Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 08:07

Essential Peru

Essential Peru Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Peru
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 15 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: APD
  • Carbon Footprint: 34kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Discover the highlights of southern Peru, from Nazca to Arequipa

Journey through the vastly contrasting visual and cultural landscapes of Peru, including coastal desert, snow-capped Andean peaks, the altiplano and cloud forest. Along the way, visit world-renowned highlights, including: the mysterious Nazca Lines; Machu Picchu; Lake Titicaca, where we spend the night in an island homestay; and the 9,843ft (3,000m) deep Colca Canyon. We also encounter traditional culture, condors, llamas, and a warm welcome from the Peruvian people.

At a Glance

  • 13 nights hotels and one night homestay
  • Group normally five to 18, plus leader. Minimum age: 16
  • Time spent at altitude
  • Travel by internal flight, train, boat and private bus
  • Several long drives and early starts


  • Discover Machu Picchu by train with guided tour
  • Enjoy a homestay on the traditional island of Amantani in Lake Titicaca
  • See Colca Canyon and its soaring condors
  • Wander through the colonial city of Arequipa and the Santa Catalina Convent
  • Drive deep into the Andean highlands and the Apurimac Valley

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

This is a busy itinerary encompassing the highlights of southern Peru. You should be aware that the size of Peru means this trip involves some long drives and early starts. The longest drive is between Nazca and Abancay and takes around nine to 10 hours. The private buses used are comfortable and the scenery is outstanding. There are several stops to break up long journeys. The road between Nazca and Cuzco becomes increasingly winding as we climb higher into the mountains, and this, combined with the increase in altitude, may affect you if you are prone to travel sickness.

Please note, it is essential you read the Machu Picchu regulations in the Important Information section of the Trip Notes before you book this trip.

Although graded Activity Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate), the altitude can make physical activity feel more tiring than at sea level. As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for more information and advice on how to limit the effects of altitude sickness. The tour allows for gradual acclimatisation, visiting Abancay (7,874ft/2,400m) before moving on to Cuzco (11,155ft/3,400m), then Lake Titicaca (12,467ft/3,800m) and Colca Canyon (11,926ft/3,635m). Although we do not linger there, the maximum altitude visited on this trip is at Patapampa Pass (16,109ft/4,910m), which we drive over near Chivay, Colca Canyon. Please ensure your travel insurance covers you up to this altitude. It can be cold at these altitudes, particularly from May to August (although these months benefit from lower rainfall). You should bring appropriate clothing.

Cuzco, Arequipa and many of the Inca sites (including Machu Picchu) are built on hillsides and sightseeing often involves walking up and down steep streets or on uneven steps or terraces. As such, you should have a good level of mobility and a reasonable level of fitness.

Strikes are not uncommon in Peru and while these are generally peaceful protests, they can result in roadblocks and disruption to travel. In this event, your leader will amend your itinerary if necessary to minimise the impact.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 5

Max group size: 16


Essential Peru

Land Only

  • Start City: Lima
  • End City: Lima

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Lima

Welcome to Lima, the busy capital of Peru. There’s plenty of adventure on your trip, but today’s all about settling into the hotel.  You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. There will be a notice board in the hotel reception with details of where and when the group welcome briefing will be held.

Accommodation: Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Day 2
Drive south to Paracas and tour the Ballestas Islands; to Ica
Essential Peru

We set off early this morning (around 5.30am) and drive south from Lima until we reach the port of Paracas (a four to five-hour drive). The Ballestas Islands lie a short distance off the coast here and are home to one of the highest concentrations of seabirds in the world – we visit them by boat.

On the outward journey, we pass the curious pre-Inca Candelabra geoglyph, a huge (more than 490ft/150m high) three-pronged trident shape etched into the sandy hillside, the origin and purpose of which remains unknown (although there are many theories). Upon reaching the islands we explore the caves and rock archways by boat and observe the sea lion and fur seal colonies as well as humboldt penguins and an array of birds such as cormorants, pelicans, tendrils, and Peruvian blue-footed boobies.

We take open-top motorised boats, which are shared with members of the public (occasionally the sea is too rough and the boats can’t operate). Take heed of seabirds above – it is advisable to wear a hat. The boat trip lasts around two hours. Back on dry land, we drive for an hour or so to Ica, the heart of the Peruvian wine-growing region, where we spend the night.

