Important Please Note
For departures after 31 December 2014 this trip has variations.
Please click here for details.
Essence of South America
|Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru
|Lima, Lima, Peru
||Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
Packed full of highlights, this journey showcases the diversity of wonders across the Andes and Amazon. At Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes, be immersed in the ancient culture of the Incas, visit the Sacred Valley and revel in the magnificent citadel ruins of Machu Picchu. At Lake Titicaca, we visit the floating Uros Islands before continuing to the lofty heights of La Paz. The Chilean capital of Santiago is home to some of Chile's most famous wineries and, further south, the beautiful 'Lakes District', with some of the most stunning mountain scenery in South America. Over the 'Lakes Crossing', lies the stunning alpine surrounds of Bariloche and, later, the lively neighbourhoods and late nights of Buenos Aires. At the border with Brazil, we experience the magnificent might of Iguazu Falls, before finally arriving in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro.
Please note the flight from La Paz to Santiago on day 14 of this trip is not included in the tour price: Please contact us or your travel agent for flight details and costs.
Why we love it:
- Packed full of highlights, this journey showcases the diversity of wonders across the Andes and Amazon.
- At Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes, be immersed in the ancient culture of the Incas, visit the Sacred Valley and revel in the magnificent citadel ruins of Machu Picchu.
- At Lake Titicaca, we visit the floating Uros Islands before continuing to the lofty heights of La Paz.
- The Chilean capital of Santiago is home to some of Chile's most famous wineries.
- At the border with Brazil, we experience the magnificent might of Iguazu Falls, before finally arriving in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1: Lima
Accommodation: Antigua Mira Flores or Similar, Lima
- On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you will be transferred to your hotel.
- Toady you will start your exploration of the Peruvian capital with a half-day city tour, kicking off at 2pm.
- 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 you will get a first-hand look at several of them on the 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.
- You will visit the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains.
- Next we will visit the Central market where we will take a walking tour. The market has a huge variety of fresh produce on offer including fruits, vegetables and even Guinea pigs. You will have the opportunity to try some local Peruvian fruits and street food.
- Next we will visit China town which is close to the Market.
- The tour will finish in Lima main square, with the option to go for dinner in Down Town or back to Miraflores.
- In your spare time you might enjoy wandering around around Miraflores, visiting Parque del Amor (Love's Park) where you can enjoy a view aross Lima's beaches, or catching 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. (Miraflores-Downtown approximately 10-15 soles). You may also want to visit the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Peru, which is home to a wonderful collection of cultural exhibits tracing the history, arts and accomplishments of the people of Peru, ranging from the original inhabitants of the land through to the Inca Empire and the Spanish conquerors.
- There are a number of restaurants and cafes to choose from for dinner. Lima has some of the most superb cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its exceptional seafood. During your time here, you may wish to try ceviche, Peru’s national dish, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers. This culinary delight is a must for all seafood lovers!
Day 2-3: Puerto Maldonado- Amazon Jungle
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Accommodation: Posada Amazonas lodge or similar, Puerto Maldonado
- You will take a two hour flight to Puerto Maldonado today. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the office in town where your will be able to store your luggage before heading off with just a small pack for your two nights in the jungle. A motorised canoe will transport you up the river to your jungle lodge is the Madre de Dios region.
- The lodge is sustainable and eco-friendly, it is built in the native style. While simple, the rooms are comfortable, with flushing toilets, cold water showers, kerosene lamps and mosquito nets.
- Multilingual guides will take you through the forest and and help you to explore the incredible flora and fauna, teaching you about the medicinal properties of the plants and pointing out the spectacular wildlife. You will see everything from macaws and monkeys to peccary, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies.
- After spending time immersed in the wilderness, you will re-board the canoes and head back to Puerto Maldonado.
Day 4-5: Cusco
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Eco inn or Similar, Cusco
- You will take a short (35 minute) flight to Cusco from Puerto Maldonado today.
- The oldest continuously inhabited city in the western hemisphere, Cusco is a wonderful place in which to stroll aimlessly or participate in an outdoor activity. If you are feeling energetic there are a myriad of adventures available in and around town, such as cycling and horse riding.
