Our professional teachers will help you improve your Spanish, whatever level you start with.
Peruvian Spanish is easy to understand and Peru is the top South American destination for our students; it also offers excellent value for money.
Armed with new language skills, you trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Cusco a beautiful colonial and very lively city with a large range of cafés, bars and restaurants and is well connected by road and air to other parts of Peru.
We offer the option of a one week, “Survival Spanish” Course, with the possibility to do a longer language course, from two weeks upwards.
Accommodation is either with families (homestay – recommended as you will get the chance to practice your Spanish outside school and will also get an insight into everyday life in Peru) or in guesthouses and hotels.
The Inca Trail trek is one of the greatest hikes in Peru, and indeed the world and is deservedly the most famous footpath in South America.
It has everything: gorgeous mountain scenery, cloudforest and lush sub-tropical vegetation with numerous species of flowers, a stunning final destination in Machu Picchu and, above all, the Inca remains that give the trail its name.
Choose our standard trek or our luxury trek, both ending at Machu Picchu ruins.
Read our blogs about the Inca Trail – a typical day, the meals you can expect, training tips and porter welfare.
We make a donation to a Porter’s Community Project near Cusco for every person that books the Inca Trail through us.
Immerse yourself in Cusco life and get to know Peruvians with new language skills by staying with a local family.
Trek the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu while you learn Spanish.
Classes for all levels, from beginners to those wanting to improve their skills.
Choose from a week-long stay up to a year.
We learnt a huge amount of Spanish in the time we were there. Miguel and his family were really welcoming. The food was also great -- they made us all kinds of peruvian specialities (lomos saltado, papas rellonas, chicha morado), and took us out to a couple of their favorite restaurants.
The Inca Trail was incredible! We really enjoyed the hiking, the incredible scenery and the sites. The guides were friendly, and seemed very knowledgable about the inca sites, and we chatted to them in Spanish when possible.
A. Heinekie, Learn Spanish, trek Inca Trail
Arrive Cusco, in the Inca heartland. It is impossible to resist the charms of this picturesque colonial city, with its many squares and cobbles streets and its relaxed atmosphere.
You will be met at the airport and will be accompanied to the school to co-ordinate your classes before meeting your host family.
For the next 5 days you will have 4 hours of Spanish per day. However, it is not all about studying, which is why we ensure there are plenty of activities available to you in your free time. Included in our price are various social activities, a fun way to meet other students.
Also available (for a small extra charge payable locally) are Peruvian cooking classes, craft workshops, local guided walks and Quechua lessons, the language of the Inca. It will be difficult to get bored with so much on offer.
After a week of studying the weekend has arrived and it is time to explore Cusco.
Tonight is your last night with your host family, it will be time to say ‘adios’ early tomorrow morning.
We pick you up early from your hotel in Cusco. After picking up all other trekkers you travel by bus, via the highland villages of Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, for the three hour journey to the start of the Inca Trail
From the road there are great views of the Cordillera Urubamba mountain range and the snow capped peak of Veronica 5,860m/19,225ft.
Most of our groups have up to 16 trekkers with one main English-speaking guide and an assistant guide. Trekkers come from all over the world, and are of all ages.
At Chilca, where we start the trek, you walk down to the entrance, where your tickets are checked. Sign in, cross the bridge and make a left turn following the trail gently along the river bank until uphill we reach a eucalyptus grove and Llactapata – the first major ruins on the route. Vast retaining walls have converted the steeply sloping hillside into agricultural terraces: an amazing sight.
Just below Llactapata the Río Cusichaca, a tributary of the Urubamba, takes a spectacular plunge into the ground and runs through a subterranean channel for some way. The trail climbs steeply out of the ruins over a low pass, and the hike up the valley begins.
After about an hour you’ll reach a bridge, putting you on the other side of the valley, and will continue on to the village of Huayllabamba (3,000m/9,843ft). You will reach it in a further half hour. By this time it is likely to be very hot and you will welcome the cold drinks at the village which makes its living out of Inca Trail hikers.
