ROUTE OF THE INCA: PERU TO BOLIVIA

11 Days/10 Nights Departs Mon., Wed., & Fri., from Lima

The history of the Incan Empire, belongs to both Peru and Bolivia. Follow the route of the Incas from Lima to La Paz and see where these ancient peoples lived.

Scenic view of Machu Picchu in morning light

Scenic view of Machu Picchu in morning light

Day 1 Arrive Lima: Begin your journey in Lima, Peru’s coastal capital city founded by the Spaniard Pizarro in 1535. Lima, with its historic buildings and museums, offers visitors an introduction to the colonial history of Peru. Airport greeting and transfer to Miraflores (suburb of Lima) to your selected hotel. (Accommodations, Lima)

Day 2 Lima: After breakfast, you will be picked up for a half-day city tour of Lima. The three-hour sightseeing tour offers the best of modern and colonial Lima. It includes visits to the Government Palace, The Plaza Mayor, City Hall, and the 17th century San Francisco Monastery, followed by a drive through the modern suburb of San Isidro, with a stop at the pre-Inca pyramid of Huaca Huallamarca. Afternoon at leisure to explore, or arrange an optional tour. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Lima)

Day 3 Sacred Valley: Transfer to the airport for an early morning flight (departure from Lima will be between 6:00 – 7:30 am; the flight time is 75 minutes) to the ancient imperial capital of Cuzco. Situated at an altitude of 11,200 ft., Cuzco reflects both the Incan and Spanish cultures. Airport greeting and transfer by minivan to your hotel in the Sacred Valley. Experience an unforgettable view as you cross over the mountain from Cuzco and drop down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The road follows the meandering Urubamba River and passes through rich agricultural lands and picturesque villages. Enroute you will have a private excursion to Pisac Market and the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo, including lunch. Late afternoon arrival at your selected hotel. Overnight. (Breakfast, Lima; Lunch, Ollantaytambo; Accommodations, Sacred Valley)

Day 4 Arrive Machu Picchu: After breakfast, transfer to the Ollantaytambo Train Station to board the Vistadome trainto the village of Aguas Calientes in the valley below Machu Picchu. There you will board a bus that will take you up the switchback road to the legendary “Lost City of the Incas”. Enjoy a guided tour of the Ruins, followed by lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. Rest of afternoon at leisure to explore the ruins, before returning by bus to Aguas Calientes. (Breakfast, Sacred Valley; Lunch, Accommodations, Machu Picchu)

Day 5 Machu Picchu: Morning at leisure to return to Machu Picchu. The bus departs from the Puente Ruinas station every 10 minutes, beginning at 5:30 am. Mid-afternoon return to Ollantaytambo Train Station. Continue to Cuzco by bus, arriving in the early evening. Transfer to your selected hotel. (Breakfast, Machu Picchu; Accommodations, Cuzco)

Day 6 Cuzco: Morning at leisure. Afternoon city tour of Cuzco includes a visit to the Koricancha Temple and the Cathedral, followed by a visit to the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Puca-Pucara and the Tambomachay ruins. After the tour, explore the city on your own. Cuzco is a city of plazas and colonial buildings with red tile roofs. Walk the City’s ancient cobblestone streets, lined with the massive stone walls that are an Incan legacy. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Cuzco)

Day 7 Arrive Puno: Puno is situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca with an altitude of 12,400 ft. Puno and the surrounding area are believed to be the legendary birthplace of the founders of the Inca empire, as well as the cradle of civilization of the Aymara Indians. Puno is also the gateway for exploring Lake Titicaca, one of the world’s highest navigable lakes. Upon arrival in Puno, transfer from the train station to your selected hotel for overnight. (Breakfast, Cuzco; Accommodations, Puno)

