From the luxuriant forests of the Amazon to mystical mountains steeped in Inca lore, Peru is diverse, dramatic, and laced with magic. Set out on a journey that begins in the rain forest and ends at one of the highest lakes in the world. Spend two days at Machu Picchu in between, exploring the Inca site and the cloud forests that surround it, filled with wild orchids and colorful birds.
Get an in-depth perspective on Hiram Bingham’s National Geographic-funded excavation of Machu Picchu during a tour of the spectacular Inca citadel.
Paddle a dugout canoe across Amazonian backwaters in the company of a naturalist.
Visit the workshop of Nilda Callañaupa, a National Geographic grantee who has revived Andean weaving traditions in the Sacred Valley of the Inca.
Itinerary - 14 Days
Day 1 — Lima, Peru
Arrive in Lima at any time and check in to our airport hotel. Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport Hotel
Days 2, 3, & 4 — Amazon Rain Forest
Fly to Puerto Maldonado and take an outboard motorized canoe to our lodge, set on the banks of the Madre de Dios River. Examine fascinating flora and fauna on a walk with a naturalist, then set off on a sunset canoe cruise. Spend the next morning in Tambopata National Reserve, looking for caimans, giant river otters, and diverse birdlife while exploring Lake Sandoval in a dugout canoe. Go on an afternoon canopy walk; and after dark, take a nocturnal tour of the forest. Visit the lodge’s farm and botanical garden to learn about the cultivation and myriad uses of indigenous plants, and try your hand at making chocolate straight from the bean. Later, take canoes out on a lagoon to catch and release fish, or watch for birds.
Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción (B,L,D daily)
Days 5 & 6 — Sacred Valley of the Inca
Return to Puerto Maldonado and fly to Cusco. Travel into the Sacred Valley, stopping en route to meet llamas at Awana Kancha. Settle into our stunning lodge and enjoy a pisco sour, Peru’s national drink, with spectacular views of the valley. The next day, visit the workshop of Nilda Callañaupa, a National Geographic grantee who has revived Andean weaving traditions. See the agricultural terraces of Moray and the saltpans of Maras, and participate in an ancient Andean ceremony to honor the Earth. Return to the lodge for a talk by our expert before dinner on your own.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba (B,L,D; B,L)
Days 7 & 8 — Ollantaytambo/Machu Picchu
Travel to Ollantaytambo and tour its Inca fortress. Then ride the train to Machu Picchu, following the Urubamba River through dramatic scenery. Venture into the breathtaking Inca citadel with a guide, discovering the ingenuity behind its design and use. Spend a full day exploring the area, hiking to the Sun Gate or the Inca Bridge and discovering the orchids, birds, and hot springs in the lush cloud forests that surround our lodge.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D; B,D)
Days 9 & 10 — Machu Picchu/Cusco
Learn about the lodge’s efforts to rehabilitate native Andean bears on a visit to the Andean Bear Rescue Center. After lunch on your own, board the train back to Ollantaytambo and transfer to Cusco. Our home here is an exquisite 16th-century manor house in the heart of the old city. The next day, take a guided tour of historic Cusco and enjoy plenty of free time to discover this charming city on your own. Toast our Peruvian adventure at a farewell dinner this evening.
Inkaterra La Casona (B; B)
Days 11 & 12 — Cusco/Juliaca/Lake Titicaca
Fly from Cusco to Juliaca and transfer to Puno, located high on the Andean plateau and on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Check in to our hotel on a small island on the lake and watch the sunset light up the lake before dinner. Spend a full day on this breathtaking lake, discovering its islands and unique cultures – including the unusual floating Uros islands, constructed out of reeds. Toast our Peruvian adventure at a farewell dinner on our final night. Libertador Lake Titicaca (B,D; B,L,D)
Days 13 & 14 — Lake Umayo/Juliaca/Lima
Head to Lake Uyamo to see the remarkable funerary towers of Sillustani, built by Inca and pre-Inca civilizations. After a picnic lunch, transfer to Juliaca and fly to Lima, where we have secured hotel rooms for the night. You may choose to depart later this evening; or the following morning, at your leisure. Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport Hotel (B)
Holly Wissler is an applied ethnomusicologist, Fulbright Scholar and educator living and working in Cusco, Peru. Her doctoral research focused on the musical rituals of the indigenous Quechua group of Q’eros in the southern Peruvian Andes. Holly currently works on various field projects with the Q’eros and the near-extinct Wachiperi of the Amazonian Harakbut linguistic group. She lectures regularly for National Geographic and various U.S. university study abroad programs in Peru, and she has produced two documentaries about her work in the country. She was principal author of the petition to UNESCO that the Q’eros’ songs be included on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Holly is also a classical flutist and adept at numerous Andean instruments, and she has led adventure-oriented expeditions in Peru and Nepal for the past 30 years.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,500. Airfare to/from Lima and within Peru are not included in the expedition cost. The flights within Peru are $750 (subject to change).
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
We will be traveling at high elevations while in Cusco and at Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. Cusco is at an altitude of 11,200 feet, Machu Picchu is at 8,000 feet, and Lake Titicaca is at 12,500 feet. Participants should be physically fit. This expedition is not suitable for anyone who suffers from a respiratory disorder, a circulatory ailment, or a disability that limits mobility.