Time Travel through Peru

Machu Picchu, Cusco & the Sacred Valley

August 28–September 5, 2017
with optional Amazon Rainforest Extension

This trip has been postponed. If you are interested in visiting Peru, please visit our other 2017 Peru options here and here!

Trip at a Glance

  • August 28–September 5, 2017 (9 days/8 nights)
  • Accompanied by BJ & Lauren of RetreaTours
  • Arrive in Lima & explore the culinary scene
  • Explore the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu
  • Discover the treasures of the Sacred Valley
  • Step back in time in Cusco, Peru’s historical capital 
  • Small group tour: limited to 12 guests
  • Optional extension to the Peruvian Amazon
  • Early bird price of $2899 per person (based on double occupancy) until March 31, 2017 (thereafter, $3199)

Itinerary at a Glance

 

August 28: Arrive in Lima

August 29: Explore Lima

August 30: Lima to Machu Picchu Pueblo (via Cusco)

August 31: Discover Machu Picchu

September 1: Machu Picchu Pueblo to Ollantaytambo

September 2: Enjoy the Sacred Valley on the way to Cusco

September 3-4: Explore the sites in and around Cusco

September 5: Depart Cusco to Lima (or optional Amazon extension)

Lima

Cusco

Machu Picchu

Ollantaytambo

Aguas Calientes

LIMA

You’ll fly into Peru’s capital, Lima, on August 28th, where you’ll be met and taken to our hotel in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores. Located on the cliffs of Lima’s coast, Miraflores is a fantastic home base for this foodie city. El Malecón of Miraflores is a perfect place to stroll along the Pacific coast and breathe in the fresh ocean air.

On the 29th we’ll tour the best of Lima’s cultural and culinary offerings. Lima’s historic center will offer your first glimpse into the ornate cathedrals and churches (and catacombs!) of Peru. We’ll explore the colonial sites of Lima before turning out full attention to her gastronomic delights.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine has listed Lima as a new global culinary epicenter. You may have even noticed more and more Peruvian restaurants popping up in your city over the past few years! You don’t have to be a certified “foodie” to appreciate Lima’s offerings, as the simple roasted chicken, beef stirfries, and stuffed potatoes will satisfy even the pickiest palate. Those with adventurous palates will also be rewarded by Lima’s specialties of ceviche and even anticuchos de corazon.

MACHU PICCHU

On August 30th we’ll bid a farewell to Lima and take a quick 80 minute flight to Cusco. You can also spell this town as “Cuzco,” but we like to use the local spelling; if you want to take it way back, the original Incan name for this town was Q’osq’o! However, don’t get too attached to this city, no matter how you spell it, just yet.

Cusco rests at 11,152 feet (3,399 m) altitude–and resting is about all you would be able to do if you stayed here after coming from sea-level Lima. We take your health and comfort seriously and we want to avoid any altitude-related discomfort. For that reason, we’ll immediately head down to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), the town that sits below Machu Picchu. At 6,693 feet (2,040 m), this is a reasonable place to start acclimating yourself, and we will gradually make our way back to Cusco.

Our train ride along the Urubamba river to Machu Picchu Pueblo is a perfect introduction to this very exciting segment of our journey. The large windows, extending even into the ceiling, give you a broad view on the mountains that kept Machu Picchu hidden from Spanish conquistadors. In fact, it wasn’t until July 1911 that Hiram Bingham “stumbled upon” the ruins of Machu Picchu–he was actually looking for a different lost Incan city!

We’ll arrive in Machu Picchu Pueblo in the afternoon and leisurely explore this tiny town. Located along the Vilcanota river just a 30 minute bus ride or 90 minute hike from Machu Picchu itself, this town seems perpetually abuzz with visitors’ excitement. We’ll have a relaxing evening (perhaps you’ll try the local dish of alpaca steak?) in preparation for our early morning.

In the morning we’ll be on the first buses to Machu Picchu, a perfect time to beat the day-trip crowds that come from Cusco. We’ll watch the fog clear and the sun rise over these beautiful ruins. We’ll take an expertly guided tour and then you’ll be free to explore on your own.

The rest of the day will be yours to nap, explore, or even visit the namesake of “Aguas Calientes,” the hot spring tucked behind the town. This may be the perfect time to sample a celebratory Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink. Looking for a non-alcoholic refresher? You must try that mysterious purple drink you see around you; that’s chicha morada, a sweet corn-based juice.