Day 8 Lake Titicaca: After breakfast, transfer from your Puno hotel by bus to Juli Harbour. Visit the Church of Juli, and a local Indian market, before boarding a hydrofoil on Lake Titicaca. Visit Moon Island and the ruins of Inak Uyu, the Sun Virgins’ Temple. Here the most beautiful Incan maidens gathered to become the wives of the Inca nobles. Continue to Sun Island where you will visit Pilcocaina Sun Temple and enjoy a llama trek on Inca trails. Visit the Inca Staircase and Sacred Fountain to taste the sacred water believed to give eternal youth and happiness. Enjoy lunch at “Uma Kollu” restaurant. Afternoon hydrofoil cruise to the Taquina Straits where you will see fishermen in their Titicaca reed boats, with a stop at Quewaya Island, one of the Urus Iruitos Floating Islands. The Urus-Iruitos culture dates back to 5000 B.C. There are currently 32 families participating in the Quewaya Sustainable Tourism Project where the local community produces vegetables in greenhouses. Here you will have a superb view of the Royal Range of the Andes. In the evening, visit the “Mystic World of the Kallawayas”. The Kallawayas are the native healers of Bolivia. They believe that you have first to heal the soul in order to heal the body. Meet “Tata Benjo” who will read your future as he casts his sacred coca leaves. After your busy day, relax and enjoy a candlelight dinner. Overnight Inca Utama Hotel and Spa. (Breakfast, Puno; Lunch, Uma Kollu; Accommodations, Utama Hotel and Spa)

Day 9 Lake Titicaca: Morning hydrofoil cruise to Pariti Island. A new archaeological discovery on Lake Titicaca, the Aymara Empire which governed from 850 BC to 1300 AD, selected this island for important ceremonies and transcendental meetings. A new local museum displays fine Tiwanaku ceramic pieces from that period. Continue by motorboat through Totora Reed canals to KALAUTA ISLAND. Visit the Island’s Chullpas-Burial Towers- and stone village. Return to Huatajata to the Inca Utama Hotel. A special attraction at the hotel is the Andean Roots Cultural Complex, a living museum set up to preserve the local traditions and culture of the Andean people. It is a unique interpretation center that includes the Altiplano Museum (with its state-of-the-art audio system), the nativechapel, a botanical garden, and an artisan and fishing village where you can observe traditional techniques. There is also a museum dedicated to the culture of the Urus Chipaya civilization, where you will see the mud igloos and floating islands of this civilization dating back to the last glacial period. Lake Titicaca is known for its reed boats, and you may be able to meet the Limachi Brothers, builders of RA II, and Tigris, the reed boats Thor Heyerdahl used in his expeditions. There is a full size replica of the RA II here. If you feel like pampering yourself, you can arrange optional treatments at the Kallawaya Natural Spa, which offers a sauna, Jacuzzi, gym, coca cream massages, and other natural medicine treatments for stress and relaxation. After dinner, visit the Alajpacha Observatory for a memorable cosmic experience. Overnight Inca Utama Hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Accommodation, Inca Utama)

Day 10 La Paz: Morning visit to the pre-Incan ruins of Tiwanacu, once an important ceremonial center. During the height of this civilization it was believed that it was a major population center with a highly advanced culture. Continue to La Paz for an afternoon city tour, including a visit to Moon Valley with its interesting rock formations, as well as a visit to the Indian Market. Overnight at Presidente Hotel. (Breakfast, Inca Utama; Lunch, Accommodations, Presidente Hotel)

Day 11 Depart La Paz: Transfer to airport for flight home. (Breakfast, Presidente Hotel)

For more information and reservations, please contact Ana.

Ana Estrada
Travel Curator
Delray Beach, FL

(561) 251-7660
anaestrada.delray@gmail.com

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Moray Inca's ruins, in Peru

Moray Inca’s ruins, in Peru

ULTIMATE CHILE: SANTIAGO, EASTER ISLAND, &
PUERTO NATALES

10 Days/9 Nights Departs daily from Santiago

Long and narrow, Chile has a great diversity of landscapes. Experience the sophistication of Santiago, the mysteries of Easter Island, and the wonders of Patagonia.

