Amazing South America Trip Notes

Visit South America and travel through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Follow the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and see the Nazca Lines, Pantanal Wetlands and Iguazu Falls.

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Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013
Amazing South America
Trip code: GGRXC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Prepare for the ultimate South American adventure packed full of cosmopolitan capitals and breathtaking beauty on this journey from captivating Quito to vibrant Rio de Janeiro. Travel through Ecuador’s volcanic landscapes, the lush Amazon rainforest, Peru’s desert coast, the vast landscapes of Bolivia and the wilds of Brazil. Hike the Inca Trail. Get to know the locals on a homestay at Lake Titicaca. Sleep out on the eerie Uyuni salt flats. Spot rare wildlife in the Panatanal, and stare in awe at the mighty Iguazu Falls. With plenty of free time and a do-it-yourself approach, this adventure is the perfect trip through the highlights of South America.
TRIP CHANGES FOR 2012
Due to our traveller's feedback, this trip's itinerary will feature the following changes from 1st January 2012.
Day 11 Travel from Mancora to Huanchaco by overnight bus (instead of day bus)
Day 22 Travel from Arequipa to Cuzco by bus (instead of overnight bus)
Full details will be released on 1st November.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationWhat to take
Culture shock rating Meals introductionHealth
Physical ratingMealsSafety
Physical preparationTransportTravel insurance
Included activitiesGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsA couple of rules
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyFinish point Responsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point descriptionCarbon offset
Departure taxFinish point instructionsFeedback
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Amazing South America
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
La Compania de Jesus is considered by many the most beautiful in the Americas; it's certainly one of the most ornate. It's claimed that seven tonnes of gold leaf cover the interior whilst the exterior is decorated with statues, busts, sculpted heads and a jungle of carved leaves.
Take a walk down the famous Calle La Ronda, Quito's oldest street. La Ronda is a peek into the colonial past of the city. This quaint street offers the city's best in one place.
Otavalo and its famous market are located approx. 2.5 hours north of Quito (by local bus). This is one of the most important Indean markets in Ecuador. Villagers from the surrounding countryside descend on the town once a week to sell everything from handmade goods to livestock, fruit and vegetables. This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs, practise your bargaining, and the photo opportunities are endless.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
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!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Optional Activities
  • Compania de Jesus - USD4
  • La Ronda - Free
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee - USD80
  • Cotopaxi National Park - hiking - USD80
  • Ballet Folklorico Ecuatoriano de Jacchigua - USD40
  • Mindo Cloud and Tropical Forest - USD290
  • Whitewater rafting - USD120
  • Antisana Trek Full day from Quito (Optional) - USD70
  • Otavalo Market day trip - USD45
  • Quito By Night (Optional) - USD30
  • The Equator line tour (Optional) - USD40
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-4 Amazon Jungle
Travel by local bus to Tena (approx 6-7 hrs). The journey is broken up by a quick stop in Baeza.
From Tena we travel by local bus to our jungle lodge (approx 20 mins).
The comfortable Amazon Lodge overlooks the amazing Napo River with its small islets of stones and sandy shores.
Once at the lodge, relax in your bungalow built in a rustic native design surrounded by gardens full of amazing jungle plants and flowers. Afterwards your leader will take you for a visit to a local Quichua family where you will have the opportunity to learn about their millinery culture and traditions such as pottery-making, 'chica' (a typical drink made of yuca - a traditional Ecuadorian manioc) and the 'serbatana'; a blowpipe used for hunting.
Returning to the lodge by foot, we meet for dinner and share our day's experiences around the fireplace.
At night gather around the fireplace before a peaceful night's rest delighted by the sounds of the jungle.
After breakfast the following day, you travel upstream by canoe (approx. 10 minutes) before beginning another short walk (approx. 1 hour), this time through jungle's secondary forest. After a short hike we will find ourselves in a breathtaking waterfall - 'La Cascada de Latas' - where you can take a refreshing bath in its crystal clear waters and enjoy the surrounding views.
In the afternoon you will be given rubber boots and rain poncho to take on a 90 minute walk through the jungle's primary forest, joined by a native guide. You will discover the secret wonders of the mysterious hidden jungle, finding amazing plant species with medicinal properties; their properties and how the jungle inhabitants used them in ancient times will be explained in detail by our expert native guide. You will also be able to observe a great variety of insects, and small groups of monkeys weaving around the giant trees; although you will need some luck and must stay very quiet to see them. Dozens of curious colourful birds tag along with us during our walk whistling enchanted notes. After the short walk we return to the lodge where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful river view.
The jungle lodges comprises 17 bungalows built according to traditional architecture. Accommodation is based in double/triple bungalows. They are equipped with bedding, private bathroom with hot and cold water showers, a private veranda with reclining chairs or hammocks. Electricity is available on communal areas up to 10 pm. Your room will be lit by kerosene lamps. Meals are included while in the lodge.
The lodge has a foundation that protects part of the rainforest and the community of Tiyu Yacu. You can find out more about the project during your stay.
Meals Included
2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Accommodation
Jungle Lodge (2 nts)
Days 5-7 Banos
Travel back to Tena by local bus (approx 20 mins).
From Tena we travel to Banos by local bus (approx 5 hrs). Half way through the journey we stop in Puyo for a quick toilet stop and to grab some snacks.
Situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, Banos has become a mecca for international travellers seeking year-round temperate weather, a small-town atmosphere and a base for exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors.
Located on the northern foothills of the active Tungurahua volcano, Banos is a sanctuary of peace and tranquility during the week, broken only by the occasional performance of a traditional Andean band, English language movie at the Hood Cinema, or drinks with friends at a local bar. On the weekends and during holidays however, Banos explodes with carnival-like festivities.
