Days
40
Price from
$6,995USD

Unlucky in love? Out for revenge? Need a cure for hayfever? Get your coca leaves read, buy a spell or pick up a dried llama fetus (ideal for sacrificing) at the Witches' Market in La Paz.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Countries
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru
Code
GSZEC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • The boffins at UNESCO have perfected the science of picking the world’s best stuff. With its colonial architecture, plazas, churches and colourful local life, there's a reason they've listed Quito's Old Town as a World Heritage site

  • There's nothing like munching on a red tomato from an Ecuadorian market, eh? Saunter (yes, saunter) around the Otavalo Markets and find yourself smack bang in the middle of Souvenir City, population: you

  • When humans and nature work in perfect harmony you get a place like Cuenca – colonial streets and buildings to wander and El Cajas NP’s stunning lakey landscapes to hike while looking out for llamas

  • Get your adrenaline kicks in the party and adventure playground of Banos – or just go for ‘me time’ and plonk yourself in a hot spring

  • Head out on a city tour of Lima visiting Miraflores and downtown, and join the Peruvian hipsters in the neighbourhood of Barranco

Is this trip right for you?

  • It’s important to wear sunscreen and other sun protection, and always drink plenty of water.

  • Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit some people can suffer altitude sickness. Some people aren’t affected at all, but if you are, be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too hard. If possible, arrive a few days early to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information about altitude sickness.

  • While hiking the 4 Day Inca Trail or 3 Day Inca Quarry trail portion of this trip you may be joined by some non-Geckos travellers, who might be over the age of 29 years old.