Viewed on Cerro Concepcion, Valparaiso historic World Heritage of UNESCO, with Pacific Ocean in background

Viewed on Cerro Concepcion, Valparaiso historic World Heritage of UNESCO, with Pacific Ocean in background

Day 1 Arrive Santiago: Fronting the snow capped Andes; the Chilean capital is a blend of colonial and modern architecture. There are lovely parks and gardens, excellent museums, fine restaurants and great shopping. Arrival greeting and transfer to your selected hotel. (Accommodations, Santiago)

Day 2 Santiago: City tour of Santiago. This tour includes the main landmarks in the city of Santiago, such as Avenida Bernardo O’Higgins, Santa Lucia Hill, Barrio Lastarria, the La Moneda Palace, the Santiago City Hall, the Cathedral, the old financial district, and the urban park, Parque Forestal, the confines of which hold the lovely Museum of Fine Arts building. After these sights, you will board a cable car and ride to the top of San Cristobal Hill for a real treat: a panoramic view of the city of Santiago. Last, but not least, you will take a tour of the new financial district, cleverly known as “Sanhattan”, located at the highest point in the city. The area is an incredible contrast to the early morning with its modern architecture. You will return to your hotel afterward. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Santiago)

Day 3 Santiago to Easter Island: Transfer to the airport for a 5 hour flight (not included) to Easter Island in the South Pacific, one of the most remote islands in the world. Airport greeting and transfer to hotel. Relax by the pool, go to the beach or start exploring on your own. Dinner and overnight in Rapa Nui (Polynesian name for Easter Island). (Breakfast, Santiago; Accommodations, Easter Island)

Day 4 Easter Island: Your guide for an all-day tour around the small island meets you at the hotel. Learn the legends of this isolated island’s colonization by Polynesian navigators and the first king (ariki), Hotu Matu’a. Visit the beach where he (Breakfast, Accommodations, Easter Island)

Day 5 Easter Island: Your morning tour, called “Looking at the Stars”, focuses on the central part of the island and its astronomicallyoriented ahu (altars) and moai, created during the end of the prosperous Ahu Moai era. Visit Ahu Huri a Urenga, Ahu a Kivi, Ahu Vai Teka and the quarry Puna Pau, where the red volcanic rock was mined thatcrowned the head of some moia. Lunch at the hotel. The afternoon tour, “Power of the Birdman”, explains the next era of Rapa Nui’s history, the cult of the birdman. Visit the sites of the annual ceremonies, where men swam through shark-infested waters to be the first to claim an egg from the manutara bird (sooty tern) on an islet, Motu Nui. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Easter Island)

Day 6 Easter Island to Santiago: Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Santiago. Take the day to relax or explore with one of our optional tours. (Breakfast, Easter Island; Accommodations, Santiago)

Day 7 Santiago to Puerto Natales: Transfer to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas (we recommend arriving into Punta Arenas by 1:00 pm or earlier to connect to a 1:00 pm or 2:30 pm bus), and then transfer to the bus terminal where you will board a regular scheduled bus to Puerto Natales. The journey takes you past large estancias and fields of grazing sheep, with mountains far away on the horizon. You will be met at the bus station and transferred to your hotel with a view of the Sound. (Breakfast, Santiago; Accommodations, Puerto Natales)

Day 8 Puerto Natales: After breakfast, depart for a full day tour to Torres del Paine National Park. From Puerto Natales, the scenery becomes even more spectacular and the 2-½ hour journey passes quickly. Once inside the Park, the road passes lagoons and grassy hills with grazing herds of Guanacos. It is easy to spot flocks of the ostrich-like Rheas known as Nandu, and if you are lucky, Condors flying overhead. The crown jewels of the park are the three sheer granite towers, the Towers of Paine, which dominate the landscape. In the late afternoon, transfer to your selected hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Accommodations, Puerto Natales)

