South America Coast to Coast - 32 days
Take in the highlights of South America in just 32 days on this whistle-stop tour of the continent's most awe-inspiring landscapes and vibrant cities. Explore the Amazon and trek the Inca Trail in Peru, visit Bolivia's Uyuni salt flats and Chile's striking Atacama Desert. Then wing your way to Argentina to taste wine in Mendoza and tango in Buenos Aires, before heading to the spectacular Iguazu Falls and ending your action-packed adventure in Rio, Brazil's party capital.
Lima - Amazon Jungle. Today transfer to the airport for your flight to Puerto Maldonado, gateway to the Amazon rainforest. From here we travel by bus followed by canoe to our lodge on the river’s edge. After lunch we will set off on a trek through the rainforest along wooden walk ways. On the way our guide will stop to show you various species of bird and explain the medicinal plants and delicate ecological systems of the Amazon Jungle. There is an opportunity to take a canoe ride drifting along one of the small lakes hidden away in the jungle, observing caiman and the abundant bird life. We then return to the lodge for dinner.
On day 3 we hike deeper in to the jungle, enjoying the surroundings and exploring the delights and hidden wonders of the Amazon Rainforest and enjoy the view of the lake from our viewing platform, where you can experience the canopy wildlife. After lunch, we take a short boat trip across the Madre de Dios River to Monkey Island. On the way over you may spot caiman from the boat. On the island we'll spot a great variety of monkeys as well as an array of birdlife.
Overnight: The Amazon (jungle lodge) | Breakfast x 1, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Cuzco - Ollantaytambo. A full day is spent visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas before staying the night with a local Peruvian family. Firstly we visit the Pisac ruins, perched on a hilltop with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains. We then go down to the famous traditional market of the same name, which is full of colour and atmosphere. 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.
If you are doing the Inca Trek to Machu Picchu, tonight you will stay in Ollantaytambo. If you are doing the Lares Trek or have opted to take the train to Machu Picchu, this afternoon, you will return to Cuzco where you will spend the night.
Overnight: Ollantaytambo | Breakfast
Ollantaytambo - Inca Trail. It's an early departure this morning to start our trek. During your hike of the Inca Trail you will cross spectacular passes and visit more Inca ruins en route to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. The trek begins after a short bus journey and the first day is a relatively easy 4½ hour 13km walk which will get you limbered up for the highest pass at Warmiwañusca (4,200m) which you will reach before lunchtime on Day two (and which translates to “Dead Woman's Pass”!). During Day two you will cover approximately 9km in about 5-7 hours and after the high pass it's all down hill as the trail winds its way along old Inca stairs to our campsite. On Day three we pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15kms in seven hours. Our final night of our trek is spent at Wiñay-Wayna.
Overnight: Inca Trail (camping) | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 3, Dinner x 3
Inca Trail - Machu Picchu - Cuzco. This morning you will rise early for the final walk to Machu Picchu and greet daybreak over the famous “Sun Gate”. There will then be time to explore on your own or simply take in the magnificence of the place after your guided tour. The Lost City of Machu Picchu was originally completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs. Located high above the fast flowing Urubamba River, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will simply take your breath away.
The ruins were only discovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another “lost city” called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still quite intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu (“Young Mountain”), which towers above the ruins. After spending most of the day at Machu Picchu you will have some free time to meander through the local markets in Aguas Calientes before returning to Cuzco by train.
Overnight: Cuzco | Breakfast
Today is free for you to relax and unwind, or explore more of Cuzco at your own pace. The oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, Cuzco was the hub of the Incan Empire and has a population of around 300,000, most of who are indigenous. The main square is called the Plaza de Armas, which has the beautiful cathedral on one side, which took a century to build, and the Church of La Compañia de Jesus on the other. Well worth exploring during your time here is the ancient archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman, which has the largest and most impressive Inca stonework of all.
