12 Days in Peru
From the sprawling sand dunes of Ica, to the traditional stone streets of Ollantaytambo, and from the ancient fortress of Cusco, to the jaw-dropping ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru is a country of incredible contrasts. The country with the “WOW” factor, and a destination on everyone’s must-visit bucket list. 12 days of unforgettable exploring gravity-defying ancient estates, adrenaline-rushing activities, and unique wildlife in every direction.
Our 12-day trip through Peru mixes our laid-back travel concept with Peru’s most unique and memorable sites to form an adventure that you’ll be talking about forever. Whether you’ve always dreamed of soaking up the incredible mountaintop Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, taking a scenic train journey through the Peruvian Andes, or you’re ready to discover off-the-beaten-track sites like the desert oasis of Huacachina and the penguin-filled (yes – penguins!) Ballestas Islands, Peru is ready to blow your mind! With breathtaking vistas in every direction, incredibly unique local culture, and an unlimited number of exciting activities along the way, Peru is a perfectly enriching destination.
Most travelers will arrive into Peru's largest airport in Lima on day 1 and meet at our starting and ending point in the community of Miraflores at 4pm to start our adventure. Our time here in Lima is spent exploring the highlights of the city including the rich history, the famous culinary scene, and the naturally beautiful coastline. Lima may not be on the list of the world's most wild gay communities, but there is plenty of nightlife and a very welcoming community in Miraflores.
On our second day we jet off into the Andes Mountains on a 90-minute flight to Cusco, then down the road into the Sacred Valley to spend two nights in the beautiful town of Yucay. The altitude here is over 2000 feet lower than Cusco so staying in the valley will assist with the feelings of the higher altitude compared to Cusco. Surrounded by history and natural beauty, our two nights here are an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the ancient times of the Incas who ruled over this area hundreds of years ago. The beauty of the area and the surrounding Inca ruins ensure this is an unforgettable stop in Peru. Included during your time here is a full day of exploring the ancient salt flats of Maras, the unique ancient agricultural site of Moray, and the historically significant mountain town of Ollantaytambo, complete with cliff-side ruins!
Our fourth day is a day that’s surely been in your mind for many years. We depart from the Sacred Valley in the morning on a 2 hour train journey through the Andes, winding along the Urubamba River. Before long we arrive in the mountain town of Aguas Calientes, names after the hot spring flowing nearby. From Aguas Calientes it’s only another 20 minutes by bus to the unforgettable mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu. Our first two hours here is spent exploring the ruins with our favorite local Peruvian guide, who was born and raised in the area and an expert on everything Machu Picchu. The rest of our day is spent soaking up the incredible site which was lost to the outside world for many centuries. Instead of rushing off the mountain to catch the train back out of town, we stay the night at the base of the mountain in Aguas Calientes, giving us what seems like Machu Picchu all to ourselves.
On day 5 we leave time for catching the sunrise at Machu Picchu or braving the hike up Wayna Picchu (optional) before jumping on the scenic afternoon train and heading back to Cusco. Our three-night stay in Cusco gives us time to visit many of the area’s ancient sites, taste the unique local food, take part in a hike, join a local cooking class, wander the markets, meet animals at the local wildlife sanctuary, and many more options. Cusco has its own unique culture that's visible at every turn and exploring its streets is a highlight of any visit to Peru.
It’s true, the city of Cusco is perched high up in the Andean mountain range at an altitude of approximately 11,000ft (3,000m) above sea level. The air up here is clean and surprisingly warm (during the daytime) and the city is a contrast of ancient stone streets and cathedrals scattered among a modern commercial center. Cusco is a destination in itself as well as a jumping off point to the Sacred Valley to the west, the Amazon to the north, and the higher peaks of the Andes and Lake Titicaca to the east. Although we fly into Cusco from Lima, our three nights here come after our visit to the lower altitudes of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in order to avoid the effects of Cusco’s altitude, so there’s no need to worry about the altitude here.
Day 8 is our only “long” travel day of the trip, starting in the morning with a 90-minute flight off the mountain, a quick transfer in Lima, and a 3 hour ride down the Pan-American Highway to the pelican-filled seaside town of Paracas. With golden sand dunes as far as the eye can see, islands full of penguins, a palm-treed oasis in the desert, wineries and bodegas galore, and the famous Nazca lines nearby, this is a completely different side of Peru that can’t be missed!
