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Ecuador & Peru: Exploring the Inca’s Sacred Empire and the Amazon Region

Program Number: 15476RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/13/2013 - 3/28/2013;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Peru/Ecuador
Price starting at: $4,919.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 43; 15 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat    

Join a team of naturalists on a six-night expedition through Ecuador’s Amazon Region. Spot river dolphins, giant river otters, parrots, monkeys, poison frogs, hoatzins, and other creatures. Venture into hidden tributaries on small boat excursions, head ashore for rainforest hikes and a night safari, and meet indigenous peoples to gain a remarkable perspective of life along the river. Then, journey to Andean highlands of Peru and the extraordinary Incan city of Machu Picchu.

Activity Particulars

Walking 1-2 miles per day, some uneven terrain and steps without railings. Elevations up to 12,400 feet.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Quito (Ecuador), 2 nights; aboard ship, 6 nights; Lima (Peru), 1 night; Sacred Valley (Yucay), 2 nights; Machu Picchu, 1 night; Cusco, 2 nights; Lima, 1 night; departure.

Days 1-2: Arrival Quito (Ecuador):

Begin your study of Andean civilizations at the Casa del Alabado museum. Learn about the plight of the Latin American people at Capilla del Hombre, and explore Quito’s colonial streets. Lodging: Centrally located hotel.

Days 3-8: Flight to Coca and boat transfer / embark Manatee Amazon Explorer:

Naturalists highlight the ecology, cultures and 21st-century challenges of Amazonia. Spot river dolphins, monkeys, giant river otters, parrots, hoatzins, and other creatures. Venture into hidden tributaries on small boat excursions and head ashore for rainforest hikes and a night safari.

Days 9-11: Disembark and boat transfer to Coca / flight, via Quito, to Lima (Peru) / coach to Sacred Valley (Yucay):

Discover the agricultural genius of the Incas while in the Sacred Valley and visit the Ollantaytambo Ruins. Lodging: Airport hotel and comfortable country lodge.

Day 12: Train and coach to Machu Picchu:

Absorb spectacular views of the Andes en route to Aguas Calientes, then spend the afternoon on an expert-led excursion through the ruins of the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Days 13-14: Train and coach to Cusco:

Explore the mysterious walled Inca complex of Sacsayhuaman and the historic city of Cusco, then enjoy an authentic Andean dinner and a musical presentation. Lodging: Centrally located hotel.

Days 15-16:Flight to Lima / departure:

Lodging: Centrally located hotel.

Manatee Amazon Explorer

The Manatee Amazon Explorer has the capacity to accommodate up to 30 passengers in 14 of its charming double, double-twin and single-twin cabins. Each cabin is equipped with air conditioning, closets, a private bathroom complete with a special shower massage, hot and cold water, 24 hours of electricity and 110-voltage outlets and switches. Public areas include a bar, lounge, and dining room. She is also equipped with a small fleet of motorized canoes which provide unlimited mobility and allow for the exploration of the most remote areas and inaccessible shores.

Comfortable, centrally located hotels, double-occupancy bedrooms, private baths.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Quito
  Quito, Ecuador 2 nights
   Manatee Amazon Explorer
  Amazonia, Ecuador 6 nights
   Ramada Airport Costa del Sol Hotel
  Lima, Peru 1 night
   Posada del Inca
  Yucay, Peru 2 nights
   El Mapi Hotel
  Aguas Calientes, Peru 1 night
   Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco
  Cusco, Peru 2 nights
   Casa Andina Select
  Lima, Peru 1 night
 Hotel Quito
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hotel Quito is housed in an attractive art deco building, located at the top of a hill in a residential area of the city. From the hotel, guests can enjoy exceptional 360º views of the city, the neighboring valley and the surrounding mountains.
  Contact info: Av. González Suárez N27 142
Quito, NA Ecuador Ecuador
phone: +593-2-2544600
  Room amenities: Cable TV, radio, WiFi, safety deposit box, hair dryer, and local newspaper.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, business center, casino, Internet access, fitness center, meeting rooms, ball rooms, and shops.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Room types and rates are subject to hotel availability. Please contact the program coordinator, Holbrook Travel, for additional night requests and/or prices.

