Get the good times rolling in Lima before taking to the Amazon for some jungle action. Animals to avoid: poison dart frogs, piranhas, anacondas, jaguars, vipers, caimans, tarantulas. We could go on but we’re starting to freak ourselves out. Quick, everybody think about sloths. Ah, that's better. Leave the beasties in your wake and head to Cusco for a pisco sour before hitting the Inca trail and taking in Machu Picchu. Soak your weary bones in Lake Titicaca before heading back to Lima for your last fill of delicious treats.
Travel Dates: From 23/09/2019 to 11/01/2021
Duration: 15 days
Company: Intrepid Travel 18 to 29
- Plenty of free time in Lima means you can stuff your face with delish grub all day long
- The foodie capital of Peru serves up some especially tasty ceviche
- Nom nom nom
Roam the Amazon jungle at night while pretending you're David Attenborough
- Float down the river, keeping an out for the glaring eyes of jaguars and caimans
- Jungle laser beams!
Whether you trek the classic Inca Trail, the Quarry Trail or take the scenic train route, trust us, this is going to be one of the highlights of your awesome lives
Don't worry, we won't hog all of your time
- You'll have plenty of opportunity to bounce around Cusco, digging deep into the pockets of Incan history
The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca seem like the sort of thing Pixar would come up with
- Spend the night under the stars in a traditional island village
Breakfasts Included: 14
Lunches Included: 7
Dinners Included: 6
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts),Homestay (1 nt),Hotel (6 nts),Jungle Lodge (2 nts)
Age: min 18, max 29
Group Size: 1 - 16
Lima - Leader Led orientation walk of Miraflores
Amazon Jungle - Activities at the lodge
Cusco - Orientation Walk
Sacred Valley - Community visit & lunch
Machu Picchu - Guided tour
Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
Day 1: Lima
Welcome to Lima, Peru. At around 2 pm there will be a group meeting. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the accommodation as soon as possible. Following the meeting your leader will take you on an orientation walk of Miraflores, including Central Park (Parque Kennedy), the LarcoMar entertainment complex and Parque del Amor (Love Park) for great views over the coast of Lima. The walk will finish in time for dinner, you may choose to head out for dinner with the group. Why not head to one of Lima's many seafood restaurants to try one of the nation's favourite dishes, ceviche.
Day 2-3: Puerto Maldonado (Amazon Jungle lodge)
Take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. Upon your arrival, the lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Here you can leave most of your luggage in safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for your next two nights in the jungle. You’ll then take a motorised canoe upriver to your jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area. There will be time to unpack and unwind once you get there. The next two days are packed with activities. Your full day in the jungle includes a trek which lasts approximately half a day. At times the paths can get quite muddy and some people can find the trek a little exhausting. Along the way there will be regular stops, and you'll encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. You might spot everything from macaws and monkeys to peccaries, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies. The guides can also teach you about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. For lunch you will return to the lodge. For your night-time excursion, you will venture out in the dark in search of caimans on the Tambopata River. The naturalist guide will use a spotlight in order to locate them on the banks of the river, so you can observe them from a respectable distance.
Day 4: Cusco
Say farewell to the jungle today and fly to Cusco, which takes just under an hour. Spend the next day trying to acclimatise to the high altitude of this location. That means taking it easy. After dropping your luggage off and having some lunch, your tour leader will take you on a walk around downtown Cusco. You’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. The order of visiting these locations, may vary according to hotel location and your tour leaders preference. In your free time may want to book some of the optional activities available in Cusco. Have a chat with your leader about what's on offer.
Day 5: Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
Today takes you a little closer to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Unwind on a private bus for around two hours through the Sacred Valley, which is on the fringes of Cusco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Head to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle and activities, and hopefully your visit will coincide with market day (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Comb the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and master the local Quechuan language (a few words will be deemed a success). Continuing on, drive 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo. Later in the afternoon, perhaps head out to visit to Ollantaytambo’s awesome Incan ruins. You’ll spend the night at a hotel in Ollantaytambo, ready for your early morning start on the Inca Trail.
Day 6: Inca Trail, Quarry Trail or Train Option
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or head back to Cusco for another two nights before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days. Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Today travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3,100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner. Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Route 2 Quarry Trail: Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3,700 meters above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas. Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Route 3 Train: For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, spend two extra nights in Cusco before travelling by bus back through Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Day 7: Inca Trail, Quarry Trail or Train Option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we ascend a long steep path (approximately five hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres. Route 2 Quarry Trail: This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo. Route 3 Train: Today, perhaps your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cusco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops. All optional activities are at your own cost. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Day 8: Inca Trail, Quarry Trail or Train Option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around 2-3 hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the two-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site. Route 2 Quarry Trail: Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu. Route 3 Train: In the morning take the three-hour train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the beginning of the trip. Otherwise, you might like to while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Day 9: Inca Trail, Quarry Trail or Train Option and Machu Picchu
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking by 5.30 am. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ Route 2 Quarry Trail: Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am this morning along the winding road to Machu Picchu. The journey takes around 30 minutes. At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins. Route 3 Train: In the morning at 5.30 am, take a bus up to Machu Picchu. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cusco. For all trails - after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour. Your evening is then free for the last night of your adventure. Visiting Machu Picchu: According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.
Day 10: Cusco
Today enjoy free time to relax, shop for souvenirs or see more of Cusco's sights. Perhaps head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas, or if you're a thrill-seeker, try mountain biking in the hills surrounding Cusco. In the evening, you might want to chew the fat with the group over dinner.
Day 11: Puno
In the morning travel by local bus for six hours through the Altiplano plateau to Puno. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians. Once you're settled, head out in town and shake your tailfeather.
Day 12: Lake Titicaca (Homestay)
Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Today you'll take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They're built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. In the evening, enjoy a homestay in a local community on Llachon. Your homestay is in a mud-brick house, with shared drop-toilets but no shower. It can get quite cold here. The homestay will provide plenty of blankets, but remember to pack thermals and plenty of layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or maybe play a game of soccer in the village.
Day 13: Puno
Enjoy a home-cooked breakfast by your host family this morning, taking the time to explore the rest of the island afterwards. In the afternoon, take the boat back to Puno where the rest of your day is free to explore.
Day 14: Lima
Later today, take an included flight from Puno to Lima, which should take around one hour and forty minutes. This trip is a combination which means there may be some people in your group continuing onto La Paz instead of Lima. If this is the case your leader will continue with them to La Paz and you will take an unescorted flight to Lima where our local representative will meet you. For the remainder of the today and the final day our local representative will be available for assistance if needed, however they will not be staying at the Lima hotel. The rest of your afternoon is free to see the last of the sights in the Peruvian capital, and perhaps head out for dinner with the group in the evening. This is a great chance to reflect on an epic trip!
Day 15: Lima
Your Essential Peru adventure ends today, as there are no more activities planned. You're free to leave the accommodation at any time following check out.
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