There are plenty of optional activities to get out and get active, and we have two full free days here to take advantage. Go horse riding, mountain biking, hiking or even rafting.
In Spanish 'banos' means baths and this is exactly what the town is famous for. It's worth rising early to watch dawn creep over the mountains from the cosy comfort of the hot springs - an unforgettable (and very relaxing) experience.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour visiting important places such as the Cathedral, local market, artisanal market, and the main street where people sell a typical product known as 'Melcocha'.
Optional Activities
  • Baños bike rental per day - USD6
  • Canyoning - USD35
  • Horse riding - USD20
  • White water rafting - USD50
Accommodation
Hostel (3 nts)
Days 8-9 Cuenca
Travel by local bus to Riobamba (approx 3 hrs), where we swap buses and head south to Cuenca (approx 8 hrs).
Possibly the most attractive city in Ecuador, Cuenca has managed to retain its Old World air, despite being the country's third largest city. The city has many 16th and 17th-century buildings, including its cathedral built in 1557, the year the city was founded by the Spanish. However, the city's history stretches back hundreds of years earlier. This was the site of a native Canari village that was later conquered by the Incas and called Tomebamba. The city was said to have rivalled Peru's Cuzco for its beauty, but the glory was short lived and the city was razed during the Inca civil war. The city's history is well preserved, earning Cuenca the honour of being listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Head out to El Cajas National Park, which features some of the most varied and spectacular scenery in the country. Its 70,000 acres shelter everything from cloud forest to rocky lunar landscapes, but it's the lakes (more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that most characterise the reserve. Despite its proximity to Cuenca, El Cajas is an easy place to find a surprising amount of solitude, whether you are there for the hiking or trout fishing. Visitors stand a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990s. The park's other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma and tigrillo, are more elusive. Hummingbirds, toucans and Andean condors head the list of birds in the park.
You can reach El Cajas by local bus from Cuenca (approx 1 hr and 45 mins). Once there, pay the entrance fee, hire a native guide and start hiking around the beautiful lakes.
Optional Activities
  • El Cajas National Park - USD60
  • City tour - USD20
  • Ingapirca ruins - USD30
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Mancora
Travel by local bus to Huaquillas, on the border of Ecuador and Peru (approx 5 hrs).
After crossing the border we continue travelling to Mancora on the Pacific coast (approx 2 hrs).
Despite the arid conditions of the Peruvian coastline, the waters around Mancora are rich with sealife. The town's population is made up of fishermen and surfers.
Long stretches of beach, great seafood, excellent cafes and a vibrant nightlife make Mancora a very popular beachside resort in northern Peru.
The evening of our last day in Mancora we we travel by overnight bus through the Sechura Desert to Huanchaco (approx 10 hrs).
Optional Activities
  • Mangrove swamps - USD60
  • Snorkelling - USD25
  • Hemingway's Route - PEN110
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Huanchaco
From Trujillo it's possible to visit the mud city of Chan Chan. This vast city has ten walled citadels, carved with intricate designs depicting birds, fish and mammals. Unlike many of Peru's archaeological sites, this was not an Inca city, but part of the Chimu and Moche civilisations, renowned for their pottery.
Famed for its 'surfing' fishermen, Huanchaco was once a small fishing village but is now a relaxed beach haven for travellers keen on seeing the nearby ruins.
Another nearby archaeological site is Huaca del Sol y la Luna. Here you can discover a royal pre-Inca society that's still impressing archaeologists with its findings. While here, see if you can spot a Peruvian hairless dog. This breed of dog is originally from this area and has existed since pre-Incan times.
Optional Activities
  • Huaca del Sol y la Luna - PEN12
  • Chan Chan Archaeological Site - PEN30
  • Caballito de totora ride - PEN15
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Lima
Travel by local bus to Lima (approx 8-10 hrs).
While Peru's capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city's attraction now lies in its well-preserved historical centre.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro.
Your tour leader may change in Lima.
Included Activities
  • Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Museum of the Inquisition - Free
  • Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Archaeological Museum - PEN11
  • Banco Central de Reserva Museum - PEN5
  • Pachacamac Tour (30 km from downtown) - USD37
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 16 Pisco
Travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Pisco (approx 4 hrs). The bus will stop three or four times before reaching our destination.
This small fishing town is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve but it's most famous as the birthplace of Peru's national drink, the pisco sour, made from a local brandy of the same name. For some local food specialities, head to the Plaza de Armas where the locals hang out and munch on tejas, small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 17 Nazca
The Ballestas Islands are in the Paracas National Reserve. Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru' the islands are a haven for wildlife and hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins.
Travel on to Nazca (approx 3 hrs), stopping en route at the oasis of Huacachina.
The town of Huacachina is built around a small natural lake surrounded by dramatic sand dunes, which offer endless photography and sandboarding opportunities.
The entire desert in the Nazca area was once home to the ancient Nazca and Paracas cultures which preceded the Incas by over 500 years. Remains of their cultures are still visible - Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the desert on the arid high plateau.
The enormous lines have been etched into the ground by scraping away the top darker layer of gravel which then contrasts with the paler one underneath. Animals, insects and birds are depicted, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. Who drew them, how and why, can only be guessed at, but theories range from alien invaders to complex Nazca calendars.
Visit the desert cemetery of Chauchilla. The Nazca people were buried with colourful textiles and ceramics deep in the desert where the dry, arid climate has naturally mummified the bodies for over 1,500 years.
These mysterious shapes are better seen from the air. Small four/six seater planes offer 30 minute flights that allow viewing all 26 figures scattered through the desert floor.
