Highlights of South America Tour

From the ancient mountain ruins of Machu Picchu to the dazzling beaches of Rio de Janeiro, South America has it all when it comes to outstanding natural beauty and fascinating sights. There’s much to see and do in this fascinating continent, but with our Highlights of South America tour, you can pack it all in by visiting the most significant and exciting areas.

We’ll visit a host of intriguing cities, all of which are different from one another and offer special quirks, personalities and activities. These include the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Lima and Cuzco in Peru, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

It isn’t all about the cities either. We’ll visit some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, including the magnificent flowing Iguazu Falls that straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina. You’ll sail the calm waters of Lake Titicaca in Peru, meeting locals who live on the river and still follow the ancient customs and traditions their ancestors introduced.

And a visit to South America wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Machu Picchu, the world famous sacred stone city complex. Found up high and surrounded by rolling green mountains, we’ll learn about the incredible history of the Inca people as we navigate the well preserved and expertly crafted stone citadel.

Each day of this tour introduces a new adventure, and these versatile and iconic destinations will keep you captivated and on your toes throughout our two week trip.

Duration
15 days
Options
Private or Group basis, Escorted
Start your journey
a large waterfall over some water with Iguazu Falls in the background

Trip highlights

  • Marvel at Iguazu Falls, one of South America’s most magnificent natural wonders
  • Visit Cuzco in the Peruvian Andes and discover world famous stone city - Machu Picchu
  • Discover sprawling sky high views and beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro
  • Admire the archaic architecture and diverse districts in Buenos Aires

When you reach the airport in Lima, you’ll meet an English speaking representative who will accompany you to your hotel in the city.

Once you’ve checked in, the rest of the day is free to spend as you wish. Relax from your flight, or explore the old city streets of Lima.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel La Hacienda Miraflores or similar
a castle on top of a grass covered field

On your first full day of the trip, we’ll discover Lima, Peru’s capital city, on a sightseeing tour.

We’ll pass iconic city buildings including the Plaza de Armas, the Palace of the Archbishop, and the city cathedral. Then, we’ll visit the city’s significant cultural spots, including the beautiful San Francisco monastery and later, the renowned Rafael Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum. The latter contains the world’s biggest private collection of Peruvian pe-Columbian artworks, enough to thrill any art lover.

Between these spectacular attractions, we’ll also admire sparkling coastline views and the upmarket city areas of San Isidro and Miraflores.

You’ll then have the afternoon free, with the opportunity to embark on an optional excursion trip, such as a visit to the huge Parque de la Exposicion waterpark.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel La Hacienda Miraflores or similar

On day three we’ll catch a flight to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuzco, which lies in the Peruvian Andes.

We’ll visit the Chinchero community, found outside of Cuzco. Here you’ll discover the remnants of the royal hacienda of Tupac Inca Yupanqui and stunning colonial temples. On Sunday, head to the vibrant weekly market and admire the huge selection of beautiful textiles and other handcrafted goods that are created in pre-Columbian fashion.

After you’ve negotiated some bargains, travel to the ‘El Mirador de Racchi’ to enjoy sprawling vistas of the Sacred Valley. Then, fill your stomach with an authentic Peruvian dish before being taken to your hotel for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado

The morning is yours to spend at your leisure. If you’re looking for an adventure, consider an excursion trip to Moray and Maras. The former is a sweet little Andean village, renowned for its sunken amphitheatre. The latter is a fascinating salt mine, offering unique views of the mines that stretch far out into the mountains.

In the afternoon, you’ll journey to Ollantaytambo, a small Inca town. You’ll have the afternoon to explore the area in your own time.

We suggest a trek to the green Yucay terraces to explore more of the local outdoor nature. The hike is relaxing and short, and takes an hour.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado
a view of a mountain

From Yucay we’ll go to Ollantaytambo’s station, where you’ll embark on a train that travels through the scenic terrains of the Urubamba Valley before reaching the small town of Aguas Calientes.

From Aguas Calientes, we’ll take a quick bus ride to the world famous stone ruins of Machu Picchu, which lies on a sheer slope surrounded by verdant mountain views.

You’ll enjoy a two hour guided tour of the ruins, where you’ll learn all about the rich history of the land. Then it’s a return trip via bus and train via Ollantaytambo and onto Cuzco.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Xima

Back in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuzco, you’ll learn more about the city on a half day tour.

Explore the heart of the Incan Empire, the Plaza de Armas. There you’ll discover the city cathedral that sits on the sacred ruins of the Inca Palace.

Next, amble through Cuzco’s Old Town, passing through narrow lanes and admiring the grandly renovated old colonial architecture. Today, many are used as hotels and alternative accommodations.

Your next stop is Sacsayhuaman, another ruin complex which sits around three kilometres above Cuzco. Here, you can admire panoramic views of the historic Cuzco city before meandering through the surrounding crumbling ruins.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Xima

Today we’ll embark on a bus tour taking us from Cuzco to the city of Puno that sits on Lake Titicaca. We’ll journey through the Peruvian hills past the world famous snow capped mountains of the Andes and tiny local communities. We’ll travel at sky high heights, reaching an altitude of 4,300 when we get to the La Raya mountain range.

As we continue our journey, we’ll stop at various points of interest. These include the mountain town Andahuaylillas. It’s famous for its ornate church, the crumbling ruins of Racchi and the ancient archaeological town of Pucara. On your travels, tuck into a tasty Peruvian lunch featuring delicious, fresh local ingredients.