Overnight: Cuzco | Breakfast
Cuzco - Puno. Leaving Cuzco, we'll drive along roads abundant with herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas before reaching the Altiplano (high plain) where our journey takes us past hot mineral pools, snow capped mountains and through villages where the locals sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters. The beautiful scenery continues all the way to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which at 3,855 metres above sea level, is the highest navigable lake in the world. We'll arrive in time so you can visit the colourful local market.
Overnight: Puno | Breakfast
This morning we depart Puno for our full day excursion on Lake Titicaca. We visit the floating Uros islands in the Bay of Puno, which are constructed by the islanders using reeds that grow in the shallow waters of the bay. You will get to meet the families who live on these islands, learning about their way of life and visiting their homes. You will also have the option to ride in a traditional reed boat before continuing our journey to the island of Taquile, a small island 45km offshore from Puno. It is well known for its tradition of intricate textiles and clothing knitted by the male locals. These textiles are regarded among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru, and you will learn about this important tradition by meeting and interacting with the islanders. You will then have the option to have a lunch made of local produce before returning to Puno.
Overnight: Puno | Breakfast
Puno - La Paz. We travel on to La Paz on day 13. 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! You will have two days to explore La Paz and it's bustling atmosphere. Our hotel is very centrally located and is just around the corner from the city's colourful indigenous street markets including the fascinating and suitably named "Witches Market'' where local women in traditional 'Cholita' dress sell such items as dead cats and llamas foetuses said to ward off evil spirits. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is also within walking distance and retains its colonial buildings including the Presidential Palace.
Overnight: La Paz | Breakfast x 2
Salar De Uyuni
La Paz - Uyuni. We fly from La Paz to Uyuni, in the South West corner of Bolivia. If it is a clear day, you will be able to see the huge expanse of the Altiplano as you fly over the landlocked country. The next morning we embark on an exhilarating three day 4WD tour to explore the Salar de Uyuni and the striking landscapes that surround it. First on the agenda is a visit to the Train Cemetery, where you can see the remains of 19th and early 20th century steam locomotives. We will then come to Colchani, the main plant for the iodisation of salt and the best place to observe the methods of salt extraction from the salar. Here ovens are used to dry the salt, which is then formed into cakes. From here we drive onto the Salt Flats themselves. Claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuní, covers some 10,500 square kilometres and is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt. The highlight of the day is Fish Island (dependent on the season). Located in the centre of the Salar, 100kms from Uyuní, this hilly outpost is covered in giant cacti amid a flat, white sea of hexagonal salt tiles. The island is so named because it has the shape of a fish.
Overnight: Uyuni (hostel) | Breakfast x 1, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 1
Uyuni - Laguna Colorada. We continue south on our epic 4WD expedition, into some of the most remote areas of the Bolivian Altiplano. You will see a variety of dramatic landscapes including smoking volcanoes, barren deserts and gravity-defying rock formations carved by the wind. In this incredibly empty landscape you'll most likely feel the furthest from civilisation you've ever been. You will visit the Laguna Colorada, which offers some truly breathtaking scenery, with several varieties of flamingos gathering in the shallow waters of the beautiful crimson lagoon.
Overnight: Laguna Colorada | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Laguna Colorada - San Pedro de Atacama. On day 18 we visit the volcanic zone ‘Sol de Mañana' (Morning Sun) at 4,850 metres above sea level. Here you'll discover a geyser basin with bubbling mud pots, hellish fumaroles and a thick aroma of sulphur fumes. Inside a small crater we will observe boiling lava and we will also stop at hot springs where you can bathe. Crossing a 5,000 metre pass we come to the beautiful Laguna Verde, which is shadowed by the cone of the Licancabur Volcano. Continuing on we will cross into Chile and come to San Pedro de Atacama in the world's driest desert. The area is famous for the salt-covered lunar landscapes, geysers, salt flats and hot springs of the Valley of the Moon, which we will explore by 4WD.
