Essential Peru

Amazon, Inca Trail & Titicaca | View photos »

Delve into the Amazon, stretch yourself to arrive at Machu Picchu on foot and meet communities living on Lake Titicaca as you experience the beautiful diversity of southern Peru.

Customisable trip from 16-18 days » i

Prices from £2,780 - £2,940 per person

Map of the area

"Very special"

"Very special"

Jake (our guide) and the porters always found us wonderfully quiet spots to camp and Pura's method of taking plenty of time for the trail and not using the busy sites made the trail very special. Daniel B

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Sample itinerary

Travel to South America

Fly to Peru. Assuming a daytime flight you will arrive late this evening so it makes most sense to stay overnight at the comfortable airport hotel since you leave early tomorrow. Please note: transatlantic flights for this holiday are quoted separately.

Travel into the Amazon by boat

Check-in for your morning flight to the Amazon then up the Tambopata River by boat. The boats are comfortable and an ideal opportunity to look for wildlife along with your guides. Lunch is served on board, usually in a banana leaf. You should arrive at around dusk. There is actually no sign of the lodge from the river, just a set of wooden steps leading up from the water’s edge into the jungle.

Explore the Amazon, maybe on foot

Whilst here in the jungle you have a menu of excursions available to you throughout each day. All excursions are led by one of a dedicated team of lodge guides, many of whom are from the local communities based around the Tambopata River. Usually there is an early start as the best times of day to see wildlife is invariably sunrise, sunset and nighttime.

Explore the Amazon, perhaps by boat today

Another day, another early start, this time to see a parrot clay lick. If you want to be more active, the lodge does offer optional adventure activities such as climbing into the jungle canopy and mountain biking. Tonight you might like to take a nocturnal tour of the jungle since only 35% of the animals here are diurnal, this could be your best chance to spot wildlife.

Enjoy a last jungle sunrise before flying to Cusco

Before you head downriver for your flight to Cusco, you should have time to climb the 25 metre canopy tower not too far from the lodge. You are met off the plane by your Pura Aventura guide who is going to be with you throughout your time here in Cusco and up to Machu Picchu. Remember that you are now at high altitude (3,326m) so take things easy this afternoon.

Explore Cusco and surrounds with your guide

You will still be acclimatising today so the pace will be fairly relaxed. Spend all day in the company of your guide exploring some of the Inca sites around Cusco and the Sacred Valley today. You might also like to visit the colourful and lively market in the town of Pisac, renowned for its local weavings and hand-painted pottery.

Set off on the Inca Trail this afternoon

From Cusco drive into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, stopping to explore the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. Start your four day hike with a gentle walk alongside the Urubamba River. The start point of the trail is actually lower than Cusco so for the first couple of days you are actually still acclimatising to the altitude. Sleep in comfortable tents and enjoy delicious meals prepared for you by your cooks.

Steady walk through trees to high altitude

Today walk at relatively low altitude (3,000m) through a pretty wooded landscape. As the day goes on you will be passing the tree line and start to get spectacular views of although by the end of the day you will be higher than you were in Cusco, camping in a lovely spot at around 3,800m. The drier season (April-November) coincides with winter in Peru so whilst daytimes are generally fairly pleasant, at night the temperature drops quickly.

The longest day, crossing high mountain passes

Today is the hardest day of the trail as you cross over two high passes, effectively hiking an ‘m’ shape. You will also have stunning views of the surrounding Andean peaks and should have a great sense of achievement by the end of the day. Once you hike over the second high pass of the day, (3,900m) then you should find the going good. Your campsite tonight is at 3,600m on a bluff overlooking the mountains.

Walk all day to arrive at Machu Picchu

The final day of the trail is the most beautiful, starting with what can be the most stunning sunrise. There are lots of steps as you approach the satellite Inca site of Winaywayna. The evidence of Inca masonry is everywhere as the trail leads you through cloudforest rich with orchids and birds. Lunch is served at the ruins of Winaywayna before the final push to the Sun Gate and your first views of Machu Picchu.