Once you reach Puno, you’ll be taken to your hotel for the evening.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Jose Antonio Puno

Today we’ll visit Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water. In the morning, you’ll be taken to Puno’s dock where you’ll hop on a boat that will sail to the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca.

The Uros consists of 40 tiny floating islands that are crafted with totora reed. The Uru people living on the lake still follow the unique customs and traditions of their great ancestors and provide a fascinating insight into the country’s history.

Afterwards, we’ll cruise the waters of Lake Titicaca to Taquila Island. This area is void of roads and electricity, and like the Uru people, Taquileñosalso follow age old practices and traditions. Many locals even wear traditional dress daily. They’re also renowned for their knitting and crafting skills, so head to the main square to grab some quality handmade products from the local shop.

After your boat trip, you’ll transfer from your hotel to the airport to catch your flight to Lima. During the transfer, a box supper will be provided.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel La Hacienda Miraflores
a river running through a forest

Day nine is another travel day. From your hotel in Lima, you’ll head back to the airport to catch a flight to Iguazu.

The area is home to one of the world’s most impressive and famous waterfalls – Iguazu Falls.

Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll take a transfer to your hotel for the evening.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Recanto Park
a large waterfall over some water with Kravica in the background

Today we’ll visit the magnificent Iguazu Falls. One of South America’s most awe striking natural wonders, Iguazu Falls straddles the border of both Brazil and Argentina.

You’ll visit the stretching waterfalls from the Brazilian side first, crossing the Iguassu National Park. Hike along the grassy paths to reach the catwalk, which delivers you down close to the bottom of the Devil’s Throat. Here you’ll be in a prime spot to observe the thundering waterfalls and soak up the grandeur and magnificence of the vistas.

Afterwards, we’ll hop on a motor coach taking us to the Argentinean side of the falls, for a different perspective. Then, board the Ecological Jungle Train, which will treat you to some of the best observation spots of the falls.

Finally you’ll be transferred to your hotel on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Recanto Park

In the morning you’ll be taken to the airport to board your flight to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. On arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel in Buenos Aires.

The tango scene is huge in Buenos Aires, and no visit would be complete without a trip to an authentic Tango Show. Found in the San Telmo district, which is the beating heart of the tango scene in the city, you’ll visit La Ventana. Featuring traditional dances, this tango house is one of the best recommended in the city.

Enjoy a spectacular tango performance accompanied by ‘bandoneón’ instruments, violins and guitars. If you’re feeling brave, you can even get moving with a tango lesson with professional teachers. Alternatively, sample some of the country’s fine wines with a wine tasting session.

Your evening also includes a three course Argentinian dinner, including wine or beer. Once the show and dinner finishes, you’ll be taken back to your hotel at around midnight.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Loi Suites Esmeralda
Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires

It’s time to explore the city of Buenos Aires by day.

Rich in history and culture, you’ll visit the city’s famous building such as the Plaza de Mayo, the Cabildo town hall, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Casa Rosada which is otherwise known as the pink house. Then you’ll reach the neighbourhood of San Telmo. Originally a river port until 1888, in more recent years San Telmo has transformed into a contemporary and desirable area to live in the city.

Other areas of interest in Buenos Aires include the worker’s area of La Boca, the Barrio Norte quarter and the burial grounds of Recoleta.

After a busy day spent exploring the city sights, head back to the hotel to rest.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Loi Suites Esmeralda
a large body of water with a mountain in the background

Today you’ll fly from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s famous sprawling seaside city famed for its vibrant and colourful carnival and busy beaches.

Once you arrive in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll be taken to your hotel for the evening. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please, either taking the time to relax or exploring the local area.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Windsor Plaza Copacabana
a statue of a clear blue sky with Christ the Redeemer in the background

To make the most of your last full day of the tour, you’ll explore Rio de Janeiro and all the city has to offer.

Your first stop is a trip on a cog train, which will take you high through the Tijuca Forest before reaching the Corcovado Mountain which stands at 748 metres high. The leisurely train journey takes around 20 minutes, and you’ll have the chance to admire the tropical foliage and pretty vistas of Rio de Janeiro’s famous beaches and city.

At the top, climb the steps to the lookout to gawk at the iconic Christ the Redeemer opening his arms to the fantastic city views below.

We’ll leave by train, shuffling past dreamy beaches until you reach the Urca District to take a cable car. Then, we’ll float up to the Sugar Loaf Mountain at 390 metres high.

The rest of our day consists of sightseeing in the city, discovering the downtown area, the business centre and other significant buildings such as the Candelaria Church and the Saint Sebastian Cathedral.

In the evening, we highly recommend taking the option to visit a traditional folklore and carnival show. You’ll be treated to a spectacular performance featuring talented dancers, samba bands, and vibrant, colourful carnival costumes.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Windsor Plaza Copacabana

After breakfast it’s time to wave goodbye to your epic South America tour, taking home memories to last a lifetime. You’ll be taken to the airport where you’ll board your onward flight.

Included

  • Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 14 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Private/small group (air-conditioned) transport / transfers
  • Meals included as detailed
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fee) for monuments and palaces and entertainment, and park fees for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Taxes

Not included

  • International flights and airfare taxes
  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
  • Video and professional still camera fees during excursions
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
  • Meals (unless specified)
  • Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)
  • Car hire and insurance