Accommodation: Hotel Villa Jazmin (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
On to Nazca; see the Nazca Lines; optional scenic flight

We drive towards Nazca, stopping to visit the viewing platforms overlooking the Nazca Lines. These are one of the great archaeological mysteries, consisting of enormous drawings and patterns etched in the desert sand.

In the afternoon, there is usually time to take a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines (additional cost), weather permitting. Due to the small planes used, this is not suitable for those with a fear of flying or who suffer from travel sickness. As an alternative, your leader can help arrange optional visits to the nearby burial grounds, Antonini Museum or the planetarium.

Accommodation: Casa Andina Hotel/Alegria (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Turn inland from coastal desert, climbing high into the Andes

We turn inland from the coastal desert today, climbing high into the Andes on a long (around 12 to 13 hours) but spectacular drive. We’ll pass through the largest vicuña reserve in the country, so look out for these smaller wild relatives of the llama. This region has only recently become easily accessible to tourists due to an upgrade of the Abancay/Chalhuanca road. The altitude here can make physical exertion difficult; the highest point we reach today is Negro Mayu, a pass at 15,092ft (4,600m) above sea level. We recommended that you rest in the evening. Tonight, we stay in Abancay on the road to Cuzco.

Accommodation: Hotel de Turistas Abancay (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Drive to Cuzco, visiting Inca sites on the way

We set off towards Cuzco this morning, stopping to visit the Inca Saywite stone and Tarawasi ruins. The glaciated summits of the Vilcabamba mountain range and the descent into the Apurimac River valley demonstrate the dramatic contrasts of the Andes; expect stunning scenery throughout today’s roughly seven to eight-hour drive.

It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (11,155ft/3,400m).

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Free day to explore Cuzco
Essential Peru

To help you acclimatise, we embark on a relaxed walking tour this morning, which takes in the historic buildings and winding streets of Cuzco. The rest of the day has been left free for exploring on your own. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs, such as alpaca jumpers and scarves.

Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the conquistadors. A combined entrance fee (tourist ticket) for these sites and many others is recommended – please see the Optional Excursions section below for prices. Sightseeing excursions to places outside Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, are also available. Please ask your tour leader.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Train to Aguas Calientes; tour of Machu Picchu
Essential Peru

For most people, the highlight of the trip is the visit by train to one of the greatest ruins in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.

We transfer (approximately two hours) to Ollantaytambo railway station to catch a train to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu). The railway line follows a beautiful route through the Urubamba River valley. In the afternoon, we take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ruins.  Visiting in the afternoon tends to be quieter than the mornings and the mist that shrouds the ruins at dawn has usually dispersed.

Please note that exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps.

Accommodation: Terraza de Luna (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Free morning or optional second visit to Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco by train and by road.

We have a free morning to sleep in, relax and enjoy the buzz of this little town in the jungle below the ruins.

Should you wish to visit Machu Picchu again this morning, you need to purchase a second entrance ticket in advance.  This will allow you further time to explore the Lost City on your own – for the second visit it is not mandatory to have a guide. Please contact your sales representative for details.

In the afternoon, we board the train back to Ollantaytambo and then continue by minibus to Cuzco, arriving in the late evening.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
Free day for optional excursions

We have a final chance to enjoy the sights and shopping of this beautiful city. If you would like something more active, there is an array of optional activities available from Cuzco that your leader can organise. These include paddleboarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Drive to Lake Titicaca, with stops en route; boat to Amantani Island for homestay
Essential Peru

Today we travel for eight to 10 hours along the Vilcanota River and onto the altiplano, the high plains separating the Andes from the jungle. Although it is quite a long drive, the views are often spectacular. There are scheduled stops at interesting sites to help break up the day and we will get to appreciate the immensity of the Andean landscapes. This afternoon, we arrive at the shores of Lake Titicaca (12,467ft/3,800m above sea level) and board a boat for our trip to Amantani Island. A hike around the island offers great views across the lake, while the night spent with a local family is a fantastic cultural insight into lives very different to our own. A packed lunch is included today.

Accommodation: Amantani Island homestay (basic)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11
Explore the island; afternoon boat to Puno visiting the floating reed islands
Essential Peru

We explore the island in the morning before boarding our boat for the three-hour journey to Puno on the lakeshore. On the way, we visit Uros Island. The Uros have been living on reed rafts for centuries, and although many have now moved to the mainland there are still a couple of thousand who remain on the islands. A reasonable amount of their income is now provided by strictly regulated tourism, but they also still fish the lake and barter with mainland communities for daily essentials.

