Chile Bolivia Peru Ecuador Galapagos Ilands

This itinerary takes many of the key lights of the western side of South America. Start in Chile and head north to one of the direst places on earth, the Atacama Desert and cross overland into the wilds of Bolivia to the stunning salt flats of Uyuni and on to the city La Paz. Cross the fabled Lake Titicaca into Peru where you explore Machu Picchu and the Amazon before flying to Quito in Ecuador and then follow in Darwin’s footsteps with a 7-night cruise taking in the unique wildlife in the incredible Galapagos. For good reason, our most popular South American holiday!

Itinerary Highlights

  • Discover the world-famous ruins of Machu Picchu
  • The other worldly Atacama Desert
  • Explore the most unique place on earth – the Salt Flats of Uyuni
  • Take in the wild beauty of the Amazon
  • Follow in Darwin’s wake on a Galapagos cruise

What’s included

  • Completely private tours for all land activities included
  • Meet & greet airport service
  • Luxury & boutique accommodation at your chosen level
  • Expert guides in each destination
  • Includes regional flights within South America

flexibility

This is an example itinerary. It is fully flexible; you can add or detract days and include hotels at your chosen budget. It departs daily.

31

Nights

Price Guide

Exact price on application (POA) from approx $22,000pp excluding international flights

Our quotes are bespoke for your customised trip. The prices displayed are indicative only, read more

Day 1

Fly to Santiago

plan line
Day 1-2

Chile’s cosmopolitan capital

Arrive into Santiago and spend a couple of nights overcoming the jetlag and familiarizing yourself with the museums, markets and attractions of Chile’s cosmopolitan capital. You may even like to head out to the bohemian port of Valparaiso or into the rolling wine-country that surrounds the city.

Day 3-5

Atacama Desert – villages, the Devil’s Throat and Inca sites

Fly north to Calama and journey out to the spectacular ochre-washed canyons, gorges and dazzling  salt-lakes of Chile’s Atacama Desert. Based at the pretty Andean town of San Pedro de Atacama, you can enjoy photo-safaris to the Tatio geysers and highland Lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques or tour the Andean Villages of Tocano and Machuca or hike, ride or bike through the Valley of the Moon or “Devil’s Throat”. For history buffs, the Atacama is dotted with fascinating pre-Incan sites such as Tulor or Pukara de Quitor or you may prefer to visit a local observatory or better still enjoy breathtaking hot-air balloon ride over the extraordinary landscapes.

Day 6-7

Bolivia – Salt Flats, volcanoes & flamingoes

Today, you set off across the border into Bolivia to explore the remarkable landscapes of the Uyuni highlands, some of the most captivating landscapes in all South America. Here, smoking volcanoes tower over multi-colored lakes, geysers and petrified forest amidst huge flocks of resident flamingoes. The highlight is the wonderful Uyuni salt-lake and once ocean, a vast expanse of dazzling white that stretches out to the horizon in all directions.

Day 8-9

La Paz; witches’ markets and Valley of the Moon

Fly north to La Paz, the political capital of Bolivia and enjoy some downtime after your highland jeep tour. La Paz is a fascinating city where Andean and European cultures collide and you may like to wander through the colonial centre, browsing the colourful witches market or lose yourself amidst the eerie rock formations of the Valley of the Moon on the outskirts of the city.

Day 10-12

Lake Titicaca – lake on the roof of the world

Your journey continues across the border into Peru and onto the sparkling waters of the sacred Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. On route, you might like to enjoy a cruise around the Islands of the Moon and Sun, legendary birthplace of the Inca before pressing on to Puno. Puno sits on the Peruvian side of the border overlooking the distant isles of Taquile and Amantani and the unique floating-reed island community of the Uros people.

