South America's BIG FIVE Explorer

From Santiago to Quito
  • Amazon Jungle
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

This is one totally epic adventure: this is the Big Five Explorer Tour!  

Tick of 5 iconic sights in South America over 34 days of discovery:

  • Get up and close to the mighty Iguazu falls - the largest and most impressive waterfalls system in the world made up of 275 individual falls. It is much taller than Niagara Falls and is twice as wide.

  • Discover the sights, sounds and energy of Rio de Janeiro - one of the world's most famous and beautiful cities, soak up the beach vibes, visit Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain!

  • Experience a history and culture enriched visit to Machu Picchu, sure to be on everyone's bucket list!

  • Delve deep into the Amazon rainforest, stay at an eco lodge, exploring by boat and on foot, eyes peeled for wildlife.

  • Cruise the Galapagos Islands, meet blue footed boobies, swim with sea lions, and encounter the Giant Galapagos tortoise. 

For those searching for that one, once-in-a-lifetime experience in South American continent, this tour’s hard to beat, offering an enticing mix of wilderness, wildlife, history and culture in a seamless and totally hassle-free journey. We do all the tedious planning, you do all the enjoying and South America delivers the spellbinding rest.

Viva's Best Bits...

This is one epic tour of South America - tick off five bucket list places on one trip, plus lots of other exciting adventures along the way – Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Amazon & Galapagos!

Visit vibrant Latin American cities, taste outstanding wine and cuisine, witness stunning nature scenery, learn about local culture, both old and new...staying in comfortable handpicked accommodation, you will be well looked after along the way.

Wildlife opportunities galore! Swim, snorkel, hike & cruise the Galapagos Islands, meeting sea lions, penguins, Galapagos tortoises & iguanas...in the Amazon jungle there are peccary, sloth, caiman, otters, monkeys, agouti, & even a slim chance of jaguars

Tour Itinerary

Customisable ? This tour can be customised to suit your tastes and timing. Enquire here for more information.
Day 1
Arrival Santiago

Arrival transfer in Santiago. This service includes a driver and local English speaking guide who will provide you with any useful information needed for your stay.

Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city, lies in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Andes and the Chilean Coastal Range. Founded in 1541, Santiago has been Chile’s capital since colonial times. It is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city and although it features many colonial buildings, it has grown into a modern metropolis and the cultural centre of the country.

Overnight in Santiago

Day 2
Santiago City tour

This morning, you will be collected from your hotel for your tour of Santiago. Visit both the old and new areas of the city. Highlights include the Plaza de Armas, the city's central square and the heart of the city’s old colonial core. The Plaza de Armas is home to the beautiful 18th century Metropolitan Cathedral, the early 19th century Royal Court Palace that houses the Natural History Museum and the Central Post Office completed in 1882. We will continue along to Government Palace and there we will have the opportunity to walk through some of the most traditional streets and neighbourhoods. Visit Cerro Santa Lucia, the hill on which Santiago was founded in 1541, now a park with fountains and stairs leading to a fort and a panoramic viewpoint across the city. On completion of your tour, you will be taken to your hotel.

Please note this is small group tour and only operates in the morning.

Overnight in Santiago

Day 3
Santiago: Valparaiso & Casablanca

This morning you will be collected from your hotel and travel west towards the Pacific Ocean. Our first stop will be in the Casablanca Valley, famous for its many wineries and towns rich in Chilean traditions. These world-class wineries are located en route to Valparaiso and we will stop in at a cellar door to enjoy a premium wine tasting.

Valparaiso is one of Chile's largest coastal cities and was once an important port of its time in South América till the opening of the Panamá Channel in 1914. It is possible to find traces of history of European emigration throughout the streets and neighbourhoods.

Valparaiso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also known as the cultural capital of Chile. Its charming and picturesque colourful houses hang from the hills that surround the city and create a natural amphitheatre where the historic port life blends with the cultural life on the hills. Our walk along the hills will invite us to discover the hidden treasures of the city such as art galleries, little coffees, breweries, graffiti, beautiful old houses, bars, and restaurants.

In the afternoon we will come back to your hotel in Santiago. Please note this is a small group tour.

Day 4
Santiago Buenos Aires

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight to Buenos Aires.

