Note: The 5-day group departures listed above include the Manu jungle portions of the itinerary below (days 3-7). Our specialists can help you plan the rest of the trip around your chosen departure date.
- Hike from the high-altitude Andes down into the Amazon basin
- Float down the river in jungle boats for glimpses of caimans and other wildlife
- Spend a night on a tapir lookout
- Watch parrots and macaws visit a clay lick
- Travel deep into the Amazon, where few have gone before
|Day 1||Arrival in Lima||Lima|
|Day 2||Arrival in Cusco, Exploring the city||Cusco|
|Day 3||Over the edge of the Andes||Manu|
|Day 4||Boat to Boca Manu||Boca Manu|
|Day 5||River journey through the heart of the jungle||Manu Buffer Zone|
|Day 6||Get close to parrots, tapirs, and more||Manu|
|Day 7||Back to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 8||Departing Cusco|
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore.
Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants.
Suggested activities include:
Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire.
Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family.
Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts.
- In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls. The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific.
- Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.
Day 2: Arrival in Cusco, Exploring the City
Head to the Lima airport for your transfer flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement on the same location.
Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a walk through the plaza — if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation.
Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Coricancha, also known as "The Temple of the Sun." The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438 - 1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent.
See the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the central Plaza de Armas and a repository for Cusco's colonial art. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
Walk to Sacsayhuamán and next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from the city of Cusco. Built by the Killke people, Sacsayhuamán is a marvel of ancient architecture, a monolithic fortress built from giant blocks of stone, the origins and assembly of which remain a mystery.
Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.
Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.
Experience the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro, a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, bread, vegetables, and other necessities.
- Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal.
Day 3: Over the Edge of the Andes
Rise early in charming, cobblestoned Cusco, lace up your hiking boots, and make your way past Incan ruins and historic colonial highland towns to Tres Cruces, where the high altitude Andes suddenly give way to the lush Amazon basin. From here, descend along the Pacific slope to a high-rainforest lodge on the edge of Manu. Leave your bag and grab your flashlight for a night walk through the jungle in search of nocturnal frogs, tarantulas, and exotic insects.
Day 4: Boat to Boca Manu
Wake to the sound of jungle birds, strap on your backpack, and make your way deeper into the Amazon, where famous birds like the Hammerhead Gallito de las Rocas (Peru's national bird) abound. Today, your first destination is the frontier town of Atalaya, where an outboard canoe waits to take you into the waters of the Rio Madre de Dios (the "Mother of God River"). Keep your eyes (and your camera lens) peeled for herons, vultures, and crocodiles. When you arrive at your lodge in the evening, another night hike is the perfect time to spot capybaras and caimans (crocodiles).
Day 5: River Journey Through the Heart of the Jungle
Now deep in the Manu Buffer Zone, keep an eye out for diverse wildlife — from caimans, capybaras, and herons, to macaws and even jaguars. Spend the day traveling downriver by boat to another lodge even deeper in the zone. Keep your camera handy!
Day 6: Get Close to Parrots, Tapirs, and More
On your fourth day in the Amazon, rise early, lace up those hiking boots once again, and make your way on foot and by boat through the jungle to a clay lick and a nearby camouflaged lookout. From here, you'll have an excellent view of parrots, macaws, sloths, and other creatures that come to lick the clay for its mineral content. Take a rest in the hottest part of the day, then take to the trails again in the afternoon, hiking to a tapir lookout where you'll settle down in sleeping bags and mosquito nets to watch for these shy, nocturnal creatures late into the night.
Day 7: Back to Cusco
It's time to bid Manu "adios" and make your way out of the jungle and back home. Spend your day journeying by boat to the jungle outpost of Colorado, then continuing by vehicle back to Cusco. Keep your eyes trained on the surrounding jungle — there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way! Herons, flycatchers, and hummingbirds are all common here.
Day 8: Departing Cusco
Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Cusco Airport, where you will transfer to your international departure. ¡Buen viaje!
Note: The 5-day group departures listed below include the Manu jungle portions of the itinerary above (days 3-7). Our specialists can help you plan the rest of the trip around your chosen departure date.