Northern Grand Tour
a journey through the northern Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia
This 19 day itinerary travels through some of the countries which once made up Simon Bolivar's 'Gran Colombia' and ends on the Caribbean. It is a wonderful introduction to South America and is best from April to November.
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Peru: Lima and the Sacred Valley
Days 1-3: After a night in Lima, home to some of South America's best restaurants, shops and museums, fly to Cusco and transfer into the picturesque Sacred Valley for two nights. At around 2,000m it is the perfect place to acclimatise, with colourful markets and well preserved ruins, including the Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo. For those who prefer more of a thrill, the Sacred Valley has plenty of adrenaline activities, including white water rafting, mountain biking and even stand-up paddle boarding!
Day 4: Board the morning train from Ollantaytambo, travelling alongside the rushing Urubamba river, to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. After a guided tour of the site, spend a night up at the ruins or in the town of Aguas Calientes.
Days 5-6: You will have the morning to further explore the site before taking the afternoon train back to Cusco for two nights in the ancient Inca capital. The city has a fascinating mixture of colonial and Inca architecture, fine restaurants, good museums and many interesting excursions in the surroundings.
Peru and Bolivia: Lake Titicaca
Days 7-9: A 10 hour journey on the Peru Rail Titicaca train takes you to the lakeshore town of Puno (or take the tourist bus that stops at points of interest along the way and departs daily). Spend two nights on the shores of the world's highest navigable lake and take a day trip to the interesting floating reed islands of Uros and remoter Taquile, known for its fine weaving and stone arches. The Bolivian side of the lake is home to the famous Isla del Sol (Sun Island) and a night on the island will give you the opportunity to appreciate the wonderful views towards the Altiplano and explore its ancient Inca ruins.
Days 10-11: A short drive south of Lake Tititica is the world's highest capital city, La Paz. At 3,600m it is sprawled across a valley surrounded by the mountains of the Altiplano. The city is full of history, there are some fascinating markets (El Mercado de las Brujas, the 'witches market' is the most famous) and museums, and outside the city is the intriguing Moon Valley, with its wonderful rock formations.
Days 12-15: Fly to Quito (via Lima - flight connections may mean a night in Lima is needed), Ecuador's capital and your base for the next four nights. Surrounded by volcanoes the city is full of cobblestone streets, parks, plazas and boasts some wonderful colonial architecture, particularly in the old-town (a UNESCO World Heritage site). North of Quito is the picturesque market town of Otavalo and south is the impressive Cotopaxi volcano, one of the highest and most active on earth. To the west is the cloud-forest, a birdwatchers' paradise and east the Amazon rainforest is a short flight away. All are accessed from Quito but you will need longer to visit the Amazon.
Days 16-19: Fly to Cartagena de Indias (via Bogotá) for three nights on the Carribean coast. The beautiful colonial city is deservedly one of the main tourist attractions in Colombia with its series of forts and walls around the old city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearby, the Islas del Rosario make for a popular day trip, with good snorkelling. On your final day fly to Bogotá for onward connections.
In the following section you will see our suggested options for possible accommodation.
The estimated flight cost included in this itinerary (assuming international flights from the UK plus any internal flights that are necessary) is £1,920 per person.
Standard - £5,195
- Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel - close to the cathedral and town's main square.
- Casa India Catalina - A charming, simple hotel in the heart of Cartagena's old town.
- La Casona de la Ronda - on the lively La Ronda street and within walking distance of Quito's old-town.
- La Estancia - perched on Isla del Sol, with panoramic views of Lake Titicaca.
Price and validity notes
We have tried to give you as accurate an idea of prices as possible, including meals where appropriate (but not when there are good local options so you don't pay for a meal that you might not want), accommodation, transfers, and any tours we have included.
All prices are per person based on two people sharing a room and are intended as a guide (local high or low seasons can cause some variation). All prices were correct when published but may vary with exchange rate fluctuations, fuel surcharges, or changes in the general economic situation.