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 and Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco in 1537. The ruins feature expansive terraces and well-preserved architecture, and the town is still laid out as it was during the Incan empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. Tour 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 the tours of Machu Picchu, 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 is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu and to listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. You can choose to book a permit to climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins, or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the afternoon, return by train to Cusco with your guide. (Let us know if you would like help arranging entrance fees or hiking permits for today – these are not included and sell out in advance!)
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. Entrances to the sites are additional (approximately $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.
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 Bus to Copacabana
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Depart from Puno by bus this morning for your transfer to Copacabana for your Bolivia tour. Explore this picturesque town situated between two mountains and on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Visit the Inca sites outside of the city as well as the cathedral with its dark Virgin of Candelaria statue and museum of European and local religious art. Travelers interested in a workout can climb El Calvario (approximately 13,123 ft/4,000m) and enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Titicaca and Copacabana.
Day 10 Sun Island
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, travel by boat to Sun Island, a place worshipped as the birthplace of Manco Kápac 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. Have a traditional atapi lunch (a picnic with local dishes). Walk uphill one hour to the Estancia EcoLodge, your home for the evening. Hike in the afternoon to Challapampa on the northern part of the island to see Chinkana (Labyrinth), a sacred Inca temple, and visit the community. Return to the EcoLodge to enjoy dinner and the sunset on Lake Titicaca and soak up the best of Bolivia travel.
Day 11 Moon Island | Transfer to La Paz
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. Afterwards, return to Copacabana and onward back to La Paz. Relax in your hotel after a day of adventure!
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 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