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Peru Uncovered Reverse

Amazon, Sacred Valley, Cusco and Colca | View photos »

19 day trip described, guide price £5,715pp i

Walk our alternative Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu after the biggest crowds are gone. Have dinner with a local family in the Sacred Valley, make a private visit to Colca's condors and from head deep into the pristine heart of the Amazon Basin. This tailor made holiday lets you experience Peru more deeply, at a better pace.

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Day-by-day itinerary

Fly to South America

Fly to Peru today. Assuming a daytime flight, you arrive in Lima this evening and stay at the comfortable airport hotel to save the long transfer into the city. Please note: international flights for this holiday are quoted separately.

Travel into the Amazon Basin

Check-in for your morning flight to the Amazon, then up the Tambopata River by boat. The boats are comfortable and the journey offers 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.

Begin to explore the rainforest with your guides

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 are invariably sunrise, sunset and nighttime.

Discover wildlife and plants on land and water

Another day, another early start, this time to explore the rainforest along the banks of a dark-water creek that is home to piranha, caiman, turtles and birds. As you navigate your way downstream, you will see abundant flora and fauna along the way. 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.

Travel up into the Andes

Fly back up into the mountains to Cusco, ‘the navel of the Andes’. Throughout your stay in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco, you have your own guide to show you around. You are met at the airport for the drive into the lower altitudes of the Sacred Valley, which should help with acclimatisation.

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, where the rural culture of the high Andes is very much in evidence. Guinea pigs stuffed with black mint are roasted over open fires by the side of the road. Women weave the most beautifully complex and colourful patterns using age old techniques. Tonight you visit the house of a local family for dinner, very humble, but with a typically warm Peruvian welcome.

Walk to little-known Inca ruins

Having had a couple of days to acclimatise, today is your chance to get out walking as you discover Huchuy Qosqo, an Inca Fortress high on the side of the Sacred Valley. Start your day in a tiny traditional community from where you follow a very pretty track which follows the hillside. After a steady uphill section to the pass at 4,100m, your surroundings change completely as you enter a dramatic, short, canyon and find yourself walking along an Inca pathway. From here you walk steadily down until you see the terraces and defensive walls of Huchuy Qosqo. As one of the most inaccessible Incan sites in the valley, you are unlikely to see many other people here at all.

Hike to among glacial lakes

Head to one of the most remote corners of the Sacred Valley to walk among glacial lakes and stunning mountain views, in the company of your guide and your llama porters.

Royal Inca Trail

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

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.

Skilful weavers & a hike into Cusco

Set off early this morning from Machu Picchu by train back into the Sacred Valley. You are collected for the drive up to Chinchero to visit a fascinating weaver's cooperative, and see the new life breathed into this ancient skill. From here you walk across the wide-open, rural plains to Tambomachay, an Inca staging post above Cusco. From this peaceful spot you head down into the buzz of Cusco, former capital of the Incas, and a vibrant home for your next few nights.

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.

Explore Cusco at your own pace

Enjoy some free time today in this charming and lively town. Remember you still have your Visitor’s Ticket, which includes entry to a number of sites you won’t have had time to visit yet. You might perhaps shop for some handicrafts in the many markets, or visit one of the excellent museums and art galleries. The dining scene is very good, and constantly developing, and as ever, the nightlife can be as action-packed as you like.

Drive to Colca Canyon

Set off early this morning towards the beautiful landscapes of the Colca Canyon, a drive of around eight hours in total on a comfortable bus. There is a guide on board to talk you through the journey and there will be stops along the way to allow you to stretch your legs and admire the beautiful views. The journey ends in the Colca Canyon, at a lovely lodge with its own hot springs, where you will spend the next three nights.

Explore Colca Canyon

You have two full days here to explore the area at your own pace. For the time in Colca, we leave you at leisure the first day, so you can choose to do as much or as little as you like. The hotel has its own small tour operation which means that you can sign up for excursions as you wish. There are a number of hikes leading directly out from the lodge; it is also an option to hire horses or mountain bikes for excursions into the countryside. Alternatively, you may like to take a day out to relax and soak in the lodge’s hot springs.

Guided Colca Canyon

After breakfast your private guide arrives to help you explore Colca in greater depth. You could spend the day hiking and visiting villages, or possibly mountain biking or horse riding, there are many options, and you can discuss the best options for you with your lodge. If you walk to the village of Yanque you can visit the colonial church and museum, and get an insight into the customs and lifestyle of this traditional agricultural community.

