Cartagena to Ushuaia Trip Notes

    • 101
    • GDBIC
    • Trip Price tool tip
      USD $6,590
      CAD $6,730
      AUD $6,185
      EUR €5,020
      GBP £4,110
      NZD $8,145
      ZAR R62,515
      CHF FR5,890
    • Kitty tool tip
      USD $3,400
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $9,990*
      CAD $10,413*
      AUD $9,943*
      EUR €7,505*
      GBP £6,362*
      NZD $12,167*
      ZAR R98,669*
      CHF FR8,898*
      *
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    • Overland
    • Basix
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‡ As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only - please click here to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
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Last Modified: 10 Aug 2014
Cartagena to Ushuaia
Trip code: GDBIC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
As far as ultimate South American adventures go, this trip from Cartagena to Ushuaia ticks all the boxes. Spanning the length of the continent's west coast, the tour starts in Cartagena, Colombia, and ventures down through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and finally ends in Ushuaia, Argentina - the world’s southernmost city. Loaded with culture, history, architecture and bountiful nature, this incredible American adventure will leave you breathless. This exciting itinerary may be full of exploring vibrant cities, kayaking down emerald rivers, snorkelling over reefs and taking part in all manor of outdoor and cultural activities, but there is also a great balance of down time too, with beaches, forests and unspoilt nature to be enjoyed and relaxed in. So if you’re after a life-affirming, awe-inspiring and never-to-be-forgotten adventure, then this epic trip is it.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxFinish point description
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
MapGroup sizeEmergency funds
ItineraryYour fellow travellersVisas
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersIssues on your trip
Culture shock rating AccommodationWhat to take
Physical ratingMeals introductionHealth
Physical preparationMealsSafety
Included activitiesTransportTravel insurance
KittyJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Feedback
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
Overland
Map
Cartagena to Ushuaia
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Cartagena
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Colombia.
The trip starts with a welcome meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America. It is legendary both for its history and beauty and tends to be a favourite of all travellers who visit it. Having been the centre of many battles, the city is heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts, the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots; and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction particularly the inner walled town, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Wandering through the streets you get a real feel of the sense of history of this amazing city.
On our second day in Cartagena we will have a walking tour of the city and then the rest of the time is free for you to enjoy the many optional activities on offer.
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
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Cartagena
Optional Activities
  • Volcan de Lodo Totumo, Cartagena - COP45000 - COP45000
  • Snorkelling to Islas del Rosario - USD10
  • San Felipe de Barajas Castle - COP20000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-4 Covenas/San Bernardo Islands
We drive 150 km to Covenas on the Morrosquillo gulf and camp in the grounds of a local hotel for 2 nights near the beach with free time to relax. On the second day we will take a guided day tour out to the idyllic San Bernardo Islands.
The islands of San Bernardo are made up of ten small islands with fine beaches and are the real travel highlight of this area. Sitting within the Golfo de Morrosquillo in the Caribbean sea the archipelago belongs to the National Natural Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo and consists of the islands of Boqueron, Cabruna, Ceycén, islote of Santa Cruz, Mangle, Maravillar, Múcura, Palma, Pandora and Tintipán. The Islet of Santa Cruz which is an artificial island is supposedly the most densely populated piece of land in the world with just over a thousand people in less than a hectare of land! Not all of the islands are accessible but contain stunning beaches, marshes, mangroves and diverse wildlife ranging from flamingos and monkeys to birds and crabs of all colours.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Medellin
A 525 km drive today takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellin, where we stay in dorm accommodation in a centrally located hostel allowing you to enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities thanks to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel, Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. And with some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it's easy to see why more and more travellers have flocked to the city in the past few years.
A great side trip from Medellin is Santa Fe de Antioquia. Set in a lush low lying hot and sultry valley on the banks of the Rio Cauca, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the oldest settlement in the region. Founded in 1541 it served as the capital of the department until 1826 when the state capital moved to Medellin. The town has kept much of its Colonial charm, the narrow streets and whitewashed colonial style buildings many of which with large central courtyard in which to relax away from the midday heat. The central plaza is dominated by the principal church of the town. The plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of Tamarind product that grow locally, take a tour of the stalls and try a few samples of this local delicacy. There are several other churches and important colonial buildings to visit but the greatest pleasure is simply exploring the narrow streets infused with history of the region.
Optional Activities
  • Day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia - USD1
  • Medellin Botanical Gardens - USD1
  • Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe - USD1
  • Catedral Metropolitana - USD1
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 7-9 Guatapé
We make a short drive this morning of a couple of hours to the small town of Guatapé which is beautifully located aside a lake in rolling countryside. The town is famous for the towering El Peñón de Guatapé which will will visit before enjoying 3 days of camping by the lake and various activities in the local area.
Guatapé is a picturesque town surrounded by the Embalse del Penon, an artificial lake built in the early 1960s and wonderful countryside yet with a colourful and historic centre. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local
vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs. The area is great for activities but one of the main reasons to visit is to see El Peñón de Guatapé, a 650 foot tall granite monolith that divides the countryside and offers amazing views from the top. El Peñón is very similar to Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro and has 644 steps which you need to climb to get to the top, but it is well worth it.
Included Activities
  • El Penon de Guatape
Optional Activities
  • Trek to waterfalls - USD6
  • Mountain bike hire - USD3
  • Kayak hire - USD6
  • Horse riding - USD6
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 10-12 Manizales
We head 185 km to Manizales where we stay for 3 nights on a coffee plantation, camping in the grounds of a traditional finca. During the next 2 days we will enjoy a night of music and dancing, a city tour of Manizales and a coffee plantation tour.
Manizales is a relaxed and friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions.
Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors.
In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking season.
Included Activities
  • Coffee Plantation Tour, Manizales
  • City tour
  • Trip to Los Nevados National Park
  • Thermal baths
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 13-14 Cali
Today we head out early overlanding to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. In the evening there may be the chance to head out for a tour of the city in a traditional chiva bus and there is the chance for optional salsa classes. During the day time there are lots of attractions to keep you entertained.
Cali is a big and bustling city with a warm climate and pleasant atmosphere, which has made its reputation in traveller circles thanks to its nightlife and social scene. The salsa capital of Colombia provides great opportunities to test out those dance moves in its many fashionable bars and restaurants.
For party seekers and those who enjoy the faster paced city life, Cali shouldn't disappoint. Avenida Sexta, is Cali's party street. With rows of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, this is where to head for a night on the town. For others, after a slower pace, the old neighbourhood of San Antonio is a lovely spot with arty, Bohemian cafes, shops and restaurants lining picturesque Colonial streets. Alternatively why not head to Las Tres Cruces which is a great point from which to catch the best views over Cali. It’s quite a hike up there but it's a peaceful spot and a nice break from the rush of the city.
Optional Activities
  • Cali Water Park - USD5
  • Evening chiva bus tour - USD10
  • Salsa lesson - USD20
  • Museo Arqueológico la Merced - USD2
  • Museo del Oro - USD1
  • Cali zoo - USD5
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 15 Popayan
A short 140 km drive brings us to the beautiful town of Popayan where we stay the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.
Nicknamed the White City, Popayan is a beautiful colonial town of whitewashed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayan a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The friendly locals can often be found sipping coffee in one of the city's excellent cafes or relaxing in one of the shaded parks.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 16 Ipiales
Today we drive 315 km to the border town of Ipiales. We stay the night in a local hotel.
Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel.
The star attraction of Ipiales, 7 km outside of town, is the famous Santuario de Las Lajas, the site of many a miracle and apparition over the years. Set amid breathtaking scenery, El Santuario is a spectacular gothic style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.
Included Activities
  • Visit to Santuario la Lajas
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 17 Otavalo
We cross the border into Ecuador and head to the Indian market town of Otavalo where we stay in a friendly hotel.
Nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance north of Quito, Otavalo is a small town famous for its market - one of the most important indigenous 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. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails.
Included Activities
  • Village Tour
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 18-19 Quito
We drive 120 km to the capital, Quito, arriving in the afternoon. En route we will stop at the Equator for the must have photo ops. We stay in Quito in a local friendly hotel.
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.
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, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
Included Activities
  • Mitad del Mundo
Optional Activities
  • El Teleferico cable car - USD4
  • Museo de la Ciudad - USD2
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee - USD80
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 20-24 Coca/Amazon Jungle
We have a very early start today followed by a 350 km drive into the heart of the Amazon to Coca, from where we set off tomorrow on our jungle expedition.
Coca is the more commonly known name for Puerto Francisco de Orellana. The city is located at the confluence of the Napo River and the Coca River, which gives the city its nickname. The city is named after Francisco de Orellana, the famous explorer. History says he set off from the current location of the city and made his way deep into the Amazon Jungle, eventually making it to the Atlantic. He later died on a second attempt to cross the jungle, not being able to find his way through.
From Coca we board a boat for a 2 hour journey along the Rio Napo, and deep into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest for a 3 night stay camping by a lodge run by the local Kichwa community.
The next 3 days will be spent sampling life in the jungle. We'll take trips out into the rainforest on foot and by boat to explore for wildlife as well as getting involved with the local community in this truly magical place.
On our last day here we will have a half day sail back up the river, returning to Coca for the night.
Included Activities
  • 3 night/3 day Amazon Adventure
Accommodation
Lodge (3 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
Days 25-27 Rio Verde
We spend the morning in the jungle and then drive 130 km to the beautiful town of Rio Verde. We stay at a campsite with great facilities.
Situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, the region around Rio Verde has year-round temperate weather, a small-town atmosphere and heaps of activities that can get you out and exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors.
Whilst staying here, you will have the opportunity to take part in optional adventure activities such as canyoning, mountain biking and rafting. We will also make the short trip into Banos where you can visit the thermal springs.
Included Activities
  • Visit to Banos
Optional Activities
  • Canyoning - USD40
  • White Water Rafting, Rio Verde - USD70
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 28-29 Chugchilan/Quilotoa Loop
We drive for an hour to the town of Quilotoa to see the stunning Crater Lake, and begin one of Ecuador's best day hike back to Chugchilan.
We will trek with a local guide, and the mostly downhill trek takes 4-6 hours. A moderate level of fitness is required as the trek is at altitude, but the walking itself is not too strenuous.
An early morning the next day starts a 300 km drive on the northern section of the spectacular Quilotoa Loop to the town of Chugchilan where we stay in a hostel.
Quilotoa Loop is a name given to the winding circuit of spectacular dirt roads that connect Lake Quilotoa to Latacunga and the Pan-American Highway. The roads that lead away from Latacunga are unpaved, winding and have spectacular views of the mountains, rivers and verdant landscape. We will head to the town of Chugchilán on the northern section of the loop and after a 2 night stay head out on the southern section of the loop allowing you to see some of the more remote people and culture of the central Andes of Ecuador.
Included Activities
  • Trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan
Optional Activities
  • Mountain Biking, Chugchilan - USD20
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Day 30 Riobamba
This morning we will drive the southern section of the Quilotoa Loop before heading to the Riobamba area where we will probably stay in a hotel for the night, but may push on further and find somewhere to camp. We will cover approximately 320 km today.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 31-32 Cuenca
An early morning drive takes us 250 km to Cuenca with a chance to explore the town and possibly visit its famous Panama Hat factory. We spend the next 2 nights in a guesthouse.
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.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt), Hotel (1 nt)
Days 33-34 Punta Sal
A 285 km drive takes us across the Peruvian border to Punta Sal, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, where we camp at a hostel.
Situated on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in a long, curvy bay, Punta Sal is a haven for sun and sand. The warm and tranquil waters are a pleasure to swim in, and there is also the opportunity to set out on fishing trips and boat trips along the coast. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, horse riding along the beach, or salsa lessons can be arranged. Alternatively, just kick back in a hammock and laze the day away, enjoying the peace and quiet of this beautiful spot.
The following day is free to enjoy the beach and activities at Punta Sal.
Optional Activities
  • Horse Riding, Punta Sal - PEN35
  • Fishing Trip, Punta Sal - PEN285
  • Salsa lesson - USD5
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 35-36 Huanchaco
Today we drive 610 km to Huanchaco, visiting Lambayeque and its Lord of Sipan Museum en route.
The small Peruvian town of Lambayeque is home to the impressive Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan, a world-class museum that showcases the finest artefacts from the archaeological finds at nearby Sipan. This area on the north west coast of Peru is well known for its rich historical heritage, and the name Lambayeque originates from the ancient pre-Inca civilisation of the Lambayeques. Amongst the most extraordinary discoveries made here is the famous 'Lord of the Sipan' - a Moche priest found buried amidst an array of gold, jewels and fabrics.
On arrival in Huanchaco we camp at a site with good facilities.
The resort town of Huanchaco is home to the surfing fishermen. Balancing on canoes constructed of buoyant reeds, the fishermen cruise through the surf with their catch.
The following day we visit numerous ruins in and around Huanchaco - the enormous ruins of Chan Chan, and the world famous pyramids of Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.
The vast mud city of Chan Chan 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.
Included Activities
  • Chan Chan Archaeological Site
  • Pyramids of Sun and Moon
  • Lord of Sipan Museum
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 37-38 Lima
A full day's drive of 530 km brings us to Peru's capital, Lima, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a comfortable hotel in the city centre.
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.
While you are here there are many museums you can visit such as the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum, which showcase the finest artefacts from the country's many ancient civilisations. You can also visit the finely preserved catacombs at the Church of San Francisco, and take in a bit of local culture at an evening folklore show.
Optional Activities
  • Catacumbas - PEN10
  • Museum - PEN35
  • Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • City Tour Lima - USD25
  • Gold Museum - PEN35
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 39 Paracas/Ballestas Islands
We have a very early start and head south and out of Lima to begin a 270 km drive to Paracas. There we board a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands to view wildlife before returning to Paracas to explore the national park. We will bush camp either in Paracas National Park or in Huacachina,
Spanning 335,000 hectares of land and sea, Paracas National Park is widely regarded as one of the most important marine reserves in the world. This coastal and marine national park is located on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of the highest concentration of marine birds in the world. Providing a vital habitat for sea lions and dolphins, Paracas is without doubt one of the most biologically diverse coastal areas in the Americas.
The Ballestas Islands has weird and wonderful wildlife. From the boat trip you will be able to see Humboldt penguins, blackish oystercatchers, guano cormorants and Peruvian boobies living alongside vast colonies of sea lions nosily crowding the Ballestas coastline. The startlingly biodiversity around the Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Park is the result of two merging currents; the warm northern waters El Nino and the cooler waters of the Humboldt. The climatic conditions produced by the combination of these two currents create the perfect environment for a proliferation in the number of plankton and phytoplankton, the core constituents in the diet of fish. The Ballestas Islands are one of the most popular ecotourism points of view along the Peruvian coast.
Included Activities
  • Ballestas Island entrance fee
  • Paracas National Park
Day 40 Nazca
In the morning we will have a chance to stock up on supplies before driving approximately 200 km to Nazca where we camp. En route we have the chance to glimpse the Nazca lines from a viewing platform.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
  • Nazca Lines viewing tower - PEN3
  • Sand Dune Buggies and Sandboarding Rental - PEN64
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 41 Puerto Inca
This morning there is time for an optional flight over the mysterious Nazca lines.
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.
Later we visit the Chauchilla Cemetery.
