Experience a luxurious 14-day journey into Peru’s historical and natural wonders with this Cusco Machu Picchu Puno Plus tour. From the bustling city of Lima to the impressive Andean Highlands to the Amazon Rainforest, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of the land and explorable sites along the way. Land accommodations include your choice of 4-star, 5-star, or Boutique hotels, while spacious suites await you aboard the Aqua Nera for the Amazon cruise portion of the tour.
History and Art in Lima
Your tour begins in Lima, the colonial city full of world-class restaurants, historical architecture, ancient archeological sites, and modern neighborhoods. Starting in the city’s center, Plaza de Armas, you’ll enjoy views of spectacular Spanish colonial architecture and visit the interior of the impressive Convent of Santo Domingo.
You’ll also immerse yourself in the Bohemian district of Barranco, perhaps Peru’s best-kept secret. Enjoy a walking tour of this artsy area, followed by a traditional Peruvian dinner and show.
Andean Highlands and Machu Picchu
From Lima, you will fly to the Andean Highlands, arriving in Cusco before traveling to the Sacred Valley. Numerous excursions extend from here, including visits to Pisac, Maras, Moray, and various other uniquely Peruvian sites.
In addition to exploring these towns and sites, you’ll enjoy an Andean lunch in the Misminay community and participate in a traditional ceremony to Mother Earth in the Llaullipata National Park.
The highlight of your Andean Highlands adventure will be the trip to the Citadel of Machu Picchu. Private guides will take you through this incredible site, pointing out important features and revealing the history of each key spot. The next day you’ll enjoy a rare second visit to the site where you can go at your own pace.
After a quick flight to Juliaca, you’ll be transported to Puno and enjoy the evening at your lakeside hotel. Early the next day, the tour heads to Taquile Island to observe the textile art and customs of the area and also visit the Huayllano community. After lunch, you’ll set sail across the lake to the famous Uros Islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca National Reserve.
Before leaving Puno and the Andean highlands, you’ll have a chance to see the famous stone funerary towers at the ancient site of Sillustani, final resting places for chiefs and dignitaries.
The Amazon Awaits
The last part of your tour takes you to the heart of the Amazon rainforest and the unique city of Iquitos. Learn about this location’s role in the 19th Century Rubber Era and enjoy a trip to see the ethnic art exhibited in the Amazon Regional Museum.
As evening approaches, you’ll embark on your luxurious floating accommodation, the Aqua Nera. Settle into your spacious suite before joining naturalist guides for a briefing of what to expect in the days ahead and enjoying your first chef-inspired meal in the Amazon.
Over the coming days you’ll embark on excursions aboard skiffs, including birdwatching, fishing for piranhas, lake swimming, and taking wildlife-rich rainforest walks to discover the rich flora and fauna of the region.
Before departing the Amazon, you’ll visit a local market and have a chance to see an Amazonian manatee rehabilitation center before your flight back to Lima.
Itinerary & Prices
Welcome to Lima!
Lima is a bustling, busy city and one of the most important in South America. Any trip to Peru will likely begin and end in the capital and visitors take advantage of the fact that Lima is widely regarded to be the culinary capital of the continent and home to many of the best restaurants in South America. Home of the ceviche and the Pisco Sour it is a city where the past and present mix beautifully, from the colonial center to modern Miraflores, through to the ancient Incan and pre-Incan culture which can be seen in Lima’s various museums.
A city of almost 11 million people, it is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains. This unique location means it enjoys a microclimate of zero rainfall and is spread along the coast atop cliffs that offer beautiful sunset views and peaceful ‘malecóns’, even a short trip is guaranteed to be richly rewarding and a perfect introduction to Peru and its culture.
Colonial and Modern Lima
Today we begin by heading to the center of Lima and the Plaza de Armas, the administrative and ceremonial hub of Lima and Peru as a whole. The main square of Lima, the Plaza de Armas is home to the Palacio de Gobierno, which are surrounded by beautiful examples of Spanish Colonial architecture such as the Municipal Palace of Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Cathedral of Lima. We venture into the Impressive Convent of Santo Domingo to get an idea of what these fantastic colonial buildings look like from the inside. From there we head south to the Bohemian district of Barranco.
On our way to bohemian Barranco, we stop at the Parque del Amor and take photos of the beautiful seafront panorama of Lima. Barranco is perhaps Lima’s best-kept secret, an up-and-coming bohemian area some ten minutes from the tourist district of Miraflores it is an authentic, artsy bohemian area rich in history and modern-day creativity. After a walking tour of this gorgeous old district via the Bridge of Sighs, and against the backdrop of gorgeous neo-classical colonial and republican architecture.
