Stride climate

Cusco - Best Tours & Trips 2019

812 trips to Cusco tours from 120 tour companies. 1,322 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.
Historic Cusco is a classic jumping off place for treks or train rides to Machu Picchu. Spending a few days here to help acclimatize to the altitude is essential and recommended by most tours. This also gives you the time to absorb the incredibly diverse history here and learn some contextual background before heading to famous Incan City of Machu Picchu.
All Cusco tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 76 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more

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Land of the Incas Summer 2019

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 351 / day
$ 4,216
From : $ 5,186
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • City tour in Lima, Cusco
  • Cruise around Lake Titicaca, the Ballestas Islands
  • Scenic drive through the Sacred Valley
  • See the other-wordly Nazca Lines from the air
  • Iconic train journey aboard the Vistadome train
  • Visit the outdoor market at Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, the Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca
Visits:
Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Lima, Machu Picchu, Nazca, Puno, Sacred Valley, Peru
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Wonderland Of Peru

19 days
$ 142 / day
$ 2,695
From : $ 3,638
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Explore Lima a mix of modern and classical culture, enjoy the beauty of Paracas, fly over the incredible Nazca Lines and visit the fairy tale like oasis of Huacachina.
  • See the pyramid of Caral amidst the 3rd oldest city in the world and first astronomy centre of America. Bring you to a variety of wildlife along the Peruvian coast and more precisely in the Ballestas Islands.
  • Witness the Misti and Chachani volcanoes, the great Condor in the depth of Colca Canyon and see also the White City of Arequipa with its cultural events.
  • Discover the wonders of Cusco city (Incas’ capital prior the conquistadors) and its surrounding archaeological sites. Experience its rich culture and its taste for a sweet variety of thing such as the colorfulness of their weaving fabrics.
  • Trek via the famous Inca Trail to the magnificent Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the world, and to the incredible Rainbow Mountain.
  • Discover Lake Titikaka starting with a nice boat ride through the floating Uros islands made completely out of reed. Meet with their special vision on ecological growth while showing you the fundamental of these floating natural structure fashioned in the Inca’s traditional style.
  • Adventure yourself in the Amazon jungle near Tambopata and spot beautiful macaws, playful monkeys, incredible caimans and many more species along a charming river that litter the area. 

 

Visits:
Cusco, Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Lima, Machu Picchu, Peru
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The Amazon & Machu Picchu tour
Private Guided
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

The Amazon & Machu Picchu

Kuoda Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
10 days
$ 484 / day
$ 4,840
From : $ 5,953
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Stroll through the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway comprised of seven hanging bridges, eight treetop platforms, and two observation towers.
  • Go fishing, search for nocturnal creepy-crawlies, and take part in other thrilling jungle excursions.
  • Immerse yourself in local life with visits to remote Andean villages that are, for most travelers, uncharted territory
  • Visit the characteristic Sacred Valley towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
  • Embark on a private city tour of Cusco, whose fascinating streets feature a unique concoction of Inca ruins and colonial constructions.
  • Scale the ancient stone stairway up Machu Picchu’s iconic peak, Huayna Picchu.
  • Tour Machu Picchu with your very own expert guide to explain the history, architecture, and theories surrounding the site, before wandering independently among the magnificent ruins the following day.
  • Discover the delights of Peruvian cuisine at the country’s finest dining establishments.
  • Enjoy enriching experiences with local artists at their workshops.
Visits:
Aguas Calientes, Amazon Rainforest, Andes Mountains, Cusco, Inca Trail, Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Puerto Maldonado, Sacred Valley, Peru
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Lights of the Inca Empire – 8 Days

Say Hueque
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 168 / day
$ 1,340
From : $ 1,809
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Explore Lima
  • Discover Cusco
  • See Sacred Valley
  • Visit to Machu Picchu
Visits:
Aguas Calientes, Cusco, Inca Trail, Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Pacific Ocean, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Peru
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Enchanting Peru

