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Ultimate South America tour
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Ultimate South America

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4.7 . Excellent
98%
Travel Style: N/A
Physical Level: Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level: You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
63 days
From: $ 8,835 $ 140 / day
Checking price

Overview

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

Short Description

2018 TRIP ITINERARY CHANGE – From January next year, the trip code and itinerary of this trip will change. Please see Grand South America (GGBWC) on our website 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.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Lodging Level Basic - 2 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City N/A
End City N/A
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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 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. 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 located 2,800 metres above sea level, where it’s common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender or fitness. Please refer to the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes for important information about altitude sickness before and during your trip. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Day 2 Shiripuno 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, which will take around five 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 introduce you to the local community and take you on a walk around the farm. 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. Notes: Accommodation at the lodge is basic and it consists of a bed and linen. Bathroom facilities are shared and showers are refreshingly cold.

Day 3 Shiripuno Lodge (Amazon Jungle)

In the morning after breakfast, travel by canoe for 45 minutes to the starting point of today's hike. The trek is relatively easy and, depending on the group’s pace, should take around three to four hours. 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 we'll eat 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, we will then get back on board the Canoe and travel back to the Amazon lodge (approximately 1.5 hrs ) Once we get back to the lodge we have time to shower and freshen up for dinner. After dinner we’ll head out on a night jungle walk!

Day 4 Banos

Breakfast will be served at around 7 am today in the lodge. Afterwards, travel back to Tena the same way you arrived and then catch a local bus to Banos (approximately three hours). You should arrive into the city of Banos around midday, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, perhaps use your free time soaking in the city's natural baths or go for a hike to the powerful falls of Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron).

Day 5 Banos

Today, you'll have 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 to 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.

Day 6 Quito

Use your last morning in Banos to see anything you think you may have missed. In the afternoon venture back to Quito by local bus, which usually takes around five hours. You should expect to arrive at the hotel around 6 pm, with your evening then free. Freshen up and possibly head out for dinner in the city. Ceviche is the speciality in most seafood restaurants or you could even try the Ecuadorian street food star of roasted guinea pig.

Day 7 Visit to Otavalo / Quito

Early this morning, head north out of Quito by local bus to the famous Otavalo Market (approximately 2-3 hours). This day trip will give you ample amounts of time to peruse Ecuador’s most important Indian markets. Villagers from the surrounding countryside descend on the town once a week to sell everything from handmade goods to livestock, fruit and vegetables. Pick up some souvenirs, practice your bargaining skills (halve the price then work your way up) and take plenty of colourful photos (ask for permission when necessary). Head back to Quito in the late afternoon for one last night in town. Perhaps venture out for a final dinner with the group and share your stories of the trip.

Day 8 Lima

You'll need to book a flight from Quito to Lima for today (not included in the tour price). There will be a meeting at 6pm, so please allow enough time for this. Welcome to Lima, Peru. 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.

Day 9 Lima

This morning at around 9am your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. 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. There will be time for you to go inside if you wish, however the entrance fee is not included in the tour price. The city tour will finish at around midday, you may choose to head out for lunch with the group. The afternoon is free to explore the city on your own. In the evening, possibly head to one of Lima's many seafood restaurants to try one of the nation's favourite dishes, ceviche.

Day 10 Paracas

This morning at around 6am travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Paracas (approximately four 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. The tour also includes a visit to the Pre-Incan museum. The area is also the birthplace of Peru's national drink, the Pisco Sour. For some local food specialities head to the boulevard near the beach and try some tejas, which are small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits. In the evening, experience the nightlife of Paracas.

Day 11 Nazca

This morning you can choose to visit the Islas Ballestas, which will be at an additional cost. There will be lots of opportunities to see wildlife such as penguins, sea lions and flamingos from a speedboat. The Ballestas are part of the Paracas National Reserve and sometimes known as the 'Galapagos of Peru' – so expect unspoiled coastlines, flourishing vegetation and wildlife such as pelicans and red-footed boobies. Late 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. These enigmatic wonders are best seen from the air, as the area and inscriptions are so vast. For an additional cost, head up in a small four/six seat plane for a 30-minute flight over all 26 impressions. Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. While plastic bags are provided on board, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach. In the early evening, drive to your hotel for the night. Notes: While it's impossible to guarantee the safety of air operations, your leader can only assist you to book this activity through companies Intrepid assesses are safer to fly with. Your leader is specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting booking this activity through any other operators.

