The captivating power of Iguazu Falls is a fine introduction to South America, as is stunning Rio de Janeiro, where we have time to enjoy such well known sights as Corcovado, the Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana. A flight across the breadth of the Amazon and the Andes brings us to the Peruvian capital of Lima. Explore the city and the vast Peruvian tracts of Amazon Jungle. High up in the Andes is Cusco, the former stronghold of the Incas and gateway to the Sacred Valley and magnificent Machu Picchu. On one of the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, we visit a Uros Indian community, before continuing on to the lofty Bolivian heights of La Paz. Stylish Santiago is home to some of Chile's most famous wineries and a short distance to the breathtaking mountains, picturesque lakes and towering volcanoes of the 'Lakes District'. Across the border in Argentina, high alpine adventure and scenery await in Bariloche, before arriving back in the lively tango town of Buenos Aires.
Please note regional flights are not included in the tour price: Please contact us or your travel agent for flight details and costs.
Day 1 - Buenos Aires
On arrival at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza Airport (international) or Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (domestic), you are met and transferred to your hotel in the city. Please look for your transfer guide at the airport - they will be holding a sign with your name on it. Once you have checked into the hotel the remainder of your first day is free. In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the notice board at hotel reception to confirm the exact time and place of your meeting. This is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2 - Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is home to 11 million 'portenos', a name given to the inhabitants of Buenos Aires that literally means 'residents of the port'. It has been shaped by a history riddled with conflict and struggles. Even the achievement of independence in 1816 did not resolve ongoing disputes between local residents and conservative provincial landowners. However, following a succession of military juntas, Argentina now has a stable, democratic government. Our city tour of the Argentine capital combines bus transportation and walking and takes us to the district of Recoleta, famous for its cemetery often referred to as a miniature city-within-a-city because to its size. This place is also famous as the resting place for Argentina's favourite First Lady, Eva Peron. We also visit Palermo, Plaza San Martin, Plaza de Mayo and the colourful neighbourhood of La Boca, with its colourful wooden buildings. The afternoon is free for us to explore the city further at our leisure. In the evening it is also possible to arrange to see a tango show. Please ask your tour leader for more information.
Day 3-4 - Buenos Aires - Iguazu Falls
This morning we fly to the Argentinean town of Puerto Iguazu situated on the northern border with Brazil. Once we have checked into our hotel we cross the border and spend the afternoon at the Brazilian side of the stunning Iguazu Falls where we are confronted with fantastic panoramic views. For those who so desire you can also take an optional short helicopter flight over the falls for a birds-eye view of this spectacular setting. In the late afternoon we return to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina. The following day we visit the Argentinean side of the Iguazu Falls where we enjoy an action-packed day, with some great sightseeing and a jungle walk. Later in the day we get to witness the awesome power of the Falls close-up, as we take a power boat ride to the Falls thunderous base. At day's end we return to Puerto Iguazu to spend the night. Twenty metres higher than Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls are without doubt one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Located at the confluence of the Rio Iguazu and the Rio Alto Parana, the water cascades over the edge of a 2.5 kilometre-wide plateau in 275 separate falls.
Brazilian Visas If you require a visa for Brazil please ensure that you obtain a ''Multiple Entry'' Visa as you will be crossing into Brazil twice during your stay at Iguazu.
Day 5-7 - Foz do Iguacu - Rio de Janeiro
In the morning we cross the border again into Brazil and transfer to the Foz do Iguacu airport for our flight to Rio de Janeiro. The Portuguese established a small, fortified settlement on the western side of Rio de Janeiro Bay in 1560. The name means 'River of January', a reference to the month when it was founded. The sugar boom and resulting slave trade saw the settlement grow so rapidly that by the 18th century, the population had reached 50,000 and the city had also become the chief port for a thriving gold industry. Rio is today regarded as the holiday capital of Brazil and its inhabitants, known as 'Cariocas', pursue life with a zest. The city is characterised by beautiful white sandy beaches and rolling surf, with towering mountains forming a spectacular backdrop. During our time here we take a tour of the city including a visit to Sugar Loaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which stands on top of a peak known as Corcovado. The views from here are simply sensational. The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the colourful and vibrant nightlife and the laid-back and friendly nature of Brazilians will help make your visit to Rio a memorable one.
Day 8 - Rio de Janeiro - Lima
Today we are transfered to the airport for our flight to Lima on the other side of the continent. On arrival at Lima airport we are transferred to our hotel in the well-known coastal suburb of Miraflores.
Day 9 - Lima
Today after a short meeting with our Peruvian leader we start our exploration of the capital with a half-day city tour. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, it was from Lima that all Spanish territories in South America were governed. Few cities at that time could rival Lima's power, wealth and opulence. However its glory days ended in 1746 when the city was virtually destroyed by an earthquake. Many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and we get a first-hand look at several of them on our tour. The striking Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), flanked by some of the most important buildings in town such as the cathedral, the huge Government Palace and the Archbishop's Palace, constitutes the heart of the city. We visit the cathedral and the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. The afternoon is free to do your own exploration of Lima. You may wish to wander around Miraflores or perhaps catch a taxi to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Museum, which is renowned for its ancient pottery collection. Please remember that you must agree on a fare with the driver before catching a taxi, as the taxis here do not have meters.
