Gran Aventura in Reverse
This is without doubt our most adventurous journey in South America. It contains all the ingredients for a fantastic holiday and by the time we arrive in mountainous Quito we can be sure to have experienced all the major highlights of this vast continent. Our overland adventure begins in Rio de Janeiro, just after the world famous Rio Carnivale, and heads southward to Curitiba where we take a train trip through the superb Atlantic rainforest and enjoy a beautiful, short trek along the Colonial Itupava Trail and visit World Heritage-listed Superagui National Park. We then relax on beautiful Honey Island before our next stop - the mighty Iguazu Falls. Twenty metres higher than Niagara Falls, this spectacular natural wonder is sure to be a real highlight of our adventure. Next we visit the beautiful town of Bonito, set in a pristine environment of rivers, forests and caves. We explore the vast wetlands that are the Pantanal, which is habitat to numerous wildlife. We cross the Bolivian frontier at Corumba and take the train to Santa Cruz. The colonial atmosphere of old Sucre makes for a relaxing stop before we continue to Potosi and La Paz. The next stage of our journey takes us to Peru and to Lake Titicaca, where we stay overnight on Amantani Island with a local Indian family before heading to the Inca stronghold of Cusco. We explore this wonderful city and then trek off along the spectacular mountain trails to the amazing ruins at Machu Picchu. After a short flight across the mountains to the thriving city of Lima, capital of modern day Peru, travel across the dry Sechura Desert on to the Amazon Jungle, before ending our epic journey in Quito, Ecuador.
Day 1 - Rio de JaneiroOur trip starts today with arrival in Rio de Janeiro. No activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. This evening there will be a tour briefing at our hotel – around 7.00pm. Please check for a notice from your tour leader to confirm the exact time. If you are unable to make this meeting, check at hotel reception for a message from your Gecko’s tour leader, who will also collect your travel insurance details.
Day 2-3 - Rio de Janeiro - overnight busNothing quite equals the excitement and setting of Rio de Janeiro. Known as Cidade Maravilhosa (the Marvellous City), Rio is truly a feast to the senses. A Portuguese navigator landed in the area in January 1502 and mistaking the bay was for a river named it Rio de Janeiro which means 'River of January'. During the 17th century Rio became an important sugar town and port, but the city really flourished with the gold rush at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1763 the city took over as the colonial capital and remained the country's capital until the creation of Brasilia in 1960. Rio is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with rolling surf and towering mountains forming spectacular backdrops. The inhabitants of this city pursue pleasure like no others and we have two days here to soak up all that Rio is famous for. During our stay we visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer that stand on top of Corcovado. In our free time we also have plenty of opportunities to visit the other major sites. The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, Sugarloaf Mountain and the sound of samba all combine to make for a colourful and unforgettable end to our epic adventure. On Friday evening we board the overnight bus and head south to Curitiba.Breakfast
Day 4 - Atlantic RainforestWe arrive in Curitiba in the early morning. Here we recommend that you leave some of your excess luggage in storage (US$1 per day) to lighten your load, for the next three days are full of activities. From the main railway station in Curitiba we board the train for an incredible ride across the Atlantic rainforest to Marumbi State Park station. The Serra Verde Express is one of Brazil's most famous train rides and has linked Curitiba with Paranagua since 1885. Beautiful rainforests and superb mountain and riverine scenery make for an exciting and spectacular journey. We disembark at Marumbi and begin an easy trek along the Rainforest Trail to Rochedinho Peak and Marumbinistas Waterfall, where we continue for another three hours down to our 'posada' or lodge, situated on the edge of the rainforest in the town of Porto de Cima. Accommodation in the lodge is on a twin or triple share basis, depending on room availability. In the afternoon there is time to relax, swim or embark on further exploration of the rainforest.
