Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Inkas"

For June 2009, Rutahsa Adventures and Kathy Didier have designed a spectacular Peruvian cultural - soft adventure trip across the heart of the Inka Empire, visiting the most important Inka sites, but also featuring pre-Inka cultures such as the Paracas and Nasca cultures, in addition to living cultures of the Uros, Aymara, and Quechua peoples. Our trip will start in Lima and move south along the coast to Arequipa, then climb up into the Andes. The itinerary includes a visit to Lake Titikaka, legendary birthplace of the first Inka, a one-night homestay with local families at Raqchi, and of course, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.

One of the VERY special features of this trip will be our visit to the last remaining Inka straw suspension bridge, the keshwa chaca of Huinchiri. This marvelous bridge was first described by explorer Loren McIntyre in the Dec. 1973 issue of National Geographic, was featured in a 1995 NOVA program, and more recently in a BBC special, but it is rarely visited by foreigners due to its remote location. Our itinerary puts us there on the second weekend in June, for the annual bridge rebuilding and local fiesta that caps this amazing event. Few outsiders have ever seen this wonderful work of native engineering and art, and few indeed have attended the fiesta!

In addition to these glimpses of Andean cultures ancient and modern, participants in this trip will enjoy a fantastic variety of scenery ranging from barren coastal deserts to the high altiplano with its golden fields, from awesome Colca Canyon to dazzling Lake Titikaka and snow-capped Andean peaks. Along with this ever-changing panorama we'll see rare marine life, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, vizcachas and condors!

This trip will be led by Kathy Didier, with whom Rutahsa Adventures has collaborated on trips to Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia and a previous trip to Peru. Kathy is a tour leader of tremendous experience, having led major excursions for the Appalachian Mountain Club for many years, in addition to her own trips worldwide. Kathy will be assisted on this keshwa chaca excursion by a very able Peruvian tour conductor and Peruvian local site guides.


DAY 1, Tues., June 2: Fly into Lima, capital city of Peru. After clearing customs and immigration you will be met and taken to the hotel Casa Andina Miraflores Centro in the Miraflores section of Lima.

DAY 2, Weds., June 3: This morning you can sleep in and rest up from the long trip down to Peru, or go out and stroll about Miraflores. A recommended visit would be to Larco Mar, an interesting shopping center overlooking the Pacific (get the hotel to call you a cab).

After lunch (at 2PM) our program begins with a Lima city tour, seeing the Plaza de Armas and principal historic buildings in the "City of Kings".

Second night at Casa Andina.

DAY 3, Thurs., June 4: After breakfast we board our chartered bus with professional driver and head south along the coast. First stop: the ruins of the famous Oracle of Pachacamac, one of Peru's most sacred pre-Columbian sites-- a pre-Inka site later venerated by the Inkas.

Next we continue towards the town of Pisco, whose grapes are the source of the fiery brandy by that name, which, in turn, produced Peru's most famous drink, the Pisco sour. Close by is the little port town of Paracas where we will overnight at the Hotel El Condor.

The Paracas area was the center of the Paracas culture, a pre-Inka people, famed for their beautiful textiles, many examples of which have been wonderfully preserved in burials in the desert. This afternoon we will visit the Paracas Reserve, enjoying its sere but beautiful coastal desert scenery. A visit to the Julio C. Tello Museum will give us the opportunity to see some of the textiles for which the Paracas culture is justly famous, in addition to mummy bundles, and deliberately deformed skulls that typified the Paracas culture's elite. [Note: This museum was closed in 2008 due to severe damage sustained during the Aug. 2007 Paracas earthquake. We hope it will be reopened by the time of this trip.]

Included meal: B (breakfast)

DAY 4, Fri., June 5: In the morning we will take a boat ride out to the Islas Ballestas nature preserve to cruise along the dramatic, eroded rocky coast of the islands, replete with sea caves, stacks and arches. Here we can expect to see thousands of marine birds, including Peruvian boobies, Humboldt penguins (though we can't always promise a chorus line!), pelicans, cormorants and Inca terns, plus hundreds of sea lions, and perhaps dolphins. Occasionally killer whales are spotted. And we'll see evidence of the famous "sea island guano" workings. En route to the islands we cruise along the coast of the Paracas Peninsula, where a giant image known as the "candelabrum" has been dug into the sand and rock of the peninsula-- when or by whom or for what purpose, no one knows.

