Days
21
Price from
€2,330EUR

Lima to La Paz. What a guy. Pitter-patter about Lima’s historical centre, spot birds in the Ballestas Islands and swan about lovely Cuzco before taking on the Inca Trek. Machu Picchu, pleased to meet chu. Real life witches in La Paz.

Some popular poses to choose from at Sun Gate include: toasting the view with a beer, picking your partner up Superman style, the Karate Kid crane move and the selfie.


Start
Lima, Peru
Finish
La Paz, Bolivia
Country
Peru
Code
GSAA
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
23 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Were the Nazca Lines sketched by a bunch of aliens with big sticks? With this in mind, jump in an identified flying object (small plane) to form your own assumptions about the origin of these colossal inscriptions

  • The deepest words to ever leave your lips will be 'Colca Canyon' - even deeper than that shallow old canyon in Arizona. And after a day of impressive viewing, there's a hot spring bath ready for you to stew in

  • Walking the Inca Trail is a bit like peeling a really thick orange. The rewards are juicy. Fulfil you aspirations of being a star trekker and enjoy this ancient space when you arrive at the ruins of Machu Picchu

  • Lake Titicaca resembles the type of location created by the designers of Pixar. This unreal setting is your cradle for a night, and you'll spend it in the fascinating home of the Uros people

  • Wicked Witch of the West had her flying monkeys and red shoes. The witches of La Paz have dried llama foetuses and alpaca blankets. Both sound like they're imaginary, but the Witches' Market is a true Bolivian experience

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a lot of travel on local buses, including some long trips and an overnight bus. Bus travel can be tiring, but is also a great opportunity to relax, rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy the scenery.

  • Due to the high altitude of many places we visit some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive a few days earlier to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more information about altitude sickness.

  • There will be a lot of hiking and walking (especially on the Inca Trail which can be quite challenging), so this requires a moderate level of fitness. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘What to Take’ section of the trip notes for more information.

  • You’ll be staying in some very basic group accommodation with shared facilities, especially along the Inca Trail, in the Amazon and on Lake Titicaca (where there are drop toilets and no showers). This is all part of the adventure of being among nature.

Itinerary

Welcome to Lima, Peru. Your adventure begins with a group meeting this evening at around 6 pm, followed by an optional group dinner. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. For those who want to check out Lima before meeting your travel buddies, start at Plaza Mayor (the central plaza of the city) and peep into every building that looks appealing.


Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, 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).
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN15
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Lima - Banco Central de Reserva Museum - PEN5
  • Lima - Pachacamac Tour (30 km from downtown) - USD37
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
  • Lima - Gold Museum - PEN35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning or early afternoon (this isn’t dependent on when you wake up), follow your leader and swagger your way through an orientation of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by old streets of lavish colonial mansions, palaces and churches, stroll past Lima’s architectural gems of Convento de San Francisco (Monastery of San Francisco) and the Archbishop’s Palace. On one side of the city’s main plaza is the cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. In the evening, savour Peru’s modish cuisine in one of Lima’s many eateries. Make your own mind up on what to try, but the ceviche and sushi will put one big smile on your face.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Jump in a taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station, and ride the local bus to Paracas (approximately four hours in total). The bus will stop three or four times on the way, so you don’t have to worry about illusive toilet breaks. The small fishing town of Paracas is the gateway to the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve. Located on the awesome western coastline of Peru, check in to your hotel and head out into Paracas National Reserve. There’s a tiny charge for entering the reserve, but it’s totally worth it. You’re then free as a bird for the evening. A Pisco sour is only is half an hour away, so snake up the coast and chukchu into Peruvian party town.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
If you’re ready to summon the explorer inside you, head out to Islas Ballestas this morning (additional cost). There are loads of optional activities during your visit to Paracas’s best wildlife attraction. Duck your head through amazing caves and spot penguins, seal lions and flamingos from the flexibility of a speedboat. The Ballestas’ are part of the Paracas National Reserve and sometimes known as the 'Galapagos of Peru' – so expect a stunning environment. After you get back from island hopping continue onto Nazca (not the racing cars association in Daytona), which should take you three hours.

As the home to the famous Nazca lines, you’ll find a lofty desert plain with massive designs imprinted into the sand. Animals, insects and birds are sketched, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. Looking down on these vast inscriptions isn’t just a luxury for our winged friends. For an additional cost, head up in a small four/six seat plane for a 30-minute flight over all 26 impressions. Once you’ve worked out your own, conclusive theory about these old drawings, head to your hotel for the night.

