The South America Journey
7 countries, 9 epic weeks
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Group Size: Max 18, avg 14
Trip code: SEQR
Duration: 65 days
Discover the wonders of South America on this once-in-a-lifetime group trip. Travel through 7 countries over 65 unforgettable days, beginning in Quito, Ecuador and ending in the carnival city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Plunge deep into the Amazon rainforest in a rural homestay, marvel at the might of the Iguazu Falls, hike the legendary Inca Trail, discover the unique landscape of the Bolivian Salt Flats, sun yourself on Copacabana Beach in Rio and tick the ultimate travel experience off your bucket list – sunrise over Machu Picchu.
- Walk the epic Inca Trail and watch the sun come up over Machu Picchu
- Spend 3 days in the bizarre landscape of the Bolivian Salt Flats
- Witness the majesty of the Iguazu Falls from Brazil and Argentina
- Stay in a Quichuan community, deep in the Amazon in Ecuador
- Enjoy the beaches and nightlife of beautiful Rio
- Stay on an ‘Estancia’ in Uruguay and learn skills from the ranchers
On days 26 – 29 of this itinerary, you will be walking the Inca Trail. This is the most popular trek, but you may prefer to take a modified route. There are two alternatives (Lares Trek and Cusco Stay). Please see day 26 for more information.
Day 1: Quito, Ecuador. Hola! Fly into Quito and make your way to your starting accommodation. Meet your group tonight and visit a peña for some tasty local food, or hit a salsa club!
Days 2 – 4: Amazon Jungle Homestay. Take a truck ride deep into the Amazon to a Quichuan community. You’ll go hiking, swim in waterfalls and cycle to another community where you’ll watch a chocolate making demo, eat fresh local meals and stay in the community lodge overnight.
Days 5 – 6: Baños. Baños is famous for its thermal spring and adrenaline activities. Spend the next couple of days pampering yourself in the springs or getting your adrenaline going with some mountain biking, white-water rafting or zip-lining!
Days 7-8: Cuenca. Explore the cobbled streets and shady plazas of this lovely city or take a day trip to the Inca site of Ingapirc, the stunning Cajas National Park, or the Cuenca Mud Baths. On day 8, we’ll take the overnight bus to Mancora, Peru!
Days 9-11: Mancora, Peru. The next few days are about sunshine, ceviche and surfing! Stretch out on the sands or hire a board and catch some waves. You can also explore the local area on horseback.
Days 12 – 13: Trujillo. Explore this gorgeous colonial town or take an optional excursion to the Chan-Chan ruins or the seaside town of Huanchaco.
Day 14-15: Lima. Check out the art shops, boutiques and colourful mansions of the city, before enjoying some free time exploring the palm-studded streets. The food here is to die for – ceviche all round!
Day 16: Huacachina. Wander round the beautiful oasis settlement and then enjoy a dune buggy and sandboarding session before watching the sun go down from the top of the dunes.
Days 17 - 18: Nazca. Stop en route at a pisco winery for a tasting before continuing to Nazca where you’ll enjoy a Pachamanca-style dinner. Take a flight over the Nazca Lines, or tour an ancient desert cemetery.
Days 19 - 22: Arequipa & Colca Canyon. Explore the ‘White City’ with its colonial buildings, ‘picanterias’ and beautiful churches. Take an overnight excursion to Colca Canyon, hiking to stunning viewpoints and looking for Andean Condors.
Days 23 – 24: Cusco. Spend a few days exploring this incredible city before you set off on your epic Inca Trail trek. Optional activities include white-water rafting, a cooking class or a hike in the Rainbow Mountains.
Day 25: Ollantaytambo. Visit a women’s weaving co-op in the Ccaccaccollo community (don’t miss the resident llamas!) then stop at the Sacred Valley Brewery for a beer tasting before bedding down in Ollantaytambo.
Days 26 – 29: Inca Trail (or alternatives)
Choose from three options for days 26 – 29 (depending on your physical fitness and preferences). You’ll be supported by a guide, a team of porters and a chef.
- Option 1: Inca Trail. The most popular route from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. 44km including 3 high passes. Trek through high plateaus and cloud forests, finishing with sunrise over Machu Picchu.
- Option 2: Lares Trek. Shorter and less touristed route from Lares to Aguas Calientes over 33km (bus to Machu Picchu after). Isolated mountain paths, lagoons, snow-capped mountains and rural communities.
- Option 3: Cusco Stay. Skip the hike and spend a couple of extra days in Cusco with excursions to the Maras Salt Mines, the terraces of Moray and Piuray Lagoon. Re-join the group at Machu Picchu.
Day 30: Cusco. Free day in Cusco recovering from your big trek! Take a city tour and visit some of the museums.
