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Rio De Janeiro to La Paz

Overlanding is the best way to see South America by far! Dragoman have been leading the way in South American overland expeditions since 1990, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading to some unique hidden gems, well away from the usual tourist trail. We begin in the iconic Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, from where we set off on this unique and pioneering trip from Dragoman, which cuts through the interior of the vast country of Brazil and continues into Peru. Our first stop is the old mining district of Minas Gerais, full of colonial history and grand churches telling of the local gold rush, slavery, and the Inconfidência Mineira, an important early attempt to break free from colonial rule. We then then head to the staggeringly-beautiful Chapada dos Guimarães National Park and explore its stunning scenery, table-top mountains, ravines, caves, streams and waterfalls - it's a paradise for walkers and nature lovers. Next we head to the northern Pantanal, one of the world's largest tropical wetland areas, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species. Even more famous than the Pantanal is of course the Amazon, and we will head overland into south-eastern Peru exploring one of the most untouched stretches of the beautiful Amazon rainforest. Finally we climb up into the high Andes and to the traveller's paradise of Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. Cuzco is our base for one of South America's best highlights, the Inca Trails and a visit to the legendary ruined city of Machu Picchu. After Cuzco, we will head south to the serene shores of Lake Titicaca and its sacred Inca island of Isla del Sol, and then move on to the thriving Bolivian city of La Paz. A fantastic and pioneering itinerary along a route that very few tourists ever get to see - join us on this truly unforgettable South American journey!

Latin America

Duration: 36 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Boating Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158358
Starts: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Finishes: La Paz, Bolivia
You will visit
  • Rio De Janeiro
  • Ouro Preto
  • Brasilia
  • Barra Do Garças
  • Chapada Dos Guimarães
  • Northern Pantanal
  • Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade
  • Rondônia State
  • Xapuri
  • Puerto Maldonado
  • Peruvian Amazon
  • Posada Amazonas
  • Quince Mil
  • Cuzco
  • Sacred Valley
  • Inca Trail
  • Machu Picchu
  • Puno
  • Copacabana
  • Isla Del Sol
  • La Paz

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Rio De Janeiro

Border information: if you are joining in Rio de Janeiro, you will most likely enter Brazil at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

Please note that the trip will leave Rio de Janeiro tomorrow morning, so we suggest you might fly to Rio de Janeiro at least a day earlier if you want to visit any sites in the city.

In Rio de Janeiro we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the Flamengo region of the city.

02

Day 2-3: Ouro Preto

Today we have a full day's drive inland to the beautiful old colonial mining town of Ouro Preto. En route we will stop at the village of Congonhas to see the famous 'Twelve Prophets' statues built by the local sculptor Aleijandinho.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have free time to explore the town, and discover its cobblestone streets and stunning Baroque churches. We can also make an optional trip to one of the fascinating mines in and around town.

In Ouro Preto we will stay in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

03

Day 4-5: Brasilia

Today we will have an early start for a full day's drive to Brasilia, the country's capital. 

Estimated Drive Time - 11-12 hours.

On the following day, we will explore the city's fascinating architecture on a guided tour. Designed by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s, the city was a landmark in the history of city planning - it is a very bizarre and interesting place to explore, quite unlike anywhere else in South America.

04

Day 6: Barra Do Garças

Today we set off west towards Chapada dos Guimarães, anstunning overland journey of almost 1000km in total.

Tonight we will wild camp en route, probably without facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

05

Day 7-9: Chapada Dos Guimarães

Today we complete our drive to Chapada dos Guimarães, and meet with our local guide who will be with us for the next 10 days!

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

We will then have 2 full days of hiking around the stunning landscapes of Chapada dos Guimarães. We will follow the popular waterfall trail, visiting natural pools and incredible viewpoints along the way - the highlight is the Véu de Noivas ('Bridal Veil') waterfall, one of the postcard views of the Chapada. We will also hike around the Rio Claro valley and visit the Cidade de Pedra look-out point.

In Chapada dos Guimarães, we will camp in a well equipped campsite.

