- This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.
DAY 1 : LIMA
Arrive in Lima. Overnight in the Costa del Sol Ramada Airport Hotel or transfer to overnight at Hotel Casa Andina in Miraflores.
DAY 2 : CUSCO
Airport transfer for early morning one hour flight to Cusco. Airport reception and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon half-day guided orientation of ancient Inca temples, Spanish churches and the surrounding ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay. Your guide will also direct you to shops, museums and markets where you can explore on your own. Overnight at the Hotel Libertador or similar. [B]
Note: Optional upgrade at extra cost to El Monasterio, a luxurious colonial-style hotel.
DAY 3 : URUBAMBA VALLEY
Full day private exploration with an expert guide through the Sacred Valley of the Incas including the village of Pisac and the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. Visit Quechua villages where highland Indians tend their fields and sell handcrafts in outdoor markets. Overnight in the serene Urubamba Valley at the Hotel Sol y Luna or similar. [BL]
Note: We highly recommend adding another day in the Urubamba Valley to enjoy a beautiful, easy downhill hike on local foot trails through the high Andes to the native Quechua Indian village of Patacancha (12,500 elevation).
DAY 4 : MACHU PICCHU
Transfer to the Ollanta station and ride the train to Machu Picchu. Your guide will assist you with hotel check-in then accompany you on a private, guided tour of the ruins before returning to Cusco, leaving you free to photograph and explore on your own time. Includes first class reserved train tickets, bus tickets up and down the mountain, lunch and one-time entrance fee. Overnight in the town of Aguas Calientes at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. [BL]
Note: Optional upgrade at extra cost to the Sanctuary Lodge, next to the site.
DAY 5 : CUSCO
Take the early shuttle bus to be among the first to enter Machu Picchu this day (entrance fee not included). Enjoy the morning on your own to wander, contemplate, and photograph the mysterious maze of streets and stone buildings of this magnificent citadel. Optional hike up the precipitous Wayna Picchu peak, or back up the Inca Trail to the Intipunku. Leisurely mid-afternoon return on the Pullman train back to Cusco arriving by evening. Transfer to overnight at the Hotel Libertador or similar. [BL]
DAY 6 : CLOUD FOREST OVERLAND
Early breakfast,then set off for the Manu cloud forest passing over two Andean ranges of almost 13,000 feet elevation through high grassland puna. On the way we pass stone chullpas, or burial chambers, of the Pre-Inca Lupaca people, and will hope to catch site of some of the bird species of the high Andes, including the Giant Hummingbird and Mountain Caracara.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the Ajanaco pass affording a spectacular view on a clear day over the vast expanse of lowland Amazon rain forest. The road plunges down the eastern slope of the Andes, past remnant patches of elfin forest, through swirling mist and cloud, to emerge in a forest of stunted evergreen trees, festooned with mosses, lichens, bromeliads and other epiphytes. Nestled in this forest within earshot of a rushing mountain stream lies the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
Located at 5000 feet elevation within a 10,000 acre cloud forest reserve, the lodge is a comfortable accommodation featuring double-occupancy cabanas with hot showers, flush toilets and a dining room with excellent wildlife viewing! A short walk away is the world's largest and most accessible group of displaying Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. Overnight at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. [BLD]
DAY 7 : MANU FOOTHILLS
Rise before dawn to see the display ground (lek) of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. From our observation blind we watch the blazing orange males just a feet in front of the blind strut and dip their crested heads screeching in the hope of attracting a mate.
After breakfast we walk along the sinuous jungle road looking at orchids, flowers and cloud forest birds such as the Golden-headed Trogon, as well as numerous, brightly colored tanagers and hummingbirds. We may see a troop of muscular-limbed Woolly Monkeys or Brown Capuchin Monkeys.
In the late morning we depart by road (3-4 hours) and then a motor in a dugout canoe down the Upper Madre de Dios River to the Amazonia Lodge or Pantiacolla Lodge in the foothills of Manu where we will spend our second night (shared bath). This lodge is ideally situated for wildlife observation with some of the best birdwatching in the world. Colorful tanager flocks skim through the trees and clearings around the lodge offering superb birding from your porch. As many as seven species of monkeys reside in the area, and Collared Peccaries are also commonly seen. Overnight at Amazonia or Pantiacolla Lodge. [BLD]
Note: The very best months for viewing the Cock-of-the-Rock are in September, October and November, although the males display all year round.
