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The Essence of Peru Tour | VIP Journeys
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The Essence of Peru Tour

Who wouldn't want to cruise the Amazon in a floating boutique hotel?!

The Essence of Peru Tour


per person

Peru is one of the most enthralling countries in South America home to beautiful landscapes, fascinating cultures and well-preserved vestiges from ancient civilizations– all of which you’re explore on this Peru tour.

Peru is one of the most enthralling countries in South America home to beautiful landscapes, fascinating cultures and well-preserved vestiges from ancient civilizations– all of which you’re explore on this Peru tour.

Peru’s top attraction is the awe-inspiring lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu perched high in the Andes in a mist-shrouded cloud forest. You will explore the colonial treasures of Cuzco, and the pristine Amazon River, aboard the exclusive Aqua Expeditions River Boat which caters to the most discriminating and adventurous of travelers, providing an unforgettable journey into areas penetrated by only a privileged few. Knowledgeable and experienced naturalist guides will take you along remote estuaries in the Peruvian rainforest and Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Peru draws you in like no other place on earth. This tour is truly the highlights of Peru’s cultural and natural wonders. From the Inca Trail to the Indigenous tribes of the Rain Forest, indulge your 5 senses in this spectacular journey.

We start our journey through Lima Airport, Peru’s international airport, then a short 1.5 hr connection flight to Iquitos. Our tour of Peru begins with a 3 night Amazon River luxury cruise exploring the Tahuayo River and the Yacapana “Iguana” Islands, Charo Lake fishing and visits into the Amazon jungle to view Amazon monkeys, three-toed sloth’s and caimans at home in their habitat. Enjoy watching the infamous Amazon pink dolphins at play in the Amazon. Journey to the Amazon’s headwaters and learn from our naturalist guides about the diverse Amazon wildlife in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

VIP Journeys has no fixed departure dates. We plan unique luxury travel completely designed for you. Call our trip designers now to see how easy it is: 800.772.9188.

Prices start at $6,085 for 4 Star accommodations. 5 Star is $6,255, and VIP luxury is $7,760. The included itinerary below is an example based on the VIP luxury accommodations.


Summary of the Luxury Essence of Peru Tour:

Day 1: Iquitos & Amazon River

Today you will arrive at the International Airport in Iquitos, where you will be taken to your vessel and your adventures will begin along the Yanayacu River.

Day 2: Amazon River

To begin the morning, we will start with the Yanayacu River Exploration, where soon we will arrive at Corrientes Lake. In the afternoon, the Yarapa River Exploration and Night Excursion will commence.

Day 3: Pacaya – Samiria National Reserve

During day three, you will kick off your morning with a Guided Jungle Walk at Ranger Station No.1. As for the afternoon, there is going to be a Monkey and Dolphin Expedition, which can be followed by an Optional Night Excursion.

Day 4: Puerto Miguel Village (Birthplace of the Amazon)

Today you will have the chance to wake up early and view the sun rising over the amazing Amazon River. Later in the morning, we will travel to Puerto Miguel Village. In the afternoon, we board a bus in Nauta, where we will take it to the Iquitos International Airport, where you will check-in and take a flight to Lima.

Day 5: Lima

In the morning, we will start by touring Colonial and Modern Lima, visiting the San Francisco Convent, and passing by magnificent monuments. After lunch, we will be visiting the Larco Herrera Museum.

Day 6: Cuzco & Urubamba

You will head to the Lima airport and take a flight to Cuzco, where a private guide will transport you to the Monasterio Hotel. To start the tour, you will be able to see the glorious Sacred Valley, before traveling along the Urubamba valley.

Day 7:  Cuzco & Machu Picchu

Today, you will start by touring Awanakancha, before we continue to San Blas. After touring this magnificent city, we will head to the countryside of Cuzco to view amazing Inca ruins. Soon we will board a train to journey to Aguas Calientes, where you will be staying at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.

Day 8: Machu Picchu

During day eight, take the opportunity to do an adventure at your own leisure.

Day 9: Vistadome Train & Departure

You will be taken to the Ollanta station on the Vistadome train, where you will be transported to Cuzco to take a flight to Lima, for your safe return flight home.



