Delve into the world’s most intriguing lost and found story! Experience the culture and wildlife of Peru, a land of astonishing landscapes and pulsing history, where lost civilizations live on in the spirit of the Peruvian people. Explore Lima and get to know its colonial past. Uncover the mysteries of the ancient Inca Empire in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, a true wonder of the world. Explore the Inca capital of Cusco and cruise the gleaming waters of the world’s highest navigable lake. Then embark on a captivating 5-day journey cruising the mighty Amazon River aboard a private luxury riverboat, travelling along the main branch and tributaries of this vital waterway. Embarking from the isolated jungle city of Iquitos, float further into the depths of the rainforest, where you’ll enjoy expert naturalist guided excursions and activities including piranha fishing, jungle trekking, and wildlife watching. See all kinds of jungle creatures and critters, from graceful and elusive pink river dolphins to slow-moving sloths and fast-moving monkeys, not to mention feathered fliers of every imaginable color.
Welcome to Peru and the capital city Lima, a place of converging trends, created by its people and their living culture, where you will find every corner of Peru represented. Filled with colonial-era riches, and ancient ruins, it is the only capital in South America that faces the sea and hailed as the gastronomic capital of Latin America. Travel to the district of Pueblo Libre to begin your guided city tour. Starting with a delicious lunch before visiting the Larco Herrera Museum, a colonial mansion built in the eighteenth century housing an extensive collection of pre-Columbian art, textiles and ceramics made with various materials and tools used by the ancient Peruvians, including gold and silver pieces with semiprecious stones. Then, proceed to downtown Lima, visit the Main Square, where Lima was first founded as "The City of Kings," in 1535. See the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, and the Lima Cathedral. Visit the Aliaga House, a viceregal construction gifted by Francisco Pizarro to one of his captains when he founded the city. Visit Saint Francis' Church, which has an enviable collection of old books, and an authentic network of catacombs open to the public. This evenings Welcome Dinner is a gastronomical and historical experience, located in an unparalleled setting within the complex of an adobe pyramid built more than 1500 years ago.
Day 3 - Lima to Sacred Valley
Board a mid-morning flight to Cusco. Enjoy a sightseeing view of Cusco on the way to lunch. After, joined by a local guide, start your journey towards the Sacred Valley, stopping along the way at Maras, an impressive Inca salt exploitation complex. These are large salt deposits, still in operation, from which salt was extracted and exchanged for products from other parts of the Empire. Next, visit Moray to contemplate the mysterious circular concentric platforms that were found here. Some scholars believe the place used to be an agricultural research Centre: the external platforms would have been at higher temperatures than the internal ones, simulating the conditions of the different ecological floors of the Andes. After this visit, travel on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Check in at the hotel then join your fellow travellers for dinner.
Day 4 - Sacred Valley
Visit the town of Chinchero, a traditional urban centre located at an elevated point with a beautiful view of the valley. The inhabitants of this area preserve the artisan traditions and the inherited knowledge of the Incas and display them in their clothes and customs. You can also see archaeological remains and a beautiful seventeenth-century church, one of the first Catholic buildings in Peru. Then, visit the Living Museum of Yucay, a centre of Andean traditions and interpretations, where demonstrations of the elaborate textile work, adobe, pottery, and silverware are carried out in the same way in which they used to in antiquity; experience an original recreation of Inca traditions. Don’t forget about the animals, you can feed the llamas, sheep, and alpacas too! Enjoy a delicious lunch at Casa Hacienda Orihuela, where the famous giant white corn is cultivated for export. The house is set amongst a forest of eucalyptus trees and other native species. Your hosts, a family of great collectors, have a varied collection of popular and colonial art, ceramics, paintings, weapons, photography, ceremonial vessels and the ceramic bulls of Pucara. The final stop today is Ollantaytambo Fortress, the last Inca stronghold to resist the Spanish conquistadors. An incredible example of Inca military architecture, found on the outskirts of town in an area known as Temple Hill. Go up the steps of this iconic enclosure, built next to the mountain. Return to the hotel in time for dinner.