In the afternoon we will bus on down the coast through barren desert, broken here and there by areas of verdure watered by streams descending from the Andes. En route we will visit a bodega or pisco distillery, to learn how the fiery brandy is made. We might even sample some!

Further south, apparently in the middle of nowhere we will come upon a steel tower, and, stopping to climb to the top, discover that we are in the the middle of the Plains of Nasca, and the famous Nasca Lines and figures are at our very feet-- but impossible to see from the ground level. The Maria Reiche Tower is named for the German researcher who spent most of her life studying and working to preserve the lines.

Upon arrival at Nasca we will proceed to the airport where we will overfly the mysterious Nasca Lines and figures, viewing them from light planes carrying 3 to 5 passengers. The late afternoon is a good time to fly over the lines, as the low sun angle makes them stand out. Our skilled pilots will dip first one wing, and then the other over each important figure, allowing good views and picture-taking from both sides of the planes. The lines are innumerable, some running miles, perfectly straight. In addition to lines there are elongate trapezoids resembling runways, "ray centers" (where numerous lines radiate out from a point), and other mysterious markings all criss-crossing and overlapping. And, of course, there are the giant figures, such as the monkey, the hummingbird, the spider and others. With good weather, we'll see them all. [Note: The overflights, like all flights, are subject to cancellation due to bad weather conditions; to date we have never failed to take our scheduled flights, but travelers need to be aware of this possibility.]

In Nasca our lodgings for the night will be the hotel Casa Andina Classic.

Included meal: B

DAY 5, Sat., June 6: Today will be a long road day, approximately 10 hours en route to Arequipa. For this reason we need an early start and everyone's cooperation in loading the bus for departure on time and making rest stops en route as brief as possible. Box lunches will be provided so that we can have our midday meal while rolling along and admiring the dramatic scenery.

Although the trail is long today, it will include much of interest. If we depart on time we can make a brief visit the 1500-year-old puquios --underground aqueducts, seen here from the air-- that made civilization possible in the Nasca valley, and continue to do so today. The aqueducts can be accessed through spiral respiradoras, or breather holes. The native farmers believe the underground water tapped by the aqueducts comes from a mountain-sized sand dune named Cerro Blanco, but also known to the Nasca Valley farmers as the "Volcano of Water".

After the puquio visit we have a long drive south to Arequipa. Stops along the way will be as necessary, and need to be kept brief. The drive takes us along the barren, but dramatic coast before we turn inland and climb up to the city of Arequipa at 2400 m (7875 ft).

Upon reaching Arequipa we will check into our hotel, Casa Andina Classic, sister hotel to our Lima and Nasca lodgings. We'll spend two nights here, so you can rest up a bit from today's long drive, and enjoy the ambience of this Spanish colonial city.

Included meal: BL (box lunch)

DAY 6, Sun., June 7: Arequipa is renowned for both its beautiful setting in a valley overlooked by the perfect snow-capped cone of Volcán El Misti, and for its pleasant climate, always sunny but cool. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Spanish colonial architecture, well exemplified by the cloister of the Compañía de Jesús. After breakfast in our hotel, we'll go with our local Arequipa guide to see the most important attractions of this historic city.

Founded in 1540, Arequipa is known as La Ciudad Blanca ("the White City") as many of its colonial buildings are constructed of a light-colored volcanic tuff. This morning we'll visit of some of the more important colonial sites such as the beautiful Plaza de Armas with its palm trees, the cathedral, and the fascinating Santa Catalina Convent which is practically a miniature city within the city. Santa Catalina, formerly the home to as many as 450 nuns, was closed to outsiders for 400 years, but since 1970 the complex has been open to the public, with the remaining few nuns still living in seclusion in a small private area of the convent. Second night at Casa Andina.