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 209 / day
$ 2,299
From : $ 5,697
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Board on rail to see Machu Picchu
  • Visit the world renowned and colorful Indian market in Pisac 
  • Enjoy a guided walking tour around Cuzco
  • Visit lake Titicaca
  • Embark on an unforgettable boat journey to explore the magnificent scenery and fascinating life on and around the lake. 
  • Visit the floating islands of the Uros Indians
  • Enjoy a guided afternoon tour of both colonial and modern Lima
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Visits:
Andes Mountains, Cusco, Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Puno, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Peru
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Inca Trail Trek

Lost World Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4 days
$ 259 / day
$ 1,037
From : $ 1,400
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : High intensity hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, cycling. May experience dramatic changes in altitude. Extreme activities included. Extreme
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit the village of Huayllabamba
  • Experience 2-hours hike leads to Intipunku (Gate of the Sun) which overlooks the awesome Machu Picchu
  • Enjoy the climb magnificent views of the mountain ranges.
  • Visit the Runkuraqay and Sayacmarca ruins
Visits:
Cusco, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Urubamba, Peru
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Peru Children of the Andes

Discover Corps
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
10 days
$ 300 / day
$ 2,995
From : $ 4,043
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Discover remnants of a well-preserved historic civilization
  • Experience a  thriving modern culture and Relish in the beauty of local hand-woven textiles
  • Breath-taking mountain peaks, and artifacts from one the most powerful empires in human history.
  • Meet local artisans, musicians, and grassroots leaders who’ll share their contributions to Andean society
  • Enjoy the magical ancient city of Machu Picchu, as well as other archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley
Visits:
Andes Mountains, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Peru
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Peru: Sacred Valley Ride with Caballo de Paso Festival

Wild Frontiers Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
Check price
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Explore Lima, Peru’s historic ‘City of Kings’
  • Enjoy the dazzling Caballo de Paso Festival at Lurin
  • Discover the colonial and Inca highlights of Cusco
  • Five day horse trek through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Visit Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
Visits:
Cusco, Inca Trail, Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Peru
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Salkantay Lodge to Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu

Global Basecamps
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
11 days
$ 357 / day
$ 3,927
From : $ 4,477
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • Hike to Machu Picchu in style along the Salkantay Route
  • Enjoy one of Peru's most beautiful and challenging treks
  • By night, relax in Luxury mountain lodges reserved for your trekking group
Visits:
Machu Picchu, Peru
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Peru: Machu Picchu Discovery

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 233 / day
$ 2,099
From : $ 2,834
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Lima's historic centre, including the Basilica Cathedral and catacombs
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu, set against its dramatic Andean backdrop
  • Vibrant markets, Inca museums and Spanish churches of Cuzco
Visits:
Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Peru
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The Best of Peru

Evaneos
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 382 / day
$ 2,783
From : $ 3,757
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Visits:
Peru
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The High Inca Trail

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
16 days
$ 149 / day
$ 2,379
From : $ 3,212
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Remote full-service camping trek through the beautiful Vilcabamba Range
  • Walk on the classic Inca Trail and enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Spectacular views of Mt Salcantay (6271m) and its glaciers
  • Spend four nights in Cuzco, the old Inca capital
  • Explore the fortresses and markets of the Sacred Valley
Visits:
Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Peru
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Family Trip in the Incan Empire

Evaneos
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
13 days
$ 158 / day
$ 1,672
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Visits:
Lima, Peru
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Inti Raymi Festival and Machu Picchu

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 200 / day
$ 1,599
From : $ 2,159
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Experience the ancient incan inti raymi ceremony
  • Explore the sacred valley
  • Learn about traditional ways of life and visit local markets
  • Conquer the inca trail
Visits:
Cusco, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, Peru
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One Week in Peru

Intrepid Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 192 / day
$ 1,402
From : $ 2,148
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Feel like climbing some mountains, fording some streams and following some rainbows? Where better to fulfil your adventurous dreams than along the epic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
  • Whether you trek the classic Inca Trail, the Inca Quarry Trail or take the scenic train route, there's something to suit everyone. Trust us, this is going to be one of the highlights of your awesome life
  • Don't worry, we won't hog all of your time. You'll have plenty of opportunity to bounce around Cusco, digging deep into the pockets of Incan history
  • Intrepid gives you wings! Really big mechanical ones. We'll fly you from Lima to Cusco so you won't have to think about the logistics of it all
Visits:
Aguas Calientes, Cusco, Inca Trail, Lima, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Peru
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Top Cusco Experiences and Attractions

