Depart home for Lima, Peru
Your Amazonian adventure is just an overnight flight away to Lima, Peru.
Arrival in Lima, and a Welcome Dinner
You’ll transfer to your hotel upon arrival in Peru. A short orientation walk will help familiarize you with your surroundings before a Welcome Dinner officially kicks off your adventure.
City tour of Lima, and sampling regional treats
A half-day walking tour of Lima’s historic center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — introduces the Plaza Mayor, the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco and its catacombs, and the lively Miraflores district. Here, we’ll participate in a Peruvian cuisine cooking demonstration and sample a regional specialty: lucuma ice cream. Often likened to sweet potato or butterscotch, the lucuma fruit is indigenous to Peru and used in a variety of desserts. We'll have lunch at a local restaurant, then spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own and the perfect opportunity to discover Lima's gastronomic goings-on. Here’s a helpful hint: Lima is renowned for ceviche, fresh seafood “cooked” in citrus juice, and is home to more than 16,000 cevicherias.
Journey to the rainforest and explore the mystical jungle town of Iquitos
We’ll put Iquitos in our sights this morning when we fly from Lima to the adventurous “Capital of the Amazon,” nestled deep in the Peruvian rainforest. A 20th-century rubber boom launched Iquitos into jungle-shrouded modernity, and today the city is a fascinating study in contrasts — a place where handcrafted canoes sail alongside cruise ships, and open-air restaurants and glistening mansions share the streets with bustling markets and mud huts. Experience the vibe of everyday life in the Amazon with a visit to a local market. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or further exploring Iquitos; we’ll reconvene this evening when we head out for dinner at a local restaurant.
An exploration of Iquitos, from manatees to the rubber boom; embarking the deluxe m/v Zafiro
Following a relaxed morning at leisure, we’ll venture to the Iquitos Manatee Rescue Center, where we’ll learn about these beloved marine mammals and the dangers threatening their survival. Afterward, a panoramic city tour takes us to the turn-of-the-century homes of the city’s onetime “rubber barons,” and introduces us to some interesting Iquitos trivia, including its unique standing as the farthest inland port in the world that serves ocean ships. Speaking of ships . . . late this afternoon, we’ll embark the luxurious safari vessel m/v Zafiro in time for a tasty Welcome Dinner on board. Tonight, your rainforest explorations kick off with some stargazing on the vessel's deck or a live music performance.
Exploring the wildlife-rich Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Today we’ll revel in the Amazonian remoteness when we explore the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and its surrounding waterways: the Yanayacu, Marañón, and Ucayali Rivers. An 8,000-square-mile protected area, Pacaya Samiria is known as the “Mirrored Forest” due to the reflections in the still Amazonian waters, which belie a vast realm of area biodiversity, including more than 1,000 plant species, puma, jaguar, anaconda, spider monkeys, and the pink river dolphin. On a predawn wildlife exploration, we’ll board comfortable skiffs and set off through the Yanayacu, soaking in the natural splendor while our naturalist guide’s encyclopedic knowledge — and his or her eagle eye — will ensure that we get the most from our explorations inside this lush wilderness. But the day holds two more explorations as well, as we venture out again after breakfast and this afternoon, including an exploration of Nauta Creek.
Search for sloths by day — at night, embark on a search for nocturnal species
To truly experience the Amazon, we’ll delve deeper into some of its lesser-known tributaries. A predawn wildlife exploration brings us to the Yanayacu and Pucate rivers, where we'll keep an eye out for sloths, pygmy marmosets, and other reclusive species. Later, we’ll visit an area where Amazonian pink dolphins are known to feed on fish. Seeing these creatures in their element is a true thrill. Then we’ll board skiffs and head to Perdida Creek, full of exotic birds and a great symphony of birdsong. An additional wildlife exploration to the Tigre River in the cool of the evening offers a glimpse of nocturnal species, including tarantulas, night monkeys, caimans, and more.
