Authentic Peru Experience
Get ready to experience Peru like a local, discovering its wonders and soaking in its beauty in the journey of a lifetime. We’ll take you on an off-the-beaten-path adventure to the long-lost citadel of Machu Picchu, combining soft hikes along spectacular sections of the Inca Trail with relaxing swims in hot springs and lodging in homestays with local families, who will teach you ancient techniques used in coffee and cacao plantations. Broaden your horizons by joining Seledonia in a culinary master class to discover the secrets of Peruvian gastronomy and then learning traditional textile techniques from the “Weavers of the Andes”. From Cusco, we’ll continue to Puno and experience Lake Titicaca’s millenary culture by staying with a local family, Luquina Chico, in an authentic homestay. If you’re an explorer and discoverer at heart, looking to get a real feel of our gorgeous Peru, this trip is just right for you!
- Learn the secrets of Cusco’s culinary traditions
- Explore an off-the-beaten route to Machu Picchu
- Join locals in an authentic community at Lake Titicaca
Arrival to Cusco and free day
Upon arrival to Cusco airport, you’ll be met by one of our representatives and transported in a private shuttle to your hotel. We’ll have a short briefing to go through all the details of the program together, and you’ll receive a travel kit with your vouchers, day by day details, maps and our top picks for local restaurants.
We suggest taking it easy the first day so you can slowly acclimatize to the altitude. Our guide will be more than happy to recommend you restaurants, local markets, shops, museums and other interesting spots that tailor to your interests so you can visit some of these places at your leisure.
Culinary experience in Cusco with Seledonia
Ready to get a taste of Peruvian gastronomy? Today’s culinary experience will take us to Cusco’s local market, “San Pedro”, where we’ll have a brief introduction to the variety of local products that can be obtained from this region and the nearby Amazon rainforest. You’ll have the opportunity to taste exotic fruits that can only be found in Peru, with delicious flavors and many health benefits, such as lucuma, chirimoya, granadilla, pacay, pepino and aguaymanto. Together with Seledonia, a local young chef who’s devoted her life to cooking, you’ll explore every corner of the and buy the products needed for the cooking class; then you´ll head to her kitchen to learn and try the most popular and tasty dishes of Cusco and Peru! And if you’re up for a drink, she’ll also teach you to prepare Peru’s flagship cocktail, Pisco Sour! You know what they say… when life gives you lemons, book ticket to Peru and learn to make Pisco Sour.
After your culinary experience, you’ll have time to rest and relax for a while and in the afternoon, our guide will take you through the main attractions of the city, such as the Cathedral or Koricancha “Temple of the Sun”, whilst exploring ancient streets and traditional neighborhoods, discovering the magical heritage of beautiful Cusco.
Pisac market and textile workshop at the Amaru community
Today, prepare to be immersed in an amazing cultural experience: we’ll take you to the Sacred Valley’s Highlands where you’ll share the day with villagers in a quiet Andean community. You’ll be picked up in the early morning and be driven around a very scenic route to the Urubamba Valley. Our first stop will be the picturesque town of Pisac, greeting us with its colorful market, where you’ll find all kinds of products, from fresh fruit and vegetables to intricately artistic locally-made handicrafts. Pisac is a favorite place to find souvenirs at great prices. We’ll then continue our excursion to the Andean community of Amaru (approximately 40 minutes away), a traditional, off-the-beaten path village where ancient traditions are still alive in daily activities, namely weaving, agriculture, food, cooking and even the clothes worn by the locals. Here, you’ll be taught to weave first-hand by the warm-hearted local villagers. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy an exquisite lunch prepared with local Andean produce, such as native potatoes, Peruvian corn, kiwicha, quinoa and aromatic herbs, after which we’ll be transported to the village of Ollantaytambo and have the rest of the day free to relax.
