• Overview
  • Photos & Video
  • Pricing
  • Dates
  • Hotels
  • Extensions
  • Trip Reviews
  • FAQ

If taking the least populated path to Peru's most popular sight sounds appealing, our Alternative Inca Trail Peru tour is the right Macchu Picchu tour for you. This less traveled route to one of civilization's most stunning achievements, the hidden city of Machu Picchu, is filled with Inca ruins. Our Peru tour takes us on a journey through the Incas' cultural traditions and engineering feats through the Sacred Valley where these ancient peoples worked and worshipped. Our Alternative Inca Trail Peru Tour also offers an opportunity to meet and mingle with the indigenous populations who today make their home in the Inca heartland. An undiscovered alternative to the much traveled classic Inca trail, this is one of Peru's most awe-inspiring treks and one of the most informative of all Peru tours. Our expert local guides will make this visit off the beaten Inca Trail an unforgettable learning experience in nature's classroom.

Itinerary
Day 1 LIMA

Arrive and transfer to your hotel. If you arrive early, city tours, museum visits or sightseeing excursions tailored to your interests may be arranged. Overnight in Lima.

Day 2 LIMA - CUSCO

Today your Peru tour kick off with a morning departure flight to Cusco, colonial jewel and center of the Inca Empire. Southern Explorations' guides pick you up at the airport and take you on a quick tour around the beautiful Plaza de Armas on the way to your hotel, leaving you free for the remainder of the day to relax and get used to the altitude (10,856 ft). Overnight in a charming Cusco hotel. (B)

Day 3 CUSCO

The morning begins with a guided walking tour of the markets of Cusco, the colonial cathedral and the city's major Inca ruins, the Koricancha, the impressive Temple of the Sun. After lunch, your unique Peru travels continue on a tour of Cusco's temples and visit several nearby distinctive Inca sights, including the fortress of Sacsayhuamán with its megalithic terraces; Kenko's stone surfaces and subterranean alters, Puka Pukara that protected the royal capital from attacks, and the water temple site, Tambo Machay. An evening briefing session orients you to the upcoming hike. Overnight again in Cusco. (B)

Day 4 CUSCO- SACRED VALLEY

Today's Peru ecotour consists of a day-long excursion through snowcapped mountains to the Incas' legendary Sacred Valley. Along the way, you'll pass Inca agricultural terracing on steep valley walls and the Pisac temple ruins, setting off panoramic views of jagged granite mountains. Pisac is home to one of the most important textile markets in the Andes, offering a pleasant way to get acquainted with the local culture. After lunch, you'll head to Ollantaytambo (9,185 ft), a small town with an imposing Inca fortress. Overnight at a pleasant hotel in Ollantaytambo. (B,L)

Day 5 SACRED VALLEY - RAYAN

From Ollantaytambo, today's travels begin with a thirty minute drive in a private van to the village of Socma. Before starting the day’s trek, you’ll stop to visit a small school, meet the children and donate school supplies. The trek begins with a gradual climb offering fantastic views of the valley below. After two hours of hiking, you’ll arrive at the spectacular Piruchayoc waterfalls (10,745 ft) where you’ll stop to gaze at the view. Thirty minutes further along the trail are the Raccaypata ruins. Here you’ll have lunch in scenic splendor and explore the ruins before hiking a final two miles to today’s campsite, Rayan (11,795 ft). You’ll arrive in time to relax and enjoy the sun setting behind the Andes before dinner (B,L,D) Inca Trail Hike Details: 5.6 miles | 6 Hours | Camp elevation: 11,794 ft.

