Tuck Class of 2021 International Adventures: Peru (11 days)

The T’21 International Adventure in Peru features a 11 day / 10 night itinerary which is centered around the heart of the Sacred Valley in the Peruvian Andes. You will spend time in the vibrant city of Cuzco; you will have an opportunity live and work amongst the Huilloc community in a short homestay program; and you will undertake the Salkantay Trek into Machu Picchu – truly one of the most spectacular and mysterious ancient ruins on Earth. Tuck Partners are welcome to join!

Daily Itinerary

July 23

Details for Today

Welcome to Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco:

  • Enjoy a private-guided tour of the city
  • Indulge in a welcome dinner with your fellow classmates

Accommodation: Sonesta Hotel Cusco

Meals: D

Cusco Peru

Arrive in Cuzco in the morning. You will be met at the airport and will have a private guided transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon you will embark on a private-guided tour of Cuzco.

Begin with a visit to the Coricancha, also known as the “Temple of the Sun” (or “Premises of the Gilded One”), the construction of which was ordered by Inca Pachacútec (1438-1471) and which was used as base for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent upon the arrival of the Spaniards. This is when the Sun (Inti, in Quechua) was worshiped during the Inca Empire and at the time of the Incas its walls were fully covered with gold sheets and its courtyards were planted with golden corn and life-size llamas. You will then head to the Cathedral, the most important building on the Main Square and one of the most splendid Spanish colonial churches in America, which is shaped as a Latin Cross and houses about 400 colonial paintings from the Cuzco art school, and impressive goldsmith, silversmith and precious stone works. Its construction lasted almost a century; it started in 1560 and ended in 1654. The Ecclesiastical Chapter was ordered to extract and transport hundreds of stones from the Sacsayhuamán fortress for this purpose. You will then visit the fortress itself, en emblematic work of the Incas, which protected the Holy City. Conceived and built by Inca Pachacútec in the 15th century, The Sacsayhuamán complex was built with megalithic blocks, the transportation and erection of which continue to be a mystery.

Your tour continues with an exploration of San Blas neighborhood. This area was originally inhabited buy the Inca nobility who built impressive stone constructions; unmistakable Inca walls can be seen at the base of many buildings. Today the neighborhood is a delightful cluster of cobblestone streets, popular among among artisans who sell their handicrafts on the street.

Following the tour, you will return to your hotel in Cuzco.

Freshen up, and then transfer to Inka Grill Restaurant for your welcome dinner!

 

July 24

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Transfer from Cuzco to Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley:

  • Explore two of the more impressive archeological complexes in the area – Pisac, and Ollantaytambo

Accommodation: San Augustin Monestario de la Recoletta

Meals: B, L, D

 

Ollantaytambo Peru

After breakfast, you will depart Cuzco and head to the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas. Today you will explore two of the more impressive archeological complexes in the area – Pisac, and Ollantaytambo.

First we will visit Pisac, a town known for two reasons: the crafts market, established between colonial buildings, and for hosting one of the most impressive complexes of terraces in the valley, considered a masterpiece of agriculture of the Incan Empire. Visit the market, which consists of dozens of stalls displaying and selling products crafted by the residents of the area, and then continue to the archaeological remains, one of the most important of the Sacred Valley.

After Pisac you will have lunch at Alhambra Restaurant.

You will then head to Ollantayambo, which is a great example of typical Incan urban planning, and is still inhabited today. Here, you will find a great archeological complex known as the “Fortress”, which is a bit of a misnomer because the town actually operate as a center for rest and lodging for long distance travelers during the time of the Empire. It is without doubt one of the most monumental works of that era.

Transfer to your hotel to check-in and relax for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner will be hosted at the hotel in the evening.

July 25

Details for Today

Sacred Valley: 

  • Tour the village of Chinchero
  • Learn traditional weaving techniques in a textile workshop
  • Visit the archaeological sites of Moray and Maras

Accommodation: San Augustin Monestario de la Recoletta

Meals: B, L, D

Maras Peru

Today you will continue to explore the Sacred Valley.

You will start your tour in the village of Chinchero, which was one of the most important populations during the Inca Empire. However, it fell victim to the “extirpation of idolatries” action that replaced the traditional deities with Catholic ones in order to transform popular beliefs. In this way, important monuments and buildings completely disappeared.

