Take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Its the chance to take your own 4x4 trip to Machu Picchu. Your expedition vehicle allows you to explore way beyond the normal tourist path, and makes for an unforgettable adventure. Furthermore, you can also add on a further week or more at our own Galapagos Beach Hotel to experience the best of South America. Our guide vehicle will travel with you throughout the trip, and will provide back up and communication services, along with local liaison. From luxurious suites, to off the beaten track lodges-we had great fun choosing the accommodation for our tours. Rather than making a beeline for generic hotel chains, we sought out some places that have a bit of spice. Places that have qualities you'll remember long after you've returned home. Some are luxurious, some are rustic, and some are simply unique. We can also provide a private driver for you if you prefer not to drive.
Day 1 (Lima)
The Casa Andina Hotel is situated in the Miraflores district of Lima, with time for dinner, a stroll along the seafront park, and a good night’s sleep prior to the start of your journey.
Day 2 (Lima - Paracas - Nazca)
This sacred lagoon, ringed by palm trees and hidden among massive dunes, draws sand-boarders and dune-buggy riders from all over the world. We offer a fast and fun optional sand buggy trip out across the huge dunes, and if you wish you can try out fun Dune Surfing for 2 hours. (We highly recommend this option with lunch).Around sunset, we will head off road into the desert to find the mystical Mummies of Chauchilla.
We spend the night at the Hacienda Majoro, an elegant historic hacienda, set in the Nazca desert, with courtyards, pools, and beautiful decor recalling the origins of indigenous cultures but with a Spanish twist. Peacocks and Alpaca roam the 60 acre grounds, and after dinner here, you can star gaze on the patio before turning in, ready for your drive to into the mountains around Chalhuanca next day. Don't forget the exciting optional flight next morning over the Nazca lines in a small plane, its not to be missed.
Day 3 (Nazca - Chalhuanca)
From here, we drive towards Puquio which offers both Incan and Spanish architecture, with lots of tradition. The winding trip takes 3-4 hours and in the first 90 kilometres, you ascend 4000 meters above sea level. This will be your first encounter with altitude and coca tea. The landscape gets greener and more spectacular as we ascend.
The wool of vicuñas is considered the finest in the world; some call it the gold of the Andes, and you can see these charming animals as we transit the Pampa Galeras National Wildlife Reserve. Located 95 km from Nazca and 3650 meters high, it is the main conservation center for Peru’s vicuña and alpacas that are adapted to the extreme cold of the Andes. You can also see eagles, pink flamingos and the occasional majestic condor. As we head higher into the clouds, the route is dotted with lakes and snow- capped peaks, and we will take a picnic break near to Chalhuanca. Here, wild Alpacas keep us company, with a landscape of golden pampas grass and lagoons.
We then descend to a lodge for the evening at Tampamayu, located next to the Chalhuanca River in a magnificent gorge, half-way between Nazca and Cusco.
Day 4 (Chalhuanca - Cachora)
With stunning views of the snow capped peaks of Mount Salkantay towering over the nearby Apurimac Gorge (the worlds deepest canyon), our accommodation is a traditional private rustic Peruvian lodge. With lush tropical gardens and the buzz of humming birds collecting pollen, the peace of this secluded location is quick to charm. The house offers tremendous vistas, with full length windows and a cozy log fire.
Everything served here is freshly produced on the farm from avocados to mangos, and honey to fresh cows milk, cheese and yogurt. This is the gateway to the recently discovered lost city of Choquequirao. The name translates as ‘cradle of gold’ and its remote location, two days’ walk from the here, adds to the deserted citadel’s appeal.
We offer a remarkable (optional) 4x4 drive and 30 min trek to the peak overlooking the Apurimac gorge and the lost Inca city of Choquequirao in the distance.
The view, stretching for 40 miles and whisped by low puffs of cloud, is truly monumental. An afternoon (optional) horseback ride is also great way to take in the views.
