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 ...

Sacred Valley Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTH AMERICA 42

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Day 1: Lima

Welcome to Peru! Arrival airport transfer is included and our representative will assist with hotel check in and spend time with you discussing your upcoming holiday.

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 Palacio de Gobierno, where each day the ceremonial changing of the guard takes place.Discover contemporary Lima in the form of the plush suburb of San Isidro and lively Miraflores before continuing to the quiet district of Pueblo Libre to see 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. 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 all the way to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley was greatly appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities and as such 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. 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 from the Cuzco School on display in the attractive colonial church of Chinchero. Continue to Maras where the original Indian aristocratic coats of arms hang on the outside of the church and houses. From 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. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the train 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.

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

We will transfer you to the airport for the fligh to Quito. 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 8: Quito

This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures on a shared city tour. Quito’s UNESCO-listed colonial quarter is 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. 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.

Day 9: Quito - Galapagos Islands

Early this morning 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 for North Seymour Island for an amazing walk along the coast observing bird colonies of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. You’ll also spot sea lions and marine iguanas. Welcome cocktail and dinner on board.

Day 10: Galapagos Islands

Enjoy a coastal exploration of Isabela Island (Punta Vicente Rosa) on board a panga, a small watercraft, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. The island is also the nesting place for flightless cormorants and groups of sea lions, Galápagos fur seals and penguins also gather on the shores. After lunch back on board continue to Punta Espinoza, the youngest island of the archipelago. A mile-long walk across dark lava will introduce you to the remarkable barrenness of the island and the surprising amount of native wildlife including sally light-foot crabs and hawks.

Day 11: Galapagos Islands

Exploration of Isabela Island continues today at the secluded Tagus Cove, a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old graffiti can even be seen carved on the cove’s walls. The area is marked by the white-barked, leafless palosanto trees that look dead for most of the year until they spring into life during the wet season. An uphill hike brings you to the back of the salt water-filled Darwin Crater with an amazing views at the end to reward you. A panga ride along the volcanic shore of the cove offers wildlife spotting opportunities. After lunch on board disembark at Urbina Bay. Here you can find corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. The area is also home to large Galapagos land iguanas and giant tortoises.

Day 12: Galapagos Islands

This morning visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration in the Galápagos. Meet the giant tortoise residents and visit the impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, home to many land birds. Lunch is enjoyed in the cooler highlands of the island. The afternoon brings with it several different options for land and water based activities. Trek along trails amid miconia forest, mountain bike down to Garrapatero Beach, sea kayak or visit an organic coffee plantation. There’s also the option to spend the day SCUBA diving, at an additional cost.

Day 13: Galapagos Islands

Be part of a unique Galápagos tradition with a morning visit to Post Office Bay. For over two centuries a rum barrel has been used by sailors to send mail. Explore the north shore of Floreana Island along narrow channels with a short walk to Baroness’s Lookout for amazing views of the island and a history lesson on the island’s first settlers. Later we land on the olivine-crystal beach at Cormorant Point. An easy walk brings you to a lagoon where greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts and herons gather. Further on you come to a white-sand beach where sea turtles emerge at night to nest between December and May. Enjoy a farewell cocktail and dinner back on board.

Day 14: Galapagos Islands - Quito

This morning disembark back at Baltra Island for your flight back to Quito. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is free for you to enjoy at leisure or head out to La Mariscal for last-minute souvenir shopping.

Day 15: Quito

Sadly today tour arrangements conclude after breakfast and hotel check out with a departure transfer to the airport for your onward international journey.