 Manatee Amazon Explorer
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The Manatee Amazon Explorer is a 3-deck Amazon river vessel built in 2002 in Coca, Ecuador. It can carry up to 30 passengers in 14 comfortable air conditioned cabins.
  Ship Information: Registry: Guayaquil, Ecuador Built: 2002, Coca, Ecuador Length: 26.30 m Breadth: 7.0 m Gross Tonnage: 214.04 grt Max Speed: 15.0 knots downstream Cruising Speed: Downstream up to 15.0 knots Upstream up to 5.0 to 8.0 knots Capacity: 30 passengers Crew & Staff: 12 (officers, crew and expedition staff) Communication: Telephone, HF and VHF radio. Satellite Internet.
  Contact info: 0000000000000000000
Coca,   Ecuador
phone: +593-2-336-0887
  Room amenities: Each cabin features air conditioning, a private bathroom with hot and cold running water, an 8 head shower cabin, and large windows. Cabins have standard, 110-volt outlets in the bathroom and/or living area.
  Facility amenities: Public space onboard includes a dining room serving international cuisine, a bar-saloon for lectures and presentations, small library, a gift shop, a bar, and a sundeck that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding wilderness. Laundry services and satellite Internet service is available for an addition charge. International phone calls can be made during the cruise (additional charges apply) by using the ship's cell phone (dependent on local phone reception).
  Smoking allowed: No

 Ramada Airport Costa del Sol Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: Av. Elmer Faucett s/n Aeropuerto
Internacional Jorge Chávez
Lima,   Peru
phone: +5117112000
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Posada del Inca
Type: Hotel
  Description: Country lodge built on the site of a 350 year old monastery.
  Contact info: Plaza Manco II de Yucay 123
Yucay,  0000 Peru
phone: +518-420-1107
  Room amenities: Heating, direct dial telephones, and in-room safe.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, business center, meeting room, gift shop, and luggage storage.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 El Mapi Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: El Mapi (formerly Machu Picchu Inn) provides a wonderful location from which you can admire the quaint and folksy town known as Aguas Calientes.
  Contact info: 109 Pachacutec Ave.
Machu Picchu Pueblo
Aguas Calientes,   Peru
phone: +51-84-211011
  Room amenities: Each room is equipped with blackout curtains, 100% cotton sheets, down duvets, hypoallergenic pillows, cotton bath robes, natural herbal amenities, 32" flat screen TVs and tight-focus reading lights.
  Facility amenities: Assistance between Machu Picchu train station and the hotel, luggage storage, wake up calls, 24 hr reception desk, restaurant, DirecTv, Wi-fi, turndown services between 6pm- 8pm, self-guided fern walk, oxygen upon request, hot water pool, gift shop, and computer room.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Converted from an 18th century colonial house, the hotel is located 3 blocks away from Cusco’s main square.
  Contact info: Plazoleta de Limacpampa Chico 473
Cusco,   Peru
phone: +51-84-232610
  Room amenities: 100 rooms with heat, cable television, safe deposit box, direct-dial telephone, coffee making facility and private bathroom with hairdryer. Oxygen available upon request.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant and bar, Wi-Fi Internet access, PC with internet access, laundry service, room service, medical assistance and currency exchange.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Casa Andina Select
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Casa Andina Select hotel is located in Lima's trendy Miraflores neighborhood, within easy access to restaurants and local attractions. The newly constructed hotel has 155 rooms with modern installations and various amenities meant to satisfy the needs of both leisure and business travelers.
  Contact info: Calle Schell 452
Miraflores, Lima,   Peru
phone: +51-1-2139739
  Room amenities: Comfortable rooms with private baths, hair dryer, AC, safety deposit box, minibar, soundproof windows, direct dial phone, and cable TV.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Spa, gym, sun terrace with Jacuzzi, conference rooms, business center, high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access, laundry service, valet service, currency exchange, 24 hr front desk, luggage storage, and souvenir shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Subject to availability. Please contact the Program Coordinator, Holbrook Travel, at 1-800-866-7111 or for information on availability and rates.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrivals at the International Airport in Quito, Ecuador. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Hotel Quito that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Casa Andina Select the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. A yellow fever certificate is necessary for those visiting the Amazon region of Ecuador.
  Required innoculations:
Yes: A yellow fever certificate is required when visiting the Amazon region of Ecuador. You will be traveling in an endemic area for yellow fever. Please contact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for health information specific to Ecuador and Peru (800) CDC-INFO or
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: N/A
To Start of Program
  Location:  Quito
  Nearest city or town:  Quito
  Nearest airport:  International Airport in Quito
  Transportation to site: Taxi transportation is available at the international airport in Quito. If transferring to/from the airport by taxi, please be sure to only use official licensed taxis. This includes checking to make sure that the cab is in good physical condition, and that it has orange license plates as well as an orange placard on the driver's-side doors and windshield with the registration number. Taxis are payable in dollars (Ecuadors currency is the U.S. dollar).
  From End of Program
  Location:  Lima
  Transportation from site: Taxi transportation is available from the hotel to the international airport in Lima. Please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.

