South America Gold Tour
30 days duration (32 days including travel days to and from South America).
On arrival into Santiago de Chile Australian passport holders will need to pay a US$95 Reciprocity Fee. This morning you will make your own way to Sydney International Airport for your flight to Santiago, via Auckland. As you cross the International Date Line you ‘gain’ a day so you will arrive in South America later on Saturday. On arrival we will connect with our flight to Puerto Montt, in the Southern Lakes District of Patagonia. This area contains a series of magnificent lakes cutting through and strung along the foothills of the Andes. On arrival we are transferred to our hotel in nearby Puerto Varas, a beautiful alpine type town on the shores of Llanquihue Lake. (Meals Inflight)
This morning we host a very informative tour orientation meeting in which we get to know each other and outline the important aspects of the day-to-day operation of your Inca Gold Tour of South America. This afternoon we will be taken on a city tour of Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas including the local fish market. We will enjoy lunch and return to our hotel this afternoon. (BL)
From Puerto Varas our Southern Lakes Crossing is a combination of bus and boat travel traversing this spectacular area. We will be collected from our hotel and travel by coach around the shores of Llanquihue Lake. After entering the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park we will visit the famous Petrohue Falls and then cross Todos los Santos Lake (also known as Esmeralda, Emerald in English), seeing Margarita Island, Osorno Volcano, and the peaks of Puntiagudo and Tronador Mountains to Peulla, where we will stop to complete Chilean Immigration and Customs procedures and to have lunch.
After lunch we will cross the Vicente Perez Rosales Pass to the Argentine Immigration and Customs point. We will then travel by catamaran across Frias Lake to Puerto Alegre where we will again board a bus to take us to Puerto Blest. From Puerto Blest to Puerto Panuelo is again by boat, this time on the famous Nahuel Huapi Lake. On disembarkation at Puerto Panuelo we will be met and taken to the luxurious Llao Llao Hotel for two nights. (BL)
Bariloche, situated on the shore of the beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi is an internationally recognised ski resort with steep streets, wooden chalets perched Swiss style upon a glacial moraine at the foot of Cerro Otto, and without a doubt, it is the best centre for exploring the Nahuel Huapi National Park and surrounding areas.
Today’s pleasant tour follows the southern shore of the Lake Nahuel Huapi. On a clear day, we might catch sight of the highest mountain of the area, El Tronador (The Thunderer), whose snow capped peaks rise to 3,554 metres. The road then winds through the coyhue forest, an indigenous evergreen of the beech family. We will follow the southern edge of Lake Moreno under the steep cliffs of Mount Lopez to the spectacular Panoramic Point for a magnificent view looking back towards the Andes that we’ve just traversed. The breathtaking view includes Lake Moreno, the Llao Llao Hotel, and the northern arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi with Victoria Island in its centre. The peaks of the Andean Chain, including Mount Lopez, Capilla and Millaqueo rise to the west of the lakes. We will enjoy lunch after the tour at a local restaurant. (BL)
This morning we will be transferred to Bariloche Airport to connect with our flight to Buenos Aires. On arrival into the Argentine Capital we will be met and transferred to our downtown hotel for three fabulous nights. Tonight enjoy dinner at a traditional Argentine steak house! (BD)
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and is the most fashionable city in South America, with many beautiful parks and plazas. Portenos, as the locals call themselves, are fun loving people who enjoy their city and music. This morning we will be taken on a city tour taking in the Government House (Casa Rosada), City Hall, House of Congress, Metropolitan Cathedral, Colon Theatre, Avenue 9th July (the widest street in the world) and the famous Italian La Boca District. This afternoon is at leisure.
This evening we will be taken out to dinner where we will also experience the city’s very best Tango Show. (BD)
Today is at leisure in Buenos Aires to take advantage of the wonderful shopping or alternatively, to visit the National Art Gallery or the world famous Colon Opera House. (B)
Early this morning we will be collected from our hotel and transferred out to Buenos Aires’ Domestic Airport to join our flight to Iguazu Falls, considered by many as the most impressive in the world and surpassing in grandeur both Niagara and Victoria Falls. Some 275 separate cascades fall in a wild array of spray over a winding 3 kilometre cliff frontage into a gorge 60 metres deep. One of the most spectacular of the falls is aptly named “The Devil’s Throat”.
