Peru off the beaten path: Southern Peru
Peru is a country which never ceases to amaze those who explore it. Whether it is your second or third time visiting our wonderful country, get ready to experience it again as if it were your first time and embark on a journey of rediscovery! We’ll take you along hundreds of kilometers of lesser-travelled routes, from remote Andean communities to the enigmatic citadel of Machu Picchu, through stone forests, canyons, lakes, waterfalls and sacred mountains. Discover the warmth and authenticity of Andean communities, soaking in thousands of years of tales and traditions. Are you ready to expect the unexpected?
- Hike through lagoons and waterfalls in the Nor Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve
- Get amazed by the finest artwork of local artisans at Ayacucho and the Mantaro Valley
- Visit the Amantani Island at Lake Titicaca and learn about their Andean Lifestyle
Welcome to Lima, The City of the Kings
Welcome to Peru and Lima! Upon arrival, you will be greeted by our local staff and transferred to your hotel in Miraflores, where you are free to relax and wander around at your own pace. Depending on your time of arrival, we have plenty of suggestions for you to make the most of your first day in the city.
After check-in, we’ll hand you your travel kit and have a short briefing to answer any last-minute questions.
The Must-Sees of Lima & Journey from Lima to Lunahuana
This morning or afternoon, we pick you up from your hotel and depart on a tour that will take you back in time through the Colonial and Pre-Hispanic stages of Peruvian history. Our first stop will be at the Larco Museum. The collection exhibited at Larco features the most beautiful gold, silver, and ceramics from ancient Peru and offers the perfect introduction to Peru’s millenary history. After, we head to Lima’s City Center to have a look at its imposing architecture. Here, we will visit the 16th Century Santo Domingo Convent and have a look at Lima’s main square. We should be returning to our hotel around 1 pm, just in time for some lunch!
In the afternoon, we begin our 3-hour journey south towards Lunahuana, located in the picturesque Cañete Valley, about 40km inland. Once at our beautiful riverside hotel, we’ll check-in and maybe try some local shrimp for dinner (not included). We suggest having an early night today to be full of energy the next morning for our journey to Huancaya. We want to leave Lunahuana at around 6:30 am, right after breakfast.
Scenic Journey from Lunahuana to Huancaya & The Love Forest
Early this morning, at around 6:00, we prepare to travel to Huancaya, our base town, to explore the fantastic Nor Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve. We’ll be driving east into the mountains on a beautiful 5-hour ascent to Huancaya. On route, we’ll see how the arid coastal surroundings slowly change into more colorful landscapes. When approaching Huancaya, we’ll pass by Pikicocha lagoon, where we can stop to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery. From here onwards, we head for the village of Vilca along a route full of breathtaking views of green lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful turquoise lagoons.
Once at Vilca, we take a bridle path leaving the village for about 1 hour to reach the spectacular Papacocha waterfall. Locals know this area as Love Forest Cascades because of its great beauty. Here our guide will explain the importance of forest conservation and the harmonious relationship between man and nature in this Karnak queñual forest. After enjoying some time in the area, we’ll return to Huancaya to spend the night at a local family homestay in the village.
Hike from Huancaya to Carhuayno Falls & Hualhua Lagoon
Today, we’ll enjoy an easy hike from Huancaya to the beautiful Carhuayno falls and Hualhua lagoon. We’ll be taking a local path across emerald lagoons and waterfalls. It’s also quite common to bump into local villagers working in their fields and terraces, some of which go back to pre-Inca times and are still in use. After a small rest in Carhuayno, we can continue walking for another 20 minutes to reach the Hualhua lagoon, from where we can enjoy astonishing views of the valley.
If we are lucky and the little boat of the community is available, we’ll be able to paddle in the lagoon to reach the falls of the same name. We will have some free time to explore this natural paradise and take landscape photographs. Afterward, we return to Huancaya and, in the evening, light a fire while enjoying some of the local myths and legends.
Farewell Pachamanca in Laraos & Journey to the Mantaro Valley
Today enjoy a close look at the prehispanic terraces in Laraos, still in use nowadays. There are thousands of platforms from the top of the hills to the river below. After the impressive views, we’ll get ready to experience a traditional culinary experience called Pachamanca, which in Quechua means Earth Pot. Pachamanca is a traditional cooking technique where the food is prepared underground using preheated stones and leaves to separate the components from the soil.
