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Colombia, Andes & Galápagos

  • 60 Day(s)
  • Trip Code : GASMCG

Got two months? Want to make the most of them? There can be no better way to do so than the most sprawling of all our South American trips. Imagine 60 solid days spent exploring Colombia's Lost City, ambling around Machu Picchu after conquering the Inca Trail in Peru, enjoying a homestay deep in the Amazon jungle, and snorkeling with sea lions in the Galápagos Islands. With a week of camping in the Galápagos included, there's no possible way you'll go home feeling like you missed out on anything in South America.

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Itinerary

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Day 1 Cartagena

Arrive at any time.

Arrive at any time.

Day 2 Cartagena

Free day to explore. Visit the historic old town, check out the San Felipe fortress, or get dirty with a mud bath and massage at Totumo Volcano.

Free day to explore. Visit the historic old town, check out the San Felipe fortress, or get dirty with a mud bath and massage at Totumo Volcano. A Unesco World Heritage Site on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena is Colombia's most famous and most visited city. Tourists are most attracted to the remarkably intact historic walled colonial city ("ciudad amurallada") and the beachfront area of Bocagrande. Experience the Caribbean charm and beauty of this beautiful city while learning about its fabled past. Explore the town by foot or take a “chiva” ride at night to get a feeling of this vibrant Colombian city. You can visit Playa Blanca, take a boat to the Islas del Rosario National Park with its stunning beaches, or soak in the crater of the Totumo mud volcano.

Day 3 Santa Marta

Travel by public bus to this coastal port town. Free time to visit the Gold Museum with its collection of Lost City artifacts, chill out on the beach or pick up any last minute necessities for the upcoming trek.

Travel by public bus to this coastal port town. Free time to visit the Gold Museum with its collection of Lost City artifacts, chill out on the beach or pick up any last minute necessities for the upcoming trek.

Day 4-7 Lost City Trek (3B,4L,4D)

Transfer by 4x4 to the start of the 5-day guided Lost CIty trek that covers 45 km. Hike through farmland and alongside streams, occasionally passing through indigenous communities. Camp along the way, sleeping in a mixture of hammocks and rustic bunks. Cl

Transfer to Machete Pelao, where you begin the trek to the Lost City of Teyuna, a 45km hike. Trek for between 4-5 hours each day through farmland, steamy jungle and rural communities where you can glimpse the life of families going about their daily lives. Camp along the way, sleeping in a mixture of hammocks and rustic bunks. The route passes along the Buritaca river, and there are natural swimming pools at the campsites to enjoy a refreshing dip before relaxing in a hammock. On the morning of Day 7, it is an early start to climb 1,200 steps to get to the Lost City itself, but the views of the ancient city with the mountainous backdrop are more than worth the hike.

Day 8 Lost City Trek/Taganga (1B,1L)

After a final morning trek, transfer to the fishing village of Taganga for an afternoon of rest and relaxation.

After a final morning trek back to Machete Pelao where it all began, transfer to the fishing village of Taganga for an afternoon of rest and relaxation.

Day 9-10 Tayrona National Park/Taganga (1B)

Enjoy an overnight excursion to beautiful Tayrona NP. Explore the park's lush greenery, extended beaches and turquoise Caribbean waters. Opt to trek to the ruins of El Pueblito, go snorkelling, or hike various trails. Return to Taganga for one more night

Enjoy an overnight excursion to beautiful Tayrona NP. Explore the park's lush greenery, extended beaches and turquoise Caribbean waters. Opt to trek to the ruins of El Pueblito, go snorkelling, or hike various trails. Return to Taganga for one more night on the Caribbean.

Day 11-12 Medellin

Fly inland to infamous Medellin, now one of Latin America's safest cities. Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival and an optional night out with the group. Opt to take a Pablo Escobar tour, go paragliding over the city or catch a ride on the cable car. Ni

Fly inland to infamous Medellín, now one of Latin America's safest cities. Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival and an optional night out with the group. Opt to go paragliding over the city or catch a ride on the cable car. Night bus to Bogotá. We will have plenty of free time to explore the many attractions of Medellin: Visit the city viewpoint at Nutibara Hill where you find Pueblito Paisa, a typical representation of a rural village of coffee zone of Colombia, and take a ride in Medellin's Metro and Cable Car. Other optional tours include a visit to Santa Fe de Antioquia, Guatape Dam, Penol Rock, or even consider paragliding over Medellín.

