Highlights of South America
An adventure from Lima to Buenos Aires
Book now for £49
Group Size: Max 18
Trip code: SPMB
Duration: 35 days
South America rewards those willing to explore. Consider this epic adventure: beginning in Lima and ending in Buenos Aires, it's 35-full days of fun. You'll hike the Inca Trail, cross the Salt Flats of Bolivia by 4x4, and feel like a sophisticate sipping wine in Argentina. Along the way, you'll engage with local cultures with a small group of other young travellers to back you up. For those willing to invest their time, this trip offers big returns—in adventure.
- Sandboard the desert dunes of Huacachina
- Spot condors at Colca Canyon
- Conquer the Inca Trail on the way to Machu Picchu
- Experience traditional life on Lake Titicaca
- Cross the Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest salt flat on a 4x4 excursion
Day 1: Lima. Arrive at any time. Get to know your group tonight as you head out to one of the many bars and restaurants in the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco. Enjoy a local craft beer with your fellow travellers as you get excited for the adventure to come.
Day 2: Lima / Huacachina. Travel along Peru's breathtaking coast to the oasis of Huacachina where you can sandboard on the desert dunes while watching the sun go down. Get your adrenaline pumping in a dune buggy on the desert dunes, ride the ups and downs in these desert mountains. Strap on a board and try out sandboarding, just like it sounds like snowboarding, but on sand. Enjoy the softer landings and the warmer temps. After, head back to the oasis of Huacachina through the stunning dunes and watch the sunset in the distance.
Day 3: Huacachina / Nazca. Wake up and make the most of your time in Huacachina before your adventure continues on to Nazca. There is time in the morning for an optional excursion to the Ballestas Islands, home to a lively colony of sea lions, pelicans, and other varieties of birds. Later, catch a bus to Nazca. Stop along the way at a Pisco winery and try the country's national drink!
Day 4: Nazca / Arequipa. Choose to soar over the iconic Nazca Lines today with a pre-bookable flight, or take a tour of the Nazca Desert Cemetery and Potter's Studio. Tonight, catch some z's on an overnight bus to Arequipa.
Day 5: Arequipa. Welcome to Arequipa! Take the day to explore what is known as the 'white city.' If you're into history and architecture, visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, where you'll get a unique glimpse into a bygone way of life. For spicy food lovers, visiting one of the 'picanterías' is a must. Satisfy your craving with a variety of local regional foods: alpaca, shrimp, pork, lots of soups, and spicy sauces.
Day 6: Arequipa / Colca Canyon. Enjoy a full-day tour of the spectacular Colca Valley and venture to the impressive Colca Canyon — one of the deepest canyons in the world — on an overnight excursion. With a little luck, you'll spot some unusual Andean animals such as vicuñas, and alpacas. Give your body some much needed relaxation by taking an optional dip in the the hot springs.
Day 7: Colca Canyon / Arequipa. Get an early start to be on the look out for condors. Travel from Chivay town to a condor viewpoint to get a glimpse of these magnificent birds in the air. Spot condors on this guided tour, and keep your eyes peeled for other unusual animals. Look for three different species of camelids: alpaca, llama, and vicuña, which are all typical of Peru. On the way back, stop in local villages, and see old terraces. Later, head out for a drink in the Calle Zela area – restaurant, bar, or club, there's something for everyone!
Day 8: Arequipa / Cusco. Explore Arequipa – take a city tour if you want or check out a monastery or museum. Later, sit back and relax on an overnight bus to Cusco.
Day 9: Cusco. Explore the city on your own today or choose from a variety of activities that will help you discover the magic of Cusco. You can go horseback riding or whitewater rafting, or choose to take a half-day tour of the city. Or, pre-book the Cusco cooking class if you want to learn to prepare local specialties!
Day 10: Cusco. Today is another free day to explore all that Cusco has to offer. Go horseback riding, mountain biking, or whitewater rafting. Too wiped out from the trek? Take it easy with a visit to the Inka Museum.
Day 11: Cusco / Ollantaytambo. Head into the Sacred Valley today to visit the supported women's weaving co-op in the Ccaccaccollo community. Learn about weaving, and meet the adorable resident llamas. If you see a knitted item you like, buy it — a perfect keepsake from your journey. Stop and sample some craft beer at a brewery on your way to Ollantaytambo.
