Andes to Amazon
A journey from the heart of the Inca empire in the high Andes to Manu National Park in the Amazon Basin, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Andes to Amazon
13 days from £3,630
One trip, two amazing sides of Peru. Your journey starts in the Inca heartland, with its archaeological wonders, colonial heritage and traditional culture. Then you descend from high altitude farmlands, though cloud forest and tropical valleys to Amazonian rainforest. Each elevation has its wildlife specialities and we’ll endeavour to show you as many as possible.
Peru has an embarrassment of cultural and natural riches and on this trip we bring you close to some of the best of them.
To begin with, Cusco is a lively city which successfully blends a rich history encompassing Inca and colonial eras with up-to-the-minute tourist facilities. You’ll see remarkable Inca stonework, glorious Spanish architecture and places where the two were blended together. More Inca ruins await in the Sacred Valley, alongside towns and villages which specialise in traditional crafts and customs and where farming methods and language have changed little over the centuries. You’ll be treated to a scenic train journey as you head towards the fabled lost city of Machu Picchu, where you’ll have ample time to absorb the history and atmosphere.
From the harsh Andean highlands a spectacular descent takes you through grasslands and elfin forest to the unique cloud forest, rich in birdlife, giant ferns, trees and orchids. After a night here, the road winds down to valleys where tropical fruits and coca are cultivated, eventually reaching the dense, abundant Amazon rainforest.
From the road’s end, travel is by river boat to the Manu Wildlife Centre in one of the bio hotspots of the world. There is some truly amazing wildlife viewing in its proximity. Before you return from the forest by plane, you will have experienced a wonderful journey, seeing the birds, plants and animals of these diverse regions and ecosystems in their unspoilt state.
Andes and Amazon Highlights
- Explore the Inca and colonial sites in the city of Cusco
- Guided tours of Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley
- Visit the Lost City of Machu Picchu
- Hotels combining contemporary style with historic surroundings
- Train ride through the Andes
- See changing landscapes as you journey from highlands to lowlands
- Lodges with privileged access to wildlife
- Explore the Amazon by boat and on foot
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DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel, which makes a convenient overnight stop. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Relax after your flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.
DAY 2: FLY TO CUSCO
This morning you'll return to the airport for your flight to Cusco. You'll be met at Cusco by our local representative and transferred to Casa Andina Plaza Hotel, which is very close to the main Plaza. After a short orientation walk, the rest of the day is yours for some independent exploration of Cusco's sights, restaurants and bars. As it will be your first day at altitude, don’t rush. Breakfast
DAY 3: TOUR OF CUSCO AND SACSAYHUAMAN
After breakfast at the hotel you'll be collected for your guided tour of the city and nearby Inca sites. You'll visit the main Plaza, cathedral and the Coricancha which was the most important temple in Inca times. Heading out of the city you'll visit Sacsayhuaman, a large complex of carefully constructed walls of massive stones overlooking the city. At the end of the tour your guide will take you back to your hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure. Breakfast
DAY 4: PISAC AND THE SACRED VALLEY
Breakfast at the hotel then your guide will meet you for the journey to the Sacred Valley. This fertile valley is still farmed much as it was in Inca times, with picturesque terracing. There are several towns and villages scattered through the valley where you'll see traditional crafts and customs. You'll visit Pisac, known for its lively market and for the Inca ruins above the town. You'll also see the impressive ruins at Ollantaytambo, an Inca fortress. You'll end the day at your hotel, El Albergue, in Ollantaytambo. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 5: SCENIC TRAIN RIDE TO MACHU PICCHU
Today you'll visit the world-famous site of Machu Picchu. Travel in style on the train with its large, panoramic windows. From the station at Aguas Calientes it's a short bus ride uphill to the citadel of Machu Picchu. You'll have a comprehensive guided tour of the site and your guide will give you background information to bring it to life. Lunch is at Sanctuary Lodge, the closest hotel to the site. You’ll head down the hill to your hotel, El MaPi in Aguas Calientes and have some free time in this small town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 6: MACHU PICCHU AND RETURN BY TRAIN TO CUSCO
This morning you have time for a return to Machu Picchu. You can take your time as you wander around the ruins, taking in the views and using your imagination to picture scenes of the busy Inca city in its heyday. In the afternoon you'll take the train back to Cusco. Sit back and enjoy the 3-hour ride. On arrival you'll be transferred to the Casa Andina Plaza Hotel. Breakfast
DAY 7: ANDES TO CLOUDFOREST
For the next few days you join a shared departure to visit the cloudforest and Amazon basin. From Cusco your route to a different world passes high-altitude wetlands and two mountain ranges, reaching an altitude of 3,900m, before descending through grassland and elfin forest. Stops on the way include mountain villages, a pre-Inca site and a viewpoint over the distant Amazon lowlands. The road enters the lush cloud forest with its overhanging trees, giant ferns, flowers and teeming birdlife in the afternoon. You arrive at Cock of The Rock Lodge in time to visit the viewing platform for the chance to spot Peru's dazzling national bird, after which the lodge is named. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
