From Quito to Rio, discover the best of South America
Get ready for the ultimate South American adventure on this journey from the Andean heights of Ecuador through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay until finally arriving in the vibrancy of Brazil. Explore the Amazon Jungle, trek the Inca Trail, take a 4x4 through the Salar de Uyuni, experience life on a working estancia and witness the mighty Iguazu Falls. Discover the rhythm of the samba, salsa and tango, get off the beaten track, visit diverse and amazing natural wonders and collect a lifetime of memories on this truly epic adventure. With plenty of free time and a do-it-yourself approach, this is the perfect way to explore South America.
This trip requires Inca Trail Permits. View permit availability here.
Hike through the Amazon rainforest and sample fruit, chocolate and if you’re brave enough, tree worms in a local indigenous farming community
Whether you trek the classic Inca Trail, the Inca Quarry Trail or take the scenic train route, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are a majestic destination, no matter how you get there
The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are a marvel of concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the lake and spend the night with a local family in a traditional island community
The landscapes of Salar de Uyuni are so unique they’re almost extra-terrestrial. Embark on a three-day adventure via 4WD across the rocky Atacama Desert and the largest salt lakes in the world - passing cactus islands, train cemeteries and mineral lakes teeming with flamingos
Harness your inner gaucho during a three-day stay at a working estancia in Uruguay. Whether it’s getting involved in daily chores around the farm, working with livestock or simply relaxing on the ranch, experience a unique way of life and Uruguayan hospitality at its best
The mighty Iguazu Falls straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil, and you’ll be able to see it from both sides
The heaving, hedonistic metropolis of Rio de Janeiro is a great way to end the trip. Party down with the locals and experience a culture at the beating heart of Brazil
There are some long travel days and five overnight bus journeys on this trip. Although the buses feature comfortable reclining seats, they are not beds. There’s also usually a toilet on-board, and some of the buses make toilet stops. These trips can be tiresome, but an adventure trip around South America wouldn’t be complete without an overnight bus journey.
You’ll be staying in some very basic group accommodation with shared facilities, especially along the Inca Trail, in the Amazon and on Lake Titicaca (where there are drop toilets and no showers). This is all part of the adventure of being among nature.
There will be a lot of hiking and walking on this trip (especially on the Inca Trail which can be quite challenging), so this requires a moderate level of fitness. There are a few different trail options to suit your interests and physical capabilities. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘What to Take’ section of the trip notes for more information.
We’ll be experiencing a mix of hot and cold climates, so pack accordingly and bring layers.
Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive into Quito a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. The sun is also unusually strong and it’s easy to get burnt, especially when out on the water in Lake Titicaca. It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water. Please see the important ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more information.
Please note that our leaders are not able to organise a trip to the ‘Death Road’ to Coroico for you, due to safety concerns. Injuries are common along the road and there have been a number of fatal accidents. Our leaders are also unable to organise tours to the Potosi Mines for safety reasons.
Making your way across the Andean Desert and salt flats isn’t exactly luxurious. There will be long travel days spent in 4WDs on dusty and bumpy tracks. Temperatures in the area can be very cold, especially at night, so bring warm clothes with you. Meals are simple, toilet facilities are basic, showers can be cold and the multi-share accommodation is dormitory-style. This is all part of the adventure. Without a doubt, this amazing experience will be one of the highlights of your trip to South America.
Bolivia is the least developed and most challenging country you’ll travel around during this trip. Facilities are basic and food might be simpler than what you’re used to. Transportation between different locations can be slow and isn’t as easy as it might be in developed countries. Yet this is all part of the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ charm and adventure that makes Bolivia such a great place to visit.
While at the estancia in Uruguay, you can choose to participate in the day-to day-activities of the farm as much or as little as you like. If you do choose to get involved, prepare for some early morning starts and to get your hands dirty when working directly with animals. The accommodation is multi-share and meals are served family style. Please inform your booking agent if you have any dietary requirements.
This trip starts with a group meeting and an orientation walk at 2pm. If you are unable to find a suitable flight it is possible to book additional nights at the joining accommodation.
There are no activities on the final day & you are free to depart anytime.
The Quito to Lima flight on day 8 is not included in the tour price.
Please consider booking international flights with Lan so you can book this flight on an airpass. Contact us for more information.
**Airport transfers are included for these flights, however we must have flight information, no later than 15 days out from departure**
This trip is a combination of four of our most popular departures. As such the make up of the group and the tour leader may change on day 8, 28 & 47.
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes nights 2 & 3 (Amazon lodge), 16, 29, 41, 53 & 56 (Overnight bus), 25 (Homestay), 35 & 36 (Salt flats), and 50, 51, 52 (Estancia stay) where you will be in shared accommodation.
INCA TRAIL PERMITS
Inca Trail permits are sold on request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you.
If Inca Trail permits are unavailable by the time you book, you can opt to hike the Inca Quarry Trail instead: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/inca-quarry-trail
The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you will be automatically booked to hike the Inca Quarry Trail.
Should you choose not to hike at all, please let us know in writing at the time of booking so alternative arrangements can be made. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Please read further about altitude sickness on the link provided in our trip notes.
BOLIVIAN VISA FOR U.S CITIZENS
Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border.
Please see the visa information on these trip notes for more information.
The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The fee must be paid online prior to travel and a receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.
Please note you may require a Brazilian Visa for this trip. Processing can take around 2-5 weeks at the discretion of the embassy or consulate. Please speak with your travel agent well in advance for further advice.
PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED
Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to important sites such as Machu Picchu. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.