This dish is an essential meal in which local people interact with the Pachamama or Mother Earth. We’ll be participating in the entire process, from harvesting the tubers, to finding the right herbs and stones. Finally, we’ll enjoy this farewell meal before continuing our journey to our next destination, the Mantaro Valley.
The Artisans of the Mantaro Valley & Drive to Pampas
The Mantaro Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys of the Central Andes. From here, we’ll start our journey to Pampas, a green valley on the eastern slopes of the mountain range.
During the journey, we will have the chance to spend some time at the Mantaro Valley, which is home to different artisan villages in its picture-perfect countryside. One of the most interesting ones is Cochas Chico, where we will meet Eulogio Medina, one of the most recognized and talented artisans in the Mantaro Valley. He will show us the process that each art piece requires to deliver gorgeous carved gourds or Mates Burilados.
At Pampas, we’ll be staying at the Pamuri Andes Lodge, a beautiful manor house in the middle of the charming countryside.
The Accos Inca Trail & Pampas Exploration
Today, we will enjoy the Andes at its fullest! After a buffet breakfast, we’ll start our day with a hike to an ancient Inca Trail located in the Atocc community. We’ll first have a 45-minute drive south from Pampas to the start point of today’s adventure. From here, we’ll start our 3:30 hour hike to the trail, part of the path network that connected the Inca’s Empire throughout the whole country. After exploring the site, we’ll return to our lodge to have a delicious home-cooked meal.
This afternoon will be free to enjoy the surroundings or, if you wish, join any of the local activities Pamuri Andes Lodge offers. You can choose from yogurt and cheese making, tree climbing, mushroom harvesting, or a warm and cozy campfire. You can request any of those activities at the lodge.
Scenic Drive from Pampas to Ayacucho
This morning, after a delicious breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to our friends from Pamuri Andes Lodge to start our journey to our next destination, Ayacucho.
Today’s drive is approximately 220km of scenic Andean landscape and should take us most of the morning. Upon arriving at Ayacucho, we’ll check into our hotel in the city’s Main Square, overlooking its stunning colonial church, and have the rest of the day free to rest and enjoy the city on your own.
Retablos and Artwork of Ayacucho
Ayacucho is well-known for its fantastic artwork around the whole region. We will spend this day visiting some of the most important craft workshops in the city.
After breakfast, we’ll pick you up and go to meet Marcial Berrocal, a skilled artisan from Sarhua. This beautiful community maintains the ancient tradition of offering and using beautifully painted wood beams in the construction of their houses. Nowadays, the artisans have brought their art to smaller wooden board to depict typical activities and traditions of rural life.
In this hands-on program, you will learn about the history and making of a Tabla de Sarhua. Of course, you’ll have the opportunity to paint your very own Tabla and bring them back to your friends and family!
After that, we’ll have an hour’s drive to Quinua, a small town famous for its beautiful pottery. We will visit Limaco, a fascinating workshop before heading to a local countryside restaurant for a delicious lunch.
Finally, we will return to Huamanga and enjoy the rest of the afternoon free. If you feel like continue exploring, we can have a short visit to the Joaquin Lopez de Antay Museum. Here, we can find a great showcase of the famous Retablo Ayacuchano.
Scenic drive to Andamarca, Thermal Springs & Scissors dancers
Heading five hours south from Huamanga is located Andamarca, a small town enclosed by sacred mountains with a rich pre-hispanic legacy in the Sondondo Valley. Today, we’ll start our journey to this charming town in one of the most stunning drives of the trip.
On route, we will make a stop at Pachapupum, an extinct volcano, and thermal springs, where we can get in and relax under its warm waters before continuing to Andamarca.
We’ll be arriving in Andamarca this afternoon and check in to our basic but lovely hotel in the center of the city. Hundreds of impressive pre-hispanic terraces surround this charming town that locals still rely on for agriculture. Tonight, we will enjoy a marvelous display of the local culture and folklore in charge of the traditional Danzaq or Scissors dancers.
Mayobamba’s Condor Viewpoint & Andamarca Terraces
Early this morning, we will leave our hotel and head on a 30-minute drive to Mayobamba’s Condor viewpoint. Here is the perfect spot to admire the astonishing Andean Condor flying only a pair of meters above us due to the multiple platforms that shape this part of the Sondondo Valley. After a picnic breakfast at the lookout, we’ll dive back to Andamarca to explore the town. We’ll first have a 3-hour trek to the top of the terraces that surround Andamarca as we learn about their prehispanic origin and the Incas occupation in the area. Here, we will enjoy some of the best views of this valley.
We will go back down to the town to enjoy a well-deserved lunch or relax next to the river. If you still have energy, we can make a short walk and visit Caniche, a prehispanic site only 10 minutes away from the main square. Finally, we will enjoy a delicious farewell pizza night to top it all off.
Pampachiri, Bizarre Stone Forest
This morning, after an early breakfast, we’ll prepare for our 4-hour drive to Pampachiri in the Andahuaylas region. The road will take us through high Andean scenery as we reach the small village of Pampachiri. Once here, we’ll settle into our hotel, and, after some free time for lunch, we’ll leave the town and head south along the valley. The small but steep valley crosses very slowly, surrounded by wild and beautiful countryside. Eventually, we’ll enter the Stone Forest of Pampachiri, one of the most unusual and impressive landscapes we’ll ever find in Peru.
Here, the volcanic activity over centuries has formed bizarre cone-like rocks that vary in size from just a few centimeters up to 4-meter height. The combination of the grey and red cones with blue skies and deep green vegetation growing naturally in the area makes this visit very unique. We’ll have some time to explore this fantastic area with the chance of spotting llamas, alpacas, and even vicuña herds in the proximity. Finally, we will return to our hotel to enjoy a nice rest.
The Apurimac Canyon & The Chonta Viewpoint
Today, we’ll continue our off-the-beaten-path journey getting closer to Cusco every day. After breakfast, we’ll prepare for the longest day of our trip, but don’t worry, it’s well worth the effort! As we leave the Pampas Valley, we drive along the Pachachaca river to Abancay. Then, we’ll pass by Sayhuite and the Apurimac river, the official border between the provinces of Apurimac and Cusco. We will continue our journey to our countryside hotel in Limatambo, where we will settle in and relax for a while.
This afternoon, we can hike to a local site known as the Chonta viewpoint. On a bright afternoon, you can see up to twenty condors from here. However, if we are unlucky and don’t get to see them, the scenery and the snowcapped mountains in the distance are well worth the visit.
Drive to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Killarumiyoq & Chinchero on route
This morning, we’ll finally make our last stride into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Peru’s most popular attractions near Cusco. During our 125 km drive, we will show you a couple of interesting sites.
We will first stop at Killarumiyoq, the Quechua name for Stone that has a moon. The small less-visited Inca site has some unique rock carvings. We will spend some time here before continuing our trip to Chinchero. In this friendly town, we’ll have the chance to visit a textile workshop in charge of the women of the village. They will happily put on a marvelous presentation about how they made their masterpieces using camelid and sheep wool, as well as natural dyes. Finally, we continue our journey to Yucay, an enchanting Inca village where we’ll spend the night.
Andean weaving workshop at the Parobamba Community
Today, we will live an incredible and unique day with some families from Parobamba, a community in Paucaurtambo specialized in textiles weaving and recognized with the certificate of excellence by the UNESCO. It will be a day full of adventure, knowledge, and sharing!
We will pick you up from your hotel and drive towards Calca, at 30 minutes away from Urubamba, where they own a textile workshop. Once in Calca, our hosts and artisans will welcome us as they show us their local costumes that have been kept alive and passed through generations. They will share with us their unique and traditional knowledge of the weaving technique using waste looms, camelid fibers, and natural dyes from Andean plants, such as chapi, kuchu, motte motte, yanali, awaypite, sunka, tiri, and chilca.
At midday, we will share a tasty regional lunch with the community, made with local organic products. Afterward, we’ll start our hands-on program, in which we’ll learn to weave and dye textiles! Our hosts will provide us with all the materials and tools we need and assist us during the lesson. Finally, we will thank our friends of Parobamba and start our drive back to your hotel.
Ollantaytambo Fortress & The Lost City of Machu Picchu
Today, after breakfast, we’ll visit the Ollantaytambo archaeological site, an impressive Inca complex that protected this area of incursions from the Amazon Basin. Here, we’ll take time to walk along its cobblestone streets while looking around the village. Next, we’ll head to the Ollantaytambo train station to board our train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). Upon arriving, we’ll take a 30-minutes bus up the steep zigzagging road to Machu Picchu Citadel, located on an impressive mountain setting.
The afternoon is the ideal time to take our guided tour around the main areas of the citadel, as most travelers should already be leaving the site at this point. We’ll have a 3-hour guided excursion to have a better understanding of Machu Picchu and the Incas culture. Our guide will be happy to answer all the questions you may have. Finally, we will return to the Aguas Calientes town to spend the night in a comfortable hotel.
