Tick off two of Latin America’s ultimate bucket list destinations in one epic trip. Walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, discover native wildlife and see sea lions and giant tortoises before flying to Peru and the ancient site of Machu Picchu. Adventure and culture awaits, as you make your way through jungles, ancient towns and breathtaking scenery.
We’ve arrived in Ecuador’s largest city and are ready and raring to conquer it all. Getting out of here pretty early we’ll take to the skies, bound for the glorious Galapagos Islands. Excited much? You should be. On arrival we’ll appease our rumbling stomachs with some munch.
Giant tortoises roaming their natural surroundings and incredible old lava tunnels will welcome us onto the island of Santa Cruz. After lunch, we’ll take to the ocean and make tracks to our home for the night – the impossibly glorious Isabela Island, where we’ll sleep amidst the spellbinding beauty of the Galapagos National Park.
The inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, Isabela Island is home to wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Picture the scene – sandy streets, palm trees, crystal waters and seal pups playing – can it really get any more perfect? Soak it all in, as it’s home for the next little while.
Well good morning paradise. The ocean is calling, and who are we to resist her? Our wildlife kayaking adventure will see us taking to the seas with beady eyes on the lookout for green sea turtles.
We’ll wake up hungry for the day this morning (that’s what island life does to you), and for good reason – Santa Cruz is on the horizon.
After settling in to the Santa Cruz way of life, we’ll stroll down to the beach and the cosy Tortuga Bay. Wildlife fanatics will be in their element – the island is known for sharks, rays, turtles, great blue herons, and even blue footed boobies. Spend your time sunbaking next to a marine iguana, or roam the streets stopping off in cute cafes for fresh juice pit stops.
Our stint on Santa Cruz wraps up this morning with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station where one of the island's most famous residents once lived, Lonesome George, the now deceased 100-year old tortoise. The Research Station is something of a mini miracle in action, where countless species of tortoise and land iguanas have been brought back from the brink of extinction.
Back on our boat we’ll set sail for San Cristobal, keeping our eyes peeled for cute bathing sea lions (we won’t have to look too hard – they’re literally everywhere). Four extinct volcanoes sit across the island creating scenic highlands that are best experienced by bike – mainly cruising downhill, you'll be happy to know. The tiny town of El Progreso will add a splash of colour to our journey, and we’ll also cross five different vegetation zones before arriving at our seaside destination – La Loberia beach.
It’s our last day soaking up the natural beauty of the Galapagos, and what a day we’ve got planned. Bird-watching will kick us off, followed by a cruise to the 143-metre Kicker Rock – a natural phenomenon that protrudes from the ocean and is one of the greatest icons of the area. Our Local Guide will give us the low-down on the wildlife – both above and below the water – that surrounds the rock, then we’ll jump in and explore for ourselves. Keep a look out for chocolate chip starfish and a Galapagos Shark or two, but remember the golden rule – keep those toes off the coral, as you can do serious damage to the delicate eco-system. Back on board, we’ll make tracks for Puerto Grande beach. Here, we’ll eat lunch on board and enjoy a final afternoon of Galapagos fun, before rounding off the day with a feat to end all feasts. WHAT A DAY.
We’ll wave goodbye to Ecuador this morning, but the sad faces at leaving this beautiful country won’t last for long. Why? 2 words…Peru, baby!
Our included flight will land us in the seaside Peruvian capital of Lima. Arriving late, we’ll nevertheless be pumped at the prospect of what tomorrow brings – more of South American adventuring and yet more awesome people to enjoy the journey with. Life is pretty sweet right now.
A new day, a new country – let’s do this! Steeped in Spanish colonialism yet buzzing with modern metro vibes, Lima is sure to ignite your love for Peru. Spend your morning marvelling at lavishly decorated churches and an underground tunnel cemetery overflowing with bones or catacombs, then hit the Barranco district this afternoon to get a feel for its bohemian ambiance. A stroll over the Bridge of Sighs is also a must. And of course no trip to Lima is complete without devouring at least one portion of ceviche – it’s a pretty massive deal in the city. Round off the day watching the sun set over the Pacific, most likely with a pisco sour in hand…
We’ll catch a flight the city of Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southern jungle. We’ll have lunch on the river as we travel upstream by a traditional Peruvian boat to our Contiki Special Stay Rainforest Lodge in the mighty Amazon jungle, where we’ll try to spot toucans, macaws and capybaras along the way.
A quick tour of the city will reveal colourful fruit stalls, open air markets, and locals going about their day. But now we're back underway and we just want to get to the jungle.
