Trying not to do a traditional tour package. What's the next way to do this trip without going with a large group
You can do a private tour but it'll be much more expensive. You can also book the transfers independently. Do your own hikes when you are there, Hire your own taxi to the condors. Pay a private driver to puno a lot of money instead of the 4m express bus.Edited: 30 June 2017, 22:55
You could take local buses from Arequipa to Colca (chivay, yanque, Cruz del Condor, cabanaconde) & travel with the locals.
From Colca (chivay) to Puno the 4M express is probably the only option although I have read people sometimes find rides for this route as well.
We did it by the Andalucia bus to Cabanoconde, with a brief stop in Chivay. Did an overnight in Cabanaconde and then 2 nights in the canyon. One day down and overnight in Llahuar, next day to San Juan de Chuccho and overnight there. Then the less gruelling trek back up. Didn't bother with the (what we thought overrated and overpriced) Sangalle oasis.
Back to Cabanaconde and a bus to Chivay were we stayed one night. Loved the town, the market and hot springs. Then we caught the lesser known Rutas Del Sur bus to Puno. It's comparable with the 4M, but cheaper.