Itinerary

Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Things kick off today when you meet you leader and new travel mates at a welcome meeting at 2pm. Double check with the hotel reception for the exact time and place. Insurance details and next of kin information will be collected at this meeting, so please have this on hand for your leader. If you’re going to be late, please let the hotel reception know. Quito’s a pretty amazing place surrounded by mountainous volcanoes, but it’s not just the view that can take your breath away – Quito is way up at 2,800 metres above sea level and it can be common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude, regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please check out the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes for important information about altitude sickness before and during your trip. There’s plenty of stuff to do in Quito if you get here early – hit up the Old Town, the Plaza Grande and the Plaza San Francisco to get a feel for local life, then head to El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) for awesome views over the city’s white houses and mountains. After the meeting tonight, maybe dine with your new buddies – grab some empanadas for sure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
How good’s your Spanish? You’ll find out this morning when you catch a local bus to the famous Otavalo Market (approximately 2-3 hours). This is the perfect chance to (try to) chat with the locals and maybe get some tips on the best stuff to pick up. This day trip will give you loads of time to squeeze your way through the streets that surround the Plaza de los Ponchos and check out the rainbow of stalls that make up Ecuador’s largest indigenous market. Once a week it feels like every villager from the surrounding countryside has descended on the town to buy everything from handmade crafts to fruits, vegetables, and even livestock. A bit further out of the city all types of animals are up for trade, from llamas to masses of (edible) guinea pigs. This is the perfect place to stock up on some souvenirs – silver jewellery, a poncho, wooden carvings, a Panama hat (which actually originated in Ecuador) – and practice your bargaining skills. And that’s not to mention the great, colourful photos you’ll get. In the afternoon, hop back on the bus and return to Quito. Maybe grab some dinner and drinks with the group, then try Old Town’s strange ice cream flavours – morocho corn or quinoa anyone?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Otavalo - Market Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say bye to Quito as you take a private transfer to the bus station. From here you’ll hop a local bus to Banos, the adventure capital of Ecuador (approximately 3 hours). Location, location, location, that’s what Banos is all about. It’s got a subtropical climate and from town you can see waterfalls crashing down green hills and the occasional eruption of the Tungurahua volcano. This is a great place to get into some small town vibes and explore the Ecuadorian great outdoors. The town might seem quiet during the week, but at night and the weekend Banos really kicks off as a party town. The rumbling volcano means hot water bubbles up out of the ground here so, if you have time after you arrive, maybe head to the hot springs of Las Piscinas de la Virgen. This is the perfect way to relax after your bus journey and get your body ready for tomorrow's adventures.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Banos has traditionally been known as the outdoor centre of Ecuador with a number of popular high risk activities being offered to foreign and national tourists alike. The safety of our travellers and staff is our first priority. As such, we at Geckos have gone through our due processes and assessed local suppliers and their safety standards in Banos. Unfortunately, to date none of the local operators in the area have been able to pass Geckos minimum safety standards. As a consequence, we have instructed local leaders to share with you our safety concerns, discourage travellers from taking these type of activities at this destination and strictly forbid them from helping travellers arrange these activities at this location. Fortunately, Banos has plenty more to offer than high risk activities and we are confident that you will have a great time exploring the area under the guidance of our knowledgeable local leaders
Hear that? That’s adventure calling! If you didn’t get too into the nightlife yesterday, rise early to catch a sweet sunrise over the mountains before breakfast. Then it’s decision time. How will you explore this outdoor playground? Get on some sturdy shoes and hike through the lush forests visit the near-by Devils Cauldrom waterfall!
If you're feeling cruisey, hit up the hot springs and spas for some chill out me-time. Other stuff to explore in town includes the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Agua Santa (a basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the Holy Water) and the artisan markets. If you didn’t get enough stuff at Otavalo, then negotiate for leather goods, jewellery and carvings. Tonight, swap stories of your adventures while you get into the regular carnival-like atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Let’s be straight – today is a long travel day on local buses. This is your chance to catch up on few Z’s after partying and adventuring in Banos, to get to know your travel buddies better, to write in that journal or read that book, or to just press your face up against the glass and watch Ecuador go by. You’ll take a local bus to Riobamba (approximately 3 hours), where you’ll swap buses and head south to Cuenca (approximately 5 hours). Is Cuenca the best-looking city in Ecuador? Probably, with UNESCO sticking it on their list of things they love. There are loads of impressive 500-year-old churches and colonial buildings, made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. It’s the country’s third largest city but still has a small town and Old World air, and it’s great for just wandering around and exploring. Think you can pull off a Panama hat? Well Cuenca is the home of the famous headwear, and if there’s time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. Cuenca is also a university town, so all the students give it a buzzing nightlife, and there are some good bars and restaurants to choose from. Add in an evening stroll around the Plaza and you’ve got the perfect end to your first day in Cuenca.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Meet up with your leader this morning and get to know Cuenca better with an orientation walk. Trundle along cobblestone streets and check out colonial parks, buzzing markets, and stop by the monumental cathedral at the centre. La Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción took 100 years to finish, and its blue and white domes are a real standout. The rest of the day is free to explore Cuenca and the surrounding area. If you’re feeling cultural, maybe head to the Museo Pumapungo, which features an impressive range of artistic, historical, cultural, and ethnological exhibits (including a collection of real shrunken heads from the Shuar civilisation – for the strong stomached only!). Otherwise, maybe get out of town to El Cajas National Park, home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. 70,000 acres shelter everything from cloud forest to rocky lunar landscapes, but it's the lakes (more than 200 of them) scattered among jagged peaks that are its best-known image. Feel the solitude while hiking or trout fishing. Look out for the reintroduced wild llamas that roam around, as well as elusive spectacled bears, pumas and tigrillos. There are also hummingbirds, toucans and Andean condors flying about the park. El Cajas is a simple one-hour bus ride from Cuenca. Once there, pay the entrance fee, hire a native guide and start hiking around the beautiful lakes. Tonight you might want to get to bed early, in preparation for a very early start early tomorrow morning.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Peru takes a bit of getting to, so strap in once again for a long day of travelling – just look forward to that first sip of Pisco sour this evening. At approximately 3am start off with a taxi to the bus station in Cuenca, then take a public bus south east towards the coast and the town of Huanquillas, which sits on the border of Ecuador and Peru (approximately 5-6 hours). Get all the boring border stuff out the way, then cross into Peru and make your way to Tumbes airport (approximately 30 minutes). Say bye to your Ecuadorian leader, then hop on a plane for an included flight to the Peruvian capital, Lima (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes). Touch down and meet your Peruvian leader, who’ll take you to your hotel in Miraflores, which sits along the coast, offering easy access to beaches and Pacific sunsets. This afternoon your leader will take you on an orientation walk around Miraflores, one of the city's most popular districts and filled with arty markets, shops, restaurants, bars and ‘discotheques’. Get that Pisco sour tonight, washing down some fresh ceviche.
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader led orientation walk of Miraflores
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day in Peru. Your tour leader will give you some suggestions of things to do and there are plenty of optional activities available.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today there will be a group meeting around 2pm. Here you'll meet any new travellers starting their trip in Lima.
Following the meeting your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral of Lima, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro. Nearby is the San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. There will be time for you to go inside if you wish, however the entrance fee is not included in the tour price. The city tour will finish in time for dinner, you may choose to head out for dinner with the group. Why not head to one of Lima's many seafood restaurants to try one of the nation's favourite dishes, ceviche.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lima - Leader Led orientation walk of Miraflores
Optional Activities
  • Lima - Archaeological Museum - PEN15
  • Lima - Guided tour of San Francisco Monastery including The Catacombs - PEN12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. Upon your arrival, the lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Here you can leave most of your luggage in safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for your next two nights in the jungle. You’ll then take a motorised canoe upriver to your jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios area. There will be time to unpack and unwind once you get there. The next two days are packed with activities. Your full day in the jungle includes a trek which lasts approximately half a day. At times the paths can get quite muddy and some people can find the trek a little exhausting. Along the way there will be regular stops, and you'll encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. You might spot everything from macaws and monkeys to peccaries, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies. The guides can also teach you about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants. For lunch you will return to the lodge.
For your night-time excursion, you will venture out in the dark in search of caimans on the Tambopata River. The naturalist guide will use a spotlight in order to locate them on the banks of the river, so you can observe them from a respectable distance.
Accommodation
  • Amazon Lodge (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • Amazon Jungle - Activities at the lodge
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Special Information
We stay at two different lodges in the same area. The activities may vary slightly according to which lodge you are at. Depending on which lodge you are staying at, the included night excursion may be on the first or second night. As both of our lodges are in the same area of the jungle, you will see the same wildlife and your overall jungle experience will be the same in either lodge.
Say farewell to the jungle today and fly to Cuzco, which takes just under an hour. Spend the next day trying to acclimatise to the high altitude of this location (i.e. no strenuous activity).
After dropping your luggage off and having some lunch, your tour leader will take you on a walk around downtown Cuzco. You’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square.
The order of visiting these locations, may vary according to hotel location and your tour leaders preference.
In your free time may want to book some of the optional activities available in Cuzco. Please speak with your leader about this.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Cuzco - Cathedral Entrance Fee - PEN25
  • Cusco - Full Boleto Turistico Pass, which gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in/around Cuzco (Transport & guides are not included) - PEN135
  • Cuzco - Coricancha Temple entrance fee - PEN15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today takes you a little closer to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Unwind on a private bus for around two hours through the Sacred Valley, which is on the fringes of Cuzco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Head to a community in the valley to learn about the local lifestyle and activities, and hopefully your visit will coincide with market day (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Comb the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and master the local Quechuan language (a few words will be deemed a success). Continuing on, drive 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo. Later in the afternoon, perhaps head out to visit to Ollantaytambo’s awesome Incan ruins. You’ll spend the night at a hotel in Ollantaytambo, ready for your early morning start on the Inca Trail.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail or head back to Cuzco for another two nights before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cuzco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kg maximum).

Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cuzco and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.

Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Today travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3,100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the ruins of Llactapata, which was burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail. In the evening, set up camp while the cook makes dinner.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3,700 meters above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 3 Train:
For those travellers disinterested in hiking the trail or who are unable to, spend two extra nights in Cuzco before travelling by bus back through Ollantaytambo. From here take a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend a third night.

Accommodation
  • Camping on trek or Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
This is the most challenging day of the trek, as we ascend a long steep path (approximately five hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650 metres.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3 Train:
Today, perhaps your free day indulging your inner foodie in the eateries of Cuzco. Head to lunch at the arty Fallen Angel restaurant, and if you still have room for dessert, the ChocoMuseo offers tastings and chocolate-marking workshops. All optional activities are at your own cost.
Accommodation
  • Camping on trek or Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around 2-3 hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the two-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3 Train:
In the morning take the three-hour train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want to, there’s time to visit Machu Picchu independently before the guided tour the next day. If you’d like to do this, please advise your group leader at the welcome meeting at the beginning of the trip. Otherwise, you might like to while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs of Aguas Calientes.


Accommodation
  • Camping on trek or Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail:
The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking by 5.30 am. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with tourists).

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am this morning along the winding road to Machu Picchu. The journey takes around 30 minutes. At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins.

Route 3 Train:
In the morning at 5.30 am, take a bus up to Machu Picchu. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cuzco.