Day 13-14 Bogotá

Orientation walk around the vibrant La Candelaria area. Free time to explore Colombia's capital city; check out the riches found in the Gold Museum, take a funicular car up Monserrate Hill for sweeping views of the city, or catch a football match if it's

Orientation walk around the vibrant La Candelaria area. Free time to explore Colombia's capital city; check out the riches found in the Gold Museum, take a funicular car up Monserrate Hill for sweeping views of the city, or catch a football match if it's game day. Modern Bogotá offers residents and visitors a wide variety of activities and amenities, combined with the picturesque beauty of its cultural and architectural past. Enjoy colonial churches and pre-colombian art in contrast with the futuristic high-rise buildings of a busy metropolis. Perhaps you might enjoy a visit to the National Museum of Colombia (one of the oldest museums on the continent and holding more than 20,000 pieces), La Plaza de Bolivar (government buildings at the heart of the city dating back through several eras), the Gold Museum, or one of its many historical churches (Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Ignacio, the Cathedral situated in La Plaza de Bolívar, La Tercera San Diego and the sanctuary of Monserrate). You may also wish to take a walk around (and maybe a little shopping) at some of its more interesting and trendy neighbourhoods including La Candelaria, La Macarena, Parque de la 93, La Zona T, and Monserrate, La Zona Rosa (bars and restaurants), La Zona G(International Cuisine) and Monserrate Santuary and City view point.

Day 15-16 Cotopaxi

Fly to Quito and transfer to Cotopaxi for two of nights encompassed in Andean beauty. Opt to visit a lagoon at elevation, hike national park trails or go down Cotopaxi Volcano by mountain bike.

Fly to Quito and transfer to Cotopaxi for two nights encompassed in Andean beauty. Opt to visit a lagoon at elevation, hike national park trails or go down Cotopaxi Volcano by mountain bike. Just a few hours south of Quito is Parque National Cotopaxi, home to Cotopaxi Volcano at 19,342 ft (5897 m). The beautiful cone-shaped, snow covered volcano is Ecuador's second highest peak and the highest active volcano in the world.

Day 17 Otavalo (1D)

Stay with an Ecuadorian family in a homestay experience outside of the market town of Otavalo.

Stay with an Ecuadorian family in a homestay experience outside of the market town of Otavalo.

Day 18 Quito (1B)

Visit the famous Otavalo artisan market in the morning to peruse colourful textiles, art, carvings and jewelry made by people from nearby communities. Afternoon transfer to Quito and orientation walk upon arrival.

Visit the famous Otavalo artisan market in the morning to peruse colourful textiles, art, carvings and jewelry made by people from nearby communities. Otavalo is justly famous both for its friendly people and its Saturday market. The market dates back to pre-Inca times when jungle products were transported from the eastern lowlands and traded for highland goods. Today's market has two different functions: the local market for buying and selling animals, food and other essentials, and the crafts market for the tourists and other interested people. One of the most obvious signs of the Otavaleños' cultural integrity is their traditional dress. This is not just put on especially for the tourists at the Saturday market, but is worn throughout their daily life. Transfer in the afternoon to Quito, and enjoy an orientation walk. Quito's large foreign population and steady stream of travellers have given it a varied and vibrant nightlife, and salsotecas and other dance clubs abound. For a real Ecuadorian experience though, be sure and drop by a peña if you can; these are great places for meeting locals and dancing, as well as enjoying local cooking.

Day 19-20 Floreana (1B)

Fly to the Galapagos Islands and transfer to Puerto Ayora. Free time to explore town before taking a speedboat to Floreana Island in the afternoon. Get settled into camp and opt to swim, rent kayaks or go snorkelling. Included snorkelling in Loberia and v

Fly to the Galapagos Islands and transfer to Puerto Ayora. Free time to explore town before taking a speedboat to Floreana Island in the afternoon. Get settled into camp and opt to swim, rent kayaks or go snorkelling. Included snorkelling in Loberia and visit to the highlands.