Warning! Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. Plastic bags are provided on board but needless to say, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach.
A safety note. A number of local operators offer flights over the Nazca lines. It should be noted that there have been numerous safety issues over Nazca in the past – as such Intrepid has used its best endeavors to assess the safety of the operation of some of these companies. While it is impossible to guarantee the safety of air operations, your leader can only assist you to book this activity through companies Intrepid assesses are safer to fly with. Your leader is specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting booking this activity through any other operators.
Take an overnight bus to Arequipa (approx 9-10 hrs). A simple snack is provided the following morning.
Optional Activities
  • Ballestas Islands tour - PEN55
  • Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
  • (Don't use) Chauchilla Cemetery - USD12
  • Sandboard rental - PEN5
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 18-19 Arequipa
Early in the afternoon we travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approx 9hrs)
Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname - the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.
For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. When the convent was built in the 16th century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service. The Santa Catalina accepted only women from high-class Spanish families, with each family paying a hefty dowry for her acceptance. But life inside the convent was far from modest - each nun had between one and four servants, many brought rugs, fine china and silk curtains, and they often held parties.
Visit the Juanita Museum, home to the 'Ice Maiden' - the Incan mummy of a 12-14-year-old girl who died in the 1440s, and discovered in 1995.
Optional Activities
  • Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN37
  • Juanita Museum - PEN20
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 20-21 Colca Canyon/Arequipa
We travel by minivan to Chivay (approx 5 hrs). Along the way you'll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and discover the differences between these similar creatures. There will also be the opportunity to stop for pictures. At our second stop (after approx 2 hrs) you'll have the chance to try some coca tea. After a third stop at Patapampa (the highest place on our tour at 4800 m above sea level), we descend to Chivay town.
More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The Incan and pre-Incan terraces that are carved into the walls are still cultivated and traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon. In the afternoon, your local guide will organise a short trek, finishing at the local hot thermal baths. You may choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena.
Accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets, however there's no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy.
The main star of the canyon is not the amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. Wake up very early and drive to a viewpoint where condors can normally be seen in their morning routine. Following this stop there will be a short walk of about 45 minutes, before returning to Chivay. Travel back to Arequipa in the afternoon.
Included Activities
  • Colca Canyon
Optional Activities
  • La Calera hot springs - PEN15
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 22-23 Arequipa/Cuzco
We farewell Arequipa and travel by local bus to Cuzco (10 hrs).
Your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem - where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries - and the local San Pedro market.
The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
The cathedral, built on top of an Inca palace, dominates the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco's picturesque heart. The cathedral is one of the city's greatest repositories of art and houses an elegantly carved choir stall and a silver-covered Neoclassic altar.
There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.
For lunch or mid-morning coffee and cake head to Yanapay restaurant at 415 Ruinas St. This restaurant uses all its profits to support children in Cuzco through Aldea Yanapay and its social projects. For more info on Aldea Yanapay visit: http://yanapay.facipub.com/
Included Activities
  • Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Cathedral - PEN26
  • Aldea Yanapay - Free
  • Coricancha - PEN10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 24 Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approx 1.5 hrs total travel time). Known as Wilcamayo by the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls.
We'll head to a community along the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities, and if our visit coincides with market day, we can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising a little bit of the local language, Quechua. Your leader might also suggest an optional local meal or an Andean picnic with the locals.
Cuzco is the gateway to Machu Picchu and a city with majestic architecture, impressive ruins, a lively town centre and cultural significance around every cobblestone corner.
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley and local community visit
Optional Activities
  • Ollantaytambo Ruins - PEN70
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 25-28 Inca Trail/Machu Picchu/Cuzco
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail, or stay in Cuzco for another two days before heading by train to Aguas Calientes.
While you are away from Cuzco the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel in Cuzco.
If you are hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco, you'll receive a small duffle bag to pack clothes for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.
If you are travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll have the option to leave most of your luggage at your hotel storage room and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.
INCA TRAIL: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but do come prepared: the trail is 45 km (28 miles) long and often steep. Generally each day's journey consists of 7 hours walking on average (both uphill and downhill), plus stops for snacks and lunch. Normally trekking starts at 7am (except for the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 4-5pm.
Accommodation on the trek is camping (3 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.
Day 1: Today we travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and join our crew of local porters, cook and guide. The starting point of the trek is located at 2,850m. Our first day includes some uphill trekking to the campsite - at over 3,300 m above sea level. Today you will see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail.
Day 2: This is the most challenging day of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hours) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwanusca ('Dead Woman's Pass'), at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 m. Next is a climb up to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 3,980 m - approximately 90 minutes uphill from the Pacaymayo Valley. From here we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours). From here it's only a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 m.
Day 3: Continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds', at 3,850 m (approx 90 mins walk). From here we start our descent along Inca steps (2 hours) to reach our final night's camp by the Winay Wayna ('Forever Young') archaeological site at 2,750 m. Grab a drink and enjoy the panoramic views of the valley below.
Day 4: Take a short final hike (approx 2 hrs) to the Sun Gate where we can watch the ruins of Machu Picchu emerge from the mist below. The feeling you get as you see the ruins for the first time is indescribable.
QUARRY TRAIL: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. This hike is 26km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level.
Throughout the trek your gear (and camping gear) will be carried by horses (as opposed to porter).
The first two nights of the trek are spent camping and the third one at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.
Day 1 - Today is an early start as we drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas used to venerate the moon. A short drive from here takes us to Rafq'a, the starting point of our trek and where we meet the horsemen that will join us during the hike. After an approx. 1hr walk we reach the small community of Socma.
A further 60min walk takes to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout. This is a perfect opportunity to stop for photos and a snack.
