Best of South America - Over 55's adventure

Best of South America - Over 55's adventure information and booking

from
$4190
  • Duration
    23 days
    Days
  • Group size
    6-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Introductory
Check prices & availability

Schedule Details

Summary
  • 23 day trip
  • 4 day trek
  • 3 nights camping
  • 19 nights hotel/jungle lodge
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).

Highlights

  • Sightseeing in Buenos Aires – the ‘Paris’ of South America
  • The magnificent waterfalls of Iguazu Falls
  • The splendor of Cusco
  • Walking in the beautiful Sacred Valley to view ancient Inca salt pans
  • Alternative Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu with dramatic mountain views
  • 3 hearty meals a day on trek prepared by our cooks
  • Visit Machu Picchu on two occasions
  • Tourist train from Machu Picchu
  • Classic railway journey on the ‘Orient Express’ train across the vast Bolivian altiplano to Lake Titicaca

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

On this complete panorama of South America we combine the cultural highlights with time in the Amazon jungle and a well-devised trek in the Andes. If you have not trekked before don't worry, our "five" star trekking service will ensure a safe and satisfying experience. Exploring the cultural dimensions of our journey we travel from Buenos Aires, the vibrant Paris of South America, and the magnificent Iguazu Falls to Lima. We continue onto Cusco, with its endearing Inca and Spanish heritage and La Paz with its colourful markets and live music clubs. By contrast, the more active stages of the program will provide further enduring memories. In the rainforest of the Amazon jungle, we undertake gentle canoe trips in search of the prolific birdlife, while in the Andes we trek for four days along a beautiful, recently restored Inca Trail. In the company of our experienced guides we follow an ancient granite trail through orchid-filled cloud forest before finally ascending the last section of the legendary trail into Machu Picchu.

