• Visit the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Ride a cable car to pre-inca Kuelap fortress nestled in the cloud forest
  • Hike to Gocta waterfall, one of the tallest in the world
  • Meet the mummies of Leymebamba museum
  • Soak up the salt pans of Maras and ruins of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu and Kuelap Fortress

Peru is a country steeped in history. Before the well-known Incas, there were a multitude of important civilisations stretched across the country, all leaving their mark with the structures they built and left behind. This 11-day itinerary takes you on an incredible journey of discovery from the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu to the fortress of Kuelap in northern Peru. In addition to the stand-out archaelogical sites of Machu Picchu and Kuelap, you will get to soak up Peru’s diverse, dramatic scenery. From exploring the picturesque Sacred Valley to hiking to Gocta Waterfall in the cloud forest, discover many sides to Peru’s history and landscapes.


Daily Summary 11 Days / 10 Nights

Day 1 Lima International arrival and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Villa Barranco
Day 2 Lima Urban Eats Food Tour and Into the Past city highlights tour with a specialist guide. Overnight at Villa Barranco
Day 3 Sacred Valley Fly Lima-Cusco. Tour of the Sacred Valley. Overnight at Sol y Luna
Day 4 Sacred Valley Visit Ollantaytambo, Maras and Moray in the Sacred Valley. Overnight at Sol y Luna
Day 5 Machu Picchu Vistadome Train to Aguas Calientes. Visit to Machu Picchu. Train to Cusco. Overnight at Palacio Manco Capac
Day 6 Cusco In and Around Cusco city tour. Overnight at Palacio Manco Capac
Day 7 Leymebamba Fly Cusco to Lima and Lima to Jaen. Transfer to Leymebamba. Overnight at Kentitambo
Day 8 Leymebamba Visit the Tombs of Revash. Private tour of the Leymebamba Museum. Overnight at Kentitambo
Day 9 Kuelap Visit the pre-Inca fortified citadel of Kuelap. Overnight at Gocta Natura
Day 10 Gocta Hike to Gocta waterfall. Overnight at Gocta Natura
Day 11 International Departure Transfer from Gocta to Jaen. Fly Jaen to Lima, for international departure
  • Day 1
    LimaView on map
    Arrival in Lima

    An English-speaking Aracari representative will greet you at your international arrival with a customized welcome pack, complete with a booklet of your trip itinerary. You will then be accompanied to your hotel in Lima and assisted with all check-in procedures.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 2
    LimaView on map
    Urban Eats Food Tour & Into the Past City Tour

    Having exploded onto the global food scene, Peru is now widely regarded as one of the world’s principal food travel destinations. Home to colorful dishes inspired by the country’s dramatically diverse geography, rich ethnic make-up and long culinary history, take a sampling tour to savor some of the flavours that have helped put Peru on the world food map. Visiting a local market, traditional bodegas and artisan eateries that collectively showcase some of the best of Peru’s produce, discover new ingredients and learn more about Lima’s trailblazing gastronomic status.

    In the afternoon, visit Lima's downtown historic center. One of the main fascinations of Lima is the concentration of ancient history in the area. Not only do the origins of the city pre-date the Spanish foundation of the city by several millennia, its museums are full of the artistic treasures of magnificent pre-Columbian civilizations that flourished throughout the coastal deserts of Peru. Begin to unravel this multifaceted history with a visit to the colonial area of Lima featuring the Cathedral, the Convent of Santo Domingo and the Main Square. You will also have a chance to visit appointment-only Casa Aliaga which has been lived in by the same family for 17 generations. The house is in superb condition, exemplifying life in the period of the Viceroyalty. Depending on your interests, you can also visit Huaca Pucllana, the convent of San Francisco and its catacombs, and other museums. This private tour can be tailormade to suit your interests.

    In the evening, dine at Central or one of Lima's other top restaurants - a handful feature in the World's Best 50 Restaurant List.

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  • Day 3
    Sacred ValleyView on map
    Fly to Cusco. Tour of the Sacred Valley

    Fly from Lima to Cusco where you will be met by your expert guide to drive to Pisac in the Sacred Valley. En route, you can stop at a camelid ranch to meet friendly llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. In Pisac you can pause at the market before exploring the ruins overlooking the town. With Inca masonry of superlative quality, stunning terracing follows the contours of the mountain with spectacular views of the valley.

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  • Day 4
    Sacred ValleyView on map
    Visit Ollantaytambo ruins, Maras and Moray

    Today visit the fabulous town of Ollantaytambo and its ruins. The town is unique in that it still preserves its original Inca plan, with people living in traditional 'cancha' enclosures once occupied by the Inca elite. The archaeological compound found here is a remarkable spectacle, and a site of great historical significance. It was here that one of the greatest battles of the Conquest was fought, and one of the few where the Incas defeated the Spaniards.

    In the afternoon visit Maras salt pans. This site consists of a huge number of watered terraces that collect salt by evaporation from the saline waters that gush from an underground stream. Built in a similar way to agricultural terraces seen throughout the Andes, the Salinas have been in use since pre-Columbian times. Visually the shining, salt-encrusted terraces are extraordinary. Nearby Maras lie the most enigmatic Inca terraces at the site of Moray. This unique site, probably used for agricultural experimentation, consists of several enormous terraced circular depressions.

