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Grand South America
Quito to Rio de Janeiro
Duration: 58 days
Tour code: GGBWC

Highlights

  • Hike through the Amazon rainforest and sample fruit, chocolate and if you’re brave enough, tree worms in a local indigenous farming community
  • Whether you trek the classic Inca Trail, the Inca Quarry Trail or take the scenic train route, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are a majestic destination, no matter how you get there
  • The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are a marvel of concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the lake and spend the night with a local family in a traditional island community
  • The landscapes of Salar de Uyuni are so unique they’re almost extra-terrestrial. Embark on a three-day adventure via 4WD across the rocky Atacama Desert and the largest salt lakes in the world - passing cactus islands, train cemeteries and mineral lakes teeming with flamingos
  • Harness your inner gaucho during a three-day stay at a working estancia in Uruguay. Whether it’s getting involved in daily chores around the farm, working with livestock or simply relaxing on the ranch, experience a unique way of life and Uruguayan hospitality at its best
  • The mighty Iguazu Falls straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil, and you’ll be able to see it from both sides
  • The heaving, hedonistic metropolis of Rio de Janeiro is a great way to end the trip. Party down with the locals and experience a culture at the beating heart of Brazil

24 April 2018 – Due to an unexpected change on the bus schedule between San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and Salta (Argentina), from the 5th of May 2018, this trip will spend one less night in San Pedro de Atacama and one extra night in Buenos Aires.

Get ready for the ultimate South American adventure on this journey from the Andean heights of Ecuador through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay until finally arriving in the vibrancy of Brazil. Explore the Amazon Jungle, trek the Inca Trail, take a 4x4 through the Salar de Uyuni, experience life on a working estancia and witness the mighty Iguazu Falls. Discover the rhythm of the samba, salsa and tango, get off the beaten track, visit diverse and amazing natural wonders and collect a lifetime of memories on this truly epic adventure. With plenty of free time and a do-it-yourself approach, this is the perfect way to explore South America.

What's included?

Meals

43 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 dinners

Transport

4x4 , Boat , Bus , Coach , Ferry , Minibus , Overnight bus , Plane , Private vehicle , Public bus , Taxi , Van

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Dormitory (2 nights), Estancia (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (43 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights), Overnight bus (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk
  • Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk
  • Lima - Leader-led walking tour
  • Colca Canyon - Guided tour
  • Cusco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
  • Salt flats - Visit to 'Fish Island/Inca Wasi'
  • Uyuni - Colchani Salt Factory Visit
  • Salt flats - Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
  • Welcome Meeting
  • Buenos Aires - Orientation walk
  • 3-night stay on a working estancia including meals and activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls

Itinerary

Day 1
Quito
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the welcome meeting will take place. After this important meeting, join your leader on a walking tour of the historic centre of Quito. Stroll through Plaza Grande (main square) and by the Archbishop's Palace. From here, walk about 800 metres uphill to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Time permitting, you may wish to spend more time exploring this church and its views from the top towers. Finally, walk to La Ronda Street and pass by La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus) and San Francisco churches. At the end of the walk, your leader will recommend a local restaurant on La Ronda Street for an optional group dinner. Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do, so a few extra days here before the trip is highly recommended. Optional activities and Urban Adventures (best booked ahead of time) include a half-day tour to the Equator Line, a full-day tour to the massive Otavalo Market, a Cotopaxi Volcano adventure, a guided Cloud Forest hike, or a day of relaxing at Papallacta Hot Springs. Contact [email protected] or visit www.urbanadventures.com for more information and to book.

Included activities: Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk

Optional activities:

  • Cotopaxi - National Park Hiking Tour ($95)
  • Quito - Old Town & Gastronomic- Urban Adventures ($99)
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo ($156)
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee ($3)
  • Quito - Sites by night - Urban Adventures ($55)
  • Quito - Discovery: Quito Old Town & Panecillo Hill - Urban Adventures ($55)
  • Quito - Total Quito Tour: Quito Old Town, Panecillo Hill, Equator line & Intiñan Museum - Urban Adventures ($92)
  • Quito - Walk The Equator Line - Urban Adventures ($70)
  • Entrance ($2)
  • Quito Market Discovery ($99)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 2
Amazon Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
Today will be an early start, as the group will be on the move by 7 am. Catch a local bus from Quito Central Station to Tena (approximately 5 hours). There’s no toilet on board, but the bus will stop for one toilet break during the journey. From Tena, travel by private vehicle to Misahualli and then by boat to your lodge for the next two nights, arriving by approximately 1.30 pm, just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, your local hosts will take you on a walk around the area. Use this opportunity to try some fresh fruit and, if you’re feeling brave, tree worms. Finish the afternoon making chocolate dessert from scratch. With the help of the host, you’ll roast, grind and conch chocolate beans into your own chocolate sauce.

