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 – – Cusco (B,L,D)
After breakfast retrace the river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado, and then onto the airport for a flight back to Cusco. On arrival to Cusco airport a transfer will be arranged to the hotel where the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Day 10: Cusco (B)
Today enjoy a free day in Cusco to explore at your own pace.
Optional Tour: Maras Moray – We leave from Cusco at 9am. Our first stop is Maras, from which, we can get to the salt mines. The salt mines display a bizarre spectacle of beauty. Located on a wide-open hill above the Urubamba Valley, a natural salt water stream runs underground. In pre-Incan times, they have been evaporating the salty water from this stream in order to obtain the salt that gets left behind. After visiting the salt mines near Maras, we continue on a short distance to the Moray ruins. The ruins are composed of three coliseums, which are thought to have been used by the Incas as a sort of open air crop laboratory. The coliseums consist of several enormous terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is about 30m/98ft deep. In the afternoon, we will return you back to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 11: Cusco – Puno (B,L)
After breakfast, be picked up from the hotel and be dropped at the bus station to travel to Puno, a great bus trip stopping at several interesting sites along the way. The local tourist buses are a modern and comfortable way to travel between sights. Enjoy a stop at Andahuyalillas, one of the most beautiful examples of Andean religious art; Raqchi (Wiracocha God Temple), an Incan church of monumental dimensions; 100 meters long, 26 meters wide and 14 meters high; and La Raya: the half-way point between Cusco and Puno. The landscapes here are stunning and typical Andean animals like the llama, alpaca and vicuña are common sights.
Also visit Pukara, the most important and oldest ceremonial centre of the altiplano, and enjoy a delicious buffet lunch in Sicuani. Upon arrival at the bus station in Puno (approximately 5:00pm) be transferred to your hotel where you will spend the night and meet your guide who will welcome you and provide you some extra information for the following day’s activities.
Day 12: Puno – Uros and Taquile Island – Lake Titicaca – Puno (B,L)
This morning, head to the port of Puno where you will board the motorboat for a floating Uros Island, one of 65 small floating islands that exist today. You will visit two different islands and the guide will explain a little about the history and lifestyle of the people who have lived on these islands for many years, and you will also have the opportunity to talk with the people of these islands and visit their homes to learn a little about their lifestyle.
Afterwards, sail to Taquile Island (approximately two hours). The island is a traditional Quechua speaking community, full of ancient agricultural terraces and some ruins dating back to the pre-Inca times. The Taquile population was relatively isolated from the mainland until 1950s and the importance of community and family is still very strong. When you reach the island, walk up along a narrow path, enjoying impressive views of Lake Titicaca and seeing gorgeous traditional houses inhabited by the direct descendants of the Incan Culture. Have some free time to explore the Island on your own and afterwards meet the group for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, head down to the harbour to take a one-hour boat ride back to Puno City.
Day 13: Puno – Copacabana (B,L,D)
Today, the trip from Puno to Copacabana takes approximately 3 hours. As soon as we arrive in Copacabana, we board our private boat for the excursion to the Sun Island where a delicious native lunch is waiting for us. Later, we take a walk on the Island visiting some of the remaining Inca’s ruins like the Pilkokaina Palace, the Inca’s Fountain, and the 200 stairs of Yumani. After, we return by boat to Copacabana.
Copacabana is well-known as the main Bolivian town on the shore of Titikaka Lake. It’s also famous because of its shrine Basilica where the Lady of Copacabana (Dark Madonna) is found. This afternoon, we explore the town and learn about the mystical spiritualism and religion traditions that take place before enjoying the magnificent landscapes as the sun sets.
Day 14: Copacabana – Tiwanaku – La Paz (B)
Today, leave Copacabana behind us we make our way to the Bolivian border. Enroute, we visit Tiwanaku, located only 20km from Lake Titicaca and 2 hours from La Paz. This pre-Incan archeological site is one of the most important civilizations in the Americas prior to the Inca, Tiwanaku dates back to around 200 BC and was a political and spiritual centre. In our 6 hour excursion we will admire the Kalasasaya Temple, the Akapana Pyramid, the Sun’s Gate and the impressive giant litho sculptures plus a visit to the museum before continuing on to La Paz.
Day 15: La Paz (B)
Today, wake up in La Paz. This morning, enjoy a half day tour in La Paz city, where you will see the most important and interesting attractions. We visit the main square which house the government palace, the National Congress, San Francisco Church and the Killi Killi viewpoint overlooking the incredible panoramic views of the whole city. Heading to the south we’ll see the residential areas on our way to the well-known Moon Valley, a fascinating geology place of astonishing stony formations, that offers a sensation of being in the Moon, besides the amazing views of the Andes Mountains.
We end our tour in the popular Witches’ Market located in the centre of the city. You can explore this open-air market where the vendors offer medicinal dried herbs, seeds, llama fetuses and many other unique ingredients used in local rituals. The rest of the afternoon is then at your leisure to enjoy La Paz.
Day 16: La Paz – – 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 17: 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 18: 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 19: Puerto Villamil – Lava Tunnels – Tintoreras Islet – Puerto Villamil (B)
For many, the Galapagos Islands means wildlife. Today, we explore the amazing formations of lava created by the last eruptions of the Volcanic Island along the seashore. This magical place is been used by the staff of BBC /National Geographic for their documentaries. It is a labyrinth of lava arches inside the breakers with crystal clear water full of huge sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, fish, white tipped reef sharks and more. Turtles navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through “Los Tuneles”.
Next, 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 20: 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 21: 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 22: 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 23: In transit
Day 24: Australia
Arrive home today.
Please note – some flights might arrive home 1 day later.