If you like the itinerary below please quote REF SOUTH AMERICA 194 when enquiring for further details.
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Bienviendos a Ecuador! Upon arrival you will be met at the international airport and take a scheduled transfer to your hotel in Quito where the rest of the day is free. Enjoy New Years Quito Style!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! This afternoon we visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures on a private city tour. Quito’s UNESCO-listed colonial quarter is one of the largest and best-preserved in South America. Your stroll takes you through Independence Plaza, past the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, and on to the temple of La Compañia de Jesús with its dazzling gilded interior and the impressive façade of the Monastery of San Francisco.
Today enjoy a private excursion to the market town of Otavalo. A stunning journey through dramatic Andean scenery brings you to your first stop of the day, the small town of Calderón popular for the bread dough figurines sculpted into many shapes and sizes. Continue along the valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe to arrive at Otavalo in time for the famous market of local handicrafts. It’s the perfect time for souvenir shopping with stalls piled high with ponchos, scarves, blankets, woven belts (fajas), handbags and much more. Next stop is the traditional Indian village of Peguche where artisans weave in their homes. Lunch is taken at one of the charming haciendas in the area.
Morning flight to Baltra Airport and then we take you to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us to a restaurant in the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island to enjoy lunch, and then continue to Puerto Ayora. After driving down from the highlands, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. Late afternoon we stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on Yacht Isabela II. We review the expeditions plan for next day, Captain’s welcome cocktail and dinner.
Santa Fe Island/South Plaza Island. A stunning anchorage provides our jumping-off point for our visit to this sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach, kayaking or a ride in our glass-bottom boat is on offer. South Plaza the turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while sea birds play with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island.
North Seymour Island/Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island) The morning starts with an enjoyable walk along the coast and the interior of this island, a favourite of many visitors, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. There are opportunities for snorkelling or coastal exploration. Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island) After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. We can swim and/or snorkelling from the beach.
Bartolomé Island/Sullivan Bay (James Island) This morning, a Galápagos icon awaits for us: Bartolomé Island. A great way to start the day, with a steep climb up a wooden staircase: the view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, we take the dinghies for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, followed by time we will enjoy the beach and some snorkelling. Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island) After lunch, we get on board the pangas to land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach great for swimming, and with a trail over a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago.
Disembarking after breakfast we head to Baltra Airport for the flight to Guayaquil or Quito and catch a connecting flight to Lima. Arriving here, you will see our team waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
For centuries Lima was considered the most beautiful city in Spanish America and today discover why with an insightful city tour. Many of the city’s most imposing and important buildings were built around the Plaza Mayor in the heart of the old town. Here you’ll find the opulent facade of the Palacio de Gobierno, or Presidential Palace, where each day the ceremonial changing of the guard takes place. Nearby is the austere Catedral and various small palaces and balconied edifices that helped Lima claim UNESCO World Heritage status.
Venture outside of the city confines today on a scheduled excursion to visit the sacred Incan citadel of Pachacamac. Dominating a stretch of Peru’s coastline, this colossal ancient site was once a significant centre of pilgrimage dating back to the 3rd century. People would journey far and wide to consult the revered oracle at Pachacamac and you will get the chance to explore the ruins of the Sun and Moon temples as well as the House of the Virgins of the Sun.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco, known to the Incas as the ‘navel of the world’. Known as the archaeological capital of South America, Cuzco is home to some of the finest examples of Inca history and architecture, which you will discover touring the sights of the Plaza de Armas, the Catedral and the Koricancha complex – a supreme example of Inca stonework, on an afternoon scheduled tour. Head out further afield to tour the Kenko Amphitheatre, the fortified hunting lodge of Puca Pucara, the stunning imperial baths of Tambo Machay and the megalithic fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
Explore the Sacred Valley area today on a full day excursion. On the way to the ancient village of Urubamba stop to visit Awanacancha, an Andean textile centre where the art of Incan textile is kept alive. Continue to the archaeological complex of Pisac, formed of a collection of remains of Incan dwellings, temples and terracing. Enjoy a spot of shopping and practise your bartering skills at the local market before stopping for lunch. The day of touring concludes with a visit to the impressive fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo.
Discover the Sacred Valley further with visits to Andean villages south of the Río Urubamba. See the lovely paintings from the Cuzco School on display in the attractive colonial church of Chinchero. Continue to Maras to see the salt evaporation ponds, a patchwork of 3,000 wells that have been used since the Incan Empire. Continue to the spectacular agricultural terraces of Moray, a circular system believed to have been used for agricultural experimentation during the Inca period. After lunch, off to the train station for a stunning train journey to the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes and check in to hotel.
No place in Peru quite captures the imagination like the legendary ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. The city itself is brilliantly preserved, a classical Inca-style complex of polished dry-stone walls and temples. This morning embark on a scheduled excursion to explore the citadel and the wonderful Temple of the Sun and magical Temple of the Moon on a three hour guided excursion. Other highlights include the fascinating Sacred Plaza and the elaborately carved Intihuatana rock. The afternoon is free for you to explore the citadel at your leisure.
Today return to explore Machu Pichhu on your own (Pay entry ticket locally) Later, meet our rep in Aguas Calientes town who will assist you in catching the train back to Cuzco city.
Today is simply a day of travel. Morning flight to Lima from Cuzco, from here catch your connecting flight to Iguazu Falls BRazil airport on the direct flight from Lima. Arriving here, meet our guide who will take you to your hotel on the Brazilian side of the falls.
Today enjoy a scheduled full day excursion to the Argentinean side of the falls. A number of walking trails are available bringing you in front of or above the rapids. You’ll also see the dramatic Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat, an awe-inspiring display of natural power.
This morning you will join a scheduled half day tour of the Brazilian side of the falls, walking along catwalks that allow you to see the torrents of water at their most impressive. Later a transfer to the airport for you to catch the direct flight to Rio. Arriving here, our drive will take you onto your hotel.
This morning early we will take you up to the Christ the Redeemer statue where you can enjoy a wonderful sunrise over the city. We will drop you off in town or back at your hotel as you wish thereafter.
Sadly your journey has come to an end, we will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.