From here we continue on to our campsite, at 3700 meters above sea level. All going well, we should reach our campsite by lunch time. After lunch we set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which used to serve as a check point during the times of the Incas.
Day 2 - This is the most challenging but most rewarding day of the hike. A 3hr walk takes us to the top of the first pass, known as Puccaqasa (approx 4370 meters). After enjoying the views of the valley below we walk down for 30min to our lunch spot.
Rested and full of energy again we take on a 2hr hike to the highest pass of the trek: Kuychicassa (4450 meters).
From here we head down for 2hr to a site the Incas called Inti Punku, (meaning Sun Gate) with imposing views over the valley bellow and the Veronica mountain raising over the horizon.
Our campsites is a stone throw away at Choquetacarpo (3600 metres)
Day 3 - Day three is all downhill hiking. The first stop is at the Kachiqata quarry, where we witness the work the Incas could not complete due to the Spanish conquest.
Approximately at midday we finally arrive to the town of Kachiqata - the end of this challenging and fascinating trek.
From here we visit Ollantaytambo. In the afternoon we travel by train to Aguas Calientes where we meet with our fellow travellers who didn't hike. The natural hot springs in town are an unbeatable way to spend a late afternoon/early evening. Tonight we overnight at a simple but comfortable hotel.
Day 4 - Today we take a very early bus (5:30am depending on weather conditions) along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approx. 30 minutes). In Machu Picchu we join the travellers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail option of this trip before taking on a guided walk of Machu Picchu.
TRAIN OPTION: For those travellers not interested or unable to hike the trail, it's possible to spend two extra nights Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo (approx. 90 minutes) and train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (1.5 hrs approx.) where you spend a third night.
Aguas Calientes is nestled in the cloud forest in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs that give the town its name.
This option must be arranged at the time of booking or local fees will apply.
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 (approx 1.5-2 hrs) with plenty of free time afterwards.
After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour.
WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
Included Activities
  • 4-day Inca Trail trek and Machu Picchu guided tour
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 29 Cuzco
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Rest weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco.
Optional Activities
  • Whitewater rafting - USD25
  • Mountain biking - USD35
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 30-32 Puno/Lake Titicaca
Travel by local bus through the dramatic scenery of the high altiplano to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approx 6 hrs). There will be a couple of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.
Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3,820 m above sea level. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored.
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including the boats which can last up to 12 months.
To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, we'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay on a local community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.
Our homestay is a mudbrick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, there are shared drop toilets but no showers.
After breakfast the next day, board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island (approx 1 hour), where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. This is a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek of about an hour brings us to the main area of the island and after the visit we descend about 500 steps back to our boat.
Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs).
Included Activities
  • Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay
Optional Activities
  • Sillustani archaeological site - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)
Day 33 Copacabana
Transfer to the bus station and board a local bus to the Bolivian border (approx 3 hrs). At the border we descend from the bus and clear Peruvian immigrations. We then walk 200 metres to the Bolivian side to now go through the necessary entrance immigration requirements for Peru. Once these legalities are carried out, our bus will take us to to Copacabana (approx 25 mins). Don't forget to change your watch as Bolivia is 1-2 hours ahead of Peru.
A picturesque town on the shores of Lake Titicaca with an amazing Moorish-style cathedral, Copacabana is a great place to people watch especially if you're there over a weekend or on one of the many festivals. On Sundays the town fills with the faithful believers who walk up Cerro Calvario (the hill guarding the town) to make their dreams come true. At the top of the hill numerous stalls sell all manner of miniature material goods from cars and buses through to houses and graduation certificates. The selected items are taken to a small alter where they are blessed, decorated with flowers and petals, incense is burnt and finally beer is sprayed over the whole ensemble. A fascinating insight into local beliefs, as is the blessing of the vehicles in front of the cathedral.
Optional Activities
  • Cerro Calvario - Free
  • Copacabana church - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 34-38 La Paz
Travel by local bus to La Paz. Local buses in Bolivia usually don't allocate seat numbers and don't have toilets on board. Luggage is normally kept on the roof.
One hour into the trip to La Paz we reach Tiquina Strait. Here we leave the bus, go through an army check point and cross the 850 metre strait by boat while our bus (and belongings) will cross by ferry. The journey from Tiquina to La Paz is about 2.5 hours long.
At around 3,600 m, 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.
La Paz is renowned for its many markets, including the Mercado de Hechiceria or Witches' Market. Browse through the weird and wonderful stalls which sell everything from potions to incantations made from herbs, seeds and unidentified bits and pieces to cure any ailment. If this is all too much for you, try the more conventional markets where you'll find ponchos, gloves, hats and many other products made of alpaca wool, leather and other traditional materials.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
On the afternoon of our last day in La Paz we travel to Uyuni. The first leg of this trip is by local bus from La Paz to Oruro (approx. 3.5 hrs). Please note there are no stops and no toilets on board the bus. The second leg is by overnight train from Oruro to Uyuni (approx 7-8 hrs). Food is sold on board but it's a good idea to bring your favourite snacks too.
Optional Activities
  • Witches' Market - Free
  • Coca Museum - BOB8
  • City Tour - USD15
  • Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour - USD15
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts), Overnight seated train (1 nt)
Days 39-41 Salar de Uyuni
Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town has a bit of a wild west feel about it. Uyuni is best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the Salar de Uyuni.
Uyuni is the starting point of our 3-day 4WD excursion into Salar de Uyuni. The first day is spent mostly on the salt lake itself. The massive salt plains of Bolivia are an incredible sight and offer plenty of opportunities for bizarre, perspective-defying photos. Endless blue skies meet endless white salt on what was once a prehistoric lake. From December to March there is a risk of the salt lake being flooded and the itinerary will be adapted to accommodate this.
