Highlights of South America

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Flights Included Fully Guided Coach Small Group Scenic
Our Price From 17,643 Per Person
Exclusive Savings 352 Per Person
 Trip Length
23 Days
 Trip Starts
Buenos Aires
 Trip Finishes
Lima
23 Day Highlights of South America Itinerary (Bunnik Tours)
Countries Explored: Peru, Argentina, Brazil
Departures
Accommodation
3.5 - 4 Star
Max. Group Size
20
Guide Level
Fully Guided
Trip Code
BUN225

Overview

Read reviews and enjoy exclusive savings on Bunnik Tours 23 Day Highlights of South America. Uncover incredible South America on this cross-continental adventure. Dance the tango in Buenos Aires, see powerful Iguazu Falls and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio. Experience the contrasts between modern and ancient Peru in Lima and Cusco, fly over the remarkable Nazca Lines and visit the abundant wildlife on the Ballestas Islands. Return international flights are included between Australia and the start & end point of your trip. Surcharges may apply.

Itinerary

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.

  • Special Experience: Don your dancing shoes for a traditional tango lesson, then enjoy a lively dinner and show.

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.

  • Optional Excursion: Helicopter Tour - (min 2/max 4 participants per helicopter) - Departure is from the entrance of the Iguazu National Park (Brazilian side) and can be taken when doing the Brazilian Falls tour. Please advise your guide if you are interested in this tour. 10 minutes – from $186pp US.

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.

  • Special Experience: Experience the artistry of Carnival, marvelling at the spectacle of more than 6000 costumes and even dressing up in one, while enjoying music and a delicious drink.

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.

  • Optional Excursion: Art and Graffiti Tour - This guided walking tour traces the route of open-air artwork located in some of Rio's oldest neighbourhoods, from the original settlement of Praça XV to the recently renovated Porto Maravilha. This area's historical importance can be told by its monuments, statues, art installations, murals, and graffiti. Candelária Church, the Olympic Pyre, Maua Square and Rio's Art Museum (MAR) are some of the highlights in this 4km walk. The amount of walking can be established by your interests and conditions. Most museums close on Monday in Rio. Entrance in any of the sites can be included for an added cost. Includes driver and guide. 4 hours – from $102pp US.

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.

  • Special Experience: Learn how to make the deliciously sweet and sour cocktail, Pisco Sour. For decades it has been regarded as the signature drink of Peru.

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.

  • Special Experience: Discover the lives of Ccorccor's indigenous women and take part in customary activities like Andean games, 'Tribute to Mother Earth', and 'chicha' demonstration. We'll arrive in the town of Ollantaytambo and visit a local house to gain insight into daily life here in the Andes. We also discover the ruins of the historic Inca village. The ruins form a fortress that can only be entered by a steep stone staircase. We climb these and enter the town's narrow streets for an up-close look at the Inca's dry masonry skill. Their astounding craftsmanship ensures that even after centuries of earthquakes, a knife cannot be slipped into the seams between the limestone blocks.

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!

  • Challenging Day: Today is a particularly challenging day, where there will be extended periods of walking time, often across uneven ground and in areas of high altitude or heat and humidity.

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.

  • Challenging Day: Today is a particularly challenging day, where there will be extended periods of walking time, often across uneven ground and in areas of high altitude or heat and humidity.

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.

  • Optional Excursion: Machu Picchu 2nd visit & Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) - Your tour already includes one visit to Machu Picchu; however, you may wish to take a second visit to explore this phenomenon further. Alternatively, you may wish to also incorporate a climb up to Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) (considered to provide the best view over Machu Picchu). Please note both options include entry into Machu Picchu and transportation (guide not included). If you choose the Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) option, entry to the peak is also included. Half day Machu Picchu only - from $90pp US. Half day Machu Picchu incl. Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) – from $104pp US.

Please Note:

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.

  • Special Experience: Learn to prepare traditional Peruvian dishes with fresh ingredients and expert guidance from local chefs before savouring our creations for lunch. Our tour will then take us to the religious complex of Qoricancha, containing the Temple of the Sun, considered to be the most spectacular temple in the Inca Empire. As well as being the main astronomical observatory for the Incas, some 4,000 priests and their attendants once lived within its confines. Looted and then destroyed by the Spanish, they used the foundations for the Dominican Convent of Santo Domingo, creating perhaps, the most incongruous imperial-colonial architectural clash in Cusco. Finally, we tour the 17th-century Cusco Cathedral – the façade of which is a fine example of colonial baroque architecture.

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.

  • Optional Excursion: Dune buggy in the Paracas Desert – The desert near Paracas is a dream setting for a dune buggy adventure. Experience the thrill of zigzaging across the sands and have the opportunity to try sandboarding on the Paracas dunes. 2 hours – from $56pp US

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!

