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Peru Adventure

Adventure in the high Andes & pristine jungle | View photos »

There is a corner of Peru where the high Andes gives way to misty cloudforest, before the vast expanse of unspoilt rainforest takes over. It is one of the most biodiverse, and culturally historic, places on earth. For two or three weeks, this is your adventure playground; hike and camp along lesser-trodden mountain trails, raft the foamy Urubamba River, mountain bike past ancient salt pans and delve deep into the jungle.

17 day trip described, guide price £4,615pp i

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Sample itinerary

Fly to Peru

Land in Cusco this morning where you meet your guide and transfer into the Sacred Valley, stopping en route to visit the Inca ruins at Pisac. Depending on timings, you will have lunch in the village and time to stroll in the famous and popular market.

Local life in the Sacred Valley

Spend today with your guide experiencing life in the Sacred Valley, as lived by the people, away from the tourist trail. Women weave the most beautifully complex patterns using age old techniques. Shepherds herd llama, sheep and pigs across the high plains. You’ll lunch in a typical Spanish hacienda, surrounded by the most remarkable array of historical art and artefacts, and share dinner with a local family.

Raft the Urubamba River

Today go to the upper Urubamba, the sacred river of the Incas, for some fun grade III-IV rafting. This equates to some big waves and adrenaline, certainly enough to get the heart pumping. Full instruction and safety talk are given so no previous experience is necessary. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the side of the river before heading back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Begin the three day Lares Trail

For the next three days, walk amongst the glacial lakes of the beautiful Lares mountains, one of the most remote corners of the Sacred Valley. Accessing the trail involves a fairly long drive, but it is well worth it to enjoy such amazing views and peace. While camping, you have porters and a cook who deliver delicious meals three times a day. With a dining and toilet tents set up for you, this is camping with a couple of frills!

Reach the Colque Cruz viewpoint

The Urubamba mountains sit to the north of the Sacred Valley. They are home to a cluster of five peaks of over 6,000m as well as hundreds of glaciers, lagoons and remote communities. All of the routes take you up to the highlands, via traditional villages to see the 5,800m glaciated peak of Sahuasiray, known by the locals as Colque Cruz.

Descend through the valley to Ollantaytambo

Enjoy your last day of hiking the Urubamba mountains as you descend towards the former Inca royal complex of Ollantaytambo. Take time to look around the site, dominated by its impressive terracing, then return to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Mountain bike through the Sacred Valley

This morning a short transfer brings you to the Chinchero plain for the start of probably the best one-day mountain bike adventure in Peru. Largely downhill, pass Lake Huaypo and enjoy great views of the Vilcanota mountain range. This fun dirt-road mountain-bike descent into the Sacred Valley is suitable for all the family. The final descent on mule trails is through the spectacular working salt-pans of Maras.

Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Catch the train towards Machu Picchu this morning, getting off near the end of the line to walk the one-day, ‘Royal’ Inca trail. The trail takes you up along the side of a valley to the ruins of Winaywayna, where you stop for a picnic lunch, and then follow the paved Inca road through the cloud forest, with orchids, hummingbirds and butterflies. After a final push up a steep stairway to the Sun Gate, you meet your first views of Machu Picchu in the quiet of the afternoon, when the light is at its best.

Explore Machu Picchu in the afternoon

This morning if you are feeling energetic, you can catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu, heading uphill to catch sunrise over the mountains. However, the mid-morning to early afternoon is extremely busy, so your full guided tour of the site takes place this afternoon. Return to the bottom of the valley this evening to relax after your time in one of the world's great historical sites.

Visit a weaving co-operative

As the crowds head up to Machu Picchu this morning, you head the other way to catch a train back to the Sacred Valley. From here you will drive out with your guide through the wide open high-plains of the Quechua ecosystem to visit a fascinating weaver's cooperative, and see the new life breathed into this ancient skill. After lunch, continue the short distance to Cusco to settle in to your hotel. Your guide will help you get your bearings before leaving you to enjoy an evening stroll through this lively small city.

Guided tour of Cusco

Cusco has been known historically as, ‘the navel of the Andes’, and was the unquestionable hub of the Inca Empire. Take some time to relax this morning before you meet your guide for a walking tour to orientate you to this picturesque city, visiting two of its most important historic sites, the Cathedral and the Temple of the Sun.

Travel into the cloud forest

Take a spectacular road journey from the Andes into the cloud forest, travelling through traditional towns and dramatic scenery. At the edge of the Andes, the land drops away to the Amazon basin. If you are lucky and there are no clouds, you will find yourself looking out across hundreds of miles of rainforest below you. The road winds down into the cloud forest, where waterfalls cascade down the mountains and tall trees, clad with bromeliads and lichen, meet the road. Your final stop is at a Cock of the Rock lek, where you will see the quirky mating dance of Peru's brightly coloured national bird.

Delve deeper into the rainforest

After breakfast, you set off again for a two hour journey deeper into the Amazon Basin. Visit a coca plantation to learn about the uses of the leaves and their medicinal properties. Where the road runs out you’ll switch to a boat to travel along the Alto Madre de Dios river. The lodge is primarily a wildlife research and education base, as a guest, you have a unique insight into the rainforest research and conservation.

Macaws, hoatzin & caiman

Rise at dawn to see one of the Amazon's most colourful spectacles - the flood of macaws, parrots and parakeets, as they flock together on the walls of the clay lick. Later, paddle across a beautiful lagoon frequented by hoatzin, horned screamers, kingfishers and flycatchers. After dark, set off on a night walk to spot some of the nocturnal species in the area. The nearby wetlands are rich in species of amphibians, best identified by the sounds they make, or by a glimpse of their glowing eyes in the torchlight.

