Day 1 Lima
Arrive Lima at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). *Please note: if you have pre-booked the Peru Culinary Bundle your CEO will inform you upon arrival when you will see each show throughout your tour, these days are subject to change: Lima cooking class (Day 1) (pre night accommodation recommended) and Cusco cooking class (Day 2). For more information on the shows see the Optional Activities section. *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. Peru is frequently referred to as the 'Land of the Incas'. It is true that the Incas formed the greatest empire on the continent and left mysterious cities such as Machu Picchu. However, it is important to remember that the Incas were the only the last in a long series of Peruvian civilizations spanning several thousand years and the ruins of many of these earlier civilizations can also be visited. Peru is made up of three main geographical areas: the Andes, the Amazon and the desert coastal area. In this trip we concentrate on the Andes region of south-central Peru and the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. 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 around midday. 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 districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro, which are on the coast, 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 Cusco (1B)
Transfer early this morning to the airport for the flight to Cusco; the flight usually departs early – we may leave the hotel as early as 4:30 am. Spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring this fascinating city, and take time to acclimatize to the high altitude. 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. 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!
Days 3-4 Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo (2B,1L)
2 days of guided biking excursions through the Sacred Valley, in the Maras, Moray and Pisac areas, using Ollantaytambo as a base. In the morning of day 3 we will check our bikes and then travel by private transport to Abra de Corao, on the edge of the Sacred Valley and where we will begin the tour. From our starting point at 3700 metres above sea level, we descend on our bikes into the Sacred Valley, arriving eventually to Taray (2800 metres above sea level), enjoying magnificent views along the way. We will also pass through rural areas where we can see the traditional farming and agriculture activities. After lunch we continue by bicycle to the majestic Inca ruins of Pisaq, where we will enjoy a guided tour of the site before transferring to Ollantaytambo for the night. Throughout the bicycle excursion we will be able to rely on an expert local guide as well as a support vehicle. On day 4 we rise early to transfer 30 minutes to Chinchero by private vehicle. After the obligatory safety briefing by the local guide, we will continue our bicycle adventure. Today's journey takes us past Huaypo Lake and the picturesque town of Maras, where we will get great views of the Sacred Valley. We will visit the archaeological site of Moray and then descend to the Salt mines (Las Salineras), eventually finishing our excursion in Urubamba. We'll have lunch here before returning to Ollantaytambo for a free evening to relax the sore legs.
Day 5 Ollantaytambo (1B)
Enjoy a free day in Ollantaytambo for optional activities like visiting the ruins, horseback riding or relaxing before embarking on the Inca Trail. Ollantaytambo is 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.
Days 6-9 Inca Trail to 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. Enjoy Planeterra-supported handmade biodegradable soap products for use on the Inca Trail. The purpose of this Planeterra project was to empower local Cusqueña women to start their own business while lessening the environmental impact of Inca Trail travel. Planeterra provided $10000 of seed funding for two young entrepreneurs to register their biodegradable products in order to sell to the tourism industry. Esencia Andina is now a successful business that produces biodegradable soaps, detergents, and natural products for use by travelers, porters, and cooks on the Inca Trail. G Adventures is their biggest client, purchasing hundreds of their products per month for Inca Trail travellers! 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 a train back to Cusco.
Day 10 Cusco (1B)
Today is free to relax, explore and shop in Cusco, or discover its surroundings on any number of optional excursions. Cusco is considered the mecca of Peru and rightly so. This beautiful colonial town offers much to the visitor with its nearby ruins, cobble-stoned streets, museums, churches and lively atmosphere. Among the more adventurous optional activities available in Cusco are: horseback riding around archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Tambo Machay and Puca Pucara; white water rafting on the Urubamba River; and mountain biking down to the Sacred Valley, perhaps visiting an Inca ruin along the way. Note: If you have pre-booked the Peru Culinary Theme Pack, your Cusco cooking class will be today and the Lima cooking class will be on Day 1. As this pack does not include extra on-trip time in Lima, it is necessary to bundle it with a pre-trip stay.
