President’s Pick Hidden Trails of Peru

President's Picks | Big Five Tours“Beyond the Inca Trail, there are so many unknown routes that provide windows and glimpses into that ancient empire. These are trails that even many locals don’t know about.  This is the real Peru, the story that remains to be told.”

Ashish Sanghrajka

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President’s Picks




Price starts at 450.00 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.



Tour Highlights/Full Description

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  • In Lima, explore Peru’s culinary roots that rose out of the country’s dramatically diverse geography, rich ethnic traditions and long culinary history when your visit a local market, traditional bodegas and artisan eateries.
  • Take in the traditional village of Pisaq in the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas and its archeological complex with ancient Inca masonry and stunning terracing that follows the contours of the mountain.
  • Kayaking on the Lake Huaypo and trekking to Maras and Moray
  • Board the noted Vistadome train to travel to Aguas Calientes, passing through an evolving landscape of spectacular scenery, mountains vistas and the beautiful Urubamba River.
  • Set out on amazing hiking experiences that include traveling along the stone-paved Inca Trail to the community of Ccorca as well as Huaccoto Community, and up to the top of Wanakaure Peek.

Day 1: Lima, Peru
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival in Lima, Peru, proceed through immigration and customs before  claiming your luggage. Exit the customs hall where a representative from Big Five welcomes you and assists with your transferring to your hotel. Villa Barranco is in an old republican house from the 1920s, which has been restored with great care, respecting the architecture and original art. Barranco sits in a cultural, bohemian and artistic neighborhood of Lima, and is one of the best boutique hotels in the city. The location is magnificent for its tranquility and is just four blocks from the Plaza de Barranco and excellent restaurants. Villa Barranco – Junior Suite Superior

Day 2: Lima
Having exploded onto the global food scene, Peru is now widely regarded as one of the world’s principal food 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, sample some of the flavors that have helped put Peru on the world food map. Visit a local market, 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.

Join your guide to explore a lively, local market brimming with ingredients that are central to Peruvian cuisine such as fish, a crucial in ingredient in the classic Peruvian ceviche; the humble potato, of which Peru boasts more than 3,000 varieties; and Andean “super foods” like cañihua, sacha inchi, maca and kiwicha. You also sample native fruits such as chirimoya, mamey, and camu camu.

Pause for a Peruvian coffee and head to a local food-haunt such as La Preferida. This particular bodega is located in a quiet residential neighborhood and popular among locals for its wide variety of Peruvian classics which you can sample at the bar, such as mini causitas, pulpo al olivo, almejas al balsámico, cevichito mixto and choritos a la chalaca served tapas-style.

Then drive to the artsy, bohemian district of Barranco to try home-style criollo Peruvian meals such as pan con pejerrey, papa rellena, lomo saltado, cau cau con sangrecito, escabeche and estofado.  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 visit another shops to sample decadent chocolates or sweet Peruvian treats such as picarones and suspiro de limeña. Villa Barranco – Junior Suite Superior (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 to encounter the camelids of the Andes – llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos. Alpacas have thick wool that is 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 before you continue to the town of Pisca to experience the sights and sounds of the town’s famous market, with its rich array of handcrafts and fresh produce. Later, check in at your hotel. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba is a contemporary hacienda-style hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Immersed in the countryside in a gorgeous area, the hotel is spread across approximately 100 acres and is surrounded by imposing green mountains. All rooms in the Casa Hacienda and stand-alone luxury casitas feature breathtaking views of the valley, immersing guests in open space, serenity and relaxing solitude. The architecture and interiors are inspired on the area’s cultural history, with colonial furniture, authentic Inca masks and handcrafted woodwork that add to the hacienda’s local charm. An Earth-to-Table concept is operated with a 10-acre organic plantation where guests are welcome to pick their own produce. Carbon-free crops such as quinoa, Urubamba giant corn, medicinal herbs and a variety of potatoes are farmed with traditional hand tools and oxen as it has been for centuries. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba – Urubamba Casita (B,L)

Day 4: Sacred Valley
Away from more hectic routes, today, you discover the Sacred Valley from a different perspective. You begin your day with a one-hour walk on a flat path to Ollantaytambo. Starting from Pachar, this five km walk takes you along the opposite side of the Urubamba River, passing by small farms, colorful houses and remains of old Inca buildings. This walk is the perfect way to continue your acclimatization and immerse in the rural life of the Andes.

Ollantaytambo village has not changed much since the time of the Inca. It has an impressive Inca site with stonework second only to Machu Picchu. You visit the site early to avoid the larger crowds that come in the afternoons.

