Day 1 – 3: Illa Experience Hotel, Quito
Day 3 – 7: Galapagos Safari Camp, Santa Cruz
Day 7 – 9: Hotel B, Lima
Day 9 – 12: Sol Y Luna, Sacred Valley
Day 12: Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu
Day 12 – 13: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Machu Picchu
Day 13 – 15: Inkaterra La Casona, Cusco
Day 15 – 18: Aqua Nera Amazon Cruise, Iquitos
The capital of Ecuador sits just 26 km (16 mi) south of the equator. This well preserved city sprawls out from its historic city center, Plaza de San Francisco, which consists of over 120 historic buildings, including European style homes, ornate churches, and palaces once built for wealthy cacao landowners and former heads of state.
Being a boutique hotel, built in a house from the 17th century, Illa Experience Hotel shares a journey throughout time of family traditions, history, love stories, community and unity. The beauty about remembering is that it allows your heart to become vulnerable in one of the most pure and precious ways. We remember how a cup of coffee in the Old Town of Quito, or in our home kitchens, meant a table surrounded with a family, with laughter and chatter. We remember to live, to share, to grow. At Illa Experience Hotel, we remember the traditions and the values behind the Old Town of Quito and its families.
Illa Experience Hotel’s NESTS is our culinary project to foster the best restaurant in Quito, Ecuador, while also being a gastronomy and restaurantieur project, that aims to cut the gap between traditions, culture and society through gastromomy being set in the Old Town of Quito, Ecuador. Ecuadorian and South American flavors are harvested and enhanced.
All rooms at the Illa Experience Hotel in the Old Town of Quito, Ecuador have been curated and tailored to posses their own family character. The luxury rooms are spacious and have a wonderful view to our patios inside our luxurious boutique hotel. Being a traditional family hotel, all rooms display and share with all our guests family traditions through their design, architecture and details, proper to the best luxury boutique hotel in Quito. You may choose to enjoy your breakfast a la carte in our restuarant or have your morning meal served in your room.
The city was built on the ruins of an Inca city and declared a World Heritage site in 1978. Visitors can walk the cobblestone streets and local markets, and visit the privately owned archeology museum of Alabado. From the top of Panecillo Street, a 200 meter (655 ft) hill, visitors can take in sprawling views over the city with resident volcanoes Cotapaxi and Pinchinca forming a dramatic backdrop.
Known as the “Enchanted Isles,” the Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of 19 isolated volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador and are considered a museum of marine evolution. Each island has its own distinct and unique ecosystem, with its own iconic resident species: from the lava fields of Fernandina with its primordial marine iguanas to the white sand beaches of Espanola with its playful sea lions to the flamboyant flamingos of Floriana and the dancing blue footed boobies of North Seymour.
Charles Darwin was inspired by the giant tortoises and finches to conceive his groundbreaking theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Although the most famous giant tortoise, Lonesome George, is no longer alive, having lived to be 102 and the last of his species, there are many tortoises that can still be found roaming the verdant hillsides of Santa Cruz and Isabela. The snorkeling sites present a unique opportunity to swim with colorful fish alongside penguins, turtles, and rays under a backdrop of cacti, lava fields, and Palo Santo forests.
Because of the evolutionary processes that can literally be seen in motion here, the trails and sites are heavily controlled by the Galapagos Parks Board – and rightly so.
Located in the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island, in the heart of the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos Safari Camp is the ideal base and perfect springboard for discovering the other-worldly landscapes, amazing wildlife and spell-binding magic of this remote archipelago, made famous by Charles Darwin nearly two centuries ago.
The lodge’s position on the rim of an extinct volcanic cone inspired its design, an elegant arc that greets the sun in the morning to the east, and is bathed in golden light at the end of the day. The surrounding trees sway, finches and mockingbirds flit, the hills tumble down to the ocean, with not a human in sight. Step through the glass doors and out onto the veranda. You’ve arrived.
