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, Quyllur Ri'ti, 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$3,475

(for 4 to 12 guests)

The Classic

From Cusco to Puno

  • Ruins, churches, manmade islands, spectacular alpine scenery
  • Heavenly hot springs in high jungle and the altiplano
  • Ride scenic trains, reed boats, mountain bikes and a jungle zipline
  • On and off the beaten track in the Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca

The Classic brings together Peru's best: ruins, colonial architecture and streetscapes, fabulous food, and some of our favourite insider secrets, all against the incredibly scenic background of the High Andes.

Descend from a glacial high pass to ride a jungle zipline. Soak in two incredibly different natural hot springs. Stay with locals at the foot of a volcano. Inca ruins are just the tip of the iceberg – Peru has a very long human history and a thriving, bewitchingly colourful folk culture. This is already one of the most rewarding tours you can do anywhere - without even mentioning that it also includes Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca!

Day 1Cusco’s beautiful centre

Welcome to Cusco, capital of the Inca empire and one of the most beautiful cities on Earth! We’ll meet you at 1pm for a traditional Peruvian meal at a local favourite restaurant. In the afternoon your guide will lead a relaxed walking tour around Cusco’s stunning historic centre – it’s important to take it easy if you’ve arrived from sea level today, as you need to acclimatise to Cusco’s 3,000m+ altitude.

  • Accommodation: Comfortable Cusco hotel, Cusco (Lunch and dinner included)

Day 2Tour the Sacred Valley

The sunny, incredibly scenic floodplain between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the valley of the Urubamba River is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Pisac is a tiny, cobbled Inca village which is home to the largest handicraft market in the region and a huge Inca fortress. We’ll explore both, then set off into the Sacred Valley. We’ll need frequent photo stops as we pass still-working Inca terracing, irrigation canals, and awesome mountain vistas. Our destination is Ollantaytambo, perhaps the most perfectly preserved of all Inca towns, a maze of cobbled alleyways and sun-drenched plazas presided over by a spectacular, llama-shaped ruin.

  • Accommodation: Cosy, family-run Ollantaytambo hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Choose Your Own Route To Machu Picchu

OPTION A: JUNGLE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU

Day 3Chinchero, Moray and Salineras

Our first stop today is Chinchero, a quiet little town known for its outdoor weaving studios, terraced Inca ruin, and intricately-frescoed colonial church. Next is the Inca’s mysterious crop laboratory, Moray – three massive amphitheatres of incredible engineering precision and stern, magnificent beauty.

After an al fresco lunch, an easy stroll (or ride in the bus if you prefer) through rolling farmland and views of the high Andes brings us to one of the best-kept secrets in the region, Salineras, a still-functioning Inca salt mine. This surreal and beautiful patchwork of pools and paths carved out of the side of an Andean mountain is an incredible sight you won’t soon forget.

  • Accommodation: Cosy, family-run Ollantaytambo hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 4Backdoor bike ride to Machu Picchu

This morning we drive up to 4350 metre (14,000 feet) Abra Malaga (Malaga Pass). Here we cross from the eastern to the western side of the Andes – we’re now on the upper slopes of the mighty Amazon Basin, and will lose nearly 3000 metres (10,000 feet) of altitude over an incredibly scenic 71 kilometre descent into tropical cloud forest. We’ll provide a bike for you, which you can use as much or as little as you like. Many guests spend this whole day taking photos – of grazing llamas, waterfalls, sheer rock faces, tiny, isolated hamlets, misty jungle vistas, and constantly changing ecosystems – as we descend from the High Andes to the high jungle in one amazing day.

  • Accommodation: Rustic eco-lodge in the rainforest outside Santa Teresa (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 5Outdoor adventures on the jungle trail to Machu Picchu

Today you have a choice. You can experience Cola de Mono, South America’s highest zipline (flying fox), and one of the most exciting and scenic activities we’ve ever encountered, then relax in the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo, natural mountain hot springs beside a raging river. Or if you’re feeling energetic, you can undertake the taxing but rewarding mountain hike to Llactapata, a recently discovered Inca ruin. Late in the day we’ll take a short train ride to Aguas Calientes, the tiny town with no road access just below Machu Picchu.

  • Accommodation: Aguas Calientes hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

OPTION B: STANDARD INCA TRAIL HIKE TO MACHU PICCHU

Day 3Start hiking the Inca Trail!

