Southern Cross Westbound - Rio to Lima

From the sands of Copacabana to the heights of the Bolivian Andes, this incredible 39-day journey will introduce you to the diverse landscape and people of South America. Explore the wetlands of the Pantanal and the bizarre landscape of the Uyuni Salt Flats, and revel in the mists of thundering Iguassu Falls. Gain greater insight into the culture on the regions public buses and meet locals from the rural towns along the way for an immersive experience that few travellers get to know. Get off the beaten path and experience Peru, Brazil and Bolivia a vibrant cross-section of South America.

Latin America

Duration: 39 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Parks & Nature Reserves, Local Culture & Cuisine, History, Wildlife Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 132440
Starts: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Finishes: Lima, Peru
You will visit
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Lima



Day 1: Rio de Janeiro

Arrive at any time.

Included Activities:
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting


Day 2: Rio de Janeiro/Ilha Grande (1B)

From Rio, head south along the Atlantic coast to one of the most picturesque, laid-back islands on the coast, llha Grande. Relax and walk the sandy beaches, or bathe in the warm waters of this island paradise.

Local bus (3.50 hour(s), 87km)


Day 3: Ilha Grande (1B)

Enjoy a free day in Ilha Grande.


Day 4: Ilha Grande/Paraty (1B)

Head down the beautiful Costa Verde to the colonial town of Paraty. Spend the afternoon exploring the cobblestone streets and cafés.

Ferry (1.50 hour(s))
Local bus (2.00 hour(s), 100km)


Day 5: Paraty

Enjoy two free days to explore by choosing to go snorkelling or visit a typical fazenda (farm). Opt for a cachaça distillery visit or boat tour of the bay and nearby beaches.


Day 7: Paraty/Foz do Iguaçu (1B)

Drive to Sao Paulo for a flight to the magnificent Foz do Iguaçu, or Iguassu Falls, which border Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

In order to see the falls properly you need to view them from both the Brazilian and the Argentine sides. The Brazilian side offers the grand overview, and the Argentine side a closer look.

Sit back and soak in the stunning beauty and raw power that is Iguassu, or take an optional boat tour directly into the spray of the falls.

Private Vehicle (4.50-5.00 hours)
Plane (1.75 hour(s))


Day 8: Foz do Iguaçu (1B)

Cross the border to Argentina for a new perspective of the falls. With an extensive series of catwalks and optional boat rides to the base of the falls, there's plenty to do before returning to the Brazilian side for the night.

Additional Notes:
If you have booked the Iguassu Falls Boat Ride Theme Pack, you will do it today on the Argentine side of the falls.

Included Activities:
Border Crossing (Brazil - Argentina)
Iguassu Falls Visit
Border Crossing (Argentina - Brazil)


Day 9: Foz do Iguaçu/Bonito (1B)

Visit the Brazilian side of the falls and have a free afternoon to visit the bird park, home to species such as the Hyacinth macaw and toucans. In the afternoon, board an overnight bus to travel to Bonito.

Included Activities:
Iguassu Falls Guided Tour

Overnight bus


Day 10: Bonito

Explore nearby underwater caves and waterfalls, go rafting or snorkelling, or simply spend a lazy day by the river.


Day 12: Bonito/Pantanal (1B)

Journey into the Pantanal, a perfect place to experience the wildlife of Brazil.

At the entrance of the Pantanal, change to a truck that can better handle the terrain for the trip to the lodge.
Private Vehicle (4.00-5.00 hours)


Day 13: Pantanal

Enjoy an excursion into the wetlands of the Pantanal with a local guide. Opportunities to spot wildlife such as monkeys, macaws, giant otters, and caiman abound.

Included Activities:
Pantanal Wildlife Excursion


Day 14: Pantanal/Santa Cruz de la Sierra (1B)

From the frontier town of Corumbá, Brazil, cross into Bolivia. From here, an overnight train heads to Santa Cruz. Occasionally, this train may be replaced with an overnight bus.

Included Activities:
Border Crossing (Brazil - Bolivia)

Overnight train (airplane seats) (14.00 hour(s))


Day 15: Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Spend some time exploring Santa Cruz.


Day 16: Santa Cruz de la Sierra/Sucre

Optional activities include a visit to dinosaur footprints, an old tin baron's mansion, mountain biking, and hiking.

Plane (0.50 hour(s))


Day 17: Sucre

Spend two days exploring all Sucre has to offer.


Day 19: Sucre/Potosí (1B)

Travel by bus to Potosí. Spend free time exploring the city.

Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 185km)


Day 20: Potosí/Uyuni (1B)

Travel through the Bolivian landscape to the town of Uyuni, the jumping off point for the three day 4x4 excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats.

Additional Notes:
During the rainy season the locations visited may change due to some routes being covered by water.

Private Vehicle (4.00-5.00 hours, 230km)


Day 21: Uyuni/Salar de Uyuni (1B, 1L, 1D)

Enjoy a three day 4x4 excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats and surrounding desert altiplano with spectacular scenery.

Additional Notes:
We offer unique accommodation in the Uyuni Salt Flats. Instead of very basic refuges and homestays most operators use, we have upgraded to simple hotels that are equipped with solar panels to provide electricity and hot water. Rooms are multi-share and each have a private bathroom. Meals are made from local ingredients, most of which are grown on-site.

Included Activities:
Salt Flats Excursion


Day 22: Salar de Uyuni (1B, 1L, 1D)

Continue to discover the Uyuni Salt Flats on a 4x4 excursion.

Included Activities:
Salt Flats Excursion


Day 23: Salar de Uyuni/La Paz (1B, 1L)

Enjoy a final day of exploring the Uyuni Salt Flats before travelling back to travel to Uyuni to catch an overnight train to La Paz.

Included Activities:
Salt Flats Excursion

Stretch out and get some well-earned rest en route to the next stop. Due to scheduling the train may be replaced with an overnight bus.
Overnight train (airplane seats) (7.00-8.00 hours)


Day 24: La Paz

Enjoy the afternoon in La Paz. Opt for a city tour or to explore the markets and winding streets.

Local bus (4.00-5.00 hours)


Day 25: La Paz (1B)

Use another free day to explore La Paz. Opt to visit Iglesia de San Francisco, Chacaltaya, the Valley of the Moon, or the Witches' Market.


Day 26: La Paz (1B)

Little is known about the Tiahuanaco people who constructed the great ceremonial centre on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca over 1000 years ago. Spend most of the day visiting these mysterious ruins—a cradle of Incan civilization—before returning to La Paz.

Included Activities:
Tiahuanaco Ruins Visit

Local bus (2.00 hour(s), 70km)
Local bus (2.00 hour(s), 70km)


Day 27: La Paz/Puno (1B)

Peru is made up of three main geographical areas: the Andes, the Amazon, and the desert coastal area.

Enjoy spectacular views of the countryside on a full day of travel from La Paz, around Lake Titicaca, and on to Puno.

Included Activities:
Border Crossing (Bolivia - Peru)

Local bus (2.50 hour(s))
Local bus (3.50 hour(s))


Day 28: Puno/Isla Amantani (1B, 1D)

Head out by boat across Lake Titicaca. Visit the community on the Taquile Islands and stop at a restaurant and enjoy a local lunch with spectacular views.

After, cruise to the another village (this can vary based on community availability) for an overnight homestay on the shores of the lake. This experience provides an opportunity to learn more about rural life in the Peruvian highlands and to participate in local traditions. Eat with the family, pick up some Quecha and Spanish language skills, try on traditional costumes, and help out with daily chores around the village.

Included Activities:
Lake Titicaca Guided Boat Tour Day 1
Lake Titicaca Homestay


Day 29: Isla Amantani/Puno (1B, 1L)

Leave the homestay families late in the morning and visit the Uros Islands on the way back to Puno. A popular optional activity in Puno is a visit to the spectacular chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani, a pre-Inca archaeological site only a short drive away.

Included Activities:
Uros Floating Islands Visit
Lake Titicaca Guided Boat Tour Day 2


Day 30: Puno/Cusco (1B)

The bus trip from Puno to Cusco takes the better part of the day, with stark, beautiful scenery en route as you travel through the high Altiplano region. Check out a bit of Cusco, find a spot for dinner, or get prepared to head into the Sacred Valley.

Local bus (7.50 hour(s), 389km)


Day 31: Cusco (1B)

While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the Inca Empire's richest temple. It forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. There are several good museums in Cusco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses a small art museum, the Regional History Museum, and the Religious Art Museum.


Day 32: Cusco/Ollantaytambo (1B, 1L)

Travel through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting a G Adventures-supported women's weaving co-op. Meet the women who work here and learn about traditional weaving and dyeing. Opt to pick up some handmade souvenirs right from the source.