Included meal: B

DAY 7, Mon., June 8: After breakfast, we head out for Colca Canyon, high in the Andes. Leaving Arequipa behind we slowly ascend on a good paved road, with close-up views of Misti Volcano as we climb up to the puna, or high alpine desert terrain. On the puna we expect to see vicuña, the smallest of the Andean camelids, in small herds ruled by a dominant male, or the occasional lone male in search of a harem. These delicate and graceful animals were hunted nearly to extinction for their fine fleece; now they are protected and are making a good comeback.

In addition to the wild vicuñas, we expect to see the domesticated camelids, llamas and alpacas, sometimes in such numbers as to almost constitute a road hazard!

Spectacular views are a given on today's journey: the landscape is impressive, with Andean lakes and waterfowl, and snow-capped peaks in the background. While stopping for photos of scenic vistas we may also enjoy on a more intimate scale the unusual vegetation, such as yareta (a relative to parsley!), adapted to the alpine climate. There's a fair chance to spot a vizcacha sunning on a rock, looking like a rabbit with a squirrel's tail! Somewhere along the way- some place with a good view- we'll stop for a picnic lunch. Eventually our paved road gives way to gravel, but well maintained gravel. Then we descend into the upper Colca Valley, with its extensive pre-Inka terracing, to the town of Chivay and then on to nearby Yanque. In this small town we find a pleasant surprise: the Eco-Inn Colca, our delightful hotel consisting of artistically constructed cabañas perched on a cliff for a great morning view. For more information on our hotel, visit their website.

Included meals: B, BL

DAY 8, Tues., June 9: Today we will spend in the Colca Canyon area, doing some hiking, watching for condors, and gawking at the Brobdingnagian scale of our surroundings. We'll leave the lodge early to get to a viewpoint called Cruz del Condor, well-known as a spot to see condors up close as they leave their rocky sanctuary and slowly begin to ascend on warming morning thermals. You don't have to be a member of the Audubon Society to be thrilled when one of these great birds sails by so closely you can hear the hiss of the wind through its feathers and see the color of its eye (one way by which the sexes are distinguished!). June is a good month to see the condors, so let's keep our fingers crossed for condor-watching luck equal to that of 2003, when we saw a dozen to as many as 20 at a time! A box lunch will be provided for this excursion. Second night at Eco-Inn Colca.

Included meal: B, BL

DAY 9, Weds., June 10: Today we continue our ascent into the Andes, via a scenic road that climbs to the altiplano near Juliaca, where we turn south to the city of Puno on the north shore of Lake Titikaka. Expect to see Andean camelids en route, especially llamas and alpacas. We will pass by several Andean lakes where sightings of flamingos, Andean geese, giant coots, and other water birds are common.

About an hour before reaching Lake Titikaka, we'll take a side road to the haunting archeological site of Sillustani. Here the pre-Inkan Colla people and later the Inkas themselves built impressive stone funerary towers known as chullpas on a mesa overlooking an other-worldly landscape. Evidence can be seen at this site that the Inka adapted and co-opted the ways of the Colla when they expanded their empire into this region.

In Puno we'll make our home at the Hotel Qelqatani, right in the heart of this little Andean city, within easy walking distance of lots of restaurants and pizzerias, shops with alpaca sweaters and other artesanía, internet cafes, etc. Puno is a nice town to walk about in.

Included meals: B, BL

DAY 10, Thurs., June 11: Lake Titikaka is stunning under the clear Andean skies. At 3856 m (12,651 ft) it is famous as the world's highest regularly navigated lake. Today we will explore a small portion of the huge lake, starting with a visit to the historic ship Yavari, built in England in 1862 and launched on the lake in 1867, after being carried in pieces up and over the Andes from the Pacific coast...a herculean effort! With a bit of luck our tour will be given in person by the inimitable Capitán Carlos, whose enthusiasm and love for his ship is contagious.

