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Splendours of South America

Day 1 - Sunday, Lima

Arrive Lima. Outside the baggage claim area our representative will be waiting for you. They will transfer you to your hotel.

Day 2 - Monday, Lima (B) 

Lima, the City of Kings and capital of Peru. 

This was the principal city of Spanish South America from its founding in 1535 until the independence of the South American republics in early 19th century.  It never rains in Lima, except for 2 months of the year when the skies are blue, in January and February. 

You have the morning to explore Lima.  A city tour of the Greater Colonial Lima this morning allows you to appreciate the wonderful colonial buildings in downtown Lima such as the Santo Domingo Convent and the Casa Aliaga, one of South America’s oldest Spanish homes.  Drive by the elegant tree-lined avenues of San Isidro and Miraflores.

Afternoon at your leisure or we suggest a visit to the Gold Museum.

Day 3 - Tuesday, Lima - Puerto Maldonado - Tambopata (B/L/D) 

A transfer to the airport for the short flight to Puerto Maldonado where you will be met by your naturalist guide and transferred to a dugout canoe for the trip up the Tambopata River to the lodge. On the journey the vegetation changes from colonized deforested areas to virgin rain forest. A box-lunch is provided on board. On arrival you'll have a welcome drink and meet the rest of the staff. After dinner, a night walk to find nocturnal animals or insects by the eye-shine a specialization for increasing the light and see better, about 50% of the animals are nocturnal in the rainforest. We will be out at the river’s edge at night, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes.

Accommodation: Refugio Amazonas Lodge

Refugio Amazonas is built on a 200 hectare private reserve on the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. It is becoming integrated to the communities of Brazil nut extractors that surround it, attempting to extend the benefits of ecotourism to the families that commit to the sustainable use of the forest within this buffer zone. It is located ten minutes walking from the river.

Day 4 - Wednesday, Refugio Amazonas –Tambopata Research Centre (B/L/D) 

Before breakfast, a thirty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas leads to the 25 metre canopy tower. A bannistered staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built upon high ground, therefore increasing your horizon of the continuous primary forest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve.  From here views of mixed species canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are likely.

After breakfast a few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades (if not centuries) where the precarious remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers can still be experienced. We will be demonstrating the whole process of the rain forest's only sustainably harvested product from collection through transportation to drying.

Then a 4 1/2 hour journey by boat from Refugio Amazonas, in the pristine heart of the reserve, lies the Tambopata Research Centre. 1 1/2 hours into our boat journey, as we cross the confluence with the Malinowski River, we will leave the final traces of human habitation behind. Within the 700,000 hectare uninhabited nucleus of the reserve, sightings of capybara, caiman, geese, macaws and other large species will become more frequent.  A 3-5km hike will lead us to overlook commanding magnificent views of the Tambopata winding its way into the lowlands. The forest on this trail, regenerating on old bamboo forest, is good for Howler Monkey and Dusky Titi Monkey. After dinner attend a lecture providing an in depth look at the biology of macaws, their feeding habits, the theories for clay lick use, their breeding and feeding ecology, population fluctuations and the threats to their conservation.

Day 5 - Thurday, Tambopata Research Centre (B/L/D)

On most clear mornings of the year, dozens of large macaws and hundreds of parrots congregate on this large river bank in a raucous and colorful spectacle which inspired a National Geographic cover story. Discretely located fifty metres from the cliff, we will observe Green-winged, Scarlet and Blue-and-Gold Macaws and several species of smaller parrots, descend to ingest clay. Outings are at dawn when the lick is most active. They arrive in search of minerals and salts and the digestive properties of the clay particles themselves. On average several hundred Macaws and smaller parrots visit the clay-lick daily, including Scarlet, Blue and Yellow, Red and Green, Chestnut-fronted and Blue-headed parrots, among others. This clay-lick is considered one of the largest in the world. 

Following a late morning hike in the trail system in search of some of the nine species of monkeys present in the area, including Spider monkeys, Squirrel monkeys and Dusky titi monkeys, as well as the elusive large mammals like Tapir, White-lipped peccaries and Jaguar. After lunch visit the Pond Platform - 10 minutes up river from the lodge is a tiny pond with a platform in the middle. It is a great place to spot waterfowl such as Muscovy duck, sunbittern and hoatzin along with the woodpeckers, oropendolas, flycatchers and parakeets that call this pond their home. 

After dinner you will have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen. Much easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories.