Day 21-22 Isabela (2B,1L)

Boat over to Isabela Island, and enjoy visits to Flamingo Lagoon and the Tortoise Breeding Centre. The next morning, hike the Sierra Negra Volcano for views from above, then enjoy free time. Opt to go snorkelling, surfing, or hit the beach.

Another speedboat trip brings us to Isabela Island, the largest and one of the most volcanically active in the Galapagos. Shaped like a seahorse, Isabela stretches over 100 kms long and is extremely narrow. Six active volcanoes dominate the island - Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. All of these volcanoes except Ecuador are still active, and two of them are over 1,700 metres high - Wolf and Cerro Azul. Enjoy visits to Flamingo Lagoon and the Tortoise Breeding Centre. Opt to go snorkelling, surfing or hit the beach. A full-day tour on Isabela Island takes us up the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos boasting the second largest crater in the world. Hike to the summit to experience a birds-eye view of this magical landscape. Continue to the lava fields of the Volcano Chico and enjoy your lunch admiring views of the surrounding volcanos and Islands. Opt to visit the “Tintoreras“ Shark Alley to observe the white tip reef sharks found swimming in the channels between the rocks. Get a close-up view of pelicans, frigate birds and diving blue footed boobies. Watch for manta rays and rare Galapagos penguins, of which only 800 pairs exist. Isabela also boasts some beautiful, long, sandy beaches for those who just want to relax under the palm trees, take a swim, or try their hand at surfing.

Day 23-24 Santa Cruz (2B,1L,1D)

Transfer by speedboat back to Santa Cruz Island, where home is a camp in the highlands. Enjoy an included visit to Charles Darwin Station. Hike to beautiful Tortuga Bay, and opt to go kayaking or just lounge on the beach. Visit the lava tunnels and see gi

Transfer by speedboat back to Santa Cruz Island, where home is a camp in the highlands. Enjoy an included visit to Charles Darwin Station. Hike to beautiful Tortuga Bay, and opt to go kayaking or just lounge on the beach. Visit the lava tunnels and see giant tortoises in the highlands. Enjoy an evening in town with the group.

Day 25-26 Quito (1B)

Say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands, and take a morning flight back to Quito. Enjoy a free day to explore Ecuador's capital.

Say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands, and take a morning flight back to Quito. Enjoy a free day to explore Ecuador's capital.

Day 27-29 Amazon Jungle Homestay (3B,3L,3D)

Travel to the jungle city of Tena, then continue by truck and motorized canoe to a jungle community. Spot wildlife on nature walks, and learn about local traditions while overnighting at a jungle homestay.

Today we travel overland to Tena, located on the edge of the Amazon. From there we are transferred for 45 minutes by truck to the local community of Pimpilala that will be our home for 3 nights. Stay with a Quichua family and enjoy the hospitality of these wonderful people, and experience life in the jungle first-hand. The rainforest is the traditional home of many indigenous communities, whose traditional homelands and way of life are threatened by the encroachment of 20th century industries like mining, petroleum exploitation and large-scale cash-crop farming. Among the most representative are the Siona-Secoya, Cofan, Huaorani, Shuar, Ashuar and Quichua. We will visit the Ricancie community and learn about the traditional lifestyle of these indigenous people. There is also an incredible amount of biodiversity in this area. We will see a staggering variety of rainforest vegetation and may be able to spot some of the birds that spend their time hiding in the canopy of the forest. There are over 500 species of trees per acre have been recorded in the jungles of the upper Amazon. If this doesn't seem particularly astonishing, consider that this is ten times greater than either Europe or North America, and you will begin to appreciate the significance of the conservation of this area and others like it. Accommodation for these nights may be multishare.

Day 30-31 Baños

Time to get active with outdoor optional activities such as hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking, or soak in nearby hot springs.

