A Note on our Community Trek: From July 2016, we have renamed our flagship Community Trek, The Wild Andes Trek, we feel this sums it up pretty well - trekking in the remote, pristine mountains of Peru. The only thing thats changing is the name - Dragoman's commitment to genuine, responsible tourism remains at the heart of the trek and the route remains the same, so rest assured by opting for this trek you are supporting communities and protecting the environment.
Border information: if joining in Lima, you will most likely enter Peru at Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport (IATA code: LIM).
There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Lima before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Lima.
In Lima we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the city's historical centre.
Hotel for the night: Hotel Kamana
Jr. Camaná 547
Tel - +51 1426 7204
Visit Lima's famous Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), containing over 7000 pieces of gold, silver and gilded copper from a number of Peru's different pre-Columbian cultures : PEN 33
Visit the beautiful Baroque cathedral of San Francisco in Lima's historical centre, and explore the morbidly fascinating catacombs underneath : PEN 7
Visit the excellent Museum of the Nation in Lima, which has numerous exhibits highlighting many of the pre-conquest civilisations and an outstanding photo exhibit on Peru's Internal Conflict of the 1980s and 1990s : PEN 9
Explore the bohemian areas of Barranco and Miraflores on a cycling tour of Lima : USD 35
See the incredible 'Magic Water Circuit' in Lima's Parque de la Reserva, an astounding evening display of water, music, light, images, and laser effects across 13 huge water fountains : PEN 4
Explore the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum in Lima, containing the largest private collection of pre-Colombian art in the world : PEN 30
Take a cebiche and pisco sour class at one of the top restaurants in Miraflores, a lively district of Lima : USD 40
Lima is Peru's buzzing and busy capital city, and the second largest city in the Americas behind São Paulo! Despite its colossal size and chaotic areas, if you explore the capital's streets, parks and plazas you'll discover a real gem of a city. Lima was founded by the infamous Conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and was originally the administrative centre for Spain’s Vice royalty in South America, making it the continent’s most important city for nearly three centuries. It became a city of great wealth financed by the massive quantities of gold and silver that were mined in the area, and became the capital of independent Peru after its liberation from the Spanish in 1821. There are many museums in Lima showcasing the finest artefacts from the country's many ancient civlisations, and you can visit the finely preserved catacombs at the Church of San Francisco. There are many excellent restaurants in the city and a thriving nightlife in the lively district of Miraflores.
Huacachina / Ballestas Islands /Paracas
Today we will have a very early start to leave Lima before the rush hour, and drive 270kms south to Paracas. There we will board one of the local boats for an included trip to the Ballestas Islands to view its incredible array of resident wildlife and birds.
After lunch, we will continue south to arrive at the stunning desert oasis town of Huacachina, where we have the option to head out for an evening of sand boarding and dune buggying and the further option to camp out under the stars in the deserts.
For those that do not wish to participate in the optional camping in the desert, in Huacachina we will stay in dorm accommodation in the village itself.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Head out for an exhilarating dune buggy ride and sandboarding trip into the sand dunes of Huacachina, followed by a camp out around the fire and under the stars in the beautiful deserts : USD 60
Take a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, and see their colossal colony of resident seals and seabirds : Included in Kitty
Huacachina is a sparkling oasis nestled in the deserts near Ica in northern Peru - an area that is more reminiscent of the Sahara than South America! The picturesque lagoon is surrounded by palm trees and towering sand dunes and creates a tranquil oasis in the dusty coastal desert. The small town here has become a popular destination for travellers due to its incredible sand boarding and dune buggying opportunities.
About Ballestas Islands:
The Ballestas Islands are a series of rock formations in the turbulent waters of the Pacific just off the coast of Paracas. Sometimes referred to as the "poor man's Galapagos", the islands have an abundance of wildlife, including Humboldt penguins, Blackish oystercatchers, cormorants and Peruvian boobies living alongside vast colonies of sealions, all noisily crowding the Ballestas coastline and jostling for space. The wildlife is fantastic to see on a boat trip around the islands. The startling biodiversity around the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Park is the result of two merging currents in the Pacific - the warm northern waters of El Niño and the cooler waters of the Humboldt. The climatic conditions produced by the combination of these two currents create the perfect environment for a proliferation in the number of plankton and phytoplankton, the core constituents in the diet of fish.
