Some adventure-loving visitors want to experience Machu Picchu with a more high-energy, adrenaline-filled Peru trekking adventure than to traverse the popular Inca Trail. For those who want an alternative route to Machu Picchu that is both physically challenging and absolutely exhilarating, a Multi Sport Machu Picchu adventure may be just the ticket.
This Adventure Tour to Machu Picchu is a four day, three night mountain biking and trekking excursion that takes you along the back roads from Cusco to Machu Picchu. You will journey through the rugged terrain of the Andean foothills, passing glaciers and snowy peaks, not missing a single breathtaking vista, until you arrive at the nearly 8000 feet high emerald city in the sky, the dazzling Machu Picchu.
The adventure begins in Cusco, where your guide will take you to Malaga Pass, a nearly 14,000 ft peak that affords excellent views of snowy Wakaywillca Peak and Veronica Glacier.
You will gear up for a full day of thrilling mountain biking riding as your guide briefs you on the trail specifications and safety guidelines. Your guide will provide you with all the biking equipment you need. Then, hop on your bike and descend the Andean back road trails.
This is some of the most beautiful backcountry in the region, and you have a good chance of catching sight of exquisite birds like the Crested Quetzal, the sword-billed hummingbird, the scarlet-bellied tanager, the Inca Wren, and the massive Andean Condor. In the evening your guides will set up dinner and the campsite, and you can relax along the Urubamba River.
The following morning begins early with a hike from Santa Maria to the remote village of Santa Teresa. This village is tucked away from the bustle of Inca trail trekkers, and so the hike past coffee, tea, and cacao fields allows you to see a part of Sacred Valley life that is off the well-trod path.
You´ll have lunch in the Pacamayo Valley, and you may way to enjoy a refreshing swim in the Sacsara River. You will continue hiking until you reach your campsite, where you can relax and reward yourself with a delicious meal.
If you’re heading to Machu Picchu this summer, chances are you are beginning to wonder where to book a room. Make that one less thing to worry about, because we´ve listed our top budget hotel picks along the route from Lima to Machu Picchu.
From the moment you arrive in Lima International Airport, you will want to know where you’re going to lay your head that night. Peru’s capital is a sprawling city, mixing ancient Inca and pre-Inca ruins with colonial and contemporary architecture in a cosmopolitan melting pot.
Most travelers would like to stay close to the beautiful historic center of the city, but hotel options there are limited because the historic center is now a protected UNESCO Heritage site. In the nearby district of Miraflores, you will find the most variety of hotels, from basic up to presidential.
The three stars Mariel Hotel in Miraflores is located near to the central Parque Kennedy and the grand Indian Market, and it’s only a short walk from the modern Larcomar entertainment precinct on the coast. Also, history lovers will be glad to know it is near to the pre-Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana. All the rooms have private bathrooms, Cable TVs, telephones, plus all the amenities including laundry, 24 hour concierge, a restaurant, and wifi internet. This hotel is an ideal place to start your Peru vacation.
Once you´ve spent a day or two in Lima, you´ll head to Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire perched upon the Anden mountain range at an impressive 3310 meters, or nearly 11,000 feet. The ancient city of Cusco is a destination in itself, as it is rich in Inca and colonial history. The Catedral de Santa Domingo houses a vast collection of Inca art, constituting the first known organized school of art in the New World.
Put Costa Rica’s dramatic mountains and heavy rainfall together and what do you get? Some of the best white water rafting in the world! Costa Rica offers something for every rafter, from hardened and experienced adrenaline junkies to first-timers looking for an introduction to white water thrills.
The best time to hit the water is during the rainy season, from late August to November. At this time of year, the rivers are swollen and fast flowing, offering a bigger variety of options for all levels.
One of Costa Rica’s most popular rafting spots is the Pacuare River, widely recognized as one of the top rafting rivers in the world thanks to a perfect combination of jaw-droppingly beautiful natural scenery and fast-flowing waters.
The waters are warm, the cascades are stunning and the river meanders through the dense tropical Costa Rican rainforest, surrounded by a huge diversity of wildlife. The river is generally Class III to IV, which means unpredictable waves, narrow waterways and long patches of white water, getting wet out here is a certainty!
Exploring the Pacuare River is all the more enjoyable on rafting trips departing from the Rio Tropicales Lodge, who has partnered with Costa Rica For Less to offer an adventurer’s dream trip; rafting down whitewater rapids, zip lining through the tree tops, and exploring deep into the jungle to get up close and personal with the rainforest’s countless inhabitants.
The lodge, built from ecologically sourced local materials, is set amid a large reserve of tropical gardens and untouched jungle, complete with swaying hammocks and viewing platforms from which the local colony of toucans can be spotted. A vast network of trails are perfect for exploring, while a series of freshwater pools stemming from the Pacuare River itself allow blissful and relaxing bathing.
