Incan Backroads Trip Highlights

  • Hike off the beaten path and explore the massive Incan complex of Choquequirao, a marvel few others in the world have witnessed
  • Discover the ancient ways of Amaru villagers and bargain for colorful, hand-woven textiles in traditional Pisac market
  • Meander the cobblestone streets of Cusco – former center of the Incan empire
  • Ride the rails in a historic train car along the Inca Trail
  • Explore the famed Lost City of Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate

Itinerary Overview

Want to trek Peru in solitude or can’t get a permit for the Inca Trail? Get your hiking fix on this alternative Inca Trail trek and complete this Choquequirao trek. This hike takes you off the beaten path to little-known Incan complexes and is rounded out by visits to the Sacred Valley, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. This is a fully private, guided trek for just you and your group or traveling partner!

Peru Culture and Inca Trek

DAY 1  Lima 

Arrive Lima. Visit the city sites, museums and restaurants.

DAY 2  Cusco

Fly to Cusco and make a guided exploration of a city where traditional Andean cultures, the colonial Spanish, and modern Peru fuse into one. Visit Korikancha – Temple of the Sun, shop at Andean markets, enjoy savory Peruvian cuisine and see colonial cathedrals built atop Incan foundations.

DAY 3  Sacred Valley Villages and the Weavers of Amaru

Visit the isolated Amaru indigenous community. Gather plants used as natural dyes and see how the Amaru’s colorful textiles are brought to life. Lunch with community leaders or picnic amongst Pisac ruins before visiting the Sacred Valley’s most vibrant market to bargain for wares.

DAY 4  Hike to Choquequirao

Depart Cusco and begin your four-day hike amongst the Salkantay Mountains above the Apurimac River, taking you along Incan footpaths and rarely-visited ruin complexes until you arrive at Choquequirao. This complex rivals Machu Picchu in size and stature, only you’re likely to have it all to yourself!

DAY 5  Hike to Choquequirao 

Continue hiking through cloudforest and enjoy a gourmet picnic surrounded by lush meadows and snow-capped Andean peaks in the distance. Arrive late afternoon to Choqueirao.

DAY 6 Choquequirao 

Explore the massive complex of ruins thought to be the last refuge of the Inca after fleeing the Spanish.

DAY 7  Choquequirao to Chikisca

Head back through incredible countryside, retracing your steps back to Chikisca. Cross the Apurimac River on a hanging bridge and then walk up a short ways to your campsite on Chikiska plain.

DAY 8  Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu

Finish the last stretch of the trek back to Cachora. Return to Cusco after departing in the morning and continue to the Sacred Valley where you take the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo for the evening.

DAY 9 Machu Picchu

Revel at the sunrise from the Lost City of Machu Picchu, perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest. Enjoy a complete guided tour of the site with time to explore on your own as well.

DAY 10  Machu Picchu to Cusco 

Take the train to Ollantaytambo and continue through the Sacred Valley and Chinchero on one of the Andes’ most scenic drives. Arrive Cusco for a leisurely evening.

DAY 11 Fly to Lima Return Home 

Fly to Lima and depart.

Is It For Me?

Be prepared for six to eight hours on the trail during hiking days. This trip is ideal for active people looking for great hiking and remote ruins tied in with other Peru highlights.

Knowmad has vast knowledge and operations in Peru; this is a private trip and we are happy to modify excursions, accommodations, and the flow of the itinerary to perfectly suit your travel style and interests.

Have questions? Talk to an expert: 612-315-2894

Important Info

Backpacking South America

Costs

Listed prices are approximations. All Knowmad trips are custom and exact pricing is provided in your trip proposal.

  • From $4,805 per person / 2 travelers

Additionally, regional airfare is estimated at $440 (Lima/Cusco & Cusco/Lima—subject to change).

  • $805 single supplement – rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations. If you request single accommodations you are required to pay the single supplement.

TYPE Flexible Date Private Departures. You choose the date, your travel companions and one of our adventures.

VIGOROUS TRIP These trips typically require very good physical condition or pre-existing skills. Expect to be in challenging terrain for long durations. Activities include extended hiking, camping, cultural opportunities, history, train ride, shopping, wildlife viewing.

DePARTUReS March through November; can be set up to match your dates.

LENGTH 11 days – 7 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights camping                BEGIN / END Lima, Peru

Air Travel

INTERNATIONAL Airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. You may arrange your international airfare independently, or we are happy to offer our feedback and assistance in helping you book it.

