South American Explorer (15 weeks)

Company : Oasis Overland
Activity: Tours
Countries: Argentina / Bolivia / Brazil / Peru
Duration: 3 months to 4 months
Approx Costs: 2500 to 3000+ £ Pound (UK)

From the Amazon Jungle to Argentinian Vineyards and the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu high in the Peruvian Andes, this trip has it all.

We traverse the Trans Oceanic Highway, joining Brazil's beautiful beaches to Peru's mighty Andean Mountain Range. Venture in to the wetland expanse of the Pantanal searching for Jaguar, experience the vastness of the Bolivian Salt Flats, visit vineyards by Bicycle in Argentina and take in a Tango Show in the metropolitan city of Buenos Aires.  View the stunning Iguazu Falls and spend time in the party Capital of the World, Rio de Janeiro. This is a a true overlanding adventure across some of South America's toughest roads!

 

Itinerary

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.

Day 35
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.

Day 36
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.

Day 37
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.

Days 51 to 52
Rio de Janeiro rarely fails to impress with its vibrant sense of fun.  There is plenty to do so for your few days in this fun city you will not be bored!   You could spend your time visiting one of the many historic sites, strut your stuff on one of Rio’s World Famous beaches, or visit the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain or Christ the Redeemer.  In between there will be plenty of opportunity to party like a local or possibly take in a Samba Show to give you a true taste of Carnival.

Days 53 to 57
We leave the stunning views of Rio and the carnival vibe behind and head north to the mountain retreat of Teresopolis.  The road winds up the hillside through jungle, with dramatic peaks towering overhead.  We have a free day where we can visit the Parque Nacional Da Serra Dos Argaos and walk trails to waterfalls, with stunning views of obscurely shaped mountain tops. Continuing north we make a short stop in Congonhas to see 12 lifelike Old Testament figures sculpted from soapstone, which stand proudly outside the Basilica do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos.  Our journey takes us to quite possibly the most significant and beautiful colonial town of the area, Ouro Preto.  Even vehicles are not able to navigate the narrow and winding cobbled streets.  The biggest attraction is the Minas de Passagem (Gold Mine) - antique cable cars take you underground in to the mine which was originally opened in 1719.

Days 58 to 64
We explore the coastline, home of some of Brazil's best and least known beaches and far less populated with tourists than the resorts of Recife and Rio.  We will either stay in locally owned Pousadas (guesthouses) or camp under the stars, as we pass through Linhares to Itaunas.  Time can be spent exploring this sleepy fishing village or wandering the dune trails and relaxing on the beach.  If we are lucky, in Parque Estadual de Itaunas, we may catch the end of the Sea Turtle hatching season. Caravelas is our next destination, on the mangrove lined Rio Caravelas.  We have the option to take a day trip to the nearby reefs in Parque Nacional Marinho de Abrolhos, where there is the chance to swim with sea turtles. Alternatively the day can be spent on the beach or wandering along the riverfront.

Days 65 to 71
Venturing further north, we pass by some of the more remote beaches, where we may either camp or stay in local Pousadas.  If time allows, we may also stop off in Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal which is controlled by the local Pataxo (pa-ta-sho) Indians.  Here we can walk the trails to try to spot the endangered spider monkey, sloths, porcupines, capybara, deer, elusive jaguar and numerous species of bird. Porto Seguro is our next stop and is the region where Portuguese sailors first landed in the New World over 500 years ago, and where you can still see relics from those early settlement days.  A steep climb up to Cidade Historica will be rewarded with sweeping views, colourful old buildings and museums.  Porto Seguro is also known for its nightlife and 'beach action!'

We then take the ferry across Brazil's largest bay, Baia de Todos os Santos, and arrive in the Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador. Around 40% of all African slaves transported to the new world, came to Salvador and this has left a very particular vibe - tropical, soulful and intoxicating, that is unique to this corner of Brazil.  The centre is separated by a steep bluff, in to the Cidade Alta (Upper City) and Baixa (Lower City) and access is gained in the beautifully restored art-deco elevator - Elevado Lacerda.  We have a few days to wander and take in the music, cuisine and religion of the region. You can also stop off in the Praca da Se and watch locals practicing the dance fighting known as Capoeira.

Days 72 to 76
Heading west, we come to the quaint town of Lencois.  With its cobbled streets and brightly painted 19th Century buildings, it's the prettiest of the old diamond mining towns.  The mighty Fumaca waterfalls, various caves and idyllic rivers and panoramic plateaus set the stage for some fantastic adventures.  Or maybe just wander the streets, grab a coffee, take in the local life and enjoy some of the excellent cuisine. From Lencois we head deeper in to the interior towards the Capital, Brasilia, stopping off either bush camping under the stars, or in a jungle servo (due to Brazil being a trucking nation, they do provide quite good outposts and rest areas). Brasilia succeeded Rio as the new purpose built capital of Brazil in 1960, and we have either a morning or afternoon to explore its innovative modern design. With streets laid out in the shape of a bow and arrow, you will find this a city like no other.  A good way to start is a view from the top of the TV tower.  For some history of the city and the man behind it’s being, visit Memorial JK or just wander and gaze at the bizarre futuristic buildings.

