Peru, Chile & Argentina Explorer

Peru, Chile & Argentina Explorer

From $ 10,275 AUD

Description

Travel through South America by way of jungle, waterfalls and ancient ruins. This three week trip takes you to the Peruvian Amazon, to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca and into the footsteps of an ancient civilisation on the Inca trail. Embrace the country life of Chile and Argentina in local vineyards and traditional estancias, before ending this amazing journey in the cosmopolitan hotspot of Buenos Aires.

Trip Name
Peru, Chile & Argentina Explorer
Last Updated
2020-04-01
Days
21
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Descend into the vast catacombs beneath Lima on an underground tour. This is a side of Peru's capital not many people have seen
  • Marvel at ancient Incan architecture throughout the fertile Sacred Valley, before discovering the mother of all Incan cities, Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and free time to explore on your own
  • Enjoy a day out on tranquil Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water, and explore the floating islands crafted by the indigenous Uru locals
  • Experience the untouched world of the Amazon jungle. Stroll along jungle trails on the lookout for monkeys, parrots, otters and caiman, and sleep in a nature lodge lit by candles and kerosene lamps
  • Discover the colonial charm, neoclassical plazas and stylish neighbourhoods of Santiago. This city is packed full of history and is a great place to explore on foot
  • Wind through the country lanes of the Mendoza wine region - the world’s largest producer of Malbec. During this trip you'll have ample opportunity to refine your palate by tasting varietals of one of South America's favourite wines
  • Take part in the daily routines and duties of a gaucho on a traditional Argentinian estancia, a unique retreat for any traveller
  • Indulge in the cuisine, culture and nightlife of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. Argentinian produce is some of the best in the world

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. HEAVY RAIN ON THE INCA TRAIL If it rains heavily for a number of consecutive days, the terrain at the third campsite (Wiñaywayna) can become unstable, increasing the danger of landslides and making it unsafe to camp. This occurs mostly during the wet season (December to March) although it can also happen at any time of the year. Your trekking guide may assess that it's safer to spend the third night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), or if available, to camp at Puente Ruinas campsite. You may need to use your contingency funds to cover any additional costs. An letter can be provided for lodging a travel insurance claim for these costs. DEMONSTRATIONS & STRIKES: Demonstrations and protests, often in response to local labour or social issues, occur regularly in Peru. National strikes can be called at short notice and can cause disruption to road networks leading to inevitable itinerary changes. We will do everything possible for these changes to be at little or no extra cost; however in such circumstances we find that travellers may need to use their contingency funds to cover the costs of itinerary changes. SEASONAL WEATHER CONDITIONS: During the colder months, usually between May and August, the border crossing between Chile and Argentina may be closed due to snowfalls. In that event, your emergency fund may be needed to purchase a flight between Santiago and Mendoza.