On arrival into Buenos Aires you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Buenos Aires, Argentina’s elegant, historic and cosmopolitan capital, is known as the “Paris of the South” due to its European atmosphere with glamorous avenues lined with fashionable shops and Parisian-style restaurants and cafes.

Once you have left the airport and started your journey into the city, your Spanish speaking driver will hand you a phone where you will be greeted, welcomed to Buenos Aires and explained your itinerary for the following days by our local amigo in English. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and be given all the tips to help you enjoy your stay while visiting the Paris of South America.

Overnight in Buenos Aires

Day 5
Buenos Aires highlights

Morning at leisure.

This afternoon you will be collected from your hotel for a half day tour of the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires. Your tour has been specifically designed for our travellers and is based on our teams’ own experiences and expertise. Discover the history of the Plaza de Mayo Square, the site of Argentina’s most important historical events - see its surroundings and the most emblematic buildings and learn all about them. Continue onto San Telmo. Live and feel the original Tango in the neighbourhood of La Boca: walk along the famous Caminito Street. Here you will have the chance to wander around and soak up the atmosphere and if the timing is right, see a short tango demonstration. Pass by the Boca Juniors soccer stadium. Return to Recoleta. Here you will enter into the Recoleta cemetery with your guide. Experience shadowed walkways with towering marble mausoleums that are rich in Art Deco, Art Nouveau, baroque and neo-gothic architectural styles. You will find the final resting place of Eva Peron, "Evita", along with many other notable people.

Overnight in Buenos Aires

Day 6
Buenos Aires: Walking tour and Asado dinner

Today your guide will meet you at your hotel or a central meeting point in Recoleta and take you on a tour to see the city on foot. You will start by exploring the streets of the upscale and exclusive neighbourhood of Recoleta through a local’s eyes. Marvel at some of the classical architecture of the area while your guide points out hidden gems and must visit bars and coffee shops. Continue on through the beating heart of the city, Retiro. This suburb is home to many government buildings and you can learn more about the fascinating history of Buenos Aires, which was once one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in the world. Chat with your guide over a local Patagonian Ice Cream or a coffee and then jump in a taxi (or if you are feeling adventurous take a local bus!) and head over to the bohemian barrio of San Telmo. This is the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires and has a fascinating past, starting as an industrial area, becoming a settlement, then home to Jesuits and inhabited by African slaves and eventually becoming one of the most multicultural parts of the city. The areas eclectic air began attracting local artists. You will explore the San Telmo market, feasting on a tasty empanada while learning about the rich history. Wander the cobblestone streets and perhaps pop into a local antique shop or visit an artisan and learn more about their expert craftsmanship. You’ll also visit an old Conventillo and the quaint Plaza Dorrego, which hosts an authentic antiques market on certain days of the week.

End your tour with a taxi ride back to Recoleta for a demonstration and tasting of yerba mate – a traditional tea that is drunk in Argentina and other parts of South America before wandering back to your hotel. If you prefer your guide can drop you off at a speakeasy bar that is hidden inside a flower shop.

This evening you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Fogón to immerse yourself in their Asado Experience. From the chefs of the famous Uco Restaurant in Buenos Aires and Butterfly in Bariloche comes Fogón - a new way of living the traditional Argentine Asado, served with a twist. A closed-door dining experience awaits you that explores new ways of serving Argentine Asado classics. While seated at the bar you’ll see, feel and taste traditional and modern grill cooking techniques up close and personal as you sit with the chefs around the parrilla. Every Asado is unique but always includes the best cuts of meat available and fire roasted seasonal vegetables. The chefs have designed the tasting menu to combine new grill techniques with tried and true Argentine recipes that elevate the Asado to new heights. The wine pairing menu has also been designed to best enhance the flavours of the ingredients, while presenting you with some of the best boutique wines from Argentina. On completion of your experience, please make your own way back to your hotel.

Overnight in Buenos Aires

Day 7
Buenos Aires Iguazu

Today we transfer you to the airport for your flight from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls.

Upon arrival you will be met & transferred to your hotel
The spectacular Iguazu Falls that straddle the Argentine-Brazil border, are made up of 275 individual waterfalls lining a 2.7km wide horseshoe-shaped gorge. The Falls are located where the Iguazu River cascades over the edge of the Paraná Plateau. The Falls can be viewed from both the Argentinian and the Brazilian sides, the Brazilian side offering a broader, panoramic view, with the Argentinian side offering a series of catwalks that allow you to experience the Falls from close range.

