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Witness the many cultures and contrasts of South America as Luxury Gold by Insight Vacations opens your eyes to a dazzling array of natural beauty, vibrant civilisations, and mystical ancient cities. In Rio, dine at the Michelin-starred Mee Restaurant where Executive Chef Kazuo Harada will take you on a journey of the most sophisticated pan-Asian cuisine. Meet Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez, an expert in traditional weaving, to learn how the TreadRight foundation is helping protect this ancient skill. Set at the base of Ch'iqun mountain and overlooking the Vilcanota River, the elegant Tambo del Inka hotel is a five-star retreat designed in harmony with its exotic surroundings.
Welcome to Ecuador. On arrival you will be met and taken to your hotel.
(Relaxed Start) A drive north takes you to the Equatorial Line Monument called 'Middle of the World'. Here you get a truly rare experience to stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously. Visit the Ethnographical Museum, presenting the history of the Indian cultures of Ecuador. Drive to the historic centre of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can breathe in the colonial history of Ecuador. Enjoy a guided walk through this culturally diverse city and take a closer look at the heart of the city. On the way to San Francisco Square, pass the church of La Compañia, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior. Afterward, visit one of the oldest streets in Quito, La Ronda. In the 1930's painters, poets and writers lived on this street. In the evening, enjoy dinner the historic old town at Theatrum.
Fly to the Galapagos Islands and Board La Pinta
This morning, fly to Baltra, in the Galapagos Islands, where you will be met and transferred to the Itabaca Channel. Take a ferry across the Channel to Santa Cruz Island. Board a coach bound for the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where you’ll learn about the unique highland ecosystems and biodiversity. After lunch, travel to El Chato Reserve, one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. A short ride takes you to Puerto Ayora where you’ll board the yacht, La Pinta.
Observe the fascinating wildlife
After breakfast, a panga (dinghy) ride takes you to Eden Islet, located off the coast of Santa Cruz. Here you can observe blue footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather conditions permit, a ride in a glass-bottom boat. The tiny island of Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance: a Chinese hat. This islet, only formed fairly recently, makes a beautiful visit as one explores the wildlife along its 1,312 foot (400 metre) long trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped beach.
Bartolomé Island, Pinnacle Rock and Sullivan Bay
In the morning, a Galapagos icon awaits: Bartolomé Island. A great way to start the day is with an ascent up a wooden staircase for spectacular views from the top. Next, a dinghy takes you for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, followed by free time to choose from a variety of activities. After lunch, take the pangas to Sullivan Bay, a white coral sand beach great for swimming and snorkeling with a trail that runs above a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago.
Explore Genovesa Island
In the morning, begin your day with an easy stroll to observe marine and land birds, with more options available for the more leisure-focused or adventure seeking traveller. The afternoon starts with a panga ride alongside the cliffs before disembarking for a steep climb. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a captivating walk to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels and the elusive short eared owl.
Back to Lima
On arrival at Lima International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your luxurious hotel in Miraflores. At 19:00, join your Travelling Concierge for a Welcome Reception and an opportunity to meet with your fellow travellers over drinks and a light meal at Nos, Chef Virgilio Martinez's new restaurant in Lima.
Lima, 'City of the Kings'
(Relaxed Start) Experience Lima through the eyes of a Local Expert as you are introduced to the beautiful 'City of Kings'. Explore the UNESCO listed Historic Centre, view the imposing cathedral and visit the San Francisco Monastery with its shadowy catacombs. A Highlight Lunch is served in the trendy, bohemian district of Barranco at Amor Amar. Continue exploring Barranco and visit the workshop of Victor Delfin, one of the leading sculptors and painters in Peru, best known for his monumental El Beso sculpture unveiled in 1993. Then over a hot chocolate or authentic café pasado, listen to an expert barista spill the beans on Peruvian coffee. As evening falls, the restaurant terrace at Huaca Pucllana overlooks the illuminated ruins of a 1500-year-old pre-Inca pyramid. In contrast, the cuisine at your Highlight Dinner is 'new Andean', exquisitely executed by one of the capital's celebrated chefs.
Lima and On To The Sacred Valley
Board your flight for Cusco and drive to Peru's Sacred Valley, the fertile homeland of the Incan Empire. Visit the colourful, traditional Sunday market in the town of Chinchero. Then, meet Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, a Quechua and scholar, president of the Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant. Enjoy lunch with Nilda and learn about her mission to preserve traditional weaving techniques and why weaving in Peru is much more than just an art form. Later, check in to your luxurious resort and relax before dinner at the hotel.
