This is a wonderful itinerary that incorporates a wide range of cultures, landscapes, Inca Ruins, and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! We book this program for you on a custom/private basis. This way we can tailor it to your preferences.  For instance, you can add an Amazon lodge stay and/or the Colca Canyon, and choose the types of hotels you prefer. 

Discover splendid mountain panoramas in the Andes, enjoy a cultural immersion on Taquile Island, visit the vast Inca Trail sites and ruins–all a rich human canvas spanning thousands of years. Cruise to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, with an overnight at the timeless Taquile Island. Stop at the unique floating reed islands of the Uros people. Explore Cuzco’s wondrous palaces, streets and plazas. Hike the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, with a full day to explore the legendary Lost City of the Incas. Each day you enjoy unforgettable wonders. 

At night in cities and towns you stay in small, delightful hotels, and enjoy an unforgettable night in a native home on the Quechuan Taquile Island on 12,500-foot Lake Titicaca. During the 4-day Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu, you enjoy our top-quality trail service with porters, cooks and full camp service. Our guides are talented English-speaking Peruvians who contribute enthusiasm and valuable personal insights into the past and present of this astonishing Andean region. 

2024, Custom Program 

Departures: Any day, March – December

Trip Cost from Lima: Customized program cost to be determined based on the final itinerary. Please contact Best Andes Travel to work up a customized program to your liking.

Internal air:  $373 (Air rate is subject to change)


We meet you on your arrival in Lima airport and check you into the comfortable airport hotel for overnight. (Note: Daily breakfasts are included.   Other Meals included in land cost are designated as BL (Box Lunch), L (Lunch), D (Dinner)

We transfer to our hotel overlooking the Chili River, with the classic view of El Misti Volcano just to the west. You have the remainder of the morning free to acclimate. Arequipa’s major points of interest are within easy walking distance of our hotel.We spend the afternoon touring the most popular of these: the Santa Catalina Convent, and the Museo de Santuarios Andinos, better known as the Inca Mummy Museum.

We travel by van up into the highlands on a highway which climbs clockwise around the western flank of Chachani Volcano. At Pampa Cañahuas, a high plain north of Chachani, we see troops of wild vicuñas, the graceful relative of the llama and alpaca. The country is relatively dry, and we pass few signs of habitation along our route until we cross a 4,528 metre /14,852 ft pass and descend into the basin of Lake Titicaca. The highest navigable lake in the world at 3,856 m/12,650 ft, Lake Titicaca is intensively settled around its whole margin. The deep waters of the lake buffer the cold nights at this elevation, making the basin less harsh for agriculture than many highland zones of lesser elevations. Looking across this huge inland sea, 110 miles in length and some 45 miles in width, we see the impressive snowpeaks of Bolivia’s Royal Range. We visit the famous burial towers at Sillustani, then continue to our hotel overlooking the lake, just east of the city. BL

We transfer to the port and board a launch for the 3½-hour cruise to Taquile Island. Taquile’s rocky, terraced slopes rise precipitously from the waters in the center of the lake. Formerly a private hacienda, the Quechua-speaking islanders regained ownership in the mid-twentieth century, and have been receiving tourists into their homes since the early 1980’s. Half a century ago, a trip to the island was an adventure, often an overnight trip in precarious sailboats. Now cooperatives of island families operate comfortable motor launches to make the trip a delightful immersion into another world. We spend a delightful afternoon hiking on the island. L

We have a second day to explore this entrancingly beau­tiful and peaceful island. Only four miles long and less than a mile wide, the island has hidden beaches, hill­top shrines, and a gentle and industrious population of Que­chua peasants who welcome us wherever we go. We depart by boat in the afternoon, and visit the astonishing floating reed island com­mun­ities of the Uros Indians. Return to the mainland, overnight in hotel.  L

We travel westward across the northern Peruvian Altiplano. The mountains gradually approach as we climb up to spectacular La Raya Pass (4,330 m/14,202 ft). After crossing this pass, we descend along the beautiful valley of the Vilcanota River. This important river flows northwest through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu. Beyond the famous Lost City of the Incas, it becomes known as the Urubamba River and then the Ucayali River, as it flows northward into the Amazon. Our major afternoon visit is the magnificent Viracocha Temple at Raqchi. We continue down into the narrow valley of Cuzco (3,310 m/10,857′). We check into a comfortable hotel adjacent to the Korikancha, the Inca Sun temple, for two nights. BL

We spend the morning touring the city’s fascinating streets, pal­aces and temples on foot.  Many of the streets retain the stone Incan walls of the former palaces which made up the heart of the city. Highlights include the Santo Domingo church/Koricancha complex, Casa Kusi Cancha, and San Blas Plaza. Your afternoon is open to visit museums or to shop.  Cuzco’s night life is also full of variety, with strolling musicians contributing traditional Andean music in most of the restaurants.   B 