Costa Rica For Less’ exclusive Rafting Odyssey travel deal allows visitors to arrive at this splendid lodge by raft, spend two full days exploring the rainforest reserve before leaving for another full day on the water. Visit the Costa Rica For Less site for more information.
Many travelers want a real Peru travel adventure out of their Amazon rainforest experience, but aren´t willing to give up the luxuries of hot showers, electricity, and internet. Several of the lodges near Puerto Maldonado, one of the major gateways into the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, offers several Amazon tours that are true Amazon adventures cushioned in the lap of luxury. But one option stands above the rest – literally.
Nestled deep in the Madre de Dios region of Peru’s Amazon rainforest, within the borders of the nearly 700 acre Tambopata National Reserve, the elegant Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge features a Canopy Tree House perched nearly 100 feet above the forest floor.
This thatched-roof tree house is truly an Amazon adventure in high style. It is utterly private, as it is accessed only by a tower and walkway bridge. A Canopy Butler is even on hand to bring guests breakfast in bed. Two beds draped in mosquito netting look out over the treetops at the sprawling reserve that is home to at least 91 species of mammals, 570 birds, 127 reptiles and amphibians, 94 fish, and the list goes on.
This cabaña in the clouds is built on a secure platform among towering Mauritanian palms. The bridge to the Canopy Tree House is connected by the Canopy Walkway, a series of walkways supported by seven bridges, eight observation platforms, and two 100-feet tall towers. Suspension cables, solid vertical towers, durable materials, and carefully-selected snakewood trees make this Canopy Walk one of the safest and most sophisticated of its kind.
From the eastern pampas to the southern steppe, Argentina’s Patagonia is scattered with remote estancias. These working ranches once served 20th century gauchos, the brave souls who raised cattle in a nearly desolate landscape.
Now, many of the estancias near El Calafate offer room, board, and activities like horseback riding and sheep shearing demonstrations, giving visitors a taste of the rugged and beautiful way of life in southern Patagonia.
From El Calafate, the trekker’s town accessible by airport or by bus, there are several estancias within a half or full day trip, and all are worthy of inclusion in your next Argentina El Calafate tour. Keep in mind that the best time to travel to Southern Argentina is October through April.
Estancia Cristina, only accessible by boat or a several day trek, is one of the most isolated estancias in the region, but it is also one of the best. From El Calafate, you catch a boat cruise at Puerto Banderas on Lago Argentino, and head north towards the Upsala Glacier, passing icebergs that glow several shades of blue.
Once you arrive at the 85,000 acre ranch, its beauty astounds. Set on a meadow that glows green in the spring and summer, against the backdrop of the looming Upsala Glacier, the green-and-white trimmed lodge will lure you to book another night on the spot.
The ranch, in operation since 1914, once belonged to an Englishman. Now it offers room, board, a full Patagonian lunch to day trippers, plus guided walks or horseback riding to the Upsala Glacier lookout point. After a day of exploring the ranch, you can return in the boat cruise to Puerto Banderas, or tuck into bed in your rustic cabin.
The Galpón del Glaciar estancia is the closest to El Calafate. Only 12 miles from town, it is a working ranch where traditional sheep shearing methods are practiced. If you arrive by lunchtime, you will be treated to delicious homemade scones, puddings, and baked goods.
You can choose to take a walking tour to the Native American camping grounds, go mountain biking or bird watching along Los Pájaros Lagoon, or watch Kelpis shepherding dogs hard at work at the arreo, the sheep round up before the sheep shearing demonstration.
In the evening, you can end your excursion with a delicious Patagonian lamb barbecue and watch a traditional folk dance. If you choose to spend the night here, you can book a room with a terrific view of the Cordillera de los Andes or the Lago Argentino.
Read about our other recommended El Calafate estancias in our El Calafate Tours.
If you plan to go on a Brazil tour during the last week of June, instead of enjoying a caipirinha, Brazil’s favorite cocktail, you can down a stein of German beer in the colonial town of Petropolis.
Just inland from Rio de Janeiro, and nestled high in the Serra dos Orgãos mountians, Petropolis hosts Bauernfest, a week-long festival to celebrate their German heritage. The borough was colonized in the 1840s by farmers from the German Rhineland.
To get to the Heart of the Carioca, to experience the rich diversity of Rio de Janeiro life, wanderlusts must travel to Petropolis, the summer place of the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II. Now the palace is a museum, whose crowning artifact is the imperial crown – studded with over 600 diamonds and pearls.
Droves of folk dancers in lederhosen will parade down the streets lined with Bavarian clapboard houses and shops, and past the neo-gothic steeple of Cathedral of Saint Peter of Alcântara. Kinder choirs, train rides, and a German film festival will all be on tap for those wanting to capture the zeitgeist of this charming summer resort town.