Close to Nazca is the Chauchilla Indian Cemetery, where you can see the tombs of people of the ancient Nazca civilisation, dating from 100AD to 700AD. It is something of an eerie sight to see the skulls, bones and even hair of the dead, preserved in a remarkable state thanks to the dry desert air.
In the afternoon we drive 270 km to Puerto Inca for an overnight stay at a beach campsite.
Situated in a beautiful bay on the Peruvian coast, Puerto Inca was once the Inca port that supplied the city of Cusco with fish. There are a number of Inca ruins here - including a cemetery and a temple of reincarnation - and part of the road that set out from the coast to Cusco is still clearly visible.
Included Activities
  • Chauchilla cemetery
Optional Activities
  • Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 42-43 Arequipa
A 380 km drive takes us to altitude and to the ‘white city’ of Arequipa where we overnight in a good quality hotel.
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.
The following day is free to explore Arequipa.
No trip to Arequipa would be complete without paying a visit to Juanita, the "Ice Maiden." This mummy of a young Inca girl has been described as one of the 10 most important historical discoveries of recent times by Time Magazine. Because the body was frozen at such low temperatures and high altitude, a really extensive study into the physical health of ancient Peruvian civilisations has been possible, with fascinating results. You should also try to visit the Santa Catalina Convent, which is almost a city within a city in the centre of the town. Not only are the buildings of the convent stunningly beautiful, with brightly painted walls and shady courtyards, it also has a fascinating history which you can learn about on a guided tour.
Optional Activities
  • Juanita Museum - PEN20
  • Santa Catalina Convent - PEN30
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 44-45 Chivay/Colca Canyon
There is time this morning to further explore Arequipa, before driving 150 km to Chivay. Tonight perhaps pay an optional visit to the thermal springs.
Chivay is home to some natural hot springs that provide a welcome relief from the cold night air high up here in the Andes. The springs are known as "La Calera" and are located just a short distance outside the town.
The following day we drive the short distance to the spectacular Colca Canyon to view the condors.
The River Colca runs from high in the Andes right down to the Pacific, and between Chivay and Cabanaconde it flows through the bottom of a deep gorge, often claimed to be the deepest in the world. It is certainly spectacularly beautiful, the vast Andean terraces tower up over the canyon, dotted by tiny villages that haven't changed in centuries. The canyon is also renowned as a haven for condors and they can often be seen here at quite close range as they float on the rising thermals and scan for carrion far below. Catching a glimpse of these magnificent birds as they rise from their nests, gliding high above you is a truly magical experience and one you will never forget.
Included Activities
  • Colca Canyon entrance
Optional Activities
  • Thermal Spring - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 46 Raqchi Homestay
Drive day to Raqchi and stay overnight in local homestay. We stay in traditional family houses with clean but basic facilities. Whilst we are there we enjoy some of the ceremonial aspects of village life as well as much singing and dancing. This is a great local experience.
A small village situated a short distance outside of Cuzco, Raqchi is well known for its talented craftspeople and the beautiful handmade and intricately decorated pottery that is made here.
We stay in Raqchi as guests of the local families in their traditional houses, a fantastic way to get a real insight into how people live here and to learn about their culture and customs. If we are lucky there may be the chance to participate in some of the ceremonial and spiritual aspects of village life - and there is always plenty of singing and dancing as we get to know our new Peruvian families.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 47-48 Cuzco
In the morning we visit the ruins at Raqchi and also a local artisan centre. In the afternoon we drive 160 km to Cuzco.
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 following day is free to explore Cuzco. There will be a trekking briefing in the morning to plan the treks for the next few days.
Included Activities
  • Raqchi Artisan Centre and ruins
Optional Activities
  • Museo Inka - PEN10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 49-52 Classic Inca Trail/Quechua Community Trek/Ollantaytambo
The next 4 days are spent trekking in the Andes. We will begin with a tour of the Sacred Valley before beginning either the Community Trek or the Classic Inca Trail to the world heritage site of Machu Picchu. Please see below for the itineraries of each of these options.
We will typically leave Cuzco first thing in the morning and drive to Sacsayhuaman ruins which are just 15 minutess from our hotel. These ruins are best known for the gigantic blocks that make up the zigzag frontal of this fort like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for but the most likely is that it was a temple complex where offerings were made to appease the gods. Sacsayhuaman is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the great view of the Cuzco rooftops that we get here even more beautiful. We then head further on into the Sacred Valley proper, stopping high on the mountainside to explore the ruins of Pisac. We will walk downhill along small pathways, through ancient arches, storage buildings and houses, learning about the history of the site from our local guide. When we have finished exploring we head down to Pisac town where we have time for lunch and can do a bit of shopping in the extensive handicrafts market that the town is famous for.
Here our groups split, and those doing the Community Inca Trek drive up into the highlands of the Cordillera Urubamba. The drive itself is amazing with stunning views as we wind up towards the trailhead. On this trek you return to the Sacred Valley, arriving in Ollantaytambo at the end of your trek, where you are joined by any of your group who prefer not to trek at all for a guided tour of this Inca site, before leaving next morning on the early train for Machu Picchu. Those who choose to trek the Classic Inca Trail will head straight to Ollantaytambo from Pisac, exploring the ruins here that afternoon and camping overnight, heading to the Classic Inca Trail start point early the next morning.
PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU WISH TO BOOK THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL THIS MUST BE ADVISED AT TIME OF BOOKING, OTHERWISE YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE BOOKED ON THE COMMUNITY TREK. Full details of the trekking options are below.
INCA TRAIL:
When people talk about "The Inca Trail", they are usually referring to a particular trekking route that follows a ancient pathway that leads to Machu Picchu. What many people don't realise is that there are a actually a huge number of Inca Trails that criss cross the Urubamba Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, many of which are genuinely remote, rarely used by western tourists, offering a chance to experience the real unspoilt Andes. On all Dragoman overland tours that travel via Cuzco we offer you the choice to trek either the "Classic" Inca Trail or our unique alternative, the Community Inca Trek, which is exclusive to Dragoman (and by the way, it's not the Lares trail that many other operators use!)
THE COMMUNITY INCA TREK:
Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route where you'll hike through pristine unspoilt Andean scenery, walking ancient Inca Trails and staying as guests of the local communities as part of our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and getting out into the real Andes - not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects. The trek itself is about the same as the Classic Inca Trail in terms of length and difficulty, taking three to three and a half days and ascending to about 4800m when you cross the highest pass. The scenery out here is truly magnificent, spectacular mountain peaks, verdant hillsides dotted by isolated villages and the odd llama and alpaca, you are unlikely to see another tourist here.
The itinerary:
Day 1: Cuzco - Zurite
We leave Cuzco first thing in the morning by bus and proceed to Sacsayhuaman for a tour of the ruins. These ruins are best remembered for the gigantic blocks that make up the zigzag frontal of this fort-like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for, but the most likely is as a temple complex for offerings to appease the gods. It is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the view of Cuzco rooftops even more beautiful as it helps to define the stonework detail.
From here we head to Chinchero, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. We will observe a traditional weaving demonstration and tour the archaeological ruins. From here we drive to Waypu Lake where we have an energising picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumpiqoc, the Moon Temple, from which we will hike to Zurite. Here we stay in a homestay with a local family, enjoying a traditional home-cooked meal and gaining an insight into the lifestyle of the locals.
Approximate walking time: 5 hours (8 km)
Day 2: Zurite to Amaruwatana
After breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through
Qenteqentiyoc (the hummingbird temple), where we can visit and admire this archaeological Inca site. Following the
ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,500 metres, where we will have a dramatic view of both
mountain ranges, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the
Sambor valley where we will spend the night.
