UNCOVERING MACHU PICCHU PERU 10D/9N

OVERVIEW

  • Day 1: Arrival in Lima
  • Day 2: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
  • Day 3: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
  • Day 4: Colca Canyon Tour & Arrival in Puno
  • Day 5: Lake Titicaca Tour
  • Day 6: Arrival in Cusco
  • Day 7: Cusco City Tour
  • Day 8: Sacred Valley Tour
  • Day 9: Machu Picchu Tour
  • Day 10: Departure from Cusco

DESCRIPTION

The Andes’ greatest hits are all included in this 10-day Peru tour package. Arequipa, with its fabulous architecture and delectable cuisine, is the perfect place to begin acclimating to higher elevations. In the Colca Canyon, you’ll sleep nestled in a terraced valley where Peru’s earliest civilizations first developed agriculture.

Then you’ll travel overland to Puno, where the night sky’s stars can be shockingly bright at 12,000 feet above sea level, and where the vast expanse of Lake Titicaca will stun you with its brilliant blues. Last but not least, you’ll spend 5 days immersed in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, exploring Inca stone ruins, browsing local markets and getting your fill of Peruvian food as you make your way to the most impressive site in the Andes of Peru: the mist-shrouded citadel of Machu Picchu.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Upon arrival at the Lima airport, meet our representative and walk or take a short car ride to your airport hotel.

Overnight in Lima.

Day 2: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour

Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Arequipa. Arequipa is often called the White City because many of its buildings are constructed of sillar, a white volcanic rock. It’s also the birthplace of the Nobel-Prize winning Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.

Upon arrival at the airport in Arequipa, meet our representatives and go to your confirmed Arequipa hotel where you can relax before your City Tour.

Next, meet your guide for your Arequipa City Tour. The Arequipa historic center boasts a distinctive integration of European and native architectural features and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The tour stops at Chapel of San Ignacio, as well as the beautiful, colonnaded main square, the Plaza de Armas, bordered on one side by the soaring neoclassical Cathedral. You’ll also explore the Santa Catalina Monastery, a strikingly beautiful, 16th century convent that once housed 500 nuns. The tour will end at one of two famous miradores, or lookout points, either the Mirador de Yanahuara or Carmen Alto, where you can appreciate views of the city framed by the majestic Misti Volcano nearby.

Spend the evening at your leisure, but don’t call it a night before sampling one or two of the regional dishes, such as rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers) or adobo soup, which have made Arequipa a top culinary destination in Peru.

Colca Mountains and patchwork of green farm fields

Day 3: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight

Start the day early with a filling breakfast before setting off on a scenic drive to the Colca Canyon. The 3 hour drive takes you through spectacular, high altitude landscapes of the Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Agua Blanca. Keep your eyes open for wild vicuñas (smaller cousins of the llama) and viscachas (small rodents that resemble rabbits).

The highest point of your journey, at Patapampa Pass, reaches a breathtaking 16,109 feet (4,910 meters) above sea level. On the descent into the town of Chivay, pre-Inca agricultural terraces blanket the sides of the valley walls. The Ampato, Sabancaya, and Mismi volcanoes tower in the distance.

In Chivay, visit the main square and stop for lunch (not included).

After lunch, ride to the Calera Hot Springs, renowned for the therapeutic effects of its thermal waters. You can either take a dip in the natural baths or just take in the stunning scenery.

Later, transfer to your Colca Canyon hotel, where you can continue to relax amidst the pastoral beauty of this incomparable Andean landscape.

Condor stretches wings before liftoff into canyon

Day 4: Colca Canyon Tour & Arrival in Puno

Early this morning, meet your guide and drive to the Mirador Cruz del Condor, one of the best viewpoints over the canyon and home to the famed condors that soar on the thermal currents. The road leads past picturesque villages and pre-Inca ruins dominated by the Ampato and Hualca glaciers, both visible in the distance. Once you reach Cruz Del Condor, you can stand at the viewpoint and gaze into the depths of the canyon, which stretches nearly 4,000 feet below.

