Depart to Lima. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our inbound services representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Lima.
Classic Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, and the Inca Trail
Enjoy the Ica and Cusco Regions in this exhilarating tour of Peru. Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines to discover what is known about their origins, and travel by boat to the Ballestas Islands to observe the marine life off the coast of Paracas. Continue on to Cusco to explore the four ruins that surround the city and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and then hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru’s spectacular mountaintop citadel.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 12 nights (4 nights in Lima, 1 night in Paracas, 3 nights in Cusco, 3 nights of camping on the Inca Trail, and 1 night in Machu Picchu), and 21 meals (12 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
In the afternoon, you will have a city tour of Lima. You will visit downtown Lima and see several examples of the Spanish architecture of the colonial period including the Plaza de Armas, the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, and the Church of San Francisco and Catacombs. After that, you will see Huaca Huallamarca, a restored adobe pyramid dating from the pre-Inca period located in San Isidro. You will tour the upscale residential and commercial district of Miraflores and see the Parque del Amor, a seaside park with a huge statue of a kissing couple, before returning to your hotel. Overnight in Lima. (B)
Private transfer to the airport in Pisco for the overflight of Nazca Lines, a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in Southern Peru. The Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD, and consist of hundreds of lines ranging from simple lines to animal figures, including monkeys, hummingbirds, spiders, and lizards. They were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. After the flight, you will be taken to your hotel in Paracas. Overnight in Paracas. (B)
In the morning, you will be transported to the Paracas Harbor for a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. During this tour, you will see the Paracas Candelabra, a giant geoglyph etched on the coastal hills. The Ballestas Islands are teeming with wildlife, including large colonies of sea lions, guanay cormerants, the Peruvian booby, and the Peruvian pelican, as well as zarcillos, Humboldt penguins, and Chilean flamingos. At the end of the tour, you will return to Paracas Harbor and then be transferred to Lima by private transportation. Overnight in Lima. (B)
Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Cusco. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Because of the high altitude (10,912 feet above sea level), we recommend that you rest for a short period. In the afternoon, you will have a city tour that includes a walk-through of the Cathedral, the Koricancha (‘site of gold’), typical streets, and the four ruins that surround the city: the Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Kenko, Puca Pucara, and Tampumachay. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
Today you will have a full-day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The tour begins at Awanakancha, a living museum of the Peruvian Andes, where you can observe traditional textile dyeing and weaving techniques and the four types of camelids that are native to the region. You will also visit the Indian artisan market in Pisac and have lunch at a local restaurant (included). The last stop is the impressive Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo that served as both a fortress and ceremonial center, and is the site of a short-lived victory by the Incas over the Spanish. Overnight in Cusco. (B,L)
Note: The Indian market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from October to March, and daily from April to September. On the days of the week that the market is not open, you will be taken to the Inca ruins above the village.
Early morning transfer by minivan to the town of Chilca (km. 82), the start of the Inca Trail. We begin escorted by native “quechua” porters going through semi-arid terrain along the Urubamba River with magnificent views of snowcapped mount Veronica (18,636 feet). We walk past the Inca hamlet of Huayllabamba, an ancient Inca citadel that protected the entry to two valleys. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
We will begin to climb the first pass, Warmiwañusqa (13,776 feet), where there is a spectacular view of the valley below. At this pass we move from the dry puna ecology to elf forest, the highest of the tropical forest types where gnarled trees grow to two meters amid fog and low clouds, habitat for a profusion of orchids and strange animals. On this night, we will camp along river Pacamayo at the bottom of the pass. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we will hike towards Runku Rakay and traverse the second pass of the same name (12,464 feet). We will descend to Sayacmarca, an important archaeological complex, where we will have lunch. We will spend the night near the ruins of Wiñayhuayna, which means ‘city above the clouds’. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
We will arise very early so that we may watch the sunrise from Inti Punku and have our first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu ‘the Lost City of the Incas’ (7,900 feet). This mountaintop citadel, which served as both a center of worship and an astronomic observatory, is located in the middle of the cloud forest overlooking the Urubamba River. There are both agricultural and urban areas constructed with the precision stonework that the Incas are known for. The agricultural area consists of terraces and food storehouses, and the urban area contains temples, squares, and royal tombs. Guided tour followed by lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Aguas Calientes. (B,L)
This is a free day to explore Machu Picchu on your own. You may want to hike Huayna Picchu or enjoy another activity. Mid-afternoon, you will depart from Machu Picchu by train to Poroy Station in the Sacred Valley, and then be taken to your hotel in Cusco. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
Note: Hiking Huayna Picchu requires a permit. To ensure availability, we recommend purchasing the permit at the time of booking.