We will be met from our flight and taken on a walking tour of the Argentine side of the falls before being transferred to the Brazil side and to the famous old Das Cataratas Hotel, where we have accommodation for two fabulous nights. Tonight enjoy dinner at the hotel. (BLD)
This morning we visit the most spectacular side of the falls from a photographic point of view—the Brazil side! Then we take you through the rain forest by 4-wheel drive jeep to the Iguassu River where we board our powerful inflated boat for an incredibly spectacular ride up the river to the base of the falls. There should also be time for us to visit a local bird sanctuary, where we will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of South American species. (BD)
This morning we will be transferred to Iguassu Airport to connect with our flight to Rio de Janeiro. On arrival in Rio we will be met and transferred to our hotel located right on Copacabana Beach for three nights.
Rio sweeps twenty kilometres along the narrow alluvial strip between the mountains and the sea. The combination of dark blue sea, studded with rocky islands, with the tumbling wooded mountains and expanses of bare grey rock which surround the city is very impressive. Brazilians say: “God made the world in six days, the seventh He devoted to Rio”. This afternoon is at leisure. You may like to try a traditional caipirinha at the rooftop bar tonight and watch the sun set. (B)
This morning we will be collected from our hotel and taken on a tour to Corcovado Mountain, located in the Tijuca Atlantic Forest, the largest urban forest in the world and home to the Statue of Christ the Redeemer. The statue is one of Rio’s most famous landmarks. It is 37 metres high, weighs 1100 tons and has a 360 degree view of the entire Rio area below, encompassing the city, the bay, the mountains and the sea, within a circle of up to 160 km. We will then be returned to our hotel.
Our afternoon is at leisure to further enjoy Copacabana. You may wish to go shopping for typical Brazilian music. Tonight we will be taken to one of Rio’s most popular restaurants for an enjoyable Brazilian dinner. We then continue on to experience Rio’s best Carnival & Samba Show outside of Carnival! (BD)
Early this afternoon we will visit the old city of Rio and then be taken to the Sugar Loaf Mountain, located uniquely above the entrance to Guanabara Bay. It is reached by a spectacular 2-stage cable car ride that offers a beautiful look at the city and its beaches from a vantage point high above Rio de Janeiro. On arrival we will enjoy a cool drink as the sun sets over the emerging lights of Rio. (B)
Extremely early this morning we will be transferred to Rio Airport for our flight to Lima, Peru. On arrival into Lima we will be met and taken to our well-appointed hotel where we have accommodation for two nights. Lima, “The City of the Kings” is a very beautiful city. It was the first seat of Government of Spain in 1535 and still has many perfectly preserved buildings from the Colonial Period. It is also famous for its fine gold and silver.
This afternoon we will be taken to the world famous Lima Gold Museum, where there is also one of the world’s largest collections of armoury. (BD)
This morning we will be taken on a tour of Greater Colonial Lima. The tour visits the Casa Aliaga, one of South America’s oldest Spanish homes and still inhabited by the original family (an Inca Tours Australian exclusive!) and the Franciscan Monastery. We will see the Government Palace and the Plaza de Armas. We drive by the flower market to the elegant residential tree-lined avenues of San Isidro and Miraflores to Parque del Amor, where we will enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. (B)
Early this morning we will be transferred to Lima Airport to board our flight via Cuzco, to Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon Basin near the border of Peru and Bolivia. On arrival we will be met and transferred from the airport to the reception area. We will leave our large bags locked here until our return. You may have time to view the Inkaterra Butterfly House.
The Tambopata National Reserve and Peru hold various records in butterflies’ species numbers: there are 3,800 species in Peru and many of these can be found at the Butterfly House, which showcases the varied beauty and adaptability of these colourful insects. We are then transferred to the river dock. A 45-minute journey down the Madre de Dios River by motor canoe brings us to Reserva Amazonica, a private ecological reserve and research centre and our home for three nights. We will enjoy a late lunch on arrival. Later this afternoon we take a guided walk on one of the trails in the Reserva Amazonica Natural Reserve. The trails offer an excellent introduction to the environment of the jungle. Our expert jungle guide will explain the primary and secondary rainforest features, introduce us to some species of rainforest trees, point out hard to find insects and listen to exotic birds.
