Discover the world’s largest rainforest with its unique nature and fascinating wildlife, combined with Peru’s other highlights: Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, Arequipa and Lima.
Discover the world’s largest rainforest with its unique nature and fascinating wildlife, combined with Peru’s other highlights: Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, Arequipa and Lima.
Comprehensive package of excursions:
Peru is an incredibly beautiful and fascinating country. This trip will take you on an adventure to remember and cherish for a lifetime. You can look forward to visiting the cities of Lima and Arequipa, which are both liberally sprinkled with delightful colonial buildings. Surrounded by majestic volcanoes, you will find the deep Colca Canyon with its charming villages, ancient farming terraces and fascinating wildlife, which includes lamas, alpacas and condors. At the high altitude Lake Titicaca, you can learn something about the culture and everyday life of the local Indian population. You will also visit the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, which displays excellent examples of Inca stonemasons’ art, the Sacred Valley with its impressive terrace systems, charming villages and colourful markets – and, of course, Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Your journey ends in the fertile Amazon rainforest, where you can observe brightly coloured butterflies, frogs, parrots, monkeys and a plethora of green plants.
Departure day, where you will fly to Peru, with connecting flights along the way. You will land at Lima Airport, where you will be met by a representative of our partner in Peru, who will accompany you to your hotel. The journey from the airport to the hotel takes around 1 hour, and on the route your guide will answer any questions you may have regarding your trip. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.
The day starts with a half-day tour of the Peruvian capital city, which was founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro. The itinerary will take you to the magnificent, bustling central square called Plaza Mayor, which is decorated with rose gardens, tall palm trees and a fountain capped with a representation of the city’s guardian angel. The square is lined with beautiful buildings in colonial style, including the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace and the city’s impressive cathedral which dates back to 1555 and contains the earthly remains of Pizarro himself. You will then have the chance to visit the San Francisco Monastery and its church from 1674 – which happens to be the most attractive Baroque church in the city. The monastery is decorated with delightful mosaic tiles from Seville and fresco paintings that were rediscovered when an earthquake destroyed parts of the outer wall. Particularly worthy of note are the monastery’s museum of religious art, the library of more than 25,000 books, and the catacombs beneath the church.
Next stop on the itinerary is the San Isidro district, with its attractive parks, and the modern Miraflores quarter, with its fine beaches, gardens and squares, as well as charming cafés and restaurants. Before the tour draws to a close, there will be time to visit the Lima Museum of Art, which is famous for its comprehensive collections of pre-Colombian jewellery and applied art.
The late afternoon and evening are yours to do with as you wish.
In the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to Lima Airport to catch your flight to the elegant colonial city of Arequipa, which is situated at an elevation of 2,400 masl. The city is surrounded by the snow-capped volcanoes Misti (5,822 m), Chachani (6,057 m) and Pichu-Pichu (5,669 m), which generate a truly extraordinary atmosphere. You will be met on arrival at Arequipa Airport and driven to your hotel.
After checking in, it is time for a guided tour of the city, taking in a host of magnificent villas and colonial buildings from the 1700s with their exquisitely carved doors, French windows and ornate fences around spacious courtyard gardens. The city is built almost exclusively of white volcanic stone and is therefore often called ‘The White City’. You will also visit the beautiful central square – Plaza de Armas – with its tall palms, old gas lights and magnificent fountain. It is also the site of the city’s enormous cathedral.
After this, it is time to visit perhaps the most famous attraction in Arequipa: the Santa Catalina monastery, which was once home to more than 400 nuns. Santa Catalina was founded in 1580 by the rich widow Maria de Guzmán, and it was extended in the 1600s. The institution was reserved exclusively for the upper class locals, and during the colonial years it was customary for the second daughters of rich families to become nuns. The girls were taken to the monastery at the tender age of three, after which they never ventured beyond its walls again. It was not until 1970 that the monastery doors were opened, and around 20 nuns still live here today – although they are now free to receive visitors and to leave Santa Catalina as they wish.
