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16 days

Peru, including Inca Trail

Lace up your hiking boots and walk the legendary 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The tour also takes you to Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and the ancient capital of the Incas, Cusco.

Peru, including Inca Trail
Peru, including Inca Trail
16 days

Peru, including Inca Trail

Lace up your hiking boots and walk the legendary 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The tour also takes you to Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and the ancient capital of the Incas, Cusco.

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What is included in the price?
This package includes the following
  • Flights from the UK to Lima (enquire regarding direct flights)
  • Flights from Cusco to the UK
  • 1 domestic flight: Lima – Arequipa
  • Transfers from and to airports (in small international groups)
  • Coach travel: Arequipa – Colca Canyon – Puno – Cusco
  • 11 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 3-night Inca Trail trek including transport to and from Cusco, English-speaking guide, porters, admission fees, full board and guided tour at Machu Picchu
  • 6 x lunch (days 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12)
  • 3 x dinner (days 10, 11, 12)
  • Individual tour, however, all excursions are in small international groups with local English speaking guides
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip
  • ATOL certificate included
  • Departure guarantee – The price is valid when at least 2 people travelling. Please ask for a price if you are travelling alone

Comprehensive package of excursions:

  • Half-day tour of Lima, including a visit to the Larco Museum
  • Half-day tour of Arequipa, including a visit to the Santa Catalina Monastery
  • Two-day visit to Colca Canyon – famous for its condors, thermal baths and ancient agricultural terraces
  • Full-day tour to Lake Titicaca and the Uros and Taquile islands
  • Half-day tour of Cusco and the surrounding area
  • Full-day tour to The Sacred Valley
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned

 

As places are limited on the popular 4-day Inca Trail, we recommend booking at least 6 months before departure. If the tour is sold out on the dates you desire, we can offer the Salkantay Trek for the same price, which is also a 4-day trek.

 

THE TOUR IN SHORT

Peru is a treasure chest of Inca culture, boasting some of the finest cultural and natural delights in South America. Look forward to a trip sprinkled with colonial gems, spectacular mountains and volcanoes, a visit to Colca Canyon, and the Sacred Valley with its impressive terrace systems, fascinating Indian communities and colourful markets. It is also here that you can experience the unique local wildlife, which features lamas, alpacas and condors. The tour will also bring you close to the Uros people on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and give you the chance to experience Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, where you can admire sights such as impressive carvings by Inca stone masons. It is then time to make a start on the Inca trek, where you will walk the famous Inca trail. Look forward to experiencing memorable ruins and captivating countryside featuring green valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks, a host of plants and all kinds of animals. Of course, no trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu, which forms the perfect endpoint for your trek.

Why choose this tour

  • Lace your hiking shoes and go on a challenging 4-day trek along the old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
  • Experience the colourful native society’s exciting traditions at Lake Titicaca
  • See majestic condors glide elegantly across the sky at the deep Colca Canyon
  • Visit important sites and cathedrals from the Spanish Colonial Era in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco

Our prices always include

  • All international and domestic flights
  • All destination transfers
  • All specified excursions and activities
  • All accommodations
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Departure from the UK and arrival in Lima

Departure day, where you will fly to Peru, with connecting flights along the way. You will land at Lima Airport, where you will be met by a representative of our partner in Peru, who will accompany you to your hotel. The journey from the airport to the hotel takes around 1 hour, and on the route your guide will answer any questions you may have regarding your trip. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Day 2: Tour of Lima

The day starts with a half-day tour of the Peruvian capital city, which was founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro. The itinerary will take you to the magnificent, bustling central square called Plaza Mayor, which is decorated with rose gardens, tall palm trees and a fountain capped with a representation of the city’s guardian angel. The square is lined with beautiful buildings in colonial style, including the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace and the city’s impressive cathedral which dates back to 1555 and contains the earthly remains of Pizarro himself. You will then have the chance to visit the San Francisco Monastery and its church from 1674 – which happens to be the most attractive Baroque church in the city. The monastery is decorated with delightful mosaic tiles from Seville and fresco paintings that were rediscovered when an earthquake destroyed parts of the outer wall. Particularly worthy of note are the monastery’s museum of religious art, the library of more than 25,000 books, and the catacombs beneath the church.

