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Peru Essentials

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highlights
  • The giant desert inscriptions of the Nazca Lines are one of Peru's great unsolved mysteries. Scrutinise them up close on foot or from a bird's-eye-view on an optional flight
  • Wake early and observe Andean condors taking to the sky during their morning routine as the sun rises in the spectacular Colca Canyon
  • Cusco is a great city to explore by foot. Enter a bygone era as you explore the ancient Incan ruins dotted all over the city
  • A trip through Peru wouldn't be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. With three different trails to choose from, people of all fitness levels are able to explore this ancient citadel
The Peru Essentials tour starts in Lima and ends in La Paz. The Peru Essentials is a Trekking tour that takes 21 days taking you from Lima to La Paz and through other destinations in South America.

From rugged to refined, sassy to spiritual, South America spans a whole world of diversity. Venture into the continent's Andean heart on this small-group adventure that goes from the cosmopolitan streets of Lima to the winding, alcoved alleyways of La Paz. See Peru's answer to the Galapagos on a tour of the Paracas National Reserve. Follow the ancient trade route of the Incas on the legendary Inca Trail, finishing up at breathtaking Machu Picchu. Get a feel for life adrift the water on a visit to Lake Titicaca's floating islands and watch condors scoring the skies of the Colca Canyon. Striking the perfect balance between freedom and structure, this trip is made for those craving a Peruvian adventure.
Welcome to Peru's coastal capital. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. There are no other activities planned for today, but why not head out with the group after this important meeting and get to know each other better over dinner. Whether you dine with the group or sample the city's renowned food scene on your own, don't miss sampling Peru's national dish, ceviche (raw rish marinated in lime juice, often served with hot peppers). If you're not a fan of seafood, there are plenty of other excellent options on offer. Ask your tour leader for advice.

If you arrive early, perhaps take a walk around the vibrant Miraflores area. Alternatively, stroll along to Parque del Amor (Love Park) for a great view of Lima's beaches.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN 15
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion - PEN 10
  • Lima - Banco Central de Reserva Museum - PEN 5
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free - PEN 5
  • Lima - Gold Museum - PEN 35
  • Lima Coast Biking Tour - Urban Adventures - USD 45
This morning, set out on a half-day walking tour of Lima's historical centre. Take in the ornate spectacle of the colonial mansions, palaces and churches that line the streets; choose to pay a visit to San Francisco Monastery and its catacombs; and browse the fresh produce on offer at Lima's central market, tasting fresh fruit and street food. Your walking tour wraps up in Lima's main square, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Later, perhap head out for dinner with the group.



