Nazca, Amazon, Otavalo & Avenue of the Volcanoes


Scenic Nazca Lines overflight; Guided Amazon adventure; Mysterious Machu Picchu-a must see!; Exploring Cuzco and the "Sacred Valley of the Incas"; Venice Simplon Orient-Express "Andean Explorer"


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 05 Feb 2016Thu 03 Mar 2016 $6290
Fri 24 Jun 2016Thu 21 Jul 2016 $6290
Fri 23 Sep 2016Thu 20 Oct 2016 $6290

Optional Single Supplement: $900 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $130, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.

Tour Overview

Peru's capital city was once called 'The City of Kings' by Spanish conquistadors and it is here that we begin our 28-day tour through South America. Using Lima as a base, we catch a flight to view the curious phenomenon of the Nazca lines; approximately three hundred figures made of straight lines and geometric shapes that are most clearly visible from the air, which were supposedly built by the ancient civilisation of the Nazca, but to what end, no one can say with certainty. Most tours to the Nazca lines include a trip to Peru's answer to the Galapagos Islands-- the spectacular Ballestas Islands-- and then it's back to Lima for further exploration of the destination that was once the most important and richest city in the Americas. We meander in grand plazas, gaze at intricately carved churches and cathedrals and tour breathtaking underground catacombs as we learn about the area's fascinating colonial history. Travelling southeast through spellbinding landscapes of deep, forested valleys and towering mist-encircled mountains, we drive to Machu Picchu for one of the highlights of our adventure: exploration of the majestic temples, gigantic pyramids and stone staircases built by the great Inca Empire of ancient times. Through mud-brick villages wherein locals are adorned in traditional attire and green fields dotted with willow trees and eucalyptus groves, we journey east to Bolivia, stopping off en route for a short boat ride on a lake to see the unique lifestyles of islanders. For five days, we admire the abundant natural and man-made attractions of Bolivia: the fascinating colonial centres of Copacabana; the tranquility of Lake Titicaca and the lakeside trenches built by the Incas to channel the sacred water; museums brimming with pre-Columbian artifacts and relics; ancient ceremonial sites of 'lost' civilisations; colourful marketplaces; and glorious sceneries of Andean snow-tipped peaks and plunging valleys with tropical jungle. From here, it's on to the pristine Amazonian rainforests of Ecuador to see teeming wildlife and lush flora as we tour the country's remarkable natural environment. As we make our way along the 'Avenue of Volcanoes', we see snow-capped summits, mystical brooks and rivers, terraced farmlands, small villages and fascinating cultures and reluctantly fly home from the capital, Quito.

Regions visited: South America
Countries visited: Peru; Bolivia and Ecuador


Excursions were excellent. Our tour leader Pablo was excellent in every way and kept us well informed. Pablo took great care of us.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Lima
Today we arrive in Lima, Peru.

In recent years, this city has undergone some wonderful restorations of the plazas, ornate facades, and wooden balconies for which it is famous. Named the 'City of Kings' by the Spanish Conquistadors, Lima is the capital of Peru. Founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, where the River Rimac meets the Pacific Ocean, this was the most important Spanish city during the colonial era with a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. Today the city is home to more than 7 million

Overnight in Lima (Miraflores). Hotel Exclusive or similar.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Lima - Nazca Lines Scenic Overflight
We have an early morning* private transfer to the bus station for the Cruz del Sur or Ormeno Royal Class public bus to Nazca (6-7 hrs). We have an arrival transfer from Nazca bus station to the Casa Andina hotel. After a brief break for refreshment, you will head directly to the small airport to board your scenic overflight of the 2,000 year old Nazca Lines, comprised of about three hundred figures made of straight lines and geometric shapes most clearly visible from the air.

The lines were supposedly built by an ancient civilization called the Nazca, though no one knows for sure who built them or why. Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, a celestial calendar, used for rituals probably related to astronomy, or a map of underground water supplies. Your total flying time will be about one hour; the total time spent over the lines themselves will be approximately 25-35 minutes.

After the flight we drive back to our hotel in Nazca.

