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Cuzco to Lima
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Overlanding is the best way to see South America by far! Dragoman have been leading the way in South American overland expeditions since 1990, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading to some unique hidden gems, well away from the usual tourist trail. If you want to see the best of Peru in a short timeframe, then this trip is a must. This fantastic itinerary takes in all the highlights between Lima and Cuzco, including the Ballestas Islands, the Huacachina Desert, the Nazca Lines, the Colca Canyon, Arequipa and of course Cuzco itself and the Inca Trails to the phenomenal ruins of Machu Picchu. Every day on this trip is packed with highlights, but our travellers tell us that the best part of it all is the week-long Community Inca Trail to Machu Picchu through the Urubamba Valley. As well as staying with our Quechuan Indian hosts to learn about their culture, you'll be trekking an ancient trade route which is unique to Dragoman and well away from other tourists trekking the 'Classic' Inca Trail, although that is still an option if you prefer. Another cultural highlight is staying in a typical Peruvian homestay in the quaint village of Raqchi where you'll sample local dishes and be treated to a ceremonial singing and dancing display. This is a truly special itinerary to see the very best of Peru!

Latin America

Duration: 17 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Community Project, Trekking, Hiking, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Parks & Nature Reserves Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 157991
Starts: Cuzco, Peru Finishes: Lima, Peru
You will Visit
  • Cuzco
  • Inca Trail
  • Sacred Valley
  • Machu Picchu
  • Raqchi
  • Chivay
  • Arequipa
  • Puerto Inca
  • Nazca
  • Huacachina
  • Paracas
  • Ballestas Islands
  • Lima

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Cuzco

Border information: if you are joining in Cuzco, you will most likely enter Peru at Cuzco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (IATA code: CUZ).

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting. There will be a further meeting this evening for our Wild Andes and Classic Inca Trails, where we will have a full detailed briefing from our local trekking guides about the next few days!

The rest of today will be free to explore the wonderful city of Cuzco, discover its many historical gems, or to take part in number of optional activities near the city.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Cuzco before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Cuzco.

A note on altitude: if you are joining in Cuzco, we strongly recommend arriving at least 24 hours before the trip begins to allow additional time to acclimatise.

In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel.

02

Day 2: Sacred Valley

These four days will be spent either trekking in the Andes, on our pioneering Wild Andes Trek, on the Classic Inca Trek or for those not wishing to hike, free time to explore and a guided tour of the Sacred Valley on our Train package.

Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek

Leaving Cuzco early in the morning, we visit the ruined temples of Sacsayhuaman for a fascinating tour of the site. We then head on to Chinchero, a small Quechua-speaking village in the Sacred Valley. Here we will see a traditional weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years, and explore their beautiful archaeological ruins. We will drive to a stunning viewpoint for a picnic lunch, and then visit the Quillarumiyoc temple (the Temple of the Moon).

We will start our trek from here in the afternoon, heading by foot to Zurite where we have a picturesque stay in a colonial house. Tonight we will enjoy a traditional dinner and get a taste of the local village lifestyle.

Approximate walking distance: 8km, Estimated time: 4hrs, Meals provided: Lunch and Dinner 

Option 2 - Classic Inca Trek

This morning we go for a guided tour of the Sacred Valley, followed by a visit to the market town of Pisac, where we will have lunch.  We then head to Ollantaytambo, where we will explore this impressive archeological site. Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel.  

There is no trekking today. Meals provided: Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

Option 3 - Train Package

You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers who will be trekking the Wild Andes Trek. You will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After lunch you will head back to Cuzco where you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights.

Meals included: Lunch

03

Day 3: Inca Trail

Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek

Zurite to Amaruwatana

After a hearty breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through Qenteqentiyoc (the Hummingbird Temple), where we will visit and admire this Inca archaeological site. We will then follow the ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,400m, where we will have a dramatic view of both the Vilcabamba and Vilcanota mountain ranges. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the Sambor Valley where we will spend the night camping.

Approximate walking time: 8hrs, Distance: 13kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Option 2 - Classic Inca Trek

Ollantaytambo to Wayllabamba

After breakfast, we catch a bus to Piscaycuscho and the start of the Classic Inca Trek - the railroad KM82 marker (at 2,700m altitude). Here we are joined by our crew of local porters and cooks. We will cross the bridge over the River Urubamba and following a trail along the left-hand shore of the river, enjoying stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Veronica (5,830m) and the Incan archaeological remains at Llactapata. Continuing through lush farmland and woodland, we gradually climb for approximately 5 hours to our first campsite at Wayllabamba (3,000m).

Approximate trekking time: 5-6hrs, Distance: 12kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

Option 3 - Train Package

Today is a free day to enjoy Cuzco, with its museums, churches, incredible colonial architecture, beautiful restaurants and a vast array of shops, selling textiles and handicrafts.

04

Day 4: Inca Trail

Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek

Amaruwatana to Ancascocha

We have an early start this morning, trekking for approximately 2 hours to reach the top of our second pass at 4,700m. From here we have fantastic views of the rock formations below us, and if we're lucky we may spot Andean ibises, caracaras, eagles or foxes up here!

