1 Week Itinerary For Peru - For the Adventurous Traveler
Are you an adventurous traveler looking for a new and exciting destination? Look no further than Peru! This South American country is bursting with opportunities for adventure, from hiking through the Andes Mountains to exploring the Amazon Rainforest. A week in Peru is the perfect amount of time to experience some of the country's highlights, including the world-famous Machu Picchu, the vibrant city of Cusco, and the rich history and culture of Lima. If you're ready for an unforgettable adventure, pack your bags and get ready for a week of exploration in Peru.
Here is a 7-day adventure-based itinerary for traveling to Peru, focused on hiking and exploring ancient Inca ruins:
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Upon arrival at Lima's international airport, you'll be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city, visiting the historic center, and tasting some of Peru's famous cuisine.
Day 2: Paracas and Nazca Lines / Huacachina
Take an early morning drive from Lima to Paracas, a beautiful coastal town. Here, you'll take a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands, where you can see sea lions, penguins, and other marine wildlife. After the boat tour, head to the nearby town of Nazca to see the famous Nazca Lines, ancient geoglyphs etched into the desert floor. Alternatively you can opt for a visit to Huacachina is a small oasis town located in the Ica Region of Peru, known for its picturesque desert scenery and sand dunes. Sandboarding and Dune Buggying are the most popular activities in Huacachina. You can rent a sandboard and slide down the dunes, or take a dune buggy ride through the desert.
Day 3: Flight to Cusco, free day to explore
Fly from Lima to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Spend the day exploring the city, visiting the main square and the historic center, and acclimatizing to the high altitude.
Here are some of the top things to see and do in Cusco:
Explore the Historic Center: Cusco's historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's easy to see why. The city's narrow streets are lined with colonial-era buildings and ancient Inca ruins, including the famous Qoricancha temple. Spend some time wandering through the streets and taking in the sights.
Visit Sacsayhuaman: This ancient Inca fortress is located just outside Cusco and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The massive stone walls are an engineering marvel and are a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the Inca people.
Try the Local Cuisine: Cusco is known for its delicious cuisine, which combines local ingredients with Spanish and indigenous influences. Be sure to try some of the local dishes, including ceviche, alpaca steak, and chicha, a traditional fermented corn drink.
Visit the San Pedro Market: This bustling market is a great place to get a taste of local life in Cusco. You'll find everything from fresh produce and meats to handmade textiles and souvenirs.
Learn about the Inca Empire: There are many museums and historical sites in Cusco that offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of the Inca Empire. Some of the top sites to visit include the Inca Museum and the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary.
City Tour: Taking a city tour in Cusco is a great way to get a comprehensive overview of the city's history and culture. A typical city tour will take you to some of the most important sites in Cusco, including the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and the Qoricancha temple. You'll also have the opportunity to see some of the city's beautiful colonial architecture and learn about the city's pre-Columbian past. A knowledgeable guide will provide insights into the history and significance of each site, as well as the local culture and customs. A city tour is a great way to get oriented in Cusco and to gain a deeper appreciation for the city's rich cultural heritage.
Day 4-5: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is one of the most iconic hiking trails in the world, and a trek along this route is an unforgettable experience. On days 4 and 5 of this itinerary, you will embark on a 2-day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu, one of the most famous ancient ruins in the world.
Day 4: You'll start your trek early in the morning from the town of Ollantaytambo, which is about an hour and a half drive from Cusco. The trail will take you through the stunning Andean mountains, passing through ancient Inca ruins and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
On the first day, you will hike for around 6-7 hours, covering a distance of approximately 11 kilometers. The trail is moderately challenging, with some steep uphill and downhill sections. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to see a variety of flora and fauna, including orchids, hummingbirds, and chinchillas.
You will reach the first campsite at around 5 pm, where your guide and porters will set up your tents and prepare a delicious dinner. You can relax and take in the stunning mountain views before retiring for the night.
Day 5: You'll wake up early on the second day to continue your trek. Today's trail is relatively shorter, but more challenging, as it includes steep steps and narrow paths. The highlight of the day is reaching the famous Sun Gate, where you'll get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains.
