Why Travel to Peru in 2020?

When people ask me what it’s like to travel to Peru and Machu Picchu for the first time, my response is simple, “Peru is a destination you could explore for the rest of your life and not see the same thing twice; in Peru you can expect a new adventure around every corner.”

With so many extraordinary regions and diverse landscapes to explore in this massively diverse country, choosing where to go for your first visit to Peru can be difficult. For that reason, we add value to our travelers by helping them customize an itinerary tailored to their desires. As an example, a lot of people know Peru mostly because of Machu Picchu, so that is number one on their list. Therefore, we typically recommend taking the classic route to Machu Picchu via Lima, Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes, and finishing in Cusco on your first visit. At that point, you will be acclimatized to the Andean altitude and ready to adventure further.

Machu Picchu Adventure

“Exploring the Seventh Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu, radiates wisdom and wonder by inevitably making one visualize what life must have been like for the Royal Inca in the Pre-Columbian era while they were secluded from the entire world… in their own sanctuary where every stone and ruin is strategically placed to utilize the natural elements of this environment. If you are a lover of cultural adventures and amazing food, I recommend that you make a visit to Peru as soon as possible”

– Turney Maurer

Insider’s Guide – Travel to Peru in 2020:

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What to do in Peru if You Have Already Seen Machu Picchu?

Peru is a massive country where the Earth’s biggest jungle collides with the towering, ice-capped Andes mountains. Meanwhile, southern Peru has the Nazca Lines, the world’s second deepest canyon—Colca Canyon, and Lake Titicaca—the world’s highest navigable lake that can be seen from outer space. However, there is more! Northern Peru has some of the best waves to surf in the world where you can rest afterwards at a remote beachside wellness retreat. Meanwhile, one of the world’s biggest waterfalls in the world awaits your arrival. Dive further into the northern jungle to find Pre-Inca archaeological sites as big and well-preserved as Machu Picchu which have recently been introduced to tourism with the inclusion of a cable car at Kuelap.

With all of these magnificent sites to see, how are you supposed to choose which ones to see when you travel to Peru in 2020?

Colca Canyon PeruPeruvian Woman Overlooking Colca Canyon

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Where to Go in Peru for Your First Time?

As mentioned previously, let’s get you to Machu Picchu first when you travel to Peru in 2020. Depending on the time you and your group have to travel, your options of regions to visit after seeing Machu Picchu will be limited. It’s important to note, especially if you are arriving to Peru from the United States, your itinerary is going to be 6 Days / 5 Nights minimum in order to see Machu Picchu and spend an evening in Cusco. Altitude sickness is no joke, and if you try to see the Seventh Wonder of the World in a hurry, you are likely to become very ill and ruin many days of your journey. Here is why…

The only main international airport in Peru is in Lima, the seaside capital city. In order to get to Machu Picchu, one must fly domestically from Lima to Cusco, where the altitude is around 12,500 ft.. To prevent altitude sickness, we greet our travelers at the airport in Cusco for a driver and guide take them to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where the altitude is around 9,800 ft.. Here, spend a few nights at a lovely hotel like Sol Y Luna Lodge & Spa or Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba to become acclimatized and partake in some amazing day tours before continuing to Machu Picchu at around 7,800 ft. elevation.

Salt Mines Peru TourSalt Mines at Maras: A Lovely Experience in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

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Hike or Take a Train to Machu Picchu

Depending on whether you’d like to hike to Machu Picchu or take the train,  you will need to either spend a night in Aguas Calientes or return to Cusco via train. We certainly recommend taking the Hiram Bingham Train (pictured below) for an open bar with appetizers, 3-course meal, and live music along the way in a 1920’s style elegant train. When planning your journey with one of our trip designers, we will help you decide what is best. Check out our Top 8 Treks in Peru blog to learn about more options of hiking to Machu Picchu and other areas of Peru.

Singing and dancing on the Hiram Bingham Train

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What to do After Machu Picchu?

Finally, after exploring Machu Picchu, you will return to Cusco by train and stay the night. At this point of the journey, your body will be fully acclimatized and ready for the next destination when you rise the next day. Some destinations such as Manu National Park, Apu Ausangate (Rainbow Mountains), or adventure activities like white water rafting or mountain biking are a driving distance from Cusco. Otherwise, there are domestic flights to nearly any other region of Peru (some with a layover in Lima — see recommendations at the bottom of this blog). For example, consider flying from Cusco to Iquitos after visiting Machu Picchu for a Peruvian Amazon Cruise aboard the Delfin 1, where you and your loved ones can enjoy exploring the jungle in style.

Best Amazon CruisesA couple enjoying the hot tub on Delfin 1 in Iquitos, Peru

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When Should You Visit Peru?

The peak of the Dry season in Peru is from June – August which attracts the most tourist since you will likely not encounter rain at Machu Picchu. Although, Peru is a very diverse destination and while some areas of the country might be rainy or cold, some coastal areas are perfect to visit. The main takeaway is that the shoulder seasons (March – May) and (Sept-August) are great times to visit Machu Picchu during the transitions of the rainy and dry season. Sure, you might encounter some rain, but you will also experience sunshine and less people at the ancient Citadel.

Plaza de Armas: Cusco, Peru

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What to do in Peru if You’ve Already Seen Machu Picchu?

If you’re like me, after you see Machu Picchu and maybe one or two other regions of Peru, you will be itching to go back for more. Luckily for you, a second or even third journey to Peru can be as exciting or even more wonderful as the first. Below we have compiled a gallery of some of our favorite destinations to see in Peru beyond Machu Picchu.

For more interesting articles, make sure to visit https://blog.feedspot.com/travel_magazines/ and see why were chosen as one of the top travel publications on the worldwide web!

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Travel to Peru in 2020: Best Destinations Beyond Machu Picchu:

Lima

The Peruvian Amazon Gallery 

Lake Titicaca 

Southern Peru: Islas Ballestas, Pisco Region, Huacachina Oasis, Nazca Lines, Arequipa & Colca Canyon

Northern Peru: Máncora, Tumbes, Chachapoyas, the Lost City of Kuelap, & Gocta Falls

Galapagos Islands & Quito Ecuador

Did you know that visiting Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands in the same journey is a great way to see both destinations conveniently? Due to direct flights from Lima to Guayaquil or Quito, Ecuador — this multi-destination journey links well. If you ask me, the best way to combine the two countries is by flying from Lima to Quito in the early afternoon, so that you arrive in Quito around 4:00 p.m.. From there, we will organize a private transfer from the airport to your hotel, and book a dinner at ZaZu Restaurant (part of the Relais & Chateaux collection) or similar for a taste of Quito’s finest cuisine. The following day spend a full-day exploring the city or going on a lovely trek with another overnight stay in Quito. The next morning, return to the airport and continue to Darwin’s Archipelago, the magical Galapagos Islands.

In Galapagos you will have to choose whether you want to explore via land, sea, or both? Read more about the Galapagos Great Debate to see which one suits you and your group the best.

Atacama, Chile

Due to a new flight offered by LATAM that runs directly from Lima to Calama (Atacama Desert, Chile), these two destinations are now fantastic to combine. Imagine yourself going from seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World where ruins are covered in lush green vegetation among a towering mountain surrounded by a flowing river, to feeling like you’re walking on the moon and looking at flamingos in the distance? Sounds nice doesn’t it? If so, let us treat you to this multi-destination combo by contacting us today!

To learn more about this region of Chile, check out our Atacama Desert Experience page and consider staying at Awasi Atacama.

Someone once said, “your journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” We encourage you to take the first step by reviewing our collection of itineraries, hotels, villas, and ships to choose from here at Latin Excursions. Then, give us a call for your free, no obligation, trip assessment and to learn why travel experts like Wendy Perrin, Travel+Leisure and others recommend our services for private Latin America travel.

Hidden Gems in Brazil: Paraty & Pantanal

Start your “Hidden Gems of Brazil” journey by entering the country through Rio de Janeiro and spending a few days enjoying the magic of the people. No other city in the world combines nature, art, and architecture with the city infrastructure quite like Rio. After a few days exploring Rio, the adventure really begins with a visit to Paraty — a true colonial gem! Paraty is ideally located on the tropical rain forest coast between São Paulo (south) and Rio d Janeiro (north) and is incredibly rich in history and food. We combine this city visit with private mountain, ocean, and island tours that will make any photographer jump at the bit. From here, continue to São Paulo, one of the most exciting cities in all of South America where you can explore the city and its artistic treasures before continuing to one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, Pantanal. Here you will find the best jungle and wildlife safaris in the entire continent, similar to Galapagos Islands in the sense that animals aren’t intimidated by humans, allowing you to get unreal photos to share with your friends and family. By visiting Brazil with Latin Excursions, you are traveling sustainably to help preserve the environment and supporting the local people by providing them with work through tourism. We look forward to seeing you in Brazil!

Visit our Brazil Page
to learn a bit about Brazil

Itinerary

Day1

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Day1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Brazil!

Upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, meet your english-speaking guide and driver at the arrivals lounge, followed by a private transfer to your hotel for the evening.

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals None

Day2

Christ the Redeemer

Day2

Rio: Corcovado & Santa Teresa

Today your guide will lead you to the electric sky train as you board and hover over lush vegetation with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Rio from above. Afterwards, your private guide and driver will take you to the bohemian and picturesque Santa Teresa neighborhood for lunch at a local-favorite restaurant. After you satisfy your appetite, continue to the historic city centre of Rio to learn interesting historical facts of the region. This day allows you dive right into Rio’s most famous attractions by visiting the Corcovado Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, one of the 7 Wonder’s of the World!

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals B,L

Day3

Best beach in Rio de Janeiro

Day3

A Carioca Day: Beaches, the forest, Samba and the Sugar Loaf

Take a glimpse into the soul of Rio de Janeiro by exploring the beaches, environment, and culture all in one day. Begin by exploring the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana by bicycle with your private, english-speaking guide before continuing via bike to Rio’s historical Botanical Gardens – recently labeled #1 Botanical Garden in the World by Wanderlust Travel Magazine.

Afterwards, visit “Samba City” for an insider private tour of where the Samba schools prepare and practice for next year’s Carnaval. It’s an extraordinary site to see the enormous floats being assembled and the seamstresses creating the costumes (which you can try on for yourself). To end the day, your guide will take you to catch a sunset from the Sugar Loaf before returning to your hotel.

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals B,L

Day4

UNESCO World Heritage Site Paraty

Day4

Rio de Janeiro to Paraty

Today you will meet your english-speaking driver at the hotel lobby for a ~4 hr. private transfer to your hotel in Paraty.

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Day5

Best places to visit in Brazil

Day5

Paraty: A Day in the Bay

This morning, your guide will greet you at the lobby of your hotel and lead you to the nearby pier where you will board a boat for the day to visit Praia Vermelha along with Cotia and Algodão Islands. Along the way, your captain will give you the option to stop and snorkel or swim at destinations such as Saco de Velha. If time and weather allows, you will have the option to visi Saco do Mamanguá, a tropical fjord and a true hidden gem. For those more adventurous, ask your captain to stop at Pão de Acucar hilltop, a 1 hr steep climb to get an all-encompassing look of the Mamangua fjord. 

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Day6

cachaca tasting in Brazil

Day6

Paraty: Waterfalls and Cachaça Tasting

Begin the day with a short Jeep transfer from Paraty to visit the Graúna region waterfalls. After a ~20 min. drive you will arrive at the starting point and begin a short 5 min trek to the first waterfall. The second waterfall is about a 20 min. walk, but well worth it! After visiting the falls, your private guide and driver will take you to Engenho D’ouro cachaça distillery (cachaça is a spirit made in Brazil) where the mill is still powered by a waterwheel. The cachaça is made from the local sugar cane field, harvested, naturally fermented and finally distilled, and stored in oak barrels. After tasting the homemade cachaça, continue to lunch at the restaurant Le Gite, which has an on-site waterfall that you can swim in before or after lunch (as long as you haven’t had too much cachaça). After lunch, you will return to Paraty with a stop at another local-favorite seaside cachaça distillery.

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Days7

bike tour sao paulo

Day7

Paraty to São Paulo

Today you will meet your english-speaking driver at the hotel lobby for a ~4 hr. private transfer to your hotel in São Paulo.

Overnight Tivoli Mofarrej Sao Paulo, Fasano Sao Paulo, Oetker Sao Paulo

Meals B

Day8

beco do batman brazil

Day8

Signature São Paulo Tour

Today your english-speaking guide takes your to the city center to visit important sites such as Patio do Colégio, BOVESPA (the most important stock exchange in Latin America), the Municipal Theatre, and others. Afterwards, you will head to Trianon Park, a little tropical oasis next to Paulista Avenue and visit the MASP (Sao Paolo Museum of Art) a building easily recognized by its suspended glass structure supported by two red paralleled beams. From there, you will head to Ibirapuera Park to explore the lush tropical gardens and visit the MAC (contemporary Art Museum). To end the day, your guide will take you to Vila Madalena, famously known as the “Beco do Batman Alley” where you will find amazing street graffiti, contemporary art galleries and charming shops, cafes, and food stops.

Overnight Tivoli Mofarrej Sao Paulo, Fasano Sao Paulo, Oetker Sao Paulo

Meals B

Day9

Pantanal Birds

Day9

Flight from São Paulo to Pantanal; Onward to Caiman Ecological Refuge

At the arranged time, meet your driver at your São Paulo hotel’s lobby for a private transfer to the São Paulo airport. From here, you will catch your flight to Campo Grande Airport. Upon arrival in Pantanal, meet your english-speaking driver at the arrival’s lounge of the airport for a 3.5 hr. private transfer to Caiman Ecological Refuge (if you prefer to get there faster, we can arrange a private, small plane for an additional cost).

Pantanal is a unique wildlife gem that compares to Galapagos Islands in the sense that animals are fearless of human interaction. That being said, there are many opportunities for animal sightings here from the jaguar to the blue macaw that won’t disappoint. This region is the true safari area of the continent of South America, so get ready to disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature in southern Brazil’s ecological treasure.

Overnight Caiman Ecological Refuge)

Meals B,D

Day10-11

caiman brazil

Day10-11

Caiman Ecological Refuge Activities

Caiman Ecological Refuge is the first ecotourism operation in Pantanal, part of the Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil. This property sits on a vast 53 thousand hectare cattle farm and houses three independent lodges in different architectural and décor styles. Accessible by car all year round and by far the most luxurious hotel option in the Pantanal (although still rustic), Caiman boasts well qualified guides and services with all with the basic perks of a top-end country hotel. Some lodges may be rented out exclusively which is ideal for a family or group of friends, making it perfect for VIPs in addition to the fact that we can add private guides, vehicles and chefs for your group.

Enjoy these two days at leisure and partake in the activities/excursions offered by Caiman Ecological Refuge:

  • Photography

  • Safari

  • Walking tour

  • Canadian Canoe tour

  • Night Safari

  • Jeep Safari (4×4 car)

  • Caiman tour

Overnight Caiman Ecological Refuge

Meals B,L,D

Day12

best places to visit in pantanal brazil

Day12

Return Flight Home

At a previously scheduled time, meet your driver at the Caiman Refuge hotel lobby for a 3.5 hr. drive back to Campo Grande Airport (or we can arrange a small plane for an additional cost) then  board your domestic flight to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, depending on the airport for your international flight home.

Meals B

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to omit any part of this itinerary, to change the order of the places visited, or to alter reservations without prior notice due to weather conditions or road closures, safety concerns, national park policies, or other outside forces that may necessitate revisions to the itinerary. These decisions are based on the traveler’s welfare or are made in the interest of conservation. Please travel with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the spontaneity of your adventure.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

Machu Picchu and the Amazon: Explorer’s Dream Destination

With its contrasting landscapes, varied ecosystems and fascinating cultural highlights, an adventure tour to Peru is filled with excitement at every turn. From Machu Picchu to the Amazon, Cusco to the Sacred Valley, this active vacation is perfect for anyone seeking the best adventure experiences in Peru. Arrive in Lima and, if time allows, opt for a guided tour to get to know this cosmopolitan city a little better. Then, continue to the Sacred Valley for outdoor activities like horseback riding, kayaking and hiking, before heading on to Machu Picchu–one of the Seven Wonders of the World and top travel destination in South America. After taking a couple of days to really get to know this iconic citadel, travel on to Cusco, where impressive architecture is met with vibrant culture. From here, fly north to Iquitos for an Amazon River Cruise, or fly south to Puerto Maldonado and enter the Tambopata National Reserve, for a couple of days immersing into one of two Peruvian biodiverse rainforests, enjoying wildlife safaris and canopy walks in the company of passionate, naturalist guides. Incorporating action, culture and wildlife, this Peruvian adventure tour takes you to the highlights of the country while including as many activities as possible, with wonderful Inkaterra hotels in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and the Amazon.

Visit our Peru Page
to learn a bit about Peru

Itinerary

Day1

Catedral Metropolitana

Day1

ARRIVE LIMA

Welcome to Peru for your Machu Picchu and the Amazon adventure!

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by an English-speaking Latin Excursions representative who will assist you to your nearby hotel located across from the main Lima airport terminal. Mostly every flight from the United States arrives in Lima late at night, and returns to the U.S. on a red-eye route. If you happen to choose a flight that arrives early in the day, we can arrange tours and experiences for that day to make the most out of your time in Lima.

Overnight Wyndham Lima Airport Hotel or Similar

Meals None

Day2

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Day2

LIMA / SACRED VALLEY

After breakfast, your Lima representative will greet you in the lobby with your boarding pass to help you check in for your flight to Cusco. Here, you are met by a private guide and driver, setting off to the Sacred Valley. Along the way to your hotel, stop at the Awanacancha Textile and Camelid Center. Meet the Llamas and Alpacas, while also witnessing local women at work, dexterously weaving the wool into elaborate textiles, which you can purchase from the souvenir store.

To finish this enchanting day, enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal at the authentic Hacienda Huayoccari, a working farm which serves up traditional dishes using whichever seasonal ingredients are grown onsite. The surrounding Sacred Valley views here are simply stunning, tempting you to head out and explore it all on horseback with the hacienda’s guides, but there is so much more to discover on this journey so make sure to save your energy. After lunch, your private guide and driver will take you to your hotel to relax for the evening.

Overnight Sol y Luna or Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba

Meals B,L

Day3

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Day3

SACRED VALLEY

Begin day three of your Machu Picchu and Amazon Tour with a relaxing and scenic kayaking session on Piuray Lagoon, a beautifully tranquil spot surrounded by grass covered plains, native forest and undulating mountains. Your paddle can be taken at a leisurely pace, making the most of your surrounds before a picnic by the lake shore. Afterwards, return to your hotel for the evening to enjoy the tranquility of the Sacred Valley, dine at the delicious restaurants located on-site, or partake in their offered on-site excursions.

Overnight Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba

Meals B,L

Day4

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Day4

OLLANTAYTAMBO / MACHU PICCHU

Today, prepare for the iconic Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu, which is even more jaw-dropping in reality than you could ever imagine. A private transfer whisks you off to the train station in Ollantaytambo, where you board the First Class Train by Inca Rail. If you would like to hike to Machu Picchu from Km104 of the railroad, please let your trip designer know and we’ll incorporate it into this itinerary. This journey isn’t your usual train ride, but an immersive experience with dancers, food and spectacular views of the shifting Sacred Valley scenery outside.

Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, your guide greets you and together make the onward bus journey up from town. Before exploring Machu Picchu properly, take lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge to enjoy first class food with unbeatable views of the ruins. Then, it’s time to uncover the iconic delights of Machu Picchu, an ancient wonder of the world and top highlight of South America, with a private guided tour. Afterwards, your private guide will lead you to the train station to board your train back to Ollantaytambo. Upon arrival, your private driver will be waiting for you and your guide outside the train station for a ride back to Cusco where you will spend the next two evenings.

Overnight El Mercado, Libertador Palacio del Inka, or Similar

Meals B,L,D

Day5

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Day5

CUSCO CITY TOUR / CHOCOMUSEO & MUSIC WORKSHOP

The charming town of Cusco is a highlight of any essential Peru tour, perched up in the Andes, surrounded by rippling peaks and ruins. Cusco is ancient, dating back 3,000 years, and you can learn all about this magnetic city on a guided walking tour. Begin at the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán, a vast complex that stands guard over the city. Next, the Cusco’s warren of cobblestone alleys and vibrant markets, the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Assumption on Plaza de Armas and Church of Santo Domingo, home to the original ‘Temple of the Sun’, Qoricancha; the most sacred site of the Inca.

This afternoon, it’s a slight change of pace with a fun-filled chocolate making workshop at the nearby ChocoMuseo before a delicious lunch opposite the central Cathedral in Plazas de Armas, and later, visiting a musical workshop.

Overnight El Mercado, Libertador Palacio del Inka, or Similar

Meals B,L

Days6

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Day6

CUSCO / PERUVIAN AMAZON – TAMBOPATA NATIONAL RESERVE or Iquitos Amazon Cruise

Savor your final breakfast in Cusco before the next stage of your Peru adventure vacation begins, with a private transfer to the airport, and flight to Iquitos for an Amazon River Cruise or Puerto Maldonado to stay at a luxurious jungle retreat. Upon arrival in Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, you will be greeted by guides and taken to your jungle ecolodge or boat.

Although you are surrounded by the lush greenery of the Tambopata National Reserve, there are still luxuries to be enjoyed at this sublime Amazon ecolodge. Make the most of a jungle spa, generous buffet meals at the rustic chic restaurant, and beautifully designed cabanas bedecked in local wood and crisp white drapes. Don’t hesitate to explore the Inkaterra Ecological Reserve, with 4.5 miles of walking trails. If you decide to go to Iquitos, your options for jungle cruises are the Aria, Delfin I, Delfin II, or Delfin III.

Overnight Aria, Delfin I, II, or II | Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion, or Tambopata Research Center

Meals B,L,D

Day7-9

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Day8-10

PERUVIAN AMAZON – Amazon River Cruise or Explore Tambopata National Reserve

Whether you choose an Amazon Boat Cruise from Iquitos or a Jungle Retreat in Tambopata National Reserve, guided excursions are all included and help you delve deeper into the rainforest. Every day you will have opportunities to kayak, SUP, or hike to spot species such as Giant River Otter, pink dolphins (on the Amazon cruise only!) Red Howler Monkeys, Macaws and Yellow-spotted Sideneck Turtles. No matter what excursions you choose, prepare to fully immerse into the Peruvian Amazon in style.

Deciding what portion of the Amazon to visit in Peru can be a difficult one, but don’t stress, that’w why we are here. Your trip designer will listen to your travel desires and will custom-tailor this private Peru Journey just for you.

Overnight Overnight Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

Meals B,L,D

Day10

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Day9

PUERTO MALDONADO / LIMA / DEPARTURE

Tuck into a delicious jungle-inspired breakfast this morning before returning to the Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos airport for your domestic return flight to Lima. Depending on the time of your domestic arrival in Lima and your return flight home that day, either relax at the airport before your connecting flight or we can arrange a private transfer and guide for a Lima city tour and final sunset dinner before you depart picturesque Peru.

Meals B

The Ancascocha Trek and Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

You may not have heard of it, but the Ancascocha Trek is a fantastic alternative to the Inca Trail, ranked as one of the top 25 hikes in the world by National Geographic. Latin Excursions is one of the few operators who can take you on the Ancascocha Trek, venturing along the path less visited to reach Machu Picchu. The journey–which feels much more private and exclusive than the Inca Trail–is just as important as the final destination on this Peruvian trek, meandering through verdant valleys and High Andean mountains, encountering rural settlements and ancient ruins along the way. Hike over the course of four days, covering around 36 miles of jaw-dropping Sacred Valley scenery, accompanied all the while by enthusiastic guides who are on-hand to show you the hidden wonders of this lesser-known trek to Machu Picchu.

Visit our Peru Page
to learn a bit about Peru

Itinerary

Day1

peru-trekking-01

Day1

CUSCO / QEUNAQOCHA

Day one of the Ancascocha Trek starts with several interesting sites being passed on the journey between Cusco, passing the village of Tomacaya to the Hustacancha region, where the trail begins. An early morning departure is the best way to ensure a scenic sunrise along the way, travelling through remote settlements and rolling hills, until reaching the remarkably well-preserved Inca ruins of Tarawasi.

Having then followed the banks of the Apurimac River, arrive in Hustacancha (10,098ft above sea level), before braving your first steps along the Ancascocha Trail itself, with roughly 7.5 miles of trekking ahead. For the initial three hours, take a gradual ascent through native forest and into more open plains, stalking the Lechería River, past Perolniyoq Waterfall and little-visited Inca ruins. Stop for lunch at Yawar Maqi, before continuing the steady climb towards a well-earned camp and warming meal at Qeunaqocha (14,054ft above sea level), surrounded by dramatic landscapes.

Meals L, D

Overnight Qeunaqocha Campsite

Day2

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Day2

QEUNAQOCHA / LAGUNA ANCASCOCHA

Today is a challenging yet rewarding day, with around 7.5 miles of uphill hiking to conquer, though plenty of picturesque mountain views to keep you company throughout. Expect between six and seven hours of trekking, beginning with a three-hour climb towards Accojasa Pass (15,419ft above sea level), the highest point on your Ancascocha Trek. From this vantage point, enjoy panoramic views of Huayanay and the surrounding mountainscape, before an undulating, isolated section of the trail.

Continue on to the Huayanay Pass (15,147ft above sea level) for further spectacular views of the imposing Mount Salkantay, one of the Ancascocha Trek’s many photo-worthy moments, to be admired as you then descend further into the valley, its trickling streams, waterfalls and grassy plains. Finally, a real highlight of this trail comes upon reaching camp at Laguna Ancascocha (13,776ft above sea level); a foreboding high-altitude lake of deep blue waters.

Overnight Overnight Laguna Ancascocha Campsite

Meals B,L,D

Day3

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Day3

LAGUNA ANCASCOCHA / CAMICANCHA / CHILLCA

Day three of the Ancascocha Trek is the longest, with 8.5 scenic miles to cover. However, it’s mostly downhill and passes ancient agricultural plains, so aerial views and steep climbs are exchanged for remote settlements, river gorges and tree-lined trails. Blissfully, even the occasional farmhouse or herdsman does not detract from feeling fully immersed within the remote Andean wilds; only steep mountain ridges, canyons and the green grasslands of Peru’s Sacred Valley in each direction.

This penultimate day takes you initially to the rural community of Ancascocha. A quick stop is in order to meet friendly locals, before descending further into the Urubamba Valley, crossing the Sillque River towards Camicancha; a small collection of farmhouses surrounded by pristine wilderness. Here, take a moment’s rest and push along sloping trails to the traditional village of Chillca (9,069ft above sea level), home for the night and not a fellow tourist in sight!

Overnight Chillca Village

Meals B,L,D

Day4

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Day4

CHILLCA / OLLANTAYTAMBO / SHORT INCA TRAIL TO AGUAS CALIENTES

An early morning start on day four is well worth it, transferring from Chillca to Ollantaytambo, catching a train bound for Machu Picchu. Disembark at the km. 104 railroad stop to complete a section of the Classic Inca Trail, finishing at the Sun Gate for your first glimpse of the Lost City.

A visit to the Chachabamba Archeological Ruins then sets the scene, and from Chachabamba the last leg of your Ancascocha Trek is one to remember; a four-hour hike along the Classic Inca Trail. One of the Inca Trail highlights is Winaywayna, a stunning hillside complex of stepped agricultural terraces and housing, perfectly preserved with unbeatable views of the Sacred Valley too. Next, the Sun Gate and South America’s most iconic site, Machu Picchu. Admire this wonder of the ancient world from afar, before moving down to the citadel, followed by a bus to nearby Aguas Calientes and an evening at leisure, ahead of tomorrow’s fuller exploration.

Overnight Overnight: Overnight Aguas Calientes Hotel

Meals B,L

Day5

machu-picchu-by-kimlmago1

Day5

MACHU PICCHU / CUSCO

Wake up in your authentic, charming guestroom and enjoy an early breakfast before venturing back to Machu Picchu. Uncovering the delights of Machu Picchu with a private guided tour is the best way to do it, before some leisure time later this afternoon to explore further and find your own quiet spots.

You might want to climb up Wayna Picchu, the citadel’s distinctive jagged peak which is a vertiginous, exhilarating ascent. Or, discover the Inca Bridge, reached via a 30-minute trek along the cliffside. This bridge is in fact a gap of 20ft, disconnecting the pathway so that had any unwelcome visitors approached the citadel, Incans would raise the wooden planks and thus prevent any possible entry to their sacred home. Take it all in during your tour, enjoying that free time afterwards to contemplate Machu Picchu by yourself, before returning to Aguas Calientes by bus and onward to Cusco.

Meals B,L

Natural Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands

This expertly crafted, fifteen day itinerary combines the very best of South America’s most alluring and adventurous destinations, the sacred ruins of Peru and the wondrous enchantment of the exotic Galapagos Islands. Begin in Peru’s electric capital of Lima where you visit the city’s main historical highlights. Next, explore the Sacred Valley of Cusco by way of horseback, the Piuray Lagoon by way of stand-up paddle board, and visit the markets and archeological ruins of Pisac. Hike through the famed ruins of Machu Picchu, wander through Incan museums and enjoy decadent meals in scenic settings. The second half of your trip introduces you to the “Enchanted Isles” of the Galapagos, one of the most unique ecosystems on Earth and home to exotic wildlife found nowhere else, by way of combining a stay on land with a comfortable yacht. White coral beaches, volcanic summits and seabird nesting colonies, combined with pristine seas full of incredible marine life and premier snorkeling experiences await you in a true journey of a lifetime!

Visit our Peru Page
to learn a bit about Peru

Visit our Galapagos Page
to learn a bit about Galapagos

Itinerary

Day1

Lima from Miraflores

Day1

Arrive Lima, Peru / Lima City Tour

Welcome to Peru!

Upon arrival, your English-speaking guide greets you outside of baggage claim and takes you to your hotel via private transfer. Most direct flights to Lima from the United States arrive late at night and do a red-eye return, therefore, if you happen to arrive earlier in the day we will help you arrange tours and meals for that day, or you can simply relax at the hotel of your choice.

Overnight Villa Barranco or Hotel B or Similar

Meals None

Day2

SONY DSC

Day2

Lima Barranco Neighborhood Tour

After breakfast at your hotel, your guide will meet you in the lobby to begin a walking tour of the Barranco District featuring stops at the Mario Testino Photography Exhibit, seaside parks, street art, ceviche lunch at a local-favorite spot and more. If you’d like, we can arrange a biking tour instead. In the evening, choose from one of the top restaurants in the world to dine at in Lima, we recommend Central, Maido, AMaz, or Astrid & Gaston (transfer included, but not the cost of the meal).

Overnight Villa Barranco or Hotel B or Similar

Meals B,L

Day3

huayoccari-horseback-riding-latin-excursions

Day3

Lima to Cusco Flight / Pisac / Hacienda Huayoccari & Horseback Riding

Private transfer this morning from your hotel to the Lima airport for your domestic flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, your English-speaking guide will greet you outside of baggage claim and take you to your hotel in the Sacred Valley via private transfer. A short drive away and tucked under the tawny skirts of formidable foothills, lies the beautiful Río Urubamba Valley, known as El Valle Sagrado (The Sacred Valley), home of attractive colonial towns and isolated weaving villages. Along the way, visit the local market and Pisac Archaeological Site, a place of sprawling views, temples, terraces and a collection of Inca tombs.

A memorable lunch at the exclusive Hacienda Huayoccari, full of homemade Peruvian specialties crafted from ingredients grown on the property’s farm, will satisfy and tantalize the taste buds for all the culinary delights still to come. Following lunch, enjoy horseback riding through the countryside. After lunch, settle into your hotel for the evening and soak in the spirit of the Andes.

Overnight Aranwa, Sol y Luna, or Similar

Meals B,L

Day4

Maras-Salt-Flats-latin-excursions

Day4

Exploring the Sacred Valley

Spend a full day discovering the Sacred Valley of the Incas with your private guide: Start with a Stand Up Paddle excursion at the Piuray Lagoon, followed by a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, visit the Maras Salt Flats, which rest on the precipices of the Andes and have been excavated for many centuries. Then enjoy a privately guided hike (approx. 2 hours) from Maras into the Sacred Valley, followed by short (15-min) drive back to your hotel.

Overnight Aranwa, Hotel Sol y Luna, or Similar

Meals B,L

Day5

machu-picchu-latin-excursions

Day5

Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu by Train

This morning, meet your guide at the lobby of your hotel for a private transfer to Ollantaytambo train station. From here, you will continue via train to Machu Picchu with your private guide (~ 1 hr. 20 mins. one-way). The new First Class Train by Peru Rail will carry you through magnificent landscapes, ample with photographic opportunities, to the base of Machu Picchu. After lunch in Aguas Calientes at a local-favorite restaurant, enjoy a bus ride up the winding mountain for a privately guided tour of the Machu Picchu citadel. One of the seven wonders of the world, the “Lost City of the Incas” is true a marvel, magnificently perched at 2,430 meters / 7,972 feet above sea level. After your tour of Machu Picchu, return via train to Ollantaytambo where your private transfer will be awaiting your arrival to take you to your hotel in Cusco, or ask us about upgrading to the Hiram Bingham Train by Belmond.

Overnight El Mercado, La Casona, Palacio Nazarenas, or Similar

Meals B,L,D

Day6

day06-cusco-latin-excursions

Day6

City Tour of Machu Picchu / Return to Cusco

This morning, your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby for a tour of downtown Cusco’s neighborhoods, colonial sites, and more. This afternoon your will have time at leisure to relax at your hotel or explore Cusco on your own.

Overnight El Mercado, La Casona, Palacio Nazarenas, or Similar

Meals B

Day7

downtown night scene guayaquil ecuador south america

Day7

Cusco to Lima Flight / Lima to Guayaquil, Ecuador Flight

Today your journey in Peru comes to an end while your experience in Galapagos Islands awaits. Your guide will greet you at your hotel lobby for a private transfer to Cusco airport where you will catch your domestic flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, continue to board your flight from Lima to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Once you land in Guayaquil, get through customs and collect your baggage before being greeted by our team for a private transfer to your Hotel Olo Verde or El Parque for the evening.

Overnight Hotel Olo Verde, El Parque, or Similar

Meals B

Days8-10

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Day8-10

Arrival in Galapagos Islands

This morning, return to the Guayaquil airport via private transfer for your flight to Baltra Airport in Galapagos Islands. Depending on the time of year you anticipate visiting Galapagos Islands, your destination upon arrival in Baltra will be determined. From December to June we recommend going to Isla Isabela, and Santa Cruz is preferred year-round. Both islands have plenty of adventure activities and natural wonders to discover, please ask your trip designer what option fits you best when planning your dream journey to Galapagos.

Depending on the destination you choose (Isla Isabela or Santa Cruz) choose from an array of experiences and land accommodations that we offer in this custom-tailored journey to Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands. Adventure activities can include volcano hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, wildlife viewing with an expert naturalist, explore lava tunnels and craters, etc..

Overnight Isabela (Dec - June) - Casa de Marita or Iguana Crossing | Santa Cruz (yr-round) - Finch Bay, Safari Camp, or Villa Galapagos 3

Meals B

Days11-15

Sea lion underwater looking at camera

Days11-15

Galapagos Cruise from Isabela or Santa Cruz Island

Depending on where you choose the land portion of your journey (Isabela or Santa Cruz Island) your trip designer will help you choose the perfect boat for your Galapagos experience. We recommend the Coral, Golden Galapagos, Petrel, or Ocean Spray.

Overnight La Casa de Marita

Meals B

Days16

galapagos-destination-snorkler-best-time-visit-latin-excursions

Day15

Baltra to Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador; Return Flight Home

This morning, enjoy the last Galapagos sunset as you will depart your ship and make your way to the Baltra airport for a return flight to Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador and a connecting flight to return home.

Meals B

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to omit any part of this itinerary, to change the order of the places visited, or to alter reservations without prior notice due to weather conditions or road closures, safety concerns, national park policies, or other outside forces that may necessitate revisions to the itinerary. These decisions are based on the traveler’s welfare or are made in the interest of conservation. Please travel with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the spontaneity of your adventure.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B