The second day is spent driving through amazing landscapes. We stop by Laguna Colorado, a rich red lake vividly coloured by algae and rich minerals. One of the strangest sights in such arid and inhospitable land is be the abundant wildlife. Spot llamas, flamingos, vizcachas and foxes.
Apart from providing geysers and snow-capped volcanoes, the volcanic landscape also gives us the chance to relax in the region's thermal baths. The third day is a very early (and freezing) start with more driving ahead.
Accommodation in Salar de Uyuni is basic. There are no showers and electricity is generated by solar panel so not enough to charge electronic devices. Salar de Uyuni is at high altitude and can experience extremely cold weather, particularly at night. In the rainy season, the itinerary may be altered depending on the accessibility of roads.
Be aware, this trip can be tough going. There will be long travel days in 4WDs on dusty washboard tracks, freezing temperatures, basic toilet facilities and multishare accommodation. However, without a doubt, this amazing journey will be one of the main highlights of your trip to South America.
Included Activities
  • Uyuni Salt Flats 3d/2n (shared tour)
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 42-43 Potosi
Take a local bus along one of Bolivia's most scenic routes to Potosi (approx 6 hrs). The bus will stop once for lunch at a local Bolivian food house.
The highest city of its kind in the world, Potosi has had a turbulent past, centred mostly around its mining successes and failures. During the Spanish colonial days, the extensive mining of Potosi's silver rich Cerro Rico was said to have kept Spain running for 300 years. During this time, Potosi briefly celebrated life as one of the richest cities in the world. In the 1800s, the supply of silver declined as did the market price and the city started to suffer. Working conditions in the mines were appalling and huge numbers of indigenous people died. African slaves were brought in to replace them and it's said that as many as 8 million people died in the mines during the Spanish era.
Today Cerro Rico's mines yield tin and we have an opportunity to take an optional tour of one. The underground trip is uncomfortable and sometimes distressing. It iss however an incredibly eye-opening experience, as you will meet the miners, see their appalling working conditions and experience small muddy spaces.
Going underground is not everyone's cup of tea and for those who choose to stay firmly above ground, Potosi has a wealth of colonial art and architecture to explore.
Optional Activities
  • Silver mine tour - BOB120
  • Casa de la Moneda - BOB40
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 44-45 Sucre
Travel from Potosi to Sucre by local bus (approx. 3 hrs)
Bolivia's official capital, Sucre was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most of the town's colonial buildings have been whitewashed, earning its nickname - the 'White City'. For great views of the city head up to Recoleta, an old convent on top of the hill.
Head to the Plaza 25 de Mayo to mingle with Sucre's well-heeled residents and have a look at the beautiful interior of the Iglesia de la Merced.
For something completely different, compare shoe sizes with a dinosaur at Cal Orcko, where 60 million-year-old footprints have been discovered.
Optional Activities
  • Casa de la Libertad - BOB20
  • Dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko - USD5
  • Tarabuco Market - USD20
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 46-47 Santa Cruz
Fly from Sucre to Santa Cruz (approx 35 mins).
Once little more than a frontier town, Santa Cruz has grown to become Bolivia's second largest city and the nation's agricultural capital. The heart of the city has arcaded streets, red-tiled roofs and overhanging eaves and is a delightful place to explore. Its markets have an excellent variety of produce - you can find many exotic and strange things such as the famous coca leaf (sold by the kilo), llama and armadillo meat, love potions and magic talismans. Even if you buy nothing at all, a few hours spent roaming around the markets in Santa Cruz can be a real eye-opening experience.
From Santa Cruz we continue on to Puerto Suarez, where we take an overnight train to Brazil (approx 16 hrs). The train features reclining seats and toilets in each car. While there are vendors selling food and drink on board, it's a good idea to bring some of your favourite snacks too.
Optional Activities
  • Aqualand Water Park - BOB60
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight seated train (1 nt)
Days 48-49 Pantanal
Cross the border to the Brazilian town of Corumba, before transferring by truck to our camp hidden away in the immense wetlands of the Pantanal (approx 4 hrs).
About the size of France, the Pantanal is the world's largest wetland area and one of the best wildlife spotting places on the continent. Sixty-five million years ago, the Pantanal was an inland sea that gradually dried out. These days the vast alluvial plain is seasonally flooded by the Paraguay River, giving a home to a wonderfully diverse wildlife. Jabirus and macaws are frequently spotted and with any luck we'll see howler monkeys, giant otters, anteaters, macaws and caiman (although hopefully not too close).
Unfortunately, the area's fantastic wildlife has brought some unwanted attention. Although a portion of the wetlands has been designated as a national park, poachers still kill up to two million animals here annually.
During our stay here you can wake to see the sunrise - they are amazing in the Pantanal - and enjoy a full day of activities. Itineraries vary depending on the number of people, weather, etc. but you'll have the opportunity to go on nature walks to spot some of the amazing wildlife found in the Pantanal, take an optional horseback ride, go fishing, swimming, canoeing or just relax.
Please note that this region can be very hot, but it can also get quite cool. From November to March there are lots of mosquitoes. The food is basic, but quite tasty and we can accommodate for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. Make sure you confirm this arrangement with your leader at the start of the trip.
Meals Included
2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)
Days 50-52 Bonito
Depart Pantanal and travel by truck for about an hour before taking a minibus to the township of Bonito (approx 3 hrs).
The small town of Bonito is a prime eco-tourism destination for Brazilians and international travellers alike.
You have a full day here to enjoy some of the activities available in the surrounding area. The rivers are spectacular - clear and teeming with fish - as are the surrounding forests, waterfalls and caves. For the adventurous there are also plenty of places for snorkelling or rappelling.