Tambopata Research Center is built using a combination of traditional native materials (wood, palm fronds, wild cane and clay) and architecture and modern day eco-lodge technology. The lodge consists of one wing of 18 rooms connected by raised boardwalks to eight shared bathrooms, the research quarters and a dining room. The dining room is an open building that doubles as a bar. 

Rooms are small and hold two beds. The walls dividing each room are built using cane, and extend from the floor to about 2.5 metres height making each room private. The side that looks out to the forest does not have a wall or screening of any kind, acting as a large window facing the forest. The reason we have been able to incorporate this "luxurious" design into our lodge is because mosquitoes are not really a problem around the lodge clearing and the open section allows for an intimate contact with the rain forest.. Doors are replaced with drapes. Rooms are not soundproof. Each room has beds, mosquito nets, bedside tables and a rack of clothes hangers. Bathroom are shared, and have no hot water. The research quarters is a two story building usually full of scientists and their assistants from the macaw project.

Day 6 - Friday, Tambopata Research Centre – Refugio Amazonas (B/L/D)

The opportunity to explore another trail or visit the Macaw Lick before breakfast.

Then the return up river to Refugio Amazonas. In the afternoon we visit the Oxbow Lake to experience a different eco system rich in bird and aquatic life. A family of giant river otters live here. Birds abound include the rufescent tiger-herons, great egrets, wattled jacanas, hoatzin, and noisy donacobius, amongst others.

Day 7 - Saturday, Puerto Maldonado – Cusco (B)

An early start today, you'll transfer to the airport for a short flight to Cusco. Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire, is known by the local Quechua Indians as the 'Navel of the Universe'. 

Cusco is an amazing experience. Lying in an exceptionally beautiful countryside 3300 metres above sea level, here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and massive stone walls which form the foundations of Colonial Cusco, originally part of the impressive monument of Sacsayhuaman, situated above the town. Morning at leisure.

This afternoon enjoy a comprehensive walking tour of this delightful city, including the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Temple of the Sun.

Day 8 - Sunday, Cusco (B) 

A visit of Sacsayhuaman - this magnificent Inca fortress which overlooks the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman can be variously translated as 'speckled falcon' or 'speckled head'. The last interpretation refers to the belief that the city of Cusco was set out in the form of a puma whose head was the hill of Sacsayhuaman. The origins are uncertain but the fortress is generally attributed to the period of Inca Pachacuti, the man who essentially founded the Inca empire.

We also visit the ruins of Qenko, an area of well-preserved archaeological ruins and the Red Fortress of Puca Pucara.

Afternoon at leisure.

For the June departure, this is the day of the Inti Raymi – The Quechua name for the Festival of the Sun. It was a time of offerings, sacrifices, dancing and celebration. In the old capital city of the Incas, this festival continues with all its ancient royal pomp and energy.

Dances and ceremonies are played out at the worship center of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco.

Day 9 - Monday, Cusco – Sacred Valley Trekkers in group or depart for Inca Trail Day 1 (B) 

On day 9 we leaving Cusco, and continue into the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas. A visit will be made to Latin Link’s aid project run by Peru Challenge. 

Next is Pisaq where you will enjoy a panoramic walk along the original Inca pathways and terracing to the ancient town below. Visit the markets then continue through this lush valley where the towering fortress of Ollantaytambo dominates the surrounding area.  Stay overnight in an old monastery (completely restored of course!).

Day 10 - Tuesday, Sacred Valley or Day 2 – Inca Trail (B)

Drive through stunning scenery to Chinchero, the most colourful and authentic market in Peru. Continue on to Maras Salt Pans. Another fabulous walk today. Discover these amazing salt pans still mined as they were hundreds of years ago, then a beautiful walk back down to the Sacred Valley.  

In the afternoon relax and enjoy the countryside and visit the Semanario Pottery – it’s hard to resist.

Day 11 - Wednesday, Train to Aguas Calientes or Day 3 - Inca Trail (B)                                                             

After breakfast you have an early morning transfer to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, a small railroad town with tons of character – enjoy a soak in the hot pools under the Andean sky or explore the town.

Day 12 - Thursday, Bus to Machu Picchu - Cuzco, or Day 4 – Inca Trail (B)           

It’s an early start today. This is the best time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity, and not to mention the magic of Machu Picchu is before the trainload’s of visitors arrive. Machu Picchu, known also as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’. It is undoubtedly the best known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent and is considered a must for all visitors to Peru. You will travel by bus up the zig-zag, the Hiram Bingham highway, to the ruins where your first views will take your breath away. Enjoy a fully guided tour of the ruins, some time to explore on your own, before returning down the mountainside. Time for a snack and then board the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to our hotel in Cusco.

