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Day 1: Arrival in Lima / Welcome to Peru
We arrange your transfer to the hotel for one night.
Day 2: Fly Lima to Cusco / Welcome to the Andes!
Transfer to the airport in Lima for short flight to Cusco where our driver will be waiting to transfer 15 min to your hotel for checkin. City Tour starts (depending on how early) at the great temple of the sun, known as The Golden Qoricancha, (closed on Sundays) not far from the Plaza de Armas. This impressive temple is considered a sacred and treasured Inca structure. It is said that the temple housed a large group of Inca priests responsible for worshiping the moon and the sun gods. And at the time the conquistadors arrived, the walls were covered with solid gold and so many gold ornaments and gold jewelry, that it took weeks to melt all the gold for shipment to Spain. We continue the tour stopping along the ancient Inca streets, to the divine Cathedral of Cusco, considered by many to be one of the most splendid in all of South America. Dine in restaurant of your choice. (B)
Day 3: Sacred Valley Tour to Ollantaytambo
08:30 AM Pickup from hotel and drive about 30-40 min to Chinchero, home to the famous colonial style church and archaeological ruins and the backdrop for Qechua women & girls who demonstrate traditional dyeing and weaving. Continue 20 KM to the greenhouse ruins of Moray to learn about the sophisticated botanical practices of the Inca and how these plants were used for ceremonial purposes. Then drive about 11 KM over dirt roads to Maras Terraced Salt Ponds. Here you learn how salt is harvested and the importance of salt for economic exchange since Inca times. Each town offers its own unique view of life and traditions established long ago. Finally arrive in Ollantaytambo, the oldest still-occupied town in Peru where you visit the prominent ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley. Checkin to hotel for overnight. Dine in local restaurant of your choice (B
Day 4: Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu (for guided tour)
After an early breakfast, we board the train to Aguas Calientes for a 1.5 hour ride through seductive landscapes and vistas. Stop for quick lunch in Aguas Calientes, then board shuttle bus for 30 minute ride to the main entry of Machu Picchu where you begin your guided tour. Explore the ancient citadel up close for 3-4 hours. Park closes by 5:30 pm. Return by shuttle bus to Aguas Calientes and check in to your hotel for the evening. Free evening to shop or explore the "city without vehicles."
Hotel: Aguas Calientes
Day 5: Aguas Calientes to Cusco
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel, then walk to the train station in Aguas Calientes where you board the morning train for picturesque ride back to Ollantaytambo where our driver will be waiting. Drive 1H by car to the village of Pisac to explore the famous market and enjoy lunch. (cost not included) Return by car hours to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 6: Cusco Guided Outskirts Tour (by car or on foot)
08:30 AM. Guide and driver arrive at your hotel for pickup to begin the 15 minute drive to the tranquil terraced rocks of Tambomachay ruins (meaning guest house), with aqueducts, waterfalls and canals. It is said that the Inca emperor came here to bathe and perform religious rites in the water. Choose to walk 7 KM through local farms (or drive on paved road) to the mysterious Qenco temple ruins where sacrifices and mummification took place. Not far are the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most significant archaeological legacies of the Incas. Due to the complexity of the layout of the massive blocks of stone, some bigger than a car, it is said that the construction of Sacsayhuaman lasted more than 50 years and employed over 20,000 men in the construction. Return to hotel. Car 3-4 hours / Foot 4-5 hours. Free afternoon.
Day 7: Cusco - Puno
7AM. Travel by bus following the Route of the Sun. 06:20 AM transfer to station to board tourist bus for 8-9 hr ride through beautiful highlands with stops at "Sistene Chapel of the Andes" and Raqchi ruins (tickets not included. if you want to go inside, you can buy for $12-$15 pp) The comfortable tourist bus rambles along paved roads through the Peruvian highlands with stops to explore the Pukara Museum, Raqchi and Andahuaylillas. Includes a stop for lunch offering a buffet of tempting Peruvian cuisine. Lunch included. Arrive at bus station in Puno where driver will be waiting to transfer you to hotel. 6 pm. Local guide arrives for pre-trip briefing in lobby of hotel. Walk to local restaurants of your choice. (B) Altitude 12,500 ft.
Day 8: Lake Titicaca - Floating Reed Islands
After an early breakfast, we board 20 passenger motorized double deck tourist boat to the Floating Reed Islands of Uros where you stop to visit the Aymara people and discover the story behind the amazing floating islands. Continue by boat to the charming Taquile Islands for lunch. (cost of lunch not included. Bring local currency 20/s. pp) Return to Puno and transfer to hotel. Walk to local restaurants of your choice.
Day 9: Puno - Lima
Pickup from hotel at elast 3 hours prior to scheduled departure and transfer 45 minutes to the airport for your 2 hour flight to Lima. Conclusion of our services. Make connections to international flights.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 headache remedy
- Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies and guides will carry small tanks of oxygen on hikes. 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.
- Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But you cannot expect 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.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
We've learned that 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 ride is almost 24 hours long over paved and 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 LATAM AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on AVIANCA AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 7 pm and there are no late 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 Kayak, Expedia, 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. Some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations as a precaution. 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 land transportation (private vehicle, bus and train)
- Boat ride in small, 20 passenger motorized double-decker boats
- 3 * Hotel accommodations/private bathroom, including Peruvian breakfast buffet
- 1 entry to Machu Picchu National Park and single entries to the sites as described
- Private, guided tour of the ruins with English-speaking guide
- Full-time, English-speaking escort
- 1 Way Tourist bus from Cusco to Puno
- International airfare to and from Lima, Peru
- Domestic airfare between Lima & Cusco and Juliaca & Lima
- Lunches or dinners
- Bottled drinking water or other beverages
- Travel insurance
- Entry tickets to Andahuaylillas and Raqchi ruins (avg $15 USD pp cash only)
- Lunch on Takile Island (avg 20-30/s. per person. Local currency only)
- Single supplement: $360 USD per person
- Itinerary subject to change
- We can help you choose the correct flights.