Days
14
Price from
$4,152AUD

In the 15th century, Peru was the heartland of the Inca Empire. Today, the country is rich in both Inca and Spanish colonial culture. Our jumping off point is Lima, nestled between the mountains and the sea and offering some of Latin America’s finest seafood. Just a short flight away is Cusco, built on the foundations of the old Inca capital. A remarkable cathedral dominates the city, overlooking cobblestone streets lined with ancient shops and delicious restaurants. To the north, looming over Cusco is the temple of Sacsayhuaman, whilst out in the Sacred Valley we visit the market town of Pisac. A highlight for many who visit Peru is a camping trek along ancient Inca pathways culminating in a visit to the magnificent mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.


Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
Lima, Peru
Country
Peru
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSEI
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
(26 reviews)
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Take in Lima's big name attractions on a walking tour of its historical quarter

  • Fall asleep to the stirrings of the jungle in a Puerto Maldonado eco-lodge

  • Pick a plaza cafe, sit back, and watch Cusco life unfold

  • Survey the surrounding scenery from Sacsayhuaman's hilltop fortress

  • Summit the pass of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds'

  • Experience life afloat drifting about the waters of Lake Titicaca on its unique reed islands

Itinerary

On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you will be transferred to your hotel.
You'll meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing at 2pm. Please check the noticeboard near the hotel reception for confirmation of the location of the meeting.
After this important meeting, you will start your exploration of the Peruvian capital with a city walking tour. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, it was from Lima that all Spanish territories in South America were governed. Few cities at that time could rival Lima’s power, wealth and opulence. However its glory days ended in 1746 when the city was virtually destroyed by an earthquake. Many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and you will get a first-hand look at several of them on the tour. The striking Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), flanked by some of the most important buildings in town such as the cathedral, the huge Government Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace, constitutes the heart of the city.
You will visit the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains.
Next we will visit the Central market where we will take a walking tour. The market has a huge variety of fresh produce on offer including fruits, vegetables and even Guinea pigs. You will have the opportunity to try some local Peruvian fruits and street food.
Next we will visit China town which is close to the Market.
The tour will finish in Lima main square. This evening you will enjoy an included dinner.
If you arrive early we recommend wandering around Miraflores, visiting Parque del Amor (Love's Park) where you can enjoy a view across Lima's beaches, or catching a taxi to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Museum, which is renowned for its ancient pottery collection. Please remember that you must agree on a fare with the driver before catching a taxi, as the taxis here do not have meters. (Miraflores-Downtown approximately 10-15 soles).
Lima has some of the most superb cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its exceptional seafood. During your time here, you may wish to try ceviche, Peru’s national dish, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers. This culinary delight is a must for all seafood lovers!
Accommodation
  • Antigua Mira Flores or Similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cathedral - PEN12
  • Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
Included Activities
  • Catacombs - Lima
Meals Included
  • Dinner
You will take a two hour flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado today.
Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the office in town where your will be able to store your luggage before heading off with just a small pack for your two nights in the jungle. A motorised canoe will transport you up the river to your jungle lodge is the Madre de Dios region. The lodge is sustainable and eco-friendly, it is built in the native style. While simple, the rooms are comfortable, with flushing toilets, cold water showers, kerosene lamps and mosquito nets.
Multilingual guides will take you through the forest and help you to explore the incredible flora and fauna, teaching you about the medicinal properties of the plants and pointing out the spectacular wildlife. You will see everything from macaws and monkeys to peccary, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies.
After spending time immersed in the wilderness, you will re-board the canoes and head back to Puerto Maldonado.
Accommodation
  • Posada Amazonas lodge or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
You will take a short (35 minute) flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco today.
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the western hemisphere, Cusco is a wonderful place in which to stroll aimlessly or participate in an outdoor activity. If you are feeling energetic there are a myriad of adventures available in and around town.
There are plenty of opportunities to shop for handicrafts or wander around the cobblestone streets and visit museums, churches and colonial sites. You may just wish to relax with a 'cerveza' or a 'pisco sour' in one of the restaurants and 'penas' (traditional local bars) surrounding Plaza de Armas.
You will go on a guided walking tour while you are here, visiting the Coca Museum where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries, and the San Pedro market. Ensure you take some time to acclimatise to the city's 3,400 metre altitude.
Accommodation
  • Terra Andina hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Coca Museum
  • Orientation Walk - Cuzco
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You will drive on to the Sacred Valley on a private bus today.
The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River.
At the Sacred Valley you will visit the stone fortress of Sacsayhuaman where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give you an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. Looking over the city from its hilltop position, the fortress is built out of massive stone blocks and is the ultimate example of the Inca's military strength.
You will visit a local community here, to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle. If it happens to be market day, you will be able to wander the stalls and hunt down beautiful hand painted beads and ponchos. You will enjoy lunch with the local community.
Next you will head to the town of Ollantaytambo. Built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning, this is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas and the upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.
Accommodation
  • Samanapaq hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Private bus to Sacred Valley and local community visit
  • Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before your trip, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or stay in Cuzco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cuzco, 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 Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kilograms 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 Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.

Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Today travel by minivan to the 82 kilometre 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 kilometres 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 kilometres 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 Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping on the Inca Trail (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3 Train:
Today, perhaps use your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cuzco. 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.
Accommodation
  • Camping on the Inca Trail (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 two to three 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, which takes you 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 start of the trip. Otherwise, you might like to while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes.
Accommodation
  • Camping on the Inca Trail (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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’ as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with tourists).

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 a spectacular sunrise 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 Cuzco.

For all trails - after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour.

Notes: Due to Peregrine's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Accommodation
  • Terra Andina hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Today we take a comfortable public bus (with reclining chairs) from Cusco to Puno. The drive will take nearly a full day, including stops along the way at various sites including; Andahuaylillas Church, Raqchy Inca temple and Pukara Museum. We will also stop to have lunch.
Puno is situated on Lake Titicaca, and is a fusion of Quechuan Indian and Aymara culture. It is recognised as the cultural capital of Peru, with an abundance of festivals, music and dancing.
You will go on a tour of the lake on a motor boat, visiting the floating islands that are built on totora reeds. In fact everything on these islands are crafted from reed, including their boats which last up to 12 months. You will also visit Taquile Island, a place where knitting is strictly the domain of men, while women are relegated to spinning. This is the place to get your hands on some beautiful knitwear.
You will hike uphill for an hour to reach the main part of the island. It has great views across the lake. There will be an optional lunch here as well, with a simple set menu of quinoa soup and muna tea (Andean mint tea). You will return down 500 steps to the boat that will take you on the three hour journey back to Puno.
Accommodation
  • Taypikala hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (1)
You will fly to Lima from Puno today (approximately 1-2 hours). If time permits you will have the opportunity to visit the Sillustani archaeological site, a collection of ruined towers built by a pre-Inca civilisation near Lake Umayo. The towers are chullpas - funeral towers built to commemorate noble men, and fitted with offerings to help secure their passage into the next life.
Accommodation
  • Antigua Mira Flores or Similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You tour will come to an end after breakfast today.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Bus, Plane, Train, Trek

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel, Full service camping, Amazon jungle lodge

Included Activities

  • Catacombs - Lima
  • Coca Museum
  • Orientation Walk - Cuzco
  • Private bus to Sacred Valley and local community visit
  • Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included)

Reviews

Our Empire of the Incas trips score an average of 4.88 out of 5 based on 26 reviews in the last year.

Empire of Incas, December 2015

Margaret Lester

Empire of Incas, December 2015

Alexander Lester

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Important notes

A good level of fitness and pre trip training is required for the Inca Trek. You will trek on hilly terrain, generally on well-defined paths, walking between 6 and 8 hours per day. Altitude may exceed 4000 metres.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.