Return to Chivay where you can enjoy lunch (not included) or browse the local market before starting the journey by land to your Puno hotel. Puno is located between 5 and 6 hours from Colca Canyon by car. Enjoy spectacular views of the Andes on the way.

Puno is at a higher altitude than Arequipa, and if you haven’t already sufficiently acclimatized, it is a good idea to take it easy after arrival. Many of our recommended hotels are located along the lakeshore and away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, so you can take in views of the lake as you rest and relax.

Uros reed boat with small top deck where travelers sit

Day 5: Lake Titicaca Tour

Be sure to fuel up at breakfast this morning, as this full-day experience lasts around 9 hours. Your Lake Titicaca tour takes you to two fascinating islands. First, the floating Uros islands are composed of about 72 islands constructed of many layers of totora reeds woven into thick mats. Hosts teach visitors about local customs and how they use reeds to make their homes and boats.

This exciting tour continues to Taquile Island, located about 30 miles by boat from Puno. Along the way, enjoy panoramic views of Lake Titicaca, perched at 12,500 feet in elevation, and of the surrounding peninsulas. Taquile Island is home to numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins, and the island inhabitants still maintain many time-honored traditions which are reflected in their clothing and in their beautiful handicrafts.

On Taquile, visit the most important sites of the island, including the main plaza and the market. Take pictures of the island landscape and surrounding lake views. Be prepared for some effort, though, as due to the island’s geography, the tour of Taquile involves hiking up hills and climbing stone stairs. Taquile’s 500 stone stairs from pier to town re infamous, so be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. Fortunately, the lake views are well worth the climb, and there are many places to stop and rest along the way.

After touring Taquile, enjoy a local lunch (not included) before your return by boat to Puno.

Arrive back in Puno in the early evening. Relax at your hotel or head to the city center to enjoy some traditional cuisine in one of the local restaurants.

Pink-yellow sunset on Cusco main Commercial Street

Day 6: Arrival in Cusco

After breakfast in your Puno hotel, transfer to the bus terminal for your journey to Cusco.

Travel to Cusco aboard a comfortable tourist bus. The ride lasts between 9 and 10 hours and includes a stop for lunch, as well as guided visits to several ruins and tourist sites along the way.

Upon arrival in Cusco, meet our representative at the bus station for a transfer to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the evening at your leisure, resting at your hotel or enjoying the Cusco nightlife.

Shop lights and street lamps illuminate arched facades of colonial buildings in Cusco

Day 7: Cusco around City Tour

Spend the morning at your leisure. This is a good time to explore some of Cusco’s less-visited attractions including the famous San Pedro Market, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, or one of Cusco’s many fine museums. Get a glimpse of Peru’s long artistic heritage at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, hone your knowledge of the Inca Empire at the Casa Concha (“Machu Picchu Museum”), or make your own chocolate from scratch at the Choco Museum.

In the afternoon, meet our expert Cusco guide to tour the city’s must-see attractions. Stops include the Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, the fabulous Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha, the gargantuan ruins of the Sacsayhuaman fortress/temple overlooking the city, as well as the ruins of Q’enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay nearby.

In the late afternoon, return to your Cusco hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Enjoy the local cuisine and the splendor of Cusco at night, the surrounding hills twinkling with lights and the sky overhead littered with stars.

Chinchero church built atop remains of Inca palace

Day 8: Sacred Valley Tour

Explore the beautiful Peruvian countryside with a full-day tour of the magical Sacred Valley, home to several royal estates of Incan emperors. First, visit the town of Pisac, famous for its bustling indigenous market and for the beautiful Inca ruins on the hillside overlooking the city. In the market, browse stalls brimming with beautiful handicrafts and handwoven garments. In the center of the market, village women in traditional dress gather to buy and sell local fruits, vegetables, and other natural products. While exploring the Pisac ruins above, wander narrow paths with walls of spectacularly cut stones and enjoy stunning views of the village and the Sacred Valley below.

