This 14 day holiday combines the culture and nightlife of Lima; the wonderful mountain scenery, ancient ruins and traditions of Cusco; and the famous Inca Trail, a four-day hike across the Andes ending in Machu Picchu.
Incas & Conquistadors + Inca Trail
Day 1 (Friday) - Fly from the UK to Lima Meal on the transatlantic flight.
Fly from the UK to Lima, the social and economic heart of Peru. Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who christened it ‘City of Kings’. On arrival you are met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the fashionable Miraflores district. Day 2 (Saturday) - Take the optional Colonial Lima excursion, or enjoy a free day in Lima Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend the day getting to know this fascinating city, explore on your own or take our half-day Colonial Lima excursion. The city tour includes a visit to the catacombs of the monastery of San Francisco and the cathedral of Lima where the conquistador Francisco Pizarro is buried. Afterwards, return to the modern district of Miraflores and visit the pre-Inca site of Huaca Pucllana. Day 3 (Sunday) - Fly to Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Take a morning flight to Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire nestled in the Andes at 3,400 metres above sea level. Cusco is the continent’s oldest continuously-inhabited city and is known for its many wonderful churches and courtyards and of course the magnificent Inca ruins. Day 4 (Monday) - Take the optional Inca Cusco excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend the day getting to know Cusco and acclimating the altitude. Discover the city’s fascinating Inca heritage on our half-day Inca Cusco excursion, which takes you to several Inca sites in and around Cusco, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman and Qoricancha, one of the most important temples in the Inca Empire. Day 5 (Tuesday) - Take our optional Sacred Valley excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel, lunch is included if you take the Sacred Valley excursion.
Spend a further day exploring Cusco, or leave the city behind on our optional full-day Sacred Valley excursion, which takes you about 15km north of Cusco, as the condor flies, to the traditional village and archaeological site at Chincheros, above the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas. Then descend into the Sacred Valley and enjoy a good lunch in a country restaurant before continuing to the fascinating ‘living Inca town’ of Ollantaytambo, where you explore some of the most important Inca ruins of the empire. Return to Cusco in the late afternoon, or if you would rather spend more time in the beautiful countryside take the optional Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion, where you retire to your beautiful country hotel in the heart of the idyllic Sacred Valley, a perfect place to relax and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. Day 6 (Wednesday) - Continue the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion, or enjoy a free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel, lunch is included if you take the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion.
TThe second day of the Two Nights in the Sacred Valley excursion begins with a visit to the 3,000 salt evaporation ponds of Maras for some of the most unusual views in the region, and the vast circular terraces of Moray, used by the Incas for agricultural experiments. After, visit the friendly, traditional Andean community of Misminay, where life in the village goes on much as it would have during the time of the Incas. Enjoy a locally prepared lunch and watch as villagers demonstrate farming techniques, both ancient and new. Return to your Sacred Valley hotel in the late afternoon for another evening of relaxation in the lovely gardens.
Alternatively, if you have not taken the excursion, you are free to enjoy a further day in Cusco. Day 7 (Thursday) - Begin the Inca Trail. Max altitude: 3,000m; Distance walked: 12km; Approximate walking time: 5-6 hours Breakfast included at the hotel, all meals included on the Inca Trail
You depart early for a road transfer to the start of the Inca Trail at km 82 of the railway line. The Inca Trail is one of the world’s great mountain treks, with fabulous views across the Andes, stunning Inca ruins on route and an awe-inspiring end destination that that makes the long days of trekking all the more worthwhile. Beginning at Piskacucho in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, follow the Urubamba River for about two kilometres to Patallaqta, an important agricultural site producing food for the Machu Picchu area. From here, the trail gently climbs to Huayllabamba, a small village at 3,000m, where you camp for the night. Day 8 (Friday) - Trek the Inca Trail – Hike though Dead Woman’s Pass and past the Pacamayo River: Max altitude: 4,200m; Distance walked: 11km; Approximate walking time: 6-8 hours All meals are included on the Inca Trail.