Transfer to an overnight bus to Foz do Iguazu (approx 15 hrs). The bus is comfortable with toilet, air-conditioning, DVDs and footrest.
Optional Activities
  • Sucuri River - Snorkelling - BRL90
  • Abismo Anhumas - Rappel and snorkel - BRL360
  • Abismo Anhumas - Rappel and diving - BRL510
  • Gruta do Lago Azul - Snorkelling - BRL25
  • Rio de la Plata - Snorkelling - BRL99
  • Balneario Municipal - BRL10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight bus (1 nt)
Days 53-54 Foz do Iguazu
Close to the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, Foz do Iguazu is Brazil's gateway to the Iguazu Falls.
At over 2 km long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are over 270 falls in all, and with some reaching up to 80m in height, they are wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara. Legend has it that a serpent god intended to marry a beautiful girl called Naipi. She escaped in a canoe with her mortal lover Caroba and in a jealous rage the god chased them, collapsing the river before them so that Naipi plunged over the falls to become a rock, while Caroba became a tree, forever unable to touch his love. A more scientific explanation is that the Rio Iguazu flows over a riverbed of basalt that ends where the lava cooled, leaving the water to fall. The falls were 'discovered' in the modern day by the Spaniard Juan Alvar Nunez who named them Saltos de Santa Maria. The name we know them by today means 'Great Waters' in the Tupi-Guarani tongue.
Bordering Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, these spectacular falls are a great sight to see.
From the Brazilian side you can see the falls in their full glory with grand panoramas.
From the Argentinean side it’s possible to follow a series of boardwalks to get up close to the thundering waters - so close you can almost touch them.
On our last day in Iguazu, we start a 24hr journey to Paraty. The first leg of this journey is from Foz do Iguazu to Sao Paulo (16hr approx).
This overnight bus is quite comfortable. You can expect the seat to recline to a more comfortable position than you would expect on a plane. These buses normally have a toilet that minimise the number of stops along the way.
In Sao Paulo we may need to wait a couple of hours at the bus station until our next bus to Paraty departs (approx. a 6hr trip)
Optional Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Brazilian Side - USD48
  • Helicopter ride - USD110
  • Bird Park - USD17
  • Acquamania Water Park - BRL40
  • Iguazu Falls - Argentinean Side - USD68
  • Great Adventure - BRL150
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)
Days 55-56 Paraty
The overnight bus arrives in Paraty at about 6pm.
Sitting between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Paraty is one of the world's best preserved Portuguese colonial towns. This World Heritage-listed town was originally settled in 1531 on the opposite side of the river but in the 17th century the Indians who lived on the current site were driven away and the town moved. Paraty later became a booming port town, famous for its sugar cane liquor but after the abolition of slavery it was slowly forgotten. With the opening of new roads, the town was 'rediscovered' and declared a national monument.
The patron saint of Paraty is Our Lady of the Medicines. Three hundred years ago a wealthy benefactor donated land for a church in her honour. In return, she asked only for an annual mass. Each year a wooden effigy of the virgin, adorned with silver is carried in a procession through the town during the Festa de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
At high tide, some of Paraty's cobblestone streets are partly covered in sea water, adding to the rustic, colonial charm. The water of the bay is always right for swimming and the surrounding national parks are filled with trails, wildlife and waterfalls.
Optional Activities
  • Boat trip - BRL60
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 57-59 IIha Grande
Head by local bus and ferry to our island getaway on Ilha Grande (approx 5 hrs).
Ihla Grande is an island untouched by development, a paradise of tropical beaches and virgin rainforest. The island has a fascinating history, as it was variously a pirate's lair, a leper colony and a prison for violent criminals. The oppressive ruins of the prison can still be visited.
Trails through the forest lead to beautiful and remote beaches, like the Praia de Lopes Mendes, reputedly Brazil's most attractive beach. Spend time contemplating the sandy beaches with a caipirinha in hand or snorkelling and swimming in the beautiful warm waters.
Optional Activities
  • Boat trip to the Blue Lagoon - BRL70
  • Scuba diving - BRL150
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 60-61 Rio de Janeiro
Take a boat to the small port of Mangaratiba (approx 2 hrs), then board a minivan to Rio (approx 2 hrs).
The locals like to say that 'God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio'. In this heaving metropolis, set against the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay and surrounded by the slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado, it's hard not to be caught up in the Cariocas' (residents) passion.
The French were the first to settle here as they logged wood along the Brazilian coast, but they were soon driven out by the Portuguese, who built a fortified town, naming it Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and quickly amassed wealth in the gold rush of Minas Gerais. In the 19th century, the Portuguese monarchy fled from the threat of Napoleon in Europe to Rio where they built grand buildings, still in existence today. These days Rio is known best for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval.
Rio is deservedly famous for its live music scene, which encompasses myriad styles such as samba, jazz, bossa nova, hip hop, reggae, rock and many other fusions of regional styles. The neighbourhood of Lapa offers great dance halls where you can join locals in doing some serious dancing - or just soak up the vibe.
For some seriously eye-popping people watching, head down to the white sand beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema - skimpy bathing suits optional.
The northern slopes are where most of the favelas reside, while the southern zone is for the middle classes and the rich. To get oriented, or to just look on in awe, head to the top of Sugar Loaf by cable car for some incredible views.
Another view not to be missed is from the feet of Christ the Redeemer, standing atop Corcovado with arms open wide.