Next we will boat out to the floating islands inhabited by the Uros people. This small group of indigenous people live on artificial islands made of floating mats of totora reeds. The community even has its own schools on one of the islands. As a part of our glimpse of this amazing living space and lifestyle, we will see --and perhaps take a ride on-- the traditional reed boats. Be sure to carry some fresh fruits with you to give the Uros children-- a real treat for them (you can buy fruit at the dockside market just before we head out onto the lake).

From the Uros Islands we will continue across the lake to Taquile Island for a visit to an Aymara community. This involves a bit of a hike up a long flight of ancient stone steps leading from the dock to the little town...hiking boots recommended! The town is small but interesting, and its location at the crest of the island provides great views of the lake Lake Titikaka. You should have an opportunity to buy handicrafts, including indigenous textiles, here. And we will be served a lunch here. [Note: Be sure to carry dark glasses and sunblock on this trip, as the sun can be fierce on the lake. You might also want to bring some reading material from the excursion library to help pass the time between Uros and Taquile.]

Second night at Hotel Qelqatani.

Included meals: B, L (lunch)

Day 11, Fri. June 12: Today we turn back north, towards the Inka capital of Cusco...but with a lot to see and do for the next three days en route. Today the highway takes us along the northern shore of Lake Titikaka for a farewell vista, through Juliaca, and on across the altiplano, and finally up through a high Andean valley, to cross a divide and start down the Cusco side. We can expect to see herds of llamas and alpacas en route. At the town of Lampa we will visit a famous colonial church with catacombs.

Some miles beyond Lampa we arrive at Pucará, a colonial town built adjacent to a ceremonial site belonging to the Wari culture. The Wari predated the Inka and were closely allied culturally with the Tiwanaku culture. The remains of a semi-subterranean temple at this site will look familiar to anyone who has visited Tiwanaku at the south end of Lake Titikaka.

About halfway to Cusco we reach the small town of Raqchi, where we'll overnight in private homes in this Quechua community. Don't expect luxury. But do expect clean beds and wholesome food and an opportunity to get to know something about the lives of the Andean people. Our 2008 group got to participate in a local celebration and loved this homestay experience.

While at Raqchi we will visit the fascinating and imposing ruins of the Inka Temple to Viracocha, the creator of the world in Inka theology. The temple remains stand amid a complex of storehouses, barracks-like buildings, and other constructions along the margins of a lava flow. Descendants of the Inkas continue to farm the site and the barley and wheat fields glow golden in the late evening sun. This is one of our very favorite Inka sites.

Included meals: B, BL, D (dinner)

DAY 12, Sat. June 13: After breakfast we board our bus again and head for a place seldom seen by outsiders, and which will surely prove one of the most memorable of many memorable experiences on our trip: the last authentic Inka suspension bridge. Getting there, by the way, is at least half the fun as our road winds through the high country, passing Quechua villages, flocks of sheep and llamas, patchworks of potatoes and wheat. We can expect some friendly encounters and cultural exchanges along the way, such as this Quechua girl sharing delicious freshly boiled papas with a group of Rutahsa Adventurers. Perhaps we'll get to witness the bringing in of the harvest, and hear the Quechua villagers sing as they carry their sheaves of grain in for threshing.

The suspension bridge, known as a keshwa chaca, is made of qqoya grass and must be renewed every year. The rebuilding is a three-day community project, performed each June. The bridge was first made known to the outside world by explorer/author Loren McIntyre (see McIntyre's fascinating article in the Dec. 1973 issue of National Geographic), and is believed to be the last remaining Inka straw bridge that has been continuously rebuilt since Inka times. It spans the Apurimac River where it passes through a narrow canyon. We intend to arrive at the bridge site on the last day of the rebuilding, and to see the renewed bridge go up. And those brave enough to trust a bridge of straw 60 feet above the swift Apurimac can walk across the bridge.

By arriving mid-day Saturday we expect to see the final stages in the bridge construction: the laying of the floor and the stringing of the sides, which starts at each end, proceeds to the middle and finishes with the laying of mats of brush. Once the bridge is finished, it is dedicated by the village officials and opened for crossing.

To see a detailed photo album of the keshwa chaca rebuilding and festival, visit the Last Inka Suspension Bridge.

