DAY 1: Arrival in Lima
Welcome to Peru!
Once you touch down in Lima, you’ll be met at the airport by an English-speaking representative who will accompany you to the Costa Ramada el Sol Hotel at Lima’s airport. Since most flights from the U.S. arrive late in the evening and your next flight to Puerto Maldonado will leave early the next morning, it makes sense to stay nearby. That way, you can get a good night’s sleep and wake up rested and ready for Amazon exploring.
DAY 2: Lima to Tambopata Jungle
Welcome to Tambopata
In the morning, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the airport where you will board your internal flight to Puerto Maldonado. Next, travel via boat to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica on the fringes of the wildlife-filled Tambopata National Reserve. After a brief rest, set off on a guided walk into the jungle, where you’ll see tropical plants, birds and insects. Later, enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise on the Madre de Dios River where you can observe how the environment alters as twilight yields to darkness. Listen out for the call of nightjars and the hoot of owls at dusk, and watch for other swimmers in the water, such as capybaras (the larger, cuddly-looking cousin of the guinea pig) and caimans.
DAY 3: Tambopata Jungle
Day of Jungle Activities
Begin the day with a five-minute boat ride to the Inkaterra Canopy Interpretation Center, where you can walk among the treetops. Stroll along the canopy-level bridges, which link together eight observation platforms. From a height of almost 100 feet, you’ll have the chance to look down upon the jungle and perhaps even see some of the canopy-dwelling creatures, including monkeys, woodpeckers, toucans and sloths, at eye-level.
After lunch, continue with a personalized tour to Peru’s palm-rimmed Sandoval Lake, one of the most serene and wildlife-rich lakes in the reserve. Try to spot giant river otters, prehistoric-looking hoatzin birds, kingfishers and herons, and perhaps even cool off with a refreshing swim.
DAY 4: Tambopata Jungle
Day of Jungle Activities
Take a 10-minute boat ride to the botanical garden at Concepción, where more than 200 different species of plants are grown.
After lunch, you’ll step back on board the boat and sail across to Rolin Island, where rescued primates – including the brown capuchin, white capuchin and squirrel monkeys – now make their home. Spend an hour or so exploring the island and learning about its ecosystems as well as its monkey inhabitants.
DAY 5: Tambopata to Cusco
Private Transfer to the Sacred Valley / Living Museum of Awana Kancha
This morning, you’ll be transferred to the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, stopping at the city’s butterfly farm to admire the 3,800-stong collection of colorful butterflies and moths.
After marveling at their bright, patterned wings, you’ll be chauffeured to the airport for your direct flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, you’ll be met by a host who will take you to the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River. Just 45 minutes from Cusco, this tranquil, idyllic valley is a pastoral wonderland bestrewn with Inca ruins and peaceful villages. It’s also a few thousand feet lower than Cusco, making it an ideal spot to acclimatize.
En route to the valley, stop at the Living Museum of Awana Kancha, which makes a compelling destination for Peru family trips. Here, you can pet and feed llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas; watch weaving and dying demonstrations; and perhaps pick up a colorful garment or two for yourself.
DAY 6: Exploring the Sacred Valley
Pisac Archaeological Complex and Market
Today, you’ll explore the village of Pisac and its Inca archaeological complex. Start at the old Inca citadel, which sits high up on a mountain spur, some 1,900 feet above the town. Wander around the site and look for the Sun Temple in the Intihuatana Zone, which contains a “hitching post” believed to be symbolically tied to the sun, ensuring the world’s source of light doesn’t go rogue as it journeys across the sky. Also of note are the Inca crosses, whose design has a special significance: the three “steps” of the cross are said to represent the three worlds of the Quechua people as well as the values that they live their lives by.
Amble around the ancient sites and admire the views over the agricultural terraces, which wrap gracefully around the slopes. Afterward, you’ll have ample time to wander around the village too. Though usually sleepy, the town springs to life on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays when a market pulls in crowds. Browse the bright geometric textiles and handmade crafts (ceramics, silver, tapestries, costume jewelry etc.) and buy them directly from the artisans who created them.