Day 5-6 - Paranagua - Honey IslandWe head into Morretes and discover the charm of this small historical town before descending to the coast to Paranagua. Here we board a boat and explore some of the islands that make up the Superagui National Park, as well as seek out the local wildlife. We stop at Pescas Island for a lunch prepared for us by local villagers. We need to pay approximately US$5 each for this lunch, but this helps the local community as the proceeds go directly to them. We enjoy a walking tour around the village with a local guide and also visit Dolphin Bay. There is also an opportunity to try our hand at fishing. In the afternoon we head to Honey Island - our home for two nights. This beautiful island is a great place to relax, swim, fish, party or just laze around on sensational sandy beaches. During our stay we have time to visit the historical fortress and the Enchanted Grotto. It is worth noting that the views from the lighthouse are quite amazing. Our accommodation at the hotel here is based on multi-share rooms.Breakfast
Day 7 - Honey Island - Curitiba - overnight busWe have the morning free to make the most of our time on Honey Island before boarding the boat back to Paranagua and catching the local bus on to Curitiba. Here we collect our stored luggage and catch the overnight coach service bound for the Brazilian border town of Foz do Iguacu.Breakfast
Day 8-9 - Iguazu Falls - DouradosWe arrive early in Iguazu Falls where we have the rest of the day as well as the following morning to explore this magnificent area. Twenty metres higher than Niagara Falls, these are without doubt one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Located at the confluence of the Rio Iguazu and the Rio Alto Parana, the water cascades over the edge of a 2.5 kilometre-wide plateau in 275 separate waterfalls. We visit the Brazilian side of the falls where there are fantastic panoramic views and there is also the chance to take an optional excursion to the Argentine side of the falls. Around lunchtime we depart for the drive to Dourados, where we spend a night.Breakfast
Day 10 - BonitoWe continue on to the beautiful town of Bonito that is surrounded by caves, rivers and forests. Surrounded by lush forests with hundreds of waterfalls, over eighty caves and the clearest blue rivers you will find anywhere, this is a nature lover’s paradise. We have time to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this pristine area, and take advantage of some of the great optional activities available including rappelling, snorkelling, cave exploring, ranch visits and waterfall treks. The snorkelling here is particularly popular; the absolute transparency of the water brings you eye to eye with a fascinating variety of fish. Tonight's accommodation is on a twin or triple share basis, depending on room availability.Breakfast
Day 11-12 - The PantanalJust four hours drive away is our lodge at Passo do Lontra in the heart of the vast wetlands of the Pantanal. Accommodation during our two-night stay is in simple, multi-share rooms. The Pantanal is a huge wetland reserve, home to some 650 species of birds, 230 varieties of fish and a huge variety of other exotic wildlife. Included is a trip by boat along the Miranda and Red Rivers and there are some great optional activities here, including a horse ride through the wetlands and a forest walk. Hopefully by the time we leave this magnificent reserve, we will have had the opportunity to encounter close-up a variety of wildlife including caiman, capybara, jabiru stork, giant otter, toucan, blue macaw and marsh deer. We can even try our hand at piranha fishing!Breakfast
Day 13 - Corumba - overnight trainThis morning we transfer to the town of Corumba on the frontier with Bolivia. Here we meet our Bolivian leader and cross the border to Puerto Suarez to catch the overnight train to Santa Cruz. The train is slow and conditions on board are quite basic - this really is frontier country!Breakfast
Day 14 - Santa CruzSanta Cruz is the second largest city in Bolivia. Founded in 1561 Santa Cruz was originally situated 220 kilometres east of its present location. However, towards the end of the 16th century the city was proving too vulnerable to attacks from natives, so it was moved to its present location. Over the ensuing four centuries Santa Cruz blossomed from a backwater town to the prospering city that it is today. Despite its current status and size this cosmopolitan city has retained the flavour of its past, with its wide streets, frontier-style architecture and small town ambience. During our stay we explore the main plaza, huge cathedral and colonial buildings, as well as the botanical gardens.