Required innoculations:

Yes: A yellow fever certificate is required when visiting the Amazon region of Ecuador. You will be traveling in an endemic area for yellow fever. Please contact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for health information specific to Ecuador and Peru (800) CDC-INFO or

Elevation Note: Quito 9, 350ft/Cusco 11,000 ft/Chincheros 12,330 ft

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals in Quito, Ecuador.
(Wednesday, March 13)

Note: To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness while in Quito, try to get plenty of rest before you travel, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, consume high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations.

 Arrive To: Arrivals in Quito.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3 p.m.
Accommodations: Hotel Quito

Day 2: Quito -
Exploring Quito’s Historical and Cultural Legacy: From Pre-hispanic to Contemporary Times.

(Thursday, March 14)
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Program orientation session.

Uncover the cultural legacy and rich history of Ecuador's capital city during an exploration of Quito.

Quito (9,350 ft) was once the capital of the Quitu Empire before it was conquered by the Incas. The Inca rulers later razed Quito to keep its riches from the Spaniards. Today, all signs of its pre-Columbian origins have been erased. The city is now divided between beautiful colonial architecture and the clean lines of its modern section.

Visit the Museo Casa del Alabado for an introduction to Andean history and cosmology.

The Museo Casa del Alabado is a pre-Columbian art museum housed in a two-story, renovated 17th century Spanish colonial residence in Quito’s historic downtown area. Unlike most museums which arrange displays in chronological order, the Casa del Alabado has organized its exhibits based on Andean cosmology. The approximately 5000 artifacts showcased in this impressive space include 500 pieces that belong to the museum’s permanent exhibit.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant with an introduction to Ecuadorian food products and typical Ecuadorian cuisine.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will visit the Capilla del Hombre, a cultural space envisioned by Ecuador's favorite artist--Oswaldo Guayasamin.

Quito’s Bellavista neighborhood is home to some important spaces dedicated to the works of Ecuador’s beloved artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999). The Guayasamin Foundation features various pieces from the artist’s private collection as well as a large exhibit of his paintings. A few blocks from the Guayasamin Foundation, on a hill overlooking the city, stands the Capilla del Hombre. This monument, chapel, and museum was designed by Guayasamin (he died before its completion) as a cultural space dedicated to the plight of Latin American people—from pre-Columbian times until the present—a subject featured prominently in the artist’s work.

Return to the hotel.

Lecture: Biodiversity of Ecuador.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Quito
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Amazonia Cruise -
Flight to Coca/Board the Manatee Amazon Explorer/Nature Night Walk.

(Friday, March 15)

Note: The flight from Quito to Coca has a 44 lb weight limit, per person, for checked luggage. Consider bringing a duffel or similar in which to pack items for your river cruise. Excess luggage can be stored at the hotel in Quito.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Quito airport for a 45 minute flight to Coca.

The town of Coca is also known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana. This port city is the capital of the Orellana province and one of the country's gateways to exploring the Amazon. It is located at the confluence of two important rivers, the Napo and the Coca.

