Day 1 ARRIVE IN MANAUS, BRAZIL.
Welcome to Brazil. After arriving at your hotel, meet for guided sightseeing of Manaus that explores vestiges of its glory days during the rubber boom. See the famed OPERA HOUSE, built in 1896 with materials imported from Europe, and visit a LOCAL MARKET, abundant with local foods and wares. (D)
Day 2 MANAUS–AMAZON JUNGLE.
Today your “Meeting of the Waters” tour passes the impressive British-built Customs House and the floating port. CRUISE on the chocolate-colored Rio Negro to its confluence with the yellow-gray Rio Solimões, where the two rivers form the mighty Amazon. For four miles the different bodies of water flow side by side and never mix! After lunch, explore a JUNGLE ISLAND (water level permitting) with native flora and fauna. Arrive at the Ecopark Jungle Lodge on the banks of the Rio Negro inside the Amazonian rainforest. (B,L,D)
Day 3 AMAZON JUNGLE.
Accompanied by a Naturalist, enjoy a guided WALK to see the flora and fauna that thrive in the Amazon. After lunch, sail up the river to visit an AMAZON NATIVE CABOCLO VILLAGE to learn about their traditions and culture. Also, try your hand at piranha fishing! Later, visit the MONKEY JUNGLE RESERVE, where researchers work to rehabilitate primates like spider, squirrel, woolly, and capuchin monkeys and reintroduce them to the jungle. This evening, venture back out on a canoe with your Naturalist to appreciate the sounds of the jungle at night, with the possibility to spot small alligators (or other night creatures). (B,L,D)
Day 4 AMAZON JUNGLE–RIO DE JANEIRO.
This morning, depart the Ecopark for a flight to Rio for an overnight.
Day 5 RIO DE JANEIRO.
Today is free in Rio to explore as you please. This afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow traveling companions for a drive along famous Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches to the base of 1,300-foot-high SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN. Ascend by cable car to its summit, where you can savor spectacular vistas of the city. Next, [LF] toast the start of a memorable vacation with caipirinhas, a favorite Brazilian cocktail, from atop Sugar Loaf Mountain during a COCKTAIL PARTY.
Day 6 RIO DE JANEIRO.
The city’s landmark, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, crowns CORCOVADO MOUNTAIN, a rounded peak rising 2,300 feet from the bay below. A scenic ride by cog railway leads to the top, where a breathtaking 360-degree panorama affords sweeping views. From here, proceed to bustling downtown Rio, where modern office towers stand next to relics of the Portuguese colonial past. View the Sambodromo and visit the CATHEDRAL. The afternoon is at leisure for you to experience this vibrant city on your own. Tonight, it’s a fun outing to a CHURRASCARIA for a feast of barbecued meats marinated and roasted over charcoal in true Brazilian style. (B,D)
Day 7 RIO DE JANEIRO.
A full day at leisure to savor Rio. Relax on one of the world-famous beaches or take advantage of the world-class shopping or fine dining. Alternatively, you may choose to join an optional trip to historic Petropolis, a mountain resort and the former summer palace of Emperor Dom Pedro II. (B)
Day 8 RIO DE JANEIRO–BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA.
Fly to Buenos Aires, proud capital of the vast country that occupies most of the southern part of the continent. After arriving at your central hotel, an orientation walk acquaints you with the “Paris of South America” and its wide boulevards and outdoor cafés. Spend an evening at leisure.
Day 9 BUENOS AIRES.
Your included sightseeing this morning starts in La Boca, a colorful district and site of the city’s first port. Take a short walking TOUR of this unique neighborhood at the mouth of the river and then on to San Telmo, famous for its late-colonial buildings and as a popular gathering spot for artists. At the Plaza de Mayo, see La Casa Rosada (the President’s Pink House) and the METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL, which houses San Martin’s Mausoleum. Drive past the ornate Colon Opera House before reaching RECOLETA CEMETERY, burial site of Eva Perón. After an afternoon at leisure, top off the evening at a famous TANGO CLUB. Start with a [LF] DANCE LESSON, followed by dinner of Argentine steaks and other local specialties, and end with a show featuring flawless performances of Latin America’s most sensuous dance—the Tango! (B,D)
Day 10 BUENOS AIRES.
Enjoy a full day at leisure, with an optional excursion to the pampas (grasslands). Experience the atmosphere of Argentine country life as you visit an estancia (ranch). Get acquainted with the lifestyle of the gauchos and enjoy a barbecue lunch and the warm hospitality of your hosts before returning to the city.
Day 11 BUENOS AIRES–IGUASSU FALLS.