Next stop on the itinerary is the San Isidro district, with its attractive parks, and the modern Miraflores quarter, with its fine beaches, gardens and squares, as well as charming cafés and restaurants.

The guided tour rounds off with a visit to the Larco Museum, one of Lima’s best-known museums. Dedicated to pre-Columbian art, it houses an extensive collection of intriguing objects from various pre-Columbian cultures, including Moche, Nazca, Chimú and Inca.

The late afternoon and evening are yours to do with as you wish.

Day 3: Flight from Lima to Arequipa – guided tour of Arequipa (2,335 metres)

Arequipa is scenically situated in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of almost 2,400 metres, with the volcanoes Misti (5,822 m), Chachani (6,057 m) and Pichu-Pichu (5,669 m) as a beautiful backdrop. The city is known as “The White City” because most houses are built of volcanic rock.

You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Lima and driven to the airport, from which you will fly to the charming city. Drive: approx. 1.5 hours On your arrival in Arequipa, you’ll be picked up from the airport and driven to your hotel.

In the afternoon, you’ll go on a guided tour of the city and discover the many stately mansions and colonial buildings from the 18th century with their carved doors, French windows and cosy courtyards. You will also visit the central square, Plaza de Armas, with its palm trees, old gas lanterns, fountains and, of course, the city’s huge cathedral.

You’ll then visit Arequipa’s biggest attraction, the Santa Catalina Monastery, which once housed more than 400 nuns. Santa Catalina was founded in 1580 by a rich widow named Maria de Guzmán. It was primarily aimed at the upper classes, for whom, during colonial times, it was customary for the family’s second child to serve the church. The girls were brought to the monastery at the age of three and never ventured outside the walls again.

The monastery has been hit several times by earthquakes but has been rebuilt in its original style, and the historic buildings still stand to this day. Although the monastery is open to the public today, there is still a small religious unit living at one end of the complex. Today, however, the nuns are free to receive visits and leave the Monastery of Santa Catalina whenever they want.

The last stop on the tour is Yanahuara Plaza, where you have every opportunity to take some beautiful pictures of the city’s breathtaking volcanic surroundings.

You have the evening to yourself in Arequipa.

Accommodation:
Day 4: Bus ride from Arequipa to Chivay in Colca Canyon (3,650 metres)

It’s an early start this morning, as you’ll be heading to Colca Canyon, which is a 3,400-metre-deep canyon and actually one of the deepest canyons in the world. By comparison, it is around twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US.

Over the next few days, you’ll really get to experience the mighty Andes Mountains. You’ll cross the spectacular Altiplano plateau, which is characterised by its dry, barren landscape with vast open expanses where you can spot grazing llamas and alpacas. In several places, you will be driving at an altitude of over 4,000 metres. The highest pass and vantage point on the route is called Mirador de los volcanes, and on a clear day, you have a fantastic view from here of the surrounding volcanoes. The vantage point is located at an altitude of around 4,900 metres, and you’ll notice immediately that the thin air at this altitude affects your breathing. So, it will just be a brief stop to take photos before continuing down towards the town of Chivay, which serves as the entrance to Colca Canyon.

In the afternoon, it’s time for a spot of pampering in Chivay’s thermal baths, which are naturally heated by the area’s volcanic activity. Chivay is also surrounded by high volcanoes: Sabancaya at 5,976 metres and Ampato at 6,288 metres.

Distance: Approx. 167 km

Transport time: around 4 hours

Day 5: Excursion to Colca Canyon – bus to Puno (3,827 metres)

After breakfast, you’ll drive to the magnificent vantage point, Mirador Cruz del Condor, which overlooks one of the deepest sections of Colca Canyon. Standing here, looking down and out over the vast canyon, is an amazing experience. At this point, you might even be lucky enough to see condors gliding silently above your head. The condor is the world’s largest bird of prey, with a wing span of up to 3 metres. It hovers on the warm air currents that rise from the canyon.

After this breathtaking nature experience, you’ll go for a short walk in the valley, where you’ll discover the ancient agricultural terraces that have been in use for centuries. There will also be ample opportunity to buy a colourful souvenir to take home with you. You then drive back to Chivay for lunch before boarding the bus to Puno.

