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Santiago to Cuzco
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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 start this epic journey at the phenomenal city of Cuzco, 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. Heading south from La Paz, we visit our local community stay in Livichuco and the famous mining town of Potos, before arriving in one of the continent's most spectacular natural wonders - the phenomenal salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. From here we will overland across the other-worldly scenery of the Bolivian Altiplano into the incredible Atacama Deserts of Chile, and then cross the Andes into the beautiful arid regions of Argentina and the wonderful town of Salta. We will make our way south through the wine regions and highlands of northwest Argentina before arriving at a very special highlight of this trip - our unique estancia stay for two days of horse riding on an idyllic country ranch. From here we make our way to the spectacular town of Mendoza, under the shadow of the Andes' highest mountains, before finally crossing the Andes again to arrive in the Chilean capital of Santiago. Join Dragoman for this wonderful and unforgettable trip!

Latin America

Duration: 32 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, History Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158046
Starts: Santiago, Chile Finishes: Cuzco, Peru
You will visit
  • Santiago
  • Mendoza
  • Rio Ceballos
  • Tafí Del Valle
  • Cafayate
  • Quilmes Ruins
  • Salta
  • Purmamarca
  • San Pedro De Atacama
  • Bolivian Altiplano
  • Uyuni
  • Salar De Uyuni
  • Potosí
  • La Paz
  • Copacabana
  • Isla Del Sol
  • Puno
  • Cuzco
  • Sacred Valley
  • Inca Trail
  • Machu Picchu

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Santiago

Border information: if you are joining in Santiago, you will most likely enter Chile at Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (IATA code: SCL).

Welcome to Santiago, the cosmopolitan Chilean capital! 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.

The following day is a free day to explore the incredible city, soak up the atmosphere of its streets, and discover its amazing culture, art, and music.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Santiago before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Santiago.

In Santiago we will stay in a centrally-located hostel.

02

Days 2-3: Mendoza

Border information: Exit Chile at Paso Cristo Redentor, enter Argentina at Los Libertadores.

Today we will drive over the stunning Cristo Redentor pass in the high Andes, passing Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere) and heading to the Argentine wine capital of Mendoza, nestled in the dry flats underneath the shadows of the largest mountains of the Andes. Mendoza is the centre of Argentine wine production, and one of the nine 'Wine Capitals of the World' - it is especially famous for its Malbec, grown at some of the highest-altitude vineyards to be found in the world.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 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 a free day to explore the incredible region, head out on various adventure activities, or of course take a tasting tour of the incredible wineries in the region.

In Mendoza we we stay in a centrally located hostel in dorm accommodation.

03

Day 4: Rio Ceballos

Today we will leave Mendoza and start our journey through the beautiful San Juan and Cordoba provinces towards Mendoza.

We will aim to camp in one of the small rural towns en route. 

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

04

Days 5-7: Rio Ceballos

Today we will compete our drive to our unique Anglo-Argentine Estancia, where we will stay for 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

During our time at the Estancia, we will head out horseback riding, taste the excellent wines produced by their vineyards, be entertained by a local musician, learn some of the skills of the gauchos, and enjoy a traditional asado (Argentine BBQ). This isa magical experience in a beautiful and atmospheric location, and many people's highlight of the trip!

Please note that some of these activities are subject to weather conditions. Please also note that there is a strict weight limit of 15 stone (210lbs) or 95kg to partake in the horse riding - if you should weigh more than this, then unfortunately you will not be able to participate in the horseback riding.

In the Estancia we will camp with facilities in the grounds near the main house.

05

Day 8: Tafí Del Valle

Today we will drive north across the lush flat pampas and start climbing into the drier mountains. 

Tonight we will camp in a basic campsite in the town of Tafí del Valle.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

06

Day 9: Cafayate

Today we will have an included visit to the ancient ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes en route, then arrive in the serene town of Cafayate. This small unassuming town is the centre of one of Argentina's principal wine producing regions, famous for the quality of its Torrentes and Tannat wines! We will have the opportunity to go to a few of the vineyards nearby to see how the wine is made, and of course to try them!

In Cafayate we stay at a campsite with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 2 hours.

07

Days 10-11: Salta

Today we wil drive through the spectacular rock formations of the Quebrada de las Conchas, and reach the beautiful colonial town of Salta.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On th following day, we will have a free day to explore the town of Salta, visit its many museums, or explore the beautiful surrounding hills on foot or by mountain bike. We will also have the chance to take the cable car to the viewpoint on San Bernardo Hill overlooking the town, or take the famous 'Train to the Clouds' through some of the incredible mountian scenery nearby.

