Rio Carnival to Cartagena Trip Notes

Rio Carnival to Cartagena

Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013
Rio Carnival to Cartagena
Trip code: GDBJC
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2013
Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of South America on this incredible Overland adventure from Rio de Janeiro to Cartagena. Enjoy the pulsating energy of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, trek along ancient Inca paths to the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu and experience life aboard the amazing floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Discover diverse landscapes and breathtaking scenery as you explore verdant Brazilian forests, marvel at thunderous Iquazu Falls, survey vast Bolivian salt flats, traverse soaring Andean mountains and venture deep into the lush Amazon Jungle. Along the way, meet friendly locals and discover the rich cultural heritage of this utterly bewitching continent.
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
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationHealth
Culture shock rating Meals introductionSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Physical preparationTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
KittyJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point description
Departure taxEmergency contact
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
Rio Carnival to Cartagena
Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive Rio
Bem-Vindos! Welcome to Brazil.
The first day of Rio Carnival is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check in is from midday and Dragoman crew will be on hand all day to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the afternoon.
If you are on an overland trip coming from Parati or Teresopolis, today will be a short drive day, bringing you to the biggest party on the planet!
The locals like to say that 'God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio'. In this heaving metropolis, set against the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay and surrounded by the slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado, it's hard not to be caught up in the Cariocas' (residents) passion.
The French were the first to settle here as they logged wood along the Brazilian coast, but they were soon driven out by the Portuguese, who built a fortified town, naming it Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and quickly amassed wealth in the gold rush of Minas Gerais. In the 19th century, the Portuguese monarchy fled from the threat of Napoleon in Europe to Rio where they built grand buildings, still in existence today. These days Rio is known best for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval.
Rio is deservedly famous for its live music scene, which encompasses myriad styles such as samba, jazz, bossa nova, hip hop, reggae, rock and many other fusions of regional styles. The neighbourhood of Lapa offers great dance halls where you can join locals in doing some serious dancing - or just soak up the vibe.
For some seriously eye-popping people watching, head down to the white sand beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema - skimpy bathing suits optional.
Rio is particularly famous for it's huge annual party - Carnival. The celebration of Mardi Gras 6 weeks before Easter is a great Brazilian tradition - the whole city goes wild for a full 7 days in a whirlwind of music and colour. Samba schools compete with ever more awe-inspiring dance displays and costumes putting on marathon performances in the Sambadrome, street parties are held all over the city and friends and families take to the beach.
Optional Activities
  • Churrascaria welcome dinner - USD40
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Rio de Janeiro
Today there is an optional visit up Corcovado mountain on a guided trip with all transport included to the Christ the Redeemer statue for 360 degree panoramic views of Rio.
Head to what is probably the most iconic sight in Brazil - to the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado mountain. From the base of the statue there is an incredible view of southern Rio and its beaches, Sugar Loaf mountain and Guanabara Bay. Accompanied by our local guide and Dragoman crew, you'll travel in a private bus to the foot of the mountain, and from there get a private tram to the top. There is free time at the top before returning via the tram. If you wish to spend longer at the top of the mountain and make your own way back to the hotel, just let your guide know.
This afternoon is free for you to do as you wish.
Optional Activities
  • Corcovado Visit - USD108
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Rio de Janeiro
The morning is free for you to relax or explore.
In the afternoon we have an optional favela tour visiting a community project we support.
Morrinho is the name used by the youth of the Pereira da Silva favela for their scale model of a favela made basically with bricks. The "Morrinho" began in 1998, when Nelcirlan (14 years old at that time) starting building the Morrinho, together with his brother Maycon. Both were impressed with the view of favela's, high on the hillside, and decided literally to bring it closer. The "toy" became a construction and attracted other boys like Rodrigo, Naldão, Júnior, Paulo Vítor, Luciano and Raniere, and became a part of the community. Today, the "Morrinho model", occupies an area of 300 square metres in the community "Pereira da Silva", with wealth of details such as: funk clubs, police, drugs sales points, alleys, staircases, small bars etc. The colours are strong and vibrant, the constructions are unusual and unique, and the vegetation is integrated with the "bonsais" wisdom. Miniature vehicles and motorcycles fill out the streets. In the interiors of the residences you can see beds, dressing tables and closets. All the details show the creative imagination of the guys that constructed the Morrinho. They drew streets, built support walls to contain hillsides, distributed light posts etc. Their plastic universe reveals the aesthetic fullness of the favela, often portrayed by international artists, photographers and film directors. Trip includes transport and a donation to charity.
Then tonight it's the main event at the Sambadrome for the samba parade. The top samba schools parade their outrageous floats and costumes and we'll party well into the early hours. We'll be situated in sector 13, the most lively of the sectors, however alternatively you can upgrade to sector 11 for a closer view.
The Sambadrome was designed by Brazil's world-famous architect, the modernist Oscar Niemeyer. It was purpose-built for the Samba Parade and inaugurated in 1984. Being made of concrete, it seems a bit dated for the post-modern eyes of today and feels derelict if not ugly, surrounded only by favelas, serving only little cultural events, during the year. However it comes to life and is totally magnificent and overpowering being lit up with special effects on. Samba Parade nights, filled with thousands of cheering spectators and surrounded by other thousands of people who could not get in. It can seat around 70,000 people, which is already far too few for the ever growing Rio Carnival Parade. However, since it is under protection, it cannot be rebuilt or even extended.