* Given the early morning departure, passengers with flight routings that land in Lima late on Day 1 might consider arriving a day earlier.

Overnight in Nazca.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Nazca - Ica
After breakfast, we visit the Maria Reiche Museum. Maria Reiche (1903-1998) was a German-born mathematician and archaeologist famous for her research on the Nazca Lines. We then drive from Nazca to Ica and check into the Hotel Las Dunas. Our afternoon is free to enjoy the surroundings or visit the Ica Regional Museum.

This evening we drive to Huacachina, built around a small lake in the desert. Called the "Oasis of America," it serves as a resort for local families from the nearby city of Ica. Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water in which she had been bathing to become a lagoon.

Return to Ica.

Overnight in Ica. Hotel Las Dunas.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Ica - Ballestas Islands - Lima
This morning we travel to Paracas and enjoy a boat trip to the spectacular Ballestas Islands, often described as Peru's answer to the Galapagos. Though they don't quite match the splendour of their northern cousins, they are quite spectacular in their own right. The islands have been eroded to form countless natural caves and arches. In fact, this is where the islands' name comes from -- the word Ballesta means 'bow' (as in archery). There are colonies of thousands of seabirds such as pelicans, Inca terns and cormorants as well as a small colony of Humboldt penguins. You will also see hundreds of sealions and often schools of dolphin.

We return to Paracas and the take the bus north, arriving back in Lima late afternoon. Tonight we meet other incoming group members who are not participating in the Nazca extension.

Overnight in Lima (Miraflores).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Lima: City Tour
This morning we start our tour with a visit to San Francisco's Church to visit the extensive catacombs that lie underneath. We then continue to the Plaza de Armas, the most important plaza in Lima. The oldest surviving part of the plaza is the impressive bronze fountain, erected in 1650. Surrounding the plaza is the exquisite Archbishop's Palace, the cathedral, and the Government Palace where handsomely uniformed presidential guards are on duty all day. We visit the cathedral where the great conquistador Francisco Pizarro's tomb lies.

We then proceed to the Larco Museum, which showcases remarkable chronological galleries and an excellent overview on 3,000 years of development of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. Located in a unique vice-royal mansion of the 18th century built over a 7th century pre-Columbian pyramid, is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Features the finest gold and silver collection from ancient Peru and the famous erotic archaeological collection, one of the most visited Peruvian tourist attractions. For an unforgettable experience, Larco is one of the few museums in the world where visitors can also choose to enter the storage area with its 45,000 classified archaeological objects.

Later we head to the trendy area of Miraflores where people stroll along the cliff tops and watch the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean. The best location is the new "Love Park," with its magnificent monument to lovers at its centre. We continue to the Hacienda Mamacona for an exhibition of beautiful Peruvian Paso horses, accompanied by a delicious dinner of Criollo food and a folkloric show.

Overnight in Lima (Miraflores).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Lima - Cuzco - Urubamba Valley - Ollantaytambo - Yucay
Early this morning we fly to Cuzco, located in a fertile valley at 3354 m (11,004 feet). This is the archaeological capital of the Americas and the ancient capital of the Inca Empire that, at its height, stretched from Colombia in the north, through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and down to central Chile in the south. Although the empire already existed in the 12th century, it remained small until the mid-15th century. Over the next 100 years, it expanded massively but declined due to the civil war and the conquest by the Spanish conquistadors under Francisco Pizarro in 1533.

On arrival we will travel by road into the Urubamba Valley, or "Sacred Valley of the Incas," along one of the most scenic drives on our trip, to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo located on a spectacular ridge with deep valleys on either side. We can admire the carefully constructed and maintained farming terraces on the surrounding hillsides.

We continue to the town of Yucay on the bank of the Urubamba River (2300m / 7,590 ft). This is an attractive little town of particularly fertile lands whose name translated into Spanish means "deceit" or "bewitchment". According to legend, in the middle of the 15th century, the Inca Huayna Capac was captivated by the incomparable magnificence of Yucay's setting and decided to settle here.

