Secrets of the sacred valley
The one-day Royal Inca trail with its dramatic views is a quieter alternative to the busier four-day trek to Machu Picchu. A tailor-made tour with Pura Aventura includes this route in an itinerary that focuses on the less-discovered side of Peru with privately guided hikes to ruins in the Sacred Valley, dinner in a family home, an early morning visit to the condor observation point at Cruz de los Condores and a boat journey on the Tambopata river. Pura Aventura (pura-aventura.com).
For some northern exposure
Most visitors make a beeline to Machu Picchu in southern Peru but there are many reasons to visit the northern region. Highlights include Gocta waterfall, at 2,530ft one of the world’s highest, and the lush vegetation around the town of Chachapoyas. Nearby is the fortress of Kuelap dating from AD6 while the archaeological sites at Chiclayo include Tucume, Huaca Rajada and El Brujo. Travel The Unknown (traveltheunknown.com).
Hike to the high life
Dividing the Inca highlands from the Amazon rainforests, the Vilcanota mountain range is a landscape of vast glaciers, remote lakes and isolated villages. The best way to explore this region is walking the 70km Ausangate trail, which skirts Mount Ausangate (at 20,944ft), ascends three high passes and snakes through red sandstone and limestone formations, home to the large, Andean condors and llama-like vicunas. Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk).
All the fun of the festival
On June 24, 2020, the Inti Raymi’rata festival celebrating the sun, the winter solstice and the Inca New Year is held in Cusco. This country highlights itinerary is timed to coincide with this theatrical event, which involves processions, traditional dances, Peruvian music and feasting. Exodus (exodus.co.uk).
Set out on a train journey
South America’s newest luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, which crosses the high Andes through breathtaking scenery, was introduced in 2017. This overnight journey from Puno to Cusco on the train is part of a two-week country highlights itinerary. It has two restaurants serving Peruvian-style dishes, a communal lounge car, spa facilities and 35 en suite cabins with additional oxygen supply to help passengers cope with high altitudes. Rainbow Tours (rainbowtours.co.uk).
A prime Amazon cruise
Starting its long westward journey in the Andes mountains of Peru, the Amazon river winds through thick rainforest that teems with wildlife. Avalon Cruises operates river cruiser Delfin III, which sails from Nauta to Iquitos, with an itinerary of guided excursions to view monkeys, iguanas, pink dolphins and sloths in the company of an expert naturalist. Departs Jan 26, 2020. Avalon Cruises (avaloncruises.co.uk).
Saddle up for a riding holiday
Most people explore the Sacred Valley on foot, but Ride Worldwide offers an alternative on horseback, on a route that passes through remote villages and high mountain landscape. Riding for up to six hours per day on pure-bred Peruvian Paso horses, the itinerary is aimed at reasonably experienced riders. The price includes picnic lunches and lavish, Peruvian-style dinners. April to November. Ride Worldwide (rideworldwide.com).
Gorge on gastronomy
From marinated ceviche fish to the national dish of mashed potato with tuna, avocado and tomato (lima causa), Peru’s cuisine is wide-ranging. Its culinary secrets are revealed on a tailor-made itinerary with Tribes. Among the trip highlights is a tour of Lima’s food market, a visit to the salt pans near Maras, a cookery lesson in Cusco and a tasting dinner of Novoandina cuisine on the final evening. Tribes (tribes.co.uk).
A tour of the highlights
Time-poor visitors can experience the country’s top highlights on an intensive one-week itinerary with Trafalgar. The tour takes in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco, as well as giving opportunities to meet local people, including a tour of Lima’s food market with a Peruvian chef and a meeting with a master Quechua weaver to find out about Andean weaving techniques. Trafalgar (trafalgar.com).