Welcome to Peru! Your adventure begins in Lima, where you will be collected from the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Here you will meet your small group of fellow travellers and your local leader for a 2pm welcome meeting. Afterwards, head out to get to know the city on a walking tour of downtown Lima with your leader. Admire the colonial buildings of Plaza Mayor and visit the eerie catacombs of the Saint Francis Monastery, then head away from the tourist trail to Alameda de Chabuca Granda – an area popular with the locals. Stop off at the colourful street food stalls to sample some of Lima’s favourite sweet treats, like Peruvian donuts and mazamorra morada; porridge made from purple corn. But be sure to leave some room as tonight’s dinner is really something special. Lima has one of the world’s most revered culinary scenes, and this evening you’ll head to one of the city’s best restaurants, set in a historic house in the artistic Barranco neighbourhood. Inspired by the home-cooked food of his mother, the creative chef offers up traditional Peruvian dishes with the atmosphere of a welcoming family home.
Today you will catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado. On arrival in the afternoon, take a bus to the community port of Infierno where you will board motorised canoes and head upstream into the Amazon rainforest. Keep an eye out for macaws, herons, alligators and capybaras along the way. Nestled on the banks of the Tambopata river you’ll find the Posada Amazonas, a rustic jungle lodge owned by the indigenous Ese Eja community, and your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights. A paradise for nature lovers, the lodge is in perfect unity with its wild surroundings and is enveloped by a swath of lush rainforest. Gorgeous rooms are built from traditional woods, adobe bricks and clay, and feature private bathrooms and an open wall, allowing you to make the most of the spectacular location and be totally immersed in nature. Profits from the lodge go back into the local indigenous community in the form of education and training. As dusk falls, set out for a night walk to discover the fascinating nocturnal activity in the surrounding areas, then retire to the lodge for dinner.
Embrace a very early start this morning and set off into the jungle after breakfast. Take a short walk and a short boat ride to the other side of the river, then begin a walk to the Oxbow Lake – this walk should take around an hour and a half over flat, shady terrain with plenty of stops along the way. Board an open topped catamaran to explore the lake in search of birds, monkeys and maybe some otters if you’re lucky. Return to the lodge via the same route, take some time to freshen up, then take a short walk to the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick. As the name suggests, this clay wall attracts parrots in their hundreds who come to snack on the mineral rich clay each morning, offering visitors a close up look at these vibrant creatures. Return to the lodge for lunch and take some time to enjoy the views from your room or catch up on sleep, then in the afternoon, travel by boat to a medicinal garden where a local shaman will explain the properties of the plants and trees and offer you some local alcohol to try. This evening, enjoy a boat trip in search of caimans – with the engine turned off, you’ll be treated to the wild sounds of the jungle at night.
This morning you will travel back to Puerto Maldonado, then take a short flight to Cusco, the former centre of the Incan Empire. Arrive in the early afternoon and settle in to your hotel, then head out with your leader for an orientation walk to familiarise yourself with one of South America’s oldest city and get used to the high altitude. Stop by the stunning Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city, flanked with colonial buildings and ornate churches. Visit the World Heritage-listed Cusco Cathedral, built on top of an Incan palace and one of the city’s greatest repositories of art. Here you will meet with a local historian guide who will provide expert insight on the colonial art, architecture and history of this magnificent building and the city surrounding it. The evening is free for your own discoveries – Cusco offers no shortage of excellent restaurants, and as night falls the city is swept up in a flurry of live music and late-night street food stalls.
Today you will discover more of Cusco’s charms on a walking tour with your leader. Visit the Coricancha Temple, once the most important temple in the Incan Empire. Formerly plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its walls. Meet with a local guide to uncover the secrets of the temple and the ancient civilization that first built it. Stop of at the Manos Unidas cafe – no ordinary eatery, this Intrepid Foundation supported project provides those with intellectual disabilities vocational training and practical work experience to help with future employment. Enjoy a snack and one of the best coffees in Cusco while learning about the important work of this enterprise. Afterwards, head to the San Pedro market, where you can practice your bargaining skills and take some colourful pictures, then swing by the Plaza de Armas for another look at the marvellous cathedral. The afternoon is free for further explorations – speak to your leader about the option to arrange a cooking class at a local restaurant using fair trade products, or the half-day Inkilltambo trek, exploring an archaeologic site on the city’s outskirts.
