Breakfast daily, 6 lunches, 12 three-course dinners including a welcome dinner, churrascaria dinner with Samba show in Rio, steak dinner with Tango show in Buenos Aires, and a farewell dinner in Cusco
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Welcome to South America’s largest and most populous country. This afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow traveling companions for a drive along famous Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches to the base of 1,300-foot-high SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN. Ascend by cable car to its summit, where you can savor spectacular vistas of the city. Next, [LF] toast the start of a memorable vacation with caipirinhas, a favorite Brazilian cocktail, from atop Sugar Loaf Mountain during a cocktail party. Cap off the evening with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Rio de Janeiro. A full day at leisure to savor Rio. Relax on one of the world-famous beaches or take advantage of the world-class shopping or fine dining. Alternatively, you may choose to join an optional trip to historic Petropolis, a mountain resort and the former summer palace of Emperor Dom Pedro II.
Rio de Janeiro. The city’s landmark, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, crowns CORCOVADO MOUNTAIN, a rounded peak rising 2,300 feet from the bay below. A scenic ride by cog railway leads to the top, where a breathtaking 360-degree panorama affords sweeping views. From here, proceed to bustling downtown Rio, where modern office towers stand next to relics of the Portuguese colonial past. View the Sambodromo and visit the CATHEDRAL. The afternoon is at leisure for you to experience this vibrant city on your own. Tonight, it’s a fun outing to a CHURRASCARIA for a feast of barbecued meats marinated and roasted over charcoal in true Brazilian style, followed by a SAMBA SHOW, where the sheer vitality of this country explodes in a colorful extravaganza.
Rio de Janeiro–Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fly to Buenos Aires, proud capital of the vast country that occupies most of the southern part of the continent. After arriving at your central hotel, an orientation walk acquaints you with the “Paris of South America” and its wide boulevards and outdoor cafés. Spend an evening at leisure.
Buenos Aires. Your included sightseeing this morning starts in La Boca, a colorful district and site of the city’s first port. Take a short walking TOUR of this unique neighborhood at the mouth of the river and then on to San Telmo, famous for its late-colonial buildings and as a popular gathering spot for artists. At the Plaza de Mayo, see La Casa Rosada (the President’s Pink House) and the METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL, which houses San Martin’s Mausoleum. Drive past the ornate Colon Opera House before reaching the RECOLETA CEMETERY, burial site of Eva Peron. After an afternoon at leisure, top off the evening at a famous TANGO CLUB. Start with a [LF] DANCE LESSON, followed by dinner of Argentine steaks and other local specialties, and end with a show featuring flawless performances of Latin America’s most sensuous dance—the Tango!
Buenos Aires. Enjoy a full day at leisure, with an optional excursion to the pampas (grasslands). Experience the atmosphere of Argentine country life as you visit an estancia (ranch). Get acquainted with the lifestyle of the gauchos and enjoy a barbecue lunch and the warm hospitality of your hosts before returning to the city.
Buenos Aires–Iguassu Falls. This morning, fly to IGUASSU FALLS. The spectacle of this 2-mile-wide torrential downpour—with some cataracts as high as 250 feet—is nothing short of hypnotic. The clouds of spray, the incessant roar, and the surrounding luxuriant tropical growth make this an unforgettable natural wonder. Upon arrival, journey to the Argentinean side of the falls and take the ECOLOGICAL JUNGLE TRAIN for a bird’s-eye view from the catwalks perched over part of the Devil’s Throat, where 14 falls drop over 300 feet into the Devil’s Gorge below. Continue to your hotel this evening for an included dinner.
Iguassu Falls–Lima, Peru. Today is dedicated to exploring the Brazilian side of the FALLS from a completely different vantage point than in Argentina. A walk along the pathway at the base of the falls takes you into the Devil’s Throat Canyon, with spectacular panoramic views of many of the 275 cataracts that make up Iguassu Falls. Have a late lunch before flying to Lima, Peru. (B,L)
Lima. Your city sightseeing TOUR focuses on Lima’s rich colonial history as well as the modern city. See the 18th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its unique cloisters, Government Palace, and the cathedral situated around the vast Plaza de Armas. Tonight, visit the [LF] LARCO HERRERA MUSEUM, which houses the largest private collection of pre-Colombian Peruvian art in the world. Enjoy dinner at the museum’s restaurant.
