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STANDARD TOUR PROGRAM #009

Full Taste of Peru
16 Days / 15 Nights

Lima-Arequipa-Colca Canyon-Puno-Titicaca-Cuzco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu-Cuzco-Puerto Maldonado-Heath River Wildlife Center-Puerto Maldonado-Lima

Day 1 – Lima
Make your international flight to Lima. Usually an evening arrival. Upon arrival, you will be met at Lima’s international airport and transferred to your selected hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. Overnight at selected hotel.

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 2 - Lima
Free morning to relax. Afternoon Lima Colonial City Tour: Starts with the Plaza de Armas, or main square, in the historical center of Lima, founded in 1535 by the Spanish Conquistadors. Almost all of the structures were destroyed in the earthquake of 1746 and the only original structure left is the bronze fountain built in 1651. The oldest building on the Plaza is the Cathedral, which was rebuilt shortly after the earthquake. The square is also surrounded by the Archbishop's Palace and the Governor’s Palace.

The Basilica Cathedral of Lima is a Roman Catholic cathedral that has undergone many reconstructions, however it still retains its colonial structure and facade. The front facade has three large doorways. The main door is called the Portada del Perdón or the "door of forgiveness". Set on the front facade are sculptures of the Apostles and in the middle, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Adjoining the Cathedral is the Archbishop's Palace. Inside are a sequence of large paintings of the Via Crucis, "Way of the Cross”. On the left aisle, the first chapel holds the ancient baptistery which has a beautiful image of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope) who presides over the events during Cuaresm and Holy Week. The next chapel is Capilla de la Sagrada Familia (chapel of the Holy Family), featuring figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Cathedral also contains the tomb of the Spanish conquistador of Peru, Francisco Pizarro. Pizarro laid the first stone used in the construction of the Cathedral.

The Saint Francis Monastery was built in 1774 and is noted for its Spanish Neoclassic architecture. The convent houses a world-renowned library which has thousands of historical and antique books and documents. The church is most famous for its catacombs, containing the bones of tens of thousands of people. This was Lima's first cemetery. In one area, a large round hole in the ground is filled with bones and skulls arranged in a geometrical pattern. The Monastery also has an impressive collection of religious art, the best known being a mural of the Last Supper depicting the Apostles dining on guinea pig and a devil standing next to Judas.

Overnight at selected hotel. (B)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 3 - Lima/Arequipa
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Arequipa. Know as the “White City”, Arequipa is located in southern Peru at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet and is surrounded by the towering peaks of El Misti, Chachani, and Picchu Picchu. Afternoon half-day Arequipa city tour & Santa Catalina convent. We visit the Plaza de Armas (the main square), one of the most beautiful in all Peru, Arequipa Cathedral, La Compañia Church and the 16th century Santa Catalina Convent. Completely closed to outside visitors for almost 400 years this magnificent convent has been the scene of many historic and religious events and adventures. For centuries, nuns lived their whole lives here isolated from the rest of the world. Overnight at selected hotel. (B)

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Day 4 - Arequipa/Colca Canyon
Early morning depart to Colca Canyon, reputedly the world's deepest canyon. Drive through the nature reserve of Pampas de Canihuas where it is possible to encounter Alpacas and Llamas. We will arrive in time for lunch. In the afternoon we will explore the canyon and visit the town of Yanque. Overnight at selected hotel. (B)

Day 5 - Colca Canyon
Early wake up call for a visit to Cruz del Condor, a lookout point with a magnificent view of Mt. Misti and the swiftly flowing river far below. It is here that the Andean Condors are most often sighted. After lunch we will explore other towns of Colca Canyon and the thermal baths. Overnight. (B)

Peru Explorer - Peru Tours

Day 6 - Colca/Puno
Mid-morning transfer to Chivay. Early afternoon departure from Chivay to Puno by bus. Box Lunch on the way. Arrival in Puno and transfer to the selected hotel. Overnight. (B,L)