  • Departure
  • Dress Code
  • Include
    Departure Taxes
    Entry Fees
    5 Star Accommodation
    Personal Guide
    Airport Transfers

Day 1: Iquitos & Amazon River

5pm: Arrival Your guides await you, as your flight from Lima glides in for landing at the International Airport in Iquitos. After you’ve claimed your luggage, you will board an air-conditioned bus and transfer to Iquitos’ main wharf. There the M/V Aqua lies at anchor. As you settle into your over-sized suite, your vessel will start on its journey toward the Yanayacu River, deep in the heart of Amazonia. Over the next three days, you will also sail along one of the largest tributaries of the Amazon, the Marañón, as well as on the mighty Amazon itself. You are embarking on a spectacular adventure, to a place visited by only a few of even the most experienced world travelers. 8pm Safety Drill and Briefing on the Top Deck Before dinner we will perform a routine safety drill. Following that, your Cruise Director and Guides will give a brief orientation talk about life on board, where you will go and what you will see on your Amazon journey. 8:30pm: Welcome Dinner Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the world’s best. Here it is presented with a touch of European flair, and a vegetarian dish is always available. Raise a glass of fine South American wine to toast the beginning of a beautiful journey, then look out the window and watch the river go by as you experience your first wonderful meal aboard the M/V Aqua. Perhaps enjoy a nightcap on the Upper Deck, under the stars, before retiring.

Day 2: Amazon River

6:30am: Breakfast Enjoy the first of our generous breakfast buffets, complete with traditional breakfast egg dishes, plus Peruvian specialties and fresh-squeezed juices. 8am: Yanayacu River Exploration This morning you will board your comfortable excursion skiff to begin our first adventure along the Yanayacu (“black water”) River. Life jackets, ponchos, rubber boots and plenty of cold potable water are always available on the skiffs. As we float along this river, we will pass fishermen paddling in their dug-out canoes and will have the chance to see a great variety of wildlife, including terns, orioles, blackbirds, black collared hawks, monkeys, and sloth. Your guides will provide lots of detail about life along the river as we journey past its banks. Upon arrival at Corrientes Lake, you will have the chance to fish for the fearsome, sharp-toothed piranha, highly valued as a food among the local people. As midday approaches, we will begin our return journey. 11am: Return to the M/V Aqua The staff will await you with icy towels to help you cool off from your time on the river. 1pm: Lunch Enjoy lighter mid-day fare in our air-conditioned dining room. 4pm: Yarapa River Exploration and Night Excursion After time for a siesta, we will board the skiffs again to explore the narrow Yarapa River. Here, in the heart of the rainforest, you are likely to spot squirrel monkeys, herons, egrets, and the unusual horned screamer. As the sun sets, you will become aware of the rich and varied sounds of diurnal creatures marking their territories. As soon as it is dark enough, we will turn the spotlight on to search for night wildlife—nighthawks, frogs, opossums, tarantulas, and caimans are easily spotted along this part of the river. 7:30pm: Return to the M/V Aqua The M/V Aqua continues to make its way upstream, toward the birthplace of the Amazon River—the dramatic spot where the Ucayali, Marañón, and Amazon River all unite in a rush of water. Sit under the stars on the Upper Deck and sip a pre-dinner pisco sour. 8:30pm: Dinner

Day 3: Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve

6:30am: Breakfast. 8:30am: Guided Jungle Walk at Ranger Station No. 1 This morning your Park Ranger will tell you all about sustainable resource management projects in Amazonia. You will visit one of the projects, where villagers are planting palms to obtain oil. 11am: Return to the M/V Aqua 12:30pm: Lunch, followed by a Siesta. 4pm: Monkey and Dolphin Expedition On this late afternoon expedition, you are likely to see the two different kinds of freshwater dolphins - including the unusual pink ones—found in the Amazon. Later, keep your eyes directed toward the jungle canopy, where you can spot at least several kinds of primates—among the 13 species of monkeys resident in the National Park. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of tamarins and howlers, dusky titi monkeys and pigmy marmoet monkeys. Watch for alligators, and keep your binoculars at the ready, as you are likely to see more than 200 species of birds. 6pm: Return to the M/V Aqua 7:30pm: Dinner 8.30pm: Optional Night Excursion This evening we will take the skiffs out in search of caimans, tree boas, tarantulas, and frogs. After this night adventure, the M/V Aqua will start sailing downstream on the Marañón River, toward the headwaters of the Amazon.

