Overview

See all tours

The Paucartambo tripPeru

The most famous of all of Peru’s incredible syncretic religious festivals, the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo is the ultimate Peru experience: two days of non-stop music, parades, games, dances, and fireworks, along with an unforgettable, hallucinogenic sunrise.

This comprehensive trip also includes plenty of time in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, to round out an action-packed and unforgettable trip to Peru.

Start:

Cusco, Peru

End:

Cusco, Peru

Maximum group size:

12 Guests

Duration:

3 12 days

Price:

US$ 3,475

Includes:

wMachu Picchu oCulture & Food zOutdoors FHike

Fireworks at Paucartambo are like nothing you've ever seen before

Fireworks at Paucartambo are like nothing you've ever seen before

Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas

5
4
Wow! It's hard to express how amazing our trip in Peru was! The festival at Paucartambo is sensational - we'll remember that experience for a long time to come! Thanks Steve and Katy for putting everything together - we simply couldn't have done it without you.

– Michael and Lynda R.

The trip in detail

Welcome to Cusco! 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 acclimate to Cusco’s 3,000m+ altitude.

Meals: Lunch and dinner included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco

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.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Cosy, family-run hotel in Ollantaytambo

Day 3 Ruins, weavers, and a functioning Inca factory

Today starts with Chinchero, best known for its outdoor weaving studios and extensive Inca terracing with incredible views. Next we’ll explore Moray – a mysterious complex of massive amphitheaters of incredible engineering precision and stern, magnificent beauty.

Then an easy stroll (or ride in the vehicle if you prefer), through rolling farmland and views of the high Andes, brings us to Salineras – a surreal and beautiful patchwork of pools and paths that still produces salt using Inca technology and is our favourite site in the Cusco region.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Cosy, family-run hotel in Ollantaytambo

Day 4 Adventures in the Amazon basin

Today we cross one of the world’s more drastic topographical divides: from the arid, Pacific side of the Andes to its lush western slope and the uppermost reaches of the Amazon Basin. The differences become more and more obvious as we descend from the icy high pass of Abra Malaga (4,350m/14,000 feet), all the way down to the steamy heat of the ceja de selva (“eyebrow of the jungle”).

Our destination, sleepy Santa Teresa (1,550m/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 or all of the day’s long descent to the high jungle – it’s an incredibly fun, freewheeling, downhill and is suitable for anyone who can ride a bike. We provide bikes so you can ride as much or as little as you like.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Rustic eco-lodge near Santa Teresa

Day 5 Meet local coffee growers and sample their wares

Coffee, grown at cottage-industry level and exported to the world 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 operation where they harvest and mill coffee.

In the afternoon we’ll take a short (seven km/five 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 isolated little town has one of the most beautiful settings you’ll see in Peru, in a jungle gorge by a rushing river.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes

Day 3 START 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 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.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 12km (7.5 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 2,700m (8,860 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Altitude of camp: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Day 4 Hike over Warmiwayñusca Pass

Most of our walking time today is taken up by a stiff 1,200m (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.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 11km (6.8 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 4,200m (13,780 feet)

Altitude of camp: 3,600m (11,810 feet)

Day 5 Runkurakay, 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.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Luxury camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 12km (7.5 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 2,670m (8,760 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 3,900m (12,800 feet)

Altitude of camp: 2,670m (8,760 feet)

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 guide will show you around the important features and orient you in the 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.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel 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.

Meals: Breakfast included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco

The South Valley, on the way to Paucartambo, is one of our favourite places to take our guests, because it offers a one-day snapshot of the incredible variety of this whole region. There we’ll meet a brujo (witch) who can read your future in coca leaves, and see how bakers create the area’s famous chuta bread, as well as exploring Tipón – one of the most charming ruins we’ve ever seen, with its still-working agricultural terraces and Inca irrigation. We’ll arrive to Paucartambo late in the afternoon, in time for the incredible firework display this night of the festival is known for.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Basic accommodation in Paucartambo

Today each of the comparsas (companies) of dancers perform their hearts out in honour of Mamacha Carmen - the entire day is a non-stop orgy of Andean dance and costume. Each comparsa represents a specific mythical or historical character – the Saqras (devils), and Quyachas (little queens), are some of the most famous. In the afternoon they all accompany the Virgin through the town in a joyous procession. We’ll watch from a strategic position and your guide will explain what the dances and costumes represent – everything from comic moments in Peruvian colonial history to the mythic battle between good and evil!