Next the group will participate in a textile workshop where you will learn traditional weaving techniques from the native weavers, see the manufacturing process, and the final garment. Each garment is a unique result of methodical and meticulous work.

Lunch at Kuychi Restaurant.

Later, you will visit the archaeological sites of Moray and Maras. Moray archaeological remains consist of mysterious concentric circular terraces that for some investigators would be an agricultural research center. External platforms, more elevated, would be exposed to higher temperatures than the internal, and could simulate the conditions of different ecological floors in the empire. On the other hand, Maras is a surreal sight. It is close to Moray and is an impressive complex of salt exploitation. They are large salt deposits that were used to exchange it for other products with other regions of the empire.

 

You will enjoy dinner at your hotel.

July 26

Details for Today

Transfer from Sacred Valley to Huilloc Community

Huilloc Community:

  • Your local cultural immersion experience begins today!
  • You will be assigned to your family and will be given a task to help them with their domestic and community duties
  • Share stories with your hosts

Accommodation: Homestay at a traditional family home in the community

Meals: B, L, D

Huilloc Community, Peru

After breakfast you will be transferred to the Huilloc Community – a community co-op near Cuzco which seeks to involve international visitors with local inhabitants in an effort to help build and maintain resources for this economically challenged settlement – the average annual per capita income in this community is $232 USD per year. The Huilloc people in many ways still follow ancient Incan customs and traditions in their day-to-day lives. Visitors to the community have an opportunity to both lend an important helping hand, as well as to learn about the history and the culture of the Inca people. Visitors are assigned to local families and stay with them for the duration of their visit.

Your local cultural immersion experience begins today! You will be assigned to your a family and will be given a task to help them with their domestic and community duties. These tasks may include:

Women: Preparation and tasting of food such as chicha, papa seca, chuño, and other items of nouvelle Andean cooking.

Men: Agricultural work such as preparing the land using the chaquitaclla or plough, sowing, harvesting, post-harvest treatment and others.

During rest periods, you will have an opportunity to share stories with your hosts. You will likely learn about their costumes, how ancestors influenced on textile designs that can be seen on daily and festive attires.  You may also share stories from your own countries with members of the family.

Your accommodation with the host family will be in a traditional family home in the community. You will have a comfortable, basic room, and the host family is paid to accommodate you which represents meaningful income for them.

July 27

Details for Today

Huilloc Community:

  • Participate in a larger community project of agricultural tasks and/or house building

Transfer from Huilloc Community back to Cuzco to relax at your hotel prior to embarking on the Salkantay Trek the following day!

Accommodation: Sonesta Hotel Cusco

Meals: B, L, D

Huilloc Community, Peru

Today you will participate in a larger community project. The specific role will vary based on what is going on in the community at the time of your visit, but you will be a part of what is known as the Ayni system, a system of reciprocal labor among members of the community who share agricultural tasks and house building. This system consists of assisting with work carried out by members of a family, under the condition that they will reciprocate when necessary. This practice encourages generosity, reciprocity, and solidarity among visitors and members of the community.

Possible projects include: Painting the local school (exterior, classrooms, furniture); repairing furniture at the local school or medical post; building “Wasicuyes” for rearing guinea pigs (a staple of the diet in this region); cleaning the banks of the river or the neighborhood.

In the late afternoon you will transfer back to Cuzco to relax at your hotel prior to embarking on the Salkantay Trek the following day!


Commence Salkantay Trek — IMPORTANT NOTE 

The Salkantay Trek is spectacular. It is rated as one of the top 25 hikes in the world by National Geographic Magazine, and rightly so!  

That said, it is a very serious trek. You will hike 12-18 Kilometers per day. You will reach a maximum altitude of over 15,000 feet. The trek is completed successfully by people of all ages and (within reason) fitness levels. However, you should recognize that for most people this will be a very rigorous experience.

The trek also requires appropriate attire and gear. We have provided a general outline here, and we will supply a more detailed pack-list which has been compiled by Tuckies who have traveled this route before you. Heed these recommendations, as your enjoyment of the trek will depend on it.