Paracas National Park is widely regarded as one of the most important marine reserves in the world. This coastal and marine national park is located on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of the highest concentration of marine birds in the world as well as providing a vital habitat for sealions and dolphins. Historically the peninsula was the home to the Paracas people from 1200 BCE through to around 200 CE and some remains of their culture can be found in the area, the most spectacular of which is the enormous candelabra - a giant etching depicting a cactus inscribed onto a coastal hill overlooking the ocean.
Nazca / Huacachina
Today we continue south to the world-famous village of Nazca, the location of the mysterious Nazca Lines. On the drive, we will stop at a viewing platform to get a glimpse of some of these lines. The Nazca Lines are a series of figures, lines, and geometric shapes that were etched into the ground of the desert plateau over a thousand years ago by the ancient Nazca culture, and their purpose is still unknown to this day.
In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to take an optional 30-minute flight over the Nazca Lines in a small aircraft - this is by far the best way of seeing the figures, and we use a local operator with an excellent safety record.
In Nazca we will camp at a well-equipped campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours
See a section of the famous Nazca Lines from the viewing tower built by the archeologist Maria Reiche : PEN 3
Take a scenic flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines, to get the best possible view of the world-famous figures : USD 130
Nazca is home to the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines, enormous geometric designs and petroglyphs inscribed on the ground of the desert on the arid high plateau between Nazca and Palpa - some of the figures are over 200m across in size. Many of the lines form stylised depictions of animals, such as monkeys, spiders and hummingbirds, as well as trees and other designs. Archaeologists believe the Nazca Lines were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE by the Nazca culture - although scholars are unsure as to their exact purpose, but they almost certainly has religious significance to the Nazca. The designs are simply shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the grey ground beneath. The Nazca Lines were discovered in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, and later famously studied by the German archaeologist Maria Reiche. You can view the lines from a viewing tower or take a flight in a small plane to see them from above. Close to the town are the sites of the ancient Nazca city of Cahuachi and the Chauchilla Cemetery, where you can see the tombs of people of the ancient Nazca civilisation. It is something of an eerie sight to see the skulls, bones and even hair of the dead, preserved in a remarkable state thanks to the dry desert air.
This morning we head south of Nazca, and have an included visit to the nearby ancient sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Cahuachi Pyramid, thought to have once been the religious centre of the Nazca civilisation.
In the afternoon we will continue our drive to the coastal resort of Puerto Inca, where we camp at a well-equiped campsite on the beach.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Visit the incredible ancient Nazca sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the nearby Cahuachi Pyramid : Included in Kitty
About Puerto Inca:
Puerto Inca is situated on the Peruvian Pacific coast, nd was once the Inca port that supplied the city of Cuzco with supplies of fish. It is a great place to relax on the beach, enjoying scenic views of the ocean and a dip in the swimming pool!
Today we will start our drive inland, and head uphill to the beautiful ‘White City’ of Arequipa.
In Arequipa we will stay in a good local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.
Situated on the Peruvian Altiplano, Arequipa sits at almost 3,500m above sea level and is the second largest city in the country. Set against the stunning backdrop of the snow-covered volcano El Misti, salt lakes, thermal springs and high-altitude deserts, the landscape of the area around Arequipa truly unique. It's possible to arrange mountain-biking and rafting trips in the area as day tours from the city The city itself is very beautiful, full of stunning colonial buildings built out of the soft white volcanic rock that is found in the area. As a university town, there is always a lively buzz about the place and there are plenty of good bars and restaurants to discover. No trip to Arequipa would be complete without paying a visit to Juanita in the Museo Santuarios Andinos. Sometimes known as the "Ice Maiden", Juanita is the mummy of a young Inca girl aged about 11-14 at the time of her death in approximately 1450 CE - she was discovered near to the summit of Mount Ampato in 1995 by two climbers, her body frozen and well-preserved in the low temperatures and high altitude. Arequipa is also famous for the Santa Catalina Convent, which is almost a city within a city in the centre of the town. Not only are the buildings of the convent stunningly beautiful, with brightly painted walls and shady courtyards, it also has a fascinating history which you can learn about on a guided tour.
Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Arequipa, or for some optional activities in and around the city.
Visit Arequipa's Museo Santuarios Andinos, home of the famous mummy of 'Juanita' mummy - the frozen remains of an Inca girl that was sacrificed on a nearby mountain over 600 years ago : PEN 20
Freely explore the beautiful monastery and convent of Santa Catalina, an incredibly photogenic 'city within a city' in Arequipa : PEN 35
Head out for an exciting morning of white-water rafting on the Chili River near Arequipa : USD 35
Take a 'Reality Tour' of Arequipa, a walking tour with an alternative focus on the daily lives of the local people and contemporary issues facing modern Peru : PEN 40
Take a fascinating cooking class in Arequipa, learning how to create some iconic Peruvian cuisine and taking a tour of the nearby food markets : PEN 90
We will have some more free time to explore Arequipa this morning, before continuing our drive to the highland town of Chivay after lunch.
In Chivay we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
The rural town of Chivay is the gateway to the magnificent Colca Canyon - one of the largest canyons in the Americas, which at a maximum depth of 3,270m is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA. As well as boasting some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Peru, the Colca Canyon is famous as being one of the best places in the world to spot the mighty Andean Condor - this stunning bird is one of the largest in the world with a wingspan of around 2.5m, and the Colca Canyon provides a perfect natural habitat for them so it is very common to see them as they swoop around the canyon walls.
This morning we will head out on a short drive to some of the best viewpoints along the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world! The canyon is famous for its resident condors, and we will spend a good amount of time at the viewpoints to give ourselves the best chance of spotting them. We will also visit a couple of local communities on the way back to Chivay.
We will have a free afternoon to explore Chivay, and possibly take an optional trip to the nearby hot springs and zip-lining course.
Visit the phenomenal Colca Conyon and search for the native Andean Condors that fly through its spectacular scenery : Included in Kitty
Visit the La Calera thermal springs near Chivay : PEN 15
Today we will drive through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian highlands to the small village of Raqchi. Here we will stay at a homestay as guests of the local villagers in their traditional family homes. The houses are very clean and have basic facilities. This evening the villagers will invite us to take part in a traditional Quechua religious ceremony, and we'll have some lively music from some of the village's musicians.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
Stay at an incredible Quechua homestay with local families in Raqchi, taking part in a traditional religious ceremony and visiting a community crafts project in the village : Included in Kitty
Take a guided visit to the ruins of the Inca Temple of Wiracocha in Raqchi : Included in Kitty
Raqchi is a small village situated 100kms southeast of Cuzco, famous as being the site of the only surviving temple of the ancient Inca creator deity Wiracocha. It is a special place for us as it is where we have one of the best local homestay experiences to be found in the world - on our Dragoman trips we stay here as guests of the local families in their traditional houses, a fantastic way to get a real insight into how people live here and to learn about their culture and customs. There is often the chance to participate in some of the ceremonial and spiritual aspects of village life, and there is always plenty of singing and dancing as we get to know our new Peruvian families. The village is also well known for its talented craftsmen and women, and there will be the chance to buy some of the beautiful hand-made and intricately decorated pottery that is made here.
This morning we will visit the Inca ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, and then see a pottery demonstration at a local artisan centre.
In the afternoon we will drive to the incredible historical city of Cuzco, the former Inca capital.
