Solo travelers! Join us for the ultimate small group adventure to Patagonia!
Peru. The Sacred Land of the Incas. From modern-day Cusco to the ruins of Machu Picchu to the rushing rivers of the Sacred Valley, Peru is a wonderland for the active traveler. Chock-full of extraordinary scenery, limitless adventure, and a welcoming, colorful culture, few destinations offer more story and memory-making opportunities than Peru.
On this adrenaline-pumping BACK&PACK trip, you’ll join other like-minded solo travelers to trek the jaw-dropping Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, whitewater raft the Rio Urubamba, paddleboard the high-altitude lake of Piuray, mountain bike the Sacred Valley, explore the UNESCO sites of Cuzco, contribute to meaningful humanitarian projects, and much more.
Jul 18 – 31, 2023
Oct 1 – 14, 2023
8 – 12 travelers
20 – 29
Hostels, B&Bs, camping
Traveling Solo, But Not Alone
Salkantay Trek To Machu Picchu
Sacred Valley Biking & Rafting
Cuzco Exploration & Volunteering
Day 1: The adventure begins! You’ll spend your first day in Cuzco getting acclimated with your new group of fellow solo adventurers. We’ll spend some time going over important safety information and cultural norms during orientation, share laughs during silly icebreaker games, and start to explore Cuzco’s ancient cobblestone streets.
Day 2 – 3: At 11,152 feet in elevation, the beauty of Cusco isn’t the only thing that may take your breath away. At the beginning of our trip, we’ll take it a bit easy while adjusting to the new altitude. To truly understand Peru, you must first get to know its local people and their life challenges. Thus, we’ll use this time to dig below the surface and volunteer with our friends at the center for adolescent mothers, Casa Mantay, and the orphanage of Santa Teresa. We’ll spend our afternoons and evenings exploring more of the city and surrounding areas, including the Incan citadel of Sacsayhuamán, the artist neighborhood of San Blas, the bustling San Pedro market, and much more.
Day 4 – 5: Next, we’ll venture into the Sacred Valley to tour the ruins near Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. The complexity of Incan construction was truly remarkable, so we’ll spend valuable time learning from our expert guides the history and significance behind this unique part of the world. We’ll also share laughs and learn from locals while visiting a chocolate, honey, and pottery studio and have a chance to shop in local handicraft markets to practice our newfound haggling skills.
Day 6: Peru is best explored off the beaten path (not to mention off the tourist bus!). On this day, we’ll grab mountain bikes and have a relaxing ride along the dirt roads and trails of the Sacred Valley. Mountain biking allows us to get an up close and personal view of Peru’s rural people and villages. We’ll stop to enjoy a delicious meal along the river and settle into our cozy Sacred Valley B&B at night.
Day 7: By day 7, you’ll likely be sick of all the spectacular, mind-blowing Andean scenery (ha!). So we’ll spend a little time on the water! We’ll take a scenic drive and visit Lake Piuray for some rest, relaxation (coca tea, anyone?), and quite a bit of fun. We’ll have access to paddleboards to explore the natural surroundings, and – if yoga’s your thing – there’s no better place for some stretching and meditation. To cap off our day, we’ll stop at the charming community of Chincero to watch a traditional weaving demonstration by local artisans.
Day 8 – 11: At last, our time on trail begins. Rated as one of the best treks in the world by National Geographic, very few words can describe the utter awesomeness of the Salkantay Trek. Considered the best alternative to the overcrowded Inca Trail, Salkantay offers intrepid travelers the opportunity to explore a more untamed side of Peru. Over the course of four days, we’ll hike ~46 miles – reaching a maximum elevation of 15,090 feet at the breathtaking Salkantay Pass before descending to the waterfalls, cloud forests, and coffee farms near Machu Picchu. Salkantay is undoubtedly challenging and not for the faint of heart, yet we’ll work together and have help from our friendly chefs, guides, and pack horses. If you’re looking for a profound sense of self-achievement, camaraderie, and awe-inspiring scenery, look no further than the Salkantay Trek.
Day 12: No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu! As the grand finale of the Salkantay Trek, we’ll spend a day exploring this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll aim to get ahead of the day-tripping tourists for a quieter and more personal view of this “City in the Clouds.” You’ll have time to hike to great heights (taking those Instagrammable photos you’ve been dying for) and explore nearby Aguas Calientes, where you can shop for souvenirs or relax in the local hot springs.
Day 13: We’ll cap off our adventures in the Sacred Valley with a whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Urubamba. Depending on the time of year, we’ll tackle class II-IV rapids. Our professional guides make it safe and fun for all, and stunning views of the “sacred river” and surrounding cliffs punctuate another fantastic adventure. At the end of our fun-filled day, we’ll head back to Cuzco for our final dinner and closing activities.
Day 14: At the end of our trip, you’ll have a chance to do any last-minute shopping or sightseeing in Cuzco before your transport to the airport. We’ll be sad to see you go, yet the end of one journey is simply the beginning of another. Whether you continue to another destination or head home from here, we hope you’ll fondly remember the Sacred Land of the Incas.
