Colombia Ecuador Peru Itinerary (PICTURE OF CITY LANDSCAPE)

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru Itinerary [2-Weeks to 2-Months]

Here's an expertly Colombia Ecuador Peru itinerary that can be adapted from two weeks to two months to help you see the very best of this region

Contents

How Long Do You Need To See Colombia, Ecuador and Peru?

I would recommend a minimum of 6-8 weeks to see Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. This gives you 2-3 weeks in each country. You won’t see everything each country has to offer but you will see the highlights.

 

 

For anything less than a month, I would recommend visiting only two countries instead of three. 

 

However, I’ve outlined in this post a 1-month and two-week itinerary for Colombia, Ecuador and Peru so you can see what can potentially be done in those times.

The Perfect 2-Month Colombia, Peru and Ecuador Itinerary

This two-month itinerary is for travellers without a budget. You’ll be seeing the very best of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru which requires tours and additional flights.

 

Here’s the quick breakdown of this two-month itinerary:

Week Country Highlights
1-3
Colombia
Bogota, Santa Marta, Palomino, Cartagena, Medellin
4
Ecuador
Quito, Cotopaxi National Park, Quilotoa, Banos
5
Galapagos Islands
San Cristobal Island, Santa Cruz Island
6-8
Peru
Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Arequipa, Puno, Cusco

Week 1-3 - Colombia

These 3 weeks in Colombia stick mainly to the Caribbean coast so you can enjoy the best weather and spend most of your time at the beach. 

Day City Highlights
1-3
Bogota
Walking Tour, Cerro Monserrate
4-6
Santa Marta
Minca, Tayrona National Park
7-8
Buritaca
Rio Hostel
9-11
Palomino
Tubing, Playa Palomino
12-17
Cartagena
San Bernardo Islands
18-21
Medellin
Walking Tour, Guatape

Day 1-3 - Bogota

Bogata is a hub for international flights from the US and Europe so it makes sense to start your journey here.

 

On your first day. find a free walking tour to help you explore the city with ease. Beyond Colombia is my personal favourite and they will give you a good introduction to the city. On top of this they offer a free food tour as well.

 

This is a great deal as you will get fed well and see the highlights of the city.

 

In the evening, walk or take the cable car to the top of Cerro Monserrate for an incredible viewpoint of sprawling Bogotá.

 

Another great thing to do in Bogota is a street art tour. You’ll notice the impressive murals as you walk around the streets but learning more about how the art reflects the history and politics of the country is a better way to do it.

 

Bogota Graffiti offer a free tour that starts at 10.00 AM every day.

Day 4-6 - Santa Marta

From Bogota, you want to take a short 2-hour flight to the Caribbean Coast in the north. You can then use Santa Marta as a base for exploring for the next few days.

 

Spend one day in exploring the cloud forests in Minca.

 

Minca is a tiny town in the mountains, 30 minutes away from Santa Marta. Here you can find some great coffee and chocolate farm tours that will also let you do tastings, go searching for waterfalls and watch the sunset from one of the many great eco hostels that sit atop the mountain.

 

On your second day, trek into Tayrona National Park known for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons, rainforest, and rich biodiversity.

 

You can stay the night on the beach in Tayrona National Park, which is a fun experience, but just make sure you book ahead before trekking all the way as spaces are often limited.

 

For your third day, have a rest day and relax by the pool at your hostel.

 

You have 2 months in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru so best to slow down and enjoy it!

beats in Tayrona National Park - Colombia

Day 7-8 - Rio Hostel, Buritaca

It seems like Colombia is home to the most unique hostels in South America.

 

Rio Hostel can be found on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, built on the Buritaca river between the town of Palomino and Tayrona National Park. Theres no town here so you really are staying in the middle of nowhere. This is the type of hostel to escape to.

 

The hostel has a private riverside beach, sundeck and garden. They regularly organise tubing down the river and encourage family-style dining so that everyone in the hostel comes together to socialise.

 

This hostel is just a load of random shacks in the jungle though. They understand that backpackers want a little luxury every now and then and offer private cabanas alongside dorms.

 

As well as paddle boarding, volleyball, pool and ping pong at the hostel, they also organise loads of activities nearby. Once a week you can enjoy an explosive game of tejo, Colombia’s national sport.  Tejo incorporates beer and gunpowder in an explosive but fun game.

 

This is an incredibly unique hostel that is well worth a stay if you are exploring the Caribbean coast in Colombia.