We won’t leave Machu Picchu Pueblo until early afternoon the following day, allowing for one more visit to Machu Picchu, if you wish (and if there are still tickets available–tickets are limited to 2500 per day). This visit is totally optional, but we can help you arrange the tickets and bus ride (unless you feel up to a hike!)  The energy and look of Machu Picchu changes every minute, depending on the time of day, the mist, the sunlight, the clouds, so we thought the opportunity for second visit was in order.

OLLANTAYTAMBO

and the Sacred Valley

On September 1st, we’ll take the train through the valley and we’ll depart at Ollantaytambo, where will spend one night. (By the way, the area by the train station is a great place to try the Andean treat of choclo con queso–large-kerneled ears of corn with fresh local cheese!) At 9,160 feet (2,790 meters), Ollantaytambo is a perfect resting place before heading back to Cusco. This town is a shining example of Incan urban-planning, and its gridded, cobblestone streets have been continuously inhabited since the 1200’s. This evening we will explore the quaint and quiet alleys of Ollantaytambo, and tomorrow morning we will explore the fascinating ruins before the day-trippers arrive in town.

Ollantaytambo is where the Incans fled after Cusco was captured by the Spanish; it was here in 1537 that the Incan leader Manco actually defeated Spanish forces (for a time, anyway), using the high terraces you’ll see for yourself. This hilltop fortress also served as a temple and special ceremonial center, and its massive building blocks came from a quarry an impressive 6 km (3.75 miles) away.

Some interpretations of Incan legends imply that Ollantaytambo, not Lake Titicaca, is where the Incas mythically emerged from the earth. And that’s not the only reason Ollantaytambo is so special! Will you be able to spot Tunupa, the Incan deity whose face appears in the mountain facing the ruins?

CUSCO

After lunch we’ll start our drive back to Cusco through the Sacred Valley, stopping at some interesting spots along the way. We adore Salinas, a picturesque site with thousands of “salt pans,” shallow pools where families naturally harvest salt from the nearby mineral-rich hot springs. We can also explore the fascinating Incan terraces at Moray. These terraces are concentric circles, and reach a depth of 98 feet, forming a microclimate which can see a 27°F temperature difference from the lip of the terraces to the bottom. It is thought that the Incas used this site as an agricultural “laboratory” of sorts, determining which conditions were ideal for certain crops.

We’ll in arrive in Cusco and check in to our centrally-located hotel, just off the main square (Plaza de Armas).There is a certain charm to Cusco that we can’t get enough of. This Unesco World Heritage Site was the stunning capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th century, and it is South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The blend of the ancient Incan foundations, topped with the ornate relics of the Spanish invasion and colonization, make this city a marvel at every turn. It’s no wonder that the Constitution of Peru designated Cusco as the country’s Historical Capital!

We’ll explore the outskirts of the city, including the breathtaking site of Saqsaywaman, a stout citadel on the northern edge of town. The fine stonework of this fortress is remarkable (and makes it all the more heartbreaking–spoiler alert–that its materials were pillaged for the Cusco Cathedral). We’ll see Q’inqu, a small but powerful Incan ceremonial site, and we’ll head on to Pisac to visit its ancient terraces and its colorful, engaging market. This is a perfect time to start grabbing those souvenirs and gifts, as the handicrafts at this market are second to none.

You’ll also have free time in Cusco to discover the sites that strike your fancy. Whether it’s the towering Cathedral on the Plaza or the quaint San Blas church, the local markets, or just writing in your journal in a local cafe, you’ll have downtime in Cusco to explore in a way that suits you best.

We’ll have our last dinner together on September 4 and we’ll reflect on our amazing time together. Speaking of final dinners…did you see the painting of the Last Supper inside the Cusco Cathedral that shows the interesting main dish of cuy (guinea pig?) If you’re interested in trying the Andean specialty of cuy, tonight’s the night! If not, there are a host of other Peruvian and Andean treats to choose from, from quinoa soup to lomo saltado (beef stirfry). 

On the morning of the 5th, you’ll depart to the airport as you continue back to Lima or you can choose to continue your journey into the Peruvian Amazon! Read on for the Amazon extension details…

Peruvian

Amazon

Jungle 

Extension

From Cusco you’ll take a one-hour flight to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the southern Amazon jungle. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to the docks for your 2 hour boat trip to your Amazonian lodge. This lodge is directly on the Madre de Dios river, a tributary of the mighty Amazon. Your 4 day/3 night stay is all-inclusive, except tips to guide and alcohol.

