Highlights of South America - 21 days
Discover a cross section of cultures and landscapes travelling in style across Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia & Peru in 21 days, with luxury hotels. Starting in Rio de Janeiro, visit Iguazu falls, explore the captivating Argentine capital and La Paz, the highest capital in the world, before exploring the incredible lost city of Machu Picchu.
Today, we have an included tour exploring the city of extremes, we witness the glamourous apartments of Rio’s rich and famous against the back drop of the favelas and half-built shanty towns that cling onto the hillsides. The highlights of the city include the Zona Sul beaches and Rodrogo de Freitas lagoon as well as the cathedral, Sambodromo and Maracana. Then we take a cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain and enjoy spectacular views of the city, its beaches, and the mountains beyond. There is also a lovely nature walk around the foot of the mountain should you wish to continue to explore or grab a beer in the village quarter of Urca, home to TV stars.
On day 3 we board the steep rack-and-pinion railway which takes us through tropical Tijuca National Park, the largest urban forest in the world, and all that is left of the rainforest that once surrounded Rio de Janeiro. Reach the top of Corcovado mountain and experience the majestic gaze of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city with open arms. The afternoon is at leisure. You can walk from the top of the staircase up to the quiet hill-top neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, with many quaint cafes and shops lining the cobblestone streets or there is the optional excursion along the Avenue of the Royal Palms in hopes of catching a glimpse of the toucans and marmosets that frequent the park.
Overnight: Rio De Janeiro | Breakfast x 2
Rio de Janeiro - Foz do Iguacu. The Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu is our base for visiting the famous Iguazu Falls - the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder through dense forest over a 2.5km stretch along the border of Brazil and Argentina and we will view the falls from both sides.
On the Brazilian side you can see the falls by walking through the rainforest and along catwalks above and below the rushing water. You can also visit a very interesting bird park nearby, perfect for that must-have photo with a toucan!
We revisit the falls from the Argentinean side on day 5. From the national park, we board a little natural-gas-powered train which takes us to the Cataratas Station where we begin the Upper Walk witnessing causeways link dozens of basalt islands at the top of the rock, a sight which will take your breath away! We then continue onto the famous "Devil's Throat" where fourteen falls plummet with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead.
Overnight: Iguazu Falls (Argentina) | Breakfast x 2
Foz do Iguacu - Buenos Aires (Argentina). On day 6 we fly south to Buenos Aires. After we've checked into our hotel the rest of the day is free to explore the Argentinian capital. Walk along the cobbled streets and see the brightly coloured houses, go out and enjoy some local cuisine in the local restaurants, or sit back and relax in one of the many tango bars around the city.
The next morning, we set off on a tour of the capital's contrasting neighbourhoods. 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 x 2
Sucre & optional Potosi
Buenos Aires - Sucre (Bolivia). We fly to the city of Sucre, via Santa Cruz on the morning of day 8. This sleepy white washed town boasts a leafy main square bordered by restaurants and Supreme Court buildings. After checking into our hotel, we have the rest of the day and the next day at leisure to wander along the cobbled lanes and discover the many churches and museums. High above the town there is a monastery with a cafe which offers amazing views.
There is an optional day trip excursion to the silver mining capital, Potosi, on day 9. At a chilly 4,090m, Potosi flourished during the 18th century and was, at the time, the wealthiest place in Latin America and home to the Spanish Imperial Mint. There is free time here to explore the evocations of history that can be found in the colonial architecture, ornate monuments and churches.
Overnight: Sucre | Breakfast x 2
Sucre - La Paz. Today we fly to La Paz. At over 3500m La Paz is the world’s highest capital city. 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 there are spectacular views on offer! The city is a glittering mosaic of tin, slate and tile roofs, interspersed with skyscrapers with a magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Illimani.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast
La Paz & Tiwanaku
Over the next two days there is plenty of time to explore the city. On a guided tour we take in the highlights of the colonial centre around Plaza Murillo and visit the fascinating and suitably named "Witches Market', where local women in traditional 'Cholita' dress sell anything from potions to dried llama foetuses to ward off evil spirits. We will also jump on the local buses and make our way to the Telefericos that zig zag all the way up to El Alto Altiplano for spectacular views of the city.