Get up close with an indigenous community and Amazon birdlife
On a predawn Samiria River exploration, our naturalist guide will lead us farther into the rainforest, pointing out the stunning array of wildlife often overlooked by the untrained eye. Our area of focus today is renowned for its macaws and toucans, so we’ll keep our eyes on the canopy to catch a glimpse of the colorful wildlife overhead. In the afternoon, our guide becomes an interpreter when we visit with the local indigenous community, getting an insider’s look at Amazon culture and learning about everyday life here. Our visit concludes with a stirring singing performance by some local children. This evening, we head to Tipishca Lake to see even more rare species of birds, including the black collared hawk and the pygmy kingfisher.
Plants, rituals, and healing: Inside a shamanic village
Relish another authentic look at local culture on a visit to the town of Nauta and its fruit market in the early morning hours, just as the town, and market, is rustling to life. After breakfast, we'll uncover more fascinating culture on the Amazon with a morning visit to the shamanic village of Shiriyacu. Here, we’ll learn about the plants used by locals for medicinal purposes, and get a chance to witness a healing ceremony — a riveting local tradition. The evening brings us to Yuricuchi Canal where, in addition to the owls, snakes, and capybaras, we’ll view the largest aquatic plant in the world: Victoria Regia.
Yanallpa River’s “gallery forest” and the search for caimans
A new day brings yet another thrilling river experience, as we explore the Yanallpa River and its famous “gallery forest,” named for the unique leafy tunnels the jungle creates here. Afterward, a jungle walk with our guides will reveal the fruit trees and medicinal plants that comprise the Amazonia’s natural pharmacy. Tonight, on a nighttime wildlife exploration of the Dorado River, we’ll be on the lookout for caimans, those rare and deadly Amazon alligators.
Keep an eye out for pink dolphins on the Yarapa, then participate in a home-hosted cooking class
Our last full day is one of our most diverse. We’ll spend the morning swimming the pristine waters of the Yarapa River, home to the famous pink Amazon dolphin. Keep your eyes on the surrounding waters — according to Amazonian legend, pink dolphins possess the power to turn into humans and steal the most attractive people from surrounding villages! In the afternoon, we’ll learn about local food during a home-hosted Amazonia cooking class, followed by a tasting. Interacting with locals while enjoying some local treats will make the perfect coda to our journey. That is, unless you choose to add yet another unforgettable experience to your adventure: our Cusco and Machu Picchu extension.
Please note: Depending on river currents and weather conditions, some departures may not have the opportunity to swim, and will explore the river via skiff instead.
Disembark and settle into the hotel for leisure or spa amenities before flying home
Enjoy one final leisurely morning on board; this afternoon, we’ll disembark in Iquitos and transfer to our hotel. Spend a relaxing afternoon taking advantage of the hotel’s amenities: treat yourself to a hot stone massage in the hotel’s Wellness Center, enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool and whirlpool, or explore the vibrant city around you. We’ll head to Iquitos Airport this evening for a short connecting flight to Lima on our way back to the U.S.
If you’ve purchased air with Vantage, your transfer to Iquitos Airport and your flight to Lima prior to your international flight home will be included in your airfare package. If you’ll be purchasing your own airfare, please plan to arrange your own transfer (or purchase from Vantage) and plan your flight arrangements to fly home from Iquitos.
Please note: Due to an early flight, hotel use in Iquitos is not available for travelers on the optional post-trip extension.
Cap off your Amazonian adventure with a deep dive into Peru’s Sacred Valley, where you’ll discover South America’s richest heritage at Machu Picchu and in the citified Inca capital of Cusco. Under the shadow of the Andes, you’ll explore ancient, indigenous, and contemporary culture in the towns and archaeological sites of Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuamán, Machu Picchu, and Cusco. You’ll also join a local family in their home for an unforgettable dining experience, explore a centuries-long weaving tradition in Chinchero, catch a mototaxi to a chichería, and ride the Vistadome train up to Machu Picchu for extraordinary views and a true bucket-list experience.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.