Spend all day in Machu Picchu then back to Cusco

This morning if you are feeling energetic, you can catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu, heading slightly up the hill beyond the site to catch sunrise over the mountains. Enjoy a full guided tour of the site this morning. Afterwards you can continue to explore the extensive ruins on your own or climb the emblematic peak of Huayna Picchu for a ‘condor’s-eye’ view of the city. Return to Cusco by train this afternoon to arrive some time after nightfall.

Cross the altiplano by luxury train

Board the Orient-Express owned train from Cusco to Puno. Today is a chance to sit back, relax and watch the scenery slip by. This classic train journey cuts across the formidable Peruvian Altiplano, rich with llama and remote settlements. As you travel you will notice that the people change, from the Inca of Cusco and the Sacred Valley to the Aymara and Quechua of the Altiplano. Traditional dress becomes incredibly colourful at the same time as the skies become bluer and more expansive.

Guided day on Lake Titicaca

Set off by boat early this morning. First stop are the floating reed islands of Uros, a fascinating opportunity to see how people actually live out here on the edge of this massive lake. Travel out into the main lake and the ‘weaver’s’ island of Taquile where you visit the lesser known side of the island to learn about the history and culture of these charming people. While the women weave, the men knit.

Travel over the altiplano to Arequipa

Set off early this morning towards Arequipa, a drive of around six hours in total. There will be stops along the way to allow you to stretch your legs and admire the beautiful views. This stretch of Peru’s altiplano seems extremely remote and barren at first glance, yet is home to a surprising amount of wildlife such as flamingoes and vicuna. The journey ends in Arequipa, which sits in the shadow of several snow-capped volcanoes and is famous for its lovely climate.

Discover lovely Arequipa at your own pace

Today is an opportunity for you to simply relax and take things easy. Arequipa is home to the Alpaca industry of Peru so you will find beautiful garments for sale. The silver is also first rate. As well as possibly the best shopping of your holiday, Arequipa has plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can try excellent ‘nuevo Andino’ cuisine.

Travel home

After a relaxed morning, catch your mid-afternoon flight back to Lima, connecting through to your overnight flight back home. Again, we quote international flights separately on this holiday.

About this trip

Summary

Delve into the Amazon, stretch yourself to arrive at Machu Picchu on foot and meet communities living on Lake Titicaca as you experience the beautiful diversity of southern Peru.

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How adventurous?

Activity
1 2 3 4 5
Comfort
1 2 3 4 5
Culture
1 2 3 4 5

Physical adventure

Your holiday starts with time in the Amazon near Puerto Maldonado. In truth, the activities here are limited to walks, boat rides and the occasional ascent of the observation tower all designed to get you as close as possible to the wonderful landscapes and wildlife of this part of the Amazon. You should be aware that the humidity of the rainforest makes most activities harder than you will be used to.

The lodge we use here is fairly simple though very clean and comfortable with en suite facilities. The excursions and guiding staff are first rate and that’s what matters most.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is hard going. The trail covers 28 miles over four days so distances are not great. However, it is at very high altitude with a number of steep ascents and descents as well as lots of narrow steps meaning that the going can be slow and fairly tough.

What you get in return for these exertions are four days’ walking in the beautiful mountain surroundings of the Peruvian Andes finished off with the exhilaration of arriving at Machu Picchu on foot in the quiet afternoon.

We pace our Inca Trail differently to most, in essence timing it to be half a day behind the main daily intake onto the trail (limited by permit to 500 people in total). Where the majority of hikers are moving along together and sleeping at the same campsites, you walk in peace and sleep with few others in sight.

