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Peru: Beyond the Sacred Valley with the Lares Adventure

11 days from £2,938pp

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Peru: Beyond the Sacred Valley with the Lares Adventure

11 days from £2,938pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip


Private Journey


Day 1

Arrive Lima, walk to airport hotel.

Arrive in Lima, the capital of Peru, in the early evening. You'll be met and escorted to to the Wyndham hotel at the airport.  You have an early flight the next morning.  

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Day 2

Fly to Cusco, Inca capital, high in the Andes.

It’s a short walk back to the airport for your 1hr flight up to Cusco, set in a mountain bowl in the Andes. You have the rest of the day to relax and acclimatise to the altitude of over 3,000m.

The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the busy squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches.

It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

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Day 3

Guided walking tour of Sacsayhuaman and the historic centre of Cusco.
Lamas at Sacsayhuaman

Take a short drive from Cusco to the Inca site Tambomachay, featuring aqueducts and ritual bathing facilities, where you will begin your gentle hike along original Inca pathways. The walk passes several other impressive ruins, each with a story to tell about Inca culture and lifestyle. These include the fortress at Puka Pukara, the Temple of the Moon, and Qenqo with its sacrificial stone. You'll reach the vast Sacsayhuaman archaeological park, which overlooks Cusco from the brow of the highland basin, and take a guided tour of the grand plaza and its adjacent extensive terrace walls, constructed from massive stones.  

Walk down to the centre of Cusco for lunch followed by a stroll through the narrow streets of the arty quarter San Blas, well known for its ateliers and handicraft shops. Here you will visit the church of San Blas and a family-run workshop. Continue towards the main Plaza de Armas and visit the cathedral, followed by the Koricancha temple.

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Lamas at Sacsayhuaman

Day 4

Chocolate, coffee and pisco tasting tour.
Pisco tasting

Following a morning at leisure, the afternoon’s guided excursion takes you to an artisan chocolate factory, a coffee museum and an establishment dedicated to pisco, the grape brandy spirit beloved by Peruvians.

You will learn about the production process and, in the chocolate and coffee establishments, participate in an interactive workshop where you are taught to make your own confectionary and coffee blend. At the bar Republica del Pisco, close to the main square, you have the opportunity to sample each of four varieties of pisco, washing down a plateful of gourmet tapas. If you are enjoying yourself you can stay on in the bar afterwards; they sometimes have live music in the evening.

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Pisco tasting

Day 5

By road to the Sacred Valley, visit Pisac and isolated Viacha community.
Pisaq ruins

Depart Cusco early by road into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Your first stop is at Pisac, a compact colonial town set in the shadow of magnificent Inca ruins, famous for its artisan market. A perusal of the richly woven textiles, bags and traditional clothing gives you a taste of the cultural delights yet to come.  There’s  a hiking option in the exquisite countryside of this fertile river valley, hemmed in by rugged, icy peaks.

Peru is the home of the potato and this region is famous for its many varieties. Enjoy exclusive access to the isolated community of Viacha. You can drive or hike for three hours over a mountain pass at 4,328m to get there. Learn about its age-old potato cultivation techniques and be treated to an Inca ‘pachamanca’ meal, a medley of meats cooked under hot stones. Afterwards you will visit the Pisac archaeological complex, with the sun setting behind the peaks.

Spend the night at Lamay Lodge, 2,958m, in the rustic adobe village of the same name, sitting at the foot of rugged cliffs, too steep to bear vegetation. Like the other lodges operated by Peruvian firm Mountain Lodges of Peru, in conjunction with local communities, the cosy lodge is exclusive to you and any other guests on your current adventure. There are currently only 8 rooms - all on the ground floor - accepting visitors at the moment; each has its own terrace overlooking a flowery garden. Your bed is comfy and warm, and the shower hot and powerful: just what you need after a day spent outdoors. The Peruvian-style meals served here as at the other accommodation are nutritious and well presented. Lunches on hikes too are more than just a sandwich: fresh, hot meals are served in little camps set up in scenic locations.  

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Pisaq ruins

Day 6

Explore the Lares valley; hikes and weaving villages.
Huacahuasi Lodge

Today you will venture deeper into the heart of the Lares Valley. A scenic drive into the mountains along the celebrated ‘Inca Weaver’s Trail’ allows you to discover the rarely visited archaeological site of Ancasmarca and the market town of Lares.