Day 1 - Lima
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru. On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, you'll be transferred to your hotel in the well-known coastal suburb of Miraflores. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. After the formalities are out of the way, dive in to life in Lima. Jump on public transport and head downtown for a guided walking tour of the city's historical centre. Take in the ornate spectacle of the colonial mansions, palaces and churches that line the streets; pay a visit to San Francisco Monastery and its catacombs; and browse the fresh produce on offer at Lima's central market, tasting fresh fruit and street food. Your walking tour wraps up in Lima's main square, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Perhap head out for dinner with the group.
Day 2 - Amazon Jungle
Rise and shine for your journey into the wilds of the Peruvian Amazon. Take an early morning transfer to Lima airport, then board a three-hour flight to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado. Upon your arrival, lodge staff will take you to their office in town. Pack a small duffle bag with clothing and other items needed for two days in the jungle, stow the rest of your luggage and then travel by private vehicle to the water. Here, board a motorised canoe and cruise deep into the jungle. The journey to your eco-lodge in the Madre de Dios region will take around three hours, and you'll be given a packed lunch on the way. Arrive and settle in to your thatched-roof lodge before a short orientation walk of the immediate area and a briefing. Spend the evening getting aquainted with the sights and smells of the jungle and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.
Day 3 - Amazon Jungle
Get ready for an unforgettable day exploring the depths of the jungle! Set out on a half-day trek guided by local experts on the area's flora and fauna. Learn from your guides about the medicinal and practical uses for some of the plants that grow here, which indigenous people have been studying and using for thousands of years. On your walk, keep an eye out for rainbow coloured macaws and butterflies, and listen for the barking call of the peccaries and chattering of monkeys that call the jungle home. This part of the Amazon is also known to house capybaras, giant otters and jabirus, so keep your eyes peeled for these exotic creatures. Return to the lodge for lunch and some free time to relax. Once the sun goes down, venture out on a night walk in search of some of the jungle's nocturnal inhabitants.  
Day 4 - Cusco
Leave behind the natural wonders of the Amazon for the man-made wonders of Cusco today. Return to Puerto Maldonado to collect your luggage, then take a flight to the lofty city. Once you have arrived, maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers – your leader can recommend some good places to grab a meal. If you're feeling adventurous, why not try one of the many establishments serving up cuy, which you might know by the English name of guinea pig. Or perhaps head to Manos Unidas cafe, a central pizzeria which also provides vocational training for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Day 5 - Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
After a short walking tour of Cusco, travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the valley has been a source of livelihood to the locals for hundreds of years. You’ll see maize crops covering the terraced valley walls and the sacred river beneath. For lunch, visit a community that live in the valley and learn about the local lifestyle and language. If it’s market day, you may have the opportunity to browse the local handicrafts such as beads and ponchos. Continue your journey to the town of Ollantaytambo where you’ll spend the night. If there’s time you may like to see the town’s archaeological site, which includes remnants of an Inca city and soaring views over the present-day settlement.
Day 6 - Inca Trail / Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be doing one of the following: hiking the Classic Inca Trail, hiking the Inca Quarry Trail or staying in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. While away from Cusco, 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 Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 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 Cusco and only travel with the necessary items during the excursion by train. Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Today travel by minivan to the 82 kilometre marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3100 metres above sea level. On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, as well as incredible views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal. Note: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 kilometres 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 Inca 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 3700 metres 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. Note: The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 kilometres long in total and its highest pass is at 4450 metres 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 not hiking, today you visit the archaeological site of Chinceros, on the way to Cusco. Your Intrepid leader travels back to Cusco with you and is at hand to assist you make the most of your time. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Inca Quarry Trail only.
Day 7 - Inca Trail / Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: This is the most challenging day of the trek as you 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 4200 metres above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 metres. Route 2 Inca 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 4370 metres 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 4450 metres. 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 is free for you to continue exploring Cusco at your own pace. For you to make the most of your free time in Cuzco, your trip includes a “Full Boleto Turistico”, a tourist pass that gives you access to 16 archaeological sites in and around Cuzco, including Qenqo, Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Saqsaywaman, amongst others. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Day 8 - Inca Trail / Inca Quarry Trail or Train option
Route 1 Classic Inca Trail: Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around two to three hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3850 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 Inca 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: After a drive to Ollantaytambo (about one and a half hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (another one and a half hours). The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes. Notes: Included lunch and dinner on this day is for people trekking the Inca or Quarry Trail only.
Day 9 - Machu Picchu/Cusco
Route 1 Inca Trail: This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 4.30 am. One the final checkpoint opens at 5 am, begin the final leg of the trek. 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 you enter Machu Picchu through the Sungate Route 2 Inca 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 views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins. Route 3 Train: Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. 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 Cusco. Visiting Machu Picchu: According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted. For all trails - after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a well-deserved shower and a Pisco sour.
Day 10 - Cusco