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight back to Lima. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. In the evening, you will enjoy a Folkloric Dinner Show at La Dama Juana Restaurant. Overnight in Lima. (B,D)
Check out at noon. Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
About the Inca Trail
The Incas built a vast network of roads to communicate with the four regions of their vast empire. The network was called Qapaq Ñan (the sovereign’s highway) or Inca Road, and was made up of stone paths suitable for two or three people with trains of llamas. Rivers were crossed by hanging bridges and the steep slopes were mastered with steps and ramps. There are remains of the Qhapaq Ñan throughout Peru that are still used to this day by local villagers and farmers. One of the most impressive and best preserved roads is the trail that links Cusco and Machu Picchu. Today, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu allows the visitor to step back in time and walk through a variety of eco-systems and dazzling scenery. The length of the 39 kilometers (24 miles) includes unforgettable views, archaeological remains; 400 different species of orchids and begonias, exotic trees like the pisonay, the queñual and innumerable species of fauna in their natural habitat, such as the cock-of-the-rocks, llamas and vicuñas, the white-tailed deer, the vizcacha and, if visitors are lucky, the endangered and vegetarian spectacled bear. The Inca Trail is one of the world’s leading trekking and camping routes. (Source: PromPeru)
A Note About Your Free Day in Machu Picchu
On your free day, you will be on your own. If you choose to revisit Machu Picchu, you will need to purchase a second entrance ticket, which currently costs $74 per person. If you are staying in Aguas Calientes, you will also need to purchase a round-trip bus ticket ($28 per person) for transportation to the site. The first bus departs at 5:30 AM. As an alternative to visiting Machu Picchu again, you can hike Huayna Picchu (a +/- 60 minute hike), or partake in another activity. The cost for hiking Huayna Picchu is $13 (in addition to the second entrance ticket). At the end of the day (mid-late afternoon), you will walk to the train station for the return ride to Poroy train station, where our local representative will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel in Cusco.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Bus transportation from Lima to Ica and private transportation from Paracas to Lima.
- Hotel accommodations including taxes and service charges.
- Excursion to Machu Picchu including overnight stay and transportation via Vistadome train.
- Inca Trail and other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Double occupancy tents.
- Camping equipment: Bathroom tent, kitchen tent, dining tent, chairs, tables, and comfortable mattresses.
- Cook, porters to carry food, tents, and cooking gear.
- Porters for personal belongings (one for every two passengers).
- Coffee breaks during the trek, first aid kit/oxygen.
- Meals as indicated on the itinerary.
- Local, English-speaking tour guides.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare ($350).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to tour guides, porters, drivers, and hotel staff.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of international airfare and travel insurance and to make these arrangements for you.
Group Private: All transfers are private, and the city tours of Lima and Cusco, and the Sacred Valley of the Incas excursion are group tours for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike is a group tour.
Elevations: Cusco is 10,912 feet (above sea level), the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 8,944 feet, the Inca Trail varies from 8,528 feet to 13,776 feet, and Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet.
Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Peruvian embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Travel Insurance’s Classic and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $850 per person plus the cost of airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.