Overnight in Iguazu, Argentina

Day 8
Iguazu: Argentina Falls

In the early morning we will visit the Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian side. We will ride the Rainforest Ecological train and then explore panoramic views from above and below the waterfalls. We will visit the Devils Falls, which is said to be one of the most spectacular falls and you have the option of taking a boat ride under the Falls (additional costs apply. Payable locally). National Park fees included.

Overnight in Iguazu, Argentina

Day 9
Iguazu: Brazil Falls Rio de Janeiro

Today enjoy a half day tour of the Brazilian side of the falls. If you are staying on the Argentine side of the falls, you will be required to bring your passport as you will be crossing from Argentina into Brazil. You will be collected from your hotel and taken to the Visitors Centre. From here board one of the Park Authority’s tourist buses and enter the National Park. Equipped with panoramic windows, the buses are designed to maximize your views of the falls, while the walkways and steps provide you with great panoramic views of the Argentinian side of the falls. Views of the Floriana Falls, the Devil’s Gorge Canyon and the Iguazu River are spectacular and are guaranteed to impress. Please note this is a small group tour and National Park Entrance Fee is included.

*Optional - Add on a visit to the Bird Park, or why not book an amazing helicopter flight over the falls. Additional costs apply. Please ask for more details.

At the end of the tour you will be taken to the airport for your onward flight to Rio.

Upon arrival into Rio, you will be met & transferred to your hotel.
Known as the ''Cidade Maravilhosa'', or Marvellous City, Rio never fails to amaze with its sandy beaches, carefree lifestyle and unparalleled natural beauty. As the capital of Brazil until 1960, Rio is today one of the most culturally and economically prominent cities in the country, receiving more tourists than any other part of Brazil.

Overnight in Rio

Day 10
Rio de Janeiro: Corcovado & Sugarloaf

After departing from the hotel, the tour takes a scenic drive from Copacabana beach, continuing along Botafogo beach and passing the Palácio Guanabara, official residence of the State´s Governor, on the way to Corcovado Hill (704m), and the greatest national icon – The Christ Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro. Here, you will have time to enjoy panoramic views of Rio and appreciate the giant statue, which was recently named as one of the seven new wonders of the world. From here, the tour continues to the district of Urca and the world-famous Sugar Loaf, where you will board the first cable car to the top of Urca Hill (215m), which offers spectacular views of Guanabara Bay. A second cable car will take you on to the Sugar Loaf (395m), giving you a chance to take in the spectacular 360-degree views of the city and surrounds. Upon descending from the Sugarloaf, we pass through the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema en route to a traditional Brazilian BBQ lunch at a local Churrascaria (lunch is included - all beverages are at your own expense).
Following lunch, the tour continues with a visit to the Maracanã Stadium (Bellini´s statue and Hall of Fame. Entry into the stadium is not included) and a stop at the Sambadrome. While in the city’s historic downtown area, you will have a chance to see the Duque de Caxias Palace, Itamaraty Palace, Tiradentes Square and Lapa Arches, followed by a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral. From here the tour will also make a quick stop to visit the Selaron Stairs, an amazing urban work of art by the late Jorge Selaron.
Returning to the hotel along Aterro do Flamengo, we pass by the Monument to the Fallen in World War II and the beaches of Flamengo and Botafogo.
Lunch and all entrance fees (for Corcovado & Sugarloaf) are included.

Overnight in Rio

Day 11
Rio de Janeiro: Santa Teresa

Spend a half day today on a great historical tour of Rio de Janeiro in the company of a professional guide and transportation. This tour will take you through the colonial avenues, squares and back streets of the city, and your guide will explain the important historical, political and social events that shaped Rio into South America's most exciting city. Focusing on the period or architectural style, fine examples of Baroque constructions would be the 'São Bento' and 'Santo Antonio' Monasteries, which recall the times when Brazil was a colony of Portugal. The French influence can be seen from buildings that were built as early as the 19th century and examples include the Municipal Theatre and the Fine Art museum. The city's cultural and artistic diversity is showcased on various cultural institutions such as the Cultural Centre Bank of Brasil and the Brazil-France House. Some other features of this tour are the Selaron Stairs, Lapa Arches, Metropolitan Cathedral, Candelária Church, 'Praça XV', 'Arco do Teles', Olympic Boulevard and finally the Museum of Tomorrow. Please note this is a private tour of approximately 6 hours duration.

