Planning some holiday travel and only have a week? We’ve got some inspiration for you. At first thought, one week might not feel like enough time to visit a seemingly far-flung international destination like Africa or South America—but let us persuade you otherwise. We pulled together these brilliant one-week luxury holiday vacation ideas in some of our favorite destinations in Africa and South America. Are you looking to spend some quality time in nature or with wildlife? The Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, a safari in  Kenya or South Africa, and gorilla trekking in Rwanda are your best bet. Are you wanting a little dose of culture and beach time? Colombia’s vibrant Cartagena is just the spot. Are you needing a dose of adrenaline with a side of spirituality? A hike in Peru’s Sacred Valley and a jaunt up to Machu Picchu are musts. Plus, most of these international destinations require one direct, long-haul flight from most of America’s biggest airports (and then maybe a quick charter flight or a short drive, but we promise it’ll be worth it).

Black Rhino
Black rhino wandering the plains in Kenya. Image by Getty Images

Kenya has some of the best game viewing in Africa, and this week-long holiday vacation itinerary gives you front-row seats to the show. Kenya is where the African safari was born, and to this day remains the ultimate destination for unparalleled game viewing. It’s home to an astounding number of different species—around 25,000. Of course, you’ll find Africa’s ‘Big Five’ throughout the country, but those are just a handful of the unique animals found here.

Over seven days, you’ll discover the world’s highest concentration of black rhino at Nairobi National Park set against a backdrop of the city. Next, enjoy outstanding game viewing in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy by foot, horseback, or camel—or how about an open cockpit bi-plane ride straight out of the movie Out of Africa? Cue Meryl Streep. Lewa is a 65,000-acre conservancy, with outstanding game viewing, and spectacular views of Mt. Kenya to the south and the arid lowlands to the north. It’s one of Kenya’s major private conservation successes. Next, it’s onto the Maasai Mara-Serengeti in a private conservancy. This expanse of prime private wilderness in has prime viewing of lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, and grazers including giraffes, zebras, hartebeests, and warthogs. Hop on a direct international Kenya Airways flight from New York and under 14 hours later you’ll land in Nairobi—how easy is that? Check out this itinerary for day-by-day information and to see some of our favorite accommodations.

The stunning city of Cape Town. Image by Unsplash

Looking to escape to Africa for just one week of international luxury? We’ve got a perfectly balanced itinerary in South Africa for you covered with three nights in the capital city of Cape Town and four nights on safari in Sabi Sands (known by many as the best place in the world for safari). Experience the best of South Africa as you explore Cape Town, a vibrant and beautiful city nestled between Table Mountain and Table Bay that has thrived since its founding as a Dutch settlement in 1652. It has exceptional opportunities for adventure (like a hike up Table Mountain), incredible wildlife viewing, and a bustling art, culture, and culinary scene. Of course, this itinerary includes a day trip around the Cape Peninsula visiting the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and the playful penguins at Boulders Beach along the way.

Next, you’ll head to Greater Kruger National Park and check into Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. The lodge is located in the southwestern sector of the 65,000-hectare Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Here, you can experience close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which adds a further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area. This unforgettable week-long holiday vacation features one of the best game-viewing areas in South Africa along with properties renowned for exceptional service from start to finish—check the itinerary to find out more. Take a direct international flight from New York (just under 15 hours) or Washington D.C. to Cape Town—kicking off on November 17 of this year and is estimated to take around 14 and a half hours.

gorilla chewing
Gorilla chewing on a plant in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Image by Alicia-Rae Light

If you’re up for an adventure of a lifetime, trekking with mountain gorillas through Rwanda’s forests will make for an unforgettable holiday vacation. This five-day fly-in luxury safari takes you from the capital city of Kigali to the foothills of the Virunga Mountains where you’ll stay at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, the first lodge in Rwanda to be owned by the local community. From here, you’ll spend two days with the gorillas (with the option of spending the second day with golden monkeys instead). Spending time in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and trekking for mountain gorillas is an unparalleled experience. Although their number is steadily increasing thanks to Rwanda’s conservation efforts, there are still only around 1,000 of these magnificent primates left in the wild. There’s no other wildlife encounter quite as humbling as looking into the eyes of a magnificent mountain gorilla. They share 99 per cent of our DNA and even some of our mannerisms and emotions. They share families like we do, and grieve as we do. It is a totally remarkable thing to sit in their presence.

Note: While this luxury itinerary allows for just five days in Rwanda since it’s a bit of a longer trek to get here and at least two flights from the US, that said it’s also the perfect wildlife immersive holiday vacation. Also if you have more time, this itinerary is the perfect add-on before or after a safari.

Peru’s Sacred Valley is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers.

You can most definitely take a seven-day Peru holiday. We’ve planned one that’s a mix of experiences, for travelers seeking culture, food, and incredible history and landscapes.

With just one week of vacation, kick things off in Cusco, before taking one of the many hikes to Machu Picchu, including the Salkantay, Lares, and of course, the famous Inca Trail. You’ll start in the Sacred Valley, which offers a perfect introduction to the ancient and sophisticated Inca culture. Then you’ll climb up the hillside to spend some time in the imposing lost city of Machu Picchu—the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. Next, it’s onwards to historical Cusco.

