Company : Oasis Overland
Activities: Adventure Holidays / Tours
Duration: 2 months to 3 months
Approx Costs: 1250 to 1750 £ Pound (UK)
This trip is packed with South American highlights...
This trip is packed with South American highlights...
... hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, visit the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca and spend the night with a local family, try to take in the mind-blowing Bolivian Salt Flats, take a wine tour by bicycle in northern Argentina, cross the Pampas to cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, where you can enjoy world-renonwned steaks and see a tango show, before heading north to the astonishing Iguazu Falls before finishing in Rio!
Days 1 to 7
Departing Lima our next stop is the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve. By boat we visit the rare and exotic sea birds and mammals that inhabit these islands. An hours drive inland in the heart of the Ica Desert is Peru's main wine centre. Here, if time allows, we will visit a local winery and try Peru's national drink, Pisco. Next stop is the Oasis of Huacachina. A palm fringed lake surrounded by impressive sand dunes, you can relax on the beach, go for a swim & then if its an adrenaline rush you have the option to head out on a custom made dune buggy & roar across the desert sands to the top of enormous dunes & then sand board down them - imagine snowboarding but on sand instead! Then, after an unforgettable desert sunset, we sit around the campfire while our guides cook up a storm, followed by a night sleeping out under the stars. In the morning we make our way to one of the world's great archaeological mysteries The Nazca Lines. These huge figures and shapes, carved into the desert floor are best viewed from the air - South America travel is not complete until you have seen these unbelievable ancient mysteries.
Still heading south we visit Chauchilla Cemetery with its well-preserved mummies, on our way to Puerto Inca, at this ancient Inca harbour we camp at the beach and enjoy our last night at sea level before beginning our climb back into the towering Andes. The next two nights are spent in Arequipa at 2325m, giving us time to acclimatise, and enjoy this beautiful colonial city with its impressive El Misti Volcano in the background. Arequipa is also the gateway to one of the deepest canyons in the world. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon is an awesome sight. Here, if you get up early, Condors can be seen circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor.
Days 8 to 14
We now have to face one of the most arduous and punishing dirt roads on the tour, although we soon arrive at Cuzco. Widely considered to be the most interesting city for South America travel, Cuzco is surrounded by the Sacred Valley of the Incas and offers a wide range of activities to explore the region. We will base ourselves here for 6 days giving us enough time for the Inca Trail trip, which is regarded by many to be the highlight of their South America tour. When permits are still available, we will organise the Classic Trail trek, but great alternative treks can be arranged when the Classic is not available or by your choice (must be pre-arranged at time of booking). These alternatives mean that you still get to visit Machu Picchu. Tours to Machu Picchu are absolutely unbelievable; a trip to this City in the Clouds is an ancient and awe-inspiring part of our South America travel tour. Besides seeing Machu Picchu, you're able to enjoy the architectural uniqueness of Cuzco and explore some of the colourful surrounding markets. Please note that for all those visiting Machu Picchu there is now the option to buy a ticket to go up the summit next to Machu Picchu, Huanapichu. Tickets for this must be requested at the time of your booking with us, and payment made in advance in the UK. Please see the section 'Volunteer Projects and trip Add-Ons' from the 'Overland Trips' tab on our homepage for more details. You will have the option to add the tickets to go up Huanapicchu when you make your booking online, be sure to add them if you would like them.
Days 15 to 19
Bordering Peru and Bolivia at 3800m lies Lake Titicaca, the home of the Uros Indians who have made their dwellings on floating reed islands. By boat we visit the floating islands during the day and then we go that one step beyond the average tourist and spend the night with one of the Indian families on the lesser known islands Isla Amantani or Taquile. Spending some time during South America travel in these local communities will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditional lifestyle of the Andean people and their customs. From here it is a days drive to the capital of Bolivia - La Paz. This is a great place to visit a 'pena' club, dedicated to Andean folk music, and perhaps buy some souvenirs in one of the authentic markets such as the witches market.