Ollantaytambo fortress and Pachamanca experience
This morning we’ll start our day with a nice breakfast and a picturesque walk to the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo. This impressive Inca complex is one of the best-preserved examples of Inca architecture in the world, and it is said to have protected the area from invasions from the Amazon Basin. We’ll also be able to explore Ollantaytambo’s village and its colorful, cobblestone streets. Our day’s excitement will continue with a traditional Andean experience when we participate in the cooking of a “Pachamanca”. Literally translated as “Earth Pot” from the Quechua language, Pachamanca is a traditional technique where food is prepared below the ground with pre-heated stones and covered with banana leaves to protect the ingredients from the soil. A typical meal will usually consist of potatoes, sweet potatoes, fava beans, corn, oca and other Andean native products, as well as beef or lamb and Andean aromatic herbs.
In the afternoon, you’ll have some time off to rest or keep exploring Ollantaytambo at your leisure. We recommend going on a short hike to Pinkuylluna, located on the mountain opposite of Ollantaytambo, and believed to have been Inca storehouses for crops that were harvested in the surrounding agricultural terraces. The 30-minute long, free hike is definitely worth the effort, especially as you’ll have unparalleled views of the village and the fortress of Ollantaytambo. Another option is for you to relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee in the village.
Coffee route to Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo to Huayopata
At the coordinated time, we’ll leave Ollantaytambo and head to Huayopata on a public bus. Our drive will take us along a paved road in excellent conditions, framed by beautiful scenery. Get your cameras ready for when we reach Abra Malaga, the highest point on the route – it’ll be surrounded by queñuales tree forests and the stunning Veronica snow-capped mountain.
The route is also a paradise for birdwatchers who are bound to find various endemic species such as the “Churrete Real”. Once we start descending we´ll enter into the cloudforest and eventually arrive to Huayopata. On arrival, we’ll meet our host family and be invited to visit their plantations, namely for cacao, coffee and some native fruits and vegetables. We’ll share lunch with the family and after that, we’ll participate in their agricultural activities of the day, such as harvesting coffee beans (the activity depends on the season).
At night, we will enjoy dinner with our host family, “Julia and Jose”, and their lovely kids.
Coffee route to Machu Picchu – Huayopata to Huacayupana
In the early morning, we’ll take a taxi ride for about 45 minutes to the starting point for today’s hike. Here we can choose between two options: either a beautiful 2.5-hour hike through a section of the Inca Trail, or a shorter and easier 1-hour option. On both hikes, we’ll be surrounded by beautiful flora and impressive views. Then, we’ll arrive to Huacayupana, where our host Alejandro Perez will be waiting for us with a delicious lunch and refreshing lemonade. In the afternoon, proud ”cafetalero” Alejandro Perez will explain to us how top-quality organic coffee is made, narrating the whole process from bean to cup; he’ll also share stories about his life on the mountain ridge. Something you’ll find very interesting is that in order to provide coffee plantations with shadow, farmers grow other crops like bananas, citrus fruits, avocado and mango, aside from corn and beans. Finally, in the evening we will share experiences with Alejandro’s family, have dinner and rest in their traditional lodge constructed with adobe, “mudbricks”.
Coffee route to Machu Picchu – Huacayupana to Aguas Calientes
After having a healthy and delicious breakfast, we’ll continue our trek to Santa Teresa. The trek takes between three to four hours, and we’ll be able to appreciate a large variety of flower species on route. Upon arrival, we can visit the hot springs of Cocalmayo and the Coffee Cooperative Huadquiña, before continuing our journey by taxi to the local Hydroelectric Station, from where we’ll enjoy a 3-hour walk next to the railroad that goes to Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Town). When we get there, we’ll have the rest of the day free to relax and get ready for the highlight of our trip next morning: Machu Picchu.
