from $1699.00

Backroads & Highlands of Peru

Tour Map

Tour style - Active & Adrenaline, Trekking/Hiking, Wildlife & Nature, Culture & History

17 days

Get off the beaten path in the highlands of Peru and discover stunning mountain scenery and remote cities few tourists visit. Getting to Cusco is half the adventure—travel by public bus keeps costs down and allows you to connect with the locals in the rarefied mountain air of the Andes. Climb the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the 'Lost City of the Incas'. We operate our own treks in Peru and can ensure the fair treatment of our porters—and an exceptional experience for you.
  • Day 1 Lima

    Arrive in Lima at any time, the day and night are yours, so check into the hotel and have a Pisco Sour or two. Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Peru (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control. Known as the City of Kings, Peru’s capital city Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany) in 1535. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of old Lima, and it is here you find the Cathedral, Government Palace and Archbishop’s Palace. The Cathedral dates back to the 1700s and houses the remains of the conquistador Pizarro. To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk the streets surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to get a taste for life in a large South American city. An optional city tour visits many of the city’s highlights. There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which houses an equally impressive collection of pottery, mummies and textiles from the Paracas and Nazca cultures. The more affluent coastal districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro offer good nightlife and cafés all within walking distance. Limeños (Lima’s residents) are friendly, and the city is filled with excellent restaurants; seafood lovers in particular should be sure to try a ceviche, for which Lima is well known.

  • Day 2-3 Huancayo (1B)

    Travel the route of the locals as we start our Andean adventure on the road from Lima to Huancayo in the central Andes. For groups that visit on a Sunday, enjoy the town’s fantastic Sunday market and fair, as authentically Peruvian as it gets. Huancayo, located in the central highlands, is Peru’s fifth largest urban centre and our first stop along the route south. Sitting at 3260m (10692 ft) above sea level in the Mantaro River Valley, Huancayo is a major market outlet for agricultural produce from the surrounding area. Its main attraction is the Sunday market, where both crafts and produce are sold. The market runs several blocks along Calle Huancavelica, to the northwest of Calle Ica, and offers good quality weavings, sweaters and other textiles, along with embroidered clothing items, ceramics, wood carvings and the area specialty, carved gourds; there are also a couple of co-ops offering similar items for sale. The villages of Cochas Grande and Cochas Chico are two interesting day trips in the Mantaro Valley, some 12 km’s (7 miles) south of the city; this is the main production source for the intricately carved gourds you see for sale in the markets.

  • Day 4 Huancavelica

    Travel by bus today through the remote Cordillera Central to the highland town of Huancavelica. We arrive in the one-time Inca stronghold of Santa Inés in time to sample some true, high altitude Peruvian nightlife. The towns in this area are remote, and their needs have been largely ignored by successive governments for many years. Most of the area south to Andahuaylas lies at 3500 m (11480 ft) or higher, so although the days may be sunny and warm, especially during the dry season (May to October), the mornings and evenings can be quite cool, especially during the wet season from February to April. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the present city site was of strategic importance within the Inca Empire, and it became an important silver mining centre for the Spanish. There are natural thermal baths with showers and a café just across the River Ichu, in the outskirts of the city proper. Remember that by this altitude the resulting lack of oxygen may affect you. It may take a little time to acclimatize to this. Just take it easy for the first day or two, and cut back on alcohol and cigarette consumption to minimize the effects. You may also find that your appetite is reduced. This is no cause for alarm, but simply a reaction to the altitude. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day.

  • Day 5-7 Ayacucho (3B)

    The altitude of Ayacucho 2750m (9000 ft), its colonial feel, and the local pre-Inca history make it one of the most fascinating cities in the Andes, considered second only to Cusco. San Juan de La Frontera de Huamanga, as Ayacucho was originally called by the Spaniards, is the capital of the Department of the same name, and before either the Spanish or the Inca ruled the land, it was the capital of the Wari Empire, which pre-dated the Inca by 500 years. It has played several major roles within Peruvian history, first as one of the major staging places in the struggle for independence from Spain, including the 1824 Battle of Ayacucho, and more recently as the birthplace and headquarters for the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla movement in the 1980s. Like other central highland towns and cities, it has been long neglected by Lima and developed in relative isolation, allowing it to maintain a more traditional feel when compared to other towns of its size. The city is well known for its Barrío de Artesanos de Santa Ana, a handicrafts district where you can purchase silver jewellery, alabaster carvings, painted altars and nativity scenes, dried gourds, and a good selection of woven items. The city also maintains many beautiful colonial churches and mansions, and is renowned throughout Peru for its Easter week celebrations. The festivities begin the Friday before Palm Sunday and continue until Easter Sunday, with a different colourful procession each day. The surrounding area also offers a number of attractions, including the Huari Capital and Quinua, about an hour’s drive away from the city. This is the actual site where the Battle of Ayacucho was fought and won in 1824. Vilcashuaman, considered the geographical centre of the Inca Empire, sits quite a bit further south from Ayacucho.