If you choose to take a tour of the Favelas (shanty towns), try to visit the Para Ti Community School. This initiative was set up by local and multinational companies to provide education for the children of the Favelas. Volunteers and donations of clothes, food and medicine are very welcome here. Perhaps you could leave behind any unwanted clothes to make room in your backpack for more Havaiana flip-flops.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Optional Activities
  • Sugar Loaf cable car - BRL53
  • Favela tour - BRL75
  • Christ the Redeemer cable car - BRL45
  • Hang gliding - BRL270
  • Botanical Gardens - BRL5
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      Culture shock rating

      The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
      Physical rating

      This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
      Physical preparation
      On Day 2 of the Inca Trail or Quarry Trek you will be walking uphill from 3000 to 4500 metres above sea level before descending steeply through big steps and difficult terrain. While this demanding walk is the main challenge our passengers face on this trip, it's also one of the highlights and worth every minute of it.
      We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long staircases with a pack is good preparation. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      Optional activities
      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar (USD).
      Please note that in Ecuador automatic money machines often limit the amount you can withdraw. This can be $100 or $200 per day depending on your card.
      The official currency of Peru is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN).
      Peruvian banks are allowed to reject dollar bills which are old, torn (more than one centimetre) and which have too many stamps on them. Please make sure you don't accept bills in such conditions as you may not be able to use them.
      The official currency of Bolivia is the Boliviano (BOB).
      The official currency of Brazil is the Real (BRL).
      With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
      Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
      It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
      VERY IMPORTANT:
      US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      PRICES IN CHILE & BRAZIL:
      Chile and Brazil are amongst the most expensive countries in South America. While in other countries you can expect to have a main meal for US$5-10 and take part of an optional activity for US$15-20, Brazil and Chile's prices are closer to what you would expect to pay in Western countries. You'll need to budget accordingly.
      Tipping
      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
      Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
      Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
      Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
      Departure tax
      Please allow US$36 for international airport departure tax.
      Important notes
      INCA TRAIL:
      Inca Trail permits are sold on a request basis only. Once your deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you.
      In order to obtain an Inca Trail permit, it's vital that you provide the correct and most up-to-date passport information at the time of booking (date of birth, passport number, expiry date and name spelling exactly as it appears in the passport that you will travel with). Inconsistencies and/or changes between passport details provided at the time of booking and the passport you travel with will most likely result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.
      If for reasons outside your control you must change your passport (ie. your passport gets lost or stolen) after your Inca Trail permit has been purchased, please contact your booking agent immediately to attempt arrange an alternative permit (fees may apply).
      Amongst other restrictions, Inca Trail permits are dated. Should you request a change to your original trip or travel day, a new permit will need to be purchased (subject to availability) at an extra cost.
      In the event that Inca Trail permits can't be secured, you'll be offered the following options:
      1) Change to another trip or departure.
      2) Hike the alternative Quarry Trail, which includes a visit to Machu Picchu.
      3) Stay in Cuzco for 2 nights, travel to Aguas Calientes by train for a 3rd night and visit Machu Picchu before returning to Cuzco.
      The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you'll automatically be booked to hike the 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. Please note if you choose this option you'll be unaccompanied by your group leader. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply.
      TREKKING GROUP SIZE:
      In order to maximise resources such as porters, cook, local guides and so on, the maximum group size while hiking (Inca Trail or Quarry Trail) may extend to 16 travellers.
      DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTESTS:
      Demonstrations and protests, often in response to local labour or social issues, occur regularly throughout Peru. National strikes can be called at short notice and can cause disruption to road networks leading to inevitable itinerary changes. Intrepid does everything possible for these changes to be at little or no extra cost; however in such circumstances we find that travellers need to access part of, or the entire, emergency fund. Please read below for more information on this trip's emergency fund.
      WEATHER:
      The wet season in this region is from December to March when heavy rains can cause disruptions to ground transport. Intrepid will monitor any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to natural weather occurrences.
      Group size
      Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
      www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (42 nts), Hostel (5 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (5 nts), Overnight bus (3 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts), Overnight seated train (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)
      OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
      The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
      TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
      Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
      CHECK-IN TIME
      Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
      PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
      If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
      Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. Multishare includes triple and quad rooms or even dorm rooms.
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      Meals
      10 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 7 Dinners
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 1000.00
      All meals while in the Amazon Jungle lodge, Inca Trail, homestay in Lake Titicaca, Uyuni desert and Pantanal are included.
      Transport
      Bus, Overnight seated train, Van, Overnight bus, Plane, Boat, Canoe, Ferry, 4x4
      Our overnight buses have reclinable seats - usually more comfortable than your average economy plane seats. You may be offered a simple dinner on board or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks. Before boarding an overnight bus, it's always a good idea to have music, a book, water, snacks and warm clothing ready.
      Group leader
      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
      Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
      Joining point instructions
      The new Quito airport is located approximately 37km east of the city. The quickest and most reliable way from the airport to the hotel is by taxi, which costs approximately USD 27.
      Most drivers will speak a little English and your hotel is well known but in case of difficulty the following in Spanish will help you reach your destination:
      Por favor me puede llevar al Hostal Casa Kanela , que se encuentra localizado en la calle Juan Rodríguez E8 -46 en La Mariscal.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Finish point
      Hotel Toledo
      Rua Domingos Ferreira 71
      Copacabana
      Rio de Janeiro
      BRAZIL
      Finish point description
      Hotel Toledo is walking distance from the beach, restaurants, shops and the subway station. It offers Wi-Fi in the lobby as well as a computer with free internet. Rooms have air-conditioning and private bathrooms.
      Finish point instructions
      Airport Tom Jobin (Galeao) is located 15 km north of Rio.
      You can take the Real Auto Bus from Copacabana Beach to the airport. The cost is only around US$3, but it can take an hour.