Stay: Community Lodge (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 3
Amazon Lodge (Amazon Jungle)
In the morning after breakfast, travel by canoe for 45 minutes to the starting point of today's hike. The trek (approximately 4–5 hours, depending on the group's pace) is relatively easy. During the hike, visit a protected private reserve in the secondary rainforest. This is also a great opportunity to spot insects and birds that inhabit this precious ecosystem. Throughout the walk, you’ll come to understand the importance of the jungle to the local community as your guide provides in-depth knowledge and history. After the walk, enjoy a packed lunch on the banks of the Arajuno River. Next you’ll have the opportunity to go tubing down the river. The water currents are not particularly strong however it’s part of our safety policy for all passengers to wear a life jacket if you wish to take part in this activity. The activity will last approximately 1 hour, you will then get back on board the Canoe and travel back to the Amazon lodge (approximately 1.5 hours) Once you get back to the lodge there will be time to shower and freshen up for dinner. After dinner, head out on a night jungle walk!

Stay: Community Lodge (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 4
Banos
Enjoy breakfast at around 7 am in the lodge. Afterwards, travel back to Tena the same way you arrived, then catch a local bus to Banos (approximately 3 hours). You should arrive in the city of Banos around midday, with the rest of the day free for you to do as you wish. Perhaps use your free time soaking in the city's natural baths or go for a hike into the valley and to the powerful falls of Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron).

Optional activities:

  • Banos - Steam baths ($15)
  • Banos - Hot Springs entrance fee ($6)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 5
Banos
Enjoy a full day to explore Banos and take advantage of some of the optional activities. Perhaps rise early to watch the sunrise over the mountains near the hot springs. After breakfast, venture to Nuestra Senora del Agua Santa (Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water) and see the intricate murals that depict numerous stories about the virgin. If you have time, stroll around the local artisan markets to pick up a memento of the city. If your trip falls on the weekend or during the holidays, be prepared for carnival-like festivities that take place all over Banos.

Optional activities:

  • Banos - The tree house ($1)
  • Pailon del Diablo waterfall (Devil's Cauldron) - Entrance fee ($2)
  • Banos - Pailon del Diablo - Free

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 6
Cuenca
Take a local bus to Riobamba (approximately 3 hours), where you’ll swap buses and head south to Cuenca (approximately 5 hours). Cuenca may well be Ecuador's best looking city; indeed UNESCO rate it on their list of things they love. There are lots of impressive 500-year-old churches and colonial buildings, many made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. Cuenca is the home of the famous Panama hat, and if there’s time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. There's also a buzzing nightlife here, due in no small part to the university population.

Optional activities: Cuenca - Turi view point ($10)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 7
Cuenca
Meet up with your leader this morning and get to know Cuenca better with an orientation walk. Trundle along cobblestone streets and check out colonial parks and markets, and stop by the monumental cathedral at the centre. The rest of the day is free to explore Cuenca and the surrounding area. If you’re feeling cultural, maybe head to the Museo Pumapungo, which features an impressive range of artistic, historical, cultural, and ethnological exhibits (including a collection of real shrunken heads from the Shuar civilisation – for the strong stomached only!). Otherwise, maybe get out of town to El Cajas National Park, home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Tonight you might want to get to bed early, in preparation for a very early start early tomorrow morning.

Included activities: Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk

Optional activities:

  • Cuenca - El Cajas National Park ($60)
  • Cuenca - Ingapirca ruins ($40)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 8
Lima
Welcome to Lima, Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, perhaps take a walk around Miraflores and head from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to the entertainment complex of LarcoMar. Alternatively, stroll along to Parque del Amor (Love Park) for a great view of Lima's beaches.