Day 10-11 - Iquitos - Amazon River
We make a very early start and fly to Iquitos in the heart of the Amazon. Our flight usually departs before dawn and takes about two hours. Upon arrival we enjoy a short sightseeing tour of the colonial parts of Iquitos. The economic heyday of this city was from the late 1800s until the early 1900s, when its surrounding region was the world's foremost source of raw rubber. Vast fortunes were amassed during the rubber boom and evidence of this can still be seen in the assortment of charming historic buildings. Many of the mansions are adorned with elaborate Portuguese and Italian ceramic tiles. Iquitos is situated on the banks of the Amazon River and can only be reached by aircraft or riverboat. In the afternoon we board a motorised boat to our jungle lodge. On the way we visit Belén floating village, a major provisions centre for those living in this area of the Amazon Basin. Situated in the richly diverse Amazon Rainforest, our jungle lodge is a great base for exploring the area. During our stay we visit the Yagua native community, one of the oldest tribes in the region, as well as the natural reserve along the Yanayacu River. Our local guide leads us on a walk through this reserve, where we may come across some of the vast range of flora and fauna. If we are lucky we may see, on the river, some pink Amazonian dolphins and of course the infamous piranhas.
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 12 - Iquitos - Lima
In the morning we have the opportunity to take another jungle hike or, alternatively, you can decide to relax in the lodge, before travelling back to Iquitos by boat. Depending on our schedule we may have some free time to explore the town by ourselves before catching our flight back to Lima. We arrive back at our hotel in Lima in the early evening.
Day 13-14 - Cusco - The Sacred Valley
Today we fly to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, where we take an afternoon walking tour to explore this fascinating city. Please remember to walk slowly and take it reasonably easy upon arrival, as you will no doubt feel the effects of altitide as we have travelled from sea level up to 3350 metres. Cusco is a favourite destination of many visitors to Peru. Its main sites radiate outwards from the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the 17th century Baroque cathedral. It was in this very plaza that the Spanish conquistadors put to death the last Inca king, Tupac Amaru I. As we wander the streets and side alleys of the city we witness the perfect tapering Inca stonework that provided the foundations for many of Cusco's colonial and modern buildings. Our comprehensive sightseeing tour of the city's main sights includes the cathedral and Koricancha Temple. We then take to the surrounding hills and visit the impressive ceremonial ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give us an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. In our free time, it is also possible to visit the Inca Museum, Religious Art Museum, Church of San Blas and Santa Catalina Museum. The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River. Today we still see evidence of the Incas' engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). On our full day tour of the Sacred Valley we visit the Awana Kancha tourist centre where we see llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco all in the one place, the ruins at Qenko, the colourful market town of Pisac and the towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress. A walk up to the top is rewarded by fine views over the village and out further into the valley.
Day 15-16 - Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco
We board an early morning train to the town of Aguas Calientes where we overnight. There are some small shops and restaurants in the town where we can while the time away. The next morning we take a bus up the steep, zigzagging road to the impressive Lost City of the Incas - Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and ‘lost’ for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them. We tour the site with our guide and then have some free time to explore by ourselves, before taking the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes. In the late afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.
Day 17-18 - Peru's Challenge Community Project - Cusco
This morning we enjoy a visit to the Peru's Challenge Community Project at Pumamarca, located in a beautiful valley just 10 kilometres from the centre of Cusco. The Peru's Challenge Program works to create opportunities for children living in the Andes region. The program was started by Australian, Jane Gavel and Selvy Ugaz from Peru. Since October 2003, Peru's Challenge has helped nearly 1000 families and started to educate over 500 children in numerous communities. We are a sponsor of the Peru's Challenge program at Pumamarca, providing support through the 'Small Loans for Community Development' scheme and through the Peregrine Community Trust. The visit offers a rare look at the challenges faced by many small farming communities around Peru. It is both educational and inspirational.
During our visit we wander through the fields and watch the locals tend their crops, whilst in the village we visit the local school and also see the women working in the handicraft centre. If you wish to make a donation to the Peru's Challenge program, the recently launched Peregrine Community Trust is the easiest and most convenient way to do so. Details on our Trust can be found at http://www.peregrineadventures.com/community-trust.
We return to Cusco in the early afternoon.
Day 19 - Puno
We travel by bus today to the town of Puno, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3810 metres. This scheduled tourist service takes us on good roads initially through some spectacular mountain scenery and we stop at several sites along the way, including Inca adobe ruins. Lunch is included on a stop in the small town of Sicuani. Along the way we also make a short roadside stop at La Raya, which at 4335 metres is the highest point on our journey. We also drive through the large sprawling town of Juliaca on our way to Puno, which is a colourful and lively place renowned for its traditional street dancing, often performed in celebration of Catholic festive days in February each year. An important agricultural centre, Puno is reasonably compact and centred around the pedestrian part of Calle Lima, which is full of restaurants and bars. The town is a launching pad for excursions out on Lake Titicaca whilst on the surrounding plateaus, grazing alpacas and llamas are familiar sights.