Briefing Prior to departing for the trek, we meet for an orientation briefing by our guide, who reviews in detail the packing list, the details of the route and many other issues of the upcoming trek. You have the remainder of the day to visit the museums and colonial sites that have tempted you during your city tour of the previous day. B

We depart Cuzco by private van to our trailhead in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. With our Que­chua porters transporting the camp gear, we walk carrying only light packs. The first day’s route is mainly level as we hike along the tur­bulent Vilca­no­ta River, with mag­nificent views north to Nevado Vero­nica (5,900 m/ 19,000′). Explore the Inca city of Llac­ta­pata, and continue up the Cusichaca River to camp at 3,000 m (9,842′). LD

We climb steeply up into magi­cal forest of endemic Polylepis trees, with gnarled trunks and red­dish, papery bark. At last we emerge above the tree­line, where the views from Warmiwañusqa Pass (4,200 m/ 13,776′) justify all the hard work. You gaze east to the Huay­nay peaks and west into the rugged Vilcabamba Range. We des­cend to our camp in the valley bottom at Paccaymayo. (3,720 m/ 12,200′). LD

Soon after leaving camp we encounter the Inca out­post of Runkurakay, a small fortification. The trail continues steeply upward until we reach the second pass at 3,860 m/12,661′, and enjoy views north to the 18,000’ peaks of the Urubamba Range, and the even higher peaks of Pumasillo in the western Vilcabamba Range. We descend to the res­tored ridgetop townsite of Sayaq­marka (3,580 m/11,745 ft). From Sayaqmarka onward, most of the trail is finely paved granite blocks. We camp on a spectacular ridgetop above the ruins of Phuyo­pata­marka (3,495 m/ 11,460′) with mag­ni­fi­cent views down to the Vilcanota River and the Vilcabamba Range. LD

Climb to an ancient cer­e­mon­ial lookout on a granite knoll directly above our camp. From here, priests undoubtedly saluted the spirit of the sacred mountain Sal­cantay (6,275 m/20,580′) directly south of us. We descend on a fine Inca road through exo­tic cloud forest habitat. Orchids and hummingbirds are com­mon along this spec­tac­ular section of the trail high above the river. After visiting the superb outpost of Winya Wayna, we traverse a steep forested mountainside along a well-engineered Inca road to emerge at the Gate of the Sun for our first view of Machu Picchu (2,430 m/ 7,970′) from high above the city. Stroll down the royal road for a suitably regal entrance to the Lost City of the Incas. Tonight we are in camp by the river at the base of the ruins. We visit the colorful nearby town of Aguas Calientes. D

We enter the ruins early for a full day ex­plor­ing this unfor­gettable site. Those who wish to view sunrise can enter the citadel gates at 6 AM; the sun’s rays clear the mountain ridges to the east around 7.15AM. Those who prefer a later start enjoy a relaxed breakfast in camp, and join the guide for a detailed tour of the famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Return to Cuzco by train in late afternoon. Overnight in hotel.

Fly to Lima on an early afternoon flight, and transfer to our delightful small hotel in the quiet Miraflores or San Isidro district. You have the remainder of the afternoon open for optional touring in Lima. Overnight in hotel.

Airport transfer for passengers who depart today

Included in Land Cost:

All land transportation, in private bus or common carrier where trains are used; the Machu Picchu National Sanctuary trail fee $110 (subject to change.) Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure days; entrance fees to museums and sites mentioned in itinerary: Santa Catalina Convent, Museo de Santuarios Andinos, Uros Islands, Taquile island, Raqchi, Cuzco cathedral, Santo Domingo/Kori­­cancha; shared twin accommodation in comfortable hotels, one night in homes of islanders on Taquile (single hotel accommodation available at extra cost); meals as indicated; tips for group baggage handling.

Not included in Land Cost:

International and internal airfare; airport fees and border taxes; beverages with included meals; meals not specified as included in the itinerary; insurance, laundry, and other items of a personal nature; your guide’s tip.

Weight Restriction: We include porterage for up to 10 kg (22 lb.) of personal gear. If your packed duffel exceeds 10 kg. In weight (including sleeping bag and pad) at the trailhead, you will have to transfer excess items from your duffel to your daypack.

FAQ:  Trail Permits in Machu Picchu Sanctuary

Q:  Do I need to buy a trail permit to hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

A:  Yes.  All who use the hiking trails in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary are required to purchase a trail permit.  Companies which claim to offer you a trek that does not require a permit are offering a trek which does not enter the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Permits sell out 6 months prior to departure, so please book far in advance in insure a permit!!!

But on our custom program, you can choose any other trek we offer, and those that do not go on the Inca Trail will not require permits.

Q:  How do I buy the permit?

