14 days

Empire of the Incas

Empire of the Incas

Warminwanusca - 'Dead Woman’s Pass' on the Inca Trail

UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco

The colourful market town of Pisac

The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu

Trip rating
  • 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.

    Why we love it

    • In the 15th century, Peru was the heartland of the Inca Empire. Today, the country is rich in both Inca and Spanish colonial culture.
    • The jumping off point of the trip 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.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Lima

    • 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, with the option to go for dinner in Down Town or back to Miraflores.
    • 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).
    • There are a number of restaurants and cafes to choose from for dinner. 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!
    Antigua Mira Flores or Similar
    Dinner

    Day 2-3 - Amazon Jungle

    • You will take a two hour flight 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.
    Posada Amazonas lodge or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Puerto Maldonado - Cusco

    • You will take a short (35 minute) flight to Cusco from Puerto Maldonado 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.
    Eco inn or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

    • 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.
    Samanapaq hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 6-8 - (Important Note)

    • We trek the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Quarry’ routes, both of which include a visit to incredible Machu Picchu at the end of the trek. Although you will normally trek the 'Classic' route, it is restricted by the number of trekkers permitted on the trail each day and unless you have booked early, it may be difficult or impossible for you to secure the necessary group permits (especially during the peak season).
    • It is also closed during the month of February for cleaning and rejuvenation. If you are unable to confirm your permit for the 'Classic' route you will instead use the ‘Quarry’ trail. This is an exceptional alternative. Venturing further off the beaten path, this trek winds its way through remote rural villages and provides stunning views across the Andes. Along the way you can mingle with local families, llama herders and weavers, renowned for their brightly coloured hats and ponchos. The trek is of similar altitude and level of difficulty as the 'Classic' route and also includes a visit to the town of Aguas Calientes and the magnificent Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’.
    • The following description refers to the 'Classic' route. Please refer below to the 'Itinerary Variation' section of this trip note for details of the 'Quarry' route.

    Day 6 - Days 6 (start Inca Trail)

    • You will be taken by minivan to 83km (2,850m above sea level) marker of the trek, where you will meet your porters, cook and guide for your Inca adventure to follow. You will start trekking today, heading uphill to reach the first campsite at 3, 300 metres.
    • Will pass by the ruins of Llactapata, which were burnt to the ground by the last Inca emporer as a way of discouraging Spanish pursuit further down the trail.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Inca Trek

    • Today is the most difficult part of the trek as you climb to Warminwanusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass (4200m). Along the way you will trek through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be seen anywhere in the Andes. This is the first and highest of three Andean passes on the Inca Trail, with breathtaking views over the snow-capped Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges.
    • Ahead of you, you will see the ruins of Runkuracay and in the valley below, Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River). Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways, your route will take you through a landscape dotted with rural hamlets, grazing llamas and well-preserved remnants of the Incan culture.
    • Although it's not too arduous, you will still need to make a steep descent to the valley below to see the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours), before walking on to the nearby Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 metres.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Inca Trek

    • Today you will climb over the third pass to reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds at 3,850 metres and approximately a 90 minute walk from your campsite.
    • You will start your descent down the Inca steps from here, before reaching your final campsite. Tonight's camp is by the Winay Wayna ('Forever Young') archaeological site at 2,750 metres. You can enjoy a drink and expansive views of the valley here.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9-10 - Inca Trek- Machu Picchu- Cusco

    • The day starts before dawn with breakfast served nice and early at approximately 4.30 am. The early start serves two purposes, one we farewell our porters as they descend to the train station to catch their 6.30am train home and two, we are ready to start hiking by 6am by when the gate that leads through to the Inti-Punku (sun gate) opens. The walk to the sun gate takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
    • Here you will enjoy your first views of the complex of Machu Picchu, often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas. On a clear morning the view from the Sun Gate can be quite stunning and creates a lasting impression that will stay with you long after you return home.
    • Built around 1450, the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and ‘lost’ for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them.
    • You will tour the site with your guide and then have some free time to explore by yourself, before taking the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes. There are some small shops and restaurants in the town where you can wile the time away.
    • Alternatively you may choose to wash away the dust and grime of the trail in the hot thermal baths located on the edge of town. In the afternoon you take the train back to Cusco where you will have some free time.
    • WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Peregrine's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
    Eco inn or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11-12 - Puno- Lake Titicaca

    • You will travel on to Puno today, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours drive). You may make some stops on the way, to collect and drop off passengers.
    • 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.
    Taypikala hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Lima

    • 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.
    Antigua Mira Flores or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Lima

    • You tour will come to an end after breakfast today.
    Antigua Mira Flores or Similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing where mentioned in the trip notes.
    • 4-day trek on the ‘Classic’ or ‘Quarry’ route to Machu Picchu.
    • 3 nights full service camping, including the services of porters and a cook.
    • Guided tour of Machu Picchu, including park fees.
    • Train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Local flights from Lima to Puerto Maldonado return and Lima to Cusco.
    • Amazon Jungle Excursions
    • Boat excursion on Lake Titicaca, including the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians.
    • Accomodation: 8 nights comfortable hotel, 3 nights full service camping, 2 nights amazon jungle lodge
    • Meals: 3 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Empire of the Incas

    Yvonne - , 12 Dec, 2011
    4
    Overall Rating

    It's a trip of a lifetime, dont spend too much time taking photos, just watch. Learn to snorkel.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSEI
Start City: Lima
End City: Lima
Style: Small Group

What to know

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.

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