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Day 7 - Puno
Early in the morning, boat excursion on Lake Titicaca to visit the Uros Indians, who build their homes on “floating islands” of totora reeds and are known for their boats made of the same material. Then continue to the Island of Taquile. Members of this self-supporting Aymara community receive visitors, showing them their traditional dress and escort them around the island. Taquile is renowned for its fine decorative weavings. Return to Puno. Overnight at the selected hotel. (B,L)

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Day 8 - Puno/Cusco
Transfer to the bus station for the trip to Cusco. Enjoy the colorful natural landscapes of the Peruvian plateau with small towns and farms. On the way we will visit Pucara, the temple of Raqchi, power center per excellence constructed in honor to the God Wiracocha, and the colonial town of Andahuaylillas that has a chapel called the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. Lunch included. Arrival to Cusco and transfer to your Hotel. Overnight at the selected hotel. (B,L)

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Day 9 - Cusco
Morning guided tour of the city and its highlights like the Cathedral, the Main Plaza, narrow streets, etc. Then continue to the nearby ruins including Kenko, the ceremonial bath of Tambomachay, and the amazing Sacsayhuaman fortress. Details: The Plaza de Armas, which has been the center of solemn parades and great assemblies since Inca times; The Cathedral, built on the site where the palace of Inca Viracocha once stood, mixes Spanish Renaissance architecture with beautiful Inca stone-work. Its construction began in 1580 and took approximately one century to complete. Among its many treasures are nearly 400 colonial paintings, including those of the "School of Cusco" a very particular style developed by the blending of Inca and Spanish cultures. The Twelve Angled Stone, an example of Inca architectural achievement that continues to amaze the world, the twelve corner-angles fit perfectly with all the surrounding stone blocks. The stones were positioned without the use of mortar and have withstood earthquakes of the centuries; The Koricancha Temple, known as the "temple of the supreme Sun God " that colonial chronicles described as having the inner walls covered with gold plates to reflect the sun's rays entering through windows specially positioned for that purpose; and the nearby ruins Sacsayhuaman, a massive fortress made of large stones, including one weighing 125 tons, arranged in a zig-zag shape in three platforms. Sacsayhuaman presently serves as the location for the Inti Raymi Festival (Festival of the Sun) held every year on June 24 and; Kenko, or Quenco, (zig-zag) another great example of skilled Inca masonry work consisting of a large limestone slab covered with carvings, thought to have been used for ritual sacrifices. Here is also a mysterious cave with large niches, and an amphitheater facing north with 19 niches; Tambomachay, consisting of a beautiful ceremonial bath, popularly called "Bath of the Inca”, formed by four walls linked by stairs and adorned with crystalline waterfalls.

Free afternoon. Overnight at the selected hotel. (B)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 10 - Cusco/Sacred Valley
Early morning pickup for a full day tour of the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is Awanakancha, a beautiful Exhibition Center of Textiles and South American camelids such as llamas, vicuñas, and alpacas. Continue to the Urubamba Valley of the Incas, considered the historic heart of the Inca Empire. It was intensively cultivated with terraces increasing its harvest several fold. Small villages lined the valley floor, while the stone fortresses of Ollantaytambo and Pisac served the dual purpose of providing protection and serving as religious centers. We arrive to the colorful Pisac Indian Market, have sometime for free exploration. Lunch at Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay hotel. Continue to Ollantaytambo for a tour of the ruins. The enormous step terraces protecting the fortress are spectacular. The bastion's walls were built with huge blocks of granite. This location was the site of a major battle during Manco Capac's Inca rebellion against the conquistadors. Overnight at the selected hotel in the Sacred Valley. (B,L)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 11 - Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu
Early morning transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station for the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes. The Vistadome trains have beautiful panoramic windows offering unsurpassed scenic views and photographic opportunities. Entertainment on board, snacks and hot and cold refreshments are included on the journey. Aguas Calientes is renowned for its natural hot baths, which give the town its name ("hot waters" in Spanish). Upon arrival, transfer by bus to Machu Picchu.

