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 exciting archaeological excavations from pre-Inca times. The most important is the royal tombs of Sipan which originate from the Moche culture approximately 300-1200 AD. The royal tombs were discovered almost intact as late as 1989. Besides visiting the actual tombs you will also visit the nearby museum exhibiting the excavated artefacts. The Lord of Sipan museum is truly amazing and the old Spanish conquistadores would have been drooling given all the gold and silver artefacts on display. Luckily the tombs have never been robbed so the collection is considerable. You will also visit the Lord of Sipan museum which is equally amazing. Overnight at Hotel Los Portales or similar. (BL)

(approx. 9hrs, 450km driving)

A long but rewarding day’s drive brings us from the coastal desert over the lowest mountain pass in the Andes, Abra de Porculla (2,145m) to Chachapoyas (2,345m) on the eastern slopes and on the edge of the mighty Amazonas. Overnight at 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)

Another exiting day awaits us as we drive to the small hamlet of Leimebamba where we will get an excellent insight to small town daily living in rural Peru. We visit the interesting museum housing Chachapoyas mummies and artefacts found at Lagunas de los Condores in 1996. Overnight at Hostel Casonade Leimebamba or similar. (BD)

(approx. 8hrs, 320km driving)

Today we travel on one of Peru’s most stunning roads to the historically important city of Cajamarca (2,650m). We reach our destination by passing through innumerable mountain passes, cloud forest and deep canyons. Finally we pass through Celendin (2,625m) before arriving in Cajamarca, famous as it was here that the Inca Empire surrendered to the Spanish conquistadores. Overnight at Hotel El Ingenio or similar. (BD)

Today we will visit either Ventanillas de Combayo or Ventanillas de Otuzco, well preserved funeral caves carved into the rocks during the Inca period. And there will be time for you to experience the colonial ambience of Cajamarca at leisure. Overnight at Hotel El Ingenio or similar. (BD)

(approx. 8hrs, 320km driving)

Today we leave the highlands and travel down the famous Pan American Highway towards the Pacific Ocean and Trujillo, home to some 770,000 inhabitants and the third largest city in Peru. En route visit the Temple of the Witch housing the remains of what is believed to be the first female ruler of the Moche Culture. The mummy is so well preserved that you can still see her tattoos. We expect to arrive in Trujillo in the early afternoon and there will be time to enjoy the Plaza de Armas and to take in some of the country’s most beautiful colonial architecture. Overnight at Hotel El Brujo or similar. (BL)

As with Chiclayo the area around Trujillo is packed with exiting archaeological excavations where the adobe city Chan Chan is especially significant since it was the largest city on the American continents in pre Colombian time and the biggest adobe city in the world. Chan Chan housed some 60,000 inhabitants in the 14th century when the Chimu culture was at its highest. The city was rich with extravagant silver and gold decorations. Later we visit the fishing village of Huanchaco. Besides being a popular meeting point for surfers, Huanchaco is known as one of the last places along the Peruvian Pacific Coast where fishermen still use small reed boats called cabalittos (little horse) because of the way the fishermen ride them paddling with one leg on each side like they have been doing for 2000 years. In the evening explore Huanchaco at leisure and look out for the country’s national dish Ceviche which is raw lemon marinated seafood or Peru’s version of sushi. Overnight at Hotel El Brujo or similar. (BL)

(approx. 8hrs, 350km driving)

Drive along the Pan American Highway before we ascend into the Andes and Huaraz. En route we visit the small ruin of Sechin, situated in the foothills of Cordillera Negra. We reach Huaraz situated in the Rio Santa Valley and in front of Peru’s and the world’s highest tropical mountain, double domed Huascarán (6768m). The area is known as Cordillera Blanca (the White Mountains) referring to the numerous glaciated peaks. At an altitude of 3,000m Huaraz is often referred to as the Kathmandu of the Andes. Overnight at Hotel Andino or similar. (BD)

An amazing day awaits you in this pristine part of South America. We head north from Huaraz to the buried town of Yungay. When a devastating earthquake struck the valley in May 1970 a large part of Huascarán’s northern summit tumbled down towards Yungay and turned a lively city with 30,000 inhabitants into a graveyard within minutes. Very few people survived this horrific day. Today only the towers of the old cathedral and a couple of palm trees are visible as you walk around the area with great respect in the knowledge that 30,000 people were buried alive beneath your feet. Later we take a detour from the valley visiting the pristine twin lakes of Llanganuco surrounded by glaciated 5,000m peaks. Beside the lakes you can see the rare Arbol del Papel tree –or paper tree. The bark looks like fine paper on the tree trunk. Continuing north we eventually reach Caraz from where we will enter one of the world’s most amazing roads – Cañon del Pato, meaning Canyon of the Ducks. Rio Santa separates the two mountain ranges Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra by only ten metres at some points. The road was blasted out of the cliffs on the Cordillera Negra side of the canyon and at a point it goes through 35 roughly cut tunnels over a distance of 15 kilometres until the city of Huallanca from where we head back to Huaraz via the same route, so you will pass through this amazing place twice to fully appreciate the splendour of this area. Overnight at Hotel Andino or similar. (BL)

(approx. 9hrs, 430km driving)

Heading back to the capital we travel through coastal desert stopping along the way at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Caral-Supe, which is the oldest known city/civilization in the Americas dating back to around 5000 BC. We arrive in Lima in the afternoon. Now at the end of the trip and what will have been at times a strenuous journey in the country’s remote northern region, enjoy a leisurely evening before your departure the next day. 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?

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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