Sacred Land of the Incas Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

  • Trip code : IGGSQ
  • Trip length : 15 Days
  • Trip starts in : Lima, Peru
  • Trip ends in : La Paz, Bolivia
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : Min 15
  • Meals : 14 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Accommodation : Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Hotel (8 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts)
  • Transport : Boat, Canoe, Plane, Van

 

daily-itinerary1

Day
1

Lima

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2pm on Day 1.

Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

While Peru's capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city's attraction now lies in its well-preserved historical centre.

Your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre - so there's no need for you to visit the downtown area prior to the trip. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro.

If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (approx 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.

Explore the 16th-century monastery of San Francisco which boasts a fresco of the Last Supper that has a distinctly Peruvian flavour: the disciples pictured dine on guinea pig and drink from gold Inca cups. The monastery's catacombs are the real drawcard - they've been Lima's underground cemetery for hundreds of years.

There are many fine museums in and around the city including the Museo del Tribunal de la Santa Inquisicion, which gives a fascinating insight into the Spanish Inquisition.

Visit the Archaeological Museum, which offers a look at Peru's succession of ancient cultures.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)

Days
2-3

Amazon Jungle

Fly from Lima to Puerto Maldonado (approx 2 hrs).

Upon arrival, the lodge staff will take us to their office in town where you'll leave most of your luggage in a safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for our next two nights in the jungle. Then take a motorized canoe up river to our jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area.

Head into the jungle with our local, multilingual guides and encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. We may spot everything from macaws and monkeys to peccary, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies. The guides can also teach us about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants.

After exploring the wilds, it's time to jump back in the canoe and return to Puerto Maldonado.
The lodge is eco-friendly and combines low-impact architecture with traditional native style. Rooms are simple, but comfortable with flush toilets (en suite), showers (cold water only), mosquito nets and kerosene lamps for light.

Accommodation: Lodge (2 nts)

Day
4

Cuzco

Fly from Puerto Maldonado to Cuzco (approx 35 mins).

The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.

Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.

Your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem - where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries - and the local San Pedro market.

The cathedral, built on top of an Inca palace, dominates the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco's picturesque heart. The cathedral is one of the city's greatest repositories of art and houses an elegantly carved choir stall and a silver-covered Neoclassic altar.

There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.

The Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) is a good option if you to visit the many musems in Cuzco. This ticket also includes the archaeological around Cuzco such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Some museums in town, like Contemporary Art Meseum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum can only be accessed by purchasing the Boleto Turistico.

For lunch or mid-morning coffee and cake head to Yanapay restaurant at 415 Ruinas St. This restaurant uses all its profits to support children in Cuzco through Aldea Yanapay and its social projects. For more info on Aldea Yanapay visit: http://yanapay.facipub.com/

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)

Day
5

Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

Visit a local community on route to Ollantaytambo.

The town of Ollantaytambo has been built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.

Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)

Days
6-9

Inca Trail/Machu Picchu

Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail, or stay in Cuzco for another two days before heading by train to Aguas Calientes.

While you are away from Cuzco the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel in Cuzco.
If you are hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco, you'll receive a small duffle bag to pack clothes for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.

If you are travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll have the option to leave most of your luggage at your hotel storage room and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.

INCA TRAIL: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but do come prepared: the trail is 45 km (28 miles) long and often steep. Generally each day's journey consists of 7 hours walking on average (both uphill and downhill), plus stops for snacks and lunch. Normally trekking starts at 7am (except for the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 4-5pm.

Accommodation on the trek is camping (3 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.

Day 1: Today we travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and join our crew of local porters, cook and guide. The starting point of the trek is located at 2,850m. Our first day includes some uphill trekking to the campsite - at over 3,100 m above sea level. Today you will see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail.

Day 2: This is the most challenging day of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 5 hours) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwanusca ('Dead Woman's Pass'), at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending our campsite in Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 m. Next is a climb up to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 3,980 m - approximately 90 minutes uphill from the Pacaymayo Valley. From here we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours). From here it's only a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 m.

Day 3: Continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds', at 3,850 m (approx 90 mins walk). From here we start our descent along Inca steps (2 hours) to reach our final night's camp by the Winay Wayna ('Forever Young') archaeological site at 2,750 m. Grab a drink and enjoy the panoramic views of the valley below.

Day 4: The day starts before dawn with breakfast served nice and early at approximately 4.30 am.The early start serves two purposes, one we farewell our porters as they descend to the train station to catch their 6.30am train home and two, we are ready to start hiking by 6am by when the gate that leads through to the Inti-Punku (sun gate) opens. The walk to the sun gate takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.

Here you will enjoy your first views of the complex of Machu Picchu, often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas. On a clear morning the view from the Sun Gate can be quite stunning and creates a lasting impression that will stay with you long after you return home.

QUARRY TRAIL: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. This hike is 26km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level.

Throughout the trek your gear (and camping gear) will be carried by horses (as opposed to porter).
The first two nights of the trek are spent camping and the third one at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.

Day 1: Today is an early start as we drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas used to venerate the moon. A short drive from here takes us to Rafq'a, the starting point of our trek and where we meet the horsemen that will join us during the hike. After an approx. 1hr walk we reach the small community of Socma.