San Pedro de Atacama is a picturesque small town that looks like it has come straight from the scene of a Western with its single-storey buildings, 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 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 x 2
San Pedro de Atacama - Santiago. We fly to the sprawling metropolis of Santiago on day 20. If it is a clear day, you will have astounding views of the capital and the surrounding mountains as you come in to land. You will have three days to explore this cosmopolitan city at your own pace. For the best views of the city, take a funicular railway or hike to the top of San Cristobal, where the Statue of the Virgin overlooks the capital and the distant Andes. Here you can taste some of Chile's best wines and find some beautifully situated swimming pools.
You may wish to take an optional excursion to the Chilean coast, about two hours’ drive from Santiago. You can wander around the creative port city of Valparaiso, which has a lively tradition of imaginative street art and painted murals, or you can relax in the upmarket beach resort of Viña del Mar, trying exquisite seafood in stylish restaurants that look out onto the Pacific Ocean.
Overnight: Santiago | Breakfast x 2
Santiago - Mendoza. We travel by bus across the border into Mendoza, the epicentre of Argentina's wine country. There are great views from the top of “Cerro de la Gloria” at Parque San Martin, where you can also visit the local zoo. Situated on the foothills of the Andes, the city is a great base for some optional outdoor activities, such as white-water rafting, rappelling and horseback riding. But of course no trip to Mendoza would be complete without touring the surrounding vineyards. You can hire bikes and cycle the ‘Ruta de los Vinos' (wine route), visiting both ancient cellars and working wineries – tasting some of the world's best Malbecs en route.
Overnight: Mendoza | Breakfast x 3
Mendoza - Buenos Aires. We fly to the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, known as the "Paris of South America" due to its lovely green parks, plazas and wide boulevards. You will have three days to explore the quirky neighbourhoods and artistic markets of the city, where European and Latin American influences have mixed together to create a city like no other. Whether you are a culture lover, bargain hunter or night owl, Argentina's capital city has plenty to keep you busy.
Overnight: Buenos Aires | Breakfast x 2
Buenos Aires - Iguazu Falls. We fly over fertile farmlands to the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu, our base for visiting the famous Iguazu Falls - the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. Unlike most other waterfalls that have just one or two cataracts, at Iguazu Falls there are 275 cataracts in a magnificent 3 kilometre long U shape that we will visit from both the Brazil and Argentinean sides.
Overnight: Iguazu Falls (Brazil) | Breakfast x 1
Iguazu Falls - Rio de Janeiro. Today we fly on to Rio de Janeiro, which has many things to see and do. A highlight for most would be to experience the majestic gaze of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado, the breath-taking panoramic views from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and the vibrant coloured tiles of the Selaron staircase. 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. In the city centre, you can stroll around Rio's old colonial buildings and wander around the skyscrapers of the financial district. Alternatively, you may like to visit the Botanical Gardens, one of the world-famous beaches of Copacabana or Ipanema, or the beautiful Rodrigues de Freitas Lagoon. If you are in Rio de Janeiro around February/March, get ready for the world's biggest party, the Rio Carnival.
Overnight: Rio De Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
Inca Trail , Lares Trek or Machu Picchu by Train
If you have always dreamed of trekking the Inca Trail you will need to book your trip in advance (4 months is ideal) as the number of Inca Trail permits is limited to 500 per day. Booking early gives us the best opportunity for securing one of these permits.
When booking your tour with us we'll need your full name as it appears in your passport, date of birth, nationality and passport number. With this information we can then apply for a permit.
If the Inca Trail is unavailable, you can opt to hike the Lares Trek. With its breathtaking passes, glacial lakes and hot springs, this less crowded option, which also ends with a full day’s visit to Machu Picchu, is thought to be equally if not more spectacular than the Inca Trail. Alternatively you could also choose to spend your time in Cuzco and take a day trip to Machu Picchu by train.
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.Read More
Rio to Lima
This tour runs in reverse from Rio to Lima. Please refer to the Trip Notes below for details. 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.Read More