In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
The Inca Empire was the largest empire in the pre-Columbian Americas - the civilisation arose in the early 13th Century under the leadership of the first Inca ruler Manco Capác, founding the city of Cuzco as their capital. The civilisation thrived in the area until 1438, when the new leader Pachacuti embarked on a massive campaign of expansion and used military conquest and peaceful assimilation to incorporate a massive portion of western South America under his control - at its largest, the Inca Empire stretched all the way from southern Colombia through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northwest Argentina, all the way down to central Chile. In 1526, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro first entered Inca territory from his expedition through Colombia. After quickly determining that it was evidently a civilisation of great wealth and power, he quickly received royal permission to conquer the empire - he decisively kidnapped and later executed the Inca ruler Ayahualpa in 1533 and installed their own puppet ruler, Manco Inca Yupanqui. The new leader quickly turned on the invaders and briefly took control of Cuzco for the Incas again, until the Spanish finally pushed them back permanently from the city. The remnants of the civilisation formed a Neo-Inca state centred around Vilcabamba in the mountains above Lima until the Spanish invaded them completely in 1572, ending the last major resistance to their rule in Peru. Any adventure tour to Peru naturally centres around the stunning city of Cuzco - it is world-famous as the gateway to the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu and the various Inca trails through the Peruvian highlands. However, the city is a fantastic destination in its own right, and many of its buildings still retain some of the original Inca stonework as part of their structure. This unique and intricate stonework was an ingenious construction method that prevented damage from earthquakes - examples of their amazing building techniques can still be seen in and around Cuzco, including the famous 'twelve-sided stone', now part of the logo of Cuzco's native Cusqueña beer! A good place to start your explorations is the majestic main plaza, surrounded by cobbled streets lined with attractive colonial buildings. Head up the hill into the neighbourhood of San Blas and you will discover another hidden square with a quiet laid-back feel. All the streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, from small local cafes to five star dining experiences. There are also some fantastic museums and historical sites in and around the city, showcasing the wonderful history and culture of the Incas.
Today we have a free day to explore the wonderful city of Cuzco, discover its many historical gems, or to take part in number of optional activities near the city.
There will be an important meeting this evening for our Community and Classic Inca Trails, where we will have a full detailed briefing from our local trekking guides about the next few days!
Take an excellent free walking tour around Cuzco with a local guide, getting a fascinating insight into the history of the city and the life ofthe locals : Free
Freely explore the site of Koricancha and Santo Domingo neat the city centre, a jarring juxtaposition of a Spanish colonial cathedral built on top of the walls of an ancient Inca Sun temple : PEN 10
Take an incredible trip out on various mountain bike routes in the highlands surrounding Cuzco : USD 125
Visit some of the fascinating museums in Cuzco, including the Textiles Museum, the Chocolate Museum, the Casa Concha, and the Museo Inka : PEN 20
Head out for an exhilarating white-water rafting trip on the Urubamba River near Cuzco : USD 45
Take part in a Peruvian cooking class in Cuzco, learning how to make a variety of local dishes : USD 79
Take a Spanish class in the beautiful city of Cuzco (suitable for all levels) : PEN 20
Classic Inca Trail/Quechua Community Trek
The next four days will be spent either trekking in the Andes, on our pioneering Wild Andes Trek, on the Classic Inca Trek or for those not wishing to hike, free time to explore and a guided tour of the Sacred Valley on our Train package.
Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek
Leaving Cuzco early in the morning, we visit the ruined temples of Sacsayhuaman for a fascinating tour of the site. We then head on to Chinchero, a small Quechua-speaking village in the Sacred Valley. Here we will see a traditional weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years, and explore their beautiful archaeological ruins. We will drive to a stunning viewpoint for a picnic lunch, and then visit the Quillarumiyoc temple (the Temple of the Moon).
We will start our trek from here in the afternoon, heading by foot to Zurite where we have a picturesque stay in a colonial house. Tonight we will enjoy a traditional dinner and get a taste of the local village lifestyle.
Approximate walking distance: 8km, Estimated time: 4hrs, Meals provided: Lunch and Dinner
Option 2 - Classic Inca Trek
This morning we go for a guided tour of the Sacred Valley, followed by a visit to the market town of Pisac, where we will have lunch. We then head to Ollantaytambo, where we will explore this impressive archeological site.
Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel.
There is no trekking today.
Meals provided: Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Option 3 - Train Package
You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers who will be trekking the Wild Andes Trek. You will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After lunch you will head back to Cuzco where you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights. These hotel nights will be booked for you by your Tour Leader.
Meals Included: Lunch
Visit the incredible remains of the Inca temples of Sacsayhuaman and the Sacred Valley on a guided tour: Included in Kitty
Take a guided tour of the fantastic Inca temples at Ollantaytambo: Included in Kitty
Options for the treks from Cuzco (please see the bottom of the Trip Notes for more details):
Option 1 - Wild Andes Trek
Hike on unspoiled Inca Trails through the stunning remote Andean scenery away from other tourists, on our exclusive Wild Andes Inca Trek. If you choose this option you will get a small refund from kitty.
Option 2 - Classic Trek
Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road. Your kitty has been budgeted to accommodate for this option as it is the most costly of the 3 options.
Option 3 - Train Package (non-trekking option)
Relax in Cuzco and take the train to Machu Picchu without trekking. If you choose this option you will get a substantial refund from kitty.
Important note: You must advise us at the time of booking if you wish to book the Classic Inca Trail or the Train Package (non-trekking option), otherwise you will automatically be booked
onto our Community Trek.
About Sacred Valley:
The valley of the Urubamba river is more often referred to as "The Sacred Valley". In the Peruvian highlands close to the Inca capital of Cuzco, the valley extends from the small market town of Pisac to Ollantaytambo, nestling at the foot of the Andean mountain ranges that are home to the magical lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. Together with Machu Picchu itself, the Sacred Valley was a cradle of the Inca Empire and the area is littered with archaeological sites including the magnificent ruins of Pisac with
its famous terraced fields, the old temple complex of Sacsayhuaman and the remarkably well-preserved Inca city of Ollantaytambo. Together with the temperate climate, lively markets, sleepy Andean villages and stunning surrounding landsccape, the rich history of the area makes it a truly bewitching
About Inca Trail :
When people talk about "The Inca Trail", they are usually refering to a particular trekking route that follows a ancient pathway that leads to Machu Picchu. However there are a huge number of Andean Trails that criss- cross the Urubamba Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, many of which are genuinely remote and rarely used by western tourists. On our Dragoman tours that travel via Cuzco we offer you the choice to trek either the Classic Inca Trail or our unique alternative, the Community Inca Trek, which is exclusive to Dragoman. The Classic Inca Trail The Classic Inca Trail route usually starts at Kilometre 82 of the Cuzco-Aguas Calientes railway, taking in Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's Pass, 4,200m) and the ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna en route, eventually arriving at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu early in the morning after 3 days of trekking. This route is still extremely popular as it is seen by many as the original Inca Trail, and it is also probably the best trek to choose if you're really interested in history and archaeology, because of all the smaller Inca sites it passes along the way.
Unfortunately, due to its own popularity, the Classic Trail is always very busy, with around 500 people starting the trek every day - due to there being restrictions on camping areas, the campsites are often very busy with otehr trekkers as well. Nevertheless it is still an awesome trek, passing through some
stunning scenery from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forests, and the sense of achievement you'll have when you catch your first sight of Machu Picchu is something you'll never forget. Please note that the Classic Trail is always closed for maintainance during the entire month of February each year.
The Community Inca Trek Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route where you'll hike through pristine unspoilt Andean scenery, walking ancient Inca Trails and pass through local communities as part of our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and getting
out into the real Andes - not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects. The trek itself is about the same as the Classic Inca Trail in terms of length and difficulty, taking three to three and a half days and ascending toabout 4,700m when you cross the highest pass. The scenery out here is truly magnificent, spectacular mountain peaks, verdant hillsides dotted by isolated villages and the odd llama and alapaca, you are unlikely to see another tourist here. Although you won't trek into Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate as on the Classic Trail, you will arrive to Machu Picchu well rested after a night in a comfortable hotel and ready to get the most out of the tour of this magnificent site.