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Iconic South America

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days 41 US$ 14,969 US$ 12,574
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Overview
The Iconic South America tour starts in Cartagena and ends in Rio de Janeiro. The Iconic South America is an Adventure tour that takes 41 days taking you from Cartagena to Rio de Janeiro and through other destinations in South America.

See the very best of South America on this all encompassing adventure ticking off the highlights of this beautiful continent. Starting in the vibrant Cartagena, see the highlights of Colombia before setting off on the adventure of a lifetime in the Galapagos Islands. Marvel at Machu Picchu, wander the ancient Sacred Valley and bask in the tranquility of Lake Titicaca as you immerse yourself in Peru before witnessing the pink phenomena of Laguna Colorada in Bolivia. Enjoy the beauty of the Uyuni salt flats before ending your tour in Rio, one of the most cultural and samba fueled cities in the world.
customer reviews about Tucan Travel
4.5 - Excellent Based on 1054 reviews
Review for another Tucan Travel tour
5 - Excellent
“Such a fab tour really enjoyed. Kim and all the guides were amazing they couldn't do enough to make sure everything was perfect. Highly recommend”
Review for another Tucan Travel tour
5 - Excellent
“This has been my forth time travelling with Tucan and I have never been disappointed. I did a 5 day Easter Island tour which was breathtaking, the Cubano Jazz tour which was great thanks to our guide Alba who was so passionate about her country, the Best of Morocco tour which was amazing thanks to our guide Younes as mentioned in other customers reviews aswell and I just finished the Safari and Beach tour which included Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. I can't speak for other customers but I don't know what the hell they are talking about because I enjoyed my African tour with Tucan to the fullest. This is probably because we got lucky and got the best guide Tucan has to offer, Jordan Cox. Jordan made sure that everyone was fully taken care of and that everyone was having a great time. He was very informative about the counties and thier cultures, could speak Swahili and interacted well with the locals. He was just so nice to all the locals and all the locals were nice to him. Very respectful. Jordan took care of taxis, transfers, dinner reservations, gave us good tips to bars and restaurants, organised bonfires every night while camping, took care of our stuff when we went on optional day tours. It was his mission for us to see the Big 5, which was successful. He also asked everyone individually to see if we were having a great time. Aside all that he has an amazing sense of humour and was just fun to hang out with. The perfect definition of what a tour guide should be. Thank you Tucan for another amazing experience, I enjoyed every second of it and also thank you Jordan for being part of it, it would'nt have been the same without you.”
Review for another Tucan Travel tour
5 - Excellent
“A great tour from start to finish a great pace covered the region perfectly well organized by the tour leader ticked all the boxes .”
Drenched in old town charm, Cartagena de Indias lies on the northern coast of Colombia and is one of the most picturesque colonial towns on the continent. Founded in 1533, the town was named after Cartagena, Spain, and subsequently became a key factor in the expansion of the Spanish Empire, playing a political, economic and administrative role during the colonial period. Relics of the Spanish Empire can be seen far and wide in the beautifully preserved churches, monasteries, plazas and palaces.

The old city is considered the heart of Cartagena, echoing the city's long history while incorporating true Colombian culture. Vibrant narrow streets are adorned with wooden balconies and hanging plants, while brightly coloured houses can be seen in every turn. Keep an eye out for the elaborate door knockers, which are designed in the shapes of seahorses, lizards, turtles and more. In Cartagena society, doors were considered a status symbol.

While simply getting lost in the charming streets is the best way to discover the allure of Cartagena, important sites include Castillo San Felipe and the fortress on San Lazaro hill. Beneath the fortress you can find a maze of tunnels where cannons still stand along the battlements. For some of the best views of the city, head up La Popa hill and visit the vibrant convent. For a unique trip out of the city, head to the mud volcano.

With a Caribbean climate and some of the most stunning beaches in the Americas, Cartagena is also the perfect place to dip your toes in the ocean and admire this fascinating corner of the globe. End your evening sampling true Colombian delicacies at a local market stall or high end eatery. Whatever your taste; Cartagena won’t disappoint.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Villa Colonial or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • City tour – US$30 including entrance fees to San Felipe Castle, La Popa and the Gold Museum
  • Day Tour to Playa Blanca (Beach) – From USD20
This morning we say goodbye to the sounds of the Caribbean and head to Colombia's second largest city, Medellin. Also known as “The City of Eternal Spring” due to its year round pleasant weather, Medellin has flourished in recent years and now has one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. Once known as the playground for infamous drug lords, the city has since shed its reputation and welcomes travellers from far and wide who are eager to experience what this progressive and exciting city has to offer.

There are numerous parks and plazas in Medellin waiting to be explored, such as Parque Berrio, Jardin Botanico or Parque Explora, which features Latin America's largest freshwater aquarium.