The Samba schools have prepared all year for their hour of glory on carnival night. The top 12 Samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday, six each night. The two nights are similar in terms of set-up, the only difference being the schools parading. These are the most glamorous parades, the ones which need to be seen. The best school is chosen by a hand-picked set of judges on the basis of many components including percussion, the theme song, harmony between percussion, song and dance, choreography, costume, storyline, floats and decorations. The championship is hotly contested, with the winner becoming the pride of both Rio and Brazil. Samba is a glitzy, lavish, vegas-style affair with beautiful, topless mulatas who make samba look easy in their feathered head-dresses, long flowing capes sparkling with sequins and rhinestone studded G-strings. The floats are also extremely lavish and some of them are technically quite amazing. The Brazilians harness sweat, noise and confusion and turn it into art, with the parades beginning in moderate mayhem then working themselves up to a higher plane of frenzy. The samba is driven by the drummers with between 200 and 400 per school. This samba is the loudest music you are ever likely to hear in your life. The parades head down the “run way” of the Sambadrome flanked by the tiers of spectators, singing, dancing and applauding their favourite schools. The parade continues on through the night and into the morning. Some of the best schools are always kept until last to make sure that the party continues until the very end.
On Sunday night we will be situated in sector 13 , this allows an overview of the whole event and a good chance to party with the locals. Sector 13 is at the end of the Sambadrome runway and is slightly set back however has the best atmosphere of all the stands. It is full of local Cariocas who really support their samba school with lots of singing and dancing. It is a wonderful local experience but can get very busy, reminiscent of a noisy football crowd. There are no fixed seats but concrete bleachers and people stand up as the samba schools pass by. We will travel to the Sambadrome in the early evening by metro and on foot with the Dragoman crew. It is up to you how long you stay but every year there are a few who make it through to the last parades and get back to the hotel for breakfast at 7am!

Sitting in sector 13 is not for everyone and for those of you who want a view which is less set back we offer you the chance to upgrade to sector 11. This sector neighbours sector 13 but is much closer to the action. The seating however is identical, being on concrete bleachers and can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.
Included Activities
  • Sambadrome Ticket
Optional Activities
  • Morrinho Project Tour - USD96
  • Sambadrome upgrade to sector 11 - USD372
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Rio de Janeiro
Today is a free day after a late night last night. Spend the day relaxing at the beach, or take part in an optional activity such as visiting the majestic Sugar Loaf Mountain from which there are stunning views over Rio and its surrounding beaches.
In the evening you have the chance to revisit the Sambadrome for a second big night or perhaps even take part in the parade itself by buying a costume and dancing your way down the Sambadrome runway - a once in a lifetime experience!
During Rio Carnival the top 12 Samba schools parade in the Sambadrome with 6 parading on the Sunday night and then 6 on the Monday night. This second visit will give you the opportunity to see all 12 of the schools so you can choose your own winner. You will be exhausted after a second visit but it’s a fantastic experience!
Watching the parade is one thing but actually taking part in the parade is a real thrill and an unparalleled experience. Yes it will be hot and sweaty and your feet will ache after an hour or more parading but it will make a talking point for years to come. Not many people can say they have actually taken part in a Sambadrome Parade. You will be a part of one of the ground wings or alas, parading behind the massive floats that make up the parade. Each school has between 65 and 80 minutes to parade and each ala/wing passes through the Sambadrome in about 30-40 minutes. It is exhausting but unforgettable! The alas provide a massive display of colour and movement, each school has about 25 alas; each one tells a part of the overall story/ theme of the Samba School. The alas get judged for their stamina throughout their parade, the singing of the whole parade, being able to Samba is not necessary; there is a kind of jumping, bouncing way that people parade to overall create the whole feeling of strength and happiness. You will be 1 of the approx 4,000 paraders in a school, each and every person must put their utmost energy into their performance for the School. This is the most important event of the year for Cariocas (the people from Rio) and you will be playing a part on the biggest stage in the world! It is an amazing once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.
The cost of this activity includes your costume delivered to the hotel ready for the parade and the services of a guide to accompany you to the start point. Transport and entry into the Sambadrome is not included. You will need to meet your ala and school about 2 hours before the parade time (the first school will meet at 7pm and the last at 1am approx) the parade lasts about 1 hour.
Info needed at time of booking: shoe and clothing size, please see the link for the appropriate sizing: http://www.rio-carnival.net/costume-sizes.php
For shoe sizes it is advisable to order one size larger than usual as the shoes are often very tight.
Optional Activities
  • Join the Parade - USD860
  • 2nd Sambadrome Visit - Sector 11 Seating - USD383
  • 2nd Sambadrome Visit - Sector 13 Seating - USD88
  • Sugar Loaf Mountain Visit - USD122
  • 2nd Sambadrome Visit - Sector 5 Seating - USD455
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Rio de Janeiro
Today is a free day for you to relax, hit the beach or perhaps join in with one of the numerous street parades throughout the city.
