Tick off two of Latin America’s ultimate bucket list destinations in one epic trip. Walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, discover native wildlife and see sea lions and giant tortoises before flying to Peru and the ancient site of Machu Picchu. Adventure and culture awaits, as you make your way through jungles, ancient towns and breathtaking scenery.
Meet up with your Contiki Crew this morning as we fly to Santa Cruz Island. After our flight, we’ll make our way to the cute little town of Puerto Ayora, but not before your first taste of the incredible natural habitat here – en route we’ll stop to check out the famed giant tortoises in their natural surroundings, and some of the incredible old lava tunnels (some over 1km long) winding their way under the island of Santa Cruz. We’ll stop for lunch before getting out on the water for our first boat ride to Isabela – this nature haven is home to land and sea life that will astound and amaze. Once we arrive on the island we’ll head to town for our first night in the Galapagos National Park. As you chill and get to know your travel buddies keep an eye out for the friendly reintroduced wild tortoises roaming around. Tonight, relax over dinner & get ready for two nights in this beautiful spot.
This morning we’ll grab some kayaks & get out on the water around Las Tintoreras where we’ll set out in search for the Galapagos Penguin – the only penguin found north of the Equator! On return, spot colourful fish as you snorkel the underground lava tubes. This area is often frequented by green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom, so make sure you are on the lookout for these incredible creatures as you snorkel through the clear blue water.
This morning we’ll head to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the island’s natural history on a guided tour, before we take off Santa Cruz Island. Before heading to Santa Cruz Island, you can choose to chill or get active, it's up to you! If you feel like getting out and about, this afternoon’s optional activity is a guided trip to the gorgeous Tortuga Bay. After a half an hour stroll along a path you'll arrive at a stretch of white sandy beach where marine iguanas sunbathe. You also have an opportunity to kayak in the bay in search of sharks, rays, turtles, and great blue herons. This pristine beach is absolute heaven! Not ready to wield a paddle? No worries – this is the perfect opportunity to sun bathe, body surf, surf, or look for marine iguanas, lava gulls and the famous blue- footed boobies. If you aren’t feeling up for the walk, take to the streets and go local or head to town to shop for souvenirs or relax.
This morning we’ll pay a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, once home to one of the island’s most famous residents, the world-famous Lonesome George – who was 100 years old when he died. Here you’ll observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas brought back from the brink of extinction and learn about this centre and research facility. Later we're back on the boat as we head to our next island, San Cristobal. - keep an eye out for bathing sea lions that the island is known for! This island is made up of four volcanoes – all extinct – and later, we’ll head up into the highlands for a scenic downhill bike ride. Starting at a panoramic viewpoint called La Soledad, we’ll bike through the tiny town of El Progreso and five different and varied vegetation zones until we reach a beach La Loberia beach. From there you can check out some of the other locals - we’ll be able to watch cute sea lions sun bathing, playing and vying for our attention. Tonight, it’s all about relaxing over drinks at one of our favourite local spots while watching the sunset.
Today we take to the water to get our last glimpse of the famous and equally incredible underwater world of Galapagos. First we’ll cruise along the coast in our boat where our Local Guide will point out the species of shore birds like the Great Frigatebird and other native species. We begin our stay in search of wildlife and then we are off to Kicker Rock (or Leon Dormido as it’s known by the locals) the remains of a tuff cone - Kicker Rock rising a massive over 143m out of the ocean (that's about 50 floors in building terms). We’ll check out the underwater landscape as we head along the edge and through a channel of this drastic compact ash formation. Your Local Guide will keep you in the know as we look out for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, chocolate chip starfish, and, with any luck, a Galapagos Shark or two. Don’t worry, they won’t be as interested in you as you are in them, so it's perfectly safe. Later we’ll head to Puerto Grande, a beautiful beach which is our final stop for the day. After lunch on board, spend your time swimming in the turquoise water or snapping photos of Kicker Rock in the distance. We’ll head back to town late afternoon where we'll be treated to one of the best BBQ’s in the Galapagos at one of the local’s favorite spots to celebrate a great Galapagos trip.
Our included flight will land us in the seaside Peruvian capital of Lima. Arriving late, we’ll nevertheless be pumped at the prospect of what tomorrow brings – namely more Contiki peeps joining our squad as we take on Peru over the next few days. That’s right, we’ve still got 1 more week of South American adventuring to go, and yet more awesome people to enjoy the journey with. Life is pretty sweet right now.
