Let the good times roll as you go deep into some of Peru’s ultimate spots on this 8 day adventure. Get your culture fix at Machu Picchu, with its unbeatable views & ancient Inca history. Feel an adrenalin rush in Cusco, with rafting & mountain biking at the ready, before heading to the mighty Amazon. Try fishing for piranha, spotting Amazonian Caiman & sleeping at a luscious lodge in the rainforest. You can choose to either trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or take it easy & go by train.
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Itinerary + Backstage Pass & ME Time Optionals
ME Time Optionals
ME Time optionals will take your trip to a whole new level with unforgettable experiences unique to the places you visit. See more, do more, live more & go home completely regret-free. Costs for these aren’t included in your tour cost & are payable to your Tour Manager in local currency.
Your Backstage Pass gives you incredible exclusive experiences you’ll only get with Contiki. From food to accommodation to exclusive access to the best sights, your Backstage Pass gives you unbeatable value & a completely unique travel experience.
Hola! Welcome to Cusco. Once the heart of the Inca Empire, it’s now the modern-day starting point for visits to Peru’s most famous site, Machu Picchu. With huge numbers of travellers flocking to the site every year, it’s led to the development of loads of awesome attractions, so there’s plenty of cool ways to spend your time.
First up we’ll help you get your bearings on a walking tour of the city including a visit to the neighborhood of San Blas, and a stop on Calle Hatunrumiyoc, not far from Plaza de Armas. It is a narrow pedestrian street, famous for its Inca walls where huge stones are precisely carved to fit together without mud or concrete. Hatunrumiyoc is a great place to have a closer look at the engineering skills of the Incas. The 12 sided stone, and the wall it is found on, is a perfect example of the stonework that was reserved for the 'elite' of Incan society who lived in houses of perfect stonework, cut and shaped with not a gap to be seen. The walls were so well built that the Spanish used them for the foundations of their buildings after the conquest.
From here we’ll head to the Koricancha or Santa Domingo Church. Originally an Inca temple devoted to the worship of the sun god, in its glory days it was covered in gold leaf with a field filled with gold statues surrounding it. The site was later converted into a Dominican church during the Spanish conquest. We’ll take a guided tour so you can really get into the history as we learn about the differences in architecture and cultural beliefs.
Our next stop is Cusco Cathedral. Built over a period of more than 100 years, the cathedral is a true testament to the place of the church in both the heart of the Spanish conquistadors and their desire to convert the religious beliefs of the locals to coincide with their own. It is filled with beautiful examples of the ‘Cusco School’ style of paintings, gold and religious icons.
Take a break for lunch before visiting the famous San Pedro market. As you cruise from aisle to aisle you will be amazed by the variety of foods on offer here. From delicious jungle fruits, whole animals to ‘cacao buds’ (one of the new ‘it’ super foods) there is little that you can’t find. A must-do is trying a tasty and refreshing freshly squeezed juice.
If getting an adrenalin fix or getting back to nature is what you’re looking for, then Cusco is perfect for getting amongst it. With a free afternoon, there are tons of options - from biking, rafting and horseback riding and best of all, your Tour Manager can arrange these for you.
Or, for those wanting to explore town, simply take a stroll through the city’s cobble-stone streets for a load of examples of Inca constructions and the intricately-carved, wooden colonial doors and balconies.
For the shopaholics in the group, this is the perfect spot to pick up some gifts for friends and family (or for yourself), there’s loads of artists selling items like woolen and alpaca goods, gorgeous jewelry to artwork. These can be purchased from low-priced market stalls to expensive boutiques that line the streets near the main square, so there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets.
For the foodies on tour, you are in for a treat in Cusco. Peru’s cuisine is exquisite and can be tried in lots of places dotted throughout the town. If you’re feeling like a taste of home, there’s also a number of cosmopolitan restaurants here too, it’s perfect for finding something for everyone.
Tonight we’ll check out the nightlife that is sure to keep you hopping into the wee hours of the night.
- City walking tour
- Visit San Blas, La Catedral & Koricancha
Say farewell to Cusco this morning as we make our way to the Sacred Valley of the ancient Incas.
The Sacred Valley was the heart of the Inca’s agricultural setting and an important ceremonial region, with the sacred sites of Cuzco at one end and Machu Picchu at the other and countless ceremonial sites in between. Our first stop is to one of these sites, Pisac. On our guided tour we will see two of the most important aspects of the Inca culture – terracing – a farming technique created by the Inca’s and their religion. We’ll take a walk before descending in the village below for a quick visit to the market. This will be great practice for those who have chosen the one-day hike to Machu Picchu tomorrow. Don’t miss the town’s huge wood-oven bakery!
After a stop for lunch in Urubamba we’ll make our way to one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns of South America – Ollantaytambo.
On our way, we can see the ‘salineras’ or salt mines of the area from a distance. For hundreds of years these pools, constructed by the Inca’s, have provided salt to the surrounding communities.
We’ll also make a quick stop to try the local brew “Chicha de Jora” (traditional beverage made from fermented maize) and play a traditional Peruvia game of “Sapo” (Frog) if you’re up for it.
We soon arrive to the town and archaeological site of the same name, Ollantaytambo, the last fully-functioning Inca town. We’ll wander around the site or visit the still inhabited Inca buildings before checking into the hotel.
- Entry into the Sacred Valley & a guided tour of the ancient ruins of Pisac & Ollantaytambo
- Try some local Chicha de Jora
For those that have chosen the Inca Trail trek, well wake up this morning and take the train to KM104 to start your trek. Under the guidance of our professional Inca Trail Guide you’ll climb a gentle slope and experience the wildlife and cloudforest found here. You’ll pass a beautiful waterfall on your trek to Winayhuayna where we’ll stop for lunch at a trekker’s lodge. Explore the area if you’re up for it, to get you warmed up for Machu Picchu.
