Lost Lands of the Incas: Amazon Jungle & Machu Picchu Travel

Machu Picchu Travel Special Interest Group

Arboretum Director Peter Olin, Knowmad Co-Founder Jordan Harvey and our amazing Peruvian guides Delia and Wilfredo led 23 adventurous Arboretum members on a whirlwind 2-week Peru odyssey. Discovering Machu Picchu, piranha fishing in the Amazon, and sharing the day with the Amaru indigenous community were just a few of the memorable moments on this amazing trip. 

“I have organized travel groups for over 25 years and Knowmad Adventures is one of the best trip operators I have worked with.”
– Peter Olin, Arboretum Director – Minneapolis, MN

Thank you, Peter! A detailed itinerary and awe-inspiring photos of this special interest group trip to Peru below.

Machu Picchu Travel Amazon Jungle Tour


Amazon Jungle & Machu Picchu Travel Itinerary

Trip Highlights

  • See the sites and gardens of Lima, Peru’s capital city
  • Experience a variety of vibrant indigenous Andean cultures
  • Ride the rails in a historic train-car along the ancient Inca Trail
  • Explore the famed Lost City of Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate
  • Wander the legendary Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman, lesser-known Pisac ruins, and see the Ollantaytambo ruins.
  • Meander the cobblestone streets and bustling markets of Cusco
  • Learn to cook delicious Peruvian dishes
  • Get hands on with a remote indigenous community, experience their ancient farming techniques, and share a meal.
  • Lunch in a centuries-old hacienda while relaxing in the Sacred Valley
  • Experience the flora and fauna of the Amazon from a dugout canoe, walking the forest, and from a hundred feet high on a series of canopy walkways.
  • Do it in style! This luxurious adventure highlights carefully selected accommodations in a variety of settings.
  • Small group trip between 14 and 25 travelers
  • Trip escorted by the Arboretum’s Peter Olin
  • $300 tax-deductible donation to Arboretum & BGCI

Day 1 Depart Minneapolis, Minnesota or your hometown
A recommended flight will be supplied closer to your Amazon Jungle and Machu Picchu travel time. Upon arriving likely in the evening, we will be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodations conveniently situated in the great neighborhood of Miraflores in Lima, Peru’s capital city.

Day 2 Gardens and Sights of Lima
After breakfast we will explore Lima with a focus on its parks and gardens. We will visit Parque de las Leyendas, Lima’s traditional zoo which is actually set in one of the Peruvian coast’s most important pre-Hispanic archeological complexes. Their botanical garden has over 1800 species and has over 3200 individual plants. We will also visit Parque de la Exposicion with its beautiful gardens, and may visit the newly renovated Museo de Arte that’s within the park. Moving on we will visit Parque El Olivar, a colonial olive tree plantation and a national monument as it houses colonial government buildings and early 20th century mansions. There will also be possible visits to Parque del Amor for views over the bay of Lima and Parque El Faro, or Lighthouse Park.

In the evening transportation will be provided for those who still have energy and would like to see Lima’s nighttime fountain show.

  • B, L – Casa Andina Private Collection or similar

Day 3 Lima – Sacred Valley
The group will be transferred to the Lima airport in the morning and we will fly approximately an hour and a half to Cusco. After a light lunch we’ll head to the lower altitudes of the Sacred Valley and, depending on time, we’ll visit a couple of the most interesting archeological sights outside of Cusco en route such as Sacsayhuaman fortress, Kenko and its subterranean altars, Puka Pukara fortress, and the Tambo Machay water temple.

Driving through the city and into the snow-capped Andean peaks with inspired views you descend past Chinchero village into the Sacred Valley of the Incas where you’ll check in to your oasis at Sol y Luna. Take the afternoon to relax in their verdant gardens while acclimatizing to the altitude (the Sacred Valley is lower than Cusco and the perfect place to gradually acclimatize).

Day 4 Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley Peru Travel Trip Specialist Peru - Jordan Harvey

Sacred Valley Peru Vacation
We’ll head up into the remote mountainous stretches of the Sacred Valley of the Inca to the Andes Association, a group of five distinctive Andean communities (the Sacaca, Chawaytire, Pampallaqta, Paru Paru and Amaru) formed to protect, preserve and promote the bio-cultural heritage of the Andes. Farmers of these communities have combined their individual land into
one in an effort to teach and preserve indigenous farming techniques and agricultural knowledge, primarily in regards to the more than 1,200 varieties of potatoes. Our local guide will take us through their fields and past their homes. A full morning of light hiking will conclude with lunch in the community kitchen, where women from the various villages are taught cooking skills by visiting chefs from restaurants in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley as an opportunity for empowerment and a new way to earn additional income that is still tied to their heritage. Afterwards we’ll visit the hilltop ruins of Pisac, before descending by van to visit the town and one of South America’s most vibrant markets.