* Seperate Itinerary available on request for Inca Trail *

Day 13 - Friday, Cusco (B)

You're free day to explore this delightful city – everyone’s favourite. The day is yours to enjoy, all the convents, churches, museums, alpaca, and jewellery bargains.

Day 14 - Saturday, Cusco - Puno (B/L)

A bus ride to Puno though the dramatic landscapes of the highland plateau, with the occasional views of the tiny Andean villages and herds of llamas and vicunas. We will stop at Andahuaylillas, where there is a beautiful baroque church built at the beginning of the XVIIth cebtury.  It is very well know thanks to its beautiful mural paintings. We will make a second stop at Raqchi, where there is an Inca temple built to worship Wiracocha, one of the most important Inca gods. Finally we stop at the archaeological museum of Pukara (200BC - AD300) before lunching at a restaurant on route.  Arrive Puno late afternoon.

Day 15 - Sunday, Visit Floating Reed Islands Lake Titicaca – into Bolivia (B)

What an experience! By boat visit the curious floating reed islands and the Uros Indians who live there.  Everything is made of these reeds - houses, schools, boats, churches, etc.  Once you reach the reed islands, you can experience gliding across Lake Titicaca in an authentic reed boat - you can't beat it!  

The we return to Puno in the afternoon continuing through lovely scenery, which follows this mighty lake to the Bolivian border.  After border formalities we continue to the sleepy town of Copacabana.

Day 16 -  Monday, Isla del Sol - La Paz (B)

Up early for a boat trip out on the lake to tranquil Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) where legend has it that the first Inca King rose out of the lake.  On this legendary island, visit the Pilkokania Inca Palace and enjoy a short walk to the Gardens, Sacred Stairs and Fountain of Inca.  As we ascend to Yumani Village, we have a magnificent view of the lake set to the backdrop of Mount Illampu. We return to Copacabana and continue through even more stunning scenery with snow-capped peaks and the blue lake, to La Paz, capital of Bolivia and the highest capital in the world. Known as the City of Contrasts, here ancient traditions meet the new millenium of chaotic traffic and towering buildings.

Day 17 - Tuesday, City Tour and Shopping (B)

A morning tour takes you down to where the air is thicker and the elite live.  Visit the witches markets, Calle Jaen with its museums, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo, National Congress, Cathedral & the presidential Palace, before continuing to the very unusual eroded formations of the Moon Valley.  The afternoon is free to enjoy the uniqueness of this colourful bustling city and shop for bargains and gifts.

Day 18 - Wednesday, Explore La Paz (B)

Optional tour to Tiwanaku (Pre-Columbian) ruins outside the city, or a Mountain Bike down the world’s most spectacular road, or spend the day with a little more shopping and people watching.  A great city to do that! 

Day 19 - Thursday, La Paz – Buenos Aires (B) 

An early start as we say ‘adios’ to the Andes and transfer to the airport for our LAN Airlines flight via Santiago to Buenos Aires. You will be transferred to our hotel on arrival.

Day 20 - Friday, Buenos Aires (B)

A leisurely start to the day with a walk to a few of your guide’s favourite areas of the city close to the hotel.

In the afternoon our tour will allow us to discover the city of Buenos Aires. We will visit it's Civic Centre, the impressive National Congress and May Square (Plaza de Mayo) surrounded by Government House (Casa Rosada), the Metropolitan Cathedral and City Hall from colonial days (Cabildo). We will visit the Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón), one of the world’s best known opera houses and the cultural pride of the “Porteños” (Buenos Aires natives). Next, we will tour the traditional barrio of San Telmo where the magical atmosphere of the district will take you back in time. We will then stop at La Boca, home of the first Italian immigrants and you will observe its picturesque and colourful architecture. We will then continue to the residential neighborhood of Palermo and many parks. Finally, we will go to Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive district, with its famous cemetery where Evita Peron is buried, elegant boutiques, gourmet restaurants and side walk cafés under ficus trees (gomeros).

Day 21 - Saturday, Buenos Aires (B)

Day at leisure. There is still time to explore the city further or perhaps enjoy an optional trip across to Colonia in Uruguay.  Tonight get into the Argentine mood with a juicy steak and Tango show.

Day 22 - Sunday, Buenos Aires – Iguacu (B)

We transfer to the airport for our morning flight to Iguazu.

