Peru. Sacred Lands of the Incas: Cusco to Machu Picchu

Extend Your Stay

Contact our Peru Program Director for extension suggestions to the Amazon, Colca Canyon or Lake Titicaca.

Inca Trail 1-Day Trek from KM 104

In lieu of taking the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, consider a 1-day hike along the original Inca Trail to enter Machu Picchu through Intipunku, Gate of the Sun. Permits are required for this trekking option and are limited to 500 per day. Confirmation is subject to Permit availability once they begin to go on sale in February. This is a great option for families traveling with children who may not be ready for an overnight trek in the Andes yet.
After breakfast proceed to the Ollantaytambo station to board the train headed to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Hikers disembark at km 104 where you begin your one day guided hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. After crossing the hanging bridge over the Urubamba River to Chachabamba, pause to explore this Inca site and then begin a three to four hour ascent to the spectacular ruins of Winay Wayna (“Forever Young”), an important spiritual site along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Besides being an area for cultivation of sacred crops such as the coca leaf, it is believed that Winay Wayna was used for cleansing rituals for travelers along the route, prior to their arrival into Machu Picchu. After Winay Wayna, the trail joins the classic route which other trekkers have been hiking over the previous three days. In the afternoon, the trail traverses along the contour of a forested ridge full of orchids and bird life with dramatic views of the Urubamba River below. A steep and dramatic ascent up a final stairway brings you to the Intipunku, or “Gate of the Sun” where you will be rewarded with your first view of Machu Picchu. Proceed down through the site and on to your hotel for the night. This is a great option for families with children who may be too young for an overnight trekking trip in the Andes.


Details about the One Day Inca Trail Hike
Starting elevation: 6259’ at Km. 104
Ending Elevation: 7970’ at Machu Picchu
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2600’
Elevation loss: 890’
Time: 6 – 7 hours (5-6 hours if hikers are in great shape and fast)

Cost Per Person: Additional $125 per person based on two people to add this into an existing Peru itinerary. This includes trekking permits; authorized trail guide; train tickets from Ollantaytambo; entrance fees for Machu Picchu; bus tickets from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes and boxed lunch.

Amazon Photography Tour

Experience what it is like to be a National Geographic wildlife photographer and learn from the pros how to get the best shots of the unique flora and fauna of the Amazon Rainforest.  Using professional grade equipment provided by Canon and Nikon, your expert guide, a published and acclaimed wildlife and landscape photographer, will lead you through a mix of in-the-field instruction and teaching/critique sessions to help you learn how to master your camera and photo editing techniques to produce vibrant and clear wildlife images.  Professional naturalist guides accompany your group as well to speak about the different plant and animal subjects you'll encounter and help you understand the rainforest ecosystem.


Based at remote eco lodges in the Tambopata region, you'll have excellent opportunities to photograph and observe brilliant macaws and parrots in flight and at the clay lick, shy tapirs, close-ups of intricate wing patters on insects, capybaras, river otters and possibly the elusive jaguar as well as the dense and lush landscape of the Amazon.  This is the perfect trip for beginner and intermediate photographers who are looking to improve the skills or have not yet invested in professional grade equipment.

Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Maldonado; meet your expert photography guide who will provide you with an introduction on how to use your equipment and tips for photographing wildlife in the Amazon in regards to weather, best time of day to shoot, use of blinds, etc.  A 45 minute boat transfer brings you to Posada Amazonas lodge, within the local Infierno community's private reserve.  After settling in,  you'll attend your first photo workshop, an introduction to photography, where subjects such as aperture, ISO and shutter speed are covered as well as special techniques that work well in the jungle environment.  Dinner is followed by a night walk, a great opportunity to photograph a variety of insects and frogs, as well as familiarize yourself with shooting in low light. Overnight at Posada Amazonas. [LD]


Day 2:  Oxbow lakes are a haven for wildlife in the Amazon and this morning you will spend time at Tres Chimbadas, searching for and photographing the giant river otters, caiman, hoatzin and horned screamers that call the lake home.  From the sturdy platform of your catamaran, you will have opportunities to photograph majestic trees and play with water reflections. Midday transfer by boat to the Tambopata Research Center (TRC) The afternoon is spent hiking along trails overlooking the Tambopata River, searching the forest for howler and dusky titi monkeys to photograph.  On a clear day you may even be able to capture the snow-capped Andes in the distance.  Toucans, guans and chachalacas are also frequently seen.  Post dinner you'll spend time reviewing and editing your photos under the guidance of your photographer guide. Overnight at TRC. [BLD]


Day 3: Rise at dawn and depart for a nearby beach, located across the river from a clay like that regularly attracts dozens of large macaws and hundreds of bright parrots.  This raucous and colorful spectacle inspired a National Geographic cover story on macaws and you'll have plenty of opportunities to shoot a variety of clay lick photographs from a distance of 50-100 meters. The rest of the day is filled with outings to the floodplain forest to work on general rainforest landscape shots. composition and portraits of the huge trees.  In the afternoon, you'll venture to a nearby stable platform in the middle of a wildlife rich pond where you'll be able to shoot a variety of waterfowl amidst great visibility and lighting. Return to the TRC for dinner and overnight. [BLD]


Day 4: Morning boat ride to a third lodge, Refugio Amazonas. Travel time in the boat takes about 3.5 hours and the morning hours are some of the best times for spotting wildlife along the river's edge.  This is when you may see jaguars or pumas coming down to the river for a drink. Arrive at Refugio Amazonas and embark on a short hike to a beautiful old growth patch of forest where Brazil Nuts, the rain-forest's only sustainable product, have been harvested for decades.  Learn about the harvest process then return to the lodge for dinner and a final guided photo review and editing session.  This lecture will delve further into Photoshop where you learn about levels, saturation, image sharpening and RAW processing among other techniques you can apply to enhance your favorite images.  You'll also be introduced to bookmaking software to publish and print your own high-quality photography book.  Overnight at Refugio Amazonas. [BLD]


Day 5:  After breakfast depart the lodge and retrace your river boat journey back to Puerto Maldonado.  Here you'll collect any stored luggage and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. [B]


Price:  $1,900 per person for double occupancy, $2,120 per person for single occupancy.  A $60 per person national park entrance fee is additional and charged in advance.

