Land Services

ECUADOR

Ecuador has the privilege of having 4 different worlds in such a little physical space, which makes it unique worldwide. You can start a day with giant tortoises, visit beautiful beaches, climb active volcanoes and finish the day in the jungle.

Ecuador’s Andean region is approximately 600km long, with elevations ranging from 1,500m above sea level in its subtropical valleys, to 6,000m at its highest volcanic peaks. The variety of microclimates, impressive landscapes and enormous biodiversity, as well as its fascinating indigenous cultures, makes it one of the most visited areas in the country.

Ecuador’s coastal region extends from the western slopes of the Andes down to the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of fertile plains, rolling hills, mangrove forests and stunning beaches along its 2,237km coastline. The coast plays an important role in the country’s economy as well as in its cuisine, delivering tons of seafood on a daily basis. It is also a magnet for extreme sportsmen, with some of the best surf in South America. Kite surfing, paragliding and whale watching are also a huge attraction.

While Ecuador’s eastern borders contain a mere slice of the Amazon (120,000km2), the rainforest here is diverse, with quiet blackwater lagoons, turbulent rivers, dense tree canopies and flooded forests. It is one of the most accessible and traveler-friendly areas of the upper Amazon basin, offering excellent bird watching, canoe excursions, informative walks through the forest, and the opportunity to learn about the Amazon’s unique species.

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most complex and unique oceanic archipelagos on earth. Their geographic isolation, as well as the biodiversity and ecosystems found there, have made them worthy of world recognition.

PERU

Peru is an extremely biodiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

Lima is a modern metropolis, with almost 10 million inhabitants – the third largest city in South America. As the major point of entry to the country, Lima has developed a tourism industry characterized by its historic center, archeological sites, nightlife, museums, art galleries, festivals and traditions. In recent history, Lima has positioned itself as a culinary destination for travelers from around the world. In many respects, Lima is considered the gastronomical capital of Latin America thanks to its inherited traditions from pre-Hispanic and colonial cultures blended with Western and oriental cooking.

Machu Picchu, a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site is one of the best examples of Inca architecture. Built in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, the city appears to have been sculpted from the rocky slopes. Besides offering visitors a spectacular landscape, the site also exhibits important endemic biological diversity in flora and fauna.

The Nazca lines and geoglyphs form a unique and magnificent artistic achievement that is unrivalled in its dimensions and diversity anywhere in the prehistoric world. This unique form of land use bears exceptional witness to the culture and beliefs of this region of pre-Hispanic South America.

Lake Titicaca boasts a rich cultural history that spans thousands of years. It is the highest navigable lake in the world at over 3800 meters above sea level. Travellers can observe small islands where the Aymaras live and work the land and engage in traditional fishing.

SAMPLE ITINERARIES

Family Adventures

Day 1

Upon arrival at Quito airport you will be met by an English-speaking guide, and transferred to your hotel.

Situated in a circle of Andean peaks, Quito is the world’s second highest capital, with arguably one of the finest settings in the world.  Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was an important part of the Inca Empire, before being destroyed and re-founded by Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar in 1534.

The colonial center – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 – is one of the largest and best preserved in Latin America. It is home to excellent museums, churches and art galleries.

Day 2

The city tour begins at your hotel, passing through the modern section of Quito towards the city’s colonial center. Soak up the atmosphere in Independence Square, flanked by the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace and City Hall. Stroll past El Sagrario Church and the exquisite stone facade of La Compañía Church. Visit the San Francisco Church, built over the ruins of an Inca Palace in the 16th century.

During your tour, Mr. Jorge Rivadeneira will meet you for a very special demonstration of his spectacular  skills with his spinning tops. Mr. Rivadeneira spent his childhood at his father’s workshop, where he had to climb on top of a stool to work the wheel that polished and molded the spinning tops. He can perform more than 100 tricks with tops of different sizes, which he still makes himself at his own workshop. It´s great fun for kids.

