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Best of South America

21 Days FROM USD 5,525

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Overview

Start your 21-day journey around South America in Lima to experience the 'Land of the Incas'.  Have a day at Puno’s Lake Titcaca before heading to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, from which you will travel to Machu Picchu. From there, travel through Cusco to the jungle of the Amazon. Continue your journey to Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Then explore the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls before crossing into Brazil and making your way to the lively city of Rio de Janeiro.  

Trip Code: MCTSBSA

Location: Buenos Aires, Cusco, Iguasu, Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Puno, Rio de Janeiro

WHY WE LIKE THIS ITINERARY?

  • In just 3 weeks, you will gain an excellent insight into South America, experiencing some of the highlights of Peru, Argentina and Brazil, finishing in beautiful Rio de Janeiro.

  • This itinerary is packed with incredible cities and sights but is well paced, allowing time to explore and at leisure.

  • You will experience the vibrant cities of Lima, Buenos Aires and Rio and in complete contrast, ancient cities such as Cusco and Machu Picchu.

  • You will take in the highlights of stunning Rio de Janeiro and cosmopolitan Buenos Aires including a Tango Show and visit to a traditional ranch.

  • You will delve into the fascinating history and colourful culture of Peru as you travel to Puno from Lima, and through the beautiful Sacred Valley from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.

  • The itinerary also includes a visit to the Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, Lake Titicaca and the mighty Amazon Rainforest.

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. This service includes a driver and local English speaking guide, who will provide you with any useful information needed for your stay. He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it.

[Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office.]

Arrival transfer in Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, sits on the country's arid Pacific coast. Founded in 1535, its colonial centre is well preserved, but today Lima is a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. The city is home to the various museums including the Museo Larco that houses a collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. Lima is known as the “gastronomical capital of the Americas”, encompassing specialties from ceviche and traditional coastal cooking to refined global fare. It even boasts several of the top restaurants in the world.

Lima

Today you will be collected from your hotel for your tour of Lima, the Colonial ‘City of Kings’. On the city tour you will visit a number of well-known sites including the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, Santo Domingo Convent and the Plaza de Armas.This is a chance to appreciate Lima's magnificent Colonial architecture as well as vignettes of its pre-Colombian past. On completion of this tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is a small group tour.

Lima - City Tour

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. [ Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office.] Please note this service is with a driver only.

Enroute to your hotel, visit the pre-Inca burial ground of Sillustani. You will have time to wander through the remarkable tombs built from volcanic stone. Known as Chullpas, these funerary towers reach heights of up to 12 metres. Overlooking the beautiful Lake Umayo, Sillustani is considered to be one of the most important necropolises in the world. On completion of the tour you will be taken to your hotel.

Transfer Juliaca Airport to Puno via Sillustani Ro

Puno lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It is the largest city in the Southern Altiplano and an important agricultural and livestock (llamas and alpaca) region. It sits at an altitude of over 3,800 metres and is a picturesque hillside city and a melting pot of the Aymara and Quechua culture.

Puno

Early this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the port to board a fully equipped speedboat with on board service to visit various islands on Lake Titicaca. First stop is Taquile Island where you will explore a scenic and less touristy area. Enjoy time on a pristine sandy beach to relax and feel the serenity of Lake Titicaca. We then hike along a pre-Inca trail with spectacular landscapes of the island, visiting families of weavers to learn about their textile art and symbolism. In 2005, "Taquile and its Textile Art" were proclaimed "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO. After three hours on Taquile, board the speedboat for a short journey to the community of Santa Maria-Llachon, on the tip of the Capachica Peninsula. This is a picturesque off the beaten track destination. We are welcomed by the small Quechua speaking community and introduced to an intensive cultural experience, observing the traditions of the community and participating in an ancient ceremony to learn about their magical world. Experience the preparation of "Pachamanca", a traditional way of cooking meat, fish and potatoes using underground ovens, and one of the main dishes of Peruvian cuisine. Enjoy these delicacies in a small, but scenic restaurant (included in tour price). For the more adventurous there is an optional kayak along the coast of Llachon. After lunch we leave Santa Maria and arrive at a remote area of the National Reserve of Lake Titicaca to explore Uros Ccapi. These are considered to be the last authentic floating islands, less commercial and little visited. The Uros are descendants of one of the oldest cultures in South America. There are optional tours in reed boats before we depart back to Puno. On arrival at the port, you will be transferred to your hotel. Please note this is small group tour.

Please note there is a minimum number of passengers requested to operate this tour from December to March, if the required number of passengers is not reached we will offer you a similar alternative. Please also note that between the months of January and March the ceremony of "Pachamama" will be subject to weather conditions.