Notes: Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. Plastic bags are provided on board, but needless to say, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach.
Optional Activities
  • Ballestas Islands - Guided tour - PEN57
  • Nazca - Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Early in the afternoon, wave goodbye to Nazca and kick back on a local bus to Arequipa (approximately nine hours). Bowing at the foot of the immense El Misti volcano and oozing Spanish colonial charisma, Arequipa rivals Cuzco for the rousing title of Peru's most attractive city. As you’ll be arriving into the city quite late, perhaps grab some food after checking in and relax before tomorrow’s exploration.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
What’s the best part of receiving a watch as a present? Free time. Use your free day getting under the smooth skin of Arequipa. After breakfast, possibly start your day at Monasterio de Santa Catalina for a glimpse into a bygone way of life. The 16th-century convent has a curious past, having once only accepted women from rich Spanish families – leading to the convent’s fortune. From here, call by the Juanita Museum and a look into the cold, dark eyes of the ‘Ice Maiden’. This Incan mummy is a 12-14-year-old girl who died in the 1440s, having been discovered in 1995. Wrap up the last of your investigation with some good ol’ coffee drinking and people watching in the city’s plazas.
Optional Activities
  • Arequipa - Juanita Museum - PEN20
  • Arequipa - Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN45
  • Colca Canyon - La Calera hot springs - PEN15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning head out in a minivan (it’s big enough for humans) to Chivay, which takes about five hours. Get your trigger finger ready on your favourite image machine, as you'll probably see llamas, alpacas and vicunas along the way. After around two hours of driving, you'll have the chance to try some coca tea from local tea stalls. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place of the trip at 4,800 metres above sea level), descend to Chivay town. In the afternoon, your local guide will organise a short trek through the deep, deep, deep Colca Canyon, before soaking your tired toes in the hot thermal baths. Choose to spend your evening getting wrinkly in the baths, munching on exotic steak or throwing shapes to live Andean music at a pena.

Notes: Accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets, however there's no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy (unless you’re the loud one).
Included Activities
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Early this morning, take an optional walk into the canyon to see the how the Andean condor deals with waking up so early. As the world's largest flying bird, this is an awesome opportunity to see this colossal bird catching the worm (it probably prefers something bigger). Following this activity, there will be a short walk around the area before heading back to Chivay. In the afternoon, travel to Arequipa (approximately five hours) and enjoy a free evening to do what you like.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Use your last day in Arequipa making sure you haven’t missed anything. For the culture vultures, mosey on down to Casa Museo Villalobos for a look at the large art collection that’s contained there. If you’re looking for something a bit more hands on, cook up a storm in one of the culinary courses that take place in the city. This evening at about 8 pm, kick back on an overnight bus to Cuzco (approximately 6-7 hours). With seats that recline to a comfortable position and a toilet on-board (high-five), you should be able get some sleep and not have to get off the bus.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The overnight bus rolls into Cuzco at around 7 am this morning. After dumping your luggage off, your leader will take you on a quick walk around downtown Cuzco, San Pedro market, 12 Angled Stone and the main square. The city 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. So you could say it has a bit of history. Steady your legs and acclimatise to the city's altitude, which is 3,450 metres above sea level (please see ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections for more important information). Yanapay Restaurant at 415 Calle Ruinas is an amazing spot for lunch. Not only do they serve up some lovely food, they also use profits to support local children. Legends!
Included Activities
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Cuzco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN135
  • Cuzco - Cathedral Visit - PEN25
  • Cuzco - Coricancha Archeological Site, guided tour - PEN15
  • Cuzco - Half Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to selected archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN75
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today takes you a little closer to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Unwind on a private bus for around two hours through the Sacred Valley, which is on the fringes of Cuzco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Head to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle and activities, and hopefully your visit will coincide with market day (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Comb the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and master the local Quechuan language (a few words will be deemed a success). Continuing on, drive 20 minutes to the town of Ollantaytambo where you will spend the night.
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
Optional Activities
  • Ollantaytambo - Archeological site - PEN70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cuzco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 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’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.

 

Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: 

Today travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3,100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner.

 

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

 

Route 2 Quarry Trail: 

Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3,700 meters above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

 

Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

 

Route 3 Train:

For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, spend two extra nights in Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night.

 

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Included Activities
  • 4 day/3 night Inca Trail. Machu Picchu guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:

This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we ascend a long steep path (approximately five hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:

This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3 Train:

Today, perhaps use your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cuzco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops. 

Meals:
Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:

Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around 2-3 hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the two-hour descent down the Inca steps, which takes you to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:

Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3 Train:

In the morning take the three-hour train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the start of the trip. Otherwise, you might like to while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes.

