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Signature Peru: The Inca heartland

8 days from £1495pp

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Signature Peru: The Inca heartland:
Trip Dossier

This short private tour of Peru explores the Inca heartland in the Andes, and includes all the main attractions in and around Cusco. After a flight up to the Andes from Lima, you travel onwards by road into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Next is a rail journey alongside the tempestuous Urubamba river through a narrow gorge leading to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, set on a mountain saddle above the valley. Conclude the holiday in historic Cusco, the former Inca capital and a treasure trove of meticulous Inca stonework and graceful colonial architecture. 

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Panoramic Tour of Lima. Fly to Cusco and drive to the Sacred Valley.

Day 3

Visit Pisaq ruins, market and Ollantaytambo Inca ruins.

Day 4

By train to Machu Picchu, guided tour of the site.

Day 5

Return to Cusco by rail and road.

Day 6

Guided tour of the city.

Day 7

Day at leisure.

Day 8

Fly to Lima and connect with international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Transfer to hotel.

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the cliff-side Pacific residential and commercial district of Miraflores.  The half-hour drive to the hotel through Lima’s outskirts and along the coast encapsulates the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital.


Day 2

Panoramic Tour of Lima. Fly to Cusco and drive to the Sacred Valley.
Return to the airport for the one hour flight to Cusco. Upon arrival you continue by road to the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the Inca empire, it was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins bear witness to the highly developed society that the Incas created. Overnight in the heart of the valley for two nights, beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.
Sacred valley of the incas

Day 3

Visit Pisaq ruins, market and Ollantaytambo Inca ruins.

A guided tour exploring the valley. The drive takes in several of the villages and temple fortresses that pepper the valley. You visit Pisaq, both the village, and the terraces and fort high above. The engineering and preservation are unrivalled.

From the flat valley floor the sculpted hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens. Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to the fortress/temple of Ollantaytambo where snow-capped Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop

The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the fertile valley.

Pisac ruins

Day 4

By train to Machu Picchu, guided tour of the site.

Travelling for just 1.5hours by train from Ollantaytambo, you reach the ruins of Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the bustling village of Machu Picchu dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It sits on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon.You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there is time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere. 

Machu Pichu

Day 5

Return to Cusco by rail and road.

There’s the opportunity to return to the site of Machu Picchu. Getting up early and taking the first buses up to the Machu Picchu is well worth it...  The site is virtually empty and the early morning mists swirl around the surrounding mountain tops. There’s an option to climb the torturously steep Huayna Picchu mountain (must be booked in advance); alternatively enjoy the thermal baths or walks in the village below. Return to Cusco by rail and road.  


Day 6

Guided tour of the city.

The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Today take a guided tour of the city. You explore Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with extraordinarily intricate stonework, and then visit a traditional textiles museum before walking to San Pedro market where you’ll find a vast array of meats, fruits and vegetables.

Day 7

Day at leisure.
Cusco is a compact city, easy to explore on foot independently. You are at leisure to discover the colourful markets, the many churches and museums, and to wander the attractive narrow streets. 

There are optional excursions in the surrounding region, including a trip to Maras and Moray, about an hour’s drive from Cusco. Moray is a system of ancient agricultural irrigation paths which now form circular depressions in the earth, with wonderful views into the Sacred Valley and in the shadow of the snowy peak of Mount Veronica. From here it is a short walk to the salt pans at Maras, circular pans of glistening white carved into the mountainside. Feeling you’d like to be active? White-water rafting, cycling and horse riding are on offer. 


Day 8

Fly to Lima and connect with international flight home.

Essential information


Two flights (approx 1hr); 2 scenic road journeys (2hrs); 2 rail journeys (1.5hrs each). 


On this tour we use good value budget hotels, they are small, friendly establishments, colonial or modern in style with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating. 


Breakfast daily, lunch day 3.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Included excursions

• Guided visit to Pisaq market and ruins, Ollantaytambo village and Inca fortress and the Sacred Valley.
• Guided tour of Machu Picchu.
• Tour of the city of Cusco and nearby ruins.

Summary of nights

7 days, 7 nights: Lima 1; Sacred Valley 2; Machu Picchu 1; Cusco 3.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within in Latin America..
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Travelling alone

With economic accommodation and shared excursions, this trip is suitable for single travellers.


The unit of currency in Peru is the sol.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$35 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

 We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.


Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax and taxes on internal flights are usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This holiday is suitable for all able-bodied, reasonably fit visitors, including families. Although there are some early starts, there is also some time at leisure.


Lima is covered in a dull grey mist for much of the year, although the sun does break through between November and March. It almost never rains in Lima, and temperatures are moderate. 

The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and March when there are showers most afternoons. The dry season is in June, July and August when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (from freezing point to 10°C). May, September and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells.


Your stays in the Sacred Valley (2800-3000m) and Cusco (3400m), are at high altitude. Although you fly into Cuzco, you’ll transfer directly to the Sacred Valley, then Machu Picchu (2000m). This minimises the time spent at altitude and gives your body time to acclimatise. Most people are only mildly affected and if you drink plenty of water and don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol for the first couple of days, you’ll probably be OK. Symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. 

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for pools though most hotels don’t have them. Due to luggage restrictions on the train to Machu Picchu, main luggage must be left in Cusco. You can take up to 10kgs per person on the train and an overnight holdall is recommended to separate your luggage for the night spent away from Cusco. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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