Optional activities:

  • Lima - Archaeological Museum ($15)
  • Lima - Museo de la Nacion ($10)
  • Lima - Banco Central de Reserva Museum ($5)
  • Lima - Museum of the Inquisition visit - Free
  • Lima - Gold Museum ($35)
  • Lima Coast Biking Tour - Urban Adventures ($45)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 9
Lima
Take a half day walking tour of downtown Lima, starting at around 9 am. Flanked by streets of ornate mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral of Lima, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. Nearby is the San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains (entry is optional and at travellers' expense). The afternoon is free for you to explore the city on your own. In the evening, perhaps try some ceviche for dinner.

Included activities: Lima - Leader-led walking tour

Optional activities: Lima - Guided tour of San Francisco Monastery including The Catacombs ($20)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 10
Paracas
Head off at around 6 am travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Paracas (approximately 4 hours). During this journey it's unlikely the bus will make any stops, so please ensure you prepare yourself with water, snacks and anything else necessary. The small fishing town of Paracas is the gateway to the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve. You'll have the option of visiting Paracas National Reserve today with a local guide. The duration of the tour is around 2–2.5 hours, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful Maritime landscapes and desert. For some local food specialities back in town, head to the boulevard near the beach and try some tejas, which are small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.

Optional activities: Paracas - National Reserve guided tour ($50)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 11
Nazca
Islas Ballestas makes for a great (optional) day trip today. Here there will be lots of opportunities to see wildlife such as penguins, sea lions and flamingos from a speedboat. Later in the morning continue onto Nazca, which takes around three hours (it's likely there won't be any stops). Arrive in the early afternoon. The Nazca Lines are enormous designs inscribed into the desert. Who drew them, how and why is unknown, but most scientists believe the Nazca people created them about 2,000 years ago. Consider an optional scenic flight to see them from the air – this lasts 30 minutes and covers most of the 26 impressions (planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane, so this is not for those with a weak stomach!)

Optional activities:

  • Ballestas Islands - Guided tour ($57)
  • Nazca - Flight Over the Nazca Lines ($100)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 12
Arequipa/Colca Canyon
Early afternoon, take a transfer to the bus station. Board a local bus to Arequipa, the bus ride is long (approximately 11 hours, with no stops). Lunch will be served on the bus, and later around dinner time there will be a small snack. Don't forget to pack plenty of water, snacks and perhaps a good book! Arrive into Arequipa around midnight and transfer to the hotel. Standing at the foot of El Misti volcano and exuding Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cusco for the title of Peru's most attractive city.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 13
Arequipa
This morning your leader will take you on an orientation walk in which you will visit the main square and Mercado San Camilo. The remainder of the day is free day to explore Arequipa. Perhaps start at Monasterio de Santa Catalina for a glimpse into a bygone way of life. The 16th-century convent has a unique history, having once only accepted women from high-class Spanish families. From here, call by the Juanita Museum and take a look at the ‘Ice Maiden’, the Incan mummy of a young girl who died in the 1440s. During your walk around Arequipa, you'll come to understand why it’s referred to as the ‘White City’. Built out of the pale volcanic rock, the old buildings shine brightly in the sunshine. While away the rest of your day in the cafes and restaurants on the main plaza.

Optional activities:

  • Arequipa - Juanita Museum ($20)
  • Arequipa - Santa Catalina Monastery ($45)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 14
Colca Canyon
In the morning, at around 8 am, venture out by minivan to Chivay (approximately 5 hours). Stop to take pictures along the way, as you're likely to see llamas, alpacas and vicunas. After around two hours of driving, you'll have the chance to try some coca tea from local tea stalls. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place of the trip at 4,800 metres above sea level), descend to Chivay town. In the afternoon (weather permitted) your local guide will organise a short trek through the spectacular Colca Canyon, before finishing at the local hot thermal baths. Choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on Alpaca steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena (music hall).

