Day 1: Cusco - Paradise Lodge (bus and hiking)
We will begin our day with an early departure from Cusco, setting off on a full day road trip that will take us from the Andes to the Amazon. After leaving the fertile Cusco valley, we will cross high Andean grasslands and pass through inter-Andean valleys with their typical rural villages. Along the way it will be possible to spot a variety of birdlife, such as mountain caracaras and Puna ibis. Before reaching the colonial period village of Paucartambo, we will pass the series of burial towers built by the Lupaca culture, long before the Incas ventured into this part of Peru. Once a year, Paucartambo fills with visitors who come to see one of the country’s most colorful religious celebrations, and we will have time to see the focus of those festivities, the image of the Virgin Mary housed in the local church. Another interesting attraction in Paucartambo is the colonial-era Carlos V Bridge, which spans the Mapacho River. Leaving Paucartambo, we will continue on the road to the high pass at Acjanacu (3,850 meters / 12,628 feet). This is the entrance to Manu National Park, and it is from here that the road descends towards our destination in the cloud forest. We will pass through Andean grasslands on our way to the forest, looking out all the time for Andean guans, white-collared jays, crimson-mantled woodpeckers and the endemic Puna thistletail. As we enter the cloud forest, there will even be time for us to hike along part of the road, so we can observe the local fauna and flora more closely. Birdlife on this section of our route includes the cock-of-the-rock, golden-headed quetzal, blue-crowned motmot, mountain toucan, flycatchers, jays, hummingbirds and several varieties of tanager. With their orchids and ferns, these forests are also home to large mammals, including the spectacled bear and white-tailed deer. We will spend our first night in this unique ecosystem at the Paradise Lodge (1,470 meters / 4,821 feet).
- Bus: 181 km / 113 miles (6 to 8 hours)
- Included: Lunch and evening meal