In the end, this trek will likely be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences you will have – so the effort is well worth it! 

July 28

Details for Today

Day 1 of your Salkantay Trek 

  • Start the trek at Soraypampa
  • Hike to Andenes Camp
  • Hiking distance: 11.25 miles
  • Activity time: 8-9 hours

Accommodation: Camping at Andenes Camp

Meals: B, L, D

Sacred Valley Peru

After an early breakfast, we pick you up from your hotel and leave the city of Cuzco in the morning. On the route we take a short break in the town of Mollepata before ascending a winding mountain road to Soraypampa (12,690 ft.), the starting point of the trek, where we meet our wranglers and horses. After a short introduction and a quick breakfast, we start our hike towards Salkantay Pass (15,213 ft.). At the pass we stop enjoy the views of snowcapped peaks of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range in every direction, with the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above us where Andean condors can be seen. From the pass we descend towards Wayracmachay to enjoy our lunch and then continue descending along the left bank of the Salkantay River. Observe the landscape become increasingly green, changing from highland to jungle or cloud forest. Feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids, while arriving to camp at Andenes (9,481 ft.), a beautiful spot surrounded with vegetation.

Overnight at Andenes Camp.

July 29

Details for Today

Day 2 of your Salkantay Trek (Hiking distance is ~18km)

  • Hike to Lucmabamba Camp
  • Enjoy a coffee tasting with a local family
  • Hiking distance: 11.25 miles
  • Activity time: 8-9 hours

Accommodation: Camping at Lucmabamba Camp

Meals: B, L, D

Salkantay Trail, Peru

Today we hike along the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, granadilla, avocado and coffee fields. A hot picnic lunch will be served along the way. After lunch, we hike for about 2 hours before a private vehicle meets us for a short drive to the beginning of the next trail. From the head of the newly restored Inca trail we easily make our way to the next campsite at Lucmabamba.

In the evening the group will enjoy a coffee tasting demonstration with a local family. At dinner, enjoy a glass of wine by the light of the campfire.

Overnight at Lucmabamba Camp.

July 30

Details for Today

Day 3 of your Salkantay Trek 

  • Hike up to an exceptional view and enjoy lunch overlooking Machu Picchu
  • Hiking distance: 7.5 miles
  • Activity time: 5-6 hours

Transfer on a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes

Accommodation: El Mapi Machu Picchu Hotel

Meals: B, L, D

Machu Picchu Peru

After breakfast, we will head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (8,974 ft.) and descend to the archaeological complex of the same name. From here we have an exceptional view of the Lost City of the Incas, the legendary Machu Picchu. The view is from a different angle, one that few travelers get the chance to admire. Lunch is served overlooking Machu Picchu.

After lunch, begin the final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. Finally we will get to the Hydroelectric Power Station of Machu Picchu from where we board the train to Aguas Calientes to spend the night (short, scenic 40-minutes train ride).

Overnight El Mapi Machu Picchu Hotel.

July 31

Details for Today

Machu Picchu:

  • Private-guided tour of the Inca citadel
  • Enjoy free time to explore the area

Transfer by train back to Cuzco

Accommodation: Sonesta Hotel Cusco

Meals: B, L

Machu Picchu Peru

This morning we wake up early and board a bus to Machu Picchu where we begin a complete guided tour of the Inca citadel that will take approximately two hours. You will then have free time to walk around, and enjoy the spectacular views of Machu Picchu, and the valleys and mountains that surround it.

We will return by bus to Aguas Calientes for lunch, and then board the train to Ollantaytambo. From this point, a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco and you will be transferred to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco at approximately 7 or 8 pm. You are free for dinner at leisure.

August 1

Details for Today

Cuzco:

  • Enjoy a day at leisure
  • Farewell dinner

Accommodation: Sonesta Hotel Cusco

Meals: B, D

Cusco Peru

Day at Leisure.

Late in the afternoon, you will be picked up and transferred to your ‘farewell’ dinner at Baco’s restaurant.

August 2

Details for Today

Depart Peru

Meals: B

Airplane

Today, we have arranged a rotation of private transfers throughout the day from the hotel to the airport to connect to your flight home.

It’s time to say goodbye. Have a pleasant journey!