This evening we enjoy a guided boat ride where we should witness the enchanting transformation from a diurnal to a nocturnal environment, as animals and birds of the daytime are replaced by species especially adapted to the night. (BLD)
This morning we take a 30-minute boat ride to the Tambopata National Reserve, where wildlife surrounds us as we take the one and a half hour walk along three kilometres of trails to reach Lake Sandoval. Glide in a wooden canoe across a beautiful, mirror like oxbow lake that is home to the endangered giant river otter, as well as red howler monkeys, macaws, anacondas, point-tailed palm creepers and side-neck turtles. We will spend time on the lake, appreciating everything it has to offer. Then we will walk back to the boat and continue to the lodge. This tour involves some strenuous walking, either due to heat or recent rain and can be quite challenging. We will depart the lodge at 6.00am and return for a late lunch.
This afternoon we take a 35-minute ride upriver to Hacienda Concepcion, home to a remarkable Botanical Garden with over 200 different species of rainforest plants. An explanation familiarises us with the processing, uses and benefits of these traditional indigenous plants, including fascinating native medicinal uses. Next, we take a 30-minute canoe trip on a small lake and watch out for wildlife – turtles, sun grebes, nightjars and herons. The activity ends at the Concepcion Educational Research Facility where exhibits, designed by the National Geographic Society, tell the story of the remarkable Madre de Dios Region. The walking is not too strenuous and involves regular stops to listen to our guide’s explanation. (BLD)
Today we enjoy a long walk along the captivating world of Gamitana Creek. The sights, scents and sounds of the jungle will surround us as we walk for two and a half hours, rambling through the rain forest along the banks of this winding, dark-water creek that is home to piranha, caimans, turtles and an abundance of brightly coloured birds. When we reach the embarkation point we board a canoe and navigate a two-hour ride down stream to the Gamitana Model Farm, appreciating the rich plant and animal life along the way. Enjoy a short guided tour to learn how a native farm operates.
This afternoon we will take a five-minute boat ride to the Canopy Inkaterra Interpretation Centre. After ascending the first tower, at 30 metres above the forest floor, we will literally walk through the treetops for one and a half hours along suspension bridges that link eight observation platforms. Enjoy landscapes and vistas that would be unimaginable from below, while on the look-out for giant strangler fig trees, orchids, toucans, woodpeckers, trogons and with luck, monkeys or sloths. After our descent from the canopy, experience the Anaconda Walk for about 30 minutes along the 200 metre wooden bridge over the Aguajales Swamps. In this lush eco system, we may observe various species of amphibians, serpents, birds, mammals and abundant flora and trees of this flooded marshland. The walk finishes by returning to the lodge. (BLD)
This morning we will be transferred back to the airport for our flight to Cuzco, the Inca Capital. On arrival in Cuzco we will be met and driven to a lower altitude in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we have accommodation in this stunning destination for two nights. (BD)
This morning we take you to visit a famous site situated here: the Inca Fortress of Ollantaytambo. We will then continue to the famous and traditional Indian Market of Pisac where we will have time to bargain with the local Indians for their fabulous artefacts and weavings. After lunch at the Casa Orihuela (an Inca Tours Australian exclusive), we will continue back to our hotel where our afternoon is at leisure. (BL)
After breakfast we have an early morning transfer to the Ollanta Train Station for our two-day excursion to Machu Picchu. We follow the Urubamba River on one of the world’s great train journeys. Machu Picchu, known as the “Lost City of the Incas” is undoubtedly the best known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent and is considered a must for all visitors to Peru. Our lunch is provided at Machu Picchu and tonight we will be accommodated at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, below the ruins in the village of Aguas Calientes, an absolute highlight in itself! (BLD)
We have the day free to further explore the ruins of Machu Picchu without the hassle of large crowds or take one of the guided walks through our hotel grounds. You may choose a rainforest experience, orchid walk or bird watching excursion – all in the grounds of our hotel! Alternatively, the village of Aguas Calientes has an extensive local market where you can continue with your souvenir shopping.