Day 15-16 - SucreA short flight takes us to the beautiful colonial city of Sucre, the judicial capital of Bolivia. The road we take descends more than 1000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisacra, which are full of small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable gardens, gentle, local people and their mud huts. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains and has retained its colonial heritage as exemplified by its churches, museums and ancient mansions. It was founded in 1538 as the Spanish capital of the vast region of Charcas. In 1776 with new territorial division created by the Spaniards, the city's name was changed to Chuquisaca. This region played an important role during the long colonial period and influenced much of Bolivia’s history. It was actually here that Bolivian independence was declared on 6 August 1825. Several years later the name of the city was changed to Sucre, in honour of a general who promoted the independence movement. On arrival we transfer to our charming colonial guesthouse before enjoying a guided tour of the old part of town including the Recoleta Church and Monastery, the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the cathedral and museum of La Casa de la Libertad. We also have a free day to further enjoy this historic town and absorb its colonial ambience. You may want to visit the local markets or textile museum, take a walk around the city or a horse ride out in the surrounding countryside.Breakfast
Day 17-18 - PotosiToday we take the bus to Potosi, where the immense Cerro Rico Mountain (4824m) forms a backdrop over the city. Potosi itself is situated at 4070m and in its heyday was considered home to the richest silver mines in the world. Founded in 1545 following the discovery of silver in Cerro Rico, the town quickly flourished into one of the wealthiest in Latin America. This abundance of silver ensured that it became the backbone of the Spanish economy for over two centuries, resulting in some extravagant behaviour by its rulers. Millions of miners worked in the mines in horrible conditions resulting in a incredible number of deaths, either by disease or preventable accidents. However, at the turn of 19th century, the reserves began to dwindle and the city declined. Evidence of Potosi’s rich colonial past can be seen in the form of its grand colonial architecture, narrow streets and ornate churches. We enjoy a guided tour of the city and visit many of its highlights, including the San Lorenzo church, the Cobija Arch, the main square, the cathedral, the Jesuit Tower and the magnificent museum in the Casa Real de la Moneda, which has a fascinating section dedicated to art and historical artefacts. The afternoon is free to further explore the city and there are many optional activities available. A visit to the cooperative mines provides the opportunity to enter and see the miners at work, but is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia or asthma. You could also indulge in a thermal bath or visit the historic, colonial farm at the Marquise de Ottavi, situated in a picturesque valley. On the last night we take the overnight bus to La Paz.Breakfast
Day 19-20 - La PazThe highest city in the world, La Paz lies nestled in a steep canyon on the Altiplano ('high plains'), with the towering Mount Illimani forming an impressive backdrop. It is the country’s largest city and home to over half of the country’s Indian heritage. It was founded in 1548 following the discovery of gold and although that boom didn’t last long, the city’s location on the main silver route ensured its continued prosperity. We enjoy free time in La Paz to wander around the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are features of this charming city. You can also explore the colourful markets, including the famous 'Witches Market', or simply relax in one of the many cafes. There are also some great day excursions available which your tour leader can help you to organise.Breakfast
Day 21 - La Paz - Copacabana - PunoOur bus trip takes us to the shores of Lake Titicaca and the frontier town of Copacabana. We have time to stop in this delightful place for lunch and also visit to the 17th-century cathedral that houses the famous statue of the Virgin of Copacabana. In the afternoon we cross the border from Bolivia to Peru and continue our journey by bus to Puno. Puno lies at an altitude of 3860 metres above sea level and the people of this region are descendants of the Aymara, a strong looking people who once ruled the high plateaus. According to legend, Puno was the cradle of Inca civilization. Manco Capac, the first Inca, is said to have risen from the waters of Lake Titicaca and under instructions from the Sun God, founded the Inca Empire. Lake Titicaca at 3815 metres is the world's highest navigable lake and also the second largest lake in South America, covering an area of 8400 square kilometres.Breakfast