Here we travel to the Argentine side of the falls, these falls defy description!   Enjoy the majesty of the world's most spectacular waterfalls.  Set in pristine rainforest with countless birds and butterflies, situated on the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, they plunge in a series of gigantic waterfalls over 3kms long and more than 80 metres high. The thunderous roar of crashing water and the multicoloured mist is natural beauty at its best.  It is undoubtedly one of the world's most impressive sights. Later see the mighty Devils Throat Cataract. We then transfer across the border to the Brazil town of Foz do Iguacu.

Day 23 - Monday, Iguacu Falls (B) 

Morning tour to the Brazilian side of the falls followed by a visit to the Bird Park, an opportunity to enter the  huge 8-meter high forest aviaries to study and photograph birds in their natural habitat without the restrictions of netting and cages. There are over 160 species, both indigenous and from other continents.

Day 24 - Tuesday, Iguacu  - Rio de Janeiro (B) 

Transfer to the airport for your morning departure from Iguacu on TAM Brazil Airlines flight to Rio de Janeiro.

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro –‘River of January’ – a beautiful city full of vibrant people.  Brazilians say “God made the world in 6 days – the 7th day he devoted to Rio”.  

The afternoon starts with a panoramic tour of downtown Rio where you'll pass by the infamous Sambadrome, the exhibition area for the renowned Samba schools in Rio. A brief stop is made at the Metropolitan Cathedral, made famous for its unusual pyramid shape. Admire its beauty and rareness from both the outside and the inside! Your panoramic city tour continues with a visit to the traditional Cinelandia Square where you'll tour the various historic buildings such as the Municipal Theatre, the National Library and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Head towards the Urca neighborhood, where one of Rio's most iconic symbols is located, Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Travelling up Sugar Loaf mountain in a cable car, you will make a brief stop at a vantage point approximately 700 feet (215 meters) above sea level. Capture unparalleled panoramic views of the city, Guanabara Bay, the Rio-Niteroi Bridge and Corcovado Mountain. You'll then ascend to the peak of Sugar Loaf for breathtaking views of Copacabana Beach, the Santa Cruz Fortress and the beaches of Niteroi.

Day 25 - Wednesday, Rio de Janeiro (B)

This morning travel to the Csome Velho Train Cog Station at the bottom of the Corcovado Mountain, where you will stop by Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.  Once at the mountain, you take the ride up to the top through dense Tijuca rain forest to the 38m tall Christ the Redeemer Statue.  From the top, you will enjoy the spectacular views of Rio and the surrounding countryside.

Afternoon is at your leisure. Options available include exploring Petropolis or the quaint Santa Teresa district.

Day 26 - Thursday, Depart Rio de Janeiro (B) 

You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

 

Dates & Prices:

Prices USD Per Person

2016                                                        Double / Twin

7 May, 6 Aug, 3 Sep                                 $7465

17 June                                                     $7660

Single room supplement                           $1250

 

Independant Departures:

Saturday weekly                                          $7465

IncaTrail Option:additional USD$325

Galapagos Islands Pre Extension:

Depart to Quito on Thurs,1 week earlier for 3 nights in Quito, Otavalo Tour, 7  night Galapagos Islands Cruise.  Cost:USD$3570 (twin/double share, includes additional airfares)

 (Itineraries for Galapagos Extension available on request)

Cost Includes:

ALL flights within South America                                 2 dinners, 2 lunches        

ALL transport (boats, buses, taxis, trains etc)          ALL accommodation with breakfasts

ALL entrance fees as per itinerary                              ALL camping fees, tents, sleeping mats on the trek

ALL national park entrance fees                                 ALL food during Inca Trail

ALL sightseeing as per itinerary                                 ALL transfers as per itinerary                           

Services of experienced local guides Inca Trail       Farewell dinner & Tango show in Buenos Aires

Services of porters to carry gear on Inca Trail           NB: 4.5kg limit on all treks - rest of gear left at hotel

Services of experienced Tour Leader                         Services of English speaking local guides

Does not include:

Airport Taxes & Tips allow USD $150 per person

Insurance - Laundry - Personal Spending - Medical Expenses   

Tour Leaders:  

Our experienced bi–lingual Tour Leaders travel with the group departures (subject to a minimum of 6 people travelling) 

Accommodation:

We use comfortable 3 star hotels throughout.  All rooms have your own private bathroom.  Hotels are chosen for their location and service and most would have free WIFI

Tipping:

It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service.  Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour.  Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.  At the start of the tour your Tour Manager will explain the tipping system and will coordinate all tipping on behalf of the group to cover the local guides, drivers and porters  

Personal Spending:

We suggest allow for US$35-45 per day to cover incidentals, laundry, meals not included

Group Size:

Groups are limited to a maximum of 15 people

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