Top Cusco Experiences

Learning about ancient Inca history and visiting well maintained ruins and archaeological sites

Seeing the beautiful and historic Spanish Colonial architecture juxtaposed against Inca ruins

Touring the Sacred Valley

Enjoying local food, art, and culture

Visiting the Inca Museum

Leaving on the Hiram Bingham train to the famous site of Machu Picchu

Meeting local Peruvians and getting introduced to their culture

Seeing a festival procession make its way down the streets, with brightly colored costumes and lively music

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Cusco Trip Reviews

1,322 Cusco Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 1,035
Great 263
Average 20
Disappointing 3
Terrible 1
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.8
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.8

Tour Reviews Write a Review

It was amazing!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We are just returning from our 15 days trip to Peru. It was amazing ! Peru is such a beautiful country. People there are very friendly. A special thanks to Peru for Less team for helping us creating a memorable itineraries. We are visiting Lima, Cuzco, Puno and Puerto Maldonado to name a few. Silvana Zavala & Matthew Hay are our travel advisors. They have done a great job from the beginning to end.Thank you to both of you. I have already recommended your company to some of our friends who are interested to visit Peru after seeing our pictures. Tour guides are very knowledgeable, accommodations are excellent. All hotels we stayed are very clean & comfortable.

Read more
Operator Peru For Less

Amazing, intimate experience of the best of Peru!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

My husband and I wanted to visit Peru, but were nervous about accommodations, getting around, language barriers, and making the most of our trip. We are seasoned travelers, so we thrive on intimate experiences and most importantly local authentic food. We decided to do the Taste of Peru given past experiences with The Table Less Traveled. It did not disappoint. The trip was amazing! Not only did we dine at michelin star restaurants, have private dining experiences hosted by locals, participated in local cooking classes, visited salt mines and learned about the process, we had a private guided tour of Machu Picchu!! It was the experience of a lifetime. Annie also made sure I stayed food save the entire trip given my shellfish allergy (I was shocked to learn how much they use shellfish for cooking and seasoning). The accommodations were also amazing, no US branded hotels but local boutique accommodations with 5-star service and feel. We're looking forward to Japan and Malaysia/Singapore with The Table Less Traveled this and next year!

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Operator The Table Less Traveled

ANCASCOCHA TREK TO MACHU PICCHU WITH ACTION PERU TREKS

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

My (4) friends and I had the best experience with Action Peru Treks in September '17! Our tour guide, Sabi, was so patient, kind, knowledgeable, and in general an awesome leader! The cooks on our trek cooked the most delicious meals! We were amazed how they could cook such delicious food in the middle of nowhere. All crew members on our trek were amazing, sweet, helpful, caring people!

We always felt so safe even though we were far from civilization. I highly recommend booking a trek with Action Peru Treks! I have fond wonderful memories of our trip and I can't wait to go back to Peru to go on another adventure with Action Peru Treks! Peru is a beautiful country with so much to explore!

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Operator Action Peru Treks

What an AMAZING 6 week trip of 6 countries!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 4.0

My first ever trip in smaller numbers - loved it, yes, loved it so much as we could do things that larger groups can not do. Ecuador, Peru including the Amazon region, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil were awash with fantastic experiences with the stunning and majestic sights, the people and their culture, the food, animal and bird life and of course, what I accomplished by surprising myself at the Incan ruins. Our guides, Alejandro in Ecuador, Sally in Peru and Sabina in Chile, Argentina and Brazil were just the best Ambassadors for Peregrine as they showed such passion for their country and genuine care for each of our small number to return home with amazing memories to abide in our hearts forever. Muchas Gracias to each of you as you have touched my life with a very special imprint. I highly recommend this full trip for the entire 6 weeks just in case you have not noticed.

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Operator Peregrine Adventures

Excelente!!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Excelente atendimento recebido pela empresa.

