This 5-day trip takes you straight to the respective highlights of Peru's Andes and Amazon regions. Flying from Lima to Cusco, you first travel through the beautiful Sacred Valley to South America's most famous sight, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. You then switch jagged peaks for steamy rainforest as you fly to the southern jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, then travel by boat down the Madre de Dios River to one of the region's most luxury lodges, where you will be based for jungle activities including dugout canoe trips and canopy walkway adventures.

Highlights

  • Wander the cobbled streets of ancient Inca capital Cusco
  • Discover the wonders of Peru's most famous Inca ruin, Machu Picchu
  • Float in a dug-out canoe along the Amazon jungle's wildlife-rich Lago Sandoval
  • Spy the jungle and its wildlife from above on a spectacular canopy walkway

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lima, Fly to Cusco & Free Day Cusco
Day 2 Visit Machu Picchu: Cusco-Ollantaytambo-Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu & Back to Cusco Cusco
Day 3 Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 1/3: Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Boat to Lodge, Jungle Trails & Twilight Boat Ride Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion
Day 4 Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 2/3: Dugout Canoe Trip & Canopy Walkway Adventure Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion
Day 5 Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 3/3: Return to Puerto Maldonado, Fly to Lima & Adios!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Fly to Cusco & Free Day

Historic Cusco, seen from Plaza San Blas

Bienvenidos! Welcome! After arriving in Peru in Lima, take a domestic flight onward to Cusco, where you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel close to Cusco's historic center.

You now have the rest of the day at leisure to relax and adapt to Cusco's lofty elevation. The city lies at 11,000 feet (3000 meters) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water.

Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, so start your exploration of the city's ancient, narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a stroll through the Plaza de Armas, taking time to see its stunning cathedral; if the weather is beautiful, it is the ideal place to sit on a balcony or bench and enjoy a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation.

If you feel like doing something more active, Cusco is one of Peru's most cosmopolitan destinations, and full of museums, galleries and historic sights. Other suggestions for activities today include:

  • Visiting the Qoricancha complex, also known as the Templo del sol (Temple of the Sun). The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572), and became one of the Inca Empire's major centres of worship. After the arrival of the Spaniards, it then became the basis for the construction of the Convento de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Convent), a 17th-century Baroque Church that is a telling example of the clash between Andean and western cultures.
  • Walking up above the city to Sacsayhuamán and next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from central 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 shrouded in 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. The ruins are further along the same road (to Pisac) that Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo are on.
    Take a walk uphill from the Plaza de Armas to the district of San Blas, one of the city’s most attractive areas with beautifully restored buildings, artesanía (handicrafts) workshops and stores. You will find high-quality crafts, comely cobbled streets and quaint little restaurants serving traditional Andean cuisine.
  • Experiencing the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro (central San Pedro Market), a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, breads, vegetables, and other necessities.
  • Eating lunch (and perhaps dinner too!) at a local Peruvian restaurant to sample the distinctive local flavors and cooking techniques of the Peruvian Andes. 

Day 2: Visit Machu Picchu: Cusco-Ollantaytambo-Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu & Back to Cusco

Machu Picchu veiled in light cloud

This morning you will be transferred from your hotel in Cusco to the train station in the ancient Inca settlement of Ollantaytambo. Here, you will catch your early morning train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town), the base for most Machu Picchu adventures. The train ride takes you through a valley and into the Urubamba River canyon, then into the cloud forest as you draw closer to Machu Picchu itself. From Machu Picchu Town, it is a 25-minute bus ride up to the entrance of Machu Picchu citadel. 

This superlative 15th-century Inca complex is located at 7,970 ft (2,430 m) 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 as well as being one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Yet the citadel was abandoned just 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, explaining the different buildings and hidden corners of the 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. You will also have time after the guided tour to explore the sanctuary independently.

After the tour, you take the bus back to Machu Picchu Town and have a chance to grab your own lunch in the lively town center. Next, connect to your train to Ollantaytambo followed by your connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.

Cusco is full of fantastic places to eat and drink. Consider independently sampling some traditional Peruvian food at one of these on this, your last evening here: under your own steam and away from the itinerary schedule. 

