South America Discovery     

26 Nights / 27 Days

Day 1    Friday    Quito

On arrival transfer to your hotel.

Day 2    Saturday    Otavalo  (B,D)

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)

Morning at leisure.

Afternoon scenic tour of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, will take you through its wealth of culture, history and tradition. Ending up at a lookout point with great scenic view.

Day 4    Monday   Quito – Patate (B,L,D)

The artisans tradition of Quito is present in the visit to the Yanapi Hat Shop, where guests can observe the process of making hats by hand, of wool felt and fur felt; these high-quality hats are exported to European, Australian and American markets.  Along valleys and mountains, arrive to Cotopaxi National Park, which surrounds the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, 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!  At the foot of the volcano is a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a room with Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries -a truly archaeological jewel.  After lunch, mingle with the llamas of the hacienda and stroll along a rose plantation, many varieties, many colours, ready for exportation.  From here, 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- Riobamba (B,L,D)

After breakfast, take a spectacular route along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Baños (Baths), right at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano, from where the thermal waters that gave it its name emerge.  Drive along the Route of the Cascades to El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil's Cauldron) -the most adventurous 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.  Lunch is served at an hacienda / hostel in the surroundings, and in the afternoon a short stroll along Baños -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 high paramo where vicuñas graze and scamper - this is a protected Faunistic Preserve.  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. Great photo ops on this route!  Arrive to Riobamba for dinner and lodging

Day 6    Wednesday    Riobamba – Devils Nose Railway – Cuenca (B,L,D)

After an early breakfast depart by road, skirting the flanks of the Andes, an astonishing ride, twisting and turning, along bridging ravines and river gorges.  Ride through Indian villages and cultivated fields; here is where most of the cereals in Ecuador are grown, among them, the quinua, considered the perfect grain for its nutritional value.  After about 2 hours 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.  Stations have been renewed, railways and sleepers replaced, engines and classic coaches renovate, and, most important, 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 finds the newly renovated Station of Sibambe.  Here there is time to visit the local museum "Condor Puñuna" built and run by the Nizag community, see the display of local handcrafts, fruit and medicinal plants and try the local coffee.  The train whistle calls guests back on board for the return to the Station of Alausí, where a light snack is served to regain strength.  Continue exploring the Andean world by motorcoach to the south, visiting the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca en-route. Lunch in the area.  Arrival to Cuenca at dusk for dinner and accommodations.

Day 7    Thursday    Cuenca – Lima   (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.  This comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colorful artisans market, where handicrafts are sold.  Then, visit the Museum of Modern Art, featuring an excellent collection of contemporary fine art.  Next 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 a stroll to the main square, surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Palace, the Governor's Palace and the Church of El Sagrario.  Then, 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, 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.

This evening fly to Quito and connect by air to Lima.

On arrival transfer to your hotel

Day 8    Friday    Lima (B)

Tour of the "City of the Kings".You will start in the Huaca Pucllana archeological center that operated between the 5th  and 8th centuries.Proceed to the historical center,see the Plaza Mayor surrounded by the Government Palace, the City Hall,

the Cathedral and the archbishop's Palace.Proceed to the San Francisco Monastery,a masterpiece of Colonial architecture.Drive through the residential districts of Miraflores and San Isidro where you will enjoy a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean.Afternoon at leisure.

Day 9    Saturday    Lima – Cusco (B)

Fly into the Andes and beautiful Cusco, lying in exceptionally beautiful countryside 3400 metres above sea level, Here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and Spanish cathedrals. 

Most of the central streets are lined with massive stonewalls built by the Incas and now form the foundations of Colonial Cusco. The city's Cathedral drips with magnificent colonial art and the Koricancha displays the best example of Inca stonework in Cusco.  This afternoon enjoy a leisurely walking tour of the city followed by the impressive temple of Sacsayhuaman, the spring-shrine of Tambo Machay.