In order to attend the fiesta celebrating the completion of the bridge, tonight we will camp out near the bridge site, with dome tents, sleeping bags and pads, and excellent food service all provided by Explorandes, Peru's oldest and most respected provider of adventure trekking services in Peru. We have used Explorandes' services many times before, and can guarantee you'll find this a memorable experience. Lunch and supper will be provided in camp. [Note: You need to be well-prepared for sleeping in cold weather. Bring flannel or fleece long johns or other clothing that can be layered for sleeping. Sometimes nights are relatively mild here, but sometimes they are quite cold, and it is essential to be prepared for the latter.]

Included meals: B, L, D

DAY 13, Sun. June 14: Today the villagers-- the more than 300 who work on the bridge, plus their families-- celebrate the completion of the bridge and the honoring of their ancestors and Pachamama ("Earth Mother") represented by the maintenance of their ancient tradition. The formerly bare mountainsides sprout a multiplicity of tents, vendors arrive with their wares, and hundreds of Quechua people, many in their finest fiesta dress come streaming in. The festival includes performances by many native dance groups in colorful costumes. And we will be here to celebrate with them.

In addition to being present for the renewal of the bridge and the ensuing party, another special aspect of our trip will be a donation of school supplies and children's clothing to the villagers who rebuild the keshwa chaca. This is our way of saying "gracias" to the villagers for maintaining their venerable custom of rebuilding the straw bridge-- a custom that has been abandoned everywhere else in Peru.

After lunch we will, somewhat regretfully, say our goodbyes, and leave this amazing place-- remote in location and in time-- and head for Cusco!

There is lots of fine Andean scenery en route to Cusco-- the valley of the Vilcanota River; picturesque towns en route; the great Inka wall and gateway of Rumicolca (once the south gate to the Inka capital); and, time permitting, we'll stop at the enigmatic archeological site of Pikillacta, a pre-Inka city belonging to the Wari culture.

Upon arrival in Cusco we'll settle into one of Cusco's best hotels, the four-star Hotel Novotel, in the heart of the historic district, just a short walk from the Plaza de Armas.

Included meals: B, L

DAY 14, Mon., June 15: After breakfast we go for a guided walking tour of the most important points in Cusco, the "Navel of the World" and seat of the Inka Empire. Our visits will include the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, and the Qoricancha (Sun Temple). As we marvel at the foundation walls of the palace of Inka Roca we'll see a famous icon, the "Twelve-Cornered Stone". Our guide will teach us how to distinguish between original Inka walls and Spanish colonial walls constructed by Inka stonemasons for the conquerors. The Inka stonework lives up to its is marvelous!

Then after a break for lunch we will take a short bus ride up into the hills above Cusco to see the nearby ruins of Tambomachay (the Bath of the Inka), Puka Pukara (the Red Fortress), Qenco (an extremely weird huaca or sacred place), and finally the mighty fortress of the Sacsahuaman. This amazing work is built of truly cyclopean stones fitted together with uncanny precision. Unquestionably, it is one of the wonders of the world! From atop the fortress we will enjoy a splendid view of the valley of Cusco and the city the fortress once protected. Overnight again at the Hotel Novotel.

Included meal: B

DAY 15, Tues. June 16: A full free day in Cusco to visit Inka sites, Spanish colonial churches, museums, the local marketplace, and a wide variety of shops with native textiles, silver jewelry, and more. There's more here than you can possibly see in one day, so use your guidebook and make some judicious selections. Wherever you go, whatever you do, this is a marvelous city to explore! [Note: Be sure to ask your local guide for your Cusco Visitor's Ticket and carry it with you today, as some of the historic sites can only be entered with this ticket. BUT... be equally sure not to lose it and not to leave it in your luggage tomorrow as your guide will need to retrieve it from you as you board the bus tomorrow, in order to get you in other visitor's sites in the coming days. This same ticket is needed for Chinchero, Moray, Pisac and Ollantaytambo!]

Third night at the Hotel Novotel.

Included meal: B

DAY 16, Weds. June 17: We leave Cusco today headed for the Sacred Valley, by way of Chinchero, Moray and a stimulating hike (optional) down to the Río Urubamba!

