Treasures of Ancient Peru

About the Experience

The Treasures Of Ancient Peru is an immersive journey that plants you deep in the pounding heart of Peru! The rainforest seemingly vibrates with life, as does the ground below, with mystical history. The treasures are found in the Uros Floating Islands built entirely with reeds, an offering to the Earth Mother (Pachamama), dark chocolate, colourful markets, macaws and the woven secrets of the Sacred Valley. 

In the canopies above, watch for the blur of toucans and macaws streaking through the trees in a rainbow smudge. Let’s not forget about the swinging antics of spider monkeys and curious capuchins. At night, an orchestra of croaking frogs swallows up the darkness. By the river’s edge, the red gleam of a caiman’s eyes will meet your own in equal surprise!

The Center of Sacsayhuaman, an UNESCO World Heritage site, will leave you in complete awe. You’ll wonder why you struggled building that *&$#! IKEA bookcase upon learning that Sacsayhuaman was built in the 15th century without mortar or forklifts! (Or Allen key.)

Prepare for a serious sensory experience. The tart tang of your first pisco sour at an interactive cooking class will be permanently locked into your taste bud memory. The spicy soups, fried plantains, empanadas and curious fruits (custard apple! Lúcuma) of the colourful San Pedro market will definitely shake up your grocery store aisle routine. And let’s not forget about the bean-to-bar chocolate making workshop and personal invite to an Andean party!

Whether you are lost in the grandeur of The Temple of Qoricancha or transfixed by the otherworldly beauty of Machu Picchu itself, this experience will stay in your mind’s harddrive forever.

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Treasures of Ancient Peru

About the Experience

The Treasures Of Ancient Peru is an immersive journey that plants you deep in the pounding heart of Peru! The rainforest seemingly vibrates with life, as does the ground below, with mystical history. The treasures are found in the Uros Floating Islands built entirely with reeds, an offering to the Earth Mother (Pachamama), dark chocolate, colourful markets, macaws and the woven secrets of the Sacred Valley. 

In the canopies above, watch for the blur of toucans and macaws streaking through the trees in a rainbow smudge. Let’s not forget about the swinging antics of spider monkeys and curious capuchins. At night, an orchestra of croaking frogs swallows up the darkness. By the river’s edge, the red gleam of a caiman’s eyes will meet your own in equal surprise!

The Center of Sacsayhuaman, an UNESCO World Heritage site, will leave you in complete awe. You’ll wonder why you struggled building that *&$#! IKEA bookcase upon learning that Sacsayhuaman was built in the 15th century without mortar or forklifts! (Or Allen key.)

Prepare for a serious sensory experience. The tart tang of your first pisco sour at an interactive cooking class will be permanently locked into your taste bud memory. The spicy soups, fried plantains, empanadas and curious fruits (custard apple! Lúcuma) of the colourful San Pedro market will definitely shake up your grocery store aisle routine. And let’s not forget about the bean-to-bar chocolate making workshop and personal invite to an Andean party!

Whether you are lost in the grandeur of The Temple of Qoricancha or transfixed by the otherworldly beauty of Machu Picchu itself, this experience will stay in your mind’s harddrive forever.

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

DAY ONE: HISTORIC HEARTLAND

Arrive in Cusco, the historic heartland and former capital of the Incan Empire. Your awesome Wild Women Expeditions guide will welcome you at the airport for transfer to the hotel. En route, there will be a thorough debrief on what to expect over the next few days.

In the afternoon, it’s a sweet introduction to Peru. We will participate in a  bean-to-bar chocolate workshop. In this interactive class (that you won’t want to skip!) we will learn about the incredible scratch chocolate-making process from Peruvian jungle cocoa tree to bean collection to the melting square on our tongues.

In the evening, we will gather for a welcome dinner and swap life stories over an authentic Peruvian meal. Yes, you read that correctly–you get to enjoy dessert first!