Accommodation: Casona Plaza Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Drive across the altiplano to Colca Canyon

Today we head across the altiplano again. This time we cross to the southwest, heading back towards the coast to the high Colca Canyon (a five to six-hour drive). En route, we see vicuñas and possibly flamingos, crossing the Patapampa Pass (15,781ft/4,810m) before descending into what is considered the second-deepest canyon in the Americas (the deepest, the Cotahuasi Canyon, is also in Peru). There is time in the evening for an optional visit to the hot springs near the main town of Chivay (11,926ft/3,635m) – a warming pleasure after the chill of Lake Titicaca.

Accommodation: Hotel Pozo del Cielo (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
Morning condor viewing; afternoon drive past huge volcanoes to the White City of Arequipa
Essential Peru

Rise early to view condors soaring on the morning drafts rising out of the canyon. We then ascend out of the canyon and cross Patapampa Pass on our way to Arequipa, which is known as the White City due to the pale volcanic stone used to construct many of its colonial buildings. The picturesque city has a year-round pleasant climate and is surrounded by towering volcanoes, including the near-perfect cone of El Misti.

Accommodation: Su Majestad Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
Morning visit Santa Catalina Convent; afternoon fly to Lima

In the morning we visit the huge, serene convent of Santa Catalina. Built in 1580 and only opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it offers a rare insight into the lives led by the nuns and has changed little through the centuries. There are still around 20 nuns living in the northern corner of the complex. In the afternoon or evening we fly to Lima where we will transfer to our hotel in Miraflores.

Accommodation: Hotel El Tambo 1 (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 15
End Lima

Today we start our return journey home, although there may be time for optional tours of Lima, including visits to the Gold Museum and tours of the historic downtown. You could also join our optional trip extension to the Amazon rainforest, where you explore lakes, rivers and jungle trails in search of incredible wildlife.

Meals included: Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (Pre-tour, from Lima)

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Lima, the Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and home to an astonishing array of wildlife and plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to explore dense forests. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 899

Post-trip Extensions

Amazon Rainforest extension (Post-tour, from Lima)

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Lima, the Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and home to an astonishing array of wildlife and plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to explore dense forests. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 899

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 11,480ft (3,500m) above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent, will be made immediately.

On some days, this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent-rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk-assessment process, we consider the ascent rate acceptable due to the additional safety measures in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude-safety standards, which minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring while travelling at altitude.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. While we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).


Hotels and Titicaca homestay

Essential Peru

The properties selected for this Peru exploration are a blend of three-star quality and comfort, often within easy walking distance of the local attractions. Our Lima hotel is a welcome escape from the city bustle, while our Cuzco hotel is centrally located in the historic centre. A highlight of this tour is our ‘live like a local’ Amantani island homestay, which allows us to experience Andean warmth and hospitality. Below are some of the standout places we stay:

Lima: El Tambo 1

Essential Peru

El Tambo 1 (uno) is our three-star Lima hotel in the lively tourist district of Miraflores. It has a restaurant and lovely small bar near the courtyard garden, where you can enjoy a drink. El Tambo has easy access to local sites, such as Kennedy Park, the Larcomar Shopping Center and the Miraflores clifftop promenade where you can enjoy great views of the Pacific Ocean.

Ica: Hotel Villa Jazmin

Essential Peru

Surrounded by dunes and pisco distilleries, Hotel Villa Jazmin is an oasis of comfort in Ica. After a day of touring in the desert sun, Villa Jazmin invites you to relax by the pool and enjoy a cold drink from the bar (we recommend a pisco sour made with locally produced pisco – highly recommended).

Cuzco: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha

Essential Peru

Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha is built around two 18th-century manor houses and is located in the heart of historic Cuzco, three blocks from the main plaza. The hotel and rooms feature local décor and textiles reflecting local Andean designs.

Amantani island: Homestay

Essential Peru

Our trip includes an unforgettable homestay with a local family on Amantani island. This wonderful community project has guests staying with multiple families; the hosts share in the proceeds, which benefits both the Amantani community and the visitors who enjoy and learn from this unique cultural experience.