Day 5 - Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes
In the company of a guide, depart the Sacred Valley enroute to Ollantaytambo Train Station, where you board the iconic Vistadome to arrive at the centrally located train station. Having settled in, the train will depart along a route that traces the Urubamba River, affording striking views of the dramatic landscape as you approach the valley below Machu Picchu. After a one-hour 30-minute journey, the Vistadome will pull into the train station on the foothills beneath the ancient citadel in the town of Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival, you are shuttled by bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu, a masterpiece of engineering and architecture that served as a sanctuary and resting residence for the Inca Pachacútec. Machu Picchu, which means Old Mountain, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. At the end of the tour, return to Aguas Canlientes and a delicious lunch. The remainder of your time is free to explore Aguas Calientes on your own before meeting back up with your fellow travellers for dinner this evening.
Day 6 - Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, Cusco
Explore Machu Picchu once again, taking the shuttle bus up Machu Picchu Mountain to discover the mysteries behind this awe-inspiring ancient civilization. After a fascinating experience in the heart of the ancient Inca world, it is time to depart for the Imperial City, Cusco. Board the Vistadome in Aguas Calientes and relax as you to travel back to Ollantaytambo and then transfer by coach to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 7 - Cusco
Today, you are introduced to the traditions, and unanswered questions surrounding Cusco and the nearby ruins, discover the known history and storied fables surrounding these ancient sites on a guided tour. Begin your exploration of the historic sites surrounding Cusco, starting at Sacsayhuaman. One of the most emblematic constructions of the Incas, located just minutes from the city, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Built in the 15th century, it is a huge fortress made of large stones, how the stones were transported is still a mystery. Even after decades of exploration and study, many mysteries are lost in the lands outside of Cusco. Returning to the city, visit the San Blas neighborhood, originally inhabited by Inca nobility who built impressive stone structures within walking distance of the picture-perfect Plaza de Armas, the heart of this vibrant Andean hub, where unmistakable Inca walls can still be seen at the base of many buildings. Today the neighborhood is a delightful cluster of cobblestone streets popular among artisans who sell their handcrafts on the street. Visit the resplendent Cusco Cathedral, the most impressive monument in the Plaza de Armas. Visit the Coricancha Temple, once covered in plated gold and featured courtyard statues made of solid gold, Conquistadors described it as “fabulous beyond belief.” Today, the Church of Santo Domingo rests on the site of the original temple, making it an excellent location to learn about both Inca and Spanish culture and architecture. Your adventure concludes with a well-deserved delicious lunch at Incanto, which specializes in Mediterranean-Andean fusion and is described by Fodor’s Travel as “stylish” and “upmarket.” Enjoy the afternoon and evening at leisure and discover the city on your own.
Day 8 - Cusco to Puno
An early start on the coach today for the trip to Puno, stopping to admire the natural and historic attractions that this route has to offer. Visit the town of Andahuaylillas and its beautiful chapel and then Raqchi or the Temple of Wiraqocha (Incan deity). Afterwards, enjoy a delightful lunch amidst the Andean plateau at a local restaurant. Then, witness the amazing landscapes of La Raya, the highest point between Cusco and Puno. Arrive Puno and check-in to your hotel, enjoy an included dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day 9 – Puno
Welcome to Lake Titicaca! According to Andean legend, the sun was birthed in the shimmering deep blue of Lake Titicaca. South America’s largest lake has long been home to highland cultures, including Pre-Inca Pukara among others. Enjoy a tour of this mystical region and uncover Titicaca’s islands, famous for their tranquil beauty and unique ways of life. Spend the entire morning on the world's highest navigable lake by boat. Visit the famous floating islands of the Uros. The Uros are an ancestral society and descendants of one of the oldest cultures in South America, they inhabit a series of artificial islands handmade with totora reeds. After your time on the lake, return to Puno, enjoy lunch at the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are at leisure to explore Puno on your own.
Day 10 - Puno to Iquitos
Transfer to Juliaca Airport and board a midday flight to the city of Iquitos. Bordered by the Amazon River on one side and impenetrable rainforest on the other this Peruvian city is the largest city on Earth without road access. There is one road out of the city but it dead ends in a small settlement 65 miles away. Transfer to your hotel, enjoy a welcome refreshing beverage made from local fruit. Dinner is included this evening.