The drive to Chinchero is across a beautiful patchwork agricultural panorama. At Chinchero, we will visit an important colonial church with wonderful frescoes, built atop the ruins of an Inka fort or palace.

Moray is an enigmatic Inka site where giant natural sinkholes have been converted by the Inkas into terraced agricultural areas. Some theorize that these sinkhole-farms served as an agricultural experimental station, where Inka cultivators took advantage of the microclimates at different levels within the shelter of the sinkholes; however this theory is not given much credence by recent investigators. Today the site is favored by seekers of the mystic who come here to meditate.

After a picnic lunch we will hike a couple of miles --downhill-- through a side canyon to the Sacred Valley. The trail passes through the Salineras de Maras where a salt water spring has been used since pre-Conquest times for the extraction of salt by evaporation. From a distance the hundreds of small, family-operated evaporation ponds, encrusted with salt, give the salt works the appearance of a miniature gleaming white city.

After passing through the salineras the trail continues on to the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, where our bus will be awaiting us. This is a relatively easy hike, but hiking boots are recommended; anyone preferring not to hike can go with the bus to the Sacred Valley.

Our bus driver will pick up the hikers and carry them on to the town or Ollantaytambo, where the Hotel Pakaritampu will be our delightful home for the next two nights.

Included meals: B, L

DAY 17, Thurs. June 18: After an early breakfast we will board our bus and drive to the upstream end of the Sacred Valley to visit the Inka citadel of Pisac, with its stupendous andenes (agricultural terraces) still in use today, its fortified dwelling areas and the remains of its temple complex. The site sprawls along a steep narrow ridge with views from the trails that give you the sense of being in a helicopter; some visitors find this site more impressive than Machu Picchu. One thing for sure, hiking the interconnecting trails, steps and tunnels from one sector to another will certainly convince you that the Inka people did not sleepwalk!

After our Pisac visit, we will reboard our bus and eat a box lunch while enjoying the incomparable scenery of the beautiful Sacred Valley as we drive back to Ollantaytambo for our afternoon site visit.

Back in "Ollanta", we will explore the Inka fortress-temple of Ollantaytambo. This site was actually still under construction when the Conquistadors arrived, and today's ruins preserve evidence of the construction techniques.

In addition to the impressive ruins, the living town of Ollantaytambo is very special: it retains its original Inka civic planning layout of canchas, a grid of narrow cobbled streets separating walled blocks with interior courts. We will visit a home in one of the canchas to get a glimpse of Quechua homelife, replete with the household cuy, i.e. guinea pigs, underfoot. Ollantaytambo is also a good place to see traditional Andean costume still being worn, and hand-loomed ponchos and other textiles may be purchased here.

Second night at Hotel Pakaritampu.

Included meals: B, BL

DAY 18, Fri. June 19: Today we go to fabled Machu Picchu! We walk the short distance from our hotel to the station and board the narrow-gauge train that will trundle us down the Urubamba River gorge to Machu Picchu, the legendary "Lost City of the Inkas", one of the world's premier archeological sites, one of those exceedingly rare places where the works of nature and society combine to create a place of transcendental mystic beauty. Our train arrives in the town of Aguas Calientes by mid-morning, and after checking into the Machu Picchu Inn it's up the zig-zag "Hiram Bingham Highway" to the sacred citadel for a guided introduction to the site.

After lunch at the ruins (included) you can continue to explore Machu Picchu on your own-- there is so much to see in the main ruins, and a short hike out to the Inka drawbridge is also recommended. But don't miss the last bus down the mountain to Aguas Calientes, where we overnight at the Machu Picchu Inn.

Included meals: B, L

DAY 19, Sat. June 20: Most of our group will want to take an early bus up to the ruins and beat the trainload of daytrippers that comes in around 10 AM. Here you'll have all morning and the early afternoon to get to know the intricacies of Machu Picchu proper-- its residential areas, its fountains, temples, amazing agricultural terraces, and a thousand intriguing nooks and crannies. Or, if you're a hiker wanting a thrill, climb up Huayna Picchu for a breath-taking (literally) view of Machu Picchu far below. Another good hike is along part of the famed Inka Trail to the Inti-Punku ("Sun Gate").