Colca Canyon: Hotel Pozo del Cielo

Essential Peru

Experience the charm of Hotel Pozo del Cielo as we visit Colca Canyon and the surrounding communities. With an inviting ambiance, panoramic views and warm hospitality, this comfortable hotel welcomes us with cosy rooms, a relaxing bar and a restaurant serving Peruvian delicacies.

Worth knowing

  • On our way from Nazca to Cuzco, we overnight in Abancay. Our Hotel de Turistas Abancay hotel is basic, yet functional for a restful overnight stay.
  • Amantani homestay: The rooms are basic but clean and the beds have sheets and plenty of blankets to keep you warm. Toilets and washbasins are located outside.
  • Single rooms can be booked for single supplement, subject to availability at the time of booking. This supplement covers single rooms throughout the trip, except for the homestay on Amantani island.

Single supplement from £ 545

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner (at the homestay) are included. The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink. Free drinking water will be provided in large containers, so please bring a refillable bottle with you.

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee that wheat- or gluten-free products will be available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food from home. Where lunch and dinner are not included we’ll visit a variety of local cafes and restaurants.

Peruvian cuisine is loved for its flavours and originality; it’s well worth digging into the local delicacies. Among these are ceviche (seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry), and various hearty soups including the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak. To drink, there’s pisco sour, the national beverage.


A variety of transport is used during this tour and vehicle types may vary depending on group size: travel is by train, boat, minibus/coach and one internal flight.

Airport transfers are by private car or minibus. The main road journeys are by private minibus or coach with heating/air-conditioning and may or may not have a toilet on board.

We travel by train (with Peru Rail/Inca Rail) from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) and back in expedition/executive Class. Seating is four seats to a table and the carriages have panoramic windows and there is air conditioning/heating.

The boat on Lake Titicaca is private to our group, and there is a local guide from one of the Lake Titicaca island communities. The boat is enclosed as it can get cold at this altitude but there are large windows on all sides and an outside deck to the rear. Life jackets are provided.

Weather & Seasonality

The diverse geography of Peru results in a very varied climate between different regions. Lima and Paracas fall within the coastal desert region of Peru, with a mild climate and very little rain all year. From April to November, the sky is almost always grey and cloudy and the air is humid. Average daytime temperatures in Lima remain between about 18C-24C (64F-75F) during this period, with July and August typically being the coolest. Nights are also mild – typically 15C-18C (59F-64F). From December to March, the skies in Lima are clear and temperatures at their warmest, but elsewhere in the country this is the rainy season.

Cuzco and the Andes have a temperate climate. December to March is the rainy season in Cuzco/the Andes and April to November is the dry season; characterised by clear skies and strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses. Daytime temperatures are usually pleasant (around 20C/68F on average) but night times only 5C-10C (41F-50F), except for May, June, July and August when days are cooler and nights are often close to, or a few degrees below, freezing. In the Andes, however, anything is possible at any time of year, including cloud, rain or even snow, and rapid, unexpected changes.

Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon are high (12,460ft/3,800m and 11,810ft/3,600m above sea level respectively). The sun is strong but the air can be cold, and nights can be close to freezing. You will need to bring warm layers and a waterproof or windstopper. Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are in the cloud forest with large amounts of precipitation all year round as clouds move up from the Amazon Basin. Rain here can be heavy but is seldom prolonged. Cold fronts sometimes occur from July to August.

Peru is affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon where warming of Pacific Ocean surface water off South America drives a shift in the atmospheric circulation resulting in abnormally high levels of rainfall over parts of South America. These events occur at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and last nine months to two years. In El Niño years, temperatures in Lima can be much warmer than described above but it still rarely rains in Lima.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Hotel El Tambo Uno, Avenida la Paz 1276, Miraflores 15074, Lima
Phone: +51 1 2194080
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 45 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.  If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Lima
Location end: Lima

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • A backpack or other smaller holdall – you are asked to pack a smaller overnight bag for the trips to Machu Picchu and Amantani Island (your main luggage is kept in a secure location)
  • Water bottle
  • Good sturdy shoes or walking boots
  • Warm fleece jacket
  • Long sleeve shirts & full-length pants
  • Shorts
  • Hats (for sun protection and warmth)
  • Waterproofs
  • Sunglasses
  • High SPF sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Swimwear (for hot springs)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Small sewing kit with safety pins
  • Torch (flashlight) – headtorches (head lamps) are ideal
  • Cold-water detergent or laundry soap (biodegradable)
  • Travel or inflatable neck pillow / personal music player / books etc for the long drives
  • Sandals

Please note, walking poles are not permitted inside the ruins of Machu Picchu without a medical certificate detailing their necessity.