Puno is located on Lake Titicaca, which is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. The city was of great historical significance to the Incas. It was here that the first Inca, Manco Capac, rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca to start the Inca Empire, becoming the first king of Cusco. Today, Puno is an agricultural city specialising in the breeding of llamas and alpacas, so wool products can be bought here at a good price.

Distance: Chivay – Cruz del Condor return + Chivay – Puno: Approx. 385 km

Transport time: around 9 hours

Day 6: Excursion at Lake Titicaca (3,810 metres)

Today, you’re going on a full day excursion to Lake Titicaca, which Peru and Bolivia share. Here, an exciting encounter with two very different highland Indian communities, where old traditions are still maintained, awaits you.

You start by sailing out of the harbour to the floating reed islands, Islas Uros, which are still inhabited by the Uros people. The Uros use the lake’s free building materials – the strong totora reeds – to build islands, houses and boats. Despite the islands having become a little commercial, it’s still fascinating to learn about the culture and ancient traditions of the Uros people and not least to see their impressive craftsmanship.

You then sail on to the peaceful island of Taquile, which is known especially for its colourful crafts and its “knitting men”. Here on the island, it’s the men who knit – and they’re good at it! The pattern on a man’s hat, called a chullo, not only shows his creativity, but his civilian status, too. It’s women’s job to spin the yarn and weave. The women weave the beautiful belts for the men’s costumes.

You’ll enjoy lunch on the beautiful hilly island, and afterwards your guide will take you on a walk up to the highest point of the island, from which there are breathtaking views of Lake Titicaca, with the high mountains in the background.

Mid-afternoon, you’ll be sailed back to Puno and the rest of the day is yours to do as you please.

Day 7: Bus ride from Puno to Cusco (3,400 metres)

Today, you have a long but adventure-filled journey ahead of you. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and driven to the bus station, where a bus will be waiting to take you to Cusco, the formal capital of the Inca Empire and now an elegant, thriving multi-cultural city.

You’ll cross the Altiplano, where you’re in with a chance of seeing vicuñas, which are related to the camel, but resemble the llama and the alpaca. Several stops will be made on the way, and you’ll be given a guided tour of old ruins and monuments such as those found at the Pukara Museum. Pukara, the first regional town closest to Lake Titicaca, dates back to 500BC. The museum is part of an archaeological area where impressive stone sculptures, ceramic pieces and other archaeological excavations have been found, providing an exciting insight into the history of Andean civilisation.
You will then pass La Raya, which is the highest point on the route at 4,319 metres. From here, you’ll head down through a scenic valley brimming with crops such potatoes and maize. You’ll then come to Raqchi, where you’ll see the ruins of the temple Viracocha, one of the Inca’s most sacred sites. The last stop before Cusco is the famous colonial church, Andahuaylillas, better known as under the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas” due to its beautiful ceiling paintings and other lovely art.

On your arrival in Cusco, you’ll check in at your hotel, and in the evening, you can explore the city and its good restaurants.

Distance: Approx. 390 km

Transport time: Approx. 10 hours including stops

Day 8: Guided tour of Cusco (3,400 metres)

There is nothing scheduled for today until the afternoon, when a guided tour of Cusco and its surroundings has been arranged. You start at the city’s central square – the Plaza de Armas, which was known as Hucaypata or ‘The Warriors’ Square’ during the age of the Incas. It was here that many of the most important events in the history of Cusco took place.

This is also where you will find Cusco Cathedral, built of stone from the Sacsayhuamán Inca complex on top of the Inca Viracocha Palace during the colonial era. The cathedral is therefore a wonderful mix of Spanish Renaissance architecture and the Incas’ masterful stone masonry. The street next to the cathedral leads to Santo Domingo Church, which is built on top of what was once one of the most important temples of the Inca empire, Koricancha. The magnificent earlier sun temple forms the foundation of the church and is built without the aid of mortar, with each stone fitting perfectly instead.

Next on the itinerary is Kenko, another sacred Inca site marked with a 5-metre-high stone block which is said to resemble a puma. This site is dedicated to the worship of Mother Earth, and features water channels carved in solid rock and a subterranean room. Farther along the road stands a small fortress called Puka Pukara, which is believed to have been used to guard the road and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you will see terraces carved into the side of the mountain, as well as steps, tunnels and towers. Continuing north, you will come to Tambomachay, a sacred bathing site for the Inca conquerors and women of the royal household The system is a masterpiece of construction, and is still able to deliver water to this day.