After this you will have lunch at Café Quito. During dessert you will be joined by a Cucurucho, who is a penitent during the Holy Week parades.

Then we will drive northwards to the Equatorial Monument, built as a tribute to the French scientists who determined the shape of the earth in the 1700s. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, where the colorful way of life of the different ethnic groups of Ecuador is on display, or visit the Intiñan interactive museum, which shows the different theories of the Incas in determining the middle of the world.

Day 3

After breakfast you will be driven to the north of the country, where our first stop will be at the Quitsato Sun Dial, located right on the Equator. This huge clock forms a mosaic of light and dark pebbles, drawing an eight-pointed star that shows the solstices and equinoxes. This monument symbolizes the link between Ecuador’s modern identity and the ancient cultures of the region.

Afterwards you will continue to Hacienda Cusin where our horses will be ready for a wonderful 2 hours ride through the Ecuadorian Andes. This tour combines visits to indigenous communities with stunning landscapes.

Lunch will be served at the Hacienda Cusin upon return.

In the afternoon we will head to Otavalo, famous for its colorful handicraft market. In the Andes there  is widespread  production  of  textiles and leather goods and all designs are well represented in Otavalo’s market.

Day 4 to 11

After breakfast you will be transferred to Quito airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands.

Upon arrival to the Baltra airport you will be taken on board the cruise.

Day 11

You will be met at Guayaquil airport and taken to your hotel.

Located on the banks of the Guayas River, 60 km from the Pacific Ocean, Guayaquil is Ecuador’s principle port and largest city, with about 3 million inhabitants.

As the commercial and industrial center of Ecuador, 80% of the country’s imports and more than 50% of its exports are handled here. Guayaquil’s strong culture and traditions stand in stark contrast to the modernity of its new developments.

Day 12

The city tour begins in Centennial Park, through the commercial center to Seminario Park, famous for its iguanas lounging in the sunshine. The next stop is Malecón 2000, the artisan market and the first fort in Guayaquil, where a statue of Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (the first mayor of Guayaquil) stands overlooking the Guayas River. The tour continues along Malecón Simon Bolivar to Civic Plaza, where you can visit the Moorish Tower, City Hall and the Rotonda monument. Continue by car to Las Peñas, the old neighborhood where the city was born, located at the foot of Santa Ana Hill.

The tour continues on to Guayaquil Historical Park, which is a project aimed at recapturing local culture for our children. It is a cultural, environmental, educational and recreational area that focuses on the old Province of Guayaquil, which encompassed almost the entire Ecuadorian coastal region from the end of the colonial period to the early Republic. The old Province of Guayaquil contained forests, cities and rural areas that are showcased in three different zones within Historical Park’s eight hectares.

You will also visit a local hacienda to witness local craftsmen at work. If you like, you can take part in the duties of the hacienda, and discover a side of coastal life that has remained virtually unchanged since the colonial era.

Lunch will be at a traditional restaurant.

Afterwards you will be transferred to Guayaquil airport for your flight home.

Highlights of Peru

Day 1

A transportation service with a guide will pick you up from the airport at the established time and will transfer you to your hotel.

Lima is a modern metropolis full of history, which has approximately ten million inhabitants and is going through an exciting process of cultural and economic changes.

Overnight in Lima.

Day 2

Your tour starts downtown, where you will visit the Aliaga House, an ancient viceregal house delivered by Francisco Pizarro to one of his captains (Jerónimo de Aliaga) after the foundation of the city. The construction of this house started in 1535. This genuine jewel of the colonial architecture is currently inhabited by his descendants. You will then get to know the Main Square, where Lima was first founded as “The City of Kings,” in 1535, and it was already known by the name of Lima when Peru proclaimed its independence from the Spanish Crown in 1821. There you can see the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Lima Cathedral. Next, you will go to Saint Francis’ Church, which has an enviable collection of old books and an authentic network of catacombs open to the public.