You may wish to take some souvenirs from home for your hosts on Amantani Island as these are always appreciated. Your leader can help organise this if you wish – practical and utilitarian items such as donations of clothes, ropes, shovels, cutlery are most useful.

Donations for porters
The porters we work with on the Inca Trail and other Andean treks are mostly from rural farming communities. If you have any old walking gear or warm clothing that you no longer need, or any unwanted warm children’s clothing, these would be much appreciated by the porters and their families. Please leave any donations with your leader in Cuzco.

Practical Information


Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.



Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Peru. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: polio, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A. Zika virus, a mosquito‐borne viral disease, is a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available. We therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

If you are travelling to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, the risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor for further advice. We also strongly recommend that you obtain a yellow fever vaccination. Dengue fever and chikungunya are known risks in the Amazon region. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites: always apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers while in the rainforest to avoid being bitten.

Local Time

Peru's time zone: America/Lima (UTC -05:00)


Peru's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins), B (three pins: two flat, one round) and C (two round pins)– 220V, 60Hz. There are no charging facilities available on the Inca Trail, our other camping treks or Amantani Island, so we recommend you take spare batteries or a solar charger with you. If staying in an Amazon lodge, there is no mains electricity; a generator will provide power for a few hours a day only in the main lodge/dining area, while lanterns, torches or candles will be provided in the bedrooms. Additionally, if you stay at the Inkaterra Hacienda Conception Amazon Lodge, there is limited electricity in the cabanas; however, all cabanas have reading lights and a ceiling ventilator.

Essential Peru


Peru's currency: Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN)

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in the larger cities and towns and often allow you to withdraw either US dollars or soles, and exchange rates are generally good. Most international credit and debit cards are accepted, but you should inform your bank you are travelling to Peru and check if your card will work in the local ATMs. There are some ATMs in Aguas Calientes, but they do sometimes run out of cash so it is a good idea to take your spending money for Machu Picchu out prior.

Credit card acceptance is increasing, but generally they can be used only at the large (and more expensive) restaurants, shops and hotels. Check with your card provider to ensure your card can be used in Peru. We do not recommend taking travellers cheques as these are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

It is a good idea to take enough money with you to last the first few days because you set off early on Day 2, however the bus can stop at an ATM en route if needed. Food, drinks and similar incidentals can vary in price enormously in Peru and are relatively expensive compared to other developing nations. Allow about US$15‐US$20 per meal not included to eat at good restaurants. Cheaper food is abundant at small local cafes, although sanitary conditions at these places cannot be guaranteed. Bottled water and soft drinks are readily available for around US$1‐US$2 each.

Please note, the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism may increase entrance fees to archeological sites at any time. If this happens, we will inform you of the increase and the additional amount will be payable locally. Peruvian airport taxes are included in the price of your flight ticket, and there will be no need to pay these locally.

Peruvian passport or identity card holders
Please note that the cost of Exodus holidays in Peru is based on the assumption that you do not hold a Peruvian passport or resident card. If you are officially resident in Peru or are a Peruvian passport holder, you will be liable to an additional 18 percent tax on the majority of services, and this extra sum will be payable locally to our local partner. Other nationalities are exempt from this tax. Please notify us at the time of booking if you are legally resident in Peru or hold a Peruvian passport so that we can advise you of the total cost of these taxes.

Optional excursions
Your tour leader can tell you about the full range of optional excursions available throughout your holiday. However, the most popular are:

Prices of excursions vary depending on the number of people taking part. The prices given within these Trip Notes are based on four participants and are intended as a guideline only. Actual prices will be more for smaller group sizes and less for larger group sizes. All tours use private transport and there will be an English-speaking guide. Please note, cash is the preferred method of payment for any of the optional activities. For some activities a minimum number of participants may be required. Some activities may not always be possible due to weather, seasonality, national holidays or unforeseen circumstances.

