TREASURES OF ANCIENT PERU

About the Experience

The red gleam of a caiman’s eyes flash at you in the darkness. The chalky sweetness of chocolate you crafted yourself melts upon your tongue. A toucan’s beak – bright as a sunburst – nods at you in the morning light. And the scalloped wonder of the Sacred Valley, in all its velvety green glory, unfurls before you like a painting. 

This immersive journey plants you deep in the heart of Peru, where this magical land’s pulse of wildlife and beauty is perhaps felt most deeply. You will walk among rare rainforest creatures – the mischievous brown puffs of spider monkeys and capuchin clambering overhead. By night, croaking frogs dot the forest floor like tiny, hidden emeralds. Meanwhile, the manmade wonders will leave you no less awed – the Center of Sacsayhuaman sits stacked before you like a sandcastle crafted by a giant. The Refugio Amazonas observation tower leads you heavenward, up into the blazing blue sky, where macaws flit before you like mini-rainbows, their vibrant wings spread like riotous bits of graffiti art. 

A rich, deeply sensory experience, you will never forget the fresh tang of the pisco sour at your interactive cooking class. Or the warm laughter of the local party you attended, where your traditional skirt swirled in a flash of pink and orange – looking not unlike a macaw yourself.

Whether you are sampling the heavy spice of a “mystery soup” at the bustling San Pedro market, exploring the grandeur of The Temple of Qoricancha, or gasping at the otherwordly beauty of Machu Picchu itself, this trip will forever leave its mark on any adventurer’s heart.

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TREASURES OF ANCIENT PERU

About the Experience

The red gleam of a caiman’s eyes flash at you in the darkness. The chalky sweetness of chocolate you crafted yourself melts upon your tongue. A toucan’s beak – bright as a sunburst – nods at you in the morning light. And the scalloped wonder of the Sacred Valley, in all its velvety green glory, unfurls before you like a painting. 

This immersive journey plants you deep in the heart of Peru, where this magical land’s pulse of wildlife and beauty is perhaps felt most deeply. You will walk among rare rainforest creatures – the mischievous brown puffs of spider monkeys and capuchin clambering overhead. By night, croaking frogs dot the forest floor like tiny, hidden emeralds. Meanwhile, the manmade wonders will leave you no less awed – the Center of Sacsayhuaman sits stacked before you like a sandcastle crafted by a giant. The Refugio Amazonas observation tower leads you heavenward, up into the blazing blue sky, where macaws flit before you like mini-rainbows, their vibrant wings spread like riotous bits of graffiti art. 

A rich, deeply sensory experience, you will never forget the fresh tang of the pisco sour at your interactive cooking class. Or the warm laughter of the local party you attended, where your traditional skirt swirled in a flash of pink and orange – looking not unlike a macaw yourself.

Whether you are sampling the heavy spice of a “mystery soup” at the bustling San Pedro market, exploring the grandeur of The Temple of Qoricancha, or gasping at the otherwordly beauty of Machu Picchu itself, this trip will forever leave its mark on any adventurer’s heart.

DAY ONE: HISTORIC HEARTLAND

Arrive in Cusco, historic heartland and former capital of the Incan Empire. Your Wild Women tour leader will welcome you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. On route, they will give details about the next few days’ activities.

In the afternoon you participate in a Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop where you learn to make Peruvian chocolate! At the workshop, you will be able to learn the entire chocolate-making process starting with the cocoa tree from the Peruvian jungle and the beans.

In the evening, you will enjoy a welcome dinner in the restaurant.

 

DAY TWO: ANDES TO AMAZON

In the morning, we’ll transfer to the airport with a flight to Puerto Maldonado (included). Upon arrival from Cusco, we drive to our Puerto Maldonado headquarters. Enjoy your first taste of the forest in the gardens! We’ll pack only the necessary gear for your next few days and leave the rest at our safe deposit. This helps us keep the boats and cargo light.

Skirting Puerto Maldonado, we drive 20 kilometres to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. The port is a communal business. We’ll take a boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Refugio Amazonas taking us past the Community of Infierno and the Tambopata National Reserves checkpoint and into the buffer zone of this 1.3-million-hectare conservation unit.

Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips.

Caiman Search

We will be out at the river’s edge at night, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes.

 

DAY THREE: INTO THE AMAZON

Canopy Tower

A thirty-minute walk from Refugio Amazonas leads to the 25-meter canopy tower. A staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built upon high ground, therefore increasing your horizon of the continuous primary forest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. From here views of mixed species canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are amazing!

Refugio Amazonas to Tambopata Research Center

Four and a half hours by boat from Refugio Amazonas, in the pristine heart of the reserve, lies the Tambopata Research Center. One and a half hours into our boat journey, as we cross the confluence with the Malinowski River, we will leave the final traces of human habitation behind. Within the 700,000-hectare uninhabited nucleus of the reserve, sightings of capybara, caiman, geese, macaws and other large species will become more frequent.

