QUITO to SANTIAGO (53 days) Andes & Amazon
Starting in Quito, the 'City of Eternal Spring' surrounded by volcanic peaks, head into the Amazon basin and experience the rainforest and its wildlife first-hand at a unique jungle lodge, and see the instant contrast as you cross into Peru and its arid northern coast, which boasts an incongruous but vibrant surf scene. After Lima, follow the Andes, taking in its towering peaks, ancient Incan archaeological sites including Machu Picchu, the vast altiplano of Bolivia and its eerie yet majestic Salt Flats, and its complex and mysterious indigenous cultures, finish in Santiago with the snow-capped Andes as the city's backdrop. Throw in a few adrenaline activities, like sandboarding in the Peruvian desert, the wine country of northern Argentina, some bustling colonial towns, and cosmopolitan cities with great bars and restaurants and you've got a varied and packed adventure that gives you a genuine taste of South America!
Days 1 to 8
Depart Quito, the capital & cross the Equator.
Otavalo - a small market town famous for its colourful arts & crafts.
Amazon Jungle - journey to our jungle camp where we spend two or three nights to view the exotic wildlife - our guide will show us examples of medicinal, edible and hallucinogenic plants.
Days 9 to 18
Banos - a spa town where Ecuadorians go to relax in the thermal baths and hike the various mountain trails by foot or horseback plus the opportunity to go canyoning!
Cuenca - UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pacific Ocean coast - Punta Sal/Mancora, chill out by the beach and try your hand at surfing.
Chan Chan & Temple of Sun and Moon - built by the pre-Inca Chimu Kings, the largest mud brick city in the world.
Lima - the capital city with many plazas, museums and great local seafood (Ceviche).
Days 19 to 26
Ballestas Islands - a boat trip takes us close to the Islands which are bursting with exotic & rare marine wildlife.
Ica Desert & Oasis of Huacachina - visit a local winery & taste Pisco, the national drink.
Dune Buggies & Sandboarding on the giant dunes out in the desert. BBQ and camp overnight under the stars.
Nazca Lines - huge figures and shapes carved into the stony desert, best viewed from the air.
Chauchilla Cemetery - ancient eerie tombs.
Ascend the Andes mountain range and drive past grazing Llama, Alpaca and Vicuna
Arequipa - a magnificent colonial city with authentic Peruvian nightlife.
Colca Canyon - accompanied by a local guide, you have the opportunity to view the majestic condors, which can be seen circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor.
Days 27 to 33
Traverse mountainous passes of nearly 5000m within sight of active volcanoes
Cuzco (our base for the next week)
Sacred Valley of the Incas
Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu - 4 day hike on the Lares, Classic or Salkantay trail.
Machu Picchu - finally on day 4 we reach the famous UNESCO World Heritage site - entrance and guide included.
Days 34 to 37
Puno - Lake Titicaca - the world's highest navigable lake at 3800 metres.
Floating reed islands - home to the Uros Indians - explore Titicaca by boat & spend a night with one of the local families.
La Paz - highest capital city in the world, visit the colourful witches market!
Days 38 to 45
Altiplano - drive across this wild and barren landscape.
Potosi - the opportunity to enter a working silver & tin mine where techniques have remained unchanged for centuries.
Uyuni Salt Lake - take a 1 day excursion out onto the vast salt flats.
Tupiza - follow in the steps of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.
Humahuaca Canyon and Purmamarca
Salta - founded over 400 years ago and a great place for live music, mountain biking, mountain trekking, horse riding and river rafting.
Days 46 to 52
Cafayate and Mendoza, - wine growing region visiting wineries by bicycle in the Andes.
Santiago - Chile's capital, a modern, organised city with great food and nightlife.
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