WHY THIS TRIP
The Inca Highlights tour visits the most important sites of Inca culture in Southern Peru: Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Cusco. This tour is designed to take you away from the crowds where you can see these areas with new eyes. Since we know that one size does not fit all, we have provided three levels of comfort and budget to choose from (budget, boutique, and luxury), so you get exactly the type of trip that suits you.
The impressive scale, location, and mystery of Machu Picchu makes it a destination worthy of anyone’s must-see list. However, far too many travelers fly to Cusco and race up to Machu Picchu, leaving within just a couple days and missing the other amazing Incan ruins and vibrant Andean culture in the nearby area. On the Inca Highlights tour, you won’t miss any of the spectacular sites. You go deep into the Andes for a much more memorable and rich experience.
Your adventure begins when you land in Cusco, once the capitol of the Inca empire and now a bustling city that has seamlessly incorporated its historic roots with modern life. Here, you will join your guide for a walking tour of Cusco’s cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and local markets, taking note of the Incan stonework still present in most of these picturesque buildings. At the end of you entire trip, you will return to Cusco to relax on your own and visit the most important ruin sites nestled in the nearby countryside.
You then travel to the Sacred Valley where traditional villages and farms are flanked by breathtakingly steep mountains, dotted with Inca ruins throughout. In Pisac, you discover ruins left from the height of Inca stone masonry, perched on a hilltop overlooking the valley. In the village below, you can wander through the famed indigenous market where craftspeople from the countryside gather to sell their colorful weaving and intricate wood statues. You also have time to explore the Incan fortress and town of Ollantaytambo; the buildings built by the Incas are still used in Ollantaytambo, which gives you a look into the past as you wander past stone waterways and see locals wearing traditional, bright clothing.
Of course, no journey would be complete without exploring the world-famous Machu Picchu ruins. The site is as awe-inspiring today as it was to the inspired Incans who dreamed up this royal retreat more than 500 years ago. With your guide, you will see the site in the early morning light, before the crowds arrive so you can enjoy the site’s stillness and majestic setting. After your tour, you have time to discover the site on your own, whether that’s walking to the Sun Gate or hiking up the steep stairs to the top of Huayna Picchu Peak.
The three levels of comfort offered on this trip allow you to choose exactly the style of travel you prefer and the budget that works best for you. The luxury tour features all privately guided tours, private transportation, and 5-star small-scale accommodations. The boutique tour includes a mix of group tours and accommodations in locally owned, boutique (3- to 4-star) lodges. The budget tour features all group tours and simple, clean hotels. This lets you see all the worthwhile sites in Southern Peru in the style that suits you best.
LOCAL OPERATOR: APUMAYO EXPEDICIONES
Apumayo Expediciones specializes in adventure travel and non-conventional tourism with a strong environmental and social agenda. It offers activities and tours for people with disabilities and supports Andean community projects, maximizing the positive effect of local tourism. A local Peruvian company based in the City of Cusco, Apumayo Expediciones combines culture, education and natural history into its adventure trips.
Barry R. –
First of all, I feel so fortunate that I had you and your company plan and execute my vacation in Peru & Ecuador right down to the finest detail. Going on my own was daunting enough but to be greeted, transported, escorted and guided, together with some lovely accommodation as well. I was quite blown away by the experience, Peru was wonderful, and whilst the weather let me down on my visit to Machu Picchu, nevertheless it was a fantastic experience. You booked me the front seat on the train so I had unimpeded views, thank you, the hotel was great at El Mapi, and I was pleasantly surprised to have dinner included! All the hotels were comfortable and a hearty breakfast set me up for the day!
Oro Verde hotel in Guayaquil was exceptional, their service from airport to hotel & return was brilliant as was breakfast! ( unfortunately the protests on my return visit kept me from venturing out too far!)