Our lodge is a special experience in itself! Located in then luscious rainforest and made from wood and clay, its open walls leave you sleeping virtually amongst the rainforest! After you settle in, we’ll get a different take on the jungle as we take a hike to the canopy tower. After climbing the 100ft of stairs you will be provided with a birds-eye view of the rainforest! Home to monkeys, birds, bromeliads and other jungle life, this is the ultimate way to see the jungle. After dinner you can experience something really different, heading out to look for caiman, a member of the alligator family native to the Amazon. Scan the shores with flashlights and see if you can catch the red gleam of the light as it reflects off of the caiman’s eyes.
With another day at the jungle lodge, keep your eyes peeled for a wildlife like the giant otter,monkeys, tropical birds, bromeliads and other jungle life, this is the ultimate way to see the jungle.
Wave goodbye to your jungle home as we're off back to the capital of Peru!
Spend today exploring the beautiful city of Cusco - wander the main plaza, visit the Tread Right support weaving centre or feed your sweet tooth with a visit to the chocolate museum. Then get into Cusco's amazing nightlife & join our Illary (Sunrise) Club!
Heading out of Cusco and bound for the Sacred Valley on our private coach, this is where our journey into the ruins and mystique of this land truly begins. But first, llamas. An iconic symbol of Peru, we’ll be stopping off at a llama farm to show some love to these furry favourites up close, and we’re talking the whole humpback family – llamas, vicuna and alpacas. #llamaselfie achieved, we’ll then stop off to witness the ancient Incan art of weaving in practise by a group of talented local artisans. Throughout the journey, play close attention to your surrounds – there’s the chance to spot the Incan farming technique of terracing, as well as the ‘salineras’ (salt mines). Want to know what the Peruvians do for fun? You’ll get the chance to play the traditional game of “Sapo”, and exactly what that entails we’ll leave to the imagination…
Our explorations of the Sacred Valley will begin with a guided tour of the Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. Our Local Guide will give you the d-l on both, visiting the circular terraced Pisac ruins first which date back to the 1400’s. Moving on to Ollantaytambo, base camp for those taking the trek tomorrow, we’ll appease dry mouths with some homemade Chica de Jora brew. This tiny town may be small in geographical terms, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude, with artisan shops and cafes spilling out onto streets, and the roaring Urubamba river providing the perfect natural background noise. For those embarking on the Inca trail tomorrow this is your final chance to stock up on last minute essentials (socks, socks and more socks). For all others, spend your time soaking in the vibes, hanging with other travellers and just getting a feel for this iconic little town.
For those embarking on our epic 1 day trek, we’ll catch the train to KM104 and the start of a day to remember. With just 3.5 hours on foot and 6-kilometres to cover, the enchanting site that awaits us will make it all worthwhile. Descending into the site we’ll take in Wayana Picchu 'Little peak' – the iconic peak you’ll have seen in every picture ever – marvelling at the incredible handiwork of the ancient Incas. Satisfaction levels at an all-time high and with a big ol’ smile on your tired face, we’ll head back to Aguas Calientes and a squishy hotel bed you couldn’t be more deserving of. For those not embarking on the Inca Trail,the morning is yours to enjoythe surrounding lush mountains of Aguas Calientes.
Can you feel the excitement mounting? Yep – those are pretty much the feels when Machu Picchu is quite literally on the horizon. This afternoon we’ll hop on the train to Aguas Calientes, a cute town in its own right complete with roaring river, quaint bridges and local haunts, but most famously known as the gateway town to Machu Picchu. We’ll meet up with those who opted for the one day trek, and basically spend the evening hyping each other up for what’s to come tomorrow.
Excitement levels at an all-time high, the day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here – it’s Machu Picchu time! Built around 1450 at the height of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the new world. We’ll be treated to a guided tour of the site taking in such wonders as the Temple of the Three Windows and Wayana Picchu (the peak you’ll of seen in every Machu Picchu image ever), and of course you’ll have some alone time to explore the area as only you can do. This is one big old tick off the life goals list, so enjoy every single second of it.
Back on the train we’ll de-brief on our once-in-a-lifetime experience as we head back to Cusco. Last time round was all about getting acquainted with the city, so now you’ve got you’re bearings you can really get lost amongst the market stalls and cobbled streets, maybe even going truly local by trying out a serving of cuy.
Having bonded deeply over the moving spiritual quest time to say our goodbyes. We'll share one last breakfast together before going our separate ways and continuing on to our next adventure - armed with incredible memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.
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Trip Name: Latin Icons
Duration: 14 Days
From Price: $7,179
Supplier Tour ID: 127.233A/220479
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