First night camp with basic facilities.
Distance: 11.1km/6.9 miles
Highest point: 2,912m/9,554ft
Starting altitude: 2,753m/9,032ft
Finishing altitude: 2,885m/9,466ft
Height gained: 398m/1,306ft
Height lost: 302m/991ft
We break camp and set off with our big target in mind – Dead Woman’s Pass!
Our path enters woods – first scrub, then very beautiful cloud forest where the trees are hung with moss. These fairy-tale woods will help keep your mind off the fact that you are still going steeply uphill with no sign of respite.
Eventually, however, the trees become more stunted and you emerge into a meadow, Llulluchapampa. From The Forks to the meadow is about two hours. This is the last campsite before the pass, aptly named (if you are a female hiker) Abra de Huarmihuañusqa, ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ (4,198m/13,773ft), which you can see ahead of you.
It will take you about another 90 minutes hours to climb to the top of the pass. This is the highest point on the trail, so take heart – if you survive this, you’ll survive the other passes. Take time to look around you. You should be able to pick out the circular ruins of Runkuracay ahead, just below the next pass.
The descent is steep but not difficult. Just follow the trail on the left side of the valley to the valley floor and the next designated campsite at Pacamayo (3,600m/11,811ft).
Nearby are some huts with basic toilets and sinks built by the INC.
Camp for the evening.
Distance: 12.3km/7.7 miles
Highest point: 4,222m/13,852ft
Starting altitude: 2,885m/9,466ft
Finishing altitude: 3,603m/11,821ft
Height gained: 1,361m/4,465ft
Height lost: 613m/2,011ft
From Runkuracay the path is clear over the second pass (Abra de Runkuracay, 4,000m/13,123ft) and, excitingly, much of the time you are on Inca steps. The descent down the steps is steep, so take care.
Just before the trail turns right, you’ll see the sign for Sayacmarca. These ruins lie about an hour from the top of the pass and the name, which means ‘the Inaccessible or Secret City’, is apt. You approach Sayacmarca up a superbly designed stone staircase. This is a diversion (the main trail continues its gradual descent to the right) but don’t let fatigue persuade you to miss it.
Like so many Inca ruins, no one really knows the purpose of Sayacmarca, but these are the visible facts: it was built on a precipice commanding a spacious view; there are no agricultural terraces so the complex could not have supported many inhabitants; ritual baths and an aqueduct run round the outside of the main wall; there are curious stone rings set in the wall by trapezoid openings. For us the mystery adds to the beauty, and it is beauty all the way from here – if you are fortunate with the weather.
The trail continues down to the valley floor. From here it becomes a glorious Inca Road, being on a raised causeway over marshy ground that then rises up through cloudforest. Stone paving on raised stone foundations, steps and a gentle gradient make for easy walking, and even if it is raining (and it does at times) you will marvel at the Inca workmanship.
Before the climb to the third pass there is a campsite with basic toilets. During the ascent you climb through two Inca tunnels, and if it is a clear day you will have the added bonus of a view of Salkantay over to your left. The pass (3,700m/12,139ft) is used as a campsite, but it gets crowded and water is some way below. Just below the pass, about 2 hours from Sayacmarca, are the impressive ruins of Phuyupatamarca. Access is down a steep flight of stairs. Clear water runs through the channels cut into the rock that feed five baths, leading one from the other down the hill (you may camp here).
An Inca staircase leads from the west side of the ruins (the far end from the baths) and disappears into the jungle, leading you down a thousand steps. Literally. You’ll think that your knees will never feel the same again.
The trek arrives at the campsite near the ruins of Huiñay Huayna (Wiñay Wayna). This is the last camping spot before Machu Picchu and it is often very full. Basic camping facilities, toilets, running water.
Huiñay Huayna lies just below the campsite, round to the right as you are descending, and is the most extensive of the ruins so far.
It has some beautiful stonework, a fantastic location, and an air of mystery often lacking in the crowded Machu Picchu ruins.