Titicaca Uncover by Speed Boat

This morning, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to either the bus or train station for your journey from Puno to Cusco.

Transfer from Puno hotel to bus or train station

The spectacular journey from Puno to Cusco takes you across the Altiplano and you will travel accompanied by an English-speaking guide. The drive takes you through sleepy Andean villages and past spectacular snowcapped mountains, sheer cliffs and rampaging rivers. Stops along the way include the atmospheric towns of Pucara and Andahuaylillas and the pre-Inca ruin of Raqchi. Lunch is included and you will arrive in the famous city of Cusco in the early evening. The approximate journey will take ten hours.

Puno to Cusco

On arrival at Cusco bus or train station, you will be met by a representative who will be holding a sign with your name on it, to transfer you to your hotel. Should you have trouble locating him/her, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details.

Arrival transfer in Cusco

Cusco, set at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Peruvian Andes, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Incan remains. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza in every direction. Many of the colonial buildings were built on top of Incan foundations and the stonework is unparalleled in its precision and beauty.

Cusco

This morning you will be collected from your hotel for full day of exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This fertile river valley was home to many important sites for the Incas, both strategic and religious. The first stop is the village of Pisac, with its famous market. The colonial village of Pisac sits at the base of the spectacular Pisac Ruins – a hilltop Inca citadel and fortress with impressive agricultural terracing. On market days Pisac comes alive with locals from nearby hillside villages in traditional dress selling local fruit and vegetables as well as handicrafts. There is free time to wander the colourful market stalls before a typical Andean lunch at a local restaurant.

Continue your journey along the River Urubamba, to Ollantaytambo. The town, which is dominated by a giant Inca fortress, is perhaps the best surviving example of Inca town planning and was the scene of a rare Inca victory over the invading Spanish. At the end of the tour you will be transferred to the train station in Ollantaytambo to take the train to Aguas Calientes. Lunch is included.

Sacred Valley Tour

Travel from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu in this comfortable train, and let your feet have rest. Enjoy an authentic Andean experience, while relaxing in modern and comfortable interior design illuminated by Latin American music. Comfortable seats with tables in front to share the journey with friends and partake of a refreshing beverage. On-board services includes a fun and refreshing selection of drinks prepared using Andean herbs and fruits, all of which boast revitalising properties to fill you with energy and keep you ready for the next adventure waiting ahead of you.

*Due to limited space for luggage storage on trains, luggage restrictions apply: one bag or backpack (carry-on luggage) with a maximum weight of 5.0 kg/11 lb, measuring no more than 62 linear inches/157 linear cm (height + length + width)

Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site, located 2,430 metres above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites, but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world’s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation, the city was never pillaged and as a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition. With its location on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides, the city of Machu Picchu is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

The tour starts with a bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. You will be astonished at your first view of Machu Picchu, a stunning display of ancient architecture with incredible surroundings. Enjoy a guided shared tour of the ruins and monuments such as the Main Square, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Solar Clock, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Cemeteries. Return by bus to Aguas Calientes village.

Please be aware that your tour of Machu Picchu does not include an entry permit to Huayna Picchu (the iconic hill behind the Machu Picchu ruins). If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you need to pre-book your permit with at least 3 months in advance. Please contact your travel specialist if you would like to do this.

Machu Picchu Guided Tour

This afternoon travel by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.

*Due to limited space for luggage storage on trains, luggage restrictions apply: one bag or backpack (carry-on luggage) with a maximum weight of 5.0 kg/11 lb, measuring no more than 62 linear inches/157 linear cm (height + length + width)

360 Machu Picchu Train: Mapi - Ollanta PM

Transfer from Ollantaytambo train station in the Sacred Valley to Cusco.

Private Transfer Ollantaytambo - Cusco

You will be collected from your hotel for a sightseeing tour through Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire. Visit the fascinating Qorikancha Temple of the Sun, the 12-Angled Rock and the Cathedral, built on the ruins of an Inca Palace. From here head to the archaeological remains located around the city, including the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo (giant rock), the ancient site of Puca Pucara and finally the Water Temple of Tambomachay. On completion of your tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Included in your tour price is the BTG (Tourist Ticket of Cusco). Please note this is a small group tour.

Cusco - City Tour

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination

On arrival at Puerto Maldonado Airport, you will be met by a representative of Refugio Amazonas to begin the journey to Refugio. Enroute we will stop at the local office so that you can repack your luggage and only take what is required for the next four days. The rest will be stored securely in the office. Continue by road and a two and a half hour boat journey to Refugio Amazonas, located in a 200-hectare private reserve. The boat ride from the Tambopata River Port to Refugio Amazonas takes us past the Infierno Community and the Tambopata National Reserve checkpoint and into the buffer zone of this 1.3 million hectare conservation unit. A boxed lunch is provided to eat along the way.
On arrival you will be welcomed to the lodge and given a brief orientation. After dinner at the lodge there is the option to join a night walk when most of the animals are active but sometimes difficult to see. The frogs are easier to see with their fascinating shapes and colours and fascinating sounds.