Day 10    Sunday    Chinchero Market & Ollantaytambo (B,L)

Explore the impressive Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, which dominates the ancient town.

Next stop is Chinchero Market, the most authentic and colourful market in Peru, at over 4000 metres above sea level set in fabulous scenery.  This is the real Andes.  After plenty of time to browse, bargain and take great photos, continue to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for lunch at a local restaurant – try their delicious local fruit ice cream.  After lunch visit the impressive Inca site of Ollantaytambo with its ancient village lying below-just as it was back in Inca times .Stay overnight in this beautiful valley

 Day 11    Monday    Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu (B,L)

It’s up early for one of the world’s great train journeys from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.  Passing through fabulous scenery we travel towards the jungle.  Arrive at Aguas Calientes. Catch the bus up to Machu Picchu.

Suddenly it is spread out before you like a giant picture postcard.  Enjoy a 2 hour guided tour, explore on your own and discover the mysteries of this lost civilisation and admire their workmanship and the unique location of this magical citadel.

Return by bus down the zigzag mountain road to Agua Calientes for overnight

Day 12    Tuesday    Machu Picchu – Cusco (B)

This morning the opportunity for an optional return visit to Machu Picchu at sunrise.

Or a free morning to explore the markets and/or soak in the hot mineral pools. This afternoon return by the train to Cusco. Transfer to your hotel.

 Day 13    Wednesday    Cusco- Arequipa (B)

Morning at leisure 

Transfer from the hotel to the airport and connect by air to Arequipa. Transfer to your hotel, rest of day at leisure

Day 14    Thursday    Arequipa (B)

This morning a city tour of Arequipa, also known as 'the White City' because of the white volcanic rock, sillar, used in its constructions. You will visit the beautiful Santa Catalina convent, founded in 1580.This convent is an almost self-sustained village, made up of houses for the nuns and their servants, cloisters, plazas and narrow streets, kitchens, refectory and laundry. From there proceed to the Jesuit Church, where you will be impressed by the beauty of its facade, considered the best example of the mestizo baroque stylein Arequipa. The ancient vestry is particularly beautiful with its cupola and walls covered in murals that recall the jungle. The ancient Jesuit seminary is famous for its beautiful principal cloister. After visiting the Main Plaza continue to the residential districts of Yanahuara and Chilina, where you will have a magificent view of Arequipa's countryside and the Misti volcano.

Day 15    Thursday    Arequipa- Colca  (B)

Early morning departure for a 2 day overland trip to the Colca

Valley. Drive across Pampa Canahuas within the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, the habitat of herds of vicunas. Admire beautiful pre-Columbian terraces where native Collaguas still work.

Day 16    Friday    Colca-Puno (B,L)

Early departure to 'Condors Cross', observation point from where you can view these great Andean birds. Impressive panorama of the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world (3,000 mts/9,800 ft)  Then departure overland across the altiplano to Puno.

Day 17    Saturday    Uros Islands (B,L)

Enjoy a complete day of sailing in Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world. Depart early in the morning for the floating islands of Uros, where the inhabitants still live as they did centuries ago, on floating islands they make with the totora reeds that grow on the lake.  Continue sailing towards Taquile Island for a 30 minute, hike towards its small town inhabited by Quechua speaking natives who have, over the generations, developed   both an efficient and original social system as well as a refined hand weaving technique.  Lunch will be served in a local house that serves as a restaurant. After lunch we will explore the island and you can appreciate the magnificent views of Lake Titicaca.  After this trek you will embark and return to Puno

Day 18    Sunday    Puno – La Paz (B,L)

Travel from Puno by bus, crossing the border into Bolivia .Continue to Copacabana where you visit the magnificent church and the Patron Virgin Mary of Bolivia. Depart Copacabana by motor boat to visit the sacred island of the Incas- Sun Island. Enjoy a picnic box lunch .Visit of the most important archaeological sites at the Sun Island: Pilkocaina, the Fountain and the Inca Staircase, then return to Copacabana