Overnight in Yucay.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Yucay - Machu Picchu Area
Today we take the early morning train from Urubamba to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. The train journey to Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to the Andes; the scenery is simply spectacular, and the train allows you to enjoy it in comfort. The +/- 3 hour trip takes us through a changing landscape with wonderful vistas of the mountains and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River. Our early arrival from Urubamba ensures that we are at the site before the tourist throngs arrive on the train from Cuzco later in the morning.

Upon arrival at the Aguas Calientes train station, a bus will take us on the 6 km (4 mile) twisting journey up the mountainside to the site of Machu Picchu. Having already dropped our baggage at our hotel, we proceed immediately for a guided 3-hour walking tour of the ruins (please be prepared with all that you need for our tour). We will enter the site through the House of the Terrace Caretakers, which flank the agricultural sector. Once on the site, we will see, among other features: the Temple of the Sun, the Fountain Caretaker's House, the Royal Sector, and the puzzling Temple of the Three Windows. We will also see the Common District, the Sacred Rock, and the prison-like Temple of the Condor.

Machu Picchu, popularly known as the 'Lost City of the Incas,' is an ancient city of stone palaces, towers, temples and staircases. It is a very mysterious place, and to this day our knowledge of it remains sketchy. There are no records or artifacts on the site to indicate what any of the buildings were used for. Archaeologists have ascertained that the site was most likely a ceremonial centre and possibly used for administrative purposes for the populous region.

After our tour, you may choose to proceed to the hotel or remain on the site for some independent exploration (your ticket is good for the day), and return to the hotel on your own using the return portion of your bus ticket.

Overnight at Agua Calientes (near Machu Picchu).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Machu Picchu Area - Cuzco
A large part of the beauty of Machu Picchu is created by its setting on a mountain top surrounded by deep valleys. By staying for a second day to visit Machu Picchu, rather than visiting as a day trip from Cuzco, we are able to savour the atmosphere of this very special place.

In the early morning of our second day at Machu Picchu, most group members choose to take the bus back up to the site with the weather-dependent hope of seeing the mist-clad mountains greet the morning sun. Weather notwithstanding, the best thing about going up the second day is being there early when there are fewer people, allowing time to "soak it in," as well as the opportunity to climb Huayna Picchu and/or to the Sun Gate (approximate optional costs to revisit the site today: bus 12 USD round trip, and 40 USD site entrance, payable locally).

During our time at Machu Picchu, we will also include a visit to the Manuel Chavez Ballon Site Museum, which focuses on the "discovery", excavation, and history of Macchu Picchu. On display are historical photos, including photos of Hiram Bingham at Machu Picchu shortly after he came across the ruins, informative write-ups on the construction of Machu Picchu and the life of the Incas, and artifacts found at the site. Outside the museum is a very lush botanical garden running along the river; some plants are labeled and there are a few short trails. This is a nice shady area to rest on a hot day and is an easy 25 minute walk from Aguas Calientes down the road leading to Machu Picchu.

Later in the afternoon we board the VISTADOME train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo Station (1.5 hours) from where we bus back to Cuzco.

Overnight in Cuzco.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Cuzco Area
This morning we visit some of the most important Inca sites in the Cuzco area.

Sacsayhuaman is an impressive complex which, like so many others of that time, had both a religious and military purpose. The fortress known as the 'storehouse of the sun' incorporates some of the largest stones ever used in a building. The zig-zag walls represent the teeth of the sacred puma and provide an excellent defensive structure. The stones fit so perfectly together without mortar that not even moss can grow in the cracks!

In the afternoon we return to Cuzco and enjoy a tour of the town. We visit Coricancha, the temple of the sun which was the most important location in the Inca empire. Entombed in the closed cloister of the Sto Domingo Church, these sacred walls were hidden from modern civilization until the colonial walls were brought down in 1950 by a powerful earthquake. We also visit the church of San Blas with its fabulously carved pulpit. Wandering the narrow streets of the San Blas artisan region we make our way to the cathedral which towers impressively over the Plaza Mayor. Inside we find precious paintings from the Cuzco School of Art, one of the most prolific of its era.

