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Jungle to Andes
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Our Tucan Travel rep will transfer you to the airport for your flight to the jungle community of Puerto Maldonado, the starting point for our visit to the Amazon rainforest. We will travel by bus and canoe. After settling into our bungalows at the lodge located on the river’s edge, we trek through the rainforest along wooden walkways. On the way our guide will stop to show you various species of bird and medicinal plants of the Amazon Jungle. Discover trees, several metres in diameter and around 450 years old. You can take a canoe ride drifting along one of the small lakes hidden away in the jungle, observing caiman and the abundant bird life. We hike deeper in to the jungle where we may catch a glimpse of the rare giant otter. Enjoy the view of the lake from our viewing point/observation platform. See parrots, guacamayos, toucans, camungos, shanshos, herons, turtles and caiman. We also take a short boat trip across the Madre de Dios River to Monkey Island.
On the final day we awake to the sounds of the jungle before departing this jungle haven and returning to Puerto Maldonado for our flight on to Cusco, where you have the rest of the day free to explore this fascinating ancient capital. The oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, Cusco was the hub of the Incan Empire and features a population of around 300,000, most of who are indigenous. This marvellous colonial city is situated 3,310 metres above sea level and has numerous churches, some of which were built using recycled Inca masonry, as were many other buildings in Cusco.
A full day is spent visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Firstly we visit the Pisac ruins, perched on a hilltop with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. We then go down to the famous traditional market of the same name, which is full of colour and atmosphere. A great place for souvenirs! After lunch, we continue along the valley to the temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo with its enormous Inca terracing constructed on the side of a steep mountain.
The lost city of Machu Picchu (Old Mountain) was originally completely self -contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs. Located high above the fast flowing Urubamba River, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will simply take your breath away. The ruins were only discovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another “lost city” called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still quite intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu (Young Mountain), which towers above the ruins.
Cusco, which means ‘navel of the earth' in the Inca language of Quechua, has a mostly indigenous population of around 300,000 and is centred around the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the Cathedral and La Compañia de Jesus Church. Its cloistered arcades house many fine restaurants, bars and shops. Make the most of your free days in Cusco to explore its amazing churches, colonial buildings and picturesque streets, many of which have Inca walls, arches and doorways. On a hill overlooking the city stands the ceremonial fortress of Sacsayhuaman, where some of the most spectacular Inca walls can be found, including a massive 130 ton stone. There are also many optional excursions and activities available such as white water rafting, horse riding, mountain biking and canoeing on offer.
Puno & Lake Titicaca
We drive along roads abundant with herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas before reaching the Altiplano (high plain) where our journey takes us past hot mineral pools, snow capped mountains and through villages where the locals sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters. At the highest point, the La Raya pass at 4,321 metres, you can see the research station for high altitude animals. Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, at 3,855 metres above sea level, is the highest navigable lake in the world. We'll arrive in time so you can visit the colourful local market. We visit the floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno to see the Uros islanders way of life and we will have the option to ride in a traditional reed boat before continuing our boat journey to the island of Amantaní. Here we enjoy the hospitality of the local Aymara/Quechua families. The next morning we visit Taquile Island, where the men knit distinctive woollen hats and the women work the fields.
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