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Sacred Land of the Incas: 15-Day Tour of Peru and Bolivia including the Inca Trail

Peru, Peru
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icon15 days  (Approx.)
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Journey into the heart of the Inca's sacred land with a 15-day tour through Peru and Bolivia. Travel from the bustling Peruvian capital of Lima to Bolivia's mountain-surrounded La Paz, indulging in incredible adventures and visiting ancient archeological sites en route. Stay in a remote Amazon jungle eco-lodge, explore the Inca capital of Cusco and the Andean Sacred Valley, embark on a multi-day trek along either the Quarry Trail or the iconic Inca Trail en route to Machu Picchu, the stunning Lost City of the Incas and much more. 
  • 14-night tour of Peru and Bolivia, from Lima to La Paz
  • Spot macaws, monkeys, peccaries and jabirus in the Amazon Jungle by canoe
  • Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Cusco and Machu Picchu
  • Traverse the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Ollantaytambo
  • Reach Machu Picchu on foot - opt to hike the Inca Trail or hike the Quarry Trail
  • Small-group tour limited to 12 people ensures a personalized experience with an expert guide
Embark on a comprehensive 15-day adventure to La Paz from Lima. Flights to and from Peru's Amazon rainforest are included, as well as in-country transportation via ferry, public bus, canoe, minibus and motorboat. Peruse the colonial architecture of UNESCO-listed Cusco and walk through historical downtown Lima. This small-group tour is limited to 12 people or fewer, ensuring personalized attention from your guide. 

Select from the following 2 options to fully explore Machu Picchu:
• Hike the Inca Quarry Trail (16 miles/26 km) for three days, with overnight camping for two nights (with train to Aguas Calientes and bus to Machu Picchu)
• Hike the Classic Inca Trail (28 miles/45 km) for four days, with overnight camping for three nights (arriving at Machu Picchu on foot)

Both trails require a moderate level of fitness and some pre-hike acclimatizing at altitude. Your personal and camping gear will be carried by horses or porters. Camp on both treks in double tents with provided foam camping mats. Porters set up the tents each night and meals are prepared by the trek cook. 

Please see Itinerary section below for full details. 


Day 1: Lima Arrive in Lima at any time, as there are no activities planned until an important welcome meeting in the afternoon. Check in to your hotel and then meet your small group and guide at 2pm. (Ask hotel reception for the location of your meeting.) Afterward, your guide will take you on a walking tour of Lima’s downtown – the historical center of the Peruvian capital, founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 when he colonized the Incas.

Walk to Lima’s central square, Plaza Mayor, surrounded by elaborate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, including the cathedral that houses Pizarro’s remains. Learn about the catacombs and works of art on display in the 16th-century Monasterio de San Francisco and pass the Museo de la Inquisicion (Museum of the Inquisition). Admire Spanish colonial buildings, built over Incan temples and palaces, as your guide shares fascinating facts about Lima.

If you’d like, enjoy an optional dinner with your small group – or head to one of Lima’s many restaurants or cafés on your own – and try scrumptious dishes including ceviche, a local seafood specialty. In the evening, feel free to socialize with the amiable locals as you enjoy Lima’s exciting nightlife.

Consider arriving a few days early to explore Lima on your own. Walk through the suburb of Mireaflores in search of more delectable cuisine, visit a variety of museums such as the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum, or view the beaches from Parque del Amor (Love Park).

Overnight: Hotel Inka Path or similar in Lima

Days 2-3: Lima – Puerto Maldonado and Amazon Jungle (L, D on day 3) After breakfast, depart on an approximate two-hour flight to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, the jungle lodge staff will transfer your small group to their office in town, where you'll leave most of your luggage in a safe storage and fill your small pack with just the items necessary for your two-night adventure in the Amazon.

Then, take a motorized canoe up the Tambopata River to your eco-friendly lodge, located near Puerto Maldonado in the Madre de Dios region – a perfect base for expeditions into the Amazon forest, where you’ll encounter magnificent fauna and flora.

