Machu Picchu Amazon Express
15 Days / 14 Nights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Depart from your home town. If not on an overnight flight you may need to sleep in Lima. We meet your flight at the Cusco Airport the following morning on Sunday. Arrangements can be made to assist you onto your connecting local flight in Lima, help with overnight accommodations, for example the Ramada airport hotel, or advise you of the process if you feel uncomfortable in strange airports.
 
Day 2: Arrive in Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, on an early flight from Lima. We greet you at the airport. Following a brief orientation and a cup of traditional coca tea, you have the morning to rest up. Later, we organize an afternoon introductory trek around town. We visit the famous Inca temple of the Sun, the Coricancha, one of the finest examples of Inca architecture and the ceremonial center of Cusco during Inca times. We will tour several other important cultural and historical sites around town. We’ll also visit the impressive ruins of Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cusco. Our ride leader describes the rituals and ceremonies that would have taken place at the massive walled limestone constructions and sculptured terraces surrounding the immense central plaza. We finish with a summary of the battle here in 1536 which took the life of Juan Pizzaro. Most will need the time to rest and recover from yesterday’s travel. Refreshed and eager, we meet for dinner at a favorite restaurant. We talk about ancient legends, Manco Inca, the lost cities of Vilcabamba or perhaps just get to know each other. Some may opt for evening festivities in this bustling international city. We lodge in the very comfortable hotel close to the main plaza.(B)
 
Day 3: Leaving Cusco in the rear view mirror, we travel by van over a low pass then down into the famous Sacred Valley. The scenery is unsurpassable, close and distant snow peaks glistening in the sun. An interesting drive of several hours takes us over another Andean pass to our trailhead at Chihuapampa. And our waiting horses and trail crew. Our guide gives a helpful riding lesson, a review for more experienced riders and necessary trail instructions, as duffels and gear are expertly sorted, matched and loaded on mules by a colorful group of Quechua speaking wranglers. Abandoning tents and baggage to follow on the mule train, we set off, riding through the mountain town of Lares. Looking something like the trail worn vanguard of Francisco’s Pizarro’s army, arriving in Cusco in 1533. Men loading a truck stare in wonder. Curious kids at a nearby school stop their football game to watch us clip-clop by on the cobblestone street. Soon we are on an ancient trail climbing steeply out of the valley past small potato fields and adobe houses. Giant blue Lupine bushes line the trail. Ewe follow the Rio Lares downstream Late afternoon finds us on a high broad ridge with a level area suitable for our tents at Qollpachaca at 10,500ft – we have been riding for 2 and a half hours,. We make camp near the village of Vilcabamba, a few scattered simple houses with friendly occupants. When we camped here for the first time in May of 2004, the locals said that we were the first outsiders to pass through in their memory. Ride time 2 and a half hours.(B,L,D)
 
Day 4: The Andean dawn breaks colorfully to the east. We linger over a last cup of strong cowboy coffee as restless mounts wait impatiently to begin the day’s journey. Crossing a deep quebrada, we angle around another ridge passing Santa Rosa opposite the the weaving village of Cachin. We may be lucky enough to buy or bargain for some of the most prized of Andean textiles produced here. Riding on, past curious, red -ponchoed locals working small potato fields with ancient digging sticks, we follow a well worn pathway once trodden by Inca pack trains laden with jungle goods from the nearby lowlands. Climbing Qochayoq pas at 13.800 ft, we drop into and stop for lunch at Chupani, a small isolated village of stone-walled, grass roofed huts perched casually on a broad alluvial fan protruding down from the junction of two immense canyons. Hot Coca tea, boiled potatoes, roasted corn and avocado salad fuels us for the remainder of the day’s journey.
Continuing up into a broad high open region, we pass by a number of small villages. This high pampa with its beautiful view was probably a place for breeding and raising of llamas used for carrying supplies along the royal roads. We continue our climb passing herds of grazing alpacas. Mountain vizcachas (related to the chinchillas) scurry amongst boulders washed down from the higher peaks. We descend to our camp at Mauca Chupani 13,200 ft Ahead in a majestic circular bowl crowned by a deep blue lake, our wranglers have set up a ring of green tents awaiting our arrival. Some of us stretch our legs by walking the last mile or so to Camp. Shortly, we are sipping hot chocolate and munching fresh popcorn near grazing alpacas. Savory aromas from the cook tent drift across the pampa. Several of the bold sip one our famous expedition martinis awaiting arrival of the first course of soup that announces the arrival of dinner. Ride Time 6-7 hours. (B,L,D)
 