Baños is one of the most popular and important tourist spots in the country and you will find many Ecuadorian families vacationing here. One look at this delightfully green mountain town and you will know why. Surprisingly, it is pleasant and unspoiled. Baños means 'baths' and that is precisely what the town is famous for. Some are thermal springs from the base of Tungurahua Volcano, which means 'little hell' in Quichua. Other baths have melt water running into them from Tungurahua's glaciated flanks. Locals swear that the baths are good for your health; it's definitely worth rising early to watch the dawn creep over the mountains from a hot spring vantage point. The town is the perfect setting for outdoor pursuits, including horseback riding, canyoning, hiking, mountain biking, climbing and rafting in the surrounding mountains and on the River Patate.

Day 32-33 Cuenca

Explore historic Cuenca. Opt to visit Cajas NP or check out the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.

Ecuador's third largest town, Cuenca retains a pleasant provincial air with its colonial architecture, art galleries, and museums. The surrounding countryside is an outdoor playground. Visit National Parks, take walks in the beautiful countryside and see Ecuador's only Inca ruin site. Cuenca is considered the most beautiful city in Ecuador and has had an exciting history. Barely half a century before the arrival of the Spaniards, the powerful Inca Tupac Yupanqui was undertaking the difficult conquest of the local Cañari people, who struggled bravely to stem the expansion of the Inca Empire. After several years of bitter fighting, Tupac Yupanqui's forces prevailed. The Inca began the construction of a major city whose splendour and importance was to rival that of the imperial capital of Cusco. Stories of sun temples covered with gold sheets and palaces built using the finest skill of Cuzqueño stonemasons abound. What happened to Tomebamba, as the city was called, is however, a complete mystery. By the time the Spanish chronicler Cieza de Léon passed through in 1547, Tomebamba lay in ruins, although well-stocked storehouses indicated how great it had recently been. The Tomebamba River divides Cuenca in half, and south of the river lie fairly recent suburbs and the modern university. To the north is the heart of the colonial city. Although Cuenca has expanded to become Ecuador's third largest city with 165,000 inhabitants, it still retains a pleasantly provincial air and the old centre has churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. The earliest building is the original Cathedral, construction of which began in 1557, the year Cuenca was founded by the Spanish conquerors. Explore the city's sights including cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs, art galleries, flower markets, shady plazas and museums. The villagers in the surrounding areas are expert milliners, creating beautiful and useful Panama hats (which should perhaps more accurately be called Ecuador hats). The ruins of Ingapirca lie approximately an hour and a half drive north of Cuenca, through some of Ecuador's most beautiful countryside. Although it is a major Inca site, not a lot is known about its history Yet another nearby attraction is Area Nacional de Recreacion Cajas, a protected area of 28,000 ha, about 30 km (19 miles) northwest of the city of Cuenca. The terrain is quite stark, mostly above 4000m (13120 ft) in the páramo (grassy highlands), with many clear lakes and a great variety of bird life, beautiful scenery and good hiking possibilities.

Day 34-38 Mancora/Huanchaco

Head to the beach and enjoy optional activities such as surfing or horseback riding. Continue by overnight bus to Huanchaco, where optional activities include visiting pre-Inca sites, exploring the city of Trujillo, or chilling on the beach. Overnight bus

The adventure continues as we travel from Cuenca through the busy border town of Huaquillas and across the Peruvian border into Mancora. Enjoy the relaxing beach atmosphere before heading south along the coast to Trujillo, the largest city in northern Peru. It is known for its beautiful colonial structures and nearby attractions of Chan-Chan ruins and the resort town of Huanchaco where we spend the night. The border crossing into Peru through Huaquillas is one of the busiest in South America and definitely an experience you won't soon forget. We follow the Pan-American Highway south to the seaside town of Mancora, a village populated by fishermen and surfers from around Peru and the world. Next we head further south through the Sechuara Desert, one of the driest places on the continent despite infrequent torrential rains brought on by El Niño. The entire Pacific coastline of South America, encompassing Peru and Chile is washed by the cold Humboldt Current, which travels north from the frigid Antarctic waters. Though the land is fairly devoid of life, the ocean waters are rich with shoals of fish and both the Peruvian and Japanese fishing fleets are well represented along the coast. Trujillo is the capital of the Department of La Libertad and is well known for its colonial buildings, proximity to the Chimu ruins of Chan-Chan and the resort of Huanchaco, where the fishermen's boats are constructed of buoyant reeds and the seafood is both tasty and abundant.