After lunch, you can visit the traditional Choquecancha, a modest weavers’ village of squat stone and adobe dwellings, typical of the region, where the vivid colours of the intricate textiles, woven by women who themselves wear traditional dress, contrast with the earthy shades of the settlement. Meet the ladies and watch them at work; visit the old colonial church and Inca ruins nearby. Alternatively, you can opt between two hikes of 2-4 hours respectively, over rocky, treeless moorland, a wilderness terrain characterised by a real bleak beauty. There are sweeping views looking down on turquoise-hued lakes glowered over by lofty peaks before you reach Huacahuasi village, where you will spend the night.

This thatched lodge, built of wood and stone into a mountain cliff with large picture windows, is a relatively grand affair, with spacious, bright guest rooms and even floor heating. It is staffed year-round by local people who enjoy interacting with guests. The venture provides an interesting insight into the evolving role of the indigenous Andean people in both the culture and commerce of the modern-day region around Cusco.

If you'd like to stay longer in the region and learn more about the people living here we can arrange a longer Lares Adventure which includes an night in Lamay Lodge and an extra night in Huacahuasi. Highly recommended.

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Huacahuasi Lodge

Day 7

Learn about Huacahuasi community. Hiking and biking in the Sacred Valley.
Lares Adventure

In the morning, learn more about the day-to-day activities of the Huacahuasi community. Then, you may choose to embark on a spectacular hike through varied highland terrain and over a pass leading to the adjacent valley and the little town of Ollantaytambo, a grid of small dwellings with Inca foundations and Spanish colonial dwellings. Above it soar the ruins of the Inca temple fortress which stood at the gateway to the Amazon basin.

If you prefer to see more of the Sacred Valley, you can travel by road to an ethnographic museum featuring the history of Peru’s civilisations, or hop on a mountain bike to explore at a leisurely pace the landscapes scored with fields of cereals and vegetables and studded with tiny adobe hamlets. After, enjoy lunch in a restaurant in the pretty countryside fringing the Urubamba River on your way to Ollantaytambo. For the dedicated trekker, there’s a challenging full-day hiking option crossing a high-altitude pass down to Ollanta. Walk in a landscape dotted with alpacas with breathtaking views of snowy peaks, stopping along the way to interact with children in traditional dress on their way to school or shepherds moving their hardy herds through the rugged landscapes.

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Lares Adventure

Day 8

Visit the ruins at Ollantaytambo with optional hike.

Following a night spent in a hotel close to Ollanta, you can opt to hike up to some Inca granaries perched on a near-vertical cliff opposite the main stepped structure of the vast temple. You get a very different view of this monumental structure than the rest of the visitors at ground level…

Head back down to the ruins for a guided tour along with those who chose not to climb. In the afternoon, you will pick up the train to Machu Picchu, 1.5 hours further down the valley as the river cascades towards the Amazon.

The River Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway.

Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the modern-day village of Machu Picchu (formerly Aguas Calientes), dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants. It’s bursting with pizzerias and happy hours, but your hotel has a lovely peaceful riverside location, set in its own orchid-filled gardens.

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Day 9

Guided tour of Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco.
Machu Picchu

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by a sinuous road, or on foot up a near-vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is perhaps the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination.

You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there’s time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere. For those with a good head for heights, there’s the option of climbing the sheer Inca staircase of Huayna Picchu, a steep and vertically quite challenging hike that affords views encompassing Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Return by train to OIlantaytambo and drive back to Cusco.

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Machu Picchu

Day 10

At leisure in Cusco; optional excursions.
Ollantaytambo, Peru

Cusco is a compact city, easy to explore on foot independently. You are at leisure to discover the many markets, baroque churches and museums which you haven’t already seen, and just to wander the attractive narrow streets. 

There are optional excursions in the surrounding region, including a trip to Maras and Moray, about an hour’s drive from Cusco. Moray is a system of ancient agricultural irrigation paths which now form circular depressions in the earth, with wonderful views into the Sacred Valley and in the shadow of the snowy peak of Mount Veronica. From here it is a short walk to the salt pans at Maras, circular pans of glistening white carved into the mountainside. Feeling you’d like to be active? White-water rafting, cycling and horse riding are on offer.

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Ollantaytambo, Peru

Day 11

Fly to Lima and onward destination.

Transfer to the airport and fly back to Lima to connect with your international flight home, or take one of many suggested holiday extensions.

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