06

Day 10-12: Northern Pantanal

Today we will have an early start from Chapada dos Guimarães and drive to Poconé, the gateway to the northern Pantanal region. From here we will start our trip along the Transpantaneira road, hopefully spotting plenty of wildlife along the way.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

Over the next 2 days in the Pantanal, we will explore the flora and fauna of these vast wetlands on foot and horseback, as well as in boats and our overland vehicle. We will be in search of the area's incredible array of wildlife on a flexible itinerary with our expert local guides.

In the Pantanal, we will stay in lodges with all the food included.

07

Day 13-14: Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade

After breakfast we will leave the Pantanal and have a full day's drive to the village of Vila Bela da Santíssima Trinidade.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.

On the following day we will go a boat trip on the Guaporé River in search of wildlife and bird-life including capybara, anacondas, and most impressive of all the pink dolphins in the river. We will also explore the beautiful colonial town of Vila Bela, and learn how the local Marroon community came about from the local tribes and fugitive slaves. We then take a boat down the river visiting a number of small-hold farms to learn about the livestock, crops, fruit trees, and vegetables that they grow.

In Vila Bela da Santíssima Trinidade we will camp in a well equipped campsite.

08

Day 15-16: Rondonia State

Today we will say goodbye to our local guide, and embark on 2 days of driving the 1800kms north towards the Peruvian border. 

We will wild camp en route, probably without facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours each day.

09

Day 17: Xapuri

Today is our final full day in Brazil, as we drive to the far western border town of Xapuri.

In Xapuri we stay the night in a local pousada (traveller's guesthouse).

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

10

Day 18-19: Puerto Maldonado

Border information: exit Brazil at Assis, enter Peru at Iñapari.

Today we cross from Brazil over the Rio Acre and enter Peru. Once through border formalities, we drive on to Puerto Maldonado, the base of our upcoming expedition into the Peruvian Amazon.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours, including the border crossing.

The following day we will have free time to explore the interesting town of Puerto Maldonado.

In Puerto Maldonado we will stay in a small locally-run hotel.

11

Day 20-22: Posada Amazonas

Today we will head 20kms from Puerto Maldonado to the Tambopata River port, where we will take a 45-minute boat transfer to our jungle lodge at Posada Amazonas where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

During our time here, we will enjoy a full schedule of activities to explore the phenomenal Amazon region of Peru. This will include a walk to the scaffolding canopy tower where you can enjoy spectacular views of the forest and the Tambopata River, a visit to the Tres Chimbadas Lake to look for the resident family of giant river otters and other lakeside wildlife, and an ethnobotanical tour to learn about the traditional ways of using plants as medicines. At night there's also an option of going for a hike in the forest, a time when most mammals are active but rarely seen so expect to use your ears more than your eyes! One of the mornings we will visit a 'Parrot Clay Lick', where if it's a clear morning you have the chance to see dozens of parrots and parakeets descend to ingest the clay on a river bank. We will also go on a guided hike in the forest, learning about the natural history of the rainforest, and visit one of the farms in the community of Infierno and learn about the different Amazonian crops grown here.

In Posada Amazonas we will stay in a jungle lodge, with all meals included.

12

Day 23: Quince Mil

This morning we depart Posada Amazonas and drive onwards towards the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco. We will break the journey in the town of Quince Mil, just before we head up into the mighty Andes.

In Quince Mil we will stay in a simple local farmstead guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

13

Day 24: Cuzco

Today we will complete our drive to the amazing town of Cuzco, once the centre of the Inca Empire.

In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel in the historical centre.

Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours.

14

Day 25: Cuzco

Border information: if you are joining in Cuzco, you will most likely enter Peru at Cuzco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting. There will be a further meeting this evening for our Community and Classic Inca Trails, where we will have a full detailed briefing from our local trekking guides about the next few days!

The rest of today will be free to explore the wonderful city of Cuzco, discover its many historical gems, or to take part in number of optional activities near the city.

In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel.

15

Day 26-29: Sacred Valley

These four days will be spent trekking in the Andes, either on our pioneering Community Trek or on the Classic Inca Trail. We will have a tour of the Sacred Valley, embark on our various treks, and end up at the phenomenal Inca site of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World!

Please see the Inca Trails section at the bottom of the detailed trip notes for each departure for details of the Community Trek and the Classic Inca Trail, as well as our non-trekking MAPI alternative.

