lima to buenos aires Trip Notes

lima to buenos aires

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2012
lima to buenos aires
Trip code: GDOBC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2011
Table of Contents
StylePhysical ratingJoining point
ThemesGroup sizeJoining point description
MapAccommodationJoining point instructions
ItineraryMealsFinish point instructions
Culture shock rating Transport
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.
  • 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.
lima to buenos aires
Day 1 Lima
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.
The trip begins with a group 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.
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.
If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (approx 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.
Optional Activities
  • Catacombs, Lima - PEN10.00
  • Gold Museum, Lima - PEN35.00
  • Museo de la Nacion, Lima - PEN10.00
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 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 3 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, Nazca - USD100.00
  • Nazca Lines viewing tower, Nazca - PEN2.00
  • Sand Dune Buggies and Sandboarding Rental, Huacachina - PEN63.50
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 4 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, Nazca - USD100.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 5-6 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, Arequipa - PEN20.00
  • Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa - PEN30.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 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
  • Trekking
Optional Activities
  • Thermal Spring, Chivay - USD10.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 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.
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 10-11 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, Cuzco - PEN10.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 12-15 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.
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!)
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 - Cancha Cancha
We leave Cuzco first thing in the morning by bus and travel through the Sacred Valley to our trail head at Huaran. On our way to Huaran we will visit Sacsayhuaman. 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 on for about an hour over the dividing ridge and into the Sacred or Urubamba Valley. Pisac ruins are our destination and we stop high on the mountainside to begin our exploration of these ruins. We walk down hill along small pathways, through ancient arches, storage buildings and houses. Along ridges and up and down worn steps into the heart of these ruins, where straddled on a ridge we reach the temple complex. When we are ready we head down to Pisac where we have lunch in this lovely market town and maybe some time to shop in the extensive handicrafts market that the town is famous for. We then drive up into the highlands of the Cordillera Urubamba. The drive itself is amazing with stunning views as we wind up to the trailhead.
This first day is for discovering more about the architecture of the Incas and their thinking behind building in this way. Many of the design features that we have been introduced to today we will see repeated in the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu on our last day.
At the trail head we meet some of our team, get all the equipment sorted out and head off on foot. Our hike begins here in a fertile valley and follows a small river up through the mountain corridor. After walking roughly 4.5 hours, we begin to see the glacial peaks of Canch Cancha Casa (4984 m) and Chicón (5530 m). We know we have reached camp when we see the thatched-roof stone houses of Cancha-Cancha village (3900 m).
Approximate walking time: 4 hours (9 km)
Day 2: Cancha Cancha – Quishuarani
After breakfast we begin the day's trek and reach two brilliant glacial lakes, Suirococha and Yuraccocha. Here we can see several bird species, including Andean ibis and Andean geese. From the lakes, the trail climbs steeply for about 2.5 hours to the first pass, named Pachacutec (4700 m). Nearing the top, we enjoy a spectacular view of the snow-covered peaks of Pitusiray (5750 m) and Chicón (5530 m). An original Inca stone path will lead us along the ridge down into the opposite corridor. We follow a series of cascading waterfalls to the village of Quishuarani, where we camp for the night. We have dinner here within the local community and there may be the chance for a local game of football if you can muster the energy.
Approximate walking time: 8 hours (13.5 km)
Day 3: Quishuarani – Lares
After a hearty breakfast, interaction with the community and a visit to the local school, we begin our hike upwards through the high puna to the Huillquicasa pass (4400 m). From this high mountain perch, there are great views of the extensive Vilcanota range and the pastoral farmland and lagoons below. The well-marked trail forms a zigzag down to these greener pastures, where llamas, alpacas and sheep graze alongside flocks of Andean water birds. The rare Peruvian viscacha, a medium-sized rodent related to the chinchilla, can also often be seen bounding in and out of the rocky mountain crags. Continuing down further, we reach the picturesque village of Cuncani (3700 m). If the sky is clear you may be able to see the mammoth white face of Mount Colque Cruz (5818 m). The trail follows the spouting river down through the valley for approximately 3 hours as the vegetation becomes greener and thicker and large rock formations divert the winding path. Entering a more subtropical climate, small farms and adobe houses signal our arrival to the village of Trapiche and finally the hot medicinal baths of Lares (3100 m).
Approximate walking time: 5 hours (10 km)
Day 4: Lares - Ollantaytambo
After enjoying breakfast in Lares, we will take our private bus up to the Lares pass at 4, 600 m (2 hours). We then walk for 2.5 hours on an Inca trail to the town of Tortora, were we will have lunch. After lunch we continue on by private bus for a further 2 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo where we have a guided tour of its amazing ruins. With its incredible temple areas and finely crafted water channels and fountains, Ollantaytambo really does deserve this extra time for exploration. The evening allows us time to celebrate our trek as we stay overnight in a comfortable hostel in the lovely town of Ollantaytambo.
Approximate walking time: 2.5 hours
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 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.
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 visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas with those travellers hiking the Community Trek and return to Cuzco that evening to spend there 3 more nights. You will then travel to Ollantaytambo and the following morning you will catch an early train and bus to Machu Picchu where the whole group will get together again for a guided tour of this site.
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
Camping (with facilities) (4 nts)
Days 16-17 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 guided tour
Optional Activities
  • White water rafting, Sacred Valley, Cuzco - USD30.00
  • Mountain Biking, Sacred Valley, Cuzco - USD30.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 18 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
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 19-20 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
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 21-23 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 next two days are free to explore La Paz.
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 and gravity assisted bike rides 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.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Coca Museum, La Paz - BOB10.00
  • Downhill Mountain Biking, La Paz, La Paz - USD55.00
  • Tiawanaku tour, La Paz - USD25.00
  • Round of golf, La Paz - USD100.00
  • Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour, La Paz - USD12.00
  • Death road bike ride, La Paz - USD55.00
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 24-25 Potosi
Today is a full day of driving covering almost 500 km through the Andes and wild Altiplano to the colonial mining town of Potosi, the highest town in the world. We stay in a local, friendly 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
  • Casa de la Moneda, Potosi - BOB20.00
  • Cerro Rico Mine Tour, Potosi - BOB90.00
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 26-27 Uyuni/Salar de Uyuni
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 venture out on to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni in jeeps spending a full day on this stunning location.
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
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 28 Bolivian Altiplano
Today we cross the altiplano in a spectacular 320 km drive towards the Chilean border via Laguna 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.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 29-30 San Pedro de Atacama
We descend from the altiplano and a 150 km drive takes us across the border into Chile. We camp for the night in San Pedro de Atacama in a good campsite. In the evening there is the chance to go stargazing.
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.
We camp in San Pedro for another night and visit the extraordinary moon valley, hopeful of a stunning sunset.
Included Activities
  • Valle de la Luna Excursion
Optional Activities
  • Observatory, Delete - San Pedro de Atacama - USD25.00
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 31-33 Salta
A full 550 km drive takes us across the border into Argentina and 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.
On our third day here we have a short morning drive to a campsite just outside Salta where you have the opportunity to go rafting or get involved in other adventure activities.
Optional Activities
  • Rafting, Salta - ARS140.00
  • Cable Car, Salta - USD2.00
Hotel (2 nts), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 34 Cafayate
Today we drive 150 km to Cafayate, lying at the centre of Argentina's principal wine producing region where we will visit a vineyard. We stay at a camp site 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
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 35 Quilmes
We cover around 400 km as we head south through beautiful scenery, visiting the Quilmes ruins en route. We will 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.
Optional Activities
  • Quilmes Ruins, Quilmes - ARS2.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 36-38 Estancia Stay
We drive 270 km via the National Jesuit Museum, to a unique Anglo Argentinean estancia for 3 nights. We will spend time with the gauchos - learning their skills, go horse riding, hiking and have a traditional asado or Argentinian BBQ.
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.
Optional Activities
  • National Jesuit Museum, Rio Ceballos - ARS2.00
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Day 39 Cordoba
Leaving the Estancia we have a short 70 km drive to the lively university city of Cordoba. We stay in central Cordoba in a hostel.
Cordoba is Argentina's second biggest city, located at the heart of the Argentinian Sierras. It's a lively university city and an important economic and commercial centre, which makes for a vibrant busy atmosphere and some excellent nightlife. There is plenty to see and do in the city, from great museums and galleries to beautiful colonial churches and bustling street markets. If shopping's your thing, it's also worth seeking out some of the specialist craft markets that have sprung up thanks to a growing alternative arts scene.
Optional Activities
  • Emilio Caraffa Museum, Cordoba - USD3.00
Hostel (1 nt)
Day 40 Rosario
We drive roughly 370 km towards Buenos Aires. We will camp somewhere near Rosario.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 41-42 Buenos Aires
A 290 km drive brings us to Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina, arriving late in the afternoon. We spend the night in a comfortable hotel with plenty of optional activities available to you.
Buenos Aires must be the ultimate cosmopolitan city. With Latin passion, European elegance and a distinctive style all of its own, this is a city that will steal your heart. The Portenos (the local residents) are justifiably proud of BA, which is comprised of distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own style.
Visit San Telmo for its weekend antiques market and artists displays. La Boca, settled by waves of immigrants who built brightly painted buildings, is home to the world-class Boca Juniors football team. Recoleta is the place to browse museums with Buenos Aires' well-to-do. There are many sights in the heart of the city with churches, cathedrals and historic buildings aplenty.
When you've finished exploring, settle down at one of the many streetside cafes and prepare yourself for a night of tango at one of the many milongas.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
As there is a great deal to do in Buenos Aires we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be able to our reservations team who can assist in booking extra nights accommodation.
Included Activities
  • City tour (half day)
Optional Activities
  • Gran Cafe Tortoni Show, Buenos Aires - ARS15.00
  • Recoleta, Buenos Aires - Free
  • Football Ticket, Buenos Aires - USD150.00
  • Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires - ARS10.00
Hotel (1 nt)
      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.
      Physical rating

      This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
      A trip kitty of USD1460.00 CASH will be required.
      Group size
      Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
      Hotel (23 nts), Camping (with facilities) (14 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt), Hostel (1 nt)
      No meals included
      USD 630.00
      Train, Jeep, Boat, Overland vehicle
      Joining point
      Hotel Bonbini
      Jiron Cailloma 29
      Phone: +51 14274681
      Joining point description
      Room facilities include private bathroom (hot water), cable TV and telephone. Rooms are fully carpeted. Hotel facilities include wireless internet, restaurant, safety box at reception and luggage storage.
      Breakfast is served from 07:00 to 10:00 and is included in the price of the room - the hotel serves an American breakfast featuring juice, bread, jam, butter, scrambled eggs, coffee or tea.
      Joining point instructions
      The hotel is situated in downtown Lima, a couple of blocks from the Plaza de Armas. A taxi from the airport to the hotel costs about US$14 or 40 Peruvian Soles. If you are arriving after midnight, normal taxis are not available. You must take a special taxi which costs about twice the price.
      Finish point instructions
      If you have pre-booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
      If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.