Continue by bus to the city of La Paz. On the way to La Paz, you will cross the strait of Tiquina, which is the narrowest part of the Titicaca Lake, dividing the small side (Wiñaymarka) and the big side (Chucuito). The drive goes though the high plateau reaching the first most important city of Bolivia, La Paz late afternoon

Day 19    Monday    La Paz (B)

This morning you will get your bearings on a city tour, which includes the weird landscapes of the Moon Valley. Learn about the dubious history of Bolivia and enjoy the complete contrast of this busy city where ancient cultures sit side by side with modern skyscrapers and chaotic traffic of the new millennium. This afternoon you are free to browse through the many colourful markets near your hotel.

 Day 20    Tuesday    La Paz – Buenos Aires (B)

An early start as we say ‘adios’ to the Andes and fly to Buenos Aires.

Transfer to your hotel.

Day 21    Wednesday    Buenos Aires (B)

Morning tour visiting the most outstanding sites. Departing from the Hotel to get to 9 de Julio Ave. the widest in the world, past the famous Colon Opera house, the Obelisk commemorating the first founding of the city in 1536 to get to Plaza de Mayo (May Square), and the buildings surrounding it: Government House, Metropolitan Cathedral with the Mausoleum of General San Martin, Argentina’s greatest national hero and the Cabildo, the colonia town hall built in 1751. Then on to La Boca, typically Italian district, where first italian immigrants settled and ‘Caminito’ street. The tour continues to Buenos Aires port area, past San Martín Square towards Palermo Chico residential district and Palermo Park with its jacaranda and palo borracho trees which flower in the spring and late summer. The ride continues to Recoleta elegant district to visit Recoleta Cementary where the famous are laid to rest (including Eva Peron). Return to the hotel along the stylish Alvear Ave.

Afternoon at leisure

Day 22    Thursday    Buenos Aires (B)

Day at leisure to explore the city or perhaps visit a local estancia or a day trip across to Colonia, Uruguay

Day 23    Friday    Buenos Aires – Iguazu (B)

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Iguazu.

First transfer to the Argentine side of the falls. These falls defy description!   Gasp at the majesty of the world's most spectacular waterfalls.  Set in pristine rainforest with countless birds and butterflies, Situated on the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil 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 multi coloured mist is natural beauty at its best.  It is undoubtedly one of the world's most impressive sights – see the mighty Devils Throat. Transfer across to the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu where you stay overnight.

Day 24    Saturday    Iguacu Falls – Rio de Janeiro (B)

This morning visit the Brazil side for an amazing and very photogenic panoramic view of these magical falls. Connect to the airport for your flight to Rio.

Transfer to your hotel in Copacabana

Day 25    Sunday    Rio de Janeiro (B)

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro – river of January – is a beautiful city full of vibrant people.  Brazilians say “God made the world in 6 days – the 7th day he devoted to Rio”.   Stunning views from famous Sugar Loaf Mountain as begin our sightseeing by local bus and gondola. 

This afternoon enjoy the cogwheel train straight up the mountainside to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado) and even more stunning views.

Day 26    Monday    Rio de Janeiro (B)

Day at leisure. Today enjoy the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana and a ride on the local bus is not to be missed.   Enjoy the scenery - and I mean the people - and the atmosphere.  Browse through the famous Ipanema Hippie Fair and admire the Brazilian arts and crafts – maybe buy a bargain or two.

Day 27    Tuesday    Rio de Janeiro (B)

You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight

Dates & Prices:

Departures:   Fridays - weekly

2014

Prices Per Person US$                   3 Star                   4 Star                 5 Star

Double / Twin                                     $6580                   $7175                 $8350

Single Room Supplement               $2010                  $2490                 $3130

 

* Please note that the prices mentioned above are based on you arriving & departing South America with one of the “One World “ group of airlines which comprises of American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, LAN Airline , Qantas.