      Emergency contact
      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency:
      Intrepid's Ecuador operations office can be reached on:
      Outside Ecuador: +593 9 4014877
      From within Ecuador: 09 4014877
      Intrepid's Peru operations office can be reached on:
      Outside Peru: +51 996 055 559
      Within Peru: 996 055 559
      Use these numbers if you are in Peru or Bolivia.
      And Intrepid's Argentina operations office can be reached on:
      Outside Argentina: 0054 911 66919779
      Outside Buenos Aires: 011 66919779
      From Buenos Aires: 15 66919779
      Use these numbers if you are in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay or Brazil.
      For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Visas
      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. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      ECUADOR TOURIST VISA
      Australia: Not required
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Not required
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Not required
      PERU TOURIST VISA
      Australia: Not required
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Not required
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Not required
      BOLIVIA TOURIST VISA
      Australia: Not required
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Not required
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Yes - in advance
      Please note: if you are required to apply for a visa to enter Bolivia, you will need the following to support it:
      - a copy of the Intrepid voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip
      - a copy of the Itinerary which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website.
      BRAZIL TOURIST VISA
      Australia: Yes - in advance
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Yes - in advance
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Yes - in advance
      Brazil visas normally expire within 90 days of being issued. If you are unable to process this visa prior to the starting day of your trip, Quito will be the last opportunity you will have to obtain your visa.
      To do this, will you need to arrive in Quito before trip starts, as this process may take up to 8 working days. The Brazilian embassy is located at Avenida Amazonas 1429 (corner with Colon st) floor 9 and 10. Phone (5932) 255 6252, office hours from 9am to 1pm. (except public holidays). In order to process a visa you will need to provide the
      following:
      a- a passport valid for at least 6 months
      b- 1 passport size photo
      c- A copy of the itinerary of your trip
      (http://tripeditor.intrepidtravel.com/previewTripNotes.php?idTrip=3053)
      d- A ticket to exit Brazil
      e- A copy of your recent bank statement
      f- USD 120 for the visa issue fee (Please note this fee may change at no
      notice)
      e- A completed visa form
      (http://www.embajadadelbrasil.org.ec/imagesFTP/3323.form_visto.doc)
      BORDER CROSSINGS:
      We cross the border between Bolivia and Brazil on day 48, at the Brazilian town of Corumba.
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
      Please note that these multi-climate countries can have very diverse weather. Wet season (approximately November to March) is rainy in the highlands (with average temperatures); dry, hot & humid in the central coast; rainy, hot and humid in the jungle. Dry season (end of April to September) can be freezing in the highlands, cold in the coastal zone and could present some 'cold fronts' in the jungle. It is recommended to bring thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period. Most of our guesthouses don't supply heating. This would be a major financial and environmental strain on these hotels and for their local towns.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
      HIKING IN PERU.
      The evening before you start your trek, you will be given a small duffle bag to pack your clothes for the next four days. Your weight allowance is 6 kg max. While you hike, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel in Cuzco.
      Your team of porters will carry your duffle bag for you, together with the food and camping gear. It's important to be aware that you will not have access to your items in the duffle bag until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.
      For during the trek, you need a day pack big enough to carry personal belongings such as a warm jacket, a rain jacket, your camera, sun cream, snacks, water, etc. Usually a 30 to 50 litres capacity back pack is big enough.
      Sleeping bags can be hired locally for approximately US$18.
      Hiking poles can be hired locally for approximately US$14
      Rain ponchos can be purchased in Cuzco for a couple of dollars.
      While trekking, boiled or safe water is available for drinking. However, you should also carry a water purification method. Options include:
      - purification tablets available from camping stores or pharmacies eg. Micropur.
      - 2% tincture of iodine, available from pharmacies, used at 4 drops per litre of water and left for at least 20 minutes - longer in very cold weather.
      IMAGES FROM HOME:
      During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
      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!
      Before your trip.
      Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
      We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
      During your trip.
      While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
      Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
      http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
      YELLOW FEVER:
      A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
      It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
      DENGUE FEVER:
      Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
      WHO REPORTS:
      The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
      Safety
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
      HIKING THE INCA TRAIL OR QUARRY TRAIL:
      In accordance with local laws governing tourism in Peru, trekking groups of up to and including 8 trekkers will be led by one local guide. The evacuation of an injured traveller in normal conditions may take more than 8 hours. For your own safety, it's crucial that you adhere to the local guide's safety instructions, particularly in regard to how to prevent trekkers getting separated or lost. Your leader will also conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.
      On the Quarry Trail, a horse is available to aid the evacuation of an injured traveller (horses are not allowed on the Inca Trail). This resource is not part of the activity itself, may be up to an hours walk away and should not be expected to assist travellers simply wanting a rest from trekking.
      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      MONEY WITHDRAWAL:
      In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      SEAT BELTS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
      LIFE JACKETS:
      While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Responsible Travel projects
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:
      * The Charles Darwin Foundation protects species in the Galapagos that are on the borderline of extinction. Focusing on the island of Floreana, they hope to re-introduce several locally extinct and critically endangered keystone species that are integral to the ongoing balance and sustainability of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Peru include:
      * Living Heart focuses on improving the education, nutrition and health of disadvantaged Andean women and children near Cusco. Currently they provide free breakfasts, assist local schools with educational supplies and organise visits by doctors and nurses. They are also raising funds to build homes for orphaned children and abused women and children.
      * Escuela Winaypaq provides free education and food to children living in extreme poverty in the Taray District. In 2010, severe mud slides, flooding and rain resulted in the destruction of the school. A new school, which is close to completion, will provide classes for 54 kindergarten and primary school students and have six teachers.
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 1270.00 kgs per pax.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.