Visit an indigenous community

Today is a more relaxing day as you travel downriver by boat for a couple of hours to the Shintuya community. It was home to one of the region's first missions and has a mixed population of local indigenous people and immigrants from the Andes. A little later, go for a walk to a lovely waterfall in the heart of the forest. Dedicate the late afternoon to relaxing on the riverside hammocks, or walk up to the viewpoint over the river around sunset.

Return to Cusco

Your Amazon adventure ends as you journey back up into the beautiful Andean highlands by road for a final evening in Cusco. You will normally get back to the city in the mid/late afternoon, giving you plenty of time to freshen up before heading out for dinner in one of Cusco's excellent restaurants.

Fly home

Depending on your flight time today, you have the morning at leisure before you transfer to Cusco airport and fly home. Enjoy a final stroll through the market, relax in a cafe before departing.

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Map of the area

"Seamless organisation"

"Seamless organisation"

Seamless organisation during the holiday. The itinerary, accommodation and activities were excellent. Rachel H

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About this trip

Summary

There is a corner of Peru where the high Andes gives way to misty cloudforest, before the vast expanse of unspoilt rainforest takes over. It is one of the most biodiverse, and culturally historic, places on earth. For two or three weeks, this is your adventure playground; hike and camp along lesser-trodden mountain trails, raft the foamy Urubamba River, mountain bike past ancient salt pans and delve deep into the jungle.

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

This trip is designed to allow you to discover some of the best areas of Peru, in the best way possible: actively, in the open air. From rafting the white waters of the Upper Urubamba, to hurtling downhill through the Sacred Valley’s best mountain bike track, to walking the Urubamba mountains and the Royal Inca Trail into Machu Picchu, you’ll see why Peru is considered as one of the best adventure playgrounds in South America.

In the Sacred Valley, near Cusco, there are a couple of days spent on adventure activities – white water rafting on one day and mountain biking on the other. The white water rafting is made up of good fun, grade III rapids. Crucially, we raft the upper section of the river which is far less crowded and much cleaner than the lower sections.

The mountain biking is not technical but it is thrilling. You obviously need to know how to ride a bike and the more confident you are on a bike, mountain bike in particular, the more you will enjoy yourself. Even taken at a slow and gentle pace, the landscapes are stunning and the ride a highlight.

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.

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 the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu though temperatures plunge at night. In the Urubamba mountains you can and should expect temperatures to be sub-zero at night. The Amazon is hot and humid throughout the year, with the wettest months being January to March.

Level of comfort

In terms of physical comfort, the Lares hike involves two nights camping out at altitude, which undoubtedly adds to both the adventure and the exertion of the hike. Tents are shared between two people and are always pitched for you by the team of porters. We also 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 table will be set up for meals, including lunches on the trail.

The Manu lodge you stay in is simple but comfortable, built in a local indigenous style that allows plenty of airflow into the buildings.

There are two guest rooms on each floor of the two-storey guest buildings, so you will only have one neighbour. However, the partition walls are narrow and don't go all the way up to the ceiling so be prepared for a limited amount of privacy. Bedroom windows are screened, and there are also mosquito nets over the beds; elsewhere the communal buildings are fully open to the rainforest. Bathrooms are in a shared block next to the guest buildings, and electricity is powered by generator in the communal areas for two hours each night. With only eight guest rooms, you are well looked after and the compromise in creature comforts is more than compensated for by the opportunity to stay in such a remote and wildlife-rich setting.

Level of culture

In the Andes, the heartland of the Inca Empire, you are in a region with an incredibly rich history and culture. Setting aside the stunning landscapes and fascinating historical sites, what visitors usually remember about Peru are its people. Too often, however, the locals are treated as picturesque relics of the past somehow transported into the present for us to photograph on the street corners of Cusco.

On a Pura holiday, you’ll see that colourful woven fabrics really are worn by shepherds in the high mountains. It’s just that the colours are faded through age and hard work. You will meet landowners who lost all their land in the 1960s and had to start again. You will meet villagers who never had anything to lose.

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

Please give us a call on 01273 676 712 or email us at info@pura-aventura.com to see a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Every Pura holiday is tailor-made so, 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.

As set out here, the price is based on four people travelling together, sharing two rooms. Transport, transfers, guiding and accommodation are all included in the guide price. This is on a mixture of private and shared basis, as described. Flights are not included, but can be quoted separately for this holiday. The best flight routing is to fly in and out of Cusco (airport code: CUZ).

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.

Departs

Departs on a date to suit you from March through December, subject to Royal Inca Trail permit availability.

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 Subscribe to The Pothole » Paddling along the Tambopata River in Peru's Amazon Impressive Inca architecture at Pisac, a city whose hilltop location commands incredible views over the Sacred Valley Dying wool over the traditional stove in the Sacred Valley Fantastic rafting on the upper Urubamba River Spectacular views on the Lares trek Lunch with a beautiful view on the Lares Trail Trekking through Inca terraces high above the Sacred Valley on the Lares Trail Family riding through the Sacred Valley of Peru Looking out over the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Classic view of Machu Picchu Skillful hands of a Chinchero weaver Cusco's bustling main square, the Plaza de Armas The road to Manu offers spectacular views across the cloud forest The Manu Learning Center lodge is set in the heart of the Manu biosphere reserve Macaw at the clay lick in the Peruvian Amazon Taking a break at a waterfall in the Manu rainforest A stop along the road to Manu Views over Cusco from the ruins of sacsayhuaman