Approximate walking time: 8 hours (13 km)
Day 3: Amaruwatana to Ancascocha
Early in the morning after breakfast we trek for 2 hours to get to our second pass at 4,700 metres; from there we have
fantastic views of the rock formations below us. Sometimes it is possible to see Andean ibis, herons, torrent ducks,
caracaras, eagles and foxes. After another 2 hours we arrive to a nice highland valley, a place named Kenqo Mayu, or
zig-zag river, where glacier water flows through the valley. Our lunch will be at the end of the river, and after lunch we
will continue downhill and follow the ancient trail, which goes on a little uphill section which leads us to our campsite
in a community called Ancascocha. We will arrive to our campsite in the late afternoon near to a large glacier mountain
and glacier stream. If we arrive on time there is an optional hike to the lake, a one hour round trip.
Approximate walking time: 6.5 hours (10 km)
Day 4: Ancascocha to Ollantaytambo
After eating breakfast and breaking camp we start hiking down the Silque Canyon. We will descend by way of the
narrow canyon, following a stream that will gradually get bigger. We can observe tall granite walls on the sides of the
canyon, populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when
they bloom. We continue on the trail making zig-zags. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the community
of Camicancha, where we stop in a nice volcanic rock area, with magnificent views of mount Veronica, a snow capped
mountain. From here we are very close to the Chilca community where we finish our trek. A vehicle will transfer us
to Ollantaytambo and our hotel. After showers and a little rest, we get ready for the cultural tour of this incredible
archaeological site, which is very well known as the Temple of the Sun.
Approximate walking time: 5 hours (12 km)
Day 5: Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
After a great nights sleep in our beds we have another early start but this time to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. The early train allows us to get to Machu Picchu before the trains from Cusco arrive. At Aguas Calientes we jump straight on the bus and up to the citadel itself, where we meet the rest of the group.
THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL
The "Classic" Inca Trail route usually starts at Kilometre 82 of the Cusco –Machu Picchu railtrack, taking in Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's Pass, 4200m) and the ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna en route, eventually arriving at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu early in the morning after 3 days of trekking. This route is still extremely popular as it is seen by many as the "original" Inca Trail. It's also probably the best trek to choose if you're really interested in history and archaeology, because of all the other Inca sites it passes along the way.
Unfortunately, in recent years the classic trail has almost become a bit of a victim of it's own popularity. It is important to realise that the trail is now very busy, with 500 people starting the trek every day. There are only a certain number of places where it is feasible to camp, so your group will be camped alongside others, and you will meet a lot of other trekkers along the through way. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome trek, passing some stunning scenery from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forest, and the sense of achievement you'll have when you catch your first sight of the Lost City of the Incas is something you'll never forget.
The itinerary:
Day 1
We join the community trekkers for a tour of the sacred valley and enjoy lunch at Pisac. We then head to Ollantaytambo to view more Inca ruins and camp the night. Meals provided:Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Day 2
The following morning after breakfast at the campsite, we catch a bus to the 82 km marker and are joined by a crew of local porters, cook, etc. As we hike from high plateau to dense forest, you will see some remains of ancient villages and temples, the first of which is Llactapata. The starting point of the trek (the 82 km marker) is located at 2,850m above sea level. The trek includes some uphill trekking to the campsite (over 3,000m above sea level). Take advantage during the 4 days of the trek to get to know your porters. You will realise they work the hardest on the team and are gentle people willing to share with you their culture, language and trek experiences.
Day 3
This is the most challenging of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hrs) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman's Pass, at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley (3650m above sea level. This is 2 hrs downhill). Depending upon on local conditions, you might camp here today, or may need to continue further up and down. We might cross the first and second passes on this day. From the second pass, Runkuracay (3,980m above sea level - 90min uphill) we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2 hours downhill). From here it is only a few more minutes to the Chaquicocha campsite (3,620m above sea level).
Day 4
On day 3 of the trek, we continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds' (3,850m above sea level/90min uphill). Start descending real Inca Steps (2 hrs) to reach our final night's camp by the Wiñay Wayna, or 'Forever Young' ruins (2,750m above sea level), with panoramic views of the valley below.
Day 5
Machu Picchu – Cuzco. Today is only a short final hike (90 min) to Machu Picchu and we climb the steps to the Sun Gate to watch the ruins emerge from the mist below. As with the community trek our guide will show us the most important constructions as well as explain the history and the mythology of this magnificent place. There is some free time to explore the ruins further at your own pace or you can just chill out and watch the hummingbirds or vizcachua. Late afternoon we head back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco for a well-deserved rest.
NON-TREKKING PACKAGE:
There is also a non trekking option. If you do not want to trek at all but want to take part in the Sacred Valley Tour and guided tour of Machu Picchu, this can be organised however you MUST inform us at time of booking.
You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers and your tour leader who will be trekking the Community or Classic Inca Trail. You will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Continuing along the valley, you will pass through the village of Urubamba where you will have lunch with your fellow passengers before heading back to Cuzco. In Cuzco you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights and this will be booked for you by your tour leader. There are no activities booked or organised for you during your time in Cuzco. You will re join some of your fellow travellers and your tour leader on the fourth day in Ollantaytambo, and stay in a hotel in Ollantaytambo overnight.
On the fifth day, after an early breakfast we walk to the train station for the 2-hour journey to Aguas Calientes, from where we take a local bus up to Machu Picchu. After a guided tour of the site, there is free time to explore before returning by bus to Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon we catch the train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy, and then a private transfer takes us back to Cuzco.
Please also note that there is a possibility that you may be the only person booked on to the non trekking package, however this package will offer you plenty of time in Cuzco to explore the town and surrounding sites (in total 4 or 5 nights depending on your trip).
WHICH TREK TO CHOOSE?
The Community trek goes through unspoilt mountain scenery and you are unlikely to see any other tourists. Along the way we camp as guests of the villages and get to meet local families and get involved in local community chores and activities. The staff and pack animals that we use on this trek are also all from the local villages so the communities directly benefit from your trekking. In addition, a financial donation is made from the kitty, and matched by Dragoman, for every person who does this trek.
It is important however to realise that whilst both treks finish at Machu Picchu on their final day, the Community Trek does not trek right through to the Sun Gate as you do on the Classic Inca Trail. You still arrive before the crowds however, and it is possible to walk up from Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate to take in the famous view. The Classic Inca Trail route is also much better preserved than the trails on the Community Trek. The Classic Inca Trail also sees more ruins along the way than the Community Trek.
The Community Trek option is automatically included as part of your trip unless you advise us otherwise. So if you want to take the Community Inca Trek, no further action is required. If you would prefer to trek the Classic Inca Trail, or choose not to trek at all, you must inform us at time of booking.
In order to secure Inca Trail permits, it is vital that you provide the correct and most up to date passport information at the time of booking (DOB, passport number, expiry date and name spelling exactly as it appears in the passport that you will be travel with) Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel with may result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.
Please note that permits for the Classic Inca Trail are limited and cannot be guaranteed. If they are unavailable you will be booked onto the Community Inca Trek instead.
Included Activities
  • Alternative Inca Trail and Quechua Community trek
  • Tour of the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (4 nts)
Days 53-54 Machu Picchu/Cuzco
Today the trekkers and non-trekkers will all meet up for a guided tour of Machu Picchu with a local expert. Following the tour there will be free time to explore the site before catching the train back to Cuzco.
Machu Picchu is one of those genuinely magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a moment you’ll never forget.
The ruins of this forgotten city are stunningly located, perched high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the river Urambamba running through the gorge far below. Hidden away on a ridge between the mountains, Machu Picchu is invisible from below, so it's no surprise it's ruins remained a secret for so many years. Historians believe the city was probably completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed all it's inhabitants and watered by natural springs. It's thought that the city was the location of a royal palace and estate, home to the Inca emperors, or possibly a sacred religious and ceremonial sight.
Discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, although the ruins were heavily covered by dense jungle foliage, many of the buildings were well preserved and in excellent condition. The city consists of more than 200 buildings, from houses to temples, storage buildings and public spaces. It's fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.
WAYNA PICCHU: Please note, due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
The following day is free for you to relax and rest weary legs in Cuzco. Or for those with energy left to burn, try some optional adventure activities such as white water rafting or mountain biking.
Included Activities
  • Machu Picchu Entrance fee & Guided tour
Optional Activities
  • White water rafting, Sacred Valley - USD30
  • Mountain Biking, Sacred Valley - USD30
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 55 Puno
In the morning we have a 440 km drive to Puno.
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.
En route to Puno we will visit the Sillustani ruins and museum.
Tucked away in between the many small villages around Puno are the ruins of Sillustani . These ruined towers are set on a beautiful peninsula near Lake Umayo, built by a pre-Inca civilisation hundreds of years ago. The Sillustani Indians built several "Chullpas", funeral towers whose construction is far more complex than anything the Inca ever built. Each tower would have contained the remains of noble men, buried together with offerings to secure their comfortable passage into the next life.
Included Activities
  • Sillustani Ruins and Museum w/Guide
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 56-57 Lake Titicaca/Copacabana
We head out on a boat on Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands of Uros before a 200 km drive takes us across the Bolivian border to the lakeside town of Copacabana where we overnight in a hotel.
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.
The following day we head out by boat on a day trip to Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca.
Take a local boat to Isla del Sol and spend a day exploring this historic island, famous for being the birthplace of the whole Inca civilisation. The modern day Aymara and Quechua peoples of Bolivia and Peru still accept the legend of the sun being born on this island as their creation story even today. There are a host of ancient ruins to discover, tiny traditional villages and beautiful walking routes. You can wander through the stone ruins, exploring the islands dry slopes covered with sweet smelling incense brush, or hike over the ancient pampas which are still cultivated by the island families.
Included Activities
  • Uros Island boat trip on Lake Titicaca
  • Isla del Sol boat trip
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 58-60 La Paz
A 160 km drive brings us to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital where we have time to explore the city and do optional activities. Overnight good quality colonial hotel in central La Paz.
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.
The old town is full of markets and winding cobbled streets full of people selling anything and everything you could ever think of. Different areas of the city have established markets selling things you'd expect like food and flowers, and also things you've probably never seen before - check out the dried llama foetuses on sale in the Witches' Market!
There are plenty of other activities to do in La Paz, from playing a round of golf at the highest golf course in the Americas or trekking through the Yungas. You can also arrange excursions to Mount Chacaltaya and Moon Valley to take in the superlative mountain views. Another option is to visit the Tihuanacu ruins which are a short journey away. The city is also full of impressive churches and museums, including one dedicated to the history of the coca plant.
Optional Activities
  • Coca Museum - BOB10
  • Downhill Mountain Biking, La Paz - USD55
  • Tiawanaku tour - USD26
  • Round of golf - USD100
  • Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour - USD16
  • Mountain Biking on La Paz to Coroico Road, La Paz - USD55
  • Coca Museum - BOB8
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 61-62 Potosi
Today we will leave La Paz very early after breakfast and head to to the colonial mining town of Potosi, the highest town in the world. Here we stay in a friendly, local hotel.
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.
While in Potosi you can arrange to visit a mine that is still being worked, which offers a challenging and fascinating insight into how mining has shaped the history and culture of this town. Entering a dark maze of tunnels, you will descend to four levels below, down to the work face where miners use hammers, chisels and dynamite, more reminiscent of the 1800s than the 21st century, to dig out the remaining metal. Most of the silver here is long gone - it's tin the miners are looking for now.
If you do choose to head down into the mines it has become a custom to take the miners gifts of dynamite, fuses and coca leaves in exchange for their stories. Life is harsh for all who work here but the mines have now all been organised into a cooperative so at least today the men have a say in their own future. You should be aware that visiting these primitive mines is not for everybody as it is pretty tiring, you will be in enclosed spaces, and it can be dangerous.
If you would rather stay above ground, Potosi has a wealth of colonial art and architecture to explore. You can also visit the Casa de la Moneda (the mint) which is a great place to learn more about Potosi's history and the mines.
Optional Activities
  • Cerro Rico Mine Tour - BOB100
  • Casa de la Moneda - BOB40
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 63-64 Salar de Uyuni
This morning there is time for optional activities in Potosi before we journey 190 km to Uyuni, gateway to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. We overnight in a friendly hotel serving the highest pizzas in the world!
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.
The following day we spend out in jeeps exploring the salt flats.
The Bolivian salt flats are a truly unforgettable sight. This is a landscape unlike anything you're likely to have ever seen before. The Salar de Uyuni is a dry lake of over 12,000 sq km, made of blinding white interlocking salt crystals. It is Bolviia's largest salt pan and when there's a little water on the flats, it reflects the bright blue sky of the altiplano perfectly, acting like a mirror and making the horizon disappear. When dry, the Salar becomes a blinding white expanse that stretches for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. Great for all those perspective-bending photographs.
Included Activities
  • Jeep tour of Uyuni Salt Flats
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 65 Bolivian Altiplano
Today we cross the altiplano on a spectacular 320 km drive towards the Chilean border via Laguyna Colorado and Laguna Verde. We stay the night in a basic hostel.
The high Bolivian altiplano stretches hundreds of kilometres from the small town of Uyuni out across to the borders with Argentina and Chile. This is real wilderness, there are no roads up here, just a few tracks to follow, and you are more likely to see a flamingo or llama than another human being. The only way to cross the altiplano is by travelling in a specialist expedition vehicle like one of our trucks, or local jeeps. The crossing is an adventurous one, with no roads to speak of. It is rough travelling and the trip from Uyuni to the border normally takes a couple of days, but it is without a doubt one of the most unforgettable journeys you'll ever make.
The altitude here is considerable and it can be very cold and windy. When travelling here you should be prepared for very cold temperatures and it is worth making sure you have a really good quality sleeping bag.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 66-67 San Pedro de Atacama
We descend from the altiplano, and a 150 km drive takes us across the border into Chile and the town of San Pedro de Atacama, where we overnight at a campsite. We visit the extraordinary Moon Valley, hopeful of a stunning sunset. In the evening there is also the change to go stargazing (not possible when there is a full moon).
San Pedro is a small oasis town in the Atacama desert. It is a quirky little place with low-lying adobe buildings lining narrow streets which lead to a sleepy tree-lined plaza that is home of a pretty white-washed church and a fascinating small museum, home to some interesting mummies and various other Indian artefacts.
Pleasant though the town is, the real attraction here is the surrounding landscape. This part of the Atacama has become well-known as a tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery. Perhaps most well known is the unusual desert landscape of Moon Valley, just a short distance outside San Pedro, where other-worldly rock formations, unusual layer-cake landscapes and huge dunes combine to create some incredible views.
Optional Activities
  • Observatory - USD35
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 68-69 Salta
A full day's drive takes us to the fine Spanish colonial city of Salta. We stay in a simple hotel in the centre of the city.
Salta's rich history, colonial architecture, surrounding natural attractions and friendly locals make this town of half a million people one of Argentina's main attractions. The central square, Plaza 9 de Julio, has been called the nicest plaza in all of Argentina, with its lush gardens, fountains, statues and beautiful white buildings including the Cabildo, Cathedral and Casa del Gobierno (Government House).
The following day is free to explore Salta.
Optional Activities
  • Rafting - ARS275
  • Cable Car - USD6
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 70 Cafayate
Today we drive 150 km to Cafayate, at the centre of Argentina's principal wine producing region. We stay at a campsite with good facilities.