Rest of the day at leisure

Overnight in Rio

Day 12
Rio de Janeiro Lima

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight from Rio to Lima.

On arrival into Lima, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Lima, the capital of Peru, sits on the country's arid Pacific coast. Founded in 1535, its colonial centre is well preserved, but today Lima is a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. The city is home to the various museums including the Museo Larco that houses a collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. Lima is known as the “gastronomical capital of the Americas”, encompassing specialties from ceviche and traditional coastal cooking to refined global fare. It even boasts several of the top restaurants in the world.

Overnight in Lima

Day 13
Lima City Highlights & Tastebud Tantaliser

Embark on a 4 hour walking food tour in Lima's Historic Centre. The tour starts with pick up from your hotel and the first stop is the city's most famous 'Plaza San Martin'. After taking in one of Peru's most famous plazas and a photo opportunity of the Gran Hotel Bolivar, we will head to Lima's very own Chinatown and to the biggest market of the city!

During this food tour, you will have the chance to taste popular on-the-go delicacies that locals devour. While trying some tasteful local treats, you’ll be learning more about Peru's history and interesting facts around the local – informal – economy and daily life in Peru.

In the historic center of Lima, you will get to observe Lima's most emblematic architectural masterpieces, of Spanish and Moorish heritage. It will also be a great opportunity for you to people watch and immerse yourself into a truly joyful local experience – we designed this food tour so that you could feel like a real Liman!

*Private tours can be scheduled to start between 10:00 and 15:00

*NB that this tour requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate
Overnight in Lima

Day 14
Lima Cusco - Sacred Valley

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

On arrival in Cusco, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where your representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel located in the Sacred Valley. Please note this service is with a driver only.

You have arrived to 3400m. Please walk slowly and take it easy, allow porters to assist with luggage if required. You will descend to 2700m on the 90 minute drive to the Sacred Valley Enjoy the spectacular local scenery and views of the Andes.

(NB Average altitudes - Cusco 3400m, Sacred Valley 2700m , Aguas Calientes 2050m, Machu Picchu 2400m)

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a region in Peru's Andean highlands which, along with the nearby town of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu, formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Stretching roughly 60 kilometres from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, it’s an area of fertile farmland irrigated by the Urubamba River and Spanish colonial villages like Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

Overnight in the Sacred Valley

Day 15
Sacred Valley Full Day Tour

You will be collected from your hotel for a day of exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This fertile river valley was home to many important sites for the Incas, both strategic and religious. The first stop is the village of Pisac, with its famous market and Inca Ruins. There is free time to wander the colourful market stalls before heading uphill to the Pisac, Intihuatana, Q’allaqasa and Kinchiracay ruins. Enjoy a fine buffet lunch in gardens overlooking the Valley.

Continue your journey along the River Urubamba, to Ollantaytambo. The town, which is dominated by a giant Inca fortress, is perhaps the best surviving example of Inca town planning and was the scene of a rare Inca victory over the invading Spanish. Transfer to your hotel for the night.

Full Tourist Ticket included in your programme
Full BTG: Valid for 10 days. It grants you entry into the following sites in and around Cusco & the Sacred Valley:
Cusco cathedral, Religious Art Museum, Church of San Blas, Regional History Museum, Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Pisac ruins, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero,Pachacutec Monument, Performance of Andean dance and live music.

Overnight in the Sacred Valley

Day 16
Sacred Valley Machu Picchu

Today will be transferred from your hotel to Ollantaytambo train station.

You will travel by train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes.

*Due to limited space for luggage storage on trains, luggage restrictions apply: one bag or backpack (carry-on luggage) with a maximum weight of 5.0 kg/11 lb, measuring no more than 62 linear inches/157 linear cm (height + length + width)

Private Machu Picchu Guided Tour:
You will be astonished by your first view of Machu Picchu, a stunning display of ancient architecture with incredible surroundings. Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site, located 2,430 metres above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites, but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world’s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation, the city was never pillaged and as a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition. With its location on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides, the city of Machu Picchu is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Enjoy a tour of the ruins and monuments, such as the Main Square, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Solar Clock, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Cemeteries.