Arrive in Coca and transfer to the local dock. Journey by motorized canoe for approximately 2 hours to reach the Manatee Amazon Explorer.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to rest, learn your way around the boat, or begin spotting wildlife from the outer decks.
Lecture: Indigenous Communities - A Different Way of Life
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Our first stop on this journey will introduce us to Amazonia's nocturnal creatures during a night walk.
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Amazonia Cruise -
Parrot Clay Lick/Chaullacocha Black Water System/Rainforest Canopy Tower.

(Saturday, March 16)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: After a delicious breakfast we will enjoy a field trip to a local parrot clay lick.

The parrot lick is an exposed clay bank where brightly colored parrots of several species gather in the morning hours. When weather conditions are ideal (sunny and dry) the parrots can often be seen perching on and eating the exposed clay. Witness hundreds of parrots gathering around this bank for a spectacular show of sound and color.

Return to the boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: After lunch, we will explore the Chaullacocha Black Water System. Depending on the river water levels, this activity might take place on foot or by canoe. Be on the lookout for turtles, caymans, and herons.

Later in the day we will pay a visit to the rainforest canopy tower; a viewing platform 30 meters off the jungle floor. From that height, we have the opportunity to view the rainforest from a birds-eye perspective.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Cap the day with a nighttime boat excursion. Search for nocturnal animal species and revel in the rhythmic music of the forest.

The lack of light pollution in the region makes for some good star gazing opportunities!
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Amazonia Cruise -
Pañacocha Biological Corridor - Wildlife on the Piranha River/Piranha Lake/Amazon BBQ/Nature Walk.

(Sunday, March 17)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: This morning we will continue our journey downstream to the mouth of the Piranha River. A canoe trip will provide an opportunity to possibly spot pink river dolphins and piranhas as well as squirrel monkeys and birds in the surrounding forest.

The Piranha Lake ecosystem is seasonally flooded by white waters and is home to an interesting variety of animals. It also presents the perfect conditions to sustain water monkey fish (Arawana) and the much maligned piranha.

Take a refreshing dip in the lake before heading to a local camping site to break for lunch.
 Lunch: Enjoy an Amazon-style BBQ lunch at a local camping site.
 Afternoon: After lunch, take part in an exploratory forest walk to examine and learn about the local flora and fauna.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Briefing of next day's activities.
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Amazonia Cruise -
Bird Watching on Napo River Islands/Canoe Explorations in Yasuni National Park.

(Monday, March 18)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Today we will have an early start, stopping at one of the Napo River Islands for a bird watching walk in search of local species.

Return to the boat and begin navigating down the Napo River, heading towards the Tiputini River and the Yasuni National Park in preparation for our afternoon activities.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Free time to rest, catch up on your reading, or study the passing jungle and its wildlife from the comfort of the observation deck.

Activities during this afternoon and evening will depend on weather conditions and water levels. Possible activities include a nighttime nature walk, visit to a native dwelling, or a nature canoe ride.
Lecture: The Amazon Basin
 Dinner: On board the boat.
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Amazonia Cruise -
Flora and Fauna of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and Yasuni National Park.

(Tuesday, March 19)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Early this morning we will navigate the pristine waters of the Cocaya River for activities in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Observe the exotic plants and unique wildlife that inhabit the reserve.

If we are lucky, we might get to see pink river dolphins and Amazon manatees. As we navigate by canoe along the jungle's edge we will also be on the lookout for red howler monkeys, black tamarins, three-toed sloths, squirrel monkeys, and hoatzins that inhabit the tree tops.
Return to the boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Our journey this afternoon will take us to the heart of the Yasuni National Park. A canoe ride and walking expedition will give us the opportunity to explore one of the region's major black water lakes in the upper Amazon Basin--the Jatun Cocha.

Although the diversity of flora and fauna in this region is impressive, the unarguable stars here are the giant otters. These amazing, agile, aquatic mammals steal the show with their playful antics.