Puerto Maldonado - Refugio Amazonas

After breakfast venture out onto the lake by canoe or catamaran, looking for wildlife such as hoatzin, caiman, horned screamers, macaws and otters that are sometimes seen in the area. Back on land, a 30 minute walk from the lodge takes you to the 25 metre scaffolding canopy tower, complete with staircase running through the middle and providing safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built on high ground to give views of the primary rainforest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. Enjoy excellent views across the canopy and look for toucans, macaws and raptors.
After lunch you will visit a farm to learn about local agriculture and Amazonian crops before an ethnobotanical tour to learn about the medicinal uses of the various plants and trees of the region. In the evening, Refugio Amazonas staff offer lectures covering topics such as conservation threats, opportunities and projects in the Tambopata National Reserve.

Refugio Amazonas

Witness the audio and visual spectacle of a clay lick, watching vibrant coloured macaws, parrots and parakeets feast on clay. Species such as dusky-headed and cobalt-winged parakeets are often seen and with luck we may also see mealy and yellow-crowned Amazons, blue-headed pionus, severe macaw and orange-cheeked (Barraband`s) parrots.
After lunch, take a short hike from the lodge brings us to a beautiful Brazil nut forest that has been harvested for decades. Here you can learn about the whole process of the rainforest’s only sustainably harvested product, from collection through transportation to drying.
In the afternoon, there will be a visit to a peccary clay lick, this time to see mammals. Wild rain forest pigs show up in herds of up to twenty to eat clay, alongside deer, guan and parakeets.

Refugio Amazonas

After breakfast, return to Puerto Maldonado for your departure flight. Depending on airline schedules, this may require a dawn departure.

Please note schedule of activities are subject to change without notice.

Refugio Amazonas – Puerto Maldonado

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. This service includes a driver and local English speaking guide, who will provide you with any useful information needed for your stay. He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it.

[Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office.]

Arrival transfer in Lima

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office. Please note this service is with a driver only.

Arrival transfer in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina’s elegant, historic and cosmopolitan capital, is known as the “Paris of the South” due to its European atmosphere with glamorous avenues lined with fashionable shops and Parisian-style restaurants and cafes. Located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, Buenos Aires has many fascinating neighbourhoods to explore including the colourful and lively La Boca, home to art galleries and tango shows; San Telmo with its restored mansions and antique stores and Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive area.

Buenos Aires

You will be collected from your hotel for your three-hour tour visiting the most important highlights of the city of Buenos Aires. Discover the history of the Plaza de Mayo Square, the site of Argentina’s most important historical events - see its surroundings and the most emblematic buildings and learn all about them. Then enjoy Mayo Avenue and wonder in awe at the oldest residential neighbourhood in Buenos Aires: San Telmo. Live and feel the original Tango in the neighbourhood of La Boca: walk along Caminito Street and enjoy the Dancers and souvenir shops. See the mythical Boca Juniors soccer stadium. Contemplate the modernization of the city whilst traveling along Puerto Madero and its exclusive docks, full of excellent restaurants and large offices. Pass through the Retiro neighbourhood and move on to see Palermo and its most exclusive residential area before finally arriving at Recoleta. Here, discover the final resting place of Eva Peron, “Evita” and wander through Recoleta Cemetery where she is to be found. On completion of your tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is a small group tour.

Highlights of Buenos Aires City Tour

This evening you will be collected from your hotel to experience a Tango Show with dinner. This is an intimate & passionate tango show, housed in a cozy wood-panelled 19th century building with a colourful history as a meeting point for poets and students in the heart of Buenos Aires's historic centre. After being abandoned in the late 1970s, the bar was restored and reopened in 1992 as El Querandí Tango Hall. The show is directed by Claudio Campos, with musical arrangements by Ado Falasca, and it smoothly charts the history of Argentina's most authentic artistic expression from its origins to the modern day. The dinner is better than many, and at just over an hour long, the show is the perfect length. The three house singers, six dancers and four musicians put on a great show. Dinner will be served from 8.30pm followed by the show commencing at 10.00pm. Please note timings are subject to change and will be confirmed directly to you. On completion of the show, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is a small group tour.