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 10 hours and there wont be any stops) Lunch will be served on the bus, later on around dinner time you'll be given 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 Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city.

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.

Day 14 Colca Canyon

In the morning around 8am venture out by minivan to Chivay (approximately five 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). Notes: Accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. While there are en suite toilets, there's no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy.

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. There will be a short walk around the area (approximately 45 minutes) before you return to Chivay. In the afternoon travel back to Arequipa, which takes around five hours. Enjoy a free evening to do as you wish.

Day 16 Arequipa/ Overnight bus to Cuzco

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 730pm transfer to the bus station. Soon after, board an overnight bus to Cuzco (approximately 11 hours with no stops, however 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. 

Day 17 Cuzco

The overnight bus usually arrives into Cuzco between 630 - 7am this morning. Head to the hotel in town for breakfast. After breakfast your leader will 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 and in that 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 Cuzco. Please speak with your leader about this. During your free time there are plenty of optional activities available. Please speak with your tour leader if you're interested in booking something. This evening we will have a briefing in preparation for the Inca Trail which begins tomorrow.

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 Cuzco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cuzco, 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 Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6kg 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 Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days. Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Today 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 Cuzco 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.

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 five 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 two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, 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 Cuzco. 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.

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 for around 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 two-hour descent down the Inca steps, 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 three-hour train to the town of Aguas Calientes, 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.

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 4am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 430am. One the final checkpoint opens at 5am, begin the final leg of the trek. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. 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 hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunrise 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 - 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 Incan 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 we head to Ollantaytambo for the night. Notes: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu. Accommodation

Day 22 Sacred Valley / Cuzco

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 Cuzco.

Day 23 Cuzco

Today enjoy free time to relax, shop or explore more of Cuzco'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 Cuzco.

Day 24 Puno/Lake Titicaca

In the morning travel by local bus for seven hours through the Altiplano plateau to Puno. 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.

Day 25 Puno

Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Today take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, 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 mud-brick 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 plenty of layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or perhaps play a game of soccer in the village with the local kids.

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 three hours) arriving around 3pm. The remainder of the day is free. Puno is the hometown of 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 you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813 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. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/

Day 27 La Paz

At around 7 am travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero (approximately 3 hours ) and cross the border into Bolivia. You will say goodbye to your Peruvian leader and will be met by a 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 anywhere between 6-9 hours (depending on the border crossing time). In the evening, perhaps head out for an optional group dinner. Notes: Don't forget that Bolivia's time zone is 1-2 hours ahead of Peru.

Day 28 La Paz

Today is a free day in La Paz. 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 in the Rosario district.

Day 29 La Paz / Overnight Bus

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 in the Rosario district. 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 12-13 hours). There are comfortable recliner seats on the bus, but it can be cold on-board so it’s important to bring warm clothing and wear base layers. There’s usually a toilet on the bus and the driver will also make a couple of stops along the way.

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.

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.

Day 32 Sucre

Another free day to explore Sucre. There’s also proud food culture in Sucre, so enjoy some delicious empanadas at a restaurant or fresh juice at the Central Market.

Day 33 Potosi

In the morning take a local bus to Potosi, which should take around 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.

Day 34 Uyuni Town

Today, leave Potosi behind and travel to the city of Uyuni (approximately 5-7 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.

Day 35 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. Notes: Please be aware that from December to March, there’s a risk of the salt lake being flooded. If this is the case, the itinerary will be adapted to accommodate this.

Day 36 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.

Day 37 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

Day 38 San Pedro de Atacama

Use today to get under the skin of this burgeoning tourist destination. San Pedro’s cafe and restaurant scene has grown considerably over the last couple of years. With a mix of Chilean, French and Italian influences, you’ll be sure to find a great spot for lunch and dinner. Perhaps head out on an optional tour to the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) or join an astronomical tour once the stars come out.

Day 39 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.