Accommodation

Cuzco – Sonesta Hotel Cusco

Only a few blocks from the main square, the Sonesta Hotel Cusco offers guests quick access to the train station and major tourist attractions such as Koricancha Palace and Sacsayhuaman, Downtown most important city craft.

Completely renovated, its new decor reaches the atmosphere of warmth, modernity and tranquility that characterize this hotel. This added to its culinary excellence and unparalleled service to establish itself as one of the best hotels in the city. Highly trained, world-class infrastructure and warm hospitality guarantee a memorable ideal stay.

See the TripAdvisor writeup here.


Sacred Valley – San Augustin Monestario de la Recoletta

San Agustin Monasterio de la Recoleta Hotel is a historical religious monument built up in the XVII century. This charming boutique hotel located in Sacred Valley is the mixed races of the colonial art. It has all the comforts that you need and makes you feel part of the spiritual mysticism of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

See the TripAdvisor writeup here.


Aguas Calientes – El Mapi Machu Picchu Hotel

Step into the smart, contemporary and cozy confines of El MaPi, amidst the picturesque Machu Picchu Pueblo. Discover an efficient, lively and friendly atmosphere, welcoming guests expecting an unfussy, down-to-earth break. The flowing lobby creates a sense of vitality. Lofty ceilings, panoramic windows and an open café allow natural light to filter between tall eucalyptus dried branches, creating an ambience of order and wellbeing.

See the TripAdvisor writeup here.

Pricing

The cost for the T’21 International Adventure in Peru is $2,298 USD per person. Should you wish to have your own room, we can arrange this for you with an additional single supplement of $671 USD.

To book this trip, please refer to next steps.

Price includes:

  • Private transfers from / to airport in Cuzco
  • Private-guided touring throughout
  • All activities outlined in the itinerary
  • All lodging summarized in the itinerary
  • Sleeping bags and tents on the Salkantay trek
  • 10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners

Price excludes:

  • International flights
  • Personal expenses
  • Domestic / international airport taxes
  • Porter to carry guests luggage on trail
  • Tipping

Guidance on how to budget for items not included:

The amount of expense you will incur over and above the trip price will vary based on each individual’s preferences. That said, the following should help you budget for additional amounts you may spend while in Peru:

  • A typical lunch in Cuzco will cost $15-$30 USD per person (including drinks)
  • A typical dinner will cost $15-$30 USD per person (including drinks)
  • A beer costs $3 USD in restaurants / bars; $6 USD in hotels and fancy restaurants
  • A glass of wine costs $12 USD in restaurants, and $18 USD in hotels
  • Budget for tipping
    • When you are with private guides and drivers, assume roughly $5/person/day for guide; $3/person/day for driver
    • On Salkantay Trek, assume roughly $10-$20/person/day to be split across the guide and support team, but you can ask the trekking guide for some guidance here
    • Here’s some general guidance on tipping in Peru

ATMs are available in Cuzco (and in most of the places you will visit). Credit cards are also widely accepted. Once you leave Cuzco, you are unlikely to have much access to ATMs or much ability to use credit cards so plan accordingly. It is always advisable to bring $200 – $300 USD cash in case of emergency.

Before You Go

Packing Prep and Advice:

Climate: When packing please keep in mind that Cusco’s climate is divided into two differentiated seasons: the rainy season, from November to April (the heaviest rainfalls occurring usually between January – March); and the dry season, from May to October. The dry season is colder, so temperatures can drop to below 0 degrees at night.

Along the Salkantay route, temperatures range from 10-20ºC during the day if it’s sunny, to 5-10ºC during the day if not sunny and can drop below freezing at night. In Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu, at lower altitude, temperatures are usually warmer though warm clothes are still recommended at night. PLEASE NOTE – last year the group experienced a snow storm while on the Salkantay Trek! This is rare, but in the mountains the weather can be variable and it does get very cold at night. So make sure you have hats and waterproof gloves with you on the trip!

Appropriate clothing along this hike: Hiking pants and T-shirts are recommended during the day, complemented by sweaters, fleeces and waterproof jackets. It is very convenient to have light raingear available in the daypack (rain poncho or jacket and/or rain pants) as the weather changes easily and rains can suddenly occur. At night, warm clothing is required, down jackets can be useful, otherwise a fleece and a jacket. During the third day (if sunny) and in Machu Picchu, convertible hiking pants are useful, as can be switched into shorts if necessary. Machu Picchu has a warm climate, getting only cold at night.

