Peru experiences two very distinct seasons, wet and dry - terms that are more relevant than "summer" and "winter." Peru's high season for travel coincides with the driest months: May through September, with the most visitors in July and August. May and September are particularly fine months to visit much of Peru.
Peru is in the same zone as U.S. EST (GMT -5 hours).
Nuevo Sol (S/), divided in 100 cents. Coins come in 5,10,20 and 50 cents. Banknotes are in denominations of 10 20 50 100 and 200. US dollars are welcome at most shops, restaurant and services stations at the current exchange rate.
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival in Lima, Peru, please proceed through Immigration and Customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting for you. (Our representative will be holding a sign indicating your last name). Once you are met and assisted, you are transferred to your hotel at the Airport. Country Club Hotel Lima
Day 2: Lima
Late morning, enjoy a great gastronomy experience. Peru is now widely regarded as one of the world’s leading food and culinary travel destinations. It is home to colorful dishes inspired by the country’s dramatically diverse geography, rich ethnic make-up and long culinary history. Today, you will sample and savor some of the flavors that have helped put Peru on the world food map. You visit a local market, some traditional bodegas and artisan eateries that collectively showcase some of the best of Peru’s produce. Discover new ingredients and learn more about Lima’s trailblazing gastronomic status. Begin at a lively, local market brimming with ingredients that are core to Peruvian cuisine, including fish, crucial to the classic Peruvian Ceviche; one of the 3,000 varieties of Peruvian humble potatoes; and Andean “super foods” like cañihua, sacha inchi, maca and kiwicha. We will also introduce you to native fruits such as chirimoya, mamey, and camu camu. We can pretty much promise you will come across things you have never seen before! Pause for a Peruvian coffee break at a local food-haunt such as La Preferida. This particular bodega is located in a quiet residential neighborhood and popular amongst locals for its wide variety of Peruvian classics, which you can sample at the bar, such as mini causitas, olive octopus, balsamic clams, mixed ceviche and mussels to the chalaca served tapas-style.
Then, you drive to the artsy and bohemian district of Barranco to try home-style Creol Peruvian meals such as bread with Silverside fish, stuffed potato, lomo saltado (Stir Fried Sirloin), Cau Cau with bull blood, escabeche and stew. You can also sip on a chilcano, pisco sour or an ice cold Peruvian craft beer. If you still have room for dessert you can head elsewhere to sample decadent chocolates or sweet Peruvian treats like picarones (Peruvian doughnuts) and suspiro de a la limeña. You will have a chauffeur and private vehicle during the tour and the exact locations, order and number of stops may vary. Then, you are transferred to your hotel for check in. Country Club Hotel Lima (B,L)
Day 3: Lima/ Cusco/ Sacred Valley
Today, you fly to colonial Cusco. You are met on arrival and transferred to the village of Pisaq in the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley). On the way, stop for a short visit at Awanacancha, where you will have the opportunity to see the camelids of the Andes – llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos. Alpacas have thick wool and is the most commonly used for textiles while the vicunas are smaller and have delicate fur that is considered the finest in the world. Visit the archeological complex of Pisac with its Inca masonry and stunning terracing that follows the contours of the mountain. Explore the ruins at your own pace. Continue to the town of the same name to experience the sights and sounds of Pisac’s famous market, with its rich array of handcrafts and fresh produce. Sol & Luna Hotel – Casita Deluxe (B,L)
Day 4: Sacred Valley / Chonta / Pincopata Ecocamp
Today, you begin your trek! You are picked up from your hotel at 8:00 am for the trip to Chonta. Along the way, stop to explore one of two archaeological sites: Kuillarumiyoc or Tarahuasi. These sites were important ritual sites during the height of the Inca Empire, and still hold important significance in Quechua society today. Travel through the landscapes of Limatambo Valley. You spot small farming communities along the way. On reaching Chonta, set out on about an hour’s walk along a narrow track with spectacular views of the Apurimac Canyon. You are almost certain to have the trail to yourselves, as most people visit in the area later in the afternoon. At the viewing point, relax and observe the giant condors soaring over the canyon, while you enjoy a prepared box lunch. After lunch, continue to Pincopata Ecocamp.