Day 6 RAYAN - CANCHACANCHAYOK

After a hearty breakfast, you'll hike a winding ascending trail to reach 13,910-ft. Charcahuylla pass, surrounded by the Vilanota mountain range with Mt. Veronica rising above the peaks. The hike to the pass is a step back in time, seeing Peruvians working in fields of potatoes and other local crops. After about an hour, you’ll come to a small straw house where you’ll stop for lunch. Continuing the descent, you’ll pass through a tiny village before dropping into a beautiful valley to reach the mountain town of Canchacanchayok and camp nearby. (B,L,D) Hiking Details: 6.8 miles | 6 Hours | Camp elevation 12,785 feet

Day 7 CANCHACANCHAYOK - QHESQA

Today's trek will connect you with an ancient Inca road that gains altitude and eventually affords views of the stunning Anccascocha alpine lake.  Here you stop for a quick energy-boosting snack before continuing the ascent to the second and final high alpine pass, Huayanay, which sits at 14,875 feet with views of the mountains and lake.  From here you hike into a valley with views of the famous Mt. Salkantay, stopping to camp near a small village. (B,L,D)
Inca Trail Hike Details: 9.3 miles | 7 Hours Altitude: camp elevation 12,395

Day 8 QHESQA - QUENTE - OLLANTAYTAMBO

Today, you continue along the Old Inca Trail, stopping to visit with students of the small school of Qhesqa (where gifts for the children are appreciated) before reaching your lunch destination, the Inca ruins of Paucarcancha.  The next stop is the town of Huayllabamba where you join the throngs of visitors on Peru’s most popular path, the classic Inca Trail.  Hike alongside the beautiful Urubamba River, stopping at the Inca ceremonial and work site, Llactapacta, with great views of elaborate Incan aqueducts.  From there you walk to visit nearby villagers and enjoy a traditional Peruvian lamb barbecue prepared especially for you in the ancient method called Pachamanca. Vegetarian options are available. Return to the town of Ollantaytambo for a restful night’s sleep in your hotel. (B,L)
 
Hiking Details: 6.8 miles. Approx. 5 Hours; Camp elevation 8,300 feet

Day 9 OLLANTAYTAMBO - AGUAS CALIENTES - MACHU PICCHU

After breakfast walk to the train station to connect with the Vista Dome train for our picturesque ride beside the Urubamba River and through a magnificent cloud forest to Aguas Calientes where a bus deposits us at our ultimate destination, the sacred city of Machu Picchu (7,875 feet). Take the entire day to explore the famous ruins before returning to nearby Aguas Calientes for a late afternoon soak in the hot springs and a dinner of Peruvian cuisine. Overnight at a charming hotel. (B)

Day 10 MACHU PICCHU - CHINCHEROS ARTISAN MARKET - CUSCO

A second awe-inspiring day at Machu Picchu with opportunities to climb to the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu for a perfect view of the entire complex spread out below like a map or walk through a lush cloud forest to the Temple of the Moon. Enjoy lunch back in Aguas Calientes before the early afternoon train takes you back to Ollantaytambo. Travel through the Sacred Valley to the Chincheros Market, a cooperative weavers’ community featuring some of the best quality textiles in Peru. Here the local weavers will introduce you to their craft and its rich history. Take time for some last minute shopping before returning to Cusco for the evening. (B)

Day 11 CUSCO - LIMA - RETURN HOME

In the morning, you'll be transferred to the airport for the return flight to Lima and your connecting international flight. This ends your Southern Exploration services. Trip extensions to other regions as well as extra days in Lima or Cusco may be arranged. (B)

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Peru is a diverse country. With beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert, there is no off-season. But it does pay to know a bit about where you're going, and what you'll need on your Peru tour:

The Andes - Though officially part of the dry season, April and May are considered the Andean spring, while June through October marks the Andean summer. Mid-day temperatures range from 70 to 80 F in the sun. Nighttime temperatures in Cusco range in the 40s F and can dip into the 30s F. Weather is usually clear in the morning with clouds accumulating in the afternoon. Rain can happen in any season, so quality rain gear is essential.

The Amazon - A rainforest environment, the Peruvian Amazon has varied weather conditions and frequent unpredictable rain showers. It is generally hot and humid during the day with more comfortable temperatures through the night. Daytime high temperatures average between 82° and 93° F, and the average nighttime low is between 62° and 73°. Nevertheless, in some areas cold fronts can sweep into the Amazon and push daytime high temperatures down to 50° F and nighttime lows to 43° F. Any time of year, one should always be prepared for cooler temperatures and rain showers. Around 80% of the annual average 79 inches of rainfall occurs during the rainy season (December through March) when heavy rain may continue for hours or days.

Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

LIMA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN68-790.0
FEB69-800.0
MAR69-800.0
APR67-760.0
MAY63-720.0
JUN61-690.1
JUL60-670.2
AUG60-660.1
SEP60-670.1
OCT60-690.1
NOV62-720.0
DEC64-760.0

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

CUSCO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN44-656.3
FEB44-655.2
MAR43-664.3
APR41-671.8
MAY39-670.3
JUN33-660.1
JUL32-660.2
AUG35-670.3
SEP39-680.9
OCT42-691.9
NOV43-693.1
DEC44-694.7

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

PUNO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN38-625.2
FEB38-624.3
MAR38-623.8
APR33-621.5
MAY25-620.4
JUN19-610.1
JUL18-610.1
AUG22-630.2
SEP29-640.8
OCT33-651.5
NOV35-662.0
DEC37-643.6

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

PUERTO MALDONADO

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN71-8813.6
FEB70-8712.8
MAR70-8811.9
APR69-876.1
MAY66-864.2
JUN63-842.3
JUL62-852.2
AUG64-882.5
SEP66-903.9
OCT69-906.5
NOV70-899.3
DEC70-8812.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


 

Maps

Alternative Inca Trail

Pricing
$3,435


Domestic Airfare:
$375 (Lima/Cusco/Lima) – Subject to change

Single Supplement: $745
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy. 

Included in tour cost
  • Air mattresses
  • Camping accommodations
  • First aid and oxygen bottle
  • Kitchen and dining tent
  • Porters
  • Private transportation
  • Satellite phone communication
  • Three-man tents
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear
  • Sleeping bags

Alternative Inca Trail

Trip Dates
Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 to Saturday, October 27, 2018
Available
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 to Saturday, November 24, 2018
Available
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 to Saturday, December 15, 2018
Available
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 to Saturday, January 19, 2019
Available
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 to Saturday, February 16, 2019
Available
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 to Saturday, March 16, 2019
Available
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 to Saturday, April 27, 2019
Available
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 to Saturday, May 25, 2019
Available
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 to Saturday, June 22, 2019
Available
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 to Saturday, July 27, 2019
Available
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 to Saturday, August 24, 2019
Available
Wednesday, September 18, 2019 to Saturday, September 28, 2019
Available
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 to Saturday, October 26, 2019
Available
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 to Saturday, November 23, 2019
Available
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 to Saturday, December 14, 2019
Available
Aguas Calientes
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Cusco
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Lima
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Sacred Valley
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.

One Day

Multi-Day

machu picchu toursI can't recommend Southern Explorations highly enough, from the great hotels to a totally awesome guide, Jose, who took care of us from the minute we stepped off the plane in Cusco to the time we flew back to Lima. Jose's knowledge of Cusco, the Incas, the sites we visited, history, plants and wildlife was boundless. Also, if you prefer to get off the beaten path and don't like big groups, Southern Explorations is without any shadow of a doubt the way to go ... we were easily the smallest group on the Inca Trail and thankful for it! The timing on the trail was also excellent, we avoided other groups to such an extent that we felt like we had the trail to ourselves 90% of the time. We were taken care of from start to finish and I'd certainly recommend and use Southern Explorations again for future adventures of this kind.   -Julia Relf, California (Inca Trail)


machu picchu tourTHANK YOU for a phenomenal trip! Krissy and I had an amazing time, both in the Amazon, as well as Cusco, Inca Trail. We could not have asked for a better experience. Everything went smoothly, and was extremely organized. We had a fantastic guide for Cusco and Inca Trail - Fernando Silva. THE BEST. We'd recommend you use him as much as you can! So THANK YOU, THANK YOU for making it all happen for us! We will definitely recommend you guys to our friends/family and anyone who asks. We're now thinking about Ecuador and Galapagos possibly for next year! Cannot wait. Cheers! - Nicole Cassani, California (Inca Trail & Amazon)