Afternoon guided tour of the Inca citadel including park entrance fee, bus and lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. Machu Picchu is one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Built by the Incas on the summit of the mountain of Machu Picchu (Old Peak), it overlooks the deep canyon of the Urubamba River in a semi-tropical area at 8,000 feet above sea level. It was “re-discovered” in 1911 by the American professor Hiram Bingham, although locals knew of it’s existence all along. The building style is "late imperial Inca". It is thought to have been a sanctuary inhabited by high priests and the "Virgins of the Sun". No signs of post-conquest occupation were found. The original entrance to the complex is the Intipunko" (Sun Gate) on the southwestern side of the citadel at the end of the Inca Trail. You can easily take a short walk out from the main ruins to the Sun Gate. Overnight at Hotel Inkaterra Machu Picchu. The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is a collection of comfortable small and charming cottages located at the base of the Machu Picchu mountain, a close bus ride to the ancient ruins. It is surrounded by tropical gardens and trails with many orchids and a large variety of colorful birds. (B,L,D)

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Day 12 - Machu Picchu/Cusco
Morning return (on your own) to the citadel including bus and entrance fee. An early arrival will give you the opportunity to walk out to the Sun Gate to obtain the classic Machu Picchu photograph of the rays of the sun first illuminating the ruins. Your guide the previous day will brief you on what time to arrive to the gate. This morning is also a good opportunity to hike up Huayna Picchu, (Young Peak), (Entrance fee NOT included. Must be booked in advance.) that is as much a part of the site as the buildings of the citadel. The towering granite peak overlooks Machu Picchu to the north with a steep, well-preserved original Inca path, well worth the one hour climb for an astounding view of the citadel and the entire valley. Note that this hike is not suited for those nervous about heights and sheer drop-offs. Afternoon Vistadome train back to Cuzco - Poroy Station, with private transfer to your selected Cuzco hotel. (B)

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Day 13 – Cusco/Puerto Maldonado/Heath River Wildlife Center
Transfer to the Cusco airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado. Staff welcome you at Puerto Maldonado airport and we drive through this bustling Upper Amazon Basin city to the Tambopata River boat dock. Here we board a powerful motorized dugout canoe and set off to the nearby confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios River, where we head downstream for approximately three hours to the Peru-Bolivia border at the mouth of the remote Heath River. Even beneath the vast sky of this major Amazon tributary we glimpse the diversity of the riverine environment, with its forest-capped red-earth cliffs, alternating with low banks thick with Cecropia trees and giant grasses. Now, after brief frontier-crossing formalities, we motor for about two more hours up narrower and wilder waters, suddenly enjoying the intimacy of mysterious forest looming close on either side. Occasional views of native villages and children splashing by the banks, are interspersed with long, quiet stretches where we may spot herons, hawks, cormorants, Orinoco Geese, and perhaps a family of Capybaras -- the world’s largest rodent, weighing up to 55kg./120lb, and looking like an enormous Guinea Pig. We reach our simple, charming and comfortable quarters at the Heath River Wildlife Center just in time for dinner. Overnight at the lodge. (B,L,D)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 14 - Heath River Wildlife Center
Today we make an early start to visit the lodge’s most spectacular feature: the Heath River parrot and macaw lick. Here these colorful birds gather to eat a type of clay from the cliff-like river banks that neutralizes certain toxins in their diet. They congregate early each morning, sometimes by the hundreds, jostling and squabbling over the best eating spots on the clay lick. This noisy and unforgettable show can go on for two or three hours, and may begin with up to five species of parrot and two varieties of parakeet, followed by Chestnut-fronted Macaws and their larger, more boisterous cousins, the Red-and-green Macaws. This extraordinary wildlife display occurs at only a handful of sites in the Upper Amazon Basin, and nowhere else on the planet.

