Traveling from one world to another –from one of the continent’s biggest cities to one of its largest areas of protected forest- we begin our journey with three days in Peru’s tropical rainforests before flying to Cusco, in the heart of the Andes. From those Inca and colonial-era streets we travel to the fertile Sacred Valley, before entering the cloud forest by train to Machu Picchu. We then head south to Lake Titicaca, the site of the Inca creation myth. Traveling back to the Pacific coast, we first visit elegant Arequipa and the stunning Colca Canyon, before making our way north along the Pacific desert coast to learn more about the pre-Inca Nasca culture and observe the marine fauna of the Paracas National Reserve. Returning to Lima we will tour the city, visiting its museums and maybe even stopping at one of its sidewalk cafes or fine seafood restaurants.
Transfer to the hotel in Lima.
The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the world's oxygen and 10% of the world's freshwater flows along its river systems and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Tambopata National Reserve (TNR) covers an area of 274,690 hectares and borders the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, forming a protected area of 1091416 hectares.
The many studies of the fauna and flora along the Tambopata River reveal an incredible abundance of life forms. The ecosystems of this part of southeast Peru are the most diverse on the planet, and within the territory of our Ecolodge we are able to offer our guests endless opportunities for the observation of the rainforest's diverse fauna and flora.
The Ecolodge is situated on the banks of the Tambopata River in the heart of the Tambopata National Reserve (TNR): The remoteness and tranquility of the lodge make for a richly rewarding visit to the rainforest. But, with a location just four hours from Cusco (a thirty-minute commercial flight, transfer to the river port and a three-hour boat ride to the lodge), our Ecolodge is one of the most accessible rainforest destinations in Latin America
From Lima we fly to one of the largest areas of protected rainforest in the world. It is a 3-hour boat ride upriver to our Ecolodge, in the heart of the Tambopata National Reserve. In the late afternoon you will set off on a short introductory walk in the forest.
A fascinating 4-6 hour journey upriver to Chuncho macaw clay-lick: The night will be spent at our well-equipped campsite. In the afternoon we will hike into the forest in search of monkeys and other fauna. The boat trip will give us a unique opportunity to learn more about the Amazon forest and observe its fauna from the comfort of our boat, and we will make the hike into the forest in the company of our naturalist guide, who will explain many aspects of life in the forest.
We will get up at dawn to observe the birds as they arrive at the clay lick. A macaw clay-lick in the first few hours after dawn must be seen to be believed. After the first few rays of the morning sun begin to hit the eroded riverbank cliff face, hundreds of parrots and macaws belonging to ten or more species arrive and alight in nearby trees. They arrive in discrete pairs or in flocks hundreds strong, depending on the species. Then, with a flapping of wings and ear-splitting squawks, they begin landing on the face of the cliff to consume small portions of the clay. Generally the smaller parrot species (Dusky-headed parakeets, Mealy parrots, Blue-headed parrots, Orange-cheeked parrots) descend first, followed by the larger macaws (Blue and yellow macaw, Scarlet macaw, Red and Green macaw, Blue-headed macaw, Chestnut-fronted macaw, Red-bellied macaw). Continuing the itinerary we will hike along the trail system of the area.
After lunch at our campsite we will return downriver to the Ecolodge After our evening meal, at nightfall, we will go with our guide in search of caimans and other nocturnal fauna by motorized canoe along the Tambopata River.
It is necessary to make an early start for the return boat ride to Puerto Maldonado, during which you will have memorable views of the sunrise over the river. In the very early morning one can observe a great deal of local fauna and howler monkeys can often be heard. Your guide will help you on your arrival in Puerto Maldonado and with the transfer to the airport and check-in assistance.
CUSCO You will have the day free to relax and get used to the altitude (3, 400 meters) or explore the historic center on foot. The evening can be spent enjoying the fine local Novo Andean cuisine and an evening folkloric show.
After a free morning, the afternoon city tour will introduce us to the sights of Cusco, visiting the cathedral, the Inca Temple of the Sun, Saqsaywaman with its monolithic walls built from stones that weigh up to 130 tons each, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay.
We take the train to Machu Picchu on what is widely considered one of the world's most spectacular train rides. We will have the rest of the day to explore Machu Picchu's streets, temples, palaces and residential areas in the company of an expert guide, before returning to Cusco on the afternoon train, arriving in time for a free evening in the city.
We take the train to Machupicchu on what is widely considered one of the world's most spectacular train rides. We will have the rest of the day to explore Machu Picchu's streets, temples, palaces and residential areas in the company of an expert guide, before returning to Cusco on the afternoon train, arriving in time for a free evening in the city.
Today we travel southeast across the high Andean plains to Lake Titicaca, visiting several places of interest en route: Andahuaylillas with its fine colonial church; Raqchi, the site of the temple dedicated to the Inca creator god Wiracocha. The evening in Puno is free for a relaxing meal and an early night in preparation for the islands of Lake Titicaca the next day.
Puno is located in southeast Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Over 190 km long and 64 km wide, the lake reaches a maximum depth of almost 300 m. Its waters contain many native species of fish and its severe surroundings and the great mountains of the Cordillera Real end it a mysterious atmosphere. The region's climate is cold and dry, with a four month rainy season.