What's included

  • 22 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Airport transfers
  • Classic train trip on orient express from cusco to puno
  • Expert bilingual guide
  • Group medical kit
  • Good quality hotel accommodation, primarily casa andina classic hotels
  • All internal transportation by private vehicle
  • Gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket and thermarest mat
  • Group camping equipment
  • Porters on trail
  • Sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Buenos Aires (Argentina)
If you are arriving on day one of the trip, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel in the centre of the city. Otherwise please make your way to the hotel listed on your final itinerary – our pre-departure information provides details on travelling to the city from the airport. This afternoon we will undertake a short sightseeing program in Buenos Aires (subject to your flight arrival time).
Day 2 Fly to Iguazu Falls
Today we leave early for the domestic airport to take a flight north to Iguazu Falls, set in lush rainforest on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Though not the highest or largest falls in the world, they are very spectacular. The area contains more than twenty-five different cataracts – some small, some absolutely massive. The largest of all is the Boca or Garganta del Diablo. In the afternoon we will enjoy a guided tour of the falls on the Argentine side. Overnight at Iguazu.
Day 3 Fly to Lima
During the morning we will take a tour of the Brazilian side of the falls before transferring to the airport on the Brazilian side of the falls for our onward flight to Lima. You will be met at Lima airport and transferred to the hotel which is well located in the suburb of Miraflores.
Day 4 In Lima - city tour
This morning we will be taken on a guided tour of the city, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. It has a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. We'll also visit the famous Museo de la Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum - which give us an excellent overview of the Andean cultures. The rest of the day will be at leisure giving you time to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are found in this area. *This evening, please be sure to re-pack your luggage for the jungle - see Clothing & Equipment list in your Pre-Departure Notes or ask your guide).
Day 5 Fly to Puerto Maldonado – Jungle Lodge
We transfer to the airport for the flight (via Cusco) due east to the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. Transfer by boat and on foot to your simple but comfortable jungle lodge. We spend the night in a lodge that was originally built as a base for naturalists. The rainforest surrounding the lodge is a nature lover's paradise and many of the rooms actually overlook the glorious jungle. The lodge has comfortable twin share rooms - some with private facilities - others with shared bathrooms. Some (but not all lodges) have electricity for a few hours a day and whilst in the hot and humid jungle please do not expect hot showers. The lodges we use are definitely the most comfortable and well appointed lodges in this jungle area. Please note that due to demand it is sometimes necessary to use an alternative lodge in this area.
Day 6 Jungle Lodge
Day walks in jungle and canoe journeys on lake - there is a particularly abundant bird life - including anhinga, hoatzin, horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. We can almost guarantee we will see lots of monkey including troops of capuchin, dusky titi, spider & howler, plus possibility of seeing large cayman and giant river otter. Overnight in the lodge. PLEASE NOTE: it is important to be aware that the programs may vary according to flight schedules, weather, river height, group sizes, etc and participants should be aware there is no guarantee of seeing specific animals or birds and in general you may not see much wildlife since the rainforest provides such good camouflage for its inhabitants - but you will have a good chance to experience true rainforest first hand.
Day 7 Fly to Cusco
Early morning departure after breakfast for the downriver trip to Puerto Maldonado and the short flight back to Cusco 11,200' (3,400m), arriving there around midday. You'll be met by your guide and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation. In the evening you'll have a longer briefing to discuss aspects of the itinerary and in particular the trek.
Day 8 Tour of Cusco and the nearby ruins.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shop.
Day 9 Drive and walk down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges. We then walk down through the remarkable Inca Salt Pans below Maras. We end up in the Sacred valley near a good restaurant where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy beauty of this famous valley.
Day 10 Second day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Another day in this beautiful place. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time here we visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins that are found along the valley including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. If the weather is good and we have time we can enjoy some short walks in the valley - a good way to prepare for the trek ahead. The evening is spent preparing for the trek at our hotel.
Day 11 Lower Inca Trail trek commences
Early morning departure for a beautiful short drive to the trailhead at Cachicata. At this point we meet our cooks, porters and camp staff before setting off on one of the famous Royal Highways of the Incas built more than 500 years ago. This trail is beautiful and should not be mixed up with the Classic Inca Trail. This ancient alternative trail is less arduous, warmer and at lower altitude than the traditional Inca Trail, and for those not wishing to trek, we can accommodate you in a comfortable location in Ollantaytambo. Importantly, this trail is peaceful and quiet, and you are likely to encounter very few other people on this trail, which has received glowing reports from many other past trekkers. This first day of walking lasts about approximately 4 to 5 hours during which we follow a well defined path along the Urubamba River to our first campsite opposite Salapuncu 9,000' (2,750m) - a wonderful campsite that affords terrific views of the great snowpeak of Veronica (19,700 feet!). Camp
Day 12 Trek to Q'ente
Today our trek will take us via the major archaeological sites of Patallacta and Q'ente. We will visit the beautifully set ruins at Machu Q'ente,in a setting of cloud forest, strange Andean plants and dozens of varieties of orchids growing in the wild. Return to Q'ente on the banks of the Urubamba River. Camp
Day 13 Continue trek along Urubamba River
The trek continues today as we follow this trail that for centuries has followed the banks of the great sacred river - also known as the Vilcamayo. We'll cross the River at Km88 and walk back along the right hand side of the river via the archaeological sites of Canabamba, Torontoy & Salapuncu. Parts of the trail are set in high polylepis forests with the most wonderful examples of epiphytes and bromeliads. Our walk will end at the campsite of Apu Veronica. Camp.
Day 14 Train to KM 104 and complete trek, arrive at Aguas Calientes
This morning we will take a one hour train ride along the Urubamba River to Km104. Here we will join the very popular part of the Inca Trail - an opportunity to exchange tales with lots of other trekkers! Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys - the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu at 7,900' (2,400m). On the way we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, before covering the last few miles to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu. Your first view of the ruins really does take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional). Important: It is very important to be aware that, because of all the new rules in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Day 15 Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco.
Today we start early to thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. After a professionally led tour of the site we're free to explore the rest of the amazing sights. Mid-afternoon we depart from Machu Picchu for the extremely pretty train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Here we transfer to our hotel for two nights.
Day 16 Cusco - free day.
A good day to relax, do your washing and re pack after the trek and perhaps a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
Day 17 Train to Puno and Lake Titicaca
We depart early in the morning for the 8 to 10 hour long railway journey to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,530' (3,820m). The journey has been described as one of the last remaining classic train journeys of the world. (It was one of the featured sections of the BBC series "Great Railway Journeys of the World"). These days the train belongs to the Orient Express Company and it is a luxurious ride, with just 2 stops along the way, in La Raya, the highest point between Cusco and Puno 14,200' (4,330m) and Juliaca, before Puno. From the comfortable carriages, one of which has been converted into a glass lounge, we watch the Andean scenes flash by.
Day 18 Lake Titicaca - the Uros Islands
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the shores of the lake and located on the great altiplano that stretches all the way to La Paz. There will be an opportunity to cruise Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world – and visit some of the unique floating 'tortora' reed islands of the Uros Indians. The afternoon is free to relax in Puno and explore its streets and markets.
Day 19 Drive from Puno to Copacabana.
Drive around the lake and across the border into Bolivia to the town of Copacabana - beautifully situated on the shores of the lake. We have an opportunity to savour the delicious Lake Titicaca trout. We have the rest of the day at leisure to explore this small interesting lakeside town or to walk to the top of the great hill above the city that is the destination of many pilgrims from all over Bolivia. We spend the night in an hotel that has great views across the lake.
Day 20 Drive from Copacabana to La Paz.
After breakfast we take a 4 to 5 hours drive via the straits of Tiquina - the narrowest and also by coincidence the deepest part of Lake Titicaca - and on across the immense Bolivian altiplano to its biggest city, La Paz - at 12,800' (3,900m) the highest 'capital' city in the world.
Day 21 Morning walking tour of the city of La Paz.
We spend the morning in this fascinating city visiting its many local and tourist markets and one of its museums. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city. On the last evening after a farewell meal we can visit one of the superb 'peñas', live music clubs to watch a variety of excellent bands and soloists playing the magical traditional Andean instruments. La Paz has a reputation as the centre of Andean traditional music.
Day 22 Free day in La Paz.
There is a chance to join an optional tour to the ruins of Tiahuanacu or the highest 'ski-resort' in the world at Chacaltaya. Please discuss the options with your trip guide.
Day 23 Trip concludes in La Paz.
After checking out of your hotel you will be transferred (if requested) to La Paz airport where your services end.