36 days

South America in Depth

South America in Depth

UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima

The panorama from Basilica del Voto Naciona

The Amazon Basin

Tasting Chile's wine

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

Andean town of Banos

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco

The colourful market town of Pisac

The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu

Puno - a town four kilometres above sea-level

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Iguaçu Falls

The 'Devil’s Throat' of Iguazu

Recoleta Cemetery and Eva Peron’s tomb

Argentina's capital Buenos Aires

La Paz - the world's highest 'unofficial' capital city

The potions of 'Witches’ Market'

Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer

Tiahuanaco's 'Gateway of the Sun'

Trip rating
  •  

    “I love showing people the phenomenon of the luminescent plankton that you can see in some of our beaches, far away from city lights. The water in Brazil is warm, so it’s not hard to convince people to get in the ocean at night. Once they are in the water, people are so enchanted by the green lights surrounding them that it is a magical moment. I love seeing their reaction.” Thomas Hecke, Peregrine local leader.

    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.

    Itinerary

    Day 1-2 - Quito

    • Your tour will begin with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please ask the hotel reception for details of the meeting's location.
    • Quito sits 2,850 metres above sea level, under the towering Volcan Pichincha. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes.
    • You will visit the Old Town of Quito on Day 2. The Old Town is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful church in the Americas, and is definitely one of the most ornate. Calle La Ronda is Quito's oldest street, and it is well worth exploring.
    • You will continue on past the Avenue of Volcanoes to a lodge in Cotopaxi area after your Old town tour on Day 2.
    • Note: Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity. Before departing it is wise to check with your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that may make the impact of altitude more difficult or dangerous for you. While your tour operators are trained in first aid and know where the closest medical facilities are, it is integral that you monitor your own health and seek assistance where necessary.
    Hotel Rio Amazonas or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Cotopaxi

    • While you are in Cotopaxi, you will visit the Quilotoa lagoon for a full day visit.
    Chuquiruagua Lodge or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4-5 - Cotopaxi- Banos

    • You will travel from Cotopaxi to Banos today, but before you depart you will visit the Cotopaxi Volcano, which sits about 5887 metres above sea level. It is the highest active volcano on earth.
    • When you arrive in Banos you will realise why it has become a mecca for avid travellers. It sits in a vallet of hot springs and waterfalls, and enjoys a small town atmosphere and temperate weather year-round.
    • Banos is transformed from a quiet sanctuary of peace and tranquillity on weekdays to a bustling carnival-like festival town on weekends and holidays. The luscious hills, warm water, abundance of adventure activities and excellent food here make it a popular town for tourists and locals alike.
    Sangay Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6-7 - Cuenca

    • On the way we will visit to Ingapirca ruins, you will drive on through the mountains to Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province today. Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador, Cuenca has an old world ambience with a number of 16th and 17th century buildings, including a cathedral built when the Spanish founded the city in 1557.
    • The city is in fact much older than this though, once the site of a native Canari village, before it was conquered by the Incas and called Tomebamba, Cuenca's history pre-dates Spanish arrival by hundreds of years. It has been said that the city once rivalled Cusco in Peru for its beauty, but it was flattened during the Inca civil war. As a result of this rich history, Cuenca has been named a Unesco World Heritage site.
    Victoria hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8-10 - Cuenca-Tumbes - Lima

    • You will drive through the mountains today, to reach the Peruvian border where you will farewell your Ecuadorian leader. From here you will be transferred to Tumbes for your flight to Lima.
    • Day 8 is a free day to explore or simply relax.
    • Day 9 you will start your exploration of the Peruvian capital with a half-day city tour, commencing 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!
    Antigua Mira Flores or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11-12 - 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 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.
    Heath River lodge or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13-14 - 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 Coco 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 may wish to buy 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, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
    Eco inn or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo)

    • You will drive on to the Sacred Valley on a private bus today. The journey will take approximately one and half hours.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    Samanapaq hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 16 - Aguas Calientes

    • 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.
    Andina hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 17-18 - Machu Picchu- Cusco

    • 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.
    • You will have the rest of today day and Day 6 free to further explore Cusco.
    • WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Peregrine's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
    Terra Andina hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 19-21 - Puno- Lake Titicaca

    • You will travel on to Puno today, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours drive). You'll stop en route at the Sillustani archaeological site, a collection of ruined towers built by a pre-Inca civilisation near Lake Umayo. The towers are chullpas - funeral towers built to commemorate noble men, and fitted with offerings to help secure their passage into the next life.
    • 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.
    • After breakfast the following day, you will also visit Taquile Island, a place where knitting is strictly the domain of men, while women are relegated to spinning. This is the place to get your hands on some beautiful knitwear.
    • You will hike uphill for an hour to reach the main part of the island. It has great views across the lake. There will be an optional lunch here as well, with a simple set menu of quinoa soup and muna tea (Andean mint tea). You will return down 500 steps to the boat that will take you on the three hour journey back to Puno.
    Taypikala hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 22 - 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.
    Rosario Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 23-24 - La Paz- Santiago