  • B, L – Sol y Luna or similar

Day 5 Sacred Valley – Moray and Maras

Sacred Valley Picnic travel
Heading out early you’ll arrive to the massive Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. From here hike or go by van (depending on your preference, time, and weather) to the little-known village of Maras where villagers still harvest pre-Columbian terraced saltpans in the traditional way. Enjoy a picnic in this surreal setting before a walk down the Andes to the valley floor where you board the train that chugs along the Urubamba River and parts of the Inca Trail towards the Amazon arriving at Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Day 6 Machu Picchu

Peru Tour

Machu Picchu Large Group Travel     Machu Picchu Travel
Early risers can revel at the sunrise from the Machu Picchu citadel. This incredibly vast archaeological site – lost to the world until well into the twentieth century – is perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest making it one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to get a complete guided tour as you begin to unlock the mystery of the Inca, and also have plenty of time to wander the site on your own. Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge adjacent to the ruins means you’ll be able to enjoy the whole day without leaving awe- inspiring Machu Picchu. For a small additional cost and with enough advance notice, you can also climb the adjacent sacred peak Huayna Picchu for a bird’s eye view.

  • B, L, D – El Mapi or similar

Day 7 Ollantaytambo – Cusco
Taking the train after breakfast, you’ll have time to roam through Ollantaytambo town taking
in the ancient ruins towering above. Heading into the valley you’ll stop to enjoy lunch at an authentic colonial-era hacienda before continuing on and arriving in the early evening to Cusco. Your accommodation is a restored colonial-era mansion surrounding a traditional courtyard with Spanish arches and fountains.

  • B, L – Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco or similar

Day 8 Cusco Culinary Adventure

Trip to Local Peru

Peruvian Cuisine     Peru Trip Local Cooking Class
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Cusco before departing from the hotel to the food market in the early afternoon where we’ll receive a briefing by our chef about local ingredients, and also have the opportunity to buy them, interacting with local producers and suppliers, a whole experiential sojourn in a traditional Andean market. You’re then invited to a private culinary lesson, starting with the preparation of the famous pisco sour moving on to some main dishes. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.

  • B, L – Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco or similar

Day 9 Cusco

Peru Local Travel     Cusco Peru Travel
Enjoy a relaxing day independently exploring a city where traditional Andean cultures, the colonial Spanish, and modern Peru come together in one of South America’s most culturally and visually dynamic cities. Visit Incan architectural jewels such as Korikancha – the temple of the sun, shop at Andean markets, enjoy savory, wide-ranging Peruvian cuisine, and see the colonial cathedrals built atop Incan foundations around the Plaza Central.

  • B – Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco or similar

Day 10 Cusco – Amazon Jungle
From the airport we will visit the Butterfly House where you will pack a portion of luggage into a smaller bag. We will then head to the pier and go upriver about an hour looking for monkeys and other fauna as the foliage grows more dense, until we reach the beautifully crafted private bungalows at the Reserva Amazonica Jungle Lodge and Nature Reserve.

After a brief siesta or a walk on the nature trail, we suggest taking a twilight river excursion – a guided boat ride in which you’ll witness the transformation from a diurnal to a nocturnal world. Learn about their habitats while searching for nightjars, owls, capybaras and up to three different species of caiman. Following the excursion, you’ll get your first taste of this lodge’s incredible cuisine.

Day 11 Amazon Jungle

Amazon Jungle Peru Vacation

Amazon Jungle Trip
We will take a morning excursion to beat the heat and enjoy nature at its fullest. A flat hike of about half hour takes us to Lake Sandoval where we’ll glide in traditional wooden canoes across a beautiful oxbow lake home to the endangered river otter, as well as howler monkeys, red-bellied macaws, anacondas, side-neck turtles and black caimans.

After lunch back at the lodge we’ll ascend the canopy walkway, a series of towers and suspension bridges nearly 100 feet up in the jungle canopy. Be on the lookout for colorful toucans, Amazonian woodpeckers, trogons, monkeys and sloths. If you wish, stay for sunset from one of the towers before returning to the lodge for a delicious dinner.

  • B, L, D – Reserva Amazonica or similar

Day 12 Amazon Jungle
Enjoy a morning excursion to Gamitana Creek exploring the rainforest along the banks of a winding, dark-water creek home to piranha, caiman as well as abundant flora, and take a short, guided tour to see how local farmers raise fruit and vegetables before returning for lunch. Afterwards take a guided walk in the Hacienda Concepcion, with over 200 different plant species, learning about the uses and benefits of traditional tropical flora. After dinner if you’re up for it there will be a guided night hike through the Inkaterra Ecological Reserve.

  • B, L, D – Reserva Amazonica or similar

Day 13 Amazon Jungle – Lima – United States
Early afternoon transfer to airport; fly Lima, and onward home on an evening flight.

  • B

Day 14 Arrive in Minneapolis, Minnesota or your preferred destination in the morning.

Visit our website for more information on special interest group travel, amazon jungle travel, machu picchu travel and more. Life is for living, plan your trip today!

Hasta Pronto, Knowmad Adventurers 

South America Travel Knowmad AdventuresKnowmad Adventures works closely with independent-minded travelers creating innovative trips to South America. Our specialists in Patagonia, ChileMachu Picchu, Peru, Argentina, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Antarctica are eager to collaborate and create a trip as unique and authentic as you are, and our experienced South American operations team guarantees you get an insider’s perspective, superior values, and a flawlessly operated trip.