DAY 8: CLOUDFOREST TO AMAZON
Take an early walk to look for birds or monkeys, or follow a secluded trail to the nearby river and back. Then, after breakfast, you set off along the road again through rolling hills and farmland. You should reach the river port of Atalaya by midday. Here you transfer to comfortable dugout canoes and should arrive, river conditions permitting, at the Manu Learning Centre in time for wildlife viewing along one of the many forest trails. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
DAY 9: MANU WILDLIFE CENTRE
After a short hike on the lodge trails and breakfast, it’s back to the boats, following the Alto Madre de Dios River past the last foothills of the Andes, spotting birds all the way. After passing the mouth of the Manu River you’ll disembark briefly at the boatyards of Boca Manu, where dugout canoes are built. It is approximately a 6-hour boat ride to Manu Wildlife Centre, which is the best-located Amazonian lodge for wildlife viewing. After settling in, you will head out to explore the trails in the rainforest, learning about plants and forest ecology and with luck encountering some of the 12 species of monkeys that live here. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
DAY 10: MANU WILDLIFE CENTRE: MACAWS AND TAPIRS
A forest walk brings us to the Macaw Lick project. From the hide you will marvel as the scarlet macaws, first in twos and threes and then in flocks, scrape clay from the hard surface. After lunch at the lodge you can explore the network of trails and reach the Canopy Tower to witness the forest’s activity at twilight. Lastly, a walk takes you to the Tapir Clay Lick. At the viewing platform, with its mattresses and mosquito nets, wait patiently for these normally shy creatures to come to snack on the clay, seemingly oblivious to your presence. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 11: MANU WILDLIFE CENTRE
This morning you will have a catamaran ride on an oxbow lake, looking for Giant Otters, monkeys and water birds. You may also see and hear Hoatzins among the bushes near the waterline. After lunch at the lodge, you have the choice of a guided wildlife tour or to explore the trails at your leisure. If the river level allows, there will be a chance to search for caiman and other nocturnal life along the riverbank after dark. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 12: RETURN TO LIMA
It’s an early departure from the lodge today for the two-and-a-half-hour boat ride downstream to the gold-mining village of Colorado, watching wildlife and observing native settlements on the way. Breakfast will be taken either before departure, or en route. From Colorado it is 45-minutes overland to Puerto Carlos and the ferry across the Inambari River before the final two-and-a-half-hour drive to the airport in Puerto Maldonado, where you catch the plane to Lima. Transfer to the Casa Andina Centro Hotel. Breakfast
DAY 13: DEPART
The last morning will be spent sightseeing, including a visit to the Larco museum with its remarkable collection of ceramics from various Peruvian cultures. In the evening you will be taken to the airport for your onward flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): 2019 prices from £3,630 based on travel throughout 2019.
Dates: This trip starts on a Sunday to fit with the shared departure to the Amazon which runs every Saturday from March to December.
Includes: 12 nights accommodation in the properties mentioned; private transfers; private sightseeing tours with an English-speaking guide in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lima; shared transport services and guiding for the section from Cusco down to the rainforest (Please note that the program may vary slightly so as to maximize your wildlife sightings, depending on the reports of the local researchers and experienced naturalist guides based at the lodges); entrance fees to Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima; return train ticket to Machu Picchu; meals as indicated in the itinerary.
Excludes: International and domestic flight (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package); visas (not currently required by British passport holders); insurance; Huayna Picchu entrance; meals not mentioned as included; drinks; tips; personal expenses such as laundry.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March. During that time we do not run this trip. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
Note that June is the busiest months for festivals in Cusco, including the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, so there will be high tourist occupancy then.
The Amazon rainforest is hot and humid all year round with little variation from midsummer (December) to midwinter (June). Our destinations in Peru’s southern Amazon region, Manu and Tambopata, are only 12° south of the Equator. Daytime temperatures regularly reach the mid 30°c. In midwinter (June to mid-September) cold wind movements from the Patagonian plains move far enough north to affect the southern edge of the Amazon. These infrequent weather movements, known locally as friajes (cold fronts), last from one to three days and temperatures at night can drop as low as 10°c. We recommend you pack a sweater or light jacket just in case. Rain is likely at any time of year, but during the ‘dry season’ (May to October) there is a lot less than in the ‘wet season’ (late November to April).
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