Explore the Amazon jungle, the ancient city of Machu Picchu, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, and more on this exciting 13-day adventure through Peru. You'll get oriented in Lima before heading into the rainforest for several days of wildlife spotting and excursions on the jungle river. Then transfer to Cusco to explore the ancient Inca capital and the nearby Sacred Valley. Discover Machu Picchu at dawn before traveling onward to Puno. You'll spend a few days traveling around Lake Titicaca, visiting islands and learning about indienous cultures, at the end of the journey.

Highlights

  • Spend an afternoon enjoying the ocean views in Lima
  • Float through the Amazon rainforest in a dugout canoe
  • Tour Inca ruins and market towns in the Sacred Valley
  • Hike around colorful rainbow-colored mountains at Palcoyo
  • Explore the "floating islands" of Lake Titicaca

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented Lima
Day 2 Discover the Amazon Puerto Maldonado
Day 3 Go on Jungle Excursions to Tres Chimbadas & Parrot Clay Lick Puerto Maldonado
Day 4 Explore the Jungle in a Dugout Canoe Puerto Maldonado
Day 5 Travel to Cusco & Get Acclimated Cusco
Day 6 Sightsee in Cusco Cusco
Day 7 Tour Pisac & Ollantaytambo Aguas Calientes
Day 8 Visit Machu Picchu Cusco
Day 9 Trek Around Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain  Cusco
Day 10 Enjoy a Scenic Drive from Cusco to Puno Puno
Day 11 Explore Lake Titicaca Amantani Island
Day 12 Discover the Floating Island of Taquile Puno
Day 13 Depart Peru - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima & Get Oriented

High cliffs over the ocean in Miraflores, Lima

Welcome to Lima, Peru! The country's largest city is home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous settlement, 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 makes it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of many award-winning restaurants. Or take in views over the ocean in the clifftop neighborhood of Miraflores

Day 2: Discover the Amazon

 Deep in the rainforest
Treetops in the rainforest

This morning you will transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to the port for a boat journey along the Tambopata River. Arrive at Posada Amazonas Lodge. Get settled and review your activity options for the next couple of days. Kick back in a hammock and relax for the rest of the day, or if you'd prefer to get in a little adventure, take a trip in a dugout canoe to see some local wildlife, including a wide variety of tropical birds. After dinner at the lodge, you can go on a nighttime boat trip to search for caimans. 

Day 3: Go on Jungle Excursions to Tres Chimbadas & Parrot Clay Lick

A brightly-colored Amazonian butterfly
A brightly-colored Amazonian butterfly

Today you will explore the lush rainforest around you in a series of short guided adventure treks. Start by heading to Tres Chimbadas. Explore the lake to search for the resident family of giant river otters and other local wildlife. Continue to the Parrot Clay Lick to watch hundreds of vibrant parrots and parakeets descend onto the river bank to eat the mineral-rich clay. Brightly-colored species like the Yellow-headed Amazon, Blue-headed Parrot, and Dusky Headed Parakeet love to visit this location — late morning is an ideal time to spot them. 

Take a break for lunch, then take a botany tour with a community organization that derives natural medicines from plants found in the rainforest. After dinner, you'll have the option to go on a relaxing night hike during a time when most mammals are active. Listen to the chorus of from and amphibian calls, and bring a flashlight to try and spot the small animals as they camouflage in the vegetation.

Day 4: Explore the Jungle in a Dugout Canoe

Otters in the Amazon

After a beautiful sunrise and an early breakfast, visit a local farm to learn about traditional cultivation techniques and sample some of the produce. Stop at the nearby botanical garden and discover more of the immense variety of medicinal plants used by the indigenous people of the Amazon. 

In the afternoon, head back to the lodge to enjoy lunch. Afterward, you will be treated to a trip in a dugout canoe to see some more local wildlife. Photographers and naturalists will love spotting Amazonian species around the water, so don't forget your camera. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery while observing tropical birds.

On the way back, disembark at the remains of the Fitzcarrald Steamboat, where you'll learn about its history and how it became part of an award-winning film "Fitzcarraldo."

Day 5: Travel to Cusco & Get Acclimated

Private Transfer Cusco Airport (CUZ) - Cusco
 Cusco, Peru

After a magnificent sunrise, enjoy your last breakfast at the lodge. Then it's time to make your way back to civilization. Head to the airport to catch your flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries. 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. 

