Discover the lush beauty of Peru – a colorful world filled with natural wonders and ancient civilizations. Make a difference in the life of an urban community on the outskirts of Lima, and a rural village high up on the slopes of the Andes at 12,000 feet. Deliver much needed supplies to both city and rural areas. Get to know the children while helping them with a craft or educational project. Then, travel back in time as you hike the Inka Trail and see the many treasures of the mighty Incan empire that still stand today, including legendary Machu Picchu. Experience the mysteries of the land while camping in tents, standing atop ridges with breathtaking views, the floating sensation of a cloud forest, and getting up close to wildlife and flora.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
The only thing predictable about Peru's weather is its unpredictability. In fact, it's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day. Generally speaking, Peru has two seasons, wet and dry, but in a country as geographically diverse as Peru, local weather patterns vary greatly. In the highlands, the dry season is between June and October. The desert coast is arid. From January to March the sky is clear and the air tends to be hot and sticky. Peruvians go to the beach at this time. The rest of the year the gray coastal mist known as garua moves in. For the Inka Trek, it’s best to travel during the drier season, between April and October. The Amazon experiences rain, heat and more rain and heat – the wettest months are December through May, but even then it rarely rains for more than a few hours at a time and the water levels are high, meaning you do more boat activities, as opposed to the dry month when you can do more trekking.
Arrive in Lima, where you are met and escorted to your hotel in the trendy Miraflores suburb. Discover Lima on a guided tour as you visit Plaza de Armas, the government palace, the Archbishop Palace and the Cathedral. See the Yuyanapak exhibit at the Museo Nacional, a look back at the conflicts that plagued Peru in the 80’s and 90’s. Enjoy a welcome dinner featuring Peruvian foods at La Huaca Pucllana, located in a pre-Columbian temple in the 15-acre archaeological site. The day after, work with the Asociacion SOLAC, a Peruvian grassroots movement dedicated to promoting education, health, environmental issues, women’s empowerment, microfinance and equality in Peru. Visit a local school and interact with the children through activities, renovating the facilities, as well as distributing school supplies you may have brought for them. CASA ANDINA SELECT MIRAFLORES. (Meals Aloft; B,D; B,L)
Fly to picturesque Cusco, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the western hemisphere and drive to Pisac, with its terraces, water ducts and steps cut out of solid rock. See the Sun Temple and visit the Pisac Market for a chance to pick up native crafts to bring home. Explore the ruins of Ollantaytambo, a major Incan fortress and one of the few places where Spaniards lost a battle during their conquest. Then travel back in time when you visit the native community of Cuyuni. Here, natives are, in many ways, still living as they’ve been doing for centuries. The proud villagers will show you how they have managed to “tame” nature and survive in extremely adverse conditions: at over 13,000 ft. above sea level, only wild grass grows naturally. The community leaders will accompany the group as you learn not only about their daily activities, but also experience ancestral traditions that date to pre-Inca times. Enjoy a buffet lunch here. SOL Y LUNA HOTEL. (B,L Daily)
Early this morning, drive to Piskacuchu where you begin your thrilling hike on the stone-paved Inka Trail –starting elevation 8,856 feet. Porters will accompany you and your guide, carrying your belongings (maximum 20 pounds) and camping gear. Ascend slowly along the banks of the Urubamba River to Miskay – elevation 9,184 feet. You are rewarded with spectacular views of the impressive Incan city of Llactapata. Continue along a valley lush with eucalyptus forests and incredible views of majestic Veronica peak towering 19,133 feet above sea level. Arrive five hours later in Wayllabamba – elevation 9,840 feet. Your campsite includes an all weather tent outfitted with a foam mat and sleeping bag that comfortably accommodates two people, a group toilet tent, hot water provided by porters for washing up and a dining tent complete with a cook to create meals. Safe, boiled water for your water bottle is provided in the mornings. Total distance covered today: 7.5 miles. INKA TRAIL CAMPING SITE. (B,L,D)
Rise early and fuel up on a hearty breakfast. Then trek for over five miles on an abrupt and steep ascent that gives way to breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains. Reach the highest point on the trail, Abra Warmihuanusca (Dead Woman’s Pass) – elevation 13,776 feet – look for llama and alpaca grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at this altitude. After crossing a cloud forest alive with hummingbirds and possibly an Andean bear, descend into the Pacaymayo Valley – elevation 11,808 feet. Total distance covered today: 7 miles. INKA TRAIL CAMPING SITE. (B,L,D)
Today is your longest trek, filled with interesting habitats and impressive archaeological sites. Climb the Abra Runkurakay pass – elevation 13,022 feet – and explore a small watchtower. Descend into a thick cloud forest filled with tropical flowers and colorful orchids before arriving at the narrow streets, fountains and patios of ancient Sayacmarca – elevation 11,887 feet. After trekking over the third pass, Abra Phuyupatamarca – elevation 12,136 feet – at the end of an Incan tunnel is Phuyupatamarca, one of the best-preserved complexes along the trail. Long descending stone steps deposit you at Winaywayna – elevation 8,692 feet – an Incan complex with agriculture, religious and urban sectors. Tonight, your campsite hosts a trekker lodge, bar and bathroom with hot shower facilities. Total distance covered today: 10 miles. INKA TRAIL CAMPING SITE. (B,L,D)
While it is still dark, climb to The Sun Gate and witness sunrise over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, descend through the ‘House of Guardians’ to explore the temples, houses, terraces, gardens and altars of this mysterious city. Climb Huaynapicchu Mountain, visit the Temple of the Moon or the Inca Bridge. Then travel by bus to the town of Aguas Calientes and your comfortable hotel in the heart of town, with many shops and restaurants right at your fingertips. Total distance covered today: 2.5 miles. EL MAPI HOTEL. (B,L,D)
See the ruins of Machu Picchu one last time before enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes. Return to Cusco via rail and bus in the afternoon. Next day, stroll down the picturesque streets of Cusco past Inca descendants dressed in traditional clothes and speaking Quechua (a derivative of the Incan language.) Tour some of Cusco’s treasures such as the Inca Temples of the Sun and the Moon, the gigantic Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Kenko amphitheatre with its unusual stone carvings and Tambo Machay, the traditional bathing place for Incan royalty. Enjoy dinner and a folklore performance at the Tunupa Restaurant. CASA ANDINA CLASSIC PLAZA. (B,L; B,D)
Return to Lima this morning and your dayroom at the CASA ANDINA SELECT MIRAFLORES, where the rest of your day is at leisure. Transfer to the airport in the evening for your overnight flight home. (B; Meals Aloft)
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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