Distance: 12.9km/8 miles
Highest point: 3,893m/12,772ft
Starting altitude: 3,603m/11,821ft
Finishing altitude: 2,732m/8,962ft
Height gained: 1,185m/3,888ft
Height lost: 1,345m/4,413ft
When we arrive there is plenty of time to take photos of Machu Picchu. We walk down through the site to the main entrance where you can safely leave your backpacks. You can also use the toilet and have a drink in the restaurant just outside the entrance. We head back into the site for a complete tour of the major sectors of Machu Picchu. The tour takes about two hours so by about mid-morning you’ll be free to continue to explore the ruins alone.
The train back to Cusco leaves from Aguas Calientes, the nearest village to the ruins of Machu Picchu, at approximately 16:30 and you get back into Cusco for about 21:00.
We suggest that after visiting Machu Picchu you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes at 15:30 at the latest (depending on your train departure time). Buses depart every 15 minutes. Check with the guide for actual times. This leaves you plenty of time at the site or to do one of the other walks nearby.
There are many restaurants in Aguas Calientes to satisfy all tastes and budgets. Of course you could also visit the hot springs that Agues Calientes is named for, which will help ease those aching muscles. Entrance to the springs costs US$5, and you should allow a couple of hours to fully enjoy them.
Distance: 7.9km/4.9 miles
Highest point: 2,739m/8,988ft
Starting altitude: 2,732m/8,962ft
Finishing altitude: 2,452m/8,046ft
Height gained: 311m/1,020ft
Height lost: 377m/1,237ft
Regulations (August 2011) mean that the number of visitors to Machu Picchu is limited to 2,500 people per day. This means that you must pre-book your entrance to the site. The entry ticket cannot be purchased in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu pueblo but must be bought in advance (by us) in Cusco.
On the 5 day Inca Trail if you wish to visit the site on your last day (day 5) you will need to reserve and pay for your entrance ticket at the time of booking. The cost is USD 80 per person.
If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, places now also have to be pre/booked and come at an additional cost.
Machu Picchu mountain has to be climbed before 11am, and there are two departure times for Huayna Picchu:
Group 1 (G1): 0700 – 0800
Group 2 (G2): 1000 – 1100
The price is USD 80 including the entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
A free day in Cusco is just what you need after 4 days of trekking.
Time to relax and spoil yourself a little – maybe a nice meal in one of the many restaurants, a cup of coffee overlooking the main square, a stroll over the market and some souvenir shopping.
Or if Machu Picchu has whet your appetite for Incan Culture, why not visit the Museo Inka, which will give you all the background and information you need to know.
Time to say farewell, travelling with your brand new language skills.
Prices From $1,653 / £1,402 per person
Enquire about booking
Language school: 20 hrs Spanish lessons on group basis with half board home stay, accommodation as listed, meals and transfers mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
Inca Trail: Personal porter and porters for all group kit. Collection from Cusco hotel on the first morning, bus to the start of the trek, Inca Trail & Machu Picchu site entrance fees, English speaking guide (guide and assistant for groups of more than 10 people), tents – 2 person, thermarest sleeping mat, cooking equipment, a cook, meals (whilst on trek), dining tent, accommodation for the porters and cooks, first aid kit, bus from Machu Picchu ruins down to Aguas Calientes, tourist train & bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
Language school: International flights, meals not mentioned, optional activities (cooking lessons, rafting, biking), tips, Cusco ruins entry fee, alcoholic or soft drinks.
Inca Trail: Breakfast on the first morning, lunch and dinner on day 4, meals on day 5 (if this option is taken) entrance ticket to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes, second day entrance tickets and second day bus tickets to Machu Picchu site (if you are staying on an extra day), entrance fee to climb Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains
Your homestay is with a local family and has a private room with a shared bathroom – some families have a private bathroom for your exclusive use (extra cost).
Some homestays are in the centre of Cusco, some are further away and may involve a short bus ride/walk. This is a great chance to see local life and practice your Spanish.