Lima–Cusco–Sacred Valley. Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Head into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and visit the semi-circular KENKO Amphitheater with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages and see the ancient site of Puca Pucara. Also experience in the Sacred Valley an [LF] El Pago a la Tierra, or MOTHER EARTH CEREMONY, performed by a local shaman. These ceremonies thanking Mother Earth and asking for good health and safe travels have been practiced in Peru since before the arrival of the Incas. Continue to PISAC, an old mountain village where you will have free time to shop for local wares such as alpaca sweaters and blankets, jewelry, or hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Stay in the Sacred Valley tonight, with dinner at the hotel.
Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu. This morning, visit the Inca Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO, followed by the opportunity to visit a [LF] HOME, meet some of the locals, and experience their way of life in the Sacred Valley. Then, board the Vistadome TRAIN for a scenic journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Upon arrival, ascend the mountainside to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the “Lost City of the Incas.” Your Local Guide will introduce this intact fortress with its temple remains, holy houses, and mile-long aqueduct, and will bring you closer to the mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures. Tonight, learn how to make the perfect Pisco Sour at a Peruvian cooking demonstration before your included dinner.
Machu Picchu–Cusco. A morning at leisure in Machu Picchu allows you to wake up early to see the sunrise over MACHU PICCHU with your second included entrance to the ruins. After lunch, return to the Sacred Valley by TRAIN and continue to Cusco. (B,L)
Cusco. On your guided sightseeing tour of Cusco today, learn more about the Inca and Spanish influence. Begin at the heart of Cusco in the Plaza de Armas (main square), with a visit to the imposing CATHEDRAL, where construction began in 1550 and was finally completed 100 years later. Continue to Koricancha and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY, and see how the two sites have become one. The Temple of the Sun at Koricancha was once the most important Inca site, dedicated to the worship of the Sun. The walls, altars, and decorations were all said to be covered in gold—until the Spaniards looted the temple and then built the contrasting Baroque Santo Domingo Monastery on top of the temple’s foundations. Also visit the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Cusco–Lima. A short morning flight returns you to Lima. For a special treat, make a stop at a [LF] LOCAL PERUVIAN FOOD MARKET to get a real taste of the life of the local people. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore on your own.
Lima-Quito, Ecuador. Fly to Quito, where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Quito. On an included city tour, see INDEPENDENCE SQUARE with its CATHEDRAL and SAN FRANCISCO PLAZA CHURCH, and the BASILICA.
Quito–San Cristobal (Embarkation)–Galápagos Cruising. Take a morning flight to San Cristobal, one of the remote Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, board the Galápagos Legend for your 4-night CRUISE. On SAN CRISTOBAL, visit the INTERPRETATION CENTER with your Naturalist and learn about what makes the archipelago so unique. Next, a walk to TIJERETAS HILL brings you to a frigatebird nesting colony. (B,L,D)
Cruising: Española Island. Join your Naturalist for excursions to Gardner Bay and Punta Suárez on ESPAÑOLA ISLAND, one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. Here you will see the famous blowhole, as well as unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (Apr.-Dec.), Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and Darwin’s finches. Also look for red, green, and black marine iguanas and a rookery of sea lions right at the landing site. (B,L,D)
Cruising: Floreana Island. Today on FLOREANA ISLAND, join your Naturalist for an excursion to Post Office Bay, where a wood barrel has served as an informal post office since 1793. Darwin’s finches, lava lizards, and green sea turtles can be found here. Later, at Cormorant Point, walk to the brackish lagoon, home to a large flamingo population. Snorkeling from the beach provides a great opportunity to see reef fish, sea turtles, sea lions, and even white-tipped reef sharks! Occasionally, a small colony of penguins can also be seen on this island. (B,L,D)
Cruising: Santa Cruz Island. Journey into the highlands of SANTA CRUZ, where you will see the giant tortoises endemic to this island roaming in the wild. This afternoon, visit the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, established to help conserve the Galápagos’ natural habitats and the area’s famous giant tortoises. Spend time in Puerto Ayora before returning to the ship. (B,L,D)
Cruising: Daphne–Baltra (Disembarkation)-Guayaquil. This morning, circumnavigate DAPHNE, an eroded tuff cone formation, for an opportunity to see Darwin’s finches, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and brown noddies. Later, fly to Guayaquil.
Guayaquil. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.