After Pisac, stop for lunch (not included) at a buffet restaurant to sample a variety of Peruvian and international dishes near the town of Urubamba. The town is named after the sacred river (whose upper stretch is called the Vilcanota) that flows through the valley, on its way to Machu Picchu and eventually the Amazon jungle.

Next, visit the spectacular fortress of Ollantaytambo. These magnificent Inca ruins that cling to the hillside were part of the royal estate of the Incan emperor Pachacuti. Later, during the Incas’ heroic resistance against the Spaniards, a great battle was fought, during which the Spaniards were repelled by the guerrilla emperor Manco Inca. The small town of Ollantaytambo at its base still has Inca houses, making Ollantaytambo the only Inca city that is still inhabited today.

The tour ends at your comfortable hotel in the Sacred Valley. If you’ve selected a hotel in Ollantaytambo, you can explore the former Incan town at your leisure, which still boasts mountain water coursing through Inca-built gutters in the center of its streets and where many of the inhabitants still speak the Incan language, Quechua.

Machu Picchu sacred plaza next to Wayna Picchu peak

Day 9: Machu Picchu Tour

After breakfast at your Sacred Valley hotel, take a train to Machu Picchu, the hidden Inca citadel. This 2.5-hour train journey is one of the finest in the world. Much of the path winds along the rushing Vilcanota river and snakes through gorges cut into the bases of massive mountainsides, offering passengers dramatic views of the Andean landscape as the train descends from high altitude plains down through the cloud forest. The foliage dramatically changes as the train approaches the meeting point of the Andes and the Upper Amazon rainforest, providing visitors an intimate view of one of the most spectacular transitions in the world.

The train arrives in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, which is surrounded by tall granite cliffs and a cloud forest inhabited by orchids and hummingbirds. Meet our representative at the train station gates and walk to the bus station for a 20-minute ride up to the secluded Inca citadel high atop a mountain ridge.

Next, meet your expert, English-speaking guide for a 2-hour tour of the most important sites in Machu Picchu, including the Intihuatana (Sun Stone), the Sun Temple, and the Room of 3 Windows. Machu Picchu is ranked as one of the “must see” archaeological sites in the world. Royal palaces, temples and astronomical observatories cling to a granite spur some 2,000 feet above the valley floor, affording spectacular views of the cloud-wreathed Andes and the Urubamba River far below.

After your tour, you have the option to explore more of the ruins on your own and capture some final photos.

In the late afternoon, take a comfortable train back to Cusco and then meet our driver for a transfer to your Cusco hotel for the evening.

Want an extra day at Machu Picchu? Customize this package to include an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. The next morning, make a second visit to get your fill of the enigmatic citadel and then return to Cusco in the evening.

*Optional: Hike up Wayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the Machu Picchu ruins. This hike is steep and takes about 3 hours round trip to complete, but affords spectacular views of the surrounding Andes and views over the Machu Picchu citadel from above. Numerous Inca burials have been found in cavities on this mountain. Please let your Travel Advisor know if you’d like to add this to your itinerary.

Cusco red-tiled rooftops, stone church towers, and mountains

Day 10: Departure from Cusco

After breakfast at your hotel, meet our representatives at your hotel and transfer to the airport for your journey home or on to your next destination.

INCLUSIONS

  • Airport pick up
  • 1 night hotel in Lima
  • 1 night hotel in Arequipa
  • 1 night hotel in Colca Canyon
  • 2 night’s hotel in Puno
  • 3 night’s hotel in Cusco and
  • 1 night hotel in the Sacred Valley in Peru Hotels based on standards
  • All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
  • Bus transportation from Arequipa to Puno
  • Bus from Puno to Cusco
  • Train service: Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes town Round/trip
  • Machu Picchu entrance fees

EXCLUSIONS

  • Airfare and airport taxes
  • Lunches or dinners (unless otherwise specified)
  • Gratuities