See how you can spend a month travelling through Colombia with this epic one month itinerary:

 

 

Day 9-11 - Palomino

Palomino is a quite town in the north of the country close to Santa Marta (around 70km away).

 

Palomino started as an off-the-beaten track town that has grown popular in recent years with backpackers.

 

Travellers come here for a few days to enjoy tubing along the jungle rivers or to wander along the endless stretches of empty beach. Tubing is a fun activity that starts in the jungle foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and ends on the beach in the Caribbean Sea.

 

The beach closest to town is Playas de Palomino. The beach, with its white sands fringed with huge palms trees is empty most of the time and you can enjoy peaceful walks up and down it without coming across another person.

Palomino is one of my favourite beaches in South America, for more, head to the list post below:

 

 

Day 12-17 - Cartagena / San Bernardo Islands

Take a couple of days in Cartagena to rest up before embarking on an epic trip to the San Bernardo Islands. 

 

The San Bernardo Islands in Colombia are a tropical paradise that’s definitely worth visiting. With their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, they offer an idyllic escape for travelers seeking relaxation and adventure.

 

One highlight is the unique hostel ‘Casa en el Agua,’ located on a secluded island.

 

This floating hostel provides an unparalleled experience, allowing you to sleep over the Caribbean Sea, snorkel straight from your room, and soak in stunning sunsets.

For more on Cartagena and why it’s so great:

 

 

Casa En El Agua - Colombia

Day 18-21 - Medellin

Medellin is the cultural capital of Colombia and there’s so much history here.

 

Whilst here, take a tour out to the beautiful Guatape region to see the colourful town, the beautiful reservoirs and the huge celebrity mansions that back out onto them.

 

Also take some time to explore the city. Again, a free walking tour is your best bet so that you stick to the safe areas and learn about the rich history of the city.

See how to spend these 3 days in detail in the post below:

 

 

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Week 4 - Ecuador

You have just 1 week in mainland Ecuador before another week on the Galapagos Islands. 

Day City Highlights
22-23
Quito
Walking Tour, Teleferico, Pichincha Summit
24-25
Cotopaxi
Secret Garden, Cotopaxi Volcano
26
Quilotoa
Quilotoa Crater
27-29
Banos
Thermal Baths, Route of Waterfalls
30
Guayaquil
Rest Day

Day 22-23 - Quito

The easiest and cheapest thing to do in Quito is to explore the city on the free walking tour.

 

A walking tour takes you to the main sights in the historical centre including Plaza Grande – the main square which includes the presidential palace, and La Ronda – the popular tourist street filled with galleries, craft shops, and restaurants.

 

On your second day,  ride the Teleferico – Quito’s cable car that takes you up to 3495m above sea level to the summit of Volcano Pichincha. At the top you will have unobstructed views of the city and all the volcanoes that surround it. 

For more great things to do in Quito including chocolate tasing, museums, and visiting the equator, head to the guide below:

 

 

Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.

 

It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.

 

Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

Day 24-25 - Cotopaxi Secret Garden

Time to get treated to one of the best hostel experiences in all South America.

 

Booking a two-night stay at Secret Garden Cotopaxi is the best way to see the National Park and experience the stunning Cotopaxi Volcano. For $96 you get a two night stay, two guided treks and all your meals included.

 

The hostel sits directly opposite the volcano and the views are unrivalled. They also run tours into the park such as trekking to Cotopaxi Glacier, horse riding and mountain biking.

Everything you need to know about booking and staying at Secret Garden Cotopaxi can be found here:

 

 

Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

Day 26 - Quilotoa

The next town to visit after Cotopaxi is Quilotoa and one of the most impressive sights in Ecuador – the Quilotoa Crater. 

 

The Cotopaxi Secret Garden team provide a shuttle bus that will take you to the town of Latacunga. From there you will need to take a local bus to Quilotoa which should take roughly 2 hours.

 

You only need 1 day here as there’s only one thing to do. Hike around the edge of the this extinct volcano and marvel at the jaw dropping scenery.

 

This scenic trail circles the crater’s edge and continuously offers up of breathtaking panoramas. The trail takes 4-5 hours to complete and allows hikers to witness the beauty of rural Ecuador on one side and the ever-changing turquoise shades of the waters on the other.