Day 9 Puerto Natales: After breakfast, depart for a full day tour. The Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers are located inside Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, which is located 31 miles to the Northwest of Puerto Natales and it is part of the Andean mountain range. The trip begins in the port of Puerto Natales, and on the way can be seen the building that belonged to “Frigorifico Bories”, which was one of the largest meat packing plants in Patagonia, also can be seen a little colony of Cormorants and a little colony of Sea lions. The flora is dominated by different species of beech trees, Calafate, Chilco and Canelo among others. The Balmaceda glacier can be seen from the boat, instead to visit the Serrano glacier is necessary to walk for 20 minutes on a path bordering a calving lake originated by the melting of the glacier. (Breakfast, Lunch, Accommodations, Puerto Natales)

Day 10 Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas: After breakfast, transfer to Punta Arenas before contiuning on to your next Avantu destination. (Breakfast, Puerto Natales)

For more information and reservations, please contact Ana.

Ana Estrada
Travel Curator
Delray Beach, FL

(561) 251-7660
anaestrada.delray@gmail.com

Request Info

EasterIsland

WEEKEND IN HAVANA

5 Days/4 Nights Departs from Ft Lauderdale

View of Hotel Nacional among green palm trees in Havana. Cuba

Day 1 – Friday Ft. Lauderdale / Havana: Check in this morning at the Ft Lauderdale airport for our commercial charter flight via Jet Blue to Havana. We are met at the airport in Havana by our guide and drive along the outskirts of Havana to lunch at Paladar IL Divino, which is considered by many as one of the best private restaurants in Cuba. Paladar owners are truly Cuba’s new breed of entrepreneurs and during visits to these restaurants you meet the owners and are free to discuss the impact of private business on Cuba’s economy. We also visit the garden that supplies fresh vegetables and other ingredients to the restaurant. Nearby in San Francisco de Paula we pay homage to “Papa” Hemingway at his former home Finca Vigia, preserved almost as it was on the day of his death. Hemingway’s boat Pilar has been restored and is also on display. We have an expert Cuban guide to tell us the history of the home and about Hemingway’s time in Cuba. Then we drive into Havana and check into our hotel, either the Saratoga or Hotel Parque Central. This evening we have a special welcome reception and dinner at the exclusive beachfront Club Habana, which was once the Havana Biltmore Yacht & Country Club. On the grounds of Club Habana is La Casa del Habano, which is one of the top cigar shops in Havana. (L,D)