Enjoy a dip in our plunge pool and maybe a nap beneath its moss-laden trees. As the bright equatorial light fades, follow the trail to our rustic Viewpoint. The setting sun turns the western skies into a pink and purple canvas dotted with the misty islands of the archipelago.
Safari tents are covered by three layers of canvas for comfort and shelter. Their private balcony decks, perfect for some hammock-time, give way to spacious, stylish rooms decorated in tasteful safari-style simplicity. All the tents have several electrical sockets for charging cameras and devices. Stretch out on your comfortable bed and enjoy the views. Take a sun-powered hot shower in your en-suite bathroom before heading to the viewpoint for sunset drinks.
The spacious tent bedrooms can be set up as double, twin or triple, and are included in your safari experience.
Rise early and return to the airport for the scheduled flight to the Galapagos! Your naturalist guide meets you at the VIP lounge at Baltra Airport to escort you on your excursion across the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Enjoy a delicious, locally-sourced lunch at a farm in the western hills and take in the area’s natural beauty, pit craters, lava tunnels, and learn more about the unique forest ecosystem. At the Tortoise Reserve, share some time in the giant tortoises’ natural habitat, surrounded by the abundant bird life of the area. End the day at Galapagos Safari Camp with a sunset cocktail followed by dinner.
Galapagos Boat Excursions
Early morning finds you on a motor yacht to one of the neighbouring, uninhabited islands close to our island of Santa Cruz: North Seymour, Bartolomé, Plazas and Santa Fe. Each island is an endemic treasure to explore and enjoy. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is among the largest in the world, and snorkelling off the boat is highly recommended.
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
A morning drive with your private guide takes you meandering over to the eastern part of Santa Cruz Island. Cerro Mesa Reserve offers spectacular views of the largest crater on the island, exotic plants and seven unique subspecies of finch, plus the elusive vermilion flycatcher. After lunch, we explore Garrapatero Beach with its stunning contrasts of mangroves, black lava, white sand and turquoise water — including a flamingo lagoon. Kayaking and mountain biking are great options to get active today!
Formerly a port town where conquistadors transported Incan gold back to Spain, Lima was founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro but its history goes much deeper. Mud brick pyramids called huacas still stand in the middle of the city dating back to the Lima Culture, a pre-Inca society that thrived on the Central Coast between 200 AD and 700 AD. A visit to Larco Museum will acquaint travelers with 5,000 years of pre-Columbian history before jetting off on a tour of Peru.
Other highlights in Lima include The University of San Marcos, one of the oldest universities in the New World, San Lorenzo and Palomino Islands, the Monastery of San Francisco, the magnificent Catedral de Lima, the Convent of Santo Domingo, and colonial homes such as Torre Tagle Palace and Osambel House.
The city has become a premiere gastronomical destination, mixing Spanish, Andean and Asian cuisine, and consistently takes a spot or two on rankings of the world’s top 10 restaurants. From humble dishes – the country boasts 4,000 types of potatoes – to sophisticated modern fare, foodies will not be disappointed dining out in Lima.
Lima’s only Relais & Châteaux hotel, the restored Belle Époque mansion was first built in 1914 as a summer home for a wealthy Limeño family. Following extensive restoration works, the white stucco mansion recovered its former glory and started a new life as a luxury boutique hotel in May, 2013. Is food one of the main reasons you want to visit Peru? If so, you are not alone! Eating is one of our favorite pastimes, and we are rather spoiled for choice in Lima. At Hotel B, the famous afternoon tea (“lonche”) is included for guests. The question is where to eat: in the library, courtyard, or rooftop terrace…
Hotel B houses its own unique art collection with over 300 original works of art and installations spread across the premises.
