South America tour

South America tour

From AUD 11,920.00
Trip Length 27 Trip Code SA - HW - 01
Tour Group 6 - 12 Age Range Open

South America tour: Tour Information

Enjoy the rare privilege of face-to-face encounters with one of the world’s last great frontiers on this fully guided hotel tour: Patagonia and the majestic fjords and glaciers of Southern Patagonia, explore the worlds most southern city, Ushuaia and Visit perhaps South America and the worlds most extravagant cascade, Iguazu Falls. Along with visits to Buenos Aires, Lima and Santiago, we discover the remarkable diversity of South America.
A land of treasures archaeological, cultural, and natural, Peru draws those eager to learn about the distant past – and encounter a fascinating present of colonial and indigenous influences. As our small group takes in some of the country’s highlights – Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca – we marvel at the riches of an intriguing land.
 

Day 1: Buenos Aires

This tour starts in Buenos Aires today.

Day 2: Buenos Aires

Today we enjoy an excursion to see the sights of this cosmopolitan city.

Day 3 & 4: Buenos Aires & Iguazu Falls

Today we transfer to the airport for our flight to Iguazu Falls. The afternoon is free to explore, or to visit the falls on the Argentine side. You can wander along the upper and lower walkways. The plunging falls throw a fine mist 30 m (98 feet) into the air, weaving countless rainbows in the sun. Be sure to take waterproof clothing.

Day 5: Iguazu Falls

Today we view the Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side. The finest overall view of the falls is best seen in the morning when the light is much better for photography.

Day 6: Iguazu Falls & Buenos Aires

This morning free time is allowed to explore Iguazu before returning to Buenos Aires. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax and explore this vibrant city.

Day 7: Buenos Aires

Today is free to explore this Latin American city. The Plaza de Mayo, a strikingly beautiful plaza with tall palm trees, flower gardens and a central monument set off by the surrounding colonial buildings; the most eye-catching structure is the Casa Rosada (the Pink House), the seat of the Argentinean government, with a small museum in the basement that contains antiques and objects identified with different Argentinean heroes.

Day 8: Cuzco

Today we fly to Cuzco, in the heart of the Andes. We recommend an easy afternoon, possibly visiting the convent of Santa Catalina or the Religious Art Museum. Entry to both sites is included in the Cuzco Pass entrance ticket, which we supply.

Day 9-11: Cuzco

During our stay in Cuzco we visit some of the most important Inca sites of the area.

NOTE: Depending on variables such as weather and day of the week, the actual order of sightseeing activities around Cuzco may vary at your Tour Leader's discretion.

Day 12: Cuzco - Puno (Lake Titicaca)

Today we take the “Train of the Andes” from Cuzco to Puno.

Day 12: Cuzco - Puno (Lake Titicaca)

Day 13-14: Puno - Floating Islands – Puno

Day 15: Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, was named the “City of Kings” by the Spanish Conquistadors. In recent years, the city has restored its amazing main plazas, ornate facades and wooden balconies. Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535. Lima today is a bustling South American capital, filled with beautiful Spanish colonial buildings, and home to more than 6.5 million people.

Day 16-18: Lima-Iquitos (Jungle)

Day 19

Iquitos

Day 20
Lima

Day 21
Lima-El Calafate

Early this morning we fly south to El Calafate, a town on Lake Argentino situated at the entrance to the Glacier National Park. Afternoon free to explore.

Day 22-23
El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier - El Calafate

Day 24, 25 & 26
El Calafate- Ushuaia

We fly to Ushuaia on the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Day 27
Ushuaia – Buenos Aires

Today is tour end for those who are not taking the flight back to Australia. You have the option to extend or finish your tour in Ushuaia, Buenos Aires or Sydney.

South America Encounter

Day 1: Buenos Aires

This tour starts in either Australia or Buenos Aires today. Most of the day is free to enjoy this spectacular city. The entire Metropolitan area spans a gigantic 2915 km¾ (1121 sq miles). With a population of approximately 10 million people, a third of Argentina’s population, there is always plenty to do in Buenos Aires.

Day 2: Buenos Aires

Today we enjoy an excursion to see the sights of this cosmopolitan city. In the early part of the 20th century, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. The grand public buildings of Buenos Aires reflect this opulent era. The city is known as the "Paris of South America" because of its wide boulevards and European-style architecture. Juan de Garay founded Buenos Aires for the second time in 1580, just north of Mendoza’s encampment. In accordance with Spanish law, he laid out the large Plaza del Fuerte (Fortress Plaza), which acquired its present name of Plaza de Mayo after the month of revolution in 1810.