Day 39-40 Lima

Explore Peru's capital and opt to take a city tour, go paragliding, or simply relax. Don't miss the tasty ceviche and pisco sours.

Enjoy a free day in Huanchaco before boarding an overnight bus to Lima, where you have a full day to take in the sites. Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro, on the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany) in 1535, Lima is known as the City of Kings. It is Peru's capital city and as such, deserves a visit. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of old Lima and you'll find the Cathedral, Government Palace and Archbishop's Palace. The Cathedral dates back to the 1700s and houses the remains of the conquistador Pizarro. To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk around the streets surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to experience life in a large South American city. There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which houses an equally impressive collection of pottery, mummies and textiles from the Paracas and Nazca cultures. An optional city tour visits many of the cities highlights. The more affluent coastal districts of Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro offer good nightlife and cafés. The Limeños are friendly and the city's many interesting museums, churches, markets, restaurants and nightlife will surely entice you. Seafood lovers should be sure and try a ceviche, for which Lima is well known.

Day 41-43 Paracas/Nazca (1D)

Optional visit to Ballestas Islands before travelling to Nazca. Stop at a winery en route at the Oasis of Huacachina. Indulge in a traditional Pachamanca meal. Optional sandboarding and flight over the Nazca Lines before a night bus to Arequipa.

Take the morning to explore more of Lima before hopping on a bus for our short trip down the coast to Paracas. Walk the town's lively pedestrian avenue, and find a café to sample some Peruvian food, such as ceviche or papa a la huancaina (potatoes with a chili cheese sauce). Paracas is just down the coast from the important port town of Pisco, which gives its name to the white grape brandy produced in the region. If you haven't tried the national drink, don't pass up this chance to sip on a tasty and frothy Pisco Sour in the heart of Pisco country. From here, opt to visit the Ballestas Islands, where we observe the sea lion colonies, Humbodlt penguins and a variety of other birds. Further south, the road climbs slightly and we rise above the coastal mist to find one of the world's greatest archaeological mysteries, the Nazca Lines, consisting of patterns and pictures etched in the ground, crisscrossing an area of flat desert. Some of the lines measure up to 10 km (32 miles) in length, and yet remain perfectly straight. The depictions of birds, insects and animals are only recognizable from the air. Who drew the lines, and why, is something that modern archaeologists can only theorize about, but current beliefs suggest that they may be part of complex agricultural calendar. From the ground we can make out very little, and the best view is from a light aircraft, which can easily be arranged. The entire desert area was also once the home for the Paracas and the Nazca cultures, which preceded the Incas by more than half a millennia. Remains of the Nazca culture are still visible during an optional tour of an ancient desert cemetery site, which also includes a visit to a pottery workshop. In the evening we assist in the preparation of a thousand year-old tradition: a "Pachamanca", an ancient ceremony akin to the Polynesian meal of burying a variety of delicious treats wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooking them with pre-heated rocks buried in the ground. Day 2, Lima to Paracas Approximate Distance: 285 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours Day 3, Paracas to Nazca Approximate Distance: 175km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Day 4, Nazca to Arequipa, overnight bus Approximate Distance: 570km Estimated Travel Time: 8-9 hours

Day 44-47 Arequipa/Colca Canyon

Optional visit to the Catalina Convent or a local hot spring. Spot condors on an included guided excursion to Colca Canyon. Overnight bus to Cusco.

Peru's second most important city after Lima, Arequipa, maintains a traditional colonial style and more laid back pace in comparison with the capital. Arequipa is built from a very light coloured volcanic rock called sillar, the older buildings dazzle in the sun, thus the nickname, “the White City.” The main plaza with its cafés and nearby cathedral is a top draw for visitors. Those with an interest in history and architecture may take an optional visit to the Convent of Santa Catalina, offering a brief respite from the outside world and a unique view into a by-gone way of life. Spectacular mountains surround Arequipa, the most famous of which is El Misti Volcano, at 5822 m (19096 ft) and with a beautiful snow-capped peak . Our overnight excursion to the Colca Canyon involves a remarkable drive through Inca and pre-Inca terracing. Once at the Canyon we will look for the king of the Andes, the Andean Condor, as well as alpacas, llamas and vicuñas, while enjoying the stunning highland scenery. Take an overnight bus from Arequipa to Cusco.