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  • Day 5
    Machu PicchuView on map
    Visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu

    This morning transfer to Ollantaytambo station to board the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. On arrival in Aguas Calientes you will board a bus to reach the entrance of Machu Picchu. The ‘lost city of the Incas’ is a man-made marvel that has become a symbol for the ingenuity and prosperity of one of the most expansive empires in Latin American history. Its fascination is due in part to its position, located high on a mountain ridge and 2,430m/7,972ft above sea level. Enjoy a 2-3 hour guided visit of Machu Picchu before spending the remainder of the afternoon exploring the ruins. Afterwards, return by bus to the foot of Machu Picchu for your train to Ollantaytambo. From here a private transfer will return you to Cusco.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 6
    CuscoView on map
    In an Around Cusco City tour

    Cusco (3,400m/11,155ft) is without a doubt the most beautiful town in Peru and arguably in South America. It was considered the navel of the earth and was the capital of the Inca Empire. Explore the charming cobbled city starting at the Plaza de Armas in the city center. Visit the renaissance-style Cathedral, certainly one of the most imposing structures in the city, and admire the exquisite stonework of Koricancha, or the Inca “Sun Temple.” You’ll also get to walk around the bustling, open-air San Pedro market, where you will be mesmerized by the variety of unique fruits and potatoes. Also visit the important Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman on the outskirts of the city, with spectacular views back over the city.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 7
    Cusco - ChachapoyasView on map
    Fly from Cusco to Northern Peru

    Fly from Cusco to Jaen in northern Peru, connecting via Lima. An Aracari representative will met you in Lima to assist you with your short layover. You will then be greeted by your guide in Jaen for the approximately five hour journey to Leymebamba. A scenic route, you’ll notice the surroundings change from fertile agricultural valleys with rice paddies and coconut groves to steep mountain ravines as you climb higher. The route follows the Marañón River briefly and then the Utcubamba River for most of the journey. Depending on time available there are several opportunities to stop along the way to stretch your legs, take photos of the scenery, rivers, a waterfall and hidden pre-Inca tombs in the cliffside.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 8
    ChachapoyasView on map
    Visit the Tombs of Revash and Leymebamba Luseum

    High on the hills of Peru’s northern cloud forest sits Revash, a collection of tombs from the Chachapoya civilization on the edge of a limestone cliff. Built from mud-set stones, they resemble houses and are painted in red and white hues, collectively forming miniature villages along the face of the cliff. To visit the tombs of Revash, you’ll take a winding drive through the hills with scenic views of the landscape and then walk to the tombs. The trail is well maintained, and paved for most of the 30 to 40 minute walk.

    In the afternoon visit Leymebamba Museum. In 1997, mainstream media was alerted to the discovery of burial tombs and mummies on a remote cliff above a lake - Laguna de los Cóndores – an arduous 10-hour journey by mule from Leymebamba. Built by the pre-Inca Chachapoya civilization, this was a sacred place to honor the dead. Slashed open by looters looking for sellable treasure, the NGO Centro Mallqui embarked on an emergency salvage mission, removing the contents of the tombs and taking them to a lab in Leymebamba for urgent conservation work. The findings were so special that they merited the creation of their own museum. Here you will have special access to the temperature-controlled room contatining the mummies, normally closed to the public.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 9
    ChachapoyasView on map
    Ride a cable car to the pre-Inca fortified city of Kuelap

    Today you will drive from Leymebamba to visit Kuelap. Built by the pre-Inca Chachapoya civilization, known as the ‘warriors of the clouds’, Kuelap is one of the biggest ancient stone complexes in the western hemisphere. Built at 3,000m above sea level, on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, the imposing site is over 600 meters in length. With its surrounding walls up to 20 meters high, Kuelap is commonly described as a fortress, but the complex includes not only military structures - there are buildings that suggest religious, civil and domestic use - and it’s estimated that up to 3,000 people lived here at its height. After visiting Kuelap, drive on to Gocta.

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  • Day 10
    ChachapoyasView on map
    Hike to Gocta waterfall

    Although known to locals for centuries, it wasn’t until an expedition by a German explorer in 2005 prompted the measurement and documentation of the falls that Gocta was declared the third highest waterfall in the world. Its official height and rank has since been contentious but regardless of its status it's an impressive waterfall. Staying in Gocta allows you to walk here straight from your lodge.
    Some sections have steep inclines, and horses can be hired for part of the journey. The walk starts through farmland where sugarcane and other crops are grown, before changing to lush cloud forest with jungle-like vegetation. The path crosses small streams and gorges spanned by short bridges. After taking in the views, and maybe splashing in the pool at the base of the falls, return via the same path to your hotel.

    Accommodation options
  • Day 11
    Chachapoyas-LimaView on map
    Fly to Lima

    Drive from Gocta to Jaen for your domestic flight back to Lima. An Aracari representative will welcome you in Lima and assist you with all check-in procedures and escort you to the departure area to catch your international flight.

Aracari specializes in tailormade travel. Here are just some of our further trip suggestions. Contact us for more bespoke ideas to inspire your travels.

Some optional activities

  • Hike to little-known Yumbilla waterfall near to Gocta
Featured Destinations

Journey pricing as of 2024

Basic Pricing - US$7,650 per person

This is a sample journey and can be tailored to your interests and travel style.

  • Based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy
  • Price is per person for the 11-day itinerary
  • Discounted children's rates on request
  • Based on Hotel Selection: Villa Barranco, Sola & Luna Hotel, Palacio Manco Capac, Kentitambo and Gocta Natura Cabins

What's Included?

This journey is based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy, excluding flights (international and domestic).

  • Includes all specified services in the journey description
  • All transfers and entrance fees
  • A welcome pack on arrival including: a pre-loaded cell phone to contact your travel consultant at any time, a printed booklet packed with insider tips alongside your detailed journey and up-to-date recommendations on dining and shopping
  • Hand-selected English-speaking guides
  • Specialist guides (where noted)
  • 24-hour support from our locally based team

What's not Included?

  • Domestic flights (quoted separately).
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Tips.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • International Flights and airport taxes.
  • Neither personal expenses nor any other service not specified in the itinerary.
Machu Picchu and Kuelap Fortress
An incredible journey of discovery