    • 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 separately. This flight can be booked at anytime as there are no planned activities for this day.
    • 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.
    Gen suites or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 25-26 - 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.
    San Suites or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 27-28 - Estancia Stay

    • You will leave pretty Mendoza behind and fly to Buenos Aires. From Buenos Aires you will travel on to a traditional Estancia (a rural estate) , 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.
    Estancia Monte Viejo or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 29-31 - 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.
    • On Day 30 you will be taken on a walking/ driving tour of the city to visit a selection of notable places including La Boca, where the world-class football team 'Boca Juniors' train. You will also stop and have lunch in a local artists house in La Boca.
    • Continuing on you will visit San Telmo home to a weekend antiques market, Plaza de Mayo and Recoleta cemetery where you can see the graves of some of the countries most influential figures.
    • Day 31 is a free day to explore or simply relax.
    Hotel Patios De San Telmo or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 32-33 - Buenos Aires- Iguazu Falls

    • Today you will fly to Puerto Iguazu, from where you will explore the impressive Iguazu Falls.
    • You will spend the next two days exploring the falls in depth, seeing them from both the Argentinean and Brazilian side. The falls are two kilometres in length, and made up of 275 falls in total, some of which stretch up to 80 metres high. This makes them both higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls. The Brazillian side of the falls offers great panoramic views of them, while the Argentinian allows to you to get up close and personal with the powerful falls on boardwalks.
    • You can choose to get an even more exhilarating look at Iguazu via a zodiac boat ride below the falls or a helicopter flight over the top.
    • You will have the opportunity to meet one of the few remaining original inhabitants of the region, the Guarani, on a visit with your tour leader.
    • NB: Please note for visa information, you will be visiting the Brazilian side of the falls on day 32 and Argentina on day 33.
    Hotel Jasy or Similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 34-35 - Iguazu Falls- Rio De Janeiro

    • You will leave the falls and fly to Rio de Janeiro today, where you will be met by a local guide and taken on a city tour. You will start the tour with a visit to the famed Statue of Christ, which presides over the city and enjoys expansive views across the forests, beaches, bays and mountains that surround the city. From tourist mecca to local Favela, your next stop will take you through the narrow lane-ways of these vibrant communities. You will have the opportunity to meet some local people and learn more about life within a Favela.
    • The intense green of Guanabara Bay and the beauty of the surrounding slopes of the Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain, make Rio a majestic place, locals like to say that 'God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio'.
    • The Portuguese influence is ever-present here, especially in the opulent Portuguese buildings that were constructed when the Portuguese monarchy fled Europe under threat of Napolean and took up residence here.
    • The contrast between the opulence of this architecture, the extravagance of Carnival and destitute poverty of the Favelas make this one of the most fascinating and diverse cities in the world. Live music is the heartblood of the city, with everything from samba, jazz, bossa nova, hip hop, reggae and rock to the myriad of regional styles and fusions. Lapa is the place to go if you want to join locals for some serious dancing in the many dancehalls there.
    • The white sand beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema are certainly the best place for people watching.
    Mirador Rio hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 36 - Rio De Janeiro

    • Your trip will come to an end after breakfast today, feel free to leave at your leisure.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader in each country, and professional local guides at some sites.
    • City tours of Quito, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Cusco, La Paz and Santiago (including entrance fees where applicable).
    • Sightseeing where mentioned in the trip notes.
    • 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.
    • Accommodation- 30 nights comfortable hotel, 1 night homestay, 2 nights estancia (ranch house), 2 nights amazon jungle lodge
    • Meals- 34 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners.

    Not Included

    • All international flights including the flight from La Paz to Santiago on day 23
    • Airport departure tax
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Travel Insurance
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Laundry
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature

    Safety Information

    Active Volcanoes
    This tour passes through volcanic areas.  In the instance that a volcano becomes potentially dangerous and authorities declare nearby towns unsafe for travel, the itinerary will be re-routed. Where possible, Peregrine  will provide advance notice of such changes. At short notice, when this is not possible, your tour leader will provide up to date information on behalf of Peregrine.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    South America in Depth

    Paul / Rita - Australia, 10 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    One of the best trips we have done! It was a hectic pace at times, but worth it to have all the fabulous experiences. The local guides are enthusiasic and informative and the sights are amazing.The logistics are handled well by Peregrine so everything runs as smoothly as possible.Highly recommmended.

    South America in Depth

    Barbara - Australia, 5 Mar, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    The whole trip was well organised and the time in Ecuador and Peru was comprehensive. The only comment I would make is that I felt that Chile and Argentina were rushed and I would have like to have spent an extra day in Santiago,Bariloche and Buenos Aires. This would have made the tour truely in depth!

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Start City: Quito
End City: Rio de Janeiro

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