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Explore Machu Picchu & the Amazon River

Combine two amazing adventures in one unforgettable 11-day trip that takes in the wonder of Machu Picchu and the mystical Amazon River. Ride the scenic train to the famous Inca ruins, then venture deep into the rainforest on a riverboat, spotting wildlife along the way. From the pinnacle of a fascinating civilization to the depths of pristine wilderness, this journey will ignite your passion for adventure.

Itinerary

Day 1 Lima

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included.

Get ready for a very busy tour exploring the best of Peru in a week. We recommend booking a pre-night in Lima (in particular if your flight arrives into Lima in the evening) to recover from international flights and rest up before the excitement.

Please note that if you booked the Lima Cooking Class it does not include extra time in Lima and we highly recommend booking pre-trip accommodation. You will be picked up from your hotel at approx 10:00 am (10:30 from Aug-Dec) and taken to a local market and restaurant to prepare and enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal. You will return to your hotel around 13:00.

Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Peru (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control.

Private Vehicle

Jorge Chávez International Airport – Lima 45m-1h

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

1h

The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.

Day 2 Lima/Urubamba

Board an early flight to Cusco then head to the Sacred Valley. Explore the pre-Inca salt pans of Las Salineras and tour the Maras and Moray ruins. Enjoy a traditional pachamanca-style meal of local specialties.

There are some very early morning starts on this trip to make the best use of our time and see as much as we can of Peru in a week.

Plane

Lima – Cusco 1h-1h30m

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... yup, it is a plane, actually.

Private transfer to the Lima airport to catch a flight to Cusco.

Private Vehicle

Cusco – Urubamba6h-8h95km

Times includes all stops and visits enroute through the Sacred Valley.

Moray Ruins Guided Tour

Moray

Explore the ancient site of Moray, which archeologists believe was used to conduct agricultural experiments. Climb down to the bottom of the great circular depressions and notice how the temperature shifts with the depth – sometimes as much as 15°C (27°F)!

Las Salineras Pre-Incan Salt Pans Guided Tour

Urubamba

Visit the pre-Incan salt pans of Las Salineras – still in use today. Marvel at the terraced pools set amongst the beauty of the Sacred Valley.

Day 3 Urubamba

Continue exploring the Sacred Valley with a visit to the “Parque de la Papa” (“Potato Park”). An exclusive experience for Journeys travellers and part of G Adventures for Good, you'll walk through this rural community with a local guide to learn about potato cultivation, weaving, and the importance of both to Andean culture. Also, explore the Ollantaytambo and Pisac ruins and visit the G Adventures-supported Sacred Valley Community Restaurant in Huchuy Qosqo.

Private Vehicle

Urubamba 7h-8h

Times includes all stops and visits enroute through the Sacred Valley.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Traditional Andean Experience

In Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Inca, six communities of approximately 6000 indigenous people are working together to preserve over 700 species of potato – a cornerstone of life here. As part of an experience exclusive to National Geographic Journeys travellers – and part of our G Adventures for Good program – visit this area, named “Parque de la Papa” (“Potato Park”), to learn about life in an Andean agricultural community. Walk through the park here with a local guide, dropping by the seed bank (which has direct ties to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway) and then head out to the fields to watch the planting or harvesting process, depending on the season. After, enjoy some of the delicious varieties of potato and visit the small stone hut where traditional weaving takes place. Learn about the natural dyeing process and witness alpaca wool strands being transformed into beautiful textiles through a centuries-old backstrap weaving style. Your visit to this special community means this local enterprise can continue earning an income that supports their development and conservation goals.

Your G for Good Moment: Parque de la Papa (Potato Park)

Parque de la Papa (meaning "Potato Park") serves two important purposes for the community of Pampallacta: the preservation of agricultural biodiversity and economic opportunity. National Geographic Journeys travellers visit the park to learn about life in a rural agricultural Andean community and take a tour of the seed conservation program, which is preserving heritage potato species. They also learn about traditional planting, harvesting and indigenous weaving practices. With G Adventures' support, the community is able to create jobs in the area and invest in local businesses, which helps the community preserve their culture.

