June 5, 2018: This morning we'll depart for our Peruvian adventure. We'll fly via Atlanta or Houston to Lima, Peru, arriving in the late evening, local time. Our hotel is the lovely Ramada Costa del Sol Hotel in the parking lot of the airport which is just steps away and very convenient. (D)
June 6: After a good night’s rest, we’ll walk back over to the airport (50 yards) for our morning flight to the jungle. In just over an hour, we’ll go from the barren landscape of Lima to the lush jungle of the Peruvian Amazon. We land in Puerto Maldanado and board our boat for a 40 minute ride on the majestic Madre de Dios River into the Amazon Jungle. We stay at the VERY comfortable Corto Maltes with all the amenities for a very pleasant stay. You’ll have your own bungalow with comfortable beds/private bathroom/shower while you enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle. Upon arrival (and after a rest in your porch hammock), we’ll take an educational stroll into the primary growth jungle to see the incredible flora in the area. It is fascinating! (ever seen a walking palm tree?) Dinner is waiting for us when we return. The food and the activities in the jungle are superb. This evening, our boat will take us up river in the dark (with our spotlights) to look for the white Cayman or Capybara. (B, L, D)
June 7: This morning we’ll see one of nature’s most interesting daily rituals. We’ll arise just after sunrise and take a 15-20 minute walk into the jungle where we’ll watch as dozens of wild parrots descend from the skies onto a wall of clay. They eat the clay to coat their stomachs so they can then go out and eat unripe fruit. We’ll come back and enjoy breakfast and some free time before continuing with our activities: You have a choice today. Part of the group will enjoy a two mile walk into Lake Sandoval followed by a boat ride on this pristine jungle lake with lunch. The lake is surrounded by jungle palms and the image is quite stunning. More often than not, we see monkeys and lots of varieties of birds. For those who can’t (or don’t want to) walk to the lake, you can go in the boat to meet some families from an Amazon tribe. Through an interpreter, they’ll tell you about what life is really like in the jungle. You can decide when you’re there – both are excellent. Dinner is included this evning. (B, L, D)
June 8: Today we return by boat to Puerto Maldanado where we’ll show you the colorful and lively local market. They we take a 30 minute flight to Cusco, once the capitol of most of South America. We’ll go to our hotel and allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude. During our rest, we’ll have an interesting lecture about the Incas and the Spaniards which will provide important background as we prepare to see these great sites. In the late afternoon, we’ll stroll into the beautiful Plaza de Armas (main square) and walk the original Incan streets that have been here for over 500 years. The massive stones, fit perfectly together, still line the sides of these historic streets. The Cathedral built by the Spaniards in the 16th century towers over the area. It is one of the world’s most interesting cities and capital of a great empire. A delicious dinner is included tonight in Cusco. We stay at the Jose Antonio Hotel – a lovely 4 star property on the main avenue. (B, D)
June 9: The Sacred Valley of the Incas is so named because of the reverence they felt for this area. With towering mountains on both sides, and scores of ruins, and fertile fields, it is an interesting place to visit. Travel distances are short and there is much to see. We'll visit the well-known Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman whose gigantic 3-tiered walls were built from 18-foot boulders that weigh over 300 tons each. The views of Cusco below are breathtaking. From there it’s a short drive to Pisac for lunch. On the way, we’ll see and feed some llamas, alpacas and condors. Today is market day when the locals bring their goods from the countryside to sell. It is colorful, interesting and a bargain. We’ll also see the Pisac Ruins that guarded this sacred valley, and the best example of the agricultural terraces which the Incas perfected. We’ll return to Cusco in the early evening. Free evening to enjoy dinner on your own. There are many restaurants with English menus. (B, L)
June 10: Today is Sunday and you’ll have some free time until 10:30. There is an LDS service within walking distance or for those who are interested, Catholic Mass is also available in the Cathedral. We’ll stop in Chincheros this morning for an interesting weaving demonstration before continuint to beautiful Urubamba where we’ll enjoy a delicious buffet lunch. We’ll then continue 30 minutes to Ollantaytambo at the "end of the road" and learn the interesting history of this important ancient Inca city. We will then board our Vista Dome train for an unforgettable 90 minute train ride toward Machu Picchu. The scenery changes from dry mountain valleys to lush, tropical mountains as you DESCEND to 7,000 feet above sea level, several thousand feet lower than Cusco. By 5:30, we'll arrive at Aguas Calientes, the small town near Machu Picchu. We'll check into our hotel and enjoy a free evening in this charming town. It is impossible to describe the majestic mountain scene. You just have to see it to believe it. We’ll stay at a comfortable hotel right on the river. (B, L)