Day 40 Salta

The next two days are free 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.

Day 41 Salta / Overnight bus

Perhaps stroll the streets, take a paddleboat on the lake or pop into one of the many museums. In the afternoon or early evening, travel by overnight bus to Mendoza (approximately 18 hours). The bus is quite comfortable, with reclining seats and a toilet on board.

Day 42 Mendoza

Arriving at around midday on Day 15, spend the next few days in the heart of Argentinian wine country, Mendoza. Use the first day to get your bearings: the Plaza Independencia is a good place to start. The city centre is precisely landscaped and filled with trees, squares and parks. Please note that most commercial activity in Mendoza takes a break from 1 pm until 4 pm to allow for the traditional siesta.

Day 43 Mendoza

Today is a free day. As this is Argentina's most important grape growing region, you may like to head out on a winery tour. Making up 70% of the country's wine, Malbec is the region's signature variety. If you’re a thrill seeker, you can zipline high above Mendoza’s lakes along a series of canopy wires. Various city and mountain tours are also available if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground. At night, the city’s attention shifts to the many restaurants, bars and pubs along the Avenida Aristides Villanueva.

Day 44 Mendoza / Buenos Aires

Spend the morning visiting any last spots of interest in town then fly to Buenos Aires in the afternoon.

Day 45 Buenos Aires

Perhaps explore the cobblestone streets of San Telmo and browse its antiques markets, then continue to the Plaza de Mayo to see the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada. In the evening, you might like to enjoy a tango show, a football match or a steak and glass of Malbec in one of the city’s fashionable restaurants.

Day 46 Buenos Aires

Explore more of Buenos Aires - 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.

Day 47 Buenos Aires

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.

Day 48 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, which is 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.

Day 49 Montevideo

Your adventure continues with a three-hour local bus ride to Montevideo. The city is Uruguay's capital and its commercial and cultural centre, but it still retains a laidback atmosphere. On arrival take part in an optional city tour (at your own expense). If you’d prefer to explore on your own, stroll around the Ciudad Vieja (Old City) and visit the Plaza Independencia - home to the eerie underground Artigas Mausoleum. Check out the Gaucho Museum, chill out on a city beach or hang out with artists and musicians at the Mercado del Puerto.

Day 50 Estancia Stay

Today make the 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.

Day 51-53 Estancia Stay

Day 54 Foz do Iguacu

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.

Day 55 Iguazu Falls - Argentinean 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.

Day 56 Iguazu Falls - Brazilian Side / Paraty

Take an included flight from Foz de Iguazu to Sao Paulo (the flight will usually be early in the morning, however  the it may vary across departure dates) From Sao Paulo take a bus (approximately 6 hours) to Paraty. Head to the hotel in Paraty and check-in to the rooms. Shorlty after your Tour Leader will take you on an orientation walk around Paraty.

Day 57-58 Paraty

Day 59 Ilha Grande

Today, travel by local bus and 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.

Day 60-61 Ilha Grande

Day 62 Rio de Janeiro

Board a boat to the small port of Mangaratiba today, and from here take a minivan to Rio de Janeiro. The total journey should take about three-and-a-half hours. 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, Christ Statue and Favela 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.

Day 63 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.

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Price Per Day: $ 140 per day
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3,182 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

98%
4.7 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 2,376
Great 625
Average 101
Disappointing 37
Terrible 38
Value
4.7
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.7
Meals
4.7

