Posted: 7/21/22 | July 21st, 2022
Peru is one of the most popular destinations in South America, owing to the fact that it’s home to the bucket-list favorite and Wonder of the World Machu Picchu. Around 500,000 people visit the ancient Incan citadel each year — a number that would be much higher if it wasn’t for the mandates put in place to prevent overcrowding.
But there’s more to Peru than just Machu Picchu. And there’s more to the Andes than the Inca Trail.
Peru is very geographically and culturally diverse (it’s the third-largest country on the continent) so there’s a lot more on offer here than most travelers expect. From the great dining destination of Lima to the floating islands off the Uros to the Peruvian Amazon to the pyramids and tombs of Batán Grande to the desert oasis of Huacachina, there is so much to see in this South American nation that limiting yourself to the Sacred Valley would be a missed opportunity.
For the intrepid traveler with plenty of time, many of these destinations can be explored solo. However, getting around Peru can be challenging and budget travelers with limited time should consider opting for an organized tour. And there are plenty of reputable and affordable tour companies in Peru that can make your journey smoother, allowing you to focus your attention and energy on the sites, people, culture, and history of the place.
To help you save money and make the most of your time, I’ve put together a list of the best tour companies in Peru. From walking tours to multi-day excursions to adventure-laden guided tours, these tours might not be as cheap as traveling solo but they will absorb the headaches that often come with traveling in a foreign country (especially one as large and slow to navigate as Peru).
Here are the best tour companies in Peru:
1. Intrepid Travel
Intrepid runs tours in every corner of the planet and they’re always a solid choice thanks to their focus on sustainability and responsible travel. I’ve been on a few of their tours over the years and they never disappoint. And while Intrepid offers tours of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, they also emphasize the other parts of this beautiful country too.
Their Classic Peru tour ($2,053 USD), for example, spans 9 days and circles the country, covering many of the major highlights, including Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca.
Intrepid is one of my go-to companies for multiday tours. Whenever I book a multi-day trip that isn’t with TNN (my own tour company) I go with them. You should to. I can’t recommend them enough!
2. Alpaca Expeditions
This Cusco-based company is owned and operated by local Peruvians. Calling themselves the “Green Machine,” Alpaca Expeditions is committed to being a totally sustainable tour company. The trekking tours are heavy on Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail—because Alpaca is highly rated for them—but they also offer “alternative tours” to some off-the-radar places like trekking in Salkantay. You can spend five days there, hiking around the Humantay Blue Lagoon, for example, or if you don’t want the commitment, they even offer a one-day hike.
There are also trekking tours to the seven lakes of Ausangate, and other spots around the Sacred Valley. Their classic four-day Inca Trail hike is $695 USD per person while their five-day Choquequirao trek is $650 USD.
3. Choquequirao Trek
The Lost Incan City of Choquequirao can be reached via a two-day trek from Cusco. And this local tour company specializes in this lovely hike to the ruins of the 15th-century city that is a great alternative to the highly trafficked Machu Picchu site (less than 10,000 people visi each year, compared to the 2,500 people who visit Machu Picchu each day).
You can do the classic four-day trek to Choquequirao for $520 USD or you can mix things up and do a longer eight-day hike that goes from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu for $1,250 USD, or you can combine it with a jaunt on the Incan Trail. There are tons of affordable options!
4. Colca Tours
Based in the city of Arequipa, Colca Tours specializes in trekking and bus tours to Colca Canyon, a deep and dramatic ravine that is dotted with ancient villages. One of the deepest canyons in the world, it’s home to the Andean condor and boasts incredible (and challenging) trekking and views. In addition to hiking tours, they also run bike and horse tours. Most of the tours last one to four days and some tours include more adventurous elements such as rafting and rock climbing. Their standard four-day hike is just $140 USD.
Peru is such a geographically and culturally diverse place, it would take a lot of time, energy, and money to see it all on one trip — especially if you plan on hiking. If you’re short on time, consider a tour for some or all of your trip. After all, money returns; time does not.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.