 

DAY TWO: ANDES TO AMAZON

In the morning, we’ll transfer to the airport and board our flight to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway city to the Amazon. Absorb your first exposure to the verdant forest in the fragrant gardens of our headquarters! We’ll repack our gear, choosing only the items that are necessary for the next few days (this will help keep the boats and cargo light). Rest assured–items will be stored safely and securely until our return. 

Skirting Puerto Maldonado, we will drive 20km to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Ese Eja Native Community of Infierno, a biodiverse wonderland. Look for macaws, caimans and giant river otters as we travel by boat along the fringe of Brazil nut forest from the port to the Refugio Amazonas–a 1.3 million hectare conservation area.

Upon arrival, the lodge manager will offer an orientation about the wifi situation (low), electricity at the lodge, massages and mosquito nets.

Later, we will silently creep out to the river’s edge to scan the shores with headlamps and flashlights in hopes of catching the unmistakable reflective red gleam of the caiman eyes staring back at us!

 

DAY THREE: INTO THE AMAZON

Prepare for a day packed full of WOW. We’ll climb the Refugio Amazonas canopy tower, take a 4.5 boat ride to Tambopata Research Center, check out the Chunco clay lick, hike a bamboo forest trail in search of monkeys and sit in on a macaw lecture with the experts! Yes, have a second cup of coffee! Here’s the skinny on what to expect today:

The Canopy Tower

We’ll take a 30-minute walk from Refugio Amazonas to the 35m canopy tower. A banister-style staircase runs through the middle providing safe and sturdy access to the platforms above. The tower offers serious panoramas of the continuous primary forest that extends out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. The mixed species of trees attract flocks of noisy toucans, macaws and raptors on the hunt. This dynamic area will leave birders with binoculars permanently pressed to their eyes. Along the river, bat falcons and the striking black caracara delight. More than 1,300 bird species live in the Amazon–be on the lookout for scarlet macaws and the emerald plumage of the Amazon kingfisher too!

Refugio Amazonas to Tambopata Research Center

We will travel by boat for 4.5 hours from Refugio Amazonas to the 700,000 hectare uninhabited nucleus: the Tambopata Research Center. One and a half hours into our boat journey, we will cross the confluence with the Malinowski River and leave the shadows of human habitation behind. Cross fingers for sightings of the capybara, caiman, Orinoco geese and chatty macaws!

Chuncho Clay Lick

Two hours from Refugio Amazonas, deep in the Tambopata National Reserve, we will stop at the famed Chuncho clay lick. After a brief walk, we will have the opportunity to see dozens of large macaws feeding on the unique sodium-rich clay of the riverbank. The Chuncho clay lick is said to attract more large macaws than any other clay lick in the world. The sight of dozens of macaws taking flight in a rainbow flurry is truly unforgettable. Visiting Chuncho will be weather-dependent as the birds are fairweather travellers like most of us. They don’t visit the clay lick when it’s raining!

Overlook Trail

A 3-5km hike will lead us to the “Overlook” that offers unparalleled views of the Tambopata as it winds into the velvet green lowlands. The regenerating old bamboo forest is lively territory for the howler monkey and red-bellied (or dusky) titi monkey. The haunting call of the howler will raise the hairs on the back of your neck (and head!).

Macaw Project Lectures

After dinner, scientists will share in-depth observations on the biology of macaws, their breeding habits, theories on clay lick use, ecology, population fluctuations and threats to their conservation.

DAY FOUR: EXPLORING THE RAINFOREST

On most clear mornings of the year, dozens of large macaws and hundreds of parrots congregate on the riverbank in a raucous and colourful spectacle. Just 50m from the popular cliff, we will surreptitiously observe green-winged, scarlet and blue-and-gold macaws and several species of smaller parrots as they descend to ingest clay. Outings are at dawn when the lick is most active.

Afterwards, we will walk the  5km Floodplain Trail that snakes through the rainforest through immense fig, ceiba and shihuahuaco trees (the tallest and most ancient species in the Amazon). We will be on high alert for squirrel, brown capuchin and spider monkeys as well as peccaries. This medium-sized pig-like mammal has an unforgettable smell. Between the howler monkeys’ spooky, guttural call and the potent whiff of the peccary, it’s a sensory experience in the jungle!

