Overnight and rest up for your Peru adventure ahead.
An early morning flight brings you to the Inca capital of Cusco. After settling into your hotel, you can tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market, where natural medicines and charms for curing heartache and other afflictions are sold. Travelers will also have the opportunity to visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife.
Drive past terraced fields of corn, potatoes, and quinoa as you travel to the Vilcanota section of the Upper Urubamba River. After your safety briefing, you’ll put in on the Urubamba River, which winds from the snowcapped Andes to the Amazon jungle. The Vilcanota section offers challenging class III-IV rapids between the months of January and April and exciting class IV-V from April to November. For those looking for less extreme Peru adventures, other stretches of the river offer class II-III rapids year around. After your raft trip, enjoy a picnic lunch along the riverbank. This afternoon, return to Cusco, where you can explore the monasteries, cathedrals and Incan ruins of Cusco on your own or with your guide.
Today, we rise early for our journey to the village of Chinchero. Ascending to Allpachaca, at 12,000 feet elevation, we begin our biking tour. We will ride for 4 hours, past beautiful Piuray Lake and the local farms and villages until we reach the community of Kuper Alto and Kuper Bajo. After lunch, we will visit the archeological site of Waca Wasi and get settled at our campsite at the home of Don Francisco Sallo.
At Don Francisco's house, we can partake in a weaving demonstration, learn about indigenous medicinal plants and have a campfire with Andean music. There is even hot water and full facilities at your campsite near his house. Enjoy your Peru vacation with the local people this evening.
After breakfast at Don Francisco's, we begin our trek to the Queñua Sundur Valley. Today's Peru hiking tour totals 8 miles in length, and our gear is carried by horses. Along the way, we will visit several archeological sites rarely visited by outsiders including Kinsa Salayo and Huchuy Qosqo. Enjoy sensational views of the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba Mountains with their impressive glaciers. We will camp tonight in Huchuy Qosqo. Our guides will set up camp and make dinner for us as we relax and enjoy the sites of the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, known as "Little Cusco."
Rising early, we will explore the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo with our guides. This "Little Cusco" is inaccessible by public road, making it one of the least visited major ruins in the area. After exploring the ruins, we will hike to Lamay (approximately 3 miles), descending into the Sacred Valley. On the trail to Lamay we will see towering Andean peaks and smaller ruins in the distance. Our driver will be waiting for us at the end of the trail to take us to the train station in Ollantaytambo.
The train follows the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu. We arrive to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly called Aguas Calientes) to relax, enjoy dinner (the trout fillets are delicious), and prepare for our Machu Picchu tours tomorrow.
Wake early to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Today your guide will begin to unravel the mysteries of this sacred site as he explains the care that went into its construction. Though no one knows the full significance of the ruins at Machu Picchu, recent archaeological excavations have uncovered a series of caves that may have been the site for religious ceremonies portraying the Incas’ creation story. These caves suggest that Machu Picchu may have been a “huaca”, or sacred spot, worshiped as a point where man emerged from the ground. This evening, you’ll return to Cusco by train.
A luxury-class bus takes us from Cusco to the shores of Lake Titicaca. Along the way, enjoy optional visits to the "Sistine Chapel" of Peru and a pre-Incan site, as well as a huge lunch featuring traditional Peruvian cusine. Entrances to the sites are additional (around $10 per person), but the lunch is on us!
Arrive at mystical Lake Titicaca in the early afternoon. Legend has it that the first Inca rose out of its azure waters. Transfer to your hotel and explore on your own this afternoon.
Depart this morning with your guide to the the floating islands of the Uros. Peru's floating islands are built using the buoyant totora reeds that grow along Lake Titicaca, and these reeds are interwoven to make homes, boats, and crafts. A ride in a traditional reed boat can be arranged with a local fisherman. Continue by boat to the peninsula of Capachica to Llachon, a small community of Aymara farmers where visitors are always welcome. We’ll practice our kayaking skills before launching from the sandy beach. There is no better way to appreciate the mysticism of the area than with a silent two hour kayak trip over the crystal waters of this sacred lake. We continue to Ticonata Island, our home for the evening, where we stay at the EcoVillage, a center of replicas of the pre-Inca homes that existed in this area. This hidden corner of Lake Titicaca provides the chance to experience the tranquility of nature and Andean culture. Visit ancient ritual sites and experience a traditional dinner and dances. Your guide will help translate the stories about the daily life and the traditions of this remote island on your Lake Titicaca tours.
We continue by sailboat for a two-hour cruise to Amantani Island, a quiet island known for its hilltop ruins that honor Pachamama and Pachatata (Mother and Father Earth). Here we meet our host families whose generosity is apparent with their open arms (and open doors to their homes) and smiles, a highlight for most on Peru holidays. Explore this island with your guide and then settle in to share a short day in the lives of the Aymara. Enjoy a breath-taking sunset over Lake Titicaca.
After breakfast and bidding farewell to your host family, return to Puno by motor boat. The afternoon is free to explore Puno.
Catch your flight to Lima and prepare for your red-eye flight home! International flights should leave no earlier than 5 PM.
$540 single supplement