On the afternoon of our 11th day we travel back up the Pan-American highway to Lima where we’ve got one last evening together as a group in our base of Miraflores. This is our time to have one last feast together and grab some last-minute souvenirs before we all say “adios” and “hasta luego” to each other and Peru! All travelers are welcome to book their flights departing from Peru at any time on the 12th day.
We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. After rigorous wifi signal testing, fluffing pillows, and taking a shower or two, we've narrowed down our favorite properties. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip.
LIMA: Innside Lima by Melia Miraflores
Located in the heart of Miraflores, Innside Lima's rooms offer city views, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars, as well as tea and coffeemaking equipment. There's a vibrant restaurant, a rooftop pool and bar, gym facilities and bike rentals.
CUSCO: Tierra Viva Cusco Centro
This property maintains the feeling of an antique residence built with stone, tiles, adobe and wood. The former residence of the Velasco Ordoñez family, it has been beautifully restored to become a boutique hotel in the heart of Cusco's historic center.
YUCAY: La Casona de Yucay
A grand, circa-1810 estate next to the Urubamba River, this charming hotel in the Sacred Valley is 2 minutes' walk from the Yucay Museo de Cultura Viva. La Casona de Yucay's restaurant uses locally-sourced, farm-grown ingredients for its meals. Features include hardwood floors, a relaxing sauna, beatifully maintained gardens and rooms with lots of character.
MACHU PICCHU: El Mapi (Aguas Calientes)
Set on a street lined with cafes and restaurants, this woodsy-chic hotel with views of a cloud forest has bright, modern rooms, a relaxed cafe, a sleek bar, and a serene spa. Perfectly located in the middle of Aguas Calientes town, just minutes from the train station.
PARACAS: Aranwa Hotel
Next to Paracas Bay, this premium waterfront hotel allows you to wake up to the sounds of birds and crashing. Each rooom offers ocean-view terraces, flat-screen TVs, minibars and complementary Wi-Fi. Other amenities include a restaurant and 3 bars, plus a spa, beach access and 2 outdoor pools. There's also a playground and a tennis court.
*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all DETOURS trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.
This 12-day trip visits very diverse areas of the country. While the daytime is completely warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt even in the mountains, the evenings cool down to sweater-weather. Temperatures don't change much in Peru where instead of a 4-season climate, they only experience a dry season (April to November) and a wet season (December to March). It's a good idea to bring a couple items of warm clothing for those brisk mountain evenings, although the majority of your time will be nice and warm! Rain is not common in the season we operate in, but light rain gear is a good idea as a precaution.
Peruvians are very proud, friendly people and embody the passion for so many things that Latin people are famous for. Although English is very widely spoken, consider learning a few words of Spanish while you're here, we recommend starting off with “Hola” (hello), “Gracias” (thank you), and of course “Donde esta Machu Picchu?” (where’s Machu Picchu?)
Enjoy Peruvian food? It's even better in Peru! The cuisine here has recently been receiving worldwide attention for its incredible flavor and diversity. Beef, chicken, beans, chicharron, and flavorful mixed rice dishes can be found on almost every menu. Detours doesn't believe in limiting your choices by including all of your meals at pre-decided restaurants as part of the trip package. Instead, we include all of your breakfasts to start your day off, then encourage you to explore all of the different restaurant options available to you for lunch and dinner. This way you can eat when you want, where you want, with whomever you want, and spend what you want! Your trip leader definitely has their favorite spots so if you'd like some advice on the best in each location, just check with them.
Our advice is simple. Pack your bag, then take half of those things out and leave them back home. It’s common to hear people wishing they’d packed less stuff, but we’ve never heard anyone complain that they didn’t bring enough. Even if you realize you forget to pack some crucial item you can always pick up a replacement once you arrive in Lima. We'll include some trip-specific packing advice based on expected weather as part of our update email to you, sent 60 days prior to your trip.
Peru uses a mix of their own currency (Peruvian Soles) as well as US Dollars, although Soles is more common. In an effort to avoid bank fees, we suggest arriving to Peru with some local currency (around 1,000 PEN) as well as your ATM and credit cards just to be completely prepared. 100 Peruvian Soles is worth around $30 USD, so if your dinner bill costs 35 Colones that's only $10 USD!
Tipping isn’t a native Peruvian custom, however, it is always appreciated by local service staff. We suggest tipping for any services that go above and beyond expectations. That extra dollar or two on a dinner bill is very appreciated by the service staff. Our local guides during the trip are the exception to this, as their position has come to expect tips for a job well done.
