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6-Day Peru Culinary Adventure On The Way to Machu Picchu
This trip has amazing food! It's entirely possible that Machu Picchu will be a side show! But we'll let you decide!
Day 1: Welcome to Cusco! Walking City Tour
From Lima, it is a short flight (1 hr/20 min) to Cusco, the famed capitol of the Incan empire. Adios guide will be waiting for you at the airport for transfer to your hotel for checkin. Activities are flexible as you adjust to the altitude. Begin an easy walking tour of the city. Your journey to discover the gastronomy of the Peruvian Andes begins with visit to the local San Pedro market for a glimpse of regional ingredients from the mountains and the jungle, displayed in their most natural forms. Your guide introduces you to local Peruvian culture and ancient Inca civilization with legendary stories and a visit to the main Plaza de Armas, once considered the center of the Inca Empire, and where the statue of King Pachacutec, whose brilliant vision led to the design and building of Machu Picchu, greets everyone. See the incredible achievements of ancient Peruvians that include stone arches, Inca walls, cobbled streets, and many examples of exotic architecture. Observe the impact of colonial invasion and how the collision of two very different societies fused into one enchanting hub of modern Peruvian culture.
Day 2: Coffee / Cusco Outskirts / Peruvian Cooking Class
After a stop in our favorite little local coffee (and tea) shop, we'll travel to the outskirts of Cusco for guided tours of Sacsayhuaman, the ancient Incan fortress perched above Cusco. Then spend the afternoon with our chef in the kitchen of a local restaurant learning about Peruvian food while you prepare your own dishes. Enjoy an afternoon to stroll around the exotic city center to explore on your own. Overnight in Cusco (order of activities subject to change based on availability of restaurant kitchen)
Day 3: Cusco / Sacred Valley Picnic Lunch / Ollantaytambo
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up from the hotel to begin full day tour in the Sacred Valley. Your first stop is Chinchero, the weavers' village where local Qechua women demonstrate ancient weaving practices still being used today. It's the perfect chance to buy that special wool hat or woven item directly from the artisan. The valley is the agricultural heart of the local Inca culture and depending on the season you are traveling, you may see potato, corn or fields of fava beans or quinoa. In some cases you witness local farmers drying potatoes called "chuno." Your guide will find the perfect spot to stop for a picnic where you sample local empanadas, tasting of fruits from the mountains and jungle, as well as dried fava beans, a favorite high-protein snack of the Andes. After lunch continue by car to the Inca Greenhouse ruins in Moray, where you discover the sophisticated botanical practices of ancient Incas. Drive to Ollantaytambo with the option to stop and sample home-made suds in a local brewery. Continue by car to the oldest, still-occupied village in Peru for your overnight. Walk to local restaurant of your choice. (order of activities subject to change)
Day 4: Ollantaytambo / Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu Afternoon
Up early for short walk to the station where you catch the morning train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Have quick lunch then continue by shuttle bus to the main entry of Machu Picchu for your afternoon guided tour. Return to the village by shuttle bus for overnight in hotel.
Day 5: Aguas Calientes / Pisac Pachamanca Luncheon / Cusco
After breakfast in your hotel yo walk to the station to board the morning train to Ollantaytambo. Our driver will be waiting to take you 1 hour by car to Pisac where you visit the famous market and a visit to a local Qechua family where you enjoy a traditional communal Pachamanca (earth oven) luncheon. Farmers build a fire in the ground to heat rocks, and fill with meat and vegetables to slow cook. You begin the journey back to Cusco arriving by afternoon. Dine in restaurant of your choice, including options for upscale cuisine at CHICHA or MAP restaurant, or sample guinea pig at INCANTO restaurant. Or go for the hip wraps and greens at GREENS ORGANIC restaurant. Those who are interested can visit local "Museo de Pisco" to learn more about the brandy that is unique to Peru and comes from the dry coastal climate in the south. (cost not included)
Day 6: Cusco Airport - Lima Airport
Free morning in Cusco. Visit coffee shops, museums, ruins and restaurants of your choice or just sit in the plaza and observe the people. Our service concludes at the Cusco airport where you will catch your flight to Lima.
(option to extend 1 day in Lima to for amazing gastronomic experiences with world renowned restaurants of your choice)
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of traveling with a local expert?
Our local guides bring Peru gastronomy to life with their knowledge of indigenous ingredients, their enthusiasm for sampling native dishes and their genuine interest in sharing Peru's world-class cuisine. Traveling with our guide enhances the depth of your experience and elevates your understanding of the diversity of local ingredients. High - altitude Andean cuisine is most noted for fusion of ingredients from coastal / sea level to Amazon / rainforests settings.
Do you need previous experience with culinary-based travel or activities?
No experience is necessary. Bring your curiosity and appetite for trying new foods.
Who is this trip best suited for?
The great thing about this trip is it has a variety of food sampling experiences which appeal to those who are trained in the culinary arts, as well as budding gourmets. As long as you love good food, you will be in great company.
It's common for most people coming from sea level to experience at least mild symptoms of altitude sickness when they arrive in Cusco, which is 11,000 ft/3430 m above sea level. Age is not a factor for the severity of symptoms one can experience. But fitness can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
- loss of appetite.
Treatments may include:
- OTC pain reliever - bring your own favorite remedy for pain relief
- Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies. Some local pharmacies sell an individual size O2 tank for personal use.