Pisac Ruins Guided Tour

Pisac

Tour the fascinating hilltop citadel of Pisac, an Incan ruin with plunging gorges, a ceremonial centre, and winding agriculture terracing that's still in use today. Be captivated by this truly amazing site sitting amid sweeping green valleys and mountain peaks. Explore the back of the site to see a pocketed cliff across Kitamayo Gorge, which once contained hundreds of Inca tombs.

Your G for Good Moment: Parwa Community Restaurant the Sacred Valley

Contribute to sustainable tourism in Huchuy Qosqo, a small village of 65 families in the Sacred Valley, by eating at the Parwa Community Restaurant. Learn how the resident-run restaurant was kickstarted by G Adventures and the Multilateral Investment Fund, to become a successful farm-to-table program that boosts the local economy and several spin-off microenterprises.

Ollantaytambo Ruins Guided Tour

Ollantaytambo

Tour the town and fortress of Ollantaytambo with a local guide. Take a step back in time at this Inca archaeological site; it still shows signs of its former glory, including agricultural terraces, a Temple Hill, and storehouses. Learn how the area, overlooking the Urubamba River Valley, was an important stronghold during warfare between the Spanish and Incas.

Day 4 Urubamba/Aguas Calientes

Catch an early transfer to Ollantaytambo station and board the scenic train to Aguas Calientes with the option to visit the market.

For serious archaeology buffs, there is time for an optional independent visit to Machu Picchu before the guided tour the following morning.

Please bear in mind that the town has several amenities, but is also geographically remote meaning services are sometimes more basic than one would assume. As the only option for travellers visiting Machu Picchu, the development of infrastructure has happened quite quickly, much without proper planning, and the focus on providing quality service may not be up to the standards experienced in other parts of the country.

Those who have chosen the option in advance to hike the "1-day Inca Trail" will disembark the train at km 104 to begin the trek. The trail rises steeply up into the mountains and will take hikers past the archaeological sites of Wiñay Wayna and Inti Pata, where the local guide will provide insights into the fascinating culture of the Incas en route to the trek's culmination at the Sun Gate. Enjoy a packed lunch along the way and reach the Sun Gate in the late afternoon with a chance for a preliminary exploration of Machu Picchu before the guided tour on Day 5. Transfer by bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes to rejoin the group and spend the night in a hotel. If time permits, take an optional visit to the nearby hot springs to soak your sore muscles.
1-day Inca Trail option:
Approximate Distance: 11 km
Estimated hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Private Vehicle

Urubamba – Ollantaytambo1h-2h

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Train

Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes1h30m

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

5

Optional Activities - Day 4 HideShow

Hot Springs Visit

Aguas Calientes 3USD per person

Soak your sore muscles in the local hot springs for which the town, Aguas Calientes, was originally named.

Machu Picchu Visit

Machu Picchu 75-120USD per person

Just can’t wait to be awestruck? Opt for an independent visit to Machu Picchu before your group tour.

*The cost of this activity will depend on the group size*

Butterfly House Visit

Aguas Calientes

Learn about the four stages of a butterfly’s life at this learning centre and breeding project. Observe varied species of butterflies, some unique to the area.

Mandor Gardens Visit

Aguas Calientes

This botanical garden boasts a beautiful waterfall, varied wildlife and lush scenery. Walk along one of the trails and admire the many orchids.

One-Day Inca Trail Hike

Inca Trail5h-6h 11km

Traverse cloud forests while enjoying spectacular views on this 'one-day Inca Trail' trek. Start by disembarking the train at km 104. Follow the local guide as the trail rises steeply up into the mountains and winds past the archaeological sites of Wiñay Wayna and Inti Pata. Gain insight into the fascinating culture of the Incas en route to the trek's culmination at the Sun Gate. Enjoy a packed lunch along the way, and reach the Sun Gate in the late afternoon. Enjoy free time to explore a bit of Machu Picchu before the guided tour with the group the following day.

After, take one of the blue buses from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes to rejoin the group and spend the night in a hotel in town. Opt to visit nearby hot springs to soak sore muscles, if time permits.

Please note this must be pre-booked as it requires an Inca Trail permit, please speak to your GCO or travel agent for more information.

Day 5 Aguas Calientes/Cusco

Enjoy a guided tour of the Machu Picchu ruins. Get free time to explore on your own or take an optional visit to the Inca Bridge before returning to Cusco by train.

