South America Discovery
Day 1 - Friday: Quito
Arrive Quito. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 - Saturday: Otavalo (B/L)
A full day excursion to Otavalo.This excursion goes north to the land of the Otavaleños and South America's most famous Indian fair.
Day 3 - Sunday: Quito (B)
The morning is at your leisure. In the afternoon, experience an afternoon scenic tour of Quito (the capital of Ecuador), travelling through its wealth of culture, history and tradition. We'll end up at a lookout point with great scenic view of the city.
Day 4 - Monday: Quito - Patate (B/D)
The artisans tradition of Quito is present in the visit to the Yanapi Hat Shop, where guests can observe the process of making wool felt and fur felt hats by hand. These high-quality hats are exported to European, Australian and American markets.
Travelling along valleys and mountains, we'll arrive at Cotopaxi National Park which surrounds the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano. Here we have the opportunity for an up-close view of the Andean paramo habitat and its unique flora and fauna; a number of high-altitude birds can be observed around Limpiopungo Lagoon, and occasionally, wild horses. On clear days, the perfect snow-capped cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano is quite a sight! From here, we descend towards the town of Patate to spend the night at a 300-year old hacienda. Hidden among the mountains, a magical ambience, where as the afternoon mist descends, stories are told about those who left in search of the treasure of the Incas in the nearby Llanganatis - and never returned.
Day 5 - Tuesday: Patate to Riobamba (B/D)
After breakfast, we take a spectacular route along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Baños (Baths), located at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano, from where the thermal waters that gave it its name emerge.
We'll drive along the Route of the Cascades to El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil's Cauldron) - the most adventurous of the goup will descend (medium difficulty) to observe the impressive cascade up close, surrounded by subtropical vegetation and orchids. The force and sound of the waters can also be appreciated from a lookout point without descending.
In the afternoon a short stroll along Baños can occur- a town with an international pulse, full of people from all over the world as well as many locals who pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Holy Water. From here, the route to Riobamba is up the mountain, to where the clouds can be touched, alongside the massive Chimborazo (the highest mountain of Ecuador). On the hillsides, where the land is worked beneath the plow, one might think the farmer's true objective was to paint the hills in fascinating patterns, not just to till the dark, fertile soil. Theer are numerous and great photo opportunities on this route! You'll arrive in Riobamba in time for dinner.
Day 6 - Wednesday: Riobamba to Devils Nose Railway to Cuenca (B/L)
After an early breakfast, we'll depart by road skirting the flanks of the Andes. An astonishing ride with twists and turns, along bridging ravines and river gorges. We'll ride through Indian villages and cultivated fields - this is where most of the cereals in Ecuador are grown. Among these fields is the quinua, considered the perfect grain for its nutritional value.
After a couple of hours of travel we arrive at the small town of Alausí - the beating heart of the rehabilitation of the Ecuadorian Railway Company in the last years. Great effort has been made to restore the 100-year old train to its old glory and romance. The stations have been renewed, railways and sleepers replaced, engines and classic coaches renovated. Most importantly, the project involves the local communities along the route in the rail operation.
The highlight is the thrilling 800-metre (2630-foot) descent on the zigzag cuttings on the rock of the Devil's Nose. At the bottom one will find the newly renovated Station of Sibambe. Here there is time to visit the local museum "Condor Puñuna" which was built and is run by the Nizag community. You'll see the display of local handcrafts, fruit and medicinal plants and can try the local coffee. The train whistle calls guests back on board for the return trip to the Station of Alausí, where a light snack is served to regain strength.
We'll continue exploring the Andean world by motorcoach to the south, visiting the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca en-route. We'll lunch in the area before arriving in Cuenca at dusk .
Day 7 - Thursday: Cuenca (B/L)
Cuenca is Ecuador's third largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. Our comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian - a colorful artisans market where handicrafts are sold. Then, a visit to the Museum of Modern Art featuring an excellent collection of contemporary fine art. Next on the itinerary is a visit to the flower market at the small plaza in front of the carved stone entrance to the church of El Carmen de la Asunción. From here, you can enjoy a stroll to the main square, which is surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Palace, the Governor's Palace and the Church of El Sagrario.
From the plaza, we'll take a drive along the Tomebamba river to admire the city's overhanging houses. Lunch is at one of the excellent restaurants in Cuenca, and in the afternoon, we'll drive for a short visit to a ceramics handcraft shop. Then, observe the whole process of making the famous Panama Hats of high-quality toquilla straw.
Day 8 - Friday: Cuenca to Quito to Lima (B)
Morning is at your leisure to further explore Cuenca.
