South America Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Chile, Peru, Argentina and Antarctica


Manu Wildlife Center, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Cusco and the Palomino Islands

llama and kid machu picchu



Fly to Peru for a 8-day exploration of the wildlife and Incan culture of southern Peru. We have crafted this tour to use up just five business days, yet have a surprisingly diverse experience in Peru. By departing from Miami at 11.30pm Friday and from Lima just after midnight the following Sunday we can spend 8 full days in Peru, including four and a half days exploring Manu, Peru's richest wildlife area. We spend a day at Machu Picchu, and explore the spectacular and intricate ruins at Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, as well as the ancient city of Cusco. Our last day is spent visiting several islands, home to a variety of wildlife including penguins and sealions. By adding one day to the itinerary you can also see the Nazca Lines. Naturally those with more time can spend more time in Peru, and flights are also available from other cities.

Day 1 - Friday: Home City / Miami / In Flight

Fly from your home city to Miami from where you depart on Lan flight 2511 for Lima at 11.55pm. Other gateway cities are also available.

Day 2 - Saturday: In Flight/ Lima / Cusco/ Ollantaytamboollantotaytambo fountain
Arrive in Lima at 4.35am this morning. Pass through immigration and customs, and have breakfast in the new Lima airport – there’s even a Starbucks. At 8.25am fly to Cusco on Lan flight 73, arriving at 9.40am. You are met and driven to Ollantaytambo, about 1.5 hours away. Overnight at Ollantaytambo. After enjoying a few hours sleep, visit the amazing Ollantaytambo ruins. One of the more interesting features at Ollanto is a fountain that stops and starts with a pass of the hand. When a hand is placed in the flowing water, it stops. Touch the entrance again, and it starts. Easier than the Clapper, and predating touchscreens by half a millenium. The area around the upper ruins is good for Giant Hummingbird.     (*M,L,D)


Day 3 – Sunday: Ollantaytambo/ Machu Picchu/ Cusco
Take an early morning Vistadome train to Machu Picchu; the trip is an hour and twenty minutes. Bviscacha machu picchuy overnighting in machu picchuOllanto and taking an early train we have up to a couple of hours at Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive. After arrival at the Machu Picchu Village (was Aguas Calientes) station we take the 20 minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu itself. Our guide takes us through the ruins, explaining its history and culture, for about 2 hours. After that you can continue with the guide, or explore on your own. At 2.30 we return down the mountain – about 20 minutes – to Machu Picchu Village, in time for the 3.25pm train to Cusco. Alternatively it's about an hour walk down a trail and along the road to the village; there is excellent birding especially along the river at the bottom, although the upper part is a habitual spot for Inca Wren. The 3.25 is the only train back to Cusco, and so it is longer and more crowded than the one from Ollanto. However, you do get a decent snack and hot tea on board, and there is entertainment as well. At Poroy, the last station before Cusco, we get off and transfer to our Cusco hotel. This early departure from the train saves about one hour of the final switchback part of an already too long train trip. We arrive back in Cusco about 7pm.      (B,L,S)


Day 4 – Monday: Cusco/Boca Manu/ Manu Wildlife Center
Early morning we transfer to Cusco airport for a forty minute flight in a radar-equipped plane to Boca Manu, a small airstrip on the river. From here we take a motorized canoe for a 90 minute journey down the Madre de Dios River, arriving at the Manu Wildlife Center in time for lunch.The Center is located east of the Manu River on the north bank of hoatzinMadre de Dios River in several thousand acres of private reserve adjacent to the National Park. The lodge has 22 fully screened private bungalows, separate complexes with hot showers and toilets, a large fully screened dining room and a bar with hammocks for relaxing. The lodge has no electricity; lighting in the communal areas is by kerosene lamp and candles, with the paths around the lodge complex lit by kerosene lamps. Lighting in the guests bedrooms is by candle. An 110V generator is available from which camcorder batteries can be recharged. The afternoon will be spent exploring some of the 30 miles of clear forest trails that surround the lodge. On these trails we have an excellent chance to encounter some of the 12 species of monkeys, which include the Monk Saki and Emperor Tamarin, which inhabit the surrounding forest. Lizards, often rainbow-colored insects, and naturally birds will also be part of our afternoon. After dinner wel have a short night excursion to explore nocturnal life in the rainforest.        (B,L,D)