This Inca city was laid out around a great central square in the shape of a puma, the god of lightning. Today, stone walls built by the Incas line most of Cuzco's central streets and form the foundations of colonial and modern buildings. The Inca buildings were so well built that the Spaniards simply knocked down the upper parts of the Inca temples and palaces and built their churches and mansions on top of the Inca walls. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, the capital was moved to Lima on the coast. Thus Cuzco has retained a wonderful, untouched colonial atmosphere. The culture is also very much alive here, and is evident in the music, clothing and handicrafts of the people.

We have dinner at a local restaurant where we can try some typical Peruvian dishes. One may wish to try the "Pisco sour", a powerful drink made with a Peruvian liquor distilled from white grapes.

Overnight in Cuzco.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Cuzco - Pisac - Cuzco
This morning we visit the ruins at Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara and Qenko. The latter is an Inca sacrificial site carved with inscriptions.

We continue to Pisac with its lively market where you will encounter traditionally dressed locals with whom you can barter for colourful craft items. You will see many unique Andean musical instruments as well as dazzling textiles. Peruvian woolen items are justifiably famous for their imaginative designs, based on Inca art and the local flora and fauna. You can buy sweaters and caps made from the extremely warm wool of alpacas and llamas.

We return to Cuzco with balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Cuzco.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Cuzco - "Andean Explorer" - Puno
Today we take the "Andean Explorer" train from Cuzco to Puno, a full day's journey.

From Cuzco, our train heads south-east, following the Huatanay River through green fields dotted with willow trees and eucalyptus groves, passing outlying communities gathered around colonial churches that conceal their artistic treasures behind crumbling adobe facades. The first half of the journey is dominated by magnificent Andes, towering over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuna and alpaca are often seen. This is a wild, high, windswept and sunburned prairie of isolated communities of shepherds and cattle farmers, wedged between the two distant branches of the Andes visible occasionally on either horizon, when not melting completely with the giant cumulus clouds that dominate the skyline.

The train continues to climb La Raya, some 210 km (130 mi) from Puno. At 4321m (14,260 ft) above sea level, we reach the highest point on our journey, a cold, remote place whose surrounding snow-draped peaks are often shrouded by mist or fine rain, and whose eerie silence is at least partly attributable to eardrums blocked by the dizzying altitude.

Puno, at 3830m (12,562 feet), is the main settlement on the Peruvian shore of Lake Titicaca and the highest place on our tour in which you will spend some time. Puno is the greatest centre of Peruvian folk dancing and traditional instruments; the markets and streets of Puno are bustling with the brightly coloured costumes of the different groups of the region.

Overnight in Puno.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Puno: Floating Islands
This morning we travel north and east to Sillustani, situated on a wind-swept peninsula on tiny Lake Umaya. The burial towers of the nobles of the Colla civilisation are up to 12 metres / 40 feet high. However, it is not known exactly when they were built. Known as chullpas, it is thought that whole families were buried in the towers.

Returning through the stark landscape to Puno, we take an afternoon boat excursion to the floating islands of Los Uros. The Uros people began their floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from their rivals, the Collas and the Incas. Today, about 300 people live on the islands. The islands are constructed from many layers of floating tortora reeds which grow in the shallow waters of Lake Titicaca. The reeds rot away from the bottom and are replaced at the top, so the ground is soft and springy as you walk over it. Even the buildings on the islands are made of tortora. The whole life of the Uros people revolves around the reeds. They even eat the lower stalk and root, which is supposed to taste like celery.

Today the Uros live mainly from fishing, including catching the giant pejerray which can grow up to 13.5 kg / 30 lb.

Overnight in Puno.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Puno, Peru - Copacabana, Bolivia
Today we travel round the Peruvian side of the lake and cross into Bolivian territory. The village of Chucuito is built over an Inca settlement and has an Inca sundial on display which was assembled in the mid-1800s using colonial, Inca, and modern era stones. The turbulent history of the lake region can be seen in the many Inca and pre-Inca sites as well as Spanish colonial churches dotted across the area.