Day 12: Inca Trail. Depart Ollantaytambo by van to km 82 where your trek begins. Hike through beautiful scenery, with a variety of flora that changes with the seasons. You'll see several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata.
Important note regarding Inca Trail permits: Please note Inca Trail permits are limited and are subject to availability, permits often sell out many months in advance. In the event that Inca Trail permits are unavailable for your chosen departure date, an alternative trek will be offered. Please contact us for further information.
Day 13: Inca Trail. Get an early start today to trek over progressively spectacular and steeper terrain on your way to Warmiwañusca (aka Dead Woman’s Pass), the highest point of the trek at 4,198m (13,769ft). Be prepared to face strong Andean weather (blazing sun or cold winds) around the pass. Take the hike slow, and drink lots of water along the way – amazing views are waiting as a reward. Enjoy some ample time to rest and relax after reaching the camp; most campers arrive around early afternoon.
Day 14: Inca Trail. Cross two more passes and ruins along the way. The first pass is Runquraqay at 3,950m (13,113 ft) where, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. Hike through cloud forest on the gentle climb to the second pass of the day, walking through original Incan constructions. The highest point of the pass is 3,700m (12,136 ft). On a clear day, enjoy the spectacular views of the Urubamba Valley.
At 3,650m (11,972 ft), reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the "town above the clouds." Camp here or go another 1.5 hrs to the Wiñay Wayna ruins ("forever young") located at 2,650m (8,694 ft).
Day 15: Machu Picchu / Cusco. The final day of the hike starts pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before sunrise. Wake up around 03:30 and walk to the checkpoint. Catch the first views of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu on a clear day. Hike down to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the site. Follow the local guide to Machu Picchu to learn about its history at a leisurely pace. Gain local insight into the Inti Mach’ay cave, Inti Watana, the Temple of the Water, the Temple of the Condor, and the Room of the Three Windows. Take time to sit and feel the energy of this 15th-century site, now both a UNESCO World Heritage site and voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (in a worldwide Internet poll).
Catch the bus to Aguas Calientes before your train back to Cusco in the afternoon. Tonight, dance the night away at a popular night club.
Day 16: Cusco. Today is another free day to explore all that Cusco has to offer. Go horseback riding, mountain biking, or whitewater rafting. Too wiped out from the trek? Take it easy with a visit to the Inka Museum.
Day 17: Cusco / Puno. Sit back, relax, and soak in the impressive views as you travel by bus through the Altiplano on your way to Puno on Lake Titicaca.
Day 18: Puno / Lake Titicaca. This morning, you will board a boat on Lake Titicaca and head to Taquile Island. Opt to have lunch in a local restaurant and shop in the afternoon at the local weaving cooperatives. Later, cruise to another village for an overnight homestay to live like a local on the shores of the lake. Learn more about rural life in the Peruvian highlands and create unforgettable memories with the family and fellow travellers.
Day 19: Lake Titicaca / Puno. Spend the morning with the homestay families, then depart after lunch. Visit the floating islands of Uros on the way back, and learn about the unique lifestyle of the locals. Meet residents and learn how they built the islands with totora reeds, which are also used to make their homes, boats, crafts (and are also edible!). Say goodbye to your homestay family and stop at the Uros Islands on your way back to Puno. If you want, you can check out the spectacular chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani, a pre-Inca archaeological site. Or kayak on Lake Titicaca.
Day 20: Puno / La Paz. Today, enjoy a full-day drive around the picturesque lake and through the Altiplano to La Paz. Cross over into Bolivia and catch your breath before a night out in the highest city of the trip. Check out the area of Sopocachi for cool bohemian vibes.
Day 21: La Paz. If you didn't have time yesterday to do everything you wanted in La Paz — no worries! Today is another day to explore the city as you wish. If you're an adrenaline junkie, make sure to experience the Death Road Biking Adventure (must be pre-booked before travel).
Day 22: La Paz / Sucre. Get to know La Paz with a free day to wander through the city's winding streets and vibrant markets before boarding a night bus to Sucre.
