Day 1: Australia – – Guayaquil, Ecuador
Head to the airport and depart on a flight to take you to Guayaquil in Ecuador! You are met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel for check in. Use the remainder of the day to rest up after the long flight.
Day 2: Guayaquil (B, D)
You have this morning as free time explore Guayaquil, the second largest city in Ecuador, however you like. Perhaps wander along Simón Bolivar promenade or explore the colourful Las Peñas neighbourhood. Meet up with your guide and fellow travellers in the afternoon, and head back out into the city for a guided trip around some of the top sights, such as the Malecón 2000 boardwalk and the Santa Ana hill. Afterwards, get to know your travelling companions over a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Guayaquil – – Baltra Island, Galapagos (B)
An early morning transfer takes you to the airport for a flight to Baltra Island in the Galapagos. A transfer awaits your arrival and takes you to Puerto Ayora. Your first activity while in the Galapagos is to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This trip is a great introduction into the history, ecology and importance of the Galapagos Islands, and is where you’ll have opportunity to find out more about ongoing conservation projects. You might also have the chance to encounter some of the famous giant tortoises that are raised here as part of the repopulation program.
Day 4: Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos (B)
Make for the Santa Cruz highlands today to see the giant tortoise in its natural habitat. The Galapagos giant tortoise is the largest species of its kind in the world and has become emblematic of the Islands. It is then onto a sugar cane farm to meet with the farmers and learn about how the cane is harvested and turned into alcohol. There is even opportunity to sample some of the products! Return to Puerto Ayora and have the remainder of the day as free time.
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos (B, L)
Join a full-day excursion to a nearby island today – either Bartolome, Seymour, Santa Fe or Plazas. Please note that the island visited is determined upon arrival and depends on climate conditions and availability.
No matter which island you discover today, you’re guaranteed to be rewarded with an abundance of natural beauty, photo opportunities, learnings and the opportunity to get up-close to flora and fauna seen nowhere else in the world.
Day 6: Santa Cruz Island – – San Cristobal Island, Galapagos (B)
A private speedboat picks you up after breakfast and whisks you to San Cristobal Island, and a waiting hotel transfer assists with check in. This afternoon, there is a short hike to La Loberia, a coral sand beach famous for the resident sea lions that lounge on the shore and rocks. Be sure to pack your swimmers for this outing as the water is safe for swimming and is your chance to paddle or snorkel alongside any curious sea lions!
Day 7: San Cristobal Island, Galapagos (B, L)
Take to the waters of the Galapagos by hopping into a boat for the short trip to Kicker Rock or Lobos Island. Keep your eyes peeled for the region’s iconic marine and bird life. Some of the species you might spot include nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies, and you might also have the opportunity for another swim with frolicking sea lions. Dunk your head below the water’s surface to scan for sea turtles, manta ray and perhaps even a Galapagos shark! (Don’t worry, these sharks won’t bother humans!). Please note that currents can be strong, so swimming and snorkelling should only be done by confident swimmers. Included in today’s excursion is a packed lunch that is enjoyed on the boat. (The laws of the national park forbid eating on the beach).
Day 8: Galapagos Islands – – Guayaquil – – Lima (B)
Visit the Interpretation Centre after breakfast and learn more about the history of the isles, dubbed the ‘Enchanted Islands’. This stop offers additional insight into the ongoing work that aims to preserve the Galapagos’ unique wildlife and ecosystems. It is then time to say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands as you are transferred to the airport and catch a flight to Guayaquil and then a connecting service to Lima, the capital of Peru. A Webjet tour leader meets you at the Lima airport for the onwards transfer to Miraflores (about 45 to 60 minutes’ drive). Settle into the hotel upon arrival and have the remainder of the day to rest up after this long journey.
Day 9: Lima (B)
There is a trip briefing this morning, and the group then moves out into Lima for a half-day walking tour of the downtown area. You’ll meander through the historical centre and take in the ornate mansions, palaces and churches that surround Plaza Mayor. Get a feel for the city’s colonial origins as you walk through the old streets surrounding the square, move past San Francisco Monastery and the Cathedral of Lima, and wind up at Central Market for a walking tour. Visit the Larco Museum too. This museum sits within an 18th-century royal-vice building and boasts numerous galleries that chronicle Peruvian heritage, including archaeological artefacts.
Day 10: Lima – – Cusco (B)
Catch a flight from Lima to Cusco. Take some time to acclimatise to the city’s high altitude (almost 3,500 metres above sea level!) and then explore the Baroque churches and sights that are dotted throughout. Follow your tour leader on a guided orientation walk and get your bearings as you move from the Qorikancha temple and San Pedro market, to the main square and its surrounding sites – 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. The final stop of the day is a chocolate museum where sweet tooths can indulge with samples of products made from locally-grown cacao beans. You have tonight to use as free time.
Day 11: Cusco – Sacred Valley – Ollantaytambo (B, L)
Travel through the Sacred Valley on the outskirts of Cusco today. This valley has been a major food source for those living in the High Andes, and was called ‘wilcamayo’ by the Incas. Gain an appreciation for Incan engineering on a visit to Sacsayhuaman, a mammoth stone fortress. Meet locals from a nearby community to learn more about how life is lived in the region. Those visiting on days coinciding with market days (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) can browse stalls for keepsakes and souvenirs. Lunch is also enjoyed in the area. Continue to Ollantaytambo, a 20-minute drive away. The archaeological site in town promises fantastic photo opportunities from its upper terraces. Overnight in Ollantaytambo.
