Argentina, Atacama & Andes - 20 days
From Buenos Aires set out on a wilderness adventure through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, taking in the spectacular landscapes of the Andes mountains, the Atacama Desert and the shimmering Uyuni Salt Flats, culminating at magnificent Machu Picchu.
Today we meet our guide and set off on a tour of Buenos Aires, taking in all of the major sites of this fascinating city. Our first stop is in the Plaza de Mayo, which is enclosed on three sides by the town hall, presidential palace and cathedral before continuing to bohemian La Boca, whose streets are lined with brightly painted houses. Our final stop is to the chic district of Recoleta, home to the famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.
Overnight: Buenos Aires | Breakfast
Buenos Aires – Salta. We head to north-west Argentina this morning as we fly to the town of Salta which lies in the foothills of the Andes, between two rivers. After checking into our hotel, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the colonial town centre, with its baroque architecture and palm-lined main plaza. You can also take the cable car up to Cerro San Bernardo, a hilltop with sweeping views of the city and the mountains beyond. This evening consider heading to one of the lively penas (informal folk-music clubs) where you can enjoy a delicious meal and some entertainment.
Overnight: Salta | Breakfast
Today we enjoy a full-day excursion to the sleepy town of Cafayate, which is the centre of the region’s wine industry. The road to Cafayate follows a winding canyon and we make several photo stop en route, where you can walk into the desert valleys and marvel at the views. Spend time exploring the picturesque town and visit one of two of Cafayate’s high-altitude vineyards where there's the opportunity to sample local wines.
Overnight: Salta | Breakfast
Salta - San Pedro de Atacama (Chile). We continue our journey through the Andes and into Chile before reaching our base for the next two nights - San Pedro de Atacama. This small picturesque town is famous for the salt-covered lunar landscapes, geysers, salt flats and hot springs of the Moon Valley and looks like it has come straight from a scene of a Western film with its white washed walls and dusty roads. Due to its remote location and dry climate, the Atacama Desert offers some of the clearest skies in the world and as such is used by international space agencies to monitor the skies. If you are lucky enough to have clear nights during your stay in San Pedro de Atacama, the starscape will most likely be the best you'll ever see.
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama | Breakfast
Spend the morning at leisure or join an early morning optional excursion to the El Tatio geyser where you have a front row seat for the sun rising above the craggy geyser field and the geysers fumaroles. In the afternoon we visit the famous Moon Valley. Arriving late afternoon we explore the dramatic canyons formed by centuries of erosions from the salt mountains and watch the sun set across the valley from the ridge of a golden sand dune.
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama | Breakfast
Uyuni Salt Flats
San Pedro de Atacama - Uyuni Salt Flats. The next two days will be spent on an exhilarating 4WD tour through one of South America's most spectacular wilderness landscapes. Bidding farewell to Chile we travel into Bolivia, crossing a remote plateau, past strange rock formations and the spectacular opalescent colours of Lagunas Verde and Colorada en route to Salar de Uyuni.
The vast, dazzling white Uyuni salt flats are an incredible sight, covering some 10,500 square kilometres, with over 10 billion tons of salt. After rain a thin layer of water covers the surface, turning the salt flat into a huge mirror that reflects an inverted sky. In the middle of the salt flats is Isla del Pescado, a small island which is covered in giant cacti, where we stop to stretch our legs and enjoy the views.
Overnight: Uyuni / Salar De Uyuni Region | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Uyuni to La Paz
Uyuni Salt Flats - La Paz. We continue our journey along the Salt Flats on our way to the town of Uyuni this morning. Keep your eye out as at certain times of the year flamingos add a striking dash of colour to the white landscape. Upon arrival in Uyuni we board a flight to La Paz, which will be our home for the next three nights.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast, Lunch
La Paz sightseeing
Built in a steep valley that protects the city from the harsh elements of the Altiplano, just about every building in La Paz is built on some sort of hill, so sightseeing will literally take your breath away! On day 10 we explore the city and its colourful indigenous street markets on a walking tour including the fascinating and suitably named "Witches Market'' where local women in traditional 'Cholita' dress sell such items as dead cats and llamas foetuses as offerings to fend off evil spirits. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is also within walking distance. The square still retains its colonial buildings including the Presidential Palace. La Paz is possibly the best place to experience a traditional pena show of Andean music and dance to local bands playing time-honoured instruments such as pipes and the ukulele.
Day 11 is free for you to spend at leisure. Continue to discover the colonial delights of the city or alternatively you may wish to join an optional excursion to the ruins of Tiwanaku, located approximately 2 hours from La Paz. Travel across the Altiplano, past glimmering lakes and herds of alpacas before reaching some of the most important pre-Columbian ruins on the continent. Explore the massive gateways and imposing walls before making your way to the museum housing over 100 artefacts to provide a fascinating insight to the history of the ruins.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast x 2
Copacabana & Lake Titicaca
La Paz - Copacabana. Today we drive to the deep sapphire lake that sits in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia – Lake Titicaca. On arrival to the pretty little Bolivian town of Copacabana we have free time to walk through the streets of white-washed buildings to the Moorish-style basilica which attracts pilgrims from all over the world who bring offerings to the 16th century Dark Virgin of the lake, to be blessed by her. The rest of the day is at leisure. Should you wish to continue exploring climb the stations of the cross for wonderful views of Lake Titicaca and the snow-capped mountains beyond, or there is an optional excursion to the Isla del Sol, a small island that marked the beginning of the Inca civilisation. Legend has it the children of the sun god emerged here from the lake’s depths to establish the empire in Cuzco.
Overnight: Copacabana | Breakfast
Lake Titicaca - Puno (Peru). This morning we cross the Peruvian border and travel on to the port of Puno. We have some free time in Puno before an afternoon boat trip on the blue glacial waters of Lake Titicaca to visit the unique Uros Islands. These are floating islands, which are made entirely out of totora reeds, were built by the Uros people in an effort to isolate themselves from other civilisations. We explore one of the islands with its reed buildings and boats, and meet the islanders, who sell tortora reed handicrafts.
Overnight: Puno | Breakfast
Puno - Cuzco. Today we have a scenic journey by public bus from Puno to Cuzco crossing the Altiplano, passing indigenous women tending to herds of llamas and alpacas. We then continue across the altiplano until we climb to the la Raya Pass, and descend past fields of corn and potatoes until we reach the city of Cuzco. We arrive into Cuzco early in the evening.
On day 15 we have a walking tour of the enchanting city of Cuzco, which was the capital of the Inca Empire. We visit several Inca remains including Q’oricancha, the principal Inca Sun Temple, with its spectacular intricate stonework. Later, we discover the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuaman, brooding on a hillside above Cuzco before retreating to our hotel for an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Cuzco | Breakfast x 2
Cuzco - Sacred Valley. We enjoy a full day tour of the Sacred Valley today. Our first stop is the popular Pisac ruins, an ancient hilltop Inca citadel high above the village, before descending to the bustling market where artisans from the region get together and exchange or buy and sell their products. There's plenty of time to explore the market, see the variety of colourful handicrafts and textiles on offer, and barter for souvenirs. This afternoon we continue crossing the valley until we reach Ollantaytambo, whose fortress was constructed to guard the entrance to this part of the valley and protect it from possible invasions of tribes from the jungle lowlands.
Overnight: Ollantaytambo | Breakfast
Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu. Our day begins with an incredibly scenic 2-hour train journey from Ollantaytambo to the iconic lost city of Machu Picchu. Situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba River and surrounded by tropical forest, the Inca city enjoys a truly spectacular setting and it's one of the most fascinating ancient sites in the world. Believed to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, the site was abandoned at the time of the Spanish Conquest and lay buried beneath tropical cloud forest until 1911 when it was discovered by the American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham, who brought it to the world’s attention. Following a guided tour of the ruins we spend the night in the spa village of Aguas Calientes, a couple of kilometres upstream.
Fancy hiking some of the Inca Trail without interrupting your tour? We can organise for you to walk the mini Inca Trail on this day, but still, have a guided tour of the ruins and stay with the group in the evening. Please ask us for more details.
Overnight: Aguas Calientes | Breakfast
Machu Picchu - Cuzco. We have the morning at leisure to relax in Aguas Calientes or there is the option to return to Machu Picchu for an early morning visit to the ruins and continue to explore some of the main trails within the site; climb up the steep steps to the top of Huayna Picchu for spectacular views of over the ruins, or hike to the Inca bridge carved into the cliff edge before we return to Cuzco on the train in the afternoon.
Please note those wanting to climb Huayna Picchu need to enquire with the office and pre-book as availability is limited.
Overnight: Cuzco | Breakfast
Cuzco - Lima. After breakfast we board a short flight to the city of Lima. This bustling capital growth is a contrast from the glorious colonial past and can be seen in the faded beauty in the churches and wooden balconies. On arrival we set out on a walking tour of the centre exploring the capitals highlights including the Plaza de Armas, as we watch the guards in front of the Baroque Revival Government Palace. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight: Lima | Breakfast
Our tour comes to an end today with an included transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Alternatively we can arrange post tour accommodation if you'd like to extend your stay.
Prices & Dates
Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies to travellers who would like the comfort of their own room (on all or many of the tour nights) and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Hotel Kenton Palace, Buenos Aires
Boasting an excellent location in the traditional San Telmo District, Kenton Palace is just footsteps from Buenos Aires’ Main Square. Guestrooms are well-equipped with modern amenities and feature warm-coloured bedspreads and parquet floors, giving them a cosy feel. Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet and selection of international dishes including pizza specialties in the on-site restaurant. The hotel also features a wine cellar, a fitness centre and spa. Offering a sauna, pool and massage treatments, the spa is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of travelling.
Design Suites , Salta
Boasting an excellent location in the historical centre of Salta, the Design Suites is just footsteps from Belgrano Square. Each air-conditioned guest room is equipped with modern furniture, WiFi and private bathroom. The renowned award-winning on-site restaurant offers regional cuisine and the rooftop swimming pool offers spectacular city views.
Iorana Tolache Hotel, San Pedro de Atacama
Situated 15 minutes outside of San Pedro centre, the Hotel Iorana Tolache boasts panoramic views of the Andes chain and Licancabur volcano. Guest rooms are simple, comfortable and feature heating and private bathroom with hot water. Alongside the amazing views, the hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool and lovely garden, ideal for sitting back and sipping on a glass of wine from the hotels very own wine cellar, and watching the sun set.
Hotel Rosario La Paz, La Paz
Located at the centre of La Paz's Museum District, the Hotel Rosario is the perfect accommodation for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Bolivian culture. Set within a former colonial building, the beautiful property encompasses a stunning courtyard as well as elegant rooms. Authentic Andean handicrafts cover the walls and beds in each room giving the hotel a touch of tradition that certainly doesn't go amiss. The hotel's restaurant offers a selection of hearty Bolivian dishes, which can be washed down with a glass of local wine. The accommodation is located just 5 minutes on foot from the train station.
Hotel Rosario Del Lago Copacabana , Copacabana
Set next to the Titicaca Lake, the Hotel Rosario del Lago offers an excellent location in Copacabana. Its guestrooms are individually decorated to highlight elements of Andean culture and boast lake views. To keep you entertained there’s a games room and a garden where you can enjoy a barbecued meal overlooking the lake. The onsite restaurant also serves local cuisine and boasts a selection of the finest Bolivian wines, so you can look forward to a delightful glass of wine in front of the fireplace after a day’s exploring.
Hotel Intiqa, Puno
Packed with local flavour, this modern hotel showcases the best of local Pukara culture. Both the building’s interior and the guestrooms are decorated with Pukara art and icons. The rooms are also well-equipped with modern amenities and feature warm tones to provide a cosy atmosphere. At the onsite Pachamama Restaurant guests can enjoy a la carte regional cuisine as well as drinks made from local herbs such as muña and a delicious Peruvian hot chocolate. With staff that never stop smiling, you can be sure to feel very welcome here.
Hotel Ruinas , Cuzco
Situated in the real heart of Cusco, Hotel Ruinas is just two blocks from the city’s main square and close to the Santo Domingo Church. Its spacious guestrooms feature traditional handcrafted furniture and free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. But it’s the food here that’s the most highly recommended, with a generous breakfast buffet followed by a la carte lunch and dinner menus. Expect a delicious mix of Peruvian and international cuisine served by a great team of friendly staff.
Tunupa Lodge , Ollantaytambo
Located just minutes from the main square and train station, Tunupa Lodge boasts spectacular mountain views and is perfect for nature lovers. Guestrooms are simple yet comfortable, featuring private bathrooms and views of the surrounding scenery of the Nevado Veronica. The onsite restaurant offers traditional cuisine as well as an A la carte menu. Take time to enjoy the natural surroundings during your stay, the grounds attract llamas.
Waman Inn, Aguas Calientes
Located on top of a hill just minutes’ walk from Aqua Calientes main square, the Waman Hotel is a rustic charming hotel and the perfect base for those wanting to visit the famous Machu Picchu. Its bright guestrooms feature wood furnishings and include a private bathroom, free WiFi and a flat screen TV. You can dine in the onsite rooftop restaurant and from there go up to the atrium lookout for spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and town below, there’s certainly plent of opportunities for you to enjoy the vistas.
Hotel El Tambo Peru, Lima
Situated in the attractive Miraflores district is the El Tambo Hotel, within walking distance of the beach and the Miraflores main square. The bright guestrooms offer views of the city or the hotel gardens and is feature a TV and safe. You can dine in the on-site restaurant which specialises in Peruvian delicacies and enjoy your breakfast on the garden lawn – you’re bound to enjoy soaking up the morning sun.