Hop into a canoe and head into the dense Amazon jungle with local guides, who may point out everything from macaws and monkeys to peccaries, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies – all coexisting in this amazing ecosystem. Learn about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants that thrive in their natural habitat.

Enjoy free time at the eco-friendly lodge, which combines low-impact architecture with a traditional style. Relax in a simple, but comfortable room including en suite flush toilet, shower (cold water only), mosquito netting and kerosene lamps for light.

Overnight: Posada Amazonas or similar in Puerto Maldonado

Day 4: Cusco After your Amazon journey, jump back in the canoe and return to Puerto Maldonado for an approximate 35-minute flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu, spend some time acclimatizing to the 11,150-foot (3,450-meter) altitude.

Embark on a guided walking tour of Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America – home to the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish established their first capital. Pass Inca-built walls that line the central streets and view colonial buildings constructed on or around Inca foundations, where Inca and Spanish cultures once clashed.

Pass Baroque churches and remarkable Incan ruins, and visit some of Cusco's lesser-known sights, as you learn about the city’s unique history. Then, visit to the local San Pedro market as well as the Coca Museum, where you’ll get a taste of mate de coca (coca tea) and learn about the Andean plant that has been used for centuries.

Discover more of Cusco and its surroundings during your free time, and ask your guide about a variety of optional activities (at additional expense). Embark on a more in-depth city tour or visit the cathedral, built on top of an Incan palace in Cusco's charming center – the Plaza de Armas. Inside, view the cathedral’s stylishly carved choir stall, silver-covered neoclassic altar and displays of art.

Head to the easily accessible Coricancha, the Inca Empire's richest temple, once plated in thick gold and then covered by a Dominican church that the Spanish built over it. Or, purchase a boleto turistico (tourism ticket) to gain entry to several archaeological sites around Cusco, such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. This ticket is the only way to gain entry to many of Cusco’s museums, such as the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum.

Overnight: Posada del Abuelo Hotel or similar in Cusco

Day 5: Cusco – Ollantaytambo

Travel by private bus for approximately two hours through the Urubamba Valley, also called the Sacred Valley of the Incas – a fertile region that has produced crops since the Inca Empire. Pass maize crops growing alongside the river and over terraces carved high into the valley walls.

The Sacred Valley, known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, contains charming villages and interesting archeological sites. Your guide will take your small group to a local community, where you might hear a few words of the local Quechua language as you observe the traditional lifestyle of the locals. If your visit coincides with market day, search the handicraft stalls for hand-painted beads or colorful ponchos.

Next, head to Ollantaytambo, built over the Ollantaytambo ruins -- an ancient Inca town and the starting point of the classic Inca Trail trek. If you’d like, spend your free evening exploring this impressive archeological site (entry at additional expense), located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. One of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish, the Ollantaytambo ruins demonstrate insightful urban planning by the Inca, who built upper terraces with great views of the town below.

Overnight: Tika Wasi Valley Hotel or similar in Ollantaytambo

Day 6:

If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (L, D)

Travel by minivan to the starting point of the trek, located at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), and join your crew of local porters, cook and trekking guide. Your first day on the Inca Trail includes some uphill trekking to the first campsite, situated more than 10,825 feet (3,300 meters) above sea level. Along the way, see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail!

Overnight: twin-share tent at Inca Trail campsite

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail (L, D)

Get an early start on the drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas once revered the moon. After a short drive to Rafq'a, the starting point of your trek, you’ll meet the horsemen that will join your small group during the hike.

Set out on an approximate one-hour walk to the small community of Socma before another hour-long hike to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout. Here, take a break for photo opportunities and a snack before continuing on to your campsite, situated at an elevation of 12,140 feet (3,700 meters). After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint during the reign the Inca Empire.

