Explore the best of the Inca culture on this main highlights tour of Peru and Bolivia. Wander through Cusco markets, explore the Sacred Valley, and take part in a Machu Picchu tour before continuing on to Lake Titicaca for a taste of Bolivia travel. This is a leisurely-paced culturally-focused trip showing you the best of our Bolivia and Peru tours.
Tour Cusco's largest open market and taste unique local foods
Meet the local people of Lake Titicaca and explore the historic islands
Watch the sunrise over the sacred city of Machu Picchu
Climb El Calvario for spectacular views of Lake Titicaca & Copacabana
Walk across the street to the airport in Lima for your domestic flight to Cusco.
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendants 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.
You will be picked up at the Cusco airport and taken to your hotel to drop off your luggage and rest. In the afternoon, you'll begin to explore Cusco on a guided walking tour of the city. The sites visited today are flexible, as your guide sets the pace and agenda according to your interests and your ongoing adjustment to the altitude.
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. You'll 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. Eventually, you make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and overnight.
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 Vistadome 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, take the short bus ride up to the gates of Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins and learning about its fascinating history, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Today you will return to the ruins of Machu Picchu for further exploration. Return early with the hope of catching the sun coming up over the mountains at Machu Picchu. Depending on your preference in permits, arrive in time to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu for incredible views of the entire area or choose to simply walk amongst the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants with your guide. (The basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Hiking permits require additional costs and should be reserved at the time of booking your tour due to limited availability.)
After your final exploration of Machu Picchu, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Today is free to explore with your guide. 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, 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 in advance.
The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife where live folk music and excellent food abounds! Enjoy the night of your Peru vacation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.