Days
28
Price from
FR3,045CHF

Channel your inner explorer as you mosey through cities, towns and jungle communities along South America’s west coast. From quirky Quito to the amazin’ Amazon and Banos and its baths to luvverly Lima, drink Pisco in Paracas, eat cuy in Cuzco and shrug your shoulders at the Nazca Lines (seriously, how did they get there??). Hike the Inca Trail, meet super-cute peeps, cuddle a llama, see some witches and experience the best of the west on this epic adventure.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:

To constantly improve our itineraries we take on all feedback from our previous travellers and local teams. As a result of this process, in 2017 we will no longer operate this itinerary - Ecuador and Peru Highlights (GSQL)
We have however replaced this itinerary with a new and improved itinerary. More details will be published in coming months, with the new itinerary outlined below:

(1) Quito
(2) Otavalo / Quito
(3) Banos
(4) Banos
(5) Cuenca
(6) Cuenca
(7) Tumbes / Lima Flight (included)
(8) Lima
(9) Lima
(10) Amazon Jungle
(11) Amazon Jungle
(12) Cuzco
(13) Cuzco
(14) Inca Trail
(15) Inca Trail
(16) Inca Trail
(17) Inca Trail
(18) Cuzco
(19) Puno
(20) Lake Titicaca (Homestay)
(21) Puno
(22) La Paz
(23) La Paz


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
La Paz, Bolivia
Countries
Ecuador, Peru
Code
GSEB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Who can? Toucan. Release your inner Tarzan in the Amazon (don't wake the anacondas), before slothing around chilled-out Banos at the base of an active volcano

  • Get your trek on through the cloud forests, mountain passes and ancient ruins of the awesome Inca Trail. If you have any breath left, the sight of Machu Picchu at sunrise will knock the last of it out of you

  • Your human legs will never take you to the heights reached by the mighty Andean condor, but you CAN cheat biology with a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines

  • Visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, constructed entirely of reeds by the Uros people in ancient times. Normal islands will never be as cool again

  • Let La Paz's weird and wacky Witches Market cast a spell over you. Leave enough broom to munch on scarily exotic snacks

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a lot of travel on local buses, including some long stints (nine hours from Nazca to Arequipa; 10 hours from Arequipa to Cuzco), and conditions can be fairly basic. Bus travel can be tiring, but it’s also a great opportunity to relax, rub shoulders with the locals and enjoy the scenery. There is also an overnight bus to Cuzco, which ensures you will enjoy maximum time at your destinations.

  • You’ll be staying in some very basic group accommodation with shared facilities, especially along the Inca Trail, in the Amazon and on Lake Titicaca (where there are drop toilets and no showers). This is all part of the adventure of being among nature.

  • We’ll be experiencing a mix of hot and cold climates, so pack accordingly and bring layers.

  • It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water.

  • This trip involves a lot of hiking and walking (especially along the Inca Trail, which can be challenging) so requires a moderate level of fitness. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘What to Take’ section of the trip notes for more information.

  • Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive into Quito a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information about altitude sickness.

Itinerary

Welcome to Quito! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm at the hotel. Please check with the hotel reception to confirm where and when it will take place, or check the reception noticeboards. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so make sure you have these details to provide to your leader. 

If you arrive early into Quito, hit up the city. A good place to start is the lively Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) offers awesome views over city’s white houses and surrounding volcanoes. Maybe check out ‘The Last Supper’ painting at The Monastery of San Diego, where Christ and his people feast on the Andean delicacy of cuy (roast guinea pig - yes, guinea pig). Tonight, enjoy a free evening and perhaps grab some dinner at a local restaurant with your new travel buddies. 

