Beyond the Tourist Trail

Peru – Beyond the Tourist Trail Tour – a 14 day Small Group Tour.

Peru is best-known for one Inca site, possibly one Instagrammable snapshot. You know the one. However, this well considered tour makes a point of heading off-the-beaten-track to explore other fascinating examples of the country’s rich archaeological heritage well away from the crowds.

Highlights include fortresses rivalling Egypt’s pyramids in engineering terms, gold and silver treasures from intact pre-Inca royal tombs only discovered in 1989, and advanced adobe cities of 60,000 dating from the 14th century, as well as Cajarmarca, a chastening memorial to a clash of civilisations and the collapse of an empire.

However, contemporary Peru is explored too, with time spent among rural mountain communities and fishermen in the coastal villages.  Visits see triumphs of modern civil engineering that have forged routes between immense mountain ranges, weighed against destruction wrought by unstoppable natural forces on towns of 30,000 inhabitants.

Certainly, this tour does not aim for the most ‘likes’ on social media. Instead it offers genuine context for a country that over Millenia has borne witness to the rise and fall of civilisations, and now finds itself synonymous with South America.

Northern Peru – a little visited and pristine part of this amazing country. This is one of South America’s most popular destinations but less than 5% of travellers make it to the northern region which is surprising given its amazing pre-Inca and colonial history, and an abundance of cultural and natural wonders.

On this unique tour we take you beyond the tourist trail to discover the rich and advanced pre-Inca cultures of Caral, Moche, Chimu and Chachapoyas. You will see the most amazing colonial buildings in Peru’s intellectual capital Trujillo, famous as the place where the Spanish conquistadores arrived marking the end of the Inca Empire. You will stand face to face with Peru’s highest mountain – the impressive double coned Huascaran at 6,768m. You will drive on one of the world’s most spectacular roads through Cañon del Pato and travel deep into lush cloud forest in search of ancient mummies.

If you are a traveller looking to tick off the country’s well-known highlights then this isn’t the tour for you. But if you want to escape the crowds of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, then join us on this fascinating journey to explore Peru’s hidden gems.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Lima, home to 10 million people which is more than one third of the country’s entire population. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the pleasant district of Miraflores. Overnight at Hotel Britania or similar.

Transfer to the airport for a scheduled flight to Chiclayo, gateway to Peru’s beautiful and diverse, yet little visited north. Please note that you will fly unaccompanied and without a guide. Upon arrival in Chiclayo you will be met by your guide who will travel with you throughout the tour. Transfer to the hotel and check-in. You will then have a comprehensive tour briefing. Overnight at Hotel Los Portales or similar. (B)

The area around Chiclayo is packed with pre-Inca archaeological sites. The most important are the Royal Tombs of Sipán, discovered almost intact in 1987, dating from the Moche period between 300 to 1200 AD. We visit the tombs and the excellent nearby museum which displays an incredible collection of gold and silver artefacts, as well as The Lord of Sipán mummy. Overnight at Hotel Los Portales or similar. (BL)

 (Approximate driving time: nine-hours. Maximum altitude 2,335m)

Today sees a long but rewarding day’s drive from the coastal desert, ascending and crossing the 2,145m Andean pass of Abra de Porculla to 2,335m Chachapoyas, capital of Peru’s Amazonas Region. Overnight Hotel Vilaya or similar. (BD)

An exciting day that takes us from Chachapoyas to the archaeological site of Macro, 1850m above sea level on the right bank of the Utcubamba River. The ecosystem of this area is characterized by the presence of a thorny forest and scrub populated by tillandsias and bromeliads, with notorious presence of lichens and moss. The site is surrounded by this vegetation that partly covers the architecture. The pre-Hispanic settlement belonged to the Chachapoya culture that flourished during the Late Intermediate (1100 -1470 AD). There are terraces and platforms of different heights on which vestiges are evident that circular structures were once built. The bases measure approximately 3 meters high, being notorious and preserved, in such a way that they can be seen from the other side of the river as overlapping platforms. After our visit we continue amongst stunning scenery along the Rio Uctubamba to the small tranquil town of Tingo. Overnight at Hotel La Estancia de Chillo Lodge or similar. (BD)

This morning we drive to the hamlet of Leimebamba, visiting the local community and gaining excellent insight on daily life in rural Peru. Afterwards at the local museum there’s an interesting display of Chachapoyas mummies found at Lagunas de los Condores in 1996. Overnight Hostel Casona de Leimebamba or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: eight-hours. Maximum altitude: 2,625m)

