Depending on the airline used, we depart for 2 or 3 nights in Quito. Situated between two ranges of the snowcapped Andes, Quito has a beautiful setting and a temperate climate. The next morning we take a tour of both the modern and colonial quarters of Quito including La Compañía Church with its ornate façade, and a visit to the Archaeological Museum which houses a fascinating collection of pre-Colombian ceramics & gold. On Day 2 there will be a morning excursion to the Otavalo market and the countryside north of Quito. (B)
Cruise the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin observed the wildlife that would lead him to his theory of evolution. Spend 7 nights cruising the archipelago onboard the M/V Eric/Letty/Flamingo with daily morning and afternoon guided excursions to admire the tame wildlife endemic to each island. Basking marine and land iguanas, red and blue footed boobies, frigate birds, giant tortoises, and friendly sea lions abound. (B,L,D)
On Monday we fly back to the mainland connecting with a flight to Lima, where we stay for 2 nights. The following day we explore Lima with our local guide. We will visit the main squares, surrounded by grand colonial buildings, the Anthropological Museum with its fascinating array of textiles, pottery and mummies spanning from 1400 BC to Hispanic time, and the Larco Herrera Museum, where a large, important collection of randomly arranged treasures is housed. (B)
Continue with a flight to Cusco, where we stay for 2 nights. Arrivinag at an altitude of 3,310m, we take the afternoon to relax and acclimatize. (B)
A fascinating half day tour of Cusco and the ruins surrounding the city. Within Cusco, the evidence of Inca culture is still apparent despite the destructive tendencies of the conquistadores, with the Cathedral, churches and hotels resting on solid Inca foundations. Outside the city stands the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, whose stones weigh over 100 tons and are fitted together with characteristic Inca precision. (B)
Set off by train on a glorious journey along the course of the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes. From here we take a bus up the steep mountain side to the magnificent citdadel of Machu Picchu, which silently awaits. Our local guide will show us the ruins explaining the history of the site. Overnight in Aguas Calientes. (B)
Early morning offers an excellent opportunity for a quiet stroll around Machu Picchu, a walk along the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate, or a strenuous climb to Huayna Picchu, the rocky escarpment overlooking the ruins. In the afternoon return to Cusco, by train and bus, where we stay 2 nights. (B)
A scenic, full day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, affording great views of the valleys and Inca terracing. We stop at the Maras salt mines, and the concentric circular terraces of Moray. On to the village of Ollantaytambo, with its ancient irrigation system, still in good working order, and the temple fortress towering above. We contirune to Pisac market, a colourful show of local foods and weavings, and visit Pisac ruins to see the remains of some of the finest Inca masonry. (B,L)
Early flight to Lima, where we have day use of a hotel room. Evening flight arriving home on Day 19.
The Encantada Tour departs Friday, returns Tuesday INCLUDING 19 days, 16 nights accommodation & breakfast (B), all flights (1 overnight using Iberia ), taxes, all transfers and excursions with our English-speaking guides, entrance fees, services of our representatives throughout, all transport and meals as per the itinerary shown. Please see pages 166-168 for further details of what is included.
Extensions: Lake Titicaca & Bolivia
Early departure from Cusco on a memorable train journey, part of the Orient Express group, with seats at a table by the window where lunch is served as we pass towering Andean mountains, hot springs and solitary villages. The train stops at isolated railway stations where local people await to sell their wares. On arrival on the shores of Lake Titicaca, we will be met and taken to our hotel in Puno for 1 night. (B)
This morning we take a boat trip on the lake to visit the people living on the floating Uros Islands, which together with huts and rafts, are built out of the Totora reeds prevalent in the area. Leave Puno in the afternoon on a scenic bus ride, skirting the lake, past local farmers working their Inca terraces to the charming village of Copacabana, Bolivia's main pilgrimage centre. Continue by boat to Sun Island, where we take a short hike to our wonderful hotel overlooking the lake. Overnight (B)
After breakfast, we have time to explore Sun Island before taking a boat back to Copacabana. From Copacabana our journey continues along the Bolivian lake shore arriving at La Paz in the early evening where we stay for 2 nights. (B)
In the morning we take a city tour and visit the colonial quarter of La Paz, the fascinating witches' market, where weird and wonderful potions are sold, and the Moon Valley, an area of sandstone sculpted by wind and rain to create a surreal lunar landscape. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home arriving on Day 23 (Saturday). (B)
NOTE: Opportunity to see more of Bolivia including the historic city of Sucre, Tarabuco market and the ancient mining town of Potosí.
The Encantada Tour & Bolivia departs Friday, returns Saturday INCLUDING 23 days, 21 nights accommodation & breakfast (B), all flights (1 overnight), taxes, all transfers and excursions with our English-speaking guides, entrance fees, services of our representatives throughout, all transport and meals as per the itinerary shown.
Extension: Lake Titicaca, Bolivia & Brazil
From Bolivia fly on to Rio de Janeiro, via Sao Paulo, staying for 3 nights in the cosmopolitan beach areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. (B)
Morning excursion to Brazil's famous landmark, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, perched on Corcovado mountain, granting fabulous views of the
city in a unique setting of granite peaks, lagoon, beaches and the sea. Afternoon free to explore Rio de Janeiro. (B)
Afternoon visit to Rio's Botanical Gardens. Following day flight home arriving on Day 26 (Tuesday). (B)
NOTE: Stay on longer in Rio de Janeiro for optional excursions, visits to colonial Parati or stay at a tropical beach resort on the coast.