From La Paz we take an excursion across the Altiplano, past glimmering lakes and herds of alpacas to visit the ruins of Tiwanaku on day 12, which are some of the most important pre-Columbian ruins on the continent.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast x 2
Lake Titicaca & Copacabana
La Paz - Copacabana. Today we travel along the shores of Lake Titicaca where we spend the night in a small hotel overlooking the glistening waters among the subsistence farmers in the region, who fish in the icy waters and plant crops along the shore in Copacabana. We have the rest of the day at leisure to explore the town that gave Rio’s famous beach its name. Walk along to the Moorish-style Basilica, or wander around the ‘Mercado 2 de Febrero’. For anyone looking to extend their day's activities there is the optional excursion to the Isla del Sol, the island where the Inca Empire was formed, to pay our respects in the birthplace of the children of the lake.
Overnight: Copacabana | Breakfast, Lunch
Copacabana - Puno. Our drive continues along the lake's shore, across the border to Peru, until we reach the small lakeside town of Puno in the afternoon where we have the rest of the day at leisure.
Today there is an optional excursion by boat to visit the Uros Islands. These unique islands are made entirely of a reed called totora, which enables them to float. We’ll then move on to Taquile Island, where we can mingle with the Quechua-speaking locals and see the island's archaeological sites.
Overnight: Puno | Breakfast
Puno - Cuzco. After breakfast we board a luxury train and take the scenic journey from Puno to Cuzco (10 hours), travelling across the highland Altiplano and snow dusted mountains until we reach the fertile pocket-sized fields of corn and potatoes in Cuzco. Here we have the rest of the evening at leisure to explore the city.
On the morning of day 16 we meet a local guide and set out on a tour of the capital of the Inca Empire. We start our tour walking through the city streets, passing several Inca ruins before we reach the Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple. Later we explore the zigzag walls of Sacsayhuaman, a magnificent Incan fortress, which overlooks the city of Cuzco.
Overnight: Cusco | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1
Cuzco - Sacred Valley. Today we explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Our first port of call is a visit to the Pisac ruins, perched on a hilltop with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Then we head to the famous traditional market of the same name, which is full of colour and atmosphere. A great place for souvenirs! After lunch, we continue along the valley to the temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo with its enormous Inca terracing constructed on the side of a steep mountain. The evening is at leisure in the Sacred Valley.
Overnight: Ollantaytambo | Breakfast, Lunch
Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu. We're up early this morning for a scenic train journey to Aguas Calientes from Ollantaytambo today. Remember to get a window seat for the best view of the breath-taking scenery. In Aguas Calientes we board the bus to Machu Picchu where we enjoy a guided tour of this magnificent lost city and have plenty of free time to explore and take photos.
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. We spend the night in the spa village of Machu Picchu.
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 and 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, Dinner
Machu Picchu - Cuzco. Before we board the train back to Cuzco there is the opportunity to return to the ruins to watch the sun rise from the mountain tops and explore one of the several hiking trails: follow the steep path up to Huayna Picchu, the conical peak that rises behind the ruins or trek to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff face (please enquire with the office, as spaces are limited and it's necessary to pre-book). In the afternoon we return to Cuzco by rail and road, where we have the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Cusco | Breakfast
Cuzco - Lima. We take a short flight to the capital Lima today and transfer to our hotel in the middle-class suburb of Miraflores. The rest of the day is free to independently explore the city.
The City of Kings was once the capital of Spanish America, and the remnants of its glorious past can still be seen in the faded grandeur of the colonial churches and splendid, traditional wooden balconies in the city centre. Take a cab to the Plaza de Armas or walk the streets surrounding the Jiron de la Union for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture. Away from the busy centre, there are some superb traditional restaurants as well as archaeological museums filled to the rafters with pre-Columbian treasures.
Overnight: Lima | Breakfast
Sunday. Our tour comes to an end today, with an included transfer to the airport. 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.
Miramar Hotel by Windsor, Rio De Janeiro
Situated right on Copacabana beach in the heart of Rio’s most famous district is the charming Miramar Hotel. Each guestroom features state-of-the-art designs and includes minibar, Ipod docs, WiFi and on-call butler. Relax by the infinity edge swimming pool with courtesy beach service before dining in the onsite restaurant offering international and local delicacies and captivating views of Copacbana’s boardwalk.
Panoramic Grand Hotel , Iguazu Falls (Argentina)
Nestled on a hill overlooking the Parana River, the Panoramic hotel offers contemporary luxury accommodation in an excellent location. The hotel features an outdoor dining area, so guests can enjoy the stunning views while sipping their morning coffee as well as an outdoor pool surrounded by a lush garden. Each air-conditioned guest room provides large windows offering spectacular views of the surrounding Iguazu and Triple Frontier, a TV and air conditioning. The onsite restaurant offers gourmet regional and international cuisine, and guests can enjoy a drink from the bar in the garden, which offers amazing sunset views.
Recoleta Grand Hotel, Buenos Aires
Situated in the upscale Recoleta district of Buenos Aires, is the Recoleta Grand Boutique Hotel. Its bright air-conditioned guestrooms feature contemporary stylish furnishings and include a private bathroom, WiFi, TV and coffee makers. The property also features a spa and fitness centre for those looking to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hotel Su Merced , Sucre
Perfectly located in the heart of Sucre, this family-run hotel is just footsteps from the city’s top attractions, bars and restaurants. Set in an 18th century Spanish-style house, you’ll find the hotel is packed with charm and character, with a terrace offering views over Sucre and a patio featuring a water foundation and hand-painted tiles. Each of the unique guestrooms features colonial-inspired furniture, with chandeliers and a private bathroom. Enjoy the buffet breakfast seated in the garden or central patio and sample some tasty homemade specialties.
Europa Hotel , La Paz
The luxurious Europa hotel offers guests every comfort during their stay from plush king sized beds to under floor heating to flat screen satellite TVs. Rooms are large and modern and come with excellent ensuite facilities. There are three different spaces in the hotel where guests can relax with a beverage or a bite to eat. Buffets breakfasts and lunches are available in the Euro Bistro and a la carte dinners can be had in both the Euro Bistro and the Tempora restaurant. The hotel also offers a heated pool, gym and spa. The accommodation is just a short drive from El Alto airport.
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 Libertador Esteves , Puno
Situated on the private island of Esoves, the Libertador hotel boasts a spectacular location on a rocky hill overlooking Lake Titicaca. Linked by a bridge to the mainland, central Puno is a 5-minute drive from the hotel. The chic air-conditioned guestrooms provide private bathrooms, TV and minibar. You can dine on a range of traditional Andean, Peruvian and international dishes in the onsite restaurant, or enjoy a refreshing cocktail while watching the sunset over the lake.
The Novotel , Cusco
Situated within a converted 16th century building in the heart of Cusco, within walking distance to the Plaza de Armas is the Novotel Hotel. Guestrooms are bright and feature modern amenities including minibar, TV, and work desk. You can dine on international and local cuisine in their on-site restaurant. Alongside from its ideal location, the hotel boasts a bar which serves a wide range of drinks which you can sit back and relax with a nice drink in the lovely courtyard.
Hotel Pakaritampu , Ollantaytambo
Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley in the village of Ollantaytambo just 50 yards from the train station which is on the mainline to Machu Pichu. This delightful property exudes Peruvian charm in an idyllic setting amidst stunning gardens, perfect for relaxing in after a busy day. The onsite restaurant offers a variety of both local Peruvian delicacies and international meals for you to sample, after dinner head into the cosy lounge, kick back and enjoy the warmth from the log fire. Charmingly decorated rooms offer standard king size or twin beds, safety-deposit box, a TV with cable channels and Free WiFi access. The main square is only a ten-minute walk away. Here you'll find a selection of shops and restaurants, as well as remnants of Ollantaytambo’s magnificent Inca fortress.
El Mapi, Aguas Calientes
Perfectly located in Aguas Calientes – the El Mapi Hotel is the perfect place to explore incredible Machu Pichu. Tastefully blending the classic and modern with restored and recycled materials, this property is a hotel with a difference. Rooms have white washed walls and large windows so the beautiful scenery can pour in. Every morning guests enjoy a complimentary breakfast including the signature Belgian waffles. At the end of the day why not head to El Bar - a comfortable lounge that has plasma screens and free Wi-Fi. Pisco Sours are on Happy Hour between 5.30 and 7.00 - don't miss it!
Casa Andina Miraflores, Lima
With a contemporary exterior that shelters a collection of Peruvian artowork and colonial antiques, the classy Casa Andina Miraflores is the perfect blend of the old and new. The smart guestrooms are decorated in a neutral palette of colour in a contemporary design with the conveniences you would expect of a 4 star hotel, many with great city views. The restaurant boasts exquisite regional gourmet dishes whilst the heated swimming pool features a waterfall. The hotel is strategically located in the heart of Miraflores with Kennedy Park just two blocks away. It's a 45 minute drive to the airport.