We have pretty high standards when it comes to choosing our accommodations, and trust us, we’ve done plenty of room-sniffing, pillow-patting, and bathroom inspections to make sure we stay at quality spots. To be approved as a Detours accommodations provider, a guesthouse must: be locally owned (to support the local community), be in an amazing location (close to the hot spots), AND be gay-owned or gay-friendly. We won't be staying in 5-star Ritz-Carltons but we also won't subject you to anything we wouldn't want to stay in ourselves. Clean, comfortable, well-located spots that'll put a smile on your face, you can count on that!
All Detours trips are led by one of our own Detours trip leaders. They're there with you every day and their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to Peru for. Consider them like a friendly concierge that's traveling along with you. All of our trip leaders are gay and all are well-traveled and experienced in the destination they're leading in, so they'll be a great part of your experience!
We do absolutely everything possible to avoid needing such a mundane awakening. A world without alarm clocks is one we want to be part of, and your “rise and shine” while in Peru should come from the sound of crashing waves or church bells in the distance. However, sometimes we are required to make early departures, but we do everything we can to minimize this.
For many people, 12 days in Peru just isn’t enough time. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay longer, or if you decide to quit your job and become a beach bum in the South America for the rest of your life, we’d be happy to help you extend (or cancel!) your return flight. We’ve been all over the area, so don’t think twice about asking where to go or what to do after your Detours trip is complete. Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, more of Peru... many interesting destinations are close-by.
Our Detours groups are run with a maximum of 15 travelers. Ages of group members vary but around 90% of our travelers are in their 30's, 40's, and 50's. Whatever the age of the guys on our trips everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! Each group is led by a Detours trip leader who is there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, allowing you to focus on having the time of your life!
The areas of Peru that we'll be visiting are quite open-minded and most people will be welcoming of homosexuality. That said, Peruvian culture is largely influenced by the Catholic church, and public displays of affection are generally frowned upon. In respect for their local culture we usually suggest keeping your excitement and affection for your partner to more private locations.
No problem! Don’t worry, lots of our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people both inside and outside of our group, including other solos. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room for no extra charge, or you can have your own room for a reasonable surcharge.
Peru uses a "type A" and "type B" plug, the same as North America and several other places in the world. The voltage is 220V with 60 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its accetable range
What's included? • All taxes • All road and rail transportation within Peru • Roundtrip flight between Lima and Cusco • Accommodations for your 12-day Detours experience • All full breakfasts • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu • 2 hour guided Machu Picchu tour • Full day Sacred Valley tour including Maras and Ollantaytambo • Welcome dinner / drinks in Lima • Group travel within Peru • Knowledgeable and fun Detours leader •
What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Optional gratuities •
Additional spending budget? Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $700 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1100 USD at the higher end for the splurgers. We suggest arriving to Peru with approximately 1,000 local Peruvian Soles.
Arnie P. - USD
October 26, 2021
My partner and I recently got back from the 12 Days in Peru trip. This was our first Detours trip, but it definitely won't be our last. We had an amazing time. I expected an interesting trip based on the itinerary, but I had no idea that the food would be this good. The restaurants were amazing! I also didn't expect the accommodations to be this fabulous. All of our hotels were really spectacular. The group activities (riding all-terrain vehicles, dune buggy ride and sand boarding, boat ride in Paracas) were a blast, and the trip provides plenty of free time to pursue individual interests. Everyone on the trip was super nice. No drama at all. I made some nice friends, some of whom I'll definitely keep in touch with. I can't wait for the next trip.
John E. - USA
October 21, 2021
Recently traveled with Detours to Peru. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Detours and our trip leader Miles! The trip was well organized and executed. It was clear that Miles greatly cared about our experiences and travel needs. I also enjoyed the group we traveled with, and am sure that there will be lasting friendships made on the trip. This was my second trip with Detours. Both were fantastic and I definitely plan to travel with them again!!
Paul H. - USA
October 21, 2021
I was so pleased with my Detours Peru trip that I booked my next trip with them before the first one ended. They do an outstanding job of curating interesting adventures that take you outside of the standard tourist destinations and activities.
First-rate accommodations, and they offer a great variety of organized group time plus flex time to meet individual needs and interests. The small group size also makes it easy to get to know others. I have 14 new friends as a result of this trip.
They also find great local guides and restaurants. A tremendous value for the price.