El Camino Grand
Unlucky in love? Out for revenge? Need a cure for hayfever? Get your cocoa leaves read, buy a spell or pick up a dried llama fetus (ideal for sacrificing) at the witches market in La Paz.
(Was Gran Aventura)
Day 1-4 - Quito - Amazon Jungle
Keep an eye out for sloths, monkeys, jaguars, toucans, armadillos and caimans. That's when you're not busy checking under your bed for anacondas.
- Tour briefing in the evening
- If arriving early, spend some time getting to know the city
- Take a walking tour through the ‘Centro Historico’
- View the city and surrounding volvanoes from ‘El Panecillo’ (The Little Bread Loaf)
- Visit ‘La Mitad del Mundo’ (The Middle of the World)
- Enjoy a free evening and perhaps grab some dinner from a local restaurant
- Travel into the jungle, heading to your rustic jungle lodge on the banks of the Napo River
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Explore the jungle on river canoes with a guide
- Opportunity to visit a wildlife rehabilitation centre
Day 5-9 - Banos - Riobamba - Cuenca
While all your mates are sitting at their desks, you'll be riding horses, trekking, rafting, climbing and mountain biking. Take the train to Cuenca (try saying that three times quickly).
- Leave the jungle and return to the mountains
- Discover Ecuadorian country life in Banos
- Explore the town or surrounding environment
- Perhaps go mountain bike riding, white-water rafting, hiking and horse riding, or simply relax in thermal baths
- Catch a local bus bound for Riobamba
- Perhaps visit the markets and explore the town
- Ride the Devil’s Nose Railway through the mountains
- Stop by the Museum Condor Pununa
- Grab some lunch in Alausi
- Get acquainted with, Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Enjoy free time to relax or visit as many of the local sights as you can
Day 10-14 - Zorritos Beach - Chiclayo - Trujillo - Lima
Three different places, three different experiences: sun and sand in Zorritos, witch doctors and seafood in Chiclayo, ruins and leather shoes in Trujillo.
- Journey into Peru and through the Sechura Desert
- Spend the night in the fishing village of Zorritos
- Head further down the coast to Chiclayo
- Reach Trujillo, gateway to the Chan Chan ruins
- Visit the magnificent ruins of Chan Chan - the imperial city of the Chimu Kingdom
- Perhaps take a short taxi ride to the surf village of Huanchaco
- Catch a bus to Lima, the Peruvian capital
Day 15-18 - Lima - Cusco
Your only job here is to acclimatise, and the best way to do that is by sitting still. Get a massage, gorge yourself on ceviche or just people-watch in the cafes. It's not often you're told to undertake forced relaxation, so make the most of it.
- Enjoy one-and-a-half free days to explore the capital of Peru
- View the architecture, visit museums, drop some coins in the shops and markets, or grab a refreshment in a bar, restaurant or cafe
- Acclimatise in Cusco in preparation for the Inca trek
- Take a walking tour of central Cusco
- Explore Cusco and see the local sights - including Sacsayhuaman, Quenca and Tambo Machay - during free time
Day 19-23 - Inca Trek
Our top tip: use the loo as soon as you get into camp (wait too long and you might be left gagging).
- Gaze upon massive Inca fortifications in Ollantaytambo
- Begin the Inca trek
- Hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the archaeological site of Llactapata
- Stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak
- Camp near the village of Wayllabamba
- The most difficult part of the trek - Dead Woman’s Pass
- Panoramas of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, and ruins in the valley below
- Camp with a view over the cloud forest
- Climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay
- Continue up the Inca staircase
- Spectacular views of Pumasillo and the entire Vilcabamba range
- Enter the beautiful cloud forest
- The final, and most spectacular, leg of the trek to Machu Picchu
- Arrive at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun
- Experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu at sunrise
- Explore Machu Picchu on a guided tour
- Return to Cusco by train
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Relax and unwind or spend free time exploring Cusco's many markets, museums, eateries and local sights
Day 24-29 - Lake Titicaca - La Paz
Three pics you should have on your memory card: your host family on Lake Titicaca, you dancing with the local kids, the view as you drive down to La Paz with Mt. Illimani in the background.