Day 22 - Lake Titicaca (Amantani Island Homestay)This morning we board our boat and travel across the waters of Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands inhabited by Uros Indians. We make a brief stop at one of these unusual islands and then continue across the lake to our homestay on beautiful Amantani Island. This island is more remote than most and not as spoilt as the popular island of Tequile, which has unfortunately felt the heavy impact of tourism. After arriving in Amantani, our tour leader divides our party up into smaller groups and we move into various family homes for our overnight stay. Please be warned that the facilities are quite basic. Many homes have no electricity and the bathroom and toilet facilities are not the best! Despite this, the homestay experience is sure to be a highlight of our trip to the region and offers great opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges.Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 23 - PunoWe enjoy breakfast with our host family and then have time to explore the island. There are two mountain peaks on the island that offer excellent hiking opportunities, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth). Along the way terraced hillsides with stone walls, grazing alpacas and the national flower, Cantua, which grows all over the island. The inhabitants of Amantani Island practise a very traditional lifestyle, free from the luxuries of city living and are also renowned for their handmade textiles and ceramics. In the afternoon we board our boat and leave the terracotta red soils of Amantani Island to cross the deep blue waters back to Puno on the mainland.Breakfast
Day 24 - Puno - CuscoAfter breakfast we transfer to the bus station, where we catch our bus for the magnificent drive over the mountains to Cusco. We travel across the Altiplano ('high plains') before making our way over the Le Raya Pass (4321metres) amidst beautiful mountain scenery on the way to the former Inca capital of Cusco.Breakfast
Day 25 - CuscoWe spend the next two days exploring this amazing colonial city. Established on the foundations of the original Inca town, Cusco is a city of contrasts, both modern and ancient. Known the world over for the incredible archaeological ruins of nearby Machu Picchu, travellers flock to this trekkers haven to soak up its awesome culture and beautiful surroundings. At an altitude of over 3300 metres Cusco is also a great place to acclimatise in preparation for the hike to Machu Picchu. There is so much to see in and around Cusco. Your tour leader takes you on a walking tour of the central part of town, which includes the impressive Plaza de Armas, the cathedral and the Koricancha Museum. You also have time to make your own discoveries including travelling out to the great Inca sites of Sacsayhuaman, Quenca and Tambo Machay. You may also wish to explore further afield into the beautiful Sacred Valley and visit the market town of Pisac. Utilising these two days and your spare day at the end of your trek to Machu Picchu, there is time to take in all these great sites.Breakfast
Day 26-29 - Important Note
We trek the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Quarry’ routes, both of which culminate in a visit to the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu. Although we normally trek the 'Classic' route, it is restricted by the number of trekkers permitted on the trail each day and unless you have booked early, it maybe difficult or impossible for us to secure the necessary group permits (especially during the peak season). It is also closed during the month of February for cleaning and rejuvenation. If we are unable to confirm your permit for the 'Classic' route we will use the ‘Quarry’ trail. This is an exceptional alternative. Venturing further off the beaten path, this trek winds its way through remote rural villages and provides stunning views across the Andes Mountains. Along the way you can mingle with local families, llama herders and weavers, renowned for their brightly coloured hats and ponchos. The trek is of similar altitude and level of difficulty as the Classic route and also culminates in a visit to the village of Aguas Calientes and the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The following description refers to the 'Classic' route. Please refer below to the 'Itinerary Variation' section of this trip note for details of the Quarry route.
Day 26 - Inca Trail to Yuncachimpa (13km)We leave Cusco by bus and travel over the mountain range and down into the Urubamba Valley to the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress and is one of the few sites where the Incas were able to defeat the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Their success was however short lived, with the Spaniards returning with force to claim victory. Here we have time to gaze upon the massive Inca fortifications before continuing to Kilometre 82 - the starting point of our trek. Today is a relatively easy hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the beautiful archaeological site of Llactapata. Along the way there are stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak (5860m). Our first camp is just past the village of Wayllabamba at 3000 metres.Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 27 - Inca Trail to Pacaymayo (11km)Today is the most difficult part of the trek as we climb to Warminwanusca, or ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ (4200m). This is the first of three Andean high passes we traverse and the highest point on the Inca trail. Stopping to catch our breath we take in the superb panorama of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, the ruins of Runkuracay ahead and Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River) in the valley below. Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways. Although not difficult we still need to make a steep descent to the valley below and our camp at Pacamayo (3600m). Located in a basin beneath the cliff tops, the campsite faces down the valley with a view over the cloud forest.Breakfast