Meals: (B, D)
Awanacancha and The Sacred Valley
After a good night’s rest, enjoy a delicious breakfast before our air-conditioned private vehicle takes you to the airport for the next exciting installment in your Peruvian adventure. Assistance is provided so don’t worry about your bags! You will fly from Lima to Cusco, where you are met at the airport and transferred into the Sacred Valley. Our tours in the Cusco area always begin in the valley, which is approximately 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) lower in elevation than Cusco, so that guests may better acclimatize to the altitude.
We begin the day’s excursions by circumventing the Urubamba Valley and head to Awanacancha and towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas to visit the town of Pisac. En-route we make a stop at the Awanacancha craft shop which not only sells local handicrafts, it also offers you a chance to see native animals of the area up close. The views from here are also stunning and our guide will explain a little more of the layout of the Sacred Valley.
Once we get to Pisac our expert local guide will show you around the Temple of the Sun, ancient baths, altars, fountains, and ceremonial platform, and a type of sundial carved into the volcanic rock which was used for determining the time of year. At the side of the citadel, you will see the terraces that are still used to this day to grow crops. From there we take you through the famous market which sells goods made by local artisans and all sorts of colorful fabrics and other Andean craft.
Meals: (B, L)
Maras, Moray and Misminay Community
The Maras salt mines were an important part of the economy of the Incan culture and to this day the salt produced in these mines, recognizable by its pinkish hue, is amongst the most sought-after and expensive in the world. We head on to the Misminay community and are greeted with traditional dance and we enjoy a typical Andean lunch prepared with the same exact cooking techniques that have been passed down over the centuries.
From there we take you to the picturesque archaeological site of Moray which is a huge expanse of concentric terraces which the Incans used a botanical laboratory. Our guide explains the importance of this site to generations before and the role of the various plants and vegetables that this has played in modern cuisine, with Peru being the origin of the humble potato and how the 3000 varieties native to the country have evolved to the worldwide staple we know and love so much. From here we take you to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Meals: (B, L)
The Citadel of Machu Picchu
Today is the big day! Get ready to tick one of the New Seven Wonders of the World off your list as we head to Machu Picchu Citadel. Leaving the Sacred Valley by train, we enjoy a peaceful snake through the mountains, uphill to Aguas Calientes, situated at the foot of Machu Picchu. The views on the way to Machu Picchu itself are an intrinsic part of the trip itself and worth savoring. Built in the mid 1400’s it acted as a royal estate to two different Inca rulers, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui and Tupac Inca Yupanqui. After 80 years of occupancy, it was abandoned, possibly due to Spanish infiltration in other parts of Peru, and remained abandoned until the early last century when efforts Hiram Bingham brought its existence to world attention.
Machu Picchu is divided into two sectors, the urban and the agricultural. Our expert guide will take you through both and show you the key spots in the ancient citadel such as the Temple of the Sun and the Room, the Intihuatana Stone, and the Room of Three Windows. The residential buildings feature exquisite stonework with no cement or mortar and are characterized by small trapezoid windows that face the morning sun.
Meals: (B, L)
Huayna Picchu and Ollantaytambo
After an early breakfast, we set off for a second self-guided visit to the famous citadel of Machu Picchu. A second trip means you get to experience something that not every visitor does, and get to see Machu Picchu from another angle. With your special second-day pass, you can enter via Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu’s smaller cousin, or through Machu Picchu Mountain for a slightly softer option (Suitable for those that suffer from vertigo). Machu Picchu is a far larger site than just the classic tour option and a second visit comes highly recommended for those with time. Those doing the 3.5-hour hike to Huayna Picchu are granted extra time to complete a second visit to the ruin so whichever of the two you choose; you won’t miss out on the astonishing extra sights such as the Inca Bridge and the Temple of the Moon.
Getting in nice and early to Machu Picchu is an option only feasible if you spend the night in Aguas Calientes. By doing this you can enjoy the sunrise over this incredible old citadel, a sight only the privileged few get to experience. As this is a largely visual experience you will not need a guide, just remember to take your time, and a camera as the views of Machu Picchu and the valley and river below are truly breathtaking.
On our way back to Cusco, we make a stop at Ollantaytambo, where you will find the imposing Inca fortress that bears the same name. This place has great historical importance because it is where Manco Inca defeated the Spanish forces in 1538. You will climb the steep stone steps, from where you will be able to admire the amazing monoliths that form the Temple of the Sun. Finally, you will return to your hotel in Cusco
Archeology and Pisco Sour Lessons
We begin the city tour with a visit to Koricancha, half ancient Incan temple, half Spanish colonial church, and marvel at the amalgamation of the two cultures, all within one building. Then, you will visit the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral, the most important church in the city. From there we ascend to the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, an impressive example of Inca military architecture, and continue with a stop at the San Cristobal viewpoint, from where you will have a privileged view of the city.
Our next takes you to the Main Plaza and a renowned bar in the city, where you will take part in a lesson on how to prepare the traditional pisco sour.
Meals: (B, D)
South towards Titicaca
This morning, we check out of our Cusco hotel and transfer to the airport in Cusco for our flight to Juliaca.