The tour includes guided tour with local English speaking guide and return bus from Aguas Calientes village. Please be aware that your tour of Machu Picchu does not include an entry permit to Huayna Picchu (the iconic hill behind the Machu Picchu ruins). If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you need to pre-book your permit at least 3 months in advance and an extra day in your itinerary due to new site visit regulations. Please contact your Destination Specialist if you would like to do this.

Overnight in Aguas Calientes

Day 17
Aguas Calientes - Maras and Moray Cusco

Travel from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo in this comfortable train, and let your feet have a rest. Enjoy an authentic Andean experience, while relaxing in modern and comfortable interior design illuminated by Latin American music. Comfortable seats with tables in front to share the journey with friends.

Private Maras and Moray Tour
Today we will pick you up from Ollantaytambo train station for your Maras and Moray tour. Upon collection we will make a brief stop at your Sacred Valley hotel to collect your main luggage. The first stop will be Maras Salt ponds, believed to pre-date the Inca period, these shallow pools were dug into the mountainside which are filled with salt water from an underground spring from an adjacent mountain. Once the water evaporates, the salt is carefully collected and packaged up for sale. Witness locals harvest salt in the traditional way that has been practiced for well over 500 years. Situated roughly 7 km to the southwest of Maras, continue to Moray, which boasts an impressive Inca ruin of giant circular terraces that are believed to have been used for agricultural experimentation due to their exceptional irrigation system. On completion of this tour, you will be taken to your hotel in Cusco.

Cusco
Cusco, set at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Peruvian Andes, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Incan remains. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza in every direction. Many of the colonial buildings were built on top of Incan foundations and the stonework is unparalleled in its precision and beauty.

Overnight in Cusco

Day 18
Cusco Walking Tour and Sacsayhuaman

Today, explore the city’s fascinating history, from the Inca times to colonial rule to the present day. Wind through narrow cobble-stoned streets and visit the market of Cusco. Along the way, get the chance to see the colonial buildings. Visit the fascinating Koricancha Temple of the Sun and the Cathedral, built on the ruins of an Inca Palace. From here, head to Sacsayhuaman, a former Inca fortress perched atop the hill above Cusco, it presents a work of impeccable engineering (gigantic carved rocks that fit with absolute precision).

Overnight in Cucso

Day 19
Free day in Cusco

Today is at leisure allowing you to spend time wandering the cobble-stoned streets of the ancient Inca capital. With treasures around every corner, Cusco is a wonderful city to explore on foot. Vibrant markets and stores give the traveller a plethora of shopping opportunities set amongst fine Inca and Spanish colonial architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage city is lined with history and ancient monuments, a truly enthralling city to spend time in.

Overnight in Cusco

Day 20
Cusco Puerto Maldonardo- Amazon Jungle

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight to Puerto Maldonado.
On arrival at Puerto Maldonado Airport, you will be met by a representative of Refugio Amazonas to begin the journey to Refugio. Enroute we will stop at the local office so that you can repack your luggage and only take what is required for the next four days. The rest will be stored securely in the office. Continue by road and a two and a half hour boat journey to Refugio Amazonas, located in a 200-hectare private reserve. The boat ride from the Tambopata River Port to Refugio Amazonas takes us past the Infierno Community and the Tambopata National Reserve checkpoint and into the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare conservation unit. A boxed lunch is provided to eat along the way.

On arrival to the lodge, you will be welcomed and given a brief orientation. After dinner at the lodge there is the option to join a night walk when most of the animals are active but sometimes difficult to see. The frogs are easier to see with their fascinating shapes and colours and fascinating sounds.

Note: Please ensure your arrival flight is no later than 13:05

Overnight at Refugio Amazonas

Day 21
Tambopata National Reserve

Refugio Amazonas have a set of activities where you can choose from onsite, allowing you to create your own personalised experience deep in the Amazon. Below are suggested options you may like to choose from through-out your stay.