Spend your evening in Parque Lleras, the best place in the city for restaurants, bars or nightclubs. Try Medellin’s most traditional dish, the bandeja paisa. A hearty plate of rice, eggs, meat, beans and avocado, the servings are usually huge and can be shared between two, but are one of the most important dishes in the region and should not be missed!
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Poblado Botique or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Today is free to further explore Medellin, why not try using the world renowned public transportation system. The cable car connects the city centre to outskirts and results in some of the best views of the city once you reach the end of the line, Parque Arvi.

Your tour includes a visit to The Metropolitan Cathedral in Bolivar park which holds the record for the most clay bricks on any building in the world, with an impressive 1.1 million bricks being used in the building process.

Also worth exploring is the Plaza Botero, where you can see many of the figures by the sculptor Fernando Botero. Botero is one of the most famous artists to come out of Colombia, known for his still life images of plump figures.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Poblado Botique or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Guatape Day Tour – From USD30
  • Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour – USD20
  • Pablo Escobar Tour – USD25
No trip to Colombia would be complete without an immersive coffee experience. Today we head to a local coffee plantation where we will stay the evening on the grounds to learn everything there is to know about this well loved beverage. Your time will be spent learning about the culture, history and variety of coffee, as well as the coffee making process. Witness the roasting process, experiment with the flavours and walk through the plantation where you can see the packaging take place. Arriving late in the day, your coffee experience will normally take place tomorrow morning.

Tonight we stay in a Hacienda, the main house on the plantation. With over 100 years of tradition the coffee farm is the perfect place to relax and take in the lush scenery. Enjoy a local dinner prepared by your hosts and spend the evening relaxing by the pool.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in a guesthouse at Hacienda Venecia or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s), 1 Local Lunch(es), 1 Local Dinner(s)
After our coffee tour we head for Salento, nestled in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. Salento is a beautiful small and colourful town, having managed to keep it’s slow and relaxing pace due to the main route between Cali and Bogota being diverted which meant the town did not develop as fast as others in the region.

Hike to the viewpoint at the end of Calle Real for some of the best views over the valley, and don’t forget to walk around the charming and humble town square.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Salento Real or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
We take a jeep from town to the Cocora Valley and spend a whole day hiking through the lush green hills. Our jeeps are true classic cars with bright colours and can date as far back as the 60’s, riding in them in a truly unique experience. The hike provides sweeping views of the valley and the iconic wax palms, Colombia's national symbol. In the evenings, make sure you try the region´s speciality, trucha, a fish normally served with rice but cooked many different ways.

Head back to Salento for the evening and perhaps enjoy a game of Tejo, a traditional Colombian throwing sport.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Salento Real or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Our final Colombian stop is of course the bustling capital city, Bogota. With a population of 7 million, it is also the largest city in the country and the centre of everything from politics to sport. With the dramatic Andean peaks looming in the background, Bogota radiates classic colonial charm while modern and sophisticated businesses are popping up by the second.

We will be staying in the Candelaria district which is an excellent location within walking distance of many of the main sights including the main square - Plaza Bolívar, the Cathedral and Simón Bolívar's house. You may like to take the funicular to Monserrate for the incredible city views, or visit the world famous gold museum.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Regina or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Gold Museum – US$2
  • Cerro de Monserrat, the cable car to Monserrat for views of the city – US$9
  • Botero Museum- Free
  • Graffiti Tour- Free but donations welcomed
Spend today getting further acquainted with the city. Take a walking graffiti tour and get up close and personal with some of the most impressive street art in the city. Political and social turbulence has often been the inspiration behind the unique art found round every corner which was made legal in certain areas in 2011. The art is now seen as part of the cultural identity of Bogota with artists travelling from all over for inspiration.

Check out the gold museum, which houses the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold with a collection that exceeds 50,000 pieces. The artefacts which consist of gold, pottery, rock and textiles have allowed archaeologists a better understanding of ancient South American civilizations. Another brilliant museum to explore is the Botero museum, home to Botero’s private collection of works by international artists such as Monet and Dali. The entire collection was donated to the museum on the condition that entry would always be free for customers. There is also the opportunity here to try Ajiaco, the cities most traditional dish.

Come evening, search beyond the rice and beans and sample some of the best Colombian foods. From grilled meats, fresh fish, ceviche and an array of local fruits and vegetables, it’s not hard to find something that suits your tastes.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Regina or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Gold Museum – US$2
  • Cerro de Monserrat, the cable car to Monserrat for views of the city – US$9
  • Botero Museum- Free
  • Graffiti Tour- Free but donations welcomed
This morning you will be transferred to the airport by our Tucan Travel rep for your flight to Quito; gateway to the Galapagos. Enjoy a free afternoon in the bustling capital city of Ecuador, exploring the streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas. The old town is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and has many quaint cafes, shops and attractions. Visit the Basílica del Voto Nacional towers, a Roman Catholic church and largest neo gothic basilica in the world, or the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus church which is considered one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city.