Made up of 43 different districts, almost all with their own flare and vibe, Lima is a bustling metropolis. The opulence of the Spanish colonial era is visible everywhere in the city, from the detailed wood-work of the historic centre’s balconies, doors and architecture to the the lavishly decorated churches. Ideas of places to explore include a visit to the Basillica Cathedral for a glimpse of the city’s former glory or, for something different you could head to the Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of San Francisco) and take a look at its famous catacombs. As the city's first cemetery, these underground tunnels (catacombs) contain the bones of over 70,000 people, many of which are set in cool geometric patterns. If you’re into art, then make tracks to the Barranco district – its bohemian energy will make you feel right at home. Wander past the beautiful colonial mansions of the neighborhood, many of them recently restored. Take a walk on the beachside boardwalk, cross the Lima’s Bridge of Sighs or just sit in one of the cafés that overlooks the ocean and spend the afternoon relaxing with a Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink. If you want to check out the city’s more modern aspects, the Miraflores district is the place for you. If shopping, gourmet restaurants, great cafes and bars is what you’re after (or spending the day looking out over the ocean while watching the many surfers ripping it up), this is the perfect spot. Looking to check out Lima by night? There are loads of places to head to. From chilled-out lounges, to bars with live music, or dance clubs that run late into the night, just let your Trip Manager know what you feel like and they’ll give you some tips on where to head.
We’ll catch a flight the city of Puerto Maldonado in Peru’s southern jungle. We’ll have lunch on the river as we travel upstream by a traditional Peruvian boat to our Contiki Special Stay Rainforest Lodge in the mighty Amazon jungle, where we’ll try to spot toucans, macaws and capybaras along the way. Our lodge is a special experience in itself! Located in then luscious rainforest and made from wood and clay, its open walls leave you sleeping virtually amongst the rainforest! After you settle in, we’ll get a different take on the jungle as we take a hike to the canopy tower. After climbing the 100ft of stairs you will be provided with a birds-eye view of the rainforest! Home to monkeys, birds, bromeliads and other jungle life, this is the ultimate way to see the jungle. After dinner you can experience something really different, heading out to look for caiman, a member of the alligator family native to the Amazon. Scan the shores with flashlights and see if you can catch the red gleam of the light as it reflects off of the caiman’s eyes.
With another day at the jungle lodge, keep your eyes peeled for a wildlife like the giant otter.
Spend today exploring the beautiful city of Cusco - wander the main plaza, visit the Tread Right support weaving centre or feed your sweet tooth with a visit to the chocolate museum. Then get into Cusco's amazing nightlife & join our Illary (Sunrise) Club!
Say farewell to Cusco this morning as we make our way to the Sacred Valley of the ancient Incas. The Sacred Valley was the heart of the Inca’s agricultural setting and an important ceremonial region, with the sacred sites of Cuzco at one end and Machu Picchu at the other and countless ceremonial sites in between. Our first stop is to one of these sites, Pisac. On our guided tour we will see two of the most important aspects of the Inca culture – terracing – a farming technique created by the Inca’s and their religion. We’ll take a walk before descending in the village below for a quick visit to the market. This will be great practice for those who have chosen the one-day hike to Machu Picchu tomorrow. Don’t miss the town’s huge wood-oven bakery! After a stop for lunch in Urubamba we’ll make our way to one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns of South America – Ollantaytambo. On our way, we can see the ‘salineras’ or salt mines of the area from a distance. For hundreds of years these pools, constructed by the Inca’s, have provided salt to the surrounding communities. We’ll also make a quick stop to try the local brew “Chicha de Jora” (traditional beverage made from fermented maize) and play a traditional Peruvia game of “Sapo” (Frog) if you’re up for it. We soon arrive to the town and archaeological site of the same name, Ollantaytambo, the last fully-functioning Inca town. We’ll wander around the site or visit the still inhabited Inca buildings before checking into the hotel.
For those not embarking on the Inca Trail, the morning is yours to enjoy the surrounding lush mountains of Aguas Callientes
Wake up early and enter Machu Picchu for sunrise. Learn more about Machu Picchu on a tour, then explore before returning to base.
Don’t forget to swap addresses with your mates and Tour Manager, as our South American adventure ends this morning after breakfast.
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Trip Name: Latin Icons
Duration: 14 Days
From Price: £3,593
Supplier Tour ID: GUCU/161129
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