Day 2 – Saturday Havana: This morning we visit a Cuban cigar factory, which is a journey back in time. There you will see scores of workers, each making cigars entirely by hand. It’s an unrushed, antique and artisanal process, one that has not changed in any major way for hundreds of years. Today we also learn more about the classic cars of Cuba and how they are maintained, repaired, bought and sold. There is a local saying that “Cuban mechanics work magic” and our visit to a Cuban auto mechanic’s shop will demonstrate why this saying seems so. Lunch is at Paladar Rio Mar, one of the best restaurants for food and the amazing view of the Almendares River mouth entering Havana Bay. In the afternoon we visit an artist’s studio to learn about her life and work. This evening we enjoy dinner at another of Havana’s fine private restaurants such as L’ Atelier, a paladar in a Vedado neighborhood mansion decorated with wonderful contemporary Cuban art. La Chansonnier and San Cristobal are also good choices. Those who wish to have an even later night out may consider going to the famous Tropicana nightclub, which can be arranged. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Sunday Havana: This will be a full day and we begin it by cruising around Havana in classic American cars from the 1950s to get a better overview of the city and the different neighborhoods. We make a stop at Cementerio de Colon to see some of the vast array of monuments and works of art in architecture located here. Designed by Spanish architect Calixto de Loira in the mid-1800s, it is laid out in grids around a central chapel a short visit here gives a great sense of the history of Havana’s wealth and love of artistic expression over the centuries. We continue past the University of Havana into Central Havana on our way to the old Capitol building where we slowly cruise past the Grand Theater, Central Park and along the Paseo del Prado, a wide avenue separating Old Havana from the central city. Paved in marble, this promenade is a popular place for locals to relax while children play. We see numerous art deco buildings, including the famous Barcardi Building stopping at Sloppy Joes for a drink and for some Hemingway history. Lunch is nearby and desert is at a place famous for ice cream called Helad’Oro. Then when there aren’t such large crowds of tourists we go for a walk through the historic squares of Old Havana that we did not see yesterday. Some plazas are famous for book sellers lining the edges of the park and others are known for art and music. We see Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for years. The hotel served as a refuge for writing such works as For Whom the Bell Tolls and as a base for frequenting his favorite bars. You have a moment to see the room where Hemingway worked if you wish and then time to enjoy a mojito on the rooftop terrace. Dinner is on our own tonight so some may want to leisurely stroll back to the hotel along Obispo Street, a lively pedestrian boulevard in the middle of Old Havana, to the Floridita, a bar famous as Hemingway’s favorite and known as the Cradle of the Daiquiri. Others could continue to Plaza Vieja and retreat to Factoria Plaza Vieja, Cuba’s only microbrewery. Enjoy a frosty glass of light, medium or dark beer made with Austrian-imported ingredients. There are many restaurants in Old Havana if you choose to dine here. Music is very important to Cubans and the jazz clubs are popular especially on Sunday nights. One of the newest, and hottest spots is Fabrica de Arte Cubana (F.A.C.) but the action tends to start late at night. (B,L)

Day 4 – Monday Havana:We begin our day with a visit to the popular dance company Havana Queen or to Habana Compas Dance in their headquarters in the Marianao district of Havana. Compas Dance is a private school of dance that is famous for its modern dance troupe. We meet dancers,view training session and a rehearsal rich in history, powerful percussion and unique dance styles. Next we meet a local chef who accompanies us on an exploratory journey through a Cuban food market where local people buy their produce in CUC or Cuban pesos. Our chef will point out locally grown vegetables, tropical fruits, spices, herbs and explain their uses in the Cuban kitchen. With food being so scarce in Cuba it takes real magic to get all the ingredients needed for a single recipe. We have a late lunch with our chef and the remainder of the day is available for further exploration. Some may wish to visit Havana’s largest arts and crafts market located directly next door to a repository of important automobiles in Cuban history or to relax back at the hotel before a nice evening out. We start with drinks at the historic Hotel Nacional in the gardens overlooking the sea. Then we drive in classic cars along the Malecon and across the bay for views of sunset and Havana coming to life in the early evening. We have dinner at Paladar La California where we meet the owner who also happens to be a classic car enthusiast. We end the evening with a revue of Buena Vista Social Club music. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Tuesday Havana / Miami: We leave the hotel this morning and drive to the airport in Havana to check in for our flight to Miami where we clear customs and continue home. (B)

For more information and reservations, please contact Ana.

Ana Estrada
Travel Curator
Delray Beach, FL

(561) 251-7660
anaestrada.delray@gmail.com

Request Info

Depositphotos_37626309_s-2015

COSTA RICA EXPLORER: ARENAL, MONTEVERDE,  
& GUANACASTE 

9 Days/8 Nights Departs Daily from San José or Guanacaste

Combine two of Costa Rica’s most popular attractions, Arenal and Monteverde, with a stay at a Guanacaste beach resort, and you will experience the vast uniqueness of this beautiful country. Experience the highlights of its natural attractions with a hot springs soak, a treetop adventure, and beautiful beaches.