It is here that we concentrate our tour of the major public buildings. Catedral Metropolitana, built on the sight of the original colonial church, was not completed until 1827. Not only is it considered a major religious landmark, but also a historical site of great importance. Here lies the tomb of Jose de San Martin, the man who (along with Simon Bolivar) liberated South America from Spanish rule in the early 1800’s. The Plaza de Mayo is also home to Museo del Cabildo, the Presidential Palace (Casa Rosada), and the National Congress (Palacio del Congreso). We also visit the Recoleta Cemetery where Buenos Aires’ richest citizens are buried in magnificent marble tombs elaborately decorated with statues. The most internationally famous person buried here is "Evita" Peron. Later this afternoon you may choose to visit in the artist’s quarter of San Telmo.

Day 3 & 4: Buenos Aires & Iguazu Falls

Today we transfer to the airport for our flight to Iguazu Falls. The afternoon is free to explore, or to visit the falls on the Argentine side. You can wander along the upper and lower walkways. The plunging falls throw a fine mist 30 m (98 feet) into the air, weaving countless rainbows in the sun. Be sure to take waterproof clothing.

Iguazu falls info
The Iguaçu Falls are formed by the Rio Iguaçu, which has its source near Curitiba Brazil. Starting at an altitude of 1300m (4,264 feet), the river snakes westward, picking up tributaries and increasing in size and power during its 1200km (1,945 mile) journey. About 15km (25 miles) before joining the Rio Paran is the area known as the "Hito de las Tres Fronteras", where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge. The Iguaçu broadens out, and then plunges abruptly over an 80m (263 foot) high cliff, the central of the 275 interlinking cataracts that extend nearly 3km (5 miles) across the river. The waterfalls pour out 1700m, (1,853 cubic yards) of water per second from a height of 70m (230 feet) in 275 different falls, most of which are in Argentina. On the frontier with Brazil the horseshoe cleft known as La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil's throat) is 150m (490 feet) wide and 700m (2,290 feet) along its face.

Day 5: Iguazu Falls

Today we view the Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side. The finest overall view of the falls is best seen in the morning when the light is much better for photography.

Keeping to the main paths around the falls, you get a taste of the jungle, home to over 2,000 plant varieties, 400 bird species, and dozens of mammal types. Around the waters edge, you may occasionally see tapirs, large animals shaped rather like a pig with a long snout. Far more common is the coatimundi, the size of a domestic cat but related to the racoon. You often come face to face with coatimundi, begging food from tourists.

The cai, or capuchin monkey, is also often seen and is recognisable by its long legs and tail, small size and black skullcap mark which gives it its name. These monkeys travel the forest canopy in large groups, emitting strange bird-like cries. Far bigger, and with a deep voice, is the howler monkey. Even though you may not see them, you’re likely to hear their powerful voices emanating from the jungle.
The forest is also home to a rich variety of birdlife, and with a good eye you should be able to see toucans, parakeets and hummingbirds even without straying from the main paths. Again, their most active hours are soon after dawn when it is cooler. For a more reliable view of local birdlife, a visit to the Parque das Aves is highly recommended. Located just 100m from the entrance to the national park on the Brazilian side of the falls, the bird park maintains both small breeding aviaries and enormous walk-through aviaries, still surrounded by dense forest. Photo opportunities are tremendous, and if you stand quietly on the paths leading between aviaries you may be able to spot the yellow and red beak of a toucan. There is also a large walk-through butterfly cage were butterflies are bred throughout the year and released when mature.

Day 6: Iguazu Falls & Buenos Aires

This morning free time is allowed to explore Iguazu before returning to Buenos Aires. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax and explore this vibrant city.

Day 7: Buenos Aires

Today is free to explore this Latin American city. The Plaza de Mayo, a strikingly beautiful plaza with tall palm trees, flower gardens and a central monument set off by the surrounding colonial buildings; the most eye-catching structure is the Casa Rosada (the Pink House), the seat of the Argentinean government, with a small museum in the basement that contains antiques and objects identified with different Argentinean heroes.

The other historic buildings on the Plaza are the Cabildo (the Town Council) that has been on this site since the founding of the city in 1580, and the Metropolitan Cathedral completed in 1827. Browsing amongst these buildings and exploring the lively streets that lead from the plaza will occupy your morning hours, with the afternoon free to visit the barrio (district) of La Boca on the southern part of Buenos Aires. The barrio is famous for sheet-iron houses, some built from material taken from the interiors of abandoned ships, now painted in bright colours, and for its history as a residential area for Genoese sailors and dock workers in the 19th century.