Optional: Inca Trail Day 1. Those wanting to explore Machu Picchu without committing to the full four-day trek will find this opportunity a great alternative. It begins from the train station, known as ‘Km 104’, and follows a steep ascent up the last section of the Classic Inca Trail. Enter Machu Pichu at the sun gate in the afternoon and have time to take photos and explore before moving down back to Aguas Calientes via bus. At night the passengers will explore and get to know the little town and will be able to try the thermal baths located in the superior part of the city near the Main Square. Aguas Calientes has a great variety of restaurants and counts with an ATM. We will stay for the night in the chosen hotel. Please note this tour must be pre-booked prior to departure from Australia. Lunch is included. Additional cost applies.
Day 12: Ollantaytambo – – Aguas Calientes (B)
Take a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes this morning. As well as its thermal baths, this town in the Urubamba River Valley is commonly used as a base for seeing Machu Picchu. You have free time upon arrival and check in.
Optional: Inca Trail Day 2. After an early breakfast, we will depart to experience a perfect visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu. We will need to leave early to avoid congestion with other groups of tourists and enjoy the spectacular view of sunrise over the mountains of Machu Picchu. To reach the ruins of Machu Picchu, it is necessary to take the local bus. This short bus ride takes only 20 minutes and runs an unpaved track, very steep and winding through a jungle and mountain features stunning views. Finally, we arrive at Machu Picchu, where our guide will accompany us on a tour of the most important sectors of this beautiful citadel. In Machu Picchu, we will go 2 hours with our guide and visit the agricultural area, consisting of sets of agricultural terraces, the urban area where the occupants lived and where some of the main civil and religious activities.
We will also visit the Intiwatana of Machu Picchu, located on the top of the citadel, the Temple of the Sun, the Condor and other major sectors. Later we have free time to explore the city on our own account. Around 13:00, we will be taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes. Next, take the train back to Ollantaytambo and transferred back to your hotel. The trip to the Cusco will take approximately 4 hours. Additional cost applies.
Day 13: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco (B)
Hop into a bus for the 30-minute journey up to Machu Picchu. This ancient Incan citadel sits high within the Andes Mountains – and it’s exact purpose still remains a mystery. It was first built in the 1400s, only to be later abandoned, and is now an icon of Peru’s Incan civilisation. You’ll be taken around the site by an expert guide, who can answer all your questions about these remarkable ruins. The tour lasts between 90 minutes and two hours, and there is ample free time to wander around the temples, palaces and living quarters. Return to Cusco at the end of the day.
Day 14: Cusco (B)
Today is devoted to free time in Cusco. Use it to relax after a big day yesterday, or explore more of the city. A popular option is to find a café in Plaza de Armas and sit down to people-watch as you sip a coffee or graze on local fare.
Day 15: Cusco – – Amazon Jungle (B, L, D)
An airport transfer picks you up after breakfast and you catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado, a city in southeast Peru that doubles as a jumping-off point for access to the Amazon jungle. A representative from your Amazon lodge welcomes you at the airport. Head to the lodge’s office in town and transfer all the gear you’ll need for the next few days into a smaller bag. Anything not essential can be left in secure storage. Travel by bus or motorised canoe to the Amazon lodge (about 30 to 45 minutes), and have time to unpack before a short orientation and briefing session. Your first night excursion into the jungle will happen tonight or tomorrow evening.
Please note that rooms at the lodge are basic but comfortable. Each room is built using local materials, such as bamboo, palm trees and adobe mud. Traditional curtains are used in place of doors, and all rooms open out to the forest. Each room has a Western-style toilet, cold water shower, mosquito net and kerosene lamp. Electricity and internet connections are available in the lodge’s communal areas at designated times.
Day 16: Amazon Jungle (B, L, D)
Your first full day in the Amazon begins with a 30-minute boat ride and short walk (about 25 to 45 minutes) to an oxbow lake located in the heart of the rainforest. The lake is home to a family of endangered giant otters! The journey to the lake may also see you catch sightings of hoatzins, monkeys, macaws, black caimans and vibrantly-coloured parrots. Come late morning, head to the Parrot Clay Lick to witness macaws and other parrots descend by the hundreds onto the exposed banks of the river to eat the clay found here. The exact reason why the birds behave this way is still unknown, but that makes it no less an extraordinary sight! The feeding frenzy can last between 20 and 25 minutes. Return to the lodge for lunch and a quick respite. It is then back into the jungle for a walk and to learn about traditional use of plants found throughout the forest. Head back to the lodge to freshen up in time for dinner. There is an optional post-dinner walk into the jungle.
Day 17: Amazon Jungle (B, L, D)
Seek out a mammal feeding area this morning. As the mammal species that reside within the jungle are typically timider than birdlife and follow less structured feeding times, these creatures can prove harder to see throughout the day. This specific area, however, is known to be frequented by white-lipped peccaries, collar peccaries, deer, squirrels and tapir. Cross your fingers for sightings upon your visit! Lunch is served at the lodge ahead of an afternoon visit to a Brazil nut farm. Find out more about how these nuts are grown, harvested and processed. Make your way back to the lodge for the final dinner of your Amazon experience.
Day 18: Amazon Jungle – – Lima (B)
The group travels back to Puerto Maldonado and catches a flight to Lima. A hotel transfer greets you upon your return to the Peruvian capital. You have the remainder of the day as free time once you have checked in. This is your final night in South America.
Day 19: Lima – – Australia (B)
You will be picked up from the hotel and transferred to the airport at the appropriate time. Begin your return journey back to Australia.
Day 20: Australia
Arrive home today.
Please note – some flights may arrive home one day later.