Day 48-55 Cusco/Ollantaytambo/Inca Trail (3B,3L,3D)

Free time to explore Cusco. Take an optional city tour, or go whitewater rafting, horseback riding or mountain biking. Learn about the Sacred Valley en route to Ollantaytambo. Opt to take a Sacred Valley tour, and visit a Planeterra-supported women's weav

Cusco is the hub of the South American travel network. The city attracts thousands of travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend a week just in and around the area. Cusco is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't have to go far to see other Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend. Ollantaytambo is a major Inca ruin site and your first taste of what lies ahead on the Inca Trail. This major ruin site is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. It is admired for its huge steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress and for being one of the few places where the Spanish lost a major battle during the conquest. We spend the night in this small town before heading out for the start of the hike the next morning. For those craving more before they head out on the Trail, opt to take a Sacred Valley tour which includes not only Ollantaytambo and ruin site of Pisac, but also a visit to a Planeterra-supported women's weaving co-op. Planeterra has been working with the Ccaccaccollo community since 2005 to develop a viable economic alternative for women by creating a weaving cooperative to sell traditional textiles to travellers. Donations by travelers have helped build a community centre supplied with looms and sewing machines for the women to use to expand their production. This project allows the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to maintain their cultural heritage and benefit from the tourism industry. The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and the excursion is within the ability of most reasonably fit people. It is a 44km (27 mile) hike, with three high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13,776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below freezing, so it is important to come prepared. NOTE: We offer two alternatives to hiking the Inca Trail. If Inca Trail permits are sold out, travellers will be given the option to hike the Lares Trek (details below). Travellers not able to hike or not interested in hiking, can opt to spend two extra days in Cusco (details below) before travelling to Machu Picchu. If you do not want to hike, we need to know at the time of booking in order to obtain train tickets. Once Inca Trail permits are confirmed there will be fee for any changes made. The fee may vary depending on the changes that are made to your itinerary. Please advise your agent or G Adventures. Also note the Inca Trail is closed for general maintenance every February for the entire month. Travellers will be hiking the Lares Trek during this time. Other closures to either trek may occur at anytime throughout the year due to inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control. In these instances, itineraries will be reworked to provide the best and safest possible experience. INCA TRAIL DETAILS Day 1 of the Inca Trail: Depart Ollantaytambo by van to km 82 where the hike begins. This takes about 40 mins. Our crew of local porters, cooks and guides will take care of all the details for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of the gear so you'll only need to carry a small daypack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera, etc. You'll trek through beautiful scenery with a variety of flora, changing with the seasons, passing several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata. Start point Km 82 to Wayllambama Approximate distance: 11km/6.8mi Estimated hiking time: 5-6 hrs Day 2 of the Inca Trail: Start early to climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman's Pass. This is the highest point of the trek at 4198m (13,769ft). Most hikers reach camp by early afternoon, with ample time to rest and relax. Wayllabamba to Paqaymayo Approximate distance: 12km/7.5mi Estimated hiking time: 6-7 hrs Day 3 of the Inca Trail: Today we cross two more passes and more ruins along the way. The first pass is at 3998m (13,113ft) where, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. You'll hike through cloud forest on the gentle climb to the second pass of the day where you walk through original Incan constructions. The highest point of this pass is 3700m (12,136ft). On a clear day, enjoy the views of the Urubamba Valley. At 3650m (11,972ft) you'll reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the ‘Town Above the Clouds'. We either camp here or an hour and half further along, near the Wiñay Wayna ruins (Forever Young). Paqaymayo to Wiñaywayna Approximate distance: 16km/10mi Estimated hiking