Day 3: Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 1/3: Fly to Puerto Maldonado, Boat to Lodge, Jungle Trails & Twilight Boat Ride

Amazon fauna on full dazzling display

This morning, you will be transferred from your hotel to Cusco airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado, capital of the Southern Peruvian Amazon.

Your Amazon adventure begins with a transfer to the port in Puerto Maldonado followed by a 25-minute boat ride along the broad, clay-colored Madre de Dios River to reach the beautiful jungle lodge of Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion. Take time to settle into your stylish stilted wooden cabaña or room on this private eco-reserve, then head to the palm-thatched Casa Grande dining room for a hearty buffet lunch.

The time has now come for you to start exploring the depths of the jungle on foot. Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion harbors primary (or virgin) and secondary rainforest teeming with exotic wildlife and tropical plants, and taking a walk along the lodge trails is a great introduction to the part of the forest you are staying in. These trails are beautifully backed by the rigorously protected Tambopata National Reserve and built on the grounds of a former cacao and rubber plantation.

As dusk falls tonight, you can witness the enchanting transformation of the rainforest from a daytime to a nocturnal environment. For this stunning sight, you will take a guided twilight riverboat ride, and observe the animals and birds of the daytime give way to species specially adapted to the shadows of the night. You might spot caiman lurking on the riverbanks, whilst in the heavens above the stars of the southern hemisphere will look very different from what you might be accustomed to seeing in the northern hemisphere. Later in the evening, enjoy a dinner drawing on local Amazon ingredients for inspiration. Finally, retreat to your cabaña or room to rest and listen to the curious calls and croaks that form the soundtrack to the rainforest by night.

Day 4: Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 2/3: Dugout Canoe Trip & Canopy Walkway Adventure

Be spellbound on an Amazon boat trip

This morning, you will visit Lake Sandoval, a glassy, ox-bow lake located inside the protected Tambopata National Reserve, and well-known for being one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.

You approach the lake via a sun-dappled jungle trail as your guides enjoy regaling you with their tales of unexpected encounters with poison frogs and other rainforest fauna. You then board a dugout wooden canoe to quietly paddle through mangroves and glide onto Lake Sandoval itself. This serene lake is home to thousands of species of birds, as well as exciting species like the endangered giant river otter, the red howler monkey, red-bellied macaws, anacondas, side-neck turtles and black caimans.

You will return to the lodge in time for lunch. 

In the afternoon, your next activity will be a 20-minute boat ride across the Madre de Dios River to climb the exhilarating Inkaterra Canopy Walkway. The Inkaterra Canopy Walkway is a 344-meter (1,135-ft) network of seven ecologically constructed hanging suspension bridges, strung between eight treetop observation platforms around 38 meters (124 feet) above the forest floor. This is an unforgettable opportunity to observe the rainforest from above, where sightings of fauna are invariably better and you can gain a better sense of the Amazon's colossal size. Keep an eye out for creatures such as white-throated toucans, woodpeckers, trogons, squirrel monkeys, and the three-toed sloth.

Back at the base, you will now get the chance to walk the Anaconda Walk, strolling the seasonally flooded wetlands on an elevated wooden boardwalk for more interesting sightings of birds and animals. Later, come nightfall, you will be able once more to explore the rainforest on foot as your senses heighten to movements in the undergrowth and the raucous sounds of the jungle by night. This is a chance to spy any creatures that the previous night's night hike did not reveal.  

Finally, enjoy dinner and some relaxation time back at the lodge.

Day 5: Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion 3/3: Return to Puerto Maldonado, Fly to Lima & Adios!

Howler monkey in the Peruvian Amazon

Enjoy your last morning in the Amazon this morning. You will wake to the cacophony of jungle sounds in this unspoilt natural wonderland, as parakeets chatter away in the trees and monkeys swing through the treetops. After a last breakfast in the jungle, it is time to check out of the lodge. The return journey to Puerto Maldonado is nevertheless an exciting one, and you may spot some fauna along the way. You will make a short visit to a Butterfly House before reaching the airport. Peru boasts the greatest variety of butterflies in the world, with 3,700 known species, and many of these can be seen at the Butterfly House, which showcases the variety, beauty, and adaptability of these fascinating insects.

After this final taste of the Amazon, it is time to board your flight to Lima, and then connect to your international flight back home.

Buen viaje! Have a good trip!

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