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel on time, you may want to arrive a day early so you can attend. We'd be thrilled to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability of course). If you're going to be late, please let hotel reception know.
Accommodation
  • San Francisco Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Basilica del Voto Nacional - USD2
  • Compania de Jesus - USD4
  • La Ronda - Free
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee - USD3
  • Cotopaxi National Park - Hiking Tour - USD95
  • Ballet Folklorico Ecuatoriano de Jacchigua - USD40
  • Antisana Trek Full day from Quito - USD120
  • Quito City Tour by Night (Optional) - USD35
  • The Equator Line - USD55
  • Whitewater rafting - USD120
  • Quito Market Discovery Urban Adventure - USD99
  • Quito Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo Urban Adventure - USD156
  • Old Town & Gastronomic Urban Adventure - USD99
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Quito early in the morning and travel by local bus to Misahualli (approximately six hours). From here, it’s a short boat ride to the local community where you’ll be chilling out for the next two nights. Accommodation is pretty basic with beds, sheets and shared bathroom facilities provided. Ah, the life of an Amazon.
Accommodation
  • Shiripuno Community stay or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Activity
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After breakfast, travel by canoe to the starting point of today’s hike. The hike is pretty easy and takes around 3-4 hours (depending on the group’s pace). Visit a protected private reserve with areas of secondary and primary forest, keeping an eye out for various species of insects and birds. Also native to the area are anacondas, sloths, monkeys, jaguars, toucans, armadillos and caimans. Your local guide will provide insight into the importance of the jungle to the local community.
Accommodation
  • Shiripuno Community stay or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today travel by local bus to Tena before continuing on to Banos (approximately five-and-a-half hours in total). The bus will stop in Puyo at the halfway point for a quick toilet break, where passengers can grab some snacks. Located in the foothills of the active Tungurahua volcano, Banos has become a mecca for travellers seeking a small-town atmosphere, year-round temperate weather and a base for exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors. The evening is free to explore.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Santa Clara or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Baños bike rental per day - USD6
  • Steam Baths - USD8
  • Entrance fee Pailon del Diablo waterfall - USD2
  • Tree House - USD1
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Banos is generally quiet during the week, except for the occasional performance of a traditional Andean band. On the weekends and during holidays, however, the town get really rowdy. You have two free days in Banos to take advantage of optional group activities, including mountain biking, hiking or rafting. Perhaps watch the sunrise over the mountains from the famous hot springs or visit the cathedral and local artisan markets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Santa Clara or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend some more time exploring Banos today, before you take a three-hour bus back to Quito. In the evening, perhaps grab some dinner at a local restaurant with the group.
Accommodation
  • San Francisco Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Otavalo Market day trip
  • Village Tour Otavalo
Optional Activities
  • Quito Market Discovery Urban Adventure - USD99
  • Quito Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo Urban Adventure - USD156
  • Old Town & Gastronomic Urban Adventure - USD99
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a day trip to the famous Otavalo Market, two-and-a-half hours north of Quito by local bus. This is one of the most important Indian markets in Ecuador. Villagers from the surrounding countryside descend on the town once a week to sell everything from handmade goods to livestock, fruit and vegies. This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs, practice your bargaining skills or take some colourful photographs.
Accommodation
  • San Francisco Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today fly from Quito to Lima and begin the Peruvian leg of your adventure. This international flight is not included in the price of the trip so you will need to book it separately - please let us know your flight details at least 15 days prior to the beginning of the trip. A tip: if you fly internationally with LAN, you may be able to book this flight from about USD 350, subject to availability. Give us a call if you need a hand to book this flight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel The Place or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN15
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Lima - Banco Central de Reserva Museum - PEN5
  • Lima - Pachacamac Tour (30 km from downtown) - USD37
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
  • Lima - Gold Museum - PEN35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today your leader will take you on an orientation walk of downtown Lima and the historical centre. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days. Starting in the Plaza Mayor, check out the main cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. Observe the Spanish colonial influences in the city’s ornate mansions, palaces and churches. Enjoy the rest of the day to explore on your own.
Optional Activities
  • Coca Museum - BOB8
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a four-hour local bus ride to Paracas; making three or four quick stops along the way. The small fishing town of Paracas is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve. Once in town, head to the Plaza de Armas to hang out with the locals, try the tejas (small sweets made from nuts and dried fruit) and sip a Pisco sour, which Paracas is famous for.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Zarcillo or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you have the option to visit the Ballestas Islands. Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru', keep an eye out for the island’s wildlife, including pelicans, flamingos, sea lions and penguins. From here make the three-hour trip to Nazca. This is home to the enigmatic Nazca Lines, which are enormous designs of animals, insects and birds inscribed into the desert. Some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. These mysterious shapes are better seen from the air. Small planes offer 30-minute flights over all 26 figures. Plastic bags are provided on board, but this flight isn’t recommended for those with a weak stomach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Camiluz or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ballestas Islands - Guided tour - PEN57
  • Nazca - Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Early in the afternoon, travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approximately nine hours). Standing at the foot of the El Misti Volcano, much of Arequipa is built out of pale volcanic rock, giving it the nickname of the ‘White City’. With its preserved colonial architecture, it’s one of the most attractive cities in Peru and a great place to relax for a couple of days. Your time here is free to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Los Andes or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Arequipa - Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN45
  • Arequipa - Juanita Museum - PEN20
  • Colca Canyon - La Calera hot springs - PEN15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you have a free day to enjoy the sights of Arequipa. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is an ideal place to while away the day. For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. Built in the 16th century, the convent only accepted women from high-class Spanish families, so expect an opulent setting. Perhaps visit the Juanita Museum, which is home to the 'Ice Maiden' - the Incan mummy of a 12-14-year-old girl who died in the 1440s.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Los Andes or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today travel by minivan to Chivay (approximately five hours). Along the way, see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and stop to take pictures. You'll also have the chance to try some coca tea. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place on our trip at 4,800 m above sea level), the van will descend to Chivay. Enjoy breathtaking views of Colca Canyon, which is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. In the afternoon, go for a short trek through the area and finally arrive at the hot thermal baths.