In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito to connect on LAN international flights to Lima.
On arrival we transfer to our hotel.
Day 9 - Saturday: Lima - City of Kings and Capital of Peru (B)
This was the principal city of Spanish South America from its founding in 1535 until the independence of the South American republics in early 19th century. It never rains in Lima - except for January and February when the skies are blue.
You have the morning to explore Lima. A city tour of the Greater Colonial Lima allows you to appreciate the wonderful colonial buildings in downtown Lima such as the Santo Domingo Convent and the Casa Aliaga - one of South America’s oldest Spanish homes. Drive by the elegant tree-lined avenues of San Isidro and Miraflores.
Afternoon is at leisure or we suggest a visit to the Gold Museum.
Day 10 - Sunday: Lima to Paracas (B)
This morning we travel south by bus along the Panamericano Highway through the desert countryside alongside the Pacific Ocean.
En route we'll visit the Paracas Nature Reserve, a marine sanctuary located at the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Day 11 - Monday: Paracas - Nazca (B)
This mornings visit is to the Ballestas Islands, known as Peru’s mini Galapagos. An opportunity to watch resident and migratory birds, including flamingos, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, boobies, as well as playful sea lions, amusing Humboldt penguins and, if we are lucky, we may see marine otters.
In the afternoon we make our way by bus to Nazca. This small oasis town is famous for the mysterious lines etched in the desert pampas. Are they messages to travellers from outer space that landed here thousands of years ago or the works of an ancient culture depicting a planting calendar? Cut into the stony desert, like a giant sketching pad, these many lines include geometrical figures, giant animals and birds.
Day 12 - Tuesday: Flight over Nazca Lines - Arequipa (B)
This morning it is your turn to become airborne and theorise on these mysterious lines etched in the desert. Wow - up you go to witness this gigantic sketching pad in the desert pampa. Who drew them, and why? Draw your own conclusions or come away with as many questions as answers!
In the afternoon we depart on our super comfy bus, arriving in Arequipa late evening.
Day 13 - Wednesday: Explore Arequipa (B)
The beautiful city of Arequipa sits at 2880 metres above sea level and is the gateway to the Colca Canyon. Situated at the foot of El Misti Volcano (5882m) is the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ – the white city, boasting a delightful climate, plenty of fascinating colonial buildings and gateway to the famous Colca Canyon, home of the condors, one of the world’s deepest canyons.
Must sees here are a visit to the peaceful Santa Catalina Convent - one of the most fascinating religious colonial buildings in Peru. The convent, opened to visitors in 1970, is surrounded by imposing walls and the 450 nuns who lived here led a completely secluded life. Also here is “Juanita” - the mummy of a young girl found in 1995 by an American mountain climber on Mt Ambato. She is encased in a freezing chamber inside the Museum and is on display.
Day 14 - Thursday: Arequipa to Colca Canyon (B/D)
We drive through the awesome Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons which is only accessible by a dirt road over the Altiplano, before dropping to the village of Chivay at 3600 metres above sea level. The landscape is remarkable for its Inca and pre-Inca terracing which goes on for many kilometres and is the most extensive in Peru. Life here has changed very little through the centuries where the campesinos still farm the remarkable Inca terracing as their ancestors did before them. We continue deep into the Canyon to the Cruz de las Condors. This is a remarkable highlight – you can watch the impressive condors rising with the thermals and you have the chance to get great photos of these wonderful birds.
We stay overnight in the small village of Chivay where you can relax in the hot thermal springs and delight in the haunting melodies of the panpipes. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.
Day 15 - Friday: Colca Canyon - Cusco (B/L)
We then continue our journey of discovery and exploration in the hinterland of the Andes travelling overland to Cusco arriving early evening.
Day 16 - Saturday: Cusco (B)
Cusco - the heart of the Inca Empire, is known by the local Quechua Indians as 'Navel of the Universe'.
Cusco is an amazing experience. Lying in an exceptionally beautiful countryside 3300 metres above sea level, here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and massive stone walls which form the foundations of Colonial Cusco - originally part of the impressive monument of Sacsayhuaman, situated above the town.
The morning is to do with whatever you please. In the afternoon we'll enjoy a comprehensive walking tour of this delightful city, including the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Temple of the Sun.
Day 17 - Sunday: Cusco to Sacred Valley (B)
On Day 17 we visit Sacsayhuaman - a magnificent Inca fortress which overlooks the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman can be variously translated as 'speckled falcon' or 'speckled head'. The last interpretation refers to the belief that the city of Cusco was set out in the form of a puma whose head was the hill of Sacsayhuaman. The origins are uncertain but the fortress is generally attributed to the period of Inca Pachacuti, the man who essentially founded the Inca empire.
