Tucan South America West

Tucan South America West

From AUD 6,430.00 + LTP: US$ 1970.00
Trip Length 105 Trip Code SA - OO - 8
Tour Group 10 - 24 Age Range 18 - 55+

Tucan South America West: Tour Information

This South America Overland from Quito to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, Via Ushuaia is 105 days of South American experiences and is designed for the true adventure in mind who wish to get off the beaten track.

This extensive trip offers an overview of the most amazing and fascinating highlights of the South American continent, combining adventure travel in Ecuador with the highlights you'll experience on tours in Peru and Bolivia and ending on a high with the best sights you can see in Brazil. The lush Amazon jungles of Ecuador, the majestic kingdoms of the Incas in Peru, the remote Altiplano and Salt Flats of Bolivia, the great outdoors in Patagonia and the largest party in the world at Rio's Carnival or New Years Eve celebrations - these are just some of the things you will experience during this incredible journey.

Our trip is a true Expedition by nature of its long duration and some of the remote places we visit. You must expect a degree of hardship digging your truck out of mud and sand, some long drives on rough and dusty dirt roads, camping and cooking in extremes of climate, from freezing in the Andes, to the heat of the Atacama Desert and thundering tropical downpours.BUT ITS ALL WORTH IT!You will discover South America in a way most travellers only dream of, meet people you would never otherwise encounter and gain a unique insight into Latin American culture.This tour can be joined in either Quito, Lima or Rio. All our Kingdoms and Carnivals tours coincide with either Rio Carnival or the spectacular New Years Eve event in Rio at the end or beginning of each trip. For those beginning in Rio de Janeiro the daily itinerary should be followed in reverse. Should you wish to arrive a few days before the tour starts, we can help you arrange accommodation in Quito, Lima or Rio. For trips departing from Rio we can organise pre-tour accommodation for you during Carnival and New Years Eve.

Week 1 (Week 15) Our journey starts just 25kms south of the Equator in the relaxed capital city of Quito. Next we head to the banks of the Rio Napo and our gateway into the steamy Amazon jungle for two nights. There is also the chance to try our hand at white water rafting! Next destination is Banos, a spa town in the heights of the Andes to relax in the thermal baths and hike the various mountain trails.

Week 2 (Week 14) Ecuador is bid goodbye as we continue south to the border with Peru. Travelling along the Pacific Ocean coast we visit small coastal villages and camp on deserted sandy beaches. Further south we visit the imperial citadel of Chan Chan.

Week 3 (Week 13) Many tours in Peru go through the capital Lima, Lima is a busy place, however, watching life go by on one of the many Plazas or visiting one of the Museums can be a relaxing and rewarding experience. Not far south is the marine reserve of Ballestas. Quite a contrast are the Nazca Lines. These huge figures and shapes, carved into the stony desert are best viewed from the air and are a great mystery to archaeologists. From here we start our ascent of the Andes.

Week 4 (Week 12) Our next two days are spent in the magnificent colonial city of Arequipa. From here you have the option to visit Colca Canyon to view condors circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor. Ahead lie some of the most arduous and punishing roads on the trip, however, after traversing some mountainous passes of nearly 5000 metres we are soon rewarded by our arrival in Cuzco.

Week 5 (Week 11) This outdoors capital of Peru is our base for the next 6 days, allowing enough time to explore this ancient city, the surrounding Sacred Valley and give the energetic amongst us enough time to hike the Inca Trail.

Week 6 (Week 10) Bordering Peru and Bolivia is Lake Titicaca. The world's highest navigable lake, Spending the night with one of the local families provides an opportunity to experience their lifestyle and hospitality. La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, is our next destination. A long and dusty drive across the Altiplano takes us to Potosi. The adventurous will appreciate the option to go down one of the mines where mining techniques have remained unchanged for centuries.

Week 7 & 8 (Week 9 & 8) Leaving the bleak Altiplano we reach the shimmering white Uyuni Salt Lake. It is possible to venture out into the salt lake on a 1 day excursion and the vastness of the salt flats is an unforgettable experience. Following in the steps of Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid we reach Tupiza before the last stretch of our Bolivia travel leg. The colourful Humahuaca Canyon leads us to the attractive city of Salta in Argentina. We have a few free days in Salta before crossing the mighty Andes again towards the Atacama Desert in Chile! The oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama is our next destination. Continuing south we rejoin the Pacific Ocean and the Pan American Highway. We camp near to La Serena beach for a few days before our drive to Chiles capital, Santiago.

