Day 1: Australia – Lima
Today, board your flight and get ready to begin your bucket list South America holiday! All flights go via Santiago, Chile. After transiting, board you’re flight to Lima, Peru. Upon arrival into Lima, our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
Day 2: Lima – Cusco (B)
After breakfast, you will be picked up from the hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Cusco. Be met upon arrival at Cusco airport and taken to your hotel in the centre of the city. Take the remainder of the day to explore this beautiful city at your own pace.
Cusco was once capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Plaza de Armas is the central square in the old city, with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins. The baroque Santo Domingo Convent was built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), and has archaeological remains of Inca stonework.
Optional Tour: Cusco City Tour – At 1.30pm we will pick you up from your hotel and take you to start the tour. On the tour, visit Koricancha Temple, Cusco Main Cathedral from 1560AD, the archaeological complex of Saqsayhuamán, Q’enqo (Labyrinth) and Tambomachay (Temple of the Water).
Day 3: Cusco (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a free day to explore Cusco at leisure. The foremost city of the Inca Empire is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city.
Optional Tour: The Sacred Valley – This is a full day excursion to the Urubamba Valley visiting the colourful Indian market in Pisac, where you will be able to appreciate the mixture of colour and tradition. Here you will have the opportunity to test your bartering skills, interact with the local craftsmen and purchase hand-made souvenirs. After Pisac travel to Urubamba, and continue on to Ollantaytambo, the oldest continuously occupied town on the American continent. The narrow streets of Ollantaytambo, along with their canals, have not changed much from the time of the Inca Empire. The last visit will be the Chinchero market. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Its major claim to tourism is its colourful Sunday market, which is much less tourist-orientated than the market at Pisac. At the end of the tour, return to the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.
Day 4: Cusco – Aguas Calientes (B)
This morning you will be picked up at 8:00am to head to the train station to board the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu! The train leaves at approximately 11:30am (time may change depending on availability and changes to timetable). After a 3.5-hour journey of majestic views, arrive at Aguas Calientes to spend the night. Also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, this town lies in a deep gorge below the ruins. A virtual island, it’s cut off from all roads and enclosed by stone cliffs, towering cloud forest, and two rushing rivers. Aguas Calientes is surrounded by thermal hot springs, on arrival there will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy a hot bath in the natural springs.
Day 5: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco (B)
This is it! Rise early for breakfast before our guide will pick you up from your hotel at 5:40am to begin the short bus journey to the gates of Machu Picchu where you will watch the sunrise. After entering the Citadel begin a guided walking tour (approximately two hours) of the citadel complex. After this experience, enjoy some free time to explore the mysterious city at leisure. There is time for those who are feeling physical to climb Wayna (Huayna) Picchu (at own expense). For many people climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu. Wayna Picchu is the towering mountain behind the actual site of Machu Picchu. The climb itself is interesting as you will see how the Inca did cut out some steps out of the rocks and as you wind around the side of a mountain will see Machu Picchu from different angles.
This afternoon, meet your guide back down in Aguas Calientes before being transferred to the train station and begin the journey back to Cusco via Ollantaytambo.
Day 6: Cusco – Puerto Maldonado – Amazon Jungle (B,L,D)
Today after breakfast you will be transferred from the hotel to the airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, be met and transfer ten minutes to Puerto Maldonado headquarters. Puerto Maldonado is known as a gateway to the southern Amazon jungle. While enjoying your first taste of the jungle, pack only the necessary gear for your next few days, and leave the rest in a provided safe deposit box. Skirting Puerto Maldonado, drive 20 kilometres to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. Shortly after take a 2.5 hour boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Refugio Amazonas, this will travel past the Community of Infierno and the Tambopata National Reserve’s checkpoint and into the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare conservation unit. At night travel the river’s edge, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes.
Day 7: Amazon Jungle (B,L,D)
Awake to your first day in the Jungle. Paddle around the lake on a canoe or a catamaran, looking for lakeside wildlife such as hoatzin, caiman and horned screamers, hoping to see the elusive otters. Spectacular Macaws may also be seen flying overhead. A 30 minute walk will lead to the 25m Canopy Tower, a staircase providing an excellent vantage over the forest towards the Tambopata National Reserve. Along this trail, find a variety of plants and trees that are used by the local population with at least the same variety of purposes. Learn about the medicinal (and other) uses of Ajo-Sacha, Yuca de Venado, Uña de Gato, Charcot-Sacha, Para-Para, among several others. Nightly lectures by the staff of Refugio Amazona’s cover conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve.