* Please note that BACK&PACK reserves the right to rearrange, modify, or cancel activities based on what’s in the best interest of the trip and our travelers’ safety.
Our trip fees cover major expenses while abroad, yet we also believe in giving travelers flexibility during their trip. To assist with your budgeting, please ensure you’ve reviewed the following.
- Experienced and professional guides
- Shared accommodations in hotels/hostels, B&Bs, and camping
- Ground transportation to/from group activities
- Group meals, drinking water, and a “first drink on us” on two (2) special nights
- Equipment and entrance fees for the adventure excursions
- All equipment and supplies needed for the volunteer projects
- Donations to our partner organizations
- First-day orientation focused on safety and personal goal setting
- Closing activities and farewell gift
- Health/travel insurance (strongly recommended)
- Flight costs to/from Cuzco (CUZ)
- Airport/airline taxes, baggage fees, flight upgrades, meals, etc.
- Transportation to/from Cuzco airport (CUZ) and our accommodations at the beginning and end of the trip
- Passport, visa, vaccinations, etc.
- Any costs incurred due to medical needs/emergencies/evacuations
- Personal spending money for shopping, alcohol, snacks, etc.
- Cell phone and internet usage
- Laundry expenses
- Personal gear (a detailed packing list will be emailed to you 3 months before departure)
Learn more about the people and partnerships behind this adventure!
B&P Founder, Director, Facilitator, Extreme Storyteller
Dan has been active in the field of experiential education since 2000. Over the course of his career, Dan has overseen global programming that has collectively sent 2,200+ travelers abroad and contributed 195,000+ volunteer hours to at-risk communities and causes around the world. He holds an Executive MBA, a Master’s degree in Experiential Education, and has personally guided 19+ multi-week trips abroad, ranging from the mountains of Peru to inner-city Thailand to Tibetan exile communities in India to the crystal clear waters of the Galapagos and much more. Dan began developing and operating trips to Peru in 2010 and loves to share its wonders with fellow adventurers. In his free time, you’ll find him spending quality time with his wife, Jenn, and son, Finn, while cooking, hiking, and exploring the mountains near his home in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.
Melisa (Meca) Sanchez Vargas
B&P Guide, Funmaker, Artist
Meca was born in Lima but now lives in the magical city of Cuzco. She is a fashion and interior designer that loves to travel around the world, seeking new adventures and new things to see. She also loves yoga, running, and exercising. When not traveling, Meca works for different NGOs where volunteering and guiding others is a big part of her life. She also loves eating, trying new things, trekking, meeting new people, and making new friends! She looks forward to working with BACK&PACK travelers to show her local community.
Casa Mantay is a home for adolescent mothers in Cusco, Peru. Most residents have been victims of sexual violence, neglect, and discrimination. Casa Mantay is the only facility in the region housing mothers and their babies for extended periods.
It’s important to note that BACK&PACK is not a luxury travel program. What unites us at BACK&PACK is a genuine desire for affordable, responsible, and authentic travel experiences. We love to step outside our comfort zones and the confines of the tourist bubble, which often means traveling more humbly and simply. You might be a good fit for our trips if you like staying in hostels where you can get to know other travelers vs. snobby five-star luxury hotels – and eating at local haunts instead of overpriced tourist restaurants.
We hand-select all accommodations based on value, comfort, quality, uniqueness, and safety. We also strive to support businesses that share our values in sustainability and responsible travel. Furthermore, we seek to foster genuine community, camaraderie, openness, and adventure at BACK&PACK. As such, we use a variety of shared accommodation arrangements on our trips, ranging from double and triple rooms with shared bathrooms to larger, coed hostel dormitories. We typically rotate roommates throughout the experience to ensure all travelers get to know one another.
With this in mind, we ask that all participants come prepared to live and travel with a community-first mindset. As the adage goes, “Think we, not me.” Yet we understand our style of travel might not work for all. If you have a question or concern about our accommodations or rooming policies, please feel free to contact our team.
Your booking covers all group meals, drinking water, and a “first drink on us” wine/beer on two (2) special nights. You are welcome to bring extra spending money should you want to supplement our meals/snacks/drinks with your own. We can accommodate most dietary restrictions (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.). For severe food allergies (peanut, etc.), contact us to discuss the risks and our limitations.
Our Sacred Peru experience begins and ends at Cuzco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ). CUZ typically has a wide selection of airlines and flight times, as well as reasonable fares. As we welcome travelers from all over the world, our pricing does not include the cost of flights.
We accept arrivals and departures at any time on the scheduled start and end dates. However, when possible, we suggest timing your arrival in the morning or early afternoon to make the most out of that first day – our day to break the ice and see some of Cuzco!
What do you mean – “designed for solo travelers”?
Our group trips are available exclusively to individuals traveling on their own. If you’re nervous about (or just don’t want to!) joining a group tour where others sign up with their friends or family – this is the trip for you. We’re all in the same “solo traveler” boat together!
