RAINFOREST ANDEAN WONDERS 11D/10N

OVERVIEW

  • Day 1: Arrival in Lima
  • Day 2: Arrival in Puerto Maldonado
  • Day 3: Amazon Tour
  • Day 4: Amazon Tour
  • Day 5: Arrival in Cusco
  • Day 6: Cusco City Tour
  • Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour
  • Day 8: Machu Picchu Tour
  • Day 9: Arrival in Puno
  • Day 10: Lake Titicaca Tour
  • Day 11: Departure from Puno

DESCRIPTION

Renew your sense of wonder on a trip to Peru’s most awe-inspiring places: the Amazon, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca.

Puerto Maldonado is your point of entry to the southern Peruvian rainforest. You’ll stay in a remote lodge on the edge of the Tambopata Reserve and go out by day and by night to discover flora and fauna from charismatic macaws to mischievous monkeys.

Machu Picchu is your next stop. But your journey to the mountaintop citadel deep in the Andean cloud forest begins in the imperial city of Cusco and the adjacent Sacred Valley. The Inca heartland harbors impressive ruins and vibrant cultural festivals you won’t want to miss.

To get to Lake Titicaca, you’ll travel the ancient route between Cusco and Puno. Set 3,800 meters above sea level, the highest navigable lake in the world offers a feast for the eyes. You’ll visit native communities who inhabit the lake’s islands and preserve the millenarian traditions of their ancestors, and you’ll also be treated to sunrises and sunsets of unimaginable splendor.

DETAILED ITINERARY

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 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.

Day 3: 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.

Day 4: 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.

Day 5: Arrival in Cusco

After an early breakfast at the lodge, return to Puerto Maldonado by boat and transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco.

Upon arrival at the Cusco airport, meet our representative for the 20-minute drive to your hotel in 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.

After check-in at your Cusco hotel, you have the rest of the day to start exploring the city on your own. Remember to take it easy on this first afternoon since Cusco is located at 11,300 feet in elevation. Most travelers acclimate within 1-2 days and have no trouble with slow-paced activities. Wander about the main square, visit a museum, or stop by one of the many shops or cafes. Don’t miss out on the chance to sample Peruvian cuisine in one of Cusco’s many casual and/or fine dining restaurants.

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.

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.

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 Wayna 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.

 Day 9: Arrival in Puno

After breakfast at your hotel, meet our representative for a transfer from the bus terminal for your journey to Puno.

Travel to Puno aboard a comfortable tourist bus. The ride lasts 9-10 hours and includes a stop for lunch, as well as guided visits to several ruins and tourist sites along the way.

Upon arrival in Puno, meet our representative at the bus station for a transfer to your hotel. Many of our recommended hotels are located along the lakeshore and away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, so you will be able to take in views of the lake as you rest and relax. Spend the remainder of the evening at your leisure, resting at your hotel or exploring Puno on your own.

Day 10: Lake Titicaca Tour

Be sure to fuel up at breakfast this morning, as this full-day experience lasts around 9 hours. Your Lake Titicaca tour takes you to two fascinating islands. First, the floating Uros islands are composed of about 32 islands constructed of many layers of totora reeds woven into thick mats. Hosts teach visitors about local customs and how they use reeds to make their homes and boats.

This exciting tour continues to Taquile Island, located about 30 miles by boat from Puno. Along the way, enjoy panoramic views of Lake Titicaca, perched at 12,500 feet in elevation, and of the surrounding peninsulas. Taquile Island is home to numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins, and the island inhabitants still maintain many time-honored traditions which are reflected in their clothing and in their beautiful handicrafts.

On Taquile, visit the most important sites of the island, including the main plaza and the market. Take pictures of the island landscape and surrounding lake views. Be prepared for some effort, though, as due to the island’s geography, the tour of Taquile involves hiking up hills and climbing stone stairs. Taquile’s 500 stone stairs from pier to town re infamous, so be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. Fortunately, the lake views are well worth the climb, and there are many places to stop and rest along the way.

After touring Taquile, enjoy a local lunch (not included) before your return by boat to Puno.

Arrive back in Puno in the early evening. Relax at your hotel or head to the city center to enjoy some traditional cuisine in one of the local restaurants.

Day 11: Departure from Puno

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your transfer to the airport for your journey home.

INCLUSIONS

  • night hotel in Lima
  • 3 nights lodges in a Puerto Maldonado
  • 3 night’s hotel in Cusco
  • 1 night hotel in the Sacred Valley
  • 2 night’s hotel in Puno in Peru hotels and lodges based on standards
  • All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
  • Ground transportation and entrance fees
  • All meals in the Amazon lodge
  • Train Service: Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes tow Round/ trip
  • Bus transportation from Cusco – Puno
  • Machu Picchu entrance fees

EXCLUSIONS

  • Airfare and Airport taxes
  • Lunches or dinners (unless otherwise specified)
  • Gratuities