Meals:
Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:

The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 5.30 am. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as the sun rises (and before it’s packed full of tourists).  

Route 2 Quarry Trail:

Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins.

Route 3 Train:

In the morning at 5.30 am, take a bus up to Machu Picchu. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy some free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cuzco.

Notes: Due to Geckos' internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Included Activities
  • Machu Picchu guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today enjoy free time to relax, shop for souvenirs or see more of Cuzco's sights. Perhaps head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas, or if you're a thrill-seeker, try mountain biking in the hills surrounding Cuzco. In the evening, you might want to chew the fat with the group over dinner.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning travel by local bus for six hours through the Altiplano plateau to Puno. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians. Once you're settled, go on an included visit to Sillustani archaeological site.
Optional Activities
  • Puno - Sillustani archaeological site - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Today you'll take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They're built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. In the evening, enjoy a homestay in a local community on one of the lake’s islands.

Homestays in Peru:

As a responsible travel company, we believe in facilitating positive and meaningful exchanges between our travellers and locals at the places we visit. Homestays are a great vehicle for us to facilitate this!

What will you do during a homestay? Well…it’s hard to tell. As you know a day in a family’s life varies from day to day. We don’t want this experience to feel forced (on you or on them) so we ask families to simply carry on with their lives and that, if there is anything that you may be interested in being part of, they ask you to join in. As such you may be invited to help cook dinner, or to go to the local market for groceries, or to join a soccer game with the kids! While your leader will give you some tools to interact with your family (such as some simple words/phrases in Quechua and/or Spanish) big smiles and lots of sign language can go a long way!

That said, it’s also important that you understand that you are not obliged to participate in these activities. We believe that the more you put in the more you get out of an experience, but we also understand that you may just want to chill out, grab a book or your camera and go for a wander – and that is fine too.

Ultimately, we believe that by simply being there, observing family and friends dynamics is a step forward towards understanding the local way of life.

In terms of facilities, the rooms are clean and comfortable (or as comfortable as they get in this part of the world!) however quite basic. Plenty of blankets are provided. Ask for more if you are cold. Layering up with thin thermals and a fleece material will help during very cold nights too.

Lastly, be aware that homestays in Lake Titicaca have shared drop toilets and no showers. So mind your step!
Included Activities
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the morning board the boat for a visit to Taquile Island, which is a great place to pick up some locally knitted goods. On the island knitting is strictly a male domain, while women do the spinning. An hour’s uphill trek brings you to the main area of the island. Explore the local markets before descending the 500 steps back to the boat. Return to Puno (approximately three hours) and enjoy a free night to do as you wish.

Puno is the hometown of Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813
Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero (just over seven hours) and cross the border into Bolivia. You'll be asked to leave the bus to proceed through Peruvian migration. The group will then walk across a bridge, submit passports at the Bolivian migration office and reboard the bus for La Paz. Approximately 30 minutes after crossing the border, there's another stop where the army will check your documents again. The journey to La Paz takes around eight hours in total. In the evening, perhaps head out for an optional group dinner.
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your Lima to La Paz adventure ends today, as there are no more activities planned. You're free to leave the accommodation at any time. If you have some more time in La Paz before flying out, take a walk around the city's famous Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches' Market. Browse the weird and wonderful stalls selling everything from aphrodisiac potions to dried frogs and llama foetuses. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of markets selling goods made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials.
Optional Activities
  • Coca Museum - BOB8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

19 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Boat, Bus, Public bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (16 nights)

Included Activities

  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • 4 day/3 night Inca Trail. Machu Picchu guided tour
  • Machu Picchu guided tour
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay

Reviews

Our Lima to La Paz Discovery trips score an average of 4.52 out of 5 based on 23 reviews in the last year.

Lima to La Paz Discovery, October 2016

Claire Mckenna

Lima to La Paz Discovery, October 2016

Emma O'Brien

Dates & availability

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Important notes

A good level of fitness and pre-trip training is essential. You will trek on hilly terrain or mountainous terrain at altitudes of up to 4200 metres, for up to 7 hours per day.

Inca trail Permits:
Very Important - In order to obtain the necessary permit to trek the Inca Trail, we must be provided with accurate details of the passport to be used whilst travelling in Peru. If the name, passport number, nationality or date of birth shown on the permit are different from the passport, park authorities will refuse entry. If passport details have not been supplied, the permit cannot be issued. When we are unable to secure the "Classic Trail", our groups take the "Quarry Trek". This also applies during February each year, when the Classic Trail is closed for restoration.

BOLIVIAN VISA FOR U.S CITIZENS
Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border.
Please see the visa information on these trip notes for more information.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.