For all trails - after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour. Your evening is then free for the last night of your adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Machu Picchu - Guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Today enjoy free time to relax, shop for souvenirs or see more of Cuzco's sights. Perhaps head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas, or if you're a thrill-seeker, try mountain biking in the hills surrounding Cuzco. In the evening, you might want to chew the fat with the group over dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning travel by local bus for six hours through the Altiplano plateau to Puno. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with an evening parade, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians. Once you're settled, head out in town and shake your tailfeather.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Puno sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Today you'll take a tour of the lake by slow motorboat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros people built these islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes in ancient times. They're built completely from multiple layers of totora reeds, which grow in the shallows of the lake. In the evening, enjoy a homestay in a local community on Llachon. Your homestay is in a mud-brick house, with shared drop-toilets but no shower. It can get quite cold here. The homestay will provide plenty of blankets, but remember to pack thermals and plenty of layers. Help your host family with their daily activities or maybe play a game of soccer in the village.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Enjoy a home-cooked breakfast by your host family this morning, taking the time to explore the rest of the island afterwards. In the afternoon, take the boat back to Puno where the rest of your day is free to explore.

Puno is the hometown of Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813
Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by comfortable local bus to Desaguadero (just over seven hours) and cross the border into Bolivia. You'll be asked to leave the bus to proceed through Peruvian migration. The group will then walk across a bridge, submit passports at the Bolivian migration office and reboard the bus for La Paz. Approximately 30 minutes after crossing the border, there's another stop where the army will check your documents again. The journey to La Paz takes around eight hours in total. In the evening, perhaps head out for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your leader will point out the main points of interest in town and help get your bearings, then the rest of the day is free for you to explore La Paz
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Guided City Tour - USD18
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information

Your second day in La Paz is free to explore. The city is renowned for its markets, especially the Mercado de Hechiceria (Witches' Market), which sells potions, incantations, stones and artefacts. Ask a local about their significance - most people are happy to explain. Perhaps visit the Coca Museum, which isn’t too far from your hotel in the Rosario district. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the Food With Altitude or To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond tours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Paz - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • La Paz - Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour - USD16
  • La Paz - Tiawanaku tour - USD39
  • La Paz - City Tour & Moon Valley - USD25
  • La Paz - Food with Altitude - Urban Adventure - USD57
  • La Paz - To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond - Urban Adventures - USD41
  • La Paz - Visit to the 'Witches Market' - Free
  • La Paz - Coca Museum - BOB12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Late in the afternoon, leave La Paz on an overnight bus to Uyuni (approximately 11-12 hours). There are comfortable recliner seats on the bus, but it can be cold on-board so it’s important to bring warm clothing and wear base layers. There’s usually a toilet on the bus and the driver will also make a couple of stops along the way.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Arrive in Uyuni Town. This remote town sits on the edge of the high Altiplano, a wilderness area extending for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. The area is notorious for being extremely cold, so it’s important to pack warm clothing and base layers.
This morning and venture out on a three-day 4WD excursion. Be prepared for a busy few days ahead. The first stop will be at a rusty Train Cemetery, before you continue on to Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flats. While this may be a typical stop for many travellers, it’s also often a highlight. Make the most of your time on the salt flats taking lots of photos and explore Inka Wasi Isla, which is a rocky island covered in cacti and coral-like structures.
Accommodation
  • Dormitory (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uyuni - Salt flats tour
  • Salt flats - Visit to 'Fish Island/Inca Wasi'
  • Uyuni - Orientation Walk
  • Uyuni - Colchani Salt Factory Visit
  • Salt flats - Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please be aware that from December to March, there’s a risk of the salt lake being flooded. If this is the case, the itinerary will be adapted to accommodate this
Today will be spent driving through the spectacular landscape of the Andean (Atacama) Desert, which is sprinkled with volcanoes and lakes. During this drive you’ll reach an altitude of approximately 4,900 metres above sea level, so it’s important to revisit the notes on altitude sickness (please see the ‘Is This Trip Right For You?’ and ‘Health’ sections of the trip notes). Stop by the red lake of Laguna Colorada, where you’ll be able to spot wildlife such llamas, flamingos, viscachas and foxes feasting in the nutrient-rich waters.


