Overview

Machu Picchu is usually a must on every trip to Peru, but have you ever heard about Vischongo, Pampachiri, or the Apurimac Canyon? Join us on a scenic route to discover the Central and Southern Andes to see a side of Peru you have never even heard of before. Learn the traditional artwork from the master craftsmen of Ayacucho, walk among a forest of hundreds of Puyas, and enjoy breakfast at pre-hispanic terraces. Get lost in the beauty of Pampachiri forest and end your trip with the always stunning Machu Picchu. Let us show you the hidden jewels of Peru!

Why we love this trip!

  • Discover hundreds of pre-Inca terraces in Sondondo Valley.
  • Walk amidst the stone forest of Pampachiri.
  • Explore the always stunning Machu Picchu.

Itinerary day-by-day

Day 1: Welcome to Ayacucho & the Retablo Museum

Welcome to Ayacucho! On arrival, we’ll greet you and go together to your hotel. Ayacucho is rich in Andean art, and today we will begin to experience it. We’ll visit the house of the Lopez de Antay family. Joaquin Lopez de Antay was the first artisan to be recognized officially as a master artist in Peru. Before, the local craft was not art; it was a title that was exclusive to non-native expressions. Joaquin’s amazing Retablos helped change this preconception. Peru is now proud to showcase hundreds of local art pieces throughout the country in all its forms and colors. At the Lopez de Antay house-museum, we will learn about Retablos from the artists themselves.

Day 2: Discovering the Artwork of Ayacucho

Ayacucho is well-known for its fantastic artwork. After breakfast, we’ll meet Marcial Berrocal, a skilled artisan from Sarhua, a town where the tradition of gifting painted beams to the newly wedded continues. These beams are a symbol of friendship and depict their families and local activities. Marcial will show us how to make small Sarhua beams, which we can then take with us. Afterwards, we head to Quinua, a small town famous for its pottery. Here, we will visit the Limaco workshop to learn how to prepare their traditional pieces. Finally, we return to Huamanga, and if you feel like it, we can visit the Joaquin Lopez de Antay Workshop and Museum to learn about the famous Retablo Ayacuchano.

Day 3: Puya Raimondi Forest & Vilcashuaman

South of Ayacucho, we find Vilcashuaman, an area that is home to some of the most exciting destinations in the region. We’ll be exploring this location today. First, we head to the highlands of Vischongo to visit the vast forest of Puyas de Raymondi. Puyas are endemic plants that only grow on shrubby and rocky slopes in the highlands. Some of them can grow up to 12 meters, have 8000 flowers, and produce over 6 million seeds! We then continue to Vilcashuaman village, where we’ll find the remains of one of the most important Inca administrations that still stands. An Inca building you see here and won’t find anywhere else is the Ushno, an imposing Inca stone pyramid that commands the village.

Day 4: Scenic drive to Andamarca, Pachapupum Thermal Springs & Scissors dancers

Andamarca, our next destination, is a small village enclosed by the mountain’s history-rich Sondondo Valley. To reach it, we must cross some dramatic Andean scenery on a five-hour journey. On route, we will make a stop at Pachapupum, a bizarre thermal formation in the shape of a volcano. There are some rustic but beautiful thermal springs here, where we can relax for a while. We’ll arrive in Andamarca this afternoon and check in to our basic but lovely hotel in the center of the village. Hundreds of pre-hispanic terraces surround this town that locals still rely on for agriculture. Tonight, we will enjoy a marvelous display of the local culture by traditional Danzaq or Scissors dancers.

Day 5: Mayobamba’s Condor Viewpoint & Andamarca Terraces

A 30-minute morning drive will take us to the Mayobamba Viewpoint. From here, we have commanding views of the valley and steep surrounding mountains that make this site perfect for Andean Condors. We enjoy picnic breakfast here while gazing at these birds flying right in front of us. A little later, we’ll set off on a 3-hour hike to the top of the mountain terraces surrounding Andamarca. As we walk, we’ll learn about the prehispanic peoples that inhabited the area and the Inca occupation. Finally, if you still have energy, we can visit Caniche, a large pre-Inca site located only 5 minutes away from the town square. To top it all off, we’ll have a farewell pizza dinner tonight.

