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An early morning bus ride down Peru’s south coast brings us first to Ica, center of Peruvian winemaking. We’ll visit a local vineyard and distillery, check out mummies at the Ica Museum, and try out sandboarding at Huacachina Oasis. Overnight in Ica.
After a short ride in private transport we arrive in Nazca. Then buckle up and get ready to be amazed as the splendor and magnificent art of the Nazca lines unfold beneath you. Hundreds of animals, trapezoids and ruler-straight lines lie across the rocky Nazca plateau, clearly seen only from the air. Some say it is an ancient calendar. Others suggest a beacon and runways for alien spacecraft. Still others believe it was just an ancient culture’s way of saying hello to their gods. Perhaps, while soaring over them, you’ll develop a theory of your own. After your flight, we’ll visit an ancient Pre-Incan aqueduct as well as workshops for the making of pottery and the processing of gold. Then back to Ica to relax in the hotel pool.
We’ll head to Paracas early this morning to go for a boat ride to the Ballestas Islands, Peru’s “mini-Galapagos”. Penguins and sea-lions are the highlight, as well as the massive and mysterious “candelaria” carved into an oceanfront hillside. Arrival into Lima in the evening.
After a short flight, we arrive in the city of Puerto Maldonado (or Iquitos 3-4 day excursion) and transfer to a motorized dugout canoe for the trip upriver to our jungle lodge. Our cabins at the lodge have modern bathrooms and comfortable beds with mosquito nets, and the food here is great. Take an afternoon walk through the rainforest with an experienced naturalist guide, come back for dinner, then set off again for a nocturnal jungle canoe ride to spot caiman!
The next day’s activities will include a visit to an oxbow lake to look for giant river otters, monkeys, macaws and other wildlife as well as jungle walks led by an experienced, English speaking guide. You’ll witness an array of medicinal and otherwise interesting flora and fauna, as well as gain some insight into native Amazonian peoples and traditions.
After an early breakfast, we’ll take a motorized canoe back to Puerto Maldonado to catch the flight to Lima or Cuzco.
This morning we’re off to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,500 feet above sea level. The trip there is beautiful, as we pass by Andean villages, herds of llama and alpaca, and high snowcaps. We stop at the Inca site of Raqchi, the old colonial church at Andahuaylillas and the Pukara Culture Archaeological Museum. Puno is a lively and bustling university town with plenty of good restaurants and pubs along its pedestrian mall. Early to bed, though, as our Lake Titicaca adventure begins early tomorrow!
Boats are the transport theme today as we head out across the waters of Lake Titicaca. Our first stop is the islands of Uros, completely constructed out of totora reeds and floating on the surface of the lake. We’ll take a walk across the spongy surface of these unique islands and go for a ride in a reed boat before continuing on to the island of Amantani, where we’ll spend the night with a local native family (or other accommodations are available if you would prefer not to stay with a family).
Short morning boat ride to Taquile Island. The native culture of Taquile is the most intact in probably all of the Andes, with its inhabitants maintaining the same customs and dress as they have for over 1000 years. You will truly feel as though you have gone back in time as you walk the ancient stone paths of the island and observe it’s people. We will visit a weaver´s cooperative, have lunch then take a scenic boat ride back to Puno. Overnight in Puno.
Transfer to the airport in Juliaca for a flight to Lima or Cuzco.
A morning flight to Arequipa and private transfer to your hotel. Arequipa is a charming colonial city at the foot of El Misti volcano, with the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest, just a few hours away. On your private city tour, you’ll visit the huge and beautiful Santa Catalina Monastery as well as the Museum of Juanita, the Inca Ice Mummy. Arequipa is yet another Peruvian town known for their amazing cuisine.
Early morning departure for the Colca Canyon. Keep a lookout for condors as we skirt the side of the canyon. This area also has some of the most extensive Inca and pre-Inca terracing in all of Peru. Overnight in the village of Chivay.
We’ll spend the morning in Chivay, with a chance to soak in the town’s medicinal thermal baths, before returning to the comforts of Arequipa in the early afternoon.
Morning domestic flight onward today.
Mancora, Punta Sal and Vichayito are beautiful Pacific towns with resorts and small hotels on the north coast of Peru with pleasant traditional town centers and a strings of white sand beaches and bungalows stretching away from them. Whether it’s sunbathing, surfing, a good book or pisco and coke you’re in the mood for, you’ll enjoy these four days and three nights of relaxation after exploring Machu Picchu. Northern Peru also offers amazing seafood and some of the best cebiche in the country! Swim with sea turtles on one of your free days. Add extra days on the beach is you wish.
Arrive in Guayaquil (or Quito) anytime today for an early departure tomorrow to the Galapagos Islands.
Departure from Guayaquil to Baltra (aprox.two hour flight, two and a half from Quito). Passengers will be picked up at the airport by our guides and taken to the pier to board the boat.Bartolome. Passengers will see volcanic formations like lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones. After hiking to the summit you can enjoy a great view of the surrounding islands, including Pinnacle Rock’s eroded tuff cone. During the hike to the summit, travelers will often see colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tiquilla, and various cacti. Visitors will be able to snorkel and see the Galapagos penguin, sea turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks from a safe distance.
Urbina Bay (Isabela). Wet landing. Passengers will visit the fossil beach
and coral area. Depending on the season you may be able to observe giant tortoises, land iguanas and flightless cormorants. After the walk we will have time for snorkeling. Fernandina (Espinosa Point). Dry landing. Visitors will see the biggestmarine iguanas mingling with sally light-foot crabs, as well as flightless cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos hawks, and sea lions. Among the flora and volcanic formations observers will spot brachycereus cactus, and “pa-hoe-hoe” lava and “AA” lava formations and numerous mangrove beds extending into the sea.
Santiago (Egas Port). Wet landing on a dark sand beach. Most of the landscape is tuff-stone layers and lava flows. You can observe huntingherons, great blue herons, lava herons, yellow crowned night herons and oyster catchers. Passengers will see marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside red sally light-foot crabs. There is a colony of fur seals swimming in deep cool-water pools. Here you can swim and snorkel and find octopuses, sea horses, star fish. Rábida (Jervis). Wet landing. The volcano-formed beach is dark red and is often occupied by sea lions. It’s considered the geographic center of Galapagos because it has the most diverse volcanic rocks on the Islands.
You’ll hike to a salt water lagoon, where flamingos can sometimes be found.
July through September is a good time to observe brown pelicans nesting in the salty bushes. Boobies and 9 species of Darwin’s finches can also be observed. You can take a ride along the reefs in a dinghy, as well as snorkel.
Santa Cruz (Charles Darwin Research Station). Travelers will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, staffed with international scientists conducting biological research and conservation projects. Here guests can admire the giant tortoises that are part of the breeding program. Visitors can also admire the prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds. Later on, you’ll have some free time to walk around town and shop for souvenirs. Santa Cruz (Highlands). Travelers can trek through the highlands of Santa Cruz and visit Cerro.
Santa Cruz (Bachas Beach). This beach is located on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. Visitors will encounter many sea birds, marine iguanas, sea turtles, and have the opportunity to swim on the white-sand beach. Return to the ship and transfer to Baltra’s airport. Return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.