Day 11 - Peruvian Amazon Cruise
Departing Iquitos this morning, transfer to the port of Nauta, and board the skiffs that will take you to the ship and settle into your stateroom aboard the Zafiro, as you begin one of life’s greatest adventures. Before setting sail, an introduction to the onboard naturalist guides and a routine safety drill will occur, then, the bartender will serve you a cocktail prepared with local fruit and pisco, the most popular liquor in Peru. You can sip it while enjoying 360° views from the observation deck or a panoramic view from the indoor or outdoor lounge. Enjoy lunch on board. After setting sail, the naturalist guides will offer an overview of the travel itinerary, including activities, routes, information about wildlife and vegetation, geographical and historical context, as well as other useful info. This evening relish in the Welcome Aboard Dinner, start by sampling the selected wines and dining on Peruvian cuisine with an Amazon flare. After dinner, take in stunning views of the starry night sky while you start your journey to the depth of the Amazon rainforest.
Day 12 - Peruvian Amazon Cruise
Rise with the sun for an early morning boating expedition on the Amazon River to explore the local flora and fauna, enjoy breakfast onboard when you return. After breakfast, head out to see the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, which give rise to the Amazon River, this is where you can observe the pink and gray river dolphins. Back to the boat for lunch by midday with time to relax. Make sure you attend the Naturalist talk, bringing you up to speed for your walk to Puerto Prado, where you see the Victoria Regias, the largest water lily in the world. Then back to the boat for dinner and live music. After dinner, enjoy a nighttime outing in search of the many nocturnal species found in the Peruvian rainforest.
Day 13 - Peruvian Amazon Cruise
Breakfast and an outing on the skiff to different lakes and lagoons, in search of the Japanese Lagoon. There, enjoy a picnic in one of the best conserved and protected areas of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. It's also a popular spot to view pink river dolphins from the skiff. Before heading back to the Zafiro, take a trip to the Yanaquillo stream. Once back to the Zafiro, you might choose to go kayaking and take a dip in the black waters. Enjoy lunch aboard before starting the afternoon activity, attend the Naturalist talks about the Amazon philosophy then take a walk through the rainforest over hanging bridges, admiring the riches of the rainforest from the treetops. Back onboard, join the bartender for a demonstration of how to make Peruvian cocktails. This evening, enjoy live music before the Gala Dinner with the captain.
Day 14 - Peruvian Amazon Cruise
After breakfast, it’s a visit to the community of San Regis, to learn about the local people's way of life and traditions and hear about their ancestral traditions from the community's Shaman. Then participate in a ceremony by planting a tree as a positive contribution to the environment. Stop at the market set up by the local women from the community to sell their handmade crafts. Afterwards, head back for lunch aboard the Zafiro. In the afternoon, enjoy a talk onboard about the myths and legends of the Amazon, then head out on a skiff to the Shiriyacu stream, to find a good spot to do some piranha fishing using local techniques and equipment. Back onboard sit back, relax, take in the stunning colours of the sunset, enjoy the live music and presentation by the crew before the Farewell Dinner.
Day 15 - Peruvian Amazon Cruise, Iquitos to Lima
Visit the Sapi Sapi Lagoon, an Arapaima hatchery, the second largest freshwater fish in the world. Discover a new habitat, surrounded by fruit trees, see Arrau turtles, butterflies, and different species of birds and fish that call this lagoon home, then head back to Zafiro for breakfast and begin the disembarking process. On the way to the airport, stop at the Amazon Rescue Center (CREA), where biologists and volunteers take care of endangered manatees that have been rescued. See how they are cared for and prepped for reinsertion into their natural habitat, see other rescued animals as well. Transfer to the airport for your mid-day flight to Lima and check into the hotel. Join your fellow travellers one more time and enjoy an included dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day 16 - Lima to Home City
After breakfast, departure to the airport and your flight home, with newfound friends and lasting experiences.