South American otters, known as giant river otters, are the world’s largest and also the rarest. They can measure up to 6 feet in length and sport webbed feet, water-repellent fur, and have noses and ears that close once they enter water. Giant river otters are social creatures and live in family packs. They hunt as a group or alone and are able to consume anywhere from 6 pounds to 9 pounds of food per day. Their diet consists mostly of fish, though they are also known to eat snakes, crustaceans, and other river creatures.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Amazonia Cruise -
Indigenous Community Center/Ecuadorian Cuisine and Fiber Handcrafts/Exploring the Morete Swamp.

(Wednesday, March 20)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Enjoy a morning of cultural interaction during a field trip to a local indigenous community center. Visit a local school, meet the local residents and their children, and visit their homes. Learn about the Kichwa people, their culture, and how they survive in this fragile ecosystem.

Return to the boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Free time to rest or take part in onboard activities such as a cooking lesson with the ship's chef, learning how to make handicrafts using local fibers, or attending a lecture about the people and biodiversity of Amazonia.

Disembark for a walking exploration of the Morete Swamp. Walk over a wooden pass to look for parrots and frogs.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
Accommodations: Manatee Amazon Explorer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Amazonia Cruise/Lima -
Yaku Kawsay Project/Flights to Quito/Visit to a Rose Plantation and El Quinche Town/Flight to Lima.

(Thursday, March 21)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: This morning we will transfer to Coca for our flight to Quito. En route enjoy an excursion to Yaku Kawsay, a Kichwa community project in the Yasuni National Park. Learn about the aquatic life forms of Amazonian rivers and lakes.

Continue with transfer to Coca for our midday flight to Quito. Upon arrival, we will check our luggage for the flight to LIma and get our boarding passes and then transfer to a local rose plantation for lunch
 Lunch: At a local rose plantation.
 Afternoon: After lunch visit the plantation and learn about the flower industry in Ecuador. Check out the tags, the roses you are buying are most likely coming from Ecuador.

We will continue with a visit to El Quinche town to learn about the religious syncretism in Ecuador (European, Indigenous influences and paganism mixed in religion) and about one of the most important religious phenomenon’s in Ecuador, the peregrination to the Virgin Sanctuary.
 Dinner: Light dinner before evening flight to LIma.
 Evening: Board an evening flight to Lima, Peru.

Upon arrival, proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign.

The Hotel Costa del Sol Ramada - Lima is located within easy walking distance from Lima's international airport; directly across from the main terminal.
Accommodations: Ramada Airport Costa del Sol Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Yucay/Sacred Valley of the Incas -
Flight to Cusco/Scenic Drive to Sacred Valley/Pisac Market/Introduction to Machu Picchu.

(Friday, March 22)
 Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Lecture: Introduction to Inca Culture

Walk across from the hotel to the terminal for a late morning flight to Cusco.

Traditional Inca welcome with coca tea upon arrival at the Cusco airport.

Visit the handicraft market at Pisac for a look at locally made crafts.

The traditional produce market at Pisac is held on Sundays and dates back to ancient times when people in the highlands depended on trade for survival. During other days of the week, the town hosts a large handicrafts market where all nature of locally made crafts can be seen on display.
 Lunch: Boxed lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Lecture: Late afternoon tea with the local guide, who will discuss the spiritual and mystical significance of the Inca sites.
 Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Posada del Inca
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sacred Valley of the Incas -
Chincheros Town/Andean Agriculture/ Ollantaytambo Ruins.

(Saturday, March 23)

Note: Participants should go to bed early this evening in preparation for next day's early start and full day of activities.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Morning visit to Chincheros town including a visit to a weaving cooperative, where you will meet with locals and learn about traditional weaving styles and techniques.

Weaving is a way of life in Chincheros, as important for preserving ancient traditions as it is for earning a livelihood. Located in the Peruvian Andes on the Inca road between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Chincheros was an early Inca center built by emperor Tupa Inca as his country estate. During Inca reign, textiles were woven and offered to mark special occasions, from peace treaties and sacrifices to marriage ceremonies and puberty rites. In Chincheros, children grow up playing with their mother's spindle and loom. By age six or seven, most children learn to weave by watching their elders. They begin by weaving jakimas, or narrow ribbons, before moving on to more complicated pieces.

