CROSS THE ANDES TO THE AMAZON 12D/11N
- Day 1: Arrival in Lima
- Day 2: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
- Day 3: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
- Day 4: Colca Canyon Tour & Return to Arequipa
- Day 5: Arrival in Cusco
- Day 6: Cusco City Tour
- Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour
- Day 8: Machu Picchu Tour
- Day 9: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado
- Day 10: Amazon Tour
- Day 11: Amazon Tour
- Day 12: Departure from Puerto Maldonado
If you travel to experience awe, Peru has places you have to see. Start in Arequipa, where the perfectly conical peak of El Misty volcano presides over a city renowned for its architectural beauty. In the Colca Canyon, wonder at pre-Inca terraces climbing up steep mountain walls where condors nest.
Cusco and the Sacred Valley will enchant you Peruvian-Andean culture that maintains strong links to the Inca past and which you’ll see reflected in the architecture, religion, music, food and dress. On the last part of this tour, you’ll enter into the Amazon Rainforest via Puerto Maldonado, one of the most accessible destinations where you can witness the extreme biodiversity of Peru’s protected natural areas from the comfort of a lodge.
From families of river otters to troops of tree-swinging monkeys and pandemonium’s of parrots that decorate the forest canopies, the sights you’ll see on this Amazon tour will allow you to experience nature in way few people ever do.
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Upon arrival at the Lima airport, meet our representative and walk or take a short car ride to your airport hotel.
Overnight in Lima.
Day 2: Arrival in Arequipa & Arequipa City Tour
Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Arequipa. Arequipa is often called the White City because many of its buildings are constructed of sillar, a white volcanic rock. It’s also the birthplace of the Nobel-Prize winning Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.
Upon arrival at the airport in Arequipa, meet our representatives and go to your confirmed Arequipa hotel where you can relax before your City Tour.
Next, meet your guide for your Arequipa City Tour. The Arequipa historic center boasts a distinctive integration of European and native architectural features and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The tour stops at Chapel of San Ignacio, as well as the beautiful, colonnaded main square, the Plaza de Armas, bordered on one side by the soaring neoclassical Cathedral. You’ll also explore the Santa Catalina Monastery, a strikingly beautiful, 16th century convent that once housed 500 nuns. The tour will end at one of two famous miradores, or lookout points, either the Mirador de Yanahuara or Carmen Alto, where you can appreciate views of the city framed by the majestic Misti Volcano nearby.
Spend the evening at your leisure, but don’t call it a night before sampling one or two of the regional dishes, such as rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers) or adobo soup, which have made Arequipa a top culinary destination in Peru.
Young girl in traditional hat, blouse, and skirts stands in front of Colca valley
Day 3: Colca Canyon Tour & Overnight
Start the day early with a filling breakfast before setting off on a scenic drive to the Colca Canyon. The 3 hour drive takes you through spectacular, high altitude landscapes of the Reserva Nacional de Salinas y Aguada Blanca. Keep your eyes open for wild vicuñas (smaller cousins of the llama) and viscachas (small rodents that resemble rabbits).
The highest point of your journey, at Patapampa Pass, reaches a breathtaking 16,109 feet (4,910 meters) above sea level. On the descent into the town of Chivay, pre-Inca agricultural terraces blanket the sides of the valley walls. The Ampato, Sabancaya, and Mismi volcanoes tower in the distance.
In Chivay, visit the main square and stop for lunch (not included).
After lunch, ride to the Calera Hot Springs, renowned for the therapeutic effects of its thermal waters. You can either take a dip in the natural baths or just take in the stunning scenery.
Later, transfer to your Colca Canyon hotel, where you can continue to relax amidst the pastoral beauty of this incomparable Andean landscape.
Travelers gather at Mirador Cruz del Condor to watch Andean condors fly
Day 4: Colca Canyon Tour & Return to Arequipa
Early this morning, meet your guide and drive to the Mirador Cruz del Condor, one of the best viewpoints over the canyon and home to the famed condors that soar on the thermal currents. The road leads past picturesque villages and pre-Inca ruins dominated by the Ampato and Hualca glaciers, both visible in the distance. Once you reach Cruz Del Condor, you can stand at the viewpoint and gaze into the depths of the canyon, which stretches nearly 4,000 feet below.