time: 8 hrs Day 4 of the Inca Trail: The final day of the hike starts pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before the sun rises. When the morning is clear, you soak in your first views of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu as the mist rises off the mountains and the sun begins to illuminate the site. Hike down to Machu Picchu about 45 minutes more where you'll have a guided tour of the site and free time to explore. Travellers can opt to visit the Inca Bridge (15 min walk) for no additional charge, if time allows. After your visit, catch the bus from outside the Machu Picchu gate and take it 15 mins downhill to Aguas Calientes where you'll meet your CEO and any non-hiking members of your group. Eat and relax before your train back to Cusco this evening. Wiñaywayna to Intipunku (Sun Gate) Approximate distance: 4km/2.5mi Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hrs Aguas Calientes to Cusco Approximate Distance: 118km/73mi Estimated Travel Time: 3.15 hrs LARES TREK DETAILS: The Lares Trek is one day shorter than the Inca Trail, but higher in elevation (33km/20.5 miles, with a high point of 4600m/14,928ft). Travellers hiking the Lares Trek will start the same day as those hiking the Inca Trail. The 3-day hike starts with a van ride from Ollantaytambo to the trekking start point and returns back to Ollantaytambo by van from the trekking end point. From there, hikers will take a scenic train to Aguas Calientes for one overnight stay. In most cases, your CEO will hike the Lares Trek with you. From Aguas Calientes you will take the bus (15 mins) to Machu Picchu early the next morning for a guided tour of Machu Picchu. After the tour and some free time, catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Cusco with the rest of the group. NOTE: The locations and distances may change on this hike as we will camp in different locations depending on pace, ability and weather. Starting in 2014 travellers will stay in a newly established community-owned and managed campsite in an indigenous village previously bypassed by the tourism industry. Details on this IDB/MIF and Planeterra project can be found in the Associated Planeterra Project section of our “Before You Go”. Day 1 of the Lares Trek: Start early and take a van (3 hrs) to Lares town where the hike will start with a leisurely pace through the valley of Cuncani. Hike 4km (2.5mi) to Chancachaca where we stop for lunch. Altitude here is around 3480m (11,417ft). Continue on to Wacawasi where we camp for the night at 3825m (12,549ft). Lares town to Wacawasi Approximate distance: 11km/6.85mi Estimated hiking time: 4 hrs Highest point: 4200m/13,780ft Day 2 of the Lares Trek: Start early and hike for about 4 hrs from Wacawasi to Wacawasi-Ccassa for a total of 7.5km (4.6mi). Head downhill another hour or so before stopping for lunch in Auroracocha. Continue down for another 2.5 hrs to Mantanay where we stay the night (3200m/10,499ft). Wacawasi to Mantanay Approximate distance: 11km/6.8mi Estimated hiking time: 6.5hrs Highest point: 4600m/15092ft Day 3 of the Lares Trek: Today we hike about 2.5 hrs (9km/5.6mi) to Punta Carretera where we stop for lunch. Take a bus about 30 mins back to Ollantaytambo were we catch the train for a relaxing, scenic ride to Aguas Calientes. Mantanay to Punta Carretera Approximate distance: 9km/5.6mi Estimated hiking time: 3.5 hrs Highest point: 4100m/13451ft Punta Carretera to Ollantaytambo Estimated travel time (bus): 30 mins Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes Estimated travel time (train): 2 hrs Day 4 of the Lares Trek: Rise early to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu with your guide. Enjoy a guided visit to the ruins followed by free time to explore. When you're ready, head back down by bus to Aguas where you'll meet up with the rest of the group and take a train back to Cusco. Aguas Calientes to Cusco: Approximate distance: 118km/73mi Estimated travel time: 3.15 hours CUSCO STAY DETAILS: Anyone electing to do the Cusco Stay will have two extra days to explore this ancient Inca capital city. When hikers leave Ollantaytambo, travellers doing the Cusco Stay will return to Cusco with their CEO. Enjoy the afternoon and the next day in Cusco with options to visit ruins round the city, enjoy activities in the area or spend time shopping, eating and exploring. The next day, travel by van to Ollantaytambo where you catch the scenic train to Aguas Calientes. The next morning, rise early to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu with your guide. Enjoy a guided visit to the ruins followed by free time to explore. When you're ready, head back down by bus to Aguas where you'll meet up with the rest of your group and take a train back to Cusco. Please note, on these days breakfast will be the only meal included.