Upon arrival at the Ecocamp, you are welcomed with a refreshing drink prepared with locally sourced fruits before you go to your comfortable dome. You have plenty of time to take a hot shower and rest until dinnertime, or perhaps enjoy the optional Ecocamp massage service. If resting is not your thing, you can explore the camp’s surroundings. Peru Ecocamp offers optional activities, including horseback riding and mountain biking. The day will end with a delicious three-course dinner, of typical Peruvian cuisine made from the finest natural ingredients. Pincopata EcoCamp (B,L,D)
Day 5: Pincopata Ecocamp / Soray Ecocam
After breakfast, drive 15 minutes to the start of the trail at Marcoccasa. From here, begin with a short uphill walk, before continuing along an aqueduct overlooking the spectacular Rio Blanco Valley and the surrounding snow-capped peaks of the Humantay and Salkantay Mountains. You arrive at Soray Ecocamp in time for a light lunch. This afternoon, you can go on an optional hike to Lake Humantay, at the base of the southern face of the mountain. This 1.5-hour hike reveals breathtaking a glacial lake of the Humantay Mountain. If you prefer a more laidback afternoon, you can schedule a soothing massage or simply take in the stunning views surrounding your camp. Soray Ecocamp (B,L,D)
Day 6: Soray Ecocamp / Salkantay Pass/ Humantay Ecocamp
Today, you experience one of the highlights of this journey – crossing the Salkantay Pass, at 4,664 m/ 15,300 ft. After breakfast, begin the hike along the valley floor, gradually starting the ascent as you cross several small pampas. The challenging final climb to the pass will be rewarded with dramatic views of Mount Salkantay’s rocky southern face. It can be cold and windy at the pass, so make sure to bring the proper clothing, including a warm jacket and a hat. At the pass, celebrate our accomplishment with a delicious picnic lunch before descending to the Salkantay Valley. End the day at the high Ecocamp in Huayracmachay, with extraordinary views of Humantay and Salkantay. Humantay Ecocamp (B,L,D)
Day 7: Humantay Ecocamp / Milpo Ecocamp
After breakfast, start the day by trekking down for about an hour, before heading gradually uphill to a new trail. Enjoy impressive views of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range, including the peaks of Pumacillo and Choquetacarpo. The trail then continues up into high grassy planes as far as the Abra Pass, from where you will see the impressive northwest face of Mount Humantay. You stop to have lunch with views of the Salkantay and the Manchayhuayco valleys and yet more beautiful mountains, including Camas, Abuela, and Yanama. After lunch, trek down to the Humantay River Valley to the next Ecocamp, which is located on the banks of a river. You can use the afternoon to relax at your comfortable camp. Milpo Ecocamp (B,L,D)
Day 8: Milpo Ecocamp / Café Ecocamp
After breakfast, hike down the valley as far as Totora. Part of the hike will be along a country road before crossing the Santa Teresa River. Hike along the left side of the valley, which will take you through the cloud forest with plenty of opportunities to see unique birds and orchid species. Arriving at Huiñaypocco, your transport will be waiting to drive you to Cafe Ecocamp for a special lunch to celebrate your successful trek.
In the afternoon, visit the local coffee plantation where the guide shows you how highland coffee beans are picked, processed and roasted. You will have the opportunity to try some freshly roasted coffee and, if you like, buy some directly from farmer, who grew the beans. Since Café Ecocamp is located in the jungle, the climate is warm and humid, and you will need short and insect repellent. Café Ecocamp (B,L,D)
Day 9: Cafe Ecocamp / Aguas Calientes
After breakfast, you choose from three options for the morning´s activities, depending on your interests. You can select a hike along an Incan trail to the Llactapata Pass at 2,865 m/ 9,400 ft, before descending down to Llaqtapata. This site offers impressive views of Machu Picchu across the river valley. Stop here for lunch before continuing to the bottom of the Aobamba River Valley. Or, you can opt for a drive through Santa Teresa Valley amid verdant plantations of coffee, bananas and other tropical fruits to the Zipline Park. Experts will be waiting to “show you the ropes.” Following a safety talk and instructions, you are ready to soar like the condors across the Sacsara River Valley. Then have lunch. The third option is a bit more relaxing. Drive to the Cocalmayo Hot Springs, just outside the small town of Santa Teresa where clear, steaming water flows out of the rock into the Urubamba River. Relax in these thermal pools.
This afternoon, board the train for the scenic ride to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town), where you’ll have plenty of time to settle into your hotel explore the small, charming town. Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 10: Machu Picchu
After breakfast, your local guide will accompany you on the bus to the Machu Picchu archaeological site. After checking in at the park entrance, you and your guide will relish a full-day tour of these unique Inca ruins. Uncover the mysteries of the sacred Lost City of Machu Picchu during an in-depth walking tour.
Other options during this visit include climbing Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain. The climbs are physically challenging, but the magnificent views from the peak of both mountains make the effort worthwhile. After lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel, you the option to return to Machu Picchu during the afternoon to take more spectacular pictures and explore the historic city at your own pace. The rest of the afternoon may also be spent exploring the traditional artisanal market of Aguas Calientes before dinner. Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 11: Machu Picchu / Cusco
After breakfast, board your train to Ollantaytambo, where you will drive through the Sacred Valley and the town of Chinchero before arriving in Cusco in early afternoon. Belmond Hotel Monasterio del Cusco (B)
Day 12: Cusco / Depart
This morning, you can begin a walking exploration of Cuzco. Set out along streets where the Incas and later the Spaniards walked. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Casa del Almirante (Archaeological Museum), the Plazuela Las Nazarenas, San Blas District, Hatun-Rumiyoc Street, the cathedral and Loreto Street. Stop at Coricancha, the partially restored Temple of the Sun, which was to the Incas at the center of their universe. It once had gold-covered walls, which were stripped by the Conquistadors. Along narrow cobblestone streets, you will pass walls of stone so precisely fitted that they remain in superb condition centuries later, even after many earthquakes. You will also see the university, churches and shops that face onto the Plaza de Armas. This afternoon, you transfer to the airport to board your flight to Lima and connecting flight home. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$700 per person per day.