Cafayate is a small town in north west Argentina, and an important wine growing area. The surrounding vineyards produce some of the best quality wine in South America, and you should look out for the torrontes in particular - a distinctive white wine that is typically Argentinian and similar in style to a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. Cafayate itself is small with a sleep laidback feel, although it can become busy during Argentinian holiday periods. Many of the local bodegas offer tastings and tours of their wine cellars and this is easily organised while you are here. Also worth seeking out is the local ice cream parlour which, together with the more usual flavours, offers red and white wine ice cream. If wine is not your thing, the area's gently undulating terrain makes for pleasant hiking and cycling.
Included Activities
  • Vineyard Tour
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 71-74 Quilmes
We cover approximately 400 km as we head south through beautiful scenery, visiting the Quilmes ruins en route. We camp tonight.
The ruins of Quilmes are located in Tucaman province in north west Argentina. The people of Quilmes were an indigenous tribe who inhabited this area as far back as AD 1000, resisting Inca invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries, and even holding out against the Spanish for over one hundred years before finally succumbing to a siege in 1667. After the siege the Spanish took the area over, deporting the few surviving indigenous people to a reservation near Buenos Aires. The 2000 remaining Quilmes people were forced to make this 1500 km journey on foot, which meant that many died along the way. At its height, the city we see the ruins of here would have housed nearly 5000 people. Today there are only a handful of Quilmes descendants left in Tucaman. It is interesting to wander among the ruins here today and imagine the city that once would have been.
Included Activities
  • Quilmes Ruins
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Day 72 Estancia stay
A 270 km drive brings us to a unique 3 night stay at an Anglo-Argentinian estancia. We camp within the grounds of the estancia and spend time with the gauchos learning their skills, hiking and having a traditional asado or Argentinian barbecue.
The estancia has been in the same family for four generations, and is a working cattle ranch, farming the prized Argentinian Aberdeen Angus cattle. Here we will sample traditional hospitality, with great food straight from the farm. An asado or Argentinian barbecue with local wines will also be enjoyed on one of our nights here.
The visit to the estancia is based on horse riding excursions and daily expeditions will be arranged to ride through the hills to neighbouring estancias. The horses are fabulous and even the most horse-fearing will feel like gauchos in a short time. For those who do not wish to ride, alternative hikes or perhaps cycling trips can be arranged.
Please note that the estancia impose a weight restriction of 95kg for the horse riding activities. If you weigh more than this you may not be able to participate in this activity.
Optional Activities
  • National Jesuit Museum - ARS5
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 75-77 Mendoza
We leave the estancia today and make our way towards Mendoza, covering around 300 km. We will find somewhere to camp for the night en route.
A further 300 km the next day brings us to the beautiful town of Mendoza where we stay in a hostel for 2 nights. Here you have the chance to take part in various optional activities from wine tasting to mountain biking.
Mendoza is Argentina's most important grape growing region, producing 70% of the country's wine. Malbec is the region's signature variety.
The city centre is beautifully landscaped and full of trees, squares and parks. During the day Peatonal Sarmiento (Sarmiento pedestrian street) is the place to be. This coffee shop-lined street joins the busy San Martin St with Plaza Independencia making it a must destination for all mendocinos coming to the city. Near Plaza Independencia is Mercado Central (Central Market) a great destination to try the regional specialities such as empanadas (meat pastries), cheese, ham, marinated olives and local wines. Most commercial activity in Mendoza breaks from 1pm to 4pm to allow for the traditional siesta.
At night, attentions shifts to Av. Aristides Villanueva. The many restaurants, bars and pubs make this area the epicentre of Mendoza's night life. If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the most popular drinks in town: Fernet with Coke - an acquired taste and not for the faint-hearted!
Optional Activities
  • Winery tour - ARS105
  • Mountain Biking, Mendoza - USD20
  • Rafting, Mendoza - ARS145
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 78-79 Santiago
A 340 km drive takes us across the border and into Chile and its capital, Santiago. We spend the night in a centrally located hotel.
Although Santiago covers a large area, the city centre is quite compact and easy to get around. The city's centre is roughly triangular in shape with the Plaza de Armas, the main plaza and home to the Cathedral, sitting in the centre. Panning out from here are wall-to-wall shops, restaurants and parks. For a more serene look at Chilean life, head out to Barrio Bella Vista, Santiago's 'Paris Quarter'.
Optional Activities
  • Cerro San Cristobal cable car - CLP1800
  • Miguel Torres Winery Tour and Tasting - CLP5000
  • Condor Trip (half day), Santiago - CLP19000
  • Cerro San Cristobal (cable car) - CLP2300
  • Cerro Santa Lucia (metro) - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 80 Salto del Laja
Today we leave Santiago and head south, driving 440 km to the wine growing region of Salto de Laja, where we stay in a campsite with good facilities. En route we will stop at a vineyard for a change to sample some of the produce.
Salto de Laja is a small resort town named after the four impressive arch-like waterfalls formed here by the cascading Laja river. It is easy to see the waterfalls by crossing a bridge from the main road through town, or if you have time you may be able to experience the spray from below on a river-boat trip during Chilean holiday season. Salto de Laja town is a small place, popular with Chilean tourists during the summer months, so there are lots of campsites, hotels and cabanas here. It's a pleasant place to break the journey between Santiago and Pucon, gateway to the Chilean lake district and Patagonia.
Optional Activities
  • Wine tasting - USD13
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 81-82 Pucon
In the morning we will drive 300 km to the Lake District of Chile, and the town of Pucon. The afternoon is free to explore. We stay at a campsite here.
In the heart of the Lake District and set on the foot of the active Volcan Villarrica, Pucon is every outdoors fanatic's dreamland. Mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, climbing, horse riding - you name it, you can do it in Pucon. There's even a casino, inside the luxurious Hotel del Lago, and a busy nightlife.
The following day is a non-driving day, allowing you to get involved in the range of activities on offer - from hiking to hot springs.
Optional Activities
  • Skiing (full day) - CLP23500
  • Hiking PN Huerquehue (full day) - CLP22000
  • Villarica Volcano climb - CLP45000
  • Thermal springs (full day) - CLP10000
  • Mountain Bike Hire - USD10
  • Rafting on Tancura River - USD40
  • Horse Riding (half day) Pucon - CLP21000
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 83-84 Bariloche
Today we drive 320 km to the mountain resort town of Bariloche, where we spend 2 nights in dorm rooms at a comfortable hostel.
A year-round playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, Bariloche sits on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Outdoor activities range from skiing on the peaks of Cerro Catedral (in season), to hiking or biking around its base.
One of Bariloche's renowned pastimes is dining: find a comfortable café and try the fresh salmon or lake trout, or even a hearty beef parrillada. The town is famous for its handmade chocolates and there are some really spectacular displays in the local chocolate shops.
Optional Activities
  • Mountain Bike hire, Bariloche - ARS45
  • Framtom's Chocolate Factory - Free
  • Bariloche, Horse Riding - ARS160
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 85-88 Carretera Austral
Today we cross back into Chile and join the famous Carretera Austral at Futalefu, renowned as having some of the best rafting in the world.
Over the next 3 days we continue following the Carretera Austral through some of the most amazing scenery Patagonia has to offer and stopping to visit the Colgante Glacier.
The Carretera Austral or Southern Highway is a fantastic route that passes between Puerto Montt and Coyhaique, through vast tracts of untouched wilderness, past soaring snow capped mountains, glaciers, glass-green fjords and staggering, beautiful valleys. This is Chile at its best and is a perfect area to explore by overland vehicle. You need to have a flexible itinerary and to be able to camp in the wilds, as settlements are few and far between. The attraction of this are are the wide-open spaces and the national parks. We spend our time either on small ferries or driving through magnificent scenery, hiking, visiting glaciers and generally exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Included Activities
  • Colgante Glacier
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (3 nts), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 89-91 Los Glaciares National Park/El Chalten
We drive 580 km into Los Glaciares National Park, to El Chalten. Here we have two full days to explore the Fitzroy Range, with many activities on offer from hiking and glacier trekking to horse riding. A boat trip on Viedma Lake is also possible.