Culinary Lima & Private City Tour
Accompanied by the head chef of Hotel B’s in-house eatery, embark on an exclusive journey through the traditional tastes that have brought Peruvian cuisine into the world spotlight. Visit a local market for exotic fruit tastings, a lesson in the unmatched variety of native peppers and potatoes, and experience the stalls that supply the world’s best ceviche chefs. Stop by a boutique cafeteria for coffee tasting, then head next door to try a lucuma milkshake, considered a local delicacy.
For the main event, return to Hotel B and, under the guiding eye of the chef, prepare three delicious yet straightforward Peruvian staples, washed down with hand-shaken Pisco Sours. Enjoy your own exceptional creations for lunch before the experience ends.
The list of must-see attractions in Lima is as long as a llama neck, however your experienced guide will help you make the most of your afternoon by showing you the best of Lima in your particular areas of interest. Highlights include archeological wonders, colonial jewels, world-class museums, captivating public art, and the most beautiful and photogenic viewpoints!
Whether you go on foot, on one of the hotel’s bicycles, or by taxi, Barranco is waiting to be explored. Art galleries, boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, historic buildings, the Pacific coast – there’s a lot on your doorstep. The property is ideally located on the corners of Boulevard Saenz Peña and Calle San Martín, in the heart of Barranco; two blocks from the Pacific coast and 5 minutes from Mirafores. The neighborhood, a protected historic area, is filled with historic houses, its own main square, and the famous Puente De Los Suspiros (Lima’s Bridge of Sighs). The area is populated with boutiques, restaurants, and is walking distance from numerous galleries and museums.
Situated in both the historic mansion and contemporary wing of our hotel, Aposento Suites have walk-in bathrooms with separate rain shower and WC (some include standalone bathtub). There is also seating space for two.
Just north of Cusco, in the fertile Andean highlands of the Urubamba Valley, lies a stretch of mythical pre-Columbian ruins, Incan villages, and tiny colonial towns surrounded by snowcapped peaks, shimmering lakes, and flowering meadows protected by sacred Apu mountain spirits. Ollantaytambo and Pisac are incredibly well-preserved and the most popular archeological sites. Nearby are the salt pools and Incan mines of Maras, the peculiarly designed circular terraces of Moray, each with its own micro-climate, and more remote villages such as Chinchero, the center of weaving in Peru, believed to be the birthplace of the rainbow.
Adrenaline junkies can indulge in every imaginable adventure in the Sacred Valley, from paragliding over the Andes, white-water rafting, horse-back riding, biking or revving an ATV through meandering mountain trails, to experiencing one of the highest bungee-jump spots in South America or zip-lining down a 7,000 foot-long line. It’s a thrill-seeker playground.
Sol y Luna authentically reflects rich Andean culture and shares the beauty of the Sacred Valley with guests while generating the income to support the Sol y Luna Intercultural School. Encircled by the majestic Andes Mountains, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a vast, inundating landscape of lush agrarian terraces, pre-Columbian ruins, and Spanish colonial churches.
Guests are accommodated in cozy ‘casita’ houses made of local stone and decorated individually. Gardens filled with flora native to the Sacred Valley surround each of these forty-three private sanctuaries and all face the Andes Mountains, where the Incas believed their gods dwelled.
Sol y Luna hotel profits as well as the generosity of guests, friends and benefactors, wholly finances the Sol y Luna Association, which pursues inclusion and equality through education for the children of the Sacred Valley along with sustainable work opportunities for local families.
Legendary panoramas of the Sacred Valley inspire these stone and terra cotta houses, where wood burning fireplaces enhance both the elegant living room and generous bedroom, finished with a vibrant mural reflecting the extraordinary surroundings.
Fly with the wind by tandem paraglide over landscape that the Incas believed mirrored the Milky Way. Cycle and trek along Andean terraces, horseback ride to remote villages, and kayak under snowcapped peaks. The Sacred Valley is also a treasure house of pre-Colombian sites, colonial churches, and thriving, enduring traditions, many of which can be enjoyed on the taste buds.
