Peru has a beguiling personality inspired by the kaleidoscopic of colors in woven fabrics, craggy mountains that shoot skyward, an innovative ancient culture far ahead of its time, and contemporary cuisine that has emerged from traditional crops. The splendor is evident in the fertile valley farmlands, at the Incan temples, in cities full of historic colonial architecture, and in rainforests that host untold biodiversity. For nature lovers, archaeology buffs, and adventurers of any measure, Peru is a destination like no other.
On this adventure, we explore the villages and trails of the spectacular Sacred Valley, meet local farmers and artisans, meander through markets, and enjoy traditional and modern Peruvian cuisine. Throughout our journey, we learn about the ancient agricultural practices and Quechua culture that have endured despite Spanish colonization. We witness history come to life as we visit Incan ruins and explore the lost citadel of Machu Picchu, eventually riding the famed Hiram Bingham luxury train back to Cusco.
Please note: There is the option to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on Day 5 of our tour. This is at an additional expense and hiking permits are limited and issued first come, first served, so you are encouraged to reserve early.
Arrival in Cusco; Afternoon City Tour & Sacsayhuaman
Welcome to Peru! After a group lunch and brief orientation, we begin our exploration of the land of the Incas in the city of Cusco (11,150'), whose name is taken from the Quechua word for "naval" or "center." Here, dramatic Spanish colonial architecture blends with solid Inca masonry in a harmony that belies the area's tumultuous history. Beautiful cathedrals abound, often built directly on top of ancient Inca temples. The juxtaposition of pagan and Christian art and architecture is fascinating.
After exploring the center of Cusco, we drive to the surrounding countryside for a walk on the grounds of the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman, where we encounter our first example of the huge boulders the Incas used in building temples and fortresses. Incan stonework is unsurpassed by that of any other culture. Massive rocks were painstakingly ground to fit so perfectly together that no mortar was needed, and many walls have remained for over 500 years in spite of tremors that sometimes occur in the area. It is mind-boggling to think of the work that went into producing these temples and fortresses.
After time to freshen up at our hotel, we dine at one of our favorite restaurants while enjoying traditional music.
Belmond Hotel MonasterioCusco, Peru
Belmond Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and national monument dating from 1592, is a delightful retreat located next to the lively Cusco central square. The property combines centuries-old charm with luxury service, inspired restaurants and boutique rooms and suites all clustered around a tranquil central courtyard.Â Featuring warm and inviting Spanish colonial dÃ©cor, rich wood furnishings, antique artwork and architectural quirks, each room is unique, reflecting the monastery’s charm and elegance. Superior and Deluxe Rooms feature king-sized or twin beds, luxurious marble bathrooms, and views across a cloistered courtyard or the cobbled streets of Cusco.
Chinchero, Moras to Moray
This morning we depart Cusco for the Sacred Valley, stopping along the way at a local market and the village of Chinchero. Here, we meet artisans who are part of a cooperative based on one of the tenets of Inca philosophy: service to community. We are introduced to traditional spinning, dying, and weaving methods that result in beautiful and unique cloth. We then enjoy a scenic walk along the pathways outside the village.
We continue toward the Sacred Valley, taking a side trip to Moray, an important experimental agricultural site for the Incas. After exploring this interesting site, a short drive brings us to Maras where we enjoy a lunch at a local restaurant and visit the nearby Maras Salt Mine. The mine's white pools have provided salt for the southern highlands since the time of the Incas, and it is managed as a working cooperative for the families in the region.
Later this afternoon, we arrive at our hotel for the next three nights, a charming country lodge with beautiful mountain views, extensive gardens. and a large courtyard. You may choose to relax with a pisco sour before we meet for dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
La Casona de YucayYucay, Peru
Built in 1810, La Casona de Yucay is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The hotel is surrounded by mountains and offers spectacular views, an onsite bar and restaurant, and rooms overlooking the hotel gardens.
Kinsa Cocha Lake & Pisac
We begin our day with an early morning drive to the nearby town of Pisac, and ascend into the foothills to Kinsa Cocha Lake. Here, a nonprofit is working with local people to promote the preservation of dozens of types of potato seeds. We spend some time learning about the project before a walk with spectacular views over the Sacred Valley, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way.
Next, we descend to Pisac, where the well-preserved ruins above town offer excellent views and further insight into the spiritual life of the Incas. Here we see good examples of Inca stairs, and the hills above the site are dotted with caves which functioned as ancient burial grounds. The Incas believed that their ancestors could watch over and protect the living from their vantage point on the hillside.