This is the toughest day on the trail, and the climb up to the first pass is strenuous. There are three to four hours of climbing, which can be tiring, especially due to the altitude and the strong sun. The first pass at 4,200m, Warmiwañusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass), is the highest point of the trail and offers wonderful views across the Andean scenery. From here, you descend into the valley of the Pacamayo River, where the camp for the second night is set up. Day 9 (Saturday) - Trek the Inca Trail – Hike to Wiñay Wayna. Max altitude: 3,950m; Distance walked: 16km; Approximate walking time: 8 hours All meals are included on the Inca Trail.
The trail starts climbing up to the second pass. Halfway to the top are the ruins of Runkurakay, a large circular building which was probably a post-house. The second pass at 3,950m offers stunning views of the Vilcabamba range and its snowcapped mountains. The trail descends into cloud forest and to the impressive ruin of Sayacmarca, then follows the side of the mountain, passing through an Inca tunnel, before coming to the third pass, at 3,800m. After entering the ruins of Phuyupatamarca with its fine ritual baths, the trail rapidly descends the Inca steps to Wiñay Wayna and the final campsite. There is a visitors’ centre here. The ruins of Wiñay Wayna, discovered in 1941, are some of the most beautiful in the Inca Empire. The site was mainly agricultural, and the curved terraces on the incredibly steep slope are breathtaking. The name Wiñay Wayna comes from a variety of orchid, meaning ‘forever young’ in the indigenous Quechua language, as the orchid blooms all year round. Day 10 (Sunday) - Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco in the evening: Max altitude: 2,700m; Distance walked: 6km; Approximate walking time: 2 hours All meals are included on the Inca Trail.
You set off before dawn for the walk of around an hour and a half to the Intipunku (Sun Gate). The checkpoint at Wiñay Wayna opens at 5.30am, so you usually arrive at the Sun Gate at approximately 7-7.30am, where you get your first, spectacular view of Machu Picchu in the early morning light. The trail down to the ruins themselves takes about half an hour and a guided visit of Machu Picchu is included. You then have the rest of the morning to further explore the ruins or the surrounding area, before catching an afternoon train back to Cusco, arriving in the evening. If you would like more time at Machu Picchu, you can also spend a night at Machu Picchu, where you check into your hotel in the valley and have the option of returning to the ruins on the following day. Please ask us for details. Day 11 (Monday) - Free day in Cusco Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend a free day in Cusco. The colonial centre of Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a mix of colonial and Inca architecture, making it a truly fascinating place to visit. Perhaps explore some of the 500 Inca sites around the city, visit one of the many museums or wander the streets of the picturesque San Blas neighbourhood. The city is also an excellent place for shopping, with a huge range of local goods on sale from fine alpaca jumpers to traditional Andean paintings; it is very easy to spend hours wandering around the various market stalls. Alternatively, try one of the many adventure sports on offer. Day 12 (Tuesday) - Fly to Lima in the morning, afternoon free Breakfast at the hotel.
Your flight touches down in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to make the most of a second chance to explore the ‘City of Kings’. Go shopping in the fashionable district of Miraflores, perhaps visiting Larcomar on the cliff tops above the Pacific Ocean. Lima today is home to some of the finest cuisine in all of Latin America, and the city has some excellent seafood restaurants, with ceviche being the most famous dish. Day 13 (Wednesday) - Take the optional Peru on a Plate excursion, then fly overnight to the UK Breakfast at the hotel. Meal included on the transatlantic flight
Enjoy your final day in magical Peru. End your trip with the optional Peru on a Plate excursion, where you'll learn about the vast array of produce grown in the country, from exotic Amazonian fruits to the staggering array of potatoes on offer. Then try your hand at cooking up a 3 course meal of traditional Peruvian dishes, under expert guidance. Alternatively, squeeze in some shopping in the fashionable district of Miraflores, perhaps visiting Larcomar on the cliff tops above the Pacific Ocean, or dine in one of the many excellent seafood restaurants. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight. Day 14 (Thursday) - Arrival in the UK Breakfast at the hotel.