Puno was the center of the altiplano's early civilizations, home to the oldest urban centre of the Pucará civilization, which produced monumental architecture and excellent pottery. It was this culture which was the first to domesticate plants and animals in the area, leading to the eventual rise of the Tiahuanaco civilization.
An entire day on Lake Titicaca, the site of the Inca creation myth and a place of extraordinary beauty, where 8000 square kilometers of blue waters merge with the Andean sky: During the boat trip you will visit the floating islands of the Uros people and the islands of Taquile or Amantani, learning about their respective customs and observing their remarkable textile tradition. Arriving in Puno around sunset, you will have a free evening in the city.
On the way to the airport we will visit the pre-Inca burial towers of Sillustani.
Sillustani is an archaeological complex with tombs dating from both the Inca and pre-Inca periods. They are high, stone tower-like constructions built to house the remains of the Quechua and Colla nobility. The site is situated on a raised area on the shores of Lake Umayo. Sillustani is also an excellent place for bird watching, with species like the Andean gull, black goose, Andean coot and the puna ibis. Guinea pigs can also be seen living wild among the ruins.
A free evening in Arequipa to explore this beautiful city on foot or simply relax and enjoy a good meal.
Arequipa is known as the "White City", due to the white volcanic rock from which most of its buildings are made. Its historic center is a treasure house of architectural jewels, including churches, monasteries, mansions and convents, including the Santa Catalina convent, which dates from 1580. The countryside around the city is also particularly beautiful, as are the surrounding districts of Cayma, Carmen Alto, Yanahuara and Characato, where there is an astronomical observatory.
Several volcanic cones rise from the tablelands, forming snowy peaks more than 6,000 m high like El Misti, Chachani, Ampato, Mismi, Solimana and Coropuna. At the opposite end of the scale to these massive peaks are deep, imposing canyons like those at Majes, Colca, Sihuas, Cotahuasi and Ocoña.
From Arequipa we travel into the Andes. Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world. The scenery is truly spectacular, with great Andean condors soaring over pre-Inca agricultural terraces, sheer rock walls and the Colca River far below. Overnight in the village of Chivay
After visiting Cruz del Condor - the ideal spot to watch Andean condors rising from the river 1,200 below on the morning thermals - and passing through a number of typical highland villages - we will return to Arequipa, arriving in the late afternoon.
Arequipa is one of Peru's most beautiful cities. You will have the morning free to relax or wander the neo-colonial historic center.
Afternoon city tour and Santa Catalina convent
We will tour the main attractions such as the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, the church and cloisters of the Jesuit church, colonial mansions, San Francisco church, the artisan fair and the viewing point at Yanahuara. This tour will also include a trip to the Santa Catalina Convent, built in 1580, which once housed more than 450 nuns in a closed order completely isolated from the outside world until 1970. During the visit we will also see a fine collection of 17th and 18th century paintings and some gold work.
Late afternoon bus to Nasca.
The small town of Nasca lies in a fertile valley surrounded by barren desert and bathed in bright sunshine all year round. Those visitors who stay in its small hotels and eat in the local, family-run restaurants come to see the famous Nasca Lines. These gigantic geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs were etched on the desert floor by the region's ancient inhabitants from about 400 BC over a period lasting some thousand years.
Flight over the Nasca Lines
The only way to appreciate the enormous scale of the Nasca Lines is to view them from the air, which is how they were discovered in the 1930s. Small planes leave from the local airport and take small groups of three to five people on a spectacular flight 35-minute just a few hundred meters above the desert floor, from where they can see the extraordinary designs, which include a gigantic hummingbird, a whale, a spider and a monkey.
Afternoon bus to Pisco
We come to the fishing town of Pisco and the Paracas National Reserve. Peru's only maritime nature reserve is home to a variety of fauna and was the centre of the pre-Inca Paracas culture. Offshore, the Ballestas Islands are home to enormous colonies of seals and seabirds, including Humboldt penguins.
The Ballestas Islands
Just off the coast, the Ballestas Islands are home to enormous colonies of seals and seabirds, including the Humboldt penguin. Today we will visit the islands to observe its colonies of birds and other marine fauna.
Afternoon bus to Lima.
Founded in 1535 upon the remains of pre-Inca cultures, this metropolis of seven million inhabitants has many faces. From its recently-restored historic center with its colonial and republican-era mansions we will go to the modern suburb of Miraflores with its first class hotels and restaurants and Barranco -always a refuge for artists and poets and home to the bohemian and intellectual life of the city. The many museums, galleries and private collections scattered throughout the city house great exhibitions of the Peruvian nation's incomparable cultural heritage, from its pre-Inca origins to the present day.
Colonial city tour
This tour begins with a trip to the principal sights in the center of Lima:
The government palace, built between 1921 and 1938, the Arab-influenced design of San Francisco church, which contains a monstrance made in 1671 and a collection of jewels, and whose catacombs contain the remains of thousands of people. We will then visit the nearby cathedral on the main square, which bears the city's coat-of-arms and houses the remains of Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima.
Transfer to airport for return flight to country of origin.
To be in good health and shape to be part of this adventure (Try to train by walking each day for at least two weeks before departure).