Chuncho Clay Lick

Two hours from Refugio Amazonas, deep in the Tambopata National Reserve we will stop at the Chuncho clay lick. After a brief walk, we will have the chance to see dozens of large macaws feeding on the special sodium-rich clays of the riverbank. The Chuncho clay lick probably attracts more large macaws than any other clay lick in the world and the sight of dozens of macaws taking flight is truly unforgettable. The details of our stopover will depend on the weather and the amount of macaw activity, as the birds don’t visit the clay lick when it is raining.

Orientation

Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips.

Overlook Trail

A three to five kilometre hike will lead us to overlooks commanding magnificent views of the Tambopata winding its way into the lowlands. The forest on this trail, regenerating on the old bamboo forest, is good for Howler Monkey and Dusky Titi Monkey.

Macaw Project Lectures

After dinner scientists will provide an in-depth look at the biology of macaws, their feeding habits, the theories for clay lick use, their breeding and feeding ecology, population fluctuations and the threats to their conservation.

 

DAY FOUR: EXPLORING THE RAINFOREST

Macaw Clay Lick

On most clear mornings of the year, dozens of large macaws and hundreds of parrots congregate on this large river bank in a raucous and colourful spectacle which inspired a National Geographic cover story. Discretely located fifty meters from the cliff, we will observe Green-winged, Scarlet and Blue-and-gold Macaws and several species of smaller parrots descend to ingest clay. Outings are at dawn when the lick is most active.

Floodplain Trail

This five-kilometre trail covers the prototypical rain forest with immense trees crisscrossed by creeks and ponds. Amongst the figs, ceibas and shihuahuacos we will look for Squirrel, Brown Capuchin, and Spider Monkeys as well as peccaries. TRC is located within this habitat.

Pond Platform

Ten minutes upriver from the lodge is a tiny pond with a platform in the middle. It is a great place to spot waterfowl such as Muscovy duck, sunbittern and hoatzin along with the woodpeckers, oropendolas, flycatchers and parakeets that call this pond their home.

Night walk

You will have the option of hiking out at night when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen. Much easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories.

 

DAY FIVE: PERUVIAN DELIGHTS

Today we retrace our river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado. Depending on airline schedules, this may require dawn departures. Flight to Cusco (Included).

In the afternoon we’ll learn a little more about Peruvian cuisine with the opportunity to prepare some of the most representative and delicious dishes that the country has to offer, guided by one of the best chefs in Cusco! This is a once in a lifetime culinary experience. A refreshing drink, appetizer, main course, dessert and, of course, the famous Pisco Sour will be included. After finishing this interactive cooking class, you will fully understand why the whole world is talking about Peru’s incredible food scene!

 

DAY SIX: SACRED VALLEY

In the morning, you will have a guided walking tour of the most characteristic places in the center of Cusco, a vivid example of the mixture of Inca and Spanish cultures. The Sacred Valley had a massive agricultural value and religious significance. You’ll see ceremonial temples, palaces and a fortress in this valley tucked between beautiful sweeping landscapes.

On the way, you will see the Stone of Twelve Angles at the Inca Roca Palace, on Hatun Rumilloc Street. You will visit the most sacred Inca building “The Temple of Qoricancha”. Qoricancha was the most important temple of the Inca Empire. According to archaeologists it housed over 1000 priests and attendants. It was built over an Inca palace dedicated to the worship of the Sun.

Then, we’ll visit the heart of the city, “the Plaza de Armas”, surrounded by colonial arcades and four churches. Explore the San Pedro Market where you will find vegetables, meats, local cheeses (which you should certainly try), chocolates, herbal medicines and many local handicrafts. It’s a great place to purchase some souvenirs. The market is also a place where many locals go to eat ‘mystery soups’. Some may be just chicken; however, the most popular amongst the locals are usually the more unusual ones like frog soups or soups that contains nose to tail of various animals.

In the afternoon we’ll continue with visiting the “Inca Ceremonial Center of Sacsayhuaman”. This enormous structure overlooks the city of Cusco. Its constructions are amazing, with huge rocks perfectly fitted. It is said that it took over 10,000 workers and 50 years to build it. The origin of the temple of Sacsayhuaman is still today unknown. The archaeologist attributed its construction to the Period of the Inca Pachacutec. Later, you continue visiting another important Inca site known as “Qenqo”. This is a place with subterranean passages and carved stone channels in a zigzag pattern. In its inner part, there is a carved stone table where it is said the Incas mummified their dead. Afterwards, you will do a short visit to the archaeological Inca sites of “Tambomachay” a temple dedicated to the God of Water and “PucaPucará”.