Just ten minutes upriver from the lodge, there is a tiny pond with a central platform–it’s the perfect place to be surrounded by Muscovy ducks, sunbitterns and the surreal crested hoatzin (also known as the skunk bird, stinkbird or Canje pheasant). Woodpeckers, oropendolas, flycatchers and parakeets also mingle here. Get your bird nerd checklist ready.

We will have the option of a night hike to experience the forest when mammals are active but rarely seen. We’ll find frogs in shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories. Watch for giant moths attracted to the glow of flashlights and other unexpected things that also go bump in the night!

 

DAY FIVE: PERUVIAN DELIGHTS

Today we will depart the old-growth rainforest and retrace our meandering river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado. Depending on flight schedules, this may require an early dawn departure. 

In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy a giant taste of Peruvian cuisine with the opportunity to prepare some of the most authentic and divine dishes that the country is synonymous with. We will be guided by one of the best chefs in Cusco while sipping on classic Pisco Sours. What could possibly go wrong? The edible lesson will include a tutorial on drinks, an app, main course and dessert. ¡Buen provecho!

 

DAY SIX: SACRED VALLEY

In the morning, we will take a guided walking tour of Cusco, a vivid example of the juxtaposition of Inca and Spanish cultures. We’ll visit ceremonial temples, palaces and a fortress in the Sacred Valley tucked between sweeping pastoral landscapes.

We will see the Stone of Twelve Angles at the Inca Roca Palace and visit the Temple of Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), the most important temple of the Inca Empire as it housed over 1,000 priests and attendants. It was built over an Inca palace dedicated to the worship of the Sun.

In the heart of the city, we’ll learn about the Spanish conquerors, executions and legends that surround The Plaza de Armas (Main Square), the colonial arcades and nearby churches. We will explore the fever of the San Pedro Market–be sure to try something unfamiliar! There will be chocolate! Immerse yourself in the buzz of flower vendors, handicrafts, butchers, fishmongers and herbalists offering “Andean Viagra” (maca) to those who wander by.

This market is popular with locals who order ‘mystery soups’. Some contain chicken but the more mysterious, curative ones are usually made with simmering frogs or nose-to-tail recipes of various animals.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Inca Ceremonial Center of Sacsayhuaman. This enormous structure overlooks the city of Cusco and the ancient Lego-like construction of perfectly snug rocks is unbelievable. Rumor has it that it took more than 10,000 workers and 50 years to build.

Later, we will visit an Inca site known as “Qenqo”. This site is a myriad of subterranean passages and carved stone channels in a zigzag pattern–the ultimate place to play hide n’ go seek as a kid! In the most inner recesses, we will find a carved stone table where the Incas allegedly mummified their dead. If we successfully make our way out of the historic maze, we’ll explore the archaeological Inca sites of Tambomachay (a temple dedicated to the God of Water) and PucaPucará.

As a magical grand finale to the day, we will visit the moon temple to make an overdue payment to Mother Earth. This ceremony is a beautiful thank you to the “Pachamama” and will be done with coca leaves, chicha (a fermented maize drink), wine and seeds that impart a magic power.

After this traditional expression of gratitude, we will depart the Sacred Valley. Tonight, for a full grounding and soul restoration, we’ll gather for a balancing yoga session in the hotel.

 

DAY SEVEN: PISAC 

In the morning, we will drive towards the ruins of Pisac to explore the different aspects of Inca culture. We’ll admire the fine art of traditional stone work and impressive linear agricultural terraces. In the town of Pisac we’ll wander through the local market, known for its multi-coloured textiles made from alpaca wool, local foods, and indigenous clothing. Here, women dress in their traditional clothes and are often accompanied by a young lamb. If you’d like to take a photo, it is customary to offer a small sum of money. 