Return to Chivay where you can enjoy lunch (not included) or browse the local market before continuing on to your Arequipa hotel, enjoying spectacular views of the Andes on the way.
In the evening, explore more of Arequipa or just relax in your comfortable hotel.
Cusco red-tiled rooftops, stone church towers, and mountains
Day 5: Arrival in Cusco
After breakfast at your Arequipa hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco.
Upon arrival at the Cusco airport, met our representative for the drive to the historic center. As you approach the oldest sections of the city, gorgeous examples of Spanish colonial architecture will draw your eye. Look closely and you might see the remains of Inca stonework – these are the former palaces and temples of the former Inca imperial capital.
Cusco is at higher altitude than Arequipa, but is lower than the highest points of the Colca Canyon. Once you have adjusted to the altitude, Cusco has many options for casual and fine dining.
Overnight in Cusco.
Cusco Plaza de Armas with two towering churches
Day 6: Cusco City Tour
Spend the morning at your leisure. This is a good time to explore some of Cusco’s less-visited attractions including the famous San Pedro Market, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, or one of Cusco’s many fine museums. Get a glimpse of Peru’s long artistic heritage at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, hone your knowledge of the Inca Empire at the Casa Concha (“Machu Picchu Museum”), or make your own chocolate from scratch at the Choco Museum.
In the afternoon, meet our expert Cusco guide to tour the city’s must-see attractions. Stops include the Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, the fabulous Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha, the gargantuan ruins of the Sacsayhuaman fortress/temple overlooking the city, as well as the ruins of Q’enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay nearby.
In the late afternoon, return to your Cusco hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Enjoy the local cuisine and the splendor of Cusco at night, the surrounding hills twinkling with lights and the sky overhead littered with stars.
Farms fields and village surrounded by Sacred Valley peaks
Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour
Explore the beautiful Peruvian countryside with a full-day tour of the magical Sacred Valley, home to several royal estates of Incan emperors. First, visit the town of Pisac, famous for its bustling indigenous market and for the beautiful Inca ruins on the hillside overlooking the city. In the market, browse stalls brimming with beautiful handicrafts and handwoven garments. In the center of the market, village women in traditional dress gather to buy and sell local fruits, vegetables, and other natural products. While exploring the Pisac ruins above, wander narrow paths with walls of spectacularly cut stones and enjoy stunning views of the village and the Sacred Valley below.
After Pisac, stop for lunch (not included) at a buffet restaurant to sample a variety of Peruvian and international dishes near the town of Urubamba. The town is named after the sacred river (whose upper stretch is called the Vilcanota) that flows through the valley, on its way to Machu Picchu and eventually the Amazon jungle.
Next, visit the spectacular fortress of Ollantaytambo. These magnificent Inca ruins that cling to the hillside were part of the royal estate of the Incan emperor Pachacuti. Later, during the Incas’ heroic resistance against the Spaniards, a great battle was fought, during which the Spaniards were repelled by the guerrilla emperor Manco Inca. The small town of Ollantaytambo at its base still has Inca houses, making Ollantaytambo the only Inca city that is still inhabited today.
The tour ends at your comfortable hotel in the Sacred Valley. If you’ve selected a hotel in Ollantaytambo, you can explore the former Incan town at your leisure, which still boasts mountain water coursing through Inca-built gutters in the center of its streets and where many of the inhabitants still speak the Incan language, Quechua.
Stone walls and guard house at Machu Picchu
Day 8: Machu Picchu Tour
After breakfast at your Sacred Valley hotel, take a train to Machu Picchu, the hidden Inca citadel. This 2.5-hour train journey is one of the finest in the world. Much of the path winds along the rushing Vilcanota river and snakes through gorges cut into the bases of massive mountainsides, offering passengers dramatic views of the Andean landscape as the train descends from high altitude plains down through the cloud forest. The foliage dramatically changes as the train approaches the meeting point of the Andes and the Upper Amazon rainforest, providing visitors an intimate view of one of the most spectacular transitions in the world.
The train arrives in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, which is surrounded by tall granite cliffs and a cloud forest inhabited by orchids and hummingbirds. Meet our representative at the train station gates and walk to the bus station for a 20-minute ride up to the secluded Inca citadel high atop a mountain ridge.
