Hit the road from Quito to Rio on a 65-day adventure. Begin by discovering the best of Ecuador and Peru as you explore the Andes, Amazon and Pacific Coast. In the Amazon experience a jungle homestay with nature walk and from here, travel through colonial cities and Inca ruins en-route to Lima. Go on to ponder the mysteries of the Nazca Lines, admire soaring condors at Colca Canyon and hang out with locals of Lake Titicaca before hiking the Inca Trail. The Great South American Journey includes travelling through Chile’s Atacama Desert and a 4x4 crossing of the white salt flats of Bolivia. Explore everything between Buenos Aires and Rio – get your hands dirty on a ranch, admire Iguassu Falls, soak up the sunshine in Ilha Grande and experience the carnival spirit of Rio.
Duration: 63 Days
Activities: Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves, Local Culture & Cuisine, History, Wildlife, Trekking
Accommodation: Not Rated%
Guide (Language): english
Start City: Quito, Ecuador
Guaranteed Departure: No
Physical Demand: Demanding
Trip Rating: 0%
Trip ID: 132128
End City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Duration: 63 Days||Guaranteed Departure: Yes|
|For lovers of: Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves, Local Culture & Cuisine, History, Wildlife, Trekking||Physical rating: Demanding|
|Accommodation standard: Not Rated%||Traveller Tour Rating: 0%|
|Your Guide: English speaking||Tour code: 132128|
|Starts: Quito, Ecuador||Finishes: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
Spend the first day of your trip wandering Ecuador's capital city. Meet the group in the evening at the hotel.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Travel overland to Tena, located on the edge of the Amazon. From there, transfer for 45 minutes by truck to the local community of Pimpilala that will be our home for 3 nights. Stay with a Quichua family, enjoy the hospitality of these wonderful people, and experience life in the jungle first-hand.
Amazon Jungle Homestay
Local bus (6.00-7.00 hours)
Spot wildlife on nature walks and learn about local traditions at an overnight homestay.
Amazon Jungle Homestay
Baños is the perfect setting for outdoor pursuits, including horseback riding, canyoning, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and rafting in the surrounding mountains and on the River Patate.
Pickup truck (0.75 hour(s))
Local bus (3.00-4.00 hours)
Opt to soak in the nearby hot springs or get active by hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking.
Ecuador's third largest town, Cuenca, retains a pleasant provincial air with its colonial architecture, art galleries, and museums. The surrounding countryside is an outdoor playground. Visit national parks, take walks in the beautiful countryside, and see Ecuador's only Inca ruin site.
Explore the city's sights including cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs, art galleries, flower markets, shady plazas, and museums.
Local bus (2.00 hour(s))
Local bus (6.00 hour(s))
Enjoy a free day to visit Cajas NP or the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.
The adventure continues as we travel from Cuenca through the busy border town of Huaquillas and across the Peruvian border into Mancora. We follow the Pan-American Highway south to the seaside town of Mancora, a village populated by fishermen and surfers from around Peru and the world. Enjoy the relaxing beach atmosphere.
Border Crossing (Ecuador - Peru)
Local bus (5.00-6.00 hours)
Local bus (4.00-5.00 hours)
Opt to relax on the beach, discover Mancora, go horseback riding, or take a surf lesson.
Free time in Mancora. Overnight bus to Huanchaco.
We continue heading south along the coast to Trujillo, the largest city in northern Peru. It is known for its beautiful colonial structures and nearby attractions of Chan-Chan ruins and the resort town of Huanchaco, where we spend the night.
Full day in Huanchaco before boarding a night bus to Lima.
Overnight bus (8.00 hour(s))
To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk around the streets surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to experience life in a large South American city. There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera. An optional city tour visits many of the cities highlights.
Enjoy the day exploring the city.
Savour a pisco sour while staying in Pisco's neighbouring town of Paracas.
Local bus (4.00 hour(s), 250km)
Minibus (0.50 hour(s))
There is time in the morning for an optional excursion to the popular Ballestas Islands, which provide an excellent chance to view a lively sea lion colony, pelicans, penguins, and other varieties of birdlife.
Back on land, catch a bus south to Nazca. On the way, pass by the pleasant colonial town of Ica.
Ica enjoys a dry, sunny climate year-round and is known for its huge sand dunes. Located around the nearby oasis of Huacachina, the dunes are perfect as subjects for photographs and for a favourite local past time: sandboarding. Apart from the dunes, Ica is famous for its wines and there are several wineries and distilleries in the area.
Huacachina Winery Visit
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 175km)
Opt for a flight over the Nazca Lines. Overnight bus to Arequipa.
Overnight bus (8.00-9.00 hours, 570km)
Those with an interest in history and architecture may opt to visit the Convent of Santa Catalina, which offers a brief respite from the outside world and a unique view into a bygone way of life. Other optional excursions include rafting and mountaineering.
For spicy food lovers, checking out one of the “Picanterías” is a must. Arequipa has a variety of regional food: alpaca, shrimp, pork, lots of soups, and spicy sauces.
