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

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  • Peru
    Peru
  • Peru
    Peru
  • Peru
    Peru

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 popular Family tour incorporates easy acclimatisation, and plenty of stuff of interest to kids, into any adult’s dream trip to Peru. Our 7-day MTB trip and 12-day Bike trip showcase the best biking in the Southern Hemisphere. And our favourite Peruvian festivals (Quyllur Rit'i, Raymi, and the Paucartambo) take you into a world you never imagined and will never forget, while our Cuisine tour immerses you in this country’s national passion.

Do a trip with us and experience the real Peru.

US$3,475

(for 4 to 12 guests)

The Classic

From Cusco to Puno

  • INCA RUINS, COLONIAL CHURCHES, FASCINATING MARKETS
  • SPECTACULAR HIGH ANDEAN SCENERY
  • HEAVENLY HOT SPRINGS IN HIGH JUNGLE AND ALTIPLANO
  • MEET WEAVERS, POTTERS AND COFFEE GROWERS

The Classic brings together Peru's best: ancient ruins, colonial architecture, fantastic food, and a thriving, bewitchingly colourful folk culture – all set against the incredibly scenic background of the High Andes. The variety of experiences will astound you. Wander through graceful plazas, cobbled alleyways, farmland paths and jungle tracks. Descend from a glacial high pass to a rainforest oasis. Soak in natural hot springs. Drink coffee under the tree it was harvested from.

This is already one of the most rewarding tours you can do anywhere – and did we mention 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 3,400 metre (11,200 feet) altitude.

  • Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in 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 (All meals 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 (All meals included)

Day 4Adventures on the JUNGLE TRAIL TO Machu Picchu

Today we undertake a fascinating journey, from the dry, Pacific side of the Andes to its lush western slope. There’s a marked difference in vegetation between the two sides, and you’ll have ample opportunity to appreciate it as we descend from Abra Malaga, a high pass (4,350 metres/14,000 feet) in the shadow of the Veronica Glacier, to the steamy heat of the ceja de selva (“eyelash of the jungle” – tropical rainforest).

Our destination, sleepy Santa Teresa (1,550 metres/5,085 feet), is home to one of our favourite places in Peru, the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo, natural mountain hot springs beside a raging river. It’s the perfect place to soak away the road dust of today’s journey from one side of the Andes to the other.

If you’re into biking, you might want to ride some parts of today’s journey – it’s an incredibly fun, freewheeling downhill. We provide bikes so you can ride as much or as little as you like.

  • Accommodation: Rustic eco-lodge in the rainforest near Santa Teresa (All meals included)

Day 5Meet coffee growers and sample their wares!

Coffee, grown at cottage-industry level and exported through growers co-operatives, is the backbone of this area’s economy. This morning a local coffee producer will show us around their plantation and the equipment they use to harvest, mill and toast coffee.

In the afternoon we’ll take a short (7 kilometre/5 mile) train ride to Aguas Calientes. There’s time this afternoon to explore the market and admire the scenery all around and above us – the little town has one of the most beautiful settings you’ll see in Peru, in a jungle gorge by a rushing river.

  • Accommodation: Aguas Calientes hotel (All meals included)

OPTION B: STANDARD INCA TRAIL HIKE TO MACHU PICCHU

Day 3Start hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!

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 (All meals included)
  • Walking – 12 kilometres (7.5 miles)
  • Minimum Altitude – 2,700 metres (8,860 feet)
  • Maximum Altitude – 3,100 metres (10,170 feet)
  • Altitude of camp – 3,100 metres, (10,170 feet)

Day 4Hike over Warmiwayñusca Pass

Most of our walking time today is taken up by a stiff 1,200 metre (3,940 feet) hike up to Warmiwayñusca (Dead Woman’s Pass), the highest 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 (All meals included)
  • Walking – 11 kilometres (6.8 miles)
  • Minimum Altitude – 3,100 metres (10,170 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 (All meals included)
  • Walking – 12 kilometres (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 6EXPLORE MACHU 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. Your trip leader will take you on a guided tour – 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: Back at our home base Cusco hotel (All meals 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 THE 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.

Late this afternoon we’ll arrive at the village of Raqchi, home to a group of gracious, funny people we’re proud to call our friends. For the next couple of days, they’ll open their homes and lives to you, giving you a unique insight into traditional Andean life.

  • Accommodation: Raqchi homestay (All meals 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.

We’ll also have the privilege of attending a ch’alla (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 (All meals included)

Day 10Welcome to the Altiplano

This morning we’ll explore the enormous adobe ruin that dwarfs the humble homes of Raqchi, before heading off into the altiplano - one of the highest inhabited places on Earth, and home to some of its most unlikely attractions.

We’ll take the plunge at Marangani: a surreal and improbable complex of five natural hot pools linked by steaming streams and populated by locals enjoying the only hot water for miles around.

We’ll spend the night at a historic hacienda. Established as a convent in the 18th century, it’s now home to a dairy farm where we’ll have the opportunity to sample delicious high-altitude cheese and yoghurt.

  • Accommodation: Historic hacienda near Ayaviri (All meals included)

Day 11forgotten riches in lAMPA

Today we’ll explore Lampa. Once one of the richest towns in Peru, it’s now all but a ghost town, making the grandeur and scale of its cathedral all the more striking. Impressive from the outside, inside the cathedral is simply incredible. Among many other marvels, it houses a catacomb, a collection of skulls and skeletons, and a full-scale reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pietá.

We’ll arrive to the shores of Lake Titicaca in time for a memorable dinner at one of Puno’s excellent restaurants.

  • Accommodation: Family-run hotel in downtown Puno (All meals included)

Day 12lake titicaca’s south shore

The tourist map ends at Puno. Past it lies a land of ancient burial monuments dedicated to dwarves, half-buried ruins drowsing in farmers’ fields, and layer upon layer of human history and belief, built up over thousands of years: it’s one of the weirdest and most wonderful places in the world and today we’ll take our pick from many strange sights.

Amaru Meru is said to be a stone-carved door into another dimension. Even if interdimensional portals aren’t your thing, you’ll enjoy the windswept majesty, imposing rock formations, and views of Lake Titicaca around it. We’ll also visit Chucuito, where 86 huge stone phalluses are buried every which way in what is said to be an Inca fertility temple – though some locals passionately argue it’s a hoax. Either way, it’s quite a sight!

  • Accommodation: Family-run hotel in downtown Puno (All meals included)

Day 13Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca

This morning we take to the waters of Lake Titicaca. We’ll stop briefly at the Uros – the famous floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca – but our main destination is Taquile, one of the most fascinating islands in the world. It was isolated until the 1950s and still follows a very different way of life. Decisions are communal, economic activity is co-operative, and society is based on the fundamental Inca principles: "Ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella" (don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy). There are no cars, few dogs, and little electricity, because the Taquileños want it that way.

Taquile is also the most famous textile centre in the Andes. Colourful, storytelling textiles, designed and woven by Taquile’s women from thread spun by its men, draw aficionados and investigators from all over the world to this amazing island. On top of all this, the scenery is stunning and the peace and tranquillity is like nowhere else on Earth. Taquile is just magic.

  • Accommodation: Family-run hotel in downtown Puno (All meals 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 Peru, we’re delighted to help out with suggestions and assistance for the rest of your time here.

(Breakfast included)

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