We drive along the western shores of the lake taking in various small towns which are famous for their colonial churches and architecture. One of the most unusual towns along the lake is Juli, which has four huge churches and yet is a small town. The town was originally the Spanish capital of the lake region and the Spaniards hoped to convert most of the indigenous population to Catholicism. While building the Church of Santa Cruz the local stonemasons incorporated Inca motifs into the Christian decorations.

This afternoon we will enjoy a relaxed walking tour of Copacabana. For centuries, Copacabana has been a site of religious pilgrimage, beginning with the Incas. We visit the Cathedral of the Indian Virgin, built between 1605 and 1820. It is a brilliant Moorish structure with mudejar domes, colourful azulejos (decorative tiles), and a beautiful church courtyard decorated with wonderful flower gardens. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel from distinct parts of Bolivia and other Latin American countries to take part in religious festivals in Copacabana. Legend says that if the statue is removed Lake Titicaca will rise up and flood the whole Altiplano region.

For the energetic, there is a walk up to Cerro Calvario (Calvary Hill) for beautiful views of the town and lake. Pilgrims pass the 14 stations of the cross to reach the top but once there they encounter, as so often in Bolivia and Peru, a fusion of Catholic and pagan beliefs.

Overnight in Copacabana.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Lake Titicaca
Today is spent exploring Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca by boat. This is the most important of the thirty-six islands in the lake. Lake Titicaca, South America's largest lake, straddles the Bolivia-Peru border and is said to be the highest navigable body of water in the world at an altitude of 3810 m (12,497 ft). Lake Titicaca was once much larger than the 8560 sq kilometres (3,305 square mi) it occupies today. The great city of Tiahuanaco was built at the edge of the lake, but today it is more than 25 km (15 mi) from the lake. This reduction in the lake size has had a tremendous effect on the climate of the Altiplano region over the past 1,000 years and has made this cradle of cultures able to support far fewer people today.

The cleverly terraced slopes of Isla del Sol contain numerous ruins and small traditional villages. We see the Inca steps where water from a natural spring runs through three stone channels. The sacred water is supposed to cure ailments and bring long life. The three stone channels represent the three commandments of Inca life: Don't Lie, Don't Steal, and Don't be Lazy. The Inca society was highly organised and industrious; laziness was punishable by death.

We return to Copacabana for dinner. This evening you may like to take a stroll along the lake shore at sunset.

Overnight in Copacabana.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Copacabana - Tiahuanaco - La Paz
This morning we drive towards La Paz. We take first a ferry across from the peninsula on which Copacabana sits to the Bolivian mainland and drive to La Paz, one of the world's highest major cities.

En route we stop at Tiahuanaco. This flat, desolate landscape would not seem capable of supporting life, and yet this is where the majority of Bolivia's population live. Here we may see llamas and alpacas, the only surviving relatives of the camel found in the Americas. Tiahuanaco is an ancient ceremonial site constructed around AD 700. After about AD 1200 the Tiahuanaco people disappeared, becoming another 'lost' civilisation. We know little about the people of Tiahuanaco but it is believed that their civilisation developed over a period of 2,000 years and then mysteriously vanished.

Our destination is La Paz, located at 3686 m (12,090 ft) above sea level. La Paz is situated in a bowl-shaped canyon in the Cordillera Real (Royal Range) of the Andes. As we travel across the Altiplano, the ground suddenly drops away 400 m (1,312 ft) to reveal the city hidden in a bowl in the mountains.

This evening you may like to enjoy a 'pena', a traditional Bolivian folk music performance (optional; subject to availability). The music is played on typical Andean instruments such as quenas, zamponas pan pipes and charangos, small, banjo-like instruments, the bodies of which are traditionally made from armadillo shells.

Overnight in La Paz.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 16 La Paz: City Tour
The mountains surrounding La Paz soar to an average of 5500 m (18,040 ft) above sea level. The most spectacular views of the city come on a clear evening when one can see the twinkling lights of the city stretching up the hillsides, under the the snow-capped triple peak of Mount Illimani at 6402 m (20,999 ft).