In the evening there's the option to glam up and go to the Gay Ball.
The Balls at Carnival are part of the whole experience and this has been the most popular Ball from past Dragoman visits. If you are going to visit just one ball then this is the one we recommend! Put aside any inhibitions you may have, get your costume sorted – plenty of glitter absolutely necessary - and get dancing with all the other party-goers. It is a fantastic experience and people are generally very friendly with loads of photo opportunities and some incredible sights! Music is a variety of Samba and more modern music, something for everyone and if dancing is really not your thing there is plenty of people watching to do. The Ball can startle some people and please be aware that in previous years you have had to parade down a red carpet when you enter usually whilst being filmed live on Brazilian TV but it really is a memorable event and one which you will talk about long after carnival has been and gone. Make sure you save a bit of energy for this climax to carnival. The ball goes from midnight on Tuesday until the early hours of Wednesday morning. You may be able to find cheaper tickets available and you could get them at the door of the ball but this cannot be guaranteed. In previous years tickets sold out and were exchanging hands for twice the face value in the days leading up to the carnival.
Transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revellers.
Optional Activities
  • Gay Ball, Rio Carnaval - USD96
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Rio de Janeiro
There's free time this morning to sleep in or you may wish to join our local guide on an optional Colonial Tour of the city.
This tour will give you an insight into another side of Rio from the one we see along the beaches and at the main tourist sites. Accompanied by our local guide we will travel in both private bus and on foot through the Cultural Corridor of Rio de Janeiro, visiting colonial buildings, centenary churches and Cultural Centres and discovering the heritage of Rio de Janeiro earlier days as a Portuguese colony. We will visit the area of Santa Teresa, the colourful Escadaria Selaron before heading to downtown Rio to view its stunning churches, cobbled street and wonderful architecture, both modern and historical. Cost includes entrances, transport by private bus, guide services.
In the afternoon it's the culmination of the tour with a sunset boat cruise around Guanabarra Bay.
As the afternoon begins to draw to a close we will walk down to the marina and board one of the beautiful schooners moored in the Gloria Harbour. We spend about 3 hours cruising around Guanabara Bay, viewing the city from yet another angle giving us a chance to see the landmarks of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain once again, along with Oscar Niemeyer's spaceship style building that houses the Contemporary Art Museum. If the weather is kind to us there may be a chance for a swim and also great sunset views. This is a great way to end carnival in Rio a final chance to say goodbye to old travelling companions, meet new friends and enjoy a drink or two.
Included Activities
  • Sunset Cruise on Guanabara Bay
Optional Activities
  • Colonial Tour - USD56
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Rio de Janeiro
Today is free to see more of Rio, or to catch up on some sleep! There will be a group meeting at 6pm to talk about the rest of the trip and to meet any new group members.
Optional Activities
  • Sugar Loaf cable car - BRL53
  • Christ the Redeemer cable car - BRL45
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 8-10 Paraty
This morning we will visit a favela and a project we support in Rio, project Morrinho.
Morrinho is a 300m2 model favela created by children living in the local Pereira da Silva community, from recycled materials such as bricks, scrap metal and wood. The model was started in 1998 by Nelcirlan Souza de Oliveira and, when his friends became involved, the ‘play set’ gained considerable size. The reproduction of favela life in their model is so accurate that it has gained a world wide reputation appearing on Brazilian TV and has been the subject of a documentary which is now on sale. Morrinho has even been recognised by many art critics as an expression of contemporary art. The model is now being used to generate money by NGO Morrinho, a charity that provides professional qualifications to the residents of the Pereirão Community through workshops, including audiovisual production; art-education; Brazilian culture; and youth and citizenship. The charity is also involved in utilising the project as a film set, which has raised awareness of how harsh life is for shanty town dwellers.
Phttp://elements.intrepidtravel.com/Images/Form/reorderListDragHandler.pnglease note that for trips starting in Rio straight after Carnaval will not visit the Morrinho Project.
After lunch we'll drive 235 km along the Emerald Coast to Paraty where we spend 3 nights at a beachside campsite with facilities. There is plenty of free time to explore. Perhaps take a boat trip out to a small island to go snorkelling or diving.
Sitting between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Paraty is one of the world's best preserved Portuguese colonial towns. This World Heritage-listed town was originally settled in 1531 on the opposite side of the river but in the 17th century the Indians who lived on the current site were driven away and the town moved. Paraty later became a booming port town, famous for its sugar cane liquor but after the abolition of slavery it was slowly forgotten. With the opening of new roads, the town was 'rediscovered' and declared a national monument.
The patron saint of Paraty is Our Lady of the Medicines. Three hundred years ago a wealthy benefactor donated land for a church in her honour. In return, she asked only for an annual mass. Each year a wooden effigy of the virgin, adorned with silver is carried in a procession through the town during the Festa de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
At high tide, some of Paraty's cobblestone streets are partly covered in sea water, adding to the rustic, colonial charm. The water of the bay is always right for swimming and the surrounding national parks are filled with trails, wildlife and waterfalls.