Accommodation
  • Dormitory (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Accommodation in the desert is basic. Shower facilities can be unreliable and cold, as the pipes often freeze in the winter months. Electricity is generated by solar panels, so there won’t be enough power to charge electronic devices. In the rainy season, the itinerary may need to be altered depending on the accessibility of roads.
This morning stop by the desert’s natural thermal baths for a soak and then head to the Bolivia/Chile border, where the Bolivian part of your trip comes to an end. Pass by geysers, salt flats and snow-capped volcanoes on your way to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. As a small oasis town, San Pedro is surrounded by extraordinary scenery. Use your free time to wander around, perhaps checking out the quaint Church of San Pedro de Atacama, the Museo Gustavo Le Paige (archaeological museum) or the town’s central plaza.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Use today to get under the skin of this burgeoning tourist destination. San Pedro’s cafe and restaurant scene has grown considerably over the last couple of years. With a mix of Chilean, French and Italian influences, you’ll be sure to find a great spot for lunch and dinner. Perhaps head out on an optional tour to the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) or join an astronomical tour once the stars come out.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Pedro de Atacama - Bike Rental - USD8
  • San Pedro de Atacama - Moon Valley - USD18
  • San Pedro de Atacama - Astronomic Tour - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today will be a long day of travel (approximately 12 hours), as you leave San Pedro and head for Salta, Argentina. Salta's rich history, colonial architecture, friendly locals and surrounding natural attractions make it one Argentina's main attractions. If you have time on arrival, spend some time getting to know the area in the vicinity of the hotel. The gardens, fountains and historic buildings in Plaza 9 de Julio are a great place to start.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Salta - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Salta - Cerro San Bernardo Chairlift - ARS150
  • Salta - Archaeological Museum - ARS100
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The next two days are free to explore Salta and its attractions. If you’re after something active, hike up the 1,070 steps to the summit of Cerro San Bernardo; the mountain that looms over Salta. You can take a gondola (cable car) to the top if you’d prefer. Either way, the view from the top is magnificent.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take an included flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. On arrival, perhaps explore the cobblestone streets of San Telmo and browse its antiques markets, then continue to the Plaza de Mayo to see the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada. In the evening, you might like to enjoy a tango show, a football match or a steak and glass of Malbec in one of the city’s fashionable restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The next three days are free to Explore Buenos Aires. Join the tourists and walk among the tombs at the La Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Eva Peron. There are also some great museums to check out in the Recoleta district. Visit the neighbourhood of La Boca, home to the colourful Caminito artists’ street and world-renowned soccer team, Boca Juniors. Perhaps take part in an Urban Adventure centred on the city’s love of food, such as the Malbec Trail of Palermo or the Gourmet Buenos Aires Food tour (contact us for more information). If you need to rest your feet, settle down at one of the many street side cafes to watch the world go by with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • Buenos Aires - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Buenos Aires - Gourmet Food Urban Adventure - USD120
  • Buenos Aires - Tango, Tango, Tango! Urban Adventure - USD90
  • Buenos Aires - Malbec Trail of Palermo Urban Adventure - USD111
  • Buenos Aires - Tango show - ARS1200
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Enjoy your last free day in Buenos Aires. Join the tourists and walk among the tombs at the La Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Eva Peron. There are also some great museums to check out in the Recoleta district. Visit the neighbourhood of La Boca, home to the colourful Caminito artists’ street and world-renowned soccer team, Boca Juniors. Perhaps take part in an Urban Adventure centred on the city’s love of food, such as the Malbec Trail of Palermo or the Gourmet Buenos Aires Food tour (contact us for more information). If you need to rest your feet, settle down at one of the many street side cafes to watch the world go by with the locals. In the evening you'll be taking an overnight bus to Foz do Iguazu.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Bus (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Buenos Aires - Tango, Tango, Tango! Urban Adventure - USD90
  • Buenos Aires - Malbec Trail of Palermo Urban Adventure - USD111
  • Buenos Aires - Gourmet Food Urban Adventure - USD120
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
As soon as you arrive at Puerto Iguazu bus station this morning, take a minivan across the border into Brazil and continue onto your hotel in Foz do Iguacu. Depending on traffic, this should take about an hour.
Close to the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, Foz do Iguacu is Brazil's gateway to the famous Iguazu Falls. Uppon arrival If hotel rooms are ready you will be able to check in before heading out to explore the Brazilian side of the falls. Soon after take a short transfer to the falls. From here, panoramic views can be enjoyed. For unforgettable views, take an optional helicopter flight over the falls (at your own expense).
Depending on time, you can also visit the local bird park while you’re here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel back into Argentina today to visit the falls. Following a series of boardwalks, it’s possible to get so enough to the thundering waters that you can almost touch them. At over 2 km long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are over 270 falls in total, with some reaching up to 80 metres in height. For a more exhilarating experience, take an optional Zodiac boat ride to the base of the falls and feel the water in your skin! In the afternoon return to Foz do Iguacu, where you’ll spend a second night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls
Optional Activities
  • Iguazu - Zodiac boat ride - ARS800
  • Iguazu Falls - Bird Park - BRL40
  • Iguazu Falls Brazil - Helicopter ride - USD130
  • Iguazu Falls - Acquamania Water Park - BRL42
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll take an included flight to Rio de Janeiro.
Upon arrival your leader will take you on an orientation walk.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Botanical Gardens - BRL6
  • Rio de Janeiro - Favela Tour Experience Urban Adventure - USD56
  • Sugar loaf cable car - BRL65
  • Maracana soccer game - BRL150
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day in Rio.

