Inca sites, salt flats and highland cities on a South American odyssey
Follow the path of the Andes in South America on a 35-day Lonely Planet Experience that hits both modern cities and ancient worlds. Spot birdlife circling canyons and search for signs of life in vast salt flats and lunar deserts scapes. Get acquainted with the local cultures at La Paz’s markets and the homes on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Learn the mysteries of the Nazca lines, wander the streets of Cusco and trek to the mighty Machu Picchu. With stops at Lima, Cusco and vibrant Buenos Aires and a local to lead the way, your South American adventure is jam-packed with fascinating experiences and plenty of space for independent travel.
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Take an unforgettable 4WD adventure across the Salar de Uyuni – some of the largest salt lakes in the world. Pass cactus islands, train cemeteries and mineral lakes teeming with flamingos.
A trip through Peru wouldn't be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. With three different options to choose from, how you experience this lost Inca citadel is up to you.
Get under the skin of Buenos Aires with plenty of time to explore. With its eclectic neighbourhoods, emphasis on food and wine and huge theatre scene, it’s the perfect place to travel independently.
Wake early and observe Andean condors taking to the sky during their morning routine as the sun rises in the spectacular Colca Canyon.
Experience a memorable night with a local family on Lake Titicaca, taking you right to the heart of island traditions.
There are some long travel days and three overnight bus journeys on this trip. Although the buses feature comfortable reclining seats, they are not beds. There’s also usually a toilet on-board, and some of the buses make toilet stops. These trips can be tiresome, but an adventure trip around South America wouldn’t be complete without an overnight bus journey.
You’ll be staying in some very basic group accommodation with shared facilities, especially along the Inca Trail and on Lake Titicaca (where there are drop toilets and no showers). This is all part of the adventure of being among nature.
There will be a lot of hiking and walking on this trip (especially on the Inca Trail which can be quite challenging), so this requires a moderate level of fitness. There are a few different trail options to suit your interests and physical capabilities. Please bring durable footwear suitable to hiking. See the ‘Packing’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.
We’ll be experiencing a mix of hot and cold climates, so pack accordingly and bring layers.
Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive into Quito a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. The sun is also unusually strong and it’s easy to get burnt, especially when out on the water in Lake Titicaca. It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water. Please see the important ‘Medical and health information’ section of the Essential Trip Information.
Please note that our leaders are not able to organise a trip to the ‘Death Road’ to Coroico for you, due to safety concerns. Injuries are common along the road and there have been a number of fatal accidents. Our leaders are also unable to organise tours to the Potosi Mines for safety reasons.
Making your way across the Andean Desert and Salar de Uyuni isn’t exactly luxurious. There will be long travel days on dusty and bumpy tracks. Temperatures in the area can be very cold, especially at night, so bring warm clothes with you. Meals are simple, toilet facilities are basic, showers can be cold and the multishare accommodation is dormitory-style. This is all part of the adventure. Without a doubt, this amazing experience will be one of the highlights of your trip to South America.
Bolivia is the least developed and most challenging country you’ll travel around during this trip. Facilities are basic and food might be simpler than what you’re used to. Transportation between different locations can be slow and isn’t as easy as it might be in developed countries. Yet this is all part of the adventure that makes Bolivia such a great place to visit.
1. Inca Trail permits are sold on request basis only. Once deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you.
If Inca Trail permits are unavailable by the time you book, you can opt to hike the Inca Quarry Trail instead https://www.intrepidtravel.com/machu-picchu-peru/quarry-trail
The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you will be automatically booked to hike the Inca Quarry Trail.
Should you choose not to hike at all, please let us know in writing at the time of booking so alternative arrangements can be made. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply.
2. 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!
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:
3. This trip is a combination of three of our most popular departures. As such the make up of your group and your tour leader may change on Day 21.
4. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 9, 22 (Overnight bus), Days 11, 12, 13 (Camping), Day 18 (Homestay) and Days 27, 28 (Dormitory) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
5. Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border. Please see the visa information in the Essential Trip Information for more details.
6. Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally on certain trips it's needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.
7. While hiking the 4 Day Inca Trail or the 3 Day Inca Quarry trail portion of this trip you may be joined by other Intrepid and/or non-Intrepid travellers.
Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.View Essential Trip Information