Day 5 (Cachora-Cusco)
Incan majesty and Andean baroque exist side-by-side in Cusco's ancient stone streets, and we will spend three full days in this area for you to take in just some of the many highlights here, with museums, palaces, and incredible Inca ruins.
In Cusco you can select from our options list of great activities (see below) including the Vista Dome Rail journey to Machu Picchu, with lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary. Here, we will enjoy a charming 4*hotel and converted convent close to the main Plaza, among the narrow winding cobbled streets. A five minute walk takes you to the old Plaza de Armas of the Inca Capital.
Day 6 (Cusco)
This easy going hippy-chic town with its rich colonial and Inca heritage is ideal to explore on foot. Along its narrow cobbled streets you will find artisan craft stalls, colourful market places, and peaceful plazas to relax with a coffee.
Dinners are not included in Cusco, to give you chance to sample the great range of Peruvian cuisine and street life around Cusco, without any timetable. We can recommend a range of great eateries where you can sample the best of Peruvian cuisine.
Day 7 (Machu Picchu)
Machu Picchu is a majestic 15th-century Inca site, and the view will take your breath away. Located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains it sits 7,970 feet above sea level and overlooks the Urubamba River hundreds of feet below. Machu Picchu lay hidden from the world for such a long time because its location is so remote. The nearest town is Aguas Calientes which is located down in the valley. There are no roads that connect Aguas Calientes to the outside world, so the only way in is by train.
This is no ordinary rail journey. The Vista Dome service has large panoramic windows in the roof allowing you to enjoy the deep forested gorge that flows towards the Amazon basin, and take in spectacular mountain scenery on one of the world’s classic railway journeys.. The site’s excellent preservation, the quality of its architecture, and the breath taking mountain vista has made Machu Picchu one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world today.
The site covers 80,000 acres and the buildings you will see were made without mortar (typical of the Inca), their granite stones quarried and precisely cut. We return to Cusco via rail late afternoon.
Day 8 (Cusco Options Day)
The Rio Urabamba valley is simply beautiful, and is known as the scared valley due its Inca heritage. Dotted by attractive colonial towns and isolated weaving villages, the area is home to many Inca sites of importance and some stunning scenery.
You can head to Pisac market, a world famous cacophony of sounds and colours making this the most vibrant of the Andean market towns, with a nice walk up to the archaeological site. You can head to the unique and somewhat "offbeat" Inca sites of Maras and Moray. Alternatively, if you need an adrenalin fix, you could opt to take our popular full day River Rafting down the Canyon, a thrilling experience that offers 2 unforgettable hours running the rapids on the upper Urabamba river.
Finally, for keen walkers we offer the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (for your day 7 & 8 from Cusco). This is a good alternative to get to know at least part of the famous Inca trail.
Day 9 (Cusco - Andahuaylas)
It’s an isolated area of subtropical forest and huge mountains and serves up some truly spectacular roads.
Home to endangered species such as the Spectacled Bear, and the Andean Condor, bromeliads and orchids abound around this little explored region and we will picnic at the ancient stone of Saywite, an intriguing secluded Inca sacred site, in lovely surroundings.
The route then takes us on dirt/mud roads via Piramide Sondor, and its remarkable views, along Lake Pacucha, to hotel accommodation in the small town of Andahuaylas.
Day 10 (Andahuaylas - Ayacucho)
We pass through Andean Indian villages located on the windswept plains with breathtaking views overlooking the snow-capped peaks beyond. Locals still go about their business in traditional dress and frequently travel by horseback.
We then head down into Ayacucho. Richly decorated churches dominate the vivid cityscape & houses are hung with wooden balconies. Ayacucho has authenticity and history, dating back several centuries to its colonial heyday.
We will enjoy an overnight stay in this attractive town at a lively café-hotel, overlooking the Plaza and Cathedral. It has a great restaurant that serves some excellent local dishes and the town has 32 churches, cobbled streets, so is a delight to stroll around and enjoy its colonial atmosphere and culture.
