South America Treasures

27 Nights / 28 Days

Day 1 Fri  Lima

Lima, 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 leisure or we suggest a visit to the Gold Museum

Day 3 Sun Lima - Paracas (B)

This morning we travel south by bus along the Panamericano Highway through desert countryside alongside the Pacific Ocean

Day 4 Mon Paracas -  Nazca (B)

This morning visit Ballestas Islands, known as Peru’s mini Galapagos.   An opportunity to watch resident and migratory birds, including flamingos, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, bobbies, as well as playful sea lions, amusing Humboldt penguins and, wif e are lucky, we might see marine otters. This afternoon travel by bus to Nazca. 

This small oasis town is famous for the mysterious lines etched in the desert pampas.  Are they messages to travellers from outer space that landed here thousands of years ago or the works of an ancient culture depicting a planting calendar?  Cut into the stony desert, like a giant sketching pad, these many lines include geometrical figures, giant animals and birds. 

Day 5 Tues Flight over Nazca Lines – then to Arequipa (B)

This morning it is your turn to become airborne and theorise on these mysterious lines etched in the desert.  Wow - up you go to witness this gigantic sketching pad in the desert pampa.  Who drew them?  Why?  Draw your own conclusions or come away with as many questions as answers!  

This afternoon visit the Chauchilla cemetery where the hot dry weather has preserved the mummies and clothing they were wrapped in hundreds of years ago. 

Rest of the afternoon free to relax and explore before the super comfy late night bus departs for Arequipa.

Day 6 Wed Explore Arequipa (B)

Arrive early morning to the beautiful city of Arequipa sitting at 2880 metres above sea level and gateway to the Colca Canyon.  Transfer to our hotel for breakfast then a chance to rest.

Arequipa, situated at the foot of El Misti Volcano (5882m), is the ‘Ciudad Blanca’ – the White city, boasting a delightful climate, plenty of fascinating colonial buildings and gateway to the famous Colca Canyon, home of the condors, one of the world’s deepest canyons. 

Must sees here are a visit to the peaceful Santa Catalina Convent, one of the most fascinating religious colonial buildings in Peru. The convent, opened to visitors in 1970, is surrounded by imposing walls and the 450 nuns who lived here led a completely secluded life.  Also here is “Juanita” the mummy of a young girl found in 1995 by an American mountain climber on Mt Ambato.  She is encased in a freezing chamber inside the Museum and is on display.

Day 7 Thurs Arequipa -  Colca Canyon Adventure (B,D)

Drive through the awesome Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons which is only accessible by a dirt road over the Altiplano before dropping to the village of Chivay at 3600 metres above sea level. The landscape is remarkable for its Inca and pre-Inca terracing which goes on for many kilometres and is the most extensive in Peru.  Life here has changed very little through the centuries where the campesinos still farm the remarkable Inca terracing as their ancestors did before them. 

Stay overnight in the small village of Chivay where you can relax in the hot thermal springs and delight in the haunting melodies of the panpipes.  Dinner will be at a local restaurant

Day 8 Fri Colca Canyon- Cusco (B,L) 

You will get an early morning wakeup call today.

After breakfast we continue deep into the Canyon to the Cruz de las Condors.  This is a remarkable highlight – you can watch the impressive condors rising with the thermals – your chance to get great photos of these wonderful birds. 

We then continue our journey  of discovery and exploration in the hinterland of the Andes travelling overland to Cusco arriving early evening

Day 9 Sat  Cusco (B)

Cusco, heart of the Inca Empire, known by the local Quechua Indians as '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 10 Sun Cusco (B) 

Visit 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.

Drive through stunning scenery to Chinchero, the most colourful and authentic market in Peru. C ontinue on to Maras Salt Pans.  Another fabulous walk today.  Discover these amazing salt pans still mined as they were hundreds of years ago.  Also visit Moray – these unusual Inca ruins consist of several enormous terraced
circular depressions, the largest of which is about 30m. deep. Continue through the Sacred Valley to our hotel an old monastery (completely restored of course!)

Day 11 Mon Sacred Valley Trekkers in group depart for Inca Trail Day 1 (B) 

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. 