During your stay you will hike to a nearby lake full of caimans (close relatives of the alligator) and trek through the local jungle with expert guides, ready to point out sloths, macaws, toucans & all sorts of monkeys. You’ll take a boat ride in the hopes of seeing a giant otter, in addition to all of the other beautiful flora and fauna of this region.

At the end of your stay, you’ll take a boat back to Puerto Maldonado and head to the airport. You’ll take a direct flight back to Lima and continue home (or on your next adventure!) from there.

The price for this Amazon extension is $825 per person. This price includes your accommodation, meals, flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado and from Puerto Maldonado to Lima, as well as your transportation within Puerto Maldonado. There is no single supplement if you decide to share with others (as designated by the resort/lodge), although you can have your own room if you desire.

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Price & Inclusions

This 9 day/8 night all-inclusive journey is $2899 per person (double occupancy) before March 31, 2017. After that date the price is $3199.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $499 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

An $800 deposit holds your space.  The second installment of $1000 is due by April 30, 2017 (120 days before start of trip) and the balance is due by June 29, 2017 (60 days before start of trip).  Single supplement ($499) is due along with the last installment.

Price Includes:

  • All meals
  • All lodging
  • All transportation within Peru: flight from Lima to Cusco, train from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo, train from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Ollantaytambo; vehicle from Ollantaytambo to Cusco; airport pick-up and drop-off
  • One entry ticket to Machu Picchu
  • One guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • One bus ticket from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Machu Picchu
  • One Tourist Ticket that covers 16 sites in the Sacred Valley
  • One Religious Circuit Ticket that cover 3 religious sites in Cusco

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Alcohol
  • Optional return trip to Machu Picchu on second morning
  • Travel insurance (required)

NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 5 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
Payment details

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check (which we prefer!) and credit card (via PayPal). For our international guests, we can accept wires, which we find is the most economical solution for everyone; please contact us for wire details.

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to Insight Travels, LLC and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through the following the red buttons below.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD.  Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance.

Final installment due on June 29, 2017. We’ll provide you the amount and invoice well before the due date.

Click here to pay the $800 deposit by credit card (via PayPal)

Click here to pay the $1000 second installment by credit card (via PayPal) [due by April 30, 2017] 

Registration Questions & Contract

Please scroll down within this tan box to reach the end of the questionnaire and contract. At the end of the contract, you will see a “submit” box—please hit that button.  If you are having difficulty completing it on this website, you can go directly to the form here

Your spot is not considered reserved until you have completed these questions and contract on the website.

Please click here to download to view and download PDF of the contract for your records. 

Suggest Packing List & Temperatures

Coming soon!

Average temperatures during this time of year:

Lima: 55-65°F

Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley: 40-70°F

Cusco: 37-68°F

Travel Insurance

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind for very little cost. When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for emergency medical evacuation/repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company (we can advise you if you like). We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure.

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    FAQ

    PASSPORT/VISA

    • What do I need to know about the visa?    

    First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip (that is, March 4, 2018), and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

    Peru offers 90 days visa-free visits to citizens of most countries, including the U.S, Australia, and Canada; please check this list to see if your home country is eligible.

    FOOD

    • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

    Peruvians love their meat, from roast chicken to beef stir fry, from alpaca to guinea pig (and don’t forget every variation of seafood). Vegetarians will find vegetable-based options, although the selection is somewhat limited. Vegans might find it more difficult, as the vegetarian options will often include cheese as a base ingredient (although Cusco does have a dedicated vegan restaurant). Email us and let’s talk about your veg preferences!

    Gluten-free guests should not have trouble in Peru, although we request you print this card out to carry with you for clarification. Please contact us directly for other dietary concerns.

    • Can I drink the water?

    In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

    HEALTH

    • What vaccines do I need?

    None are required to enter Peru, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.

    • What about the altitude?

    We’ve planned this entire trip around acclimating you the altitude as much as possible (we start lower at Machu Picchu, then up to Ollantaytambo, then finally to Cusco at 11,150 feet). Please read BJ’s tips (http://www.travelconsultants.biz/prevent-altitude-sickness) on preventing altitude sickness, along with Lauren’s tips on more natural ways to prepare your body (http://www.retreatours.com/how-to-stay-healthy-while-traveling).  You may want to speak to your physician about Diamox you have experienced altitude sickness in the past.

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from your licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    • What about malaria? What about Zika?

    Malaria is not a risk in the main part of our itinerary (Lima, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Cusco), as mosquitos are not a threat above 6,500 feet or in the metropolitan Lima area. However, for those of your who opt to extend your trip in the the Amazon, you may want to consider an anti-malarial. However, the key is to avoid mosquito bites altogether, so wearing a strong bug repellant, and wearing long sleeves and pants are important. As always, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information about malaria.

    This is what the CDC is currently advising regarding Zika in Peru.

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from your licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    • Do I need travel insurance?

    We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, and repatriation. We also highly recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

    We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the company and policy that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

    MONEY

    • How much money should I bring?

    That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do and how many Pisco Sours you want to drink! 😉  All of your meals, accommodation, and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras and souvenirs.

    • How do I get the local currency?

    The local currency is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). You can either exchange cash in Peru or use a local ATM (which we prefer) to get soles. Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in Peru, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world. When exchanging cash, you always get a slightly better deal when exchanging $100 bills.

    You do NOT need to exchange money before you arrive in Peru, as exchanging money while still in your home country usually has a very poor exchange rate.

    HOTELS

    • What kind of hotels will we be staying in?

    All of our hotels are extremely comfortable and well-located for self-exploration. They each have wifi and hot water in abundance! Before the trip, we will make sure you have the hotel names and contact information to pass along to your loved ones.

    COMMUNICATION

    • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

    Before the trip begins we will give you the contact information for our hotels to pass along to your loved ones; in addition, we will give you our Peruvian phone numbers. If you choose to bring your cellphone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well.

    Fitness Requirements for this trip

    Generally speaking, this trip is not suitable for guests who require wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids. A good rule of thumb will be the ability to walk 2-3 miles unassisted and to have to ability to climb stairs. Please see below for more details.

    Regarding Machu Picchu

    We will not be hiking the Inca trail to see Machu Picchu on this trip. Instead, we will be taking a train from the Sacred Valley/Cusco area to Machu Picchu Pueblo. When we visit Machu Picchu at sunrise, we will be on the first set of buses that climb the final hill up to the site (~5:30 AM, for a 20-minute bus ride). If people elect to take the 90-minute hike up the hill to the entrance of Machu Picchu, they can feel free to do so, as long as they leave by ~4:30 AM. (Or you can hike back down to town when it is daylight, which we think is more advisable is you really have the itch to hike! Otherwise, we will catch a bus back down.)

    When we get to the site, you will encounter stone steps to get you into the site and to iconic viewpoints. Bank on 15-20 minutes of an uphill climb at a normal pace. You can take these at your own pace–it’s not a race to the top! And because we will be visiting at sunrise, the temperature will be pleasant (even chilly!)

    There are steps and paths all over the site which makes it difficult to you give a specific number of steps, but you don’t need to cover every square inch of the site. If you choose to find a shady spot and enjoy the view, we can always meet up with you again (or meet you back in town).

    For those wishing for more physical activity, there are plenty of trails that you give you broad vistas of the surrounding mountains.

    If you live in an apartment building with stairs, you may wish to take the stairs more and more as training as the trip approaches.

    Regarding the Altitude

    The altitude of Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet, or the same as Aspen and Vail, CO (with Santa Fe just 700 feet lower). Cusco rests at 11,150 feet, which is why we head to Machu Picchu first and work our way up to Cusco. We will go slow and let our bodies adjust to the altitude.

    Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician. Certain medications are utilized to aid acclimatizing to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.

    About the Altitude

    Altitude Sickness Prevention

    The altitude of Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet, or the same as Aspen and Vail, CO (with Santa Fe just 700 feet lower). Cusco rests at 11,150 feet, which is why we head to Machu Picchu first and work our way up to Cusco. We will go slow and let our bodies adjust to the altitude.

    Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician. Certain medications are utilized to aid acclimatizing to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.

    Click here to read BJ’s take on how to prevent altitude sickness, as someone who has traveled extensively at high altitudes and never had ill effect and is an avid reader on the subject.

    Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a speciality in the world of dietary supplements.

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    Contact Us

    You can use the form below or write [email protected] for more information!

    About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

    BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

    BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime.

    The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

    In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $300 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

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