Week 9 (Week 7) Ahead of us lie the southern areas with deep blue lakes and snow-capped mountains. Pucon is our base camp for the next few days to organise white water rafting, skiing, horse riding and hikes up nearby Villarrica Volcano. We ascend the Andes via some spectacular mountain passes before entering Argentina and arriving in Bariloche.

Week 10 (Week 6) Heading into the deep south on a good dirt road we enter the vast wilderness of Patagonia. Spectacular National Parks make this region a paradise for hiking enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. Los Glaciares NP, here we have the option to take a boat ride close up to Moreno Glacier almost 200ft high. Torres del Paine NP is another area of outstanding beauty where huge granite cliffs dominate the landscape and hiking is a great way to explore the area.

Week 11 (Week 5) We continue south to Ushuaia on the wild and hauntingly beautiful island of Tierra del Fuego the most southerly city on earth. Next we cross to the Atlantic coast of Patagonia and visit one of the marine sanctuaries. Penguins, Sea Lions, Sea Elephants, Birds and sometimes Whales can be seen. Following the excellent paved roads north along the coast we pass through some quite affluent towns. One, Puerto Madryn, was the landing place over a century ago for the first group of Welsh settlers that subsequently colonised and now farm the surrounding area.

Week 12 (Week 4) A days drive north is the smart cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires where you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in Europe. There is plenty to do, museums, horse racing, football matches, shopping, tango dancing and restaurants that serve some of the best steaks in the world.

Week 13 (Week 3) Uruguay is our next destination and the quaint town of Colonia. With its lovely beach and calm and quiet atmosphere, it is a complete contrast to the previous days in Buenos Aires. We then travel northwards and cross back into Argentina and visit the Jesuit Missions of San Ignacio before continuing onto Iguazu Falls which forms the natural border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Travel here is awe inspiring, as we spend the next three days in the town while admiring the falls that are higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls. Here you can undertake a number of optional activities such as boat trips, helicopter flights and mountain bike riding.

Week 14 (Week 2) Next we head into Brazil and travel to Bonito, also a popular place with Brazil travellers and holidaymakers and where we can swim and snorkel in crystal clear rivers and lakes as well as hike into the lush forests. We then journey to the Pantanal region where we can organise treks out into the vast wetlands, home to hundreds of species of birds and fish, including Piranha, as well as an abundance of reptiles such as alligators and other animals.

Week 15 (Week 1) Our final destination before Rio de Janeiro is 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 hedonistic playground of Rio de Janeiro, where folk are raring to party out of their minds and live purely for the moment.The Carnival and New Years Eve celebrations are always chaotic, crowded and fun!
 

Tucan South America West

Please note that our itineraries are not set in stone and can be subject to change.
Days 1 to 5

Our trip begins in Rio after the chaotic, crowded, crazy celebrations of Carnival or New Year's Eve.  On the first day we drive south along the coast 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.
Days 6 to 13

We then journey onto the Pantanal region where we organise treks out into the vast wetlands which is home to over 600 species of birds and 350 kinds of fish, piranha being common, as well as an abundance of reptiles (such as caiman) and capyibaras, the world's largest rodent  Next stop is Bonito where we can swim and snorkel in some of the clearest rivers and lakes in the world. Spectacular walks in the mountainous forests may reveal wildlife that includes monkeys, alligators & anaconda.
Days 14 to 19

We travel to the incredible Iguazu Falls which 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 three days. 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 whitewater rafting, helicopter flights and mountain bike riding.
Leaving Brazil we cross into Argentina.  This area, close to the border with Paraguay, was home to many Jesuit Missions built in the 16th century to convert the Guarany Indians.
Days 20 to 27

Continuing south we arrive in Buenos Aires.  A few days in this smart cosmopolitan city & 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 some of the best steak in the world, & many plazas with cafes to sit & observe Argentinean life go by.
You also have the opportunity to travel across the Rio Plata by ferry to Montevideo & Colonia de Sacramento to visit Uruguay.
Days 28 to 37