Ultimate South America

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Company Reviews

Fantastic Trip in Southern Africa

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
We did this trip, Explore Southern Africa, from Aug 9 - 26 this year and we thought it was probably our most memorable trip ever. The variety of wildlife (we saw the big 5 plus giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, wildebeests, impalas, baboons, ...) and our proximity to them that we experienced was unparalleled. The scenery was like nothing we had ever experienced before (our first time anywhere in Africa). Although it was winter time there when we went and many areas were looking very dry it was an experience not to be missed. Additionally we were made to feel welcome everywhere that we went. The highlights of the trip for us would be the two days to the Okavango Delta, the optional game drive through Chobe National Park and day 13 with our guide tracking rhinos in Matabos and going to the African village. Our tour leader, cook and drivers were excellent as were our co-travellers. The meals that were prepared for us tasted great, were well balanced and no one ever left hungry. The 2 person tent accommodations weren't the most luxurious but they allowed one to stay right in the "middle of the action" with the animals in close proximity to our overnight homes. This being the case, we never felt unsafe in our tents at any point. The overlander vehicle didn't have air conditioning, as is standard, however if you made sure to open windows for air circulation during the drive the heat wasn't so bad. If one is prepared to put up with these few inconveniences and willing to help out with camp set up, vehicle clean up, and meal clean up afterwards (this is a participatory type of trip where certain tasks are required of the travellers) it is an experience not to be missed. It all makes one more appreciative of the luxuries that we have at home that many do not have in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
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Only excellent value for money and memories to last a lifetime.

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Faultless service and incredible trips, at a really good price. Plus they are all really nice peeps, by email or phone, and we need more of that in the world.

So far, and still counting, I've used them for:

Alaska
Tanzania
Kenya
Uganda
Northern India
Lombok
Bali
Russia
Mongolia
China
Nepal

Never had a bad experience, only excellent value for money and memories to last a lifetime.
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The Trip from Hell Avoid Intrepid Travel

2.0
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Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities5.0
Lodging3.0
Transportation1.0
Meals3.0
The Trip from Hell
Avoid Intrepid Travel!
My daughter and I recently returned from a tour in Central Asia booked through Intrepid Travel. After about 24 hours of travel, we were not met at the airport nor did we have a room. After getting that straightened out, the next morning we were informed that the vehicle we would be traveling in had no air conditioning. The temperatures were over 100 degrees to about 115 degrees or more. The heat was unbearable and no one inquired about how we were coping or their health. Our welfare was ignored. So ww left the tour early so we wouldn’t have to camp in the desert for two nights.
The tour leader booked our flights to Istanbul but neglected to tell us we would have to rebook our flights to Los Angeles. Upon arriving at the airport in Istanbul, we were told we couldn’t get on the flight. New tickets cost us $1800 EACH!
Intrepid Travel has refused to take responsibility or provide any satisfaction in this matter.
BEWARE!
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It was an incredible experience!

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We just wrapped up a Tanzania family safari. It was an incredible experience!

Even the cook made sure my picky teenager would like his breakfast by fixing him his scrambled eggs the way he likes them.

I’ve been dreaming of this trip with my son for a long time and I’m glad I booked it with you guys! We’ll cherish the memories we made for ever

If you’re looking for a real adventure kinda trip then go with Intrepid!

Thank you Thank you Thank you
Johan & Maxime
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Perfect Itinerary, Guide spoiled a lot of the trip

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide2.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals4.0
The perfect itinerary allowed us to efficiently visited all the top sites with great lodgings. Unfortunately, the guide cut short stops at the Bahai Gardens, Acco, Tel Aviv, and Jerrico on days when we got to our hotel room in the early afternoon--all group members were upset by this. This Palestinian Christian guide emphasized unimpressive churches and minimized all sights that were secular, Muslim, Jewish, ancient, or other faiths. He made bizarre strident political comments about how great Mao Zedong was, praised Putin, said Palestinian people "had never done anything wrong in their history," talked about the Jews killing Jesus--all with a lot of anger. He knew a lot of about Christinaity, not much about anything else. He did a lot to make what could have been the perfect trip, mediocre.

(I would recommend the trip, but only if I knew it was a different guide.)
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I loved the history of this trip

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I loved the history of this trip, as well as the spectacular scenery. Our guide was knowledgeable and helpful. Having arrangements made for places to stay and transport, plus some activities, but with plenty of free time, made for a perfect balance for me. Breakfasts were delicious!
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Details

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 16

Accomodations

Hotel (45 nights),Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights),Dormitory (2 nights),Estancia (3 nights),Homestay (1 night),Lodge (3 nights),Overnight bus (5 nights)

Guides

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Additional Information:

Finish point

  • Hotel Santa Clara
  • Rua Decio Vilares #316
  • Copacabana
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • BRAZIL

Trip ID#:

intrepid-GGRWC

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