Start your trip with a Cuzco airport pick-up on Day 1 and tour the city on Day 2. On Day 3, travel out of Cuzco to admire the Moray agricultural circles and the ancient salt evaporation ponds of Maras. On Day 4 tour the Sacred Valley to visit the sacred Inca ruins of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo and take the train to Aguas Calientes. Explore the ancient city of Machu Picchu on Day 5. Enjoy a free day in Cuzco on Day 6 before taking a night bus to Puerto Maldonado. Begin your Amazon adventure on Day 7 with some activities in Puerto Maldonado and a boat transfer to your eco-lodge in the jungle. Walk through the jungle and visit the Taricaya Reserve on Day 8 to see incredible wildlife. Travel upriver on Day 9 to visit the Tambopata National Reserve and boat on pristine Lake Sandoval. Return to Puerto Maldonado on Day 10 to enjoy activities in town before returning to Cuzco on a night bus. Arrive on the morning of Day 11 and enjoy a free day before ending your trip with a Cuzco airport drop-off on Day 12.
Day by day itinerary:
Day 1: Airport Pick-Up in Cuzco
You will be picked up at the airport in Cuzco and dropped off at your accommodation. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure to relax, explore, and get settled in.
Day 2: Cuzco City Tour (B)
After being picked up from your accommodation you will embark on your journey to discover the ancient city of Cuzco, once the glorious capital of the Inca Empire and the centre of the world. Walk through the cobblestone streets built atop Inca pathways and imagine yourself walking among the flawlessly built ancient Inca roads that once led to the modern-day Plaza de Armas from faraway lands.
Your trip will take you outside the city to visit the impressive archaeological sites of Saqsayhuaman, Q'enqo amphitheater, Pucapucara Red Fortress and Tambomachay, the Inca bath. Learn about the importance of these intriguing sites from your professional guide and marvel at the impressive engineering skills it took to build these giant fortresses so high in the Andes mountains.
Enjoy panoramic views over the city and fresh mountain air before returning to Cuzco and being dropped off at your accommodation.
Day 3: Maras & Moray Mini-Van Tour (B)
Begin your day with a pick-up at your accommodation and then enjoy a scenic ride out of Cuzco into the Andes towards the Sacred Valley. Stop at the ancient Incan ruins of Moray, an impressive circular agricultural center that demonstrates the ancient Inca knowledge of growing crops at high altitude. Take some time to walk around and take photos of this impressive site with panoramic views.
Continue your trip to the salt mines of Salineras and the ancient Andean town of Maras. See the sparkling white and yellow sulfur salt pools and watch the salt extraction process. Make your way back to Cuzco through stunning rural landscapes and get dropped off in the city centre or at your accommodation.
Day 4: Sacred Valley tour - Transfer to Aguas Calientes (B/L/D)
Accommodation pick-up at 8:00 am to start off our day. We will travel out of Cuzco towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas and make our first stop at the village of Corao where we will visit a local artisan marketplace. Enjoy 30 minutes of free time to wander around buying handmade souvenirs for family and friends. Enjoy the scenic viewpoints along the panoramic highway that takes us over the mountains into the picturesque Urubamba river valley.
Upon arrival to the ancient Inca town of Pisaq, our guide will explain the unique architecture of this archaeological site and its magical vibes. Take about 45 minutes to explore the site and shop around in the local marketplace. Then we will continue to Urubamba and make our lunch break there for a taste of Peru’s finest traditional cuisine. After our break, the van will take us to Ollantaytambo, another mysterious archaeological site built into the steep mountainside. You will spend 45 minutes there, which will give you plenty of time to climb the steep steps of these ancient Inca ruins and contemplate life as you look out upon the valley.
Then walk over to the train station, located a short 10-minutes on foot downhill from the archaeological site, to board the train heading for Aguas Calientes (approx. 2 hours). Upon arrival you will be met by a local guide who will transfer you to your hotel and give you indications for the following day in Machu Picchu. Wander through the quaint town of Aguas Calientes on your own and have a fulfilling dinner at a touristic restaurant.
Day 5: Explore Machu Picchu - Return to Cuzco (B)
Your English Speaking guide will meet you at the entrance of Machu Picchu for a guided visit to the archaeological site (approximately 2 hours). You can then choose from the optional treks to climb Huayna Picchu (at an additional cost - must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance) or walk to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) for panoramic views of the site. After your tour, take the bus to Aguas Calientes and if time allows, visit the local marketplace right next to the train tracks, where you can shop until the train whistle blows signaling your return to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, you will take a bus for the last section of highway to Cuzco, arriving back around 10:30 pm. Please make your own way back to your accommodation.
