Amazon Riverboat Adventure & Machu Picchu Explorer aboard the Amatista
Day 1 Lima
Upon arrival from your international flight, you will be transferred to your hotel and overnight in Lima, the nation's capital and largest city. Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Peru (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control.
Day 2 Iquitos/Amazon Riverboat (1B,1L,1D)
Today we will begin very early, with time for a simple and quick breakfast before catching our flight to Iquitos, where we’ll transfer to our Amazon River ship, our privately chartered home for the next seven days. But before boarding, we get acquainted with this jungle port city an orientation tour. This is the country’s main river port, established in 1864 in the heart of rubber country on the Amazon’s deep waters. Like any port, it has a hustle-bustle feel, yet it is not without its places of quiet and shaded retreats. Much of the architecture we see is a 19th-century vestige of the era when European commercial barons held sway over life and culture here. And while Iquitos has seen many fortunes rise and fall, its isolation has remained constant: access to the city is by air or river only. We will also make a brief stop at the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Centre. The Amazonian Manatee is very rare and endangered mammal unique to the Amazon Jungle. This centre focuses on rescuing orphaned manatees who have been victims of poaching. The centre helps rehabilitate and reintroduce these wonderful creatures back into the Amazon Basin. Here you will have a see the efforts of the rescue centre as well as have the opportunity to feed these amazing and loveable animals. Once on board ship, you can just relax and let the wild rainforest surround you. Step out on deck to watch the riverbanks go by—but keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as gray and pink dolphins. Our ship casts off and wends its way to the confluence of the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers. Here, it is generally (but not universally!) considered that the Amazon River begins, at least in name. Approximate Distance: 1020km Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours
Day 3 - 7 Exploration of the Amazon, Marañon and Ucayali Rivers (5B,5L,5D)
After breakfast, we have an excursion on the Amazon and some of its tributaries to see the wonders of the rain forest. This is our chance to see monkeys, sloths, and a variety of birds. Back onboard , we’ll gather for lunch, followed by a presentation on the Amazon River. Afterwards, we’ll walk along the shores of the Ucayali River, located in the Yucuruchi region of the Amazon. Here we’ll have an opportunity to see the Victoria Regia water lily—a gigantic aquatic plant
Day 8 Iquitos/Lima (1B)
Today we rise early to visit the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve for a full day of discovery in Peru's largest national park. Then, keep your eyes wide open and your binoculars at the ready to catch sight of cocoi heron and striated herons, colorful macaws, squirrel and woolly monkeys, caimans, sloths and many more primate, bird and mammal species. Current counts record more than 200 bird species and 10 primate species within its boundaries. Our route takes us over the tributary waters of the Marañon. Along the way, our guides will point out the interesting wildlife species that inhabit the riverbanks—not to mention unusual fish and vegetation in the river. Back onboard, we'll gather for breakfast followed by a presentation on the life, history, and culture of the Amazon's main tribes. After lunch, we have an introductory discussion about shamanism that will help us understand the traditions of the rain forest people. Spend the afternoon exploring yet deeper into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, where we'll listen to the local birdsong and keep our eyes peeled for sighting the different animal species found in this area. Before dinner, we'll touch upon the spirit realm, paying a visit to a local shaman. Mystic ... minister ... healer—one might consider a shaman to be "all of the above." But to understand shamanism requires something of a leap of faith, a leap into the spirit world that is the shaman's domain. Shamanism is practiced around the globe, and is universally distinguished by a trance state called shamanic ecstasy. In these "out of body" travels, the shaman enlists denizens of the spirit world to help him with a variety of duties, from healing the sick to assisting a deceased person's soul into the afterworld—and all the while, the shaman remains conscious. Before you leave the Amazon jungle, you'll gain rare insight into the complexities of this phenomenon when you meet an actual practicing shaman in a river village. He'll introduce us to his spiritual healing craft and tell us about rain forest plants that indigenous peoples have for untold centuries held to possess curative properties. Your experience may not be "out of body," but it's sure to be out of the ordinary.
Day 9 Lima (1B)
The early morning offers another opportunity to watch the world awakening in the rain forest. Perhaps you'll spy iguanas, river turtles, cormorants, or wattled jacana during this excursion. We return to our riverboat and prepare to meet a local Indian family. They will welcome us into their home to share conversation over the midday meal, introducing you to their culture, costumes, and way of life. This is a rare and unforgettable opportunity to gain new insight into a world truly apart from our own. Be sure to be well rested, so that you won't miss our late-night excursion to discover who comes out at night in the jungle! As we join our Trip Leader for a nighttime boat ride in the wild, be on the lookout for mammals, bats, and reptiles such as capybara, black caiman, poison frogs, and a vast number of other species.