From the Sun Gate, you'll hike down to Machu Picchu, where you'll spend a few hours exploring the ancient ruins with your guide. You'll learn about the history and significance of this incredible site and marvel at the engineering and architectural feats of the Inca Empire.
After the tour, you'll take a bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you'll have a chance to relax and enjoy a well-deserved meal before taking the train back to Cusco.
Day 6: Rainbow Mountain Trek
The Rainbow Mountain trek, which is a challenging but rewarding hike that takes you to one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Peru. The Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is a colorful peak located in the Andes mountains, and the trek to its summit offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
The trek starts early in the morning with a drive from Cusco to the trailhead. From there, you'll hike for a couple of hours through stunning valleys and pastures, with views of snow-capped peaks and herds of llamas and alpacas grazing in the fields. As you approach the Rainbow Mountain, you'll begin to see the vibrant colors that give it its name, including shades of red, orange, yellow, and green.
The final ascent to the summit of the Rainbow Mountain is steep and challenging, but the views from the top are truly breathtaking. You'll have a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, with the colorful peak of the Rainbow Mountain as the centerpiece.
The Rainbow Mountain trek is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Peru and to challenge yourself physically. It's important to be in good physical condition for this trek, as the high altitude and steep ascent can be challenging. However, with proper preparation and a positive attitude, this trek is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with lasting memories of the stunning landscapes and vibrant culture of Peru.
If you book a trip with us you will be picked up from your hotel in Cusco for the Rainbow Mountain hike at 2 -2:30 am (We are generally the first company to the top!). After a 2½ hour drive, we will arrive at the trailhead called Phulawasipata. Here, our chef will make a delicious breakfast before we begin the 2-hour hike uphill to the Rainbow Mountain range. At the top, you will have around 1 hour to explore the stunning views of the surrounding areas before we hike to a lookout point to see the Red Valley.
The hike downhill takes about 2½ hours, and at the end of the trail, your chef will prepare a fresh meal. After lunch, we will drive you back to your hotel in Cusco, arriving around 5:30 – 6:00 pm. Remember to bring warm clothing as it can be quite cold in Cusco and at the trailhead in the morning.
Day 7: Departure
Return to Cusco for your departure flight back to Lima. If you have time before your flight, explore more of Cusco or visit the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
This itinerary offers a perfect balance of adventure and culture, allowing you to explore the ancient ruins of the Inca Empire and experience the stunning natural beauty of Peru. Keep in mind that this itinerary can be customized according to your interests and preferences, and there are many other exciting activities and destinations to explore in Peru.
Have more time? Here are our recommended trip extensions:
2 Day Lake Titicaca Tour:
Located in the Andes on the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake, sitting at an elevation of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level. Puno, a city in the Peruvian Andes, is a gateway to explore the lake's many wonders. Visitors on tours can take a boat tour to the Uros Islands, a group of man-made floating islands made entirely of reeds. The islanders have preserved their traditional way of life for centuries, and a visit provides a fascinating glimpse into their unique culture. Additionally, visitors can explore Taquile Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts a unique and colorful culture and breathtaking views of the lake. Hiking, kayaking, and homestays with local families are also popular activities for those visiting Lake Titicaca from Puno.
Bolivia Extension to Uyuni Salt Flats:
The most common way to visit Uyuni from Cusco is to take a flight from Cusco to La Paz, Bolivia, and then take another flight from La Paz to Uyuni. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Cusco to Puno, then from Puno to La Paz, and finally from La Paz to Uyuni. This route is more time-consuming but can be less expensive. Once you arrive in Uyuni, you can take a tour of the famous salt flats and explore the surrounding area, including the nearby lagoons, hot springs, and geysers. It is recommended to book a tour in advance to ensure availability and a smooth travel experience. Tours are typically 3 days from Uyuni back to Uyuni via the main city of LaPaz.
3-4 Days in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle:
An Amazon jungle tour from Cusco typically involves a flight to Puerto Maldonado, a small town located in the southern Peruvian Amazon. From there, you will take a boat ride down the Madre de Dios River to reach your jungle lodge. We recommend spending at least 4 days in the jungle, as the first and last days are typically considered travel days to/from the lodge, but a 3 day trip would be considered the shortest length, and is good for travelers limited on time.