Local bus

Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu15m

Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Machu Picchu Guided Tour

Machu Picchu

Rise and shine – the best time to see the Lost City of the Incas is in the early morning light. Follow the local guide to Machu Picchu to learn about its history at a leisurely pace. Gain local insight into the Inti Mach’ay cave, Inti Watana, the Temple of the Water, the Temple of the Condor, and the Room of the Three Windows. Take time to sit and feel the energy of this 15th-century site, now both a UNESCO World Heritage site and voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (in a worldwide Internet poll).

Train

Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo2h-3h118km

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Private Vehicle

Ollantaytambo – Cusco2h-2h30m Evening95km

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

1

Optional Activities - Day 5 HideShow

Inca Bridge Visit

Machu Picchu Free

Use any leftover energy from your Machu Picchu hike to visit the Inca Bridge site nearby (thought by some to be a secret back entrance to Machu Picchu). Trek up to the bridge that's cleaving to a 579m (1,900 ft) cliff, and soak in amazing views of cloud forest along the way.

Day 6 Cusco

Explore historic Cusco with options to visit museums or go whitewater rafting, horseback riding, or mountain biking. This evening, take in a different view of the night sky at the Cusco Planetarium. Enjoy a presentation on the southern sky, contemporary astronomy, and the ancient Inca relationship with the cosmos. Check out the on-site museum and use their telescopes to admire the stars.

Please remember that star gazing is completely weather dependent and sometimes there can be cloudy skies.

Please note that if you pre-book the Peru Culinary Bundle, on day 6 you will be picked up from your hotel at approx 12:30 and taken to a local market and restaurant to prepare and enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal. You will return back to your hotel around 16:00.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Cusco Planetarium

Look to the night sky for a different view of the city. Explore the Cusco Planetarium surrounded by the serene nature of the Llaullipata Ecological Reserve. Enjoy a presentation on the southern sky, contemporary astronomy, and the ancient Incas’ relationship with the cosmos. Check out the on-site museum and use the telescopes to admire the stars (weather-permitting).

Your Discover Moment

Cusco Full Day

There's plenty to see and do in Cusco, and we wanted to make sure that you had some time to take it all in. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like visiting Museo Inka, Museo de Historia Regional, and whitewater rafting. Your CEO has more ideas if you need them. Just ask!

Optional Activities - Day 6 HideShow

Cusco City Tour

Cusco 45PEN per person

Enjoy a half-day tour of Cusco's main sights. Walk around the Plaza de Armas (main square) and explore this city steeped in one of the world's most alluring and ancient cultures. Visit Qenqo, Koricancha, the Cathedral, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, and the archaeological site of Sacsaywaman.

Horseback Riding

Cusco 150PEN per person

Hop in the saddle and explore Cusco’s archaeological sites by horseback on a 3.5 hr tour – no previous experience needed. Dress for the weather, and bring sunblock and a hat, just in case.

Inka Museum

Cusco 10PEN per person

Get ready to explore the artifacts from the Inca Empire, including mummies, jewelry, skulls, and ceramics at this museum of archaeology.

Whitewater Rafting Urubamba

Urubamba 165PEN per person

Rise for an early morning pick up and drive to Chuquicahuana for a safety briefing. Enjoy a full day of rafting on the Upper Vilcanota River (about 2.5 hrs on the water). Be thrilled by fast rapids that are a constant Class III and IV for around 11km (9 mi), and don’t forget to take in the gorgeous scenery. Rehash all the excitement afterward over a riverside picnic lunch.

Day 7 Cusco/Iquitos

Catch an early morning flight to the bustling jungle port town of Iquitos. Enjoy an orientation of the town, then travel by boat to a unique floating restaurant specializing in local Amazonian cuisine.

Feel free to bring your bathing suit to the restaurant as they have a pool to cool off in.

There are no direct flights to Iquitos, you will have to change planes in Lima.

Plane

Cusco – Iquitos

With a stopover in Lima.

Private Vehicle

Iquitos

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Boat

Iquitos

Climb aboard and get your float on.