After lunch begin the journey to our highlight, Machu Picchu. We’ll walk along the original Inca stonework path, past an altar to the Sun Gate where you’ll catch your first look at this awesome site. Another 45 minutes will take us to the Guardian’s House, where there’s the opportunity to take photos of the site at its best. After a wander around the site and some stunning photos to show off back home, we’ll take a bus back into town to meet up with the rest of the group where you can tell your stories from your day of hiking.
If you haven’t chosen our Inca Trail Trek today, then the morning is free to explore Sacred Valley. If you’re up for it, rafting and horse-riding await you today. Or if relaxing is more your thing, visit the town’s spectacular square and have a wander through the local markets.
This afternoon, we’ll catch a train through the lush and verdant mountains to Aguas Calientes the town at the base of the ruins. Tonight, soak up the atmosphere, wander through the market stalls, or visit the hot springs which gave the town its former name of Aguas Calientes. Later, we’ll meet up with those who chose to do the one-day hike into Machu Picchu and listen to the stories of their day! The chilled atmosphere and amazing setting makes for a great place to enjoy a couple of drinks on the patio with the group.
- Train ride to the 104km point
- Tour Machu Picchu with our local guide
It’s an early start this morning to be among the first to enter Machu Picchu. Take advantage of the peaceful early morning quiet to grab some awesome pics from every angle as the sun rises above the mountain tops.
You’ll learn all about the site as we take a tour through the most important parts of the site such as the Temple of Three Windows, the ceremonial baths and the altar. Widely believed to be the country retreat for wealthy Incas, this site is as fascinating as it is stunning. After the tour, there’s time to explore more of the site in your own time. For those finishing early and looking for a little exercise you can walk down to the simple but interesting Machu Picchu museum at the base of the mountain. Or, for those really feeling up for it, you could continue on to the waterfall 40 minutes outside of town or simply return to "main street" and have a drink before we return to Cusco via train then coach.
Being full of knowledge about Cusco past and present, now might be time to try one of the delicacies of the Peruvian highlands, ‘cuy’ or crispy fried guinea pig. It’s a must-try in Peru. If you are not feeling quite so adventurous, a traditional dish of trout or some of Peru’s fusion cuisine that mixes traditional ingredients such as quinoa with non-traditional flavors might be a better option.
Tonight is a great night to become a bona fide member of our "Illary Club" - by heading to one of the clubs and dancing until the sun rises.
- Tour the Temple of Three Windows, the ceremonial baths & altar
- Return train ride from Macchu Picchu
Today it’s your chance to totally chill. Laze around town enjoying a cappuccino while overlooking the Plaza de Armas, or you can pick it up a notch and try one of the adrenaline filled options here. Spend a half-day horseback riding through the X-zone just north of the city, white water raft down the sacred Urubamba River or do some mountain biking.
Tonight, ask your Tour Manager for some tips on where to head for a meal and have a good time on your last night out in Cusco. Try a salsa lesson or go to a peña to listen to live Peruvian music and to dance the night away.
- Mountain biking adventure Approx. cost: 154 PEN
- White water rafting on the Urubamba River Approx. cost: 175 PEN
- Horse riding through the Sacred Valley (1/2 day) Approx. cost: 198 PEN
We’ll catch a flight over the Andes to the city of Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southern jungle. We’ll have lunch on the river as we travel upstream by a traditional Peruvian boat to our Contiki Special Stay Rainforest Lodge, where we’ll try to spot toucans, macaws and capybaras along the way.
Our lodge is a special experience in itself! Located in then luscious rainforest and made from wood and clay, its open walls leave you sleeping virtually amongst the rainforest! After you settle in, we’ll get a different take on the jungle as we take a hike to the canopy tower. After climbing the 100ft of stairs you will be provided with a birds-eye view of the rainforest! Home to monkeys, birds, bromeliads and other jungle life, this is the ultimate way to see the jungle.
After dinner you can experience something really different, heading out to look for caiman, a member of the alligator family native to the Amazon. Scan the shores with flashlights and see if you can catch the red gleam of the light as it reflects off of the caiman’s eyes.
Contiki Special Stopover Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner
- City tour
- Canopy hike for amazing jungle views
- Special stay in our Amazon Rainforest Jungle Ecolodge
- Visit the Infierno community
We’ll wake early for best view of some the wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled as we travel further downstream to Tres Chimadas, an oxbow lake. We’ll board a simple catamaran with a jungle guide to learn about the flora and fauna of the area while looking out for the prehistoric hoatzin bird, the giant river otter, or try your luck fishing for piranha.
After our cruise, we’ll head to the native community of Infierno, where we will visit a local fish farm to see some of the species that are native to the Peruvian Amazon. After lunch, time is yours to do what you wish. For those keen on footy (soccer), spend the afternoon playing soccer, volleyball or take a dip. There are other options for your free time too. You can take an optional kayaking trip, try a 30 metre Canopy Climb with a rope, harness and jumar (a mechanical device used for ascending on a rope. After a long day exploring, we head to Puerto Maldonado our home for the night.
Hotel Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner
- Locally guided jungle catamaran cruise
- Kayaking trip on the Tambopata River Approx. cost: 131 PEN
- Canopy climbing experience Approx. cost: 131 PEN
Our local guide will accompany us to the airport for our flight back into Lima. Don’t forget to swap addresses with your mates and Tour Manager, as our South American adventure ends late this afternoon on arrival in Lima.
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