Day 28 - Inca Trail to Winaywayna (15km)We climb up to the unusual, round ruins of Runcuracay which is believed to have been an Inca tambo or post house. Forging on we continue to climb the Inca staircase and sighting the small mountain lake of Cochapata on the way to our second pass at 4000m, from where we are rewarded with spectacular views of Pumasillo (6245m) and the entire snow-capped Vilcabamba range From here it is a steep descent to our third pass and the ruins of Sayacmarca, where we enter the beautiful cloud forest full of orchids, ferns, flowers and hanging moss. The scenery will blow you away! Butterflies flutter across the trail and the air is pure and clean as we head to the breathtaking Winaywayna, (2450m).Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 29 - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (5km) - CuscoThe final leg of the trek to Machu Picchu is the most spectacular of all. We arrive at sunrise at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun, where through a rectangular doorway we experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu. After taking a short path down, it’s time for us to explore! The secrets of the Incas are slowly revealed to us on a guided tour. For those who have plenty of energy left and who aren’t afraid of heights, there is a climb to Huayna Picchu - a mountain overlooking the site. The view from here is superb! The climb to the top takes up to 90 minutes and care must be taken, especially if the steps are wet. We depart by catching a bus down to the hot springs at Aguas Calientes and returning to Cusco on a late-afternoon train.Breakfast
Day 30 - CuscoA free day in Cusco can be spent shopping for handicrafts or taking in some further sightseeing. Cusco is a maze of markets, artisan shops lining the streets and many museums filled with the rich history of Inca art. You might like to try some traditional cuisine- perhaps guinea pig, alpaca steak or ceviche, a raw seafood delicacy marinated in lime. If you haven't yet visited the Sacred Valley, this is your best chance to do so. Your tour leader can advise you on how to get there and show you where the bus to Pisac leaves from. Alternatively, you may just wish to relax and absorb the incredible experiences of the last few days whilst resting in one of the many cafes that line the streets of this quaint and fascinating town.Breakfast
Day 31-33 - LimaA short flight across the Andes takes us to the huge metropolis of Lima on the Pacific coast. We have two free days to explore Peru's capital and our hotel is well located in the centre of town, near the Plaza de Armas (Plaza Major) in Lima Centro. The desert city of Lima, once deemed ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’ or ‘The City of Kings’, is a vast buzzing metropolis of over 8 million people. The heart of the city is full with Spanish colonial splendour, fine art and baroque architecture. Highly recommended is a visit to the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which houses impressive collections of ceramics, traditional weaving and remarkable illustrations of pre-Columbian erotic pots. If you are keen to soak up the history of Peru’s ancient civilisations, then you should not miss the Museo de La Nacion which is home to priceless artefacts from the ancient Inca and coastal civilisations. In the evening be sure to indulge in the local seafood; Lima has some of the finest dining in South America and the city is alive with music and dancing. The lively Barranco Quarter has many bars, discos and clubs where traditional Afro-Peruvian music and Creole food can be enjoyed. Your tour leader is on hand to help you arrange any optional sightseeing tours required.Breakfast
Day 34-35 - Trujillo - Chan ChanFrom Lima we catch a bus to Trujillo, arriving in the early evening. Trujillo is the gateway for visiting the huge adobe ruins of Chan Chan, the imperial city of the Chimu Kingdom. It is the most extensive Pre-Colombian city in South America and has the largest adobe citadel in the world. Constructed over 700 years ago this city of an estimated 60,000 inhabitants spread over an area of almost 30 square kilometres. The city’s walls and buildings are decorated with detailed friezes and the small museum nearby has fantastic aerial maps of the area. You can also take a short taxi ride to the nearby surf village of Huanchaco, which is famous for its narrow pointed fishing rafts made of reeds.Breakfast
Day 36-37 - Chiclayo - ZorritosOn our journey towards to border, we stay at the coastal towns of Chiclayo and Zorritos. Chinclayo is a busy city which originated as a Spanish missionary community; rice production, sugar cane and cotton are popular in this strong agricultural region, which is also well known for its natural medicines, fine Peruvian cuisine and archaeological sites. Zorritos is a large fishing village - a great spot to sit under a palm tree and watch the sun go down. Time permitting, Zorritos also offers hiking, horseback riding and nearby mud baths. Both are just overnight stops, but travelling through thse places takes us to parts of Peru not frequented by many tourists.Breakfast
Day 38-39 - CuencaThis morning we catch the bus up to Tumbes on the Peruvian side of the border, where we say goodbye to our Peruvian tour leader and meet our Ecuadorian tour leader before continuing our journey north. The beautiful preserved city of Cuenca is the third largest in Ecuador and the focal point of this region. Founded in 1557 on the banks of the Rio Tomebamba, on the ruins of an Inca settlement, the old part of town is brimming with character and enough old colonial charm to rival Quito. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999 this stunning city is a maze of cobblestone streets, whitewashed red-tiled buildings and towering cathedrals. It has a young and vibrant atmosphere which belies its 18th century origin. Your time is your own in Cuenca and your leader will advise you of the many activities and sights you can enjoy. Not far from the city are the Inca ruins of Ingapirca. These 15th century ruins are the largest in Ecuador and were initially occupied by the Canari people over 500 years ago. The Incas who defeated the Canaris destroyed most of the original structures in favour of their own. These are the first Inca ruins encountered on this journey and they are certainly worth a visit.Breakfast
