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10 days, 5 trekking - Keep an eye out for condors in the massive Apurimac Canyon on your way to Choquequirao Machu Picchu’s spectacular sister city.
International flight to/from Lima, pre- & post- tour accommodation, visas, vaccinations, personal insurance, meals except where specified above, drinks, laundry, souvenirs, tips while on optional excursions and other items of a personal nature. Medical travel insurance is not included through Southern Crossings and cancellation insurance is advisable.
Arrive in Lima anytime today and private transfer to your hotel. If arriving during the day, your hotel will be in the neighborhood of Miraflores, with good artisan markets and restaurants, and you’ll have an included city tour in the afternoon. The city tour lets you explore the wonders of the colonial capital, you visit the famous Plaza de Armas, as well as the impressive Cathedral in the Plaza and the beautiful San Francisco church. You also get a chance to take in some beautiful views of the coast at Parque de Amor.
Lima City Tour – Option 2: Larco Museum & Huaca Pucllana (upon request). Let us know if you would prefer this tour over the Cathedral Tour (or both for an extra fee). We could also plan a tour of the Huaca Pucllana at night if you have time in Lima. The site is lit up until midnight and looks amazing!
The Larco Museum is housed in an 18th century viceroyalty-era mansion. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the Larco Museum is a stimulating and inspiring space in which visitors can enjoy and learn more about the fascinating history of ancient Peru. The cultures gallery provides a clear and captivating narrative account of more than 5000 years of pre-Columbian Peruvian history. Visiting the Larco Museum with their more than 45,000 meticulously catalogued archaeological objects, is a unique experience.
The Archaeological Complex “Huaca Pucllana” was an Administrative and Ceremonial Center of the Lima Culture, a society that developed at the Peruvian Central Coast between 200 AD and 700 AD. Located in today’s district of Miraflores the “Huaca Pucllana” was built around 500 AD. “Pucllana” is one of the most important ancient monuments in Lima. Based on the “Huaca Pucllana” architecture and found objects, it is believed that the complex was the heart of development of the “Lima Culture” and served as a ceremonial and administrative center.
If arriving late at night, you’ll be close to the airport for a bit more sleep before your next day’s flight, and you’ll have your city tour of Lima upon your return.
A short flight brings us to the famous Inca city of Cuzco. After checking into your hotel, we set out to explore the incredible capital of the Inca Empire. We head to the picturesque Plaza de Armas to the fascinating cathedral to see the colonial influence in the city, and we can admire the stunning architecture of the church and also the native influences subtly woven in into the artwork. Onwards to Coricancha church, where the colonial and Incan architectures are on display side-by-side directly contrasted with each other. Afterwards we make our way above the city to the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman where we can marvel at the incredible stonework and architecture of the Inca civilization. We head back to Cuzco in the late afternoon.
A beautiful early morning train journey across the high plain above Cusco then down the Urubamba Valley to majestic Machu Picchu. Known as one of the greatest architectural achievements in the world, this historic sanctuary is considered one of the seven manmade wonders of the world. After a guided tour, take time for independent exploration of this magnificent site. Overnight in Aguas Calientes the town below Machu Picchu.
Return by early afternoon train to Cusco where you’ll have the day free to rest, explore or make preparations for the journey to Choquequirao archaeological site beginning tomorrow.
This morning we head out of Cuzco to the tiny, picturesque village of Cachora, the starting point of our trek. We’ll take it easy today, walking generally downhill for about six hours. Shortly after leaving the village, we’ll find ourselves skirting a ridge high above the Apurimac River, with a stunning line of glistening white peaks, the Salcantay range, directly across from us. Our trail then takes us winding into the vertiginous Apurimac Canyon. Flora varies according to the season, but orchids, giant blooming agaves and entire hillsides covered in a carpet of blue and purple flowers are some of the things we may see. The views are spectacular from the start on this trek. The campsite is near the raging Apurimac River.
This morning we cross the Apurimac and ascend for a couple of hours to the small farm of Santa Rosa, where a welcoming glass of chicha, traditional Andean corn beer, often awaits us. Afterwards we climb for approximately three more hours up lush, verdant hillsides and past gushing waterfalls before relaxing for a late and well-deserved lunch. From here it is just a two-hour, mostly level hike to the ruins of Choquequirao. We set up camp just outside the ruins.