We will camp during these nights (except for the first night of the Classic Trail and the last night of the Community Trek, which are both in a local hotel in Ollantaytambo). 

16

Day 30: Machu Picchu

This morning we will arrive at Machu Picchu, one of the world's most incredible and iconic historical sites. We'll have a guided tour with a local expert, and then have plenty of time to freely explore the area before catching the train back to Cuzco.

17

Day 31: Cuzco

Today is a free day to relax after the treks, further explore the historical city of Cuzco, and take part in some optional activities around the city.

18

Day 32: Puno

Today we will leave Cuzco and head through the highlands of Peru to the town of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titcaca. We will have an included visit to the Inca site of Tipon en route.

In Puno we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

19

Day 33: Copacabana

Border information: Exit Peru at Yunguyo, enter Bolivia at Kasani.

This morning we will cross into Bolivia and head to the lakeside town of Copacabana, before boarding a boat to the stunning island of Isla del Sol.

In Isla del Sol we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

20

Day 34: Isla Del Sol

Today we will take an included day trip across Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca, one of the holiest sites in ancient Inca mythology and supposedly the birthplace of the Sun God Inti. We will take a 14km walk across the length of the island, taking in the incredible and serene scenery and soaking up the calm atmosphere of the island (this walk can be skipped by anybody who does not want to do it). 

We will return to Copacabana for the evening.

In Copacabana we will stay in a basic local hotel.

21

Day 35: La Paz

Today we will drive to the famous city of La Paz, Bolivia’s seat of government and the highest administrative capital in the world! On arrival we will have free time to explore the city.

In La Paz we will stay in a good hotel in the historical centre.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

22

Day 36: La Paz

Border information: if you are finishing in La Paz, you will most likely exit Bolivia at La Paz El Alto International Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in La Paz, and a free day to explore the city or take part in optional activities. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Visit the village of Congonhas near Ouro Preto and see the remarkable statues of the Twelve Prophets by Aleijadinho, an accomplished sculptor who worked depsite losing his hands to leprosy
    • Head out on a guided tour of the bizarre capital of Brasilia, a realisation of a 1950s vision of the future - includes a visit to the cathedral, the central plazas, and the memorial to the former president Juscelino Kubitschek
    • Head out on 2 full days of trekking around the spectacular landscapes, caverns and waterfalls of Chapada Dos Guimarães National Park
    • Enjoy an incredible 3-night stay in the heart of Brazil's Northern Pantanal wetlands, including a full package of boat trips, 4x4 safaris, horse rides, and kayak trips through this idyllic wildlife haven
    • Take a guided tour of the interesting town of Vila Bela to visit the local Maroon communities, and explore the River Guapore by boat in search of pink river dolphins
    • Head out on a fantastic 3-night stay deep in the Peruvian Amazon, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet - here we will embark on a full package of educational rainforest walks, wildlife spotting, boat trips, and visits to the remote communities of the area
    • Visit the incredible remains of the Inca temples of Sacsaywaman and the Sacred Valley on a guided tour
    • Take a guided tour of the fantastic Inca temples at Ollantaytambo
    • Options for the treks from Cuzco (please see the bottom of the Trip Notes for more details): Option 1 - Community Trek Hike on unspoiled Inca Trails through the stunning remote Andean scenery away from other tourists and through local communities, on our exclusive Community Inca Trek. If you choose this option you will get a small refund from kitty. Option 2 - Classic Trek Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road. Your kitty has been budgeted to accommodate for this option as it is the most costly of the 3 options. Option 3 - MAPI non-trekking option Relax in Cuzco and take the train to Machu Picchu without trekking. If you choose this option you will get a substantial refund from kitty. Important note: You must advise us at the time of booking if you wish to book the Classic Inca Trail or the MAPI non-trekking option, otherwise you will automatically be booked onto our Community Trek.
    • Explore the phenomenal and iconic Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World - take a guided tour and have plenty of time to freely explore before returning to Cuzco
    • Visit the incredible Inca site of Tipón, once an agricultural centre and a park for the Inca elite
    • Take a boat trip to Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol, and head on a guided walk across the length of the stunning island
    Accomodation
    • 30% Camping - 70% Hotels
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