- Catch a bus to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca
- Enjoy the drive through magnificent mountains and local scenery
- Take a boat across Lake Titicaca to the Uros' floating reed islands
- Enjoy a homestay on Amantani Island
- Indulge in a breakfast with your host family
- Board an afternoon boat back to Puno
- Journey from Puno to La Paz, stopping off at Copacabana en route
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
- Enjoy free time in La Paz to wander around the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that are features of this Andean city
- Perhaps explore the colourful markets, including the famous 'Witches Market', or simply relax in one of the many cafes
- Catch an overnight bus to Potosi
Day 30-34 - Potosi - Sucre - Santa Cruz
Enjoy a bit of a history lesson at Potosi's Jesuit tower, main square and cathedral, and the ancient mint. Stop by Sucre then fly to Santa Cruz and board our overnight train to Brazil.
- Enjoy a guided tour of many of Potosi's highlights
- Spend time making your own discoveries during a free afternoon
- Why not visit the cooperative mines indulge in a thermal bath
- Journey through the temperate valleys of Chuquisacra to Sucre
- Take a guided tour of the old part of town, and see the Recoleta Church and Monastery, the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the cathedral and museum of La Casa de la Libertad
- Spend an entire free day exploring Sucre under your own steam
- Explore Santa Cruz' main plaza, huge cathedral and colonial buildings
- Board the overnight train to Puerto Suarez, located on the border with Brazil
Day 35-38 - The Pantanal - Bonitos - Dourados
Pantanal is on Lonely Planet's top 10 places for twitchers. In other words, there are lots of birds. In fact, there are more bird species here than the whole of North America. Start counting.
- Head to a lodge located in the heart of the vast wetlands of the Pantanal
- Take a trip by boat along the Miranda and Red Rivers
- Perhaps encounter wildlife including caiman, capybara, jabiru stork, giant otter, toucan, blue macaw and marsh deer
- Enjoy optional activities such as a horse ride through the wetlands, a forest walk and even piranha fishing
- Head to Bonito in the Serre da Bodoquena, a nature lover's paradise
- Relax and soak up the atmosphere of the area
- Take advantage of some of optional activities such as rappelling, snorkelling, cave exploring, and trekking to waterfalls
Day 39-41 - Iguazu Falls - Atlantic Rainforest
Iguazu means 'Great Waters' in the local Topi-Guarani tribe language. 'Great' is a bit of an understatement; these falls are bloody awesome.
- Visit the thundering Iguaza Falls
- Take in panoramic views of the falls from the Argentine and Brazilian sides
- Set off on an overnight bus ride to Curitiba
- Board the Serra Verde Express for an incredible ride through the Atlantic Rainforest
- Trek along the Itupava Colonial Rainforest Trail to Rochedinho Peak and Marumbinistas Waterfall
- Stay overnight in a jungle lodge
- Spend time relaxing, swimming or perhaps embark on further exploration of the rainforest
Day 42-43 - Paranagua - Honey Island
1998 was a big year for the locals on Honey Island. It's the year they first got electricity. Once you know this, the fact that cars aren't allowed on the island won't come as a surprise.
- Board a boat in Paranagua to explore some of the island that make up the Superagui National Park
- Keep eyes peeled for local wildlife
- Stop at Pescas Island for a lunch prepared by local villagers
- Take a walking tour around the village with a local site guide and visit Dolphin Bay
- Perhaps relax with a spot of fishing
- Spend two nights on the idyllic Honey Island
- Visit the historical fortress and the Enchanted Grotto
Day 44-47 - Rio de Janeiro
There's a note at the bottom of Escardia Selaron (Lapa steps) from artist Jorge Selaron that says that if you send him a tile he promises to use it. Not a bad way to leave your mark on Rio.
- Make the most of the last morning on Honey Island
- Board an overnight bus bound for Rio de Janeiro
- Ascend Corcovado Mountain and visit Christ The Redeemer
- Enjoy plenty of free time to hit the beach, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and get to grips to local life
- Perhaps visit the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches or take in Sugarloaf Mountain
What to Know
An experienced tour guide in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and in Brazil, and there will be the services of local 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, Geckos 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 Geckos.
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.
El Camino Grand
Teresa - New Zealand, 29 Apr, 2012
El Camino Grand
Lea and Gabriel - Australia, 4 Mar, 2012
For the question three from the bottom, no we wouldn't travel with Gecko again, this is our answer as we would probably prefer a company that offered more options within the tour eg a flight instead of a horrid over night bus.
What to know