All you need to know about visiting the crater in a single day can be found in the post linked below:

 

 

Day 27-29 - Baños

After almost two weeks into this ten week itinerary, why not start with a spa and massage day. The treatments on offer in Banos are  fuelled by the volcanic activity surrounding the valley.

 

El Refugio is the best choice of spas in town. Along with thermal baths, they have saunas, steam rooms, and offer a range of services such as massages, mud baths, and pedicures.

 

On your second day in Banos, it’s time to ride the ‘Route of Waterfalls’ – a single main road that winds its way through the Baños Valley, with waterfalls dotted at almost every corner and bend on the way.

 

The best stop along the route is Pailon del Diablo, an insanely powerful waterfall that plunges 61 metres into a pool of powerful rapids. With bridges and paths running through the gorge, and multiple platforms and viewpoints, this is an incredible natural wonder not to be missed.

For more information on all these activities in Baños including the best restaurants, hostels and transport tips, head to the full guide below:

 

 

Day 30 - Guayaquil

There isn’t much in Guayaquil for backpackers, so take a day here just to rest and relax and get everything ready for your trip to the Galapagos Islands.

 

The full guide linked below has all the information you need from booking flights to what to pack:

 

 

river and forests of Pailon Del Diablo

Week 5 - Galapagos Islands

Day Where? Highlights
31-33
Galapagos Islands
San Cristobal Island
34-36
Galapagos Islands
Santa Cruz Island
37
Guayaquil
Rest Day

Day 31-33 - Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal

You have 5 days total on the Galapagos islands which gives you enough time to see two islands.

 

Flying into San Cristobal first is better as the town is a 5-minute taxi ride from the airport (compared to a 45-minute journey on Santa Cruz).

 

Start by exploring the island on your first day. You can walk to many of the best places which include museums, secluded beaches, and viewpoints. Aim to visit the Interpretation Centre, Cerro Tijeretas and Playa Punta Carola.

 

On the second day, book a tour to take you to see the highlands. This popular tour takes you to three unique places. Firstly, a highland lagoon to see nesting frigate birds and a collection of other bird species. The second stop is Puerto Chino, a secluded beach where you can see blue-footed boobies among the coastal rocks and catch marine iguanas and sea lions resting on the beach. The third and final stop is the Giant Tortoise Sanctuary. This is a semi-open enclosure where you can wander around and see these gentle giants up close.

For more on the Galapagos Islands:

 

 

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Day 34-36 - Galapagos Islands: Santa Cruz

On the morning of day 32, take the ferry to the next island. Santa Cruz is the more developed of the three main islands. The town has more restaurants and bars to enjoy, and a greater diversity of natural areas so you can spend more time exploring here.

 

The waterfront is a pleasant walk where you’ll come across the fish market set in front of a small harbour. The fish market is a popular place for tourists in town because Lupe the Sea Lion is there. Lupe has been visiting the market every day for around the last 10 years. Apparently, she turned up one day, got fed and hasn’t stopped coming back since.

 

After that, it’s a 20-minute walk from Puerto Ayora to get to the Darwin Research Centre. The centre is a fantastic educational space dedicated to the conservation of the rare animals that live on the Galapagos islands.

 

On your second day, a 45-minute walk from town will take you to one of the islands best beaches. Tortuga Bay is a secluded beach surrounded by mangrove trees. Along the beach, you can see marine iguanas crawling out of the sea and up onto the beach to warm up and if you go snorkelling, try looking for baby sharks, rays, and turtles in the mangroves. 

Day 37 - Guayaquil

On the morning of day 37, fly back to mainland Ecuador. 

 

From here you have two options: stay the night and rest up, or take another flight from Guayaquil to Lima. 

seal in south america

To get to Peru from Ecuador, you’ll need to take 2 hour flight to Lima which should cost between $100-150. 

Week 6-8 - Peru

Day City Highlights
38-39
Lima
Miraflores, Barranco
40-42
Paracas
Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands
43-44
Huacachina
Dune Buggy Tour, Sandboarding
45-50
Arequipa
Colca Canyon
51-52
Puno
Lake Titicaca
53-54
Cusco
Walking Tour, Rainbow Mountain
55-59
Salkantay Trek
Laguna Humantay, Salkantay Pass, Machu Picchu
60
Cusco
Rest Day

Day 38-39 - Lima

Spend your first day in Lima by exploring Miraflores and walking along the boardwalk where you will get some beautiful views of the ocean.