  • Day 8-9 Andahuaylas (1B)

    The focus for the next two days is the journey itself. It’s amazing! Pass through some of Peru's poorest and most rural areas overland to Cusco, in the centre of the Inca heartland. Abancay sits at 2377 m (7796 ft) above sea level and is the capital of the Department of Apurimac. It is well known and visited for its Easter Carnaval celebrations, which include acclaimed folk dancing competitions from throughout the highland towns. The snow-capped peak of Ampoy (5000m/16400 ft), some 10 km (6 miles) northwest of the town draws hikers and climbers during the dry season (June to October). Continuing southwest we arrive at the town of Andahuaylas, set amidst a beautiful glacial valley. The main activity here is agriculture, and the town has a good market.

  • Day 10-11 Cusco (2B)

    This beautiful colonial city is 'the place' for travellers to unwind and acclimatize. The nearby Sacred Valley, museums, churches and cobble-stoned streets steeped in history, all combine for a terrific atmosphere. Cusco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and the hub of the South American travel network. The city attracts travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend a week just in and around the area. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't have to go far to see other major Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend. Every year Cusco attracts thousands of travellers who come to delve into its noble but tragic past. It is the perfect base for optional explorations around the city and area as well as a range of outdoor activities. Relax and explore this fascinating city, and take time to acclimatize to the high altitude. Cusco’s numerous colonial churches are one of the city’s most common sights. The Cathedral was started in 1559 and took 100 years to build; it is also one of the city’s greatest repositories of colonial art. Immediately in front of the entrance is a vault containing the remains of the famous Inca historian, Garcilaso de la Vega. Also worth visiting are the churches of La Compañía, La Merced and San Francisco. While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the Inca Empire's richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure. There are several good museums in Cusco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses a small art museum, the Regional History Museum and the Religious Art Museum. Our best advice for exploring Cusco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to explore!

  • Day 12 Ollantaytambo (1B)

    Travel through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas. Opt to add a Sacred Valley tour, which includes a visit to a Planeterra-supported women's weaving co-op, the impressive Pisac ruins, the colourful artisan market (market days only) and the large ruin site of Ollantaytambo that lies adjacent to the town of the same name where we catch our breath and prepare for the hike ahead. Continue on to Ollantaytambo, your first taste of what lies ahead on the Inca Trail. The town and fortress of Ollantaytambo are strategically situated overlooking the beautiful Urubamba River Valley. This major ruin site is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. It is admired for its huge steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress and for being one of the few places where the Spanish lost a major battle during the conquest. We spend the night in this small town before heading out for the start of the hike the next morning. Information on the Women's Weaving Co-op in Ccaccacollo: Planeterra has been working with the Ccaccaccollo community since 2005 to develop a viable economic alternative for women by creating a weaving cooperative to sell traditional textiles to travellers. Donations by travelers have helped build a community centre supplied with looms and sewing machines for the women to use to expand their production. This project allows the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to maintain their cultural heritage and benefit from the tourism industry. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours

  • Day 13-16 Inca Trail/Machu Picchu (4B,3L,3D)