Enjoy an overnight excursion to the impressive Colca Canyon - one of the deepest canyons in the world. Stop in fascinating villages and at “miradors” (scenic lookouts), where, with a little luck, visitors can see Andean condors soaring over the majestic Andes. Other unusual animals that can be spotted in the Andean landscape include three different species of camelids: alpaca, llama and vicuña.
Colca Canyon Guided Tour
Private Vehicle (4.50-5.00 hours, 165km)
Get an early start to go on the lookout for flying condors. Travel from Chivay town to a condor viewpoint to admire these magnificent birds in the air. On the way back, stop by some local villages and viewpoints to see old terraces and sections of Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world.
Colca Canyon Guided Tour
In the morning head back to Arequipa and enjoy a free day. Overnight bus to Cusco.
Private Van (4.50-5.00 hours, 165km)
Overnight bus (10.00 hour(s))
Free time to explore Cusco. Opt for a city tour or go whitewater rafting, horseback riding or mountain biking.
Enjoy another free day in Cusco.
Ollantaytambo is a major Inca ruin site and a first taste of what lies ahead. For those craving more before they head out on the Trail, opt to take a Sacred Valley tour which includes not only Ollantaytambo and the ruin site of Pisac, but also a visit to a G Adventures-supported women's weaving co-op.
Private Vehicle (2.50 hour(s), 95km)
Trek through beautiful scenery, with a variety of flora that changes with the seasons, passing several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata.
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.
Hike Inca Trail
Private Vehicle (0.75 hour(s))
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.
Hike Inca Trail
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).
Hike Inca Trail
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.
Hike Inca Trail
Machu Picchu Guided Tour
Train (1.50 hour(s), 118km)
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))
Free day to explore more of Cusco or just relax.
Travel through the high Altiplano region to travel to Puno on Lake Titicaca.
Local bus (7.50 hour(s), 390km)
Head out by boat across Lake Titicaca. Visit the community on Taquile Island and enjoy a local lunch with spectacular views.
After, cruise to another village for an overnight homestay on the shores of the lake (the homestay location can vary based on community availability). 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, learn some Quecha and Spanish language skills, try on traditional costumes, and help out with daily chores around the village.
Lake Titicaca Guided Boat Tour Day 1
Lake Titicaca Homestay
Boat (3.00 hour(s))
Leave the homestay families late 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.
Lake Titicaca Guided Boat Tour Day 2
Enjoy a full-day drive around the lake and through the Altiplano to La Paz. Bolivia is filled with spectacular views of the countryside. La Paz sits nearly 4,000m (13,120 ft) above sea level, so be prepared for cool evenings and mornings.
Border Crossing (Peru - Bolivia)
Local bus (2.50 hour(s), 300km)
Local bus (3.00 hour(s))
Free day in La Paz. Opt to visit Iglesia de San Francisco, the Valley of the Moon, the Witches' Market, or the nearby Tiahuanaco Ruins.
Enjoy a free day before boarding a night bus to Sucre.
Overnight bus (14.00 hour(s), 416km)
Take an optional excursion to the nearby dinosaur tracks, or get active by hiking or mountain biking.
Enjoy another free day to explore Sucre and surroundings.
Staying in the Bolivian highlands, we travel south to the city of Potosí. The highest city of its size in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has had a tumultuous history as a silver mining centre during colonial times.
Local bus (2.50 hour(s))
Get out and explore Potosí. Opt to tour a working mine.
Travel to Uyuni and get ready for an excursion to the salt flats.
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s))
Travel through the Bolivian landscape to the town of Uyuni. Despite its isolation and challenging climate (cold and blustery most of the year), the town of Uyuni has earned the nickname of Hija Predilecta de Bolivia (Bolivia's Favourite Daughter). It is also the starting point for our 3-night excursion through the spectacular Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats) in 4x4 vehicles.
Spend three days in the stunning landscapes between the Salar de Uyuni and the Atacama Desert in Chile. Our groups like to get creative with photography, as the endless white of the salt flats creates some great depth illusions that are fun to play with in photos.
The tour takes us through the impressive large red lagoon of Laguna Colorada and the striking blue-green Laguna Verde at 5,000m (16,404 ft).
Note: During the rainy season, the locations visited may change due to some routes being covered by water.
We offer unique accommodation on 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 has a private bathroom. Meals are made from local ingredients, most of which are grown on-site.
Salt Flats Excursion
Continue exploring the Uyuni Salt Flats on a 4x4 excursion.
Salt Flats Excursion
After continuing through the Uyuni Salt Flats in the morning, hop on a bus further south to the dry desert regions of Argentina and Chile, where we stop in the little town of San Pedro de Atacama, on the edge of the Atacama desert—the driest place on earth.
Border Crossing (Bolivia - Chile)
4x4 (1.00 hour(s))
Local bus (1.50-2.50 hours)
There are plenty of optional excursions here -- biking, exploring nearby ruins, horseback riding, and touring the Valley of the Moon.