At BACK&PACK, we believe in the transformational power of solo travel. Traveling somewhere on your own – even when combined with the camaraderie of our small group trips – teaches you more about yourself and stretches you further outside your comfort zone. As a purpose-driven, experiential education company, it is one of our main objectives to strengthen our participants’ sense of independence and self-confidence. Limiting our trips to solo travelers is one of the many ways we achieve this goal.
So – can we count you (and only you 😉 ) in?
What makes BACK&PACK different from other tour companies?
Well, first of all, you’ll hurt our feelings if you call us a tour company. 😢 While we indeed organize some incredible tourist activities for all our itineraries, our trips are ultimately designed to be more educational and inspirational than an average tour.
Our focus at BACK&PACK is on the independent/solo travel experience. As solo travelers ourselves, we know the profound impact this kind of experience can have. When you travel solo, you get to know yourself more. You might find yourself changing in new ways – developing more feelings of empowerment, independence, and self-confidence. It’s part of your journey, yet we’re here to help facilitate!
Throughout the trip, we plan optional (yet strongly encouraged) experiential educational activities to bring more depth to the experience. Whether it’s spending an hour at night reflecting with your group or participating in our surprise “challenge by choice” activities, you’ll quickly learn we seek a transformational experience above all else.
What are the eligibility criteria for this trip?
Due to the active nature of our Sacred Peru experience, participants should be physically fit and have some background hiking over rough terrain for multiple days. While the mountain biking, whitewater rafting, paddleboarding, etc. is considered easy to moderate, the Salkantay Trek involves hiking 5-10 hours a day, camping, and sometimes inclement weather (including winds and rain). Day 1 (a ~6.2 mile uphill climb) and Day 2 (a ~13.7 mile day at high altitude, cresting at Salkantay Pass) are considered the most difficult. Day 3 (a ~11.2 mile, mostly downhill hike) and Day 4 (a ~15.5 mile downhill hike) are long but more manageable. Note, altitude is typically the greatest challenge Salkantay trekkers face, as we are accompanied by expert guides and horses that carry the bulk of our gear.
Additionally, we ask that participants have a high level of maturity, share our “safety first” mentality, and treat others as they wish to be treated. Sacred Peru is more than a tour – through volunteering, we go below the surface to explore issues and possible solutions. While we certainly kick back and have fun – if you are only looking to join the “backpacker party scene,” it’s safe to say you will not be a good fit for our trips. BACK&PACK participants should have a respectful demeanor, an open mindset, and – most of all – a commitment to safety and personal responsibility.
I’m not from the U.S. Can I book a trip?
Absolutely! We are open to travelers from all backgrounds and nationalities.
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is not required, yet we strongly advise every participant to purchase a comprehensive policy that covers unexpected medical and emergency evacuation expenses. Travel is anything but predictable, and you never know when that annoying “extra” insurance expense will pay itself back tenfold. If you need some help identifying a policy that is right for you and your budget, please contact us. We’ll be happy to make some recommendations.
What about visas?
BACK&PACK can not apply for passports or visas on your behalf, yet the information below should help guide you through the process. As always, contact our team if you have questions or run into any issues.
Travelers with U.S. passports – For the most up-to-date information, please visit Peru’s page at travel.state.gov. Travelers with U.S. passports do not need a visa for stays less than 30 days but must have 6+ months of validity after the entry date from Peru. If you need to apply for or renew your passport, please submit your application as soon as possible.
Travelers with non-U.S. passports – Please verify passport and visa requirements for your nationality by contacting your local Peruvian embassy or consulate. The websites embassypages.com and embassy-finder.com operate handy directories of embassies and consulates around the world. If you’re required to obtain a visa and need specific information for the application process, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to assist you.
Can I ask another question?
Of course! Feel free to email, call or text us with any additional questions.
Fill out the form below and reserve your space for free for seven (7) days! This grace period allows us to get to know you better and check a few screening questions off our list before booking.
At the time of booking, we require a $250 USD non-refundable deposit. Full payment is due 90 days before your start date or at the time of booking if less than 90 days. Payments can be made via check, credit card, or bank transfer.
If you have to cancel: We’ll be sad to see you go! Yet you may request a partial refund under the following schedule. Note, regardless of the timing, all refunds are subject to the $250 USD non-refundable fee. We reserve the right to cancel delinquent or non-paying participants without notice or refund.
- 91+ days: 100% refund minus $250 deposit
- 61-90 days: 75% refund minus $250 deposit
- 31-60 days: 50% refund minus $250 deposit
- 15-30 days: 25% refund minus $250 deposit
- 0-14 days: 0% refund
If we have to cancel: While uncommon, factors outside our control (global travel restrictions, etc.) may require us to temporarily suspend or cancel a trip. In the unlikely event that BACK&PACK cancels a trip, we can work with you to find alternate dates or destinations – or you can elect to receive a full refund of your deposit and trip fees.
Reserve Your Space
Hold your space on the Sacred Peru adventure for free for seven (7) days! After completing this short form, we’ll reach out to you within 24 hours with a few essential screening questions, booking, and payment details.