A:  As part of confirming you on one of our treks, we purchase permits not only for you but for the porters and other trek crew who haul your gear and look after trek operations.  In the following discussion, we use “permit” in both the singular sense (“you need a permit to trek in the park”) and in the collective sense (“we purchase a permit for 8 passengers plus trek crew”).  Before we can purchase your permit, we need: your full name as it appears on your valid passport (IMPORTANT: check the passport expiry date!), your passport number, your date of birth, and gender. This information appears in the official trail documents and is checked carefully against your passport at control gates on the trail.  If the information does not match, you may be refused access to the park and lose your trek.

Q:  I need to renew my passport.  How can I get a permit without a valid passport?

A:  We can purchase the permit using your expired passport number.  You then must bring both the expired passport and your new passport with you on the trail, and present both documents at the checkpoints.  If your passport agency does not return your original passport, then it is essential that you keep a photocopy of the ID page of the original passport, and bring that with you to Peru.  If you have no passport at all, then you cannot join a trek until you obtain a passport.   If your name or passport number varies from what you supplied to us for the permit application, then the park authority may deny you access to the trail.  Therefore, it is essential that you supply accurate passport data, and bring this passport with you to the trek.

Q:  I noticed that I gave you an incorrect passport number when I applied to join the trek.  Can you fix that?

A:  So long as permits are available for your trek date, we can purchase a new permit with the new passport number to allow you to participate in the trek.  The cost of the original permit is non-refundable.  At the trek orientation you will have to pay for both the old permit and the new permit.  If no more permits are available, then park authorities may refuse to grant you access to the Inca Trail if your passport number does not match that listed on the permit.

Q:  I lost my passport which I gave you to purchase the permit.  I’m applying for a new one.  What happens now?

A:  So long as permits are available for your trek date, we can purchase a new permit with the new passport number to allow you to participate in the trek.  The cost of the original permit is non-refundable.  At the trek orientation you will have to pay for both the old permit and the new permit.  If no more permits are available, then park authorities may refuse to grant you access to the Inca Trail if your passport number does not match that listed on the permit.

Q:  Is it possible to join a trekking group close to the trek departure date?

A:   For all dates but those very early and very late in the trekking season, the answer is a resounding NO.  Trekking permits sell out typically three months ahead of the trek date.  The park authorities allow only 500 people to enter the park for any given day. Each person who enters that day needs to be listed on a permit, including guides, cooks, porters, and trekkers.  From the end of March through the end of October, if you’re not on a roster three months prior to your trek, you’ll likely find that no permits are left.  When that happens, you have two options – change your holiday dates, or trek outside the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary.  For an excellent alternate route, we suggest our Moonstone to Sun Temple Trek.

Q:  Do other companies have allocations of permits that I can purchase after your supply is sold out?

A:  No.  The park authority sells the permits on a first-come, first-served basis.  The permit must specify for each trekker the full name, nationality, passport number, date of birth, and gender.   Permits are not transferable, and the only change allowed on the permit is a full cancellation of one or more passengers. The result is that outfitters can buy permits only for passengers actually on their rosters.  Once the 500 permits are issued, no more are available from any source.

Q:  What about late cancellations?

A:  Current regulations do not allow us to replace cancelled passengers with new passengers.   Trek permits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Q:  If I give you my deposit now, do you buy my permit immediately?

A:  Not unless permits are very low. We customarily purchase the permits within a few days of receiving your deposit.

Q:  Can I enter Machu Picchu ruins at night on my trek permit?

A:  No.  Night-time entry to the Machu Picchu ruins is currently prohibited by the INC. Q:  Are there student discounts for the trail permit?

A:   For students 16 years and older, we must receive a digital version of your International Student Card (ISIC), showing the institution, student status, and date of validity.  A .JPG file sent to us as an email attachment is the best format to achieve this.  For those who will be younger than 16 years at the time of trekking, send a .JPG of the passport ID page.  We submit the documentation when we purchase the permit.  If the park authority accepts the documentation, then they will issue the permit at the student rate of 50% of the adult rate.  If the park authority rejects the documentation, their decision stands and we purchase the adult-rate ticket.   Either way, we charge you the actual amount we pay for the permit.  The June 18, 2005 regulation specifies that ONLY an ISIC will be accepted; and that the original ISIC must be brought on the trek.  Trekkers on student rate tickets who cannot produce ISIC at the trailhead will be charged the difference between student rate and adult rate tickets.

Q:  If I change trek dates can I transfer my permit?

A:  Both your trail permit and your trek deposit are non-refundable and non-transferable.  To join a new trek date, we have to start the permit process all over again.

Quick Facts

  • Custom Program
  • Sample itinerary 15 days:  4 nights camping, 9 nights hotel, 1 night native homestay
  • Tailor the itinerary to your preferences
  • Cruise Lake Titicaca and enjoy native homestay on Taquile Island
  • Explore magnificent Inca and colonial remains in Cuzco
  • Trek the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
  • 4-day optional Amazon Lodge Extension
  • Other add-ons available

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