Day one of our trail is very short, only around 2 hours of walking at altitudes lower than Cusco. Over the course of a fairly long second day, you regain altitude gradually to reach a level similar to Cusco. The third day of our trail is the hardest, pushing over the highest pass (4,200m) before going down into a valley and back up over a second high pass to finish on a high plateau at 3,600m. The fourth and final day is quite long but is effectively downhill, including a lot of narrow steps, as you descend towards Machu Picchu at 2,400m.

Where most people hiking the Inca Trail cross the high pass on day two, our pace gives you extra time to acclimatise. It also means that your walking pace isn’t being forced by an inevitable desire to avoid getting clogged up with big, noisy groups. There is time to rest, enjoy the views and learn about your surroundings without any sense that you need to hurry.

In terms of physical comfort, the full Inca Trail does involve three nights camping out at altitude. This undoubtedly adds to both the adventure and the exertion of the hike. Tents are fairly spacious and always pitched for you by the team of porters. In addition we carry our own toilet tent, pitched at a discreet distance from camp.

Each morning your porter will deliver warm water for you to take a ‘bird bath’ before breakfast. A dining tent is set up for meals, including lunches on the trail. Our chef does an amazing job - meals are substantial and remarkably elaborate given how far you are from a kitchen.

From there on, the physical aspect of your adventure takes a back seat as you relax and enjoy the wonderful landscapes and cultures of the high Altiplano around Lake Titicaca and the glorious city of Arequipa.

In Peru, the driest time of year is winter so April through October/November. In general you can expect daytime temperatures of somewhere between 10°-20° in Lima, Cusco and at Machu Picchu though temperatures plunge at night. On the Inca Trail you can and should expect temperatures to be sub-zero at night. The same is true of Lake Titicaca. Arequipa on the other hand is known to be a place of eternal spring so very comfortable temperatures both day and night are the norm, year round.

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Cultural adventure

The cultures, nature and landscapes on this holiday are fantastically varied, from the immigrant cultures of Lima to the indigenous groups of the Andes and the Amazon below. It is very much a part of our development of this holiday that you should come away from Peru with a nuanced and clear sense of the country.

The people of the Amazon have their own rich history and culture, from medicines to agriculture to hunting, they navigate the jungle landscapes with remarkable skill. Being locally managed, employment for locals is a key part of the story of the lodges we use.

In Cusco and on the Inca Trail you are in the Andean heartlands of the Inca with all the rich customs and history that this entails. You have the same guide with you throughout your time in Cusco and onto the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. This consistency of guiding means that you don’t get the repetition which is inevitable if you have the usual set up of different guides at each place. Cutting out the repetition buys you time to find out more about more aspects of life in Peru, be that history or food, music, culture or politics.

Up on Lake Titicaca you move into the land of the Aymara people – distinctively colourful hoop skirts appear in the traditional dress of the women here. We carefully choose which parts of Lake Titicaca to visit in order that you avoid the well-worn trails and instead can enjoy moments of genuine interaction with the people living here on the world’s highest navigable lake.

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Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Practicalities

There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you.

We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started? To do this properly we want to understand the things you care about and the things you don’t need.

For instance, if a full four-day hike to Machu Picchu doesn't appeal then we can replace it with the one-day Royal Inca Trail instead or even the train to avoid any hiking. You might like to extend the trip to include the Colca Canyon, near Arequipa or stay with a family on overnight on Lake Titicaca. This is also a holiday which combines very well with the Galapagos Islands.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes internal flights, transport and transfers. Accommodation including all meals in the Amazon and on the Inca Trail. Guided excursions and entrances as set out in the detailed itinerary, including full time Cusco and Inca Trail guide, as well as permits and porters on the Inca Trail. Entrances to Machu Picchu and the Visitor’s Ticket in Cusco. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Please note: pricing is based on two people travelling. However, we assume that you join at least two further Pura Aventura clients in Cusco and on the Inca Trail.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly in and out of Lima (airport code: LIM).

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Prices from

£2,780 - £2,940 pp

Customisable trip length

16-18 days

Next steps...

Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure

01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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