After the market visit, we’ll head to a community in the Valley to learn about the Quechua language and local lifestyle. If our timing coincides with market day, we can spend more time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or a souvenir poncho. Later, we’ll visit the historic town of Ollantaytambo with its impressive Inca stone fortress and terraces. 

Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas and the upper terraces offer unmatched photo opportunities of the square-grid town below.

Late in the afternoon, we’ll take the train towards Aguas Calientes in the Urubamba River Valley. It’s known for its thermal baths…need we say more? Calgon, take me away!

 

DAY EIGHT: MACHU PICCHU RUINS

Machu Picchu, the ‘Lost City of the Incas,’ is an ancient marvel of stone palaces, towers, temples and staircases. This morning, we will take a short bus ride up the steep, serpentine road to this monumental site.

Upon arrival, we will step into the archaeological zone of Machu Picchu. Our tour guide will show us the most important sectors of this great Inca City: Intiwatana (solar clock), the Sun Temple and the urban and agricultural sector (among others).

Machu Picchu is located 2,430m above sea level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. In 1911, American academic and explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon its remains. What a stumble it was! The remains are an incredible urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height.

The site is carefully controlled–all visitors must follow a predetermined route within the site in one direction only (re-entry is not permitted if you exit). Once our guided visit concludes, we must exit the site.

Starstruck and mesmerized by Machu, we will return to the town by bus. In the afternoon, we’ll take the tourist train back to Ollantaytambo town, followed by a private transfer to our hotel in Cusco.

 

DAY NINE: AMANTANI ISLAND

This morning, we will transfer to the airport to board a flight to Juliaca. Upon landing, we’ll take a private shuttle to Chifrom (around 1 hour) before boarding a boat to Amantani Island, where we will spend the rest of the day and night.

On Amantani Island, our guide will introduce us to the group of native families that will warmly welcome us at the harbour. We will split into couples– each couple will spend the night in the hospitality of one local family at their home.

In the afternoon, we’ll walk up to the highest point of the island to explore the ancient ruins on Pachamama mountain, named after the Earth Mother fertility goddess. There are stunning sunset and lake views from this vantage point. Just after nightfall, we will descend to the main plaza to meet our local families for dinner in their home, cooked over a primitive clay stove.

Dinner will be followed by a classic Andean party. Your local family will provide traditional clothing to attend the party at the house. Men wear ponchos and wooly hats handmade by the family. We will be provided with colourful skirts, blouses and veils.

 

DAY TEN: CULTURE AND COMMUNITY

After breakfast, we will say goodbye to our local families and meet again at the harbour to sail towards Taquile Island (one hour), a traditional Quechua-speaking community. The area is an unreal landscape of ancient agricultural terraces with some ruins dating back to the pre-Inca times.

The Taquile population was relatively isolated from the mainland until the 1950s and their community bond is strongly knit. The weaving tradition of Taquile Island residents is traced back to early civilization, conserving precious elements from pre-Inca Andean culture in wool. The common “chullo” (a knitted hat with an earflap) and “The Calendar Waistband” (depicting the annual cycles connected to ritual and agricultural activities) are both woven on pre-Inca fixed and pedal looms. 

When we reach Taquile, we will walk up along a narrow path with remarkable views of Lake Titicaca and the tiny houses inhabited by the direct descendants of the Inca Culture. At the top, you will have free time to explore the island as you wish.

Later, we’ll continue to The Uros Floating Islands, a small community that has lived for decades on these reed islands. 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 tightly together and built floating island platforms with reed houses and matching canoes. The Uros have created their own sustainable world–one that deeply affects those who witness the resilience and resourcefulness of those who live there.

By the afternoon, we’ll descend to the harbour to take the boat back to Puno. We’ll return around 5:00pm for a transfer to our hotel.

 

DAY ELEVEN: DEPARTURE

We will transfer to the airport in Juliaca this morning for flights to Lima and beyond with the hypnotic charm of Peru, Pachamama, Taquile and the arresting wonder of Machu Picchu firmly etched on our hearts. Hug your fellow Wild Women goodbye, for now–what a soul-enriching time it has been. Where next?

 

 

 

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