We also visit the ruins of Qenko, an area of well-preserved archaeological ruins and the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara. We'll drive through stunning scenery to Chinchero, the most colourful and authentic market in Peru. Next we continue on to Maras Salt Pans. Another fabulous walk ensues. We discover these amazing salt pans still mined as they were hundreds of years ago, then a beautiful walk back down to the Sacred Valley. In the afternoon, relax and enjoy the countryside and visit the Semanario Pottery – it’s hard to resist. We stay overnight in an old monastery (completely restored of course!).
Day 18 - Monday: Sacred Valley (B) or Optional Day 1 Inca Trail
We Continue through the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas. Next is Pisaq where you will enjoy a panoramic walk along the original Inca pathways and terracing to the ancient town below. We visit the markets before continuing through the lush valley where the towering fortress of Ollantaytambo dominate the surrounding area.
Day 19 - Tuesday: Sacred Valley to Agua Calientes (B) or Day 2 Inca Trail)
After breakfast you have an early morning transfer to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, a small railroad town with tons of character – and where you can enjoy a soak in the hot pools under the Andean sky or explore the town.
Day 20 - Wednesday: Machu Picchu to Cusco (B) or Day 3 Inca Trail
It’s an early start today. This is the best time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity, and not to mention the magic, of Machu Picchu before the trainload’s of visitors arrive.
Machu Picchu, is known also as ‘Lost City of the Incas’. It is undoubtedly the best known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent and is considered a must for all visitors to Peru. You will travel by bus up the zig-zag (the Hiram Bingham highway) to the ruins where your first views will take your breath away. Enjoy a fully guided tour of the ruins, some time to explore on your own, before returning down the mountainside. Time for a snack and then board the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to our hotel in Cusco.
Day 21 - Thursday: Cusco (B) or Day 4 Inca Trail
A free day to explore this delightful city – everyone’s favourite. The day is yours to enjoy, all the convents, churches, museums, alpaca and jewellery bargains.
Day 22 - Friday: Cusco to Puno (B/L)
A bus ride to Puno through the dramatic landscapes of the highland plateau, with occasional views of tiny Andean villages and herds of llamas and vicunas. We will stop at Andahuaylillas, where there is a beautiful baroque church built at the beginning of the XVIIth century. It is very well known thanks to its beautiful mural paintings.
We will make a second stop at Raqchi, where there is an Inca temple built to worship Wiracocha, one of the most important Inca gods. Finally, we will stop at the archaeological museum of Pukara (200BC-AD300) and will lunch at a restaurant en route. We arrive in Puno late afternoon.
Day 23 - Saturday: Uros Islands to Copacabana (B)
What an experience! By boat visit the curious floating reed islands and the Uros Indians who live there. Everything is made of these reeds - houses, schools, boats, churches, etc. Once you reach the reed islands, you can experience gliding across Lake Titicaca in an authentic reed boat - you can't beat it!
The afternoon continues through lovely scenery, which follows this mighty lake to the Bolivian border. After border formalities, we continue to the sleepy town of Copacabana.
Day 24 - Sunday: Copacabana to La Paz (B)
The morning is at your leisure to explore Copacabana or an optional boat trip is possible out on the lake to tranquil Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) - where legend has it that the first Inca King rose out of the lake. On this legendary island, you can visit the Pilkokaina Inca Palace and enjoy a short walk to the Gardens, Sacred Stairs and Fountain of the Inca. As we ascend to Yumani village, we have a magnificent view of the lake set to the backdrop of Mount Illampu.
In ther afternoon we depart Copacabana and continue through even more stunning scenery, with snow-capped peaks and the blue lake, to La Paz, capital of Bolivia and the highest capital in the world.
Known as the City of Contrasts, here ancient traditions meet the new millennium of chaotic traffic and towering buildings.
Day 25 - Monday: La Paz City Tour (B)
A morning tour takes you down to where the air is thicker and the elite live. Visit the witches markets, Calle Jaen with its museums, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo, National Congress, Cathedral, Presidential Palace, continuing to the very unusual eroded formations of the Moon Valley.
The afternoon is free to enjoy the uniqueness of this colourful bustling city and shop for bargains and gifts.
Day 26 - Tuesday: Explore La Paz (B)
Teh choice is yours - an optional tour to Tiwanaku (Pre-Columbian) ruins outside the city or a Mountain Bike down the world’s most spectacular road or spend the day with a little more shopping and people watching.