We make our way to Salta, situated in the Lerma Valley of northern Argentina. Salta is home to empanadas salteñas - the delicious local specialty, and no visit to the town will be complete without giving them a try.
Border Crossing (Chile - Argentina)
Local bus (10.00 hour(s))
Explore the city and enjoy the local cuisine. Opt to take a trip through the scenic Quebrada de las Conchas to Cafayate, visiting the High Mountain Arqueological Museum.
When you are done exploring, settle your weary feet and enjoy a drink in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants and begin to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life. Try the succulent bife and parrilladas!
Plane (5.00 hour(s))
Get out and explore. Consider visiting the districts of La Boca, Recoleta, and San Telmo or catch a tango show at one of the many famous tanguerías. Wander the pedestrian walkways and see some dancing in the streets.
Today, new travellers may join you for the rest of your adventure. You are welcome to join them at a group meeting this evening, followed by an optional dinner.
Known as the ‘Paris of the Americas,' Buenos Aires is a vibrant city full of life. Visit the districts of La Boca, Recoleta, and San Telmo or catch a tango show at one of the many famous tanguerías. Wander the pedestrian walkways and see some dancing in the streets. Whatever you do, Buenos Aires is sure to leave lasting memories.
Cross the Río de la Plata by ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. Explore on an orientation walk, then enjoy free time to explore the area and relax at a streetside café.
In high season, accommodation may be multi-share.
Border Crossing (Argentina - Uruguay)
Ferry (1.00 hour(s))
Spend free time in Montevideo exploring the city and Mercado del Puerto, having a picnic in the park or visiting Estadio Centenario where the first World Cup was played in 1930. Cycle around the coast or head to the beach.
Local bus (2.50-3.00 hours, 177km)
Free time to explore Montevideo.
Today travel by day through picturesque settlements and pastures finishing in the last Uruguayan stop—a local ranch, known in the region as an estancia.
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 250km)
Spend a day at the estancia getting into rural life. Learn about the historical roots of the region, lend a hand on the farm, go for a walk, make bread or sit back and sip on the wines of the region as you take in local Uruguayan life.
In the morning cross the border into Gualeguaychu in Argentina, then begin the long overnight journey to Iguassu Falls.
Border Crossing (Uruguay - Argentina)
Overnight bus (15.00 hour(s), 868km)
After a night of travel, our visit to Brazil begins with the magnificent Foz do Iguaçu, or Iguassu falls, bordering Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.
Border Crossing (Argentina - Brazil)
Iguassu Falls Guided Tour
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours)
Full day excursion to the Argentinian side of the falls. Opt to take a boat tour to see the cascading falls from below.
If you have booked the Iguassu Falls Boat Ride Theme Pack, today's the day! Your CEO will give you the details about timing and what to bring.
Border Crossing (Brazil - Argentina)
Iguassu Falls Visit
Border Crossing (Argentina - Brazil)
Skipping the long bus ride, we fly to Sao Paulo and head straight to Paraty, a quaint colonial town on the coast renowned for its architecture.
In high season, accommodation in Paraty may be multi-share.
Plane (1.50 hour(s), 1000km)
Private Vehicle (5.00-6.00 hours, 314km)
Paraty is a quaint colonial town renowned for its architecture—the pace might be slow but there's a lot to choose from. Considered one of the world's most important examples of Portuguese colonial architecture by UNESCO, the historic centre is a well-preserved national historic monument, and today has been closed to vehicles to preserve its laid-back colonial ambiance. Optional caipirinha boat trip, regular boat trips, kayak tours, horseback riding and jeep tours.
Tavel to the port in Angra dos Reis and catch a boat over to Ilha Grande not far from the coast.
In high season, accommodation in Ilha Grande may be multi-share.
Local bus (1.50-2.00 hours)
Ferry (1.50 hour(s))
Free time to explore the beaches of Ilha Grande. Opt to hike Pico do Papagaio or Lopez Mendez, take a boat trip around the island, play in the waves or go snorkelling.
Leaving the port after returning from Ilha Grande, a dramatic road then takes us north along the coast through superb scenery before rounding the cliffs at Vidigal. Get a first glimpse of one of the most memorable cities in the world, Brazil's ocean-side jewel, Río de Janeiro.
Enjoy any free time by taking an optional city tour or exploring the wonders that this city has to offer from the centrally located hostel in Copacabana.
The hostel has private rooms with private bathrooms for travellers, but its common areas are shared with other guests of the hostel.
Ferry (1.50 hour(s))
Local van (3.00-3.50 hours)
Depart at any time.
Some departures running in the summer of 2016 will be affected by the Olympics in Rio. Please see the itinerary note on the overview page for specific dates. Due to accommodation availability in Rio we have adjusted the itinerary to have 1 additional night in Paraty and 0 nights in Rio. The tour will end on arrival in the city centre of Rio around 2pm. Please book onward flights accordingly.
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Trip Name: The Great South American Journey–Quito to Rio Adventure
Duration: 63 Days
From Price: 7799
Trip Code: 132128
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