Aspiring Adventures - cool, different cultural, food, and bike tours

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Peru

As adventure tour people, we can’t help but love Peru to extremes; it offers diversity of adventure travel experience like nowhere else.

Peru’s outdoors, with its spectacular hiking and world-renowned mountain biking, was what first drew us in. But the longer we stay here, the more excited we get about the human factor: an ancient culture that’s exotic and mysterious yet surprisingly accessible, and a cuisine that’s coming to be recognised as one of the world’s greatest.

Hiking the Inca trail and Machu Picchu will never go out of style, and each of our trips includes expert-guided tours of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. Most also include Lake Titicaca. What sets us apart is we take extra time and trouble to show you other aspects of Peru that excite and inspire us, things you won’t see on other tours.

Our Classic tour includes little-visited sites and two different homestays where we hang out with ordinary Peruvians as they go about their daily lives. Our Food tour immerses you in this country’s national passion. Our popular Family tour incorporates easy acclimatisation, and plenty of stuff of interest to kids, into any adult’s dream trip to Peru. Our Bike trip showcases the best biking in the Southern Hemisphere. And our favourite Cultural tours (Paucartambo, Ccoyllor Ritty, and the Raymi) take you into a world you never imagined and will never forget.

Do a trip with us and experience the real Peru.

US$3,575

(for 4 to 12 guests)

The Food trip

From Lima to Puno

  • Try many of Peru’s 300+ national dishes
  • Eat in fancy restaurants, local homes and roadside stands
  • Produce markets of Lima and Cusco
  • Prepare and eat a Peruvian feast
  • Come in September and experience Mistura

Not just a trip for dedicated foodies, this is a trip for anyone who enjoys eating! It’s similar to our Classic trip, with plenty of time exploring Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Lake Titicaca, but replaces the physically active Inca Trail options with food-focused days. On these, we tour the world's most diverse produce markets, take a cooking lesson, and eat where the locals do. Throughout the trip we sample Peru’s cuisine in every setting from back-street stalls to world-famous fusion restaurants.

Each September, Lima hosts Mistura, the greatest food fair in the Americas (and some say the world.) Our September departure includes a full day in this gastronomic paradise.

Day 1Arrival day, Lima

No Peruvian food tour could start anywhere else – Lima is one of the most passionately ‘foodie’ cities on the planet. We’ll get straight into it today with a lunch that showcases coastal Peruvian cuisine – spicy, seafood-based ceviche is Peru’s most famous national dish, and we’ll sample it at one of Lima’s best ceviche specialist restaurants. In the afternoon we’ll check out the sights of central Lima – historic plazas, churches and gorgeous colonial buildings – before dinner at a peña (traditional theatre restaurant), where we’ll start to realise that Peru’s costume and dance cultures are just as rich and diverse as its gastronomic tradition!

  • Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Lima (L,D: Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 2Lima, Peru – culinary capital of South America

This morning we’ll find out where Peruvian food comes from at the Mercado de Magdalena, the massive produce markets where everyone from top chefs to corner shops source their raw materials. One of the reasons Peruvian cuisine is so glorious is the diversity of produce – from sea, coast, mountains and jungle – and this market is where it all comes together.

Later we’ll visit the Larco museum in Pueblo Libre - best known for its collection of ancient erotic ceramics, it’s a great introduction to Peru’s pre-conquest history. In the evening we’ll head for el Circuito Magica de Agua (the magic water circuit – quite indescribable), then enjoy Peru’s most popular dish for dinner – pollo a la brasa: tasty, tender chicken roasted on a spit over firewood.

  • Accommodation: Lima hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3Mistura!

Mistura is the annual event for all Latin American foodies. We’ll tour mind-bogglingly huge displays of pisco, chocolate, coffee, wines, and exotic Amazonian fruits. Cooking lessons, flamboyant cooking demonstrations, and hotly-contested competitions will compete for our attention. We’ll taste food prepared by country grandmothers and internationally renowned chefs like Gastón Acurio, Javier Wong, Mitsuharu Tsumura and Rafael Osterling. Today will be a highlight of the trip and a day to remember – come hungry!

  • Accommodation: Lima hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4Explore beautiful Cusco

A short flight (not included in trip price – ask us for help organising this) over the Andes brings us to Cusco (3,300 metres), the capital of the Inca empire and one of the most beautiful towns on Earth. This afternoon we’ll take a tour of the markets, plazas, winding cobbled streets and historic (Spanish colonial facades on Inca and even pre-Inca foundations) buildings of the center, or feel free to rest in the hotel to help you adjust to the altitude.

Dinner tonight will be an introduction to highland Peruvian cuisine – with an international fusion twist!

  • Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco (B,L,D)

Day 5Machu Picchu!

An early start and a scenic train ride bring us to Machu Picchu, a spectacular stone city surrounded by incredibly steep, incredibly green mountains, and deservedly one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. A guided tour is a necessary start to orient you in this massive site, then you’ll have plenty of time to explore on your own.