For lunch, enjoy a Pachamanca, a Quechua word for Earth Pot. This traditional cooking technique uses preheated stones to cook meals underground. The main components are tubers, beef or lamb, and aromatic Andean Herbs for flavor. After lunch, you can spend the afternoon exploring the village or, if you are up for it, hiking up Pinkulluna Mountain to enjoy great panoramic views of the entire area.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba – Urubamba Casita (B,L)

Day 5: Sacred Valley
Before the arrival of Europeans, the Incas traveled with hundreds of llamas around their territory to move goods from one town to another. Today, you enjoy a hike in the picturesque area of Pumahuanca and encounter llamas that are part of the Llamapack Project, an initiative seeking to emphasize the traditional uses of llamas in herding communities. Please note that the Llamapack project is open to travelers Monday to Friday, from March 15th to December 15th, every year. In this remote area, you can still find native trees such as the Queñual, Aliso, and Chachacomo. Walk at a slow pace in the company of the friendly llamas as you learn all about these noble animals until you reach Inkarakai Archaeological Site. This small place was used by the Incas as a retreat center for their ñustas, or virgins of the sun. Take a moment to relax and enjoy a lovely picnic lunch and the stunning views of the valley. You can also opt to explore the surrounding Pachaspata community, or the river falls before returning to your hotel. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba – Urubamba Casita (B,L)

Day 6: Sacred Valley
Today, you head to a watersports center on the shores of Lake Huayo set amongst fields of corn with fantastic views across to the snowcapped Vilcanota mountains. This is a relaxing rural setting and the perfect place to enjoy some fun on the water. Options include exploring the lake on a stand up paddleboard or in a top kayak. After you are fully suited up in wetsuits, booties and life jackets, your expert guide gives you complete instructions on these easy-to-use crafts before you head out through the reeds and onto the lake itself.

To paddle across Lake Huaypo is a magical experience as you glide along enjoying spectacular views of the Andes Mountains and the local farms and hopefully glimpse some of the birdlife that use Huaypo as a migration base, including the rare Andean flamingo. On the far side of the lake, enjoy some snacks before heading back to your base in time for hot showers and lunch.

Lunch today is entertaining cooking demonstration where you can participate and learn a little more about local gastronomy in the Andes. After that there is time to relax in hammocks and enjoy the stunning views before you say farewell to Huaypo and take a dirt road to the incredible ruins of Moray. The site contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is approximately 30 m/98 ft deep. As with many other Inca sites, it also has an irrigation system. These rarely visited ruins are thought to have been agricultural experimental stations in the times of the Incas.

After visiting the ruins, you head back across the plains through the interesting town of Maras to visit the amazing Salineras, a series of salt pans that have been actively used since Inca times. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba – Urubamba Casita (B,L)

Day 7: Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu
Early this morning, join your private guide for the transfer to the Ollantaytambo rail station where you will board Vistadome train to travel to Aguas Calientes. A highlight of any trip to the Andes, the journey passes through a changing landscape of spectacular scenery. There are wonderful vistas of the mountains, and deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River runs through the Sacred Valley.

If you want to arrive at Machu Picchu on foot and avoid the usual crowds that arrive by train and bus, the one-day hike on Inca Trail is the perfect option. Early this morning, the train arrives at Kilometer 104 where you disembark to begin your hike. Here you cross a hanging bridge to the small but interesting Inca archaeological complex of Cachabamba. After a brief visit, you begin an ascent that takes about three to four hours to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, a remarkable Inca site that can only be approached by foot. From here you hike another two hours or so along the main Inca Trail to Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate, where you  catch your first remarkable glimpse of Machu Picchu below. You can enjoy a box lunch is provided.

After reaching Machu Picchu, enjoy a two-to-three hour guided tour of this famed archaeological site. Magnificent is the only word to describe the setting as you gaze upon the ruins of Machu Picchu. The main destination on many travelers’ lists, the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is a man-made marvel that has become a symbol for the ingenuity and prosperity of the most expansive empire in pre-Columbian America. These incredible ruins were only rediscovered a century ago. A two-year excavation led by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham and the National Geographic Society of Washington DC allowed Machu Picchu to gain the prominence that it deserves. Its fascination is due in part to its position, high on a mountain ridge, 7,972 feet above sea level. Believed to be an Inca settlement built to control the economies of neighboring communities, it is associated with being the royal estate of Pachacuti, the great Inca ruler who sparked the expansion of the empire.