** You have the option of taking an early return train or a late return train departing Aguas Calientes at 4:12pm and 7pm, respectively.
DESCRIPTION OF MACHU PICCHU GUIDED SITE VISIT: The one and only, the most spectacular (and not to mention most popular) archaeological site in all of South America. Your guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of Machu Picchu walking you through the most important sites and covering the history of the place. Then you will have free time to explore on your own and take pictures at your leisure.
Take an OPTIONAL hike up the steep peak named Huayna Picchu, which is located inside the Machu Picchu archaeological site for unforgettable views of Machu Picchu from a coveted perspective. You must purchase your ticket at least 2 weeks in advance for an additional cost in order to get one of the 400 passes (200 people are allowed up at 7:00am and 200 more at 10:00am). Please send us an email directly to request this extra ticket.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MACHU PICCHU & ADVICE: Machu Picchu was (relatively recently) "discovered" by American historian, Hiram Bingham, in 1911 while searching for the legendary "lost city of the Incas". Hiram Bingham and his local guides stumbled across the site which was then covered in thick vegetation. It was later cleared revealing the magical mountain-top archaeological site and opening up the possibility for archaeologists to conduct research on the site by 1915. Whether arriving via Inca Trail or entering from Aguas Calientes don't miss the excellent photo opportunities from the following spots: Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock (a restored building with a thatched roof), Sacred Plaza with views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba in the distance and Rio Urubamba below. Take a short walk out to the Inca Drawbridge (30 minutes) and Inti Punku (45 - 60 minutes) for great views of the site.
Day 6: Free day in Cuzco, Bus Station Drop-Off & Night Bus to Puerto Maldonado (B)
Enjoy a free day in Cuzco before being picked up at your accommodation and transferred to the bus station in time to take a night bus to the town of Puerto Maldonado on the edge of the Amazon Jungle. (Note: There will be no tour leader to accompany you on the bus.)
Day 7: Puerto Maldonado Activity – Boat to Eco-Lodge (B/L/D)
Welcome and reception at the bus terminal around 7:00am. You will first be transferred to our local office, where you'll be able to rest and use the wifi, restrooms with a shower, and free luggage storage. Just next door to our office you will enjoy a delicious California-style homemade breakfast at Belinda´s home around 9am. Our neighbour's small shaded outdoor patio and gardens are the perfect spot for a breakfast surrounded by blooming orchids and tropical vegetation! Next enjoy a short orchid tour in the Phalaenopsis growing facility, the first and only facility of its kind in the southeastern Amazon. Afterwards, you can either relax at the office or walk on your own to explore Puerto Maldonado's Plaza de Armas while you wait for the rest of the group to arrive.
Between 12pm and 2pm, once the whole group has arrived, you'll transfer to the boat wharf to begin the 1-hour boat ride to your Eco-Lodge while enjoying the wonders of the rainforest. We set off down the Madre de Dios River through the heart of the jungle surrounded by flora, fauna and breathtaking scenery.
Arrive at your Eco-Lodge to have lunch and settle into your private bungalow. Take a short rest before meeting with your guide followed by an introduction walk around the lodge and its trails. Winding past giant Kapok trees, walking palms and strangler figs while being dazzled by the sounds of native birds. Return to your bungalow for a rest. Before dinner you may choose to take a walk with your guide and experience the jungle as it transforms from day into night, making way for nocturnal animals and birds especially adapted for the dark. Return to the dining hall with your guide for your first dinner in the rainforest and enjoy a typical meal from this region. After dinner you may return to your bungalow or meet with other travellers and share your stories and experiences.
Day 8: Jungle Walk – Taricaya Reserve (B/L/D)
Breakfast is served between 7am and 8am. After breakfast begin your adventure walking thru the trails surrounded by trees of heights in access of 45 meters and over 300 years old while we identify the flora and fauna by sight and sound. We will arrive at our first platforms located 15 and 25 meters high above a small collpa, in the branches of an old fig tree accessed by a suspension bridge while we explore the amazing structure of this tree and the wildlife that live in and around it. Continue your walk into the Taricaya reserve towards the Canopy platform, the highest tree platform in the Amazon rainforest. Located 45 meters high up in the crown of an ancient Kapok tree and connected by a 90-meter long suspension bridge. Catch a glimpse of flying Macaws, parrots Toucans or the infamous Harpy eagle; the views from this platform are truly unforgettable!