Day 13-15

Cusco – the Inca Capital

All aboard the Andean Explorer train for one of South America’s classic rail journeys! The train cuts a dizzying trail high across the windswept altiplano to reach the Inca Capital Cusco. Here, spend 3 days exploring the cobbled streets of the Inca capital, a riot of markets, colonial monuments and Inca palaces including the magnificent cathedral and Korikancha Temple of the Sun. Head into the surrounding hills and you can tour the impressive fortress of Sacsayhuaman and the remarkable Inca sites of Qenqo, Tambo Machay and Puka Pukara.

Day 16-17

Machu Picchu walk/trek or take the easy route?

The highlight Machu Picchu! Arriving into the small backpacker village of Aguas Calientes, you will visit the remarkable UNESCO site of Machu Picchu, the face of Peruvian tourism and one of the new “7 Wonders of the World”. For keen walkers, you can combine your visit with a hike up to the breathtaking shrines of Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huchuy Picchu or better still, the wonderful 1 Day Inca Trail. This 6 hour walk that leads you high into the cloud-forested mountains past the huge terraced site of Wiñay Wayna to reach Machu Picchu via the iconic Sun Gate.

Day 18-20

The Amazon Rainforest with expert naturalist Guides

Leave the highlands and take flight east into the steamy Amazon basin to reach your jungle lodge shrouded in tropical rainforest. Each day you will head into the forest accompanied by expert, naturalist and local guides to experience the unique flora and fauna of the Amazon. Activities range from walking, fishing and bird-watching to boat trips, community visits and night walks. Among the highlights is a visit to the resident clay-lick, whose mineral rich soil attracts huge numbers parrots, parakeets and other bird species.

Day 21-22

Picturesque colonial Quito

Fly on to Quito, the bustling capital of Ecuador. At its heart, the UNESCO protected colonial old town is a picturesque, white-washed maze of historic churches, cobbled plazas and traditional townhouses. Heading out of the city, you can visit Mindo Cloud-Forest, Otavalo Market or the nearby Cotopaxi Volcano and National Park or take in the “Mitad del Mundo” Museum and Monument which marks where the equator passes through the country.

Day 23-29

The Galapagos with expert naturalist Guides

Today, you fly out to the Galapagos, a remote archipelago some 1000km off the coast and a true natural wonderland that harbours a dizzying array of species, much of the wildlife found nowhere else on earth. Here, you will board your chosen vessel for a unique 8 day Galapagos cruise accompanied expert naturalist guides. Each day, you will walk, paddle, swim and snorkel in the marine park and enjoy the incredible range of flora and fauna, from giant tortoises, flamingos, albatross and iguanas to penguins, whales, rays and tropical fish. Each evening, the guides will discuss the islands’ history, geology and unique ecology and explain how the Galapagos was central to Darwin’s masterpiece “The Origin of the Species”.

Day 30-31

Depart South America

Returning to the mainland, you will spend a final night in Ecuador before flying back to Santiago for onward connections.

dot joiner for itins
Day 31

Fly home

A note on price

The prices outlined above are a rough guide to give you an idea of costs and enable you to budget for your trip.

Guide prices are generally for private arrangements based on twin share, in well located, good quality accommodation (excluding international flights).

Please note costs are indicative and may vary due to a number of factors such as; travel date, hotel choice, room category, number of people travelling and prevailing exchange rates.

Price Guide From $22,000+ per person

When to travel

jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec

In the Andean highlands, the climate is determined largely by altitude. Days can be warm and bright during the day and bitterly cold at night dropping to below zero. The summer months between May to November are drier, colder and arguably the best time to travel. December to March coincides with the rainy season which often causes the great Salar de Uyuni saltlake to flood and makes roads impassable in the south. East of the Andean plateau, the subtropical “yungas” are warm and humid year around, even more so as you drop into the steamy Amazon basin.

Add on’s

There are a multitude of add on holiday options to this South American itinerary, for example you could head to Brazil or Argentina or add on an Antarctic Cruise. Exploring more Chile such as the Lake District or Patagonia deep in Southern Chile.

South America is easily accessed from Sydney and Melbourne with direct flights to Santiago.

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