What we recommend that you bring:

  • A backpack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek (20L should be fine). Ideally get one that is made for hiking (i.e. has a belt to take weight off of shoulders)
  • Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)
  • Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended
  • Hiking socks (preferably wool, but synthetic is ok)

  • Sandals or jogging shoes for a higher comfort while at camp

  • Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping. Layering is going to be important
  • Flashlight/headlamp and batteries
  • Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
  • Winter hat and sunhat to protect you from the rain, cold and sun
  • Gloves for night
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun block for face, body and lips
  • After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
  • Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – no malaria risk has been reported
  • Medicine for common illnesses (allergies, colds and flu, diarrhea, headaches, stomach aches)

  • Band-aids – blisters happen
  • Hand sanitizer/Sanitizing wipes
  • Handkerchiefs

  • Toilet paper
  • Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc. Please note that we do provide a daily morning snack and our meal service is very complete and well supplied. This recommendation applies for all clients being used to a specific snack, as it may happen that it is not included in our selection
  • Water container and water for the first morning. Important notice: plastic water bottles are no longer allowed into Machu Picchu. Plastic water containers (i.e. Nalgene) or metal ones are recommended
  • Small towel
  • Swimsuit (if you wish to go to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
  • Cash in soles and/or US$
  • Original passport
  • Optional: walking sticks or poles (rubber covers required in order not to damage archaeological sites)

Items provided for you in Peru (you DO NOT need to bring these items):

  • Sleeping bags, liners, pillows
  • Tents
  • Duffel bag

 

Visas and Vaccinations:

It is the responsibility of all travelers to ensure that proper travel documentation is in place. All countries require a valid passport (with at least 6 months’ validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for up-to-date visa requirements. (American residents, click here for the State Department’s latest outline of travel documentation requirements).

Travelers should consult a family physician or your local travel clinic for up-to-date health information and any requirements for vaccines. More information can be obtained from the ISTM by clicking here. Or, contact your country’s Health or Foreign Affairs department.

 

Medical and Travel Insurance:

Proof of out-of-country medical insurance is required. Terraficionados offers various Cancellation & Interruption, Lost Baggage, and Out-of-Country Medical insurance coverages for Canadian and American residents. If you need information, a quote, or to book travel insurance please click here, or you may contact another provider. International students who are not yet US residents should consult insurance providers in their home country.

Peru Overview

In Peru, Geography is master. The country is dominated by its geography and man has had to cope with it for millennia. It is a land of tropical mountains. The Andean Mountain Range is the back bone of Peru. In fact it is South America’s spinal cord and divides Peru in two; on the west lays one of the driest deserts on Earth. East of the mountain range is a place dominated by green; the Amazon. No other place on Earth receives more rainfall than these rainforests. And so Peru seems to be a Land of Contradiction; it is home of extremes. No other country has so much desert, so many mountains, and such a prolific rainforest all in one.

 

This mountainous setting is where civilization in the Americas was first born and where it reached its peak before the collapse of the Incas 500 years ago. The mountains are far more than a cluster of material, of rock and earth; Peruvians call their mountains Apus. This is the word for the Gods that inhabit the mountain. It is a Quechua term that implies considering the Mountain as a living organism, as Nature itself as a being. This is where the respect for the Environment in Peruvian ancestral cultures originates.

 

The Andes Mountains get their name from the term Antis, the Quechua word used to name those who lived in the “green desert,” that is, the tribes from the Amazonian Rainforests. The Andes are made up of several smaller ranges; Vilcanota and Vilcabamba in the south, Azul in the north and Huayhuash and Blanca right in the center of Peru.

 

The mysterious and spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu was discovered by Hyram Bingham’s exploration of the area in 1911. It had been lost for centuries, taken over by the dense green jungle. Over time, many of the trails leading into Machu Pichu have been restored; the Inca Trail is the most famous, but the Salkantay route is the most spectacular.

Tuck Class of 2021 International Adventures: Peru (11 days)