  • Accommodation: Hotel in Aguas Calientes (B,L,D)

Day 6Sacred Valley tour

Today’s first stop is Ollantaytambo, a perfectly preserved Inca town with atmospheric cobbled alleyways, sun-drenched plazas and a spectacular, llama-shaped ruin. A short drive through the Sacred Valley (we’ll spend more time stopping to take photos of the incredible scenery than actually driving!) brings us to the noted novo-andino (New Andean fusion) restaurant where we’ll have lunch.

We’ll spend the afternoon in Pisac, another tiny, cobbled Inca village which is home to the largest handicraft market in the region and a huge Inca fortress. We’ll explore both and then reward ourselves with street snacks like choclo con queso (corn and cheese) and the wood-fired empanadas that are the local specialty.

  • Accommodation: Cusco hotel (B,L,D)

Day 7Free day in Cusco

There are things to do in Cusco to suit every mood and personality: churches, museums, and art galleries; adventure activities like rafting and horse riding, and organised tours. This is also the perfect day to just wander around and enjoy the spectacular mountain views, traditionally dressed locals, excellent cafes and charming architecture that characterise the historic centre of Cusco.

  • Accommodation: Cusco hotel (B)

Day 8Full immersion Peruvian cooking day

This morning we'll head out to San Jerónimo, on Cusco's outskirts, to shop for ingredients for tonight’s feast at the Vinocanchon producer’s market and enjoy a relaxing lunch in a garden restaurant. You may then want to take a siesta and loosen your belt, as we’ll be spending the evening cooking and eating a traditional Peruvian meal!

  • Accommodation: Cusco hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9Local lifestyle and fabulous food - Cusco's South Valley

The Valle Sur, little visited by foreign tourists, is full of quirky sights and a popular weekend dining destination for Cusqueños. In the morning we’ll visit artesanal ovens in Oropesa, Peru’s official bread capital, and have our futures read in coca leaves or guinea pig entrails by wizards in Huasao. We’ll dine on duck in Lucre, followed by a visit to the best cake and ice-cream shop in the region. In the afternoon we’ll check out the incredibly ornate church of Andahuaylillas, whose interior is so ornate that it’s known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas. We’ll spend the night in the homes of our friends in Raqchi.

  • Accommodation: Homestay in Raqchi (B,L,D)

Day 10High altitude hot springs and human history

This morning we’ll explore Raqchi’s weird, extra-terrestrial-looking Inca ruin, the enormous adobe Templo de Wiracocha, before heading off into the Altiplano. High, windy, cold, dry, this is one of the most inhospitable inhabited places on Earth, with one of the longest histories of human occupation. The hot springs at Marangani are the perfect introduction to the region, a surreal and improbable complex of five boiling-hot natural pools linked by steaming streams and populated by locals washing themselves and their children in the only hot water for miles around.

We’ll spend the night in Lampa – once one of the richest towns in Peru, it’s now a sleepy forgotten gem where llamas graze in the Plaza de Armas and the wind whistles through the arches of the bullfighting stadium.

  • Accommodation: Casa Romero, Lampa (B,L,D)

Day 11Creepy catacombs and a working steamship

Lampa’s cathedral is one of the most amazing things we’ve seen anywhere. Among many other marvels, it houses a collection of hundreds of artistically arranged skulls and skeletons – a jaw-dropping sight that inspired Katy to add Lampa to the Lonely Planet Guide to Peru.

In the afternoon we’ll take a 1.5 hour drive to Puno, Lake Titicaca’s bustling port town. Here we can visit the SS Yavari, a still-working relic of the age of steam moored enigmatically in landlocked Lake Titicaca, and the Museo Carlos Dreyer, one of the most interesting archaeological collections in Peru. Puno is also home to several brilliant novoandino (New Andean fusion) restaurants and tonight we’ll enjoy a cutting-edge fusion dinner.

  • Accommodation: Cosy hotel in Puno (B,L,D)

Day 12Lake Titicaca tour begins

This morning we take to the waters of Lake Titicaca. Our first, brief stop is the very interesting but extremely touristic Uros Islands – the famous floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca. On Amantani Island we’ll head home with our homestay hosts them for a lunch including sopa de quinua (quinua and vegetable soup. You’ll want the recipe for this simple highland Peruvian dish – it’s so tasty it seems to be more than the sum of its parts). In the afternoon we’ll take on the locals in a game of soccer (which we will inevitably lose), and hike to the top of the island for what may be the most beautiful sunset you’ll ever see.

  • Accommodation: Homestay on Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca (B,L,D)

Day 13Textiles and trout on Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca

After breakfast a short cruise across Lake Titicaca brings us to scenic Taquile Island. Here we’ll explore winding island paths across rolling green hills and through idyllic villages, and enjoy stunning views across the lake to the snow-capped peaks of Bolivia to the east. Taquile is the most famous textile centre in the Andes and we’ll learn about colourful, storytelling weavings, before enjoying a lunch of fresh-caught trout in the island’s co-operative restaurant. In the afternoon we return to Puno for a memorable dinner to mark our last night together.

  • Accommodation: Cosy hotel in Puno (B,L,D)

Day 14Departure Day

We’ll get you to Juliaca airport in time for your flight out. If you’re staying on in Puno, we’re delighted to help out with suggestions and assistance for the rest of your time here.

(B)