machu picchu toursThis was an amazing experience and our guide, Jose, made a significant impact on the quality of our trip. Jose was an exceptional guide who was attentive to all people in the group. He was extremely detail-oriented, knowledgeable, caring, thoughtful and went out of his way to ensure all needs were met. Jose went beyond what we expected. - Shelly Zavala, California (Inca Trail)


hiking inca trailI wanted to let you know how much Joe and I enjoyed our Machu Picchu adventure. From the minute we arrived in Lima to the minute we left, the capable crew at Southern Explorations took great care of us. In particular, our guide, Washington, was truly amazing. He was knowledgeable, helpful, and just plain fun to spend time with. But more than that, Washington seemed to generally care about the porters and people we came across on the trail. He was just wonderful! And another person in need of some kudos was our cook, Walter. Each meal was worthy of a nice restaurant--and this while camping in the middle of the Andes. Every meal was a delight. All in all, the trip was really fantastic. Thank you for providing us with a trip that we will always treasure! - Joe and Katherine Houlehan, Kansas (Inca Trail)


machu picchu hikingWe LOVED this trip. We went to Panama last year and SE exceeded all of our expectations. You did it again this year with our trip to Peru. We loved every minute of it. Every single detail was thought out and executed in a professional manner. We would plan another trip with SE in a second. Thank you for all your hard work. We feel grateful to have found such a wonderful and reliable travel company! - Elissa Bowes, New Jersey (Inca Trail & Amazon)


 

machu picchu hiking tourWe can't say enough wonderful things about our guide. He is absolutely amazing and so incredibly knowledgeable. We truly appreciated his ability to explain cultural and historic facts and the pride he has in being Peruvian. I would highly recommend him to my friends. Hacienda Concepcion and Casa Andina (the private collection) far exceeded our expectations. They were lovely! Every meal, whether it be in the jungle or on the trail or in Cusco was OUTSTANDING!!! The jungle excursions were okay, we were hoping to have a bit more exploration activities but the canopy tour was awesome! The trek and the festival were great!!! This was the trip of a lifetime! Both my husband and I were blown away with your organization and quality of everything. Jonathan Borgida put together an outstanding itinerary for us. We are so grateful! - Anne Darga (Inca Trail & Amazon)


I thought this was a great trip! It exceeded my expectations. Machu Picchu was just as amazing in person as I thought it would be. I am so happy we decided to hike the short Inca trail. Although it was a difficult and tiring hike at times it was an amazing experience. The whole trip went very smoothly from the time of booking to the time we got on the plane home. It was nice not having to worry about anything and letting Southern Explorations and their guides handle everything and take care of us. I am definitely planning on looking into taking another trip with Southern Explorations in the future. - Kara Trias, New York (Inca Trail)


Our guide was excellent - his knowledge and sharing of ancient traditions was wonderful. Excellent company- very good value for money- highly recommended. - Philip Jensen (Custom Short Inca Trail)

 
I would like to tell you that we had absolutely a wonderful and flawless trip in Peru from the beginning to the very end. Our guide, in particular, did a superb job in guiding us. He has a professional pride as a guide and his enthusiasm in informing us of the Incan culture came through very strongly. He was very pleasant. - Kazumi Hatasa, Japan (Inca Trail)
The best part of traveling with Southern Explorations was that I always had confidence that if something went wrong, we would be taken care of, and that was an enormous weight off my shoulders. Excellent and helpful service with beautiful hotels and better food than I could ever have dreamed of. - Arbrenne Kelly (Inca Trail & Amazon)

Overall this was a great trip, something I have come to expect from Southern Explorations. Everything from the initial planning to the final execution was arranged with care, professionalism, and much sensitivity to our needs. SE is composed by hard-working idealistic people who put much effort in creating itineraries that combine visits to natural wonders, colonial cities, and archaeological sites. I should add something that cannot be expressed by one’s satisfaction with hotels and transportation and that is the possibility of growth young people can gain in such a trip. I saw how much confidence my youngest son, Alexander, had gained through this trip. And Adrian’s charango (along with the coca leaves we purchased on Chema’s advice) provided much opportunity for us to get to know the other workers better and some of the local residents. Thanks for all for their hard work. - Gregory Jusdanis (Inca Trail)