Overnight: twin-share tent at Quarry Trail campsite

Day 7:

If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (L, D)

After fortifying yourself with a simple breakfast, ascend a long, steep path on an approximate four-hour hike to the highest point on the trek, Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman's Pass). You’ll reach an elevation of 13,779 feet (4,200 meters) before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley at 11,975 feet (3,650 meters).

Next, climb uphill for approximately 1.5 hours to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 13,060 feet (3,980 meters). Here, stop to enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for two to three hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. After your most challenging day on the trail, it's just a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite, located at 11,880 feet (3,620 meters).

Overnight: twin-share tent at Inca Trail campsite

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail (L, D)

After breakfast, head out for the most challenging – and rewarding – day of your hike. Walk for three hours with your small group to the top of Puccaqasa, the first pass, located at an approximate elevation of 14,335 feet (4,370 meters). Enjoy views of the valley below and then follow your guide down for half an hour to your lunch spot for a break.

Feeling rejuvenated from rest and food, hike for another two hours to Kuychicassa – the highest pass of the trek – situated 14,600 feet (4,450 meters) above sea level. From here, descend for two hours to a site the Incas called Inti Punku (Sun Gate), with imposing views over the valley bellow and the Veronica mountain rising over the horizon. Finally, walk to your nearby campsite, where you’ll sleep at an elevation of 11,810 feet (3,600 meters).

Overnight: twin-share tent at Quarry Trail campsite

Day 8:

If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (L, D)

After breakfast, pick up the trail from where you left off and continue over the third pass. After approximately 1.5 hours, you’ll reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, referred to as the 'town above the clouds' at 12,630 feet (3,850 meters).

From here, begin your descent down steep Inca steps, heading downhill for two hours until you reach your final night's camp by the Winay Wayna (Forever Young) archaeological site, located at 9,020 feet (2,750 meters). Enjoy a drink as you relax and take in the panoramic views of the valley below.

Overnight: twin-share tent at Inca Trail campsite

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail – Aguas Calientes (L, D)

Embark on a half day of downhill hiking, with a first stop at the Kachiqata quarry, where you’ll learn from your guide about the work interrupted by the Spanish conquest. Around midday, arrive in the town of Kachiqata to enjoy the finale to your challenging trek.

Visit Ollantaytambo before catching an afternoon train to Aguas Calientes – nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu – where you’ll meet fellow travelers who chose not to hike either trail. In the late afternoon or early evening, enjoy soaking tired muscles in the natural hot springs in town before spending the night in your simple but comfortable accommodation.

Overnight: Aguas Calientes Hotel or similar in Aguas Calientes

Day 9:

If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail – Machu Picchu – Cusco

On the final morning of your trek, climb the steps for approximately two hours to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) for the opportunity to watch the stunning ruins of Machu Picchu emerge through the mist below. Take a break and absorb this breathtaking sight before descending to the famous ruins, which were built in the mid-15th century, abandoned during the Spanish conquest and unknown to the outside world until their discovery in 1911.

Join fellow travelers who opted to hike the Inca Quarry Trail, for a 1.5- to 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu, originally thought to be an estate for the Incan Emperor, Pachacuti. As you wander over terraces through temples, palaces and living quarters in the lost city of the Incas, unlock the mysteries of Machu Picchu, meaning ‘Old Peak.’

See Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows, each located in what archaeologists refer to as the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. Your guide will point out the classical Inca architectural style of the central buildings, constructed of dry-stone walls.

Then, enjoy plenty of free time to explore the restored archeological site on your own. Take advantage of exquisite photo opportunities at every turn before it's time to return to Cusco with your small group for a well-deserved shower and perhaps a pisco sour.

Overnight: Posada del Abuelo Hotel or similar in Cusco

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Take the early morning bus at 5:30am (dependent on weather conditions) for an approximate 30-minute ride along the winding road to Machu Picchu, situated 7,950 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. Join fellow travelers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail and go on a 1.5- to 2-hour guided tour of the immense ruins of Machu Picchu, originally thought to be an estate for the Incan Emperor, Pachacuti. (See tour description under Day 9 of the Inca Trail.)