The last stop on the tour is the military complex of Sacsayhuaman, which enjoys a magnificent location with a wonderful view out over Cusco. Sacsayhuaman is a fascinating example of the architectural skill of the Incas. It is an impressive construction, with double walls of carved granite, where the heaviest block weighs more than 125 tonnes. After the tour, you will return to Cusco where the evening is yours to do with as you wish.

Day 9: Excursion to the Sacred Valley (approx. 2,800 - 3,400 metres)

The day is devoted to an excursion to Urubamba Valley, The Sacred Valley of the Incas. Your first stop is at Pisac, renowned far and wide for its Indian markets, where you will have the chance to buy everything from Peruvian wool sweaters and musical instruments, to paintings, tapestries and jewellery. The town is also well-known for the impressive ruins nearby. The ruined buildings were constructed of smaller stones than those used in Sacsayhuaman, but the precision with which they have been carved and sized is hugely impressive – just like the view.

After lunch, you will continue on your way to Ollantaytambo, another charming village in the heart of the valley, which is considered to be an open air museum, in that all residents observe the old traditions and laws that can be traced back to the their earliest forefathers. The town is probably best known for the complex of the same name, which comprises temples, baths and impressive military installations.

You will then return to Cusco, where the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Distance: Approx. 160 km

Transport time: Approx. 10 hours incl. stops

Day 10: Cusco – KM 82 – Wayllabamba – Yuncachimpa (approx 3,300 metres)

Today, the trek along the world-famous Inca Trail begins, surrounded by stunning scenery and breathtaking landscapes consisting of green valleys, high mountains, snow-capped peaks and a wealth of flora and fauna. The actual Inca Trail on this trek is part of the extensive Inca road system that stretches all the way from Mendoza in Argentina to the Ecuador–Colombia border. Over the next four days, you will be walking along paths used hundreds of years ago, passing archaeological Inca ruins, each with its own history.

You will be picked up from your hotel at the ungodly hour of 4 am and driven to Ollantaytambo, where you will have the opportunity to buy the last few bits you need for the trek, such as rain ponchos, walking sticks, water and biscuits.

You will then be driven out to the KM 82 stone by bus, where you are dropped off and the Inca trek starts. You will start by walking from the KM 82 stone to Wayllabamba. It is a reasonably flat and scenic walk along the Urubamba River and through the valley of the same name, overlooking the snow-capped mountain Veronica, which, standing 5,750 metres, is the area’s highest. On the way, you will pass a number of local villages, where the inhabitants still build their houses with traditional Ichu grass roofs. You will then make a stop to admire the view of Llactapata, which was an important agricultural area for the Incas. The trek then heads away from the river, and you walk up the valley along the Kusichaca River, where you are in with a good chance of seeing hummingbirds flying around.

You arrive in the village of Wayllabamba in the afternoon and continue to your camp in Yuncachimpa, which affords a beautiful view of the valley and the surrounding mountains.

Transport time from Cusco to KM 82: approx. 3.5 hours
Distance: Approx. 14 km
Hike duration: Approx. 7-8 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate

Day 11: Yuncachimpa – Warmiwañusqa Pass – Runkurakay Pass – Chaquicocha (approx 3,650 metres)

Today is the toughest day of the trek! You start by walking up past Llulluchapampa, through an area of lush cloud forest. Then a steep ascent begins, taking you up to the 4,200-metre-high Warmiwañusqa Pass, which is the highest point on the trek. The name of the pass is a Quechua word which translates as “The dead woman’s pass” and refers to the rock formations at the pass. At the top, you can have a well-deserved rest while enjoying the view of the snow-capped mountains and the Inca Trail.

The descent then begins down the Inca steps to the Pacaymayo River. This is where the story of the Incas begins to unfold, and you come to the first of a large number of ruins:  Runkurakay, a small guard house which is often shrouded in fog. You trek on along the original Inca Trail to Runkurakay Pass, located at an altitude of around 3,950 metres. Here, on a sunny day, you have a stunning view of the Vilcabamba Mountains, to which the Incas retreated after fighting the Spanish. You continue the scenic trek to the sizeable Sayacmarca ruins at the top of a narrow cliff, where you will gain a fascinating insight into the ruins and the history of the area. You will then continue through a small cloud forest to your camp in Chaquicocha with views of the surrounding mountains.