Day 4: Puerto Miguel Village (Birthplace of the Amazon)

5:30am: Birthplace of the Amazon This morning, the M/V Aqua skirts the edges of the vast Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a flooded forest covering five million acres at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. Rise early and be on your skiffs at 5:30am to view one of the great spectacles of the Southern Hemisphere: the sun rising over the birthplace of the Amazon River. Here—where the union of two major tributaries, the Ucayali and the Marañón, form the world’s greatest waterway—nature is at its most dramatic. Your dawn excursion will be accompanied by abundant bird song, as you glide in small boats past river banks populated by large-billed terns, laughing falcons, gray tanagers, sandpipers, five kinds of parakeets, the exotic short-tailed parrot, and dozens of other birds. 7:30am: Breakfast 8:30am: Puerto Miguel Village  We will travel by skiff to Puerto Miguel native village, where you can meet and interact with local villagers from this most remote part of the world, and can learn a bit more about their culture, traditions, and folklore. You will also have the chance to trade items for local handicrafts. 11am: Return to the M/V Aqua. 12:30pm: Lunch  Share a last lunch with your fellow passengers. 1:30pm: Disembark/Depart for Nauta Board an air-conditioned bus in the historic town of Nauta, for the 1 1/2-hour ride through the Peruvian countryside to Iquitos International Airport. Your guides will help you check in and will stay with you until it is time for you to board your flight. 4pm: Check-in at Iquitos International Airport Flight departs for Lima. Arrive Lima, private transfer to hotel, overnight in Lima.

Day 5: Lima

Lima is located in the central coastal area with a population of over 8 million people. Lima is well known as a culinary center of Peru has great local seafood and trying the saviche is a must! It is a bustling metropolis with a mix of colonial mansions and modern buildings, art galleries and baroque churches, restaurants, beautiful parks, bohemian bars and discotheques. In the morning we will tour both the Colonial and Modern Lima, with visits to the 17th century San Francisco Convent, passing by outstanding monuments such as the Government Palace, the City Hall and the Cathedral at the Plaza Mayor. Take a short tour of the modern districts of San Isidro and Miraflores where there is a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. After lunch, visit the Larco Herrera Museum- Since 1926 the world’s largest private collection of pre-Columbian art with a unique assortment of erotic pottery, genuine and rich jewels in gold, silver and semi-precious stones. The museum holds 45,000 pieces of ceramics plus genuine mummies and textiles. Overnight in Lima.

Day 6: Cuzco & Urubamba

Check out of hotel, private transfer to Lima airport & flight to Cuzco, pick up at Cuzco airport, tour with private guide and drop off at Monasterio Hotel. The Sacred Valley of the Incas offers a glorious beginning to a visit to Cuzco. The Valley’s climate, overwhelmingly beautiful scenery, picture postcard villages, and warm, friendly local people all reflect the Peru that visitors travel thousands of miles to see. The Sacred Valley is home to some of the finest Inca sites in all of Peru, to local markets packed with colorful folk art and crafts, and to villages unchanged for centuries. The Valley is fed by numerous rivers which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire's main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and the best place for maize production in Peru. The Sacred Valley is generally understood to include everything between Písac and Ollantaytambo, parallel to the Urubamba River, or Vilcanota River or Wilcamayu, as this Sacred river is called when passing through the valley. We take a trip to the Urubamba valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, to visit the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. The site was built just as the Spaniards arrived, and evidence of how it was constructed is still visible. After admiring the site's magnificent past stroll through the quaint streets of today’s town. Continue to Pisac for an opportunity to haggle with vendors at its handicraft market. You will be able to observe a magnificent view of the Urubamba valley along the way. Overnight in Cuzco.

