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Natural Peru

Cusco, Machu Picchu & Manu | View photos »

Uncontrived interactions with local people, encounters with exotic wildlife and time to appreciate the vast landscapes of the Andes and Amazon: this holiday takes you away from the crowds, giving you an insider's view of some of Peru's best-known places, and its most remote corners.

14 day trip described, guide price £3,710pp i

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Map of the area

Sample itinerary

Fly to South America

Fly to Peru today. You are met on arrival this evening and transferred to your hotel in the coastal neighbourhood of Miraflores. Please note: international flights for this holiday are quoted separately.

Insider’s tour of Lima

Your private guide spends today showing you Lima and, in doing so, explaining Peru. You’ll be spending time on both foot and in taxis as you explore some of the city’s very different areas, from Miraflores to Barranco, the polished historic centre to the earthier Barrios Altos next door. For lunch you will try out food from around Peru - the coast, the jungle and the high Andes.

Fly up to Cusco

Fly up to Cusco, ‘the navel of the Andes’. You are met off the plane by your Pura Aventura guide who will 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 you will take things easy this afternoon with a stroll through the picturesque colonial streets.

Explore Cusco with your guide

You will still be acclimatising today so the pace is fairly relaxed, unless you want to be more energetic. Spend all day 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.

Hike to Huchuyqosqo and camp by the ruins

Set off early to walk to the Inca ruins of Huchuyqosqo, a little-known site on a plateau high above the Sacred Valley. There will be few, if any, other people in sight today as you walk across open hills with herds of grazing llama, then follow an Inca road around cliffs and gorges. Arrive at Huchuyqosqo in the afternoon and spend the night camping right next to the ruins.

Through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu

Look out for condors soaring above you as you walk downhill to the Sacred Valley this morning. The next stops take you to the spectacular salt pans of Maras and the enigmatic Inca terraces at Moray before you embark on a beautiful train ride along the Urubamba river valley to Machu Picchu, where you spend the night in town.

Explore Machu Picchu with your guide

Explore Machu Picchu at your own pace with your guide today. Start with a hike up Machu Picchu peak for a stunning 360 degree view over the citadel, then head down to explore the elaborate complex of buildings and temples. Spend as long here as you like, in the quiet of the afternoon the light is often at its best.

Back to Cusco

Travel back through the Sacred Valley to Cusco today. After so much activity, spend a free afternoon doing what you want. You still have your Visitor's Ticket, which affords you entry to a number of sites you won’t have had time to visit yet. Perhaps shop for some handicrafts in the many markets, (not forgetting to haggle), or visit one of the excellent museums or art galleries.

On the road to Manu

Your journey to Manu begins with a drive through rural towns where life is still untouched by tourism. Visit local markets and stroll through the pretty streets of historic Paucartambo before lunch, then start your descent along the edge of the Andes, the scenery changing as you cross through a range of habitats into the cloud forest. End your day at a lodge near a spot where Peru's national bird, the Cock of the Rock, perform its quirky mating dance.

Into the Amazon

Enjoy a brief Amazon river cruise down the River Alto Madre de Dios to your Manu lodge, a research station where you spend the next three nights. The national park, ranging from snowy peaks to tropical lowlands, harbours an incredible biodiversity with more than 1,000 species of bird, 221 mammals and 287 amphibians and reptiles.

Explore the Amazon

Rise at dawn to see macaws feeding at a clay lick, and look out for other birds and mammals around beautiful Marchahuasi lake. Mealtimes are a great opportunity to learn more about the rich wildlife around the lodge from scientists and volunteers. This evening you might also like to take a walk through the forest after dark.

Explore Manu by boat

Today is a more relaxed day as you travel deeper downriver into Manu. Visit the small town of Shintuya, walk up to a waterfall, and take a dip in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes. Returning to the lodge in the afternoon, you might like to go out for another walk or just spend some time listening to the sounds of the forest from one of the riverside hammocks.

Return by road to Cusco

After breakfast, take the boat back to Atalaya. From there, you are on the road for most of the day, driving back up the way you came. If the weather allows, you have a second chance to enjoy the views from spectacular vantage points over the mountains and forests. You arrive at your Cusco hotel around 4pm, allowing time to enjoy one final evening in town.

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

Uncontrived interactions with local people, encounters with exotic wildlife and time to appreciate the vast landscapes of the Andes and Amazon: this holiday is designed to unfold at your own pace, away from the crowds, giving you an insider's view of some of Peru's best-known places, and its most remote corners.

How adventurous?

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

Best time to go i

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

Level of activity

Apart from Lima, your time is spent entirely in the spectacularly diverse south-west corner of Peru – around the rich Inca heartland of Cusco and Machu Picchu, and the wild expanse of the Manu rainforest. This holiday is all about reaching far into the great outdoors and seeing each place from a different perspective, so there is an element of adventure throughout.

