Experience the country’s best sights during an unforgettable day of wildlife activities in the Amazon Jungle, a sunset tour of a wine and pisco vineyard and two guided visits to remarkable Machu Picchu, reached by 360 train offering unbeatable views of the Andes.. Get to know local culture during interactions with the Ese Eja and Chichubamba communities, let a local leader show you the country’s best, and explore with expert guides in Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.. Set out in search of pelicans, flamingos, sea lions and penguins on an exciting boat tour around the Ballestas Islands, allowing you to get up close to wildlife in its natural environment.. Take your taste buds on a trip, from the market stalls of Lima and one of the city’s best restaurants, to a coffee break at the social enterprise Manos Unidas in Cusco and a traditional Andean lunch in the Sacred Valley.
Coloured by colonial buildings, vibrant wildlife and lush rainforests, Peru is a sight to behold. Join a local leader to discover the Incan, indigenous and modern sides of Peru on an immersive 12-day Premium journey. From the colonial charm of Lima to the wonders of the Ica Valley, the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest, the historically rich city of Cusco and the spectacular Incan ruins of Machu Picchu – this adventure takes you straight to the heart of it all. Get a real look at local life and leave with memories to last a lifetime.
Welcome to Peru! Your adventure begins in Lima. Peru’s colourful capital is equal parts cosmopolitan and chaotic. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel where you will meet your fellow travellers and local leader for an important 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive before this time, perhaps head out for a walk in the historical centre to appreciate its fine colonial architecture. After your meeting, get your first taste of Lima’s world-renowned food scene during a welcome dinner with your small group and leader. Head out to a fantastic restaurant that’s popular with the locals and get acquainted with some of Peru’s best dishes. From enticingly fresh ceviche to pisco sours – you’ll soon find out why Lima is hailed as the culinary capital of South America.
Travel south to the Paracas Peninsula for an excursion to the Ballestas Islands. The Ballestas Islands are home to an abundance of wildlife, including pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins. You'll have the opportunity to see wildlife up close on an exciting boat tour of the islands. After your tour, continue to the fabulous Vinas Queirolo, the only hotel in Peru located within a vineyard and your feature stay accommodation for the next two evenings. Sitting in the Ica valley at the foothills of the Andes and surrounded by more than 500 hectares of vineyards, the setting couldn’t be more spectacular, and the comfort and service of this hotel are every bit as impressive. Enjoy traditional bodega charm, spacious and stylish rooms, three swimming pools, tennis courts and a marvellous restaurant. This afternoon you will have the option to take an aerial tour of the mysterious Nazca Lines. Etched into the landscape some 22 kilometres north of Nazca, these mysterious wonders are an assortment of perfectly straight lines, trapezoidal zones, and strange symbols of birds and beasts on a giant scale. Speak to your leader about arranging this unforgettable activity.
Enjoy a peaceful morning at your accommodation. Perhaps take a dip in one of the pools, play a game of tennis or simply relax poolside and soak in the stunning scenery. The vineyards that surround your hotel produce Peru’s most famous wine along with the national drink, pisco. This afternoon you will have the special opportunity to explore the vineyards during a private tour with an expert sommelier. Hear the history of the vineyard and hotel, from the settlement of the Queirolo family from Italy in 1877 to the renovations and modernisations enacted by the third generation of the family in the 21st century. Learn how the brilliant wine and pisco is produced, then cap off the day with drinks at a lookout point, watching the sun set over the gorgeous landscape.
After breakfast, depart the Ica valley and return to Lima, arriving in the early afternoon. There will be a meeting at 2pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. Afterwards, head out to get to know the city on a walking tour of downtown Lima with your leader. Admire the colonial buildings of Plaza Mayor and visit the eerie catacombs of the Saint Francis Monastery, then head away from the tourist trail to Alameda de Chabuca Granda – an area popular with the locals. Stop off at the colourful street food stalls to sample some of Lima’s favourite sweet treats, like Peruvian donuts and mazamorra morada; porridge made from purple corn. But be sure to leave some room as tonight’s dinner is really something special. This evening you’ll head to one of the city’s best restaurants, set in a historic house in the artistic Barranco neighbourhood. Inspired by the home-cooked food of his mother, the creative chef offers up traditional Peruvian dishes with the atmosphere of a welcoming family home.
Today you will catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado. On arrival in the afternoon, take a bus to the community port of Infierno where you will board motorised canoes and head upstream into the Amazon rainforest. Keep an eye out for macaws, herons, alligators and capybaras along the way. Nestled on the banks of the Tambopata river you’ll find the Posada Amazonas, a rustic jungle lodge owned by the indigenous Ese Eja community, and your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights. A paradise for nature lovers, the lodge is in perfect unity with its wild surroundings and is enveloped by a swath of lush rainforest. Gorgeous rooms are built from traditional woods, adobe bricks and clay, and feature private bathrooms and an open wall, allowing you to make the most of the spectacular location and be totally immersed in nature. Profits from the lodge go back into the local indigenous community in the form of education and training. As dusk falls, set out for a night walk to discover the fascinating nocturnal activity in the surrounding areas, then retire to the lodge for dinner.