The clouds that form around the summit of the surrounding mountains were mistaken for smoke, which gave the name "Chalten" which means volcano. The picturesque landscape is a perfect place for hiking, as there is so much to explore and the rewards of constant beautiful sights gives a perfect reason to hike.
Los Glaciares National Park is probably home to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Argentina, if not South America. This is classic picture-book Patagonia, wherever you turn you're surrounded by wide open skies, magnificent mountains, incredible glaciers, glistening lakes and thick verdant forest. By far the best way to explore is to get out on foot. There are plenty of well established trails through the park and maps can be picked up locally, so you can plan a short walk that will just take you a couple of hours, or the more adventurous might choose to hike out for a whole day or even overnight. Los Glaciares covers a massive area and there are two main gateways to the park; to the south, El Calafate provides access to Lago Argentino and the Perito Moreno Glacier and surrounding area, then in the North, the small town of El Chalten can be used as a base to explore the Fitzroy Mountains and Lake Viedma and its glacier.
Included Activities
  • Los Glaciaries National Park
Optional Activities
  • Horse Riding (2 hours), El Chaton - ARS120
  • Day Trek Cerro Torre Glacier - USD74
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 92-93 Perito Moreno Glacier/El Calafate
We drive 220 km through incredible scenery to El Calafate where we stay in dorm accommodation at a lovely hostel.
El Calafate is a small town on the southern shore of Lago Argentino in Patagonia. Originally a sheep station and trading outpost, today the town has developed a bustling small town atmosphere thanks to a growing tourist trade. Most people base themselves here whilst visiting the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier, located a short distance away at the southern reaches of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Interestingly the town takes its name from the Calafate berry, and locals claim that if you eat one of these and make a wish, you are guaranteed to return to Patagonia.
The following day is a non-driving day and we enjoy a guided visit to the stunning Moreno Glacier.
If Patagonia is synonymous with jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain scenery, then the Perito Moreno Glacier certainly doesn't disappoint. This incredible glacier is the highlight of the southern region of Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, a spectacular wall of ice over 60 m tall above the water and 5 km wide. One of only three Patagonian glaciers that are not retreating, you can stand on one of the many catwalks and marvel at the glacier, listening to it creak and watching as enormous chunks crash into the water. It's also possible to take a short boat trip out onto the lake in order to get up even closer to the face of the glacier itself.
Included Activities
  • Moreno Glacier
Optional Activities
  • Boat Trip Moreno Glacier - USD15
  • Horse Riding, El Calafate - USD90
  • Trekking on Moreno glacier - ARS540
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 94-98 Torres del Paine National Park
Today is a full day 430 km drive across the border and into Chile, to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. This is one of the most outstanding areas of beauty in Chile, and the highlight of the trip for many passengers. We camp the night at a lakeside site.
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is home to what is undoubtedly some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Patagonia, if not all of South America. Rising up high above the Patagonian steppe are the 3 impressive granite towers that give the park its name, surrounded by towering mountain peaks, the most famous of which are Los Cuernos and Paine Grande. The park is a magical natural wonderland full of deep lakes, sparkling glaciers and cascading waterfalls, and it's also an important habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Patagonian rhea and guanaco, as well as flamingoes, condors and other birds.
The best way to explore is definitely to get out there on foot or perhaps on horse-back. The park is criss-crossed by a good network of trails, making it possible for you to see all the main sights either by doing a series of day hikes, or by doing a circular hike like the W-walk, taking a few days and stopping off at the parks refugios or camping along the way. Horse-riding and kayaking can also be arranged locally, and boats and catamarans offer trips across Lago Grey and Lago Pehoe in season.
The next 4 days are non-driving days, giving you plenty of time to explore the many activities and trekking opportunities on offer, including the famous 'W' walk.
THE W WALK:
The W Walk is an optional activity which we can pre-book for you. Ask your agent for the price.The W involves 4 full days trekking and 3 overnight stays away from the truck. When you are considering whether or not this trek is for you, it is important to bear in mind that you will have to carry your own personal effects for the duration of the trek, e.g. sleeping mat, sleeping bag, clothes for 4 days, toiletries, snacks, water, etc.
If you do choose to hike the W Walk you spend your first night in the park with your group and the truck at the campsite by the lake. The next day the whole group will take a ferry across Lake Pehoe, walk to Glacier Grey, and then head to the Paine Grande campsite for the night. The following day the trekking group will split from the group and head off on the trek for two nights hiking the French Valley, Los Cuernos, and towards Las Torres campsite, rejoining the group on the last day in the park, where we will all walk up the Torres together.
If you do not wish to do the trek it is possible to visit other areas of the park on day hikes from the main campsite where the truck will be based. The whole group will spend the first day together, taking a ferry across Lake Pehoe, and walking to Glacier Grey, and then to the refugio where we all spend the night. The following day we will talk to the French Valley, where the trekkers will leave us, and we will board a ferry back to Pudeto where we are met by the truck and driven back to the campsite. The next day is free to do some day hikes or some of the other activities on offer. On our last day in the park we hop in the truck and drive to the base of the three famous peaks which give the park its name. Here we meet the W trekkers and walk up the Torres together. There is free time here to explore, before heading back to the truck and making our way back to camp.
Included Activities
  • Torres del Paine National Park
Optional Activities
  • Grey Glacier Boat Trip - USD68
  • Zodiac Boat Trip Natales to Serrano - CLP65000
  • Minibus transfers to trailheads within Torres del Paine National Park - USD10
  • Lago Pehoe Ferry (essential to get to some trailheads) - USD25
  • Zodiac Boat Trip along Rio Serrano - CLP20000
  • Refugio (Hostel) overnight stay - USD30
  • Horse Riding - USD47
  • W-Hike, Torres del Paine National Park - USD260
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (5 nts)
Day 99 Strait of Magellan
Today is a full day, 600 km drive, including a ferry crossing of the infamous Magellan Straits to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. We will bush camp tonight.
Separating Tierra del Fuego from mainland Argentina are the infamous Magellan Straits. This treacherous stretch of water is about 500 km long and takes its name from the explorer Magellan who first navigated these waters in 1520. It was the only ship out of a total of 17 attempting the passage that successfully managed to reach the Pacific. Before the Panama Canal was built, the Straits provided a useful route between Chile, Peru and Europe, and though they are less important as a major shipping route today, they still see a fair amount of traffic.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 100-101 Ushuaia
In the morning, a 340 km drive brings us to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. If time allows this afternoon, perhaps take an optional tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Ushuaia, affectionately known as 'fin del mundo' (end of the world) due to being the southern most city of the world, has a lot to offer. A relatively small city of 42,000 people, it is easy to find your way around. Av. San Martin and the surrounding streets is where you will find most hotels and tourist services. Here you can stroll along and visit the shops, museums and restaurants. From Av. San Martin the streets start to run uphill. From the top of these streets you will have a good view of the Beagle Channel.
