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Immerse yourself in the traditions of South America

16 days From £4,095 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2023 Tour code: LAG23

About the tour

Immerse yourself in the traditions of three of South America's most popular countries - Peru, Argentina and Brazil. Experience the best these destinations have to offer, from the Inca remains of Machu Picchu and the force of nature that is the Iguazu Falls to the spirited city of Rio.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Peru

We meet at London Heathrow for our flight to São Paulo, where we catch our connecting flight to Lima.

Day 2 - Lima

Touching down in the Peruvian capital, we transfer to our hotel on arrival. After some time to settle in, we enjoy our first taste of South America on a guided coach tour. A thriving city, Lima was first founded by Spanish conquistadors in the late 16th century and still has a remarkably well-preserved colonial centre. Our tour begins at the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, where we explore the beautiful courtyards and catacombs. Later, we see Huaca Pucllana, a structure that pre-dates the Incas, before continuing to the upmarket district of Miraflores, where traditional stall holders rub shoulders with modern boutiques.

Day 3 - The Sacred Valley

We take an internal flight to Cusco this morning. From here, we set out for the Sacred Valley, stopping along the way to take part in a Coca Kintu ceremony, an age-old custom in which we ask the mountain spirits to bless our journey. Situated in the Peruvian Highlands, the Sacred Valley was once the beating heart of the Incan empire. Made up of fertile farmland, soaring mountains and traditional villages, today it's a peaceful yet wild region to explore, filled with national treasures.

Day 4 - Pisac and Ollantaytambo

We visit the town of Pisac today, home to an authentic market selling handmade crafts and Peruvian keepsakes, as well as Ollantaytambo, where we enjoy a tour. Sightseeing with a local guide, we admire the city's ancient fortress, which, even in ruins, has retained important features such as the Sun Temple and Princess Baths fountain. We also discover the village's Old Town, an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the local chicheria, a type of bar serving a fermented alcohol drink typically brewed from maise, called chicha. We enjoy a tasting of the different chichas brewed here and are taught a few popular Peruvian pub games.

Day 5 - Machu Picchu

We take the scenic rail route to Aguas Calientes to visit the 'Lost City of the Incas' - Machu Picchu. A winding bus ride takes us up to Machu Picchu itself, where we are greeted by one of the most incredible sights in the world - an ancient Incan citadel built amid the clouds, mountains and forested peaks of Peru. Our local guide explains the fascinating history of this awe-inspiring landmark, forgotten for 400 years before being uncovered in 1911. Machu Picchu is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Day 6 - Cusco

Regarded as the 'Archaeological Capital of the Americas', today we tour Cusco, delving into the city's colonial Spanish history and its ancient indigenous past. One of the most impressive attractions are the incredible Inca walls, created from enormous granite blocks carved to fit together without the aid of mortar beds. We also see the Plaza de Armas, in the historic centre, and the San Pedro market before visiting the Temple of Koricancha, or 'Temple of the Sun'. One of the most important in the Inca Empire, it was originally built around 12000 AD but was brought to ruin during a war with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Today, a Spanish cathedral sits on top of the original stone foundations where we find an underground archaeological museum displaying relics from the site. This evening, we dine at a local restaurant, where we enjoy a time-honoured folk show with our food.

Day 7 - To Buenos Aires

We fly to the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, checking into our hotel on arrival.

Day 8 - Discovering Buenos Aires

Today's guided tour takes us firstly to Recoleta, an upmarket suburb with a distinctly Parisian atmosphere, and where elegant townhouses and chic boutiques line the streets. We visit the resting place of Eva Perón here, a true icon of Argentina, who's buried at the local cemetery - known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. We continue to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral - the main Catholic Church in the city - and San Telmo, the city's oldest neighbourhood, home to quaint cobbled streets and antique shops. This evening, we get an authentic taste of South America as we attend a local tango show.

Day 9 - Free time in Bueno Aires

With a free day today, you may like to visit some of the other city districts, each one boasting a unique style and distinct atmosphere. The most colorurful of these has to be La Boca, which has been a favourite haunt of artists for generations. Here, you could explore the Caminito Street Museum, a vibrant pedestrian-friendly area that's functioned as an open-air museum and art market since 1959. Afterwards, why not head to a cosy restaurant and experience two of the things Argentina is particularly well known for - red wine and steak. Another choice for today is the optional excursion to Santa Susana Estancia, a gaucho ranch located just outside the city.

Day 10 - To Iguazu Falls

On the border between Argentina and Brazil lies the thundering waterfalls of Iguazu. We fly to the falls themselves this morning, checking into our hotel for two nights on arrival.

Day 11 - Iguazu Falls

Exploring the Argentine side of the falls today, we wander along the elevated wooden walkways which snake through the national park and offer sublime views over the different offshoots of the falls and their bubbling pools of water below. We also see the torrent that is the Devil's Throat, a spectacular U-shaped cascade once poetically described as 'an ocean plunging into an abyss'.

Day 12 - To Rio De Janeiro

We cross into Brazil for a better view of the main source of this epic waterfall system, the Iguazu River. After a half-day's tour taking in the dramatic landscapes with a local expert, who's able to point out the fascinating flora and fauna that flourish in this rainforest environment, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Rio de Janeiro.

Day 13 - Exploring Rio

We get under the skin of this vibrant Brazilian metropolis today, embarking on a sightseeing tour. Firstly, we board the Corcovado Rack and Pinion Mountain Railway to ascend Corcovado Mountain, home to one of Rio's most recognisable landmarks - the astonishing statue of Christ the Redeemer. Travelling just over two miles to the viewing platform, on a clear day we're able to admire sensational views over the sprawling city and the turquoise waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. The statue itself is equally remarkable, standing at 98 feet tall with an arm span of 92 feet. Back in the heart of the city, we sit down to a typical Churriscera style barbecue lunch before visiting the botanical gardens, where we see a wide variety of both Brazilian and international plants.

Day 14 - Sugarloaf Mountain

We make the journey by cable-car up the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, a distinctive peak which soars almost 1,300 feet into the air and is said to resemble a concentrated refined loaf of sugar. From our spectacular vantage point, we enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across the harbor area and Guanabara Bay. We continue exploring in the afternoon, making visits to the Sambadrome, the home of Rio's famous carnival, the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral and the Municipal Theatre - an elegant opera house built in an Eclectic Art Nouveau style.

Day 15 - Leaving South America

Your day is free until our afternoon transfer to the airport to begin our journey home. We fly firstly to São Paulo, where we connect with our flight to London Heathrow.

Day 16 - London

We land in the UK today and our South American adventure comes to an end.

Additional information

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Grand Brizo, Buenos Aires

Hotel Grand Brizo, Buenos Aires

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Costa del Sol Ramada Hotel, Cusco

Costa del Sol Ramada Hotel, Cusco

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Casa Andina Private Collection hotels, Peru

Casa Andina Private Collection hotels, Peru

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02 Iguazú, Puerto Iguazú

02 Iguazú, Puerto Iguazú

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Windsor Leme Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Windsor Leme Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

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Train

Corcovado Rack Railway

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Immerse yourself in the traditions of South America

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Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Ashleigh Howe
Ashleigh
Simon Laverack
Simon