Included activities: Colca Canyon - Guided tour

Optional activities: Colca Canyon - La Calera hot springs ($15)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 15
Arequipa
Early in the morning take a short drive into the canyon to witness the morning routine of the Andean condor. This is an amazing opportunity to see the world's largest flying bird in predator mode. Depending on weather conditions there will be a short walk around the area (approximately 45 minutes) before you return to Chivay. In the afternoon travel back to Arequipa (approximately 5 hours). Enjoy a free evening to do as you wish.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 16
Arequipa/ Overnight bus to Cusco
Use your last day in Arequipa to get under the skin of the city. For a bit of culture, stroll down to Casa Museo Villalobos for a look at the extensive art collection that’s housed there. If you’re looking for something a bit more hands-on, there are regular cooking classes in the city. For more ideas on what to do, please speak with your trip leader. This evening at about 7.30 pm transfer to the bus station. Soon after, board an overnight bus to Cusco (approximately 11 hours with no stops; please consider that there is only one road out of Arequipa so it's possible there could be delays at the beginning of the journey). The bus has comfortable reclining seats and a toilet on board. Dinner will be served on board, however it's recommended to pack some water and snacks. 

Stay: Overnight Bus (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 17
Cusco
Your overnight bus should arrive in Cusco between 6.30 and 7. 30am. Head to the hotel in town for breakfast. Your leader will then give you the choice of heading straight out for an orientation walk; alternatively the group may decide to have some time to rest for a few hours, in which case the orientation walk will be done in the afternoon. During the walking tour you’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. The order of visiting these locations, may vary according to hotel location and your tour leader’s preference. In your free time may want to book some of the optional activities available in Cusco. In the evening, attend a briefing on the Inca Trail hike which begins tomorrow.

Included activities: Cusco - Orientation Walk

Optional activities:

  • Cusco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cusco (Transport & guides are not included) ($135)
  • Cusco - Cathedral Entrance Fee ($25)
  • Cusco - Coricancha Temple entrance fee ($15)
  • Cusco - Half Tourist Ticket Pass, which gives you access to selected archaeological sites in/around Cusco (transport & guides are not included) ($75)
  • Cusco - City tour ($15)
  • Cusco - Pre-Colombian Museum ($20)
  • Cusco - Inca Museum ($10)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 18
Inca Trail, Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or stay in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days. Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3,100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner. Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail: Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3,700 meters above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas. Notes: The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Route 3 Train: For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, spend two extra nights in Cusco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night. Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.

Stay: Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option) (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 19
Inca Trail, Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres. Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail: This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the hike to Kuychicassa (approximately 2 hours); this is the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo. Route 3 Train: Today, perhaps use your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cusco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops. Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.

Stay: Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option) (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 20
Inca Trail, Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending (approximately 2–3 hours) to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the descent down the Inca steps (approximately 2 hours), which takes you to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site. Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail: Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu. Route 3 Train: In the morning take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes (approximately 3 hours), which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the start of the trip. Please note: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.

Stay: Camping (with basic facilities) or Hotel (for Train option) (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 21
Inca Trail, Inca Quarry Trail or Train option and Machu Picchu / Ollantaytambo
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 430 am (the final checkpoint opens at 5 am). The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes approximately 2.5 hours meaning arrival time is not until approximately 7. 30am. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as you enter Machu Picchu through the Sungate. Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail: Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who took the train. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins. Route 3 Train: In the morning, usually between 5.30 and 6.30 am, we take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Inca nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy some free time afterwards to wander around on your own before heading to Ollantaytambo for the night. Visiting Machu Picchu: According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 22
Sacred Valley / Cusco
Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Venture to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle, visit multiple community businesses that may include a pottery workshop, a chocolate making demonstration or a local chicha brewery where you will learn about the traditional techniques that are still used to this day. Whilst in the community you'll enjoy an included lunch, prepared and cooked by local community members themselves. If your visit coincides with market day (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday), spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos. In the afternoon take a bus back to Cusco.

Included activities: Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch

Optional activities: Ollantaytambo - Archeological site ($70)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunch

Day 23
Cusco
Enjoy free time to relax, shop or explore more of Cusco's sights. Perhaps head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas, or for those seeking an active adventure, try mountain biking in the Sacred Valley. In the evening, you might like to head out for dinner with the group for your final night in Cusco.

Optional activities:

  • Sacred Valley - Mountain Biking ($120)
  • Sacred Valley - Via Ferrata & Zipline ($265)
  • Cusco - Stand Up Paddle Boarding ($75)
  • Cusco - Art Trail workshop ($59)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 24
Puno/Lake Titicaca
In the morning, travel by local bus through the Altiplano plateau to Puno (approximately 7 hours). There will be one brief stop along the way at La Raya mountain range where there will be opportunities for photos. Here you'll also have the chance to buy some snacks and or go to the toilet. Puno is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 25
Puno
Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Enjoy a tour of the lake by slow motorboat (8 knots per hour), stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They're built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. In the evening, enjoy a homestay in a local community on the Llachon Peninsula. Your homestay is in a mudbrick house, with shared drop toilets but no shower. It can get quite cold here. The homestay will provide plenty of blankets, but remember to pack thermals and ample layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or perhaps play a game of soccer or volleyball in the village with the local kids.

