South American Explorer Overview

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Trip Map


Explore South America on a tour from Quito to Rio de Janeiro.

Travel to South America and get ready for the ultimate adventure on this journey from the Andean heights of Ecuador, through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and ending in the vibrancy of Brazil. Explore the Amazon Jungle, trek the Inca Trail, take a 4x4 through Salar de Uyuni, enjoy a hacienda homestay and visit Foz do Iguazu, the gateway to the mighty Iguazu Falls. Discover the beats of the samba, salsa and tango, get off the beaten track, visit diverse and amazing natural wonders and collect a lifetime of memories on this truly epic adventure. With plenty of free time and a do-it-yourself approach, this is the perfect way to discover South America.

  • Be awed by the mighty Iguazu Falls
  • Navigate Peru and Bolivia's high waters across Lake Titicaca
  • Party in Brazil's vibrant Rio de Janeiro
  • Reach dizzying heights on the Inca Trail
  • Travel to the heart of the Amazon
  • Unwind in Argentina's Lake District
  • Visit Argentina and tango in Buenos Aires
  • Visit Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni

What's included in this trip

  • Start:

    Quito, Ecuador
  • Finish:

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Group size:

    Min 1 , Max 16
  • Ages:

    Min 12
  • Meals:

    25 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 10 dinners
  • Accommodation:

    Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Dormitory (2 nts), Hacienda (3 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Hostel (11 nts), Hotel (52 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts), Overnight bus (7 nts)
  • Transport:

    4x4, Boat, Bus, Canoe, Ferry, Overnight bus, Van
  • Included activities:

    4-day Inca Trail trek and Machu Picchu guided tour, Buenos Aires - Leader led walking tour, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay, Leader-led walking tour, Sacred Valley and local community visit, Uyuni Salt Flats 3d/2n (shared tour)

  • Carbon emissions offset:

    1646kg pp per trip
  • Notes:

    Inca Trail permits are sold on request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you. If Inca Trail permits are unavailable by the time you book, you can opt to hike the Inca Quarry Trail instead. The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you will be automatically booked to hike the Inca Quarry Trail. Should you choose not to hike at all, please let us know in writing at the time of booking so alternative arrangements can be made. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply. Important information regarding new regulations and booking procedures for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. 29 May 2012. Based on previous travellers and leaders feedback, the itinerary of this trip has changed from what it is advertised in the Intrepid Latin America 2012 brochure. We trust this amended itinerary will only enhance travellers experience of this region. New Itinerary: Days 1-52 As per original itinerary Days 53-56 Santiago Days 57-59 Pucon Days 60-61 San Martin de los Andes (Arg) Days 62-64 Bariloche Days 65-67 Buenos Aires Days 68 onwards, as original itinerary Previous Itinerary: Days 53-56 Santiago Days 57-58 Pucon Days 59-61 Ancud Days 62-64 Bariloche Days 65-67 Buenos Aires

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About Argentina , Bolivia , Brazil , Chile , Ecuador , Peru , Uruguay

South American Explorer Summary

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Days 1-2 Quito

Quito is a cultured city with a wonderous Old Town, a dynamic nightlife and atmospheric streets showcasing Ecuadorian life in all its splendour.

Days 3-4 Amazon Jungle

The two rivers of Tena and Pano meet in Tena, a small, lively city and a gateway to the amazing Amazon Jungle.

Days 5-7 Banos

Green hills, warm waters, adventure activities, a chilled town atmosphere and good food are all found in Banos, a town popular with locals and travellers.

Days 8-9 Cuenca

With roots tracing back to 8000BC, Cuenca is a fascinating and beautiful city, and World Heritage-listed due to its wonderfully preserved heritage buildings.

Days 10-11 Mancora

Long stretches of beach, great seafood, excellent cafes and a vibrant nightlife make Mancora a very popular beachside resort in northern Peru.

Days 12-13 Huanchaco

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.

Days 14-15 Lima

Lima is a large, fascinating hotchpotch of architectural styles, coastal scenes, world cuisines, impressive museums, traditional culture and modern arts and nightlife.

Day 16 Pisco

While Pisco may have lent its name to Peru's most famous drink, this seaside city is also known for being the gateway to the Ballestas Islands.