Flanked by streets of ornate mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral of Lima, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. Nearby is the San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains (entry is optional and at travellers' expense). The afternoon is free for you to explore the city on your own. In the evening, perhaps try some ceviche for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Guided tour of San Francisco Monastery including The Catacombs
Head off at around 6 am travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Paracas (approximately 4 hours). During this journey it's unlikely the bus will make any stops, so please ensure you prepare yourself with water, snacks and anything else necessary. The small fishing town of Paracas is the gateway to the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve. You'll have the option of visiting Paracas National Reserve today with a local guide. The duration of the tour is around 2–2.5 hours, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful Maritime landscapes and desert. For some local food specialities back in town, head to the boulevard near the beach and try some tejas, which are small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Paracas - National Reserve guided tour
Islas Ballestas makes for a great (optional) day trip today. Here there will be lots of opportunities to see wildlife such as penguins, sea lions and flamingos from a speedboat. Later in the morning continue onto Nazca, which takes around three hours (it's likely there won't be any stops). Arrive in the early afternoon. The Nazca Lines are enormous designs inscribed into the desert. Who drew them, how and why is unknown, but most scientists believe the Nazca people created them about 2,000 years ago. Consider an optional scenic flight to see them from the air – this lasts 30 minutes and covers most of the 26 impressions (planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane, so this is not for those with a weak stomach!)
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Ballestas Islands - Guided tour - PEN 57
  • Nazca - Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD 100
Early afternoon, take a transfer to the bus station. Board a local bus to Arequipa, the bus ride is long (approximately 11 hours, with no stops). Lunch will be served on the bus, and later around dinner time there will be a small snack. Don't forget to pack plenty of water, snacks and perhaps a good book! Arrive into Arequipa around midnight and transfer to the hotel. Standing at the foot of El Misti volcano and exuding Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cusco for the title of Peru's most attractive city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
This morning your leader will take you on an orientation walk in which you will visit the main square and Mercado San Camilo. The remainder of the day is free day to explore Arequipa. Perhaps start at Monasterio de Santa Catalina for a glimpse into a bygone way of life. The 16th-century convent has a unique history, having once only accepted women from high-class Spanish families. From here, call by the Juanita Museum and take a look at the ‘Ice Maiden’, the Incan mummy of a young girl who died in the 1440s. During your walk around Arequipa, you'll come to understand why it’s referred to as the ‘White City’. Built out of the pale volcanic rock, the old buildings shine brightly in the sunshine. While away the rest of your day in the cafes and restaurants on the main plaza.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Arequipa - Juanita Museum - PEN 20
  • Arequipa - Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN 45
In the morning, at around 8 am, venture out by minivan to Chivay (approximately 5 hours). Stop to take pictures along the way, as you're likely to see llamas, alpacas and vicunas. After around two hours of driving, you'll have the chance to try some coca tea from local tea stalls. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place of the trip at 4,800 metres above sea level), descend to Chivay town. Choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on Alpaca steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena (music hall).
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Colca Canyon - La Calera hot springs
Early in the morning take a short drive into the canyon to witness the morning routine of the Andean condor. This is an amazing opportunity to see the world's largest flying bird in predator mode. Depending on weather conditions there will be a short walk around the area (approximately 45 minutes) before you return to Chivay. In the afternoon, travel back to Arequipa (approximately 5 hours). Enjoy a free evening to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Use your last day in Arequipa to get under the skin of the city. For a bit of culture, stroll down to Casa Museo Villalobos for a look at the extensive art collection that’s housed there. If you’re looking for something a bit more hands-on, there are regular cooking classes in the city. For more ideas on what to do, please speak with your trip leader. This evening at about 7.30 pm transfer to the bus station. Soon after, board an overnight bus to Cusco (approximately 11 hours with no stops; please consider that there is only one road out of Arequipa so it's possible there could be delays at the beginning of the journey). The bus has comfortable reclining seats and a toilet on board. Dinner will be served on board, however it's recommended to pack some water and snacks. 
Accommodation
  • Overnight Bus
Your overnight bus should arrive in Cusco between 6.30 and 7.30 am. Head to the hotel in town for breakfast. Your leader will then give you the choice of heading straight out for an orientation walk; alternatively the group may decide to have some time to rest for a few hours, in which case the orientation walk will be done in the afternoon. During the walking tour you’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. The order of visiting these locations, may vary according to hotel location and your tour leader’s preference. In your free time may want to book some of the optional activities available in Cusco. In the evening, attend a briefing on the Inca Trail hike which begins tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Cusco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cusco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN 135
  • Cusco - Cathedral Entrance Fee - PEN 25
  • Cusco - Coricancha Temple entrance fee - PEN 15
  • Cusco - Half Tourist Ticket Pass, which gives you access to selected archaeological sites in/around Cusco (transport & guides are not included) - PEN 75
  • Cusco - City tour - USD 15
  • Cusco - Pre-Colombian Museum - PEN 20
  • Cusco - Inca Museum - PEN 10
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or stay in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum).

Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.

Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3700 metres above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

Notes: The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4450 metres above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 3 Train:
For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, spend two extra nights in Cusco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option)
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4200 metres above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 metres.

Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4370 metres high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the hike to Kuychicassa (approximately 2 hours); this is the highest pass of the trek at 4450 metres. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3 Train:
Today, perhaps use your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cusco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option)
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending (approximately 2–3 hours) to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the descent down the Inca steps (approximately 2 hours), which takes you to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3 Train:
In the morning take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes (approximately 3 hours), which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the start of the trip.

Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option)
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 4.30 am (the final checkpoint opens at 5 am). The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes approximately 2.5 hours meaning arrival time is not until approximately 7.30 am. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as you enter Machu Picchu through the Sungate.

Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who took the train. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins.

Route 3 Train:
In the morning, usually between 5.30 and 6.30 am, we take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Inca nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy some free time afterwards to wander around on your own before heading to Ollantaytambo for the night.