You can upgrade to a hotel, if you prefer hotel accommodation.
We use four season tents, designed for all weather conditions, and with lots of space for you and your belongings.
If you travel solo and have a tent to yourself, it will be 2m long x 1.4m wide – a two person tent.
Those sharing a tent will be in a tent 2.2m long x 2m wide – a four person tent.
If you stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes, we add a 2* hotel but can book 3, 4 and 5* options on request (extra cost).
Toilet facilities on the standard trek
All of the campsites that we use have a toilet block with running water. Facilities have improved a lot on the Inca Trail in the last few years. If you do need to go the toilet when there aren’t any toilets then do so well away from the trail and water supplies; dig a hole, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way, do not leave it to blow about in the wind. There are shower facilities at Wiñay Wayna on day 3 although these basic and most people wait until Aguas Calientes showers or their hotel in Cusco.
Teachers at the language school are fully qualified and have many years’ experience teaching people Spanish, whatever your level.
Homestays are with local families who have been picked for their hospitality, willingness to help people practice Spanish and ability to communicate.
In Cusco you will be met by Jesus Sucari, our local man on the ground, and he’ll answer any questions with a pre-trek briefing.
We operate the Inca Trail together with our Cusco partner, owned and managed locally, in accordance with Inca Trail regulations.
On the Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages. We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos.
We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We try to ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Additionally, each year we donate to the communities our Inca Trail porters come from. We ask the community what is most needed and usually we are asked to provide materials (books, pencils, paper etc.) for the children and the local school.
Most of the porters are farmers and cannot afford to pay for all of the materials their kids require for school. By trekking on the Inca Trail you are directly helping the families and communities of your porters.
Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – please ask for more information.
If you stay in the home of a Peruvian family, they will be keen to talk to you and help you to practice your Spanish over the evening meal, which they provide.
See below examples of standard and vegan Inca Trail menus.
A typical day’s menu would be something along the following lines:
Snack: Mandarins and granola bar
Breakfast: Porridge , bread, butter, jam, milk, coffee, tea, fruit juice and fruit salad.
Lunch: Wantan (deep-fried pastry filled with cheese and ham), quinoa soup, chicken with stir fried rice, corn salad
Afternoon tea: Biscuits, pop corn, coffee, tea, infusions.
Dinner: Vegetable soup, meatballs with gratin potatoes and rice, salad selection and swiss chard pie, fried bananas.
Special dietary requirements
People with special dietary requirements are well catered for. A typical day of vegan fare on the standard Inca Trail could be:
Breakfast: Corn bread, fruit salad, soya yoghurt, quinoa flakes, hot drinks.
Lunch: Vegetable soup; broad bean, carrot, mushroom and seaweed salad with “sancochadas” potatoes. Hot drinks.
Dinner: Vegetarian minestrone soup, sautéed green beans with soya meat, vegetables and rice, poached apples. Hot drinks.
Celiacs/gluten free diets are catered for by replacing rice and pasta with quinoa, canihua and quiwicha as well as special produce such as camote (sweet potato) bread.
Water on the trail
You will be provided with boiled water every morning, and evening – fit for drinking. There are always generous amounts available.
The sterilising tablets ‘MicroPur’ can be bought in most pharmacies in Cusco. With these you put the tablets in the water and then wait 40 minutes before drinking. Try to ensure that the mouth of the bottle is also fully sterilised, by tipping your bottle up and down and allowing sterilised water to flow out before you drink.
There are no fitness restrictions for people studying Spanish in Cusco.
The Inca Trail requires every participant to be well acclimatised to high altitude and to be in good physical condition.
We grade this as a ‘medium’ trek because of the high altitude and consecutive trekking days.
Trekkers ideally need to be used to walking while carrying a rucksack and ideally accustomed to walking several days in a row.
However, it is also open to first time trekkers who are in good physical shape.
Approximate walking times:
Day 1: 4-5 hours
Days 2 + 3: 5-7 hours
Day 4: 1 hour + tour (2 hours)
Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.
The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.
The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.
Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.