Day 8: Cuzco & Machu Picchu

Check out of Monasterio Hotel, Transfer to Cuzco. We will begin our tour visiting Awanakancha, where South American camelidae are bred. Learn about the llamas, alpacas and vicunas superb fibres, as well as the ancient weaving techniques which are still in use. We continue to San Blas to visit its beautiful colonial church, which houses an impressive pulpit and a filigree woodcarving celebrating the fruits of the region. The church is dedicated to the Virgin of the Blessed Event. Stroll through the many handicraft and native art galleries in the little square. Roam the older quarters of the city, which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. In the afternoon we take a tour of the city, starting out at the Santo Domingo convent monastery. This former Colonial monastery was previously the Koricancha temple, one of the most important temples devoted to worship of the sun. According to the chronicles, it was covered in gold Leaf and filled with golden representations of nature. Also included in the tour are stops at the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral. After touring the most interesting sites of the city, you will be driven to the countryside outside Cuzco to visit some of the remarkable Inca ruins in the area. Included are the cult centre of Sacsayhuaman, the temple and amphitheatre of Kenko, and the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara. Private transfer from Cuzco to Poroy train station (about 30 min). Board the luxury Hiram Bingham train. Depart Poroy Station at 9:00am. This spectacular train journey crosses the Anta plateau and follows the Urubamba River down the impressive Canyon of the Vilcanota. Enjoy a gourmet brunch before disembarking at 12.30pm at Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of Machu Picchu. (3h30min train ride). Machu Picchu was built around the year 1450, but abandoned a hundred years later, at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Forgotten for centuries, the site was brought to worldwide attention in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American historian. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. It has recently come to light that the site may have been discovered and raided several years previously, in 1867 by a German businessman, Augusto Berns. It was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, run by the prestigious Orient Express group, is just steps from the entrance to the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most important heritage sites. The hotel’s privileged location allows guests to enjoy magical sunrises and sunsets in relative solitude at the ruins before and after the majority of other visitors have arrived or departed. For relaxing there is an interior garden with a variety of flowers and orchids and stunning panoramic views.

Day 9: Machu Picchu

Open day at leisure – Adventure at your own pace, enjoy great hiking/climbing, the uneven paths make these hikes a bit demanding, but the unique and incredible views make the effort more than worthwhile! If you are looking at traditional postcard pictures of Machu Picchu in Peru, you will surely come across at least a few that show a distinct mountain rising above the ruins. This most recognizable peak is known as Huayna Picchu. It soars almost 1,200 feet above the Machu Picchu ruins, and climbing Huayna Picchu is among the top pursuits for Machu Picchu visitors. If you don't have a severe fear of heights, it is a highly recommend trail for unparalleled views and experiences. You should only consider climbing Huayna Picchu if you think that you can handle the sometimes precarious hike up. You can always turn back at any time, and there are frequently cable hand railings to guide you up the steps. There is never a place where you are actually "climbing", it's all stairs. The gates to Huayna Picchu, and the smaller Huchuypicchu, open at 7 am and close at 1 pm. Only 400 people a day are allowed the chance to summit this magical peak. So arrive early. The Incas built terraces here, and the airy summit offers a perfect view of the entire complex, which spreads out before the summit like a map. See Intipunku, it consists of two large stones that correspond to the winter and summer solstices, and on these dates the gates are illuminated by laser-like beams of light. In addition to their symbolic importance, the gates also provide remarkable views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. If you look up at Machu Picchu Mountain and then let your eyes follow the ridge down to the first notch, you will see tiny structures in the notch. That is Intipunku. See Putukusi Mountain base, which is located one mile from Aguas Calientes/ elevation 8504 ft. Putukusi is a shear cliffed, jungle coated mountain. Because of its prime locations it offers one of the best view of the site while providing unsurpassed solitude, something which none of the other two climbable peaks in the area can provide. On a clear day it's possible to see Machu Picchu with snow-capped Salkantay behind it. Putukusi is the best and almost only other thing to do in the Aguas Calientes area that doesn't involve Machu Picchu.

Day 10: Vistadome Train & Departure

Check out Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, train transfer on the Vistadome train to Ollanta station (1h30min), private transfer Cuzco, flight to Lima. Int'l flight home.

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