During your Amazon jungle tour, you will have the opportunity to explore the incredible biodiversity of the rainforest, with activities such as guided jungle hikes, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. You may also have the opportunity to visit a local indigenous community to learn about their way of life and traditional uses of the rainforest.
One of the highlights of an Amazon jungle tour is a visit to the macaw clay lick, where you can witness dozens of macaws and parrots descend upon a cliff face to eat the mineral-rich clay. Another unique experience is a nighttime jungle walk, where you can see nocturnal creatures such as frogs, spiders, and snakes.
Accommodations on an Amazon jungle tour can range from rustic cabins to luxury lodges, depending on your preferences and budget. Most tours include meals and guided activities, but make sure to check with your tour operator for specific details. Overall, an Amazon jungle tour from Cusco is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers an unforgettable glimpse into one of the world's most diverse ecosystems.
Getting to the Galapagos Islands from Cusco City will require taking a flight to either Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador and then catching another flight to the Galapagos Islands. Once on the islands, there are a variety of Galapagos cruise options available to explore the unique wildlife and stunning landscapes. Most cruises last between 4-8 days and include daily excursions to different islands led by knowledgeable guides. Visitors will have the opportunity to see a variety of unique animals such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and Galapagos penguins, among others. In addition to snorkeling and swimming with sea lions and sea turtles, visitors can also enjoy hikes, kayaking, and other activities. Most cruises include meals and accommodation on board the ship. It is recommended to book a Galapagos cruise well in advance as they can fill up quickly, especially during peak travel seasons.
Huaraz Region of Peru:
Extending a trip to Peru to include hiking in Huaraz is a great way to experience the country's stunning natural beauty beyond the popular tourist destinations. Huaraz is known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, including the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca and the Huascaran National Park. The region is home to numerous hiking trails, ranging from beginner-friendly routes to challenging multi-day treks, all offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. In addition to hiking, Huaraz also offers opportunities for other outdoor activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, and summiting snow capped 6000m peaks. Visiting Huaraz allows travelers to escape the crowds and experience the raw natural beauty of Peru, making it a must-visit destination for adventure and nature enthusiasts.
Opt For A Multi Day Trek in Peru:
There are several multi-day treks near Cusco that are worth considering:
- Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - This is the most famous trek in Peru, if not the world. The classic Inca Trail is a 4-day trek that takes you through beautiful Andean landscapes, past ancient Inca ruins, and ends at the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu.
- Salkantay Trek - This is a popular alternative to the Inca Trail, as it offers stunning views of the snow-capped Salkantay mountain and takes you through diverse landscapes, including cloud forests and high mountain passes.
- Choquequirao Trek - This is a challenging but rewarding trek that takes you to the lesser-known ruins of Choquequirao. It is a 4-day trek that offers stunning views of the Andes and takes you through beautiful, remote landscapes.
- Ausangate Trek - This is a 5-6 day trek that takes you through the high Andes to the base of the majestic Ausangate mountain. It is a challenging trek that offers stunning views of glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks, and traditional Andean communities.
- Lares Trek - This is a 4-day trek that takes you through the beautiful Lares Valley, past traditional Andean communities and hot springs. It is a less-crowded alternative to the Inca Trail, but still offers stunning views of the Andes and a glimpse into traditional Andean culture.
Humantay Lake 1 Day Trek from Cusco:
Our Humantay Lake day trek is a one-day hike on the Salkantay Trail, starting with an early morning pick-up from your Cusco accommodation. After a three-hour scenic drive passing through indigenous villages and cornfields, you will arrive at the trailhead at an elevation of 3800 meters/12,460 feet. The uphill hike takes 1½ to 2 hours, with your guide pointing out various flora and fauna along the way. At the top, you will see the magnificent Humantay Lake (Blue Lagoon) with the snow-capped Humantay glacial mountains in the background. After a nice lunch, you will return to Cusco in a private van.