REGIONAL If booked by Knowmad Adventures, internal airfare for this trip (Lima/Cusco, Cusco/Lima) averages $440, however this is an approximation and the airfare is subject to change upon booking. If you would like to arrange your own regional flights, please consult us prior so we can verify the departure and arrival times.

What's Next?

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Signing up is easy. Call us at 612-315-2894 or email travel@knowmadadventures.com and reserve your spot. Or simply download our registration form, fill it out, and send it back to us along with your trip deposit. Please refer to registration form for terms & conditions.

Weather & When to Go to Peru

This trip takes place mostly in the Peruvian highlands. Throughout the year the average temperature is in the mid-50s °F (10-12 °C) and does not fluctuate greatly. Evenings are cooler. There are primarily two seasons: wet and dry. December through March sees much more precipitation than other times of the year and is the less visited season. As Peru has three distinct climate zones, if you are interested in combining this trip with a visit to the jungle or the coastal areas please inquire for more weather details.

Weather in Peru

Prior to your departure, you are provided a detailed pre-trip information packet including a recommended pack list, information about the regions you’ll be visiting, suggested readings, up-to-date health information including any recommended vaccinations and more.

Accommodations

Our trips feature comfortable accommodations that complement their surroundings. We seek out intimacy and character, but never sacrifice cleanliness and security. We also find the best value for quality. In general, our physically moderate to vigorous trips feature hotels classified as 3+ to 4 stars, while less physically demanding trips feature 4+ to 5 star hotels.

As South American travel specialists, we’re experts and have inspected hundreds of properties. Knowmad is happy to suggest upgrades and alternative hotels based on your preferences to ensure your trip is perfect for you. Photos below are from this itinerary’s preferred accommodations. For more specifics, call or write to request more info, or download the detailed trip itinerary.

Inca Trek Camping Photos

Accommodations featured in this itinerary are the following:

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 Lima

Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by a Knowmad Adventures representative and taken to your accommodations centrally located in the Miraflores neighborhood. Explore Peru’s diverse and delectable cuisine and visit some of the city’s many sights and museums on your own or, depending on your time, we can arrange a guided exploration of the city or you can learn to make ceviche with a local chef on a culinary discovery.*

DAY 2 Cusco

After a short morning flight to Cusco – former capital of the Inca Empire – where Andean cultures come alive (don’t be surprised when the language doesn’t sound like Spanish – it is could be the native Andean tongue Quechua), you’ll be met at the airport and taken to your accommodations. Enjoy lunch on your own before meeting your guide for an afternoon exploration of Cusco’s most interesting sites including Incan architectural jewels such as Korikancha – the temple of the sun. Also shop at Andean markets, enjoy incredible Peruvian cuisine, and see the colonial cathedrals around the Plaza Central. After exploring the city you’ll enjoy the evening on your own relaxing or exploring Cusco’s bustling night life.

DAY 3 Sacred Valley Villages and the Weavers of Amaru

After breakfast you’ll head by van along the Sacred Valley past the communities of Calca, Coya, Lamay and Pisac. From here the van goes completely off the map winding up a small dirt road, which takes you through remote Andean villages and arrives to the community of the Amaru people. This isolated community holds strongly to their ancient customs and practices a largely subsistence lifestyle on the slopes of the Andes. The Amaru will proudly open their village to you where you will learn of their lifestyle and traditions. Among other things, take part in gathering plants used as natural dyes, learn of their medicinal and culinary properties, and see how Peru’s world-renowned textiles are woven and brought to life.

Stay for lunch with the Amaru or enjoy a picnic amongst the Pisac ruins that sprawl down the mountainside towards town. Afterwards, hike along the high-mountain terraces and through
the ruins before descending to Pisac – one of Peru’s largest and most vibrant markets – where you can bargain with Andean campesinos for handcrafted wares. Return to Cusco for a relaxing evening.

DAY 4 Hike to Choquequirao

Depart Cusco and begin your four day hike amongst the Salkantay Mountains above the Apurimac River, taking you along Incan footpaths and impressive ruin complexes that few visitors get to witness before arriving to Choquequirao. This complex rivals Machu Picchu in size and stature, only you’re likely to have it mostly to yourself!

After being met at your hotel you will head north by van ascending into Limatambo and visiting the Inca site Tarawasi. Reaching the Apurimac River at an impressive gorge you pass the village of Carawasi and reach the Sayhuite stone – it is said this is an ancient carved map of the Inca empire.

