Leg 7, January 2022: Quito to Cuzco
Leg 7, January 2022: Quito to Cuzco

Leg 7, January 2022: Quito to Cuzco

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January 1st: Today will be a hangover day at the hostel in Quito, if that’s what you are into. For those who have the energy, now would be a good time to wash clothes and Skyping with family and friends as we will most likely not have internet the following days.

January 2nd: Today our journey begins with a drive to a village on the edge of the Amazon basin, near the town of Tena, where we will look for a lodge to stay at for the next few nights.

January 3rd: Over the next two days our plan is to head into the Amazon jungle, enjoying rainforest treks exploring the nearby waterfalls and caves, and trips down the Napo River in motorised dugout canoes, hopefully spotting plenty of wildlife on the way. We will also see some ancient fossils and petroglyphs, and visit a local Quichua community.

January 4th: This will be our second day in the jungle

January 5th: Today we will drive through the highlands of Ecuador, arriving in Rio Verde near the famous Tungurahua volcano.

January 6th: We will have two full days of free time to take part in a range of optional activities in Rio Verde, such as white-water rafting, trekking, canyoning, cycling, and other options. We will also have the opportunity to visit the nearby town of Baños and its popular volcanic thermal springs.

January 7th: Second free day in Rio Verde

January 8th: Today we will drive to the remote village of Chugchilán, via the spectacular highland scenery along the road of the 'Quilotoa Loop'.

January 9th: Today is a free day in Chugchilán to enjoy optional activities such as mountain biking or horseback riding.

January 10th: Today we will drive along the remainder of the Quilotoa Loop and then head south to the beautiful colonial town of Cuenca. We will pass through the stunning landscape of the Cajas National Park en route.

January 11th: Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Cuenca. The town is the birthplace of the famous Panama Hat, and we will have the opportunity today to visit one of the factories to learn about the manufacturing process.

January 12th: Today we will have a full driving day south, crossing the border into northern Peru.

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Huaquillas, enter Peru at Tumbes.

January 13th: Today we have a full day to relax on the beach and enjoy some activities in and around the stunning coastal area of Punta Sal.

January 14th: Today we will have a full day's drive to Huanchaco, near the city of Trujillo.

January 15th: Today we will try to find a guided trip to explore the enormous adobe ruins of Chan Chan and the world-famous Moche archaeological site of Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).

January 16th: Today we will have a spectacular drive up the winding roads of the 'Casma Route' into the Cordillera Blanca section of the high Andes, reaching the mountain town of Huaraz.

January 17th: We have two days in the spectacular area of the Cordillera Blanca for exploration and optional activities such as visiting the incredible pre-Inca ruins of Chavín de Huantar or trekking and climbing to the nearby lakes and glaciers.

January 18th: Enjoy a second free day in Huaraz

January 19th: Today we will have another full day's drive back to the coast via the 'Paramonga Route' and then on to the enormous Peruvian capital of Lima.

January 20th: Today will be a free day to explore the markets, churches etc of Lima.

January 21st: Today we will have a very early start to leave Lima before the rush hour, and drive 270kms south to Paracas. There we will look for one of the local boats for an included trip to the Ballestas Islands (also known as the Poor Mans Galapagos) to view its incredible array of resident wildlife and birds.

After lunch, we will continue south to arrive at the stunning desert oasis town of Huacachina, where we have the option to head out for an evening of sand boarding and dune buggying.

January 22nd: Today we continue south to the world-famous village of Nazca, the location of the mysterious Nazca Lines. On the drive, we will stop at a viewing platform to get a glimpse of some of these lines. The Nazca Lines are a series of figures, lines, and geometric shapes that were etched into the ground of the desert plateau over a thousand years ago by the ancient Nazca culture, and their purpose is still unknown to this day.

In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to take an optional 30-minute flight over the Nazca Lines in a small aircraft - this is by far the best way of seeing the figures. 

January 23rd: This morning we head south of Nazca, and have a visit to the nearby ancient sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Cahuachi Pyramid, thought to have once been the religious centre of the Nazca civilisation.

In the afternoon we will continue our drive to the coastal resort of Puerto Inca.

January 24th: Today we will start our drive inland, and head uphill to the beautiful 'White City' of Arequipa.

January 25th: Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Arequipa, or for some optional activities in and around the city.

January 26th: Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Arequipa, or for some optional activities in and around the city.

January 27th: This morning we will head out on a short drive to some of the best viewpoints along the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world! The canyon is famous for its resident condors, and we will spend a good amount of time at the viewpoints to give ourselves the best chance of spotting them. We will have a free afternoon to explore Chivay, and possibly take an optional trip to the nearby hot springs.

January 28th: Today we will drive through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian highlands to the small village of Raqchi. Here we will stay at a homestay as guests of the local villagers in their traditional family homes. The houses are very clean and have basic facilities. This evening the villagers will invite us to take part in a traditional Quechua religious ceremony, and we'll have some lively music from some of the village's musicians.

January 29th: This morning we will visit the Inca ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, and then see a pottery demonstration at a local artisan centre.

In the afternoon we will drive to the incredible historical city of Cuzco, the former Inca capital.

January 30th: The day will be free to explore the wonderful city of Cuzco, discover its many historical gems, or to take part in number of optional activities near the city.

January 31st: Second free day in Cuzco. What about doing a bungee jump? Cuzco is also a good place to party and try Guinea Pig if you are into that. Or Qui as the locals call it.

Border information: if you are joining in Cuzco, you will most likely enter Peru at Cuzco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (IATA code: CUZ).