Travel to Arequipa

This morning you head to the condor observation point Cruz de los Condores. Here the canyon falls away 1,200m to the river below your feet. The opposite wall of the canyon is 3,000m high so the top always has a dusting of snow. In the morning, the condors start to fly up from their roosts on the canyon walls below, passing by at eye level on the morning thermals. This afternoon you will be driven to the lovely city of Arequipa.

Arequipa at your pace

Today is an opportunity for you to simply relax and take things easy. The Santa Catalina convent and Juanita museum are both within comfortable strolling distance of your hotel so you should try to see these today. 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 home. If this quick summary has whetted your appetite for a tailor-made trip to Peru, we'd love to talk to you about tailoring something that is just right for you. See below for various ways to get in touch or request a full PDF itinerary for more details of this trip.

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About this trip

Is this the right trip for you?

If you want to experience the best of Peru’s landscapes, wildlife, people and culture at a slower pace, whilst still putting a fair few miles on the clocks of your walking boots then hopefully this is the one for you yes. The trip is certainly active, though not overly strenuous.

In the Amazon, activities are largely limited to gentle / short walks in the forest, though the heat and humidity can make these more challenging. Our selected walks in and around the Sacred Valley vary in length, though here you are contending with not inconsiderable altitude, as well as the Incas' love of large, steep steps in some cases! Given that you travel with your own private guide here however, it's much easier for us to adapt things to suit your energy levels, be that increasing or decreasing walking times.

The Royal (1-day) Inca Trail is probably the toughest hike; it's a walk of around seven hours at an easy pace, starting at the train line at the bottom of the valley, and heading slowly up through beautiful scenery and past Inca ruins. This trail brings you to the Sun Gate and your first views of Machu Picchu in the afternoon, when the light is at its best and there are fewer people around.

How can we tailor this trip to you?

What you have read here is a sample itinerary of how this trip might look. Of course, there are many ways that we can adapt it to suit you, be it tinkering with the number of days or the pace of the trip or adding in different activities or destinations. For instance, if you would prefer to hike the full four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu then we can include this instead, or you might like to take the train all the way. This is also a holiday which combines very well with the Galapagos Islands.

To be able to make the trip personal to you we’d also like to take the time to get to know you and what you like, or dislike, doing on your travels. You can let us know a bit about you by clicking on the link below, or if you’d like more details about the trip before we get to that stage, you can also request a full PDF itinerary to be sent to you.

Ask us how we can tailor this trip for you »

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Best time to go i

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

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

What's included?

The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:

First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Internal flights
Private airport transfers throughout
Private guided walks and excursions as described
Entrances and permits
Peru Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout

International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into and out of Lima (LIM).


Throughout this journey, you stay in a carefully chosen selection of first-class small hotels and lodges which we feel offer the best combination of a sense of place and a high level of comfort.

In the Amazon your lodge has en-suite rooms, separate from each other and built from natural materials in a traditional indigenous style. Walls are fully screened against insects and have an open structure, so you can feel immersed in the sounds of the rainforest at night. Beds have very good mosquito nets which are tucked in each night. There is electricity in the rooms during the mornings and at night; elsewhere, the lodge is lit at night by paraffin lamps, which feels very atmospheric.

The Cusco hotel is tucked away down a side alley. From the restaurant and living room on the first floor you gaze out of huge windows at panoramas across the rooftops of the historic quarter to a backdrop of the Andes. In the Colca Canyon you’ll sleep in a lovely lodge with its own hot springs, from where you look out across the valley stacked with ancient Inca terraces stretching into the distance.

For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.

How does this trip benefit the destination?

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.

As with all our favourite lodges in the Amazon, you stay in a private reserve dedicated to thoughtful eco-tourism and the conservation of precious wildlife habitats. The lodge included here has several sustainability policies which aim to reduce single-use plastics and energy consumption.

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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 » Looking out over the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu A street mural in Lima Travelling on the Tambopata River Sunset over the Amazon in northern Peru Caiman in the Peruvian Amazon Morning light over Cusco's Plaza de Armas peru-cusco-sacred-valley-piscac-market-family-making-food Approaching the entrance of Huchuy Qosqo Lunch with a beautiful view on the Lares Trail Sitting quietly at the Sun Gate A llama appreciates the views of Machu Picchu in the quiet of the late afternoon Working the traditional loom in the Sacred Valley.jpg The Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, on Cusco's Plaza de Armas Lovely street in Cusco Looking out over the Colca Canyon, Peru View of the Colca Lodge Local women in typical clothes caring souvenirs for sale, near Chivay A condor swooping over the Colca Canyon, Peru Views of El Misti volcano from inside the Santa Catalina convent Arequipa is famous for its mild climate and beautiful setting