One of the most enthralling countries in all of Latin America, Peru is home to striking landscapes, intriguing cultures and well-preserved remnants of ancient civilizations.
While this 10-day journey will take you to South America’s top attraction — Machu Picchu — you will also journey to the remote Amazonian rainforest to experience the primeval beauty of the jungle and delight to the sounds, smells and sights where jaguars prowl and Howler monkeys play.
Shortly after arriving in Peru, you will travel to the entrancing colonial town of Cusco, which was the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and remains profoundly rooted in indigenous culture. Continuing through Peru’s heartland, you will travel through the Sacred Valley, filled with picturesque market towns that have preserved many of their ancient traditions and ways of life.
This leg of your journey will then be crowned with an ascent to a high mountain ridge to visit the awe-inspiring and magical Machu Picchu. At what is the most iconic symbol of the Inca Empire, you will likely be inspired to think differently about the world around you.
Following your contemplation-filled visit to the legendary “lost city of the Incas,” a scenic train ride will carry you back to Cusco, where you will then jet across the country to experience the modern culinary scene of the nation’s capital.
You will discover that everything you’ve heard about Lima amazing “fusion” food revolution is true. During your tour of both colonial and modern Lima, you are likely to also discover high-rise condos built next to pre-Columbian temples, stately museums alongside edgy art galleries, and solemn religious processions outside of jam-packed nightclubs featuring laser light shows.
Then, in what seems a flash, you will travel from the vibrant urban world of the capital city to deep in the Amazon, a region where human’s role is secondary at best. After traveling from the remote Amazonian town of Iquitos, you will enter the Pacaya Samiria Amazonian Reserve for some fantastic wildlife watching, authentic contacts with indigenous peoples, and unforgettable sunsets that will all provide yet additional highlights to this journey of a lifetime.
“The trip was excellent from beginning to end. The Isabella II was a fine ship and the crew and guides were all of the highest quality. I would recommend them to others. For us, the ship was the perfect size – not too small and not too large”
Arrival in Lima, welcome at the airport, and transfer to your selected hotel.
Following breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to the airport at the appropriate time for your flight to Cusco. After being met at the Cusco airport and then taken to your chosen hotel, you will be welcomed with a traditional mate de coca, a typical infusion that helps to acclimatize visitors to the city’s high altitude. The rest of the morning will be free for you to relax.
In the afternoon we will tour the imperial city of Cusco, visiting some of the best archeological remains from Incan times. We will also visit amazing colonial-era sites such as The Cathedral, famous for its gold and silver baroque style; Qurikancha, the “Temple of the Sun”; the Saksaywaman temple and fortress; Q’inqo, with its halls and passageways; Puka Pukara, an Inca fort and storehouse; and Tambomachay, the place of the water rituals.
Return to Cusco.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we will travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We will visit the town of Pisac and the Pisac Market, renowned for its high quality crafts. We will have lunch in the ancient town of Urubamba, and then a drive to Ollantaytambo, the sole Incan town that retains a pre-Hispanic architecture style. Built between two mountains in a strategic position that covers the entire valley, Ollantaytambo formerly served as a military complex and a religious center. We will then drive to Ollanta Station, where trains bound for the town of Aguas Calientes depart. After a 2-hour trip, we will reach your hotel in Aguas Calientes.
After breakfast we will take a 30-minute bus trip to the entry of the fabulous citadel of Machu Picchu. Declared a UNESCO “World Heritage Site” and one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” we will begin our tour of the citadel, admiring its steps, temples, sanctuaries and terraces. There is still no known explanation as to how the Incas could move 20-ton stones to the top of Machu Picchu, a mystery that makes this a uniquely spiritual and beautiful site. We will then have lunch.
In the afternoon, we will take a scenic train ride back to Cusco.
After your breakfast at the hotel, we will drive you to the airport with plenty of time to reach your next destination: Peru’s capital city of Lima. Transfer to your hotel.
