21829
Peru
Two Worlds of Peru: The Inca Highlands and the Amazon
Experience the highs and lows of Peru as you explore Cusco and Machu Picchu up in the Andes and the Sacred Valley and tribal villages by riverboat down in the Amazon Basin.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21829RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
5,295
Special Offer
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Flights start at
FREE
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15 days
14 nights
35 meals
13 B 12 L 10 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program. Check-in
Lima
San Agustin Exclusive Hotel

Activity note: This is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Upon arrival at the airport, proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim, and Customs. For those on Road Scholar group flights: After exiting the restricted arrivals area, look for a local representative holding a Road Scholar sign. When everyone has arrived, we will transfer to the hotel for check-in.

DAY
2
Orientation, Intro. to Lima, Cooking Class, Larco Museum
Lima
B,L
San Agustin Exclusive Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking approximately 1/2 mile (1 km), approximately 1 hour; flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the buffet with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. During our study cruise, we will have two naturalists aboard the boat who will provide educational leadership with lectures and field trips. Ground transportation will be via private bus unless noted otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Next, we will board a bus and set out on a field trip to the local market, followed by a cooking class where we will prepare local food and drink such as causa, ceviche, and the Pisco sour. Causa is a mashed and seasoned potato dish. Ceviche has become recognized as one of Peru’s classic dishes, a mix of raw seafood “cooked” in citrus juice. Pisco is a southern hemisphere brandy made from local fruits; the Pisco sour was invented in Lima. We will participate in preparing what we will have for lunch.

Lunch: At the cooking school, we’ll have the food we helped to make.

Afternoon: With a local expert, we will ride to the Historic Centre of Lima, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “Although severely damaged by earthquakes, this 'City of the Kings' was, until the middle of the 18th century, the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. Many of its buildings, such as the Convent of San Francisco (the largest of its type in this part of the world), are the result of collaboration between local craftspeople and others from the Old World.” We’ll then ride to the Museo Larco that showcases artifacts from 3,000 years of Peruvian history and culture including priceless gold and silver objects. Founded in 1926, the museum is housed in an 18th century mansion built above an ancient pre-Columbian pyramid. A member of the museum staff will give us a presentation on civilizations that preceded the Inca, some by thousands of years. Because they had no written language, what we know of them comes from the study of archaeological investigations, art, remains of buildings, textiles, and tools. After our field trip, we’ll return to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a walk along the ocean boardwalk. Prepare for check-out and our flight to Iquitos in the morning.

DAY
3
Fly to Iquitos, Transfer to Nauta, Embark M/V Amatista
Iquitos
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: The flight from Lima to Iquitos is approximately 2 hours. Getting on/off a bus. The transfer from Iquitos to Nauta is about 60 miles (97 km), approximately 1.5 hours. The study cruise itinerary will operate in reverse depending on the time of year. When that is the case, the same or similar destinations and activities will still be covered but in a different order. The following schedule is representative.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our morning flight to Iquitos, situated in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest. Upon arrival, we will board a bus with a local expert for a short excursion in what is notable as the largest city in the world inaccessible by road. We’ll then ride to lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll begin our transfer to Nauta where the boat is docked. En route, we’ll stop at the Manatee Rescue Center and learn how they are rescued, fed, and released back into their natural habitat. We expect to arrive in Nauta mid- to late afternoon and board the M/V Amatista. After getting your cabin, take some time to freshen up and relax, then start getting familiar with the boat. When announced, we will participate with everyone on board in the boat’s safety drill.

Dinner: Aboard the boat in the dining room, choose what you like from the dinner buffet offering dishes inspired by tropical flavors and prepared with fresh local ingredients. All meals include salads, fruits, and breads with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages included bottled drinks available for purchase.

Evening: We will gather for a naturalist lecture on the wildlife and biodiversity of the Amazon.

DAY
4
Rio Marañon & Rio Ucayali, About the Amazon, Nature Walk
Amazon River
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: Getting on/off motorized skiffs. Walking about 1 mile (1.6 km), approximately 1 hour. High temperatures, high humidity. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat in the dining room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet offering dishes inspired by tropical flavors and prepared with fresh local ingredients. All meals include salads, fruits, and breads with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will board motorized skiffs to explore the Rio Marañon, often called the Grand Canyon of the Amazon. We’ll look for resident birds such as the horned screamer, capped heron, vermillion flycatcher, dusky headed parakeet, great black hawk, and great egrets. The initial morning hours present great viewing opportunities as birds tend to be most active during the early hours of the day and at sundown. We’ll also keep an eye out for sloths and a variety of monkeys. After our field trip, we’ll return to the boat.

