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 ...

Galapagos Islands Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTH AMERICA 94

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Day 1: Lima

Bienviendos a Peru! Welcome to Peru and the start of your journey through the land of the Incas. Upon arrival into Lima International Airport you will be met by one of our representatives and transferred to your hotel. After check in spend some time with our rep discussing your up-coming trip. The remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy at leisure.

Day 2: Lima

For centuries Lima was considered the most beautiful city in Spanish America and today discover why with a morning sightseeing 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 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. Discover contemporary Lima in the form of the plush suburb of San Isidro and lively Miraflores before continuing to the stylish hacienda museum, which exhibits hundreds of excellently preserved ceramics.

Day 3: Lima - Cuzco

After breakfast 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 before exploring this colourful and historic city later in the afternoon. 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. 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 4: Cuzco - Sacred Valley

Tracing a particularly scenic course from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley was greatly appreciated by the Incas and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. 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 5: Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes

Today explore the Sacred Valley further with visits to Andean villages south of the Río Urubamba. See the lovely paintings on display in the attractive colonial church of Chinchero. Continue to Maras to see the salt evaporation ponds, a patchwork of 3,000 wells, and the spectacular agricultural terraces of Moray. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the rail station for a stunning train journey to the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Sit back and enjoy the views as the landscape changes from the Andean highlands to the beginnings of the jungle. Arrive Aguas Calientes and check in to hotel. Make the most of the area’s hot springs with a dip in the local thermal baths.

Day 6: Aguas Calientes - Cuzco

No place in Peru quite captures the imagination like the legendary ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. Nestled in a saddle between two forested mountains and surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba River, its location couldn’t be more awe-inspiring. The city itself is brilliantly preserved, a classical Inca-style complex of polished dry-stone walls and temples. This morning 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 Cuzco.

Day 7: Cuzco - Quito

After breakfast and hotel check out we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Quito (via Lima). On arrival into our Ecuadorian local rep will be there to greet you and transfer you to your hotel where the remainder of the day can be spent at leisure.

Day 8: Quito

This morning visit Quito's UNESCO-listed colonial quarter, 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. Continue to 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 9: Quito - Galapagos Islands

This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to the incredible Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival you will be taken across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island where a bus will take you to the highlands for a visit to the Giant Tortoises Reserve - a once in a lifetime experience! A stop is then made at the Twin Pit Craters, great depressions of volcanic material formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Box lunch is provided and then on to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel to enjoy its multiple attractions.

Day 10: Galapagos Islands

Today's full day yacht excursion is to the island of Plazas. Our approach makes for a lavishly colorful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Our trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, perfect for spotting large marine life. Your guide will find the right spot to snorkel, whether on Plazas Island or Punta Carrion. The shoreline of Las Plazas makes for excellent snorkeling in a sea lion colony of nearly a thousand. Punta Carrion is a small bay where you can snorkel from the boat to see a variety of fish, rays and possibly white tip reef sharks. Dry landing.

Day 11: Galapagos Islands

Today's excursion takes you to Tortuga Bay and the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz Island. Tortuga Bay's name means turtle, since it is the favorite place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. The Bay is reached via a marked and cobbled path of 2km with excellent bird watching opportunities. There are two beaches at Tortuga Bay, one on the west perfect for swimming, snorkeling or relaxing and the other great for surfing. Sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, and more marine birds are commonly found along the beach. Later we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and view the tortoise rearing program.

Day 12: Galapagos Islands

Today enjoy a yacht excursion to North Seymour Island. This island is teaming with life from sea lions to marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Further along, the rocky shore displays white sand and large flocks of pelicans. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird". This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing. In the afternoon we visit Las Bachas beach, a sandy white-coral beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. On the shore, there are many marine iguanas and in the lagoon flamingos are commonly seen. This beach is also a good place for swimming and snorkeling. Wet landing

Day 13: Galapagos Islands - Quito

After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the mainland. On arrival into Quito we transfer you to your hotel where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing before your journey home tomorrow.

Day 14: Quito

Today marks the end of your incredible adventure through Peru and Ecuador. After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward departure journey.