- There are plenty of opportunities to shop for handicrafts or wander around the cobblestone streets and visit museums, churches and colonial sites. You may just wish to relax with a 'cerveza' or a 'pisco sour' in one of the restaurants and 'penas' (traditional local bars) surrounding Plaza de Armas.
- You will go on a guided walking tour while you are here, visiting the Coca Museum and the San Pedro market. Ensure you take some time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 metre altitude. We recommend seeing your doctor pre-departure to check if you have any pre-existing conditions, and monitoring your health while you are in Cusco closely.
- You have included a Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) if you are interested in visiting the many museums in Cusco, it will also grant you access to the archaeological sites that surround the city, including Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Puka Pukara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
Day 6: Cusco - The Sacred Valley- Ollantaytambo
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Accommodation: Samanapaq hotel or similar
- You will drive on to the Sacred Valley on a private bus today.
- 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.
- At the Sacred Valley you will visit the stone fortress of Sacsayhuaman where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give you an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. Looking over the city from its hilltop position, the fortress is built out of massive stone blocks and is the ultimate example of the Inca's military strength.
- You will visit a local community here, to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle. If it happens to be market day, you will be able to wander the stalls and hunt down beautiful hand painted beads and ponchos. You will enjoy lunch with the local community.
- Next you will head to the town of Ollantaytambo. Built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning, this is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas and the upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.
- You may also wish to try the Hearts Cafe while you are here, a project designed to support the local community.
Day 7: Aguas Calientes
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Andina hotel or similar
- Nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu, your destination today will be Aguas Calientas. You will travel by train for 90 minutes through the winding Urubamba Valley to reach town, where you can spend some free time exploring the natural hot springs after which the town was named.
Day 8-9: Machu Picchu- Cusco
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Terra Andina hotel or similar
- Take a very early (5:30am) bus along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes) where you will be joined by a guide who will take you through the ruins. Looking at Machu Picchu for the first time, as it sits against a backdrop of forested mountains, is a truly breathtaking experience. No matter how many photos you've seen, it is hard to prepare for its awesome beauty.
- MACHU PICCHU: While it's thought Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility, there is evidence this had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Another school of thought is that this was an astronomical observatory. There's plenty of time for you to decide for yourself as you wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters.
- You will have a guided visit (approximately 1.5-2 hours) with plenty of free time afterwards. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour.
- WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Peregrine's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
- You will have the rest of today day and Day 6 free to further explore Cusco. Your included "full boleto turistico" will give you access to the archaeological sites of Qenqo and Tambomachay, in the outskirts of Cuzco.
Day 10-12: Puno- Lake Titicaca
Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Taypikala hotel or similar, Puno
- A scheduled tourist service will take you on good roads through some spectacular mountain scenery and you will stop at several sites along the way, including Inca adobe ruins.
- Puno is situated on Lake Titicaca, and is a fusion of Quechuan Indian and Aymara culture. It is recognised as the cultural capital of Peru, with an abundance of festivals, music and dancing.
- You will go on a tour of the lake on a motor boat, visiting the floating islands that are built on totora reeds. In fact everything on these islands are crafted from reed, including their boats which last up to 12 months.
- You will stay overnight with a local community in the lake region, offering you invaluable insight into daily life here. The home-stay will be a mud-brick house, the rooms have beds and multiple blankets. The drop toilets are shared, and there is no shower. Take this opportunity to practice the local language, be immersed in the culture and perhaps play a soccer game with the locals.
- Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs) where you will spend a night in a hotel.
Day 13: Puno- Tiahuanaco-La Paz
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Rosario Hotel or similar, La Paz
- Today you will travel to the Bolivian border at Desaguadero. Here you will complete immigration and customs formalities. There will be a few stops and you will be required to leave the bus to complete the formalities. The journey by road to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, will take you 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 a than two hour drive to La Paz, where you'll spend the night. You will enjoy spectacular views of the city on your approach, due to its unique location in the middle of a vast volcanic crater that resembles a bowl.