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 12 Tues Sacred Valley -Agua Calientes    Day 2 – 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 13 Wed Bus to Machu Picchu- Cuzco or Day 3 – Inca Trail (B)

It’s an early start today.  This is the best time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity not to mention the magic of Machu Picchu is before the trainload’s of visitors arrive.  Machu Picchu, known also as ‘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. T ime for a snack and then board the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to our hotel in Cusco.

Day 14 Thurs Cusco  or Day 4 Inca Trail

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 15 Fri  Cusco - Puno

Bus ride to Puno through the dramatic landscapes of the highland plateau, with occasional views of 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 century.   It is very well known 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 will stop at the archaeological museum of Pukara (200BC-AD300) then we will lunch at a restaurant en route.  Arrive in Puno late afternoon.    

Day 16  Sat   Uros & Taquile Islands (B,L)

Enjoy a complete day of sailing in Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world.  Depart early in the morning for the floating islands of Uros, where the inhabitants still live as they did centuries ago on floating islands they make with the totora reeds that grow on the lake.  Continue sailing towards Taquile Island  for  a 30 minute hike towards its small town inhabited by Quechua speaking natives who have, over the generations, developed  both an efficient and original social system, as well as a refined handweaving technique.  Lunch will be served in a local house that serves as a restaurant.  After lunch we will explore the island and you can appreciate the magnificent views of Lake Titicaca.  After this trek you will embark and return to Puno.

Day 17 Puno- Copacabana (B)

This morning continue through lovely scenery, which follows this mighty lake to the Bolivian border.  After border formalities continue to the sleepy town of Copacabana. This afternoon is free to relax at this lovely hotel or explore the town.

Day 18 Mon 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 Pilkokaina Inca Palace and enjoy a short walk to the Gardens, Sacred Stairs and Fountain of the Inca.  As we ascend to Yumani Village, we have a magnificent view of the lake set to the backdrop of Mount Illampu.

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 highest capital in the world. 

Known as City of Contrasts, here ancient traditions meet the new millennium of chaotic traffic and towering buildings. 

Day 19 Tues 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, Presidential Palace, 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 20 Wed Explore La Paz (B)

Optional tour to Tiwanaku (Pre-Columbian) ruins outside the city or 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 21 Thurs La Paz – Buenos Aires (B) 

An early start as we say ‘adios’ to the Andes and transfer to the  airport for your flight to Buenos Aires.  You will be transferred to our hotel. Later this afternoon a walk to a few of your guide’s favourite areas of the city close to the hotel.

Day 22 Fri Buenos Aires (B,D) 

This morning our tour will allow us to discover the city of Buenos Aires.  We will visit its 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).  Tonight get into the Argentine mood with a juicy steak and Tango show.

Day 23 Sat  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.

Day 24 Sun Buenos Aires –Iguacu (B)

Transfer to the airport for our morning flight to Iguacu.

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 25 Mon 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 26 Tues Iguacu  - Rio (B) 

Transfer to the airport for your am Depart Iguacu on TAM Brazil Airlines flight to Rio.

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”.  

This afternoon starts with a panoramic tour of downtown Rio where you'll pass by the infamous Sambadrome, the exhibition area for the re-nowned 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 27 Wed Rio de Janeiro (B) 

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

Afternoon at leisure options available to explore Petropolis or the quaint Santa Teresa district.

Day 28 Thurs Depart Rio (B)

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

* Separate Itinerary available on request for Inca Trail *

Dates & Prices:

Departures: Fridays 

Prices Per Person USD$
                                                                  Double / Twin       Single Supplement

 2014                              

09 May, 20 Jun, 01 Aug, 05 Sep                        $7470                      $1145

       

Independent Departures:

Friday weekly                 $7375

Inca Trail Option: additional US$405

Galapagos Islands Pre Extension:

Depart to Quito on Thurs,1 week earlier for 3 nights in Quito, Otavalo Tour, 4 night Galapagos Islands Cruise & 1 night in Guayaquil Additional Cost: US$2950  (twin/double share, includes additional airfares)

Amazon Pre Extension: Arrive Lima on Sunday for 2nights, then 4nights in Tambopata Reserve - itinerary on request 

Additional cost :US$1515 (twin/double share, includes airfares & taxes from Lima) 

(Itineraries for Galapagos & Amazon Extensions 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 USD150 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$30-40 per day to cover incidentals, laundry, meals not included 

Group Size:

Groups are limited to a maximum of 15 people