Included activities: Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay

Stay: Homestay (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 26
Puno
In the morning, board the boat for a visit to Taquile Island, which is a great place to pick up some locally knitted goods. On the island knitting is strictly a male domain, while women do the spinning. An hour’s uphill trek brings you to the main area of the island. Explore the local markets before descending the 500 steps back to the boat. Return to Puno (approximately 3 hours) arriving around 3 pm. The remainder of the day is free. Consider visiting Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world. Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation, which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by Intrepid. For more info on Kusimayo, visit: https://vimeo.com/154422813. Donations can be made at http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 27
La Paz
At around 7 am travel by local bus to Desaguadero (approximately 3 hours) and cross the border into Bolivia. Say goodbye to your Peruvian leader meet your Bolivian leader, who will take lead of the group from that point on. You'll be asked to leave the bus to proceed through Peruvian migration. The group will then walk across a bridge, submit passports at the Bolivian migration office, and reboard the bus for La Paz. Approximately 30 minutes after crossing the border into Bolivia, there's another stop where the army will check your documents again. The journey to La Paz takes 6–9 hours (depending on the border crossing time). In the evening, perhaps head out for an optional group dinner.

Optional activities: La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 28
La Paz
Welcome to La Paz, Bolivia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As La Paz is 3,600 metres above sea level, please ensure you take the necessary measurements in regards to altitude sickness (refer to ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections for important information).

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 29
La Paz
Your second day in La Paz is free to explore. The city is renowned for its markets, especially the Mercado de Hechiceria (Witches' Market), which sells potions, incantations, stones and artefacts. Ask a local about their significance - most people are happy to explain. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn’t too far from your hotel. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the Food With Altitude or To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond tours. Late in the afternoon, leave La Paz on an overnight bus to Sucre (approximately 9-10 hours). There are comfortable recliner seats on the bus locally known as "coche cama" or bed seats. There’s usually a toilet on the bus and the driver will also make a stop along the way.

Optional activities:

  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
  • La Paz - Coca Museum ($12)
  • La Paz - Food with Altitude - Urban Adventure ($57)
  • La Paz - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - Urban Adventures ($41)
  • La Paz - City Tour & Moon Valley ($25)
  • La Paz - Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour ($16)
  • La Paz - Tiawanaku tour ($39)

Stay: Overnight Bus (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 30
Sucre
On arrival into Sucre, drop off your luggage at the hotel before heading out to explore in your own time. Bolivia’s World Heritage- listed capital is a hub of progressive culture and Spanish colonial architecture. You might like to visit the Museo de la Recoleta. This 400-year-old convent provides great views over the city and is home to a fascinating collection of sculptures and paintings. If you have time, head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to rub shoulders with Sucre's affluent residents and investigate the extravagant interior of the Senora de la Merced.

Optional activities:

  • Sucre - Dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko ($70)
  • Sucre - Casa de la Libertad ($21)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 31
Sucre
Today is a free day to explore Sucre. For something completely different, discover the prehistoric landscape of Cal Orko and tread in 60-million-year-old dinosaur footprints. There’s also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious empanadas at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 32
Potosi
In the morning, take a local bus to Potosi (3-4 hours). This colonial mining city sits at the base of Cerro Rico, a mountain rich in silver ore. A tour and brief history of Cerro Rico could be a highlight of your trip here, but due to safety concerns we strongly advise you not to enter the mines (please see notes below). Perhaps visit the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to observe the art and treasures on display inside the convent’s original walls.

