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 101

If you like the itinerary below please quote REF SOUTH AMERICA 101 when enquiring for further details.

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Day 1: Quito

Bienvenidos a Ecuador! Upon arrival you will be met at the international airport and transferred to your hotel in Quito where the rest of the day is free.

Day 2: Quito - Galapagos Islands

Early this morning shared transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos. Arriving on Baltra Island transfer to the dock to board the M/V Santa Cruz for an introductory briefing and lunch. Set sail This beautiful visitor site is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, a glorious white beach with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with snorkelling gear and techniques. Welcome cocktail, expedition plan for Tuesday and dinner.

Day 3: Galapagos Islands

After breakfast, we explore the coastline along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove, learning about the area’s distant and recent history. Enjoy fantastic natural formations such as the “Elephant Rock”, “The Bishop” and an impressive natural cave. This is a great site for snorkeling or panga ride. Onward to Puerto Egas, Once we disembark at the beach, we can enjoy a swim or snorkel amid a rocky shoreline, usually in the company of marine turtles. From here, we head off to our walk, a great opportunity to see land and marine birds amid landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows.

Day 4: Galapagos Islands

After breakfast, we land on Rábida Island’s red-coloured beach, caused by the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. Our walk brings us close to a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. We land at Bartolomé for a hike to the summit of this diminutive island that boasts fantastic views of the archipelago. Following our walk, we take to the pangas and the glass bottom boat for a ride around the colossal Pinnacle Rock, and then land at the beach to enjoy some swimming, snorkelling or just relaxing

Day 5: Galapagos Islands

The morning starts with a panga ride along the cliffs of this Prince Philip Steps (Genovesa Island) dramatic island, followed by landing with a steep climb (90 feet) up some stairs to reach a flat plateau. Along our walk, we can observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red footed boobies, great frigate birds and storm petrels. Onward to Darwin Bay, in the afternoon, we land at this beautiful beach to enjoy some swimming and/or snorkelling. Following our dip, we take an easy stroll to observe hundreds of birds, mainly frigate birds, red footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds.

Day 6: Galapagos Islands - Lima

After breakfast, there’s optional departure to see the breeding programme of giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado. Here, we learn about this endangered species and its promising recovery. Following the visit, we return to town and then a shared transfer to the airport to take the flight to Guayuaquil, where you connect on your flight to Lima. Arriving into Lima, our driver (shared transfer) awaits to take you onto your hotel.

Day 7: Lima

Today discover why Lima has historically been such an important city with a sightseeing tour (shared basis) 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 8: Lima - Puerto Maldonado and the Amazon

Early this morning you will be given a private transfer to the airport. Board a flight to the remote jungle settlement of Puerto Maldonado - the starting point for our journey (shared basis in Amazon) into the Amazon Jungle. A boat ride along the Madre de Dios River brings you to your jungle lodge where you will spend the next three nights in a beautiful cabaña.

Days 9-10: Puerto Maldonado and the Amazon

For the next 2 days, a wide variety of excursions are on offer from guided walks through the jungle to twilight river cruises. Sail in small wooden canoes or test your vertigo on a canopy walkway. Over the next three days you will learn much about the Amazonian wildlife and its most colourful characters with excursions available to the Tambopata National Reserve, Gamitana Creek and the Inkaterra Ecological Reserve. As daylight wanes share your daily experience of life in the rainforest with your fellow guests with the captivating sounds of the jungle your soundtrack.

Day 11: Puerto Maldonado and the Amazon - Cuzco

Bidding farewell to the jungle head back to Puerto Maldonado by boat for your flight to Cuzco. After private arrival transfer find out how Cuzco is home to some of the finest examples of Inca history and architecture, which you will discover with private touring of 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 12: Cuzco - Sacred Valley

Known as the Sacred Valley, the area between Cuzco and Machu Picchu is littered with traditional Andean villages and fascinating Inca ruins. Today you explore the region starting with the textile centre of Awanacancha 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. Practise your bartering skills at the local market before stopping for lunch then continue to the impressive fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo.

Day 13: Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes

This morning a scenic train journey followed by a bus ride brings you to the legendary ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. Set on a mountainous peak overlooking a deep canyon on the Urubamba River, the ancient Inca city is indeed one of South America’s most impressive sights. Be amazed by the incredibly well-preserved plazas, towers and temples as you enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu. We then proceed to your hotel located in the small town nearby called Aguas Calientes.

Day 14: Aguas Calientes - Cuzco

Morning at leisure until we transfer you to the train station for the train back to Cuzco. On arrival we will transfer you to the hotel.

Day 15: Cuzco

Free day.

Day 16: Cuzco - Puno

Today sample more of Peru’s rail network with a spectacular 10 hour rail journey to historic Puno. Passing the gentle, rolling Andean Plains where vicuña and alpacas roam freely, the train climbs to 4335m above sea level at La Raya, offering incredible views of the towering, snow-capped Andean mountains. During the journey you will be served a three course lunch in the dining car followed by coffee served in the observation-bar car. Arriving into Puno you will be given a private transfer to your hotel.

Day 17: Puno

After breakfast board a yacht from Puno port for a shared cruise and tour around the floating islands of Uros. Inhabited by fishermen and hunters, these beautiful islands are made from totora reeds and were built in order to escape the imposition of invading cultures.

Day 18: Puno - Santiago

Today we will transfer you to the airport for your flight to Santiago. Once you've arrived in Santiago you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 19: Santiago

This morning enjoy a city tour takes 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. In the afternoon head 35 minutes out of town to the Cousiño Macul Vineyard. Producing high quality wines in exclusive amounts, this vineyard is an excellent introduction to the wine production process and how technology is used alongside artisan traditions.

Day 20: Santiago - Buenos Aires

Taking to the sky once more you fly to Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, transfers at both ends are organized by our friendly local team.

Day 21: Buenos Aires

This morning enjoy a half day guided city tour taking in the Neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral, the unusual dusty pink Government House and the history-packed Plaza de Mayo. The remainder of the day is free for you to relax or explore independently. Why not wander the attractive streets of Palermo until you reach Recoleta and the famous cemetery of the same name. Dinner tonight will be a tango show at Café de los Angelitos – Platea seats – RT Private transfers (not guided) provided by the Tango House)

Day 22: Buenos Aires - Iguazu Falls (Argentina)

Spend the day morning exploring Buenos Aires in your own time. Later we transfer to the Aeroparque Airport for your flight to Puerto Iguazú, your base for exploring the magnificent Iguazu Falls.

Day 23: Iguazu Falls (Argentina)

Enjoy a full day private 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.

Day 24: Iguazu Falls (Argentina) - Rio De Janeiro

This morning early we embark on a private 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. We then drive to the Foz do Iguaçú Airport for the flight to Rio, where on arrival our driver takes you onto your hotel.

Days 25-26: Rio De Janeiro

The next three days are free time today for you to relax or explore independently; you will 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 27: Rio De Janeiro

Sadly your journey has come to an end, with your private transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.