In the afternoon we will begin your tour through Ancient Lima with a visit to Huaca Pucllana, an archeological site built in the 4th century A.D. Here, you can observe world-renowned sacred pyramid structures that were typical of pre-Columbian times along Peru’s Pacific coast. The tour will continue with a visit to Colonial Lima, where you will be able to appreciate its striking republican architecture and streets with colonial-era mansions and their Moorish balconies. We will also visit the Paseo de la República, Plaza San Martín and the Plaza Mayor, the Palace of Government, the Archiepiscopal’s Palace, the Cathedral and the Municipal Palace. In the capital city’s historic district, we will also visit the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank, where you can appreciate the “Treasures of Peru,” a select exposition of gold, ceramic and textile antiques from diverse pre-Columbian cultures. We will enter the San Francisco convent, which houses the largest display of colonial religious art in the Americas. From there we will tour the subterranean crypts, considered catacombs due to their similarity to the Roman crypts.
Finally, we will tour Contemporary Lima, visiting the upscale residential areas of the capital, including El Olivar de San Isidro, Miraflores and Larcomar, as well as the tourist district, with its spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.
Following your breakfast at your hotel, we will drive you to the Lima airport for your flight to the Amazonian city of Iquitos. You will begin your Peruvian jungle adventure with a 60-mile journey to the town of Nauta, the first township founded by the Spanish, on the Marañón River.
In Nauta, we will visit the Sapi Sapi Pond where you can see exotic aquatic species such as paiche (the largest Amazonian fish), and quelonios and taricaya turtles. You will also be given a brief overview of the town at Centenary Square.
From Nauta, we will board Hatuchay Hotel boats to Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge. Once there, you will receive a warm welcome with a seasonal fruit drink and a presentation in the Kukama Kukamiria language by member of the local tribe. After leaving your luggage in your room, we will then have lunch. In the afternoon we will go for a walk where typical plant and animal life of the jungle will be pointed out.
In the late afternoon, we will try to locate demdrobates, tiny “poison-dart” frogs characterized by their bright colors. We will return to the lodge with ample time to relax before dinner.
After breakfast we will venture into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to reach an area called “Nauta Caño.” During this excursion, near the gorge of the same name, we will search for pink and gray dolphins. Here, you will find yourself immersed in the vast variety of plant and wildlife the reserve offers.
We will also go for a walk through a flooded forest, where we will try to spot a few primates and sloths. During the journey you will also be able to observe the great variety of birds and witness traditional Amazonian subsistence fishing.
Later we will visit the women’s crafts center (seasonal) of the San Jorge community, known for their work with natural chambira fiber and Wingoor pumpkin carving.
After this excursion you will have some well-deserved down time, followed by dinner.
After dinner, a guide will invite you to sit around a fire, where he will share myths and legends of the Peruvian Amazon with you.
After breakfast we will go hiking through the jungle, where you can see a variety of timber-yielding trees and birds native to this forest. Hopefully you will get glimpses of more primates and mammals as we journey toward a rustic camp to rest in hammocks and enjoy our boxed lunches. If you wish, you can also enjoy a refreshing swim in the waters of a high gorge, where the guide will explain the importance of its existence and the role the gorge plays in the ecosystem. We will return to the lodge to get some rest prior to a presentation about “The Amazonian World View,” particularly the use of medicinal plants and Ayahuasca. This will be followed by dinner.
Immediately following breakfast we will leave for one night of camping in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. During this visit, we will canoe on black waters and visit the indigenous Veinte de Enero community, where the guide will explain resource management carried out by local groups – including palm and turtle/fishery resources management. You will once again be immersed in the wide variety of flora and fauna that the reserve offers.
At noon we will stop for a boxed lunch, and then visit the Japón and Plantano lagoons, both possessing a wide variety of palm trees and beautiful scenery. Next we will reach another flooded forest, where we will set up camp. You may choose to take a walk to observe more animals, or you might prefer a cool dip in a nearby natural pool.
In the evening, we will go on an excursion by boat to observe nocturnal wildlife habits, followed by dinner.
In the morning we will return to the lodge by boat, during which time you can enjoy the view of the strikingly beautiful Amazonian surroundings and perhaps see some of the animals we didn’t observe on our way into the reserve – in the jungle, nothing can be predicted. We will reach the lodge about midday, where lunch will be ready.
From there, you will be taken back to Iquitos for your return flight to Lima.
“The Samba cruise anyway was great, good boat, good food, amazing guide and friendly staff.”