A PILGRIMAGE RETREAT TO PERU & THE AMAZON
13 DAYS

From the ancient legacy of the Incas to the colonial impact of the Spanish Conquerors to the influences of indigenous cultures, our pilgrimage to Peru will be fascinating and inspiring. Catholic shrines, monasteries and churches dominate the modern urban landscapes of Lima and Arequipa while ancient Inca temples dominate the historical centers of Cusco and Machu Picchu. We will experience not only these ancient cultures but also learn how our faith has developed and flourished since the Spanish Conquests.

DAY 1: DEPART USA: Today we board our flight to Lima with meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: LIMA/CUSCO: Upon arrival in Lima, we take an excursion to Lima’s historic downtown which includes a stop at Santo Domingo Convent containing the remains of two greatest holy figures in Peruvian history: Santa Rosa de Lima and San Martin de Porres. This evening we board our flight to Cusco. When we arrive in Cusco, we are met by our guide and transfer to the hotel located in the historical centre of Cusco for accommodation. Dinner & overnight in the hotel.

DAY 3: CUSCO: CITY TOUR AND NEARBY RUINS: Breakfast in the hotel. Morning sightseeing of Cusco city and the surrounding archaeological sites. We will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman identified as a great sacred place, from where we enjoy an particular view of the Incas Capital, the amphitheater of Kenko, the temple of Tambomachay, with its two distinctive aqueducts that to this day continue to provide clean water to the area and the Puca Pucara fortress, also known as the “red fortress” for the color of its stone. We continue with the visit of the historical centre, strolling through the elegant Plaza de Armas, surrounded by colonial buildings dominated by the majestic Cathedral. Visit of the Temple of Koricancha or Temple of the Sun, an important site of worship of the Inca Empire. Walking transfer to restaurant for lunch. Afternoon at leisure to walk through the tiny streets of San Blas district. Walking transfer to restaurant for dinner. Lunch & dinner in restaurants.

DAY 4: SACRED VALLEY: PISAQ - OLLANTAYTAMBO: Breakfast at the hotel. Excursion to the Valley of Urubamba River, known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Stop in the way in order to visit Awanacancha Centre which is an interesting project to preserve ancients weaving techniques of native communities around Cusco. Here we will also see the different kinds of South American cameloids like Lamas, Alpacas, Huanacos and Vicuñas. We continue our journey towards the colonial village of Pisaq where every day a large handicraft market takes place. In the past, Pisaq was an Incas village with more than 30 independent settlements spread out over the mountain slopes. Nowadays is possible to walk through the ruins of the ancient settlement, including a sun temple known as “Inti Huatana”. The view from the Sun Temple is an amazing and unforgettable experience. We continue along a secondary unpaved road until we get the Inca village of Ollantaytambo, where we climb up to the top of the huge fortress. The fortress and village represent some of the best of Inca architecture and construction, with fine examples of beautifully carved polygonal stones and monumental rocks. At the ground level there is smaller scale ceremonial stone constructions where rivulets bubble along cut channels and water tumbles into pools over finely carved rocks. At the end of this interesting day, transfer to the hotel for accommodation. Dinner & overnight in the hotel.

DAY 5: SACRED VALLEY: CHINCHERO – MARAS – MORAY: Breakfast in the hotel. Excursion through the mountains and valleys towards the Chinchero Highlands, from where we can enjoy an amazing view over the huge peaks of the Urubamba Range Mountains. The village of Chinchero is a typical agricultural Quechua settlement with people living a traditional Andean style of life. Visit of a typical textiles market placed in the local square. We continue toward the Salt Mines of Maras, the principal salt production center since Inca times, the white salt terraces are surrounded by snow-capped peaks overlooking the Valley. We visit the archaeological site of Moray, a natural depression where the Incas build an experimental agricultural centre to test different kind of seeds. At the end of this interesting visits, transfer back to the hotel and rest of the afternoon at leisure.Dinner & overnight in the hotel.

DAY 6: SACRED VALLEY – OLLANTAYTAMBO – AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHUPICCHU: Breakfast at the hotel. Early transfer to the train station located in Ollantaytambo town to board our regular shared coach: Expedition Class. We continue until Aguas Calientes where we arrive after one hour and a half journey across the amazing Urubamba Valley. Upon arrival short bus transfer (20 minutes only) until getting the impressive archeological site of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas discovered in 1911 by North American investigator Hiram Bingham. Guided tour through several sectors of this archaeological wonder. Optional walk available to visit the nearby ruins of Inti Punku called “The Sun Gate” on the East side of the main complex. During the afternoon we return by bus to Aguas Calientes for lunch. Walking transfer to the hotel for accommodation and rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner & overnight in the hotel.

DAY 7: AGUAS CALIENTES – CUSCO: Breakfast at the hotel. During the morning visit of hot springs of Aguas Calientes. Return to hotel for lunch and walking transfer to train station to board our train to Ollantaytambo, where out driver will be waiting for a faster transfer to Cusco. Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 8: CUSCO: EXCURSION TO TIPON – ANDAHUAYLILLAS – PIKILLAQTA: Breakfast in the hotel. Fullday excursion to southern of Cusco. Firs stop in Tipon and their extensive experimental terraces with impressive irrigation systems, that ending up in dedicated altars to water. Into this route we will find the towns of Oropesa, Huaro and Andahuaylillas. Into these we will find colonial churches with wonderful pulpits and coffered of baroque court, diversifying the by this southern valley.  One of the most important places that we’ll find in this route is Andahuaylillas or call as “Sistine Chapel”. Another particular detail into the route is that we will find the Huacarpay lagoon full of particularly plants and animals species. During this brief tour in the lagoon, we will have access to the archaeological park of Pikillaqta. Pikillaqta is considered to be one of the best-known and well-kept pre-Inca cities in Peru. It is southeast of Cusco, over 11,000 feet high and covers a territory of approximately 123 acres.  The ruins of Pikillaqta are a sign of a great civilization, known for extraordinary planning capability of its cities. It was built by the Wari culture, a civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of Peru, from about 500AD to 1000AD. Back to Cusco, walking transfer to restaurant for a special  last dinner in Cusco with Peruvian Dances show.