Later your guide accompanies you to your hotel and assists with check-in procedures. Popular with those heading to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is an intimate Andean village with terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways and 83 whitewashed adobe casitas tucked away in the cloud forest. The property has 12 acres of exquisite natural beauty, and is home to some 214 bird species such as the golden-headed quetzal and the iconic Andean cock-of-the-rock, as well as the world’s largest native orchid collection of 372 species have been registered.

After exploring the historic sanctuary and in-house excursions, you can reserve a spot in the Unu Spa, which combines classic nurturing with a mystical Andean approach. Natural products are derived from local botanical extracts such as mint, eucalyptus and orchids. The spa provides a pleasing spiritual, sensual and soothing experience. The first-class restaurant features stunning views of Vilcanota River and shares the secrets of Peruvian cuisine with a contemporary twist. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – Superior Deluxe Room (B,L,D)

Day 8: Machu Picchu / Cuzco
Early morning, be prepared for an amazing hiking experience to Huayna Picchu. This takes about three hours, including time for pictures and relaxing. The 260-meter/853-foot hike uphill hike is strenuous and steep and takes approximately one hour or more and coming downhill is about 50 minutes.

It is a mountain in Peru around which the Urubamba River bends. It rises above Machu Picchu.  The Incas built a trail up the side of the Huayna Picchu and the temples and terraces on its top. The peak of Huayna Picchu is about 2,670 meters/8,757 feet above sea level, making it about 243 meters/797 feet higher than Machu Picchu.

According to local guides, the top of the mountain was the residence for the high priest and the local virgins. Every morning before sunrise, the high priest with a small group would walk to Machu Picchu to signal the coming of the new day. The Temple of the Moon, one of the three major temples in the Machu Picchu area, is nestled on the side of the mountain and is situated at an elevation lower than Machu Picchu. Adjacent to the Temple of the Moon is the Great Cavern, another sacred temple with fine masonry.

When you return to the citadel, take another tour in the citadel or you can choose to visit into Aguas Calientes Town.  Late this afternoon, board the Vistadome for your return journey to Cusco. Upon arrival into Cusco’s station, you are met and privately transferred to your hotel. Palacio Manco Capac is built on an ancient republican house, built on the San Cristobal hill, where the foundation of Manco Capac’s original residence was once located. The property has an authentic Inca wall that can be appreciated only a few meters from the hotel. Palacio Manco Capac – Suite with City View (B,L)

Day 9: Cusco
Today, you are picked up from your hotel for a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Cusco to Huaccoto Community at 12,400 feet, the starting point. From here, take a hike on the mountain ridge about three hours, descending to Inter Andean Valleys in the Southeast area of Cusco and ascending again. You walk through potato, fava beans and corn farming lands, encountering farmers and young shepherds on their daily routine. Enjoy amazing views of the area as you hike.

Reach the Archaeological Complex of Tipon, at 11,500 feet and hike on an original stone-paved, pre-Hispanic trail surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna native. Tipon is known for being a masterpiece in hydraulic engineering. Explore the site before hiking down to Villa Tipon for lunch on a recently restored Inca Trail after your seven-hour hike.  Palacio Manco Capac – Suite with City View (B,L)

Day 10: Cusco
This morning, a 45-minute drive takes you to the starting point for this hike in the southwest hills of Cusco towards Ccorca, 12.600 feet. A three-hour hike takes you to experience out-of-this-world scenery on the stone-paved Inca Trail to the Contisuyo State down to the community of Ccorca at 11,500 feet. Here ancient Inca burials are still partially intact and exposed for you to learn from their cults as well as canals and terraces that were built over 600 years ago on such dramatic and capricious mountain formation. Today you can explore via an improvised set of hanging bridges and ferrata to take you up to the top of the world. Palacio Manco Capac – Suite with City View (B,Box lunch)

Day 11: Cusco
Today, you drive about an hour and a half from Cusco to the starting point, 12.400 feet, for your final mountain hike. You warm up during a hike up to the top of Wanakaure Peak, where you find ceremonial Inca structures, stunning views of the Valley of Cusco, and the surrounding mountains.  Find your way down on the original ritual Inca Trail back into the city on a three-and-a-half-hour hike. Box Lunch provided. Palacio Manco Capac – Suite with City View (B,Box lunch)

Day 12: Cusco / Lima / Depart
Relax in the morning before your afternoon flight to Lima, where you connect with your international flight home (B)

Per Diem: USD 650.00 per person per day, double occupancy


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