Finally, you’ll end in Lima, a gorgeous city with many charming neighborhoods, renowned museums, urban beaches, and a thriving culinary scene. This week-long holiday vacation highlights an array of what makes Peru so unique.

A Galápagos giant tortoise with egret bird, on Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos Islands.

This week-long holiday to Ecuador highlights two of the country’s most coveted regions: Ecuador’s Galápagos and the Andean Highlands. Ecuador’s biodiversity is largely what makes it so special, and is all the more impressive considering the country’s small size. After some time exploring historic Quito, a safari in the Galápagos Islands offers a look into unspoiled nature, protected marine reserves, and a plethora of unique and endemic wildlife. A stay at  Galápagos Safari Camp in Santa Cruz is your best land-based option with daily boat trips. After your three days on the islands, you’ll head onward to the cultural Andean Highlands where you’ll spend your time in the picturesque Ecuadorian rural town of Angochagua within the magnificent Protected Zuleta Forest Reserve and surrounded by the Andes Mountain Range. There, you’ll bathe in freshwater springs that spurt along the canyons, hike along craggy peaks, and watch the majestic endangered Andean Condors in flight. Ecuador during the holidays in a week? Check.

aerial view of an Galapagos island
The Galápagos Islands have some of the most biodiversity on earth. Image by Getty Images

So, while we do love both ways, there’s nothing more spectacular than traveling the diverse, otherworldly Galápagos Islands where blue-footed boobies nest, giant tortoises roam freely, and unforgettable landscapes are surrounded by turquoise waters than by boat. The constellation of islands sits 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast and is made up of 13 major islands, plus a smattering of smaller ones formed by repeated volcanic eruptions. Five to six days on an expedition ship is usually the perfect amount of time for most people for a holiday vacation. It’s enough time to see the most iconic species, experience activities from hiking to snorkeling and enjoy everything on board the ship. Traveling on a boutique ship ensures you’ll get to experience the incredible biodiversity in the Galápagos since different species and landscapes characterize each island. During this five-day sailing, you’ll find penguins darting through crystal-clear water, and marine iguanas marching along pristine beaches. While the otherworldly terrain of the Galápagos Islands is unlike traditional tropical destinations, for travelers who love wildlife and remote places, the archipelago’s surreal moonscapes are a dream. First stop, Isabela Island the largest of the archipelago with a surface of 4,588 square kilometers where you’ll see the infant and juvenile giant tortoises can be seen until they are ready to be released and survive in the wild. Next stop, Elizabeth Bay where you’ll take a zodiac to visit the Marielas islets where there is the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galápagos. You’ll also stop at Tagus Cove, Buccaneer Cove, and Rabida Island.

Aerial View of the city of Cartagena
The vibrant seaside city of Cartagena, Colombia is the perfect week-long getaway. Image by Getty Images

Getting a real taste for Colombia means experiencing both the contemporary culture and rich history of its cities, as well as unwinding in its natural havens—in Cartagena you can get it all in just a five-day vacation during the holidays. We say you can explore Cartagena from the city to the sea on this five-day itinerary—the perfect (extra) long weekend or holiday vacation break. It’s  Colombia’s glittering star and embodies so much of what makes it the vibrant, diverse country that it is. Take time to explore the colorful history of the city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discover its contemporary art, food, and culture scene on two expert-led walking tours. End your days of exploring with a sunset cocktail overlooking the sea at a café perched on the walls of the Old Town. Situated on the Caribbean coast, a stay here isn’t complete without escaping the city for some time out on the water. When you check in to one of Cartagena’s most luxurious heritage hotels, you’ll have access to a private white sand beach on the coastal island of Barú. Want to learn more about the best beaches in Cartagena? Check out our story on that here. You can hop on a direct flight to Cartagena from Miami (under three hours in the air!) or New York (in just over five hours of air time). Check out the itinerary here.

Looking for some more inspiration for this holiday season? We love a good holiday digital detox, and this blog shares 26 of our favorite places to fully disconnect. Want to plan something with the whole family? Here are some of the best family travel tips from our experts as well as some of your most burning questions about family travel on the blog.

Check out six of our week-long holiday vacation itineraries:

Expansive shot of the a Galapagos Island
  • Itinerary

One Week in Ecuador: Galápagos by Land + the Highlands

This week-long trip to Ecuador highlights two of the country’s most coveted regions

7 Days | $6,800 per person
The deck of a boat with lounge chairs and a mountain in the background.
  • Itinerary

Galápagos by Boat + Ecuador’s Tropical Lowlands

There’s no better way to travel the Galapagos Islands than by boat

9 Days | $6,200 per person
on this Kilimanjaro climb you'll see views of mt. kilimanjaro with low hanging clouds and blue skies above giraffes
  • Itinerary

A Week in Kenya: Nairobi to the Mara

A Week in Kenya at the Emakoko, Lewa Wilderness, and Mara Expedition Camp Kenya has some of the best…

7 Days
hiker and guide in the forest
  • Itinerary

Rwanda: Gorillas and Community

Unforgettable Encounters with Mountain Gorillas

5 Days | $8,050 per person