Spring 2016 Ellen and I are going to South America, specifically Ecuador and Peru. We are in the planning stage of our trip. We have booked a ten day “expedition” to the Galapagos. After flying all the way to Ecuador, why not explore Ecuador and Peru too? We have the time. Here’s my plan, assuming Ellen is ok with it. We will visit Banos, Ecuador; Tumbes, Lima, and Cusco Peru; and take excursions from Cusco to Manu, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. It would be great to visit Nazca, but it is out of the way and not worth three days of our time.
Our Galapagos trip will be through a National Geographic Expedition. Our itinerary is preset. We fly into Guayaquil, meet up with the expedition. Ten days later we fly back to Guayaquil from one of the islands. The itinerary below can change.
Banos is a tourist destination high in the Andes and about six hours from Guayaquil by bus. The name Banos, bath, comes from the famous hydrothermal springs in the area. Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador. I’ll check out zip-lining here. Banos is also known for its waterfalls. If we opt to visit banos, we will take a bus from Guayaquil to Banos, stay for a few days, and return to Guayaquil. My research suggests that the city of Banos is flat and easily walkable. Still unknown is how to get from Banos to Pailon de diablo. Getting back to Guayaquil, we will probably stay overnight in a boutique hotel before heading on to Tumbes.
There are no direct flights from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru. Flights hop Guayaquil to Quito to Lima. It is more direct to take a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes, a beach town just across the border into Peru. There are a variety of buses that run between Guayaquil and Tumbes and from Tumbes we can take a domestic flight to Lima. The border crossing between Huaquillas, Ecuador and Tumbes, Peru is sketchy and best not done on foot without help. My research suggests a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes avoids the scammers “helping” tourists cross into Peru.
From Tumbes we will head to Lima, probably by plane. We may stay a few days in Lima on the way out or on the way back. I have not researched Lima.
Cusco, high in the Andes, is the gateway to the Inca Sacred Grounds and to the Amazon Rain Forest. Cusco sits at 11,200 feet where altitude sickness can ruin a vacation. There are numerous posts about people who have died while visiting the Andes.
We plan to stay in Cusco for a few days to acclimatize. Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Manu are at a lower altitude.
We plan to take tours of these remarkable sites (see below). There are a vast number of tours that range in price from extremely inexpensive to remarkably expensive. I would love to take the Hiram Bingham luxury train from Machu Picchu (MP) to Cusco for example. Most tours of MP are single day excursions from Cusco. There are a number of hotels in Aguas Calientes which are quite close to MP making two days at MP feasible. Safari Experts can tailor a tour for us though I think I would rather go “own plans”. Here is their itinerary:
the Sacred Valley
For now that is how our adventure stands. We are considering the order of excursions to MP, the Sacred Valley, and Manu. Should we visit Manu first or last and for how many days? This is not a bad problem to have! It’s fun…
Happy Trails To You…