After breakfast venture out onto the lake by canoe or catamaran, looking for wildlife such as hoatzin, caiman, horned screamers, macaws and otters that are sometimes seen in the area. Back on land, a 30 minute walk from the lodge takes you to the 25 metre scaffolding canopy tower, complete with staircase running through the middle and providing safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built on high ground to give views of the primary rainforest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. Enjoy excellent views across the canopy and look for toucans, macaws and raptors.
After lunch you will visit a farm to learn about local agriculture and Amazonian crops before an ethnobotanical tour to learn about the medicinal uses of the various plants and trees of the region. In the evening, Refugio Amazonas staff offer lectures covering topics such as conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve
Overnight Refugio Amazonas

Day 22
Tambopata National Reserve

Refugio Amazonas have a set of activities where you can choose from onsite, allowing you to create your own personalised experience deep in the Amazon. Below are suggested options you may like to choose from through-out your stay.

Witness the audio and visual spectacle of a clay lick, watching vibrant coloured macaws, parrots and parakeets feast on clay. Species such as dusky-headed and cobalt-winged parakeets are often seen and with luck we may also see mealy and yellow-crowned Amazons, blue-headed pionus, severe macaw and orange-cheeked (Barraband`s) parrots.
After lunch, take a short hike from the lodge brings us to a beautiful Brazil nut forest that has been harvested for decades. Here you can learn about the whole process of the rainforest’s only sustainably harvested product, from collection through transportation to drying.
In the afternoon, there will be a visit to a peccary clay lick, this time to see mammals. Wild rain forest pigs show up in herds of up to twenty to eat clay, alongside deer, guan and parakeets.
Overnight Refugio Amazonas

Day 23
Peru Amazon Jungle Lima

After breakfast, return to Puerto Maldonado for your departure flight. Depending on airline schedules, this may require a dawn departure.

Please note: Depending on airline schedules, this may require a dawn departure. We recommend flight LA2074 departing at 13:35

*Schedule of activities are subject to change without notice

Overnight in Lima

Day 24
Lima Quito

Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Quito. Fly to Quito

On arrival into Quito you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Sitting at 2,850 metres above sea level high in the Andean foothills lies Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The city, a short distance from the Equator and with an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is known for its stunning colonial architecture and art-work. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978.

Overnight in Quito

Day 25
Quito Six Senses Tour

Today you will embark on an experiential tour that has been designed to evoke all of the senses.
The experience will allow participants to touch, taste the culinary delights, smell the aroma of the coffee beans, see the beautiful cobblestone lined streets and historical buildings and hear the bells of the church ringing. We also include the sixth sense of love; you will be able to experience the love that local artisans put into their craft and participate in a demonstration.

The tour will start with an exploration of the bustling streets and squares of the charming and colonial city of Quito. You will walk the street of the seven crosses, see the main Independence Square and Government Palace, as well as admire the domes of the many churches in the old town. Walk to the busy street of La Ronda which is packed with bars, people and character.

Depending on the day and availability you may visit artisans, a local family that makes traditional sweets (and of course you will be able to do a taste test!) or perhaps paint with the Escuela Quiteña, who are the artists responsible for restoring colonial art at many of the historical chapels in the city. You may have the chance to make traditional ice cream or quesadillas or try your hand at weaving the famous toquilla straw hat. We can also include visits to local markets where you be able to try the local cuisine. The choice is yours and your guide will cater to your preferences!
Return to the neighbourhood of San Marcos, home to many galleries, coffee shops and local family run stores, as well as beautiful Neo-Classical architecture, painted in muted pastels. End the tour with a drink at a rooftop bar, that has a breathtaking view of the Panecillo hill surrounded by the old city.

Please note that experiences are subject to availability on the day, this tour is run on a private basis and can be customised to suit your preferences.

Overnight in Quito

Day 26
Quito: Cotopaxi National Park

Depart south from Quito to visit Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi (5,943 m)is the highest active volcano in the world. Despite the altitude, the Park is home to numerous birds and varied plant life. Northeast lies Rumiñahui(4,557 m) and between the two mountains the plain and lagoon of Limpiopungo (3800m approx.). If weather permits, from the north face we may have spectacular views of the mountain. The surrounding scenery also includes volcanoes like Pasochoa, Ruminahui and Sincholagua, Lunch is included at a restaurant at the base of the mountain. The tour also includes a visit to an indigenous market nearby.
You will be returned to your hotel in Quito at the end of the tour.