Day 17 Nazca

Rebuilt completely after a devastating earthquake in 1996, Nazca is home to the mysterious Nazca Lines and a city of colourful houses with a pretty main square.

Days 18-19 Arequipa

The beautiful 'White City' of Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes, is rich in Spanish colonial architecture and abounds with local culture and cuisine.

Days 20-21 Colca Canyon/Arequipa

Head deep into the Andes to witness the Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest canyons.

Days 22-23 Arequipa/Cuzco

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.

Day 24 Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

The Sacred Valley was once the heartland of the Inca Empire and now contains picturesque villages and impressive archeological sites. The town of Ollantaytambo has been built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.

Days 25-28 Inca Trail/Machu Picchu/Cuzco

Winding around mountains, through valleys and up steep slopes, the iconic Inca Trail is a series of beautiful vistas and challenging hikes all the way to Machu Picchu. Built sometime in the 15th century and rediscovered in 1911, the staggering ruins of Machu Picchu were thought to be an estate for the Incan emperor, Pachacuti. A World Heritage site set amongst red-green hills with ruins scattered close by, Cuzco is impressive in every way - be it history, culture, nightlife or architecture.

Day 29 Cuzco

Cuzco is South America’s oldest inhabited city, and a whirl of colour, culture, smiles and activity.

Days 30-32 Puno/Lake Titicaca

Puno is a colourful town on the Peruvian shores of Lake Titicaca, expect to see traditionally dressed locals, chaotic markets and, if lucky enough, even dancing in the streets. Crossing the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and has some fascinating islands and hefty-sized frogs living within its waters. Known as the folklore capital of Peru, Puno often has colourful celebrations and is a great place to find goods made of alpaca wool.

Day 33 Copacabana

A lovely little town situated between two hills and looking out over Lake Titicaca, Copacabana has beautiful scenery and coastline, great eateries and a fascinating religious culture.

Days 34-37 La Paz

Built in a canyon, the unique and bewtiching city of La Paz is filled with steep, cobbled streets, fascinating markets, evident tradition and captivating sights.

Days 38-39 Sucre

The delightful city of Sucre impresses visitors with its historic charm, indigenous roots and calm atmosphere, and is the perfect place to ease into the Bolivian way of life.

Days 40-41 Potosi

The loveliness of Potosi - one of the highest and more fascinating cities in the world - is mirrored by the harshness of its mines and mining history.

Days 42-45 Salar de Uyuni

Popular due to its proximity to the Salar de Uyuni, the town of Uyuni is small and charming, and feels very remote, especially at the photogenic train cemetery. The world's largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni, is a spectacular sight - whether reflecting like a mirror in the wet or cracking during the dry.

Days 46-49 Salta

With its well-preserved colonial buildings, candle-lit cafes, fine museums and surrounding natural beauty, Salta is one of Argentina's most charming cities.

Days 50-52 Mendoza

Famed for its wine and raft of adventure activities, Mendoza is a lovely city to get lost in with its wide streets, excellent eateries and gorgeous plazas.

Days 53-56 Santiago

Set within a circle of snow-capped mountains, Santiago is vibrant, artistic and gourmet - and the gateway to adventures in the snow, sea or desert.

Days 57-59 Pucon

With the spectacular Villarrica volcano bubbling away in the background, captivating Pucon is an adventure lover's paradise with outdoor activities galore in a gorgeous natural setting.

Days 62-64 Bariloche

A city of immense natural beauty known for its great chocolate, Bariloche is fabulous for sports lovers and food connoisseurs in all its picturesque seasons.

Days 65-67 Buenos Aires

Cosmopolitan, cultured and chic, Buenos Aires has European sensibilities with a fiery Latin heart. Discover colonial architecture, funky neighbourhoods, exceptional cuisine and a thriving nightlife.

Day 68 Colonia

Facing Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata, Colonia del Sacramento has a beautiful Old City with cobblestone streets, charming buildings and a wonderful nightlife.

Day 69 Montevideo

Spread out along the Bay of Montevideo, Uruguay's capital has an eclectic array of architecture, good beaches and a rich cultural heritage.
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