Today’s route traverses innumerable mountain passes, cloud forests and deep canyons, and after the 2,625m-high town of Celendin, finally arriving at the historically important city of Cajamarca. Here in 1532 a force of 180 Spanish conquistadores slaughtered thousands of civilian and lightly armed Incas, capturing and executing Inca ruler, Atahualpa, effectively catalysing the collapse of the Inca Empire. Overnight Hotel El Ingenio or similar. (BD)

After breakfast we visit either Ventanillas de Combayo or Ventanillas de Otuzco, well preserved funeral caves carved into the rock during the Inca period. Later there’s free time to explore Cajamarca independently. Overnight Hotel El Ingenio or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: eight-hours)

Today we leave the highlands and travel the famous Pan American Highway towards the Pacific Ocean and Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru. En route we visit the Moche pyramids of El Brujo archaeological site. The museum displays the remains of the Lady of Cao, believed to have been a high-status female, probably a member of Moche nobility. The mummy is very well preserved, to the extent that skin tattoos are still visible. We expect to arrive in Trujillo in the early afternoon, and there should still be time to enjoy the town’s Plaza de Armas and take in exceptional examples of colonial architecture. Overnight Hotel El Brujo or similar. (BD)

Today we drive to the Chimú civilisation archaeological site of Chan Chan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At its height in the 14th century Chan Chan was home 60,000 inhabitants, making it the world’s largest adobe city. Known for sophisticated irrigation systems and ornate citadels, rich in extravagant silver and gold decorations, Chan Chan’s site covers almost 10,000 hectares and is still not fully excavated. Later we visit the fishing village of Huanchaco, a popular meeting point for surfers, and one of the last places on Peru’s Pacific Coast where fishermen still use small reed boats. The boats, known as cabalittos (little horses), see fishermen paddle them with one leg on each side, a method unchanged over 2,000 years. In the evening there’s free time to explore Huanchaco independently, looking out for the national dish, ceviche – raw seafood marinated in lemon juice, Peru’s version of sushi. Overnight Hotel El Brujo or similar. (BL)

 (Approximate driving time: eight-hours. Maximum altitude 3,000m)

This morning we again follow the Pan American Highway before ascending into the Andes. In the foothills of the Cordillera Negra we visit the ruins and museum of Cerro Sechin, an archaeological site dating from 1600 BC.  Entering the Rio Santa valley, Huaraz lies at the foot of the world’s highest tropical mountain, 6,768m Huascarán. The associated mountains range is known as the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains) because of the numerous glaciated peaks, and at altitude of 3,000m Huaraz is often called the Kathmandu of the Andes. Overnight Hotel Andino or similar. (BD)

From Huaraz, we drive north to the devastated town of Yungay. When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the valley in May 1970 a large part of Huascarán’s northern summit tumbled down towards Yungay, within minutes turning a lively city of 30,000 inhabitants into a graveyard. There were very few survivors, and today only the towers of the cathedral and a few palm trees are visible. The site has been left untouched, declared a national cemetery by the Peruvian government. Leaving Yungay we take a detour to the pristine twin lakes of Llanganuco, fringed by forests of rare arbol del papel (paper trees), and surrounded by glaciated 5,000m peaks. Continuing north, we eventually reach Caraz and join the remarkable route through Cañon del Pato (Canyon of the Ducks). At some points the Rio Santa separates the two mountain ranges of Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra by only ten metres. Construction started in 1952 and the road was blasted from the cliffs on the Cordillera Negra side of the canyon, passing through 35 roughly cut tunnels over a distance of 15km. Arriving in the city of Huallanca, we turn around and head back to Huaraz via the same route. Overnight Hotel Andino or similar. (BL)

 (Approximate driving time: nine-hours)

Today we drive back to Lima, travelling through coastal desert and stopping along the way at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Caral-Supe, dating from the period of the Norte Chico civilisation, around 5000 BC. We arrive in Lima in the afternoon where the rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight at Hotel Britania or similar. (B)

Depending on your flight schedule you may have time to explore Lima by yourself or we can organise an optional guided excursion. Alternatively please contact us if you would like to extend your stay in Lima or take in other areas of the country such as Cusco and Machu Picchu or an extension to the amazing Peruvian jungle. Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 3 travellers.

Single Supplement from £499.

Return flights from London to Lima start from around £590. Please contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Contact us for details of our private extensions to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines. The extension can be tailor-made and can be added to the start or end of this tour.

If you do not wish to be part of a group tour then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please get in touch with Linda so that I can tailor your perfect tour of Peru.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Peru – Beyond the Tourist Trail Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers and transport throughout.
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa if applicable
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

… an enjoyable and very well organised trip. Our guide throughout was extremely knowledgeable and couldn’t do enough to make the holiday as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.


William Ward, UK