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 185

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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

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: Quito - 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 5-7: 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 more.

Day 8: Galapagos Islands - Lima

Your time in the Galapagos has come to an end, we will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight to Guayaquil where you can catch your connecting flight to Lima Peru. Arriving in Lima, you will meet our team who will assist you to your hotel.

Day 9: Lima

Today 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 10: Lima - Cuzco

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuzco, known to the Incas as the ‘navel of the world’. Later in the afternoon explore what 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 11: Cuzco - Sacred Valley

Explore the Sacred Valley area 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 12: Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes

We further explore Sacred Valley 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, here you can also 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. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the train station for a stunning train journey to Aguas Calientes where you spend the night.

Day 13: Aguas Calientes - Cuzco

No place in Peru quite captures the imagination like the legendary ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. This morning embark on a scheduled excursion to explore the citadel and the wonderful Temple of the Sun and magical Temple of the Moon, the fascinating Sacred Plaza and the elaborately carved Intihuatana rock. After your 3 hour tour you have free time to explore. Later, you return by train to Cusco.

Day 14: Cuzco - Puno

Today board a public bus to Puno. Long distance buses in Peru are surprisingly comfortable with excellent onboard facilities including video entertainment, complimentary snacks and roomy seats. It’s also an excellent opportunity to see how the locals travel in style. This journey is particluarly scenic so sit back and enjoy the fantastic views of the Peruvian highlands. Arriving into Puno, meet our local team who await to take you to your hotel.

Day 15: 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. Your cruise continues to the genuine island of Amantani, renowned for the fine crafts made by inhabitants. Enjoy lunch in the community before visiting the hilltop sanctuaries of Pachatata and Pachamama. We then return by boat to Puno, arriving in the evening.

Day 16: Puno - La Paz

You will be transferred from your hotel in Puno to the bus station for your bus trip to La Paz, one of the highest capitals in the world. Arrival transfer to your hotel and remainder of day free.

Day 17: La Paz

Enjoy a full day tour of this scenic city - visit world-class museums like the Gold, Murillo and Costumbrista, explore traditional street markets and head up to the Mirador de Killy Killy for fantastic views over the city. Later on marvel at the geological formations of the Vally of the moon, 10km outside of town.

Day 18: La Paz

Today discover the history of the Aymara Indians, you will visit the Kalasasaya temple with the main stone work done like the Gate of the Sun, the monoliths Ponce and Fraile, the Akapana pyramid and the Semi underground temple. Visit of the old colonial village of Tiahuanaco, where you can see the use of stones from the ruins in their constructions. Also visit to the Puma Punku temple with the largest pieces of stone and with the highest quality in stone carving. Later we take you to the station for the overnight bus to UYUNI. (OVERNIGHT ON BUS)

Day 19:

Arriving into Uyuni, we transfer you to your hotel. The afternoon is free for you to explore and buy some snacks for the journey ahead into the Salt Flats and onto Chile. (OVERNIGHT UYUNI)

Day 20:

We continue to the world’s largest salt lake, Salar de Uyuni, where first on the agenda is a trip to the train cemetery. Witness the methods used to extract salt from the salar with a trip to Colchani, the main salt iodisation plant in the area. Located in the centre of the salar, Incahuasi Island, with its fish-like shape and colossal cacti is a highlight of our trip. The area’s unusual landscape of mountains, active volcanoes, colossal cacti and geysers is like nowhere on earth. Piercing blue skies contrast with blinding white salt as you drive across the flat lakebed. (OVERNIGHT IN SIMPLE ACCOMMODATIONS NO EN SUITE BATHROOM NO PRIVATE ROOM)_

Day 21:

Enjoy passing through the multicoloured volcanic rock formations of the Siloli Desert on our way to Laguna Colorada, or the Red Lagoon. This fascinating landscape is a rich red colour due to algae and plankton that thrive on the minerals found in the waters. The lagoon is also inhabited by numerous flamingos. (OVERNIGHT IN SIMPLE ACCOMMODATIONS NO EN SUITE BATHROOM NO PRIVATE ROOM)

Day 22: - San Pedro de Atacama

In the morning we visit the multi-coloured Laguna Colorada where James Flamingos flock. The rich red colouration is derived from algae and plankton, which thrive in its minerals. Continue to Laguna Verde where the Licancahur Volcano looms large. Along the way visit the Sol de Manana geysers, the Chalviri thermal waters and the Valle de Dali. This is a site of intense volcanic activity. After lunch cross the border into Chile and enjoy the impressive views of the Atacama Salar with a beautiful view of the Licancábur Volcano of 5916 meters of altitude as you transfer to the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 23: San Pedro de Atacama

It’s an early morning departure today as you travel to the Geysers del Tatio for a picnic-style breakfast and a stroll around the geothermal fields to see the geysers and pools of boiling water and mud. Sunrise is the ideal time to visit when the colours give the landscape a surreal appearance and thermal activity is at its peak. Enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the hot springs before heading back to San Pedro de Atacama. En route stop at the small village of Machuca where home-made empanadas, sopaipillas, coffee and coca tea can all be sampled. Later in the afternoon head to the dramatic wind-eroded landscape of Valle de la Luna. The

Day 24: San Pedro de Atacama - Santiago

This morning we transfer to the airport in Calama for your flight to Santiago. Arriving here, a transfer to your hotel awaits.

Day 25: Santiago

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. This afternoon head 35 minutes out of town to the Cousiño Macul Vineyard on a scheduled tour. 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 26: Santiago - Easter Island

This morning we transfer to Santiago Airport for your flight to the Easter Islands Hanga Roa Airport. Arriving here you are met by a local driver and taken to your hotel.

Day 27: Easter Island

Join a full-day tour along the Moai route of Easter Island. Visit the ruins, towns, volcanoes and beaches of this unique island. See the monolithic statues that make this island so famous. In the afternoon, there is some free time to explore on your own.

Day 28: Easter Island

Take a half-day tour of Orongo. Visit Rano Kao volcano with its lake-filled crater, and see its ceremonial centre perched on the crater lip. Stop at the Ana Kai Tangata cavern, filled with prehistoric paintings, and Ahu Vinapu for a look into the architectural skill of the islanders. An afternoon tour visits Aku Akivi, the Ana Tepahu caverns and the quarry of Puna Pau.

Day 29: Easter Island

This morning we drive you back to Hanga Roa Airport for your flight to Santiago. Arriving here, transfer to your flight homeward bound.