OutWest, one of the LGBT travel world's top light adventure excursionists, has been taking small groups to faraway destinations since 1995. Widely known for their annual summertime Montana Dude Ranch weeks wrastling' cattle over 12,000 acres of mountain range (already only five spots remain for next June 3 and July 22 now), they also venture as far and wide as Bhutan, Kilimanjaro, Israel, Costa Rica, and Aspen for Gay Ski Week, natch, with over 20 trips on the docket. Book their only South America destination in 2012 Peru with Machu Picchu, May 26-June 2 on sale throughout November, $200 off.
Conceived as a "Best of Peru" adventure, the guided 8-day itinerary includes the capital city of Lima, the highlands of Cuzco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and the lost city of Machu Picchu. As with every OutWest trip, business and life partners David and Aaron (a cellist and a cowboy, respectively) make sure luxuries and sweat combine for a balance that feels legit without skimping on the comfort. See the day-by-day outline below:
DAY ONE: Arrive in Lima, one of the world's top emerging culinary destination. Additional days pre- or post-trip can easily be arranged in the up-and-coming cosmopolitan center.
DAY TWO: Fly to Cuzco and transfer by private bus to the Urubamba Valley, aka the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
DAY THREE: Visit the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo Fortress and raft down class III whitewater on the Urubamba River. Additional time will be spent hiking the Pisac ruins and village with its picturesque colonial streets and markets.
DAY FOUR: Journey to Machu Picchu via train, stopping in Aquas Calientes for a transfer (hiking the last leg to the village is also an option). Or if you book early enough, do the Inca Trail highly recommended! After a moderate to strenuous, 4 to 6 hour hike, walking through the Intipunku "Sun Gate" and gazing down on the sanctuary from above takes your breath away.
DAY FIVE: More time to explore Machu Picchu and climb to the Huayna Picchu peak overlook.
DAYS SIX and SEVEN: Train it to Cuzco for the city's ancient ruins, colonial architecture, and indigenous people, the Quechua.
DAY EIGHT: Depart back to Lima to make international connections, or continue on to Arequipa for the post-tour of Colca Canyon.
Trip costs $2,775 based on double occupancy, $1150 single supplement, and includes hotel accommodations, some meals (all breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 6 dinners), ground transfers, excursions with English-speaking guides, archaeological site fees, rafting, and train tickets. Domestic and international airfare, Inca Trail supplement, tips, and taxes extra. For more info, visit OutWest Global Adventures.