DAY 1: Arrival in Lima
Welcome to Peru!
After meeting your Kuoda host in Lima, you’ll be brought to the Costa Ramada del Sol Hotel in the airport. Most international flights arrive late in the evening and you’ll be flying to Iquitos early tomorrow morning, so we recommend putting your head to the pillow and getting a good night’s sleep.
DAY 2: Lima to the Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley / Living Museum of Awaka Kancha
Your Lima host will pick you up from the hotel and accompany you to the airport, where you’ll board a flight for Cusco. During the 45-minute flight, admire the scenery from the window as you cruise over the ice-smothered Andean summits, terraced fields and picturesque high-elevation hamlets that make up the Sacred Valley.
In Cusco, your host will take you to the Living Museum of Awana Kancha where you can meet some soft wooly natives, including vicuñas, guanacos, llamas and alpacas, and observe native weavers skillfully turning the camelids’ fibers into patterned textiles.
DAY 3: Exploring the Sacred Valley
Ollantaytambo and Pisac Archaeological and Market
Today will be devoted to the calm and crowd-free Sacred Valley, which exerts a special hold over many travelers who venture there. You’ll begin exploring in the ancient town of Ollantaytambo, where the Inca touch is still very much evident in the ancient street canals and trapezoidal doors.
In the company of your guide, climb up past hillside terraces, where crops of corn and potatoes are grown, until you reach the Inca Temple of the Sun. Gaze out at valley vistas and ask your guide to point out the quarry from where the stone for this site was sourced. Consider the odds that were stacked against the Incas – they had neither animals (llamas were too weak) nor the wheel to aid them – and ponder the incredible effort that must have gone into hauling these stones to this site.
Continue on your private guided tour to Pisac and its artisan market. Size up the colorful textiles, delicate ceramics and well-crafted silver pieces on offer and perhaps pick up a gift for a friend or family member back home. Finish by surveying Pisac’s mountainside ruins, which overlook the town below.
DAY 4: The Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu
Private Tour of Machu Picchu
Excitement peaks on day four as we set off to see Peru’s – and indeed South America’s – most famous Inca site: Machu Picchu. You don’t have to embark on a strenuous, sweaty trek to get there; we’ll arrange a Machu Picchu luxury travel experience. Enjoy a scenic train ride from Ollantaytambo, then switch to a bus for the final short leg of the journey. Treat yourself to a tasty lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge then get ready to enter the sacred city.
As you climb up the steps, you’ll be treated to your first memorable glimpse of this impeccably built Inca kingdom – a vision that many find remains etched in the memory. A knowledgeable guide will give you a private tour of the ruins.
Back in Aguas Calientes, ruminate on what you saw during the day. Should you have any questions about what you can see and do in the surrounding area, now is the time to ask your guide as tomorrow you’ll be free to explore on your own.
DAY 5: Machu Picchu on Your Terms
A Free Day to Explore the Ancient City at Your Own Pace
Today is all yours, which means you can do with it as you please. Perhaps find a quiet spot to sit and soak up the mystical energy of the ruins, or – if you want something a little more strenuous – trek along one of the nearby trails.
Should you want to complete the steep ascent up Huayna Picchu (that’s the narrow peak just beyond Machu Picchu) for picture-perfect views of the ancient city, you’ll have to decide in advance. Only 400 lucky climbers are allowed up here daily and if you want to be among them, the tickets will need to be secured ahead of time along with your Machu Picchu entrance.
After your day of leisure, return to Aguas Calientes for your train back to Cusco. We’ll meet you at the station there and show you to your hotel of choice.
DAY 6: Cusco
Private Walking Tour of cusco
Today, explore the extraordinary cultures of Cusco during an exclusive city tour. Discover the legacy left by the Incas and earlier indigenous groups at Qorikancha (the Temple of the Sun) and the pre-Columbian Art Museum, and examine the Spanish-style churches and cathedrals. Experience the modern-day charms of Cusco in the bohemian San Blas neighborhood and the bustling San Pedro market. Then enjoy a free afternoon to stroll around this historic city at your leisure.
DAY 7: Cusco to Lima to Iquitos, your Luxury Amazon Cruise Begins
Begin Your Cruise in Nauta / Marañon River
After being transferred to the airport, board a flight to Lima and catch a connecting flight to the jungle city of Iquitos. Upon arrival, you’ll meet your guide and take a seat on an air-conditioned bus for a scenic 90-minute drive to the small village of Nauta where the Aria Cruise – the liner for your Amazon luxury cruise – is anchored.
Board the Aria and settle into your suite. After a safety drill and a quick briefing, tuck into a delicious welcome dinner and toast the beginning of your voyage with a glass of fine South American wine.
