South America Spotlight

Colca Canyon

Created by a vast geological fault, the Colca Canyon is thought to be the deepest canyon in the world measuring ...

El Calafate Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTH AMERICA 184

If you like the itinerary below please quote REF SOUTH AMERICA 184 when enquiring for further details.

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Day 1: Quito

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.

Day 2: Quito

This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures. 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. Touring continues with the Equatorial Monument that marks the exact point of the Middle of the World. With a latitude of 0°, you can stand with a foot in each hemisphere and collect a certificate for having crossed the Equator. Next visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Lunch is served at a local restaurant.

Day 3: Quito - Cotopaxi National Park

Rich in ancestral cultural heritage and set amongst stunning Andean scenery of mountains, waterfalls and lakes, the market town of Otavalo is one of Ecuador’s most popular destinations and today you will enjoy a scheduled tour and lunch. Arriving in time to fully appreciate the activity of Otavalo market, peruse the stalls of ponchos, scarves, blankets, handbags and much more. Practise your bartering skills and pick up a bargain. Unlike other Ecuadorian markets and their raucous noise, Otavaleños barter in silence. Proceed to the Indian village of Peguche where artisans weave in their own homes. Lunch at a nearby hotel.

Day 4: Cotopaxi National Park - Amazon Jungle - Ecuador

This morning we return to Quito airport for a scenic flight over the majestic Andes mountains followed by a motorised canoe ride along the Napo River brings you to your stunning jungle lodge.

Days 5-6: Amazon Jungle - Ecuador

Over today and tomorrow, you will have plenty of opportunities to discover the pristine Ecuadorian rainforest and its colourful characters. During the day venture out into the wilds for wildlife spotting and outdoor activities and at night share your stories with the other guests at the lodge as the sounds of the jungle create your very own soundtrack.

Day 7: Amazon Jungle - Ecuador

After your final breakfast in the Amazon, take an easy walk on the boardwalk to watch monkeys one last time before departing your jungle lodge and heading back to Quito by plane. On arrival you will be driven to your hotel.

Day 8: Amazon Jungle - Ecuador - Galapagos Islands

This morning you head back to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Arriving on the Galapagos Islands, you will be taken by car and boat to your accommodations.

Days 9-11: Galapagos Islands

For the next days you can book and pay locally with the hotel to go on Yacht excursions to various islands, diving excursions, snorkeling, island hikes and the like.

Day 12: Galapagos Islands - Lima

This morning we set off back to the airport for your flight to the coastal city of Guayaquil on the mainland. Upon arrival take your connecting flight to Lima Peru.

Day 13: Lima

Today we discover why Lima has historically been such an important city with a scheduled sightseeing tour that covers Lima’s most impressive colonial buildings as well as a number of fascinating museums. The afternoon is free for you to explore Lima further.

Day 14: Lima - Nasca

This morning we take you to the bus station and assist you catching the comfortable public bus to Nasca - sit back and enjoy this scenic journey that follows the coastline for the majority. Arriving in Nasca, meet your local team who will drive you to your hotel situated close to the airstrip.

Day 15: Nasca - Arequipa

Early this morning you take your flight over the Nasca Lines to see the incredible phenomena that although many theories exist none are proven as why they are there. Later in the day we visit the underground aqueducts, gold mines and ceramic shops, and the extraordinary Chauchilla Cemetery where you can see the ancient mummies which still have skin and hair intact. This evening we assist you in catching the overnight bus to Arequipa.

Day 16: Arequipa - Colca Canyon

After your morning arrival transfer, we embark on a scheduled tour of Arequipa and marvel at the spectacular scenery. From the Carmen Alto lookout enjoy the views of the three volcanoes surrounding the city before heading to the countryside to visit Inca terraces, famous temples and colonial houses. The day concludes with a visit to the Santa Catalina Convent. Practically an entire city within Arequipa, the convent comprises numerous streets and plazas, as well as cloisters that have remained intact despite the passing of centuries.

Day 17: Colca Canyon

Today head towards the Colca Valley, passing a number of traditional towns, natural lagoons, volcanic peaks and a national reserve along the way, for a three day scheduled excursion. This is a great place to see many species of birds and South American camelids in their natural habitat. Stop for an invigorating coca tea at Patahuasy and ascend to a pass 4800m above sea level before reaching your final destination, the town of Chivay.

Day 18: Colca Canyon

Today we visit the village of Yanque to enjoy the typical dances of the region before continuing towards Cruz del Condor. Here you can observe the majestic flight of the Condor – the largest bird in the world - as it soars over the Colca Canyon. To best admire the canyon you will make a number of stops at various lookout points. The Colca Canyon is one of the world’s deepest and photo opportunities abound. Heading back to Chivay stop at the pre-Inca ruins of Uyo Uyo. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore Chivay’s artisan shops and markets or for the more adventurous, head to Río Colca for white-water rafting.

Day 19: Colca Canyon - Cuzco

After breakfast we drive back to Arequipa and transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco, known to the Incas as the ‘navel of the world’. At an elevation of 3400m above sea level, it’s important to acclimatise to the altitude so spend some time resting in your hotel.

Day 20: Cuzco

This morning enjoy a tour of the city that is considered 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.

Day 22: Cuzco - Sacred Valley

Explore the area of the Sacred Valley today on a full day scheduled 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.

Day 23: Sacred Valley - Cuzco

This morning we transfer you to Ollantaytambo station for the train to Aguas Calientes last stop before the incredible Machu Pichu. Arriving here, we 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. Lunch is provided at a local hotel before you return by train to Cusco.