Southern Explorations really knows what they are doing. They provide a top notch guest experience overall and I would highly recommend them and also consider taking another trip with them.   -Wanda Vermeer (Inca Trail)


The alternative Inca trail was mystical. No roads, no carts, no tourists, no planes overflying, no electric lines.....just remarkably capable, friendly, solicitous and knowledgeable people helping us to enjoy ourselves. This is the first vacation I took where I was not eager to return home. We were enthralled. - Daniel Ehrgood, Pennsyvania (Inca Trail)

It was a real treat to have a guide and driver devoted solely to us. We went at our pace and were able to have much interaction with the guide. Peru is a terrific destination. - Dave Stevenson (Inca Trail)


I cannot say enough about our guide Washington. He was personable and attentive as well as professional and knowledgeable. As a tour manager and tour guide myself for the past 28 years, I can fully appreciate the outstanding job Washington did in sharing his knowledge and passion for his culture and his country with the group. He truly made the trip. - Niki Sepsas, Alabama (Inca Trail)

Peru - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer a wide variety of itineraries suitable for all ages, fitness levels and personal interests. Figuring out the total number of days you are available to travel is a good starting point and your Adventure Travel Coordinator can guide you through the options.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to modify any tour to meet your needs and also add pre and post-excursion extensions. If you sign up for a group departure we cannot change the group portion, but we can add extensions before and after.
Q: When is the best time to go to Peru?
A: Many travelers like to visit Peru between the months of April and October, when the chances of rain are much lower. Avoid the height of summer (June through August) and the Christmas holiday season for smaller crowds and the best selection of accommodations.
Q: What is the weather like in Peru?
A: The most traveled section of Peru, where Cusco and Machu Picchu are located, has a dry season (April – October) and a rainy season (November – March) with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s. Rainfall and temperatures vary in other regions depending on season and elevation. Please see the weather tab on your specific trip for more details.
Q: What is a typical day like in Peru? 
A: A typical day in Peru will vary from tour to tour, but generally you can expect to start your excursions right after breakfast with a full day of scheduled activities or sightseeing. Contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the specifics of your tour.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Peru? 
A: Our trips vary in level of activity, so the requirements differ based on itinerary. It’s important to keep in mind that much of Peru is at or above 8000’ above sea level which can add some difficulty to the activities. Please check our physical ratings for each itinerary to see what may be required of you when assessing your ability to enjoy a trip. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator. We have personal experience with these activities and can help you decide whether a trip is right for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Peru?
A: We offer trips as short as 5 days, but recommend 7 days to adequately explore the Andean highlands (Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu). If you wish to visit more than one region, we recommend travelling for at least 12 days.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: Peru is a popular destination and space at the most desirable hotels fills up quickly. As a rule, the further in advance you can plan, the more options you will have. We recommend planning at least six to nine months in advance throughout the year, and a year ahead of time for anything over the Christmas holiday season.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: Our guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We hire only guides who are native to the destination and are licensed and/or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English, and some also speak indigenous languages. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: We primarily work with 3 and 4-star hotels that meets our standards. We also work with several amazing 5-star properties. All of our hotels are clean, comfortable, well-located, offer en suite bathrooms and have been personally vetted by a Southern Explorations’ staff member.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: We will confirm all airfare within South America and this price will be listed separately from our base tour costs. You are responsible for booking international flights to/from Peru.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: We operate our scheduled group trips with a minimum of two and a maximum of eight guests, except on the Inca Trail trips, which have a maximum of 12 guests. This policy minimizes our environmental impact, allows us to travel to areas less visited, and makes the sightseeing experience more personal. It allows our guides sufficient time to attend to the individual needs of each visitor. Traveling in small groups also increases the likelihood of encountering wildlife in some areas, such as the Amazon. Some all-inclusive lodges and cruises offer excursions with their in-house guides and groups for those days may exceed eight travelers.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary.  This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.