DAY 7: Machu Picchu
Train Journey to Aguas Calientes / Private Visit of the Sanctuary
For many travelers, today will be the day they’ve long been dreaming of – it’s time to see Machu Picchu!
After an early breakfast at your stylish hotel, you’ll be brought to the train station where you’ll settle in for a ride up to Aguas Calientes. There, you’ll begin your fully-guided private tour of Machu Picchu. Bring your camera to take pictures of the mist-wreathed Inca citadel, which is perched on a verdant cloud-level plateau, high up above the winding Urubamba River.
A guide will show you around the site as you admire the superb Inca craftsmanship. Though it is undoubtedly the most famous Inca site, surprisingly little is known about its significance to the Incas. This mysterious citadel is not mentioned in any Spanish chronicles, and archaeologists can only speculate about its function. The fine quality and finesses of its stonework has led many to assume that it may have been used as a ceremonial center.
After a complete overview of the site with your guide, pause for lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. Refueled and reenergized, you are then free to continue exploring either independently or – if you wish – to continue your customized tour of Peru’s most famous attraction.
DAY 8: Machu Picchu
Free Day in Machu Picchu
Today is yours to enjoy Machu Picchu at your leisure. Having spent the evening nearby, you’ll beat the crowds of Cusco day-trippers to the site so you can enjoy it while it’s still relatively quiet. If you want something a little more high-energy, consider embarking on one of the numerous short hikes in the area. Among the most popular treks here is Huayna Picchu, the pyramidal peak that site behind Machu Picchu. If you want to tackle this route, you’ll have to decide in advance as entry is ticketed and will need to be purchased along with the Machu Picchu entrance. Only 400 people are allowed access each day – half of whom begin the climb at 7 a.m. and the other half at 10 a.m. Otherwise, you can simply carve a path of your own and find a serene spot to reflect on the majesty of this mountaintop citadel.
In the afternoon, ride the scenic Vistadome train back to Cusco. Alight at Poroy station, where you’ll be met by a host and taken to your hotel of choice.
DAY 9: Cusco
Private Walking Tour of Cusco
For the Incas, Cusco was the “navel of the world” and the capital of their entire empire. Nowadays, it is probably Peru’s most attractive and storied city, and it’s fascinating blend of ancient and colonial history mixed with a dynamic, contemporary culture leaves most visitors smitten.
A guide will pick you up from your hotel at a pre-arranged time and you’ll set off on a fully private walking tour of Peru’s treasured city. Examine the exhibits of the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, which will help you understand Peruvian culture, before soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of the bohemian San Blas neighborhood – a gathering spot for Cusco’s artistic community. During your guided city tour, you’ll also enter the Church of San Blas, whose simple adobe shell hides an intricate, cedar wood pulpit, created by Quechua carver Juan Tomas Tuyro Tupaq more than four centuries ago.
Afterwards, follow you guide down Hatun Rumiyoc passageway where you can inspect the impressively put-together walls, whose mortarless stones slot together perfectly. From here, follow your guide to Qorikancha, also known as the Temple of the Sun, the main religious center of the Inca sun cult. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish who built an elaborate colonial convent on the site, but the original foundations remain, and are some of the best Inca stonework in the city. Next, enjoy a spot of shopping at the local San Pedro market. After that, you’ll have a free afternoon to explore Cusco at your leisure, before retiring to your stylish hotel.
DAY 10: Cusco to Lima and Home
This morning, you’ll be brought to the airport for an internal flight to Lima. In Lima, make the most of your free time by exploring the park-filled Miraflores district, before being transferred to Jorge Chavez Airport for your international flight back home.
Like the sound of this Amazon and Machu Picchu tour? Get in touch with Kuoda and we’ll start devising your very own customized Peru private travel experience.
The Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica Lodge mentioned in this itinerary is one of several jungle lodges in the Tambopata area that we can offer. The exact itinerary will vary depending on the lodge chosen and time of year.