Trip Inclusions

Dance the night away in Buenos Aires

  • City tour of Buenos Aires, including La Boca district, Recoleta Cemetery, and Colón Theatre
  • Explore El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
  • Experience Argentina's famous Tango at a dinner show and lesson
  • Tour El Zanjon de Granados including the mansion and old tunnels
  • Experience San Telmo market

Feel the thunder of Iguazu Falls and experience the excitement of Rio

  • Spend 2 nights at the Hotel Gran Melia Iguazu inside Iguazu Falls National Park, with the amazing waterfalls right on your doorstep
  • Explore both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of Iguazu Falls
  • Get up close and personal with exotic birds at the Parque das Aves
  • Spend 3 nights in Rio de Janeiro staying in the heart of Copacabana Beach
  • Tour the iconic sights of Rio including the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado Hill
  • Discover the artistry of Carnival with a samba school experience
  • Enjoy a traditional Brazilian churrasco grill dinner at Fogo de Chão

Discover the wonders of Peru

  • City tour of Lima, visiting the famous Larco Museum, containing priceless Incan artefacts
  • Take part in a class where we learn to make a Pisco Sour
  • Travel into the magical Sacred Valley
  • Learn about the lives of the local indigenous women of the Ccorccor village
  • Tour the town of Ollantaytambo and visit the fortress ruins
  • Be welcomed into a local home and gain insight into daily life
  • Day trek through the villages and incredible scenery in the Sacred Valley
  • Travel by Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu
  • Explore the Lost Incan City of Machu Picchu on a guided tour and explore the ruins at your own pace
  • Spend the night in a nature retreat in Aguas Calientes
  • Travel by Vistadome train to Poroy
  • Explore the San Pedro Market and the ancient Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman
  • Participate in a cooking class at the Rooftop Kitchen in Cusco
  • Visit Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun
  • Visit Cusco’s 17th century cathedral
  • Take a scenic flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines, a series of ancient geoglyphs in the middle of the Nazca desert
  • Discover the wildlife of the Ballestas Islands including the endangered Humboldt penguins

  • Return economy-class flights from Australia to South America. Taxes included
  • 5 economy-class flights within South America
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of tour
  • All touring in air-conditioned vehicles

  • 17 nights in 3-5 star hotels
  • 2 night stay inside Iguazu Falls National Park at the 5 star Hotel Gran Melia Iguazu
  • 1 night stay at the 5 star Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
  • The Alvear Art Hotel, Buenos Aires
  • Hotel Gran Melia Iguazu, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
  • Miramar Hotel by Windsor, Rio de Janeiro
  • Innside by Melia Lima Miraflores, Lima
  • Novotel Cusco, Cusco
  • Sonesta Posadas del Inca Yucay, Sacred Valley
  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Machu Picchu Pueblo
  • Hotel La Hacienda Bahia Paracas, Paracas

  • 20 breakfasts, 2 lunch and 4 dinners, including group welcome and farewell dinners

  • English-speaking locally based tour director (based on minimum 8 passengers)
  • English-speaking locally based guides

  • Accommodation, itinerary and inclusions subject to change.
  • Disruptions to itinerary may occur.
  • You will need a light jumper and waterproof jacket/poncho for your visit to Iguazu Falls.
  • You will pack an overnight bag (maximum of 5 kilograms per bag) for your overnight stay in Machu Picchu. Due to limited space on the trains you are unable to take your main suitcase, it will however, be transferred to the hotel in Cusco so it is there for you when you arrive. We suggest you bring an umbrella, spray jacket and strong insect repellent with you. Our accommodation will also have its own hot springs, so you may also like to bring your swimwear
  • Inca Trail Permit:
  • $975pp - Minimum and maximum numbers may apply. Solo supplementary pricing applies. This option must be pre-booked at time of booking tour. Not available in February. Good physical fitness is required for this high-altitude trek.
  • All optional tours are based on a minimum of 2 participants (unless otherwise stated) and are subject to availability. The length of tours advised is an approximate only. Tours can be booked on tour directly with your Tour Director or guide. We recommend arranging the booking at the beginning of the tour to avoid disappointment. Please note some optional tours may also be available on multiple or alternate days. Prices are a guide only and are subject to change without prior notice. Payment by cash is preferred as there are no guarantees that credit card facilities will be available. Please check with your Tour Director or guide locally for information relating to this. Credit card fees and exchange rates are at the discretion of your bank.

Trip Reviews (1) Most Recent 'Highlights of South America' Reviews

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AVG. RATING 4.0 / 5
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Best tour guides we've ever had. 2 , VIC, Australia, Oct 2015
Our tour guide Pepe (Jose Valdivia) was one of the best tour guides we've ever had. His caring, cheerful and positive attitude made this tour more enjoyable.
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South & Central America

Bunnik South & Central America (2024)

South and Central America have so much to offer, from the iconic Machu Picchu and the magnificent statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, to the astounding Iguazu Falls and abundant wildlife on the Ballestas Islands. Experience the culture and colour on a Bunnik Tours South America tour or Central America tour.

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Monday 12 Aug 2024
Tuesday 03 Sep 2024
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A definite departure means minimum numbers have been reached for this departure to operate. Prices include air taxes and fuel surcharges, this amount is correct at time of brochure release and subject to change. Note air supplement may apply depending on airline availability and departure city. The majority of departures above will proceed or are guaranteed to depart (based on a minimum of 2 passengers). We will outline the status of your departure date in your quote along with all applicable discounts and specials.
Note
Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Bunnik Tours. For cruise itineraries, cabin images are sourced from Bunnik Tours. These should be treated as indicative only. Cabin inclusions, upholsteries and room layout may differ to the image(s) shown depending on the ship selected and your sailing dates.

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