This morning, travel through the Sacred Valley towards Ollantaytambo, passing maize crops and fertile terraces carved high into the valley walls. Stop by the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, where the massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site provide an impressive picture of how greatly developed Inca engineering was. Visit the Chichubamba community to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle with a traditional Andean lunch and a visit to some local workshops making pottery, chocolate and corn beer. Continue on to Ollantaytambo, a magnificent example of Incan urban planning and the perfect warm up for Machu Picchu. Explore Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site with an expert local guide who will discuss the evidence of the Incas’ engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Late afternoon head to the hotel in Ollantaytambo and settle in for night.
Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu
Today, travel from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes in style, boarding the 360 Machu Picchu Train. High, domed windows offer up unbelievable views of the Andes, allowing you to sit back in comfort and take it all in. The train also features an open air observation carriage so you can completely immerse yourself in the remarkable landscape – have your camera ready as this scenic journey will be one worth remembering. Disembark the train in Aguas Calientes then take a short bus ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu, where you will be joined by a guide who will take you through the ruins and tell you stories of its history and the ancestral people of the region. The true purpose behind Machu Picchu may always be a mystery, since no historical records of the complex exist. Most archaeologists, however, believe it to be the 15th-century headquarters of Emperor Pachacuti. Due to visiting restrictions at Machu Picchu, we recommend exploring the Sun Gate and Inka Bridge before your guided tour starts. Your leader can advise how to get the most out of your visit. Later, take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night before heading back up to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning for your second visit.
Rise before the sun and take the winding road back up to incredible Machu Picchu. On your second visit, explore more of the extraordinary architecture of the many temples, palaces and living quarters. Looking at Machu Picchu as it sits against a backdrop of forested mountains is a truly breathtaking experience. Its mortar-free design is particularly earthquake resistant and the stones are so precisely cut that, to this day, not even a knife fits between them. You’ll have time along the way to take any photos you may have missed yesterday. Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes, then catch a standard train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, you will make the drive back to Cusco for the evening.
Enjoy a morning at leisure to relax, shop or explore more of Cusco’s sights. You may like to head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas and watch the locals go about their day. In the afternoon, board a flight bound for Lima in preparation for the next leg of your adventure.
Today you will catch a flight to Santiago, Chile. Set within a circle of snow-capped mountains, Santiago is vibrant, artistic and gourmet. On arrival, take an included transfer to the hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your journey. Your feature stay accommodation for the next two evenings is the fabulous Altiplanico Bellas Artes. Converted from a historical house built in 1909, the hotel focuses on stylish architecture and creative interior design while retaining the welcoming spirit of the home it once was. The hotel’s enviable location serves as a perfect base for your first explorations of Santiago. After your meeting, it’s time to get acquainted with Santiago’s fantastic food scene during a welcome dinner with your leader and group. From baked casserole to razor clams cooked in parmesan cheese, Chilean food is hearty, fresh and most of all, delicious.
Get to know the city on a tour with a local guide who’s an expert on all things Santiago. Your guide will peel back the many layers of the city’s history, beginning at the main square of Plaza de Armas where you’ll hear the tales of the foundation of Santiago and its turbulent past. Continue to La Moneda Palace, the home of Chile’s presidential office, where your guide will fill you in on the country’s complicated political history. From here take the short drive to Parque Bicentenario, created in 2011 to commemorate 200 years of independence. Walk through the gorgeous grounds and discuss the cultural identity of Chileans today. Today’s lunch will be a celebration of Santiago’s finest produce. Stop by a local eatery and sample some excellent cheese, ham and wine – a taste of which will take you straight to the heart of Chilean culture. The rest of the day is free for your own explorations.