Then, enjoy plenty of free time to explore the restored archeological site on your own before returning to Cusco with your small group.

Overnight: Posada del Abuelo Hotel or similar in Cusco

Day 10: Cusco

Become reacquainted with the history, culture and nightlife of Cusco, with free time to explore on your own, or just relax at leisure. Browse the food stalls or shop for colorful woolen hats at the bustling central market, or enjoy a slower pace at a café in the nearby Plaza de Armas. If you prefer a more active adventure, rent a mountain bike for an exploration in the nearby hills (own expense).

Overnight: Posada del Abuelo Hotel or similar in Cusco

Day 11: Cusco – Puno

Your guide will accompany your small group by local bus through vivid scenery to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which stretches across the border between Bolivia and Peru. Your six-hour journey includes a couple of stops en route to pick up and drop off local passengers. Upon arrival in Puno, known as the folklore capital of Peru -- famous for its traditional dances and festivals -- you’ll find a mixture of Aymara and Quechuan Indian cultures and see traditional Andean customs still practiced. If your visit coincides with one of the evening parades, see the colorful streets filled with costumed dancers and musicians.

Overnight: Balsa Inn Hotel or similar in Puno

Day 12: Puno -- Lake Titicaca (L, D) Take a slow motorboat tour of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, located about 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) above sea level. From the shoreline of South America’s largest lake, watch the water stretch out as far as the eye can see.

Cruise to the floating islands of the Uros, who originally constructed them from layers of totora reeds in order to protect themselves from rival tribes. As you stop for a visit, learn about the reeds that grow in the lake’s shallow waters and see how they are used to make everything on the islands, including sturdy boats.

Get an up-close look at daily life on Lake Titicaca as you are welcomed into local homes for an overnight homestay on a community island. Immerse in this cultural experience by helping your host family with their daily activities, learning a few words of Quechua or engaging in a game of soccer with the locals.

Your homestay is a modest house made of mud brick; rooms have beds and many blankets, and there are shared drop toilets but no showers.

Overnight: homestay on Lake Titicaca

Day 13: Lake Titicaca -- Puno After breakfast, board the boat again for an approximate one-hour ride to Taquile Island, a great place to browse for high quality, locally knitted woolen items. (Here, men do the knitting and women do the spinning.) Hike uphill for about an hour to the main area of the island for a visit, and then descend about 500 steps back to your boat.

Transfer back to Puno by boat, an approximate three-hour ride, and enjoy free time. Visit the Sillustani archaeological site (extra fee) or just relax at your accommodation.

Overnight: Balsa Inn Hotel or similar in Puno

Day 14: Puno – La Paz Travel across the Peru-Bolivia border by local bus, stopping first at the Peruvian migration office. Your group will be asked to leave the bus and proceed with your paperwork at the office. Next, walk one block to the Bolivian side, pass through the Bolivian migration office, and then hop back on the bus for the four-hour trip to Copacabana. After a short stop there, transfer to another public bus to complete the second leg of your journey to La Paz – another approximate four-hour trip. When you reach Tiquina Strait, board a passenger ferry for the crossing while your bus travels on a separate ferry.

Upon arrival at your hotel in Bolivia's commercial and industrial capital, relax after your long travel day. Situated in a canyon at an elevation around 11,800 feet (3,600 meters), La Paz will feel like you’re still at the top of the world!

Overnight: Osira Hotel or similar in La Paz

Day 15: La Paz With no guided itinerary planned for your final day, feel free to depart your accommodation at any time. Check with your hotel reception for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities if you plan to stay longer in La Paz.

Explore the steep, cobblestone streets filled with colonial architecture or head to the fascinating markets to pick up some souvenirs. Find modern wares or search for La Paz’s indigenous roots at the Witches' Market, which sells herbs, folk remedies, amulets and other items used in traditional rituals. Or, choose from optional activities like a half-day guided tour of Chacaltaya or a visit to the Tiwanaku archaeological site (each at your own expense).

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