From Buenos Aires we traverse the vast Pampas grasslands, South America's cowboy country, where gun-toting gauchos on horseback look after vast herds of cattle. Following the Atlantic coast of Patagonia, we stop in Puerto Madryn which was the landing place over a century ago for the first group of Welsh settlers that subsequently colonised and now farm the surrounding area.  You have the option to visit Valdez Peninsula one of the marine sanctuaries in this region where we might see Penguins, Sea Lions, Sea Elephants, Sea Birds and maybe even Whales.
We continue south towards the wild and hauntingly beautiful land at worlds end, the island of Tierra del Fuego.  We cross by ferry and visit the most southerly town in the world Ushuaia, from where we can view the green waters of the Beagle Channel and the surrounding snow clad peaks.
Days 38 to 45

Heading north we return to the mainland and enter Chile. Torres del Paine Nat. Park is an area of outstanding beauty where huge granite cliffs dominate the landscape. A good way to explore the area is either hiking or by horseback.   Back over the border in Argentina we go to the stupendous El Chalten in Los Glaciares Nat. Park has the most spectacular views of Mt. Fitzroy. You can explore this area on foot or on horseback. Near El Calafate is the largest glacier in the world and here we have the option to take a boat ride close up to Moreno Glacier almost 200ft high alternatively you can choose to get closer by trekking on one of the glaciers.  For trips that depart Rio in January we are usually able to join the Camino Austral in Chile. Large parts of this road are only open in January and February. It is a breath taking spectacle as we pass tree lined fjords and penetrate deep in to a land of spiralling volcanoes and glaciers and camp next to rushing rivers and rainforest. For tours departing over the rest of the year we continue through the vast wilderness of Patagonia on Route 40, famous as the longest road in Argentina.
Days 46 to 51

Our long drive is soon rewarded as we arrive in Bariloche. This very popular holiday destination for Argentines is the top ski resort on the continent and also has several hiking trails and a great nightlife and Swiss influenced cuisine. Ascending the Andes via some spectacular mountain passes we cross the border again and arrive in Pucon, an outdoors centre in Chile's beautiful Lake District. This will be our base for the next few days from where we can organise whitewater rafting, skiing, water sports, horse riding and one day hikes up nearby Villarrica Volcano.
As our trip draws to a close we pass small villages and leave behind the deep blue lakes and towering mountains and arrive in Chile's modern capital, Santiago.
Day 52

We have a free day to explore Santiago, with famous Chilean Steak houses, Cassilero del Diablo winery, Skiing available in the winter, you will find it easy to pass the days away.
Days 53 to 56

APRIL TO OCTOBER TRIPS ONLY - Leaving Chiles capital, Santiago, which is a very modern, well-run city we head for the Pacific coastline and relax at a - beach campsite near to La Serena for a day.  Then rejoining the Pan American highway we enter the Atacama Desert.  The oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama is our next destination. Surrounded by the Valley of the Moon, salt lakes, volcanoes, geysers as well as stone age dwellings, its a great place to explore. From the desert our ascent through the Andean passes is spectacular, with dozens of volcanic peaks all over 5000m, leading us to the attractive colonial city of Salta in Argentina. Founded over 400 years ago Salta is a good place for live folk music venues and is also a great area for horse riding, mountain biking, mountain trekking and river rafting.

OCTOBER TO APRIL ONLY - Leaving Chiles capital, Santiago, we head for Argentina and cross the Andes past the Inca Bridge and San Martin's pass. Continuing north we join Route 40, the longest route in Argentina, to Mendoza, the biggest wine region in Argentina. Here you can indulge in wine and good steak, paraglide or try a host of other outdoor sports. We then continue north winding around lakes and weaving through baked cliffs until we reach Cafayate, another renowned wine region of Argentina. You can explore some of the wineries on foot or by bicycle. Our journey then takes us to the attractive colonial city of Salta where we have couple of days to go horse riding, mountain biking, mountain trekking or river rafting.
Days 57 to 62

From here we venture into Bolivia where you will notice the difference as paved roads become non-existent and locals still follow tradition, wearing bright woollen clothes and bowler hats.

Quite a contrast is the shimmering white Uyuni Salt Lake. 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.
Days 63 to 68

Continuing north we arrive in 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.  There are tours to the mines and it is still clear to see that unfortunately, working conditions here have hardly improved over the centuries.  The adventurous among us will appreciate the opportunity to go down one of these mines with a local guide.  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.  The history and past colonial splendour make Potosi a fascinating place to visit.