Days 77 to 81
We leave Brasilia, the only city in the world, constructed in the 20th century to achieve UNESCO World Cultaral Heritage status, and head west, bush camping for the night wherever we can, en-route to the stunning Chapada dos Guimares.  Here lies one of the oldest plateaux on earth, and stunning vistas await with rich forests, curiously eroded rocks, peaks caves and waterfalls. Travelling southwest, the roads become more arduous and we reach the small town of Pocone, gateway to the Pantanal, a vast wetland area more than half the size of France!

Days 82 to 87
We have 2 or 3 days to explore the area and take a trip in to the Pantanal.  Wildlife can be easier to spot here due to the open land, and if we’re lucky we should arrive in dry season, meaning animals and birds congregate at the few remaining areas of water.  It’s possible to spot caiman, capybaras, howler monkeys, anacondas and even the elusive Jaguar. Two long days’ drive in the searing heat, takes us to the bustling town of Porto Velho, situated on the biggest Amazon River tributary.  Once a thriving port during the gold and timber rush, this place still holds its history around the old railway and harbour installations.  There is an option to jump on a boat and head up river to the rapids on the Rio Madeira, for a welcome swim and cool down!

Days 88 to 94
Now begins our traverse of some once impassable roads.  It is only a short time since the route to Peru was impossible in the wet season and only passible by extreme 4x4 vehicles in the dry.  We’ll just have to see how good the road improvements have been!  Following the BR364 southwest, we head for Rio Branco.  A once ‘rubber boom’ town in the late 19th century, it is still an intriguing place and a real frontier outpost.  Another long day’s drive should see us to the border of Peru.  Here we are likely to be a seen as a real oddity, as tourists rarely pass through here.  We bush camp in the jungle.

An arduous day’s drive brings us to Puerto Maldonado where we have a few days to relax and journey out to our jungle lodge down Madre de Dios River.  This will be a welcome change from days in the truck and gives us an insight in to the Amazon Rainforest proper. We enter the Reserve by boat along the Madre de Dios River and reach our jungle lodge, our base for the next 3 nights.  In the afternoon we can take a walk with our local guides who have extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of this area. During our time in the reserve our guide will take us on walks and canoe trips to discover the amazing array of plant, bird, animal and insect life in the jungle.  We can walk to one of the ox-bow lakes that abounds with exotic birdlife.  Taking a boat onto the lake we also hope to see giant river otters and caimans.  Our guide will tell us about the traditional uses of the plants and trees and point out different types of monkey, macaw and moth! The Jungle section includes local guides, mosquito nets, bedding, food and drinking water.

Days 95 to 101
We wind our way slowly up the Eastern face of the Andes from sea level to over 4000mtrs!  Stunning vistas await, as we follow the alti-plano in to Cuzco, our base for those wanting to do the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. 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 5 or 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.

Please note:  For those on the South American Explorer (15 weeks) Lima to Lima trip which visits Cusco twice, only one Inca Trail Trek is included in the cost of your trip.  On one of your visits to Cusco you will have free time to explore the many other sights and attractions. Or if you're feeling fit, talk to us about doing one of the more off the beaten track Inca Trails to other ruins, such as Choquequirao.

Days 102 to 107
After lunch in Cusco, we head along the route to Abancay, where we are unlikely to see a tourist, and find a place to bush camp for the night.  The following day we wind our way down the Western face of the Andes and return to sea level in Nazca.  There will be time the next morning for a flight over 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. Heading north we come to the small down of Ica and visit the oasis at Huacachina.  From here we board dune buggies and venture out for a night in the dunes of the coastal desert – quite a change from the steamy days of the Amazon just a week ago!

Continuing north we make a small stop at Paracas, possibly for lunch in one of the many excellent fish restaurants.  Depending on weather conditions, there may be chance to take a boat ride to the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve to visit the rare and exotic sea birds and mammals. Our final drive on our Trans Oceanic Overland Trip takes us in to the capital city of Lima.  Here you'll encounter both abundant wealth and grinding poverty, modern skyscrapers next to some of the finest museums and historical monuments in Latin America.  We have a comfortable hotel in the Old City, and your trip ends after breakfast the next morning.

 

What’s Included

  • Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu - 4 days trek including all meals & guide (for first visit to Cuzco)
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu - including guide
  • Boat Tour on Lake Titicaca
  • Overnight stay with local family on Lake Titicaca
  • Vibrant Buenos Aires - 4 nights accommodation
  • Iguazu Falls- entrance to Argentina side
  • Rio de Janeiro - 3 nights accommodation
  • Ferry across the Baia de Todos os Santos
  • Pantanal region - includes accommodation & meals (activities extra)
  • Amazon Jungle - 3 night trip including accommodation, meals & activities
  • All accommodation fees - approx 50% camping & 50% simple hotels/hostels
  • Meals prepared by group or provided - approx 50%
  • All transport on Oasis Expedition Truck
  • Camping and cooking equipment
  • Services of 2 Oasis Crew

 

What’s Not Included

  • Visas US$0 - US$135 (depending on nationality most can be obtained en route)
  • Optional Excursions as listed in the pre-departure information
  • International Flights
  • Airport Taxes and Transfers
  • Meals while in hotels
  • Travel Insurance
  • Drinks  
  • Tips

 

Tour Price

Trip Price: £2975.00 + Local Payment: US$1,740.00

Start Dates

04-05-2016
04-05-2018

Booking / Enquiry

Booking Enquiry

Other placements from Oasis Overland

Oasis Overland South American Explorer (15 weeks) Reviews

Have you booked Oasis Overland South American Explorer (15 weeks)? Please share your experience and submit your review.