Amazon, Galapagos Is, Inca Ruins & Salt Plains

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
ECUADOR: Amazon Jungle, Galapagos Is
PERU: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca
BOLIVA: Salt Plains

This 2011 – 2012 South America trip is effectively 4 tours back to back. Six and a half weeks. What am I expecting? I expect it to will be very different to my last trip to this continent last December 2010 - January 2011.

First with Tucan Travel and their 13 day Ecuador Discovered starting in Quito, the world's second highest capital city 3,016 metres (9,895 ft). I should see local markets including Otavalo, in dug-out canoes have a taste of the Amazon rain forest plus visit the towns of Banos and Cuenca an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Then with G Adventures (formerly GAP Adventures whom I travelled last year to South America: Patagonia and Antarctica) join a 10 day Comfort Galapagos trip to see the Galapagos Islands: marine and land iguanas, sea turtle, flamingos, white cheeked pintails, masked boobies, albatross and blue-footed boobies. Because of a Travel Expo in February, they were offering their Comfort tours at a 25% discount. This was about the price of their standard trip so why not enjoy it.

Off to Cuzco, Peru with the Inca history at Machu Picchu and in the Scard Valley. I have with 2 entries into Machu Picchu plus a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu which soars 1,200 feet above the Machu Picchu ruins, hope it is fine and minimal clouds. As a boy I was always in awe of Thor Heyerdahl 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean on board the Kon Tiki balsa raft and then with his Ra Expedition which is associated with Lake Titicaca. The local culture of the floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca which at 3,811 metre or 12,500 feet is higher than our Mt Cook 3,754 metres (12,316 ft) will finish this country. I've always wanted to see the reed islands ever since I can remember. This section I am doing by myself but many thanks to Eve, Adventure World, my days, transfers and entry tickets are all pre-booked for me.

Finally in Bolivia’s from the world’s highest capital city La Paz 3,650 m (11,975 ft), I join another G Adventures 11 day Bolivia Discovery to experience the Bolivian Altiplano awe-inspiring geography. The 3 day 4WD excursion to the Salar de Uyuni (salt plains and amazing moonscape scenery) should be the highlight.

So join me as I post a few travel blogs and photos as I go. As usual on my return I will fill in the gaps and upload even more photos and videos. Do leave your comments (they are public!) and rate the site by clicking onto the rating star(s) under the map to the right. For those who haven't seen the updated Antarctica / Patagonia entries of my last trip - go have a look.

Wed 14 Dec Depart Auckland LA 800 @4.10 pm.
Arrive Santiago @ 11.40 pm. Galerias Hotel, Santiago

Thurs 15 Dec Depart Lan Ecaudor LA 1446 @ 10.50 am
2.05 pm Arrive Guayquil. Depart Guayquil Lan Ecaudor LA 1442 @ 3.10 pm.
Arrive Quito @ 4.05 pm. Cayman Hotel, Quito

Tucan Tour Ecuador Discovered Day 1 assemble day

Fri 16 Dec Otavalo

Sat 17 Dec Quito

Sun 18 Dec Misahualli

Mon 19 Dec Amazon Jungle

Tues 20 Dec Misahualli

Wed 21 Dec Banos

Thurs 22 Dec Banos

Fri 23 Dec Banos

Sat 24 Dec Cuenca

Sun 25 Dec Cuenca

Mon 26 Dec Quito Cayman Hotel, Quito

Tues 27 Dec Day 13 Change over day Day 1 Voyage G Adventures Galapagos Hotel Quito

On Jan 1 the National Park will change how often a boat can visit the same island. My 10 day departure falls directly during the Itinerary switch over. The first portion of my Itinerary (Day 1-6) will remain the same as before and the second portion (Day 7-10) will have changed slightly. I will correct the following later if wrong:

Wed 28 Dec Day 2 Baltra / Santa Cruz

Day 2 Baltra / Santa Cruz

Fly to Baltra. Meet the guide and transfer across Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora to board the boat. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Thurs 29 Dec Day 3 South Plaza / Santa Fe

Day 3 South Plaza / Santa Fe Land at South Plaza in the morning for wildlife spotting opportunities. Afternoon visit to Santa Fé Island for guided walks to observe the wildlife and plentiful marine iguanas. Opportunities for swimming and snorkelling with the sea lions.

Fri 30 Dec Day 4 Floreana

Day 4 Floreana Land at Punta Cormorant, on Floreana Island. Guided walks to observe the bird and wildlife and learn about the natural history. Visit Post Office Bay in the afternoon. Snorkelling excusion at the Corona del Diablo.

Sat 31 Dec Day 5 Espanola

Day 5 Espanola Visit to Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay on Española Island. Guided walks to observe wildlife and free time for swimming or snorkelling.

Sun 1 Jan Day 6 San Cristobal

Day 6 San Cristobal Visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristóbal Island

Mon 2 Jan Day 7 North Seymour / Mosquera

Day 7 North Seymour / Mosquera Visit North Seymour and Mosquera Islands. Guided walks to observe birds and wildlife like vast sea lion colonies.

Tues 3 Jan Day 8 Isla Santiago / Bartolome

Day 8 Isla Santiago / Bartolome Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to witness the giant lava formations in contrast of the white coral sand beach. Continue to Bartolomé Island for a guided tour to see the dramatic volcanic features before hiking to a panoramic viewpoint

Wed 4 Jan Day 9 Santa Cruz / Quito

Day 9 Santa Cruz / Quito Disembark in Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant Galapagos tortoises. Fly back to Quito.

Thurs 5 Jan Day 10 Quito. Depart Quito Lan Peru LA2589 @ 8:40 pm

Arrive Lima 10:55 pm. Hotel Los Girasoles, Miraflores, Lima

Fri 6 Jan Depart Lan Peru LA 2071 @ 11.25 am
Arrive Cuzco @ 12.40 pm. San Agustin International Hotel

Sat 7 Jan Cuzco afternoon half day city tour. San Agustin International Hotel

Sun 8 Jan Cuzco to Yucay - Sacred Valley

Mon 9 Jan Yucay – Machu Picchu. El Santuario Hostal

Tues 10 Jan Machu Picchu – Cuzco. San Agustin International Hotel

Wed 11 Jan Cuzco Free Day San Agustin International Hotel

Thurs 12 Jan Cuzco to Puno Depart by bus @ 8 am arrive Puno @ 5 pm Casa Andina Private Collection

Fri 13 Jan 2 All day boat trip to floating totora reed island of the Uros and then to Taquile island. Casa Andina Private Collection

Sat 14 Jan Puno with Lake Titkaka Catamaran Cruise via Sun Is to Bolivia and La Paz. Hotel Las Brisas

G Adventures 11 days Bolivia Discovery assemble

Sun 15 Jan Flight to Sucre

Mon 16 Jan Sucre

Tues 17 Jan Sucre

Wed 18 Jan Potosi

Thurs 19 Jan Uyuni / Salt Lakes Excursion

Fri 20 Jan Uyuni / Salt Lakes Excursion

Sat 21 Jan Uyuni / Salt Lakes Excursion

Sun 22 Jan Overnight train back La Paz

Mon 23 Jan La Paz Hotel Las Brisas

Tues 24 Jan Hotel Las Brisas

Wed 25 Jan Depart La Paz Lan Chile LA 969 @ 4.00 pm. Arrive Santiago 9.15 pm. Galerias Hotel, Santiago

Thurs 26 Jan Depart Santiago Lan Chile LA 801 @ 11.20 pm for home.

Fri 27 Jan Cross international date line

Sat 28 Jan Arrive 4.30 am Auckland New Zealand  
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