Day 8: Cuzco

Today we fly to Cuzco, in the heart of the Andes. We recommend an easy afternoon, possibly visiting the convent of Santa Catalina or the Religious Art Museum. Entry to both sites is included in the Cuzco Pass entrance ticket, which we supply.

Alternatively, the colonial area of the city offers many shops bulging with woven textiles, jewellery and other artefacts.

The name Cuzco means “Navel of the World”. It is the archaeological capital of the Americas and was the capital of the Inca Empire. This Inca city was laid out around a great central square in the shape of a puma, the god of lightning. At its height, it stretched from Colombia in the north, through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and down to central Chile in the south. Today, Inca built stone walls line most of Cuzco's central streets, forming the foundations of both the colonial and modern buildings. The layout of the city is essentially the same as it was in Inca times. Their buildings were so well built that the Spaniards simply knocked down the upper parts of the Inca temples and palaces and built their churches and mansions on top of the old foundations. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, the capital was moved to the coast at Lima. Thus, Cuzco retains a wonderful, untouched colonial atmosphere. Inca culture is still very much alive, and is evident in their music, clothing and handicrafts. We suggest dinner at a local restaurant to try some typical Peruvian dishes. One may wish to try the Pisco sour, the Peruvian liquor distilled from white grapes.

Day 9-11: Cuzco

During our stay in Cuzco we visit some of the most important Inca sites of the area.
Sacsayhuaman is an impressive building which, like so many others of that time, had both a religious and military purpose. The fortress known as the “storehouse of the sun” incorporates some of the largest stones ever used in any building. The zigzag walls represent the teeth of the sacred puma and provide an excellent defensive structure. The stones fit so perfectly together without mortar that not even moss can grow in the cracks. Sacsayhuaman was the site of the 1536 Inca uprising against Spanish rule, which came very close to obliterating the Spanish forces in Cuzco.

We also visit ruins at Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara, Qenko and the sacred Urubamba Valley, visiting the Pisac market. Pisac is an Andean village about 32km/20 miles from Cuzco, which has a colourful, lively market where you will see traditionally dressed locals with whom you can barter for colourful craft items. You will see many unique Andean musical instruments as well as dazzling textiles. Peruvian woollen items are justifiably famous for their imaginative designs, based on Inca art and the local flora and fauna. You can buy sweaters and caps made from the extremely warm wool of Alpacas and Llamas.

Just beyond the town of Pisac we visit the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, which are located on a spectacular ridge with deep valleys on either side. Inca storage warehouses can be seen hanging onto the valley walls, and carefully constructed and maintained farming terraces climb the surrounding hillsides. The Urubamba Valley was sacred to the Incas, who believed that the river flowed into the cosmos and became part of the Milky Way.

The Urubamba Valley, located 600 metres/1,968 feet below Cuzco, was able to grow 70 species of crops and support the population of the great capital city of the Incas.
The return journey to Cuzco over the Chinchero Pass offers a multitude of photo opportunities. This drive is amongst the most spectacular on our tour.

Cuzco Highlights: A visit to Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun, which was the most important location in the Incan Empire. In 1950 the Santo Domingo Church’s colonial walls were brought down by a powerful earthquake revealing the sacred walls hidden below. The original Coricancha stonewalls remain unscathed; The church of San Blas with its fabulously carved pulpit, or wander the narrow streets of the San Blas artisan region; The cathedral, towering impressively over the Plaza de Armas. Inside you will find precious paintings from the Cuzco School of Art, one of the most prolific of its era.

Cuzco Area continued: Machu Picchu

We board an early morning train for a spectacular ride to Machu Picchu, the best known and most amazing archaeological site on the continent. The train journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to the Andes. The scenery is simply spectacular, and the train allows you to enjoy it in comfort. The 3-hour journey takes you through a changing landscape, from a steep climb out of town into the surrounding hillside by means of a series of switchback turns known as "the zig-zag".