DAY 9: CUSCO – PUERTO MALDONADO – CORTO MALTES: Breakfast in the hotel. In the morning, transfer to the airport and flight to Puerto Maldonado. Reception at Padre Almirez International airport. Meeting with the guide and transfer to our office to obtain the official waterway permits (you can also guard luggage you won’t need during your stay). Meanwhile you can visit the town’s main square and also take some photos of the beautiful scenery overlooking the confluence of the rivers Madre de Dios and Tambopata from Grau square. Embarkation will be at Capitania port, the destination being our lodge. We will navigate approximately 40 minutes on the Madre de Dios River in a typical Amazonian boat. Arrival at the Corto Maltes Amazonia Lodge. Here we will have a welcome cocktail. After lunch, time to have some first contact with the jungle. On this trek you will see a large variety of tropical trees, medicinal plants, insects, butterflies and other animals. Upon return we will make a small stop at a lookout. Here you can observe toucans, macaws and other species of birds upon your return for sunset. Returning to the lodge you can take a refreshing dip in the pool or have an exotic cocktail in our terrace- bar. You could also watch the sunset in the relaxing, tranquility of palm and mango trees at our port. Before dinner we will go on a nightly boat trip, a little safari trying to spot the white caiman (caiman crocodilus) that lives in the river banks. After dinner, those who wish can have some Smalltalk in our reclining seats or have some fun and make friends with other travelers in the bar. Another option is to take a bath in the pool (with bar) under the shining Amazon sky and marvel at the Cross of the South. Lunch, dinner and overnight in the lodge.

DAY 10: CORTO MALTES - MONKEY ISLAND – TAMBOPATA CANDAMO RESERVE – SANDOVAL LAKE – CORTO MALTES: Before breakfast we will go on a trek of about 20 min until we arrive at the parrot clay- lick. Here at least five different species feeds on special clay, vital to their metabolism. It’s a truly marvellous, multi- coloured spectacle. Breakfast and free time to explore the splendid gardens of Corto Maltes Amazonia. Again we will navigate the Madre de Dios River. This time on an expedition destined to “Monkey Island” where some species of these interesting and entertaining animals live in freedom. Following another boat ride of 30 min we will enter the territory of the Tambopata- Candamo National National Reserve. We will trek 5km through the dense vegetation of the tropical rainforest. Giant trees, snakes, monkeys, birds and sometimes even the inclusive jaguar can be observed here. Our destination is heavenly Sandoval Lake. Its privileged settings are shared by numerous species of animals: Birds (in particular Hoatzins, Kingfisher,and Cormorants), different species of monkeys (Squirrel monkeys, Howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys). At the lake itself we can enjoy the spectacle of Giant River Otters. Black Caimans and Piranhas (sometimes we can even observe anacondas in the areas covered by reed). This is also the habitat of the giant Arapaima, a fish of more than 2,5m, weighing in at +200kg. Travelling by canoe, the sunset in the lake is a spectacular unforgettable sight. On our return to the river we might be able to spot some nocturnal animals.

DAY 11: COLCA VALLEY – CRUZ DEL CONDOR - AREQUIPA: Breakfast in the lodge and free time to have a bath in the pool or maybe buy some exclusive Amazon handicrafts and jewelry. We will follow the course of the river for approximately 1.5 hours in order to visit a native community. Occasionally we can see monkeys, river turtles, caimans and various birds in the dense vegetation of the riverbanks. We will also see some medicinal plants. (Sangre de Grado, Oje, Capirona). The “Project for the Rescue of Cultural Values” supports the local native community “Palma Real”. It is the biggest with approximately 200 families of the Ese’eja tribe. This project, located at Gamitada island works together with two families that will introduce us to the cultural values of their ancestors, their language, their customs, their garments and their dances. In an era where globalization rapidly changes traditional societies this is a great opportunity to have direct contact with this tribe of ancient warriors and hunters. As well as a chance to support them economically with the purchase of some of their handmade products. Circumnavigating the Gamatida Island we can occasionally see animals escaping the human presence. Afterwards we will visit a chakra (local term for farm). We will get to know a variety of tropical fruits and other local products (Cocoa, bananas, café, cocona). Here we will also have lunch consisting of a typical Amazon dish. The chacarero (farmer) will also let us taste some of the fruits that will later be taken to the city of Puerto Maldonado for consumption. Upon return to the lodge, dinner is served.

DAY 12: CORTO MALTES – PUERTO MALDONADO - OUT: Breakfast in the lodge. Your guide will accompany you on your way back to the city. We will pass by our office again to recollect the baggage left. Following that we will visit the local market to show you agricultural products of the region; especially fruits of the Amazon. Afterwards our personnel will accompany you to the airport for your flight to Lima and then Albuquerque.

DAY 13: ARRIVE USA: Today we board our flights, carrying with us memories and keepsakes that will last a lifetime.