Day 8 Iquitos

Enjoy a morning excursion by boat to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly farm and learn about butterflies and their importance to the Amazonian eco-system. Also visit a non-profit Wildlife Rescue Center, dedicated to protecting animals affected by poaching and trafficking. After, transfer to the riverboat, our home for the next two nights. Settle into your comfortable cabin and enjoy a briefing from the ship crew. The river exploration begins with an evening boat excursion by motorized skiff with our expert guide. Watch as the jungle comes alive with nocturnal species at nighttime.

Relax and soak in the natural beauty of the wild rainforest onboard the Amazon Riverboat. Step out on deck to watch the riverbanks go by, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as grey and pink dolphins.

Naturalist guides will lead jungle excursions by skiff and on foot, give lectures, and point out unique species of bird and marine life as you explore the smaller tributaries of the river.

Please note that embarkation points, excursions, and activities while on the riverboat are dependent on fluctuating water levels and are subject to change.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Wildlife Rescue Centre and Butterfly Farm

Visit the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm, which has replicated the natural environment of 17 different butterfly species. Learn about the centre’s passionate conservation work and the importance of butterflies to the Amazon ecosystem. 70% of all the butterflies they breed here are released into the wild. If we are lucky, we’ll witness a release. Also visit the Pilpintuwasi Wildlife Rescue Center a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting animals affected by poaching and trafficking. The centre works with ecological authorities to take in animals (including monkeys, capybaras, jaguars, and more) confiscated from markets, airports, and private homes. Learn about the important work this center does in saving animals and in educating local communities about the importance of conservation and wildlife protection.

Boat Excursion on the Amazon River

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Downsize from the Riverboat and step onto a motorized skiff. Listen to an expert naturalist guide describe the surrounding area while spotting wildlife as it passes by.

Night Time Boat Excursion

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Take advantage of this nighttime boat ride in the wild, and watch the Amazon become a different domain. Be on the lookout for bats, capybaras, black caimans, poison frogs, and a vast number of other species. See if our flashlights will reflect the ‘red eye shine’ of the black caiman or show the glowing yellow eyes of a jaguar!

Amatista Riverboat

Iquitos – Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Hop aboard and float on to the next stop.

Meals included:

Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

Day 9 Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Head out into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve on a boat excursion and search for monkeys, sloths, and macaws. In the afternoon, take a walk through the jungle and visit a local community to learn about their traditions. After dinner, opt to go on a night excursion to Piranha Creek.

Amatista Riverboat

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Hop aboard and float on to the next stop.

Pacaya Samiria Reserve Birdwatching Excursion

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Rise early to head out in this birdwatching haven on the search for over 200 bird species that call the Amazon home. Try to spot parrots, macaws, herons, kingfishers, swallows, martins, falcons, black collared hawks and many more.

Pacaya Samiria Reserve Wildlife Excursion

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

The guides will point out the interesting wildlife species that inhabit the riverbanks, and unusual fish and vegetation that can be found in the river. Stay on the lookout for squirrel and wooly monkeys, caimans and sloths.

Pacaya Samiria Reserve Land Excursion

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Leave the boat behind and take a walk through the jungle. Visit a local community to learn about their traditions

Meals included:

Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

Day 10 Pacaya Samiria National Reserve/Lima

In the early morning explore the shoreline by boat, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. Leave the peacefulness of the river behind and visit a manatee rescue centre on the way to catching your flight back to Lima. Enjoy the evening in the city.

Amatista Riverboat

Río Marañon – Nauta

Hop aboard and float on to the next stop.

Amazon River Excursion

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Take an excursion by motorized skiff down the Amazon and some of its tributaries to see the wonders of the rainforest. Keep an eye out for monkeys, sloths, and a variety of birds while exploring.

Private Vehicle

Nauta – Iquitos1h30m

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Amazonian Manatee Rescue Centre Visit

Nauta – Iquitos

Learn about the efforts of the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Centre, an organization focused on rescuing orphaned manatees that were the victims of poaching. The centre helps to rehabilitate and reintroduce these very rare and endangered mammals back into the Amazon Basin. Take this opportunity to observe these amazing and lovable animals – be sure to bring your camera!

Plane

Iquitos – Lima3h

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... yup, it is a plane, actually.

Day 11 Lima

Depart at any time.

Departure Day

Not ready to leave? Your CEO can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.

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