Then you will go to the Pueblo Libre district to visit the Larco Museum, located in the same district, founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle in 1926. The visit to this museum allows understanding over five thousand years of the high degree of development achieved by the cultures that flourished before the Inca Empire. The museum, located inside a viceregal mansion built on a pre-Columbian pyramid of the 7th century, shows the most complete pre-Hispanic collection of gold and silver artifacts as well pieces of erotic art.

Overnight in Lima.

Day 3

Your tour will start on route to the Paracas National Reserve, three hours South of Lima. Paracas is an extraordinary place due to its multiple attractions. It is a natural reserve with beautiful geological formations, impressive fauna and vestiges of a pre-Inca culture that dominated the desert to install a successful society in adverse conditions. Next, you will go to the pier to sail to the Ballestas Islands, home to a large population of sea lions, Humboldt penguins and other species found in the archipelago, an ideal place for their reproduction and coexistence.

On your way back, you will be transferred to the Pisco City airport, where you will board a light aircraft to fly over the Nazca Lines (subject to weather conditions). Face one of the world’s greatest mysteries while overflying the Nazca Lines. The town, settled besides a small river crossing the desolate plain of San Jose, passed unnoticed until commercial airlines began crossing the desert during the late 1920’s. Scientist’s attention was immediately drawn to Nazca but the mystery remains unsolved. What exact purpose did they meet? We don’t quite know. The truth is they depict coastal, highland and jungle fauna (whale, hummingbird, monkey, spider) as well as geometric figures (lines, trapeze, triangle). Thereafter, weather and air-traffic controllers permitting, fly above the figured-scrapped hills of Palpa. The Palpa Lines are believed to predate those of Nazca, picturing animals and human figures and a prominent deity. The Nazca culture flourished between 50 B.C. and 600 A.D, studies suggesting their society suffered an environmental collapse derived from huarango deforestation. You will return to Lima after having lunch.

Overnight in Lima.

Day 4

A transportation service will pick you up from your hotel at the established time and will transfer you to the airport of Lima. Upon your arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. You will be accompanied by a guide who will inform you about the attractions and services that the city has to offer.

You will start your tour visiting the Coricancha, also known as “The Temple of the Sun” (Quri Kancha ‘Golden Temple’), which was built by the Inca Pachacutec (1438 – 1572) and at the arrival of the Spaniards became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. Here, during the Inca empire reverence was surrendered to the sun (“Inti”), and there was a time when it was covered with gold.

Then visit the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the Plaza de Armas. Its construction began in 1560 and ended only in 1654. Almost a century of construction. For this purpose hundreds of stones were extracted and transported from Sacsayhuaman fortress under the command of the Ecclesiastical Council. You will continue your tour to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most emblematic buildings of the Incas (located just minutes from town center) built by the Inca Pachacutec in the fifteenth century. This is a huge fortress built with large stones whose transportation remains still a mystery. Each June 24th, during the winter solstice, the feast of Inti Raymi is recreated here, where the sun is worshipped.

Continue to Quenqo, located 4 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Quenqo is an archaeological complex of mainly religious use where it is believed agricultural rituals were performed. Finally get to know Puka Pucara, located 7 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Puka Pucara, which means “Red Fortress”, was an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple spaces, plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls and towers, and it is believed the entourage of the Inca used it while he rested in Tambomachay. Return to the hotel.

Overnight in Cusco.

Day 5

Your tour will start going to the Sacred Valley, where you will visit Awanakancha, a farm of South American camelids and textiles showroom, where local families show the entire traditional process of weaving and making garments. You will then visit the Pisac, a town shaped as a partridge, which is known for two reasons: the craft market established between colonial buildings, and for housing one of the most impressive complex of agricultural terraces of the valley. The market has stands that exhibit and sell products manufactured by the residents of the area. You will then have lunch at the agreed restaurant and will arrive in Ollantaytambo, a typical example of the urban planning of the Incas, whose residents still live in accordance with their old traditions. Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471) conquered the town, destroyed it and built a new one, absorbing it as part of his empire.

The Ollantaytambo Fortress is a huge archaeological complex which, although it bears the name of fortress, it was actually a tambo, a leisure city used to accommodate the delegations that traveled long distances. Without a doubt, it is one of the most monumental works of the Inca Empire. Return to your hotel in Cusco.

Overnight in Cusco.

Day 6

A transport will pick you up you from your hotel in Cusco and transfer you to Ollantaytambo Train Station, where an escort will assist you in the train to Machu Picchu.

Your tour to Machu Picchu begins with a train ride to Aguas Calientes in approximately two hours’ time. This town is also known as “Machu Picchu pueblo” and is the last stop before entering the remains of the most important archaeological site in Peru. In Aguas Calientes are the train station, a craft market, restaurants and hotels of different categories for those who prefer to spend the night at the foot of the mountain and climb it early. Finally, after a short transfer by bus you will reach Machu Picchu, a masterpiece of engineering and architecture that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Inca Pachacutec (1438 – 1572). Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain”, is considered a World Heritage by the UNESCO and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Lunch at Café Inkaterra. Rest of the day free at leisure.

Overnight in Aguas Calientes.

Day 7

Today you can optionally return to Machu Picchu and visit any of the attractions of the citadel. Visit the Intipunku, which in Castilian means “Sun Gate” and is the last stop before entering Machu Picchu if you follow the Inca trail from Ollantaytambo. It was kind of a checkpoint control and the sun rises every day through this door if viewed from the most important buildings of the citadel.

You may climb the Wayna Picchu (subject to space availability), which means “Young Mountain” as opposed to Machu Picchu. This ascent takes about an hour and its main attraction is the “Temple of the Moon”, a complex of underground constructions likely to have been used by the elite. Finally you will be able to know the Inca Bridge, an incredible stone building that served as entrance or exit of the citadel and halfway has a gap of several meters above which were two large wooden tables. Thus the Incas could isolate the city by simply withdrawing them and thus remain protected.

In the afternoon head to the train station of Aguas Calientes and from there take the train back to the Ollanta station. We will transfer you from Ollanta station to the hotel in Cusco.

Overnight in Cusco.

Day 8

Transfer from your hotel the bus station.

A tourist bus will take you from Cusco to Puno making stops in various places. First you will visit the districts of Andahuaylillas and Huaro with its beautiful baroque churches. Then go to Checacupe, and once the visit is over, you will be transferred to Raqchi to enjoy a delicious Andean buffet at a local restaurant. The next stop is at La Raya, the highest point on route (4,338 m.a.s.l.), and the last visit before reaching Puno, is Pukara where you will discover the Lithic Museum. The bus leaves daily.

Reception in the bus station and transfer to your hotel. The guide will inform you about the attractions and services that the city has to offer.

Overnight in Puno.

Day 9

You will be picked up from Puno’s lake port and transferred to the floating islands of the Uros. Uros are an ancestral society that inhabits a series of artificial islands built with totora, a reef that grows in the lake. The islands are built by weaving totoras in the places where they grow the thickest and form a natural layer. They build their totora houses over it and cook in the open air to prevent possible fires.

After a one and a half-hour tour, you will continue your trip to the Taquile Island. Unlike other islands, inhabited by Aymara-speaking people in the lake, its residents speak Quechua. It was part of the Inca Empire and vestiges of said culture can be noted in their buildings. Nevertheless, when the Spaniards arrived, they forced its residents to get rid of their typical clothes and forced them to wear traditional farmers’ clothes. They will give you a brief presentation about the island and you can tour it until lunch time, when you will descend the ?550 steps? to the main pier to return to Puno City.

Overnight in Puno.

Day 10

A transportation service with a guide will pick you up from your hotel at the established time and will transfer you to the airport. Assistance at the airport upon you arrival in Lima.