Day 5: Startling flocks of puna teals and andean geese, we trot out and upward into the morning mistand Chpani pass at 13,800ft, Today is a long ride through spectacular scenery. Following lunch we cross over another high, unpronounceable pass named Huacahuasicasa. Passing Wacawasi we descend thru Wacawasi .The trail narrows as we wind through towering metamorphic sentinels guarding the approach. The view from the top of this 4500 meter high pass easily equals the best the Andes has to offer. Now in the downhill back toward the Sacred Valley, the horses pick up energy as they know they are pointed toward home. The rose colored glaciers of Nevado Pumahanca hang overhead, lit by the glow of the fading Inca Sun God Inti as we reach the evening camp at Mantanayoc. A glass of selected Chilean wine completes the day. (B,L,D)
 
Day 6: The day breaks bright and sunny (we hope). Fresh fruit, yogurt and hot cakes start our day. Duffels packed for the waiting mules, we head down valley. Its all downhill today along the Aruraycocha and Mantacnayoc rivers (streams actually). We pass through stands of rare, original Qeuña woodland. This is the genus Polylepis, home for some of the rarest birds on earth. A giant Andean Hillstar Hummingbird darts out as we clatter down the rocky trail. Herder's huts and chacras (small farms) become numerous. We pass grazing cows, barking dogs and children coming and going along the trail. Reaching the Sacred alley at Yanahuara, we ride on through farmlands along the Urubamba River. A final ride along a colonial period lane completes our magical journey. We sadly say good-bye to the cooks, wranglers and hardworking ponies. Tomorrow begin a new adventure! We overnight at our selected country inn. Dinner and good conversation follows...we slip off to our rooms to ponder the mystery of the last Incas before drifting into undisturbed slumber. (B,L,D).
 
Day 7: We board the morning narrow gauge train heading down valley. An interesting 2 hours or so of click, clack and sway with all of the accompanying sounds and smells of rural Peru takes us to our final destination, Machu Picchu and the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, located some 2,000 ft. below Hiram Bingham’s great 1910 discovery. MACHU PICCHU is one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth! Situated on the spine of a jungle cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above an entrenched meander of the roaring river below, the site is frequently shrouded in misty clouds pierced by the powerful equatorial sun, the INCA GOD INTI. Constructed from precisely sculptured granite blocks carefully joined with the projecting exposed stone of the surrounding mountain, the site may well be the finest architectural achievement of the new world. The day is yours to explore and photograph.
We later meet at the Intihuatana stone. Our guide concludes the story of the raise and fall of the ancient civilizations of the Andes with the tragic end of the Inca and the unresolved mystery that this "lost city" remains. We return to Cusco on the afternoon train. The evening is yours to shop and wander around. We meet for a final dinner then migrate to the Cross Keys, Cusco's only authentic English Pub, for drinks and lively conversation with the resident congregation of guides, expatriates, adventurers, treasure hunters and smugglers from far corners of the universe. (B,L)
 
Day 8: Free day on your own in Cusco to explore this ancient city and take advantage of the many shopping opportunities, visit museums etc. The city abounds with small shops and street side vendors selling their wares. Colorful weaving and handmade alpaca sweaters are popular gifts for friends at home. To-morrow begins a new adventure - the Amazon Rainforest. (B)
 
Day 9: Leaving Cusco after breakfast around 7:00am we travel through traditional Quechua communities and through the spectacular eastern ranges of the Andes to the village of Paucartambo, passing snow-peaks and small Andean farmsteads. We will have time here to look around this picturesque village We then ascend to the last pass overlooking the Amazon Basin and begin the breath taking descent from 3500 meters to 1600 meters above sea-level to our comfortable lodge in the orchid laden Cloud Forest. This is a spectacular journey passing cascading waterfalls and multicolored birds along the way. In the late afternoon, we'll walk into the lodge to the sounds of Quetzals, Trogons and Gray-breasted Wood-Wrens. Night at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.. (B,L,D)
 