Arriving to Cachora you will meet the rest of the field crew and start hiking with your day pack along the edge of the mountain. At Capuliyoc you get your first view of the Apurimac Canyon and the snow-capped Andes Mountains. After a steady ascent you’ll arrive to your camp at Chikiska.

Hike details: 11.5 miles, approximately 6 hours

  • B, L, D – camping

DAY 5 Hike to Choquequirao

After a hearty camp breakfast you’ll cross a footbridge over the river and begin a steady ascent until reaching an open meadow where lunch is served. After lunch the trail flattens some and the vegetation gets more lush on both sides of the Apurimac Canyon as you approach massive Choquequirao which sits atop a hanging valley. You’ll find camp at Marampampa with multiple isolated Inca sites in the surrounding cloudforest. Find your solitude in the evening as you catch sunset from the Choquequirao main plaza.

Hike details: 8 miles, approximately 8 hours

  • B, L, D – camping

DAY 6 Choquequirao

Enjoy a full day exploring this vast complex of Incan ruins taking in the central plaza, the different classes residential districts, the temple, and the vast terracing systems. With its isolation and location in lush cloudforest, Choquequirao retains its feeling of Indiana Jones, and the sort of adrenaline rush you hope for at ancient ruins is prevalent at every turn.

  • B, L, D – camping

DAY 7 Choquequirao to Chikiska

Saying goodbye to Choquequirao, you will head back the way you came. Walking at a slow pace due to a steep decline, you will be able to truly soak in the lush countryside and beautiful views that make this portion of the trail so incredible. Cross the Apurimac River on a hanging bridge and then walk up a short ways to your campsite on Chikiska plain.

Hike details: 8 miles, approximately 8 hours

  • B, L, D – Camping

DAY 8 Chikiska to Machu Picchu

Head up to the Capuliyoc pass (9,000 ft.) where you will be rewarded with majestic views of the Apurimac Canyon and the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. Enjoy a box lunch amongst the incredible scenery. The trail then flattens out until arriving at Cachora, where you will head by can to Cusco and continue on to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. From here board the train that chugs along the Urubamba River and parts of the Inca Trail towards the Amazon arriving at Machu Picchu Pueblo where you spend the evening.

DAY 9 Machu Picchu

Early risers can revel at the sunrise from the Machu Picchu citadel or climb the adjacent sacred peak Huayna Picchu in the morning for a bird’s eye view. This incredibly vast archaeological site – lost to the world until well into the twentieth century – is perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest making it one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to get a complete guided tour as you begin to unlock the mystery of the Inca, and also have plenty of time to wander the site on your own. Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge adjacent to the ruins means you’ll be able to enjoy the whole day without leaving awe- inspiring Machu Picchu.

DAY 10 Machu Picchu to Cusco

Taking the train after breakfast, you’ll have time to roam through Ollantaytambo town taking in the ancient ruins towering above. Continuing through the Sacred Valley you will head to Cusco by way of Chinchero, one of the most beautiful drives in the Andes. An afternoon arrival gives you time to enjoy Cusco and have a wonderful final evening in this very special place.

DAY 11 Fly to Lima and Return Home

Or with more time, extend your trip with a visit to the Amazon or Lake Titicaca.

  • B

Extend Your Adventure

Amazon Jungle

Just a short flight from Cusco, spotting troops of monkeys, colorful macaws and countless bird species, giant sloths, caimans, and maybe even a jaguar or puma in the Amazon Jungle is a traveler favorite. We have scoured the jungle lodges of Peru and can advise you on which experience fits you best while guaranteeing the best value.

Lake Titicaca

Besides being the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca is home to diverse traditional cultures including the floating Uros civilization, the Quechua people of Taquile Island, and the Amaru peoples. Come and meet them at the top of the world.

Lima

Want to spend more time exploring this great city? Besides getting you a great value for hotels and airport transfers, we can line up a fantastic cooking lesson and culinary city tour, full and half day sightseeing adventures, surrounding ruin visits and much more.

Let The Journey Begin

Let the Journey Begin - Knowmad Adventures

Planning a trip to South America might seem a little overwhelming at first. Knowmad offers door-to-door trip planning: first, we listen, and then we help you navigate the seasonal differences and itinerary options, resulting in a holistic, seamless, and custom-crafted experience, all at a guaranteed best value.

The simplest way to get started is to give us a call at 612-315-2894or to fill out this short form so we can learn more about your travel preferences.