Included Activities
  • Boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Scuba Diving, Parati - USD95
  • Buggy hire ful day (Parati) - BRL85
  • Mountain Bike hire full day, Parati - BRL13
  • Morrinho Project Tour - USD96
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 11-12 Brotas
Today we drive 560 km to the remote town of Brotas in south east Brazil. The afternoon is free for adventure activities and we stay in a campsite with facilities
Located in southeast Brazil, in the state of Sao Paulo, the remoteness of Brotas has meant that the forests surrounding this isolated town are teeming with species crucial to the maintenance of global biodiversity. The perfect location in which to experience untouched natural environments, Brotas has subsequently become an important destination in Brazilian eco-tourism. Alongside those visiting to enjoy the remarkable fauna that inhabit this area, Brotas is gradually acquiring a reputation for the quality of the adventure activities that are on offer such as horse riding and canyoning, rafting and kayaking.
The following day is free for adventure activities such as white water rafting.
Optional Activities
  • Half Day Canyoning, Brotas - BRL45
  • Half Day White Water Rafting, Brotas - BRL60
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 13 Campo Grande
We overland 650 km towards Bonito, our base for the Pantanal trip. We find somewhere to bush camp for the night along the way.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 14-16 Pantanal
We spend the next 3 days in Brazil's amazing southern Pantanal. From our ranch base we explore the surrounding area on horseback, from boats and canoes, from farm trucks, and on foot, staying in shared accommodation. The last night is spent at a campsite in Bonito.
About the size of France, the Pantanal is the world's largest wetland area and one of the best wildlife spotting places on the continent. Sixty-five million years ago, the Pantanal was an inland sea that gradually dried out. These days the vast alluvial plain is seasonally flooded by the Paraguay River, giving a home to a wonderfully diverse wildlife. Jabirus and macaws are frequently spotted and with any luck we'll see howler monkeys, giant otters, anteaters, macaws and caiman (although hopefully not too close).
Unfortunately, the area's fantastic wildlife has brought some unwanted attention. Although a portion of the wetlands has been designated as a national park, poachers still kill up to two million animals here annually.
Included Activities
  • Two night Pantanal adventure
Accommodation
Hacienda (2 nts), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 17-18 Bonito
These are non-driving days where you have free time to enjoy the range of activities available in Bonito such as snorkelling, rafting or a jungle trek.
The area around the small town of Bonito really is unique. Its main attractions are its crystal clear rivers, springs and caves, not to mention the abundant wildlife, which includes monkeys, alligators, anaconda, over 30 varieties of fish and tremendous birdlife. Unsurprisingly, the town is often described as the "ecotourism capital of Brazil". There are endless activities on offer, from spectacular walks through the surrounding hills and forest, to caving, horse-riding, abseiling, and snorkelling. Many of the best attractions are on private land and the area is being very carefully managed in order as to protect the wildlife and habitats found here.
Optional Activities
  • Prata River Snorkelling, Bonito - BRL93
  • Rafting - USD15
  • Sucuri River - Snorkelling - BRL90
  • Horminio Waterfall - USD1
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 19-21 Iguazu Falls
Full day 800 km drive to Foz de Iguazu where we stay at an excellent campsite with facilities and a pool.
Close to the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, Foz do Iguazu is Brazil's gateway to the Iguazu Falls.
As well as the magnificent waterfalls, there's also a great bird park in Foz, where you can see many of Brazil's native species, including toucans and macaws. You can also visit the incredible Itaipu Dam, a vast concrete edifice that spans the Rio Parana and has been described as one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
At over 2 km long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are over 270 falls in all, and with some reaching up to 80m in height, they are wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara. Legend has it that a serpent god intended to marry a beautiful girl called Naipi. She escaped in a canoe with her mortal lover Caroba and in a jealous rage the god chased them, collapsing the river before them so that Naipi plunged over the falls to become a rock, while Caroba became a tree, forever unable to touch his love. A more scientific explanation is that the Rio Iguazu flows over a riverbed of basalt that ends where the lava cooled, leaving the water to fall. The falls were 'discovered' in the modern day by the Spaniard Juan Alvar Nunez who named them Saltos de Santa Maria. The name we know them by today means 'Great Waters' in the Tupi-Guarani tongue.
Bordering Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, these spectacular falls are a great sight to see.
The Brazilian park features a number of cleverly constructed walkways that allow you to get right out over the water up close to the falls themselves - and you will often be able to see fantastic rainbows forming as the sun catches the spray. If you want the ultimate waterfall experience, you can also organise helicopter flights here, where you'll be taken out right over the horseshoe of the falls, giving you a spectacular view of this natural wonder from a totally different perspective.
Included Activities
  • Visit Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls (entrance fee included)
  • Visit Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls (entrance fee included)
Optional Activities
  • Bird Park - BRL22
  • Helicopter Ride, Iguazu Falls - USD80
  • Helicopter Ride - USD100
  • Boat and 4WD adventure, Iquazu Falls - ARS120
  • Boat Trip, Iguazu Falls - ARS45
  • Guided trip to Blue Lake Cave - BRL15
  • Itaipu Dam tour, Iguazu Falls - BRL30
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Day 22 San Ignacio Mini
We drive 270 km drive to the Jesuit Mission of San Ignacio de Mini. We spend the night in a campsite with good facilities.
