Journey aboard the deluxe all-Suite ZAFIRO through the mysterious Amazon River Basin and explore the legendary “lost city of Incas,” Machu Picchu; the Sacred Valley; and Cuzco. Led by naturalists, seek rare indigenous species and visit local villages to observe the traditions of the ribereños (river people). Lima pre-program option offered.
U.S. / Lima, Peru
Depart for Peru’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, Lima, located at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Arrive late this evening in the heart of the upscale, cultural Miraflores district and check into the first-class WYNDHAM COSTA DEL SOL AIRPORT HOTEL.
This morning, fly to vibrant Iquitos, an important rubber boom city during the late 19th century that attracted thousands of immigrants from around the globe to the Amazon River Basin hoping to build their fortunes. After lunch, visit the colorful Upper Belén Market, the largest traditional market in the Peruvian Amazon.
Walk through the Plaza de Armas and see the Casa de Fierro—or Iron House—designed by Gustave Eiffel for the International Exposition of Paris in 1889 and still considered one of the finest examples of civil architecture in Peru. Continue to the Amazon waterfront and stroll along the lively Malecón Tarapacá riverwalk. Admire impressive views of the river and 19th‑century European‑Amazonian‑style mansions built with Baroque and Rococo influences and beautiful ceramic tiles imported from Italy and Portugal.
In Nauta, embark the ZAFIRO and begin your voyage of discovery into one of the world’s most remote regions. Gather on the ship’s observation deck and watch as modern civilization fades away and the vast Amazon River unfolds before you.
A team of naturalists will share their insight into this rich and complex ecosystem and help you identify fascinating species like the radiant large‑billed toucan, pink river dolphin and South American oriole. Across the basin, jabiru storks methodically search for food in the shallows, three‑toed sloths move between trees in a slow‑motion ballet and hawks, kites and turkey vultures glide overhead. (B,L,D)
Río Amazonas/Río Ucayali
Awaken in the heart of the Amazon Basin, where the dense jungle teems with the greatest diversity of plant and animal life on Earth and the perfect serenity of the river is broken only by the occasional fisherman passing by in a traditional dugout canoe. Embark one of the vessel’s small excursion boats to look for wildlife along a pristine tributary.
This afternoon, meet with ribereños (river people) in their village, which has been inhabited for generations. Here, the villagers maintain conservation efforts to raise several of the thousands of butterfly species that live in the Amazon’s unique ecosystem, including the rare electric‑blue morpho. (B,L,D)
Río Amazonas/Río Ucayali/Río Marañón
This morning, explore the Pacaya‑Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetlands reserve in the world. This area is home to the endearing capybara—a large, semi‑aquatic rodent endemic to South America—and a profusion of rare palms, orchids and other tropical plants that flourish at ground level. Watch for pink and gray river dolphins swimming alongside your boat.
After lunch, board a small river skiff in search of exotic wildlife, including toucans and saddleback tamarin monkeys, and marvel at the giant Victoria amazonica water lilies. (B,L,D)
Río Marañón/Río Pucate/Río Ucayali
Under the shade of a magnificent rainforest canopy, enjoy a picnic breakfast while you watch for white‑necked heron and wattled jacana dipping into nearby shallow waters. Walk through this mysterious realm of soaring ceiba trees that reach as high as 200 feet, listen for endangered scarlet macaws chattering in the canopy and watch for egrets, oriole blackbirds and purple gallinules.
By special arrangement this afternoon, meet a local shaman, or medicine man, who will perform a traditional ritual and explain how the ribereños have used indigenous medicinal plants and herbs for centuries. Participate in a traditional Amazonian tree‑planting ceremony dedicated to ensuring the longevity of the rainforest.
This evening, search for elusive nocturnal creatures such as caimans and bats on a nighttime excursion into the Pacaya‑Samiria National Reserve— a vast blanket of stars shines above you, impossibly bright this close to the Equator. (B,L,D)
Enter a virtually uninhabited portion of the Amazon where the river narrows. Board excursion boats and cruise along labyrinthine blackwater tributaries while the vessel’s naturalists point out animal and plant life rarely detected by the untrained eye. Then, try catching a red‑bellied piranha during a fishing expedition.
This afternoon, stop in a local village for a demonstration on how to prepare Amazonian specialties, including juanes, a regional favorite made of chicken and rice wrapped in banana leaves.
Later, visit another Amazonian village where you will learn more about the ribereños’ timeless way of life and special relationship with this remarkable environment.
Enjoy a final evening of cruising the Amazon. Gather on the vessel’s upper deck for a festive farewell as the sun sets over the lush flora of the passing rainforest. (B,L,D)
Nauta/Iquitos/Fly to Lima/Fly to Cuzco/Sacred Valley
Following breakfast, disembark and continue to the Manatee Rescue Center for an up‑close encounter with young, orphaned Amazonian manatees.
Fly from Iquitos to Lima and on to Cuzco. Travel into the Urubamba Valley, a verdant stretch of ancient ruins and small villages amidst the Peruvian Andes. Check into the deluxe SONESTA POSADA DEL INCA, where dinner is included later this evening. (B,D)
In the historic town of Chinchero, where residents still speak the Quechua language of the Inca, encounter the centuries-old culture of the “Sacred Valley” in the local market and the Traditional Textile Center, where artisans carry on centuries‑old weaving practices. Explore the fascinating Pablo Seminario Workshop to learn about ancient pottery techniques and view exquisite ceramic dinnerware, decorative ceramic sculptures and murals. (B,L)
Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu
Visit the monumental, 15th‑century terraced fortress of Ollantaytambo, which stands as a lasting testimony to the powerful and far‑reaching Inca Empire. Here, village craftsmen employ age‑old techniques to weave intricate tapestries and fashion colorful pottery. Enjoy a scenic transfer by rail featuring panoramic views of the Andes en route to the majestic “lost city of the Incas.” The UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu was obscured from humankind for 400 years until Yale Professor Hiram Bingham literally stumbled upon it in 1911. A century of extensive research and study still has not revealed the secrets of its purpose, its residents or its abandonment. Enjoy lunch amongst the ruins and a tour of this magnificent site. This evening, check into the deluxe INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU HOTEL. Dinner in the hotel is included. (B,L,D)
Early this morning, return to Machu Picchu to see the sun rising through the morning mist, an unforgettable experience. This afternoon, transfer by train and motorcoach back to Cuzco, the elevated imperial city of the Incas. Check into the deluxe JW MARRIOTT EL CONVENTO, and enjoy an included dinner in the hotel this evening. (B,L,D)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cuzco is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the Western Hemisphere. See the stone fortress of Sacsayhuamán and grand Baroque- and Renaissance‑style churches that provide a fascinating mix of pre-Columbian and colonial influences.
In the afternoon, tour the astounding ruins of a vast Inca fortress and visit the Temple of the Sun, an elaborate shrine that blazed with 700 gold‑plated walls until the Spanish converted it into the Church of San Domingo. (B,L)
Cuzco/Fly to Lima/Depart for U.S. or Canada
This morning, fly to Lima and check into a day room in the comfortable WYNDHAM COSTA DEL SOL AIRPORT HOTEL before your return flight to the U.S. (B)
Arrive in the U.S.
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