Learn about Andean agricultural techniques during visits to local farms.

Lecture: The Agriculture of the Incas.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Field trip to Ollantaytambo Ruins with a local guide who will highlight the engineering genius of the Inca.

The Ollantaytambo Ruins are not ruins in the traditional sense. Ollantaytambo is a town with original buildings of Inca construction where the Inca retreated to make their last stand in the highlands against the Spanish. Running water still flows through the town in aqueducts and the agricultural terraces above the town are still in use. The pinnacle above the town is a small burial ground.
 Dinner: Early dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Posada del Inca
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Machu Picchu Ruins/Scenic Train Ride.
(Sunday, March 24)
 Breakfast: Early morning breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Board a train to Machu Picchu (1 hr 30 mins). The train tracks run parallel to the winding Urubamba River. Passengers traveling on the left side of the train can enjoy scenic views of the Urubamba River's rushing waters, while those sitting on the right side get to enjoy spectacular views of the Andes.

Upon arrival, continue with a 20-minute bus transfer to the Machu Picchu Ruins.

Guided walk in Machu Picchu with on-site instruction on the history and culture of the Inca.

This ancient Inca city was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a Yale graduate and U.S. senator fascinated with Inca archaeology. Bingham found Machu Picchu, with the help of a local farmer who knew about the ruins, while searching for Vilcabamba and Vitcos. He hypothesized that the site was a "citadel," existing for strategic and defense purposes. He also speculated that the site was a refuge for Cusco's Virgins of the Sun, based upon the finding of skulls there, although not scientifically classified as female. Breakthroughs in archaeology since 1985 have, taken as a whole, supported the emerging view of Machu Picchu as a ceremonial and administrative center for a very populous region. Machu Picchu was built, flourished, and fell into demise within a period of 100 years.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant near the ruins.
 Afternoon: Continue exploring the Machu Picchu Ruins. Participants will have the option to stay at the ruins as long as they like and then take the last bus to Aguas Calientes.

Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and transfer to the hotel.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: El Mapi Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Exploring Aguas Calientes/Transfer to Cusco.
(Monday, March 25)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Guided excursion around the town of Aguas Calientes with a visit to the local market.

Participants who wish to revisit Machu Picchu, can skip the morning excursion and use that time to return to the ruins (at an additional cost) on their own.

NOTE: New regulations reduced the daily quota of visitors allowed to enter Machu Picchu and nearby archaeological sites (e.g., Huayna Picchu) and entrance tickets are no longer sold at the park. Participants wishing to visit the ruins on this day must obtain their tickets in advance. Please contact the program provider for more information.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Transfer to train station.

Early afternoon train journey to Ollantaytambo station (approx. 1 hr 30 mins) and bus transfer to Cusco (approx. 1 hr 30 mins).

Arrive at hotel and check-in.

Time at leisure.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Cusco -
Sacsayhuaman Ruins/Colonial Architecture/ Andean Music.

(Tuesday, March 26)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to the Sacsayhuaman Ruins

The fortress of Sacsayhuaman forms the head of the Puma design of old Cusco. It is a wonder of technical achievement and a testament to human will. It is a mystery how it was constructed, since the stones are not found in the region, and most of the blocks weigh more than a ton. The largest rock weighs more than 300 tons. Sacsayhuaman is constructed of huge polygonal blocks which interlock with one another. The stones are so precisely placed that a knife blade cannot be inserted between them.

Excursion through the city of Cusco.

The center of Cusco is a history lesson. Modern and colonial buildings are built on top of Inca foundations, and colonial churches dominate the central square.
 Lunch: Lunch at a café in the main plaza where you can enjoy the colonial architecture of the city.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.

Pre-dinner presentation by expert on the history of Inca and Andean musical instruments.
 Dinner: Enjoy traditional Andean cuisine at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Cusco/Lima -
Flight to Lima/A Look at Peruvian Cuisine.

(Wednesday, March 27)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport.

Mid-morning flight to Lima (1 hr 25 mins).