Optional activities:

  • Potosi - Santa Teresa Convent Museum ($33)
  • Potosi - National Mint of Bolivia ($48)
  • Potosi - Cerro Rico mine tour ($150)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 33
Uyuni
Today, leave Potosi behind and travel to the city of Uyuni (approximately 3-4 hours). This remote town sits on the edge of the high Altiplano, a wilderness area extending for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. The area is notorious for being extremely cold, so it’s important to pack warm clothing and base layers. Tonight, stay at a hotel in Uyuni Town. The hotel is fairly basic, but it’s clean, comfortable and has hot water. As you’ll be heading out into the desert and salt flats over the next few days, make the most of the structured bathroom facilities tonight.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 34
Salar de Uyuni
Depart Uyuni this morning and venture out on a three-day 4WD excursion. Be prepared for a busy few days ahead. The first stop will be at a rusty Train Cemetery, before you continue on to Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flats. While this may be a typical stop for many travellers, it’s also often a highlight. Make the most of your time on the salt flats taking lots of photos and explore Inka Wasi Isla, which is a rocky island covered in cacti and coral-like structures.

Included activities:

  • Salt flats - Visit to 'Fish Island/Inca Wasi'
  • Uyuni - Colchani Salt Factory Visit

Stay: Dormitory (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 35
Bolivian Altiplano
Today will be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes. During this drive you’ll reach an altitude of approximately 4,900 metres above sea level, so it’s important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes). Stop by the red lake of Laguna Colorada, where you’ll be able to spot wildlife such llamas, flamingos, viscachas and foxes feasting in the nutrient-rich waters.

Included activities: Salt flats - Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde

Stay: Dormitory (1 night)

Meals: breakfastlunchdinner

Day 36
San Pedro de Atacama
This morning stop by the desert’s natural thermal baths for a soak and then head to the Bolivia/Chile border, where the Bolivian part of your trip comes to an end. Pass by geysers, salt flats and snow- capped volcanoes on your way to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. As a small oasis town, San Pedro is surrounded by extraordinary scenery. Use your free time to wander around, perhaps checking out the quaint Church of San Pedro de Atacama, the Museo Gustavo Le Paige (archaeological museum) or the town’s central plaza.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 37
Salta
Today will be a long day of travel (approximately 12 hours), as you leave San Pedro and head for Salta, Argentina. Salta's rich history, colonial architecture, friendly locals and surrounding natural attractions make it one Argentina's main attractions. If you have time on arrival, spend some time getting to know the area in the vicinity of the hotel. The gardens, fountains and historic buildings in Plaza 9 de Julio are a great place to start.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 38
Salta
Today is a free day to explore Salta and its attractions. If you’re after something active, hike up the 1,070 steps to the summit of Cerro San Bernardo; the mountain that looms over Salta. You can take a gondola (cable car) to the top if you’d prefer. Either way, the view from the top is magnificent.

Optional activities:

  • Salta - Cerro San Bernardo Chairlift ($150)
  • Salta - Archaeological Museum ($100)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 39
Buenos Aires
Take an included flight to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. Fiery Latin passion, European elegance and superb cuisine combine to make Buenos Aires one of the world's most enthralling cities. After arriving in the city, time is free for you to do what you want with it. Nibble on alfajores, wander San Telmo's cobblestone streets, talk football with Portenos in a cafe or get a history lesson at the quirky Museo Evita. The hippest spot in town is Palermo's Plaza Serrano, so why not head out in the evening for a tango with the locals. There are so many things to see and do in Buenos Aires, it's simply a matter of trying to fit them all in.

Optional activities:

  • Buenos Aires - Malbec Trail of Palermo Urban Adventure ($111)
  • Buenos Aires - Tango, Tango, Tango! Urban Adventure ($90)
  • Buenos Aires - Gourmet Food Urban Adventure ($120)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Days 40-41
Buenos Aires
Your last two days in Buenos Aires are free to discover more of the city. Join the tourists and walk among the tombs at the La Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Eva Peron. There are also some great museums to check out in the Recoleta district. Visit the neighbourhood of La Boca, home to the colourful Caminito artists’ street and world-renowned soccer team, Boca Juniors. Perhaps take part in an Urban Adventure centred on the city’s love of food, such as the Malbec Trail of Palermo or the Gourmet Buenos Aires Food tour (contact us for more information). If you need to rest your feet, settle down at one of the many street side cafes to watch the world go by with the locals.