- At around 3,600 metres, La Paz feels like the top of the world. It's not far from it and vies with Tibet for the title of highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the centre of commerce, finance and industry. Despite the abundance of colonial architecture, La Paz's indigenous roots run deep, and the atmosphere in the market-filled streets is both modern and traditional.
- There are no activities planned for the final day and you will be able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
- Whilst in La Paz you will take an orientation walking tour around Down town.
Day 14-15: Santiago
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Gen Suite and Spa or similar
- You will need to book a flight to Santiago de Chile today, this flight is not included in the price of your trip and will need to be arranged seperately.
- Please book an earlier flight for today as this evening at approximately 6pm you will have a group meeting in Santiago.
- The second day in Santiago you will go on a walking city tour with your guide. The city centre itself is quite small and simple to get around, the Plaza de Armas is at the heart of the city and is home to the cathedral. The rest of the city is a jumble of shops, restaurants and parks.
- A visit to Bella Vista, Santiago's Parisian Quarter, will offer a slightly more serene perspective on the Chilean capital. Similarly, taking the cable car to Cerro San Cristobal will offer you impressive views across the city and on to the peaks of the Andes.
Day 16-17: Mendoza
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Accommodation: San Suites or similar, Mendoza
- You will make the six to seven hour trip across the Andes to Mendoza today. On the way, you may be lucky enough to spot Mt Aconcagua, the highest mountain in America, depending on the weather and clarity.
- The border crossing can take anywhere between one and three hours depending on local traffic. As such, we recommend that you bring snacks and water for the drive. please keep in mind that you will have to dispose of any fresh fruit or deli products before you cross the border into Argentina.
- Upon arrival in Mendoza, we recommend taking a stroll around the city's tree lined streets, or enjoying a coffee in a local cafe and soaking up the beauty of this well landscaped and lush city. Your centrally located hotel will make it easy for you to explore at your leisure.
- While you are in Mendoza, you will go on an included winery tour. Mendoza is the most important grape growing region in the country, producing more than 70% of Argentina's wine. It is especially well known for Malbec.
- A visit to Aristides Villanueva Street after dark is a must if you enjoy a bit of nightlife.
Day 18-19: Estancia Stay
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
Accommodation: Estancia Monte Viejo or similar
- Today we take a flight from Mendoza to Buenos Aires.
- Leaving pretty Mendoza behind you will travel on to a traditional Estancia (a rural estate)about 2 hours from Buenos Aires, where you will spend the night.
- During your time on the Estancia you can do as much or as little as you desire. Activities may also vary depending on the day. You could work with the cattle (including branding, vaccinating etc), participate in a cattle auction or visit the local town, visit a cheese factory, play volleyball, soccer etc. Alternatively you could laze by the pool and read or have a barbecue.
Day 20: Buenos Aires
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Patios De San Telmo or similar, Buenos Aires
- From the Estancia, you will continue your journey to Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan epicentre of South America. Combining the passion of Latin America with the elegance of Europe and its own distinctive style, Buenos Aires is a magical city. Each neighbourhood has a distinctive style, and you will notice that the local residents, or Portenos, are incredibly proud of their city.
- You will be taken on a walking orientation of the city to visit a selection of notable places, possibly including La Boca, where the world-class football team, Boca Juniors train, San Telmo home to a weekend antiques market, or Casa Rosada (Pink House).
Day 21: Buenos Aires
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Your trip will come to an end today after breakfast.
- The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader in each country, and professional local guides at some sites.
- • City tours of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Cusco, La Paz and an orientation walk in Santiago (including entrance fees where applicable).
- Sightseeing mentioned in the itinerary (including entrance fees where applicable)
- Train and bus to Machu Picchu (non-trekking trip), with a guided tour of Machu Picchu.
- Boat cruise on the highest navigable lake in the world - Lake Titicaca, including the floating reed islands of the Uros people.
- Arrival transfer to the Peregrine joining hotel.
- Authentic stay at a traditional Estancia in Argentina.
- Full day winery tour in Mendoza.