Cuzco Area continued: Machu Picchu

The train stops at the beautiful village of Poroy, and then descends into the Sacred Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Andes. From here on, there are wonderful vistas of the mountains, and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River.
From the Machu Picchu train station a bus will take us on the 6 km (4 miles) twisting journey up the mountainside to the site of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, popularly known as the “Lost City of the Incas”, is an ancient city of stone palaces, towers, temples and staircases. It is a very mysterious place, and to this day our knowledge of it remains sketchy. The outside world was unaware of its existence until 1911 when an American historian, Hiram Bingham, stumbled upon it almost by accident. Little is known about the site because the Spanish never discovered it, and there is no mention of it in any writings. The site also appears to have been abandoned by the Incas long before the Spanish arrived. There are no records or artefacts on the site to indicate what any of the buildings were used for. Since 1985, a number of astonishing discoveries have been made at the site. Archaeologists have ascertained that the site was most likely a ceremonial centre and possibly used for administrative purposes for the populous region.

On arrival we proceed on a guided walking tour of the ruins of Machu Picchu. We will enter the site through the House of the Terrace Caretakers, which flanks the agricultural sector. Once on the site we will see, among other features, the Temple of the Sun, the Fountain Caretaker's House, the Royal Sector, and the puzzling Temple of the Three Windows. We will also see the Common District, the Sacred Rock and the prison-like Temple of the Condor.

After lunch, you may choose to re-enter the site for some independent exploration (your supplied entry ticket is good for the day).

NOTE: Depending on variables such as weather and day of the week, the actual order of sightseeing activities around Cuzco may vary at your Tour Leader's discretion.

Day 12: Cuzco - Puno (Lake Titicaca)

Today we take the “Train of the Andes” from Cuzco to Puno.

From Cusco, our train heads south-east, following the Huatanay River through green fields dotted with willow trees and eucalyptus groves, and passing outlying communities gathered around colonial churches that conceal their artistic treasures behind crumbling adobe facades. The first half of the journey is dominated by the magnificent Andean Mountains, towering over the deep valleys of the Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuna and alpaca are often seen. This is a wild, high, windswept and sunburnt prairie of isolated communities of shepherds and cattle farmers.

The train continues to climb to La Raya, a remote town whose surrounding snow-draped peaks are often shrouded by mist or fine rain.


Day 12: Cuzco - Puno (Lake Titicaca)

Puno, at 3830m (12,562 feet), is the main settlement on the Peruvian shore of Lake Titicaca and the highest stop on our tour. Puno is the greatest centre of Peruvian folk dancing and traditional instruments; the markets and streets are bustling with the brightly coloured costumes of the different groups of the region.

Day 13-14: Puno - Floating Islands – Puno

This morning we travel by boat to the floating islands of Los Uros for our overnight home stay. The Uros people began their floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from their rivals, the Collas and the Incas. Today, about 300 people live on islands constructed from many layers of floating tortora reeds, which grow in the shallow waters of Lake Titicaca. Even the buildings on the islands are made of tortora. The whole life of the Uros people revolves around the reeds. They even eat the lower stalk and root, which tastes a little like celery.

Today the Uros live mainly from tourism & fishing, including catching the giant pejerray, which can grow up to 13.5kg/30 pounds in weight.

Day 15: Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, was named the “City of Kings” by the Spanish Conquistadors. In recent years, the city has restored its amazing main plazas, ornate facades and wooden balconies. Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535. Lima today is a bustling South American capital, filled with beautiful Spanish colonial buildings, and home to more than 6.5 million people.

Day 16-18: Lima-Iquitos (Jungle)

On arrival at Iquitos Airport transfer to Muyuna Lodge where staff will be waiting with a welcome drink. After lunch, travel by canoe to the “Pungal”, an area with several strangler figs which is a favourite place for Hoatzin birds that resemble their prehistoric ancestors, with three hooks in their wings. You can fish in the Sapote Lake for different species of piranhas or sardines, or search for black and white caimans (jungle alligators).

Included options here in the jungle are endless! Take an organized excursion from the lodge to observe the variety of flora abundant in this region. Also view the giant ceiba trees. You will have the opportunity to see the pygmy marmoset, the smallest monkey in the world, and if you are lucky, the howler monkey, whose roar can be heard from miles away! Also, you may spot some tamarins and black monkeys, different species of birds, and colourful butterflies, and even the famous pink dolphins of the Amazon!
After dinner, take a nocturnal outing to the strangler fig, home to many species of tarantulas (they are not dangerous!).

Go bird watching to Juanachi Lake, to view the abundant fauna and flora of the area. You may walk or paddle, depending on the water level, looking for parrots, macaws, toucans, egrets, hawks, ducks, etc, also sloth and several species of monkeys.
A visit to the primitive village of San Juan de Yanayacu is possible from Muyuna Lodge, where the villagers live in the jungle in the same way they have lived for centuries. The option is also there to see the biggest aquatic plant in the world, the famous Victoria Regia

Day 19
Iquitos

From the jungle we travel to Iquitos, a city carrying the label of Peru’s “Venice of the Amazon”. Iquitos is very dependent on the Amazon River for its livelihood. Take a canoe trip to the fabulous floating markets of Belem to watch the locals conducting business as they have done for centuries - maybe even grab a bargain or two!

