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The ultimate Expedition for anyone who wants to experience colonial and Inca-era architecture framed by panoramic mountain views, starlit skies in the remote Sacred Valley, the wonder of Machu Picchu, and a vacation exploring the Amazon Rainforest of Manu National Park. Lovers of nature and culture rejoice. Encounter a wide range of wildlife, from large-headed capuchins and howler monkeys to sloths, caimans, anole lizards, toucans, and thousands of butterflies. Stay in stunning lodges, from a cloud forest bungalow at the foot of the San Pedro Mountains to a hilltop eco-lodge with spectacular views of Madre de Dios River.
Arrive at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, the gateway to Peru’s Inca heartland. Settle into your hotel and take the rest of the day to relax or explore Cusco’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Embark on a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of Cusco this morning with your Local Specialist, admiring the 16th century Spanish colonial buildings that stand on the foundations of former Inca temples and palaces. See the baroque Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and 17th century Church of Santo Domingo. Visit the site of the Sacsayhuaman fortress and see nearby warehouses where the Incas once stored their grain. In the afternoon, explore this captivating city further at your leisure.
Follow the Sacred Valley’s most scenic roads, passing through a patchwork of verdant fields set beneath snowcapped peaks. At a weaving center supported by The Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco, attend a private demonstration on the production of Andean textiles. Traditional weaving and wool-dying practices have been recently revived thanks to the efforts of local women. See the terraced remains of impressive Inca agriculture systems at Chinchero and Moray. Then visit the white salt mines stacked on the slopes of Maras. In the afternoon, an exhilarating morning train ride takes us along the Urubamba River, passing between steep slopes on the way to magnificent Machu Picchu.
Isolated among mountain peaks, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites. The sacred citadel was abandoned by the Inca, reclaimed by the jungle, and lost to history until it was rediscovered by Agustín Lizárraga in 1902, and later, excavated by Hiram Bingham in 1911. At sunrise, hike up to the Sun Gate, the final checkpoint of the Inca Trail, and watch day break over the timeless citadel of Machu Picchu. Spend the rest of this morning wandering through the site on your own. After lunch, board the train back to the Sacred Valley. Continue to Cusco, a city of astonishing charm and beauty that was once the capital of the Inca Society.
Depart Cusco after breakfast to the first destination in the lush elfin forest region where the Andes fall away to the Amazon basin. This is a day of scenic drama and striking contrasts. Explore a mountain wetland habitat teeming with migrant and local waterfowl, before crossing two mountain ranges between the Cusco and the Paucartambo valley. Take leisurely stops to see mountain villages, a hilltop necropolis of chullpas (pre-Inca burial chambers), and the abrupt ridgetop of Ajanaco, which marks the final high point where the Andes begin their swoop into the Amazon basin. Admire a breathtaking panorama of cloud forest and mountain giving way to the lowland rainforest plains far below us, while you have a delicious picnic lunch.
This morning, travel down into the misty cloud forests of San Pedro, following a sinuous ribbon of road on its plunge through an extraordinary world of forested cliffs, waterfalls and gorges. Descend through the startling and rapid environmental transformations characteristic of the tropical Andes, passing through a lush and magical world of overhanging trees, giant ferns, monster begonias, countless orchids and bromeliads, and a diverse and teeming birdlife. Make frequent spontaneous stops, perhaps spotting a brilliantly feathered quetzal, a trogon, or the wild turkey-like Guan. In the afternoon, visit the nearby viewing platform for the display ground, or “lek”. This is usually the highlight of a long, full day, a chance to see Peru’s dazzling national bird, the Cock-of-the-Rock in full, raucous courting display.
Take a secluded nature walk on the road, scouting for birds, and perhaps capuchin monkey or woolly monkey. After breakfast we continue driving, as mountains give way to low rolling hills and farmland. Now the lowland rainforest part of our journey begins. Rivers are the highways of the rainforest, and henceforth we will travel in large, comfortable dugout canoes shaded by canopy roofs and driven by powerful outboard motors. Splashes of brilliant yellow, pink and red foliage dot the forest-clad slopes around us, and the breeze is laden with the heady perfumes of the tropical forest. At our overnight lodge, a new array of forest sounds awaits our ears. As night falls the whistling call-and-response of tinamous gives way to the loud shrill of cicadas.
Join an early morning birding walk in the rain forest to spot toucans, bright hummingbirds, and many other species in the leafy forest canopy. As we continue by boat, the pristine quality of the forest is instantly apparent, with abundant birdlife and no signs of outside development. Orinoco Geese and Horned Screamers strut on the beaches, Capped and White-necked Herons patrol the shoreline, and countless sunbathing turtles dive off their log perches as we approach. After some hours on the river, we arrive at the lodge nestled almost invisibly in the forest. This evening, follow your naturalist Guide into the forest to seek out the fascinating nocturnal creatures that spring to life after the sun goes down, from red-eyed tree frogs to spiny porcupines
Set out on a full-day excursion to two of the allowed oxbow lakes, Salvador and Otorongo. These wetlands are a birder’s paradise, attracting hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds to its shallow waters. Navigate the waterways in a catamaran, watching for all manner of wildlife, from roseate spoonbills to caimans, monkeys, and sloths. Somewhere on the open water or in among toppled bankside trees, we may spot the sleek heads of the shy Giant Otters. These social animals play and fish together, and we may see them sprawled on a fallen tree trunk, dozing or gnawing on a fish. The kapok trees, ironwood and figs, will astound us with the vast size of their trunks and buttressed root systems, while you hike through the amazing forest.
Today, we travel downstream at dawn. At this hour chances of wildlife encounters are excellent. Our next destination is another excellent private reserve outside of the park. After an early afternoon rest, we set off along the “collpa trail”, which will take us to the lodge’s famous Tapir Clay Lick. Here at the most active tapir lick known in all the Amazon, our research has identified from 8-12 individual 600-pound Tapirs who come to this lick to eat clay from under the tree roots around the edge. Experience a unique and exciting hike to this place, because these normally very shy creatures are visible up close, and flash photography is not just permitted, but encouraged. Back to the lodge for dinner.
Another early start (inevitable on wildlife expeditions), by a short boat ride downstream, then walk through the forest for some minutes, to the Macaw Clay Lick. The hide provided with individual chairs and a convenient place for cameras and binoculars is our ringside seat for what is usually a spectacular show. In groups of two and threes the parrots, parakeets and Macaws come flapping in, landing in the treetops as they eye the main stage below – the eroded clay banks of the river and the occasional villain, a menacing and unwelcome hawk or eagle. Enjoy a picnic breakfast on the hide’s deck overlooking the clay-lick. Later, explore and discover the rainforest, its lore and plant life, on the network of trails surrounding the lodge. Witness the frantic rush-hour activity of twilight in the rainforest canopy, before night closes in, from the canopy tower. Tonight, toast your Peru wildlife adventure at a farewell dinner.
Depart the lodge after breakfast. Travel downstream until Puerto Maldonado, the Biodiversity Capital and fly to Lima International Airport and catch your flight home.
This Expedition has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain, sometimes in wet or humid conditions. Excursions include a variety of nature walks, with options for more physical activities such as hiking. Road conditions can be rugged and dusty, and internal flight schedules can be unpredictable.
A Natventure Naturalist Guide will accompany this Expedition and local guides join us along the way.
MY OWN ROOM
During your expedition, sometimes it´s just more convenient and comfortable to have your own room (only for hotel stay). That´s why we offer the «My own room» option – a single room all to yourself.
My own room option: from $ 4,239