 

For your second, you carry on following the boardwalk south, you will eventually reach the bohemian district of Barranco. This is the best place to find an authentic local restaurant to try some amazing regional dishes like ceviche.

 

Barranco is also home to some great bars. Head to Ayahuasca bar to try one of the best Pisco Sours in Lima.

For more great things to do in Lima including chocolate tasing, museums, and learning to surf, head to the guide below:

 

 

Day 40-42 - Paracas

Paracas National Park is an untouched natural desert perfect for exploration and adventure.

 

You can navigate the park by tour, bicycle, ATV, or dune buggy. Whatever mode of transport you choose, make sure you are in the park as the sun is going down for some epic sunset views.

 

On your second day in Paracas, book a tour to the Ballestas Islands (also known as the Poor Mans Galapagos). This is the perfect tour for wildlife lovers as the islands are full of sea lions, penguins and even dolphins if you are lucky.

 

For your third, take another rest day by the pool. Kokopelli Hostel Paracas is the only hostel in town with a pool and it’s essential to escape the desert heat. 

Check out the complete backpacker guide to Paracas for more info:

 

Red Sand Beach

Day 43-44 - Huacachina

Huacachina is a town geared towards adventure backpackers.

 

On your first day here, book onto a dune buggy tour and you’ll tick off two of the best activities to do here. You’ll fly across the desert in buggies and go sandboarding down the tallest sand dunes.

 

After your tour, head to the top of one of the dunes around the oasis to experience one of the best sunsets in Peru. 

 

For a wild party then make sure you check out the famous Wild Rover backpacker hostel.

For more information on this unique place, head to the link below:

 

 

Day 45-47 - Arequipa

Arequipa is an underrated gem of a city bursting with beauty and charm. It’s tranquil cobblestone streets, fantastic local cuisine, and great rooftop bars, are the perfect escape from recent adventure in the desert. 

 

The walking tour will take you around the main sights of the city including Plaza de Armas and many other hidden gems you wouldn’t find by yourself. Then afterward you should stop off at the ice mummy museum.

 

Museo Santuarios Andinos is home to the mummy of a young girl, known as Juanita, who was sacrificed to the Incan gods over 500 years ago. She was found after the mountain ice where she was buried melted and exposed her remains.

 

Her well-preserved body is on permanent display at the museum and is one of the only ice mummies on display in South America – the others being found in the Northern Argentinian city of Salta. Slightly macabre but if you’re into that sort of thing, then it’s a fascinating experience.

The Arequipa guides linked below has everything you need to know:

 

 

Day 48-50 - Colca Canyon

All trips to Colca Canyon start from Arequipa and take 2 days in total.

 

Trekking down into the second deepest canyon in the world is an experience like no other. You’ll spend most of your time in awe of the canyon’s vastness.

 

A guided tour starts by working your way into the canyon on day 1 –  exploring its beautiful green slopes dotted with remote traditional villages and terraced farms. Then that evening you spend the night at the man-made oasis at the bottom of the canyon. From here you’ll have the clearest view of the night sky. Then on day 2, you trek up and out of the canyon with more stops on the way. 

 

On day 50 you’ll return to Arequipa for a rest day before moving on the next. Trust me, you’ll be shattered after this trek!

Arequipa Plaza

Day 51-52 - Puno And Lake Titicaca

If you aren’t heading to Bolivia on your South America backpacking trip then now is the time to see the highest navigable lake in the world – Lake Titicaca.

 

Everyone says it’s not as nice as the Bolivia side of Copacabana but if you aren’t going to Bolivia then it would be a shame to miss it.

 

The floating reed islands of the indigenous Uros people are also an impressive sight and climbing up to heights of 4200m on Taquile Island for panoramic views of the lake is an unforgettable experience. 

It’s all here in the this Puno and Lake Titicaca guide:

 

 

Day 53-54 - Cusco

Cusco was once the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. It is now known for its wealth of archaeological remains, beautiful Spanish colonial-era architecture and as one of the most popular backpacker hubs in all South America.

 

Start with a free walking tour to get a good idea of the city. The tour was in English and very informative with lots of interesting information about the Incas and their culture. 

 

There are three tours each day at; 10 AM, 1 PM, and 3:30 PM, except on Sunday when there is only one tour at 10 AM.

 

On the next day, you have lots of activities to choose from. Visit one of the many chocolate museums in town for a tasting session. Or you can go for a massage. They are super cheap in Peru and start at around $10 for an hour-long session – perfect after all the trekking you’ve been doing.