We’ll get up very early this morning to take the bus to Kilometre 82, the start of the Standard Inca Trail. The hike begins in the Sacred Valley as we follow the Urubamba River, climbing ever higher and eventually heading off up the Cusicacha Valley, through semi-arid forest and farming villages, to Wayllabamba, where we’ll camp for the night.

  • Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
  • Walking – 12 kilometres or 7.5 miles
  • Minimum Altitude – 2,700 metres, 8,860 feet
  • Maximum Altitude – 3,100 metres, 10,171 feet
  • Altitude of camp – 3,100 metres, 10,171 feet

Day 4Over Dead Woman’s Pass

Most of our walking time today is taken up by a stiff 1,200 metre climb up to Warmiwayñusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass, the high point of the Inca Trail. From here if it’s clear we’ll enjoy incredible views back the way we came, and onwards towards the distant, snowcapped Vilcabamba Range. Then we descend steeply into Pacaymayo, our campsite for the night with one of the best views in the Andes.

  • Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
  • Walking – 11 kilometres or 6.8 miles
  • Minimum Altitude – 3,100 metres, 10,171 feet
  • Maximum Altitude – 4,200 metres, 13,780 feet
  • Altitude of camp – 3,600 metres, 11,810 feet

Day 5Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Wiñaywayna

Today’s hike takes us through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru, with cloud forest, orchids, hummingbirds and mountains on all sides, and to three gorgeous little ruins – Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Wiñaywayna, next to the evening’s campsite. Along the way we cross the watershed of the Andes – this is one of the best days trekking in the world.

  • Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
  • Walking – 12 kilometres or 7.5 miles
  • Minimum Altitude – 2,670 metres, 8,760 feet
  • Maximum Altitude – 3,900 metres, 12,800 feet
  • Altitude of camp – 2,670 metres, 8,760 feet

Day 6Machu Picchu!

An early start rewards us with sunrise at Machu Picchu – a peak moment for anyone. A spectacular stone city surrounded by incredibly steep, incredibly green mountains, Machu Picchu needs no introduction and is 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 the site and some of the surrounding peaks on your own before we catch the train back to Cusco for the night.

  • Accommodation: Cusco hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

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 view, traditionally dressed locals, excellent cafes and charming architecture that characterise the historic centre of Cusco.

  • Accommodation: Cusco hotel, Cusco (Breakfast included)

Day 8LOCAL LIFESTYLE AND FABULOUS FOOD IN CUSCO'S SOUTH VALLEY

The Valle Sur just outside Cusco is a popular weekend destination for Cusqueños who flock here to specialist restaurants offering local favourites like chicharrones (deep fried pork chunks with corn and mint) and cuy (guinea pig), as well as plenty of more conventional and equally delicious options! We’ll fit a very local lunch in between visiting Tipón and Pikillacta, two of Peru’s most charming archaeological sites, and the 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 family homes in Raqchi.

  • Accommodation: Raqchi homestay (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 9Pottery making, a volcano, and ruins in Raqchi

Today we’ll strike off into the countryside with a local guide, wandering to breathtaking lookouts, and the nearby (extinct!) volcano of Kimsach’ata. Later we’ll try our hand at pottery-making – the people of Raqchi are professional potters and will show us how to make a pot on a pedal-powered potter’s wheel.

Today we’ll also have the privilege of attending a ch’alla, or payment to the Earth – a ceremony of propitiation of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) held regularly by an ostensibly Catholic community, and a very good example of the paradox at the heart of Andean religion.

  • Accommodation: Raqchi homestay (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 10High altitude hot springs and history

This morning we head off into the Altiplano. High, windy, cold, dry, this is one of the most inhospitable inhabited places on Earth. The natural hot springs at Marangani are the perfect introduction to the region, a surreal and improbable complex of five boiling-hot 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 (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 11Creepy catacombs and a steamship on Lake Titicaca

This morning a knowledgeable local will show us around Lampa’s cathedral – 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 some brilliant restaurants and tonight we’ll enjoy a cutting-edge novoandino (New Andean fusion) dinner.

  • Accommodation: Puno hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

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 (quinoa and vegetable soup – 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 (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

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: Puno hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 14Departure day

You can book your flight out for any time you like today – do allow for the fact that Juliaca airport is just over an hour’s drive away. If you’re staying on in Puno, we’re delighted to help out with suggestions and assistance for the rest of your time here.

(Breakfast included)

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