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Independent

South American Explorer

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina

37 days

Summary

Travel the length of the former Inca Empire, from Ecuador to Northern Argentina. This tailored itinerary is fully flexible to suit your tastes and budget. You will overland through Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes, admire the incredible diversity of wildlife in the Galapagos Islands, experience the surreal landscapes of Bolivia’s south west, the Uyuni Salt Plains and coloured lagoons, and you will have the chance to see the majestic Iguazu Falls and explore the extensive Argentine National Park.

Highlights

  • Walk through Quito, a capital city high in the Andes and admire its beautiful and well preserved colonial architecture.
  • Overland through the famous Avenue of the Volcanoes and take spectacular pictures of Cotopaxi volcano.
  • Cuenca is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Ecuador. Walk through the city centre and watch the artisans make beautiful panama hats!
  • The Galapagos islands are an oasis for many endemic animals and plants. Visit several islands to get to see tortoises, iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and many more of the big 15 of Galapagos.
  • You will fall in love with Lima’s gastronomy after you take a magnificent cooking lesson that will end with a famous pisco sour.
  • Visit the Pisac Market and Ollantaytambo ruins and town. Explore the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas and let Machu Picchu inspire you.
  • Get a great perspective of UNESCO World Heritage Listed city of Cuzco and its nearby ruins.
  • Visit Taquile, Uros Reed floating Islands and Sun Island on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable in the world.
  • Visit La Paz, the highest capital in the world and wander through its famous witches’ market
  • Experience the surreal lanscapes of Bolivia’s southwest, the Uyuni Salt Plains and coloured lagoons
  • Stay in the adobe village of San Pedro Atacama, the perfect base for explorations of this magical desert region
  • Cafayate is known for its iconic rock formations and excellent wines
  • Be amazed by the spectacular views of crashing waterfalls at Iguazu. Both side have beautiful panoramic views of the falls.
  • Explore Buenos Aires most vibrating corners and enjoy a dinner and Tango show at a typical Argentinian venue.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Quito

Welcome to Quito. Transfer to your hotel on arrival.

Day 2 Quito

Free morning. Afternoon walking tour of the UNESCO Heritage listed colonial centre.

Day 3 Quito

Full day tour of Otavalo to visit the famous indigenous markets with lunch at a local hacienda.

Day 4 Quito/Baños

Drive to Cotopaxi National Park where you’ll see the conical Cotopaxi Volcano before continuing to one of the region’s colourful local markets. After lunch, we drive to Baños & overnight.

Day 5 Baños/Riobamba

Travel the famous Route of the Waterfalls around Baños and drive to a great lookout point to see the spectacular Tungurahua Volcano. Continue to Riobamba & overnight.

Day 6 Riobamba/Cuenca

Train ride along the series of switchbacks known as the Devil’s Nose; continue by car to Cuenca, visiting Ingapirca ruins enroute.

Day 7 Cuenca

Half day tour of the colonial city centre, including the Cathedral, Taquilla Hat Factory (maker’s of the famous Panama Hats!) and the Flower Market. Afterwards we take a short drive out of town for picturesque views of the red-tiled roofs and church domes, framed by imposing mountains.

Day 8 Cuenca/Guayaquil

Travel overland to Guayaquil, via El Cajas National Park. In Guayaquil you’ll have a short city tour and overnight.

Day 9 Guayaquil/Galapagos Islands

Fly to the Galapagos Islands to join your cruise. There are dozens of ways you can experience the fabulous Galapagos Islands. Choose from 3 to 14 night itineraries on tourist, first class or deluxe vessels, or ask us about island hopping programs.

Day 10 Galapagos Islands

Daily activities with naturalist guides.

Day 11 Galapagos Islands

Daily activities with naturalist guides.

Day 12 Galapagos Islands/Guayaquil

Morning touring. Return to Guayaquil. Transfer to your hotel.

Day 13 Guayaquil/Lima

Fly to Lima this morning. Half day city sightseeing tour including Larco Museum.

Day 14 Lima

Free day to explore Lima. Option to have a Peruvian cooking lesson & market visit.

Day 15 Lima/Sacred Valley

Fly to Cuzco and transfer to the Sacred Valley where you can best adjust to the altitude.

Day 16 Sacred Valley

Full day tour through the Sacred Valley, including Chinchero and its market and Ollantaytambo village and fortress.

Day 17 Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu

Travel by train to explore the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. A guided tour of the ruins and lunch is included today.

Day 18 Machu Picchu/Cuzco

Return to the ruins and explore at your own pace. Return to Cuzco this afternoon.

Day 19 Cuzco

Half day city tour of the main sights of Cuzco and nearby ruins.

Day 20 Cuzco

Free day. Optional Community Project day; visit an Andean village for a more indepth cultural encounter. Learn about their way of living and their everyday activities including a one-on-one weaving lesson. We encourage you to bring along a water filter donation which will change the life of a family.

Day 21 Cuzco/Puno

Full day bus tour across the Altiplano to Lake Titicaca with stops at Andahuaylillas, Raqchi and lunch in Sicuani on the way.

Day 22 Puno

Morning tour visiting Uros floating reed Islands on Lake Titicaca. Option to include Taquile Island.

Day 23 Puno/La Paz

Travel by coach & catamaran from Puno to La Paz with a visit to Copacabana & Sun Island. Option to overnight on Sun Island.

Day 24 La Paz

Enjoy a half day city tour visiting the Valley of the Moon and Witches’ Market.

Day 25 La Paz/Uyuni

Fly to Uyuni and depart by 4wd on one of the most breathtaking overland trips in South America.

Day 26 Uyuni

Continue across the Altiplano to Alota and Villamar.

Day 27 Uyuni/San Pedro de Atacama

Visit the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. Continue through the “Pampas de Dali”, up to Laguna Verde, before crossing the border into Chile to San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 28 San Pedro de Atacama

Optional full day tour of the Tatio Geysers.

Day 29 San Pedro de Atacama/Salta

A full day bus ride across wild and remote Andean landscapes will take you to Salta, Argentina.

Day 30 Salta

Day at leisure to relax and explore. Visit the excellent Museum of High Mountain Archaeology and see the brilliantly preserved remains of child sacrifices found over 6000m in the Andean Range.

Day 31 Salta

Full day tour of the Cafayate wine region. Drive through the stunning Cafayate Gorge with its beautiful colours and iconic rock formations before arriving in the pretty Calchaquies Valley. Visit a local winery for a tasting. Return to Salta.

Day 32 Salta/Puerto Iguazu

Morning at leisure. Fly to Puerto Iguazu this afternoon and transfer to your hotel.

Day 33 Puerto Iguazu

Enjoy a full tour of the Argentine Iguazu National Park, including Devil’s Throat and the Grand Adventure Boat Ride, a thrilling way to experience the power of the falls.

Day 34 Puerto Iguazu/Buenos Aires

Fly to cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 35 Buenos Aires

Morning sightseeing tour of Buenos Aires. This evening, learn the basic steps of tango before your dinner and tango show.

Day 36 Buenos Aires

Free day. Consider an Estancia visit in Areco, famous for the conservation of Creole customs and home to the Guiraldes Museum, or a day trip to charming and historic Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay).

Day 37 Buenos Aires

Transfer to the airport. Option to extend your trip to the Mendoza or Bariloche.

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