 

For an evening meal, try Limbus Resto Bar for the best view in Cusco along with great food and cocktails.

rooftops of Cusco

Day 55-59 - The Salkantay Trek

One of the best ways to see Machu Picchu is via a multi-day trek.

 

With the Salkantay Trek you will see many more incredible sights along the way and it’s also the cheapest way to see Machu Pichu as your ticket and accommodation are all included in the price of the trek.

 

Laguna Humantay and Salkantay Mountain are just two of the incredible places you will visit on this 5-day trek. The best part though is the c.120km you’ll walk, the friendships formed, and the sense of accomplishment gained from trekking in the mountains for 5 days with a bunch of random backpackers.

 

You’ll reach the ancient ruins on the final day of the trek, arriving at the top just before sunrise and avoiding most of the crowds. This was the highlight of our trip in Peru.

For everything you need to know on planning and preparing for the Salkantay Trek:

 

 

Day 60 - Cusco

Well done, you’ve just completed 2 months in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru!

 

Time to head back to Cusco for a final day of rest and recovery. Make sure you stay at one of the many great backpacker hostels in town so you get a good night sleep.

 

Why not celebrate with one final night out in Cusco. The bars and clubs that line the main square are filled with backpackers and locals every night of the week.

machu picchu views

Can You See Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in 7 Days?

Visiting Colombia, Ecuador and Peru over a week is unrealistic and won’t be enjoyable. 

 

You’ll spend 3 of those days travelling, and only be able to stay in the capital cities.  For the cost of 3 flights, and only one full day in each capital city, it really isn’t worth it. 

 

Pick one country and stay there for a week instead for a much better experience. Or divide your time between two countries were the travel between them is quick and easy. 

If you want to see some efficient one-week itineraries for South America, head to the post below:

 

 

Can You See Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in 2 Weeks?

Visiting Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in two weeks is do-able but you won’t see much of what each country has to offer. You’ll be able to see the capital of each country along with one other city. 

 

You’ll also have to take more flights to maximise your time in each place which will add to the cost of your trip. 

 

Here is a quick breakdown of a two-week itinerary for Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to show you what’s possible:

 

  • Day 1-2Colombia – Bogota 
  • Day 3-5Colombia – Medellin
  • Day 6-7Ecuador – Quito
  • Day 8-9Ecuador – Cotopaxi National Park
  • Day 10-11Peru – Lima
  • Day 12-14Peru – Cusco 

I would recommend visiting two countries instead of three. Pick your two favourites and spend a week in each one. 

If you want to see some expertly curated two week itineraries, including one for Ecuador and Peru, head to the post below:

 

 

Can You See Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in 1 Month?

Yes! One month is a good amount of time for doing a multi-country trip in South America. Visiting Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in four weeks gives you 10 days in each country to see the highlights. 

 

Here is a quick breakdown of a one-month itinerary for Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to show you what’s possible:

 

  • Day 1-2Colombia – Bogota 
  • Day 3-5Colombia – Medellin
  • Day 6-8 – Colombia – Santa Marta 
  • Day 9-10Colombia – Cartagena 
  • Day 11-12 – Ecuador – Quito
  • Day 13-14Ecuador – Cotopaxi National Park
  • Day 15-17Ecuador – Quilotoa Loop
  • Day 18-20Ecuador – Banos
  • Day 21-22 – Peru – Lima
  • Day 23-24Peru – Paracas
  • Day 25Peru – Huacachina
  • Day 26-30Peru – Cusco / Machu Picchu 

If you want to more one-month itineraries for South America, head to the post below:

 

 

Quilotoa Crater

When Is The Best Time To Visit Colombia, Ecuador and Peru?

The best time to visit Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is between July-August.

 

Here are some key seasons you need to know about:

 

 

  • Colombia – They have two summers, one in Dec-March and then another in July and August
  • Ecuador and Peru – May-October are the best months as these are the dry seasons. I would say as a good rule of thumb, trekking in the Andes will always be better and safer in summer as there’s less rain and the trails will be less muddy.

 

If you visit Colombia between July and August, you’ll get the warm weather, especially on the Caribbean coast, and little to no rain.

 

In Ecuador and Peru, it will also be dry season. It will still be cold once you reach higher altitudes in the Andes like Quito and Cusco so pack warm clothes and trekking gear if you decide to doing any hikes. 

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

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