Day 20
Lima

You may take a Lima city tour option to visit San Francisco’s Church, with its extensive catacombs beneath. The tour then continues to the Plaza de Armas, the most important plaza in Lima. The oldest surviving part of this plaza is the impressive bronze fountain which was erected in 1650. Surrounding the plaza is the exquisite Archbishop’s Palace, the Cathedral, and the Government Palace, where you may be lucky enough to witness “The Changing of the Guards”. The tour also visits the cathedral where the great conquistador Francisco Pizarro’s tomb lies, and the National Anthropology and Archaeology Museum, which contains a comprehensive presentation of the many Peruvian civilizations, from pre-historic times through to the Incas.
After some free time for lunch in one of the many outdoor cafés, we head to the trendy area of MiraFlores.
The tour ends with a visit to the wealthy residential area of Lima and the Gold Museum, which houses a dazzling private collection of pre-Inca gold, jewellery and ceremonial objects. It is said that the largest collection of gold in the world is contained inside a vault consisting of the entire lower floor of the museum. Though rumours suggest that many of the exhibits are actually reproductions, the displays still provide a valuable insight into the region's past spiritual and aesthetic values. There is also an extensive pre-Inca textile collection located on the upper floor.

Day 21
Lima-El Calafate


Early this morning we fly south to El Calafate, a town on Lake Argentino situated at the entrance to the Glacier National Park. Afternoon free to explore.

Day 22-23
El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier - El Calafate

We leave the shores of Lake Argentino, travel across the lowlands and begin ascending to the sub-Antarctic forest which marks the gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Its centrepiece is the Perito Moreno Glacier, which, because of unusually favourable local conditions, is one of the world’s few advancing glaciers. Huge icebergs on the glacier’s 60m (180 foot) high face calve and collapse into the Canal de los Tempanos as it advances at the rate of almost 100m (300 feet) each year. The roar of the gigantic ice wall as it crashes into the surrounding channel is an unforgettable experience.
We disembark our bus just before the glacier to climb a rise to the main viewing area directly opposite the massive wall of ice. We also have an opportunity to take a cruise to view the glacier from a different perspective. We have a free day in El Calafate to explore the surrounds or to relax.

Day 24, 25 & 26
El Calafate- Ushuaia

Today we fly to Ushuaia on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The island is divided between Argentina and Chile, with the Beagle Channel forming part of the border between the two countries. Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city. In 1520, Magellan passed through the strait, which now bears his name, in search of a sea route to the Spice Islands of Asia. The Yahgan Indians built the fires that inspired Europeans to give this region its name -"The Land of Fire". At first, very little attention was paid to this rocky and glacial shoreline, and its indigenous Indian population. It was not until the demise of Spain’s colonial domination of the region in the late 1800’s, that other Europeans began settling here.
Ushuaia has one of the world’s most dramatic settings: surrounding jagged glacial peaks rise from sea level to nearly 1500m (4,500 ft

Beagle Channel Cruise
Must sees begin with a visit to the town’s museum, filled with interesting artefacts which catalogue the history of this rugged territory. Weather permitting, cruise the Beagle Channel, named after Darwin’s ship which sailed through in 1832. Just to the west of Ushuaia is the Parque Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, rich in forest, lakes and jagged mountains. It is a beautiful but tough landscape, plagued by unpredictable weather. In addition to spectacular scenery, you should see many species of marine mammals and birds.

Please note: As Tierra del Fuego is so close to the Antarctic Circle the weather here is extremely changeable hour by hour. In order to maximise our sightseeing, we may have to alter the sequence of activities. Your Tour Leader will do his/her best to ensure that you see all the items you wish to on these days, but in the event of extreme weather, other activities may have to be substituted.
Ushuaia is so far south that it is broad daylight until well after 10 pm.

Day 27
Ushuaia – Sydney

Today is tour end for those who are not taking the flight back to Australia. You have the option to extend or finish your tour in Ushuaia, Buenos Aires or Sydney.
 

Private Departures, if you have your own group of 6 or more.

Local Tour Payments (LTP) or a Kitty payment, if stated is paid direct to your tour leader / crew on day 1.

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