Today will explore the Spanish colonial quarter of the city and visit the Archeological Museum of Bolivia, which has a special exhibit dedicated to the site of Tiahuanaco visited yesterday. We also experience the colourful markets of La Paz. The markets are a great place to observe the colourfully-dressed native Quechua and Aymara-speaking people. The women wear many layers of petticoats covered by a colourful dress, and over their shoulders they sling a multi-coloured striped blanket called a 'phulla' in which they carry their groceries or babies -- or both! On their heads they wear a bowler hat (which always appears to be too small) at a jaunty angle. The British brought the bowler hat to Bolivia when they were building the railway and somehow it became part of the everyday dress of Andean women.

We finish our day with a visit to a great place to buy some of the handicrafts, such as colourful sweaters woven from sheep's wool or from the light-weight, very warm wool of the native Andean animals. We finish at the unusual Mercado de los Brujos, better known as the Witches' Market, where you will see all sorts of potions, herbs and folk remedies used to guard against evil spirits.

Overnight in La Paz.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 17 La Paz, Bolivia - Quito, Ecuador
Today we fly to Ecuador (usually via Lima). We arrive in Quito and settle in our hotel. Quito is Ecuador's charming capital city, nestled against Pichincha Volcano high in the Andes.

Overnight in Quito. Hotel Reina Isabel or similar.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 18 Quito - Amazon
This moring we fly to the Amazon region and transfer to our lodge.

Yasuni Kichwa Ecolodge* is located on the south bank of the Napo River, the largest river of the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Yasuni National Park. The trip starts from the town of Coca in comfortable ecological roof canoes, outboard motor-operated.

The canoe trip down the river takes about two hours; box lunch will be provided to passengers. During the navigation you will see birds such as herons, kingfishers, terns And other shore birds species and beautiful landscapes. Arriving at Yasuní Kichwa Ecolodge, visitors are warmly welcome with a traditional drink, lunch at the Ecolodge and immediately taken to their cabins amidst the teeming wilderness found on one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.

In the afternoon, a short walk down to the banks of the Napo River to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beaches and islands. Return for dinner and rest.

* We may substitute a different lodge of similar quality and experience if Yasuni Kichwa is not available.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 19 Amazon
Breakfast and early departure on board the boat to visit an amazing parrot clay lick that with an easy access brings visitors face to face with approximately 11 species of parrots (including parrotlets and macaws) depending on the season, weather conditions and general good fortune (this activity is usually successful).

We end this morning with a visit to the Interpretation Center “Kuri Muyu,” handled by the women of the community here learn about the Kichwa culture, crafts, traditions and traditional use of natural resources directly to people in the community. We return for lunch and take a break at the lodge.

Walk of one hour to climb up the observation tower of 35 meters, likely to see a variety of birds, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, toucans, parrots and sloths. Return to the hotel in a motorized canoe; traditional typical dinner.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 20 Amazon
Breakfast visit around the community projects, talk about the Kichwa world view. Excellent opportunity to see more wildlife, ceiba trees, bamboo cane, vines and shrubs endemic from Yasuní. We return for lunch and rest at the lodge. Once at Añangu stream, you will board a small canoe and head down the river in a spectacular adventure through the forest with opportunities to see nightlife alligators and to listen to the sounds of nature at its purest. Return to hotel in motorized canoes, traditional typical dinner.

Overnight Amazon.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 21 Amazon - Quito
We get up at 4:30 am to share one of the ancient customs of the Kichwa culture -- making wayusa to energize the body, and listen to the Kichwa songs. We then return for breakfast before taking a motorized canoe back to the city of Coca. You can also practice water sports such as tubing or regatta on the Napo River or simply relax and unwind.

Fly back to Quito. Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 22 Quito - Otavalo Valley - Ibarra
Today we journey north to the Otavalo Valley region.