Day 56-58 Puno/Lake Titicaca (1B,1L,1D)

Visit the floating Islands of Uros, and take a guided tour of Lake Titicaca with a homestay in a local village. Optional visit to Sillustani burial site.

Today we travel through the high Altiplano region to get from Cusco to Puno, on Lake Titicaca. After spending one night in Puno, we board a boat and head to Taquile Island for lunch in a local restaurant and the chance for some shopping in the local weaving cooperatives. From there we head to Amantani where overnight with a local family and enjoy typical music of the area. The following morning we will visit the floating islands of Uros en route to Puno. Titicaca is the largest lake in the world above 2000m, and the views from both Amantaní and Taquile Islands are stunning. On our way to Taquile Island we pass the floating islands of the Uros people. The Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the Colla and Inca tribes. Sadly, the Uros language has died out, and today they speak Aymara due to intermarriage with Aymara-speakers. Today about 300 families live on the islands, however their numbers are slowly declining. The people of Taquile Island's unique culture, style of dress and lifestyle make for a memorable visit. The men of the community do all the knitting, as this is strictly a male domain, while the women do the spinning. High quality, locally knitted goods are available for purchase at various cooperatives on the island. After visiting these islands we will head to the Lluquina Peninsula where we will spend the evening in a small, local community, mostly unaffected by tourism. Unlike the neighbouring islands the communities of Lluquina have only recently started to accept visitors and have a less commercial and more authentic feel. Spend a night with a local family and get a true feel of life on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Accommodation on the Islands may be multishare.

Day 59 La Paz

Cross into Bolivia for a final night out in this high altitude city. Oxygen bar, anyone?

The drive along the shores of Lake Titicaca and through the altiplano to La Paz, the capital city of the impressive nation of Bolivia. Founded by Alonso de Mendoza in 1548, La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (the City of Our Lady of Peace) is a great place to explore on foot. Although Sucre is the official capital, La Paz is the Bolivian centre of commerce, finance and industry, and the de facto capital. This is a busy modern city, with its centre at the base of a canyon 5 km (3 miles) wide, with sprawling impromptu housing all the way up the surrounding hillsides. The city is at nearly 4000 m (13,120 ft) above sea level, so visitors should be prepared for cool evenings and mornings. Explore the city's many fine museums or its historic ecclesiastical structures, such as the Iglesia de San Francisco, whose architectural details reflect the indigenous and mestizo heritage of modern Bolivia. The city is also renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechicería (Witches' Market), where Paceños and visitors may purchase potions and incantations made from all sorts of herbs, seeds, and secret ingredients to remedy any number of illnesses (real or imagined) and protect from evil spirits. There is also a thriving black market and a Carnaval market, where locals purchase carnival costumes. You'll also find a wealth of shops selling all sorts of handicrafts, mainly alpaca wool products, silver jewellery, woven textiles and leather goods. Optional activities in La Paz include museums, excursions to Tiahuanaco ruins (cradle of Inca civilization), a tour of the Valley of the Moon, or a visit to the world's highest ski resort, Chacaltaya (5600 m/18,368 ft). To the south of the city is the Valley of the Moon, with crater-like formations made of sand.

Day 60 La Paz

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You will visit

  • Colombia > Peru > Ecuador

Is this for me?

  • Trip Style: Small Group Adventures, 18-35s
  • Comfort Level: Basic
  • Physical Demands: You might encounter a few high-altitude hikes or other more strenuous activities. Pro tip: Put down that pastry, buster.

What's included?

5-day Lost City of Teyuna trek. Overnight excursion to Tayrona National Park. Visit to Otavalo Market. Full-day hike of Sierra Negra Volcano (Isabela). Highlands visit (Floreana). Loberia snorkelling excursion (Floreana). Visit to Flamingo Lagoon and Tortoise Breeding Centre (Isabela). Visit to Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz). Hike to Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz). Visit to lava tunnels (Santa Cruz). Opportunities for snorkelling ...

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