Peru offers so much variety and this 16 day itinerary combines it all. After visiting the museums of colonial Lima, we fly across the Andes to the Inca capital of Cusco. While in Cusco and the Sacred Valley we wander some of South America's best markets and discover a variety of Spanish and Inca heritage. The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 revealed an incredible Inca architectural masterpiece, and this startling find provides a grand finale to our trek along the Inca Trail. On the trail, our unsurpassed expertise in organising treks in the Andes comes to the fore as we ascend from the jungle to the snow capped Andean peaks to complete our spectacular approach to Machu Picchu. Travelling onto Lake Titicaca, we visit the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands and enjoy a night in a homestay on an island before returning to Lima and onwards home. Throughout the itinerary your expert Spanish speaking Peruvian guides will educate and entertain you in Spanish which will increase your vocabulary and confidence in speaking the language. This is a Spanish language learning experience to get excited over!
Introductory adventures are designed with the first time trekker in mind. They are challenging enough to make it a real adventure holiday, however the daily physical exercise is around six to eight hours and altitudes generally less than 4100m. It is important to understand that introductory adventures are not easy. There will be some long steep ascents and some rough ground to cover. Remember trekking rarely involves flat terrain.
Two to three months prior to departure you should spend thirty minutes to one hour exercising, three or four times per week eg. Hard walking, jogging or cycling. To prepare for a walking holiday we recommend you take every opportunity to walk up and down stairs and/or hills, for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness. Please remember the fitter you are the more you will enjoy your holiday.
After all these months and weeks of preparing and talking about this adventure, it is finally time to depart! You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or explore as a group the cosmopolitan area around Miraflores, the suburb of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture.
This morning we will be taken on a guided tour of the city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. It has a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. We’ll also visit the famous Larco Herrera Museum - which provides an excellent overview of the Andean cultures. The rest of the day is at leisure and to explore the sites of Lima with your guide. Tonight you will enjoy a celebratory welcome dinner at a traditional Peruvian restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Classic Miraflores
An early morning departure after breakfast for the short but spectacular flight to Cusco (3,400m), arriving there around mid morning. You'll be met by your guide and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation. In the evening you'll have a longer briefing to discuss aspects of the itinerary and in particular the trek.
Accommodation: Tupac Yupanqui Palacei Hotel
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon we will head off to explore some of the central parts of the city and have a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops before participating in a afternoon chocolate making course in Spanish! The cooking course involves a couple of hours of learning the history of chocolate in Peru, which is often said to be the best in the world! Chocolate has been a vital part of all Latin American civilisations over the centuries. After preparing chocolate from Peruvian cocoa pods you will then have an opportunity to make something.
Accommodation: Tupac Yupanqui Palacei Hotel
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges. We then walk down through the remarkable Inca Salt Pans below Maras. We end up in the Sacred valley near a good restaurant where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. In the afternoon you will have an opportunity to enjoy either a basket weaving or pottery course at a very well run and well organised centre for local culture and development in Ollantaytambo. Both courses will be run in basic Spanish and will be perfect for learning a whole range of new words and phrases whilst learning about two very proud and important cultural pastimes.
Accommodation: Tika Wasi Hotel
An early morning departure for the drive to Chilca where we start our first day of trekking. At this point we meet some our cooks, porters and camp staff before setting off on this famous 'Royal Highway of the Incas', built more than 500 years ago. The first day involves approximately five to six hours of walking. During the first few hours of walking we follow the course of the famous Urubamba River before perhaps stopping to admire the ruins of Patallacta – 2750m (9000ft) – an ancient Inca city built on a series of terraces below the trail. From here we follow the narrow valley of the Cusichaca River to the first campsite at Hatunchaca. Once in camp and after enjoying afternoon tea the guide will take you on a nature walk. Following a small Andean stream up a small valley that is off the Inca Trail, you will learn the Spanish names for the flora and fauna which you will see in the coming days.
Next morning we continue up this narrow valley on the left bank of the river - whose source is one of the great glaciers of Mt Salcantay. We then reach the village of Huayllabamba before starting a relatively steep climb up this classic trail towards our camp at Lulluchapampa – 3780m (12,400ft). We spend our first full day on the trail after what most would agree is perhaps one of the most challenging days.
A brisk 2-hour hike up to the 'Inca Trail's' highest pass, Warmihuañusca, at 13,700' (4,198m). After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we drop very steeply down into the Pacamayo Valley and then continue up the trail to the small but impressively set ruins at Runkuraqay and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass at 12,800' (3,900m). From here we walk the short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious small green lake to the large ruins of Sayacmarca and on to the last pass at 12,450' (3,800m). From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than a vertical mile below us. A short hike from here takes us to our stunning campsite set above the ruins of Phuyupatamarca 11,900' (3,600m), so aptly named the 'City in the Clouds'. Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys -- the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu at 7,900' (2,400m).
After a good night's sleep at this lower altitude, and an early breakfast, we start the last day of the trek. We walk down along an incredibly well preserved section of the trail with great white granite slab walls and staircases all impressively set in high jungle. On the way we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, before covering the last couple of miles to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. Your first view of the ruins really does take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional). *Important: It is important to be aware that, because of all the rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Today we start early to thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. After a professionally led tour of the site we're free to explore the rest of the amazing sights. Mid-afternoon we depart from Machu Picchu for the extremely pretty train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco.
Accommodation: Tupac Yupanqui Palacei Hotel
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicuña. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! The fact that we travel by private vehicle means we can stop where we wish during this fascinating journey (this is a tremendous advantage over the many companies who use public transport for this unique drive). We spend our night at our hotel in Puno.
Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Classic
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the great altiplano that surrounds the lake and stretches all the way to La Paz. After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board small motor boat to cruise out to visit the famous Uros Islands. These islands often given the misnomer of 'floating islands' are in fact tortora reed mats that grow out of the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. The islands have for centuries been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. From here we continue to the Taquile islands where we spend a night in a local island home. These islands have been occupied by traditional farming communities and spending a night gives us a good chance to learn more about the Andean people and their traditional lifestyles. The people of the Taquile islands are famed weavers and you will experience a weaving course in Spanish.
Accommodation: Taquile Island home-stay
Return by boat to Puno where you will have an opportunity to explore the town and make any last minute purchases. An airport transfer will drive you to Juliaca airport for your flight to Lima and onwards to Sydney via Santiago.
LA2100 16 JUL JULIACA LIMA 2055 2235
Catch your return flight home.
Per Person, Twin Share