In early years the Otavalo Valley was filled with farmers who raised crops in fertile lands where they lived. In the 14th century the Inca expansion reached north into the Otavalo area. The Caraquis who inhabited the area resisted the invaders. For 17 long years fierce fighting continued as the defiant Caraquis refused to be subjugated by the Incas. The Spanish arrived a few years after the Incas. They established a Hacienda system of workshops where Otavalenos were forced to work 15 hour days weaving fabrics. Today this weaving tradition forms the basis of a lucrative industry that has allowed the Otavaleno indigenous peoples to join the world economy while retaining their traditional values and skills. During our time in the valley we will have a chance to visit with the local Otavalenos and see them working their craft. We visit a traditional home with adobe walls and visit with the owners who raise guinea pigs, a local delicacy.

Our hosteria is located nearby the colonial town of Ibarra (2121 m / 7,000 feet), known as the "White City" since many of it houses are colonial style, red-tiled and whitewashed.

Overnight in Ibarra.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 23 Ibarra - Otavalo Market - Avenue of Volcanoes - La Cienega
This morning we visit Otavalo to experience the market. This market is centered around 'Poncho Plaza'. All day long, the whir of cotton candy machines, Andean pipe music, and Quichua, the native tongue derived from the Incan tongue, drift across the square. A blinding maze of coloured textiles spills from the square across the town.

We depart Otavalo to follow in the footsteps of the German scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, and rediscover what in 1802 he called the "Avenue of Volcanoes," a 325 km (202 mi) long valley between the major cordillera ranges. Massive and standing alone, the volcanoes provide brooding, snow-covered contrast to the green equatorial lushness. We see snow-capped summits, mystical brooks and rivers, terraced farmlands, small villages and fascinating cultures.

The area is also home to a number of exceptional haciendas, some of which date back to the 16th century. La Cienega Hacienda is located near the village of Lasso near the foot of Cotopaxi and has been witness to centuries of important events in the history of Ecuador.

Overnight at Hosteria La Cienega.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 24 La Cienega - Banos
Today we continue our journey to Banos. This small town's elevation gives it an extremely agreeable climate and the surrounding mountainsides are brilliant green against the white summit of the Volcano Tungurahua. En route we have a short walk to view one of the most impressive waterfalls in South America, the Devil's Bowl.

The word Banos means "baths" and, as the name indicates, the highlight is the numerous hot spring baths in the area. Today we have opportunity to visit the hot springs as well as wander the streets and market of this picturesque town. You can also hike into the nearby hillsides, along farmers' donkey trails through fields of corn, passion-fruit, and various other local products. A must-see is the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the Holy Water, credited with performing many miracles in the Banos area.

Overnight in Banos.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 25 Banos - Riobamba
After lunch in Banos we travel through open farmland flowing over the high ridges of the Western Andes. On arrival in Riobamba we will have a walking tour including the cathedral and the restored 1920's era Post Office, with free time for independent wanderings.

Overnight in Riobamba.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 26 Riobamba - Chimborazo Reserve - Quito
We depart Riobamba and head for Chimborazo Reserve for a scenic drive around the base of this almost perfectly-conical dormant volcano. Chimborazo (6310m / 20,833 ft), the highest summit in Ecuador, is the gem of the reserve along with the neighboring Carihuairazo Volcano. In the Indian language, Chimborazo means "mountain of snow". It is an enormous mass of overwhelming scale. Alexander Von Humboldt made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain in 1802, and believed it to be the highest mountain in the world. This distinction lasted until the discovery of Mt. Everest fifty years later. Chimborazo was finally climbed by Edward Whimper in 1880. The Reserve of Chimborazo was created in October of 1987 to protect the extensive moors, the flora and the fauna of the region.

We will make several photo stops on our drive, and enjoy this starkly beautiful volcanic landscape. We have a chance to see a vicuna, an endangered species. Vicuna are the smallest of the Camelid family standing at just 2ft 8"-3ft 7" at the shoulder. They are extremely refined and delicate to look at, cinnamon in colour with an apron of long white hair on their chest. The vicuna produces one of the finest fibres of any animal in the world. We also visit an interesting indigenous community at the foot of the mountain where they have been successful in creating a responsible travel and tourism industry.