Arrive in Lima and transfer to a local restaurant.
 Lunch: Enjoy a presentation on Peruvian cuisine at a local restaurant, followed by a farewell lunch.
 Afternoon: After lunch transfer to hotel and check in.

Afternoon at leisure to explore Lima, finish packing, or rest at your hotel.
 Dinner: Light dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Depending on the flight schedules, some participants might need to leave for the international airport this night. These participants will not miss any program activities.

Accommodations: Casa Andina Select
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Departures / Arrive in the U.S.
(Thursday, March 28)
 Depart From: Transfer to the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima for flight back to the U.S.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.
 Breakfast: Breakfast (dependent on flight times) at the hotel.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon

Author: Michael Goulding, Ronaldo Barthem, Efrem Ferreira

Description: This beautiful, profusely illustrated atlas of the river includes its major tributaries and 150 full-color maps. Michael Goulding (Floods of Fortune) and Brazilian biologists Ronaldo Barthem and Efrem Ferreira provide the accompanying text.

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

Archaeological Map of Machu Picchu

Author: Wright Water Engineers

Description: Ken Wright's full color site plan shows monuments, topography and physical features of the Inca sanctuary in exquisite detail.

The Inca Trail, Cuzco & Machu Picchu

Author: Richard Danbury

Description: Not just for those hiking the Inca Trail, this compact guide is an excellent overview of the culture and history and attractions of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. With a chapter on Lima, good maps, travel information and photographs.

Insight Guide: Amazon Wildlife

Author: Hans-Ulrich Bernard

Description: This colorful guidebook provides readers with an overview of the Amazon Valley; from popular tourist sites to more remote areas and villages. It also features interesting information about local cultures and history.

Birds of Ecuador, A Field Guide

Author: Paul Greenfield, Robert Ridgely

Description: A comprehensive, gorgeous and exhaustively researched field guide to the birds of Ecuador (and adjacent countries), featuring 96 color plates. It's also the best bird guide for travelers in the Peruvian Amazon.

Ecuador Map

Author: Berndtson & Berndtson

Description: A detailed laminated map of Ecuador at a scale of 1:1,000,000, with detailed insets of Quito, Guayaquil, Galapagos and the Ecuadorian Amazon on the reverse.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Travellers' Wildlife Guides

Author: David Pearson, Les Beletsky

Description: An excellent guide to Ecuador's wildlife, featuring concise descriptions and color illustrations of 500 frequently encountered reptiles and amphibians, birds, mammals and insects. The Galapagos Islands get a separate chapter and section of illustrations.

Ecuador in Focus, A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture

Author: Wilma Roos, Omer van Renterghem

Description: This slim guide provides a lively overview of Ecuador’s history, cultural heritage and political, environmental and economic challenges.

Insight Guide Peru

Author: Insight Guides

Description: Panoramic in scope, this illustrated overview brings Peru to life in hundreds of color photographs and vivid essays by a team of experts writing on history, archaeology and culture.

Lonely Planet: Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands

Author: Lonely Planet

Description: This comprehensive country guide provides a good overview of mainland Ecuador and the Galápagos archipelago. Eco-friendly travelers and those seeking active outdoor adventures will appreciate the book's green index which contains information about sustainable options, as well as its outdoors chapter which provides tips on hiking, surfing, kayaking, and biking opportunities.

The Incas and their Ancestors, The Archaeology of Peru

Author: Michael Moseley

Description: An outstanding illustrated survey of the archaeology of the Inca, Moche and Nasca civilizations. With hundreds of color illustrations and line drawings, it's an in-depth look at the ancient cultures and history of Peru. A great general introduction.

The Incas, People of the Sun

Author: Carmen Bernard, Paul Bahn (translator)

Description: Featuring hundreds of drawings and photographs, a chronology and long excerpts from the journals of early explorers, this is a colorful pocket encyclopedia of Inca history and archaeology.

The Peru Reader, History, Culture, Politic

Author: Orin Starn

Description: Lively and literate, this meaty anthology ranges from historical accounts to modern analysis.

Tropical Nature

Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata

Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest

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