- Accommodation- 15 nights comfortable hotel, 2 nights estancia (ranch house), 2 nights amazon jungle lodge, 1 night homestay
- Meals- 20 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners.
- Private vehicle
- All international flights including the flight from La Paz to Santiago on day 14.
- Airport departure tax
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Travel Insurance
- Any optional tours or activities during free time
- Items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
- Aguas Calientes - Hot Springs
- Aguas Calientes - Machu Pichu Museum
- Buenos Aires - Soccer Game (seasonal)
- Buenos Aires - Tango Show
- Buenos Aires - Coastal Train
- Buenos Aires - Tigre tour
- Cusco - Cathedral
- Cusco - Chocolate Museum (learn how to make chocolate)
- Cusco - Inka Museum
- Cusco - Koricancha Temple
- Lima - Coast Biking tour
- Lima - Gastronomic Experience
- Lima - Gold Museum
- Lima - Huaca Pucllana archaeological site
- Mendoza - Chairlifts (Seasonal)
What to know
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.
Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
IMPORTANT: Australians, Americans, British, Canadians and New Zealanders, do not currently require a visa for Argentina. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. Please note that when entering Argentine Territory, the following citizens must pay a "reciprocity fee": Australians - US$100, Canadians - US$75, and Americans - US$160. The fee will be valid for multiple re-entries within a period of one year as of the date of first entry. Payment must be made entirely ONLINE and fees can no longer be paid on arrival at any airport. This fee also needs to be paid online if you are crossing the border into Argentina by land. This price is subject to change and the price on the below website will have the up-to-date costs.
How to pay the reciprocity fee online:
• Visit www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar and register to start the process
• Fill out the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information
• Print the payment receipt
• Present the printed receipt at Immigration Control on arrival in Argentina. The receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and entry to the country will be registered
Americans currently require a visa for Bolivia. Australians, British, Canadians and New Zealanders currently do not require a visa for Bolivia. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders or British do not currently require a visa for Chile. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. If you are entering Chile at Santiago International Airport as a tourist, some nationalities are required to pay a reciprocity fee (Australians US$95, Canadians US$132, Americans US$140). The fee does not apply to travellers arriving at other airports or entering the country via land borders.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Peru. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
On Heroes and Tombs-E Sabato Kiss of the Spider Woman-M Puig Argentina: A City and a Nation-J Scobie Gaucho’s and the Vanishing Frontier-R Slatta Peron & the Enigma of Argentina-T Martinez
A Traveller’s Guide to El Dorado & the Inca Empire-L Meisch Backpacking and Trekking in Peru & Bolivia-H Bradt
Crisis in Allende’s Chile-E Kaufman The Pinochet Decade-P O’Brien & J Roddick
Cut Stones and Crossroads - R Wright Exploring Cusco - P Frost The Incas and Their Ancestors - M Moseley
On this trip you may link up with travellers on another of our tours.
Public Holiday Inconveniences
Be prepared for the inconvenience of sights such as museums and churches being closed to tourists on public holidays (ie. Christmas Day and New Years Day). Throughout Latin America, quite a few museums are closed on Mondays.
Breakfasts in Latin America are simple affairs. They consist of tea or coffee, fruit juice, bread rolls, butter and jam. Eggs and fruit are sometimes available on request, for a small charge.
Please note that flights in Latin America are often not at the most convenient hours and connecting flight times can require substantial transit times at airports. We try to minimise the number of early flights and airport waits however in some cases suitable alternatives are either not practical or not available and a degree of patience and understanding is required. Flight timings provided in our trip notes are subject to change.
If you are taking a transfer with us and have arrived on an international flight, please leave by door 4 or for a domestic flight please leave by door 2.
Local Emergency numbers
PEAK South America + 55 21 96940-9208 Or +51 99605 5559 or +51 97009 4823
Seasonal Weather Conditions
From June to August the border crossing between Chile and Argentina may be closed due to snowfalls. In that event your emergency fund may be needed to purchase a flight between Santiago and Mendoza.
High altitudes may be experienced during this trip. Please refer to our Altitude Sickness document for more info.
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
18 August 2014
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Peregrine