Tonight, take the opportunity to sample some classic Ecuadorian cuisine, with various restaurants dotted around the city. From ceviche to guinea pig, there is a variety on offer from the mountains to the coast. Try one of the most famous dishes, Llapingachos, a fried potato omelette stuffed with cheese and served with a fried egg, avocado or meat.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Quito or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Teleferico sky tram to Volcan Pichincha – US$10 + taxi fare
  • La Mitad del Mundo with taxi – US$15
  • City Tour US$15
  • Plaza de la Independencia – free, US$1 to enter cathedral
  • Museo de la Ciudad – US$3
Spend today discovering more about the history of Ecuador on an included colonial city tour. Visit the Basílica del Voto Nacional towers, a Roman Catholic church and largest neo gothic basilica in the world, or the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus church which is considered one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. Drive through the traditional neighbourhood of San Juan, a historical district which dates back to the Inca times. We visit the Middle of the World Museum and the Ecuador Monument, where you can place each foot on different sides of the equator! Marvel at the clever tricks of the equator, such as balancing an egg on a nail or watching water swirl in different directions depending which side you are on.

We finish the day at the Panecillo hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city.

Relax tonight and get ready for the wildlife adventure of a lifetime. Your Tucan Travel rep will be available to prepare you for the days ahead and answer any questions you may have about the cruise and what to expect.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Quito or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Get ready to channel your inner David Attenborough and experience some of the most untouched, wildlife packed islands in existence, as today you start your Galapagos adventure. This morning transfer to the airport and fly to Isla Baltra where you will be met by our guide and taken to your home for the next few days, the Coral Expedition Cruise.

Once settled onboard the boat you will embark on the first excursion to interact with the Galapagos giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Home to the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, you can enjoy a walk among these 600 lb friendly giants while being surrounded by other highland species such as the famed finches. The dramatic scenery is also home to a large variety of passerine bird species.

Difficulty Level: Easy Type of Terrain: Flat (sometimes muddy depending on season)

Spend your evening relaxing on the boat, with indoor and outdoor space to rest or socialise. Make use of the open deck jacuzzi and enjoy a dinner of either Ecuadorian or international cuisine.

You will be onboard the Coral I or II. To find out more about our ships please click here
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) on boat at Coral Expedition Cruise or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es), 1 Dinner(s)
This morning we explore Mosquera Islet, a tiny low lying islet which is covered in coral sand and set between the North and South Seymour Islands. With a mostly sandy terrain, it is easy to walk around while viewing the large groups of sea lions who laze around on the soft white sand. Snorkelling is also possible here and you might find yourself sharing the waters with sharks, rays or barracudas.

Difficulty level: easy Type of terrain: Sandy

We then make our way to the Northern Seymour Island, an area covered in bushy vegetation. Here you can witness the spectacular show of the frigatebird males courting their counterparts. Experience the bill-clapping, shuddering and wing flapping while they also show off their bright red and largely inflated gular pouch. Not to be outdone, the blue footed boobies can also be found here attempting the same level of charm as they dance to prospective mates.

Difficulty level: Moderate Type of terrain: Rocky
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) on boat at Coral Expedition Cruise or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es), 1 Dinner(s)
Landing on Santa Fe Island you will be welcomed by an abundance of sea lions frolicking on the shore. After admiring these beautiful animals we begin our walk in search of the unique giant Opuntia cacti, which cover various areas of the island. This is also the home to the Santa De land iguana, paler in colour than their cousins on the other islands. Other animals known to show an appearance on the island are the Galapagos hawk and rice rat.

Difficulty level: Difficult Type of terrain: Rocky

Come afternoon we journey to the South Plaza islet. This small island is painted with red succulents with more Opuntia cacti scattered around. The cliff edges here are the perfect place for bird watching; watch them swoop and dive between ocean and sky. The Galapagos shearwaters are just one of the many species that can be seen here, as well as many more frigatebirds.

Difficulty level: Moderate Type of terrain: Rocky
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) on boat at Coral Expedition Cruise or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es), 1 Dinner(s)
Our final stop on our Galapagos adventure is the island of San Cristobal. On route, we circumnavigate the fascinating Kicker Rock, otherwise known as Leon Dormido due its resemblance of a sleeping lion. Composed of compacted volcanic ash, it towers at almost 500 ft above the ocean floor. While the various species of birds soar above, under the surface is where most of the action can be found. A plethora of fish and other marine life call this place home, such as the giant hawkfish, sharks and the visually stunning parrotfish.