Before returning to the hotel, there will be time to visit Yanahuara Square, which provides excellent opportunities to take photos of the volcanoes that surround the city.
The day commences with an early-morning check-out from your hotel, after which you will start your journey to the fascinating Colca Canyon, which is 3,191-metre-deep – or more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon in the United States. Only the nearby Cotahuasi Canyon is deeper, and only by 150 metres.
Your route will take you across the spectacular Altiplano, a dry, barren landscape of wide open vistas. You will pass through a number of small villages where you are sure so see local herders with their flocks of lamas and alpacas. After a drive of a few hours, you will reach the town of Chivay, which serves as the entrance to Colca Canyon. Here, the landscape around the town is dominated by two mighty volcanoes: Sabancaya (5,976 m) and Ampato (6,288 m).
Following your long coach journey, you have earned a bit of rest and relaxation, and a visit to the hot thermal baths of Chivay is sure to work wonders on your weary muscles.
Early in the morning, you will head off towards Mirador Cruz del Condor, a breath-taking vantage point near one of the deepest parts of Colca Canyon. It is a truly amazing experience to stand here and look out over the canyon. You may even be lucky enough to see some condors soaring on the warm air currents. Condors are the largest flying birds in the world, with a wing span of up to 3 metres.
Following this captivating natural delight, you set off on a short hike into the valley, where you can observe some of the old agricultural terraces that have been in use for centuries.
You then return to Chivay for lunch before driving on to Puno, which is located on the shores of the world’s largest and highest lake, Titicaca, at an altitude of 4,000 metres. Puno was of historical significance to the Incas, because it was here that the first Inca, Manco Capac, arose from the waters of Lake Titicaca, founded the Inca Empire and became the first king in Cusco. Today, Puno is an agricultural town that focuses primarily on raising lamas and alpacas. This makes it a great place to buy woollen items.
Today is devoted to a full-day excursion to Lake Titicaca, which is shared harmoniously by Bolivia and Peru. Indigenous peoples speaking Quechua and Aymara dialects currently live on separate stretches of land along the shores of the lake. You will first visit the Uros people, who have survived through a combination of hunting and fishing, and who live on undulating reed islands in Puno Bay, where both their houses and their boats are built of reeds harvested from the islands. You will have the opportunity to learn a little about their culture and gain some insight into their everyday lives.
The day continues with a sailing trip to the peaceful island of Taquile, where you will likewise spend some time with the locals and will be sure to discover that the two societies are very different from one another. Your guide will then accompany you on a hike to the highest point on the island, where you can enjoy a truly enchanting view out over the giant Lake Titicaca, which is 174 km long and 64 km wide.
Towards the middle of the afternoon, you will be sailed back to Puno and the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.
Get ready for a long but eventful day! You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the bus station, where a coach is waiting to take you to Cusco, which was once the official capital of the Inca Empire, and is now an elegant, thriving and multicultural city.
En route, you will cross Altiplano, where you may well see some vicuñas, an animal that is related to the camel but looks more like a lama or alpaca. The coach will make several stops along the way, so you can take part in guided tours of various ruins and monuments. The first stop is at the Pukara pyramid: the hugely impressive step pyramid that was built by the people of Pukara 3,500 years ago. The coach will subsequently take you over La Raya – the highest point on the route at 4,319 metres above sea level – before descending into a beautiful valley used to cultivate a variety of crops including corn and potatoes. You will then arrive in Raqchi, where you can view the ruins of Viracocha Temple, one of the most sacred sites of all to the Incas. The last stop before Cusco is at the famous colonial age church Andahuaylillas, better known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Americas’ on account of its magnificent painted ceilings and other fine art.
On arriving in Cusco, you will have time to check into your hotel before spending the evening exploring the city and its excellent restaurants.