• Be sure to be at the train station 30minutes before your train departure.
• Please don’t forget to bring your passport with you, since it will be required when entering Machu Picchu.
Train Journey from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo & Transfer to Cusco
This morning, after a long but fun day in Machu Picchu, we can sleep in and have a late breakfast. Then, at the coordinated time, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo, from where we will transfer you to your hotel in Cusco city.
The rest of the day is free for you to wander around by yourself. We’ll be more than happy to give you our best recommendations for restaurants, shops, and additional activities in Cusco.
Cusco Walking City Tour
Today, we’ll embark on a four-hour walking city tour which will take us not only through the most touristic sites in Cusco such as the Main Square, Cathedral and Koricancha (Temple of the Sun); but also along ancient streets, local markets, and old neighborhoods to discover the magic of Cusco.
The rest of the day is free for you to wander around by yourself. We’ll be more than happy to give you our best recommendations for restaurants, shops, and additional activities in the city.
Qeswachaka hanging bridge, Cuatro Lagunas & drive to Puno
This morning, we’ll get ready to start our route towards Puno. Instead of taking the most traveled roads, we have a unique and more authentic path planned to show you more hidden places around the area. Shortly after setting off, we’ll pass by Oropesa, a well-known town in southern Cusco famous for its traditional huge bread called chuta. We will make a short stop here to taste some of this delicious bread and take a look at the baking process.
We will continue our journey through Cuatro Lagunas or Four Lakes, a beautiful area surrounded by peaceful and shimmering waters full of huallatas, flamingos, and many other birds. After enjoying the scenery, we will head to Quehue district, where Qeswachaca, the last remaining Inca bridge in Cusco, is placed. This Cabuya hand-woven bridge spans across the Apurimac River and represents a cultural treasure of how traditions and knowledge have been handed down through many generations.
Our route to the next destination will proceed with stunning views of snow-capped mountains in the background until we arrive at Tambo Queque Norte, an Andean country manor from the colonial times. Once here, we’ll be able to relax while our hosts show us around and treat us to a delicious farm-to-table dinner.
Tinajani Canyon, Puya Raimondii Forest & Sailing to Amantani Island
Today, after a delicious breakfast, we’ll finally leave Tambo Quequenorte and drive towards Lake Titicaca and the Capachica peninsula. Our road will take us through the Tinajani Canyon, an area with plenty of peculiar reddish rock formations that produce spectacular scenery well worth admiring.
Then, we’ll start ascending to an area called Tarukani, famous for its Puyas Raymondii. Puya is a unique endemic plant that only grows at over 3000 m (9843 ft) of elevation in the highlands against the dryness of its conditions, on shrubby and rocky slopes. Some of them can grow up to 12 meters and produce over 8000 flowers and 6 million seeds!
Next, we will continue our drive to Capachica, from where we’ll board our boat towards Amantani Island in Lake Titicaca. Upon arriving, the residents of this island will welcome and invite us to their houses. After having a simple but delicious lunch, we will have the afternoon free to walk and explore around the main square. At night, we can share some time with our host family before resting in our charming homestay.
Exploring the Amantani Island, Pachamanca & Mother Earth’s Offering
Today, we will spend the day exploring the island and learning from the local villagers about their traditions and lifestyle. After having a simple but delicious breakfast, we’ll take a short hike to the ceremonial sites of the island: Pachatata and Pachamama. From the top of those mountains, we will appreciate the panoramic views of the lake and terraces.
For lunch, we’ll get ready to enjoy a traditional culinary experience called Pachamanca, which means Earth Pot. This ancient cooking technique has the food prepared underground using preheated stones and leaves to separate ingredients from the soil. The main elements are Andean tubers like potato, sweet potato, olluco, oca, and mashua, as well as beef or lamb along with Andean aromatic Herbs for flavor. Tonight, we can join a local celebration and participate in a Pachamama offering ceremony.
Leaving Amantani & Flight back home
Today, we will have the morning free to enjoy some relaxing time at the shores of the lake or venture into other activities. For example, you can hike a little further along the countryside overlooking the lake or join your host family in their daily activities if you are feeling curious!
After a farewell lunch, it’s time to say good-bye and take our motorboat back to Capachica. From here, we’ll drive you to Juliaca’s airport to board your flight back home.