Prepare to come face to face with the majestic giant tortoise as we visit the breeding centre La Galapaguera and learn about the various stages of these amazing animals. The tortoises are free to roam in a semi natural habitat near the centre, lending itself to perfect photo opportunities. We then head to the local town, where you can purchase handicrafts or souvenirs of the Galapagos.

Difficulty level: Moderate Type of terrain: Sandy

We make our way to the airport and return to Quito for the night.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Quito or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Teleferico sky tram to Volcan Pichincha – US$10 + taxi fare
  • La Mitad del Mundo with taxi – US$15
  • City Tour US$15
  • Plaza de la Independencia – free, US$1 to enter cathedral
  • Museo de la Ciudad – US$3
Today we depart Ecuador and head for Lima, the vibrant capital city of Peru.

Founded by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 after he eradicated the Incas and made the city his capital, Lima lies on the coast of Peru and is home to some 8.8 million people.

Home to beautiful colonial buildings and some of the best museums in South America including the Gold Museum, Museum of the Inquisition and the Catacombs below the San Francisco Church. Peru's capital has much to offer and many of the sights, including the city's two main squares Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin, boast some fantastic sightseeing opportunities. The Plaza de Armas houses the Cathedral, Municipal Palace and Presidential Palace where the changing of the guard can be seen every day at 12 noon. There are also many markets in Lima, possibly the best being in the central district.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Quito or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Spend today further discovering all Lima has to offer. Walk the colourful streets of Barranco, a hippy neighbourhood known for its bohemian vibes. Barranco is home to museums and art galleries and it is easy to spend hours getting drawn in by this beautiful part of town. From shopping the boutique stores to sampling the street food, there plenty to be found in this artists haven.

Tonight there will be a PDM at 6pm with your Tucan Travel representative who will be on hand to welcome you and assist with your flight the following day. You will meet your tour leader the next day in Cusco.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Santa Cruz or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Museum Inquisition – free
  • Monastery and Catacombs – US$3 guided tour
  • Plaza San Martin, one of the largest and most impressive squares – Free
You will wake early on day two and head to the airport where you will catch a short flight to Cusco. This afternoon we will take a tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You will visit the Pisac ruins, perched on a hilltop with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. You will also visit the temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo with its enormous Inca terracing constructed on the side of a steep mountain. Tonight you will stay in Ollantaytambo in preparation for your journey to Machu Picchu tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Tika Wasi or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Machu Picchu is undoubtedly Peru’s most well known and visited attraction. One of the most beautifully preserved Inca citadels in the world, the mystical views have to be seen to be believed.

Today is that day, and you will enjoy an included train ride to the beautiful ruins followed by a guided tour of the site. Waking early in Ollantaytambo, your group will take a local train to Aguas Calientes where you have time to get some food. Enjoy some stunning views as you journey through the lush Peruvian countryside witnessing mountain vistas, small communities as well as other smaller Inca sites.

From Aguas Calientes, you will hop on a tourist bus for the final short (around 20 minutes) journey to the site.

The lost city of Machu Picchu was originally completely self -contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs. Located high above the fast flowing Urubamba River, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will simply take your breath away. The ruins were only discovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another “lost city” called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still quite intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu (Young Mountain), which towers above the ruins.

After your guided tour and some free time to explore the ruins, you will get the train back to Ollantaytambo, arriving back in Cusco at approximately 10pm.

Options for getting to Machu Picchu:

Taking the train: Waking early in Ollantaytambo you will take the train to Aguas Calientes, arriving at 10am. You will have time to get some food before entering Machu Picchu at approximately midday. Enjoy a guided tour around the site before getting the train back to Ollantaytambo and arriving back in Cusco at approximately 10pm.

One day hike:Waking early in Ollantaytambo you will take the train to to Km104 (2100m) where you will start the trek heading towards the ruins of Chachabamba. From here you will follow the Inca Trail to the foot of the Wiñay-Wayna ruins (2700m), hiking until you reach Sun Gate and Machu Picchu in the late afternoon. Enjoy a guided tour around the site before getting the train back to Ollantaytambo and arriving back in Cusco at approximately 10pm.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Anden Inca or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Today is free to relax and explore some more of Cusco. Take a walking tour and admire the colonial buildings or wander the colourful San Pedro Market, where you can find fruits and vegetables in abundance as well as other local delicacies.

A 45 minute walk from the centre lies Sacsayhuaman, another ancient Inca site that is well worth the journey for both the incredible views of Cusco and the interesting stonework. You can also catch a glimpse of Cristo Blanco, the large statue of Christ that towers above the city.