After descending for approximatley 2 hours, we arrive at a stunning highland valley with a glacial river named Kenqo Mayu (meaning "Zig-zag River") flowing down it - which makes an idyllic stop for lunch!

After lunch we will continue trekking downhill following the ancient trail, which leads us to our campsite in the Ancascocha area.

Approximate trekking time: 6-7hrs, Distance: 10kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Option 2 - Classic Trek

Wayllabamba to Pacaymayo

This is the most challenging day of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approximately 4 hours) through Andean cloud forest and highland puna to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwañusca (meaning "Dead Woman's Pass") at a height of 4,200m. During our ascent, we can appreciate the wide variety of plant, flower and bird species supported by this unique eco-climate. On reaching the pass, our challenge is rewarded by an astonishing panoramic view of the Vilcanota and Vilcabamba mountain ranges. From here we descend for 2 hours into the Pacaymayo Valley (3,650m altitude) and to our second campsite.

Approximate trekking time: 6-7hrs, Distance: 11kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

Option 3 - Train Package
Today is a free day for you to enjoy Cuzco, with its museums, churches, incredible colonial architecture, beautiful restaurants and a vast array of shops selling textiles and handicrafts.

05

Day 5: Inca Trail

Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek

Ancascocha to Ollantaytambo

Today we will descend the narrow Silque Canyon, allowing us to observe its tall granite walls which are populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when they bloom. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the Camicancha area, where we stop at a magnificent volcanic viewpoint looking towards the snow-capped Mt. Veronica.

From here it is only a short trek to Chilca, where our trail ends. We'll be picked up by our vehicle and head to Ollantaytambo, taking a well-earned shower and rest at our hotel.

In the afternoon we will have an included guided tour around the incredible archaeological site of Ollantaytambo and its world-famous Temple of the Sun.

Approximate trekking time: 5hrs, Distance: 12kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Option 2 - Classic Inca Trek

Pacaymayo to Wiñay Wayna

Today we follow ancient stone paths and steps to ascend the well-preserved Inca remains of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca (the "Town above the Clouds") where we can appreciate the Incas’ complex architectural style and reverence of natural geography and beauty. Heading down the Andean slope, we reach our final night's camp by the Wiñay Wayna (meaning "Forever Young") ruins, with panoramic views of the valley below.

Approximate walking time: 8hrs, Distance: 16kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

Option 3 - Train Package

After being picked up from your hotel in the morning you will be driven to the fortress city of Ollantaytambo and our hotel for the night, the Tunupa Lodge. Here you will rejoin the Wild Andes Trekkers and your tour leader who will be arriving from their trek this afternoon.

06

Day 6: Cuzco

Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek

Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu – Cuzco

Today we will have an early start to catch the train to the small town of Aguas Calientes. From there, we will take a bus up the winding mountainside to the legendary ruined city of Machu Picchu - one of the world's most iconic sights! We have a guided tour with our expert local guide and there will be plenty of free time to explore this magical place. 

In the afternoon we will head back to Ollantaytambo and then on to Cuzco, where we return to our joining hotel at the end of a long but phenomenal day!

Meals provided: Breakfast

Option 2 - Classic Trek

Wiñay Wayna to Machupicchu

Leaving Wiñay Wayna, we descend gradually further through the highland jungle to our destination - Intupunku (the "Sun Gate") leading into Machu Picchu. Arriving at daybreak, we catch our first breathtaking view of this historical wonder. As with the Wild Andes Trek, our local guide will show us the most important constructions as well as explain the history and the mythology of this magnificent place. There is also some free time to explore the ruins further at your own pace or just chill out and watch the hummingbirds or vizcachua. In the afternoon we head back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco for a well-deserved rest.

Approximate walking time: 2hrs, Distance: 4kms, Meals provided: Breakfast, Snacks

Option 3 - Train Package

After an early breakfast and walk to the train station, your stunning 2 hour train ride to Aguas Calientes begins. The journey takes you through several different micro-climates, past Inca terraces, lookout posts, ancient river bank reinforcements and small towns. You will get a glimpse of different temples and the beautiful Mount Veronica (5,750m). Passing through 8 tunnels, the train journey finally comes to an end in the busy pueblo, Aguas Calientes. From here you take a local bus that winds up the mountainside for about 30 minutes until you arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu (2,400m), the awe inspiring 'Lost City of the Incas'. The guide will take you around the immense, mystical ruins for about 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes, explaining the rich history of the ancient site. Afterwards, you will have time to explore on your own before returning down the mountain to Aguas Calientes.

In the afternoon you will catch a train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and a private transfer will take you back to your hotel in Cuzco.

Meals provided: Breakfast

07

Day 7: Cuzco

Today is a free day to relax after the treks, further explore the historical city of Cuzco, and take part in some optional activities around the city.

08

Day 8: Raqchi

Today we will drive south to the small village of Raqchi. Here we will stay at a homestay as guests of the local villagers in their traditional family homes. The houses are very clean and have basic facilities.