Enjoy a free morning in Santiago. Perhaps make a visit to the Mercado Central, Santiago’s celebrated fish market. Begin the journey to Valparaiso, stopping off for a wine tasting on the way in the Casablanca Valley. Sitting on a coastal plain between the capital and Valparaiso, Casablanca Valley is Chile’s fastest growing wine region, with rich soil and a perfect climate for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Visit a vineyard that is focused on sustainable and organic viticulture, as well as producing outstanding wines. Continue to the colourful Valparaiso, notable for its brightly hued houses spread across a series of hills overlooking the ocean. Your hotel for the next two nights has been delighting guests since 1885 and sits in the historic heart of the city. Enjoy an introduction to pisco atop its marvellous rooftop and take in unbeatable views of Valparaiso. Afterwards, perhaps head out and find yourself a place to sip some ancho reyes alongside locals for the evening.
Listed as a World Heritage centre in 2003, Valparaiso used to be South America’s busiest port before the opening of the Panama Canal. It has since transformed itself into Chile’s most creative city which you’ll learn more about on the walking tour today with a local guide. The ramshackle streets have long been home to artists, writers and musicians so there is no shortage on visual inspiration to prompt some questions about its background. The hills of Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Alegre are dotted with kaleidoscopically coloured houses, with cobbled streets weaving sharply uphill and concealing all manner of galleries, restaurants and shops. Later on, visit the Lukas Museum which houses the collection of original works by the cartoonist, illustrator and chronicler Renzo Pecchenino, Lukas. Dinner this evening will be at an iconic local restaurant credited with the invention of chorrillana. This legendary Chilean dish is made up of french fries topped with beef, eggs and fried onions, and there’s no better spot to try it than at its birthplace.
Travel through the Andes and across the Argentinean border by private vehicle to Mendoza. Along the way, stop and take in views of Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 6962 meters above sea level and see the so-called Inca Bridge, a naturally-formed structure that appears to melt into a river amid the mountainous landscape of Mendoza. Once in Mendoza, get a first taste of the city on a gentle stroll around its tree-lined streets with your leader.
Mendoza is Argentina’s most prolific and significant grape-growing region, producing nearly three-quarters of the country’s wine. The climate produces an excellent variety of grapes, with the region’s signature being Malbec. Today you will get to experience this internationally renowned wine at its source during tours and tastings at three world-class and innovative wineries, each with its own distinct style and flavour. Meet with an expert oenologist and gain inside knowledge on the varieties of grapes and different production methods used at each winery, and sample award winning bottles just as spectacular as the surrounding Andes mountain landscape. After the tastings, settle in for a special closed-door gourmet lunch at one of the wineries. Enjoy several courses paired with wines carefully selected to bring out the flavours in the wonderful food. In the evening, perhaps test your palate by attempting to pair the perfect wine with an authentic Argentine asado (barbecue-style food). A visit to Aristides Villanueva Street after dark is a must if you enjoy a bit of nightlife.
This morning fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires, then transfer to your impressive boutique accommodation. Built in 1913, the historic hotel is located in the centre of the city with a spectacular dome rooftop bar. In the afternoon, soak up the Argentinean capital’s irrepressible mix of European and Latin culture on an orientation walk with your leader. Visit Florida Street, National Congress and the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) in the Plaza de Mayo. If there is time, your group may get to visit the Obelisk as well. The evening is free to explore. Be seduced by the world’s most passionate dance at a tango bar, attend a raucous football match, or gorge yourself on the city’s sophisticated culture and food.
Today you will head north of Buenos Aires to explore the city of Tigre and its surrounding delta region. First, do as the locals do and catch the subway to San Martin square, then set off on a bicycle tour around Puerto Maldero and the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve – where inhabitants of the city come for a peaceful escape and fresh air. Hop on a train to Tigre and get to know the city during a walking tour. Visit the local fruit market, follow the river along the stunning Paseo Victorica street and stop by the Tigre Art Museum to admire the European inspired building. Next, take a private boat through the third-largest river delta in the world, watching local life play out on the water as you go, then stop off on an island to enjoy a delightful homemade lunch. Take some time to swim, kayak or just sit back and soak in the beautiful island surroundings. Transfer back to Buenos Aires and spend an evening at leisure.
Enjoy a free day for your own explorations of Buenos Aires. You may like to head to your hotel’s rooftop bar and enjoy sweeping views of Buenos Aires with a cocktail in hand. At 6pm tonight, a meeting will take place in your hotel to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After the meeting, learn what local life looks like in Buenos Aires and head to the home of a porteno (inhabitant of Buenos Aires) for a traditional Asado feast. Chat to your friendly host about all things Argentina while enjoying a fantastic spread of barbecued meats, provoleta cheese and plenty of local wine. If you’ve been swept up in the frenetic rhythm of Buenos Aires, perhaps keep the evening going with a post-dinner tango show.