Day 5 - Tuesday: Manu Wildlife Center 
Rising before dawn, we take a 25 minute boat journey downstream to the only large parrot and macaw clay lick in the Manu area. From a floating catamaran blind (in the dry season this blind may be on the ground due to river water level) we are afforded excellent views and photo opportunities of hundreds of medium-sized and large parrots arriving first at the lick, followed by the large Red-and-Green Macaws arriving to eat the clay. After lunch at the Center we continue to explore the forest trails surrounding the lodge, or have a nap in prepaaration for a late evening. We plan to spend the late afternoon up a 110 foot high canopy platform to watch the last frantic activity in the rainforest canopy, the local rush hour, before night settles. We can return for dinner back at the Center, or pack a meal for the leisurely hike about 60-75 minutes through the night forest to the Amazon’s largest known Tapir clay lick. Here a 17x17 foot observation platform perches almost 20 feet above the lick, where we wait for the lumbering Tapirs to arrive, using spotlights we hope to observe and photograph them in action. The tapirs usually visit the clay lick between 9:00 pm and midnight, however their activity continues until dawn.        (B,L,D)


Day 6 – Wednesday: Manu Wildlife Center
Todaypromises to be an exciting visit to Blanco Oxbow Lake. After another early morning departure by boat and motmotshort hike from the river we arrive at the lake, populated by a variety of aquatic life and water birds, including the prehistoric-looking hoatzin; there is also the possibility of seeing the resident family of giant otters. After returning for lunch at the Center your guide is available to further explore the forest trails for more wildlife encounters; alternatively you can independently experience this expanse of rainforest habitats on the many walking trails radiating from the lodge. You may also choose to take some downtime in this usually quieter time of the day. This evening from the late afternoon until after dinner we have an opportunity to search for caiman and other nocturnal life along the riverbank by boat, after dark using lights to see the red crocodilian eyeshine.


Day 7 - Thursday: Manu/ Boca Manu/ Cusco
After an early breakfast we return by boat to Boca Manu, then fly back to Cusco. You are met and start your guided discovery of this ancient city. Overnight tonight in Cusco.


Day 8 – Friday: Cusco/Lima
Continue with your guided tour of Cusco. At 4.40pm fly from Cusco to Lima on Lan flight 38, arriving at 6pm, where you transfer to your hotel in Miraflores. There are several nice restaurants close to the hotel, as well as the hotel's own restaurant, and there is a concentrated area of good shopping also nearby.     (B)


Day 9 - Saturday: Palomino Islands
Today travel to the port town of Callao, about 45 minutes from Miraflores. At 10am you start a three hour cruise on the 60ft catamarainca ternsn humboldt penguinsSpondylus to the islands of Fronton, Cavinzas, Palomino and San Lorenzo. While you do not land on the islands the boat spends time at each to allow observation of the wildlife or other attractions. Between the dock and the first stop, Fronton, may seabirds will be seen, including the beautiful Red-legged Cormorant. Peruvian Boobies, Inca Terns and many others take advantage of the near-shore upwellings of cold water, providing a rich bounty. The first island, Fronton, has ruins of a prison, which was blasted by the Peruvian Navy to overcome a riot and hostage taking by the prisoners. One of the hostages and 135 prisoners were killed. Many of the prisoners were Shining Path. After grim Fronton the island of Cavinzas is home to many seabirds, and once again a stop is made. The first sea-lions are usually seen here, maybe some swimming Humboldt Penguins, and occasionally dolphins. From Cavinzas the boat heads across to Palomino, home to a colony of about 4000 Southern Sealions, which abound in the nearby waters. The boats approach bring hundreds towards it, “singing” as the swim. It’s quite a spectacle, as you can see from teh video (please forgive the pixallation due to Youtube reducing the size of the file for easy downlaoad). From Palomino the boat heads back, first stopping at San Lorenzo, home to a colony of Humboldt Penguins. You get back to shore about 1pm. You are met on your return and transferred to a nearby restaurant, Pescaderia (meal at own expense). This is one of Peru’s best restaurants – the name indicates their specialty - in an out of the way place with no sign or indication that it is a restaurant; you basically enter through the back door. After lunch transfer back to Miraflores.       (B)