Our floating hide platform provides comfort and complete concealment, so that we can eat a full breakfast here during pauses in the bankside spectacle. For ultra-close-up viewing, our guides carry a tripod-mounted spotting scope, which can also be used to get telephoto pictures with even the simplest camera.

On our return we can land partway downriver and walk back along a section of the lodge’s extensive network of forest trails. We encounter numerous gigantic Brazil-nut, kapok and fig trees, along with the scary strangler fig, whose life strategy is as sinister as its name suggests. Our guide will point out and explain the medicinal and commercial uses of dozens of plants and trees, while we keep our eyes and ears open for birds, or one of the eight species of monkeys found in this region. We might come upon a small herd of White-lipped or Collared peccary – two kinds of wild pig that are quite common in this area. For purposes of territorial marking they deploy a “stink gland” so potent that they are often smelled long before they are seen.

After lunch we typically hike or bicycle along a major trail to a point where the forest abruptly gives way to the spacious plains of the Pampas del Heath, part of Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. This unique environment -- the result of very poor soils, plus an extreme seasonal cycle of dryness and flooding -- is the largest remaining undisturbed tropical savannah in the Amazon, and is home to rare endemic birds and mammals, such as the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and the highly endangered Maned Wolf. Shortly beyond the edge of the forest we can climb a raised platform that allows us a grand view of this vast expanse of grassland and shrub, studded with palm trees.

We can continue another hour or so to a swampy area thick with Mauritia flexuosa palm trees, whose oil-rich palm nuts and hollowed-out dead palms provide vitally important food and shelter for nesting pairs of Red-bellied and increasingly rare Blue-and-yellow macaws. We aim to arrive toward dusk, when the macaws are returning from their day’s foraging to congregate in this very special breeding site.

We return to the lodge by night, using our flashlights, and perhaps pausing here and there in total darkness, to listen to the ever-changing orchestra of animals, frogs and insects, and to experience the magic of the night-time rainforest. We may come upon such bizarre nocturnal creatures as camouflaged frogs disguised as dead leaves, toads the size of rabbits, hairy tarantulas peering out of their dirt holes, night monkeys lurking among the tree branches, and an unpredictable array of other nightlife.

After dinner some guests may choose to visit one of our mammal lick hides, in hopes of seeing a Lowland Tapir, the rainforest’s largest mammal. (B,L,D)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 15 - Heath River Wildlife Center
Our second full day at the lodge allows us to choose from a wide range of activities available in this exceptionally diverse tropical environment. Many people choose to make a second visit to the macaw clay lick. Later we can take a canoe tour around Cocha Platanillal, an oxbow lake that lies a short way downstream from the lodge.

The reeds, fallen trees and forested shoreline of this lake teem with birds and other wildlife. Red Howler Monkeys may peer at us through the branches of the giant trees above us, while herons lie in wait among the fallen trees, cormorant-like Anhingas watch from the forest branches, and an Osprey may circle overhead. Flocks of brilliant Red-capped Cardinals gather on dead branches, and a colorful, primitive bird, the Hoatzin, hops its ungainly way along the swampy water’s edge.

After dinner we can board our canoe once more, for an evening of spotting for caiman, the Amazonian cousin of the alligator. This region is home to the endangered black caiman, and we nearly always pick out a few with our powerful spotlight as we patrol the river. (B,L,D)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

Day 16 - Heath River Wildlife Center/Puerto Maldonado/Lima/Home
Early morning departure to Puerto Maldonado. During the river trip back downstream, families of Capybaras are often spotted on the banks of the river. Weighing up to 120 pounds (55 kilograms), this giant, three-toed relative of the guinea pig is the largest rodent in the world. Upon arrival, reception and transfer to the airport for the flight back to Lima. Make your evening or early next day flight back home. (Optional overnight lodging is available in Lima.) (B)

Taste of Peru - Tour in Peru

 

Full Taste of Peru        2018

16 Days / 15 Nights
Departures: Wednesday or Saturday

In PRIVATE SERVICE except for
for Heath River Wildlife Center
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