Trip Highlights

Trip Highlights

  • Follow Inca trails to secluded stone villages, and see how the empire’s traditions and infrastructure live on in local communities.
  • Visit National Geographic Grantee Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez’s textile center to meet Andean weavers, and try your hand at the loom.
  • Travel into the cloud forests of Manú National Park, and glide along misty waterways into the heart of the Amazon.
  • Practice wildlife photography on monkeys, anteaters, and a kaleidoscope of birds and butterflies.
Peru is an extremely diverse country, from the high Andes mountains to the Amazon rainforest and sweeping desert coast; and the warmth of the people always makes my heart sing.
Holly Wissler, National Geographic Expert



From Andean peaks steeped in Inca lore to the lush Amazon rainforest, Peru is a country of diverse wonders. In the heart of the ancient Inca Empire, immerse yourself in the colorful culture of the Peruvian highlands, and venture into incredibly sophisticated temples and fortresses, including magnificent Machu Picchu. Then travel deep into the Peruvian Amazon and discover jungles brimming with extreme biodiversity.

Days 1-2: Lima, Peru

We begin our adventure in the vibrant city of Lima. From our base in the trendy Miraflores neighborhood, explore the city’s golden coastline, leafy parks, and colonial buildings. Visit Museo Larco, the world-famous archaeological museum that houses a vast collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, and dive into your On Assignment projects.

Days 3-7: The Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo

Travel from Lima to the Sacred Valley of the Inca and settle in at Ollantaytambo. With its cobblestoned lanes and sophisticated system of working aqueducts, Ollantaytambo is the best existing example of Inca city planning. Follow ancient Inca trails to isolated stone villages where families live as they have for centuries. Hike through a mountain pass for breathtaking views of the valley, and practice landscape photography using the surrounding Andean peaks as a backdrop. Discover the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, and visit Maras, where salt-evaporation ponds created by the Inca are stacked up the hillside. In vibrant street markets, encounter indigenous foods, colorful textile patterns, and local dialects passed down through many generations.

Days 8-9: Machu Picchu

Travel by train through spectacular mountain scenery to the once-hidden citadel of Machu Picchu. Abandoned by the Inca for centuries, the site was rediscovered in 1911 by explorer Hiram Bingham and excavated with support from National Geographic. Capture a unique photographic angle on this iconic site, and then venture through the ancient temples and dwellings to unlock their mysteries. Take an early morning hike up a nearby peak to watch the sun rise over the ruins before traveling back to Ollantaytambo by train.

Days 10-13: Cusco and Chinchero

Arrive in Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. Discover the city’s rich history, visiting the temple of Coricancha and the colonial cathedral. Stroll the city’s winding streets and photograph the relics of an empire long gone but not forgotten. Then explore the colossal fortress of Sacsayhuaman, site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Spanish conquest. Spend a day in the village of Chinchero, and visit National Geographic Grantee Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez’s textile center. Try your hand at the ancient art of Andean weaving, a tradition that continues today thanks to Nilda’s efforts.

Days 14-17: The Amazon Rainforest

Leave the Sacred Valley behind and travel by private bus deep into the Peruvian Amazon, stopping along the way at magnificent pre-Inca ruins near the colonial outpost of Paucartambo. Board a boat at Atalaya and cruise even deeper into the rainforest, on the lookout for monkeys, giant anteaters, tapirs, ocelots, armadillos, peccaries, caimans, and the numerous bird species that inhabit Manú National Park. Meet and interview members of the Matsigenka Amazonian tribal nation, learning how they have adapted to live in harmony with their unique environment.

Days 18-19: Cusco

Return to Cusco to put the final touches on your On Assignment project and present your findings to the group. Cap off your experience with a celebration on your final night.