Later, if you wish, we’ll take a late-night car ride to Tres Cruces, on the very edge of the Andes – from here you look straight down into the Amazon Basin. In June and July, thanks to very specific climactic conditions, sunrise here is often accompanied by optical illusions – this is a morning you’ll never forget.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Basic accommodation in Paucartambo

In the morning we’ll follow the solemn procession to the cemetery to pay our respects to the departed, and in the afternoon we’ll take our places for our favourite event of the festival – the playful guerilla (little war) in the Plaza de Armas. Featuring among many other things a water fight, a war between highlanders and jungle people, and devils dragging souls to hell on fiery carts, it’s a messy, hilarious, utterly unique afternoon of fun.

Most spectators leave Paucartambo after the
guerrilla, making this evening the best opportunity of the whole festival to see dancers from up close and without crowds.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Basic accommodation in Paucartambo

This morning we’ll drive back to Cusco. In the afternoon you may choose to rest and enjoy a hot shower, or to accompany your guide for more exploration of the cobbled streets, graceful plazas, museums and churches of central Cusco.

This evening we’ll celebrate our return to the 21st century with a gourmet dinner at one of Cusco’s finest restaurants.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco

You can book your flight out of Cusco for any time today. If you’re staying on in Peru, we’re delighted to help out with suggestions for the rest of your time here.

Meals: Breakfast included

Print-friendly version u

How much does this trip cost?

US $

3,475

pp.


in a group of four to 12 people


Get in touch

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All accommodation (based on twin share. Single supplement available for US$350)
  • All ground transport
  • All activities specified in itinerary
  • Dedicated Aspiring Adventures guide
  • Entrance to all attractions specified in itinerary
  • Extra permit to climb Huayna Picchu at Machu Picchu if available at time of booking (with Option A)
  • All meals except lunch and dinner on free day
  • Drinking water with meals

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Tips for your guide(s)
  • Inca Trail hike option only: tips for your porters and cooks, sleeping bag and mat (bring your own, or hire from us – add US$40 per item), optional porter to carry your personal gear (add US$60)

Food at Paucartambo

Paucartambo is a small, rural Peruvian town where choice is limited and hygiene standards are not the same as you are used to. Your guide is there to make the best possible food choices for you and you are more likely to be bothered by some of the food on offer (such as sheep stomach lining or cow udder), and non-Western standards of service, than hygiene issues. Food at this event is suitable for people who consider themselves adventurous. Vegetarians will face limited choice, and should bring extra fruit and snacks. We provide water with meals. Bottled water is readily available to buy in between times.

Accommodations

Accommodations on our Peru trips are our favourites in each town. In Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes we stay in comfortable hotels (generally of three-star standard) that are quirky and individual. In Santa Teresa we stay in a rustic eco-lodge. On the Inca Trail we sleep in tents.

In Paucartambo we stay at the most luxurious accommodation available, which is very far from fancy. For these nights, conditions are basic, and if you are not willing to put up with cold showers, limited electricity, and very basic facilities, then the Paucartambo festival is not for you. If you are, any discomfort you experience will be well compensated by the experience and insight into this unique cultural event.


Steve, Aspiring's co-founder, says

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the Paucartambo festival twice, first in 2009, and second in 2013 when we took a group of six film-makers to the event. I have a special place in my heart for Paucartambo, and if you can be in Peru in July, you’re in luck – this is my favourite event in all of Peru, and soon it will be yours too.

1
Open departures:

Start Date End Date
July 08 July 19, 2019 Enquire

Check out all our adventure tour itineraries and find groups of like-minded people to share them with. Have us create your own private and/or custom tour. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to make it happen!

Get in touch