Peru & the Incas

Warminwanusca - 'Dead Woman’s Pass' on the Inca Trail
The perfect pisco sour?
UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco
UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima
The floating reed islands of the Uros people on the highest navigable lake in the world - Lake Titicaca
The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu
Guinea pig - a Peruvian delicacy
Puno - a town four kilometres above sea-level
Drink like a local in Peru
  • Pack a lot of highlights into just 13 days. See the sights of Lima, spend a night with a local family on Lake Titicaca, walk the high trails to mesmerising Machu Picchu and still have time to chill out in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco with a pisco sour or two!


    Day 1 - Lima

    Your trip starts today in Lima. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Upon arrival at the hotel, please check for a notice in the lobby from your Tour Guide confirming the time and place of your tour briefing and any other relevant information. Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel name and address.

    Day 2 - Lima

    We generally arrange a tour briefing at our hotel first thing in the morning, at around 8.30am. If you are unable to make this meeting, please check at the hotel reception for a message from your tour guide. Your local tour guide will take down the details of your travel insurance. Today is a free day to explore Peru's capital. Your tour guide is on hand to help you arrange any optional sightseeing tours required. Highly recommended is a visit to the colonial city centre, taking in some of the many excellent museums that house priceless artefacts from the ancient Inca and coastal civilisations. The desert city of Lima, once deemed ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’ or ‘The City of Kings’, is a vast buzzing metropolis of over 8 million people. The heart of the city is full with Spanish colonial splendour, fine art and baroque architecture.

    Day 3 - Puno

    We catch an early morning flight to Juliaca and then transfer by bus to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. After checking into our hotel, our afternoon is free for us to wander around and explore the town. Please note that Puno is situated 3830 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may again experience some of the effects of altitude sickness such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If this is the case we recommend that you avoid any strenuous activity and allow yourself some time for acclimatization. According to legend, Puno was the cradle of Inca civilization. The people of this region are descendants of the Aymara, a strong looking people who once ruled the high plateaus. Manco Capac, the first Inca, is said to have risen from the waters of Lake Titicaca and under instructions from the Sun God, founded the Inca Empire. Lake Titicaca at 3815 metres is the world's highest navigable lake and also the second largest lake in South America, covering an area of 8400 square kilometres.

    Day 4 - Lake Titicaca (Amantani Island Homestay)

    This morning we board our boat and travel across the waters of Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands inhabited by Uros Indians. We make a brief stop at one of these unusual islands and then continue across the lake to our homestay on beautiful Amantani Island. This island is more remote than most and not as spoilt as the popular island of Tequile, which has unfortunately felt the heavy impact of tourism. After arriving in Amantani, our tour guide divides our party up into smaller groups and we move into various family homes for our overnight stay. Please be warned that the facilities are quite basic. Many homes have no electricity and the bathroom and toilet facilities are not the best! Despite this, the homestay experience is sure to be a highlight of our trip to the region and offers great opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Puno

    We enjoy breakfast with our host family and then have time to explore the island. There are two mountain peaks on the island that offer excellent hiking opportunities, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth). Along the way terraced hillsides with stone walls, grazing alpacas and the national flower, Cantua, which grows all over the island. The inhabitants of Amantani Island practise a very traditional lifestyle, free from the luxuries of city living and are also renowned for their handmade textiles and ceramics. In the afternoon we board our boat and leave the terracotta red soils of Amantani Island to cross the deep blue waters back to Puno on the mainland.

    Day 6 - Puno - Cusco

    We travel by bus to Cusco. At first we climb up to the Le Raya Pass (4321m), before continuing past the hot springs at tiny Aguas Calientes and descending beneath spectacular mountain countryside. We arrive in magnificent Cusco in the late afternoon. Established on the foundations of the original Inca town, Cusco is a city of contrasts, both modern and ancient. Known the world over for the incredible archaeological ruins of nearby Machu Picchu, travellers flock to this trekkers haven to soak up its awesome culture and beautiful surroundings. At an altitude of over 3300 metres Cusco is also a great place to acclimatise in preparation for the hike to Machu Picchu.

    Day 7 - Cusco

    There is so much to see in and around Cusco. Your tour guide takes you on a walking tour of the central part of town, which includes the impressive Plaza de Armas, the cathedral and the Koricancha Museum. You also have time to make your own discoveries including travelling out to the great Inca sites of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko and Tambo Machay. You may also wish to explore further afield into the beautiful Sacred Valley and visit the market town of Pisac. Utilising these two days and your spare day at the end of your trek to Machu Picchu, there is time to take in all these great sites.

    Day 8-11 - Important Note

    We trek the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Lares’ routes, both of which culminate in a visit to the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu. Although we normally trek the 'Classic' route, it is restricted by the number of trekkers permitted on the trail each day and unless you have booked early, it maybe difficult or impossible for us to secure the necessary group permits (especially during the peak season). It is also closed during the month of February for cleaning and rejuvenation. If we are unable to confirm your permit for the 'Classic' route we will use the ‘Lares’ trail. This is an exceptional alternative. Venturing further off the beaten path, this trek winds its way through remote rural villages and provides stunning views across the Andes Mountains. Along the way you can mingle with local families, llama herders and weavers, renowned for their brightly coloured hats and ponchos. The trek is of similar altitude and level of difficulty as the Classic route and also culminates in a visit to the village of Aguas Calientes and the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The following description refers to the 'Classic' route. Please refer below to the 'Itinerary Variation' section of this trip note for details of the Lares route.

