Discover the hidden rainforest in this 5-day exploration of northern Peru. Transfer from Lima to Iquitos and continue your journey into the Amazon by boat.  See hundreds of colorful birds flock together at dawn, spot nocturnal wildlife on a night hike, and visit indigenous communities to learn sugar making and fishing techniques.

Highlights

  • Spot rare Amazonian wildlife like macaws, cayman, pink river dolphin, and tapir
  • Learn traditional ways of sugar-making and fishing from locals
  • Spend a week relaxing in a peaceful lodge deep in the rainforest

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima - Iquitos - Heliconia Lodge Iquitos
Day 3 Bird & Dolphin Watching, Night Hike and more! Iquitos
Day 4 Native Community Immersion Iquitos
Day 5 Departure from Iquitos  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima
Lima

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: Lima - Iquitos - Heliconia Lodge

Peaceful sunset on the river
Peaceful sunset on the river

Start the day with a short regional flight to the Iquitos Airport in northern Peru. Iquitos is the gateway to the northern Peruvian Amazon and your starting point for a 4-day adventure into the rainforest. From the airport, transfer to the port to board a speedboat which will transfer you to your lodge along the Amazon River. Along the way, you will pass the confluence where the brown turbid waters of the Amazon River and the dark water of the Nanay River meet. Pass by quiet jungle landscapes and small homes along the riverside towns. 

Along the way, stop at Monkey Island, a reserve dedicated to helping captive monkeys adjust back to life in the rainforest. Here, the monkeys get a chance to live free lives, away from cages and poachers. Continue to the lodge where lunch and a relaxing room is waiting. The trip from the port to the lodge takes no more than 2 hours. Settle into your room and unwind from the journey with a refreshing tropical drink. 

After lunch, head out for your first excursion—a jungle hike into the Yanamono primary rainforest reserve—for a 2-hour guided hike. The guides will point out various fascinating local species of medicinal plants, giant trees, colorful rainforest birds, and the heliconia flowers that give the lodge its name. Return to the lodge to catch your first Amazon sunset on the river. 

After sunset head out for an evening boat ride along one of the Amazon River's tributaries to hear the jungle come alive at night. Frogs, birds, bats, insects, and many mammals are nocturnal and more active in the early hours of the evening. Listen to the intricate calls and keep an eye out for eyes on the shore, reflecting the light from the boat. On a clear night, moonlight will light your way, and you will get an unparalleled look at the stars. Return to the lodge to get ready for an exciting day tomorrow.

Day 3: Bird & Dolphin Watching, Night Hike and more!

Giant water lilies
Giant water lilies

Wake up early today for sunrise bird watching. To see the birds flock together during the early morning hours, head out on the water by boat. See the rainforest transition to daytime with the calls and bright flashes of colorful bird species. After, return to the lodge for a filling and energizing breakfast. 

Take a mid-morning rest then set off to a demonstration of native fishing techniques on one of the small tributaries. Learn the local techniques and try your hand at catching lunch. Attempt to catch the ferocious Piranha—if you dare! While you're out on the water, keep an eye out for the elusive Pink River Dolphin. Head back to the lodge for lunch. 

In the afternoon board a riverboat to a lake in Yanamono to see the Giant Water Lily, famously called the "Queen of Water Lilies". Later, in the evening, head back out for another evening hike. Explore an enchanting trail within the secure perimeters of the lodge and witness the transformation of the forest into nighttime. This is the best time to see tree frogs, shy snakes, and other animals that only emerge at night. Listen to the hoots of night owls and sounds of the jungle cats prowling. Return to the lodge for a relaxing dinner and restful night's sleep.

Day 4: Native Community Immersion

Get to know the Yaguas tribe
Get to know the Yaguas tribe

Today's morning is flexible. Rise early to avoid the heat and get an early start to the day, or stay in bed and rest. After breakfast at 8:00 AM, board a boat to visit a town along the river, home to the indigenous Yaguas tribe, to learn about their way of life and observe the rhythms of life on the mighty Amazon River. Visit homes, a school, church, and a shop to peruse gifts. Learn about traditional techniques of fishing and farming from the experts, then head back to the lodge. 

Back at the lodge, enjoy a sunset cocktail at the bar, then gather for a delicious dinner.

Day 5: Departure from Iquitos

Iquitos from the air
Iquitos from the air

Today is your last day in the Amazonian rainforest. Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before heading for a morning excursion to a sugar cane distillery along the river. Learn about the local method of sugar processing using horse labor, and fermenting sugar juice in wooden caskets to turn it into liquor. After the tour, taste some of the exotic beverages made from sugar cane, such as liquor and molasses. Shop around for gifts to bring home as presents or for yourself. 

Return to the lodge for lunch and check out. Afterward, transfer to Iquitos City and the airport for your connecting flight home.