Spend the evening back at Plaza de Armas and experience Cusco after dark. With plenty quaint restaurants and vibrant bars around, the plaza is as lively as during the day.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Anden Inca or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Boleto Completo, valid for 10 days and includes entrance to most Inca ruin sites in Sacred Valley and Cusco.– US$40 or 130 soles
  • Boleto Partial, includes just sites around Cusco – 70 soles
  • Massages – US$25/hr
  • City tour – US$30 + 70 soles entry if Completo has not been purchased
  • Chocolate making course – US$22
This morning we start early to visit the Cruz del Condor (Condor's Cross) lookout point in search of the giant condors soaring out of the canyon on thermal currents while taking a walk along the canyon's edge and admiring the spectacular views. The beautiful scenery continues as you take a combination of buses all the way to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which at 3,855 metres above sea level, is the highest navigable lake in the world. After six hours of travel, we will arrive in Puno.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Munay Tambo or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Today we take a day trip to the traditional and enthralling Lake Titicaca. Not only is it the largest lake in South America, it sits at 3,800 meters above sea level making it the highest navigable body of water on earth. Crystal blue waters compliment the bright yellow grass reeds used to construct the homes and boats floating upon it, while the traditional clothing simply adds to the beauty and colour of the place. While the lake tends to be overshadowed by its biodiverse and world famous neighbour the Amazon jungle, there exists over 500 aquatic species here and many various birds.

First we visit the floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno to see the Uros islanders way of life and we will have the option to ride in a traditional reed boat.

Next stop is Taquile Island, an island on Lake Titicaca still holding up many of the traditions values and customs it was built on. Learn about the way of life, from the reasons for why they do their hair the way they do and how they dress. Famous for their textiles and clothing, you will be able to pick up a homemade gift or two from the main square.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Munay Tambo or similar . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
La Paz is unlike any other city in the world. A dizzying blend of sounds, colours, smells, bustling activity and true Bolivian culture, La Paz is also the highest capital city in the world, sitting at an impressive 3,500 metres above sea level. Surrounded by the snow capped Altiplano mountains, the city is crammed into a canyon and surrounded by eroding and unique rock formations.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Sagarnaga or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Red Caps walking tours – Bs.20
  • Death Road Mountain Biking – US$124
Our hotel is very centrally located and is just around the corner from the city's colourful indigenous street markets including the fascinating and suitably named "Witches Market'' where local women in traditional 'Cholita' dress sell such items as dead cats and llamas foetuses said to ward off evil spirits. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is also within walking distance. The square still retains its colonial buildings including the Presidential Palace. La Paz is possibly the best place to experience a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance to local bands playing time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (the ukulele).
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Sagarnaga or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Basic Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Red Caps walking tours – Bs.20
  • Death Road Mountain Biking – US$124
Today we fly to the town of Uyuni, a remote corner of southwestern Bolivia and gateway to the mesmerising salt flats. Originally started as a trading post between Chili, the city is home to a small population of around 11,000 people yet welcomes close to 70,000 travellers every year who are eager to see the largest salt flat area in the world. On a clear day, the views from the plane are magical, as we fly over the huge expanse that is the Altiplano, to the Andes as you see the landscape slowly start to flatten.

Spend the afternoon relaxing in this quaint town and wander the street markets, try some local dishes or simply observe local life.

Please note: During the winter months of May-August temperatures of the Altiplano can be extremely cold, so please be prepared and pack warm clothes.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Toñito Hotel or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
This morning we embark on an exhilarating three day tour to explore the Salar de Uyuni, otherwise known as the largest salt flat area in the world. Using 4WD vehicles, we also visit some of the most beautiful landscapes that surround the area. First on the agenda is a stop at the eery Train Cemetery, a graveyard of early 19th and 20th century steam locomotives. Perfect for some unique and artistic photographs, the cemetery represents how important Uyuni once was as a transportation hub. Next stop is Colchani, which is a small, one street town at the edge of the salt flats. Acting as the main plant for the iodisation of salt and the best place to observe the methods of salt extraction from the salar, Colchani annually processes around 25,000 tonnes of salt (out of the estimated 10 billion tonnes the Salar de Uyuni holds!)

The largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuni covers some 10,500 square kilometres and looks like a surreal piece of art. With seemingly infinite horizons in front of you, the dream like atmosphere amazes visitors again and again.

After free time to take as many illusion like photos as possible, we then visit either Fish Island or Incahuasi Island, depending on the season. Located in the centre of the Salar, 100 kilometres from Uyuní, this hilly outpost is covered in giant cacti amid a flat, white sea of hexagonal salt tiles. On a clear sunny day, the blue skies complimenting the white grounds will be a view like no other.

Please note: Occasionally in the rainy season the salt flats become overly flooded and we may have to alter the itinerary if the salt flats are not safe to traverse. Your tour leader will advise as early as possible if this is likely to happen on your tour.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hostels . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
We continue south on our epic 4WD expedition, into some of the most remote areas of the Bolivian Altiplano. You will see a variety of dramatic landscapes including smoking volcanoes, barren deserts and gravity-defying rock formations carved by the wind. In this incredibly empty landscape you'll most likely feel the furthest from civilisation you've ever been. You will visit a number of lagoons including Cañapa, Chairkota and Laguna Honda. You will also get to see the Laguna Colorada, which offers some truly breathtaking scenery, with several varieties of flamingos gathering in the shallow waters of the beautiful crimson lagoon. Before arriving at Laguna Colorada you will pass Arbol de Piedra, the famous Stone Tree.

Please Note:The temperatures can get very cold and often drop below zero when crossing the Bolivian Altiplano, especially the winter months from May to September. You may wish to bring a sleeping bag if traveling in the winter months. A sleeping bag can also be rented from your Tour Leader for 50 Bolivian Bolivianos.

Approximate travel time: 10hrs
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hostels . No single room upgrade available.
Meals
  • 1 Basic Breakfast(s)
Today we leave Bolivia behind and head for Chile. We make our way to San Pedro de Atacama, making a few stops on the way. We visit the volcanic zone ‘Sol de Mañana' (Morning Sun) at 4,850 metres above sea level. Here you'll discover a geyser basin with bubbling mud pots, hellish fumaroles and a thick aroma of sulphur fumes. Inside a small crater we will observe mud bubbling away and we will also stop at hot springs where you can bathe. We will pass the Desert of Salvador Dali before crossing a 5,000 metre pass. We then come to the beautiful Laguna Verde, which is shadowed by the cone of the Licancabur Volcano. Next to Laguna Verde is Laguna Blanca, known as the White Lake. Continuing on we will cross into Chile. On the way we get the chance to see both the Bolivian and Chilean sides of the 5960m Licancabur Volcano. We then come to San Pedro de Atacama in the world's driest desert. The area is famous for the salt-covered lunar landscapes, geysers, salt flats and hot springs of the Valley of the Moon, which we will explore by van tomorrow.

Please Note: Upon exiting Bolivia you will be required to pay a small fee of 20 Bolivianos.

Approximate travel time: 7hrs
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Don Raul or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Basic Breakfast(s)
San Pedro de Atacama is a picturesque small town that looks like it has come straight from the scene of a Western with its single-storey buildings, white-washed walls and dusty roads. Due to its remote location and dry climate, the Atacama desert offers some of the clearest skies in the world and as such is used by international space agencies to monitor the skies. If you are lucky enough to have clear nights during your stay in San Pedro de Atacama, the starscape will most likely be the best you'll ever see.

Today we enjoy an excursion to the Valley of the Moon. The various stone formations have been formed by the wind and rain over time, resulting in unique and interesting shapes, similar to the surface of the moon. In fact, it is said a prototype of the Mars rover was tested in the area!
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Don Raul or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Next we head to the sprawling metropolis of Santiago. Nestled in central Chile, the city is framed by the tall and snow capped Andes mountains which on a clear day give the city the most stunning backdrop.

Santiago is a very clean, modern city with many fountains and parks, but also has its own turbulent history. It is well-known for its fresh markets such as the famous La Vega Central Market, and the Mercado Central, one of the best seafood markets in the world. You can see the changing of the guard most days outside the impressive Palacio de La Moneda, the seat of the President of Chile. In the 1970s, the palace was bombarded during the military coup d'état, ushering in a dark period in Chile’s national history.

For the best views of the city, take a funicular railway or hike to the top of San Cristobal, where the Statue of the Virgin overlooks the capital and the distant Andes. Here you can taste some of Chile's best wines and find some beautifully situated swimming pools.

Please Note: We will depart early to maximise our time in Santiago, therefore breakfast is not included on this day.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Libertador or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Today is free for you to further explore Santiago. Why not visit los Dominicos village, a traditional market which offers an array of Chilean artisan goods and textiles. Wander the shops and pick up some unique souvenirs or perch yourself outside a coffee shop and try catch some of the live musicians who often play in the area.