Lunch: Aboard the boat in the dining room, choose what you like from the lunch buffet offering dishes inspired by tropical flavors and prepared with fresh local ingredients. All meals include salads, fruits, and breads with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a naturalist presentation to learn more about the Amazon River. We will then go for a walking field trip along the banks of the Ucayali River in the Yucuruchi region of the Amazon. Among the natural wonders is the Victoria Regia (Victoria amazonica) water lily plant, the largest on earth, with huge circular leaves that can grow larger than six feet in diameter. When in bloom, the short-lived blossoms are more than a foot across. We will also be on the lookout for resident animals such as Amazon River dolphins, giant otters and the Amazonian manatee that make their home in the waters of the Ucayali. We’ll return to the boat to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to sit out on the observation deck or inside in the reading lounge.

DAY
5
Rio Ucayali, Pacaya-Samira National Reserve, Meet a Shaman
Amazon River
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: Early morning before breakfast, board motorized skiff for field trip to the Pacaya-Samira National Reserve, Peru's largest and home to more than 200 species of birds and 10 primate species. We will look for Cocoi and Striated Herons, red macaws, and tanagers, as well as Capuchin or Spider monkeys along the way. Wear closed toe shoes for visit to meet shaman.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: The remainder of the morning is free.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for an introductory talk on shamanism and learn about the traditions of the people who make the rainforest their home. Shamanism is an ancient practice, older than recorded history. Shamans have acted as spiritual leaders and intermediaries between their people and the unseen world. Some have professed to look into past, present, and future, often serving as healers using the gifts of the rainforest. Later in the afternoon, we will get off the boat and walk to a nearby river village where we will meet a practicing shaman. We will gain insights into the healing craft and how indigenous peoples have used rainforest plants for ages. We’ll then return to the boat.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy some star gazing from the observation deck.

DAY
6
Pacaya-Samira Reserve, Family Visit, Nocturnal Field Trip
Amazon River
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: We’ll rise early for a field trip via skiff to watch the rainforest come to life as we look for iguanas, river turtles, cormorants, and other wildlife. Wear closed toe shoes for the visit to meet a local family.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat after returning from our field trip.

Morning: We’ll set out again by skiff to visit the home of a local Indian family. We will learn about their culture and way of life along the mighty Amazon River.

Lunch: With the family at their home.

Afternoon: Returning to the boat, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: We’ll go on another boat ride to observe the profusion of nocturnal species that may be present such as bats, capybaras, black caimans, and many more. A spotlight will help us see and identify wildlife.

DAY
7
Nahuapa River & Piranha, Choroyacu, Nocturnal Field Trip
Amazon River
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: We will rise early again to explore more of the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon's unique ecosystem by motorized skiff. If you plan to swim this afternoon, please wear a bathing suit.

Breakfast: At a quiet spot along the river, we’ll have a picnic breakfast.

Morning: Next, we will venture up the Nahuapa River to fish for piranha. These fish are a dietary staple for many of the Amazon's indigenous people and one of the most flavorful in the Amazon region. Later, we will visit Choroyacu Creek and climb into dugout canoes to explore the area with local people. We will also have an opportunity to swim. If we’re lucky, we might encounter the famous pink or grey river dolphins, a truly unique experience. We’ll then return to the boat.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: Free time. Sit on the deck and watch the jungle as we float along.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: We will set out by boat for another nocturnal field trip to observe life in the rainforest along the Marañon River.

DAY
8
Nauta & Sapisapi River Field Trips
Iquitos
B,L,D
M/V Amatista

Activity note: Please wear closed toe shoes for the visit to Nauta.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: We will set out on a walking field trip to the jungle town of Nauta we passed through before. We will browse the local markets, engage with local people, and witness the way of life in this small Amazonian port town. We’ll return to the boat for lunch.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: As we cruise along, we’ll stop at the Sapisapi River and look for turtles and the arapaima fish, also known as the paichu or paiche, one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world.

Dinner: Aboard the boat. Enjoy our last evening aboard the boat and share favorite experiences of our study cruise.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation, transfer to the airport, and our flight to Cusco tomorrow.

DAY
9
Disembark, Fly via Lima to Cusco, Transfer to Sacred Valley
Yucay, Sacred Valley
B,L,D
San Agustin Urubamba Hotel & Spa

Activity note: If the group has to disembark in Nauta instead of Iquitos due to low water levels, disembarkation will take place at 4:30 a.m. before transferring 1.5 hours by bus to the Iquitos airport. Early morning disembarkation followed by transfer to Iquitos airport. The flight to Lima takes approximately 2 hours; the onward flight to Cusco takes approximately 1.5 hours. Getting on/off a bus. Elevation in Cusco is approximately 11,000 feet; at Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, approximately 9,200 feet.

Breakfast: Early aboard the boat.

Morning: We will transfer via bus to the airport in Iquitos for our flight to Lima that will continue to Cusco. Upon arrival, we will ride to a restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Cusco.