As the sun goes down, please return to the train station and board the luxurious Hiram Bingham Train. Once on board, pre-dinner cocktails will be served in the bar, accompanied by live entertainment. You will then be escorted to the dining car for a gourmet dinner. On arrival at Poray Station, at approximately 9:30pm, we will be met and transferred by private vehicle to Cuzco, to the Monasterio Hotel, where we have three fabulous nights. (BLD)
Cuzco is the archaeological capital of the Americas and the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Massive Inca-built stone walls line most of Cuzco’s central streets to form the foundations of Colonial and modern buildings. The streets are often stepped and narrow and thronged with Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas. This morning we take you on a very comprehensive tour of Cuzco that includes the Main Cathedral, the Plaza de Armas, the Temple of the Sun (Koricancha), as well as other city highlights, such as the local markets. The tour then visits one of the other very important Inca Ruins in the area outside Cuzco: Sacsayhuaman. This afternoon is at leisure. Tonight enjoy dinner in town. (BD)
Today is at leisure to further enjoy this wonderful destination. (B)
Early this morning we will be transferred to the train station for our Orient Express Train across the Andean Altiplano, via the La Raya Pass (until recently the highest rail pass in the world) and on to Juliaca. This journey takes about 10 hours and will provide a wonderful insight into Indian life as it has been for hundreds of years. We will experience some of the world’s most spectacular views and the only area in the world where the almost extinct Vicuna still exist. On arrival in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, we will be met by a representative of Titilaka Hotel and transferred to our luxury hotel where we will spend three fabulous nights. (BLD)
Today we will enjoy an overwater excursion to the Uros Floating Islands. These islands are inhabited by local descendants from one of the most ancient cultures of the continent. Theylive in an archipelago of more than 40 man-made reed islands. Learn how they survived by catching fish (pejerrey and carachi), used reed in amazing ways and traded with land-based settlers. Lunch is based on the region’s local cuisine served from 12:30pm to 3:00pm. Enjoy Teatime at 3:30pm followed by an afternoon excursion, Rowing through the Reeds near the lodge, where you can observe interesting endemic birds, striking landscapes of aunique geography. Evening cocktails are served from 6.30pm followed by dinner from 7:30 to 9:30pm. Then join other guests and interpreters to share highlands experiences and tales. (BLD)
Begin with a healthy breakfast on the terrace with a variety of fresh fruit, local cereals and prepare for the excursion to Taquile Island on a 45-minute boat ride across the lake. Taquile is considered the most interesting island on the area because of its pristine way of life, unique history and amazing crafts. The Taquile people are of Quechua origin, as opposed to the majority of region’s locals who are of Aymara origin. As part of the Inca Empire, the island has archaeological remains located on the peak of its mountain. From the island, you can view the impressive snow caped Cordillera Real in Bolivia. The island enjoys a favorable microclimate for agriculture, producing crops that don’t normally grow at these altitudes. As you walk around the island, you will see meet men knitting outdoors, creating some of the finest handicrafts in Peru. Return to the hotel for lunch and siesta.
After tea, choose from one of the excursions near the hotel. Socca, east of the lodge is a rustic community. Walk through the broad sandy shores between wetlands and farms where you can appreciate the local dress, and pace. Take pleasure in the magnificent scenery as the sun sets and the first stars set in. Cocktail at 6:30pm followed by Dinner. (BLD)
Very early this morning we will be transferred to Puno where we will be met and transferred to Juli, where we will visit the local church. From Juli we then board the hydrofoil and travel to the Moon Island. On arrival we will enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Titicaca and will also visit the Sun Virgins Temple, Inak Uyu. We then continue to the Sun Island where we visit the Inca staircase and sacred fountain to touch the water that is believed to give eternal youth and
happiness. We then have lunch on the island. We will then take the hydrofoil to Copacabana, where we will have a short tour of the shrine and local market. We then continue to La Paz by road and are taken to our hotel for two nights. (BL)
This morning we undertake a tour of La Paz and the spectacular Moon Valley. We visit the Indian and Pagan sacrificial markets, Calle Jaen with its museums, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo, National Congress, the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Obrajes, Calacoto and the unusual formations of the Moon Valley, outside of La Paz. (B)
This morning we will be transferred to the airport for your flight to back to Santiago. On arrival into Santiago we will be met and transferred to our luxury hotel for tonight and tomorrow.
This morning we will take you on a city tour of Santiago. We will visit the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), the 16th Century Cathedral, City Hall and National Congress Buildings and the Moneda Presidential Palace. We also see O’Higgins Park, featuring the former Chilean Military Academy and the Santa Lucia Hill where the foundation of Santiago took place in 1542. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner. (BD)
This morning we will be transferred to Santiago Airport for our flight to Sydney. Today is spent inflight as we recross the International Date Line and ‘lose’ one day. (B & Meals Inflight)
We will arrive in Sydney early this evening. (Meals Inflight)
All prices are subject to currency fluctuations, additional airline charges and changes in costs from ground suppliers. We reserve the right to vary any part of the tour at our sole discretion as circumstances may require.
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