Day 23: Sucre. Discover the beauty of Sucre, known as Bolivia's "White City" at your own pace with a free day to explore. Set in a valley surrounded by mountains, you can choose to go hiking or mountain biking to admire this city from a different point of view
Day 24: Sucre. One day in Sucre isn't enough, so take another free day to explore! Try optional activities such as hiking, mountain biking, a visit to the Textile Cooperative, or get up close and personal with real dinosaur tracks.
Day 25 - Sucre / Potosí. Venture south to Potosí, the highest city of its size in the world. Staying in the Bolivian highlands, we travel south to the city of Potosí. The highest city of its size in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has had a tumultuous history as a silver mining centre during colonial times.
Day 26: Potosí. Wake up, get out, and explore Potosí. Meander the streets, stop at the market and meet some locals!
Day 27: Potosí / Uyuni. It's off to Uyuni today. Breathe in the beautiful scenery while relaxing in a private vehicle. Take it easy today because your next adventure is right around the corner!
Day 28: Uyuni / Salt Flats and Desert Crossing. Embark on a three-day 4x4 excursion to the Salar de Uyuni. Get your camera ready because the endless white of the salt flats creates the perfect backdrop for mindbending photo ops. Take a guided walking tour to the top of the sacred Jukil mountaintop for sweeping valley views and a dinner prepared with local ingredients by local ladies. Settle in to your supported community salt-brick bungalow — complete with salt floors and salt furniture.
Day 29: Salt Flats and Desert Crossing. Continue crossing the desert today, admiring the scenery while passing red and blue lagoons and intriguing rock formations along the route. Keep an eye out and you might spot wild llamas, alpacas, and even flamingos deep within the desert.
Day 30: Salt Flats and Desert Crossing / San Pedro de Atacama. Get a head start on your day by rising early to cover more ground on your journey through the unique landscape of the Salar de Uyuni. Soak in the views of unimaginable scenery including volcanoes and salt lakes. Travel to the border then kick back and relax on your descent by bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
Day 31: San Pedro de Atacama. Today is full of possibilities. Explore San Pedro de Atacama on a mountain bike, cruise down the dunes on a sandboard, or chill out in the hot springs. Or visit the Valley of the Moon, an area on Earth that resembles the moon's surface. (How cool is that?)
Day 32: San Pedro de Atacama / Salta. Say "Adios!" to Chile because you're heading to Argentina today. Relax on the bus en route to Salta, home to empanadas salteñas—and no visit to the town is complete without trying them! Unwind at the hotel or liven it up with a visit to a Peña Folklore show to dance the night away and sip delicious Argentine red wine.
Day 33: Salta. Tantalize your tastebuds with the local cuisine today as you explore freely. Choose to saddle up and admire the scenery on horseback. Or, if you'd prefer, take a visit to the town of Cafayate to roam vineyards and sample some of the white wine produced at insanely high altitudes.
Day 34: Salta / Buenos Aires. Skip the long bus journey with a quick flight to Buenos Aires. Spend the afternoon exploring the city. Cruise around on a bike with a local or dine on a traditional Argentine meal while experiencing the art of the tango.
Day 35: Buenos Aires. Depart at any time.
Looking for a longer Latin American Adventure? Check out the South American Journey
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Most expensive: £994 December, 2023
The tour starts in Lima, Peru on day 1. The starting accommodation is in the city centre which is around 45 minutes from Jorge Chavez International Airport. A taxi is easy to take to the meeting location for around $30. If you wish to pre-book a transfer at extra cost please contact a travel advisor.
The tour ends in Buenos Aires, Argentina on day 35. You can depart at any time.
34 nights of single-sex accommodation are included. 20 nights in simple hotels, 5 nights in multi-share hostels, 3 nights on overnight buses, 3 nights camping (equipment provided), 1 night in a homestay, 2 nights in a community lodge/basic hotels with multi-share rooms on Uyuni/Salt Flats excursion.
26 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners are included. The rest of the meals you purchase yourself locally with your group.
The minimum age for this trip is 18 and the maximum age is 39.
All countries require a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity. You should contact your local embassy for current visa requirements for all the countries visited during this trip. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Bolivia
You should have a reasonable level of fitness to take part in this trip, especially for the 4-day Inca Trail hike.