Continue into the reserve until we reach the animal rescue center where you will encounter many different wild animals including a jaguar, Puma, toucans, macaws, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, jaguarondi, bush dog, tapirs and more. These animals are in the process of rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. Stop off at the Butterfly house before returning to the lodge for lunch. Take a rest after lunch before venturing off on the 25min walk to the Agroforestry farm and visit the reforestation projects of mahogany, cedar, cocoa, coffee and tropical flowers. Visit the Taricaya turtle project and its artificial beaches. Return to the lodge in your own inflatable boat with the opportunity to see turtles, monkeys, herons and other birds with a beautiful backdrop of the sunset over the river. Take a rest before we finish the day’s activities with a caiman search along the rivers edge in a motorboat under moonlight. Search for white caiman, black caiman and spectacle caiman as they lay along the rivers banks at night. Return to the lodge for dinner.
Day 9: Tambopata National Reserve - Lake Sandoval (B/L/D)
Have an early breakfast before traveling by boat upriver for 45 minutes to the entrance of the Tambopata National Reserve and begin the trek to Lake Sandoval. Paddle in a rowboat around the pristine mirror like lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery with the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife such as the endangered giant river otter, howler monkeys, macaws and black caiman. Take a snack by the waters edge before continuing around the lake. Finishing with a walk back to the river where we board our motorboat and return to the lodge. Lunch and rest. Navigate the Madre de Dios River in your own inflatable boat with the opportunity to see turtles, monkeys, herons and other birds with a beautiful backdrop of the sunset over the river. End the day with a Farewell dinner.
Day 10: Boat to Puerto Maldonado - Activities - Night Bus to Cuzco (B)
Enjoy an early breakfast at your lodge before your 8:00am departure and a scenic return boat trip on the Madre de Dios River bringing us back to Puerto Maldonado around 9:30am. You will be dropped off at the office where you can rest, refresh yourself and use the wi-fi until 11am, when you will depart for a visit of the nearby Snake House. Take a self-guided tour to visit the reptiles rescued by the owner, a biologist that shelters and works towards research and education with these animals.
Next you will visit the Puerto Maldonado city centre on your own and explore the city with a provided map and recommendations for lunch (not included). Take a stroll through the local markets where you will find everything from fish, meat and fruits to local arts and medicines or make your own way up to the Obelisk and admire the scenic view from above.
Make your way to our central meeting point at 3:00pm, where you will be picked up and transferred to the Pool House where you can take a refreshing swim and treat yourself to the snack bar (not included). At 6:00pm you will be returned to the office to get transferred to the bus terminal where you will catch your overnight bus back to Cuzco. (Note: There will be no tour leader to accompany you on the bus.)
Lunch in City Centre S/.30 approx.*
Mototaxi Plaza - Obelisco/Mirador S/.10 approx.* (round trip) or 8-block walk
Entrance to Obelisco/Mirador S/. 3 approx.*
Mototaxi Plaza - Marketplace S/.10 approx.* (round trip) or 12-block walk
*Prices subject to change without prior notice.
Day 11: Arrival to Cuzco & Free Day
Make your own way to your accommodation from the bus station. Enjoy a free day in Cuzco.
Day 12: Airport Drop-Off in Cuzco (B)
You will be picked up at your accommodation and dropped off at the airport in Cuzco, where your trip ends.
* Special Recommendations on what to bring:
- For the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu Tour: sun hat, sun block, sun glasses, camera, extra batteries and memory card, charger, waterproof bags for your camera, hand sanitizer.
- For the Amazon Tour: Repellent with a minimum of 15% deet, Binoculars, Camera with extra batteries, Flashlight with extra batteries, Sun lotion, Pocket money, Daypack, Water bottle, Sun hat, Sandals, Swimsuit & Towel, Toilet paper, Dark clothes.
- DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS: Original passport, visa (if applicable), insurance card, personal medications.
* The Amazon tour itinerary may vary without prior notice according to weather and river conditions.
** Travellers who booked their trip using one passport, then renewed or replaced it afterward, must carry the old passport they used to make the booking or a photocopy with them on the trip.