Overnight in Quito

Day 27
Quito Galapagos Islands

Transfer to Quito airport

Take a morning flight to the Galapagos from Quito Airport. The flight from Quito to the Galapagos is 4 hours, stopping at Guayaquil on route. On arrival at Baltra Airport you will be met by your naturalist guides who will collect your luggage and transport you to Ranch Mazanillo. Here you will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

NOTE: Travellers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the Galapagos Islands National Park Entrance Fee. This is currently US$100 per person but subject to change. The visit to Ranch Mazanillo includes a picnic lunch and a short walk before you board the Seaman Journey, where you will be welcomed by our crew.

PM: Santa Cruz Highlands
Journeying across Santa Cruz into the highlands, you will be delighted by the island's variety of life and geology. Beginning at the coast and travelling across Santa Cruz the road departs from Puerto Ayora climbing through the agricultural lands and into the mist covered forests. Santa Cruz possesses all the various life zones present in the archipelago. As you travel through these zones’ bird-watching enthusiast will be enchanted. Whether it's the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher or one of Darwin's finches, almost every bird present in the Galapagos can be found here.

Santa Cruz also offers excellent opportunities for viewing and tracking wild Galapagos tortoises. There are also plenty of lava tubes, sinkholes and craters to explore. Theses eerie formations offer a fascinating insight into the volcanic make-up of the island.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

**NOTE : This is an example itinerary. We have a variety of Galapagos Cruises available, departing on various dates so we will need to find one that suits your chosen travel date

Day 28
Galapagos Islands

AM: Mangle Point, Fernandina Island
Mangle Point lies off the eastern coast of Fernandina and is a superior snorkelling site and a beautiful location for riding in a panga or Zodiac through a forest of mangrove trees. You are likely to see penguins, sea lions, pelicans, rays, marine iguanas and numerous birds.

PM: Punta Moreno
Punta Moreno is located on the north coast of Isabela Island between Sierra Negra Volcano and Cerro Azul Volcano. A trail runs along a pahoehoe lava flow (solidified lava with a smooth, shiny or swirled surface), into a complex of coastal lagoons. The main attractions are several species of birds that can be found around the lakes and mangroves. Three species of cactus are also found here.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 29
Galapagos Islands

AM: Urbina Bay, Isabela Island
Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast of Isabela Island, between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. The most unique feature at Urbina Bay resulted from a major uplift of the island in 1954, when a 6km stretch of coral reef rose up 5 metres, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore and coral exposed on the land. Urbina Bay has a path that starts at the beach where a wet landing is made, and takes you through the sand, pumice, lava, coral and vegetation. Flightless cormorants, pelicans, Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises and land and marine iguanas can be seen on land, whilst rays and turtles can be seen in the bay. It is an ideal place to see red and blue lobsters and a great place for snorkelling. There is also a large amount of interesting vegetation including chamomile and rosewood, as well as the beautiful flowers of the Galapagos or Darwin’s cotton, endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

PM: Tagus Cove
Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. Its name originated from a British warship that went through the islands in 1814 looking for the Galapagos tortoise for food. This was a favourite spot for pirates and whalers who etched their names into the cliffs and inside caves. Due to explosive eruptions that have occurred at the site, the substrate has a large amount of volcanic rocks of different sizes. Among the most common are small spherically shaped balls known as the "lapilli" or petrified rain.

A short, steep hike brings you past Darwin Lake, a deep saltwater lake and a great spot for viewing land birds such as ground and tree finches, hawks, large-billed flycatchers, yellow warblers and sometimes the woodpecker finch.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 30
Galapagos Islands

AM: Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island
Espinoza Point is famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of species such as the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk and Galapagos snake. Other attractions include sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Espinoza Point is one of the best places to see the lava cactus. La Cumbre volcano dominates the landscape.

PM: Punta Vicente Roca
This is one of the most impressive and spectacular places in the enchanting Galapagos Islands, with high cliffs, tuff stone, ash and lava formations giving the area a majestic touch. Located on the north-western coast of the island, this large bay has a spectacular marine life with seahorses, sea turtles and the strange yet fascinating mola-mola or sunfish. It is a great place for snorkelling. It is common to see ‘’feeding frenzies” with groups of whales, dolphins, sea lions, tuna, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, pelicans and other marine birds all feeding simultaneously.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 31
Galapagos Islands

AM: Playa Espumilla, Santiago Island
Espumilla Beach is located on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles. A walk through the mangrove forest leads to a lagoon usually inhabited by a group of flamingos as well as pintail ducks and common stilts.

