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 ...

Quito Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTH AMERICA 248

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Day 1: Quito

Bienvenidos 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 - Amazon Jungle - Ecuador

Morning transfer to the 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. Arriving here, settle into your lodgings and then head out on the first of your jungle excursions which would usually be a short hike and sunset boat/canoe ride.

Days 3-4: Amazon Jungle - Ecuador

Over the next two days you will have plenty of opportunities to discover the pristine Ecuadorian rainforest and its colourful characters. Swim in the local lakes, observe bird species from the mini observational towers, visit the vibrant butterfly house and explore the jungle at night on foot or by boat looking out for the glowing orange eyes of the black caiman. There’ll also be numerous hiking trails available along the Rio Napo or deep into the rainforest and for those looking for a bird’s eye view, the canopy walkway is the perfect vertigo-inducing experience.

Day 5: Amazon Jungle - Ecuador - Quito

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 take a private transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.

Day 6: Quito

This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures on a private tour. 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. Next visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Afternoon at leisure to explore.

Day 7: Quito - Cotopaxi National Park

Early morning join a group tour and we travel south on the Pan-American Highway arrive at the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary centred around the soaring Cotopaxi Volcano. After spending a short while at the Interpretation Centre, we head out to explore the park by foot and car. At the foot of the volcano is a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a room with Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries. After lunch, mingle with the llamas of the hacienda and stroll along a rose garden. From here, descend towards the town of Patate, to spend the night at a 300-year old hacienda.

Day 8: Cotopaxi National Park - Riobamba

This morning continue with your group for a spectacular journey to the handsome town of Riobamba . The Devil’s Cauldron is the first stop, an impressive cascade surrounded by subtropical vegetation and colourful orchids. The adventurous can descend down to the cascade bottom for a closer look whilst others can appreciate the overwhelming force and sound of the rushing waters from a lookout point. Lunch is taken in a local hacienda or hotel. Continue to the town of Baños, famed for its hot springs and thermal waters. The drive finishes alongside Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, where photo opportunities abound.

Day 9: Riobamba - Guayaquil

Continuing with the group, depart early this morning for a dramatically scenic journey along ravines and river gorges, and Indian villages and cultivated fields, arriving to the small town of Alausí. Here you will board a train following the Devil’s Nose route, an 800-metre descent along zig-zagging railway line culminating at the Condor Puñuna museum run by the local Nizag community. The round trip brings you back to Alausí where you continue by coach to the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca. Enjoy lunch in the area before proceeding to Cuenca, the colonial jewel of the south. Arrival to the airport of Cuenca at dusk to take the flight to Guayaquil.

Day 10: Guayaquil - Lima

This morning we head back to the airport and bid farewell to Ecuador, and catch a flight to Lima. Arriving into Lima, meet our local team who await to bring you to your hotel.

Day 11: Lima - Pisco / Paracas Region

This morning we take to the road by private car and head to the pacific coast town of Paracas. Arriving here, spend the afternoon at leisure go for a wander along the waterfront, watch our for the greedy pelicans who will try and beg for fish from you! (OVERNIGHT IN PARACAS - NEAR PISCO)

Day 12: Pisco / Paracas Region - Lima

This morning, bright and early we take to the sky have a flight over the Nasca lines by light aircraft. Back on solid ground we take to our vehicle and head back to Lima.

Day 13: Lima - Puno

This morning we head back to Lima airport for your flight to Juliaca. Arriving here, we explore Sillustani which is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo, then continue onto your hotel in Puno.

Day 14: Puno

After breakfast board a yacht from Puno port for a shared group cruise and tour around the floating islands of Uros. These beautiful islands are made from totora reeds and were built in order to escape the imposition of invading cultures. Your cruise continues island of Taquile. The peasant community of this island has kept intact the customs and traditions of their ancestors and a visit here is like taking a step back in time. After lunch visit archaeological ruins and soak up the immensity of Lake Titicaca – the world’s highest navigable lake – from the beautiful beaches that line Taquile’s shore. Later return to Puno.

Day 15: Puno - Cuzco

This morning we bring you to the bus station in time to catch the tourist public bus service to Cuzco. The journey is very scenic so sit back and enjoy the journey. Arriving into Cuzco, meet with our local driver who will bring you to your hotel.

Day 16: Cuzco

Today explore the ‘navel of the world’ and discover why it’s considered the archaeological capital of South America. Your private city tour takes in the Incan streets of Loreto and Ahuajpinta where you’ll find the remains of impressive Incan palaces, as well as old colonial buildings such as the Catedral. Later in the day, head to the impressive fortress of Sacsayhuaman and the ruins of Kenko, Tambomachay and the Tambo de Puca Pukara. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 17: Cuzco

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 on a private tour, 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. Practice your bartering skills at the local market before stopping for lunch then continue to the impressive fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo. This evening we have our Inca Trail Briefing.

Day 18: Cuzco - Inca Trail

Travelers are collected early from their hotels (4-5am) and travel by bus on the 3½ hour scenic trip to kilometer 82 (the start of the trail). Hikers cross the Vilcanota River and follow the trail to the right as it climbs steeply up from the river. After passing through a small village, the ruins of the Inca hillfort of Huillca Raccay come into view high above the mouth of the river Cusichaca ('happy bridge'). For a further 7 km the path follows the left bank of the river up to the village of Wayllabamba (3,000m). The name in Quechua means 'grassy plain'.

Day 19: Inca Trail

Climbing up from Wayllabamba for about 3 hours through steepening woods and increasingly spectacular terrain brings you to the tree line and a meadow known as Llulluchapampa (3,680m). It is another 1½ hours climb to the first and highest pass of the trail at 4,200m. During this part of the trail hikers are exposed to the Andean elements. Once at the top hikers can celebrate having completed the most difficult section of the trail. The decent from the pass is steep although not difficult, following the trail on the left side of the valley to the valley floor and to the 2nd night's campsite at Pacamayo (3,600m). There are toilet facilities here.

Day 20: Inca Trail

Today on the trek we pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15 kilometres in seven hours and spending the night in Winay-Wayna.

Day 21: Inca Trail - Cuzco

The trail this morning to Machu Picchu is clearly marked and takes about 1½ hours. Most people attempt to wake up at 4.30am so that they can leave Wiñay Wayna by 5.30am to get to Machu Picchu before sunrise. The sky starts getting light by 6am and the first rays of the sun reach Machu Picchu at about 7am. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins, before catching the afternoon Vistadome train back to Cusco.

Day 22: Cuzco

Sadly your epic journey has come to an end, we will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.