn about native life and traditions. After a stop at the Uros islands, you'll visit Taquile, a small, non-mobile island. Enjoy a traditional lunch of quinoa soup and fresh-caught fish, then take some time to explore the area. Taquile was mostly isolated from the outside world until the 1950s; as a result, Taquileños enjoy a different way of life. Decisions on the island are made communally; there are no cars and little electricity. The island is also famous for exquisite weavings created by local artisans.

In the evening, walk back to the main dock in Taquile and board a boat back to Puno. Have one last Peruvian dinner in a restaurant in town before flying out tomorrow. 

Day 10: Fly to Lima, Depart 

Two Andean condors catch a breeze
Spot Andean condors ahead

Head to the airport in the morning to catch a 1.5-hour flight back to Lima. From there, you'll board your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Best of Peru: Amazon, Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca - 10 Days
Map of Best of Peru: Amazon, Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca - 10 Days
Written by Deborah Hayman, updated Aug 6, 2023

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