A tortuous drive across the Altiplano, where Aymara and Quechua Indians scrape a sparse living from their small plots of land in this harsh climate, brings us to La Paz.  The highest capital city in the world, it is built on a steep slope that falls away from the Altiplano. La Paz is a great place to visit a 'pena' club, where live bands entertain us with Andean folk music.
Days 69 to 71

Leaving La Paz we head to Puno in Peru.  Nestling on the shores of Lake Titicaca it is a friendly, well-kept place and much calmer than the hustle and bustle of La Paz.  Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake at 3800m, it is also the original 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 and spend the night with one of the Indian families on the lesser known islands Isla Amantani or Taquile. Spending some time in these local communities will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditional lifestyle of the Andean people and their customs.
Days 72 to 78

From Lake Titicaca we now drive on very good sealed roads through some spectacular scenery as we make our way to Cuzco, the outdoors capital of Peru and our base for the next 6 days.  This gives us enough time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, enjoy the architectural uniqueness of Cuzco and explore some of the colourful surrounding markets There are several treks which take in Machu Picchu. When permits are still available, we will organise the Classic Trail trek, but great alternative treks such as the Salkantay or Lares can be arranged when the Classic is not available or by your choice (must be pre-arranged at time of booking). 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.
Days 79 to 83

From Cuzco we head west, passing herds of llama, alpacas and unspoilt Andean villages as we head towards the world's deepest canyon.  Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon is an awesome spectacle.  Here you have the option, accompanied by a local guide, of a one day excursion to view Condors circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor. On your trip into the canyon you can overnight in the town of Chivay. Because it was isolated for so many years, customs and dress have changed relatively little, which gives a rare glimpse of what life in the andes would have been like during colonial times. From here we begin dropping down out of the Andes as we head to Arequipa, a beautiful colonial city set at the foot of the impressive El Misti Volcano.
Days 84 to 87

We then camp on the beach on our way to one of the world's great archaeological mysteries - The Nazca Lines.  These huge figures and shapes, carved into the stony desert are best viewed from the air. Following the Coastal Highway, the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve is our next stop.  Here we take a boat trip to view one of the most important marine reserves in the world with one of the highest concentrations of rare and exotic sea birds and sea mammals.

Further up the coast is Peru's capital city, 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.
Days 88 to 92

Continuing north along the coast we reach the Chan Chan ruins, the imperial citadel of the pre-Inca Chimu Kings which the Incas later conquered.  It claims to be the largest mud brick city in the world.  Nearing the border with Ecuador we have a couple of relaxing days camping on the beach at Punta Sal before leaving Peru.
Days 93 to 98

You will see an almost immediate change from the dry, barren desert of Peru through sub-tropical forest to the fertile farming country of highland Ecuador.  We reach the outdoors mecca of Banos, a spa town nestled at the foot of a volcano, where Ecuadorians go to relax in the thermal baths and where you can hike, mountain bike or horse-ride to one of the surrounding waterfalls including El Pailon del Diablo. For the more adventurous there is the option to go canyoning down one of the many rivers in the area.
Days 99 to 105

Descending to the lowlands and the steamy edge of the Amazon basin, we arrive in the town of Tena, gateway to the Amazon jungle.  Here, accompanied by experienced guides, we explore on foot this exotic environment for two days and you also have the chance to go whitewater rafting on the rapids of the Rio Napo.

Returning to higher altitudes and mountain scenery, we visit the town of Otavalo, famous for its colourful crafts market.  Finally we cross the Equator, just 25km's south of Quito and discover how Ecuador got its name, before ending our journey in the capital of Ecuador, Quito.

SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

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

DATES, PRICES & AVAILABILITY:

Availability Trip Date Price Local Payment Click to book
Availability Jan 04, 2018 - Apr 18, 2018
Note : New Year Celebrations
AUD 6,430.00 US$ 1970.00 Book
Availability Feb 15, 2018 - May 30, 2018
Note : Rio Carnival
AUD 6,430.00 US$ 1970.00 Book
Prices: All prices Charged in Australian Dollars
Key: Availability Guaranteed Availability Available Availability Limited Availability Closed
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