Other interesting places to visit are the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, an impressive fine art gallery housed in a colossal neoclassical building, and the Cementerio General, a huge cemetery with large mausoleums including that of the former president Salvador Allende Gossens. Also worth a visit is the Plaza de Armas, the centrepiece of the city, which is bordered on one side by the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, completed in the 19th century.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Libertador or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Buffet Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Tours 4 Tips Walking Tours – Free (tip how much you think the tour is worth)
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes - US$1
  • Museo Histórico Nacional – US$1
  • Teatro Municipal, with daily shows ranging from opera, ballet, orchestras and concerts – from US$3-12
  • Maipo region winery tours – US$18-50
If you would like to experience a more tranquil area of Chile, you may wish to take an optional excursion to the Chilean coast, about two hours’ drive from Santiago. You can wander around the creative port city of Valparaiso, which has a lively tradition of imaginative street art and painted murals, or you can relax in the upmarket beach resort of Viña del Mar, trying exquisite seafood in stylish restaurants that look out onto the Pacific Ocean.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Libertador or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Buffet Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Tours 4 Tips Walking Tours – Free (tip how much you think the tour is worth)
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes - US$1
  • Museo Histórico Nacional – US$1
  • Teatro Municipal, with daily shows ranging from opera, ballet, orchestras and concerts – from US$3-12
  • Maipo region winery tours – US$18-50
Today we fly into Mendoza, one of the most visited and popular cities in the country. Under the shadow of the Andes, this picturesque place is most known for it’s incredible wine valleys.

Mendoza is where General José de San Martín organised the army with which he liberated Chile and Peru from Spanish rule in 1818. Unfortunately, few historic buildings remain after an earthquake devastated the city in 1861. However, the city was rebuilt on a grid system, resulting in the broad tree-lined streets and beautiful green plazas for which the city is famous. There are great views from the top of “Cerro de la Gloria” at Parque San Martíno.

Approximate travel time (winter): 3hrs
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Urbana Suites or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Buffet Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • White water rafting – from US$40
  • Paragliding – US$106
  • Parque San Martin – free
No trip to Mendoza would be complete without touring the surrounding vineyards. Since the wine boom in the early 20th century, Mendoza has held its title of the largest wine growing area in Latin America, and one of the best in the world. Sitting at the foot of the Andes, the vineyards are planted at some of the highest altitudes and since the region doesn’t experience extreme temperatures, a variety of grapes are able to flourish here.

Today your group will enjoy an excursion to a local vineyard as well as a charming olive farm. Sample some of the finest wine in the region (including the world renowned Malbec!) while learning more about the history and production of wine. Enjoy a traditional Argentinian lunch at the vineyard sampling some fine local and homegrown foods. Finally, we taste various olive oils at the farm and enjoy some of the most stunning scenery the countryside has to offer.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Urbana Suites or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s), 1 Local Lunch(es)
Today is free to further explore Mendoza. Situated on the foothills of the Andes, the city is a great base for some optional outdoor activities, such as white-water rafting and rappelling.

If you are after something a little less adrenaline inducing, rent a bike and cycle the nearby countryside and vineyards and even stop off for some more wine tastings!
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Urbana Suites or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
The beautiful city of Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" due to its lovely green parks, plazas and wide boulevards. Explore the quirky neighbourhoods and artistic markets of the city, where European and Latin American influences have mixed together to create a city like no other. To make sure you see as many of the city's historic sites as possible in the time available, we suggest taking a sight-seeing bus, which you can hop on and off as you wish. You'll see Avenida 9 de Julio (the widest avenue in the world), the impressive Teatro Colón, one of the world's best opera houses, and the famous Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, from where Juan and Eva Perón famously addressed the crowds gathered on Plaza de Mayo in 1945.

Approximate travel time: 2.5hrs
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel TWO or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Breakfast(s)
Today is free to further explore Buenos Aires. Wander around the variety of craft markets, where you may come across live bands, barbecues, make-shift bars and practising tango dancers for a truly atmospheric Latin-American experience. San Telmo is the best market for antiques, while the market at Recoleta has great hand-made crafts. No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a stroll around the upmarket boutiques and cafés of the Palermo district, and the contrasting bohemian barrio of La Boca, where poor inhabitants of the area used left-over paint from the nearby shipyards to paint their humble houses made of scrap metal in bright, block colours.

The city is also world-renowned for its incredible nightlife, with many nightclubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas open all night. For a great evening, you could see an authentic tango show in the city where the dance originated, and you can’t leave Buenos Aires without trying some of the best steaks in the world!
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel TWO or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Local Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Tango show & dinner – US$90
  • Hop on/hop off bus – US$28
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Free
On your last day in Buenos Aires, make sure you have ticked off the highlights of the city before relaxing on the beautiful golden sand beaches soaking up the atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel TWO or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Local Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Tango show & dinner – US$90
  • Hop on/hop off bus – US$28
  • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Free
We fly into Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side, visiting the famous Iguazú Falls - the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. Unlike most other waterfalls that have just one or two cataracts, at Iguazú Falls there are 275 cataracts in a magnificent 3 kilometre long U shape that we will visit from both sides.