This morning you’ll discover Buenos Aires’s history, cultural influences and iconic sites during a walking tour with your leader. First stop is the Plaza de Mayo to visit the original town hall, as well as the presidential palace known as the Pink House. Walk around La Boca and its ‘Caminito’ district, before moving on to the lesser-known Barracas neighbourhood and stop in at a local NGO to learn about their agroecological model of food production and community collaboration. Help prepare a meal – much of the ingredients for which are grown in the co-op garden – and then dine on the results, including alfajores (classic South American cookies) for dessert. Continue the tour in Recoleta Cemetery, a labyrinth of ornate mausoleums. After a stop at the grave of Eva Peron, leave the cemetery and make a stop to see the Floralis Generica – a huge metal flower. Next up, you’ll head to a traditional conventillo, an urban house with a large patio, and enjoy an exclusive tango performance by two professional dancers who have been working together for more than 15 years. The dancers are passionate about preserving and sharing the art of tango, and the performance will be followed by a fantastic beginner’s class so you can experience part of Argentina’s cultural heritage first-hand. Learn about the style and history of the dance and pick up a few moves you can take home with you.
Iguazu Falls – Brazilian side
This morning, transfer to the airport and board a flight to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina. Powerful, captivating and completely beautiful – coming face to face with the Iguazu Falls is sure to leave you awe-struck. You will spend the next two days exploring the falls in depth, seeing them from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side. While you are flying into Argentina, today will be spent exploring the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. At over two kilometres in length, and made up of 275 waterfalls in total, Iguazu is higher than Niagara Falls and wider than Victoria Falls. The Brazilian side of the falls offers unforgettable panoramic views, which you’ll get to spend time taking in today. For an eagle-eye view of the falls, you can also opt to take on an optional helicopter flight.
Iguazu Falls – Argentinian side
Rise and shine for an early departure to the Argentinian side of the falls today, where you will be able to get up close to this incredible feat of nature. There is a system of boardwalks on the Argentinian side of the falls that allow you to access some incredible viewing points, or you could choose to take an optional zodiac ride beneath the cascades for an even more exhilarating perspective. This afternoon you will have the special opportunity to join your leader for a visit to a Guarani community, one of the few remaining original inhabitants of the region. Meet with a member of the community and visit an interpretation centre to learn about the native tools used for daily activities. Your host will show you around the community and provide insight on the Guarani way of life while explaining how they have preserved their traditions on the edge of one of the world’s most popular attractions. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Rio de Janeiro
Cross the border into Brazil this morning and take an included flight from Foz do Iguacu to Rio de Janeiro. A glorious raid on the senses, Rio delights with glittering beaches, a sultry samba beat and an irresistible energy. Once you have transferred to your hotel and settled in, join your leader on an orientation walk to get a feel for this lively city and learn a little about its layered history. The rest of the day is free to explore at your own pace. You may like to head down to the famous white sands of Cobacapana and Ipanema beaches for an interesting snapshot of local life. If you would like to listen to some live music, head to Lapa and join the locals for some dancing. Be sure to speak to your leader for tips on how to get the most out of this dynamic city that’s bursting with possibilities.
Rio de Janeiro
Today you’ll get to know the sights and sounds of Rio during a full-day tour with your leader. Visit Corcovado Mountain for expansive views over the city from the base of the Christ the Redeemer statue. Next, head to Santa Teresa and discover the eclectic architecture, restaurants and art galleries. Continue to the famous Selaron Steps to see Chilean artist Jorge Selaron’s famous artwork. Give your feet a break during a lunch stop at an incredible NGO called Gastromotiva, where dishes are made by marginalised members of the community who receive free culinary training. Enjoy an afternoon to relax, hit the beach, or explore further. This evening you may like to round off your adventure with a final dinner with your group.
Rio de Janeiro
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would like to extend your stay in Rio de Janeiro, please speak to your booking agent about arranging additional accommodation in advance (subject to availability).