DAY 8: Luxury Cruising the Amazon River
Explore and Delve into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
In the morning you will board the skiffs to explore a fascinating black water stream, part of the vast Amazon flooded forest that is within the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Your guides will tell you about the jungle as we explore what scientists call a “gallery forest,” because of its dense vegetation that creates a tunnel of leaves. As we explore this type of riparian vegetation, watch above for parrots, macaws, and fluffy monk saki monkeys.
That afternoon experiencing a memorable journey through the “Jungle of the Mirrors”, where towering trees are reflected in the dark river, head to the Dorado River for animal spotting before you head out for your night excursion.
DAY 9: Luxury Cruising the Amazon River
Yarapa River / Nauta Caño (Pacaya Samiria Reserve)
Overnight, you will have traveled deep into the Amazon. Come morning, it’s time to get out there among the animals. Board a comfortable skiff and sail off down the Yarapa River. Life jackets, ponchos, rubber boots and fresh water will all be available on board.
Glide down the Yarapa, passing the occasional canoe-paddling fisherman and listening to the chirps and chirrups of the forest. Have your binoculars at the ready; you never know when the terns, tropical songbirds, black collared hawks and sloths will appear. After a few hours out in the steamy jungle, return to the Aria cruise for a rejuvenating lunch in the air-conditioned dining room.
That afternoon, head out to Nauta Caño in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, an area also known as the “Forest of Mirrors” due to its inky lagoons, which reflect the surrounding scenery. Watch for toucans, macaws, iguanas and other species hunting for their evening meal. On the return journey to the Aria cruise, sit back and observe one of the most striking sunsets on the planet being reflected onto the dark, near-black waters of the flooded forest.
DAY 10: Luxury Cruising the Amazon River
Yanayacu-Pucate River (Pacaya Samiria National Reserve) / Casual / Marañon River
This morning, your customized tour of Peru’s jungle continues as you cruise toward the Yanayacu-Pucate River in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Colorful flora and fauna – including macaws – are frequently spotted here as are troops of capuchin and squirrel monkeys. Don’t neglect to look down at the water too; that’s where the Amazon River dolphins – both pink and gray – will be. According to Amazonian myth, these graceful creatures have the power to shapeshift into a beautiful human form. You’ll enjoy a light breakfast on board, munching on homemade baked goods, drinking hot coffee and fresh juice, and listening to the sounds of the jungle as it springs into life for the day.
Next, we’ll sail along the Marañon River to the Casual community, where we will disembark for a hike into the heart of this spectacular forest. Observe an array of Amazonian wildlife on this trail, from showy-plumaged tanagers and orioles to more inconspicuous reptiles and amphibians. Watch out for the eye-catching – and poisonous – spotted dart frog.
Return to the boat to enjoy dinner, while the Aria cruise floats upstream toward the headwaters of the Amazon River, where the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers merge.
DAY 11: Iquitos to Lima
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve / Disembark in Iquitos / City Tour / Flight to Lima
Rise early and take in Amazon views over coffee as the Aria cruise skirts the edge of the vast Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a flooded forest spread across the headwaters of the Amazon basin. You’ll be rewarded for your early start with a front-row view of one of the greatest spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere: the sun rising over the origins of the world’s largest river. Here, two major tributaries – the Ucayali and the Marañon – collide to create one of the greatest waterfalls in the world. To see the cascade bathed in the warm morning light is to see nature at its most captivating. Adding to the atmosphere will be the accompanying birdsong soundtrack; large-billed terns, laughing falcons, short-tailored parrots and dozens of other radiantly hued birds sing and flit about the skies.
Continuing by boat, we’ll reach a native community located along the Marañon River, where you will have the chance to meet local villagers and learn about their traditions and folklore. A naturalist guide will get you up to speed on how Aqua Expeditions work with these communities to improve their natural resource management, while a local shaman will reveal the secrets of their spiritual healing rituals, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Handicrafts and keepsakes can also be purchased direct from the artisans who made them.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Manatee Rescue Center, an animal orphanage where these beguiling Amazonian creatures are rescued and brought back to health before being released back into the wild.
Afterwards, your guide will bring you to Iquitos airport for your return flight to Lima. In Lima, you will be met by a Kuoda host, who will check you into your lovely hotel and help you with arrangements for your international flight home.
Want to combine adventure and luxury during an Amazon luxury cruise? Reach out to a Kuoda travel consultant and we’ll help you design your exclusive luxury Peru vacation.
The Aqua cruise mentioned in this itinerary is one of several luxury cruises on the Amazon River that we can offer. The exact itinerary will vary depending on the cruise chosen, departure date and length of cruise.