Peru. Trek to Machu Picchu+Virgen del Carmen Festival, 7/5-18, 2013 [Currently Not Active]

Extend Your Stay

Join Kirsten Gardner on a 7-night jungle extension into Manu National Park, deep in the heart of Peru's Southern Amazon on our Manu Wildlife Camping Safari. Travel overland from the Andes through more than five distinctive ecosystems, descending from the puna through cloud forest and finally to the Amazon basin for one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in the entire Amazon Rainforest. Two nights are spent within Manu National Park at a secluded tented camp and the rest of the evenings are at comfortable jungle lodges.

Manu Wildlife Camping Safari

Extend your Wildland Adventure tour in Peru on this escorted Amazon adventure deep into Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve, one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in the entire Amazon rainforest. Due to its ecological diversity Manu boasts among the highest recorded bird, mammal, and plant diversity of any protected area on Earth, including 1,000 of the world's 9,700 bird species, 200 species of mammals, and 15,000 species of flowering plants. On our Manu Wildlife Camping Safari, we are escorted by a naturalist Peru travel guide as we traverse a vast elevation range traveling by land over the Andes we make overnight stops at the Cock-of-the-Rock Cloud Forest Lodge and at the Boca Manu in the Manu foothills. In Manu National Park we stay two nights at a secluded tent camp, located close to two wildlife-rich oxbow lakes. At the Manu Wildlife Center we hike on an extensive network of trails, take nocturnal forays through the forest to a tapir clay lick blind, canoe in oxbow lakes in search of giant river otters, and climb a steel circular staircase into the rain forest canopy. Nearby are two macaw licks to photograph and observe colorful macaws from a blind. Fly to Cusco for an overnight at the end of the trip before departing for home via Lima.
Days 1-2: Manu Cloud Forest and Foothills
Depart Paucartambo and continue via comfortable vehicle across the Andes en route to the descent into the Manu cloud forest and foothills. You'll pass the stone burial chambers of the pre-Inca Lupaca people and spend the night at the Cock-of-the-Rock, a remote cloud forest lodge where bird watchers will delight in viewing Peru's national bird along with several other Andean bird species. The following day begins with a second optional jungle hike to spot birds and monkeys before we continue down the mountain and board motorized dugout canoes to continue our Amazon adventure through the lowland rainforest along the Madre del Dios River. We meet local villagers who grow coca and carve dugout canoes out of reclaimed logs before arriving at Boca Manu Lodge for the evening.

Days 3-4: Manu National Park

Travel by boat up the Manu River into the lush, pristine lower reaches of Manu National Park, a heavily protected area that boasts abundant wildlife without any traces of outside development. Home for the next two nights is the low-impact Manu Tented Camp, located approximately six hours within the park's border and styled after mobile African safari camps. Led by our naturalist guides, we'll embark on forest hikes and visit hidden oxbow lakes to look for the endangered giant river otter, 13 species of monkey and if we are lucky, perhaps spot a solitary jaguar or ocelot. A 50 ft lakeside canopy tower enables a bird's eye view of the marshy shoreline where we may spot macaws, amazon parrots, hoatzin and countless other species. This is an especially good option for photographers, coupled with the stable catamaran platform used to explore the lake's surface.


Days 5-6: Manu Wildlife Center
Set off downriver at dawn, the best time to view wildlife along the river's banks, and travel less than three hours by boat to the Manu Wildlife Center – a wildlife hamlet of 22 screened, thatched-roofed bungalows surrounded by fantastic nature trails through the forest. Over the next two days, experience this area’s colorful and diverse flora and fauna. Highlights include the Blanquillo macaw clay-lick where hundreds of tropical birds congregate to eat the mineral-rich clay of the riverbank; naturalist-guided tours through the forest in search of monkeys and tapirs at the mammal clay lick; and evening forays into the forest to search for caiman and other nocturnal life.

Days 7-8: Cusco and Departure
Transfer by boat and van to Puerto Maldonado in time for your afternoon flight to Cusco where you return for one final overnight at the Cusco Garden House Hotel which allows you to retrieve stored luggage. The following day, fly to Lima for international departure. Day rooms at the Ramada Lima Airport hotel or in the Miraflores district in central Lima can be arranged upon request, in addition to extended nights in Lima to explore this colonial city.

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.

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""The two main highlights were trekking to Machu Picchu because of the amazing sites, physical challenge and camaraderie; and the festival of the Virgin del Carmen in Paucartambo because it was such a unique cultural experience...all of the guides were top notch and this is the best group we have ever traveled with. We had been looking forward to this trip for several years and it exceeded our highest expectations!"" - Janine and Doug King, Peru 2007