Example 10-day itinerary:
Day 1: Your international arrival to Lima. Overnight at the Hotel Melia Lima. (breakfast)
Day 2: To Sandoval Lake Lodge: Departure from the Lima airport for a 2-hour flight to the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. We meet your flight from Lima and transport you three miles by paved road to the river port on the Madre de Dios River. There you board our large, 55-foot-long passenger canoe, which is powered by an outboard motor. This canoe transports you 25 minutes downstream to the end of the trail into Sandoval Lake.
At this point you and your guide walk or ride slowly in a custom-made rain forest rickshaw for two miles on a flat, wide trail through tall secondary forest that harbors many hundreds of species of beautiful butterflies, many of which can be seen on bushes and on the ground along the trail.
At the end of this walk, we board smaller canoes so that our guides can paddle us for 220 yards through a narrow, intimate canal that traverses an exotic flooded forest of 100-foot-tall Mauritia palms (called "aguajes" in Peru). The canal opens onto the shimmering surface of the scenic Sandoval Lake. The canoe ride to the lodge itself takes you across half of this beautiful lake, which many rain forest specialists feel is the single most attractive lake in all of southern Peru if not in the entire Peruvian Amazon.
Upon arriving at the lakeside dock of the lodge, we walk 100 yards gradually uphill through intact primary forest to reach the lodge itself, which lies about 100 feet above the lake level. After settling into your room, you will enjoy lunch in the spacious dining room overlooking the lake.
After lunch, we suggest resting and then reboarding our canoe at about 4:00 or 4:30 pm (depending upon how hot it is that day) for a complete tour of the west end of this two-mile-long lake. The west end of the lake includes the flooded palm forest, which is the home of hundreds of talkative red-bellied Macaws (long-tailed parrots).
We will return to the lodge just before or just after nightfall, depending on the tastes of your group. If we return to the lodge just after nightfall, we have excellent chances to see several or many Black Caimans, the large, handsome crocodilians that are so rare now in most of the Amazon. Drinks and dinner in the lodge, and early to bed.
Lodging at Sandoval Lake Lodge includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 3: Early rise, with breakfast before or just after dawn (depending on the tastes of your group), followed by a two-hour canoe outing on the lake.
The morning is the best time to search for the lake's Giant Otters, for studies by the Selva Sur conservation group have shown that the otters are most active and eat most of their daily diet of small and large fish at this time of day. Most of the fish-eating water birds around the edge of the lake actively fish in the early morning as well.
This outing offers an excellent chance to get excellent looks and sometimes even good pictures of Hoatzins. With their spiky, punk crests, weird blue faces, and red eyes, these extremely strange, prehistoric-looking birds specialize on life in the curtain of vegetation that hangs down to the water along much of the lake edge. They have an extra-long digestive tracts that permit foregut fermentation and digestion of the leaves they eat, much as a cow or a howler monkey ferments and digests grass and tree leaves, respectively.
After stretching our legs at the lodge for a half hour or so and regrouping, we set off into the cool understory of the tall, virgin forest near the lake to see some towering wild Brazil nut trees and a demonstration of how our hosts collect, open, and commercialize this important natural product.
After the Brazil nut outing, lunch is served at the lodge. After lunch, we suggest resting until the mid-to-late afternoon, when we offer another late afternoon outing on the lake to explore other corners of the lake that you did not see properly in previous outings. In addition to the many bird species that can be seen well along the lake, often we can see one or more of the five species of monkeys that live in the forest near the lake. These monkey species include the Brown Capuchin Monkey, the Bolivian Squirrel Monkey, the Red Howler Monkey, the Saddle-backed Tamarin Monkey, and the Night Monkey.
Dinner is served back at the lodge. There will be a brief, optional after-dinner canoe outing on the lake to spot the eyeshine, and possibly to paddle up close to, several Black Caimans, or, if your group already did that on the first evening before dinner, we can arrange a short, optional night walk in the primary forest next to the lodge. The rain forest comes alive at night, with about 90 species of bats, 40 species of frogs, 70 species of large katydids (large, beautiful rain forest grasshoppers), and four species of cats. The cat species at the lake are the Jaguar, the Puma, the Ocelot, and the Margay (which is like a small Ocelot). Note that we are much more likely to see tracks of these cats than the cats themselves.
Day 4: After breakfast at about dawn, we take a final, shorter paddle around the western end of the lake to try to glimpse the Giant Otters and to take some final pictures of lake birds before entering the canal again, walking back to the river, boarding our motorcanoe for town, and driving to the airport to catch the flight to Cusco. (Breakfast)
Arrival, reception and transfer to hotel. Day at leisure to adjust to the altitude. Local attractions include the nearby ruins of Kenko, Puca-Pucara, Tambomachay and the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
Overnight at the Emperador Plaza Hotel.
Day 5: Full day tour visiting the Pisac indian market and Ollantaytambo fortress. Lunch included. Overnight at the charming Hotel Pakaritampu in the Sacred Valley. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner)
Day 6: VistaDome Train to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, "The Lost City of the Incas". Guided tour of the ruins. Overnight at the Hanaqpacha Inn. (Breakfast)
Day 7: VistaDome Train to Cusco. Day to visit Cusco shops and entertainment. Overnight at the Emperador Plaza Hotel. (Breakfast)
Day 8: Transfer to Cusco airport for flight to Lima. Connect on tourist bus to Nasca. Overnight at Hotel Cantayo. (Breakfast)
Day 9: Fly Over the Lines of Nasca. Overnight at the Hacienda Cantayo. (Breakfast)
Day 10: Return to Lima by tourist bus.