You may choose to spend the evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak or listening to live Andean music at a local pena (music house).

Notes: Accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets but no heating (you can request extra blankets), and some rooms can be noisy.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Colca Inn or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The star of Colca Canyon is the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. This morning, wake up early and drive to a viewpoint where they’re often seen going about their morning routine. Following this stop, there will be a short walk of about 45 minutes before returning to Chivay. In the afternoon, make the five-hour journey back to Arequipa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Los Andes or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today enjoy more time to explore Arequipa. In the evening, bid farewell to Arequipa and take an overnight bus to Cuzco at 8 pm. The trip takes around eleven hours, which can be tiresome, but allows for plenty of time to rest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Leonards or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Cuzco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN135
  • Cuzco - Cathedral Visit - PEN25
  • Cuzco - Coricancha Archeological Site, guided tour - PEN15
  • Cuzco - Half Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to selected archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN75
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The overnight bus arrives into Cusco at approximately 7 am this morning. Later in today, enjoy an orientation walk around downtown Cuzco, South America’s oldest, continuously inhabited city. Check out San Pedro Market, the famous 12 Angle Stone and the cathedral in the city’s Plaza de Armas, built on top of an Incan palace. Visit the ruins of Qorikancha, once the Inca empire's most important temple. For morning tea or lunch perhaps head to Yanapay Restaurant, which donates all its profits to social projects supporting children in Cuzco.