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Operator Inka Rainbow

Amazing people

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Jenny Byrne created the trip of a lifetime for our family. Peru’s Amazon rainforest, Cuzco and the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Our in country guides were amazing people. Really incredible service. Thank you SA Expeditions.

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Operator SA Expeditions

Cusco Tours and Travel Guide

Cusco Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Historic Cusco is a classic jumping off place for treks or train rides to Machu Picchu. Spending a few days here to help acclimatize to the altitude is essential and recommended by most tours. This also gives you the time to absorb the incredibly diverse history here and learn some contextual background before heading to the famous Lost City of the Incas.

The City of Cusco

High in the Andes, surrounded by green mountainous terrain, and consisting of countless windows to the distant past, is the city of Cusco. Somewhat heavily commercialized and touristy (it is after all the passage through which 99% of tours and travelers go to reach Machu Picchu), Cusco is a spectacularly vibrant and cultural city in its own right. Representing many stages of native Peruvian history, ancient Inca history, and Spanish colonial history side by side.

This is a classic case of modern local life imbued in every miniscule facet with ancient traditions and customs. As a small city that sees near constant tourist traffic, part of this phenomenon is purely economical, and could potentially  as the main and all about appeasing travelers. However there is a genuine sense throughout the city. Tourists are not sequestered among the classic sites and museums. The sites are a seamless part of the heartbeat of the city.

One of the positive outcomes to being so heavily trafficked by outside visitors, is that Cusco’s many old and fragile sites are well looked after and maintained. Additionally, there are several accommodation and food options available. You’re constantly surrounded by intricate details.

Some of the highlights you’ll experience in Cusco include:

Plaza de armas - The main square and heartbeat of the city. This large open space with a beautiful fountain at the center is a meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Surrounded by restaurants, shops, and beautiful architecture.

Inca Museum - This oddly modest museum, housed in a 17th century colonial house is a great way to introduce yourself to the story of the Inca’s. Explore their collections which include traditional Inca crafts called “Keros” (carved wooden ceremonial vessels), and textiles. The museum also includes mummies and Inca idols of gold and solid silver, and ancient Inca artifacts.

Cusco Cathedral - Incredible 16th century Spanish cathedral. See works of art from the Escuela Cuzquena, which was famous during the colonial era. Spanish colonists set up the school to teach the Inca - giving them examples of European art, scenes, and technique.

16th Century Jesuit Church - Beautiful and enormous, situated right on the Plaza de armas, this church was built in the late 1500s, on the site of an Inca palace.

The Sacred Valley - The Sacred Valley is an important part of Cusco, and was an important area to the Inca. A fertile valley, at lower elevation to Cusco, it was where crops were planted, and community was fostered. Stop to explore Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and of course Machu Picchu.

Cusco’s Ancient Ruins and Archaeological Wonders

As many tours to Peru will highlight, Cusco is an archaeological gold mine. This original capital of the Inca Empire contained much activity and its many ruins reveal much about how the Inca, Spanish, and other native groups lived during the region’s long history.

One of the most significant is the Saksaywaman ruins, high on a hill overlooking Cusco. Originally constructed by the ancient Killke people in the year 1100, it pre-dates Inca presence in the area by 100 years. It is most commonly referred to as a fortress, though the structures original intention is unknown.

Once Incan rulers settled in Cusco, they expanded upon the fortress - utilizing a great example of their famous rock wall technique. Each stone is placed so flush against the ones around it, that if you were to attempt to slide a piece of paper between them, it wouldn’t fit.  

Spanish conquest began in the 16th century, just 100 years after the construction of Machu Picchu. At this time the Inca Empire’s capital was still in Cusco, where it had been for 2 centuries.

Rather than plunder and burn, the Spanish simply built on top of adapted or expanded out the many existing structures for their use.

Another impressive ancient site you should see in Cusco is the ruins of Qorikancha. Qorikancha, meaning “Golden Courtyard” in the Quechua language was a central temple, with the walls completely covered floor to ceiling with gold sheets, and an example of the Inca’s obsession with gods and status.  

