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Day 1: Arrive Lima Airport
Transfer to hotel for overnight.
Day 2: Fly Lima to Puerto Maldonado
Transfer to airport for check-in for flight to Puerto Maldonado. Your guide will welcome you at the airport in Puerto Maldonado and drive you to the office to repack & store luggage. Then continue to the boat dock on the Tambopata River. Board a motorized canoe and head towards the nearby confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios River to the mouth of the Heath River which is the natural border of Peru and Bolivia. After brief formalities at border crossings, we take the boat through the narrow waters for a couple of hours until we arrive at our simple, but comfortable jungle lodge just in time for dinner. (Private bath, hot water & meals included.) (Travel time by boat is approx 4-5 hours. We have closer lodges with shorter travel times of 2 hours and luxury lodge with travel time 45 minutes.) (BLD)
Day 3: Guided Activities in the Rain Forest
Today we start very early to visit the most spectacular attraction of this area: the parrot and macaw clay lick along the river. We return back down the river on a guided walk through jungle trails. After lunch we hike along the trail leading to the point where the forest abruptly gives way to the vast plains of the Pampas of Heath. Just beyond the edge of the forest you can climb to an elevated platform that allows for a view of this vast expanse of grasslands and shrubs, dotted with palm trees. We aim to arrive around sunset, when the parrots are returning from their daily search for food to gather in this place. We return to the lodge at night using headlamps and flashlights, After dinner guests may choose to visit the lick of mammals, with the hope of seeing the Lowland Tapir, the largest mammal in the jungle. (BLD)
Day 4: Guided Activities in the Rain Forest
On our second full day in at the lodge we can choose from a wide range of activities. Many people choose to make a second visit to the macaw clay lick or spend more time on the trails. Later we take a canoe tour around the Cocha Platanillal, an oxbow lake which is located a short distance downriver from the lodge.We return by boat after dusk. (BLD)
Day 5: Rain Forest Lodge to Puerto Maldonado to Cusco
We leave early for 5 hr return journey downstream. We return to Peru and head upstream to Puerto Maldonado, where you will be transferred to the airport for flights to Cusco. Adios guide will be waiting in airport holding a sign with your name, to transfer you to Encantada hotel for check-in followed by guided walking tour of the city center. The schedule is flexible to allow you time to adjust to 11,000 ft altitude. Dine in restaurants of your choice. Overnight in hotel. (Good day to send out laundry if needed.) (B)
Day 6: Cusco Outskirts Tour / Free Afternoon
08:30 AM guide will pick you up for 15 minute drive to the tranquil terraced rocks of Tambomachay ruins (meaning guest house), with aqueducts, waterfalls and canals where it is said the Inca emperor came here to bathe and perform religious rites in the water. Choose to walk 7 KM through local farms (or drive on paved road) to the mysterious Qenco temple ruins where sacrifices and mummification took place. Not far are the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most significant archaeological legacies of the Incas. Due to the complexity of the layout of the massive blocks of stone, some bigger than a car, the construction of Sacsayhuaman lasted more than 50 years and employed over 20,000 men in the construction. Return to hotel. Dine in restaurants of your choice. (B)
Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour / Aguas Calientes
08:30 AM guide will pick you for 30 minute drive to Chinchero where you meet Qechua weavers who demonstrate the art of hand-made textiles. Continue to Inca Greenhouse ruins in Moray to discover the sophisticated botanical practices of the ancient Incas. Then drive to the oldest still-occupied village for dinner before you board the 1900 train for 1.5 hour ride through the Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes. Walk to hotel for check-in (option for short hikes if desired). (B)
Day 8: Machu Picchu - Cusco
Take early shuttle bus (earliest is 5:15 am) to arrive at main gate of Machu Picchu National Park anytime after it opens at 6 am for guided tour. Option to hike Huayna Picchu if tickets are pre-purchased. You will board shuttle to return to Aguas Calientes and arrive at the station for afternoon train to Ollantaytambo, where our driver will be waiting. Continue by car 2 Hours to Cusco. Arrive hotel in Cusco about 4-5 hours later. (B)
Day 9: Free Day in Cusco
Good day to do laundry and explore on your own. (B)
Day 10: Cusco to Puno