We continue north to Quito.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 27 Quito: City Tour
Today we tour old Spanish Colonial Quito, preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As we enter the streets of Old Quito we step into the past, surrounded by centuries-old architecture. We stop at the commanding Legislative Palace, whose murals record Ecuador's history. We will see Quito's most beautiful religious buildings, including the cathedral, the Independence Plaza, San Francisco Church, and visit one of Quito's most impressive religious buildings, La Compania church, whose ornate facade and solid gold altars make it one of the most famous of South American churches. We visit the famous Panecillo Hill with its towering winged statue of the Virgin of the Apocalypse with views of north and south of Quito and the surrounding mountains.

This afternoon we travel 22 km (14 miles) north of Quito to the Equator line monument, known as the "middle of the world," where you can stand with one foot in the Northern and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. We also visit the excellent on-site ethnographic museum with exhibits pertaining to the many indigenous peoples of Ecuador.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to logistical reasons, this is a "floating day" that may occur at a different point of our programme.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 28 Departure
Departure from Quito.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hotel Las Dunas

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Ica
Country: Peru

On the outskirts of Ica is this sprawling complex of white Mediterranean-style villas with pretty landscaped grounds, three swimming pools.
... are surprisingly large and nicely furnished, and most have garden views. Rooms feature air-conditioning, security box, minibar, TV.

Read More.

Hotel Casona de Yucay

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Yucay
Country: Peru

53 comfortable and cozy rooms, all of which are decorated in a local style. Rooms with ample windows with views
... colourful gardens, mountains, and countryside. Rooms feature heat and hot water, safety deposit box, telephone, private bath.

Read More.

Royal Inka II

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cusco
Country: Peru

This charming colonial property offers local flavour and friendly service. Modern rooms offer individual heating, colour TV, international telephone.

Hotel Rosario del Lago

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Copacabana
Country: Bolivia

The hotel is situated in a very privileged location overlooking the bay, an ideal setting for enjoying the views of
... lake and the incomparable sunsets. Decorated in a colonial style, all 28 comfortable rooms enjoy views of the lake. Rooms feature: telephone, electric heaters, TV, private bathroom with hair dryer.

Read More.

Plaza Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: La Paz
Country: Bolivia

Plaza Hotel La Paz is well-located and featured, making it suitable for all kind of travellers. Rooms are well-furnished with
... amenities. The hotel has two dining venues, which serves international cuisine in a warm and graceful atmosphere. The photo (left) was taken from one of the rooms.

Read More.

Hosteria La Cienega

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Quito
Country: Ecuador

Hosteria La Cienega is a historic hacienda located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Situated just an hour and
... half from Quito, Ecuador on the outskirts of Volcano Cotopaxi and surrounded by the cordillera’s most beautiful snow-capped peaks, the manor has been receiving guests for the last twenty-five years. Rooms are cozy and full of character.

Read More.

Cuyabeno Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cuyabeno National Park
Country: Ecuador

The lodge consists of detached cabins made of wood with thatched roofs scattered throughout the grounds, each sleeping two people.
... rooms have a balcony or terrace and private bathrooms with hot water showers. The lodge is powered by solar panels and, though it does not feature air-conditioning, days / nights tend to be quite comfortable.

Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and local restaurants). All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable), and activities designated as 'optional.' Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered throughout the year. The cool and dry season runs from May to October; outside this time you will encounter warmer but perhaps rainy / misty conditions in the mountains. Serious heat / humidity are only a consideration in Lima and the Amazon.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Road transport by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Numerous walking tours on uneven surfaces. Most of this tour occurs at high altitude and some people are affected-check with your doctor. Scenic VISTADOME train Aguas Calientes - Cuzco; Venice Simplon Orient-Express "Andean Explorer" train to Puno. Internal flights via scheduled local carriers.


Well-located, heated / air-conditioned, mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout (probably shower only). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than doubles. The Amazon lodge is a little more rustic, but still very nicely appointed. Porter service is usually available though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports and train stations.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver/s, and local step on guides.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)