Journey Across South America - 19 Days
Travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific as you cross the diverse continent of South America in 19 days. Starting in Rio and ending in Lima, marvel at the spectacular Iguazu Falls, visit the Witches Market in La Paz and explore the islands of Lake Titicaca, before making your way to the incredible lost city of Machu Picchu.
Today we enjoy a guided tour of Rio, the most intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. In this city of extremes the glamorous apartments of Rio’s rich and famous are set against a back drop of the favelas and half-built shanty towns that cling onto the hillsides. In the afternoon we take a cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain to enjoy spectacular views of the city with the mountains in the backdrop. There is also a lovely optional 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 artists and TV stars.
Overnight: Rio De Janeiro | Breakfast
Our morning begins boarding 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. Reaching the top of Corcovado mountain, marvel at the iconic 40m Christ the Redeemer statue, which overlooks the city with open arms. On a clear day, the views over the city and out across the ocean and outlying islands are incredible.
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
Rio de Janeiro - Foz do Iguacu. Today we fly over fertile farmlands to the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu, our base for visiting Iguazu Falls - the most magnificent waterfall in the world which straddles the border between Brazil and Argentina. Unlike most other waterfalls that have just one or two cataracts, at Iguazu Falls there are 275 cataracts over a 2.5km stretch of dense forest. The u-shaped Devil's Throat is the main gorge, where water crashes over a 1.5km-wide precipice.
We head out to the Brazilian side of the falls today, where there is a broad panorama of these magnificent cataracts and some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the cascades. There is also a very interesting bird park nearby, perfect for that must-have photo with a toucan!
Overnight: Iguazu Falls (Brazil) | Breakfast
Today its time to revisit the falls from the Argentinean side. 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 where a series of causeways link dozens of basalt islands at the top of the sheer rock face, a sight which will take your breath away! We then continue onto the famous "Devil's Throat" where fourteen falls drop with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead.
Overnight: Iguazu Falls (Brazil) | Breakfast
Foz do Iguacu - Asuncion (Paraguay). Our journey continues by road over the Paraguayan border to the capital, Asuncion this morning. This rather old world city is nestled on the shores of Rio Paraguay, where newly built sky scrapers overshadow old colonial buildings, which serve as a reminder of the years under the rule of various dictators. The rest of the day is free to explore the city or perhaps just relax and enjoy a beer in the 1950s Lido Bar.
Overnight: Asuncion | Breakfast
Asuncion - La Paz (Bolivia). On day 7 we travel to La Paz in Bolivia. 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, making it the highest capital city in the world. On arrival we have time at leisure to get ourselves acquainted with this city - walk along the Plaza Murillo, to stop and admire the indigenous women that still dress in the bowler hats and multi-coloured skirts, an act decreed by the Spanish monarch centuries ago.
The following morning we take in the city’s highlights on a guided tour, from the Government Palace to the cathedral. Another highlight is the famous Witches’ Market where you can find potions and ritual offerings. From there we 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. The rest of day 8 and day 9 is free to independently explore. There is an optional excursion to the Tiwanaku ruins, considered to be some of the continent's most important pre-Columbian ruins, where you have the chance to explore the museum which provides an amazingly fascinating insight to the history of the ruins and houses over 100 of the civilisations artefacts.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast x 3
Copacabana & Lake Titicaca
La Paz - Copacabana. Today our bus continues across the Altiplano's plains to Lake Titicaca which sits high in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru. We board a small motor launch across the lake, where we witness the farmers planting their crops along the shores, before we arrive in the town of Copacabana. This picturesque little town, with its white washed buildings, is a religious sanctuary. Its Moorish-style basilica is frequented by pilgrims who bring flowers and other gifts to be blessed by the 16th century Dark Virgin of the Lake.
The afternoon finds us travelling across the lake to the Isla del Sol (Sun Island). Legend has it that the children of the sun god sprung from the depths of the lake to found the mighty empire of Cusco, and the rock at the northern end of the island which was the children’s birthplace.
Overnight: Copacabana | Breakfast
Copacabana - Puno (Peru). We travel by bus into Peru today and onto the town of Puno, along the north western shore of Lake Titicaca. Here we make our way to the remarkable Uros islands, which are made entirely of tortora reeds, including the houses on the islands and the inhabitants' boats. We take some time to explore one of the floating islands and meet the locals, who sell their handicrafts to earn a living, before returning to Puno for the evening.
Overnight: Puno | Breakfast
Puno - Cusco. It's a scenic day-long drive across the Altiplano to Cusco, taking in the beauty of the plain as we pass by the occasional market town where bowler-hatted indigenous women tend to herds of alpacas and llamas. Our bus climbs to the pass at la Raya, the highest point on the route, and follows the hillside rivers that flow towards Cusco. We arrive into Cusco early in the evening.
The following morning, embark on a guided tour through this captivating city, taking in some of its most famous landmarks including the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, the Kenko Amphitheatre and Sacsayhuaman Fortress, just to name a few. The rest of the day is free.
Overnight: Cusco | Breakfast x 2
There is nothing on our itinerary today, so you’re free to spend the day however you wish. Continue to wander through the city’s streets or explore surrounding areas in the region on an optional excursion. There is the option to visit the town of Moray and follow the ancient agricultural irrigation paths developed by the Incas. From there continue to the town of Maras, home of the beautiful 400-year-old colonial church and salt pans. Take some time to view the salt encrusted platforms that the Incas used to extract the salt from the mountain. For those looking for more of an active adventure there is the option to go horse riding or white-water rafting on the Urubamba River.
Overnight: Cusco | Breakfast
Cusco - Sacred Valley. Today we enjoy a full day tour of the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is the popular Pisac ruins, an ancient hilltop Inca citadel high above the village, before descending to the market, where artisans from the region get together and exchange, buy or 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. We spend the night in the Sacred Valley.
Overnight: Ollantaytambo | Breakfast
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 Aguas Calientes.
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
Machu Picchu - Cusco. We have the morning at leisure to relax or there is the opportunity to return to the ruins and continue to explore some of the main trails within the site. Follow the steep path up Huayna Picchu for spectacular views over the ruins, or hike to the Inca bridge carved into the cliff edge before we return to Cusco on the train in the afternoon.
Please note these wanting to book the trails need to enquire with the office and pre-book as availability is limited.
Overnight: Cusco | Breakfast
Cusco - Lima. We fly to Lima today, Peru's bustling capital 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. We explore the colonial centre of the city on a walking tour and spend our final night in Miraflores, which is a modern middle-class suburb on the coast where our hotel is located.
Overnight: Lima | Breakfast
Sunday. 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.
Taroba Hotel, Iguazu Falls (Brazil)
Situated in the town of Foz do Iguazu, the Hotel Taroba offers modern comforts in a central location. Each air-conditioned guest room provides a minibar, TV and other modern facilities. Alongside its ideal location, the hotel also boasts a café and swimming pool with panoramic views of the town, fitness centre and massage chairs. Spend an afternoon lounging in the sun, then head out to explore in the evening – you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants close by.
Asuncion Palace , Asuncion
Set in a historic building with traditional colonial architecture, the hotel offers rooms with free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy panoramic views of Chaco Paraguayo Parks and Asunción Bay. Asuncion Palace has air-conditioned rooms styled in a warm palette and featuring French windows with floor-to-ceiling curtains. They are equipped with cable TV, minibars and some of them have seating areas. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers. Guests can expect a full buffet breakfast with regional jams and breads. Room service is available. The hotel is nearby shops and cafes and 7 blocks from the Panteon Nacional building.
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 , Cusco
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.