    Day 8 - Inca Trail to Yuncachimpa (13km)

    We leave Cusco by bus and travel over the mountain range and down into the Urubamba Valley to the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress and is one of the few sites where the Incas were able to defeat the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Their success was however short lived, with the Spaniards returning with force to claim victory. Here we have time to gaze upon the massive Inca fortifications before continuing to Kilometre 82 - the starting point of our trek. Today is a relatively easy hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the beautiful archaeological site of Llactapata. Along the way there are stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak (5860m). Our first camp is just past the village of Wayllabamba at 3000 metres.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Inca Trail to Pacaymayo (11km)

    Today is the most difficult part of the trek as we climb to Warminwanusca, or ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ (4200m). This is the first of three Andean high passes we traverse and the highest point on the Inca trail. Stopping to catch our breath we take in the superb panorama of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, the ruins of Runkuracay ahead and Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River) in the valley below. Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways. Although not difficult we still need to make a steep descent to the valley below and our camp at Pacamayo (3600m). Located in a basin beneath the cliff tops, the campsite faces down the valley with a view over the cloud forest.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Inca Trail to Winaywayna (15km)

    We climb up to the unusual, round ruins of Runcuracay which is believed to have been an Inca tambo or post house. Forging on we continue to climb the Inca staircase and sighting the small mountain lake of Cochapata on the way to our second pass at 4000m, from where we are rewarded with spectacular views of Pumasillo (6245m) and the entire snow-capped Vilcabamba range From here it is a steep descent to our third pass and the ruins of Sayacmarca, where we enter the beautiful cloud forest full of orchids, ferns, flowers and hanging moss. The scenery will blow you away! Butterflies flutter across the trail and the air is pure and clean as we head to the breathtaking Winaywayna, (2450m).
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11 - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (5km) - Cusco

    The final leg of the trek to Machu Picchu is the most spectacular of all. We arrive at sunrise at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun, where through a rectangular doorway we experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu. After taking a short path down, it’s time for us to explore! The secrets of the Incas are slowly revealed to us on a guided tour. We depart by catching a bus down to the hot springs at Aguas Calientes and returning to Cusco on a late-afternoon train.

    Day 12 - Cusco

    A free day in Cusco can be spent shopping for handicrafts or taking in some further sightseeing. Cusco is a maze of markets, artisan shops lining the streets and many museums filled with the rich history of Inca art. You might like to try some traditional cuisine- perhaps guinea pig, alpaca steak or ceviche, a raw seafood delicacy marinated in lime. If you haven't yet visited the Sacred Valley, this is your best chance to do so. Your tour guide can advise you on how to get there and show you where the bus to Pisac leaves from. Alternatively, you may just wish to relax and absorb the incredible experiences of the last few days whilst resting in one of the many cafes that line the streets of this quaint and fascinating town.

    Day 13 - Lima

    We transfer to the airport and board our aircraft for the short flight back over the Andes to Lima. Our adventure comes to an end upon arrival at Lima Airport. If you are planning to depart Lima today, we advise that you do not book to depart until at least after 5pm (17:00 hrs).
  • What's Included

    • • Gecko's expert English-speaking local leader, a specialist trekking guide, assistant trekking guide and local guides at some sites.

      • Local flights from Lima to Juliaca and Cusco to Lima.

      • Trek on the ‘Classic’ or ‘Lares’ routes to Machu Picchu with full service camping including porters, cook and equipment (tent and inflatable sleeping mat).

      • Guided tour of Machu Picchu including entrance and park fees.

      • Cusco walking tour.

      • A boat ride to the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca.

      • Homestay on Amantani Island including meals with host family and an exploration of the island.

      • Transfers from the Lima hotel to the airport, from Juliaca airport to the hotel, and Cusco hotel to airport.

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival and 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.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Trip Dates and Prices

    Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Peru & the Incas

    samantha - Australia, 24 Mar, 2013
    Overall Rating

    The hotels we stayed in were comfortable and all modes of transport were arranged and on time. All places of interest added to the cultural experience and our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgable and seemed to really love his country and enjoy his job. The transfer I had arranged from airport to hotel before tour started did not arrive I had to call emergency number at 2am in Lima. Not sure if this was an additional service provided by Gecko's however it was not handled well and if provided by Gecko's needs to be addressed as I was not the only person not met at the airport.

    Peru & the Incas

    vanessa - Australia, 3 Mar, 2013
    Overall Rating

    The guides in both bolivia and peru were amazing, so knowledgeable on their countries, and very friendly. I felt very supported and safe. the tour included good opportunities in each country to see the sites and spend time wiyh the locals. The guides at times chose more expensive options which was dificult at times. The tour was not clear about its tipping which was not included in the tour cost. It was not clear that the cost of our tour did not include Tipping of the guides, porters and chiefs on the inca trail as well as our tour leaders from each country. This was very uncomfortable to discuss and we were not at all aware because it was not clear that this tipping would be an extra charge ontop of all the tour.

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Boat, Bus, Plane, Taxi, Trek
3 nights Full service camping, 1 night Island homestay, 8 nights Hotel

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