The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.
The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.
Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.
The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.
The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.
Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.
You can also read about the weather of Peru in our blog.
Peru is located in the southern tropics (latitudes 0º to 18º), but climate varies significantly according to season, altitude and region.
Lima & the coast
From May to October, Lima is often overcast, but with minimal precipitation. There are sunny spells, and it’s a fresh to pleasant 13-20ºC.
At the same time, inland areas and the north coast mid to high 20’s ºC.
November to April is generally warm and sunny and Lima enjoys warm temperature of 19-25ºC, with the coast averaging 22-30ºC.
Climate depends largely on altitude. As a rule of thumb, below 2,000m climate is mild and above 2,000m warm clothing is required for evenings, nights and early mornings.
The Andean sun is very strong.
May to Oct (dry season in The Andes)
Cusco (3,300m): Average max/min temps: 22ºC /2ºC. Average 3 or 4 wet days per month.
Arequipa (2,380m): Average max/min temps: 26ºC /9ºC. Sunny more than 340 days/year with minimal precipitation.
On highland treks: Conditions are generally dry. However, at this time of year, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m, where pre-dawn temperatures can be -5ºC; warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings.
Note that mountain weather can be fickle and localised, and that precipitation is not unknown in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.
In the cloud forest, e.g. around Machu Picchu, daytime conditions are generally warm or hot, and evenings cool.
Nov to March/April (wet season in The Andes)
Cusco: Average max/min temps: 23ºC /6ºC. Average 13 wet days per month.
Arequipa: Average max/min temps: 25ºC /14ºC.
On highland treks: Wetter conditions, with cooler days and milder nights than dry season. Jan-Mar usually the wettest months.
The Amazon rainforest
Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid and there is always the risk of rain
There is a ‘dry season’ in Tambopata and Manu between May and October. The average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. Heavy downpours typically occur every few days.
Around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season Nov-April.
On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).
Good kit is vital for every trip.
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When planning for the climatic conditions encountered in the High Andes, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system. It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.
To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:
First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.
Mid layers: These isloating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.
Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.
Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.
We provide thermarests on the trek but you have to bring (or RENT, please ask) a sleeping bag (-5ºC).
We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.
Below is a more detailed guide.
Detailed kit list
All other non-personal trekking camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.
Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
Peru boasts in its Amazonian region a vast swathe of world-class tropical wilderness with several rain forest and cloud forest reserves which are home to an immense diversity of wildlife.
Accessible from Lima, Iquitos or Cusco, the Amazon jungle is just a short flight away.
In Peru’s southeast lies the extraordinary region comprising the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, with the greatest animal and plant diversity anywhere in the world.
Whether you choose to base yourself at a comfortable lodge or enjoy a more demanding camping trip, you can be sure of a unique, exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
The beautiful colonial city of Arequipa is replete with history and culture, and is the gateway to the condors of Colca Canyon.
Nestled at 2,325m/7,627ft, the ‘white city’ sits at the foot of three tremendous volcanoes: El Misti (5,821m/19,098ft), Chachani (6,075m/19,930ft) and Pichu Pichu (5,542m/18,182ft).
Arequipa’s attractions include the Cathedral, Compañía de Jesús Church, Santa Catalina Convent and the Dama de Ampato (Juanita Mummy) Museum.
With a year-round spring climate and sunshine guaranteed for 300 days of the year, it is the perfect place to begin acclimatising before continuing upwards.
Nearby is the famous Colca Canyon. At hundred kilometres long, this incredible gorge is said to reach a maximum depth of 3,400m/11,155ft – twice that of the Grand Canyon.
An overnight tour to Colca gives you the chance to see the iconic, soaring condors of the canyon.
Cusco is the archaeological and cultural capital of South America.
The one-time centre of the vast Inca Empire is a bustling highland city with bags of character.
Its whitewashed streets and plazas feature a fascinating blend of Inca and Spanish colonial stonework and offer endless possibilities for exploration.