Tierra del Fuego ('Land of Fire') is a large island separated from mainland South America by the Magellan Straits. Most of the island belongs to Chile, but 30% of the archipelago is in Argentina, including Argentina's southernmost town, Ushuaia. This is Patagonia at its most remote,with a landscape of windswept plains, forests and swamplands, home to rheas, condors, buzzard eagles, seals and sea lions, all of which thrive in these conditions. Originally the home of theYamana and Ona Indians, sadly there are not any indigenous communities left here. The people who inhabit Tierra del Fuego today are the descendants of the colonial settlers who came here from Europe in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mostly from Britain, Spain and Yugoslavia.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Plane flight (30 minutes), Ushuaia - USD100
  • Boat Trip on Beagle Channel - ARS230
Accommodation
Hostel (1 nt)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
      Please note: Due to the nature of this trip and the area through which you will be travelling, there are quite a few limitations and challenges on this trip. You will be travelling to the southernmost point of South America and experience the most of what Patagonia has to offer by going off the beaten track in some of the most stunning scenery you will ever encounter. However, please remember that you will need to prepare accordingly as this is a tough trip and should not be taken lightly. The drive days are long due to the large distances and rough roads. Fresh food may not be available daily as grocery shops are limited and it is prohibited to bring fresh produce across the borders between Chile and Argentina. Camping and wild camping is done regardless of weather and nights can be bitterly cold at any time of the year and conditions are often very windy. We suggest you take warm clothing and a good quality four season sleeping bag with a lower comfort rating of at least -1°C.
      Physical rating

      Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
      Physical preparation
      On Day 2 of the Inca Trail or Community Trek you will be walking uphill from 3000 to 4500 metres above sea level before descending steeply through big steps and difficult terrain. While on day 3 of the Community Trek you will reach an altitude of 4700m. This demanding walk is the main challenge our passengers face on this trip, however it's also one of the highlights and worth every minute of it.
      In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
      Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
      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.
      Please note that some of our included activities are contingent on weather conditions. We'll arrange an alternative if an included activity is deemed unsafe.
      Kitty
      On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
      Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
      You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
      If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
      Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
      KITTY CHANGES:
      We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      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 approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
      Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
      THE W WALK:
      If you wish to hike the W Walk in Torres del Paine National Park, you can pre-book the package with us. The package includes your accommodation (bunk beds in the refugios), food for the duration of the trek, and the services of an expert English-speaking guide. The refugios do tend to book out well in advance, so if you wish to take this option, please contact us as soon as possible. As your agent for the price.
      Money Exchange
      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.
      Tipping
      If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is 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.
      The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
      Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
      At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
      Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
      Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 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.
      In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
      Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
      Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
      Departure tax
      Please note that you are responsible for your own visas and taxes. Please have these amounts available prior to departing the various countries.
      Please allow US$36 for international airport departure tax.
      Important notes
      LOCAL PARTNER:
      Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
      MINIMUM AGE:
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      INCA TREK DETAILS
      You need to choose whether you wish to hike the Classic Inca Trail or the Quechua Community Hike at the time of booking. If you do not indicate a preference, the Quechua Community Hike will be confirmed automatically.
      1. Quechua Community Inca Trail
      This is automatically included in Overland style trips. This trek is run in conjunction with local communities in a remote mountain region above the Sacred Valley. Please note this trail is not the Lares Trail used by Intrepid on Original, Active and Basix style trips.
      Also, as the Classic Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for its cleaning and maintenance, the Quechua Community Inca Trail will be hiked on all trips in which the hiking starts on or after the 01st of February to and including the 28th of February.
      2. Classic Inca Trail
      If you prefer to trek the Classic Inca Trail, you must book it well in advance of travelling. As currently no more than 500 people (including support staff) per day are allowed on the Inca Trail obtaining Classic Inca Trail permits can be very hard. As soon as you decide that you want to do the Classic Inca Trail please contact Intrepid.
      In order to confirm a Classic Inca Trail permit, we require a deposit and the following passport information of the passport you will travel on:
      - Full name (exactly as it appears on the passport)
      - Date of birth
      - Passport number
      - Nationality
      - Date of passport expiry & place of issue
      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 (your passport gets stolen) after your Inca Trail permit has been purchased, please contact your booking agent immediately to attempt arrange an alternative permit (fees may apply)
      Upon receiving a request for a booking including the Classic Inca Trail, Intrepid will attempt to purchase the respective permit. If permits are not available then we will automatically put you on the Quechua Community Inca Trail. Please note that as Classic Inca Trail permits are non refundable and non transferable, any date change of a confirmed trip which includes the Classic Inca Trail will incur cancellation penalties. The rules and regulations controlling the Classic Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are continually changing and it is important to be aware of the issues detailed in this document before bookings and embarking on your adventure to Peru.
      3. Non-hike option
      If you do not want to trek at all but want to take part in the Sacred Valley tour and guided tour of Machu Picchu, this can be organised. You will receive a refund from kitty for the unused part of the excursion. However if this is your preferred option, in order to obtain a refund you MUST inform Intrepid at the time of booking.
      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.
      Group size
      Maximum of 22 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 accommodation (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
      Camping (with facilities) (42 nts), Hotel (37 nts), Hostel (9 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (6 nts), Lodge (3 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)
      The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hostels or hotels. Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hostel or hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hostel and hotel stops depends on the route and area.
      Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, which allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Please note that camping is participatory, which means you will be expected to set-up and pack down your own tent.
      Meals introduction
      On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple!
      If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
      Meals
      All meals when camping
      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
      Transport
      Overland vehicle, Boat, Train, Ferry
      There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
      Joining point
      Villa Colonial
      Calle de Maravillas (C10) No 30-60
      Getsemani
      Cartagena
      COLOMBIA
      Joining point description
      The hotel is located on a quiet street just inside the city walls in La Matuna district. It is 50 metres from the Laguna de Chambacu and close to the post office. A family-run operation, the Villa Colonial offers well-maintained, airy rooms painted in pastel colours. Laundry service is available.
      Joining point instructions
      Rafael Nunez airport is approximately 2 km from the hotel and a taxi will cost roughly US$4 and is recommended. There are also taxis from the airport to Plaza San Francisco which cost less than a dollar.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
      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
      Hostal Los Cormoranes
      Kamshen 788, esquina Alem
      Ushuaia
      ARGENTINA
      Finish point description
      The hostal has personal lockers, a safe deposit box and also a luggage storage facility. Check in is 24 hours. There are common use areas like the kitchen, a computer room with free internet access and a television with cable service in the same room. There is WiFi in all the hostel and also a laundry service.
      www.loscormoranes.com
      Emergency contact
      We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left home and in the event
      of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that
      real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
      If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in
      these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked
      and the crew informed if necessary.
      Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
      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.
      COLOMBIA:
      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
      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.
      CHILE 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
      ARGENTINA 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
      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).
      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.
      LOCKER SPACE:
      The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than: length 20 inches, height 9.5 inches and depth 26.5 inches. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
      CAMPING EQUIPMENT / MATTRESS:
      A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.
      We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).
      A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
      CLOTHING:
      You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
      CLOSED-IN SHOES:
      As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
      BATTERIES/POWER:
      Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
      VALUABLES:
      Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
      We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
      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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
      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:
      TRAVEL ADVISORY:
      Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
      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.
      The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
      In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
      A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
      UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
      On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
      BALCONIES:
      Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
      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.
      HORSE RIDING:
      Horse riding is an option available to groups on this trip. Please note however that horse riding is usually not covered by your travel insurance and helmets are not always available. If riding without a helmet is a concern then you should bring our own.
      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.
      *Project Peru aims to break the circle of poverty, offering opportunities through education, independence through responsibility, and dignity through employment. Up to fifty children between the ages of 3 -18 are housed in the refuge located in Zapallal, a desert shanty town of Lima. These children come from extreme poverty or great moral risk.
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Argentina include:
      * Brazos Abiertos (Open Arms) helps local children in Las Heras, a socially challenged neighbourhood in Mendoza, where high unemployment and illiteracy have resulted in many living below the poverty line. As well as providing food for up to 460 children each day, they arrange for additional school classes and sporting activities to increase both health and self-esteem.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
      Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.