A further 60min walk takes to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout. This is a perfect opportunity to stop for photos and a snack.

From here we continue on to our campsite, at 3700 meters above sea level. All going well, we should reach our campsite by lunch time. After lunch we set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which used to serve as a check point during the times of the Incas.

Day 2: This is the most challenging but most rewarding day of the hike. A 3hr walk takes us to the top of the first pass, known as Puccaqasa (approx 4370 meters). After enjoying the views of the valley below we walk down for 30min to our lunch spot.

Rested and full of energy again we take on a 2hr hike to the highest pass of the trek: Kuychicassa (4450 meters).

From here we head down for 2hr to a site the Incas called Inti Punku, (meaning Sun Gate) with imposing views over the valley bellow and the Veronica mountain raising over the horizon.
Our campsites is a stone throw away at Choquetacarpo (3600 metres).

Day 3: Day three is all downhill hiking. The first stop is at the Kachiqata quarry, where we witness the work the Incas could not complete due to the Spanish conquest.

Approximately at midday we finally arrive to the town of Kachiqata - the end of this challenging and fascinating trek.

From here we visit Ollantaytambo. In the afternoon we travel by train to Aguas Calientes where we meet with our fellow travellers who didn't hike. The natural hot springs in town are an unbeatable way to spend a late afternoon/early evening. Tonight we overnight at a simple but comfortable hotel.

Day 4: Today we take a very early bus (5:30am depending on weather conditions) along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approx. 30 minutes). In Machu Picchu we join the travellers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail option of this trip before taking on a guided walk of Machu Picchu.

TRAIN OPTION: For those travellers not interested or unable to hike the trail, it's possible to spend two extra nights Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo (approx. 90 minutes) and train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (1.5 hrs approx.) where you spend a third night.

Aguas Calientes is nestled in the cloud forest in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. If you would like to do this please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs that give the town its name.

TRAIN OPTION: For those travellers not interested or unable to hike the trail, it's possible to spend two extra nights Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo (approx. 90 minutes) and train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (1.5 hrs approx.) where you spend a third night.
Aguas Calientes is nestled in the cloud forest in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. If you would like to do this please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs that give the town its name.

Accommodation: Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Hotel (1 nt)

Day
10

Cuzco

Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Rest weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)

Days
11-13

Puno/Lake Titicaca

Travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approx 6 hrs). There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.

Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3,820 m above sea level. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored.

Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including the boats which can last up to 12 months.

To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, we'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay on a local community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.

Our homestay is a mudbrick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, there are shared drop toilets but no showers.

After breakfast the next day, board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island (approx 1 hour), where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. This is a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek of about an hour brings us to the main area of the island and after the visit we descend about 500 steps back to our boat.

Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs).

Accommodation: Hotel (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)

Days
14-15

La Paz

Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero, where we cross the border into Bolivia. The first stop is the Peruvian migration office where you'll be asked to leave the bus and proceed through Peruvian migration. Then walk via a bridge to the Bolivian side, submit your passport at the Bolivian migration office and reboard the bus, which will continue to La Paz. About 30 minutes after crossing the border there's another stop where the army will again check your documents.

The journey to La Paz takes about 5 hours - don't forget that Bolivia's timezone is 1-2 hours ahead of Peru.

At around 3,600 m, La Paz feels like the top of the world. It's not far from it and vies with Tibet for the title of highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)

 

included1

  • Puerto Maldonado - 3d/2n Amazon Jungle stay
  • Cuzco - Coca Museum
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - local community visit
  • Inca Trail - 4d/3n Inca Trail (or Quarry Trail)
  • Machu Picchu - entrance and Guided Tour
  • Lake Titicaca - boat tour & homestay
  • La Paz - Moon Valley

 

optional-extras

  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour - Free
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN12
  • Lima - Urban Adventure - Lima Gastronomic Experience - USD42
  • Lima - Urban Adventure - Road to Pachacamac Biking - USD98
  • Lima - Urban Adventure - Lima Coast Biking - USD45
  • Lima - Urban Adventure - Lima Discovery - USD30
  • Cuzco - Cathedral Visit - PEN27
  • Cuzco - Coricancha Archeological Site - Cuzco - PEN12
  • Cuzco - Cuzco Museum Ticket (Boleto Turistico) - Cuzco - PEN135
  • Ollantaytambo - Ollantaytambo Ruins - PEN70
  • Cuzco - Mountain biking - USD35
  • Puno - Sillustani archaeological site - USD10
  • La Paz - Chacaltaya tour half day - BOB80
  • La Paz - Tiwanaku archaeological site - BOB60
  • La Paz - Urban Adventure - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - USD37
  • La Paz - Urban Adventure - Food With Altitude - USD52

 

not-included1International flights, departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.

 

tripgrade1

Standard

For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for a fun, informative experience.

Style Facts

  • Comfortable tourist class hotels
  • Family homestays
  • Private and local transport
  • More inclusions than Basic Tours
  • Fully trained and experienced leaders.

This tour is operated by our partners Intrepid.

 

visa1A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.Please click here for more information.

 

medical-preparation1We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.

 

Money1Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later

 

travel-insuranceYou must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information.

 

responsible-travel1Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.

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