However, a return visit to Machu Picchu sanctuary is not the only possibility. If you are a bird watcher, you might prefer to take a guided bird walk on the beautiful grounds of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel...where cocks-of-the-rock, trogons, tanagers, many species of hummingbirds, and other birds can be seen. (If you want to do this, you'll need to go to the hotel office the night before to sign up for this experience.) A hiking enthusiast wanting a really unusual hike -- one that includes some fairly astonishing ladders-- should try the hike up to Putukusi. This hike leads to the top of the peak directly across the Urubamba gorge from Machu Picchu and provides a view of Machu Picchu that only a tiny fraction of visitors ever see.

Because of the varied possible options today, it is probable that not everyone in our group will return to the ruins. For this reason we are not including the cost of the bus ride and ruins entry in your trip cost.

In the afternoon we will return on the 3 PM train to Cusco where we will spend our final Cusco night in our famliar digs at the Hotel Novotel.

Included meal: B

DAY 20, Sun. June 21: This afternoon we fly back to Lima. But you will have some time this morning for last minute sight-seeing and shopping in Cusco. Just make sure you are back at the hotel, packed and ready to go at the announced time for departure!

In Lima, those who are overnighting again in Miraflores will be met at the airport and taken to the Casa Andina Miraflores Centro for a final overnight. (Note: This final night's lodging is not included in the trip fee.) Those who are flying out tonight will either remain in LIM airport or be picked up and taken to the nearby Hotel Manhattan for a chance to repack, freshen up, and rest a bit before returning to the airport. (Note: Use of rooms in the Manhattan not included in the trip fee.)

Airport transportation will be provided for any travelers with outbound international flights tonight.

Included meal: B

DAY 21, Mon. June 22: Today airport transfers will be provided for those who did not fly out of Lima last night. If your flight is not until the evening, we can arrange things for you to do in Lima: a visit to the Museum of the Nation is highly recommended, as is a visit to the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum of ceramics. A nice tony shopping center with numerous restaurants is the Centro Larco Mar overlooking the Pacific. Plenty to do here in Lima, and you can go anywhere you want by having the Casa Andina call a cab for you, or by letting us arrange side trips for you.

Included meal: B

Unfortunately, all good things must eventually conclude, and so our Peruvian adventure winds down as we board our return flights to the US, carrying a million memories of unforgettable wonders seen, new friends made, and the determination to return someday to incredible Peru.


Rutahsa Adventures is offering its travelers a five-day/four-night visit to Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon Basin, using the services of Rainforest Expeditions. This extension will begin on day 20, Monday, 6/22, with a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Basin, and return to Lima on Fri., 6/26. A 4d/3n extension is also possible, but we recommend the 5d/4n trip because it allows you to visit the Tambopata Research Center in the heart of the reserve, which the shorter trip does not. To see the details of the trip we recommend most highly, click here: Tambopata. To see Rainforest Expeditions' full suite of offerings, click here: Rainforest Expeditions. Note: We can book any of Rainforest Expeditions' trips for you at a discount off their regular prices to the public.

INKA TRAIL TREKKING OPTION: Hale and hearty adventurers with good hiking legs may want to enjoy one of the world's greatest trekking experiences: the Inka Trail. A four-day Inka Trail trek can be arranged as an extension to the Inka Empire Adventure, beginning in Cusco, on day 19, Sunday, 6/21. Interested parties should enquire about the schedule and cost. This trek option includes bilingual professional guide, meals, cook, porters, two person dome tents and sleeping pads, provided by Explorandes. Sleeping bags can be rented. Trek itinerary and description: Explorandes Inka Trail trek. Important bonus: We can provide this trek to our clients at 10% off the published Explorandes price.

For a detailed description of the Inka Trail, visit Rutahsa's Hiking the Inka Trail website.

Inka Trail extension cost, including sleeping bag rental, upon request.