Transfer to station for 7 am tourist bus for ride through the beautiful highlands with stops at Andayualillas, known as the "Sistene Chapel of the Andes," and Raqchi ruins. (Entry to the sites is optional and tickets can be purchased at the time you are there. About $12-15 pp.) Buttet lunch is included. Arrive Puno where you transfer to hotel. Meet with guide at 6 pm for pre-trip briefing. Then walk to local restaurant of your choice for dinner. (B)
Day 11: Day trip to Islands & continue to Luqina for overnight Homestay
At 06:30 AM Depart hotel to docks where you board covered boats with your private guide for 30 min trip to Floating Reed Islands. Continue to Taquile Island for lunch. (cost of lunch not included) Drop off at Luqina Peninsula with your private guide for overnight Homestay with local family (simple meals included: soup, fava beans/quinoa/rice or potato dish/hot tea. Bread and tea for breakfast. Coffee drinkers should bring packets of instant for breakfast if desired). Overnight in private cottage with private bath. Hot water provided by on-demand heater attached to shower head. Sink has only cold water tap. Bring drinking water or purifier. Headlamp/flashlights are helpful. (B)
Day 12: Return to Puno overnight
Hang out with local family on the farm/in the home or hike to nearby sights. Afternoon pickup by boat to return to Puno by 4-5 pm. Transfer to hotel. (you will have local guide with you during the activities) (B)
Day 13: Puno to Lima
Transfer from hotel for 45 minute ride to airport in Juliaca at least 3 hours prior to scheduled flight to Lima, where you make international connection. (B)
Here's the only thing you need:
- a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months of your travel dates
- a roundtrip ticket to Lima, Peru
- optional Yellow Fever vaccination recommended for visitors to Amazon rain forest
- a lot of sugar from Daddy
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I get altitude sickness?
It's common for most people coming from sea level to experience at least mild symptoms of altitude sickness when they arrive in Cusco, which is 11,000 ft/3430 m above sea level. Age is not a factor for the severity of symptoms one can experience. But fitness can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
-loss of appetite
Treatments may include:
- -OTC pain reliever - bring your own favorite remedy for pain relief
- -Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies and guides will carry small tanks of oxygen on hikes. Some local pharmacies sell an individual size O2 tank for personal use.
- -Coca Leaf. Locals believe that drinking coca leaf tea will help and you will find the tea leaves readily available in hotel tea bars as well as restaurants.
- -Water. Drink extra to keep your blood flowing freely. Dehydration leads to sludgy blood and may contribute to your discomfort.
- -Diamox. (AKA "Acetazolamide" is a diuretic or "water pill") can be purchased by prescription in some western countries or over the counter in Peruvian pharmacies.
- -Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But it's not likely that breathlessness when climbing steps or stairs will completely disappear, no matter how you treat it. If other symtoms do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours of your arrival, please notify your travel companions or guide so s/he can monitor your progress. In rare occasions, individuals may need to seek medical attention.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Tap water in Lima, Cusco and other larger cities is consumed by local people every day. But is it safe for you? There's only one way to find out and we suggest that you not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere including small towns and villages. We support Travelers Against Plastic to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and encourage you to bring a purification device to make your own safe drinking water. The device should be rated to purify water from microbes and viruses, not just for taste. Purified drinking water is provided on all the multi-day hikes and during your stay in the Amazon jungle lodges. Please bring your own water to begin the activity.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
We've learned that there are different kinds of allergies; from hayfever to insect stings. IF YOU HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY TO ANY FOOD, INSECT, MEDICATION OR NATURAL ELEMENT, WE REQUIRE WRITTEN, ADVANCE NOTICE WITH FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE ALLERGEN AND THE TREATMENT. We reserve the right to require a doctors written approval for you to travel or ask you to provide your own treatment remedy and plan. And we ask you to notify your guide during your first meeting. In rare circumstances we may choose to reject your reservation if we feel that your condition is beyond the scope of the training of our guides or may negatively impact other travelers. Epi-pens are only useful in areas where you are close to medical services like Lima or Cusco.
What is the best way to travel between Lima and Cusco?