Visiting Machu Picchu:
According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Venture to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle, visit multiple community businesses that may include a pottery workshop, a chocolate making demonstration or a local chicha brewery where you will learn about the traditional techniques that are still used to this day. During your community visit, enjoy an included lunch, prepared and cooked by local community members themselves. If your visit coincides with market day, perhaps spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos. In the afternoon take a bus back to Cusco.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Ollantaytambo - Archeological site
Enjoy free time to delve deeper into all Cusco has to offer. Those with weary legs may want to simply grab a coffee from a cafe at Plaza de Armas and do some people-watching. Cafe Daria is a great choice for a meal. In addition to serving up delicious food, this central pizzeria also provides vocational training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For those still seeking an active adventure, the hills that surround Cusco are well-suited for some mountain biking. Ask your tour leader for advice on optional activities and how to make the most of your free day.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Mountain Biking - USD 120
  • Sacred Valley - Via Ferrata & Zipline - PEN 265
  • Cusco - Stand Up Paddle Boarding - USD 75
  • Cusco - Art Trail workshop - USD 59
In the morning, travel by local bus through the Altiplano plateau to Puno (approximately 7 hours). There will be one brief stop along the way at La Raya mountain range where there will be opportunities for photos. Here you'll also have the chance to buy some snacks and or go to the toilet. Puno is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Enjoy a tour of the lake by slow motorboat (8 knots per hour), stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They're built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. In the evening, enjoy a homestay in a local community on the Llachon Peninsula. Your homestay is in a mudbrick house, with shared drop toilets but no shower. It can get quite cold here. The homestay will provide plenty of blankets, but remember to pack thermals and ample layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or perhaps join the locals for a game of soccer or volleyball in the village with the local kids.
Accommodation
  • Homestay
In the morning, board the boat for a visit to Taquile Island, which is a great place to pick up some locally knitted goods. On the island knitting is strictly a male domain, while women do the spinning. An hour’s uphill trek brings you to the main area of the island. Explore the local markets before descending the 500 steps back to the boat. Return to Puno (approximately 3 hours) arriving around 3 pm. The remainder of the day is free. Consider visiting Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel
At around 7 am travel by local bus to Desaguadero (approximately 3 hours) and cross the border into Bolivia. Say goodbye to your Peruvian leader meet your Bolivian leader, who will take lead of the group from that point on. You'll be asked to leave the bus to proceed through Peruvian migration. The group will then walk across a bridge, submit passports at the Bolivian migration office, and reboard the bus for La Paz. Approximately 30 minutes after crossing the border into Bolivia, there's another stop where the army will check your documents again. The journey to La Paz takes 6–9 hours (depending on the border crossing time). In the evening, perhaps head out for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
Your 'Essential Peru' adventure ends today after breakfast, as there are no more activities planned. You're free to leave the accommodation at any time. If you have some more time in La Paz before flying out, take a walk around the city's famous Mercado de Hechiceria (Witches' Market). Browse the weird and wonderful stalls selling everything from aphrodisiac potions to dried frogs and llama foetuses. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of markets selling goods made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials.
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - Urban Adventures - USD 41
  • La Paz - Food with Altitude - Urban Adventure - USD 57
what’s included
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (15 nights), Overnight bus (1 night)
Meals
  • 20 Breakfast, 5 Lunch, 4 Dinner
Transport
  • Train , Public Bus , Private Vehicle
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
  • Cusco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to Lima and from La Paz are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Peru Essentials tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Booking Type Instant Booking  
Duration 21 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 16 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Lima/ La Paz
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Peru Essentials
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Good to know
Payment

A deposit of 400 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 57 days before departure. For any departures within 19 April 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Peru Essentials tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Peru Essentials tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Peru Essentials tour. You can cancel the tour up to 58 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 57 days of departure.
Trip Details
  • Last modified (date)

    19 Feb 2019

  • Trip title

    Peru Essentials

  • Trip code

    GGBL

  • Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

  • Introduction

    From rugged to refined, sassy to spiritual, South America spans a whole world of diversity. Venture into the continent's Andean heart on this small-group adventure that goes from the cosmopolitan streets of Lima to the winding, alcoved alleyways of La Paz. See Peru's answer to the Galapagos on a tour of the Paracas National Reserve. Follow the ancient trade route of the Incas on the legendary Inca Trail, finishing up at breathtaking Machu Picchu. Get a feel for life adrift the water on a visit to Lake Titicaca's floating islands and watch condors scoring the skies of the Colca Canyon. Striking the perfect balance between freedom and structure, this trip is made for those craving a Peruvian adventure.

  • Style

    Basix

  • Transport

    Train,Public Bus,Private Vehicle

  • Physical Rating

    4

  • Finish point description

    Located right in the touristic centre of La Paz, Golden Palace offers comfortable rooms with private bathrooms. The hotel is located 400 metres from the Witches Market, the Coca Museum and from La Paz's famous San Francisco Cathedral.

  • Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

  • Is this trip right for you

    This trip involves a lot of travel on local buses, including some long trips and an overnight bus. Bus travel can be tiring, but is also a great opportunity to relax, rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy the scenery.

    There will be a lot of hiking and walking on this trip (especially on the Inca Trail which can be quite challenging), so this requires a moderate level of fitness. There are a few different trail options to suit your interests and physical capabilities. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘What to Take’ section of the Essential Trip information (ETI) for more information.

    You’ll be staying in some very basic group accommodation with shared facilities, especially along the Inca Trail, in the Amazon and on Lake Titicaca (where there are drop toilets and no showers). This is all part of the adventure of being among nature.

    This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip information (ETI) for more important information on this.

  • Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

    DIETARY REQUIREMENTS
    Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.
    Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.
    More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.

    SIMPLE BREAKFAST
    Some of the included breakfasts along this trip can be quite simple: toasts, spreads, juice and coffee or tea.

  • Money matters

    When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document). 

    The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    CONTINGENCY FUNDS:
    We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to the equivalent of an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

    MEALS NOT INCLUDED:
    For this trip we recommend between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out?

    Breakfast - If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.

    Lunch - If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.

    Dinner - At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.

    These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.

    CREDIT CARDS & ATMs:
    ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities across Latin America. Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.

    Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to and what their fees and charges are. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.
    If bringing over cash, please note USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.


    DEPARTURE TAX:
    In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Nowadays, these departure taxes are added into the cost of your airline tickets and paid for at the time of purchase.

    Unless mentioned below, no airport departure tax has to be paid during this trip.


    TIPPING:

    Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. We suggest carrying small notes of local currency around as you go. It’ll make tipping easier. The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers.

    Usually around USD5 – USD10 a day to cover tips is fine, but your leader might raise the idea of a group tip kitty. Each traveller contributes an equal amount to the pool, and your leader can pay the tips as you go.


    South America - General Tipping Guide:

    To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.

    - Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest USD1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

    - Local guides: There might be times during the trip where you’ll have a specialist local guide alongside your trip leader. We suggest tipping these guides about USD2 – USD3 per day.

    - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.

    - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    Peru Trekking - General Tipping Guide:

    We recommend you carry the below suggested amounts with you during the trek and that you carry small bills as this makes splitting the tip an easier process. The last day of the trek the tipping will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide.

    Inca Trail: While on the Inca Trail we suggest a total tipping amount of PEN120 to PEN180 per person (approximately USD 37 to USD 55). This is generally the tipping breakdown:
    Porters, cook and assistants PEN 80 to PEN 120
    Assistant guide: PEN 12 to PEN 20
    Guide: PEN 27 to PEN 40

    Inca Quarry Trek: For the Inca Quarry Trek the suggested total tipping amount per person is PEN 120 to PEN 135 (approximately USD 37 to USD 42). This is generally the tipping breakdown:
    Porters, cook and assistants PEN 90
    Assistant guide: PEN 9 to PEN 15
    Guide: PEN 20 to PEN 30



    Peru currency information:
    The unit of currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/).

  • A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

    Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

    The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

    By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

    If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

  • Accommodation notes

    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

    Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

    HOMESTAYS IN LAKE TITICACA
    As a responsible travel company, we believe in facilitating positive and meaningful exchanges between our travellers and locals at the places we visit. Homestays are a great vehicle for us to facilitate this!

    What will you do during a homestay? Well…it’s hard to tell. As you know a day in a family’s life varies from day to day. We don’t want this experience to feel forced (on you or on them) so we ask families to simply carry on with their lives and that, if there is anything that you may be interested in being part of, they ask you to join in. As such you may be invited to help cook dinner, or to go to the local market for groceries, or to join a soccer game with the kids! While your leader will give you some tools to interact with your family (such as some simple words/phrases in Quechua and/or Spanish) big smiles and lots of sign language can go a long way!
    That said, it’s also important that you understand that you are not obliged to participate in these activities. We believe that the more you put in the more you get out of an experience, but we also understand that you may just want to chill out, grab a book or your camera and go for a wander – and that is fine too.

    Ultimately, we believe that by simply being there, observing family and friends dynamics is a step forward towards understanding the local way of life.

    In terms of facilities, the rooms are clean and comfortable (or as comfortable as they get in this part of the world!) however quite basic. Plenty of blankets are provided. Ask for more if you are cold. Layering up with thin thermals and a fleece material will help during very cold nights too.

    Lastly, be aware that some homestays in Lake Titicaca have shared drop toilets and no showers. So mind your step!

    Due to energy supply and timing provisions being limited in some places, please be prepared for some cold showers.

  • Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

    SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

  • Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES:
    Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:
    A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTESTS:
    Demonstrations and protests, often in response to local labour or social issues, occur regularly throughout South America, however Peru in particular. National strikes can be called at short notice and can cause disruption to road networks leading to inevitable itinerary changes. Intrepid does everything possible for these changes to be at little or no extra cost; however in such circumstances we find that travellers need to access part of, or the entire, emergency fund. Please read below for more information on this trip's emergency fund.

    HEAVY RAIN ON THE INCA TRAIL
    If it rains heavily for a number of consecutive days the terrain on the third campsite (Wiñaywayna) can become unstable increasing the danger of landslides. In such instances, the number of safe camping spots is outnumbered by the number campers. This could occur mostly during the wet season (December to March) although it could also happen at any time of the year. In those instances, your trekking guide may assess that it's safer to spend the third night in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). Our preferred option will be to camp at Aguas Calientes campsite. Should this camping site be unavailable, you will be required to stay at a local hotel instead. If that's the case, you may requested to make use of your "emergency funds" (as explained under the money matters section in this document). We can provide you with an insurance letter in this case in order to lodge a travel insurance claim for any incidental costs.

  • Accommodation

    Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights),Homestay (1 night),Hotel (15 nights),Overnight bus (1 night)

  • Themes

    Explorer,Walking & Trekking

  • Physical preparation

    PERU TREKKING:
    The physical rating on this trip is based on you selecting to trek either the Inca Trail or Quarry Trail. Should you wish to take the train option instead of trekking, please downgrade the physical level to a 2.

    On Day 2 of the Inca Trail or Quarry Trek you will be walking uphill from 3000 to 4500 metres above sea level before descending steeply through big steps and difficult terrain. While this demanding walk is the main challenge our passengers face on this trip, it's also one of the highlights and worth every minute of it.

    We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long staircases with a pack is good preparation. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trekking to its fullest.

  • Finish point instructions

    Intrepid offers a pre-arranged transfer service from La Paz Airport at an additional fee. If you require this service please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. As you exit please look for the Intrepid sign or a sign with your name on it. There is only one exit for international arrivals (Puerta 1 – Gate 1) and for domestic flight arrivals the exit is Gate 10 or 11 in all the cases there will be many signs so please read carefully all of them. If you have any problems and cannot locate your driver on arrival, please phone our Intrepid Peru Emergency number, listed under ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your essential information.
    If you don’t have a device or mobile coverage please go the “information booth” located in front of BOA Airline’s counter, they can help you to make a phone call.

    Alternatively, you can travel from El Alto International Airport to the city by taxi. As you walk out from the luggage collection and out from the customs area, you will find multiple taxi services. They will charge you BOB.70 (USD.10) for a trip to La Paz city.The drive to La Paz downtown where the hotel is located is approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic.

  • Transport notes

    Our overnight buses have reclinable seats - usually more comfortable than your average economy plane seats. You may be offered a simple dinner on board or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks. Before boarding an overnight bus, it's always a good idea to have music, a book, water, snacks and warm clothing ready.

  • Communications

    It is recommended that you download WhatsApp prior to departure; please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. WhatsApp is usually the preferred method for your leader to be in contact with you and the rest of the group while on tour. It is also good for sharing information and photos with the group members.

  • Joining point description

    Hotel Santa Cruz is located on the skirts of district Miraflores. All rooms are equipped with safety box, free WI-FI, hair dryer and air conditioning.

  • Alternate Joining point description

    Located in the heart of the affluent coastal suburb of Miraflores, The Place has tastefully decorated rooms with private bathrooms. The hotel is only 3 blocks from Larcomar, where you will find plenty of restaurants and shops.

  • Alternate Joining point instructions

    Intrepid offers a pre-arranged transfer service from Lima Airport at an additional fee. If you require this service please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. As you exit please look for the Intrepid sign with your name on it. There is only one exit for international arrivals and there will be many signs so please look around carefully.
    If you have any problems and cannot locate your driver on arrival, please phone our Intrepid Peru Emergency number, listed under ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your essential information.
    If you don’t have a device or mobile coverage please go the IPeru information booth located between the two escalators on the left hand side of the building, they can help you to make a phone call.
    Alternatively there are taxi’s available. As you walk out from the customs area, you will find a small lobby to book a taxi. We recommend you use 'Taxi Green' taxi services. They will charge you approximately PEN.60 (USD.19) for a trip to the Miraflores district where your hotel is located. The drive to Miraflores district where the hotel is located is approximately 40 minutes depending on traffic.

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