You don’t have to venture far to find outstanding examples of high quality Inca architecture, including the monumental temple fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
There is also the fertile farming land of the Sacred Valley on the doorstep, with many Inca terraces, temples and fortresses, plus colourful local markets and small villages.
At night, Cusco offers an excellent array or restaurants and bars plus the continent’s best Andean folk music scene.
In the northeast of Peru lies Kuelap – the jewel in the massive archaeological crown of the Chachapoyas Cloud People.
The mystical structure of Kuelap – dubbed the Peru’s second Machu Picchu by locals – is 1,200 years old.
It features massive limestone walls towering 60 feet, pottery, bones and hundreds of mysterious round stone structures, and away from the crowds of other sites.
This is a remote area of sub-tropical valleys, half way down the eastern slopes of the Andes. The jungle is impenetrable, dense with low trees, bromeliads, bamboos, orchids and mosses.
Lake Titicaca, at around 4,000m/13,123ft above sea level, is a vast shimmering body of water on the Peru/Bolivia border.
It is the world’s highest navigable lake, set against a breathtaking background of towering ice-covered Andean mountain peaks.
The islands and shoreline of Lake Titicaca support many Indian communities, including the well known floating islands of Uros and the more remote islands of Taquile and Amantani. Here, traditions are strong and it appears time really does stand.
Agriculture, fishing, knitting and weaving are important to the islanders and by staying a day or two you gain just a small insights into this traditional way of life.
Islanders welcome tourists into their homes and this is a wonderful opportunity to experience island life.
Lima, the capital city of Peru, is a vibrant bustling place with a wide variety of things to do.
Stroll or bike around the historic centre, visiting the many museums or just chilling out in a café or restaurant in Miraflores.
In Parque Kennedy you can sit outside in Parisian fashion and watch the world go by in cafes and restaurants, or walk to the shore and the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
There are a number of artisan shops & market stalls, plus a big silver jewellery trade, and a burgeoning number of top end restaurants with delicious food.
The centre of Lima is home to impressive Colonial architecture – Plaza de Armas has the Palace, official residence of the president, on one side, and on another is the Cathedral.
San Francisco Church, home of the Catacombs, is well worth a visit, as is the Inquisition museum.
Nothing says Peru quite the way Machu Picchu does.
The Lost City of the Incas, perches dramatically on a ridge-top 400 metres above the Urubamba river. The extensive site, with its many terraces, temples and palaces, is set amid a beautiful landscape of deep gorges and thickly forested mountains.
When Machu Picchu was rediscovered early in the 20th century and cleared of forest, it was found to be very well preserved. It has since presented archaeologists with many unanswered questions regarding the role it played in Inca times.
The sense of grandeur, whether you arrive on the Inca Trail or not, is impressive.
Try to arrive early at the site to enjoy it at its best – and late afternoon can often see you almost alone in the ruins.
North east of Lima, the Cordillera Blanca offers fantastic mountain scenery and some of the best trekking and climbing in the Andes.
The Cordillera Blanca boasts dozens of peaks over 6,000 metres, including Peru’s highest Huascaran at 6,768m/22,205ft above sea level.
The Blanca range also contains the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers.
This is an ideal destination for treks, from just a few to 12 days or so and also an ideal starting place for learning or improving mountaineering skills.
The nearby Huayhuash mountain range contains a dazzling array of snow peaks including seven summits above 6,000 metres.
This is a trekking paradise with breathtaking majestic panoramas and stunningly remote and picturesque camping spots. There is no better place to visit to get away from it all.
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2023 price, per person
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Single supplement applies
$1,653 / £1,402
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Students Study Food Insecurity & Climate Change in Peru University of Edinburgh students and teachers report back from Peru, where they learned how traditional farming techniques could help prevent climate change and reduce food insecurity. The team visited coastal Lima, the Cusco Highlands, and the cloud forest. For Andean Trails and our local team, it was a chance to showcase a side of Peru that many visitors may not see when passing through. It went so well that the University has already signed up its team to another Food Security tour in the spring of 2024. Learning About …
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