Finalizing your tour you will go to the moon temple to realize a payment to the Mother Earth. It’s a ceremony to thank the Pachamama, this will be done with Coca Leaves, cereal seeds, Chicha, Wine and seeds that give you magic power. Finally, you will depart to Sacred Valley.

At night we’ll have a yoga session in the hotel in the Sacred Valley.

 

DAY SEVEN: PISAC 

In the morning, we will drive towards the ruins of Pisac. At the ruins, you will see and learn about different aspects of Inca culture. You can see a great fine art of stone works and impressive agricultural terraces all over the place. Then, we’ll visit the town of Pisac and wander through the local market, known for its multi-coloured textiles, local foods, and indigenous clothing.

We’ll head to a community in the Valley (https://awamaki.org/) to learn about local lifestyle and activities and if our visit coincides with market day you can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practice some of the local language, Quechua. Later we’ll visit the town of Ollantaytambo which has been built over an ancient Inca town. This is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning and one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.

Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.

Late in the afternoon, we’ll take the train towards Aguas Calientes.

 

DAY EIGHT: MACHU PICCHU RUINS

Machu Picchu, known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas,’ is an ancient city of stone palaces, towers, temples and staircases. This morning you will be taken to the magical Machu Picchu ruins starting with a short bus ride up the steep, zigzagging road to this impressive site.

Upon your arrival, you will get into the archaeological zone of Machu Picchu and the tour guide will show you the most important sectors of this great Inca City, such as the Intiwatana (solar clock), the Sun Temple, the urban sector, the agricultural sector among others. Machu Picchu was long thought to be legendary. In 1911, the explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon its remains. Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments.

After the guided tour, we will return to the town by bus and in the afternoon, take the tourist train back to Ollantaytambo town, followed by a private transfer to your hotel in Cusco.

Visiting Machu Picchu:

According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a predetermined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.

 

DAY NINE: AMANTANI ISLAND

This morning we will transfer to the airport. Flight to Juliaca (Included). When we arrive in Juliaca we’ll take a private vehicle towards Chifrom (around 1 hour). Here, we’ll board a boat to Amantani Island where you will spend the rest of the day and the night.

Upon arrival, a group of native families will welcome us at the harbour, and afterwards, the guide will introduce you to the family that will provide you with lodging in their homestay. The group is split in couples, so each couple goes with one family.

In the afternoon we’ll walk up to the highest point of the Islands to explore ancient ruins on a mountain called Pachamama. There are stunning views of the Lake from this lookout point and an amazing sunset. Soon after nightfall, you will descend to the main plaza and will meet your local families, and then go to their houses for dinner.

At dinner, you will be invited to go to the little kitchen- a warm place where they cook with a primitive stove made of clay.

By night, visitors are invited to an Andean party. Your local families will provide traditional clothing to attend the party at the house; men are given ponchos and wooly hats, the hats are hand-made by the families, with unique styles, so that they can recognize you in the hall. Women are given colourful skirts, blouses and veils.

 

DAY TEN: CULTURE AND COMMUNITY

After breakfast, you will say goodbye to your local family and go down to the harbour to meet the rest of the group.

We’ll sail towards “Taquile Island” (1 hour approx.), a traditional Quechua speaking community, full of ancient agricultural terraces and some ruins dating back to the pre-Inca times. The Taquile population was relatively isolated from the mainland until the 1950s, and the notion of the community and family is still very strong among them. The weaving tradition of the Taquile Island goes back to early civilizations, thus keeping the elements from pre-Inca Andean cultures alive.

All weaving is done on pre-Inca fixed and pedal looms. The characteristic garments are the so-called “Chullo”, a knitted hat with an earflap, and “The Calendar Waistband”, depicting the annual cycles connected to ritual and agricultural activities. When visitors reach the island, they will have to walk up along a narrow path, enjoying along the way the impressive views of Lake Titicaca and the little houses inhabited by the direct descendants of the Inca Culture. At the top, you will have free time to explore the Island on your own.

Later we’ll continue to “The Uros Floating Islands”, a small community that has lived on these reed Islands for decades. Centuries ago the small indigenous Uros tribe conceived of the islands to isolate and protect themselves from rival tribes, the Collas and the Incas. The Uros people harvested the reeds in the shallows of the lake, bundled them together tightly and built floating island platforms complete with reed houses and canoes, creating in this way their own little world.

By the afternoon, we’ll descend to the harbour to take the boat back to Puno. We’ll get there by 5:00 pm approximately and will be transferred to the hotel.

 

DAY ELEVEN: DEPARTURE

At the proper time, you will be transferred to the airport in Juliaca. Flight to Lima (not included).

 

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