There is nothing scheduled for today until the afternoon, when a guided tour of Cusco and its surroundings has been arranged. You start at the city’s central square – the Plaza de Armas, which was known as Hucaypata or ‘The Warriors’ Square’ during the age of the Incas. It was here that many of the most important events in the history of Cusco took place.
This is also where you will find Cusco Cathedral, built of stone from the Sacsayhuamán Inca complex on top of the Inca Viracocha Palace during the colonial era. The cathedral is therefore a wonderful mix of Spanish Renaissance architecture and the Incas’ masterful stone masonry. The street next to the cathedral leads to Santo Domingo Church, which is built on top of what was once one of the most important temples of the Inca empire, Koricancha. The magnificent earlier sun temple forms the foundation of the church and is built without the aid of mortar, with each stone fitting perfectly instead.
Next on the itinerary is Kenko, another sacred Inca site marked with a 5-metre-high stone block which is said to resemble a puma. This site is dedicated to the worship of Mother Earth and features water channels carved in solid rock and a subterranean room. Farther along the road stands a small fortress called Puka Pukara, which is believed to have been used to guard the road and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you will see terraces carved into the side of the mountain, as well as steps, tunnels and towers. Continuing north, you will come to Tambomachay, a sacred bathing site for the Inca conquerors and women of the royal household The system is a masterpiece of construction, and is still able to deliver water to this day.
The last stop on the tour is the military complex of Sacsayhuaman, which enjoys a magnificent location with a wonderful view out over Cusco. Sacsayhuaman is a fascinating example of the architectural skill of the Incas. It is an impressive construction, with double walls of carved granite, where the heaviest block weighs more than 125 tonnes. After the tour, you will return to Cusco where the evening is yours to do with as you wish.
The day is devoted to an excursion to Urubamba Valley, The Sacred Valley of the Incas. Your first stop is at Pisac, renowned far and wide for its Indian markets, where you will have the chance to buy everything from Peruvian wool sweaters and musical instruments, to paintings, tapestries and jewellery. The town is also well-known for the impressive ruins nearby. The ruined buildings were constructed of smaller stones than those used in Sacsayhuaman, but the precision with which they have been carved and sized is hugely impressive – just like the view.
After lunch, you will continue on your way to Ollantaytambo, another charming village in the heart of the valley, which is considered to be an open air museum, in that all residents observe the old traditions and laws that can be traced back to the their earliest forefathers. The town is probably best known for the complex of the same name, which comprises temples, baths and impressive military installations.
You will then return to Cusco, where the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.
This morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the station to catch the train to Aguas Calientes – a journey of around 3 hours. Aguas Calientes is a small town located near the cloud forest and close to Machu Picchu, the world-famous complex of ruins. On arrival, a bus will take you to your hotel, and the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.
Early in the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to one of the absolute highlights of your trip: the fantastic ruins of Machu Picchu, which have been designated one of the wonders of the modern world. The ruins stand enchantingly on a steep and verdant ridge of hills in the Urubamba Valley, surrounded by cloud forest and green hilltops, with snow-capped mountains far off in the distance. Here, you will be given a guided tour of the area and can experience the narrow terraces on the steep mountain sides, as well as areas containing burial sites, prisons, small residences and temples.
It is said that Machu Picchu was rediscovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham on 24 July 1911. This is not strictly true, but he is certainly responsible for spreading the news of this truly remarkable place to all corners of the globe. The Inca city was built in around 1462 – i.e. during the Golden Age of the Inca Empire – but was abandoned less than a century later, probably on account of a smallpox epidemic. As Machu Picchu was never discovered and plundered by the Spanish invaders, it retains major cultural significance and is considered a sacred site. Machu Picchu was home to priests, highly ranked civil servants, craftsmen, servants and virgins selected to devote their lives to the Sun God. It was a city with streets, aqueducts – which still carry water to this day – fountains and walkways, and it fulfilled a variety of religious functions.
After a guided tour, you will have time to explore the area on your own.