Upon arrival, we drive from Juliaca to Puno and check into our comfortable lakeside hotel for an evening at leisure.
For those staying at the beautiful Titilaka Hotel, where you can choose from a number of excursions including a restful sit by the lake, an invigorating bike ride, a walk along the country paths around the lake, or even a spot of birdwatching. Evening cocktails are served from 6.30 pm and are followed by dinner at 7.30 pm
Meals: (B, D)
Boating Taquile and the Uros
An early start (7 am) as we head out of the city of Puno towards Taquile Island, about 35 kilometers away and 3950 m.a.s.l. Traditions on the island date back to Pre-Incan times and the islanders still live according to the culture and beliefs of their ancestors. The inhabitants are world-renowned for their colorful outfits and incredible textiles. Breaking with typical Andean traditions, here the men can be seen knitting their woolen ‘chullos’ and conversing in the shade. UNESCO has declared the textile art of Taquile Island as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
While still on the island, you will visit the community of Huayllano, whose members will show you their everyday artistic, handicraft, and farming activities. Afterwards, we enjoy a traditional lunch before sailing over to the famous Uros Islands, a set of man-made floating islands in the middle of the Lake Titicaca National Reserve. Here, you will meet the islanders, hunter/gatherers, and descendants of the first altiplano inhabitants who still live on totora reed platforms.
Meals: (B, L)
Sillustani and Farewell to Puno
After breakfast, we have one last surprise for you before leaving the highlands. En-route to the airport, we make a stop at the mysterious, ancient site of Sillustani, home to the area’s best-preserved chullpas, or funerary towers. Once a burial ground for the Pucara, Tiahuanaco, and Ccolla pre-Inca cultures, and then the Incas themselves, Sillustani’s chullpas offer an ideal opportunity to compare the contrasting pre-Columbian architectonic styles.
Symbolizing life and birth, these ancient tombs were used for chiefs and other dignitaries. Made of stones weighing up to six tons, the biggest tower took around 50 years to complete. Offering archaeology and history, in a stunning natural setting, situated as it is by a lake and up high in the hills around Puno. Farewell takes place at Juliaca airport where you fly to Lima, connecting with the next flight that takes you to Iquitos – the beating heart of Peru’s Amazon!
City Tour & Embarkation
AM: After breakfast, we begin our tour of this enigmatic city, accessible only by boat or by air. Iquitos is a boom/bust town made famous for its lavish history during the Rubber Era of the 19th Century. Today, we can observe the crumbling remains of ostentatious imports such as tiles and balconies from Europe that are aging under the relentless elements of the Jungle. Arguably, the most famous of which is the ‘Iron House’ allegedly designed by Gustave Eiffel himself, which is situated on the main plaza and now houses a restaurant.
Our walk will take us to the main promenade where we will enjoy views of the Itaya and Amazon Rivers. Nearby, we will visit the Amazon Regional Museum, with its impressive collection of ethnic art from dozens of tribes throughout the Amazon region, including 80 life-size representations. Many handicrafts are sold nearby should you want to support local artisans. Afterwards, we will transfer to our ship for our adventure in the Amazon.
PM: In the early evening, embark on the Aqua Nera and settle into your generously-sized suite as you begin one of life’s greatest adventures. Following an introduction to our naturalist guides and a routine safety drill, gather at the restaurant for the first of many Amazonian cuisine experiences created by Aqua Nera consulting chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.
Please Note: Group transfers are provided between the airport and the cruise port if booked on our recommended flights. Separate arrangements can be made for afternoon arrivals.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Yarapa River & Clavero Lake
AM: Aboard our comfortable skiffs, we set sail from the Amazon River to the Yarapa River. Ready your binoculars to spot tropical songbirds, black collared hawks, and sloths. Line-fish for Amazon’s notoriously ferocious piranhas while our naturalist guides share stories of Lake Moringo.
PM: In the afternoon, we sail on to Lake Clavero where villagers rely on traditional dugout canoes to get around. Swim in the lake’s calm waters or visit native residents of Amazonia who welcome you to their community with open arms.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Yanallpa River & Dorado River
AM: We explore the blackwater tributaries of the Yanallpa River by skiff, disembarking to walk deep into the wildlife-rich Amazonian rainforest.
PM: Later, we board the skiffs again to cruise along the El Dorado River for a dusk excursion in search of exotic nocturnal creatures.
Meals: (B, L, D)
AM: In the morning, take a guided visit to the local market and marvel at the regional produce of the Peruvian Amazon. Sample exotic snacks if you’re feeling adventurous. Return to the Aqua Nera for breakfast before disembarkation. En route to the airport, visit the Manatee Rescue Center, where orphaned Amazonian manatees rehabilitate before they are released back into the wild.
Group transfers will be provided between the airport and cruise port if booked on our recommended flights.