Visiting the Argentine side of the falls you can board a speed boat which will take you under the falls soaking you from head to toe, an optional adventure you'll never forget! On the Argentine side you'll also find the famous "Devil's Throat" where fourteen falls drop with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead. Following this we transfer to Brazil.

Approximate travel time: 4hrs
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Taroba Express or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Helicopter ride over the Falls – US$120
  • Bird Park – US$14
  • Rafain dinner and dance show – US$50
  • Itaipu Dam, including transport, presentation film and tour around the engineering marvel – US$25
  • Jungle 4WD and boat trips – US$12-60
Visiting the Brazilian side of the falls will give you a completely different perspective from the Argentine side. On the Brazilian side you can see the falls by walking through the rainforest and along catwalks above and below the rushing water. You can also visit the world's largest hydroelectric dam at Itaipu (optional) where you can learn more about the ecological issues faced during the dam's construction. There is also a very interesting bird park nearby, perfect for that must-have photo with a toucan!
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Taroba Express or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
Meals
  • 1 Buffet Breakfast(s)
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Helicopter ride over the Falls – US$120
  • Bird Park – US$14
  • Rafain dinner and dance show – US$50
  • Itaipu Dam, including transport, presentation film and tour around the engineering marvel – US$25
  • Jungle 4WD and boat trips – US$12-60
Fantastic Rio de Janeiro has many things to see and do. There are trips up Sugar Loaf Mountain by cable car and Corcovado, with its famous Statue of Christ, for great city views. You can also wander around the cobblestone streets of the hill-top neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. A walking tour of Rio's historic buildings is also a lovely way to pass an afternoon, or you may like to visit the Botanical Gardens or one of the famous beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. If you are in Rio de Janeiro around February/March get ready for the world's biggest party, the Rio Carnival.
Accommodation
  • 1 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Regina or similar . Upgrade to your own room here.
OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS
  • Full day Rio de Janeiro city tour – US$68
  • Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) cable car – US$12
  • Beaches – free
  • Maracana Stadium tour – US$7-35
  • Favela half day tour – US$29
  • Hang-gliding – US$245
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
Meals
  • 1 Buffet Breakfast(s)
what’s included
Accommodation
  • 34 night(s) in hotels, 1 night(s) in a guesthouse, 3 night(s) on boat , 2 night(s) in hostels
Meals
  • 26 Breakfast(s), 2 Local Lunch(es), 1 Local Dinner(s), 3 Lunch(es), 3 Dinner(s), 3 Basic Breakfast(s), 5 Buffet Breakfast(s), 2 Local Breakfast(s)
Transport
  • Private Vehicle, flight(s), Public Bus, 4WD, Foot, Expedition cruise, Tourist Bus, Boat
Excursions
  • Guided Coffee Plantation Tour including entrance
  • Cocora Valley Tour with optional trek
  • Colonial City Tour plus visit to “The middle of the world” equator
  • Visit Charles Darwin Research Centre & Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre
  • Walk & snorkelling on Mosquera Islet & North Seymour Island
  • Deep-water snorkelling & walk on Santa Fe Island
  • Visit San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre
  • Guided Tour of The Sacred Valley with entrance
  • Entrance and guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Guided Day Excursion of Lake Titicaca
  • Drive on the Salar de Uyuní salt flats
  • Entry to Laguna Colorada National Park
  • Guided tour of the Valley of the Moon
  • Guided Argentinian Winery Tour
  • Visit Iguazu Falls (Brazilian Side)
  • Visit Iguazu Falls (Argentinian Side)
what’s excluded
  • Visas and travel insurance
  • Spending money ampndash budget for meals snacks drinks limited souvenirs laundry tips and any extras
  • The USD100 per person permit fee for entering the Galapagos Islands National Park. This should be paid on your arrival to the airport in the Galapagos Islands
Tour details
Duration 41 days
Tour Type Group Tour
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Cartagena, Colombia/ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Iconic South America
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Good to know
Payment

A deposit of 1000 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 60 days before departure. For any departures within 24 June 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Iconic South America tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Iconic South America tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Iconic South America tour. You can cancel the tour up to 61 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 60 days of departure.
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  • Age Group: {{myRequest.age_group}} yrs
  • Type of Tour: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].type_of_tour}}
  • Accommodation Option: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].accommodation_option}}
  • Budget Per Person: USD {{myRequest.approx_budget_amount}}
  • Budget Flexibility {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].budget_flexibility}}
  • Trip Planning Stage {{myRequest.trip_planning_stage}}
""
Can you handle {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}'s enquiry? Rejection Reason
{{myRequest.reject_reason?myRequest.reject_reason:'Sorry, Your trip request has been rejected.'}}
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