People-watch on Copacabana or Ipanema beach, take a tour of a favela or, if the time of year is right, check out a soccer game at the famous Maracana Stadium. You might like to take the tramcar up to the hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa or head up Corcovado Mountain, where you’ll find sweeping views over Rio from the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue. Taking part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Total Rio Tour, the Santa Teresa Discovery or the Corcovado, Christ Statue and Favela tour are also great ways to see this exciting city. As evening approaches, perhaps take the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain to watch the sunset before partying in the samba clubs of Lapa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rio de Janeiro - Corcovado, Christ Statue and Favela Urban Adventure - USD89
  • Rio de Janeiro - Total Rio Tour - Full Day Urban Adventure - USD149
  • Rio de Janeiro - Santa Teresa Discovery Urban Adventure - USD59
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today your South American adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

35 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

Bus, Overnight bus, Plane, Private Vehicle, 4x4, Taxi

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Dormitory (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (29 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights), Overnight bus (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Quito - Leader Led Orientation Walk
  • Otavalo - Market Visit
  • Cuenca - Leader Led Orientation walk
  • Lima - Leader led orientation walk of Miraflores
  • Lima - Leader Led orientation walk of Miraflores
  • Amazon Jungle - Activities at the lodge
  • Cuzco - Orientation Walk
  • Sacred Valley - Local community visit and lunch
  • Machu Picchu - Guided tour
  • Lake Titicaca - Boat tour & Homestay
  • La Paz - Orientation Walk
  • Uyuni - Salt flats tour
  • Salt flats - Visit to 'Fish Island/Inca Wasi'
  • Uyuni - Orientation Walk
  • Uyuni - Colchani Salt Factory Visit
  • Salt flats - Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
  • Salta - Orientation walk
  • Buenos Aires - Orientation walk
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls

Dates & availability

Trips were unable to load at this time.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Ultimate South America trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Jump to a departure month
Book this trip and make a difference to local communities. Along with carbon offsetting your trip, we’ll also contribute funds to our new social enterprise partner, Friends-International, on your behalf. Find out more

Important notes

START TIME:
This trip starts with a Welcome Meeting at 2pm. If you are unable to find a suitable flight it is possible to book additional nights at the joining accommodation.

FINISH TIME:
There are no activities on the final day & you are free to depart anytime.

INCA TRAIL PERMITS:
In order to obtain the necessary permit to trek the Inca Trail, we must be provided with accurate details of the passport to be used whilst travelling in Peru. If the name, passport number, nationality or date of birth shown on the permit are different from the passport, park authorities will refuse entry. If passport details have not been supplied, the permit cannot be issued. When we are unable to secure the "Classic Trail", our groups take the "Inca Quarry Trek". This also applies during February each year, when the Classic Trail is closed for restoration. http://www.geckosadventures.com/inca-quarry-trail

DURING YOUR TREK
While hiking the 4 Day Inca Trail or 3 Day Inca Quarry trail portion of this trip you may be joined by some non-Geckos travellers, who might be over the age of 29 years old

BOLIVIAN VISA FOR U.S CITIZENS
Nationals from the United States need a visa to enter Bolivia and you we highly recommend you obtain this visa in advance from your nearest Bolivian consulate or Embassy. Not obtaining the visa in advance is likely to cause long delays at the border.

ARGENTINA:
The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The fee must be paid online prior to travel and a receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.

BRAZILIAN VISA:
Please note you may require a Brazilian Visa for this trip. Processing can take around 2-5 weeks at the discretion of the embassy or consulate. Please speak with your travel agent well in advance for further advice.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. Please read the following document carefully:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/527...

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
Please note that the Single Supplement does not include nights 10,11,20,25,26 & 27

COMBINATION TRIP:
This trip is a combination of three of our most popular departures. As such the make up of the group and the tour leader may change on day 9, 23 & 34.

PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED
Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to important sites such as Machu Picchu. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.