Day 10-11 Sacred Valley (2B,1L,1D)
Today we rise early and set out to explore the impressive biodiversity of this unusual ecosystem. We’ll look for a quiet spot to enjoy our picnic breakfast, followed by a trip to explore Choroyacu. We’ll also ride up the Nahuapa River for a little fishing expedition. What’s biting? Piranhas, of course! Reputedly “the most ferocious fish in the world” (to quote Teddy Roosevelt), piranha are a dietary staple for many of the Amazon rain forest’s indigenous people. While fearsome, they’re also esteemed as some of the best eating fish in South America. They have a light, nutty-tasting flesh that lends itself wonderfully to any number of cooking methods, which we’ll discover when we cast our lines today. Piranha aren’t terribly selective about what they eat, making piranha fishing fairly easy. No hand-tied flies or special casting technique required. It’s often enough just to drop a line—usually baited with raw meat or chicken—where they’re swimming. We will also visit Choroyacu Creek where we’ll have the opportunity to climb in a dugout canoe and explore this scenic area with the locals. After lunch, you’re invited to plunge into the river for a swim, perhaps sharing the water with some pink or grey river dolphins. Back onboard, we’ll enjoy a video about the flooded forest. Then we can kick up our heels as we learn a local dance. Get a taste of the jungle later this afternoon as we attend a jungle cooking lesson—and then sample our results at dinner. Water level and seasons permitting, we’ll have another chance to witness the nocturnal life of the rain forest after dinner this evening, as we venture out in small boats onto the Marañon River. Perhaps our flashlights will reflect the red eye shine of the black caiman—or even the glowing yellow eyes of a jaguar!
Day 12 Aguas Calientes (1B)
It’s back to civilization today, as our ship returns to its home port of Iquitos. But before we dock, we have a few more unique experiences to look forward to. This morning, we’ll call on the town of Nauta, where the Ucayali and the Marañon—the major headstreams of the Amazon—join together. On our included tour, we’ll ride the local motorcars and browse the local market. You’re welcome to try your hand at bargaining! Continuing on our way, we visit the Sapisapi River to look for charapas and turtles. The river has given up its secrets—or at least some of them. Tonight, we’ll celebrate our discoveries at our Farewell Dinner and Party, complete with live music, aboard our ship.
Day 13 Machu Picchu/Cusco (1B)
Disembark at Iquitos. We will transfer to the Iquitos airport for our flight back to Lima. Once arriving in Lima you will be met by a G Adventures representative and transported to your hotel. Spend a final night in the City of Kings and enjoy a Pisco Sour or try some Peruvian ceviche!
Days 14 Cusco (1B)
Enjoy a free day in Lima known as the City of Kings, Peru’s capital city Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany) in 1535. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of old Lima, and it is here you find the Cathedral, Government Palace and Archbishop’s Palace. The Cathedral dates back to the 1700s and houses the remains of the conquistador Pizarro. To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk the streets surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to get a taste for life in a large South American city. An optional city tour visits many of the city’s highlights. There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which houses an equally impressive collection of pottery, mummies and textiles from the Paracas and Nazca cultures. The more affluent districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro, which are on the coast, offer good nightlife and cafés all within walking distance. Limeños (Lima’s residents) are friendly, and the city is filled with excellent restaurants; seafood lovers in particular should be sure to try a ceviche, for which Lima is well known. Please note that if you booked the Culinary Theme Pack, you will be picked up from your hotel at approx 10:00am and taken to a local market and restaurant to prepare and enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal. You will return back to your hotel around 13:00.
Day 15 Lima (1B)
Early flight to Cusco then onto the Sacred Valley where we spend 2 days exploring with a local guide. We visit the Ccaccaccollo community and the Planeterra sponsored Women's Weaving Co-op. Explore the Pisac and Moray ruins and visit the local handicraft market. Also visit the pre-Incan salt pans of Las Salineras and the Ollantaytambo and Moray ruins and enjoy a traditional Pachamanca-style dinner of local specialities. Planeterra has been working with the Ccaccaccollo community since 2005 to develop a viable economic alternative for women by creating a weaving cooperative to sell traditional textiles to travellers. Donations by travelers have helped build a community centre supplied with looms and sewing machines for the women to use to expand their production. This project allows the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to maintain their cultural heritage and benefit from the tourism industry. Starting in 2014 travellers will also have the chance to visit Huchuy Qosco, an indigenous village previously bypassed by the tourism industry, now running a community restaurant and tour in their own village. Starting in 2014 travellers will have the chance to visit Huchuy Qosco, an indigenous village previously bypassed by the tourism industry, now running the Planeterra-supported Sacred Valley Community Restaurant and tour in their own village. The town and fortress of Ollantaytambo are strategically situated overlooking the beautiful Urubamba River Valley. This major ruin site is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. It is admired for its huge steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress and for being one of the few places where the Spanish lost a major battle during the conquest.
Day 16 Lima (1B)
Early transfer to Ollantaytambo and catch the scenic train journey to Aguas Calientes with option to visit the market. Those who have chosen the option in advance for the '1-day Inca Trail' hike will disembark the train at 104 km and trek to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu before re-joining the group at Aguas Calientes for the night. For serious archaeology buffs, there is time for an optional independent visit to Machu Picchu before the guided tour the following morning. Those who have chosen the option in advance to hike the "1-day Inca Trail" will disembark the train at km 104 to begin the trek. The trail rises steeply up into the mountains and will take hikers past the archaeological sites of Wiñay Wayna and Inti Pata, where the local guide will provide insights into the fascinating culture of the Incas en route to the trek's culmination at Machu Picchu. Enjoy a packed lunch along the way and reach the Sun Gate in the late afternoon with a chance for a preliminary exploration of Machu Picchu before the guided tour on Day 5. Transfer by bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes to rejoin the group and spend the night in a hotel. If time permits, take an optional visit to the nearby hot springs to soak the sore muscles. Approximate Distance: 43km Estimated Travel Time: 1.45 hours Those taking the 1-day Inca Trail option: Approximate Distance: 7km Estimated hiking Time: 5-6 hours