Take a guided tour of the impressive Pisac ruins, the colourful artisan market (on market days only), and a small indigenous village of Huchuy Qosco. Here, have lunch at the G Adventures-supported Parwa community restaurant. Learn about the project and eat a delicious buffet-style lunch, the proceeds from which go directly back to the remote community.

Continue on to the town of Ollantaytambo. Go for a guided tour of the large ruin site just adjacent to the town. Ollayntaytambo is the first taste of what lies ahead in Machu Picchu.

Included Activities:
Ccaccaccollo Community and Planeterra-Sponsored Women's Weaving Co-op visit
Pisac Ruins Guided Tour
Parwa Community Restaurant the Sacred Valley
Ollantaytambo Ruins Guided Tour

Make stops along the way as you pass through this gorgeous valley, descending in elevation the whole way.
Private Vehicle (95km)


Day 33: Ollantaytambo/Wayllabamba Camp (1B, 1L, 1D)

Trek through beautiful scenery, with a variety of flora that changes with the seasons, passing several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata.

Additional Notes:
A crew of local porters, cooks, and guides will take care of all the details for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of the gear so you'll only need to carry a small daypack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera, etc.

Included Activities:
Hike Inca Trail

Private Vehicle (0.75 hour(s))


Day 34: Wayllabamba Camp/Paqaymayo Camp (1B, 1L, 1D)

Start early to climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman's Pass. This is the highest point of the trek at 4,198m (13,769 ft). Most hikers reach camp by early afternoon, with ample time to rest and relax.

Included Activities:
Hike Inca Trail


Day 35: Paqaymayo Camp/Wiñaywayna (1B, 1L, 1D)

Cross two more passes and ruins along the way. The first pass is Runquraqay at 3,950m (13,113 ft) where, on a clear day, hikers can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. Hike through cloud forest on the gentle climb to the second pass of the day, walking through original Incan constructions. The highest point of the pass is 3,700m (12,136 ft). On a clear day, enjoy the spectacular views of the Urubamba Valley.

At 3,650m (11,972 ft), reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the "town above the clouds." Camp here or go another 1.5 hrs to the Wiñay Wayna ruins ("forever young") located at 2,650m (8,694 ft).

Included Activities:
Hike Inca Trail


Day 36: Wiñaywayna/Cusco (1B)

The final day of the hike starts pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before sunrise. Wake up around 03:30 and walk to the checkpoint. Catch the first views of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu on a clear day. Hike down to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the site and free time to explore. Opt to visit the Inca Bridge, if time allows.

Catch the bus to Aguas Calientes to meet the CEO and any non-hiking members of your group. Eat and relax before your train back to Cusco in the afternoon.

Included Activities:
Hike Inca Trail
Machu Picchu Guided Tour

Train (1.50 hour(s), 118km)
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))


Day 37: Cusco (1B)

Enjoy a free day to explore Cusco or relax. Active options include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking.


Day 38: Cusco/Lima (1B)

Take a short flight to the coast and the capital city of Lima. This vibrant city has a fantastic main square, tons of shopping, and incredible eating. Opt to join the group for one final evening out.

Plane (1.25 hour(s), 572km)


Day 39: Lima (1B)

Depart at any time.

    • Beach time on Ilha Grande
    • Iguassu Falls visit (Brazil and Argentina)
    • Bonito stay
    • Pantanal wildlife excursion (2-day)
    • 4x4 excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats (3-day)
    • Floating islands of Uros visit
    • Lake Titicaca guided tour
    • Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo ruins guided tour with visit to a G Adventures-supported women's weaving project (full-day)
    • Lunch at the G Adventures-supported Sacred Valley Community Restaurant in Huchuy Qosco, an indigenous village
    • Inca Trail guided hike with cooks and porters (4-day)
    • G Adventures-supported handmade biodegradable soap products for use on the Inca Trail
    • Machu Picchu guided tour
    • Internal flights
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    • Hotels (26 nts), overnight buses (2 nts), overnight trains (2 nts), camping (3 nts), homestay (1 nt), basic hotels on Uyuni Salt Flats excursion (2 nts, multi-share), tented room with hammocks in the Pantanal (2 nts, multi-share)
    Meals Included
    • 35 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 7 dinners
    • Public bus, plane, 4x4 vehicle, train, walking, hiking
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, specialist Inca Trail CEO on hike, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Stare in awe at Iguassu Falls
  • Search for wildlife in the Brazilian Pantanal
  • Spend 3 days exploring the Uyuni Salt Flats by 4x4
  • Settle in with the locals at a homestay on Lake Titicaca
  • Conquer the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu