Explore the beauty of the Cusco, Puno and Arequipa regions
This tour – designed for those who want to take their time, delve into different cultures, understand a new way of life and truly experience Peru. Journey through some of the most enchanting areas of Cusco and Puno, combining the classic ´must see´ spots with off-beat and unexpected destinations. Finishing at the white city of Arequipa, this is a tour for those who love travel, diversity and activity!
You will wander the streets of beautiful colonial cities, hike among snow-capped peaks and colourful mountains, explore ruins from Inca and pre-Inca civilizations, visit the highest navigable lake in the world, watch your coffee as it comes straight from the bean to your cup, trek through the jungle and watch the sun as it casts shadows over the awesome Lost City of Machu Picchu. All of this in an 11 day, fully organized package!
Minimum number of participants: 2
Day 1: ARRIVAL TO CUSCO
Today is an easy day of sightseeing that allows everyone to acclimatize to the altitude before we start the more active section of the tour.
Believed to be the centre of the world (specifically, its belly button) at the time of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the historical capital of Peru and showcases a fascinating mix of Inca and Colonial architecture. We have crafted this part of the tour to take you to some of the lesser known sites in the city, giving you an insider´s look at one of the most visited places in the world.
Max altitude: 11975 ft (3650 m)
Overnight stay in Cusco
Day 2: PISAC - OLLANTAYTAMBO (SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS)
Leaving Cusco in the morning, we will arrive in Pisac at an animal sanctuary which cares for animals rescued from the black market. Learning more about the animals that reside in this area of the Andes is fascinating, it gives us a taste of some of the wildlife we can hope to see over the course of the tour. Next, we will make a short trek along a section of the original Inca Trail which will bring us to the Inca ruins above the town of Pisac. From here we will head back down into the town to visit the market. In the afternoon we will go by private transport to the hotel in the Sacred Valley of The Incas near Ollantaytambo, where we will spend the night.
Max altitude: 12139 ft (3700 m)
Overnight stay in the Sacred Valley
Day 3: OLLANTAYTAMBO - PATACANCHA
Breakfast will be served at 7:45 am. Once everyone has finished eating, we will leave the hotel and make our way to the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo, from which we can glean some insight into the way of life at the time of the Inca Empire. From Ollantaytambo will travel by private car for about 45 minutes to Patacancha Valley, where we will visit the local Andean community of Huilloc. At 2:00 pm we will embark on a trek of roughly 3 hours from the Patacancha Valley back to Ollantaytambo, passing by the pre-Inca ruins at Punamarca while enjoying breathtaking views of the Andean landscape. Arriving back in Ollantaytambo at around 5:00 pm, you will have free time to rest and reflect on the day´s activity.
Max altitude: 12139 ft (3700 m)
Overnight stay in Ollantaytambo
Day 4: JUNGLE TREK AND COFFEE PLANTATION
An early breakfast will be served at 5:30 am. As early as possible, we will begin trekking through the high jungle during which we will stop at a local coffee plantation. This is an amazing chance to gain insight into the secrets of small-scale coffee production in Peru, where only the highest quality Arabica beans are used. Caffeine-fueled, we will then continue our walk through the jungle. In the afternoon today you will have an opportunity to go rafting in the river of Urubamba (this is an additional option and needs to be booked in advance, it is not included in the price of the tour).
Max altitude: 14173 ft (4320 m)
Overnight stay in the coffee plantation (very basic conditions)
Day 5: JUNGLE TREK TO AGUAS CALIENTES
We will start the day with a breakfast at 7:20 am. At around 8:00 am we will drive in a private car for approx. 45 minutes to the start of the trail. Today´s trek will be divided into 2 parts. The first part takes us along the Inca trail, and will take approx. 3 -3.5 hour. After the first part of the trek you will have an opportunity to rest and relax in the thermal baths near the town of Santa Maria. The second part will start in a place called Hydroelektica and will lead us to the town of Aguas Calientes – the base from where we will explore Machu Picchu! This will take about 2.5 -3 hours of walking. In Aguas Calientes you will have the evening free to explore the town and rest – keeping in mind that we have a very early start on the next day!
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Max altitude: 16561 ft (2000 m)
Overnight stay in Aguas Calientes
Day 6: MACHU PICCHU
Day 6 is dedicated to exploring the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu – Peru´s most famous site! Inside the ruins there are many options available to you. You can hike one of the two small peaks, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you can even walk to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) and/or Inca bridge.
You will start the tour to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes where you will take an early morning bus to the site´s entrance (with this option, an additional fee for the bus ticket is required) or you will walk there (around a 1-1.5 hour trek).
In the ruins you will have a 2 hour guided tour, giving you an overview of the history and culture of the Inca Empire, as well as the spiritual, political and educational importance of Machu Picchu. After the tour you will have time to explore the site on your own until about 5:00 pm (you also have the option to leave earlier if you wish). Inside the ruins there are multiple options available to you.
You will make your own way back to Aguas Calientes via bus (with this option, an additional fee for the bus ticket is required) or on foot (around a 1 – 1.5 hour trek), from where you will take a train to Ollantaytambo. We will arrive in Ollantaytambo at around 8:30, giving you some time to explore the pleasant town.
Max altitude: 10006 ft (3150 m)
Overnight stay in Ollantaytambo
Day 7: MORAY – SALINERAS DE MARAS – CHINCHERO – CUSCO
The seventh day is an awesome and unforgettable immersion into the local culture of the Sacred Valley! Today you will explore Inca archeological sites, a traditional Inca salt mine, and mystical agricultural terraces. You will also participate in a textile lesson, meeting members of the local community. You will be amazed at just how many things there are to do and explore in one day! Take advantage of the day to really experience and enrich your knowledge of local Andean traditions, crafts and customs.
The day starts with breakfast at 7:00 am. Afterwards, at 7:40 am, we will drive approx. 50 minutes to the first spot we will visit today, the archaeological spot of Moray. We will walk through the ruins for about 45 minutes and then we will drive for about 20 minutes to the next destination, Maras.
We will take a short pause in this small town and learn about the production of the popular Andean beverage,´chicha de jora´ (corn beer). We will also have the chance to walk around and explore the town’s quaint and beautiful streets!
After Maras, we will visit a salt mine in Salineras de Maras, that has been in use since Inca times. We will go there on foot following an easy and relaxing trail for approx. 1 hour. Along the way we will be able to enjoy some spectacular views of the Cordillera Uubamba! Once we arrive at the salt mine, you will have a chance to walk through more than 3000 salt ponds and learn about the methods used to process and produce the salt – methods which have been used since the time of the Inca Empire.
From Salineras, we will drive for about 45 minutes to the last destination of the day, the lovely town of Chinchero. Here we will participate in an interesting lesson about the local textiles of the region.
After a full day of different activities, we will reach Cusco at around 4:00 pm – leaving you plenty of time to discover the restaurants and nightlife of this beautiful city!
Max altitude: 12417 ft (3785 m)
Overnight stay in Cusco
Day 8: QUESWACHACA BRIDGE – PUYA RAYMONDI FOREST – LAKE TITICACA
Today we will visit the most unique spots between Cusco and Lake Titicaca: Queswachaca bridge and the forest of the huge Puya Raimondii.
We will start the day with the breakfast at 5:30 am. First we will go by private transport to the Queswachaka (Q´eswachaka) Bridge – a UNESCO world heritage site. We will arriving there at 9:30 am. After a short, 45 minute trek we will reach one of the most unique sites Cusco has to offer. We can see Inca engineering at work in the 21st century and take a walk across the Q´eswachaka Bridge! Sustaining ancient traditions over centuries is no small feat, but it is managed spectacularly by local Quechue communities in the Cusco region. Four Quechue communities unite themselves every year in order to rebuild the bridge completely from scratch. The secrets of this design and construction process are handed down from generation to generation and their aim is to maintain exactly the same style and materials that were used more than 500 years ago by Inca engineers. Thanks to this tradition and the strong will of the 1,000 people who participate in the bridge´s annual reconstruction, we can step away from the history books and enjoy an interactive experience of Inca culture.
Next, we will travel to a forest full of the Andean Queen, Puya raimondii! Puya raimondii is the largest plant of bromeliad species, reaching up to several meters in height. It grows exclusively at altitudes of 10500 ft (3200 m) to 15750 ft (4800 m) above sea level, and is only found in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. In a time when our planet is at such risk of deforestation, global warming and environmental damage, it is truly awesome to behold such rare and beautiful plants in their natural habitat! Known as the Queen of the Andes, they live up to their regal title! During the next part of our trek we pass through Qhapaq Nañ trails, along which we will have fantastic views of the surrounding landscapes before arriving at our next destination, from which our private transport then takes us to Lake Titicaca and the Tinajani Canyon.
After visiting the forest of Puya Raimondii will arrive go to Lake Titicaca, where we will arrive at 7:30 pm. The journey in the car from the forest to Lake Titicaca will take around 3.5 hours.
Max altitude: 12631 ft (3850 m)
Overnight stay near Lake Titicaca
Day 9: LAKE TITICACA – PENISULA CAPACHICA – AMANTANI ISLAND
Breakfast will be served at 7:30 am.
Moving away from the Andes into the region of Puno takes us into a completely different, but equally unique culture of local communities living around Lake Titicaca. During our time at the lake we will visit mummies from the Tiawanaco culture, meet locals from the Uros community of the famed floating islands, and hike to the highest point of Amantani Island from where we can enjoy incredible views of Lake Titicaca as the sun sets.
Today you will enjoy a homestay with a local family in Amantani, sharing both lunch and dinner with them!
Max altitude: 13615 ft (4150 m)
Overnight stay in Amantani Island (local family homestay, no private bathroom and no hot water)
Day 10: ISLAND AMANTANI – AREQUIPA
We will enjoy breakfast with a local family in Amantani island at 7:30 am. At 8:30 am we will go by boat to Capachica Penisula. From the Capachica Penisula we will travel by private car to visit Sillustani near Puno. From Sillustani we will drive for about 5 hours to Arequipa via private car.
We arrive in Arequipa at 6:00 pm for a pleasant evening of leisure.
Max altitude: 7874 ft (2400 m)
Overnight stay in Arequipa
Day 11: AREQUIPA
After breakfast, at 9:00 am we will visit the main attractions in Arequipa, the White City. The local guide will take you to the most important sites in this beautiful city and giving you an overview of its history and culture, including the museum of Juanita, the Cathedral, and the Santa Catalina Monastery.
Max altitude: 7874 ft (2400 m)
Your “Cusco, Puno and Arequipa Highlights” tour will end this day in Arequipa. If you would like to stay in Peru longer and explore more, feel free to contact us. We are happy to modify our tours so that they meet your tastes and expectations.