The opening ceremony is on June 25 with the mayor, his entourage, and the infantry marching out of the Crystal Palace. But the fun begins even before then, on the 19th, with the election of the festival Queen and Princess.
Throughout the week, celebrants can enjoy sauerkraut, streudal, bratwurst, frankfurter, and other German delicacies, along with plenty of the finest Alpine beer. Plus, the World Cup games will be televised in many a beer garden.
Cusco is gearing up for its annual Inti Raymi Festival, held the last week of June, and there are still a few hotels that have vacancies – and great access to the show.
Inti Raymi, the celebration of the sun and Quechua heritage, was begun by Quechua intelligencia in the early 20th century. Cusco-dwellers wanted to revive ancient Inca traditions, so they poured over manuscripts to piece together how their pre-Columbian ancestors worshipped the many deities in their pantheon, especially the sun god.
They staged a colorful pageant on June 24, and every year since then, the Inti Raymi festival has become a highly-anticipated event. Several thousand spectators clambor into the city, once the seat of the mighty Inca Empire, now popularly known as the gateway to Machu Picchu.
From the many Cusco Hotels available in town, the ones with vacancies and easy access to the festival are slim. Here are your best bets:
Located in the historic artisan quarter of San Blas, La Casa San Blas offers homely yet comfortable accommodation and a boasts a charming atmosphere. Staff are very friendly and the hotel draws a lot of its interior design from Andean art and culture.
Built in a large colonial house dating back to the 18th century, the hotel is located centrally in the city of Cuzco, just a few blocks from the main square. Casa Andina’s first upscale hotel in Cuzco features 94 heated rooms (including 14 suites) with private bathrooms, in-room safes, a gourmet restaurant, bar, courtyards, room service, and many other amenities.
The Spanish arches on the facade of this splendid hotel light up magestically at night. Richly-colored furniture, heating, and feather comforters keep you warm on a chilly Andean night.
Several rooms in this intimate colonial hotel have views over the Plaza de Armas and the Santa Catalina convent. Ornate balconies, red terracotta tiles, original Inca walls, and brightly lit chandeliers make this a beautiful stay.
Please note that there are special rates for Inti Raymi that are different than those posted on our sites. Contact one of our travel advisors for the most updated information.
Peru Travel Expert Jon Hudson was treated to a new evening tour of Colonial Lima. Here he gives an exclusive insider’s look at what he found.
Transport yourself back to the colonial period of Peru: visit the hidden homes of prominent figures in Peru’s history and see fantastic works of art and artifacts in exclusive private collections in Lima’s center on a premium evening Lima tour.
The colonial Lima tour starts with a reminder of the times before colonization, by passing Huaca Pucllana, the pyramid ruins of a pre-Inca temple constructed by native Lima people that lived here between 200AD and 700AD.
Beautifully lit up during the night, you can see the adobe structure dotted in between the modern homes of suburban Miraflores. A fascinating contrast. Here you learn about the Lima’s historical customs and rituals.
On the way into the historic center we passed by a number of other Lima attractions. These include the Olive Tree Garden in San Isidro, where the first olives were grown for production in Latin America, and the Parque de la Reserva.
The Reserve Park is memorial to citizens that died in the Pacific War, however now it is home to an hourly show of light and fountains, best seen at night.
On arriving in historical center, known as the chess board due, the tour circled Plaza San Martin, built to commemorate General San Martin, as we heard the story of the Argentinean liberator in Peru.
The Plaza was originally a train station that was connected to the main port of Callao (this was of the first train lines in Latin America), but now houses grand hotels and a monument to the General. The Plaza is modeled on a similar Plaza in Rome and every day in one of its corners men visit to discuss and debate the issues of the day in true Spanish style.
Plaza Mayor (also known as Plaza de Armas) is the next grand plaza the tour arrived at, situated the center of the colonial city. It was in this Plaza that Peru became a republic; it was also the seat and home of Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador and first colonial governor. It is now it is home to the Presidential Palace as well as the central Cathedral amongst other colonial attractions.
As the heart of the colonial city, the area around the Plaza housed a number of prominent figures in Peru’s history. With their houses beautifully preserved, they are rarely open to the public.
The tour first visits the Casa Osambela, the 40-room home of a merchant who found his wealth in Peru during colonial times. Now it houses the post graduate medical school and the Organization of American States in Peru.
The casa was once a hospital for the elite; it still houses a medical library from the colonial period. The tour guide pointed out one of the books, a medical encyclopedia from 1556, written in Latin. To my amazement, the book was beautifully preserved.
The wooden balconies are original, and were used as early lavatories. I would have probably avoided them hundreds of years ago.