We recommmend flying between the cities because other means requires more time or is not practical for short vacations. There is no train service between Lima and Cusco. And while there is bus service, the drive is almost 24 hours long over paved, but winding mountain roads. There is no speedy highway. The cost of round-trip air tickets varies from around $250 pp on the domestic carriers, including STAR PERU AIRLINES and PERUVIAN AIRLINES, to $450 pp on LAN AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on TACA (recently merged with AVIANCA) AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 5 pm and there are no evening flights in either direction due to mountain weather conditions.
Where should I stay if my international flight arrives in Lima in the evening?
There is only one hotel at the Lima airport. The Wyndham Hotel is connected to the arrivals terminal by a skybridge on the 2nd floor. It takes literally 2 minutes to walk from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. The hotel is expensive by Peruvian standards (in excess of $250 per double room per night). We've seen good rates on booking.com and hotels.com The hotel will accommodate as many as 3 to a room, but not 4.
This hotel is best for groups who arrive in Lima late evening and plan to depart again by air the next day. For groups planning to stay in Lima, it's best to pre-arrange a transfer to a hotel outside the airport, unless you don't mind paying the "gringo rate" when you negotiate on your own. The travel time is about 45 minutes each way when the traffic is moderate. And the cost ranges from $35 each way and up. If your group is larger than 3 persons, you may need a transfer in a mini-van or two taxis.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Machu Picchu?
The altitude of Machu Picchu is 8000 ft/2440 m and higher. Disease-carrying vectors do not thrive at higher elevations. US passport holders are not required to get Yellow Fever vaccinations or prophylactic Malaria treatments. Although there have been no recent cases of Yellow Fever in Peru, some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations prior to visiting the Amazon Rainforest including Tambopata Reserve or Manu National Reserve. We recommend that travelers check the regulations for re-entry for any countries they will pass through after leaving Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. Bolivia requires all foreigners to have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry if you plan to travel to the Bolivian Amazon jungle. (Some countries including Australia, require their citizens to get yellow fever vaccination if they enter Peru, even if they are only visiting the higher elevations) As these regulations may change from time to time, it is the responsibility of travelers to consult their own government health departments for up to date and relevant information.
This Adventure Includes
- English-speaking knowledgable local guides
- Airport transfers
- All ground and marine transportation (cars, vans, buses, trains boats)
- Shared excursions in Amazon and Lake Titicaca (small groups up to 15 ppl)
- Ride in 20' motorized canoes and small double-decker mortorized boats
- 3 * Hotel/lodge accommodations/private bathroom, including Peruvian breakfast buffet
- 1 Entry to Machu Picchu National Park
- 1 Entry to all the sites as mentioned in the itinerary
- Domestic flights (3 legs) We book flights from LIM-PEM, PEM-CUZ, JUL-LIM / cost not included / estimated $500-$600 pp for all
- International airfare to and from Lima, Peru
- Lunches or dinners except where noted (BLD)
- Bottled drinking water or other beverages (except in the Amazon lodge)
- Tickets to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain - if available (add $80 USD pp)
- Tips at your discretion
- Travel insurance
- Entry tickets to Sistene Chapel of the Andes and Raqchi ruins (on the way from Cusco to Puno) Buy on site for approx $12-$16 USD pp
- Lunch on Takile Island (about 20 s. pp - no USD accepted)
- It's 13 days and 12 nights plus 1 day of travel to get home. Total time travel 14 days. You are paying for 13 days.
- Private trip based on your preferred travel dates. Minimum of 2 people
- For most ages and abilities
- Amazon tours begin every Mon and Thurs. Tours on other dates can be scheduled for higher rate
- We can also arrange Amazon tours to a different lodge with tours every day. Deduct $148 USD pp
- Best season to travel is April through October
- Optional activities: hike 1-day or 4-day Inca trail, overnight homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Cultural tours and activities for special interests can be included: photography, textiles, active travelers, families, seniors
- Flexible: add day hikes, picnics, cooking classes, indigenous culinary activities, daybreak & sundown visits to Machu Picchu, hike to Huayna Picchu
- If you have more time, visit Bolivia Salt Flats in 3-5 days