Optional activities: Buenos Aires - Polo Day ($170)

Stay: Hotel (2 nights)

Meals: 2 breakfasts

Day 42
Buenos Aires
Bienvenidos. Welcome to Argentina. Your adventure begins with an orientation walk around Buenos Aires’ Microcentro district at 1pm. Your leader will be waiting in the lobby of your joining point hotel. Pass by historic buildings along the Avenida de Mayo, including the Casa Rosada (Argentina's government house) and perhaps have a coffee in the traditional Café Tortoni. Stroll around the picturesque streets of San Telmo and its antique markets. In the evening, attend a group welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. Head out tonight and be swept away by the dance of love at an optional tango show. There’s a lot to see if you arrive early into the city. Explore the antique markets of San Telmo or browse the museums in the well-to-do neighbourhood of Recoleta. If you’re a foodie or a wine connoisseur, take part in the Malbec Trail of Palermo or Gourmet Buenos Aires Food Urban Adventure day tour. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the welcome meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Included activities:

  • Welcome Meeting
  • Buenos Aires - Orientation walk

Optional activities:

  • Buenos Aires - Tango, Tango, Tango! Urban Adventure ($90)
  • Buenos Aires - Malbec Trail of Palermo Urban Adventure ($111)
  • Buenos Aires - Gourmet Food Urban Adventure ($120)
  • Buenos Aires - Polo Day ($170)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 43
Colonia
Today cross the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) to Colonia del Sacramento by ferry (approximately three hours). On arrival, enjoy free time to explore this charming colonial city, known as the oldest in Uruguay. The World Heritage-listed Barrio Historico is a great place to start. Stroll down the cobblestone streets and rub shoulders with locals, as they sip their yerba mate (tea). Listen to the noisy parakeets in the Plaza Mayor, or comb Colonia’s small museums. For great views over the city, climb to the top of a 19th-century lighthouse that’s still in operation.

Optional activities: Colonia - Lighthouse visit ($25)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Meals: breakfast

Day 44
Estancia Stay
Today is a long travel day. Take a comfortable local bus from Colonia to Montevideo (approximately 2.5 hours). From Montevideo it's a further five-hour journey to Tacuarembo by bus. The bus has reclining seats and you'll be provided with a typical Uruguayan snack, but as the bus doesn’t stop it's also recommended that you bring your own food. From Tacuarembo it takes a further hour by truck and 4WD to the ranch, where you’ll be spending the next three nights.

Included activities: 3-night stay on a working estancia including meals and activities

Stay: Estancia (1 night)

Meals: breakfastdinner

Days 45-47
Estancia Stay
Spend a few days experiencing the real deal of a working Uruguayan farm. Although you’re welcome to laze around and explore your surroundings, you can also fully involve yourself in day-to-day jobs around the ranch. These jobs change with the day and the season, but may include herding sheep and cows, branding cattle or injecting lambs against worms. Don't expect luxury: things are simple down on the ranch. Accommodation is dormitory-style, hot water and electricity are only available for a couple of hours a day and chores start at 7.30 am. What you will get in return is a warm Uruguayan welcome from your hosts, some of the best home-cooked food you’ve ever tasted and the chance to experience true farm life. On the afternoon of your sixth day, travel to Concordia in Argentina. From here take a 12-hour overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu. The bus has reclining seats and toilets and movies will be shown to keep you entertained. A simple dinner is also provided on board.

Optional activities:

  • Estancia - Horse riding - Free
  • Estancia - Horse riding - Free

Meals: 3 breakfasts3 lunches3 dinners

Day 48
Foz do Iguazu ( Brazilian side)
As soon as you arrive at Puerto Iguazu bus station this morning, take a minivan across the border into Brazil and continue onto your hotel in Foz do Iguacu. Depending on traffic, this should take about an hour. Close to the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, Foz do Iguacu is Brazil's gateway to the famous Iguazu Falls. Uppon arrival If hotel rooms are ready you will be able to check in before heading out to explore the Brazilian side of the falls. Soon after take a short transfer to the falls. From here, panoramic views can be enjoyed. For unforgettable views, take an optional helicopter flight over the falls (at your own expense). Depending on time, you can also visit the local bird park while you’re here.

Included activities: Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls

Optional activities:

  • Iguazu Falls Brazil - Helicopter ride ($130)
  • Iguazu Falls - Bird Park Entrance fee ($45)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 49
Iguazu Falls (Argentinian side)
Travel back into Argentina today to visit the falls. Following a series of boardwalks, it’s possible to get so enough to the thundering waters that you can almost touch them. At over 2 km long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are over 270 falls in total, with some reaching up to 80 metres in height. For a more exhilarating experience, take an optional Zodiac boat ride to the base of the falls and feel the water in your skin! In the afternoon return to Foz do Iguacu, where you’ll spend a second night.

