Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm on Day 1. You will find more information about this at the hotel reception. Straight after the meeting enjoy a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. If you arrive early in Lima, a walk around Miraflores is recommended. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively, go to Parque del Amor (Love Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other options are a tour to Pachacamac (approximately 30 kilometres from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality. Notes: 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 trip notes for more important information on this.
Get up early and take an included flight to Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours), a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and the perfect base for outdoor activities and exploring Incan history. Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3,450 m) and then head out on an orientation walk with your tour leader. 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. Finally you’ll visit the Chocolate museum where there will be an opportunity to sample a hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. This might be a good opportunity to purchase some gifts or souvenirs. There’s a small store where you’ll find various handicrafts and a variety of artisanal chocolate products. Tonight is free, perhaps head out for dinner your fellow travellers. Your leader will be able to recommend some good place sot eat!
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approximately 2 hours) on the outskirts of Cusco. This lush valley was known as Wilcamayo to the Incas and has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls. You will visit a community in the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities. If your visit coincides with market day you can browse the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and perhaps practice your newfound language, Quechua. Later in the afternoon, board a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. This extra journey ensures that we can travel to Machu Picchu as early as possible tomorrow morning.
Take a bus up the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). This is your chance to decide for yourself whether Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility or is an ancient astronomical observatory. Enjoy a guided visit of the incredible site (1.5–2 hours) with plenty of free time afterwards to wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, return to Cusco. Note: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking climbs of Wayna Picchu.
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cusco's sights, or simply rest your legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, a mountain bike adventure into the surrounding hills is recommended.
Travel by local bus across the spectacular Altiplano to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours). Mingle with the locals in this melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian cultures and see how traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. If you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, which see the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. Using the versatile totora reeds found in the shallows of the lake, the Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into the home of a local community and stay the night. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities, communicating to them in Quechua or perhaps trying your luck with them at soccer. Puno is the hometown of 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 you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813 Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/
Depart your homestay this morning and take a bus to Juliaca airport (approximately 2 hours). In the afternoon take an included flight flight back to Lima (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes). Enjoy a last night out with your fellow travellers in Lima.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Departure flights can be booked for any time as there are no activities planned for today.