Day 11 Puno (1B)
Enjoy spectacular views of the countryside on this full day of travel from Cusco to Puno, through the high Altiplano. The next morning we board our comfortable, 35 foot, fully equipped, speed boat to explore the Taquile and/or Amantaní Island. We stop at various islands to enjoy the lake's scenic splendor and to meet the friendly people of these communities. Located at 3830 m above sea level, Puno is the highest night stop on the tour. As a result the weather can be extreme with very cold nights and a strong sun during the day. Puno is also known for its wealth of traditional dances: there are up to 100 different varieties, usually performed in the street processions celebrating Catholic feast days. If you are fortunate enough to be visiting at the right time you may even catch one of these celebrations. A popular optional activity in Puno is a visit to the spectacular chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani, a pre-Inca archaeological site. Titicaca is also the largest lake in the world above 2000m, and the views from both Amantaní and Taquile Islands are stunning. Our first stop on Lake Titicaca is the floating islands of the Uros people. The Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the Colla and Inca tribes. Sadly, the Uros language has died out, and today they speak Aymara due to intermarriage with Aymara-speakers. Today about 300 families live on the islands, however their numbers are slowly declining. The Totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake are used for making everything from the islands themselves to the model boats that the islanders sell. The islands are made up of layers upon layers of reeds; as the layers closest to the water start to rot, they are replaced with fresh reeds on top. The reeds are also used to build their boats, which if constructed well will last up to 6 months.
Days 12-13 Lake Titicaca (2B,1D)
An unforgettable sea kayak adventure, paddling to Taquile & Amantani and exploring the beauty of Lake Titicaca. This trip will give you the chance to get in contact with the nature, culture & traditions of the islands from up close. The expert local guides will make you a direct participant in the local culture and not just an observer. We will visit 3 different islands on this trip, giving you a wide perspective of life in Lake Titicaca. Day 12 - Kayak to Taquile / Amantani This unique journey Begins at 6:45 am with transfer from your hotel to the port. Then by motor boat (7:00 am we head to the base camp at the Peninsula of Capachica in a 2 1⁄2 hours trip, arrival at 09:30am. There our sea kayak guide will provide the security briefing and we get all the necessary adventure gear, then we paddle towards Taquile Island, (It takes 2 hours approximately). As we paddle an atmosphere of tranquility invades our journey and the views of the endless Lake Titicaca horizon welcome you in this part of the trip. Arrive to Taquile Island, then hike to the village and observe a traditional culture & people that had conserved authentic clothing and great textile skills. After lunch we will continue by motor boat to Amantani Island. There meet your designated host family and friendly inhabitants, by narrow path ways they will lead you to the home stay. in the afternoon have go for a cultural exploration where the locals will show you aspects of their real culture, Optional football matches with the locals or hike to the top of the island to observe the pre-Incan temple of the father earth and watch sunset over lake Titicaca. After dinner we go for a small celebration with native music and dances.Variation: In case of bad weather conditions or if the clients decide to have a shorter ride there is the option to paddle along the coasts of Taquile island on the first day, instead of paddling From Llachon to Taquile. Day 13 - Kayak to Llachon and visit the Uros islands After breakfast we say good bye to our host families and kayak onto Llachon paddling for about 2 1⁄2 hours, it is a great kayak experience with the fresh morning winds at arrival back to the base camp to enjoy a hot drink before continuing . In the afternoon stop at reed banks and visit the incredible reed floating islands inhabited by the Uros an etnic group that had made of the use of the Totora reeds and art and way of surviving. There reed boat rides can be arranged with the local fishermen, and then we continue back to Puno. Overnight in a hotel in Puno.
Day 14 Lima (1B)
We make the short drive to Juliaca for our flight to Lima, the final stop on our journey. Enjoy one last night out on the town.
Day 15 Lima (1B)
Depart at any time.