Day 10: Pre- breakfast walk to a nearby spot in the Cloud Forest where the strange and beautiful Cocks-of-the-Rock display at dawn. This is a wonderful sight, as up to 25 bright red-orange males dance and sing, attempting to attract the favors of the duller, burgundy colored females. After visiting this lek we return to the Lodge for a leisurely breakfast and continue in our all terrain bus to the Madre de Dios River and our motorized dugouts and we begin our journey down the river, past the last folds of the Andes, to it's confluence with the Manu River. We’ll pass settlements and native communities during the trip. Just before we get to the village of Boca Manu we pass the native community of Diamante. Their culture is Piro and this is the largest settlement in the area. Passing the village of Boca Manu we arrive at to-nights destination -a small, locally built and managed lodge. The lodge is across the river from the tiny airstrip of Boca Manu. The two species of Tamarin monkeys are here -the Saddleback and Emperor. The latter with their long, white moustaches are a rare and precious sight. There is a trail system we can explore if time permits. Night at Boca Manu Lodge. (B,L,D)
 
Day 11: Well fed and rested we leave Boca Manu, leaving the relatively clean waters of the Madre de Dios River behind, we enter the clay laden waters of the Manu River. With a brief stop at the park ranger station at Limonal to present our permits we travel for about five hours up the Manu. Beaches, especially in the dry season, are loaded with nesting birds and feeding Herons, Egrets, Orinoco Geese, Terns and Skimmers to name but a few. Some beaches will host sunning White and Black Caimans (South American relatives of the Alligators)/ and breeding Side-necked Turtles. Hundreds of Sand-colored Nightjars roost during the day on logs and beaches and there is a chance of encountering a sunning Jaguar - the world’s third largest cat. In 2007 one in three of our trips saw Jaguar in Manu. We will see some species of primate on this river trip, possibly Red Howler Monkeys or the smaller Squirrel Monkeys. After having lunched by the river we arrive at the Casa machuguenka Lodge. We'll have the afternoon to explore some of the trails through the pristine rainforest in the area. A visit to the lake of Cocha Otorongo is planned, where observation piers and a 20 meter observation tower in the rainforest canopy overlooking the lake are available for observing wildlife. We will also be on the lookout for a large family of Giant Otters that inhabit this lake. Before or after dinner an optional excursion into the forest at night is available with your guide in search of nocturnal creatures. The lakes are full of eye-shine of the large Black Caiman and if we are lucky we may encounter an Olingo, Kinkajou or even an Ocelot on the trails. Certainly the nighttime noise of tree frogs and insects in the forest is an experience not to be forgotten. Night at the Casa Matsiguenka, a rustic native owned lodge run by the Matisguenka’s themselves with its own exclusive trail system. There are shared flush toilets and ambient temperature shower facilities and screened twin rooms with comfortable beds and mosquito nets.(B,L,D)
 
Day 12: After breakfast we'll spend the morning at the lake of Cocha Salvador. Some of the time will be spent canoeing the lake on a floating platform observing ox-bow lake animal life from the water. We may encounter an Agami Heron or a Sungrebe and Brown Cappuchin Monkeys are usually feeding on fruits nearby. Specially constructed piers that jut out into the lake enable us to look for a family of Giant Otters that live here. These, the world’s largest freshwater carnivores, remain common only in Manu, having been hunted to extinction throughout most of their former range. Each animal consumes between 4 and 5 kilos of fish daily and often they can be seen eating large fish on logs at the lakeside. The rest of the day will be spent walking the trails in the area in search of some of the 13 species of Monkey found in the forest here. Your guide will explain some of the basics of rainforest ecosystems and point out some of the medicinal plants of the area used by local, indigenous groups. We may cross paths with a group of Peccaries - a species of wild boar found here. A late afternoon swim in the river near the camp as the sunsets. Night at the Casa Matsiguenka. (B,L,D)
 
Day 13: Today we'll walk very slowly from camp for 4-5 hours through the forest to Cocha Otorongo. We may encounter troops of Monkeys. This is a particularly good trail for Woolly and Black Spider Monkeys. We'll pay special attention to the plant life on this walk and take it slowly listening for the rustle of vegetation or the soft sound of fruits falling to the rainforest floor that may betray the presence of animals or large birds. We'll be met at the river by our cook with a picnic lunch and then board our motorized dugout for the 4 hour trip down river to Boca Manu for the night. The river trip may hold surprises and we'll be attentive for any wildlife on the beaches. Night at the lodge at Boca Manu. (B,L,D)
 
Day 14: This morning we have time to explore the small trail system at the lodge before heading across the river to the tiny airstrip of Boca Manu. We’ll take the 45 minute flight over seemingly endless rainforest and then over the Andes, passing glaciers and snow peaks to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco where our staff will be waiting to take you to your hotel. (B)
 
Day 15: Transfer to the airport and flight to Lima and connecting international flights. Use of hotel room in Lima or overnight if required. (B)
 
Departures 2011:
2011 Rates per person: $. Single Supplement: $
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