You are privately guided throughout your time in Lima, Cusco, Huchuyqosqo, and Machu Picchu. The Huchuyqosqo trail is a two-day hike up to the little-known Inca site of the same name, where you spend a night camping next to the ruins. The first day’s walking takes six to seven hours with gradual uphill and downhill sections, partly along an original paved Inca road. On the second day, the walk takes about two hours and is downhill all the way. On the way, you walk through remote landscapes where the only people you are likely to see for miles are local farmers tilling the earth by hand.

The journey into the Amazon to stay at the Manu Learning Centre is something of an adventure itself, a road journey across the Andean highlands, skirting the edge of the mountain range down into the cloud forest, then by boat downriver to your lodge. Though you are primarily vehicle-based much of the time, the dramatic geographical shifts make this a journey full of diverse experiences and it is never long between stops.

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 Cusco, and Machu Picchu, with temperatures plunging at night. At this time of year, Manu is hot and fairly humid, with heavy rain always a possibility.

Level of comfort

This trip is based around comfortable accommodation where possible but we do not sacrifice your experience in search of comfort. The Manu Learning Centre is fairly simple, built in a local indigenous style that allows plenty of airflow into the buildings. Any compromise in creature comforts here is more than compensated for by the opportunity to stay in this remote and wildlife-rich setting.

The Huchuyqosqo Trail involves one night camping out at altitude. Your tent will be pitched for you and our chef does an amazing job creating meals that are substantial and remarkably elaborate given how far you are from a kitchen.

Elsewhere, you can expect comfortable hotels, roughly 3.5 to 4*, which have been carefully selected for their character, location and service. Full details of the accommodation we use are on our detailed itinerary. Call us for a copy.

Level of culture

This holiday has been developed to give you a real and nuanced sense of the country’s cultural diversity and authentic opportunities to see what daily life is like on and off the tourist trail.

Your visit to Peru starts with a full day exploration of Lima with our own guide. He introduces you to neighbourhoods, foods, markets, people you would never find by yourself. It’s the perfect introduction to the varied, sometimes very turbulent, history of Peru’s people.

Around Cusco and Machu Picchu, you are in the Inca heartland of the Andes, a region with an incredibly rich history and folklore. You have the same private guide throughout your time as you explore outwards from Cusco’s historic neighbourhoods to the remote hills of the Huchuyqosqo trail, the Sacred Valley’s rural towns and Inca sites, and finally to Machu Picchu. This consistency of guiding means that your time in each place is linked together seamlessly and it offers you the chance to get to know your guide on a deeper level and find out about other aspects of life in Peru, be that history or food, music, culture or politics.

Manu Learning Centre is quite unique in that you stay as a guest at a non-profit lodge whose primary activities are about wildlife research, education and sustainability projects with local communities. This Amazon experience is not simply about seeing the flora and fauna, although this is one of the best places to do that. It is also about meeting and interacting with the people who live and work in this part of the jungle.

Staffed by scientists and volunteers as well as a permanent team who run the lodge, this is a fascinating, busy place where you can get an insight into the incredible wealth of wildlife that has been recorded in the area, as well as the challenges related to rainforest conservation. As a guest here, you are contributing to this goal and can even participate in one of the projects if you would like to.

Practicalities

There is a detailed itinerary for this Peru trip, in the form set out above. Please give us a call on 01273 676 712 or email us at info@pura-aventura.com and we can send that to you. However, as a tailor made trip, in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you, we really need to discuss things with you first to find out your interests, when you want to travel, how long you want to go for, etc.

For instance, if you would like to do more hiking during this holiday, you could add the one-day ‘Royal” Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, or even the full four-day Inca Trail. This is a trip that also combines very well with time around Lake Titicaca or the Colca Canyon.

In the form set out above, the holiday price is based on two people sharing and includes internal flights, transport and transfers, private guiding in Lima, Cusco, the Huchuyqosqo Trail and Machu Picchu, shared guiding in Manu, accommodation in good quality hotels and lodges, one night camping, entrances, activities, and meals as set out in the detailed itinerary.

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.

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

Departs

Departs on a date to suit you from March through December.

Next steps...

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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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Book Send me exclusive content » Taking a break at a waterfall in the Manu rainforest Lima's cathedral, set within the UNESCO-listed colonial downtown A street mural in Lima Cusco's bustling main square, the Plaza de Armas Selling trinkets in the Sacred Valley, Peru The Inca ruins of Huchuyqosqo, set on a plateau overlooking the Sacred Valley The deep circular terraces at Moray are believed to have been used to grow crops from a range of climates Walking down the trail from the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu Traditional dress and incredible Incan stonemasonry in Cusco A Cock of the Rock bird in the Manu cloud forest Boats in dock at the port town of Atalaya, gateway to the Manu rainforest Birds in flight at dawn over the River Alto Madre de Dios Early morning by the dock at Manu Learning Centre The pre-Inca burial towers of Ninamarca, en route to Manu Statue of the great Incan ruler Pachacuti in Cusco, Peru