- Coca Leaf. Locals believe that drinking coca leaf tea will help and you will find the tea leaves readily available in hotel tea bars as well as restaurants.
- Water. Drink extra to keep your blood flowing freely. Dehydration leads to sludgy blood and may contribute to your discomfort.
- Diamox. (AKA "Acetazolamide") can be purchased by prescription in some western countries or over the counter in Peruvian pharmacies and is best if taken before arriving at altitude.
Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But you cannot expect the sense of breathlessness to completely disappear, no matter how you treat it. If symtoms do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours of your arrival, please notify your travel companions or guide so s/he can monitor your progress. In rare occasions, individuals may need to seek medical attention.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Tap water in Lima, Cusco and other larger cities is consumed by local people every day. But is it safe for you? There's only one way to find out and we suggest that you not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere including small towns and villages. We support Travelers Against Plastic to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and encourage you to bring a purification device to make your own safe drinking water. The device should be rated to purify water from microbes and viruses, not just for taste. Purified drinking water is provided on all the multi-day hikes and during your stay in the Amazon jungle lodges. Beginning in January 2019, single-use plastic bottles are banned from Machu Picchu. Everyone is asked to bring reusable personal water bottle.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
There are different kinds of allergies; from hayfever to insect stings. IF YOU HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY TO ANY FOOD, INSECT, MEDICATION OR NATURAL ELEMENT, WE REQUIRE WRITTEN, ADVANCE NOTICE WITH FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE ALLERGEN AND THE TREATMENT. We reserve the right to require a doctors written approval for you to travel or ask you to provide your own treatment remedy and plan. And we ask you to notify your guide during your first meeting. In rare circumstances we may choose to reject your reservation if we feel that your condition is beyond the scope of the training of our guides or negatively impact other travelers. Epi-pens are only useful in areas where you are close to medical services like Lima or Cusco.
What is the best way to travel between Lima and Cusco?
We recommmend flying between the cities because other means requires more time or is not practical for short vacations. There is no train service between Lima and Cusco. And while there is bus service, the drive is almost 24 hours long over paved, but winding mountain roads. There is no speedy highway. The cost of round-trip air tickets varies from around $250 pp on the domestic carriers, including STAR PERU AIRLINES and PERUVIAN AIRLINES, to $450 pp on LAN AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on TACA (recently merged with AVIANCA) AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 5 pm and there are no evening flights in either direction due to mountain weather conditions.
Where should I stay if my international flight arrives in Lima in the evening?
There are no late evening flights from Lima to Cusco. And there is only one hotel at the Lima airport. The Wyndham Hotel is connected to the arrivals terminal by a skybridge on the 2nd floor. It takes literally 2 minutes to walk from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. The hotel is expensive by Peruvian standards (in excess of $250 per double room per night). We've seen good rates on Expedia, Kayak, Booking.com and Hotels.com The hotel will accommodate as many as 3 to a room, but not 4.
This hotel is best for groups who arrive in Lima late evening and plan to depart again by air the next day. For groups planning to stay in Lima, it's best to pre-arrange a transfer to a hotel outside the airport, unless you don't mind paying the "gringo rate" when you negotiate on your own. The travel time is about 45 minutes each way when the traffic is moderate. And the cost ranges from $35 each way and up. If your group is larger than 3 persons, you may need a transfer in a mini-van or two taxis.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Machu Picchu?
The altitude of Machu Picchu is 8000 ft/2440 m and higher. Disease-carrying vectors do not thrive at higher elevations. US passport holders are not required to get Yellow Fever vaccinations or prophylactic Malaria treatments. Although there have been no recent cases of Yellow Fever in Peru, some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations prior to visiting the Amazon Rainforest including Tambopata Reserve or Manu National Reserve. We recommend that travelers check the regulations for re-entry for any countries they will pass through after leaving Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. Bolivia requires all foreigners to have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry if you plan to travel to the Bolivian Amazon jungle. (Some countries including Australia, require their citizens to get yellow fever vaccination if they enter Peru, even if they are only visiting the higher elevations)
This Adventure Includes
- Cusco airport transfers and all ground transportation (private vehicle, bus and train)
- 3 * Hotel accommodations/private bathroom, including Peruvian breakfast buffet
- Peruvian cooking class and ingredients
- Picnic lunch and Pachamanca meal
- 1 Entry to Machu Picchu National Park and the sites as described
- Private, guided tour of the ruins with English-speaking guide
- Full-time, licensed local English-speaking guide
- International airfare to and from Lima, Peru
- Domestic airfare from Lima to Cusco and Cusco to Lima
- Hotel or transfer services in Lima (available on request)
- Lunches or dinners not provided in the itinerary
- Bottled water or other beverages
- Cost of beer in breweries
- Photos included may not represent actual dishes you prepare
- 6 days begins and ends in Cusco. Please add 1 travel day before and 1 after. Total 8 days
- Can be booked year round.
- To extend your trip to Lima, please add at least 2 days / 1 night.
- Itinerary subject to change
- Special diets accommodated with advance notice
- Single supplement $270 USD pp based on 3* accommodations with private bath
- Hotel/Transfer services available in Lima upon request
- Ask about extending your trip to Lake Titicaca, Amazon Jungle, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Ecuaor or Galapagos Islands
- Please let us know in advance if you have food allergies
- Hotel upgrades available on request
- Option to add extra days in Cusco