  • Lima: city tour (half day/three hours): from US$43 per person (based on four participants). Visit Pucllana Pyramid, the colonial centre including the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the Government Palace, City Hall, and other important monuments. Later, visit the Convent of San Francisco with its catacombs (entrance included) and continue to the modern Miraflores district.
  • Nazca: Nazca Lines scenic flight (around a 35-minute flight*): from US$100 (plus 25 soles airport tax). *Please be aware that there can be up to four hours waiting to board your scenic flight. Please also note that anyone over 198lb (90kg) might be charged for a second seat due to weight restrictions and regulations. Please note that Peruvian sol is the preferred currency for this payment.
  • A partial tourist ticket (BTG) is required for entrance to the sites in and around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley – this is not included in the excursion prices below but can be purchased locally from approximately US$17.
  • Cuzco: City tour and four ruins (half day/five hours). From US$48 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. This includes visits to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and Puca Pucará, plus a city tour, which includes the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral is located, Qorikancha Sun Temple (entrance included) and San Pedro Market.
  • Sacred Valley tour (full day/eight hours). From US$58 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Drive to the Sacred Valley, stopping at El Mirador viewpoint en route. Visit Pisac Market and fortress and Ollantaytambo; return to Cuzco.
  • Cuzco: South Valley tour (full day/seven hours). From US$66 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Visit the little-known valley to the south of Cuzco, including the terraces at Tipon, the pre-Inca ruins of Pikillaqta and the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Americas’ in Andahuaylillas (entrance included); return to Cuzco.
  • Stand-up paddleboarding (half day/four hours): From US$82 per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, specialised guide, fruit, water and hot drinks. Price can vary if there are more people.
  • Zip line (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$60 per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$60 per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata and zip line (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$100 per person. Includes Transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Mountain biking excursion in the Sacred Valley (full day/seven hours). From US$130 per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • White-water rafting (full day/eight hours). From US$140 per person (minimum of two participants). Drive to the Chuquicahuana area of the Southern Valley to start rafting in the Vilcanota river. Spend two to three hours rafting and experiencing rapids level III and III+. Finish your adventure with a picnic lunch before heading back to Cuzco. Activity available from April to December.


It is customary in Peru for local staff to receive tips, which can be an important source of extra income for hard-working crew. Tipping is greatly appreciated, but not compulsory and based on service provided.  Whether and how much to tip is a personal decision; however, we have included some guidelines below.

Please note, Peruvian sol is the preferred currency for tips (but USD is also fine).s.

Tipping kitty: On this trip we recommend running a tipping kitty. A tipping kitty means we tip as a group, and individuals don’t need to worry about giving out small tips to various people who have helped during the trip (ie drivers, local guides, boatmen, hotel staff). We suggest a contribution of US$6 per person per day.

Tour leader: Leaders are fairly paid for their role but are always grateful for recognition of their skills and hard work. Tips should be based on their performance and engagement with the group. If you are happy with their work, we recommend somewhere around US$6 per person per day, but customers are encouraged to contribute what they feel happy giving – either less or more than the amount suggested above.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers are well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • The Amantani Island homestay on Lake Titicaca is a great opportunity, offering an authentic experience of staying with a local family, and the income from our stay is divided amongst the island community.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.  On this trip we stay one night in a homestay on traditional Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca.
  • When visiting Machu Picchu, the costs of permits and for our guided tour go towards the upkeep and maintenance of this architectural site.
  • We adhere to all Machu Picchu regulations. There are limited permits to reduce overcrowding and damage due to footfall, but our guides and porters are still very mindful of how we treat the environment. We work with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, meaning we have respect for wildlife and the landscape, separate rubbish and take all waste back to a proper disposal place.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles. Our local operator provides water boxes instead of water bottles in order to provide water to the passengers. The boxes are taken back to the office in Cuzco for proper recycling.
  • Our local operator has been certified and verified by Rainforest Alliance since 2015.
  • Our Animal Welfare Policy ensures all our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regards to working animals and wildlife viewing.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Through our Planet Promise, we have pledged to halve the carbon footprint of our trips by 2030 and made rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Machu Picchu regulations

  1. Tickets are valid for one entry
  2. We spend approximately three hours at Machu Picchu and our guided tour lasts about two hours
  3. Upon finishing our one-way Machu Picchu guided tour, we must exit the site

Please note, we visit Machu Picchu in the morning or afternoon to avoid the peak entry time (10am to midday).

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.


Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.