Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm on Day 1. You will find more information about this at the hotel reception.
Straight after the meeting enjoy a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima.
If you arrive early in Lima, a walk around Miraflores is recommended. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively, go to Parque del Amor (Love Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other options are a tour to Pachacamac (approximately 30 kilometres from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.
Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Get up early and take an included flight to Cuzco (approximately 1.5 hours), a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and the perfect base for outdoor activities and exploring Incan history. Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3,450 m) and then head out on an orientation walk with your tour leader. You’ll visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. Finally you’ll visit the Chocolate museum where there will be an opportunity to sample a hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. This might be a good opportunity to purchase some gifts or souvenirs. There’s a small store where you’ll find various handicrafts and a variety of artisanal chocolate products. Tonight is free, perhaps head out for dinner your fellow travellers. Your leader will be able to recommend some good place sot eat!
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approximately 2 hours) on the outskirts of Cuzco. This lush valley was known as Wilcamayo to the Incas and has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls. You will visit a community in the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities. If your visit coincides with market day you can browse the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and perhaps practice your newfound language, Quechua. Later in the afternoon, board a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. This extra journey ensures that we can travel to Machu Picchu as early as possible tomorrow morning.
Take a bus up the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). This is your chance to decide for yourself whether Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility or is an ancient astronomical observatory. Enjoy a guided visit of the incredible site (1.5–2 hours) with plenty of free time afterwards to wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, return to Cuzco for a well deserved shower and perhaps a Pisco sour. Take a train back to Ollantaytambo (approximately 90 minutes).
Note: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking climbs of Wayna Picchu.
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights, or simply rest your legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, a mountain bike adventure into the surrounding hills is recommended.
Travel by local bus across the spectacular Altiplano to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours). Mingle with the locals in this melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian cultures and see how traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. If you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, which see the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. Using the versatile totora reeds found in the shallows of the lake, the Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into the home of a local community and stay the night. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities, communicating to them in Quechua or perhaps trying your luck with them at soccer.
Puno is the hometown of Kusimayo, a terrific local organisation that works towards improving the living condition of children and adults affected by poverty and malnutrition in this part of the world you have now come to know so well. Take a look at this short video for more information on this wonderful project: https://vimeo.com/154422813
Kusimayo is supported by the Intrepid Foundation which means you can donate to this project and your donation will be match dollar for dollar by the Intrepid Group. Please donate through our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/kusimayo/
Depart your homestay this morning and take a bus to Juliaca airport (approximately 2 hours). In the afternoon take an included flight flight back to Lima (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes). Enjoy a last night out with your fellow travellers in Lima.
Bienvenido! Welcome to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the ultimate cosmopolitan city, with Latin passion, European elegance and its own distinctive style. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note at the hotel reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. If you arrive early, why not visit San Telmo and its weekend antiques market and artists' displays – it's a great chance to acquaint yourself with some portenos (local residents). Alternatively, visit La Boca (home to the world-class football team Boca Juniors), Recoleta (the grand cemetery) or perhaps Casa Rosada (the Pink House).
Enjoy some breakfast, then embark on an orientation walk through this fantastic city. You'll be introduced to some of Buenos Aires' major sights – the likes of the Colon Theatre, the Obelisc and Plaza de Mayo. Along the way, learn a little more about Argentina's independence from Spain.
Enjoy one last morning in Buenos Aires before catching a short flight to Posadas, followed by a drive to Ituzaingo (approximately 1 hour). Ituzaingo will serve as your base to explore the beautiful Ibera Wetlands region in the north of Argentina. Spanning more than 15,000 square kilometres, the Ibera wetlands are roughly the size of Belgium, which gives you an idea of how much there is to explore. The biodiversity in incredible, and the swamps, lakes and lagoons are home to such creatures as otters, alligators, deer, wolves and black howler monkeys, just to name a few. Keep a look out too for those oddly noble-looking creatures, the capibaras. These cousins of guinea pigs are the largest rodents in the world.
Take part on a full day (approximately 8-10 hour) walking tour and car safari with a guide, tasty lunch and plenty of snacks. You might see any number of obscure species – maybe caiman or swamp deer, perhaps even an armadillo, or a flock of rhea (which are like a South American equivalent of an emu). Anacondas, though particularly hard to spot at certain times of the year, are also known to inhabit these wetlands. Keep an eye to the sky, as you're bound to catch a glimpse of some of the 350 bird species here, from the sharp-tailed tyrant to the gorgeous and garish yellow robin.
Enjoy some breakfast and prepare for a long travel day. Start with a transfer to the city of Posada (approximately 1 hour). From there, take a comfortable local bus to Puerto Iguazu (approximately 5 hours). As soon as you arrive at Puerto Iguazu bus station, you will take a minivan across the border into Brazil and continue to your hotel in Foz do Iguacu (approximately one hour, depending on traffic at the Argentina–Brazil border).
Here at Iguazu, you'll visit the mighty waterfalls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. At over 2 kilometreslong, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are over 270 falls in all, and with some reaching up to 80 metres in height, they are wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara. From the Argentinean side it’s possible to follow a series of boardwalks to get up close to the thundering waters – so close you can almost touch them. Later, visit a Guarani community for the rare opportunity to meet some of the region’s few remaining indigenous people. You might like to take a helicopter ride over the falls while you're here. This optional excursion gives you spectacular views of the falls and the lush green parklands that surround it.
Enjoy the magnificent panoramas on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. Seeing the falls from this side has its perks, such as a view of San Martin Island which you don't quite get from the Argentinean side.
Travel by plane to Rio de Janeiro, the festive heart of Brazil. Settle into your hotel and then set out on an orientation walk with your leader. Rio is a fascinating and diverse city best known for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval. With free time, you can choose from many optional activities. Perhaps head to a football game, take a cable car ride between Praia Vermelha and the Sugarloaf Mountain for incredible views over town, or explore the favelas with a local guide. Be sure to check out the Christ the Redeemer statue while you're here. For further options, chat to your leader.
Today you'll see a different side to Rio, with a visit a local project in Leme. You'll take a nice and easy trek up to a favela in Leme (close to Ipanema) in Morro da Babilonia. It's a project sponsored by a big mall (Rio Sul) and the idea is to reforest the hill. The local guides are from the community and they are very passionate about what they do. It's an inspiring project to witness, and it'll five you very different views of Rio, taking in the back of Pao de Acucar mountain.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.