Today enjoy free time to relax, shop or explore more of Cusco's sights. Perhaps head to a cafe on the Plaza de Armas, or for those seeking an active adventure, try mountain biking in the hills surrounding Cusco. A "full boleto turistico" will give you access to the archaeological sites of Qenqo and Tambomachay, on the outskirts of Cusco.
Day 11 - Puno
Travel by comfortable public bus (with reclining chairs) for around 6 hours to the tiny but unique town of Puno, which will be more or less a full day's journey. This will take you on decent roads through spectacular mountain scenery, with the chance to stop at several sites along the way, including adobe Inca ruins. Along the way you'll also make a short roadside stop at La Raya, which at 4,335 metres is the highest point of your journey. You will also drive through the large sprawling town of Juliaca on your way to Puno, which is a colourful and lively place renowned for its traditional street dancing, often performed in celebration of Catholic festive days in February each year. You will then arrive in Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture where traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, especially the Virgen de la Candelaria, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Day 12 - Lake Titicaca
High up in the Peruvian mountains lie the mystical blue waters of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored. Today, sail across Titicaca to the intriguing floating islands of the Uros. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including boats that can last up to 12 months. Here you will set foot on the islands and learn about a unique traditional lifestyle that’s been around since pre-Inca times. You will visit Taquile Island, a place where knitting is strictly the domain of men, with women focusing on spinning. This is the place to get your hands on some beautiful knitwear. You will hike uphill for an hour to reach the main part of the island, and enjoy great views across the lake. There will be an optional lunch here as well, with a simple set menu of quinoa soup and muna tea (Andean mint tea). You will return down 500 steps to the boat that will take you on the three-hour journey back to Puno.
Day 13 - Lima
You will fly to Lima from Puno today (approximately 1-2 hours). If time permits you will have the opportunity to visit the Sillustani archaeological site, a collection of ruined towers built by a pre-Inca civilisation near Lake Umayo. The ruined 'chullpas' or funeral towers of Sillustani were built by a pre-Inca civilisation centuries ago to house the remains of noble men, and are fitted with offerings to help secure their passage into the next life. Lima has some of the best cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its seafood. Tonight, perhaps sample Peru's national dish of Ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers.
Day 14 - Santiago
Say adios to Lima and take an included flight to Santiago, Chile. Once you’ve arrived, transfer from the airport to the hotel (transfer is included). Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm to meet your new guide and perhaps some new group members.
Day 15 - Santiago
Today at 10am you will get to grips with Santiago on a walking tour with a local leader (approximately 4hrs) – the city centre itself is quite small and simple to get around. You’ll discover more about this city, which was founded in 1541 by the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia, and has experienced a turbulent history that has included native wars, floods and earthquakes. Head to the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city and home to the cathedral. The cathedral has recently undergone renovations, so now is the ideal time to visit. Walk through the central market to try some local specialities. Next, you'll take the cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for the best view of the city. Finishing the tour in the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood. Perhaps continue yourselves to explore the modern parts of Santiago to see elegant residential neighbourhoods, shopping and financial districts. Later, take the chance to dine out at one of the city's famous restaurants.
Day 16 - Mendoza
In the morning around 9am, travel through the Andes and across the Argentinean border by local bus to Mendoza (approximately 6 hours on the bus). It’s a good idea to bring plenty of water and snacks, as the trip may incur delays. On a clear day it may be possible to see Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 meters above sea level. Please note that crossing the border can take up to three hours depending on local traffic. Once in Mendoza, get to know the city with a gentle stroll around its tree-lined streets, or visit the local cafes and restaurants for some Argentinean fare.
Day 17 - Mendoza
This morning around 8:45am head out on a winery tour. Mendoza is Argentina's most prolific and significant grape-growing region, producing nearly three-quarters of the country's wine. The climate produces an excellent variety of grapes, with the region's signature being Malbec. Visit several wineries and cellar doors, tasting Malbec, Torrontes and other local varietals along the way. Lunch around 1pm and return to the city by 3:30pm. In the evening, perhaps test how refined your palate is by attempting to pair the perfect wine with an authentic Argentine asado (barbecue-style food).
Day 18 - Estancia Stay
This afternoon fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires, which only takes around one and a half hours. On arrival, travel in a minivan for just over an hour to a traditional estancia (ranch). This is where the group will be staying for the next couple of days. Upon arrival, freshen up after a long day and get ready for dinner.
Day 19 - Estancia Stay
During your time on the estancia you can do as much or as little as you desire. Activities may also vary depending on the day. You could go horse riding, take a cooking class or learn more about the sport of polo. Alternatively you could laze by the pool and read or have a barbecue. Estancias are ideal for relaxation and provide a great base for activities. Please remember that activities vary depending on the days that you are there. If in doubt, ask your trip leader for more information.
Day 20 - Buenos Aires
After breakfast head back to the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires (approximately 2.5 hours). The Portenos (local residents) are justifiably proud of their city, which is comprised of distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own style. After checking in to the hotel enjoy an orientation walk of the city. Visit the antique markets and artist displays of San Telmo, and the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) in the Plaza de Mayo. 
Day 21 - Buenos Aires
After breakfast your 'Best of Chile and Argentina' adventure comes to an end. Check out from the hotel is at noon, but you can arrange to store your luggage with the front desk.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
21-06-202011-07-2020AUD $ 10,565-
26-07-202015-08-2020AUD $ 10,275-
09-08-202029-08-2020AUD $ 10,275-
20-09-202010-10-2020AUD $ 10,370-
25-10-202014-11-2020AUD $ 10,275-
21-02-202113-03-2021AUD $ 10,765-
11-04-202101-05-2021AUD $ 10,765-
25-04-202115-05-2021AUD $ 10,765-
09-05-202129-05-2021AUD $ 10,765-
06-06-202126-06-2021AUD $ 10,765-
25-07-202114-08-2021AUD $ 10,765-
08-08-202128-08-2021AUD $ 10,765-
22-08-202111-09-2021AUD $ 10,765-
05-09-202125-09-2021AUD $ 10,765-
19-09-202109-10-2021AUD $ 10,765-
24-10-202113-11-2021AUD $ 10,765-

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights),Estancia (2 nights),Hotel (13 nights),Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Transport

Bus,Canoe,Minibus,Plane,Private Bus,Private vehicle

Map