Or you can take an optional overnight tour to the Bolivia Salt Flats
Day 27 - Wednesday: La Paz to Rio de Janeiro
An early start today as we say ‘adios’ to the Andes and transfer to the airport for our flight via Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro. On arrival you will be transferred to our hotel in Rio de Janeiro.
Day 28 - Thursday Rio de Janeiro (B)
This morning we travel to the Cosme Velho Train Cog Station at the bottom of the Corcovado Mountain, stoppin enroute at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. Once at the mountain, you will take the ride to the top through the dense Tijuca rain forest to the 38m tall Christ the Redeemer Statue. From here you can enjoy the spectacular views of Rio and the surrounding countryside.
The afternoon starts with a panoramic tour of downtown Rio where you'll pass by the infamous Sambadrome - the exhibition area for the renowned Samba schools in Rio. A brief stop is made at the Metropolitan Cathedral, made famous for its unusual pyramid shape. Admire its beauty and rareness from both the outside and the inside! Your panoramic city tour continues with a visit to the traditional Cinelandia Square where you'll tour the various historic buildings such as the Municipal Theatre, the National Library and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Next we head towards the Urca neighborhood, where one of Rio's most iconic symbols is located, Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Travelling up Sugar Loaf mountain in a cable car, you will make a brief stop at a vantage point approximately 700 feet (215 metres) above sea level. Capture unparalleled panoramic views of the city, Guanabara Bay, the Rio-Niteroi Bridge and Corcovado Mountain. We continue the ascent to the peak of Sugar Loaf for breathtaking views of Copacabana Beach, the Santa Cruz Fortress and the beaches of Niteroi.
Day 29 Friday Rio de Janeiro (B)
Day of leisure and personal sight-seeing.
Day 30 Saturday Rio de Janeiro to Iguacu (B)
We transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Iguacu. On arrival, we commence a tour to the Brazilian side of the falls.
Day 31Sunday: Iguacu - Buenos Aires (B)
On Day 31 we travel to the Argentine side of the falls, these falls defy description! Enjoy the majesty of the world's most spectacular waterfalls. Situated on the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and set in pristine rainforest, they plunge in a series of gigantic waterfalls over 3kms long and more than 80 metres high. The thunderous roar of crashing water and the multicoloured mist is natural beauty at its best. It is undoubtedly one of the world's most impressive sights. Later see the mighty Devils Throat Cataract.
We then transfer to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires. On arrival in Buenos Aries, we transfer to our hotel.
Day 32 Monday : Buenos Aires (B,D)
This morning our tour will allow us to discover the city of Buenos Aires.
We visit its Civic Centre, the impressive National Congress and May Square (Plaza de Mayo) surrounded by Government House (Casa Rosada), the Metropolitan Cathedral and City Hall from colonial days (Cabildo). We will visit the Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón), one of the world’s best known opera houses and the cultural pride of the “Porteños” (Buenos Aires natives).
Next, we will tour the traditional barrio of San Telmo where the magical atmosphere of the district will take you back in time. We will then stop at La Boca, home of the first Italian immigrants and you will observe its picturesque and colourful architecture. We will then continue to the residential neighborhood of Palermo and many parks.
Finally, we will go to Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive district, with its famous cemetery where Evita Peron is buried, elegant boutiques, gourmet restaurants and side walk cafés under ficus trees (gomeros).Tonight get into the Argentine mood with a juicy steak and Tango show.
Day 33 Tuesday: Buenos Aires (B)
A day at your leisure. There is still time to explore the city further or perhaps enjoy an optional trip across to Colonia in Uruguay.
Day 34 - Wednesday: Depart Buenos Aires (B)
Your final day sees you transferred to the airport for your onward flight home.
Dates & Prices
Double / Twin* Single Supplement*
4Aug,1Sep NZ$13975 NZ$2400
26Apr,2Aug,30Aug NZ$14175 NZ$2885
7 Jun NZ$14475 NZ$2885
These costs based on you flying internationally to/from South America with LATAM Airlines. Should you travel on another airline a surcharge may apply.
- ALL travel as per itinerary – buses, boats, flights, transfers, and taxis.
- ALL transfers as per itinerary.
- ALL accommodation twin share with private facilities in comfortable 4 star hotels.
- ALL entrance fees and sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary.
- Breakfasts daily, 5 Lunches & 4 Dinners.
- Services of Professional Tour Manager (subject to a minimum of 6 people travelling).
- Services of local English speaking guides.
- Meals not specified as above. It is necessary to allow USD$35-45 per day to cover this.
- Insurance, visa fees, medical expenses, tips & airport taxes (allow US$250).
- Optional sightseeing and personal expenses.