Distance: Approx. 16 km
Hike duration: Approx. 8-9 hours
Level of difficulty: Moderate to hard

Day 12: Chaquicocha – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñay Wayna (approx. 2,650 metres)

On a clear day, you will wake up to a fantastic view of the Vilcabamba Mountains. After breakfast, you will continue towards the third pass. On the way, you will see the Inca’s fine stonemasonry, with tunnels and perfectly placed stones, and this part of the trek is also incredibly scenic, taking you past cloud forest, orchids, ferns and colourful birds.

You reach the third pass at an altitude of around 3,600 metres, near the well-preserved Inca city of Phuyupatamarca, the Quechua name of which translates as “The city above the clouds”, referring to its elevated location. You can take a break here and enjoy your lunch overlooking the sacred Inca Urubamba valley. The long descent then begins to Wiñay Wayna, which is the largest complex in the area after Machu Picchu and Llactapata. The ruins are located up one side of the mountain and consist of houses, towers and terraces. The complex enjoys an impressive, scenic location right behind your camp.

As you’ve got a very early start the next morning, it’s a good idea to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

Distance: Approx. 10 km
Hike duration: Approx. 5-6 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate

Day 13: Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu – Train/bus back to Cusco (3,400 metres)

Your day starts very early in the morning with a hike up to Inti Punku – the Sun Gate. From here, you can watch the sun rise over the surrounding mountains. It is also here that you will catch your first sight of Machu Picchu, the subject of all kinds of tales and sagas. It is oddly moving to stand here and soak up the sense of mysticism and adventure that permeates the site.

Enjoy the walk down the last part of the trail to one of the seven wonders of the modern world and the absolute highlight of your trip: the fantastic ruins of Machu Picchu, which stand enchantingly on a steep and verdant ridge of hills, surrounded by cloud forest and green hilltops, with snow-capped mountains far off in the distance Here, you will be given a guided tour of the area and can experience the impressive and intelligent Inca architecture with narrow terraces on the steep mountain sides, as well as areas containing burial sites, prisons, small residences and temples.

It is said that Machu Picchu was rediscovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham on 24 July 1911. This is not strictly true, but he is certainly responsible for spreading the news of this truly remarkable place to all corners of the globe. The Inca city was built in around 1462 – i.e. during the Golden Age of the Inca Empire – but was abandoned less than a century later, probably on account of a smallpox epidemic. As Machu Picchu was never discovered and plundered by the Spanish invaders, it retains major cultural significance and is considered a sacred site. Machu Picchu was home to priests, highly ranked civil servants, craftsmen, servants and virgins selected to devote their lives to the Sun God. It was a city with streets, aqueducts – which still carry water to this day – fountains and walkways, and it fulfilled a variety of religious functions.

Following the guided tour, you will have time to explore the area for yourself.

It is then time to head to Aguas Calientes to catch the train to Cusco.

On your arrival in Cusco, you will be driven back to your hotel.

Distance: Approx. 5 km

Hike duration: Approx. 2-3 hours

Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate

Transport time from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco (train + bus) around 4 hours

Day 14: Cusco on your own (3,400 metres)

Today, there are no planned excursions, so the day is at your disposal. Perhaps you would like to head out and buy some final souvenirs, or just take a stroll around this gorgeous, historical city.

If you would like to experience even more of the magical Andes Mountains, we recommend purchasing an excursion to the magnificent Rainbow Mountain. This mountain is just one of the many beautiful, rainbow-coloured mountains just outside of Cusco, whose colours are due to the mountains’ combination of colourful minerals. It is a truly unique experience to see a mountain in so many wonderful colours.

We also offer an excursion to the Inca ruins at Moray and the salt mines in Maras, or how about trying your hand at a small cookery class where you gain an exciting insight into Peruvian cuisine?

Day 15: Return flight

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your flight to the UK, which will feature connecting flights along the way.

Day 16: Return trip

Arrive back in the UK after a wonderfully eventful holiday.

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All prices shown are per person
Please note that the price of a single room only applies when for at least two people. Please contact us if you’re travelling alone.
Special offers for groups of 6 or more. Request a quote today for more info.
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