We have some time to relax this afternoon before dinner tonight at a local home in Yucay, where we enjoy traditional Peruvian dishes and learn about life in the Sacred Valley.
Mountain Village & Ollantaytambo
Today's hike begins in one of the mountain communities near the town of Ollantaytambo, offering a glimpse of the agricultural life the campesinos have lived for centuries, growing wheat and potatoes, and raising livestock. A steep ascent up the road will bring us to the small archaeological complex of Pumamarca, a small Inca settlement overlooking the Patacancha Valley that managed the irrigation system of the Inca terraces below.
We hike along the terrace complex of Choquecancha, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. A 3-hour descent through these farmed terraces brings us to our lunch spot on the outskirts of Ollantaytambo, a charming town of cobblestone streets, ingenious aqueducts, and colorful market stalls at the base of an impressive ruin. Exactly how the Incas moved the rose-colored stone blocks from their quarry miles away is a mystery to this day. This location, at a narrow part of the valley, is the only place where the Incas managed to stave off the Spanish conquest by using canals to flood the valley floor.
After dinner tonight, we retire early to pack our overnight bags (see page 17) in preparation for tomorrow's journey to Machu Picchu!
Machu Picchu by Rail
Early this morning we board the Vistadome train to the town of Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo), at the base of Machu Picchu Mountain. Our hour-long, breathtaking train journey takes us along the Urubamba River, winding through a narrow valley, where we begin to note the landscape changing to lush forests and steep cliffs indicative of the cloud forest surrounding this mythical site. Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes, we take the bus to Machu Picchu and begin our exploration of these amazing ruins. Our guide will introduce us to this mesmerizing site and provide options to explore the lost city independently. You may choose to venture up to Intipunku (the Gate of the Sun), Inca Bridge, or simply choose to find a quiet spot from which to soak in the splendor. We descend to town mid-afternoon to enjoy lunch at our hotel.
For those who are feeling more adventurous, please contact Boundless Journeys to request the day hike on the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu. This is an additional expense requiring a permit. Those who hike into Machu Picchu will enjoy a picnic lunch en route, then descend to Aguas Calientes late afternoon to meet the group for dinner at our award-winning hotel, where we share a festive celebration of our day at Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Pueblo HotelMachu Picchu Pueblo, Peru
This highest rated hotel in the Machu Picchu region (Travel + Leisure, "World’s Best Hotels") offers Andean-style individual bungalows in a quiet riverside spot in the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo. This acclaimed hotel is renowned for its progressive sustainability programs, featuring an impressive tropical garden showcasing a wide variety of native plant species, stone paths, and canals flowing with spring water, creating a special atmosphere. Enjoy the spa services, including a eucalyptus sauna, and excellent restaurant overlooking the rushing Vilcanota River.
Mystical Machu Picchu
Today we have another early start to arrive at Machu Picchu with plenty of time to learn more about the complexities of this mystical mountaintop city. Our guide will present options to explore Machu Picchu, including an in-depth tour of the citadel as well as walks in the surrounding hills. You may choose to challenge yourself to a final hike up Huayna Picchu, the dramatic spire that rises in the background of every classic photograph of the famed citadel or Machu Picchu Mountain.
Upon concluding our excursion to Machu Picchu around mid-day, we enjoy lunch and time to relax at the Sanctuary Lodge before our return to Aguas Calientes by bus. We may have some time for independent exploration and shopping before traveling back to Cusco in style aboard the Hiram Bingham train — expect a delicious meal, pisco sours, and lively Peruvian musicians en route!
Free or guided exploration of Cusco
This morning we have the opportunity to explore Cusco independently or join our guide for excursions to some of the city sights. Cusco is a lively city, and often there are festivals and celebrations taking place. You may stroll the markets or sit back and relax at the main square, a great place to simply watch the daily scene unfold. You may also choose to join a cooking class (at an additional expense), or visit one of the many famous museums or cathedrals. Lunch is on your own today, and there are many restaurants emerging as a result of the budding gastronomic scene in Peru. After some time to rest in the afternoon, we gather this evening for our final celebratory dinner at a favorite restaurant in Cusco.
Departure from Cusco
After breakfast we say goodbye and transfer to the Cusco airport in time for flights to Lima and homeward.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
May 17-24, 2020
Jul 18-25, 2020
Aug 17-24, 2020
Sep 22-29, 2020
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $4,895 Per Person
First two reserved:$365
See single supplement policy below.