A natural playground for adventure lovers, the Sacred Valley offers adrenaline pumping activities above and on the ground, on two or four wheels, by native Paso horse, on foot and even on the water.
Thirteen degrees south of the equator, the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu rises above the Urubamba river valley on a steep ridge between the towering peaks of Huayna and Machu Picchu mountains – both of which can be hiked for incredible views. One of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact, this UNESCO World Heritage site and spiritual destination was built for Inca ruler Pachacuti during the 15th century and once housed over 600 residents.
We still don’t know how they moved huge stone slabs without wheeled carts and shaped them so perfectly. The brilliantly engineered design reveals the Incas had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy and agriculture. But what exactly they were doing up there remains a mystery to this day.
Popular with those heading to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is an intimate Andean village with terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways, and 83 whitewashed adobe casitas tucked away in the cloud forest. The property has 12 acres of exquisite natural beauty, where 214 bird species and the world’s largest native orchid collection (372 species) have been registered.
After exploring the Historic Sanctuary and in-house excursions, guests can enjoy the Unu Spa, which combines classic nurturing with a mystical Andean approach. Natural products are derived from local botanical extracts (mint, eucalyptus and orchids), thus providing a pleasing spiritual, sensual, and soothing experience. The first-class restaurant features stunning views of Vilcanota River, and shares the secrets of Peruvian cuisine with a contemporary twist.
Nine suites offer a spacious setting with a separate area for reading and relaxing, plasma screen with Direct TV, plus the possibility of a terrace. One king or two twin beds, 100% cotton sheets along with six posh hypoallergenic pillows, a room heater, separate sitting, minibar, dining for two and a large private bathroom with a telephone provide this casita with added comfort.
A variety of excursions are available within the five hectares (12.3 acres) of pristine cloud forest surrounding Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a quiet retreat for the mind and body, as well as a base for numerous adventures and explorations. Home to an incredible diversity of fauna and flora, the hotel’s trails lead to cascading streams and historically sacred sites. During their stay, travelers may choose to explore a particular subject, become involved in one of the projects, or simply immerse themselves in the spiritual wonder of the area.
Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train
Be swept away by old-world charm as Hiram Bingham journeys through the Peruvian highlands. Gleaming wood-panelled interiors and brass finishes evoke classic 1920’s parlour cars, while vibrant colours and nature-inspired motifs reveal a distinctly Peruvian soul.
Savour classic local flavours and gourmet cuisine as the train meanders through the breathtaking Sacred Valley. Celebrate the South American spirit with a lively dance as musicians play in the Bar Car. Marvel at the fertile lands and soaring mountains between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Bring the lost art of the pioneer to life with a thrilling rail adventure through the heart of the Inca Empire on Hiram Bingham.
Originally designed in the shape of a puma, Cusco was once the site of Coricancha, the Incan temple of the sun and holy centerpiece of the empire. It was stripped of all the gold covering its walls and mostly destroyed by the Spanish, who built churches and palaces on top. Remnants of the temple and mysterious Inca city still remain along Cusco’s colonial period architecture. As one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in South America, Cusco is surrounded by archaeological sites. Sacsayhuaman is the most impressive with its zigzag stone tiers and can be reached on foot from town. This Inca fortress and religious center offers a great view of Cusco and Plaza de Armas, where the immense 17th century Cusco Cathedral stands.
Back in town, walk up the ancient Inca street, Hathunrumiyoc, to see the famous 12-angled stone set into one of the best surviving Inca walls, then be rewarded with the cafes, restaurants, bars and specialty shops of the San Blas neighborhood, aka the artisan quarter. Another Cusco must-see is the San Pedro market, a maze of aisles jam-packed with food stands and vendors of every kind.