Embrace a very early start this morning and set off into the jungle after breakfast. Take a short walk and a short boat ride to the other side of the river, then begin a walk to the Oxbow Lake – this walk should take around an hour and a half over flat, shady terrain with plenty of stops along the way. Board an open topped catamaran to explore the lake in search of birds, monkeys and maybe some otters if you’re lucky. Return to the lodge via the same route, take some time to freshen up, then take a short walk to the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick. As the name suggests, this clay wall attracts parrots in their hundreds who come to snack on the mineral rich clay each morning, offering visitors a close up look at these vibrant creatures. Return to the lodge for lunch and take some time to enjoy the views from your room or catch up on sleep, then in the afternoon, travel by boat to a medicinal garden where a local shaman will explain the properties of the plants and trees and offer you some local alcohol to try. This evening, enjoy a boat trip in search of caimans – with the engine turned off, you’ll be treated to the wild sounds of the jungle at night.
This morning you will travel back to Puerto Maldonado, then take a short flight to Cusco, the former centre of the Incan Empire. Arrive in the early afternoon and settle in to your hotel, then head out with your leader for an orientation walk to familiarise yourself with one of South America’s oldest city and get used to the high altitude. Stop by the stunning Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city, flanked with colonial buildings and ornate churches. Visit the World Heritage-listed Cusco Cathedral, built on top of an Incan palace and one of the city's greatest repositories of art. Here you will meet with a local historian guide who will provide expert insight on the colonial art, architecture and history of this magnificent building and the city surrounding it. The evening is free for your own discoveries – Cusco offers no shortage of excellent restaurants, and as night falls the city is swept up in a flurry of live music and late-night street food stalls.
Today you will discover more of Cusco’s charms on a walking tour with your leader. Visit the Coricancha Temple, once the most important temple in the Incan Empire. Formerly plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its walls. Meet with a local guide to uncover the secrets of the temple and the ancient civilization that first built it. Stop of at the Manos Unidas cafe – no ordinary eatery, this Intrepid Foundation supported project provides those with intellectual disabilities vocational training and practical work experience to help with future employment. Enjoy a snack and one of the best coffees in Cusco while learning about the important work of this enterprise. Afterwards, head to the San Pedro market, where you can practice your bargaining skills and take some colourful pictures, then swing by the Plaza de Armas for another look at the marvellous cathedral. The afternoon is free for further explorations – speak to your leader about the option to arrange a cooking class at a local restaurant using fair trade products, or the half-day Inkilltambo trek, exploring an archaeologic site on the city’s outskirts.
This morning, travel through the Sacred Valley towards Ollantaytambo, passing maize crops and fertile terraces carved high into the valley walls. Stop by the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, where the massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site provide an impressive picture of how greatly developed Inca engineering was. Visit the Chichubamba community to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle with a traditional Andean lunch and a visit to some local workshops making pottery, chocolate and corn beer. Continue on to Ollantaytambo, a magnificent example of Incan urban planning and the perfect warm up for Machu Picchu. Explore Ollantaytambo's archaeological site with an expert local guide who will discuss the evidence of the Incas' engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Late afternoon head to the hotel in Ollantaytambo and settle in for night.
Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
Today, travel from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes in style, boarding the 360 Machu Picchu Train. High, domed windows offer up unbelievable views of the Andes, allowing you to sit back in comfort and take it all in. The train also features an open air observation carriage so you can completely immerse yourself in the remarkable landscape – have your camera ready as this scenic journey will be one worth remembering. Disembark the train in Aguas Calientes then take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu, where you will be joined by a guide who will take you through the ruins and tell you stories of its history and the ancestral people of the region. The true purpose behind Machu Picchu may always be a mystery, since no historical records of the complex exist. Most archaeologists, however, believe it to be the 15th-century headquarters of Emperor Pachacuti. Due to visiting restrictions at Machu Picchu, we recommend exploring the Sun Gate and Inka Bridge before your guided tour starts. Your leader can advise how to get the most out of your visit. Later, take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night before heading back up to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning for your second visit.
Rise before the sun and take the winding road back up to incredible Machu Picchu. On your second visit, join a local Machu Picchu guide once again to explore more of the extraordinary architecture of the many temples, palaces and living quarters. Looking at Machu Picchu as it sits against a backdrop of forested mountains is a truly breathtaking experience. Its mortar-free design is particularly earthquake resistant and the stones are so precisely cut that, to this day, not even a knife fits between them. You'll have time along the way to take any photos you may have missed yesterday. Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes, then catch a standard train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, you will make the drive back to Cusco for the evening.
Your Amazon and Inca adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would like to extend your stay in Cusco, additional accommodation can be arranged in advance (subject to availability.)