Exploring the Sacred Valley
(Relaxed Start) Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading to the town of Maras to meet with a local family, giving you the unique opportunity to learn about the local arts and crafts of the region. View the spectacular terraced salt pans dating back to Inca times. Families have passed down this pool of salt pans for generations and today maintain them in much the same way they did long ago. Experience the ways in which they care for these salt pans and how their way of life depends on this tradition. In Moray, view the strange circular terraces, a sort of Incan amphitheatre said to have been used for agricultural experiments. Experience a typical Peruvian meal, a caja china lunch of fresh vegetables and slow-roasted meats, all cooked in a wooden box. After lunch, witness a private Pachamama Ceremony, or 'Payment to the Earth', as a local shaman privately performs the centuries-old ritual that expresses reverence to the Earth as a source of life.
Journey to Machu Picchu
Visit to the town of Ollantaytambo, a National Archeological Site. Settle into the panoramic viewing cars of the Vistadome train for the scenic journey to Machu Picchu. Lunch is included upon arrival at your resort. Soak in nature trails winding past waterfalls and gardens as your Local Expert explains the fascinating cloud forest ecosystem. Discover a working tea plantation and the world's largest private collection of indigenous orchids. In the evening, learn how to blend the perfect pisco sour before enjoying dinner at the hotel.
Mysterious Machu Picchu
The entire day is free for you to discover the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. Meet your Local Expert for a walk through the enigmatic 'Lost City of the Incas'. Witness the great Temple of the Sun, Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana, believed to be an ancient sun clock. After lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, there is more time to explore the archaeological site at your own pace before dinner.
Return to Cusco
(Relaxed Start) Return by train to the Sacred Valley and let your taste buds be tempted by a Highlight Lunch at a Pachamanca Feast, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked underground. At a local camelid farm, get up close and personal with llamas, guanacos, alpacas and even the rare vicuña, known for their soft wool. Arrive at your hotel, only steps away from the Plaza de Armas.
Join a Local Expert to explore Cusco and its surroundings. Visit the Temple of the Sun at Korikancha and Cathedral, followed by the formidable citadel of Sacsayhuaman, made of gigantic boulders. Visit the local market where you can practice your bartering skills. Set out for San Blas, Cusco's artisan centre, where you visit an unusual candle shop and learn about its importance to the locals. After, enjoy some free time on the Plaza de Armas for shopping, In the evening, enjoy a candlelit Highlight Dinner at the reputed MAP restaurant.
Lake Region of Peru
(Relaxed Start) Board your included flight to Juliaca. Then drive to Puno, nestled along the majestic shores of Lake Titicaca. Arrive on Esteves Island and your lakeside hotel before dinner.
The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
Cruise Lake Titicaca to the famous floating islands of Uros. Here the locals bundle reeds from the lake to build floating platforms, houses and canoes. Learn about their lifestyle and customs before continuing to the island of Amantani, known for its weaving and gorgeous landscape. After lunch, there is time to explore before returning to Puno.
Puno, Back to Lima
(Relaxed Start) Head out to Sillustani on the shores of Lake Umayo, where the ancient Colla people interred their kings and nobility in enigmatic 'chullpas' or funerary towers. After exploring these impressive burial grounds, enjoy a scenic drive back to Juliaca for your flight to Lima. As the sun sets, be treated to a sensational seaside Highlight Dinner where pisco sours are the cocktail of choice. Savour an inventive selection of Peruvian nouvelle cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh seafood at CALA.
Fly to Santiago
Bid farewell to Lima as you fly to Chile's capital city of Santiago. This evening, enjoy a Highlight Dinner at Cafe Lasterria, set in Santiago's trendiest neighbourhood.
The Sights of Santiago, Valparaiso and Wine Country
(Relaxed Start) Meet a Local Expert this morning for a city tour of the Chilean capital, including bustling Plaza de Armas, San Francisco Church and the busy Central Market. Head for the UNESCO-listed port of Valparaiso and spend some time at the boutique Kingston Family Winery located in the Casablanca Valley. Enjoy an introduction to their exquisite cool climate wines and a tasting.
Fly to Buenos Aires
(Relaxed Start) Enjoy a leisurely morning to explore Santiago further. Fly to Buenos Aires, the vibrant capital city of Argentina, and arrive at your hotel, the celebrated Alvear Palace. This evening, your Highlight Dinner is at Chef Donate DeSantos' Cucina Paradiso.
Beautiful Buenos Aires
(Relaxed Start) Get to know Buenos Aires with a Local Expert. Your comprehensive city tour includes the city's best neighbourhoods, including Palermo, San Telmo and Recoleta, where a visit is made to the famous cemetery. Enjoy views of the balcony made famous by Evita Peron, and walk down Caminito Street in the colourful neighbourhood of La Boca. Visit the splendid Belle Époque Teatro Colon. As night falls, a delicious Highlight Dinner with live music, singers and the electrically-charged dance of the Rojo Tango is an experience not to be forgotten.