June 11: The big day has arrived. We’ll take a 20 minutes bus ride from our hotel and ascend to this Wonder of the World. Machu Picchu is perched majestically atop a green, lush mountain with higher, foliage-covered mountains surrounding it. Behind the mountains are show-capped glaciers. The site will NEVER leave your memory. It is simply one of the most awe-inspiring single landscapes anywhere in the world (in my opinion). Our local guide will spend a couple of hours with us taking us through the ruins followed by time to enjoy it on your own. There is much to learn and see. You will repeatedly look around you in absolute amazement at the scene. The brave ones can take the hour hike to the top of Wayna Picchu, overlooking the ruins (spectacular!), or stroll to the famous Sun Gate. You’ll have plenty of time to see Machu Picchu in depth. In the late afternoon, we’ll board our train which departs around 4:00. We’ll be back in Cusco by 8:00. A light dinner is included. (B, D)
June 12: You’ll have a free morning today to do some shopping, visit the 16th Century Cathedral, take a walk or just relax. Around 11:00, your guide will take you to Cusco’s most historic building: Koricancha (Temple of the Sun). This was the main source of gold for the Spanish conquistadors and is a fascinating place to visit. Cusco was the "City of Gold". The Spaniards wrote about finding "fountains flowing with gold" and "streets paved with gold" as they entered the city in 1500's. This afternoon we’ll participate in a humanitarian activity (details to be announced as we get closer). Those interested can donate and participate in a life changing afternoon that you won’t forget. We’ll have a delicious buffet dinner with entertainment tonight in Cusco. (B, D).
June 13: Today we’ll board our hour long flight back to Lima where we’ll spend the day seeing some interesting sites. Lima may not be the highlight of the tour, but there are some very important things to see. Founded by Pizarro in the 1500's, Lima is the American continent's oldest European-founded city. We'll see the interesting Plaza de Armas, 500 year old Francisco Church and more. We’ll also see Lima’s newest attraction: The Water Fountain Park. Trust me. This is worth seeing! We then return to the airport for our overnight flight home, arriving the morning of June 14th. (B)
OPTIONAL PUNO/LAKE TITICACA EXTENSION:
About an hour south of Cusco on the high plains near the Bolivia border is the world’s highest navigable lake. It is called Lake Titicaca, and it sits at roughly 13,000 feet above sea level. The Uros people once felt threatened by the Inca Empire and fled to the shores of the lake. To better protect themselves, they devised a system whereby they constructed floating islands on the shallow part of the lake, using the natural cattail type rush called the Totora plant. Its dense roots support the top layer which is constantly replaced with new reeds on top of the layers beneath. The islands change in size, and more are created as the need arises. On the shores of the lake, is the interesting town of Puno dating back to pre-inca times. It is an interesting place to visit.
Extension Itinerary: If you choose the extension, your itinerary will be as follows:
June 13: Arise early this morning and enjoy a full day transfer from Cusco to Puno aboard a luxury coach for tourists. We’ll see some interesting scenery, my favorite colonial church in Peru, archeological sites (Raqchi) and the interesting towns. A buffet lunch and informed guide are included as you travel. We make lots of stops and arrive by about 5:30 PM. Dinner is on your own at the hotel. We stay at the 4 star Jose Antonio on the lake. (B, L)
June 14: Today we have a morning tour on Lake Titicaca. We go by boat into the National Reserve which is a protected area for the Uros people who inhabit these fascinating, man-made islands. We’ll go onto one of the islands and meet the local inhabitants. They will give us a demonstration of how they build the islands. They’ll invite us into their homes and give us a feel for life on the islands (those interested can see the island where the LDS church is located). We’ll enjoy a 45 minute ride the Island of Taquile where we’ll meet the locals living in the middle of Lake Titicaca. We’ll have fresh lake trout for lunch overlooking the lake. It’s fascinating. We’ll show you more of the island and return to our hotel. A nice farewell dinner is included this evening. (B, L, D)
June 15: This morning we go to the airport and take our flight back to Lima (we’ll show you the same things as listed on June 14 above). We will catch an overnight flight back to the states, arriving on June 16. (B)
Extension price is $445 PER PERSON and includes luxury tourist coach to Puno, 2 nights lodging, 6 meals, all tours, guides, Lake Titicaca floating islands and Isla de Taquile, and flight to Lima.