Galapagos was everything I had hoped it would be, my choice of the Solaris was definitely the right choice with a busy schedule an excellent guide(Pedro) and 11 crew to look after 15 of us! The single cabin was roomy enough with it’s own bathroom. The facilities were comfortable & the meals over 8 days were varied and interesting with lots of fresh fruit & vegetables. The snorkelling was fantastic, but do need a wetsuit as it’s still cold in the water at this time! 8 days cruising is probably long enough in my opinion, plus the sea can be rough, at times, as they travel some long periods during the night! We all had a lot of fun and bonded well considering our different backgrounds, with a complement of Israeli, German, Swiss,Dutch, American, Argentina & NZ!
The Andean travel co. contacted me to ensure I had all my documents & answer any questions, please pass on my appreciation, similarily with Exito, I had 10 plane trips in total, all were to schedule, good seats & no baggage issues, I now have confidence in Latam airlines!
Finally, thank you Layna, for putting such a great package together for me, the detailed documentation right down to what I needed to take with me, all spot on!
I will recommend your company to my friends & family.
It was a trip of a lifetime indeed!
Jen H. –
11 Days Peru: This was definitely an adventure vacation. While we came back more tired than when we left, we also returned with memories from a once in a lifetime trip. The highlight was absolutely seeing Machu Picchu but we were surprised how many other sites there were and how impressive each was in it’s own way. Our guides were knowledgeable and so passionate about their heritage and their beautiful country. Getting to the rainforest was a much bigger effort than we anticipated but ended up being worth the trek. We did the one day hike to Machu Picchu. It was perfect. Just long enough to get to see things off the beaten path and a view from the Sun Gate but not so long we had to sleep in a tent. Our hotel in Aguascalientes was very nice and the spa with massages was just what we needed after the hike. In country flights were stressful. We booked these separately from our trip details and our international flights. Should have just booked through American. As for Detour, they have zero boots on the ground. You will solely rely on the tour companies they book for in-country support. Unless you like waking up a 4-5am every morning of your vacation I would plan “free” days for rest. The early morning alarm every single morning did get really old while on vacation. Lastly, no one controls the weather. Be prepared for absolutely everything. Both Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley deserve more than one day each. We planned three days in the rainforest and bc our flight delayed 8 hours in Cusco we really only had two days and it was plenty.
Alan & Mary Jane S. –
This was an amazing trip. Exhausting, but amazing. We saw and did SO much in a relatively short time. From the time of arrival in Lima, every connection was handled seamlessly – there was always someone to greet our group whenever we landed/exited the train, etc. Detour (Layna) truly took care of the details and eliminated areas of potential stress. The hotel in Lima is very well situated to the airport – you truly walk across the street into the hotel! No room for error and no need for anxiety. Rooms are nice, can be noisy if too close to main hallways, so best to ask for something further down the hall. Staff very nice. Upon arrival in Cusco, we were met by Luis and our driver – both SO nice. Luis is terrific – kind and considerate, extraordinarily knowledgeable and eager to provide the best experience to tourists. We couldn’t have been more pleased. His recommendations for meals were terrific, too. Hotel Casa San Blas is nice and most staff were responsive. That said, the hotel is looking a bit tired and we had bad luck with rooms. Restaurant was good & quite convenient, though. Thank you for dinner on our 2nd night! Our first night there was in room 101, which is just off the main lobby. It was VERY noisy, we were exhausted and had an early morning. When we left, we asked that they hold luggage for a couple of nights until we returned, which they were happy to do. That was extremely convenient. As we left, we asked for a quiet room upon our return. We were really disappointed to be assigned room 211 when we got back (after our day at Machu Picchu, very tired, arriving later than expected), which is located just above the reception area. Again, VERY noisy. They told us all other rooms were booked except for a room with twin beds. This was particularly vexing since we’d specifically asked for a quiet room when we left after our first night. At first we told the desk clerk that we didn’t want that room but after listening to the kitchen, lobby conversations, reception desk conversations, the phone ringing, etc., we reconsidered. Alan went back to