This morning, fly to IGUASSU FALLS. The spectacle of this 2-mile-wide torrential downpour—with some cataracts as high as 250 feet—is nothing short of hypnotic. The clouds of spray, the incessant roar, and the surrounding luxuriant tropical growth make this an unforgettable natural wonder. Upon arrival, journey to the Argentinean side of the falls and take the ECOLOGICAL JUNGLE TRAIN for a bird’s-eye view from the catwalks perched over part of the Devil’s Throat, where 14 falls drop more than 300 feet into the Devil’s Gorge below. [LF] Continue into Brazil’s Iguassu National Park, your home for the night while staying at the famous Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas just steps from the falls. (B,D)
Day 12 IGUASSU FALLS–LIMA, PERU.
Today is dedicated to exploring the Brazilian side of the FALLS from a completely different vantage point than in Argentina. A walk along the pathway at the base of the falls takes you into the Devil’s Throat Canyon, with spectacular panoramic views of many of the 275 cataracts that make up Iguassu Falls. Have a late lunch before flying to Lima, Peru.
Day 13 LIMA.
Your city sightseeing TOUR focuses on Lima’s rich colonial history as well as the modern city. See the 18th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its unique cloisters, Government Palace, and the cathedral situated around the vast Plaza de Armas. Tonight, visit the [LF] LARCO HERRERA MUSEUM, which houses the largest private collection of pre-Colombian Peruvian art in the world. Enjoy dinner at the museum’s restaurant.
Day 14 LIMA–CUSCO–SACRED VALLEY.
Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Head into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and visit the semi-circular KENKO Amphitheater with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages and see the ancient site of Puca Pucara. Also, in the Sacred Valley, experience an [LF] El Pago a la Tierra, or MOTHER EARTH CEREMONY, performed by a local shaman. These ceremonies thanking Mother Earth and asking for good health and safe travels have been practiced in Peru since before the arrival of the Incas. Continue to PISAC, an old mountain village where you will have free time to shop for local wares, such as alpaca sweaters and blankets, jewelry, or hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Stay in the Sacred Valley tonight, with dinner at the hotel. (B,D)
Day 15 SACRED VALLEY–MACHU PICCHU.
This morning, visit the Inca Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO, followed by the opportunity to visit a [LF] HOME, meet some of the locals, and experience their way of life in the Sacred Valley. Then, board the Vistadome TRAIN for a scenic journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Upon arrival, ascend the mountainside to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the “Lost City of the Incas.” Your Local Guide will introduce this intact fortress with its temple remains, holy houses, and mile-long aqueduct, and will bring you closer to the mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures. Tonight, learn how to make the perfect Pisco Sour at a Peruvian cooking demonstration before your included dinner. (B,D)
Day 16 MACHU PICCHU–CUSCO.
A morning at leisure in Machu Picchu allows you to wake up early to see the sunrise over MACHU PICCHU with your second included entrance to the ruins. After lunch, return to the Sacred Valley by TRAIN and continue to Cusco.
Day 17 CUSCO.
On your guided sightseeing tour of Cusco today, learn more about the Inca and Spanish influence. Begin at the heart of Cusco in the Plaza de Armas (main square), with a visit to the imposing CATHEDRAL, where construction began in 1550 and was finally completed 100 years later. Continue to Koricancha and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY, and see how the two sites have become one. The Temple of the Sun at Koricancha was once the most important Inca site, dedicated to the worship of the Sun. The walls, altars, and decorations were all said to be covered in gold—until the Spaniards looted the temple and then built the contrasting Baroque Santo Domingo Monastery on top of the temple’s foundations. Also, visit the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 18 CUSCO–LIMA.
A short morning flight returns you to Lima. For a special treat, make a stop at a [LF] LOCAL PERUVIAN FOOD MARKET to get a real taste of the life of the local people. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore on your own.
Day 19 LIMA–NAZCA LINES–PARACAS.
Drive along the Pan-American Highway to Pisco, the wine capital of Peru. Board your FLIGHT over the Nazca plains, which can only be appreciated by air. Your pilot will point out the mysterious Nazca Lines, a series of drawings of animals and geometric figures etched into the parched soil—some up to 1,000 feet long! Theories vary, but the most accepted belongs to Maria Reiche, who dubbed them the “astronomical calendar” of the ancient Peruvians. (B,D)
Day 20 PARACAS–BALLESTAS ISLANDS–LIMA.
CRUISE out to the Ballestas Islands, inhabited by a wide variety of sea mammals and exotic birds, including boobies, sea lions, and Humboldt penguins. The huge Candelabro, an unexplained candelabra-shaped etching on the Paracas cliffside, can also be seen as you cruise back to shore. Later, return to Lima.
Day 21 LIMA.
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.