DAY 8 : MANU WILDLIFE CENTER
Continue by boat (approximately 8 hours) down the Madre de Dios River where you spend the next three nights at the remote Manu Wildlife Center [MWC]. Along the way, stop for a visit at an Indigenous Piro Indian Village and also at Boca Manu. MWC features 22 fully screened double-occupancy, thatched-roof bungalows with large living area and private bathrooms with hot water showers. The dining room is fully screened and the commons building contains a fully stocked bar and reading room with hammocks for relaxing. Candlelight in the rooms and paths lit by oil lamps contribute to the natural ambiance. There is no electricity other than a generator for the kitchen and to recharge batteries. Explore the 30 miles of specially designed forest trails through the private rain forest reserve in search of 10 species of resident monkeys, including the Red Howler and Black Spider Monkey and many other species of flora and fauna. Take a nocturnal foray through the forest to the tapir clay lick blind where you can observe and photograph these 500 pound beasts, the largest land animal in South America. You paddle around oxbow lakes inhabitated by giant river otters, piranhas, anaconda, and black caimans, the largest crocodilians in the Amazon. Overnight Manu Wildlife Center. [BLD]
DAYS 9-10 : MANU WILDLIFE EXPLORATION
On the first day, rise before dawn to go by boat 25 minutes downriver to the Blanquillo macaw clay lick. This is perhaps the best macaw lick in the world to photograph and observe macaws eating mineral-rich clay on the bank of the river. The spacious blind is located in front of a wide swath of river bank where the macaws perch to eat clay. Breakfast is served in the blind and a bathroom is available. First smaller parrots flock to the lick, and if the weather is good and no predators are in sight, the macaws follow. Return to the lodge for lunch.
Much of our activities at MWC take place early in the morning, at dusk and at night when wildlife is most active. In the afternoon there is usually time for journaling, reading or siestas, or go out on guided walks on one of the many trails around the lodge. We explore the extensive trail system to search for some of the 12 species of monkeys that have been seen within a few kilometers of the lodge. Outings on the trails through diverse habitats include a lookout over the Madre de Dios River, a crystalline forest stream, a large strangler fig tree and other fruiting trees that attract monkeys and birds. A sturdy steel circular staircase 115 ft. up to two platforms built into the crown of a huge Kapok tree afford endless hours observing the rainforest canopy from above with chances of seeing passing troops of monkeys and many birds.
In the evenings guides organize nocturnal forays into the forest to the tapir clay lick. The elevated, screened platform structure is equipped with simple mattresses so that you can rest or read quietly while waiting for the first tapirs to arrive anytime between 5:30 and 11:00 p.m. Sometimes deer and peccaries also come in.
On one of the mornings we visit an oxbow lake to see waterfowl, the prehistoric-like hoatzin bird, and to search for a family of giant otters. These two-meter-long, 70-pound predators are the only social mustelids (family of weasels, minks, badgers, wolverines, skunks, otters) in the world. Overnights at Manu Wildlife Center. [BLD]
Note: Although the macaw clay lick is active year round, usually the best months for viewing and photography are July through November when the birds tend to come in larger numbers and rain occurs infrequently.
DAY 11 : RETURN TO CUSCO
After an early breakfast, transfer by boat to the Boca Manu airstrip for the short return charter flight to Cusco. Upon arrival transfer in and overnight at the Hotel Libertador or similar. [B]
DAY 12 : LIMA
Transfer to Cusco airport for flight to Lima and then transfer in to a day use room at the Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection in Miraflores until your evening departure. Ask about a half-day city and museum tour or dinner arrangements at one of Lima's fabulous Nouveau Andean cuisine restaurants. [B]
Note: Half-day tours in Lima and its museums are available upon prior request. Observe the blend of cultures in one of South America's oldest capital cities on a tour of the old colonial center of downtown Lima, the church and catacombs of San Francisco and the cathedral of Lima. The most comprehensive museums in Lima that feature Peru's archaeological heritage are the Gold Museum and the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.
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