Pampas, Estancias and Gauchos
(Relaxed Start) With its narrow colonial streets, churches, bars and museums, San Antonio de Areco remains one of the prettiest towns in the Pampas District. Step into a world of riding boots and leather chaps at the stunning La Bamba de Areco Estancia, which has been reserved exclusively for your enjoyment. Enjoy a delicious asado Highlight Lunch and a taste of the life of an Argentinian gaucho, or cowboy, as they demonstrate their legendary equestrian skills. Back in Buenos Aires, the evening is free.
Buenos Aires and the Falls of Iguassu
Fly to Iguassu Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the great natural wonders of the world. You are in for a unique treat as your Local Expert takes you into a community of indigenous Guarani people. Meet the tribal representative and learn about daily life in the jungle. Head for the Argentinian side of the falls, where the meandering catwalks follow the booming waters to the unfathomable Devil's Throat. Located right alongside the tumbling waters, your luxurious resort is the only hotel inside the Brazilian Iguaçu National Park. Enjoy exclusive access to this magnificent sight in the evening when the park is closed to other visitors. Enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening.
The “Great Waters” of Iguassu Falls
(Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert for a spectacular walk past thundering curtains of water and misty rainbows on the Brazilian side of the falls. Explore the base of the falls and see the impressive panoramic view of San Martin Island. Visit the Bird Park to see several native species in their natural habitat. Perhaps soar over Iguassu Falls on a thrilling helicopter experience. Your Travelling Concierge will be happy to assist you in planning the rest of your day.
Rio de Janeiro, City of Sea and Samba
Today, fly to vibrant Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to your hotel located on famous Copacabana Beach. Elegant surroundings, exemplary service, gourmet cuisine and fine wines are the hallmarks of the evening's Michelin Highlight Dinner at Mee, the vision of celebrity Chef Ken Hom and led by Executive Chef Kazuo Harada. Mee is one of the first restaurants in South America to be awarded a prestigious Michelin Star.
Exploring Rio de Janeiro
(Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert for a spectacular day of sightseeing in Rio. A cable car takes you to the lofty heights of Sugarloaf Mountain. At the Confeitaria Colombo, enjoy a classic buffet-style Highlight Lunch amid a lavish setting. In the afternoon, you are in for a unique experience—a guided visit to one of Rio's favelas, the multitudinous cascades of shanty towns that coat the city's hillsides. See what daily life is like in a favela and interact with the residents. Stop at the Maze, an iconic jazz club frequented by a steady stream of celebrities, and meet the owner, Bob Nadkarni, over a drink and fabulous views of Rio and Guanabara Bay.
A Farewell to Rio de Janeiro
Join your Local Expert on a narrow-gauge train ride up Corcovado Hill to the open arms of Christ the Redeemer, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The afternoon is completely free for your own pursuits. In the evening, toast the culmination of your South American tour with a Celebration Dinner at a local churrascaria, the traditional Brazilian steakhouse, where servers come to your table with knives and skewers, on which are speared various kinds of quality cuts of meat—a quintessential Brazilian experience. Finish with an exclusive journey through Brazil's diverse musical styles and culture during a show at the electric Ginga Tropical.
Depart Rio de Janeiro
(Relaxed Start) A private transfer will take you to the Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport. Hotel check-out time is at noon. Alternatively, you may choose to extend your stay in Rio de Janeiro.
Quito (Heritage) - Equador
In the heart of Independence Square, the luxurious Hotel Plaza Grande boasts impressive views of the Government Palace and Cathedral Church, with Panecillo Hill in the distance.
Lima (Central) - Peru
Located in Lima's distinctive Miraflores district, this hotel offers superior service, luxury accommodation and an unbeatable location near top fine dining, notable historic sites, and picturesque public spaces. Stylish guest rooms feature spectacular ocean views and include amenities like marble bathrooms and designer bedding. Savor fine Peruvian dining at one of the two acclaimed restaurants, book a spa treatment at the Health Club, or break a sweat in the state-of-the-art fitness center.
Machu Picchu (Traditional) - Peru
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is an intimate Andean village with terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways and 81 whitewashed adobe casitas tucked away in the cloud forest.
Lake Titicaca (Scenic) - Peru
Located on a private island -- the Esteves Island -- Libertador Lake Titicaca offers unforgettable sunrises and sunsets from any point in the hotel. The hotel offers 360º views of the highest navigable lake in the world. From its private pier, guests navigate to islands lost in time where they can witness and participate from centuries-old traditions and crafts with their inhabitants. All 123 rooms offer stunning lake views and the modern amenities of an international luxury hotel. Los Uros restaurant offers international and local cuisine made with local produce, surrounded by one of the greatest views of the lake. At night, enjoy drinks at the Taquile bar.
Santiago (Central) - Chile
Buenos Aires (Heritage) - Argentina
Distinguishable by its architecture and décor, the Alvear Palace Hotel is a hallmark of world class hotels.
Iguassu (Heritage) - Brazil
The luxurious Belmond das Cataratas is the only hotel inside the National Park and sits alongside the falls.
Rio de Janerio (Central) - Brazil