PM: Puerto Egas, Santiago Island
It's black beach is located on the west side of the island
and is the main attraction of the island. Their volcanic tuff deposits have favoured the formation of this special black sand beach. This site is called Puerto Egas, because there was an attempt to start the exploitation of salt, which failed because the price of salt in the continent was very cheap, and did not justify its exploitation in Galapagos. The project was abandoned and the infrastructure was left abandoned.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 32
Galapagos Islands

AM: Rabida Island
Rabida Island is unique because of the red colour of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is extremely porous and external factors such as rain, salt water and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agents.

A short walk along a trail leads you to a coastal lagoon behind the beach where you can observe land birds such as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. At the lagoon there is a colony of flamingos.

PM: Chinese Hat
Sombrero Chino is a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the south eastern tip of Santiago Island and composed of delicate lava and spatter cones. It is a recent volcanic cone, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from the north side. It is an excellent site for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lion colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 33
Galapagos Islands

AM: Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island, is located in the western central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west and east coasts. A number of historic eruptions have been reported over the last 2 centuries. Lava is the main focus of the visit here with reddish-yellow tuff cones standing out in the middle of the lava flow and tiny Mollugo plants growing out of the fissures.

PM: Bartolome Island
Bartolome Island is situated across from Sullivan Bay. It has an altitude of 114 metres and is famous for its distinctive Pinnacle Rock. From the island’s summit there are spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock, the vast black lava flows at Sullivan Bay and the rest of Santiago Island. There are volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields and lava flows. There is very little vegetation on this island but the tequila plant grows here as does the lava cactus. Marine turtles are found here as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 34
Galapagos Islands Quito or Guayaquil

AM: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
Bachas Beach is found to the west of Turtle Cove. The sandy white-coral beach is a major nesting site for sea turtles. There is a small lagoon behind the beach where it is possible to observe flamingos and other birds such as black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintail ducks and whimbrels. There are the remains of a floating dock and old abandoned barges used by the Americans during WWII to be found here.

After the morning excursion you will be taken to Baltra Airport for your flight back to the mainland.
This flight can be to either Guayaquil or Quito, on Ecuador's mainland, depending on what suits your onward arrangements.

Onward flights not included

**please note this is a sample Galapagos itinerary, the confirmed Galapagos itinerary will be provided based on your selected dates

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 Standard - superior hotel accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 7 night Galapagos Islands cruise in a double/twin cabin
  • Included Copy 20 3 nights accommodation at the Refugio Amazonas in a comfort room
  • Included Copy 31 Alternative Galapagos Cruise options (options vary depending on departure date)
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Breakfast daily, and other meals as outlined in the included sightseeing tours
  • Included Copy 20 All meals while on the Galapagos Cruise & in the Amazon
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Internal flights as part of this itinerary*
  • Included Copy 20 All transfers
  • Included Copy 20 Sightseeing on a shared basis as outlined in the tour itinerary with English speaking guides
  • Included Copy 20 Galapagos National Park Fees of USD$100 per person
  • Included Copy 20 Galapagos tourist card of USD$20 per person
  • Included Copy 20 Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes Return
  • Included Copy 20 Entrance fees & National Park fees, unless otherwise stated
  • Included Copy 7 Iguazu Tourist Tax payable locally. Approx. ARS50 (USD3.40) per person. Subject to change
  • Included Copy 7 International Flights, Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable), tips, travel insurance
  • Included Copy 31 Tour will be tailored to suit your travel dates
Transportation

M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey | Galapagos Cruise Ship

16 Passengers

Activities

  • Included Explore the Amazon jungle by boat and by foot
  • Included Sample the local food in Lima, 'gastronomical capital of the Americas'.
  • Included See the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio.
  • Included Visit one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World; Iguazu Falls.
  • Included Explore Santiago, sample Chiles wines and visit vibrant Valparaiso.
  • Included Wander the narrow cobble-stoned streets of Cusco.
  • Included Private guided tour of iconic Machu Picchu.
  • Included Experience a Tango Show in the home of Tango, Buenos Aires
  • Included Small ship cruise in the Galapagos Islands
  • Included Explore the village of Pisac with its famous market and Inca Ruins.
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

34 days

Price from

$16,320 USD

Per person, sharing

Daily departures*