Peru and Bolivia: Machu Picchu to the Salt Flats

National Geographic Journeys, Lima to La Paz
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

Experience the awe-inspiring wonders of Bolivia and Peru. Learn about Peru’s storied past in the former Inca capital of Cusco, and venture into the heart of the Amazon jungle. Hike the Inca Trail—or catch the scenic train—to the endlessly fascinating Machu Picchu; then travel to Bolivia to see the striking Salar de Uyuni and colonial cities surrounded by soaring Andean peaks.

What's included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Cusco Planetarium, Cusco Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Traditional Andean Experience, Urubamba Your Journeys Highlight Moment: La Paz Culinary Experience, La Paz Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Bolivian Hacienda Experience, Potosí Your G for Good Moment: Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), Pisac Your G for Good Moment: Parwa Community Restaurant the Sacred Valley, Lamay Your G for Good Moment: Handmade Biodegradable Soap Products Your G for Good Moment: Jukil Community Experience & Lunch, Santiago de Agencha
  • Arrival transfer
  • Three-day (2 nts) excursion to the G Adventures exclusive rainforest lodge
  • Sacred Valley tour
  • Choice of four-day Inca Trail hike with local guide, cook, and porters or Cusco/Aguas Calientes stay with scenic train
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • La Paz city tour
  • Sucre orientation walk
  • Excursions to the Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Internal flights
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Explore the iconic citadel of machu picchu on foot or by train
  • Get creative with photo ops on the stunning landscapes of bolivia’s salar de uyuni. stay at an eco-lodge deep in the amazon jungle
  • And spot wildlife with expert naturalists. experience life at a traditional bolivian hacienda high in the andes.

Itinerary

Day 1: Lima Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

Day 2: Lima/Tambopata Fly to Puerto Maldonado and continue by motorized canoe to our comfortable lodge, situated near the Tambopata National Reserve in the Amazon rainforest. Spot local bird species along the lush shores of the Tambopata River en route to the lodge, and set off on an evening walk with a naturalist guide before dinner, keeping an eye out for some of the rainforest’s nocturnal creatures.

Day 3: Tambopata Spend the day exploring the thriving ecosystems of the rainforest with our lodge’s naturalist guides. Scan the treetops for toucans, howler monkeys, and sloths, and glide along oxbow lakes on canoes for a chance to glimpse river otters, turtles, and, if we’re lucky, anacondas. After dinner, embark on a river tour by motorized canoe on the lookout for caimans, the smaller cousins of alligators, which are often found hiding near the muddy banks.

Day 4: Tambopata/Cusco Travel out of the jungle by boat and catch a flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, soaring above the Andes into Peru’s Inca heartland. This evening, visit the Cusco Planetarium for a presentation on the skies of the Southern Hemisphere, and learn about the vital role that astronomy played in the lives of the ancient Inca. Weather permitting, peer through the planetarium's telescopes for a dazzling look at the stars.

Day 5: Cusco/Urubamba Drive to the scenic Sacred Valley for a full day of exploration with a local guide. Tour the G Adventures–supported Parque de la Papa, or Potato Park, a rural Andean community working to preserve hundreds of varieties of native potato. During this exclusive experience, you'll walk through the park to learn about potato cultivation, traditional weaving, and the importance of both these practices to Andean culture. We’ll also visit the fascinating Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac, and enjoy a meal at the G Adventures–supported Parwa Community Restaurant in Huchuy Qosqo.

Day 6: Inca Trail Set out on the iconic Inca Trail, departing Urubamba by van to the starting point of the trek. Immerse yourself in the enchanting Andean countryside, hiking along meandering streams and crossing remote mountain villages and ancient ruins as we get warmed up for the more challenging days ahead.

Day 7: Inca Trail Today, we ascend the long, steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman’s Pass—the highest point on the Inca Trail, at 4,198 meters (13,769 feet). Enjoy stunning views of the Sacred Valley as you make your way up the rugged terrain, and aim to reach our camp by early afternoon. Rest and relax at camp the remainder of the day.

Day 8: Inca Trail Today we’ll cross two spectacular passes. The first pass is Runquraqay at 3,950m (13,113 ft) where, on a clear day, one can catch a glimpse of the snowcapped peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba. Continue through cloud forest on a gentle climb to the second pass, and arrive at the misty Inca ruins of Phuyupatamarca at 3,650 meters (11,972 feet), known as "the city above the clouds.” We will either camp here or settle at a further spot, near the beautiful terraces of the Wiñay Wayna ruins, at 2,650 meters (8,694 feet).

Day 9: Machu Picchu/Cusco The final day of our hike begins before dawn. Reach the Sun Gate—the last checkpoint on the Inca Trail—in time to witness daybreak over Machu Picchu. This 15th-century Inca citadel was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and excavated with support from National Geographic. Hike down for a guided tour through the temples and terraces of this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site before catching a bus to the frontier town of Aguas Calientes, where we’ll have free time for lunch. Continue by train to Cusco.

Day 10: Cusco/La Paz Catch a flight to the highest capital in the world—La Paz, Bolivia. In the afternoon, take an immersive tour of the lofty city by foot, van, and cable car. Explore vibrant squares, historical sites, and lively local markets, learning more about the balance of old and new along the way. This evening, enjoy an interactive culinary experience at a popular local restaurant, including demonstrations on how traditional foods such as quinoa are integrated into modern fusion dishes. With a local chef as our guide, we’ll sample a variety of dishes and discuss the growing popularity of La Paz as a culinary destination.

Day 11: La Paz/Sucre Catch a flight to charming Sucre, then enjoy an orientation walk around the main square. This afternoon, relax at a local café, explore on your own, or opt to take an immersive tour of Sucre with a local expert that focuses on the city’s stunning colonial architecture and historic sites, best viewed from the ubiquitous rooftop terraces.

Day 12: Potosi Countryside Enjoy free time this morning before travelling into the southern highlands to our historic hacienda. Surrounded by lush agricultural fields and rolling hills, this working farm offers unique opportunities for cultural exchanges with the resident family. Get a glimpse into daily life here while lending a hand at the dairy and in the fields, and step back in time during visits to the property’s private rooms, chapel, and museum. Cap off your experience with an authentic farm-to-table dinner featuring an array of local specialities.

Day 13: Potosí/Uyuni Make the short drive to the centre of Potosí and enjoy a guided tour of the Casa Nacional de la Moneda, the old silver mint and now a museum dedicated to Bolivian art and history. Take a scenic drive to Uyuni, gateway to the world's largest salt flat. Learn about the industrialization of salt and the geographical history of the region while driving across this mirror-like landscape. Enjoy a sunset picnic atop the flats before returning to our hotel.

Day 14: Uyuni Journey deeper into the salt pans to explore their varied geographical features. Along the way, stop at the remote town of Santiago de Agencha, a small Quechua community supported by G Adventures. Here, we enjoy a guided walk to learn about quinoa production and the cultural history of the area. Savour lunch prepared with local ingredients before continuing our exploration of the desert and its pans.

Day 15: Uyuni/La Paz Catch a flight to La Paz and enjoy free time to explore before joining the group for an optional farewell dinner.

Day 16: La Paz Depart at any time.