Today is dedicated to exploring the incredible ruins of Choquequirao. Nearly as large as Machu Picchu and many would say in a more stunning location, Choquequirao was never discovered by the Spanish conquistadors. It was probably one of the “royal estates” of the Incas and served as a gateway to the wild Vilcabamba region beyond. It was also likely used as a base from which to attack the Spanish on the road from Cusco to Lima during the Inca rebellion of the 1500′s and may well have held Spanish prisoners. Today, the site is only partially cleared, allowing us to see many of the delicate and beautiful aspects of Inca architecture while also allowing us to “play Indiana Jones” and discover many constructions still buried in vegetation. Our guide will explain the history and importance of the site. Afterwards you will have free time to visit the many sectors of the complex and watch for condors which frequent the site. Same campsite, just outside the ruins.
After breakfast we begin our return trek with a steep descent on an Inca trail to the Apurimac River. Afterwards we ascend towards the village of Pumapata, camping near the fascinating ruins of an old colonial hacienda.
A gentle ascent up a small, colorful canyon to the village of Pumapata, where we’ll catch our private transport back to the comforts of Cuzco. Dinner and a night out to celebrate a successful adventure!
Morning flight to Lima. International flights may depart any time after 3pm.
Add extra activities such as river rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, zip lining, surfing and free days to your custom itinerary. Ask about these options and we’d be happy to add them to your quote. If you have any special requests or interests like birding, cooking or crafting that you would like to explore please let us know!
This tour includes mostly 2-star hotels. We would be happy to give you an upgrade to three-, four- or five-star and work it into your custom itinerary. We can also arrange additional accommodation for you before or after your trip.
This trip includes five days of trekking of approximately the same difficulty as the classic Inca Trail. No trekking experience is required, but one should be in good physical health with no serious heart or respiratory conditions and ready for a serious hike. Anyone is welcome on this trip; those over 60 should receive a medical check-up and doctor’s approval within six months of the start of the trip. As always, a certain patience is required for the inconsistencies and occasional delays of developing-world travel.
On all Southern Crossings tours, you are met at the airport by one of our representatives (holding a Southern Crossings placard), who will accompany you to our joining hotel. No bargaining or being swindled by airport taxis.
All travelers to Peru are required to have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry. Visas are not required for E.U., U.S., Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport holders. For other nationalities, please consult the nearest Peruvian embassy or consulate. An onward ticket and proof of funds may also be required at entry and should be available to show to immigration. Traveler’s checks, currency, or a bank statement, from the bank or printed off the internet, are sufficient for proof of funds.
No immunizations are required of travelers to these areas of Peru. Travelers may wish to receive hepatitis vaccinations and should be current on all other standard vaccinations. No areas visited on this trip are malaria or yellow fever zones. Please consult your physician or local health department for more information.
During our trek, mules will accompany us to carry most of our things, including all the camping gear. Each passenger is allowed 15 pounds / 7 kilos of personal items which will be carried by the mules. Such items would include warm clothing for camping, toiletries, etc. During the day you’ll be using your daypack and will just need to carry water, snacks, rain gear, and a layer for changing weather conditions. Of course, most people also carry a camera.
Rain is possible at any time of year, especially in high mountains and cloud forest, and one should always be prepared for temperatures ranging from 35° to 85° Fahrenheit / 2° to 30° Celsius and for extremes of sun and the possibility of rain. The climate in sites we will visit is as follows: Cuzco: days are warm if sunny, slightly chilly if cloudy. Nights are chilly in Cuzco. Lima: warm to hot days, cool evenings, almost never any rain. Journey to Choquequirao: all ranges of weather from hot desert at the bottoms of canyons to possible snow and rain at higher elevations. Most people trek in shorts or light pants (synthetic, fast-drying fibers are preferable to cotton) and a t-shirt and carry a layer or two (thin fleece and micro-fibers are, again, preferable to cotton), plus a poncho or other rain gear. There are some biting insects on sections of the trail, so even in warm weather some people opt to cover more skin with a long sleeve t-shirt and long pants. On this journey to Choquequirao, when the sun goes down it get colds quickly. Machu Picchu: lower and warmer than Cuzco, with rain possible all year round.
The unit of currency in Peru is the nuevo sol. Automatic cash points are available in Lima and Cuzco. Visa, MasterCard, Plus, and Cirrus are the most common usable types of cards. Traveler’s checks are difficult to cash (American Express is best, but you may be charged 5-8% to cash) or a Visa or MasterCard for cash advances are also options. Do not bring Money Grams or International Money Orders, as they are extremely difficult to exchange. Banks and exchange houses are available in Lima and Cuzco. For currency, U.S. dollars are recommended and most easily exchanged. Please note that cash must be untorn. It can be older looking, but even the slightest tear on an edge will make it unchangeable. Acceptable bills come out of the ATMs in country. Expect to spend about US$4-11 on a meal, US$2 on a beer, water or soft drink in Peru. Artisan market prices are usually lower than people expect. Alpaca sweaters, for example, run between $5 and $30. Currency Converter