the desk, by which time there was nobody to address our concerns. Things did get quiet after midnight, but the hotel starts to wake early in the morning and we also had to leave early, so it was another night of very little sleep. Hotel Pakaritampu was very nice, staff also very accomodating. Good breakfast, too. The ruins at Ollantaytambo were an unexpected wonder. The train to Aguas Calientes was a home run – relaxing and more scenic than imagined. On the return, there was even a fashion show! We were scheduled to stay in Hotel El Mapi but were upgraded to Inkaterra – thank you! Wonderful in every way! My only regret is that we didn’t have another night or two to spend at this beautiful resort. It was a high point. Our meal there was outstanding. Our guide for Machu Picchu was Abrahan. Nice gentleman, knowledgeable, but he had the misfortune of following Luis, who was exceptional. Abrahan also miscalculated the best use of his time. We had 6 people in our group – 2 climbing MP mtn, 2 hiking to Sun Gate and 2 exploring the village ruins. I know it was a judgement call for Abrahan to determine how to divide his time & attention, but the two in the village would have benefited most from a guide. He went to MP mtn, but his presence didn’t add anything to that experience. Even if he’d gone to Sun Gate, he could have been helpful with our group member who was nursing a broken arm. Machu Picchu will remain a highlight of my life. I still can’t believe we’ve been there. We lucked out with weather and had a magnificent day. There was a glitch in that we thought we’d be arriving at MP in time for sunrise, but our tickets weren’t for admission until 8. We didn’t realize that we couldn’t enter until then until the night before, when Abrahan looked over our tickets and informed us of the policies that dictate admission times, etc. That additional time would have been helpful to truly be able to explore the ruins and do our hikes.
Off to Guayaquil! Hotel Oro Verde was nice, clean, quiet and convenient. Shuttle service was dependable and prompt. Restaurant & bar were terrific. Staff was friendly and accommodating, holding some luggage for us when we went to the Galapagos.
Odyssey Yacht – totally wonderful! Staff was terrific. Our naturalist, Victor, was extremely professional and knowledgeable. He inspired confidence and kept his group on the established timetable. He was reliably available to help anyone who needed a bit of extra support – we had a couple of folks who were nursing injuries. Our shipmates were all such nice people – we had a great time getting to know them and we were all very compatible. We felt so lucky in that regard! The food was terrific – fresh and nicely presented. Service was excellent – the staff truly makes an effort to see that their guests are attended to efficiently and in a friendly manner. Daniel, the hotel mgr, is a treasure. The ship, including guest cabins, is spotless. Our cabin had more room than I’d imagined. I’d absolutely recommend The Odyssey to anyone considering this trip. I’d also recommend this time of year to do this trip. Weather was mostly cooperative and the sea only gave us a rather rough sailing on 2 nights. Even so, the Odyssey staff prepared us for it as best they could. This was a bucket list trip for which I’m very grateful. We had established an ambitious itinerary. It wasn’t easy and for those who go in the future, I’d recommend more time around the Machu Picchu portion – we had too many early mornings after being unsettled for too late into the evening. We were all very tired by the time we went to Guayaquil. Layna, we couldn’t have put this trip together without you. Thank you so much for your expertise and your willingness to promptly respond to all of our questions, coming at you from 3 different directions! You were a joy to work with and we appreciate all your effort.
Cassandra P –
Just wanted to say the tour was GREAT! Everything we were looking for and more, it definitely exceeded our expectations. I just want to take the time to also make mention of Ayul (our tour guide) and Aurelio (our driver), they were both so helpful and attentive, very kind as well and really made the tour exceptional.
Thanks again for both of your help in organising the trip for us. It’s been a great success!
Henry and Debbie Young –
We had a wonderful Inca Highlights vacation. We had our obstacles, the train was delayed on our trip to Aguas Calientes and our schedule was rearranged due to a transportation strike. Even with the obstacles the travel and guide provider, Apumayo Expediciones group, were fantastic. In particular all of our guides were extremely helpful, knowledgeable, courteous, flexible and organized. We could not have had a better time, a trip that will last for years to come in our minds. Deb and I really appreciate the Detour and Apumayo Expediciones for their professionalism and dedication in providing the best vacation we have ever had. Thanks to all!!!