The ruins of Ollantaytambo, which was a city constructed by the Incas in the 1400s, is located in the Sacred Valley, and another key stop for travelers keen to explore ancient Inca history. This city was in fact never finished. The arrival of the Spanish halted their progress, and unfinished portions are clearly visible when you explore the ruins today.

Most tours of Cusco include deep dives into the many archaeological wonders of the Inca Empire and the details to be seen that highlight the subsequent conquest by Spanish colonists. These tours involve a lot of walking over uneven surfaces, and by nature of the impressive amount to be seen, will involve a lot of standing and listening to the stories of the Inca Empire, native tribes of Peru, and Spanish influence.

Cusco has a long rainy season, so the chances of you standing and walking in the rain are fairly high, as many of the sights you’ll see during your tour are outside and uncovered. Whenever you are visiting ruins, be very cognisant of where you walk and pay attention to signage. Many may have loose ground and unsafe areas that are not suitable for walking, or have areas that are currently under excavation.

If you’re less interested in ancient history, Peru’s major cities and sites may hold limited fascination for you. While most tours to Cusco and beyond will also highlight on local food and customs of Peru, the central focus will definitely be on the ruins.

Touring the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is part of the wider Cusco region, and a historically significant area to the Inca Empire. This fertile valley encompasses multiple Inca ruins, including the Machu Picchu citadel, and was an extremely important stronghold to the Inca’s survival - helping them to thrive as long as they did.

The valley, surrounded by mountains, is several degrees warmer than the higher elevation Cusco and Machu Picchu. This allowed crops to be grown and provided a climate where settlement and growth made more sense. Unlike the grandeur of Machu Picchu, which most archaeologists believe was built as an estate for the Inca ruler Pachacuti, the Sacred Valley was the center of everyday life for Inca families.

Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley is a lovely small village, with ruins nearby which are a classic stop for most tours to Machu Picchu from Cusco. The train journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu, is about 3 hours.

From Cusco to Machu Picchu: Prepare for the Journey

Cusco is a classic stop for travelers heading to Machu Picchu. In fact almost all tours stop here for a day or two before embarking on the Inca trail or taking the train to Aguas Calientes. This is useful for a couple reasons.

Cusco is at 11k feet above sea level, while Machu Picchu is at a mere 8K. A few days in Cusco is crucial for adjusting to the altitude. The last thing you want is to suffer from altitude sickness during your journey to Machu Picchu! Take it easy, drink lots of water, and let your body get used to the thin Andean air.

Staying in Cusco is also helpful for providing an initial context to your journey and the characters involved. It’s the perfect introduction to Peru, and the many forces that contributed to the culture and diversity here. Including in food, language, architecture, and art - Cusco is the gateway to another time. The present day locals live concurrent with their ancestors, in keeping their traditions and customs alive. Cusco is the gateway from which you prepare to enter a different world.

During your free time in Cusco, be sure to pick up any last minute essentials for your journey. Depending on the time of year, it could be quite chilly, and even more so once you reach the ruins. The sun is often shrouded in mist and fog before 10am at Machu Picchu, and though you’ll be scrambling up and down ancient stairways as you explore, it will still be damp. Luckily Cusco is full of shops where you can purchase the famous alpaca wool hats, gloves, or ponchos. (Though don’t go overboard! Last thing you want is more luggage to deal with on your hike, or to keep track of during your stay in Aguas Calientes).

There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco. If you’re taking the train (of which there are three choices, of different budget levels) if leaves right from Poroy Station, about 20 minutes from downtown Cusco. This service is regular between May and December, but may be irregular during off season months when mudslides or heavy rain cause safety concerns.

If you are planning to reach Machu Picchu on one of the three main treks, you’ll take a bus or shuttle from Cusco to your starting point. On your way, you’ll pass through the Sacred Valley, location of Ollantaytambo, where you might stop for a night depending on your tour itinerary.

Weather in Cusco

The weather in Cusco is mild and temperate, with temperatures rarely dips below 30 degrees F, and rarely above 75 degrees F. The area does experience moderate to heavy rainfall through much of the year, between December and April. Heavy cloud cover can be expected in January, February, and March.

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