Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Upon arrival in Lima, your Kuoda host will escort you to the nearby Costa Ramada del Sol Hotel. With most international flights arriving quite late and flights to Cusco departing early, staying in an airport hotel will allow you to maximize your sleep so you can begin your vacation feeling well-rested.
Day 2: Lima to the Sacred Valley
Your Lima host will meet you in the lobby and take you to the airport for your 45-minute flight to Cusco. Get a fascinating perspective on the Sacred Valley from the plane window, as you pass over the glacier peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba and Vilcanota, and a carpet of Andean fields dotted with tiny red-roofed hamlets.
In Cusco, your host will accompany you to Sacsayhuaman, where you’ll enjoy a customized private tour of this stunning archeological complex. Stroll around the site and examine the stone-boulder walls, which are expertly fitted together without any mortar.
Next, call into the Living Museum of Awana Kancha – a favorite for Peru family tours – where Inca agricultural terraces, traditional weavers and a gaggle of furry South American camelids, including llamas, alpacas and vicuñas, await.
Day 3: Exploring the Sacred Valley
Today you’ll witness just how Peru’s past shapes its present. We’ll start things in the ancient town of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that has retained its original Inca urban planning. Walk through the maze-like streets, which come complete with Inca-era canals and view the multi-family houses, which feature interior courtyards and trapezoidal door.
Alongside your guide, climb up past the agricultural terraces toward the Temple of Sun, where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye view over the valley. From this elevated position, you’ll also be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported, especially considering the challenge faced by the Incas, who didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. The site also contains food storehouses, which – during the empire’s heyday – were well-stocked with food.
Descend back down into the valley to the pretty village of Pisac and browse the wares on offer at the market. Both tourists and valley villagers come from miles around to barter and sell everything from textiles and dyes to fresh vegetables. After you’ve had your fill of shopping, you’ll venture up to a ridge high above the stepped agricultural terraces, where Pisac’s mountainside Inca ruins are located.
Day 4: Visiting the Agricultural
Private Tours of Moray and Maras and Off-the-Beaten Track Stop at a Local Community
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to see the ancient agricultural site of Moray. Experts today believe these grassy amphitheaters served as a farming laboratory, with the varying temperatures and soils of the ascending terraces providing different growing environments. We’ll pass through the town of Maras – known for its beautiful colonial doorways – before arriving at the town’s still-in-use salt pans. The small white evaporation pools that cover the hillside are still harvested by locals in a traditional manner. We’ll have lunch at the Casa de Barro, where you can sample some regional fare.
Post lunch, you’ll have a chance to mingle with the locals during a visit to an off-the-beaten-track highland village on the shore of the icy blue Lake Piuray. This rural community practice an agricultural lifestyle and many of the women are master weavers, creating exquisite textiles using generations-old techniques. You will have the opportunity to communicate with the residents, visit their houses and fields, and experience what day-to-day life is like in the Andean highlands. You might also get to meet some of the local children who attend Kuoda’s after-school program (Monday to Friday) – they love sharing their art with visitors.
Later, you’ll return to your comfortable hotel of choice.
Day 5: The Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu
For many travelers, today will be a climactic day – the day they finally set their eyes on the most extraordinary of Inca relics: Machu Picchu!
From Ollantaytambo, you’ll set off on a rail journey that will pass through the heart of the cloud forest. Disembark and hop on a bus for a short ride up to the gates of what truly is one of the great wonders of the world. Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge will fortify you for the adventure that lies head.
After lunch, you’ll ascend the stone steps until the trees and vegetation give way to reveal the well-preserved structures of this 15th-century citadel and the surrounding cloud-level Andean peaks.
An expert guide will show you around the ancient complex and explain the significance of the ruins. Return to Aguas Calientes to relax for the evening. Tomorrow is yours to do as you wish so you may want to ask your guide for advice on how best to spend your time before parting.
Day 6: Machu Picchu on Your Terms
This day is yours to do as you please. Feeling adventurous? Consider climbing to the citadel from town or hiking the steep slope of neighboring Huayna Picchu, which offers unrivalled views over Machu Picchu. Please note that only 400 hikers are allowed to climb Huayna Picchu each day and tickets will need to be purchased in advance along with your Machu Picchu entrance.
In the afternoon, reconvene in Aguas Calientes and board the train back to Cusco. A host will meet you at the station and take you to your hotel for a night’s rest.
Day 7: Cusco
On day seven on a private city tour, you’ll get to know the city that many consider to be Peru’s most attractive: Cusco.
Your guide will recount this fabled city’s stories and show you around the major sights, from the ancient Inca walls, Qorikancha (the Temple of the Sun) and the Pre-Columbia Art Museum to the exuberant colonial churches and cathedrals. Wander around the artsy quarter of San Blas and join locals shopping at the energetic open-air market at San Pedro.
The afternoon is free so you can do as you wish. Perhaps continue exploring Cusco’s nooks and crannies or celebrate your final night in Peru with a frothy pisco sour and delicious Peruvian fare at one of the city’s esteemed restaurants.
Day 8: Cusco to Lima and Home
This morning, you’ll be chauffeured to the airport for your direct flight to Lima. Once you touch down in the capital, a Kuoda host will meet you and you’ll be transferred to Miraflores, one of Lima’s leafiest cosmopolitan neighborhoods and a prime shopping district. A car will be at your disposal so, should you want to venture to another neighborhood in Lima, you can.
Later, you’ll be taken to Jorge Chavez Airport to catch your return flight.
Quito — Otavalo — Cotocachi — Papallacta — Cotopaxi — Cuenca