In Salta we will stay in a local hotel or guesthouse.

08

Day 12: Purmamarca

Today we will have some more free time in Salta before heading up to the small village of Purmamarca, at the base of the aptly-named 'Hill of the Seven Colours'

In Purmamarca we will camp at a local campsite.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

09

Days 13-14: San Pedro De Atacama

Border information: Exit Argentina at Paso Jama, enter Chile at Paso Jama.

Today we will have a drive day to cross the mighty Andes, cross the border into Chile, and then descend all the way into the Atacama desert.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the incredible highlights of the Atacama desert surrounding San Pedro. In the evening we will take an included trip out to the extraordinary Moon Valley, where we will hopefully see an incredible sunset. At night we will also have the chance to go stargazing, in one of the world's premier regions for astronomy (please note that this is only possible when there is not a full moon).

In San Pedro de Atacama we will stay in a centrally located hostel.

10

Day 15: Bolivian Altiplano

Border information: Exit Chile at San Pedro de Atacama, enter Bolivia at Uyuni.

Today we will climb back up into the deserts and cross the Bolivian border into the wilds of the Bolivian altiplano, a surreal and desolate desert landscape that stretches all the way to the town of Uyuni. We will visit the spectacular coloured lakes of Laguna Colorado and Laguna Verde en route.

In the Bolivian Altiplano we will stay in a basic mountain refuge.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.

11

Day 16: Uyuni

Today we will have an early start to complete our epic crossing of the Bolivian altiplano, and reach the town of Uyuni, the gateway to the incredible salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni.

In Uyuni we will stay in a friendly hotel, famous for serving the highest pizzas in the world!

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.

12

Day 17: Salar De Uyuni

Today we will venture out onto the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni, spending a full day exploring this phenomenal location by jeep and on foot. En route we will explore the nearby train graveyard and the cactus-filled 'Fish Island', and take all the time we need to get plenty of perspective-bending photographs!

13

Day 18: Potosí

Today we will leave Uyuni and head to the colonial mining town of Potosí, the highest town in the world, and once famous for the area's abundance of silver!

The afternoon will be free to explore Potosí, and there will be a chance to visit the infamous silver mines of Cerro Rico near to the town.

In Potosí we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

 

14

Days 19-20: La Paz

Today we will leave Potosí and drive north to La Paz, Bolivia’s seat of government and the highest administrative capital in the world!

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

On the following day we have a free day to explore the city or take part in optional activities.

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

15

Day 21: La Paz

Border information: if you are joining in La Paz, you will most likely enter Bolivia at La Paz El Alto International Airport (IATA code: LPB).

Welcome to La Paz, Bolivia’s seat of government and the highest administrative capital in the world! 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 many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in La Paz before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring La Paz.

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

16

Day 22: Copacabana

Today we will head to the beautiful town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where we will have some time to freely explore.

In Copacabana we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 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!).

17

Day 23: Isla Del Sol

Today we will take an included day trip to 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).

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

18

Day 24: Puno

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

Today we will take a boat back to Copacabana, and then cross the border into Peru and head to the lakeside town of Puno. 

In Puno we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

19

Day 25: Cuzco

Today we will leave Puno and head through the highlands of Peru to the former Inca capital of Cuzco. We will have an included visit to the Inca site of Tipon en route.

In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

20

Day 26: Cuzco

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.

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!

21

Days 27-30: 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). 

22

Day 31: 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.

23

Day 32: Cuzco

Border information: if you are finishing in Cuzco, you will most likely exit Peru at Cuzco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (IATA code: CUZ).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Cuzco. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Spend 3 special days at a unique Anglo-Argentine Estancia, to experience the gaucho way of living and see the beautiful countryside by horseback
    • Explore the atmospheric ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes in north west Argentina
    • Visit the impressive rock formations of 'El Amphiteatro' and 'La Garganta del Diablo' en route through the primaeval landscape of the Quebrada de las Conchas
    • Explore the dramatic, other-worldly landscape of the Moon Valley, and take in an incredible sunset from one of its high viewpoints
    • Take the epic journey across the southern Bolivian altiplano - an incredible high-altitude, off-road adventure through a surreal desert landscape, taking in bizarre rock formations, hot springs, and the phenomenal coloured lakes of Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
    • Take a full day tour out in jeeps to the dazzling Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats - the spectacular, perfectly-flat salt plains that are one of South America's most incredible sights
    • Take a boat trip to Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol, and head on a guided walk across the length of the stunning island
    • Visit the incredible Inca site of Tipón, once an agricultural centre and a park for the Inca elite
    • 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
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew, local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 30% Camping - 70% Hotels
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