Day 6: Journey to the Bizarre Stone Forest of Pampachiri

Prepare for another fantastic drive through the remote Andes to Pampachiri in the Andahuaylas region. Once in town, settle in your cozy hotel in this small village to rest for a while. Then, when ready, we’ll set off to visit the Stone Forest of Pampachiri, one of the most surreal landscapes we’ll ever find in Peru. Here, volcanic activity over centuries has formed bizarre cone-like rocks that vary in size from just a few centimeters up to 4-meter. The combination of the grey and red cones with blue skies and deep green vegetation growing naturally in the area makes this visit unique. We’ll have time to explore the area and maybe spot llamas, alpacas, and even vicuñas here.

Day 7: The Apurimac Canyon & The Chonta Viewpoint

Our beautiful off-the-beaten-path journey is bringing us closer to Cusco every day. This morning, we prepare for the longest day of our trip, but don’t worry; it’s well worth the effort! As we leave the Pampampachiri, we’ll follow the Pachachaca river towards Abancay. We’ll pass by Sayhuite and reach the Apurimac river before crossing into the Cusco region. Finally, we’ll reach the warm and sunny Limatambo valley where we’ll rest at our country house hotel for a while. This afternoon, hike to a local site known as Chonta viewpoint. If lucky, we can see up to twenty condors flying over the canyon here. However, the canyon views alone are already well worth the visit.

Day 8: Drive to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Misminay & Moray Terraces

Finally, today we’ll reach the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Peru’s most popular attractions near Cusco. However, we will show you some alternative points of interest along the way. We first stop at Killarumiyoq (moonstone in Quechua). This small Inca site has some very unique rock carvings you won’t see elsewhere. We then make way to Misminay, a friendly community where we’ll have a typical lunch. After, we’ll hike to the Moray lookout, from where we will be able to observe this unique famous Inca site. This viewpoint is part of the Misminay community; therefore, only travelers who visit them can reach it.

Day 9: Ollantaytambo Fortress & Andean Pachamanca

Start your day visiting Ollantaytambo, a charming village that has not changed much since Inca times. This town is famous for the Ollantantaytambo archaeological site, a place with impressive Inca stonework only seconded by Machu Picchu. For lunch, enjoy a traditional Peruvian food called Pachamanca. Pachamanca, which in Quechua means Earth Pot, is a traditional cooking technique with the food prepared underground using preheated stones and leaves to separate ingredients from the soil. The main components are tubers, beef, or lamb, and aromatic Andean Herbs for flavor. Finally, we’ll return to our charming hotel in Urubamba to spend the night.

Day 10: Train journey, Machu Picchu Exploration & Return to Cusco

Machu Picchu, Peru’s most famous destination, awaits you today. First, we journey by train, besides the meandering Urubamba to Aguas Calientes. From here, a 30-minute bus up ride leads us to the iconic Inca site. On arrival, we head to the terrace sector for amazing views and an introduction to what we know about Machu Picchu. After, we explore together every corner of this magical place. Depending on your interest, the entire activity lasts between 2 and 3 hours. Finally, we return to Aguas Calientes, where you will have free time before boarding your return train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, our private transport will be waiting to take you to Cusco.

Day 11: Cusco Walking City Tour

Strap on your walking shoes and prepare for a soft stroll around Cusco’s historic center. Our walking city tour will take us not only through the most touristic sites in Cusco, such as the Main Square, Cathedral, and Koricancha, also known as Temple of the Sun. You will walk along ancient streets, local markets, and old neighborhoods where you will discover the magic of Cusco. This hike is the perfect way to get a more authentic feel of this fantastic city and its people.

Day 12: Departure Day

Today, we’ll have some free time to take a last walk around Cusco’s shops and markets. Then, at the coordinated time, we’ll head to Cusco’s airport to board your flight to Lima and international connecting flights to your next destination.

What’s included?

  • Personalized attention before and throughout your trip.
  • Brief presentation prior departure.
  • All transfers and transports.
  • Entrance fees.
  • Local English-speaking guide focused on personalized trips.
  • Accommodation at well-thought hotels according to your travel style.
  • Mentioned meals.

What’s not included?

  • Services not specified in the program, extras & tips.
  • Domestic flights.
  • International flights.
  • Travel Insurance.

    Inquire about this trip

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