Day 11 (Ayacucho -Pampas)
This road requires concentration and a steady nerve, before a steep ascent on an equally challenging track (peaking at 5000m) before a descent to the Casa Hacienda San Juan, owned by our family, situated near to Pampas.
This historical colonial building and hacienda sits in beautiful countryside, and is only accessible by 4x4. With its own church in grounds and elegant terraces this is very different from a normal hotel or lodge.
It offers a great optional horseback ride into the mountains next morning. Comfortable accommodations and a wood fired oven dinner in the evening, followed by drinks around a roaring log fire ensure wonderful ambience.
Day 12 (Pampas-Tarma)
Again, we enjoy spectacular scenery and roads, arriving mid- afternoon into Tarma. This area is the center for flower growing in Peru, and a colourful colonial town set in a lush valley between the high Andean mountains with lovely views on all sides. An overnight stay at this rustic hacienda, with its own chapel in the courtyard includes a hearty dinner in the fresco clad dining room. A log fire, and local Pisco liquor make the ideal nightcap before our descent to the jungle next morning.
Day 13 (Tarma-Pampa Hermosa Jungle Reserve)
The precipitous track cuts into the gorge between waterfalls and follows a narrow track for 2.5 hours.
This 28,000 acre rain forest preserve is a mecca for birdwatchers. Among many vibrantly colourful species found here is the wonderful Peruvian cock-of-the-rock bird, as well as macaws, parrots and toucans.
On arrival we can take a refreshing shower at the jungle waterfalls, and then take the trail down to the river, for a secluded picnic lunch. A short walk into the jungle allows us to witness the enchanting pre-sunset display of the cock-of-the rock males who gather at this hidden location daily.
The river gorge with its tropical hardwoods, gives a real taste of the steamy rain forest and rare bird life, river otters, monkeys, and deer can all be spotted from the trail. At Sunset we descend to San Ramon village and a river-side lodge.
Day 14 (Jungle - Tarma)
We then continue to Tarma and time allowing we will enjoy a traditional Peruvian Pachamanca. It's basically a dish buried under the ground and cooked over hot stones for about 3-4 hours. Cooking Pachamanca is a traditional way of paying homage to Pachamama (mother earth, earth goddess).
Pisco is to Peru, what Whisky is to Scotland, and you can sample this fiery spirit by the log fire after dinner, with some travelers tales of your Peru adventure to round off your day. Tarma is the family Hacienda and has a rich history within its adobe walls.
Day 15 (Tarma-Lima)
Day 16 (Lima Farewell)
Your PERU Holiday is all inclusive, with the exception of flights, fuel, and the below options:
- Nazca Lines Flight
- Desert Sand Buggy and Dune Surfing Tour with Oasis lunch
- Machu Picchu Superior - a Guided tour, via Vista Dome train & Belmond Sanctuary lunch
- Cusco & Sacsayhuamán Historic Tour
- River Rafting Trip
- Sacred Valley Highlights-Quechua Handmade Craft Center, Wildlife Refuge, and Pisac Andean Market
- Moray & Maras-Sacred Valley Inca Salt Mines and Inca Experimental Agricultural Site
- Horseback Ride at Pampas, Hacienda San Juan
- City Dinners in Cusco/Ayacucho/Lima (various options)
- Lunch final day at Larcomar (various options)
- Private Driver/Guide (on request)
*Fuel in Peru is inexpensive (approx. £2.35 per gallon). Normal trip cost approx.£130 per vehicle.
Many clients prefer to arrive one day earlier into Lima (or stay one day later) to enjoy the city and be well rested before their overland tour departure. We are happy to reserve an extra night for you on request (£140 per room).A detailed itinerary with all relevant details will be issued 12 weeks prior to your departure date along with any travel updates and advisories. You will find an FAQ page on our website http://www.perusafari.com/faqs/ and we are always here to answer any questions at any time before or after your booking, via telephone or e mail. Questions about ATOL protection click here