Day 8: Amazon Jungle (B,L,D)
You second day in the Jungle will see you take a 15-minute boat ride and 60 minute walk to a clay lick used both by parrots and parakeets. With luck, spot Mealy and Yellow-crowned Amazons, Blue-headed Pionus, Severe macaw and Orange-cheeled (Barraband’s) parrot. A few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades. Here, see remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers before enjoying a demonstration of the harvesting process. Further along the river from the Refugio Amazonas is the peccary clay lick. This is where wild rainforest pigs show up in herds to eat clay in the late morning. Take the chance to spot them along with deer, guan or parakeets. Have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but difficult to see and immerse yourself in the sounds of the Amazon.
Day 9: Amazon Jungle – Puerto Maldonado – Lima (B,L)
After breakfast retrace the river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado, and then onto the airport for a flight back to Lima. On arrival to Lima airport a transfer will be arranged to the hotel where the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Day 10: Lima (B)
Today is a full day to enjoy and explore Lima at your own pace.
Day 11: Lima (B)
After breakfast enjoy a city tour and visit key sites of Lima, including Huaca Pucllana, Colonial buildings such as the Plaza Mayor and the Government Palace, and the Central bank Museum. Lima is sophisticated, with a civilization that dates back millennia. Stately museums display sublime pottery; galleries debut edgy art; solemn religious processions recall the 18th century and crowded nightclubs dispense tropical beats. No visitor can miss the capital’s culinary genius, part of a gastronomic revolution more than 400 years in the making. Afterwards return to the accommodation and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 12: Lima – Guayaquil (B)
This morning you will be picked up from the hotel and transferred to the airport. On arrival in Guayaquil, you will be meet at the airport and transferred to your central located 5* hotel.
Day 13: Guayaquil – Baltra Island – Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island (B)
After breakfast, get ready to explore the most amazing archipelago in the Pacific coast and the place where Charles Darwin based its theory of the evolution of species. We board a morning flight from Guayaquil to the island of Baltra.
On arrival, we head to the town of Puerto Ayora, the biggest town in Galapagos. From here we take a fast boat to Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and the place where the most volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island is formed by six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerra Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf, five of them still active, and therefore the island is one of the most volcanically active places on earth. During our island crossing, we will be on the lookout for dolphins and whales (July to October).
Day 14: Puerto Villamil – Sierra Negra – Puerto Villamil (B)
Today, we enjoy a walk to the crater edge of Sierra Negra. The walk is suitable for most fitness levels. After driving up from Puerto Villamil to the trailhead, we prepare our backpacks and hike into a young forest ecosystem, a world of recent geological history. Our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in October 2005.
Upon arrival, we take in breathtaking views and explore the circumference of the massive, lava-filled crater, over six miles across at its widest point. If we feel energetic enough, we can continue our hike to Volcan Chico, a secondary crater that has a wild landscape of puffing fumaroles and colorful lava formations, great examples of the dramatic geological events that have forged the Galapagos Islands over millennia. After descending, the afternoon is free to enjoy to large range of optional activities provided by your hotel such as: “Concha de Perla”, kayaking in Tintoreras or just relax on the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island.
Day 15: Puerto Villamil – Breeding Centre Flamingo lagoon – Tintoreras Islet – Puerto Villamil (B)
On this morning we visit a number of the secluded beaches and viewpoints scattered along the coastline before becoming intimately acquainted with giant (and not so giant) Galapagos tortoises at the Isabela Tortoise Breeding Centre before stopping at a local waterhole to observe the Pink Flamingos feeding in the wild.
In the afternoon we will visit Tintoreras Islet, located at a short distance from Puerto Villamil and home to a great variety of wildlife. Along the way you will be looking for Galapagos fauna, such as Blue footed boobies, which often rest in the rocks. Tintoreras Islet turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos Penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully. Here we will have the best snorkeling opportunity with all these beautiful animals, including the curious Galapagos penguin. Snorkel freely as these play birds go about their daily lives around you.
Day 16: Puerto Villamil – Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island (B)
In the morning we embark on a fast boat from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island. During our island crossing, we will be on the lookout for dolphins and whales (July to October). Once we arrive, we will check in to the hotel.
We will have time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about many of the endemic species we met during our adventure, as well as the ongoing conservation and management efforts on the Galapagos Islands.
In the afternoon, we head to the ‘El Chato’ Reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, home to the famous Galapagos tortoise. Walk through El Chato’s beautiful scenery with those lumbering giants is an unforgettable experience! We also see other highland wildlife such as pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers and finches on our walk. We can also observe frigatebirds which gather to wash the salt off their feathers at a fresh water lake. Later, we return to Puerto Ayora where the evening is at leisure.
Day 17: Puerto Ayora – Baltra Island – Guayaquil (B)
After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Islands and the last photos taken of sea lions, we have a transfer to Baltra’s airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland. On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your centrally located hotel.
Day 18: Guayaquil – Australia (B)
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Australia.
Day 19: In transit
Day 20: Australia
Arrive home today.
Please note – some flights might arrive home 1 day later.