Day 10– Sunday: Lima/ Miami/ Home City
Fly back to Miami at 20 minutes past midnight this morning on Lan flight 2514, arriving in Miami at 5.45am. After passing through immigration and customs connect with your flight to your home city.           (*B)


Or, add a day for the Nazca Lines:

Day 9 – Saturday: Lima/ Ica/ Paracas
This morning we travel along the stark desert coast to Ica, about 3.5 hours south of Lima. Near Ica are Peru's nazca line hummingbirdfamous Nazca Lines, huge geoglyphs created by the Nazca culture about 500 BCE by removing surface rocks to reveal the light colored ground beneath. The symbols are a mix of animal and human figures and geometric shapes. At the small airport you will receive an introduction to the Nazca Lines, then we board our small airplane for a 45 minute flight over the lines, the only way to see and appreciate them. After our return to the airport we visit the Regional Museum, with its collection of artifacts including textiles, pottery, metalware and mummies from the several cultures that have inhabited this area. We'll enjoy lunch, and visit the Huacachina Lagoon, a surprising oasis in this harsh desert landscape. Mid afternoon we return a little way north to Paracas on the coast. Paracas has an important nature reserve, both on the land and out on the Ballestas Islands, and we'll visit both sections. If time permits after our drive from Ica we'll visit the Peninsula, with views out over the Pacific ocean from 100ft cliffs; there are a number of rock formations rising from the water which might bring out the photographer in you if the light is right. We overnight in our modern and comfortable hotel in Paracas.   


Day 10 - Sunday: Ballestas Islands / Paracas / Limaballestas islands
This morning we visit the Ballestas Islands. On the way out we look shoreward to see the Candelabrum, a huge, 700ft high geoglyph on the cliff in the shape of a trident. While easily mistaken for another part of Nazca culture, the candelabrum hails from a later time, although its origin is unknown - theories range from ancient 2,500 year old Nazcas to more or less modern sailors creating a sailing guide. The most accepted explanation is that the Paracas culture created it around 200BCE, as pottery of that era has been found in the vicinity. Once closer to the islands we start to see their weathered shapes, and notice the birds wheeling overhead. We may begin to hear the sea lions voices over the water, and as we get closer they will likely approach the boat. While we do not land on the islands the boat spends time at each to allow observation of the wildlife, at close quarters. Many seabirds will be seen, including the beautiful Red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Booby, Inca Tern, Chilean Pelican and others. Humboldt Penguins nest on the islands, and we usually see humboldt penguinsthese swimming and diving in the water as well. After our return to the mainland we'll visit the main information center for the reserve, look for other wildlife here, and walk out to the lookout tower to observe the Chilean Flamingoes that gather here. Most visitors are surprised to see flamingoes in this harsh arid environment - all the coast of this part of Peru is desert, and rainfall is rare. We then head north, back along the coast, and return to Lima. We expect to arrive about 7 to 8pm, and go directly to the airport in preparation for our flight home. Although the airport is new and modern, checking in will still be a two-hour process. Once check-in has been done you can relax in the VIP lounge that we have prebooked for our tour participants. Most flights leave around midnight or very early in the morning from Lima, and these comfortable surrounds will be welcome before the flight.       (B,L)


Day 11– Monday: Lima/ Miami/ Home City
Fly back to Miami at 20 minutes past midnight this morning on Lan flight 2514, arriving in Miami at 5.45am. After passing through immigration and customs connect with your flight to your home city.           (*B)


(B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; M: Meal; * in flight meal)



We will happily advise and arrange any additional touring if you have more time and would like to see more of Peru