Discovering Machu Picchu
Today is the big day! Early in the morning, we’ll take a 20-minute bus up the steep, zigzagging road to Machu Picchu Citadel, located on an impressive mountain setting. We’ll first have a 3-hour guided excursion so we can have a better understanding of Machu Picchu and the Inca civilization. Our guide will be happy to answer all the questions you may have. Afterwards, you’ll have free time to continue exploring every corner of the ”Lost City of the Incas” at your own pace. After visiting Machu Picchu, you’ll return to Aguas Calientes where you can have lunch in a good restaurant (not included) before boarding your return train back to Ollantaytambo or Cusco, from where a private car will be waiting to take you to your hotel.
Day at leisure in Cusco
This morning, after a long but fun day in Machu Picchu, we can sleep in and have a late breakfast. We’ll have a completely free day to enjoy the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. Explore the streets, plazas and markets of this UNESCO World Heritage City at our own pace. We’ll be happy to give you plenty of recommendations so you can make the most of your day.
Scenic bus journey from Cusco to Puno
Our journey will continue on a beautiful bus ride, departing from Cusco and heading towards the city of Puno. Picturesque roads will take us through charming Andean towns, populated with herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas, all framed by breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains and blue skies. We’ll make a few stops along the way, such as Pukara, La Raya, Racchi and the famous Andahuaylillas Church, the latter one nicknamed as the ”Sistine Chapel” of America. We’ll also stop on route to have a buffet lunch which includes both an Andean and international menu. In the afternoon, we’ll arrive to Puno.
Lake Titicaca - Floating islands or Uros, Taquile and Luquina chico
This morning, at around 7am, we’ll get ready to board our private motorboat and navigate through Lake Titicaca. After about 40 minutes, we will reach the floating reed islands of the Uros Community, where we’ll have the chance to learn about their unique, traditional lifestyle with a visit to two of their floating islands. Afterwards, we’ll continue towards the Island of Taquile, where we’ll have some time to relax and explore this beautiful place. Taquile is also a traditional community, where we’ll be able to admire their typical, colorful clothing, as well as their unique, knitted and woven textile handicrafts. Lunch will be served at a traditional venue overlooking the lake and, in the afternoon, we’ll head towards the little town of Luquina, located at the Chucuito Peninsula. From the town’s location on the tip of the peninsula, we’ll have great views of the lake and Taquile Island. On arrival, we’ll meet our host families who will show us around their land. This afternoon, we’ll have some free time to walk along the shores of Lake Titicaca or maybe embark on an additional activity such us fishing, sailing or hiking to one of the nearby viewpoints (sailing may require an additional payment to the local boat owners). By night, we’ll dine with our hosts. It’s a really enriching experience to learn about the local culture and share personal stories with them. The accommodation is at a local and charming homestay with nice facilities and a breathtaking view of Lake Titicaca.
Spending a day at the shores of Lake Titicaca – Luquina Chico
Today we will have the morning free to enjoy at the shores of the lake or you can also get immersed in the local culture by helping your host family in their daily activities, mostly related to farming and agriculture. Alternatively, you can ask for a biking, kayaking or sailing activity but you should request this in advance so we can make the respective arrangements. At noon, we´ll have a delicious buffet lunch based on regional cuisine and afterwards we’ll return to Puno by motorboat.
Sillustani tombs and return to Lima
Today, at the coordinated time, we’ll head to Juliaca’s airport to board your flight to Lima. On route, we’ll visit the archaeological site of Sillustani, located at the shores of lake Umayo. This visit will allow us to explore something a bit different to what we’ve found at lake Titicaca. We’ll be visiting an amazing burial site made up of towering, cylindrical tombs called ”Chulpas”. Most of the tombs are from pre-Inca times, however, after the Incas conquered the Pukaras in the XVth century, they continued building Chulpas. Sillustani is an area full of energy and mystery. After the short tour, we’ll continue to the airport.
- What’s Included
- Brief presentation prior to departure
- All transfers and transports with the exception of domestic flights
- Train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or Cusco
- Bus tickets (Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes)
- All excursions and entrance fees
- English-speaking guide
- Accommodation and specified meals