El Querandi Tango Show & Dinner

This morning you will be collected from your hotel for an authentic day in the countryside at an exclusive estancia in San Antonio de Areco. Travel by road from Buenos Aires to San Antonio de Areco across the endless pampas. This journey will take approximately an hour and half. On arrival at San Antonio de Areco you can take a short walking tour of this charming gaucho town, which includes a walk around the historical plaza. Continue to the exclusive ‘El Ombu de Areco’ Estancia. Once at the estancia, choose to either have a short horse ride, or ride in a sulky carriage perhaps! There is a typical welcome/starter of cold cuts, cheeses and beverages, and for lunch you will enjoy a typical Argentine country style asado prepared using only the finest quality meats. Dessert is accompanied by a folklore show, which is followed by a demonstration of gaucho skills. On completion of the tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is small group tour.

Ranch & Countryside Tour

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight. This service includes a driver only.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. [ Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office.] Please note this service is with a driver only.

[*Please note the Iguazu Tourist Tax will now be charged on check out at all Iguazu hotels. The amount is currently ARS50 (USD3.40) per person per stay. Please note this tax is subject to change without prior notice.]

Arrival transfer in Iguazu

The spectacular Iguazu Falls that straddle the Argentine-Brazil border, are made up of 275 individual waterfalls lining a 2.7km wide horseshoe-shaped gorge. The Falls are located where the Iguazu River cascades over the edge of the Paraná Plateau. The Falls can be viewed from both the Argentinian and the Brazilian sides, the Brazilian side offering a broader, panoramic view, with the Argentinian side offering a series of catwalks that allow you to experience the Falls from close range.

Iguazu Falls

Early morning pick up from your hotel for your full day of exploring the Argentine side of the falls. This tour always starts early in order to beat the crowds and get the first train to the Devil’s Throat. There are walkways over the islands which take you to a balcony over the falls and the most spectacular view of the entire Devil’s Gorge. You will then have plenty of time to walk the 800 metres of paths on the upper circuit. These new suspended walkways are detached from the jungle surface so as to protect the fauna by preventing disruption of the natural trails. From this circuit you have a higher sight of the falls, providing you with a magnificent panoramic view. It takes around one hour to cover the upper circuit. The lower circuit contains 600 metres of walkways, also detached from the jungle floor, and has great views from below and around the falls. Once you have finished all the circuits, return to the visitor centre where your vehicles will be waiting to transfer you back to your hotel. Please note there is some degree of difficulty as the path includes many stairs, particularly on the lower circuit. National Park fee is included. On completion of the tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is small group tour.

Iguazu Argentinian Falls

You will be collected from your hotel for your tour of the Brazilian side of the falls. After arriving at the visitor centre, we board buses for a tour of the park. Equipped with panoramic windows, the buses are designed to maximize your views of the falls, while the walkways and steps allow you to get up close to the spray. Views of the Floriana Falls, the Devil’s Gorge Canyon and the Iguazu River are spectacular and are guaranteed to impress. National Park fees included. On completion of the tour, you will be taken to your hotel. Please note this is small group tour.

Half Day Iguazu Brazilian Falls

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. [ Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office.] Please note this service is with a driver only.

Arrival transfer in Rio de Janeiro

Known as the ''Cidade Maravilhosa'', or Marvellous City, Rio never fails to amaze with its sandy beaches, carefree lifestyle and unparalleled natural beauty. As the capital of Brazil until 1960, Rio is today one of the most culturally and economically prominent cities in the country, receiving more tourists than any other part of Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro

After an early pick up from your hotel, this tour makes its way to the bottom of Corcovado Hill, where we ascend the mountain by vehicle. Climbing 4km through the Tijuca Forest, the world’s largest urban National Park, we will arrive at the statue of Christ the Redeemer. After taking in the panoramic views, continue to the Maracana Stadium. We also pass the Sambadrome and the Metropolitan Cathedral, before passing through the bohemian neighbourhood of Lapa and its famous arches en-route to Copacabana. Enjoy a traditional Brazilian BBQ lunch (beverages not included) before visiting the famous Sugarloaf Mountain with views across the entire city. After descending the mountain, you will be dropped off at your hotel. Please note this is a small group tour.

Corcovado & Sugarloaf with Lunch

Today is free to enjoy the rhythm of this vibrant, bustling city. From spotting the “beautiful people” on the legendary beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, to exploring the famous favelas on a tour there is always something to do in Rio.

Rio Free day

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Departure transfer from Rio de Janeiro
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Pricing & date

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Important Information

  • Domestic flights

    Tours

    Airport transfers

    Accommodation 

    Tours in the itinerary

    Transport

    All breakfasts

    Other meals where stated

  • FROM US $1830 subject to season and availability - contact us for more details.

  • Estancia Susana is closed on Mondays

    Contact us for more details

  • Season and availability.

Accommodation

We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including: 

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting. 

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community. 

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America. 

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities. 

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. 

Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.

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