You spend the afternoon on your own in Aguas Calientes, where you can enjoy your lunch and possibly a visit to the thermal baths, also called hot springs, and relax in the naturally heated water. Remember to bring a bathing suit. These hot springs lend their name to the town Aguas Calientes, which means hot water.
Your train back to Cusco leaves late in the afternoon. Your guide will let you know the exact time after the Machu Picchu tour.
On your arrival in Cusco, you will be driven back to your hotel.
You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport, from which you will fly to Puerto Maldonado – a flight of around 40 minutes. It is a stunning flight, offering views of the snow-capped Andes and the green Amazon rainforest. Upon your arrival, you will be picked up by a representative of Corto Malta’s Amazonia Lodge, who will escort you to your lodge via the Madre de Dios River – a boat trip of around 40 minutes.
Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed with refreshments and given an introduction to the lodge and the exciting jungle itinerary of the next couple of days.
After a delicious lunch, the first trip into jungle awaits you, when you will learn about the tropical trees and plants of the rainforest and their medical uses. You will also visit a Shiringuero camp, which is a camp where you can witness how the locals harvest natural rubber – also called latex – and use it for various products. Natural rubber is one of the Madre de Dios region’s main sources of income.
Back at the lodge, you can relax in a hammock, go for a dip in the pool, enjoy a cocktail in the bar or sit by the river and enjoy the magical sunset over the rainforest.
Later this evening, you will go on a guided boat trip down the river to spot the caimans that live on the banks of the river. When the caimans are dazzled by the light of the guide’s torch, their eyes turn red, making it easier for you to spot them.
After all the experiences of the day, you will sail back to the lodge and eat dinner in the lodge’s restaurant next to the river.
Please note: The Amazon jungle itinerary is subject to change. This may be due to changing weather conditions or the behaviour of the animals, necessitating a slight change for safety reasons. Please follow your guide’s instructions at all times.
An early morning start today as you head to Lake Sandoval. After a 20-minute boat trip on the Madre de Dios River, you will be going on 3 km hike in the Tambopata Nature Reserve. In the Nature Reserve’s tropical rainforest, you will discover giant trees, snakes, common squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys and various species of birds, including the hoatzin, which is also known as the “skunk bird” because of its smell.
On your arrival at the scenic Lake Sandoval, you will board a small rowing boat and sail out onto the lake in search of Brazilian giant otters. You will also be in with a good chance of spotting caimans, piranhas and kingfishers on the boat trip. When the guide finds a good place to stop, you can enjoy the nature around you while eating the breakfast you have with you.
Back at the lodge, there’s time to relax and have lunch before the next excursion of the day.
In the afternoon, you will be going to one of the lodge’s 20- or 42-metre-high observation towers, built for birdwatching and looking for other animals that live up high. From here, you will also enjoy a formidable view of the rainforest, and you can look forward to a beautiful sunset. If you don’t wish to climb up into the observation towers, the itinerary can be adapted at the lodge.
On the way back to the lodge, you will visit a camp inhabited by Brazil nut harvesters. Like natural rubber, Brazil nuts are one of the region’s most important sources of income.
Before dinner, you can enjoy a swim in the lodge’s pool under the clear night sky or relax in the hammock on the terrace while listening to all the sounds of the rainforest.
Early this morning, you will be going on a 20-minute hike to the Parrot Clay Lick clay wall, where several parrot species live. The parrots generally feed on fruit, seeds, nuts, flowers and leaves, but some of these contain poison and corrosive substances, and it is said that the parrots eat the clay to neutralise this.
After the visit to Parrot Clay Lick, it’s breakfast time back at the lodge, after which you will be saying goodbye to the Amazon rainforest. You will return to Puerto Maldonado, where you will make a brief visit to the local market before heading to the airport and flying to Lima. You will spend your last night here before heading back to the UK. You can spend the time enjoying Miraflores, doing that last bit of shopping or just relaxing at a café and enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean.