Welcome to South America! Consisting of 13 countries, it is the fourth largest continent and home to some of the world's most recognisable UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Today we arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina - the 'Paris of the South'. Buenos Aires is an intriguing mix of grand boulevards and classic European style architecture combined with an irresistible South American vibe. Founded in the 16th century on the shores of the Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires literally translates to ‘fair winds' and it has grown and flourished since its early beginnings. Now, one of the most visited cities in South America, its most defining characteristic is its many varied neighbourhoods - explore these on foot and take a stroll along the city streets to soak up the colourful atmosphere.
Meet your fellow travellers this evening over a welcome drink in the hotel.
A bustling city of almost three million people, Buenos Aires is both cosmopolitan and elegant at the same time. Our sightseeing today begins with a city tour, including the widest avenue in the world, the 9 de Julio Avenue, the Plaza de Mayo and its buildings, Casa Rosada (Government House) and the Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires.
Next, we walk through the elegant district of Recoleta and the Recoleta Cemetery where Argentina's famous Eva Peron was laid to rest, then on to the Italian district of La Boca and a visit to Caminito Street, a colourful street museum.
We'll then visit the stunning Colon Theatre. The main opera house in Buenos Aires, it is ranked as the world's third best.
Our final stop for the day takes us to the exquisite El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore. Recognised by National Geographic in 2019 as the most beautiful bookstore in the world, this historic building was once a palatial theatre that has since been meticulously transformed into an opulent haven for lovers of literature.
Our afternoon is at leisure to further explore this fascinating city.
Discover the fascinating history of Buenos Aires with a visit to the El Zanjon de Granados, taking a tour of the mansion built in 1830 and including an exploration of the tunnels that allows you to explore more than four centuries of the past of Buenos Aires. Afterward, we'll head to the vibrant San Telmo market for a unique shopping experience. Enjoy a short tour of the market with some free time to explore and grab some lunch. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavours of this bustling market, where local artisans and vendors sell everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to further discover vibrant Buenos Aires at your own pace.
Today we fly to Iguazu Falls! Straddling the borders of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the world's biggest waterfalls with a total of more than 240 individual falls. The waterfalls are surrounded by lush rainforest. They are more than 3 kilometres wide and 80 metres high, making them wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara Falls.
The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore your surroundings.
We’ll spend today exploring the Argentinian side of this natural masterpiece. A small train takes us into Iguazu National Park and we continue on foot to the falls. We’ll explore the numerous walkways as well as the viewing platforms that offer great views of the falls. Be sure to keep an eye out for a variety of fauna and flora that make this National Park home.
We'll explore the Brazilian side of the falls this morning and walk along the canyon path, discovering panoramic views over San Martin Island.
Later today, we'll get up close and personal with more than 150 species of stunning exotic birds at the famous Parque das Aves. The park is set in 12 acres of beautiful rainforest and is home to more than 150 species of birds, including colourful macaws, toucans, and flamingos.
We then transfer to the airport for our flight to Rio de Janeiro.
Rise with a smile this morning because it's time to explore Rio de Janeiro! The Cidade Maravilhosa, or ‘Marvellous City', is situated amongst lush, forest-covered mountains and breathtaking beaches, and is one of the world's most lively and beautiful cities.
Today we'll discover the icons of this amazing city, beginning with the Statue of Christ the Redeemer. One of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World', it is situated at the peak of the 700-metre-high Corcovado Hill. We arrive at the bottom of the hill and board the red narrow-gauge train to climb the mountain and take us up to the statue. The historic railway was opened in 1884 and is Brazil's oldest tourist excursion. There will be so many fantastic photo opportunities here.
We'll also visit Sugar Loaf Mountain to enjoy amazing panoramic views over the whole city. Sugar Loaf Mountain's name is said to have stemmed from when blocks of sugar (or sugar loaves) were placed in conical moulds made of clay to be transported on ships. The shape made by these moulds was similar to the peak, hence the name.
Tour Old Rio and Santa Teresa - This tour starts in the historical centre of Rio de Janeiro. The architecture of Praça XV, Arco dos Teles, the França-Brasil House (Old Alfândega), the São Bento Monastery, and the Lapa Arches are prime examples of buildings from the Colonial era. The Banco do Brasil Cultural Museum, Municipal Theatre, Museum of Fine Arts and the Public National Library are examples of architecture from the Imperial era. Next stop on the tour is the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. This traditional neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro is home to mansions from the beginning of the 20th century, built mainly by the English who sought out this region for its mild climate. Nowadays, it's a hotspot for artists and eccentrics. The antique cable car still runs through the narrow streets as the main form of collective transportation. Includes transportation on a seat-in-coach basis. 4 hours – from $51pp US.
Spend your morning as you please before we set off for Lima, the capital of Peru. You might want to take a trip to the stunning botanical gardens, or simply take a leisurely stroll along Copacabana Beach, observing the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Late in the evening we arrive in Lima. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the city was designed to be a showcase of Spanish colonial architecture in a conquered territory. The patchwork of Lima's vibrant city life and neighbourhoods combine with a plethora of museums and churches to offer visitors a fascinating and rich cultural heritage to discover.
Explore colonial Lima on a half day city tour. Our first stop is the Plaza de Armas, where we see the Government Palace, the House of El Oidor and the stunning City Hall buildings. We take a stroll through the Cathedral of Lima and learn the religious history of Peru. Our walking tour continues to the San Francisco Convent to view both its ‘catacombs', the ancient, underground cemetery of Lima, and the convent's world-renowned library with thousands of antique texts.
As we tour the city, we'll get to admire the stunning baroque architecture of the Torre Tagle Palace and colonial Osambela House. Our next stop will be the Larco Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of Incan artifacts, providing an intriguing glimpse into the rich history of Peru. During our visit, we'll have the opportunity to explore various galleries, such as the Textiles Gallery, the Spaniards' Arrival Gallery, the Sacrifice Ceremony Gallery, and the Gold, Silver, and Jewels Galleries, where we'll discover fascinating insights into the ancient cultures of Peru.
After some free time to enjoy lunch at Café del Museo or to further explore the museum at your own pace, we return to our hotel to enjoy some downtime and unwind or explore the surroundings at your leisure.
This morning we take a short flight from Lima to the Incan capital of Cusco. High up in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is also known as the gateway to both the Sacred Valley and the world-famous site of Machu Picchu.
It's a short trip this morning to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The Urubamba Valley, as it is also known, encompasses the heartland of the Inca Empire and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The valley was valued by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities and was one of the empire's main points for the extraction of natural wealth.
A truly special day awaits us as we visit the local village of Ccorccor.
Today, we embark on a trek through the scenic Sacred Valley. Rising early, we'll drive to Patacancha where we'll commence our trek. The first portion of the trek takes us to the village of Huilloc, stopping at a waterfall along the way. In this small, Quechua-speaking village, the local people maintain the customs and traditions their ancestors have passed down for centuries. Here we will see a traditional weaving demonstration and learn how Peruvian textiles are made.
From Huilloc, our trek continues for two to three hours, until we arrive at the incredible ruins of Pumamarca. This hillside fortress once guarded the entrance to the Sacred Valley, and provides stunning, panoramic views of the valley and rivers below. The final section of the trek takes us back to Ollantaytambo where we return to our hotel to relax after a long day of walking!
A magical day awaits as we board an early Vistadome train to traverse the stunning Urubamba Valley, and reach the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu ruins!
On arrival in Aguas Calientes, we check into our eco-resort before taking a local bus up the mountain to the entrance. Our guide will give us an in-depth introduction and description of the site and we'll also have the opportunity to explore the ruins at our own pace afterwards.
Alternatively, if you have chosen to undertake the optional Inca Trail hike (this must be pre-booked at the time of tour booking), you will have an early start, taking a train to the ‘Km 104' station where your trek commences.
For those on the trek, the first site along the way is the incredible archaeological complex of Chachabamba. From here, the trail ascends for 8 kilometres. At approximately the 4 hour mark we'll arrive at the impressive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, built into the steep countryside. As we continue, we'll enjoy magnificent views of the Urubamba River valley and the Choquesuysuy archaeological complex. We continue along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle for another hour or so, until we arrive at the picturesque Sun Gate of Inti Punku - a wonderful photo opportunity. The trek ends in the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. Our guide will take us through this mind-blowing site, pointing out the most important parts of the ancient civilisation.
This morning is at leisure. You have the option to return to Machu Picchu for a second visit to thoroughly soak in the beauty of this ancient phenomenon before the crowds arrive.
Next, we'll take the Vistadome train to Poroy. Upon arrival we will be transferred back to our hotel in Cusco.
You must purchase your entrance ticket in advance. This will be done by our local operator. Please advise your travel specialist if you would like to include a second visit.
Entrance tickets are limited and by shifts. These usually sell out well in advance. Current shifts for entry in the morning are hourly beginning at 6.00am. Your entry time is located in the top left corner of the ticket and you have a maximum of 60 minutes after that time to arrive at the entrance for check in. If possible, we recommend booking an earlier time slot.
Only the tickets that specify “llaqta de Machupicchu” allows you to choose one of the three
established circuits around the site. The ticket that includes Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) mountain only allows you to visit circuit 4. The circuits, visitor regulations and other relevant information for your visit are available at http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe
For those clients who have chosen the optional Inca Trail trek, a second visit to Machu Picchu is included in the cost of your trekking permit. This allows trekkers who wish to do so, to visit circuit 5 at no additional cost. However, this included second visit does not include the cost of transportation to and from the ruins as not all trekkers will choose to return the following day. The cost of the return buses to the ruin site is $28pp US and this needs to be paid locally. Your tour guide will assist you in obtaining these tickets.
Today is all about exploring the wonders of Cusco beginning by discovering the magnificent fortress of Sacsayhuaman, believed to have been built during the 1400s. The enormous blocks used in the construction of this colossal structure were carved and fitted with such precision that there was no need for mortar, a testament to the skill of the masons.
We'll then visit the San Pedro Market to immerse ourselves in the local culture. This bustling market offers a vibrant atmosphere where you can find fresh produce, handicrafts and traditional food.
Spend a leisurely morning in vibrant Cusco, brimming with plazas, archaeological ruins, and artisan shops. Why not check out the Casa Concha Museum, containing artefacts from Machu Picchu that were found by Hiram Bingham and recently returned by Yale University?
This afternoon we transfer to Cusco airport for our flight back to Lima.
We travel south to Paracas this morning after a short flight from Cusco to Lima. Located just a few hours south of Lima, Paracas is a beach resort town on Peru's stunning coast. A national reserve and a pre-Inca cultural haven, it's also the gateway to Nazca and the Ballestas Islands.
Fly in a light plane over the mysterious Nazca Lines in the middle of the Nazca Desert. We'll see ancient geoglyphs depicting hundreds of figures.
Get your sea legs ready as we board a boat bound for the Ballestas Islands, a vibrant sanctuary home to many birds and animals, including the endangered Humboldt penguin. Here we'll see an abundance of wildlife including sea lions, penguins and more than 60 species of colourful sea birds.
Along the way we will also see the 'Candelabro', a huge prehistoric geoglyph on the hilly coast of Pisco Bay, only visible from the sea or sky.
We'll return to Lima in the early afternoon before enjoying a group farewell dinner this evening overlooking the ruins at Huaca Pucllana.
Our tour concludes after breakfast this morning. We hope you leave with fantastic memories!
Dance the night away in Buenos Aires
Feel the thunder of Iguazu Falls and experience the excitement of Rio
Discover the wonders of Peru