The first boutique hotel in Cusco, Inkaterra La Casona is located in the traditional Plaza de las Nazarenas, surrounded by vibrant, cobblestoned streets. This 16th century manor house stands on the former training grounds for an elite army of Incas, and had Spanish Conquistador Diego de Almagro and ‘Libertador’ Simón Bolívar among its illustrious guests.
After being harmoniously restored by Inkaterra throughout five years, emphasizing its original architecture, Inkaterra La Casona reflects the encounter of cultures and traditions across centuries. Surrounding the main patio, its eleven suites are provided with chimneys, heated floors, and extra-large bathtubs. Its halls are decorated with colonial furniture, Pre-Columbian textiles, and original murals.
The Patio Suites are furnished with either king or twin beds and 100% pima cotton sheets with 4 anti-allergenic pillows, down duvet, and a dining area for 2 guests with its own stone fireplace. The large marble bathroom is equipped with two sinks, tub, shower, and independent toilet, special Inkaterra handmade toiletries, lush towels, and twin closet.
Inkaterra La Casona services reflect the ultimate in opulent privacy — pampering guests, and anticipating their needs. Similarly, the concierge will prioritize the individual needs of each visitor, providing an array of services that make it possible to discover and explore the region at their whim. The staff will suggest the best local fare according to the wishes of the guests.
Accessed by boat or plane, Iquitos is perhaps the world’s largest, most isolated, city that cannot be reached by an actual road. Originally a Jesuit station, it serves as a gateway to the northernmost part of the Peruvian Amazon and has become popular with inner-peace seekers looking for an Ayahuasca experience. The town’s Belén district is known for its huge open-air market and stilt houses lining the Itaya river. The main square, Plaza de Armas, in the historic center of town, is surrounded by European-style mansions, dating back to the area’s turn-of-the-20th-century rubber boom, left behind by jungle barons.
Setting a new standard for luxury river cruising on the Amazon, Aqua Nera draws design inspiration from the Peruvian Amazon’s mystical black water lagoons and bears the hallmarks of contemporary style and generous interiors that Aqua Expeditions cruise ships are known for. Aboard the Aqua Nera, award-winning architects Noor Design crafts every space to perfection. The vessel’s 20 spacious design suites convey a sense of Amazon tranquility, while the social spaces showcase refined elegance with a touch of drama. Tastefully woven into the design are accents and details from the rubber boom era and the colorful cultures of Portugal, Spain, and Peru.
Presenting 20 design suites (including 4 sets of interconnecting suites), accommodation on the most luxurious ship in the Amazon features premium fittings and bedding, as well as air-conditioning and full-length windows to admire the endlessly enthralling panorama of the Amazon river and rainforest.
Aqua Nera operates alongside the Aria Amazon, taking guests into the depths of the Peruvian Amazon in the comfort of luxury. The cruise features cuisine by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s finest chefs, who is celebrated for creating refined cuisine from native Amazonian produce. Every day, expert naturalist guides conduct small-group excursions that reward guests with up-close wildlife encounters in the world’s most biodiverse rainforest.
Get a taste of the most biodiverse rainforest in the world aboard the Aria Amazon or Aqua Nera. Begin your journey in Iquitos, a rustic city which is the beating commercial heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Our 3-night itineraries focuses on the Marañon, the Amazon River’s largest tributary, as well as other neighboring waterways, the Yarapa and Yanayacu-Pucate. Discover the habitats of these nutrient-rich waterbodies and how they — and the lush jungle around them — support a vast array of wildlife.
Having grown up on the Amazon’s riverbanks, our experienced naturalist guides not only help guests spot and zoom in on wildlife during excursions, they readily share deep insights about their behavior and the jungle’s many secrets and fascinating truths — ingredients for a truly rewarding Amazon journey.
Our guides’ keen instincts aside, chances of encountering wildlife with Aqua Expeditions are also maximized with small-group explorations in groups of no larger than 8 aboard Aria Amazon. Fishing, kayaking and canoeing are also part of the quintessential Amazon experience, along with local village and market visits.
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