Day 24: Cuzco - Santiago

Time in Peru has come to an end, we will transfer you to the airport in Cuzco where you catch your flight to Santiago (Via Lima) Bienviendos a Chile! Once you’ve arrived in Santiago you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 25: Santiago

Encircled by snow-capped Andean peaks, the city of Santiago enjoys a particularly spectacular setting. This morning join a scheduled city tour taking in the Metropolitan Cathedral, the La Moneda Presidential Palace and the Plaza de Armas where artists randomly appear to make theatrical performances. Jump on the metro for a short ride to the magnificent Santa Lucia park and its unique castle. Continue to the Lastarria neighbourhood to marvel at the neoclassical architecture and make the most of the many restaurants, coffee shops and green parks.

Day 26: Santiago - Santa Cruz

This morning we drive you to Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley. Known as the Valle de Colchagua in Spanish, the valley sits in the centre of one of Chile’s finest wine-making districts and is home to many of the country’s world-class wines. Spend today with your driver and car touring the wineries in the valley, sampling as much wine as you can handle. It’s also worth checking out the Museo de Colchagua, boasting a well-designed and diverse collection of exhibits housed in a grand colonial hacienda.

Day 27: Santa Cruz

Today with our driver you will explore more wineries in the region enjoying a tipple as you go!

Day 28: Santa Cruz - Santiago

This morning or afternoon whenever you please we drive you back to Santiago. Arriving here, enjoy some free time to explore the city.

Day 29: Santiago - Mendoza

Enjoy a day at leisure to further explore Santiago in your own time.

Day 30: Mendoza

Be prepared for a breathtaking journey today. We will transfer you to the bus station for the public bus journey to Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. The journey takes you up and over the Andes the scenery is incredible. Arriving into Mendoza you will see our driver waiting to take you to your hotel.

Days 31-32: Mendoza

Today and tomorrow are at your leisure to explore the region you can easily go on wine tours and so much more.

Day 33: Mendoza - Buenos Aires

This morning we head off to the airport for your flight fantastic Buenos Aires. Arriving here, you will be met and taken to your hotel.

Day 34: Buenos Aires

Often labelled the ‘Paris of South America’, Buenos Aires, or simply BA, is a seductive mix of elegant architecture, characterful residents and fantastic entertainment options. This morning join a scheduled city tour taking in the Neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral, the unusual dusty pink Government House and the history-packed Plaza de Mayo. Head to the neighbourhood of San Telmo where street performers gather to display the sensuous dance of tango, and continue to La Boca, a colourful suburb popular with local artists. Wander the attractive streets of Palermo until you reach Recoleta and the famous cemetery of the same name.

Day 35: Buenos Aires

Spend the day exploring this incredible city which is bursting at the seems with life.

Day 36: Buenos Aires - El Calafate

After breakfast take a scheduled transfer to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, the starting point for excursions to one of Argentina’s most famous natural wonders – the Pertio Moreno glacier. On arrival, a scheduled transfer will take you to your hotel. Remainder of day free.

Day 37: El Calafate

Measuring 30km in length, the monstrous Perito Moreno glacier is a jagged mass of crevasses and towering columns of ice. It’s also unusual in the sense that it is actually growing in size and constantly moving forward. Today enjoy a full day scheduled excursion beginning at Brazo Rico where you will be able to spot floating icebergs and continuing with a nautical safari on Rico Lake for spectacular views of the ice walls.

Day 38: El Calafate - Torres del Paine

Today we continue on to visit the majestic Torres del Paine National Park, named after three massive granite towers that rise out of the earth. Covering more than 180,000 hectares, the park boasts stunning scenery with snow covered mountain peaks, glaciers, beautiful lakes and valleys with a diverse variety of unusual flora and fauna. You will pass formalities back into Chile on this journey.

Days 39-41: Torres del Paine

Over the next couple of days you will have ample opportunity to partake in the many activities offered by your hotel. You might spend one day trekking the Ascencio Valley getting up close to the astounding Towers of Paine mountain range or horse ride to Cerro Paine for spectacular views of the Nothafagus forest. You could take a ferry across Pehoe Lake to Grey Glacier View Point for striking vistas of the centenary icebergs or you could trek to Sarmiento Lake to examine the calcium carbonate formations. The activities and excursions on offer will ensure you see the very best of this incredible national park.

Day 42: Torres del Paine - Rio De Janeiro

This morning we transfer you to the airport in Punta Arenas where you catch your flight to Santiago and then onward to Rio De Janerio. Here, you will see our driver waiting to take you to your hotel.

Days 43-44: Rio De Janeiro

In your free time for today and tomorrow you'll soon find there is plenty to see and do. There are trips up Sugar Loaf Mountain by cable car and Corcovado, with its famous Statue of Christ, for great city views. Another interesting journey is on the old tram system across the viaduct into the cobblestone neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. A walking tour of Rio's historic buildings is also a lovely way to pass an afternoon, or you may like to visit the Botanical Gardens or one of the famous beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon.

Day 45: Rio De Janeiro

This morning we will drive you by car to Mangaratiba or Angor Dos Reis and assist you catching the ferry to the gorgeous Illha Grande. Arriving on the Island we will arrange a local driver to take you to your resort.

Days 46-50:

Sit back, relax and enjoy the beach and the lifestyle of this laid back island for the next days ahead. (OVERNIGHTS ILLHA GRANDE)

Day 51: Rio De Janeiro

A transfer will be arranged to take you back to the ferry port to catch the boat back to the mainland. Arriving here, we have a car waiting to take you back to Rio for your last night in Latin America.

Day 52: Rio De Janeiro

Sadly your journey has come to an end, we will transfer you to Rio Airport in time for your flight home.