    The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and the excursion is within the ability of most reasonably fit people. It is a 44km (27 mile) hike, with three high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13,776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below freezing, so it is important to come prepared. NOTE: We offer two alternatives to hiking the Inca Trail. If Inca Trail permits are sold out, travellers will be given the option to hike the Lares Trek (details below). Travellers not able to hike or not interested in hiking, can opt to spend two extra days in Cusco (details below) before travelling to Machu Picchu. If you do not want to hike, we need to know at the time of booking in order to obtain train tickets. Once Inca Trail permits are confirmed there will be fee for any changes made. The fee may vary depending on the changes that are made to your itinerary. Please advise your agent or G Adventures. Also note the Inca Trail is closed for general maintenance every February for the entire month. Travellers will be hiking the Lares Trek during this time. Other closures to either trek may occur at anytime throughout the year due to inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control. In these instances, itineraries will be reworked to provide the best and safest possible experience. INCA TRAIL DETAILS Day 1 of the Inca Trail: Depart Ollantaytambo by van to km 82 where the hike begins. This takes about 40 mins. Our crew of local porters, cooks and guides will take care of all the details for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of the gear so you’ll only need to carry a small daypack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera, etc. You’ll trek through beautiful scenery with a variety of flora, changing with the seasons, passing several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata. Start point Km 82 to Wayllambama Approximate distance: 11km/6.8mi Estimated hiking time: 5-6 hrs Day 2 of the Inca Trail: Start early to climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman’s Pass. This is the highest point of the trek at 4198m (13,769ft). Most hikers reach camp by early afternoon, with ample time to rest and relax. Wayllabamba to Paqaymayo Approximate distance: 12km/7.5mi Estimated hiking time: 6-7 hrs Day 3 of the Inca Trail: Today we cross two more passes and more ruins along the way. The first pass is at 3998m (13,113ft) where, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. You’ll hike through cloud forest on the gentle climb to the second pass of the day where you walk through original Incan constructions. The highest point of this pass is 3700m (12,136ft). On a clear day, enjoy the views of the Urubamba Valley. At 3650m (11,972ft) you’ll reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the ‘Town Above the Clouds’. We either camp here or an hour and half further along, near the Wiñay Wayna ruins (Forever Young). Paqaymayo to Wiñaywayna Approximate distance: 16km/10mi Estimated hiking time: 8 hrs Day 4 of the Inca Trail: The final day of the hike starts pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before the sun rises. When the morning is clear, you soak in your first views of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu as the mist rises off the mountains and the sun begins to illuminate the site. Hike down to Machu Picchu about 45 minutes more where you’ll have a guided tour of the site and free time to explore. Travellers can opt to visit the Inca Bridge (15 min walk) for no additional charge, if time allows. After your visit, catch the bus from outside the Machu Picchu gate and take it 15 mins downhill to Aguas Calientes where you’ll meet your CEO and any non-hiking members of your group. Eat and relax before your train back to Cusco this evening. Wiñaywayna to Intipunku (Sun Gate) Approximate distance: 4km/2.5mi Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hrs Aguas Calientes to Cusco Approximate Distance: 118km/73mi Estimated Travel Time: 3.15 hrs LARES TREK DETAILS: The Lares Trek is one day shorter than the Inca Trail, but higher in elevation (33km/20.5 miles, with a high point of 4600m/14,928ft). Travellers hiking the Lares Trek will start the same day as those hiking the Inca Trail. The 3-day hike starts with a van ride from Ollantaytambo to the trekking start point and returns back to Ollantaytambo by van from the trekking end point. From there, hikers will take a scenic train to Aguas Calientes for one overnight stay. In most cases, your CEO will hike the Lares Trek with you. From Aguas Calientes you will take the bus (15 mins) to Machu Picchu early the next morning for a guided tour of Machu Picchu. After the tour and some free time, catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Cusco with the rest of the group. NOTE: The locations and distances may change on this hike as we will camp in different locations depending on pace, ability and weather. Starting in 2014 travellers will stay in a newly established community-owned and managed campsite in an indigenous village previously bypassed by the tourism industry. Day 1 of the Lares Trek: Start early and take a van (3 hrs) to Lares town where the hike will start with a leisurely pace through the valley of Cuncani. Hike 4km (2.5mi) to Chancachaca where we stop for lunch. Altitude here is around 3480m (11,417ft). Continue on to Cuncani where we camp for the night at 3872m. The camp is IDB/MIF and Planeterra supported project (12,703ft). Lares town to Cuncani Approximate distance: 9km/5.59mi Estimated hiking time: 5.5 hrs Highest point: 4200m/13,780ft Day 2 of the Lares Trek: Start early and hike for about 6 hrs from Cuncani to Cuncani-Sicllaccasa for a total of 14.5km (9mi). Continue hiking another two or so hours before stopping for lunch in QeunaPata. After lunch continue for another 1 hrs to Kuyoc where we stay the night (4114m/13,497ft). Cuncani to Kuyoc Approximate distance: 17km/10.5mi Estimated hiking time: 9hrs Highest point: 4750m/15,583ft Day 3 of the Lares Trek: Today we hike about 5.5 hrs (10.5km/6.5mi) to Punta Carretera where we stop for lunch. Take a bus about 30 mins back to Ollantaytambo were we catch the train for a relaxing, scenic ride to Aguas Calientes. Kuyoc to Punta Carretera Approximate distance: 10.5km/6.5mi Estimated hiking time: 3.5 hrs Highest point: 4114m/13,497 ft Punta Carretera to Ollantaytambo Estimated travel time (bus): 30 mins Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes Estimated travel time (train): 2 hrs Day 4 of the Lares Trek: Rise early to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu with your guide. Enjoy a guided visit to the ruins followed by free time to explore. When you’re ready, head back down by bus to Aguas where you’ll meet up with the rest of the group and take a train back to Cusco. Aguas Calientes to Cusco: Approximate distance: 118km/73mi Estimated travel time: 3.15 hours CUSCO STAY DETAILS: Anyone electing to do the Cusco Stay will have two extra days to explore this ancient Inca capital city. You will travel with your group, CEO and local guide through the Sacred Valley, visiting the Planeterra-supported Ccaccacollo Women’s Weaving Co-op on the way. Stay the night in Ollantaytambo. When the hikers leave the next morning, travellers doing the Cusco Stay will return to Cusco with their CEO, visiting the sites of Maras and Moray Salt Mines on the way. The next day, enjoy an included tour of the archaeological sites around Cusco, including Saqsaywaman. The next day, travel by van to Ollantaytambo where you catch the scenic train to Aguas Calientes. The next morning, rise early to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu with your guide. Enjoy a guided visit to the ruins followed by free time to explore. When you’re ready, head back down by bus to Aguas where you’ll meet up with the rest of your group and take atrain back to Cusco. Please note, on these days breakfast will be the only meal included.

  • Day 17 Cusco (1B)

    Depart at any time.

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