The small town of San Ignacio Mini was once the centre of a Jesuit mission and its ruins can still be seen today. The buildings are very well preserved and include a church, cemetery and monastery and provide an interesting insight to the history of this area.
Included Activities
  • Jesuit Mission ruins and museum, San Ignacio de Mini
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 23-26 Bush Camp/Buenos Aires
Today we have a full day, 560 km drive towards Buenos Aires. En route we find somewhere to bush camp for the night.
We set off early the next morning, driving 415 km into the capital, Buenos Aires, arriving late in the afternoon. Here we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. There are many optional activities to enjoy here.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Recoleta - Free
  • Gran Cafe Tortoni Show - ARS80
  • Football Ticket - USD150
  • Tango Show - ARS230
  • Visit Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires - USD140
  • Visit Colonia (Uruguay), Buenos Aires - USD80
  • Teatro Colon - ARS110
  • City Tour, Buenos Aires - USD10
  • Tango show - ARS540
  • City tour (half day) - USD10
  • City tour (full day) - USD20
  • BA Montevideo - USD106
  • BA Colonia Hydrofoil - USD75
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 27 Cordoba
All all day drive takes us to the lively university city of Cordoba, where we stay in a centrally located 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 - ARS10
Accommodation
Hostel (1 nt)
Days 28-30 Estancia Stay
We have a 70 km drive, via the National Jesuit Museum, to a unique Anglo-Argentinean estancia, where we camp for three nights. Here we spend time with the gauchos, learning their skills, hiking, and enjoying 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) (3 nts)
Day 31 Quilmes
Today we drive 335 km to a campsite, visiting the Quilmes ruins en route.
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
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 32 Cafayate
A drive of 370 km brings us to Cafayate, lying at the centre of Argentina's principal wine producing region. We stay at a campsite with good facilities and have the chance to explore a vineyard.
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 33-35 Salta
Today we drive 175 km to the fine Spanish colonial city of Salta. We stay in a simple hotel in the centre of town.
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 next two days are free to explore Salta. There are plenty of optional activities on offer. On the second night we move to a campsite from where we can go rafting or enjoy other adventure activities.
Optional Activities
  • Tren de las Nubes - USD70
  • Rafting - ARS275
  • Abseiling, Salta - ARS45
  • Cable Car - USD6
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
Days 36-37 San Pedro de Atacama
A full day 550 km drive takes us across the Chilean border to the town of San Pedro de Atacama, where we spend the night camping. We will visit the extraordinary Moon Valley, hopeful of a stunning sunset. In the evening there is also the chance 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.
Included Activities
  • Valle de la Luna Excursion
Optional Activities
  • Observatory - USD35
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 38 Bolivian Altiplano
Today we head 150 km towards Uyuni, seeing Laguna Colorado and Verde along the way. We spend 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 39-40 Uyuni/Salar de Uyuni
Today's drive is 320 km as we continue on to Uyuni, gateway to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. We spend the night 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 in jeeps onto the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. We spend the whole day at this stunning location before retuning to our hotel in Uyuni for the night.
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 (2 nts)
Days 41-42 Potosi
An early morning drive of 190 km brings us to the colonial mining town of Potosi, where 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)
Day 43 Livichuco
Today we will head to the small community of Livichuco for an overnight stay in this small Andean village. Accommodation will be very basic and shared, but it is a chance to see an area of Bolivia that few tourists ever do.
The village of Livichuco lies in a remote location where visitors can stay with a community of people of Aymara origin who delight in sharing their Qaqachaqa culture. There are several short treks around the community that are possible, with ancient Inca paths and you are also able to share some songs and dancing, discovering the typical instruments of communities in this quiet and charming place. The community will cook for us and food is typical and authentic, made with local organic products and recipes passed down from generations.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 44-45 La Paz
We leave the Livichuco community after breakfast and drive through the Andes and wild altiplano to the fascinating city of La Paz, arriving late afternoon. We stay in a good quality 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.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Optional Activities
  • Tren de las Nubes - USD70
  • Rafting - ARS275
  • Abseiling, Salta - ARS45
  • Witches' Market - Free
  • City Tour and Moon Valley - USD15
  • Coca Museum - BOB10
  • City Tour - USD15
  • Downhill Mountain Biking, La Paz - USD55
  • Tiawanaku tour - USD25
  • Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour - USD15
  • Round of golf - USD100
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 46-47 Copacabana
This morning there is a chance to explore La Paz before a 200 km drive brings us to the town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. We spend the night in a hotel near the lake.
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.
Today is a non-driving day with an all day visit to Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca. We return in the evening to Copacabana to overnight in the same hotel.
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
  • Isla del Sol boat trip
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 48 Lake Titicaca/Puno
A 200 km drive takes us across the Peruvian border to the lakeside town of 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.
In the afternoon we enjoy a boat trip out to the floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca. We spend the night in a hotel in Puno.
Included Activities
  • Uros Island boat trip on Lake Titicaca
Optional Activities
  • Yavari Steam Ship, Puno - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 49-50 Cuzco
In the morning we 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.
Following this we drive 440 km to Cuzco, where we stay in a colonial hotel.
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 we have a trekking briefing in the morning, followed by free time to explore Cuzco.
Included Activities
  • Cuzco Visitor Ticket
  • Sillustani Ruins and Museum w/Guide
Optional Activities
  • Cathedral - PEN26
  • Museo Inka - PEN10
  • Coricancha - PEN10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 51-54 Inca Trail/Quecha Community Trek
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: 3 hours (8 km)
Day 2: Zurite - Lake Yanacocha
After breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Yanacocha Lake, which is considered holy by the locals, and is the source of numerous myths and legends. The walk takes us through the local landscape and past many potato and corn fields, tended to by local villagers. Along the route there is a stone carved by the Incas in the shape of a throne, and from there we walk to see the Llamacancha, a rock carved into the shape of a llama's head, and painted by Inca artists. From here it is possible to view all of the major mountains of the Cuzco area, including Salkantay, Ausangate and Veronica. We then continue across a high pass, and then descend towards the lake to Hatun Pampa, or 'big flat place'. This area is right next to the lake, and we camp near the shoreline.
Approximate walking time: 8 hours (12 km)
Day 3: Lake Yanacocha - Chancacucho
Early this morning after breakfast we trek for 3 hours, viewing the peaks of the Vilcanota mountain range as we go. Then we will descend into an Andean valley, filled with natural diversity, where we enjoy a well-deserved lunch, before heading into the Chancacucho area. This is an area with scarce water, inhabited by small homesteads that cluster around the few available water sources. From Chancacucho we cross the Accoccasa Pass (4,625 m), pausing to admire the breathtaking views, before descending to our campsire (4,350 m) facing the immense glaciers of the Huaynay mountain range.
Approximate walking time: 6 hours (10 km)
Day 4: Chancacucho - Ollantaytambo
After enjoying breakfast and breaking camp, we head out of the valley, following the contours of a now abandoned Inca aqueduct. On the mountainside it is possible to see traces of the original stonework, a testament to the engineering skill of the Incas. We reach our final pass (3,940 m) and visit a nearby ridgetop shrine known as Huayrapunko, or the Wind Gate. From this pass we have an astounding view of the ancient Inca settlement and administrative centre at Ollantaytambo, over 4,000 feet below us. We descend towards the town, past more archaeological ruins and fields of flowers, before crossing the Vilaconta River, at which there is clear evidence of the construction of the Sun Temple. We enter Ollantaytambo and finish the trek at the Sun Temple itself. Tonight we stay in a hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Approximate walking time: 4 hours (7 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
  • Cuzco Visitor Ticket
  • Alternative Inca Trail and Quechua Community trek
  • Tour of the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 55 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.
Included Activities
  • Machu Picchu guided tour
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 56 Cuzco
Today is a free day to recover from trekking with optional activities available in Cuzco such as white water rafting.
Optional Activities
  • Horse Riding - USD40
  • Whitewater rafting - USD25
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 57 Raqchi
We drive to Raqchi and visit the ruins and local artisan centre. We stay overnight in local homestay. Our accommodation is 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.
Included Activities
  • Raqchi Artisan Centre and ruins
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 58-59 Chivay/Colca Canyon
Today we drive the 440 km to Chivay, with an optional visit to the thermal springs. We spend the night in a hotel.
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 is a short driving day as we visit the spectacular Colca Canyon to view condors and also visit local communities. We return to Chivay for the night.
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 fee
Optional Activities
  • Thermal Spring - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 60-61 Arequipa
A short drive of 160 km takes us to the 'white city' of Arequipa, where we stay 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)
Day 62 Puerto Inca
A 380 km driving day takes us to Puerto Inca, where we stay at a beach side 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.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 63 Nazca
A 270 km morning drive takes us to Nazca where we can see the Nazca Lines, and also visit Chauchilla cemetery. We spend the night at a campsite with a pool.
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.
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.
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.
Included Activities
  • Chauchilla cemetery
Optional Activities
  • Flight Over the Nazca Lines - USD100
  • Nazca Lines viewing tower - PEN2
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 64 Paracas National Reserve
Our first stop today is Huacachina, where there are the options to go sandboarding and sand buggying.
In the afternoon we press on to Paracas National Park where we bush camp overnight.
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.
Included Activities
  • Paracas National Park
Optional Activities
  • Sand Dune Buggies and Sandboarding Rental - PEN64
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 65-66 Ballestas Islands/Lima
In the morning we take a boat trip around the Ballestas Islands to view wildlife.
The Ballestas Islands are in the Paracas National Reserve. Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru' the islands are a haven for wildlife and hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins.
We then head 270 km to Lima, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a good quality hotel in central Lima.
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.
Included Activities
  • Ballestas Islands boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Tambo Colorado - USD3
  • City Tour Lima - USD25
  • Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
  • Catacombs - PEN10
  • Gold Museum - PEN35
  • Brisas del Titicaca Peruvian folklore show - PEN25
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 67-68 Huanchaco
Today we have a long drive to Huanchaco, visiting Lambayeque for the Lord of Sipan Museum visit en route. We stay at a campsite 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.
Huanchaco is an ideal location from which to explore the numerous archaeological ruins the surround nearby Trujillo, such as the enormous pre-Columbian complex of Chan Chan, a vast adobe city constructed by the emperor of the Chimu people, as well as the world famous Moche pyramids the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.
The following day we visit some of the ruins in and around Huanchaco including Chan Chan, and the pyramids 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
Optional Activities
  • Sechin Ruins - PEN6
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 69-71 Punta Sal
Today we drive 510 km to Punta Sal, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. We camp the night in the grounds of 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 next two days are non-driving days with free time to enjoy the beach and activities at Punta Sal.
Optional Activities
  • Salsa lesson - USD5
  • Horse Riding, Punta Sal - PEN35
  • Fishing Trip, Punta Sal - PEN285
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 72-73 Cuenca
Today's drive of 285 km takes us across the border into Ecuador and to the beautiful colonial town of Cuenca, Ecuador's third-largest city. We stay in a local 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.
The next day we have free time to explore Cuenca and visit the famous Panama Hat factory.
Included Activities
  • Hat Factory Tour
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 74 Riobamba
Today we drive 250 km to Riobamba where we stay in a local hotel.
Ecuador's mountain-climbing and trekking capital, Riobamba is a lovely city at the starting point of the Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose) train ride.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 75-76 Chugchilan/Quilotoa Loop
An early start this morning before a 350 km drive along the northern section of the spectacular Quilotoa Loop to the town of Chugchilan. We stay the night 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.
An hour's drive the following day brings us to the town of Quilotoa to see the stunning Crater Lake and begin one of Ecuador's best day hikes 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.
Included Activities
  • Trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan
Optional Activities
  • Mountain Biking, Chugchilan - USD20
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 77-79 Rio Verde
In the morning we drive the southern section of the Quilotoa loop before heading to the beautiful town of Rio Verde, where 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.
Optional Activities
  • White Water Rafting, Rio Verde - USD70
  • Visit to Banos - USD2
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Day 80 Coca
Today is a driving day to Coca.
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.
We'll spend the night in a comfortable hotel and get ready for our 3 days in the wilderness.
Days 81-83 Amazon Jungle
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.
Included Activities
  • 3 night/3 day Amazon Adventure
Accommodation
Lodge (3 nts)
Days 84-85 Quito
We spend one last morning in the jungle before heading 120 km to Quito this afternoon.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Museo de la Ciudad - USD2
  • Equator Monument Entrance fee - USD80
  • Lookout - USD4
  • El Teleferico cable car - USD4
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 86 Otavalo
In the morning we will drive 140 km to the Indian market town of Otavalo where we stay in a friendly hotel. En route we will stop at the Equator for the must-have photos.
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
  • Mitad del Mundo
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 87 Ipiales
Today we cross the border into Colombia to the town of Ipiales where we stay 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 88 Popayan
An early morning start leads for a 315 km drive 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.
Days 89-90 Cali
A short 140 km drive brings us to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. In the evening you may have 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 and plenty to keep you entertained during the daytime too. We stay in Cali for 2 nights in a lovely hostel.
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
  • Evening chiva bus tour - USD10
  • Museo Arqueológico la Merced - USD2
  • Salsa lesson - USD20
  • Museo del Oro - USD1
  • Cali zoo - USD5
  • Cali Water Park - USD5
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 91-93 Manizales
We head out early to overland 270 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
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 94-96 Guatapé
We head north some 200 km 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
  • Horse riding - USD6
  • Mountain bike hire - USD3
  • Kayak hire - USD6
  • Trek to waterfalls - USD6
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 97-98 Medellin
A short drive of a couple of hours takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellin, where stay in dorm accommodation for 2 nights in a centrally located hostel within the Zona Rosa 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
  • Catedral Metropolitana - USD1
  • Day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia - USD1
  • Medellin Botanical Gardens - USD1
  • Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe - USD1
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nts)
Days 99-100 Covenas/San Bernardo Islands
A 525 km drive takes us to Covenas on the Morrosquillo gulf where we camp in the grounds of a local hotel near the beach for 2 nights. On the second day we will take a boat over to the spectacular San Bernardo islands for a tour of this beautiful archipelago.
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.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour to San Bernardo islands
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 101-103 Cartagena
Today we head 240 km to Cartagena. We stay in a comfortable hotel in central Cartagena and enjoy a walking tour of the city. The next day is free to enjoy the many optional activities on offer.
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.
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.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Cartagena
Optional Activities
  • San Felipe de Barajas Castle - COP20000
  • Volcan de Lodo Totumo, Cartagena - COP45000 - COP45000
  • Snorkelling to Islas del Rosario - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      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

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

      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
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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 some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our 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 does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
      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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      Optional activities at Rio Carnival listed in the itinerary MUST be pre-booked by the 1st of February 2014, or by 15th of December 2013 for 'Join The Parade'. Please book early to ensure availability. On booking activities full payment will be taken and you will receive a voucher per activity. Please ensure you bring these vouchers to Rio where they will be collected as proof of purchase. Any cancellations after 15 December 2013 will incur 100% cancellation fees.
      In previous years we have been able to offer a football match as an optional activity. However, with the 2014 World Cup taking place in Brazil, the Maracana, the biggest stadium in the world and the site of the football matches, has been undergoing major renovations. No date has been given for when these renovations will be completed; if the stadium has been finished by Carnival 2014, and any football matches are scheduled during your stay, we will do everything we can to try and arrange tickets. However, we cannot guarantee this, and it will not be possible to book anything in advance.
      If you choose not to pre-book you may be able to arrange activities yourself but nothing will be guaranteed and you may end up missing out. Other excursions are available in Rio but we choose not to take part in these for either organisational or safety reasons.
      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.
      PRICES IN CHILE & BRAZIL:
      Chile and Brazil are amongst the most expensive countries in South America. While in other countries you can expect to have a main meal for US$5-10 and take part of an optional activity for US$15-20, Brazil and Chile's prices are closer to what you would expect to pay in Western countries. You'll need to budget accordingly.
      Tipping
      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
      Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
      Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
      Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
      Departure tax
      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      RIO CARNIVAL DEPARTURES:
      Trips coinciding with Carnival may also have more than one truck operating this route at the same time. Groups will be separated as much as possible to allow for the small group experience, however there may be times where more than one group will be in an area or at an activity at one time.
      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 room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (42 nts), Camping (with facilities) (40 nts), Hostel (7 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (3 nts), Lodge (3 nts), Homestay (2 nts), Hacienda (2 nts), Guesthouse (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 hotels.
      Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of 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. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      When travelling on an Overland trip you have chosen a participation camping tour. This means that you will be helping your leader prepare meals for the group. You may also get the chance to help with the shopping!
      Your leader will come up with meal ideas and quantities needed for large groups. Participating in the camp is usually done on a duty roster system with group of 5 or 6 people (depending on group size) having a different camp job each day. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
      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 1185.00
      All meals while camping are included.
      Transport
      Overland vehicle, Boat, Train, Jeep, Metro
      Group leader
      On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
      While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
      We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
      On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
      During Carnival, you may be joined by up to 140 fellow travellers however the group will be split into smaller groups of up to 24 for included activities, with a leader assigned to each group.
      Joining point
      Paysandu Hotel Rio De Janeiro
      Rua Paissandu 23
      Flamengo
      Rio de Janeiro
      BRAZIL
      Joining point instructions
      Airport Santos Dumont is located 15 km north of Rio. The easiest way to your hotel is by taxi. You will find the most common yellow and blue taxis seating outside the international arrival area. While these taxis are metered, make sure you negotiate and estimated rate which should be around US$45.
      Alternatively, you can catch the Real Auto Bus from outside the arrival floor of terminal 1 or the ground floor of terminal 2. This bus costs around US$3 and it can take up to an hour to reach Copacabana. As it runs along Copacabana beach, ask the driver to drop you off at the nearest stop to your hotel.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Finish point
      Villa Colonial
      Calle de Maravillas (C10) No 30-60
      Getsemani
      Cartagena
      COLOMBIA
      Finish 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.
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
      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.
      BRAZIL TOURIST VISA
      Australia: Yes - in advance
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Yes - in advance
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Yes - in advance
      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
      ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY TAX:
      The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:
      Australians - US$100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
      Canadians - US$75 (single entry) or US$ 150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
      Americans - US$140 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)
      This fee can only be paid on line through the following website:
      https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/
      For instructions on how to process this payment, please visit:
      http://cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar/userfiles/Online_payment_instructions_0.pdf
      A receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.
      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
      CHILE RECIPROCITY TAX:
      All passengers with passports from Australia, Canada, United States and Mexico must pay a reciprocity tax before entering Interpol control. The amounts are as follows:
      Australia - US$61
      Canada - US$132
      United States - US$131
      México - US$23
      This tax applies only to travellers entering Chile via its international airport in Santiago. This tax doesn't apply to those entering Chile by another form of transport.
      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.
      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
      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
      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
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
      Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful.
      A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
      CAMPING EQUIPMENT:
      Sleeping Bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months. One that zips down all one side is useful for warm nights and a sleeping bag liner for cold nights.
      Mattress or compressed foam - Compressed foams are the lightest, most convenient but probably the least comfortable. Self inflating mattresses are convenient, comfortable, light and small when rolled up; they are more expensive and do puncture so bring a suitable repair kit.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
      In countries like Argentina, Uruguay and the Patagonia region of Chile, tap water is treated and safe to drink so please avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap.
      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
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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:
      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.
      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.
      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      MONEY WITHDRAWAL:
      In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
      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:
      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 Peru include:
      * Living Heart focuses on improving the education, nutrition and health of disadvantaged Andean women and children near Cusco. Currently they provide free breakfasts, assist local schools with educational supplies and organise visits by doctors and nurses. They are also raising funds to build homes for orphaned children and abused women and children.
      * Escuela Winaypaq provides free education and food to children living in extreme poverty in the Taray District. In 2010, severe mud slides, flooding and rain resulted in the destruction of the school. A new school, which is close to completion, will provide classes for 54 kindergarten and primary school students and have six teachers.
      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.
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 2279.00 kgs per pax.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.