Notes: Cuzco is 3,450 metres above sea level, so it may take some time to acclimatise to the high altitude.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Leonards or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops stretch along the river and colourful shrines dot the surrounding mountains. Visit a community in the valley to learn about local life. If your visit coincides with market day, browse the stalls for hand-painted beads or colourful ponchos and perhaps learn a few words of the local language, Quechua. Continue on to Ollaytaytambo (about 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley), where you'll make an included visit to the Ollaytaytambo ruins. Spend the night in a hotel in Ollay in preperation for an early start and the beginning of the Inca Trail.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Munay Tika or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
Optional Activities
  • Ollantaytambo - Archeological site - PEN70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today set off along the famous Inca Trail. Hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the archaeological site of Llactapata, enjoying stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. Tonight, the group will camp near the village of Ayapata.
Accommodation
  • Camping- Inca Trail (1 night)
Included Activities
  • 4 day/3 night Inca Trail. Machu Picchu guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, conquer the most difficult part of the trek in the hike up to Dead Woman’s Pass. At 4,200 metres above sea level, this is the highest point of the trail. When you get to the top, enjoy well-deserved panoramic views of the Vilcanota and Vilcabamba mountain ranges. Continue on to the ruins of Runkuracay, once thought to be a ‘tambo’ (resting place) for couriers and animals on their way to Machu Picchu. In the evening, set up camp with a view over the cloud forest.
Accommodation
  • Camping- Inca Trail (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Continue on up the Inca staircase today, enjoying spectacular scenes over Pumasillo Mountain and the entire Vilcabamba range. Trek through the low-hanging fog of mystical cloud forests, keeping an eye out for orchids and rhododendrons. At the end of the day, rest your tired legs at the camping ground and enjoy your last night on the trail.
Accommodation
  • Camping- Inca Trail (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, wake up early to make the final trek to Machu Picchu. Arrive at Intipunku (Sun gate) at around 7.30 am. If the sky is clear, experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu before it’s crawling with tourists. The ancient capital of the Incas was never reached by the Spanish, and was largely forgotten until its rediscovery in the early 20th century. Spend the morning exploring the ruins on a guided tour, marvelling at the ingenuity of Incan architecture. Later in the day, take a train and bus back to Cuzco.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Leonards or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day to relax, shop or explore more of Cuzco's sights. Check out the many Baroque churches, ancient temples and colonial buildings dotted around the city, or watch the world go by at a cafe on the Plaza de Armas.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Leonards or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno (approximately six hours). There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the folklore capital of Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechua Indian culture. Traditional Andean customs still have a strong presence here and the town is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with one of Puno’s colourful, evening parades. While in Puno, you will also make an included visit to the Sillustani pre-Incan burial site.
Accommodation
  • Balsa Inn Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
Optional Activities
  • Puno - Sillustani archaeological site - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. In pre-Incan times, the Uros people constructed these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. At 3,820 metres above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. The sun can be extremely strong so ensure you wear a hat and sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

Enjoy a homestay in a local community on one of the lake’s islands tonight. Your homestay is in a mud-brick house, with shared drop-toilets but no shower. Help your host family with their daily activities and play a game of soccer in the village, which is a great way to meet the locals.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island, a great place to pick up locally knitted goods. On the island, men do the knitting and women do the spinning. The group will make a one-hour uphill trek to explore the main part of the island, before descending 500 steps back to the boat to transfer to Puno (approximately three hours). This is where you’ll spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Balsa Inn or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, take a comfortable local bus to Desaguadero, where you’ll cross the border into Bolivia. At the Peruvian Migration Office you’ll be asked to leave the bus and walk across a bridge to the Bolivian side, where you’ll submit your passport and re-board the bus for La Paz. About 30 minutes later, there's another stop where the army will check your documents. The entire journey takes about five hours (don't forget that Bolivia's time-zone is 1-2 hours ahead of Peru).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Eva Palace or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
La Paz is renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria (Witches' Market). This morning, perhaps browse the weird and wonderful stalls selling everything from aphrodisiac potions to dried frogs and llama foetuses. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of markets selling goods made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials to check out. Your adventure comes to an official end today at midday. 

 

Got a few more days to spare? Why not continue your South America Adventure through Bolivia and Argentina and finish by tangoing the night away in Buenos Aires? Check out our Bolivia to Argentina Adventure (GSCJ).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Eva Palace or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

26 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Boat, Bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (20 nights)

Included Activities

  • Leader led walking tour
  • Activity
  • Otavalo Market day trip
  • Village Tour Otavalo
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • 4 day/3 night Inca Trail. Machu Picchu guided tour
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay

Dates & availability

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Important notes

QUITO-LIMA FLIGHT
The Quito to Lima flight on day 8 is not included in the tour price.
Please consider booking international flights with Lan so you can book this flight on an airpass. Contact us for more information.

INCA TRAIL PERMITS:
Very Important - In order to obtain the necessary permit to trek the Inca Trail, we must be provided with accurate details of the passport to be used whilst travelling in Peru. If the name, passport number, nationality or date of birth shown on the permit are different from the passport, park authorities will refuse entry. If passport details have not been supplied, the permit cannot be issued. When we are unable to secure the "Classic Trail", our groups take the "Quarry Trek". This also applies during February each year, when the Classic Trail is closed for restoration.

BOLIVIAN VISA FOR U.S CITIZENS
Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border.
Please see the visa information on these trip notes for more information.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.