Days 20 to 27
Leaving La Paz we enter real Bolivia, where the Aymara and Quechua Indians scrape a living from their small plots of land in the harsh climate and paved roads are virtually non-existent. A days drive brings us to Potosi. At over 4000m it is the highest city of its size in the world and 400 years ago it was the largest city in all the Americas. Vast amounts of silver were extracted from Potosi and shipped to Spain in years gone by. The adventurous who have undertaken South American travel will appreciate the opportunity to go down one of these mines where mining techniques have remained unchanged for centuries. Visiting the ancient mint or having a tour around the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Money House) also provides a good look into Potosi's and Bolivia's past. Leaving the bleak Altiplano we arrive at the shimmering white Salt Flats of Uyuni.
It is possible to venture out into the salt lakes for a 1 day excursion. With no roads and only vague tracks to follow it makes for an unforgettable experience. Our descent through the Andean passes is spectacular as we cross into Argentina towards the colonial city of Salta where we should have time to explore. We also have a free day just outside of Salta where there is an option to go white water rafting, or for the very brave, Zip-lining high over the canyon!
Days 28 to 34
After Salta, we head south winding around lakes and weaving through baked cliffs until we reach Cafayate, the first wine region of Argentina. Famous for its white wines, you can explore some of the wineries on foot or by bicycle. Continuing south we head out of the Andes and over the Sierras de Cordoba to the city of Cordoba itself. Cordoba has many Colonial areas to explore including the UNESCO World Heritage Jesuit Block, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Optional excursions are available to visit various Jesuit Estancias, where the first vineyards of South America were planted in the 16th century. We now cross the vast Pampas grasslands, South America's cowboy country, where gun-toting gauchos on horseback look after vast herds of cattle.
Buenos Aires. A few days in this smart cosmopolitan city and you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in Europe. There is plenty to do, museums, horse racing, football matches, shopping, tango dancing for the confident, restaurants that serve the best steak in the world, and many plazas with cafes to sit and observe Argentinean life go by.
Buenos Aires - from here you will also have the opportunity to travel across the Rio Plata by ferry to Montevideo & Colonia de Sacramento to visit Uruguay.
For those now joining us in Buenos Aires, or already travelling as part of a longer trip, we have a free day to explore this cosmopolitan city and maybe take in a Tango Show.
Days 38 to 42
Continuing through Argentina we visit the region between Argentina and Paraguay that is home to many Jesuit Missions built in the 16th century to convert the Guarany Indians. We visit the ruins of San Ignacio before crossing the border into Brazil, where we also cross from Spanish to Portuguese, and it is time to get our tongues around a new linguistic challenge! The Iguazu Falls form the natural border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls they are an awe-inspiring place to spend the next few days before we continue on with travel to Brazil. The lush tropical forest surrounding the falls has many walking trails leading to smaller hidden falls, ideal to refresh from the steaming heat and abounding with parrots, toucans, woodpeckers and colourful plants. Here you can also undertake a number of optional activities such as rafting and helicopter flights.
Days 43 to 46
Heading east from Foz do Iguazu we overnight either in a campsite, or possibly under the stars before reaching Curitiba. Curitiba has something of a European feel and hosts the start to one of the world’s most spectacular railway journeys. We have a free day to climb aboard this very train to Paranagua (optional) where we can see deep gorges, high peaks and waterfalls as the train winds its way over bridges and viaducts. Please note schedules do change and trains don’t always run to listed days! The Brazilian coast awaits and we head northeast, skirting the sprawling mass of Sao Paulo, in search of a small beach stop where we can get our first view of the Atlantic.
Days 47 to 50
We now head to the coastal village of Parati. This unspoilt and picturesque town has remained fundamentally unaltered for three centuries. Cars have been banned from its cobbled streets that run down to the seashore, instead mountain bikes are used and are a good way to get around. Another great way to explore the secluded islands of this pristine coastline is taking a sailing trip in one of the traditional schooners. Our final drive takes us to the playground of Rio de Janeiro, where the folk are raring to party out of their minds and live purely for the moment.
We have a free day to explore Rio and take in many of the sights and attractions. If you are starting or ending your trip in Rio and want to spend some extra time here, we can arrange accommodation for you.
Trip Price From: £1895.00 + Local Payment From: US$1,100.00
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