This afternoon we will visit the Inca ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, and then see a pottery demonstration at a local artisan centre. This evening the villagers will invite us to take part in a traditional Quechua religious ceremony, and we'll have some lively music from some of the village's musicians.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

09

Day 9: Chivay

Today we will drive through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian highlands to the small town of Chivay, where we can have an optional trip to the nearby hot springs in the evening.

In Chivay we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

10

Day 10: Arequipa

This morning we will head out on a short drive to some of the best viewpoints along the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world! The canyon is famous for its resident condors, and we will spend a good amount of time at the viewpoints to give ourselves the best chance of spotting them. We will also visit a couple of local communities on the way back to Chivay.

After lunch in Chivay, we will drive to the beautiful ‘White City’ of Arequipa.

In Arequipa we will stay in a good local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

11

Day 11-12: Arequipa

For the next two days we will enjoy free time to independently explore the colonial city of Arequipa, or to take part in some optional activities in and around the city.

12

Day 13: Puerto Inca

Today we will continue our drive and head all the way downhill to the Pacific coastal resort of Puerto Inca, where we camp at a well-equiped campsite on the beach.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

13

Day 14: Nazca

This morning we head north to the world-famous village of Nazca, the location of the mysterious Nazca Lines. We will have an included visit to the nearby ancient sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Cahuachi Pyramid, thought to have once been the religious centre of the Nazca civilisation.

In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to take an optional 30-minute flight over the Nazca Lines in a small aircraft - this is by far the best way of seeing the figures, and we use a local operator with an excellent safety record. The Nazca Lines are a series of figures, lines, and geometric shapes that were etched into the ground of the desert plateau over a thousand years ago by the ancient Nazca culture, and their purpose is still unknown to this day.

In Nazca we will camp at a well-equipped campsite.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

14

Day 15: Huacachina

Today we continue north, stopping at a viewing platform to get a glimpse of some of the Nazca Lines. 

We will arrive at the stunning desert oasis town of Huacachina, where we have the option to head out for an evening of sand boarding and dune buggying and the further option to camp out under the stars in the deserts.

For those that do not wish to participate in the optional camping in the desert, in Huacachina we will stay in dorm accommodation in the village itself.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

15

Day 16: Lima

Today we will drive the short distance to Paracas and board one of the local boats for an included trip to the Ballestas Islands to view its incredible array of resident wildlife and birds.

After lunch, we will continue north to arrive at the chaotic Peruvian capital of Lima.

In Lima we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the city's historical centre.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

16

Day 17: Lima

Border information: if finishing in Lima, you will most likely exit Peru at Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport (IATA code: LIM).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Lima. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Visit the incredible remains of the Inca temples of Sacsayhuaman and the Sacred Valley on a guided tour
    • Take a guided tour of the fantastic Inca temples at Ollantaytambo
    • Options for the treks from Cuzco (please see the bottom of the Trip Notes for more details): Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek Hike on unspoiled Inca Trails through the stunning remote Andean scenery away from other tourists, on our exclusive Wild Andes Inca Trek. If you choose this option you will get a small refund from kitty. Option 2 - Classic Trek Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road. Your kitty has been budgeted to accommodate for this option as it is the most costly of the 3 options. Option 3 - Train Package (non-trekking option) Relax in Cuzco and take the train to Machu Picchu without trekking. If you choose this option you will get a refund of the cost difference from kitty. Important note: You must advise us at the time of booking if you wish to book the Classic Inca Trail or the Train Package (non-trekking option), otherwise you will automatically be booked onto our Wild Andes Trek.
    • Explore the phenomenal and iconic Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World - take a guided tour and have plenty of free time to explore before returning to Cuzco
    • Stay at an incredible Quechua homestay with local families in Raqchi, taking part in a traditional religious ceremony and visiting a community crafts project in the village
    • Take a guided visit to the ruins of the Inca Temple of Wiracocha in Raqchi
    • Visit the phenomenal Colca Conyon and search for the native Andean Condors that fly through its spectacular scenery
    • Visit the incredible ancient Nazca sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the nearby Cahuachi Pyramid
    • Take a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, and see their colossal colony of resident seals and seabirds
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew, local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 30% Camping - 70% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Community Project
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey


Reviews (5)
Goetz Christoph K Posted on: 

Everybody was happy.

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Adrienne A Posted on: 

Rachel and Jaime were great!

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Janne L Posted on: 

Julie, our tour leader, was very good. She was attentive, helpful, responsible and always in a good mood.

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GONZALO A Posted on: 

We got several local guides for different parts of the trip. In general they were all quite good, especially the first guide for the trekking & Machu Picchu.

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Shabnam C Posted on: 

All the guides were generally good with different style of delivery which made the tours more interesting and fun. In particular and one who far exceeded all guides was Yamil our Inca Trek guide. He displayed excellent leadership skills, was informative throughout keeping us up to date at all times. This also included his partner Smithy, who was also excellent. I was particularly slow amongst the group and the pace the two guides set ensuring we worked as a team ensured that we maintains the team work even when they left the group. Both guides displayed excellent leadership qualities.

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