Explore Peru's vast jungle with a 3 night stay in the Peruvian Amazon. Next explore Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and the great ruins of Machu Picchu on a fully guided Peru tour. Wander through village markets where ancient traditions live on in the hearts of the Andean people. Visit Sacsayhuamán, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Experience a witches' market in Cusco, bargain over tapestries in Pisac, and walk off the beaten path in the rural Andes. An easy paced journey perfect for anyone with a sense of curiosity and adventure.
Canoe Lake Sandoval in search of Giant Otters and other wildlife
Hike through weaving trails searching for animals that only appear at night
Take your time exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu with your local guide
Visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco to learn about weaving
Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, walk across the street to the comfortable and conveniently located Wyndham Costa del Sol Hotel. Settle into your room and rest up after your travels. You have an exciting trip ahead, filled with ancient ruins, local markets and the beautiful Andes Mountains!
Day 2: Fly to Puerto Maldonado - Transfer to Amazon Lodge
Transfer from Puerto Maldonado airport to the river port on the Madre de Dios River. A 25 minute journey down the Madre de Dios River by motor canoe brings you to the end of the trail into Sandoval Lake Lodge. From here the trail takes you on a 2-mile walk or rickshaw ride through secondary forest, until you reach a small canal where you board canoes and are paddled 220 yards through a flooded forest of 100-foot tall Mauritia palms. As the canal opens onto the shimmering surface of the lake, transfer by catamaran across the lake to the lodge. After lunch and a brief rest to avoid the early afternoon heat, you'll once again board the catamaran and set off to explore the entire west end of the lake. Here, in the flooded palm forest drift to the sounds of hundreds of Red-Bellied Macaws as they return to the palm forest for the night. Return to the lodge around nightfall for dinner. After dinner return to the canoes to look for the large and extremely rare Black Caimans. If it's a clear starlit night, you can take advantage of the stupendous stargazing as you float in the middle of the lake.
A pre-dawn wake-up call will enable you to be on the lake for sunrise, when the resident wildlife is most active. With luck you'll encounter the family of Giant Otters which frequent the lake. Most of the fish-eating water birds around the lake actively fish in the early morning as well, and this outing should provide excellent views - and photographs - of the prehistoric-looking Hoatzins. After returning for a late breakfast, set off into the cool understory of the tall virgin forest around the lake. Pass through towering wild Brazil Nut trees, and see a demonstration of how your hosts collect, open and commercialize this important natural product. Once you've eaten lunch and had an hour or so to relax, board the catamaran to explore the eastern part of the lake. You can hope to see one or more of the five species of monkeys, like the Brown Capuchin Monkey, which live in the forest near the lake. There is an opportunity again after dinner to try and spot some Black Caimans on the lake, or to go on a short night walk through the primary forest.
Rising once again at dawn, have a quick snack before boarding the catamarans to explore the western end of the lake in the hope of an encounter with Giant Otters. After a late breakfast explore some of the rainforest trails with your knowledgeable resident naturalist guide. As you walk, the forest will be brought to life as your guide explains the ecology of the rainforest and its diverse flora and fauna. Return to the lodge for lunch, and then have an optional rest for those wanting to escape the early afternoon heat. For those still full of energy, there is an option to independently explore some of the forest trails. In the cooler late afternoon you will once again board the catamaran to explore the eastern end of the lake, and hopefully experience a spectacular sunset over the lake before returning to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, there is a final chance to look for Black Caiman on the lake, or to go on a short night hike through the forest.
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas.
You will be picked up at the Cusco airport and taken to your hotel to drop off your luggage and rest. In the afternoon, you'll begin to explore Cusco on a guided walking tour of the city. The sites visited today are flexible, as your guide sets the pace and agenda according to your interests and your ongoing adjustment to the altitude.
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and overnight.
Day 7: Ollantaytambo Ruins | Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the under-rated ruins of Ollantaytambo before the larger groups of tourists arrive. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco. The ruins feature expansive terraces, giant building blocks and well-preserved architecture. Even the town itself is still laid out as it was during the Inca empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the Vistadome train late this morning and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes, take the short bus ride up to the gates of Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins and learning about its fascinating history, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Today you will return to the ruins of Machu Picchu for further exploration. Return early with the hope of catching the sun coming up over the mountains at Machu Picchu. Depending on your preference in permits, arrive in time to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu for incredible views of the entire area or choose to simply walk amongst the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants with your guide. (The basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Hiking permits require additional costs and should be reserved at the time of booking your tour due to limited availability.)
After your final exploration of Machu Picchu, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Today is free to explore with your guide. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged in advance.
The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife where live folk music and excellent food abounds! Enjoy the last night of your Peru vacation.
Day 10: Fly Home
Or with more time, extend your trip with a visit to Lake Titicaca. Click here to see our Peru extensions!
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.