10+ Guests: $4,895 per person
4 to 9 Guests: $5,195 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Peru: The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks and hikes on this trip are easy to moderate with some moderately strenuous options, at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet. Walks and hikes are generally from 2-6 hours in length with minimal vehicle support. On days with significant ascents or descents, we have noted them in the itinerary.
Inca Trail hike option:The Inca Trail hike itself is rated 3+, an approximate 5-6 hour hike, over 6 miles, with 2600 feet gain and 890 feet loss. The terrain is a hiking trail, with rocks and roots, and uneven stone steps, thus requires sturdy boots and comfort hiking on uneven trails.
Most Convenient Airport: Jorge Chavez Lima-Calleo International Airport, Lima, Peru, for international arrivals (airport code LIM)
Cusco Valazco Astete Airport, Cusco, Peru, for domestic arrivals from Lima (airport code CUZ)
Peru's geography is as diverse as its culture, with altitudes from sea level to over 22,000 feet. Our trip begins and ends in Cusco, which is situated at 11,150 feet, in the foothills of the Andes. After our first night, we move to the Sacred Valley, and our hotel is located at 9,350 feet. Our third hotel, in Machu Picchu Pueblo, is located at about 6,500 feet.
Our walks and hikes will take place at elevations of 8,000 feet to approximately 12,000 feet. There is time to move at a comfortable pace, allowing ourselves to adjust to the mountain air. Keeping well hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol, eating frequent, light meals, and getting plenty of rest will help with any effects of altitude that you may feel.
It is important to sign up early, as the Peruvian government has a permit system in place that strictly limits the number of hikers who are on the Inca trail at any given time. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Now is the time to reserve if you dream of hiking into Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. There are alternative hiking options if permits are not available at the time when you reserve. This will not affect our visit to Machu Picchu, just the hike to the ruins. Please contact our office with any questions regarding this.
The mountainous areas of Peru have pronounced rainy and dry seasons, which are more responsible for the prevailing weather than seasonal temperature fluctuations. While the dry season lasts only from May through September, the most significant rains fall from January through March. Temperatures do not fluctuate as much, although nights do tend to be colder from May through September. Any time of year, dressing in layers is a good strategy so that you can shed or add layers as the day heats and cools.
You may obtain more detailed weather information at www.weatherbase.com.
Peru is generally delightful for hiking from April through December. We avoid scheduling trips during January through March, as this is the height of the rainy season. That being said, the hillsides and valleys tend to be greener in April, May and June. Later in the dry season the fields turn golden and the campesinos harvest their crops.
Dinners in Peru feature generous portions of beef, lamb, chicken, or fish, potatoes or rice, and fresh vegetables, such as locally grown avocados, summer squash, and olives. Delicacies such as roast cuy (guinea pig), alpaca, and ceviche (chilled marinated fish) are available on some menus. Breakfast generally features common continental offerings, cereals made from quinoa, as well as scrambled eggs and sausage. Delicious hearty soups are also a staple of Peruvian meals, and are often available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited.
Harry was born in a village in the center of the Incas' Sacred Valley and began hiking the Inca Trail and exploring the Vilcabamba region as a young boy. The son of a traveling teacher, Harry had the opportunity to travel extensively through the mountains and villages surrounding Cusco and near Machu Picchu.
Harry started his career as an assistant guide at the age of 13 and went on to earn his degree. In addition to guiding, Harry has worked with NGOs in support of impoverished Andean families, and he has participated in anthropological projects studying the native communities of Central America to assess similarities with his native culture.
Harryâ€™s true passion for the cultures of the Andes and his extensive experience make him an ideal companion for exploring the mountains and villages of Peru.
Knowledgeable, friendly, and energetic, Wilfredo has been guiding trekking and cultural experiences for curious travelers for over 20 years and has developed a reputation as one of southern Peruâ€™s most highly sought-after guides. He speaks Spanish, English, French, Japanese, and the native Peruvian language of Quechua.
An accomplished musician with three albums to his name, when not leading active cultural adventures, Wilfredo can be found playing, building, and teaching traditional Andean wind instruments, including the Quena and ZampoÃ±a. We are thrilled to have someone with such varied skills on our guiding team!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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Easy to moderate hiking and walking with a moderately strenuous option; altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet, 2-6 hours per day.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
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