Next, meet your expert, English-speaking guide for a 2-hour tour of the most important sites in Machu Picchu, including the Intihuatana (Sun Stone), the Sun Temple, and the Room of 3 Windows. Machu Picchu is ranked as one of the “must see” archaeological sites in the world. Royal palaces, temples and astronomical observatories cling to a granite spur some 2,000 feet above the valley floor, affording spectacular views of the cloud-wreathed Andes and the Urubamba River far below.
After your tour, you have the option to explore more of the ruins on your own and capture some final photos.
In the late afternoon, take a comfortable train back to Cusco and then meet our driver for a transfer to your Cusco hotel for the evening.
Want an extra day at Machu Picchu? Customize this package to include an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. The next morning, make a second visit to get your fill of the enigmatic citadel and then return to Cusco in the evening.
*Optional: Hike up Huayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the Machu Picchu ruins. This hike is steep and takes about 3 hours round trip to complete, but affords spectacular views of the surrounding Andes and views over the Machu Picchu citadel from above. Numerous Inca burials have been found in cavities on this mountain. Please let your Travel Advisor know if you’d like to add this to your itinerary.
Perfect lines of rainforest, river, and sky in the Amazon
Day 9: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado
After breakfast at your hotel, meet your transfer to the airport for a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon.
Upon arrival at the airport, meet a representative for a short ride to the port and a transfer by boat to your jungle lodge. Distances to each lodge vary, but most lodges are located between 30-minutes and 1-hour by boat from the city.
Additionally, many of the lodges are located within the territory of the Ese’eja native community, and are built with the same materials and architectural techniques as those used by native communities throughout the Amazon. As you leave the city of Puerto Maldonado behind, you’ll be enveloped in the tranquility of the Tambopata River and surrounding rainforest.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you have time to settle in and relax. Then meet your guide and learn about the activities available during your stay. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner before tucking in early to get ready for your jungle tour at the break of dawn.
Turtle sunbathes in Amazon lagoon
Day 10: Amazon Tour
Mornings in the jungle start early and today you’re first Amazon adventure begins at dawn. Have breakfast at your lodge and then head to a nearby lake to see some of the wildlife that call this part of the Amazon home. Today you may be able to spot caimans, turtles, hoatzin, wading birds, and if you are lucky, endangered giant river otters. Morning tends to be the best time of day for wildlife-spotting and as the sun comes up, you won’t want to miss the experience of watching the jungle come to life.
Return to the lodge for lunch and then set out for another adventure with your expert naturalist guide. This afternoon focuses on flora. With your guide, walk through the forest and learn about hidden jungle inhabitants and indigenous plants. Many of the plants serve a variety of purposes, and are often still used by native communities. Some plants are medicinal, while others are used for construction or even for transportation.
After dinner, return to the jungle for a night walk with your expert guide and see what nocturnal creatures you can spot. Alternatively, you can simply relax to the sounds of the jungle in your cabana hammock.
*Note: Activities may vary due to weather conditions and other considerations. Your Amazon guide will provide details about the activities that you will enjoy each day. Mirror-like Amazon waters reflect green rainforest, white clouds, and blue sky
Day 11: Amazon Tour
After breakfast, go for a jungle hike to learn more about how local communities interact with the forest in their everyday lives. During the hike you may be able to see toucans, several species of birds, monkeys and sloths.
Return to the lodge for lunch and take some time to rest and relax before setting out for another tour. This time you learn more about human life in the jungle, seeing the type of fruits and vegetables that local communities grow.
Return before dark to the jungle lodge for your last evening in the Peruvian rainforest.
*Note: Activities may vary due to weather conditions and other considerations. Your Amazon guide will provide details about the activities that you will enjoy each day.
Man paddles dugout canoe under blue Amazon sky
Day 12: Departure from Puerto Maldonado
After an early breakfast at the lodge, return Puerto Maldonado by boat and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Lima (via Cusco) and journey home or on to your next destination.
- Airport pick up
- 1 night hotel in Lima
- 2 night’s hotel in Arequipa
- 1 night hotel in Colca Canyon
- 3 night’s hotel in Cusco
- 1 night hotel in the Sacred Valley
- 3 nights lodges in the Amazon in Peru hotels and lodges based on standards
- All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
- All meals at the Amazon lodge
- Train service: Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes town Round/trip
- Machu Picchu entrance fees
- Airfare and Airport taxes
- Lunches or dinners (unless otherwise specified)