Day 6: Sightsee in Cusco

San Blas Plaza in Cusco
Today you'll tour Cusco and its surrounding area, starting with Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. Although the site of Sacsayhuamán was religious, the Spanish considered it a military fortress because of its location and the way it was built. From here, walk through San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. Continue to the Plaza de Armas, where you will be able to explore the Cathedral and admire its exquisite interiors and priceless paintings. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
 
Just a few blocks away, you will explore one of Cusco’s most impressive buildings, Qoricancha ("The Temple of the Sun"), with interior walls once covered in gold. The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards, it became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. Your guide will point out smaller temples dedicated to the moon, rainbow, stars, lightning, and thunder, among others. From Qoricancha, you will head to the local San Pedro Market. The locals shop at this market every day to stock up on produce and groceries. Do as the Peruvians do and sample a fresh fruit smoothie from one of the market's many food vendors.

Day 7: Tour Pisac & Ollantaytambo

Ruins of Pisac
Terraces in the Sacred Valley
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This morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. In this area, you'll explore ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Next, go down to the town of Pisac, located at the bottom of the valley. This town is famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.

Next, you'll stop for lunch, enjoying traditional Andean cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. Then head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained their original Inca urban planning. Walk through the streets with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From the top, you’ll be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported from, especially considering the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. Later in the day, catch a train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. You'll have dinner in town before venturing to the site the next day.

Day 8: Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in the early morning
From Aguas Calientes, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people; during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. 
 
Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel.  After the tour,  you will have time to explore Machu Picchu on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and have a late lunch or drinks in the picturesque town center. Then ride the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer back to Cusco.

Day 9: Trek Around Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain 

Hiking near Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain 

Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain is only about 12.5 miles (20 km) from its famous sister Vinicunca. While Vinicunca attracts thousands of visitors, its smaller sister Palcoyo (16,000 ft/ 4900m) has fewer crowds and equal beauty. This mini trek is perfect for travelers who want to view the colorful rainbow mountains in a relatively shorter and more gentle trek, and a great option for those traveling with kids.

Start the morning with an early pickup. You'll stop for breakfast along the way. Your drive this morning will be along the Red River, with plenty of opportunities for photos and stops. The drive will take roughly 3.5 hours, after which you'll arrive at the starting point of the short hike. From here, the hike is approximately an hour via a short, relatively flat path. Along the way, you'll see llamas, sheep, vicuñas, and alpacas. The summit lies about 16,400 ft (5,000 m) above sea level. Once you reach the top, you'll have time to enjoy the panorama and take pictures.

At this point, it is time to hike downhill.  Once you reach the bottom, start the drive back to Cusco. You'll have the evening free to relax.

Day 10: Enjoy a Scenic Drive from Cusco to Puno

The marina in Puno on Lake Titicaca
The marina in Puno on Lake Titicaca

You'll ride to Puno today by bus, visiting several interesting attractions along the way. First, you'll visit the famous Andahuaylillas Church, known as the "Sistine Chapel of America" because of its beautiful paintings. Continue along the route, enjoying breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains in the background, to Tambo Queque Norte, an Andean country manor that dates back to colonial times. Proceed to Tinajani Canyon to see peculiar rock formations and spectacular scenery. Spend the night in Puno.

Day 11: Explore Lake Titicaca

Uros floating island on Lake Titicaca
Uros floating island on Lake Titicaca
Be sure to fuel up at breakfast on the morning of this full-day experience. Early in the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and drive to the port. Lake Titicaca straddles Peru and Bolivia at an elevation of 12,507 ft (3,812 m), making it the highest lake in the world that is navigable by large commercial vessels. The coastline outside of Puno is home to the Uros indigenous people, believed to be one of the first ethnic groups to populate the Andean region. They live on floating reed islands made from the totora plant, a thick buoyant reed. Totora is used to make everything from homes and boats to the islands, and is replaced frequently as the bottom of the island can rot in the water. The Uros people offer guided tours to their homes and sell traditional handicrafts to supplement their traditional hunting and fishing economy.
 
Travelers can experience the traditions and culture on this guided trip, starting early this morning by sailing to the floating islands of Uros where you will spend time with the community and learn how they have been building their islands for centuries. Later you will continue to a larger, permanent island of Amantani where you will meet local residents who invite travelers into their homes for lunch and a hike around the island. At night, join in the local celebration with the villagers before resting in a charming homestay.

Day 12: Discover the Floating Island of Taquile

Uros reed islands
Reeds on the island of Uros 
After breakfast, leave Amantani and leave for Taquile. Along the way, enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Lake Titicaca. After arriving, you willl take a short walk and visit the largest town on the island to see some islanders present their weaving art and crafts. They are known for the production of colorful garments. After lunch, go on an excursion and visit the romantic alleyways, little houses, and the green landscape of the island.

Day 13: Depart Peru - End of Trip

Cusco's Plaza de Armas after dark

Today the trip comes to an end. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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