Days 31 – 33: Puno & Lake Titicaca. Spend 3 days on the shores of the largest lake in the world. Enjoy lunch and a weaving co-op stop, spend the night in a homestay with a local family and visit the floating islands of the Uros, made from reeds that grow in Lake Titicaca!
Days 34 – 36: La Paz, Bolivia. Spend 2 days in this bustling, modern city. Visit the ‘Witches’ Market’ the Tiahuanaco ruins, or the world’s highest ski resort at Chacaltaya.
Days 37 – 38: Sucre. Explore the sights of this charming colonial city. See some dinosaur footprints, visit the museums, or go mountain biking and hiking in the area.
Days 39 – 40: Potosi. Potosi is famous as a silver mining area used during Spanish colonisation. Learn all about the mines’ (sometimes tragic) history on a tour of a working mine at the Mountain of Silver.
Day 41-43: Salt Flats. Take a memorable 3-day trip across the Uyuni Salt Flats into an unforgettable landscape of glittering white lakebeds, bubbling geysers, bright red lagoons and boiling mud pools. Spend a night in a community salt lodge.
Days 44 - 45: San Pedro De Atacama, Chile. Round off your Salt Flats excursion in the small desert oasis of San Pedro de Atacama. Try sand boarding, rent a bike, go horse riding, or take a tour of local ruins.
Days 46 – 47: Salta, Argentina. Make like a local in Salta with a horseback riding excursion and Argentinian barbecue, or grab some empanadas, watch a ‘Peña’ folklore show and take a tour of the wine-growing valleys nearby.
Days 48 – 50: Buenos Aires. Fly into the cosmopolitan cool of Argentina’s capital city. Visit colourful La Boca, scour the antiques markets, watch a football match or just kick back in a café with some parrilladas!
Day 51: Colonia, Uruguay. Take a ferry ride to Colonia, Uruguay and discover the delight of its cobbled streets, stunning architecture, history and culture.
Days 52 – 55: Montevideo & Estancia stay. Spend a couple of days in the lovely city before heading to a local ‘estancia’ (ranch). Spend 2 nights here, fishing, milking cows, riding horses and sitting round campfires.
Days 56 – 58: Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil. One of the planet’s most breath-taking sights, Iguazu spans nearly 3km between 3 countries and is surrounded by lush rainforest. Visit the Brazilian side, or Itaipu Dam and take a motorboat tour into the ‘Devil’s Throat’.
Days 59 – 60: Paraty, Brazil. Fly into Sao Paulo, Brazil, then head to the quaint beach town of Paraty. Swim, dive and soak up the sun on the gorgeous beaches.
Days 61 – 62: Ilha Grande. Travel to the white sands and lush rainforest of Ilha Grande. Chill out on the gorgeous beach, hike to Pico do Papagaio or take a snorkelling trip.
Days 63 – 65: Rio de Janeiro. Say hello to one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. Bask on the sands of Copacabana, take the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain and don’t miss the statue of Christ the Redeemer. You’ll also visit a favela and sample some artisanal beer. On day 65 it’s time to pack your bags and head home. See you again soon amigos!
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You should arrange your arrival into Quito International Airport. Transfers are not included in the trip price. The airport is around 1 hour from the city centre where your hotel is located. It is advised that you get a taxi (at a cost of approximately USD30-40) from the taxi stand close to customs, and that you pay for the taxi at a rate set at the taxi stand. If your taxi driver does not speak English and you do not speak Spanish, simply show the driver the hotel address.
Please note, we can also arrange a private transfer for you when you arrive. Please contact a Travel Advisor for more information.
No activities are planned for Day 1 so you may arrive at any time. You will have contact from your tour leader during Day 1 and there will be a short welcome meeting soon after arrival, where you can meet your group and learn more about the trip.
All accommodation is included during your South America Journey. This will include:
- Simple hotels (38 nights, twin share)
- Hostels (9 nights, multi share)
- Jungle homestay (2 nights)
- Community lodge (1 night)
- Overnight bus (6 nights)
- Camping (3 nights)
- Homestay (1 night)
- Supported lodge (2 nights, multi share)
- Estancia / ranch (2 nights, multi share)
Multi share rooms are single-sex and for 4-6 people.
Single room upgrades may be available at extra cost. Please speak to a travel advisor for more information.
There are 43 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners included on this trip.
Minimum age to take part in this trip is 18. This trip is designed for travellers aged 18-39.
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 65-day trip.
You should have a reasonable level of fitness to take part in this trip, especially if you are taking part in the 4-day Inca Trail hike.
Physical Rating: Demanding. Some activities on this trip will require a good level of fitness.