Included activities: Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls

Optional activities: Great Adventure - Boat ride Iguazu ($70)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 50
Rio de Janeiro
Today you'll take an included flight to Rio de Janeiro. Upon arrival and after settling in to your hotel room your tour leader leader will take you on an orientation walk. The remainder of the day is yours to explore. People-watch on Copacabana or Ipanema beach, take a tour of a favela or, if the time of year is right, check out a soccer game at the famous Maracana Stadium. You might like to take the tramcar up to the hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa or head up Corcovado Mountain, where you’ll find sweeping views over Rio from the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue. Taking part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Total Rio Tour, the Santa Teresa Discovery or the Corcovado and Christ Statue tour are also great ways to see this exciting city. As evening approaches, perhaps take the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain to watch the sunset before partying in the samba clubs of Lapa.

Optional activities:

  • Rio de Janeiro - Santa Teresa Discovery Urban Adventure ($59)
  • Rio de Janeiro - Total Rio Tour - Full Day Urban Adventure ($149)
  • Botanical Gardens ($15)
  • Santa Teresa tramcar ($20)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 51
Rio de Janeiro
Bem-Vindos! Welcome to Brazil. Your adventure begins at 1pm today. Your Tour leader will take you on an orienation wlak around Rio. In the evening there will be a meeting at 6pm. The locals like to say that 'God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio'. In this heaving metropolis, set against the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay and surrounded by the slopes of Sugarloaf and Corcovado, it's hard not to be caught up in the passion of the city's residents (known as Cariocas). The French were the first to settle here as they logged wood along the Brazilian coast, but they were soon driven out by the Portuguese, who built a fortified town named Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and quickly amassed wealth during the gold rush of Minas Gerais. In the 19th century, the Portuguese monarchy fled from the threat of Napoleon in Europe and took up residence in Rio, where they built grand buildings that still stand today. These days Rio is a fascinating and diverse city best known for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Days 52-53
Paraty
Take a local bus from Rio to Paraty (approximately 4 hours) The remainder of today and tomorrow are free to explore Paraty. Admire the architecture as you wander along the town’s cobbled, pedestrian-only streets, which become partly covered in seawater at high tide. You might prefer to explore the rainforest trails in the surrounding national park, which is rich in wildlife and waterfalls. Perhaps take a boat trip on the island-studded bay for scenic views along the coast or join an excursion to the nearby village of Trindade, which boasts some of Brazil’s best beaches.

Optional activities:

  • Paraty - Boat trip ($65)
  • Paraty - Trindade excursion ($80)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 54
Ilha Grande
Today, take a shared transfer to Agra followed by a ferry to the island getaway of Ilha Grande (approximately five hours). This island paradise of pristine beaches and rainforest has been largely untouched by development. There are no private cars or banks on the island, so make sure you bring cash with you. Previously a pirate's lair, a leper colony and a prison for violent criminals, the island has a fascinating history to uncover. The ruins of the prison can still be seen today.

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Days 55-56
Ilha Grande
Enjoy two full free days to explore Ilha Grande. Wander along rainforest trails to beautiful and remote beaches; Lopes Mendes and Aventureiro Beach are among the most scenic. Take an optional boat trip out to the Blue Lagoon, beach hopping through Ilha Grande Bay along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for fresh seafood, and to swim and snorkel in the clear water. In the evening relax with a caipirinha at a restaurant or bar in Vila do Abraao, which is the island’s main town.

Optional activities: Ilha Grande - Boat trip to the Blue Lagoon ($70)

Stay: Hotel (2 nights)

Day 57
Rio de Janeiro
Board a boat to the small port of Mangaratiba today, and from here take a minivan back to Rio de Janeiro. The total journey should take about three-and-a-half hours. The rest of the day is free to explore or simply hit the beach and relax.

Optional activities:

  • Botanical Gardens ($15)
  • Santa Teresa tramcar ($20)
  • Rio de Janeiro - Santa Teresa Discovery Urban Adventure ($59)
  • Rio de Janeiro - Total Rio Tour - Full Day Urban Adventure ($149)

Stay: Hotel (1 night)

Day 58
Rio de Janeiro
Today your South American adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time.

Meals: breakfast

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