Aerial view of the city of San Jose, in Costa Rica

Aerial view of the city of San Jose, in Costa Rica

Day 1 Arrive San Jose: After you collect your luggage and clear customs you will be met outside the terminal by our local representative, who will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be transferred by van to Arenal, a scenic 3-½ hour drive from San Jose. The road winds through the picturesque little towns of the Alajuela province and through rolling green hills of pastureland and coffee plantations. After passing through the small town of Fortuna, you will anxiously await your first glimpse of the perfect cone-shaped Arenal Volcano, which on a clear day is an unforgettable sight. Located at the foot of the volcano is the beautiful Arenal Lake, a 24 mile long reservoir. Your transfer will end at your selected Arenal hotel. Overnight. Note: car rentals are also available. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Arenal)

Day 2 Arenal: After breakfast, experience the tropical forest on your Hanging Bridges Tour. Learn about the natural environment walking through natural trails and hanging bridges that offer impressive views of the volcano and offer the opportunity to observe a great variety of birds, flora and fauna. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Arenal)

Day 3 Arenal: Day at leisure. You can arrange one of our optional tours – rafting, kayaking, ziplining, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, or a hiking tour. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Arenal)

Day 4 Arenal to Monteverde: After breakfast, depart for Monteverde. The three-hour journey is an adventure in itself! You will be transferred to the lakeshore of Arenal for a boat ride, where you will have the opportunity to see the Arenal Volcano for the last time. From the dock continue by mini-van. The scenery is varied and interesting and the road does twist and turn. As you get closer to Monteverde, you are surrounded by rolling green hills and on a clear day you can see the Gulf of Nicoya. On the way to your selected hotel, you will pass through the town of Santa Elena, and the Monteverde community with its hotels, restaurants and galleries. (Breakfast, Arenal; Accommodations, Monteverde)

Day 5 Monteverde: The morning begins with breakfast, followed by a visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a world-famous privately owned wildlife reserve. Monteverde is located on the Continental Divide and is called a cloud forest because of its altitude, micro-climate and topography. This mist-covered forest has over 100 species of mammals, over 400 species of birds, and more than 2000 plant species have been cataloged at Monteverde. With your naturalist guide you will explore the trails of the Reserve. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the elusive quetzal with its beautiful tail feathers. Return to the Lodge for lunch, and in the afternoon you will visit the Butterfly Garden at Selvatura, where you will see butterflies native to the Monteverde area and learn about their life cycles. Then you will have a choice between two exciting half-day tours: the Treetop Walkways or the Canopy Tour [see right for descriptions]. Return to your hotel to overnight. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Monteverde).

Day 6 Guanacaste: After breakfast (between 8:00 – 9:30 am) transfer by van from Monteverde to the Guanacaste beach area. The four-hour drive will take you from the misty hills of Monteverde to the lowlands of the North Pacific, the driest region in the country. Continue to the coast to your selected Guanacaste beach resort. (Breakfast, Monteverde; Accommodations, Guanacaste)

Day 7 and 8 Guanacaste: Days at leisure to relax by the pool, walk along the beach, or arrange optional tours. Activities that can be arranged locally include horseback riding, sports fishing, kayaking, sailing, and diving. (Breakfast, Accommodations, Guanacaste)

Day 9 Depart Guanacaste: Transfer to the Liberia Airport for your return flight. (Breakfast, Guanacaste)

Optional Monteverde Tours:

Treetop Walkways: This is a series of suspended bridges and paths built within the Monteverde Cloud Forest. This tour gives you a vision of the forest from a different perspective, allowing the observation of flora and fauna from ground level all the way to the treetops. It starts with a walk on the ground through the forest, then takes you to the tops of the trees — the Cloud Forest Canopy, a world which is very close yet unknown to most.

Canopy Tour: This tour uses a system of 18 platforms suspended above the ground. Zip lines attached from one platform to another allow you to slide with the use of special equipment through the forest. This tour gives you access to a world of incomparable beauty—an unforgettable experience!

For more information and reservations, please contact Ana.

Ana Estrada
Travel Curator
Delray Beach, FL

(561) 251-7660
anaestrada.delray@gmail.com

Request Info

A beach in the Golfo de Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

A beach in the Golfo de Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica