WHY THIS TRIP
Southern Peru Highlights visits the most important sites of history and culture in the region: Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca. You and your expert guides explore the stunning Inca ruins, markets, and small villages around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, culminating with a full day at Machu Picchu Ruins. And then you’re on your way to Lake Titicaca, the largest and deepest lake in South America, and home to many indigenous communities still living traditionally on floating reed islands. You even spend the night with a local family on an island! Since we know that one size does not fit all, we have provided three levels of comfort to choose from (budget, boutique, and luxury), and your choice of group tours or private tours, so you get exactly the type of trip that suits you.
The impressive scale, location, and mystery of Machu Picchu makes it a destination worthy of anyone’s must-see list. However, far too many travelers fly to Cusco and race up to Machu Picchu, leaving within just a couple days and missing the other amazing Incan ruins and vibrant Andean culture in the nearby area. On this trip, you won’t miss any of the spectacular sites. You go deep into the Andes for a much more memorable and rich experience.
Your adventure begins when you land in Cusco, once the capitol of the Inca empire and now a bustling city that has seamlessly incorporated its historic roots with modern life. Here, you will join your guide for a walking tour of Cusco’s cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and local markets, taking note of the Incan stonework still present in most of these picturesque buildings. At the end of you entire trip, you will return to Cusco to relax on your own and visit the most important ruin sites nestled in the nearby countryside.
You then travel to the Sacred Valley where traditional villages and farms are flanked by breathtakingly steep mountains, dotted with Inca ruins throughout. In Pisac, you discover ruins left from the height of Inca stone masonry, perched on a hilltop overlooking the valley. In the village below, you can wander through the famed indigenous market where craftspeople from the countryside gather to sell their colorful weaving and intricate wood statues. You also have time to explore the Incan fortress and town of Ollantaytambo; the buildings built by the Incas are still used in Ollantaytambo, which gives you a look into the past as you wander past stone waterways and see locals wearing traditional, bright clothing.
Of course, no journey would be complete without exploring the world-famous Machu Picchu ruins. The site is as awe-inspiring today as it was to the inspired Incans who dreamed up this royal retreat more than 500 years ago. With your guide, you will see the site in the early morning light, before the crowds arrive so you can enjoy the site’s stillness and majestic setting. After your tour, you have time to discover the site on your own, whether that’s walking to the Sun Gate or hiking up the steep stairs to the top of Huayna Picchu Peak.
After your amazing day at Machu Picchu, you take a comfortable bus from Cusco to Lake Titicaca. The bus ride takes a full day, but you will have a guide on the bus, and you will stop at pre-Inca ruins and stop for lunch along the way. Finally you will reach the charming town of Puno on the shore of the lake. This will be your base while you explore Lake Titicaca, the largest and deepest lake in South America. The indigenous people consider the lake to be the birthplace of the sun.
You travel with your expert bilingual guide out onto the lake to explore the diverse islands. The first island you visit is Uros Island, which is a floating reed island. The Uros people built floating reed islands to flee the invasion of the Incas hundreds of years ago, and many people still live very traditionally on these islands. These days, the reed islands are usually moored to the bottom of the lake, but they can still be moved. The islands are 4 to 8 feet thick with reeds, and as reeds disintegrate from the underside of the islands, people build up the top of the islands. The houses are made of reeds, as are the stunning boats.
Next you head to Amantaní Island, a mountainous island not a floating reed island. Here you will be staying the night with a local host family. Their homes are basic but comfortable. Many of the island inhabitants only speak Quechua and Spanish, but your guide will be accompanying you. On Amantani Island, there are two peaks with ruins at the top and magnificent views of the lake. You stay overnight and eat dinner with your family.
The next morning you say goodbye to your local family, and travel to Taquile Island. Taquile Island has a number of pre-Inca and Inca ruins, along with terraced agricultural fields on the steep mountainsides. Taquile is known for it’s beautiful textiles. Knitting is done by men in the community, and spinning, dying, and weaving is done by the women. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to buy textiles from local cooperatives and markets.
At the end of your trip, you will be taken to the Juliaca Airport (about an hour from Puno). From here, you will take your flight to Lima or elsewhere in Peru.
The three levels of comfort offered on this trip allow you to choose exactly the style of travel you prefer and the budget that works best for you. The luxury tour features all privately guided tours, private transportation, and 5-star small-scale accommodations. The boutique tour includes a mix of group tours and accommodations in locally owned, boutique (3- to 4-star) lodges. The budget tour features all group tours and simple, clean hotels. This lets you see all the worthwhile sites in Southern Peru in the style that suits you best.
LOCAL OPERATOR: APUMAYO EXPEDICIONES
Apumayo Expediciones specializes in adventure travel and non-conventional tourism with a strong environmental and social agenda. It offers activities and tours for people with disabilities and supports Andean community projects, maximizing the positive effect of local tourism. A local Peruvian company based in the City of Cusco, Apumayo Expediciones combines culture, education and natural history into its adventure trips.