Day 20 - Lake Titicaca - Sillustani - Puno
This morning we leave our hotel by local trishaw and head for the lake and board our boat. One of our first stops is on one of the floating reed islands of the Uros people, who still live as they have done so for centuries. The islanders use totora reeds for many things, from building their homes and boats to producing hand-woven mats. We then make our way across the lake back to Puno and continue by road to Sillustani, where located on a small peninsula are well-preserved burial towers called 'chullpas'. Constructed by the Colla people in pre-Incan times, these 'chullpas' often have lizards carved into their stone exterior; lizards are considered a symbol of life because of their ability to regrow their tails. The complex engineering feat involved in the construction of these conical towers, which stand up to a height of 12 metres, continues to amaze archaeologists even today. We return to our hotel in Puno in the late afternoon.
Day 21 - Tiahuanaco - La Paz
Peru and Bolivia both share the waters of Lake Titicaca, and today we follow the shores of the lake to the Bolivian border at Desaguadero. Here we complete our immigration and customs formalities. The journey by road to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, takes us via the ancient ruins of Tiahuanaco. This was the base of a great civilisation that began around 500 BC before mysteriously 'disappearing' around 1200 AD. It is believed that the ceremonial complex date back to the 8th century AD and was once at the centre of a powerful and self-sustaining empire based in the southern Central Andes. The sprawling ruins comprise of temples, courtyards, terraced pyramids, monolithic stone statues and gateways. The most famous structure is the Puerta del Sol (Gateway of the Sun). From the ruins it is less than a two-hour drive to La Paz, where we spend the night. We enjoy spectacular views of the city on our approach, due to its unique location in the middle of a vast volcanic crater that resembles a bowl.
Day 22 - La Paz
We spend the morning visiting the sights of La Paz - the highest capital in the world. Towering over the city is Mount Illimani, which reaches a height of 6439 metres with its snow-covered peaks. Much of La Paz is modern; however, there are still some examples of late 19th century architecture such as the Presidential Palace, La Paz Cathedral and National Congress. We view these and visit a few of the city's small, but fascinating museums as well as wander around the Witches Market, where they sell some unusual medicinal potions. A short distance from the town centre is the Valley of the Moon - an eroded maze of canyons and pinnacles that form a bizarre landscape. The afternoon is free for personal exploration.
Day 23-24 - La Paz - Santiago
We transfer to the airport for our flight to the Chilean capital, Santiago de Chile. During our stay in Santiago we drive south from the city to the Concha y Toro winery located in Pirque, in Maipo Canyon. Founded in 1883, this is one of Chile's most famous vineyards. The cellars, built with materials dating back to the 18th century, are situated six metres underground to maintain the ideal temperature needed for fine wines. We stroll around this beautiful estate before moving to the cellars, where some of the different stages involved in the local winemaking process are explained. And finally, we have the opportunity to taste some of the wines that have made this place so famous. Returning to the city we start our exploration of the Chilean capital. This city has experienced a turbulent history that has included native wars, floods and earthquakes. A walking tour takes us to many of the outstanding attractions in the city centre before we drive through the main avenues of the old districts, across the Bohemian neighbourhood of Bellavista and up San Cristobal Hill for a magnificent panoramic view of the city and the Andes Mountain Range. Then we visit the modern parts of Santiago to see elegant residential neighbourhoods, as well as shopping and financial districts. The tour ends at the artisan village of Los Graneros Del Alba, where the craftsmen can be seen at work. Here, we also have time to walk around or do some shopping.
Day 25-26 - Santiago - Lakes District
In the morning we are transferred back to Santiago airport for our flight to Puerto Montt. We are then transfered to Puerto Varas nestled on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, one of the largest natural lakes in South America. The city is well known for its German traditions, its food, its fish and seafood and its superb natural environment. The perfect cone of Osorno volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador are clearly visible from the lakefront. We have a free day in Puerto Varas for some optional activities such as a hike to the Orsono Volcano, or a visit to Chiloé Island. Alternatively you may just want to sit back, relax and take in the stunning views from Puerto Varas.
Day 27 - Puerto Varas - Lakes Crossing - Bariloche
Today we take the regular boat and bus crossing service from Chile to Argentina via the Todos Los Santos, Frias and Nahuel Huapi Lakes and so to the Argentinean alpine city of Bariloche. The scenery on this day will be stunning so make sure you have your camera handy.
Day 28 - Bariloche - Buenos Aires
Bariloche has a distinctly alpine feel to it. It is set on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi Lake, the largest lake in Nahuel Huapi National Park, and only 16 kilometres away from Cerro Cathedral. It is also one of the most popular winter ski resort areas in Argentina. We have time this morning for some optional excursions that include exploring the town, visiting the Patagonian Museum or taking a hike to the top of Cerro Otto, located eight kilometres from town. There is a cable car there that takes us to the top for a great view over the lake and town. If you have a sweet tooth, then the chocolate is something that is not to be missed!
In the evening we take our final flight from Bariloche to Buenos Aires.
Day 29 - Buenos Aires
Our adventure ends this morning in Buenos Aires after breakfast