Day 1 Arrive in Lima
Arrive to Lima and overnight.
Day 2 Fly to Cusco
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendents of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas. In the afternoon, tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market. After tasting a few unique local foods, visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco
, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. (If visiting the Sacred Valley on Sunday, visit their center in Chinchero instead). Enjoy a tour of Peru weavers who demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
Day 3 Sacred Valley
Journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you soon see why! Test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and spend the night.
Day 4 Ollantaytambo Ruins | Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the under-rated ruins of Ollantaytambo before the larger groups of tourists arrive. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco. The ruins feature expansive terraces, giant building blocks and well-preserved architecture. Even the town itself is still laid out as it was during the Inca empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the train late this morning and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes, enter Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. Walk along ancient canals that still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins, receiving a guided tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants or end your day soaking in the hot springs after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Day 5 Free Day at Machu Picchu | Return to Cusco
Today you can return to the ruins at Machu Picchu for further exploration. Depending on your preference in permits, return early with the hope to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu or arrive in time to hike to the top of Huaynapicchu for incredible views of the entire area. Other options within the citadel include the ability to walk the relatively easy routes to the Sun Gate or the Temple of the Moon. Alternatively, just walk among the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants. (This basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Further permits may require additional costs.)
Once you've had your time in the ruins, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Day 6 Explore Cusco
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets for those on Peru holidays, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife. Live folk music and excellent food abounds in Cusco! Enjoy your last night of your Peru vacation.
Day 7 Bus to Puno
A luxury-class bus takes you 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 cuisine.
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.
Day 8 Islands of Lake Titicaca
Depart this morning with your guide for the floating islands of the Uros people. 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.
In the afternoon, visit Taquile Island. Climb the steps to the plaza at the center of the island for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Return to Puno and relax this evening on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Day 9 La Paz | Sun Island
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Early this morning, transfer by private vehicle from Puno with your guide to Copacabana. From here, board a boat and head toward Sun Island (1 hour journey). Sun Island is worshipped as the birthplace of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, the first founders of the Inca Empire. With your guide, tour the Pilkokaina Palace, the Inca's Fountain, and the 200 stairs of Yumani. Enjoy a traditional atapi lunch (a picnic with local dishes). Walk one hour to the Estancia EcoLodge, your home for the evening. Enjoy dinner and the sunset on Lake Titicaca.
Day 10 Moon Island | Copacabana
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Observe the sunrise from the comfort of your own bed. After breakfast travel by boat to Moon Island. Visit the Inca ruins of Inak Uyu on the northeast shore, believed to be the convent for the Virgins of the Sun.
Return to Copacabana by boat. In the afternoon visit La Horca del Inca. Interested in a workout? Climb El Calvario and enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Titicaca and Copacabana and observe the sunset.
Day 11 Copacabana | Transfer to La Paz
Explore this picturesque town situated between two mountains and on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Visit the cathedral with its dark Virgin of Candelaria statue and museum of European and local religious art. Learn about the mystical spiritualism and religion traditions that take place. Transfer to La Paz.
Day 12 Tiahuanaco Ruins
Located one hour from La Paz is Tihuanaco (also spelled Tiwanaku), ruins of an ancient city near the south shore of Lake Titicaca. Tihuanaco is believed to be the ceremonial center for a pre-Inca civilization settled in 600 BC and represents one of the greatest architectural achievements of pre-Inca South America. Little is known about this culture as it mysteriously disappeared around 1200 AD. Visit the archaeological site and the museum with your guide. Return to your hotel in La Paz for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Day 13 La Paz & Moon Valley
La Paz is set within an awe inspiring frame of snowcapped mountains and gives this city the honor as the highest capital in the world. La Paz is a city of contrasts with ancient and modern structures protected by the "Guardian of La Paz", Mount Illimani. Visit the Plaza Murillo, where the cathedral and the Government Palace are located. Then, continue to the famous colonial street Calle Jaén where interesting museums are clustered together, followed by the visit to the typical Mercado de las Brujas or the Witches’ Market, located along narrow streets near the San Francisco Church. This church was founded in 1549 and is a great area to find traditional handicrafts and artwork. The tour continues to Obrajes, Calacoto, and La Florida residential areas in the south and the well known Moon Valley, where erosion has given place to the most exotic and curious surface forms. Return to your hotel after your tour to relax and explore on your own for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Day 14 Fly Home