Day 40 - RiobambaWe catch a local bus for the journey to the town of Riobamba, where we relax and get ready for our train journey on the morning of Day 41. There are some great views that can be enjoyed in this small city.Know as ‘the Sultan of the Andes’, the town is located on Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes. Riobamba is a delightfully friendly and old fashioned town and an important commercial centre for the region. Saturday, the main market day, sees the wide streets filled with colourfully dressed people from surrounding communities who flood into town by truck and donkey alike, to trade everything from handicrafts to guinea pigs. You might like to wander down to Parque Maldonado in the afternoon. This large and stately square, bordered by 19th century architecture, is a great place to watch local life unfolding. This evening we can relax in readiness for tomorrow’s rail adventure.Breakfast
Day 41-42 - Devil's Nose Railway - BañosAn early start as we are transferred the bus station to catch the bus to the town of Alausí, where we take a memorable train journey over the mountains, riding aboard the Devil’s Nose (La Nariz del Diablo) Railway. The scenery along the way is absolutely superb! Upon disembarking, we catch a local bus and continue our journey to the subtropical town of Baños, located at the other side of the Andes on the way to the Amazon Basin. Baños is situated in one of the most beautiful settings in the area. We have time to wander around the town or venture off and explore the surrounding countryside. There are many optional activities available including mountain bike riding, white-water rafting and horse riding. Your Gecko’s tour leader will be happy to assist you in booking on any of these activities.Breakfast
Day 43 - Amazon JungleToday we leave the Andes and, travelling by local bus, descend steeply into the Amazon Basin. Travelling into jungle terrain we make our way to the banks of the Napo River and on to our rustic jungle lodge.Breakfast | Dinner
Day 44 - Amazon JungleAfter breakfast we are joined by our local guide as we start our exploration of the region by boarding river canoes. The indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest have used the incredible variety of fruits and plants for centuries, not just as a food source, but also for their health, as cures and potions. Today, the world scientists have developed treatments from these plants for everything from anxiety, fatigue and coughs to malaria, cancer and heart disease. Our guide will share with us their immense local knowledge, explaining the various medicinal and practical uses for these plants along with the fascinating customs and traditions of the native people. We have an opportunity to visit a wildlife rehabilitation centre, where if we’re fortunate we can see tapir, toucan, ocelot, monkey, capybara and boa constrictor. You are required to pay a small entrance fee that contributes towards the running and maintenance of the centre.Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 45-46 - QuitoWe leave the Amazon early in the morning and head to the jungle town of Cena. From here we travel eastwards back up into the mountains of the Andes. Our final destination is Quito, capital of Ecuador. Quito is considered one of the world’s most beautifully located capitals, surrounded by towering volcanoes and snow capped mountains. Situated 2850 metres above sea level on the eastern slopes of the active volcano Mount Pichincha, it is the second highest capital city in the world. Here we enjoy free time to roam around the cobblestone streets in the old parts of Quito and discover the attractions of one of South America’s most charming cities. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, this charming colonial centre offers a wealth of things to see and you could lose yourself for hours meandering through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets and exploring the lively Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. The city is filled with Baroque art and architecture, as exemplified by magnificent churches, monasteries and public buildings. Be sure not to miss the beautiful La Compania de Jesus; with its ornate facade and intricately decorated interior, this is probably Ecuador’s most impressive church. If your feel like exploring further afield, you might like to head for one of the many viewpoints over the city. El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) offers sensational views of the city’s white houses and surrounding volcanoes. The 30 metre high statue of La Virgen de Quito sits atop this small hill and can be seen from all over the city. Incredible vistas can also be enjoyed from La Cima de la Libertad, the site of Ecuadorian independence from Spain.Breakfast
Day 47 - QuitoYour Gecko’s 'Gran Aventura' comes to an end after breakfast.Breakfast
What to Know
An experienced tour guide in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and in Ecuador, and there will be the services of local site guides at some sites. All transportation, sightseeing, accommodation and meals as indicated.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
This tour passes through volcanic areas. In the instance, a volcano becomes potentially dangerous and authorities declare nearby towns unsafe for travel, the itinerary will be re-routed. Where possible, Gecko’s will provide advance notice of such changes. At short notice, when this is not possible, your tour leader will provide up to date information on behalf of Gecko’s.
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