Afternoon: We will ride to the hotel in Urubamba for check-in. The remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices including coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Sacred Valley, Pisaq Ruins & Market, Weaving Project
Yucay, Sacred Valley
B,L,D
San Agustin Urubamba Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. The drive to Pisaq is about 25 miles (40 km), approximately 1 hour. Varied terrain around ruins.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the buffet with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will transfer to Pisaq, once a strategic outpost on the road network connecting the Inca empire. Though in ruins today, we can see exceptional Incan stonework and architecture. We will explore the ruins with a local expert and learn about the historical significance of this site, its terracing, and the Incas. We’ll then ride into rustic Piscaq village. The Sacred Valley was a rarity in the Inca empire, a large fertile region that supported agriculture. Pisaq has become renowned for its daily market that provides a remarkable glimpse into the lives of local people. To experience another significant aspect of local life, we’ll visit nearby Ccaccaccollo and a successful community project employing women weavers. Weaving is a tradition handed down from the days of the Inca, as important for preserving ancient traditions as for earning a livelihood. We’ll then ride to Huchuy Qosqo for lunch.

Lunch: At a restaurant owned and operated by a community association, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll take a short walk around the restaurant to see its organic garden, then ride to the hotel for check-in with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
Maras & Moray, Ollantaytambo, Train to Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes
B,L,D
Taypikala Boutique Machupicchu

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus; on/off a train. Walking approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 km) throughout the day; varied terrain, many stairs at Ollantaytambo. Prepare an overnight bag for the overnight field trip to Aguas Calientes. Luggage can be left at the hotel and will be secured until our return to Cusco.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board our bus and ride to the small town of Maras, the gateway to Moray. We will see evidence of two distinctive Incan agricultural projects. The first appears to be an amphitheater carved out of the earth but is in fact what has been identified as an agricultural laboratory where the Inca experimented with different crops and growing techniques. The second is Salinas de Maras, where salt was “harvested” by the Inca and continues to provide a livelihood for people today. Salty water from a subterranean stream was channeled into small pond plots and allowed to evaporate, leaving salt as a residue. Back aboard the bus, we’ll ride on to Ollantaytambo, once an important Inca outpost and one of the last strongholds of resistance to the Spanish invaders. Its ruins display even more impressively Incan skill as builders and sophisticated architects. A local expert will tell us about the historical significance of this site and more about the Incas.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Ollantaytambo, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll board the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival, we’ll walk from the train station to the hotel and check in.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Aguas Calientes, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Get a good night’s rest in preparation for our Machu Picchu field trip in the morning. Have your overnight bag prepared to take with you.

DAY
12
Machu Piccho, Return to Cusco
Cusco
B,L
Hotel Taypikala Cusco

Activity note: Pack an overnight bag that can weigh no more than 11 pounds and measure no more than 62 linear inches (157 cm) . Luggage can be left at the hotel and will be secured until our return to Cusco. We recommend wearing or bringing a long-sleeved shirt as past participants have complained about “no-see-ums.” Elevation in Machu Picchu is approx. 7,800 feet. Getting on/off a local bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes.

Breakfast: Early hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart early in order to maximize our time at Machu Picchu and avoid the most crowded times of the day. At the Machu Picchu, we’ll have a site lecture by a local expert who will lead our exploration. 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. We’ll then take a local bus back to Aguas Calientes.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Aquas Calientes, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll take the train back to Ollantaytambo, arriving late afternoon, then transfer by bus to Cusco and check back into our hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Cusco, Plaza de Armas, Koricancha, Sacsaywaman Ruins
Cusco
B,L,D
Hotel Taypikala Cusco

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; mostly flat terrain, stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start the day exploring central Cusco and the Plaza de Armas, where colonial and modern buildings are built on top of Inca foundations and colonial churches dominate the central square. Koricancha (also spelled Qorikancha) was an important Inca temple. Built in honor of their sun god, Inti, the site was once a religious center. Conquistadors reported that the temple originally held a statue of the sun, made of gold weighing approximately two tons and inlayed with gems. The structure was built with enormous boulders and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of this type of Inca construction. Unfortunately, little remains of this architectural wonder since the Spaniards did their best to destroy it during their conquest. The grand Baroque church known as Santo Domingo was built on Koricancha’s foundations and came to be viewed by the Spanish as a symbol of Christian triumph over heathen religion. One of the most extraordinary highlights of Cuzco is the Sacsayhuaman ruins. Continuing our field trip, we’ll see the remains of what was once a gigantic construction built with huge carved rocks. Most of what is left was too big and heavy to be moved and used for other purposes. This astounding example of engineering is undoubtedly one of the greatest building achievements of Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca Empire. Long thought to have been a fortress, references to ancient sources say Sacsayhuaman was a “Royal House of the Sun.”

Lunch: At a restaurant on the Plaza de Armas.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow.

DAY
14
Free Time, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 9:00 a.m. Transfer to airport approximately 2:00 p.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: There will be a transfer to the airport for flights to Lima. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
15
Program Concludes, Flights to the U.S
In Flight





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