Amazon River Cruise: Delfin I

View pink river dolphins on this Amazon CruiseVenture on the mighty Amazon River aboard the elegant and luxurious Delfin I Amazon river cruise. With expert naturalist guide and an expert crew, voyage into the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, five million acres of protected, flooded rain forest bursting with biodiversity. Depending on water levels you navigate narrow tributaries by skiff, paddle kayaks and hike on foot through the terra firme forest, learn about tropical rainforest ecosystems while scanning the canopy for birds and monkeys, search for pink amazon river dolphins, fish for piranhas in still lagoons, and visit native villages. Exclusive to the Delfin I, you also have access to experience the longest rainforest canopy walkway in the flooded forests of Peru's Northern Amazon. Enjoy world-class, personal on-board services and amenities, spacious private suites with panoramic views, supremely fresh local cuisine, and knowledgeable naturalist guides. This is truly a luxury nature and culture adventure in a remote Amazon wilderness, limited to just eight travelers per departure.

Fly to Iquitos via Lima, arriving by 17:00. Airport assistance and air-conditioned vehicle transport along the Amazon River to the town of Nauta on the Marañon River. You’ll be welcomed aboard the Delfin I Amazon river cruiser and shown to your suite with time to relax before enjoying your first cocktail hour and dinner on board – a unique culinary experience with excellent Amazonian-Peruvian cuisine. On the top observation deck, meet your guides and learn about the journey ahead as the moon rises over the rainforest. Overnight on the Delfin I. [BD]

An Amazon sunrise is beautiful to behold, so rise early and take in the splendor from the comfort of your private suite or make your way to the top deck to watch for birds and other wildlife along the river’s edge. After breakfast you explore the flooded jungle of San Isidro. The terra firme forest emerges in the dry season (June-October) and you hike through the epiphytes and palm trees beneath a canopy that reaches over 180’ in height! Biologically, this is one of the richest habitats on earth, supporting the most species of plants and animals per unit of area. Within the forest, you’ll search for the giant kapok tree, identified by the wide, thick trunk. Your guide identifies a wide variety of medicinal plants and points out monkeys, bluish-fronted jacamars and collared trogans in the trees above.

After a delicious lunch on board, explore the river by skiffs and venture deeper into the heart of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Navigate the black waters and keep an eye peeled for the mysterious and active pink river dolphins. Dinner and overnight aboard the Delfin I. [BLD]

A special treat awaits you this morning when you take to the tree tops to gain a bird’s eye view of the forest from an 85’ tall Canopy Walkway. Extending over 1/3 of a mile through the canopy, this walk provides a great opportunity to observe and photograph spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths and a variety of birds at close range. After descending to the forest floor, board canoes and paddle through Tawampa Lake, home to the giant Arapaima freshwater fish, returning to the Delfin I to continue cruising upstream towards the source of the Amazon River.

In the afternoon join your guides for a skiff exploration of wildlife rich creeks and lagoons. When the forest floods the abundance of water triggers many trees to bear fruit, dropping their excessive bounty into the waters below. Piranhas, mistakenly construed as vicious carnivores, find these fruits especially enticing. From your expedition skiff, search for the black, white and red-bellied piranhas swimming between the tree roots and try your hand at fishing for a few. As the stars come out above and the jungle symphony begins, embark on a night safari to search for nocturnal herons, pauraques, spectacled owls, caiman and fish bats that fly low over the water, dipping to scoop up fish mid-flight. Overnight aboard the Delfin I. [BLD]

When day breaks you will have arrived at the ‘Meeting of the Waters’, where the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers merge and give birth to the mighty Amazon River. These two powerful tributaries create strong currents with lots of fish, making this an ideal place to spot the Amazon pink river dolphin while they hunt fish in one of their favorite spots. At San Francisco Village, join your guide on a walk through the community to observe what life is like deep in the Amazon. You’ll have a chance to engage with the local villagers, learn about their culture and traditions and perhaps visit the school or join in a game of futbol. In Nauta, your Amazon river cruise comes to an end when you disembark and bid farewell to the staff and crew. En route to the Iquitos airport, you’ll make one more stop, this time at the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of River Mammals where you can see and help feed young manatees and learn about the dangers these peaceful creatures face. Afternoon arrival at the Iquitos airport in time to make your departing flight to Lima or beyond. [BL]

Delfin I: Amazon River Cruise

Completely refurbished in 2010, the elegant and exclusive Delfin I accommodates only eight privileged travelers in four spacious suites. Blending seamlessly with the wild Amazon waters that she voyages through, the Delfin I is crafted using sustainable, local materials and features artwork created by women from local river communities. All four oversize suites feature comfortable king beds, floor to ceiling panoramic windows, individually controlled air conditioning units and large private decks and balconies. Deluxe suites also have Jacuzzis on their private terraces. The executive chef creates cuisine reflecting Peru’s diverse regions and cultures with the focus being on the unique fish and produce of the Amazon.


Delfin I, a deluxe Amazon River cruiser

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"This really was the trip of a lifetime. We will never forget the incredible people of Peru who changed us forever in small and profound ways. I recommend it for the adventuresome and those who are open to learning about a great culture and people. Our trip was unlike anything else we had ever done, and we plan to do more travel of this type in the future." - Susan and Tom Freeman, FL