On arrival to Buenos Aires you'll be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel in the center of the city. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight Buenos Aires.
In the morning at 9am we will take a tour of Buenos Aires. We will be visiting the main points of interest in the city, such as the 9 de Julio Avenue, the widest on Earth, driving down this avenue past the famous opera house, the Colon Theatre and the Obelisk, a symbol of Buenos Aires, the Plaza de Mayo (May Square), in the historic heart of Buenos Aires which is surrounded by some of the oldest and most important buildings: The Casa Rosada (Pink House), where the government's executive branch is housed, the historical Cabildo and the Metropolitan Cathedral, where inside lies the remains of the General Jos de San Mart n. We will also visit La Boca, a typically Italian neighbourhood, with its colourful houses and the famous Caminito walkway, a museum of Arts in the open air. If time allows, we will continue to the modern Puerto Madero neighbourhood with its former port warehouses, now turned into offices, apartments and restaurants. Our city tour continues to the elegant district of Recoleta to visit Recoleta Cemetery and the tomb of the famous Eva Peron. We return to the hotel along the elegant Alvear Avenue. This evening, for a real treat, we shall enjoy a Tango show for dinner and an authentic performance.
Overnight Hotel Buenos Aires.
Today we leave early for the domestic airport to take the first flight in the morning to Iguazu Falls (Cataratas del Iguaz International Airport, Argentinean side of the Iguazu Falls), set in lush rainforest on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The flight needs to arrive no later than 11am to have sufficient time to enjoy the Argentinean side of the Falls (please ask us which flight to book if we are not organising your flights). Though they are not the highest or largest falls in the world, they are without a doubt one of the most spectacular. The area contains more than twenty-five different cataracts some small, some absolutely massive. The largest of all is the Boca or Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). This afternoon we will take a tour of the Argentine side of the falls.
Overnight on the Argentinean side of the Falls.
Please note: Due to the early departure today, breakfast options at the group hotel are limited, however a basic breakfast will be provided (tea/coffee & sandwich).
*All passengers with accommodation in the city of Puerto Iguazu must pay a Municipal Tax. This tax is collected in pesos by your hotel at check-in (approx USD$2 per person per night). The hotel will provide a receipt and this should be carried with you to avoid being charged again if visiting the Brazil side of Iguazu Falls.
After free time in the morning, we will explore the Brazilian side of the falls in the early afternoon (some nationalities, including Australians, require a pre-organized visa to visit Brazil). Following the tour, we will be transferred to the airport on the Brazilian side of the falls for our onward flight to Lima.
On arrival in Lima, we will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel where the rest of the evening is free to rest or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries, shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture.
Today you will be taken on a guided tour of the city. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, it features a superb combination of Spanish colonial and 19th-century European architecture. We'll also visit the famous Gold Museum containing the world's largest private collection of gold and silver artifacts.
NOTE: This evening, please be sure to re-pack your luggage for the jungle. Dependent on your accommodation in the jungle the luggage policy differs. Please see pre-departure information (under 'luggage') for more details. You will also be advised on arrival in Lima on the applicable luggage regulations.
We transfer to the airport for a flight to Puerto Maldonado in south-eastern Peru near the border with Bolivia. On arrival you will be met at the airport and taken to the office of the lodge to leave our main bags to be stored for our return. We continue to the river wharf where we board a 30-40 foot open launch for a short river journey to one of our lodges. During this journey which can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours (depending upon the lodge and availability) we can relax and watch the river bank and jungle canopy for the particularly abundant bird life in this region. Among the birds we may expect to see (dependent on weather and river height) are horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. Depending on the lodge you are staying at, you may walk for approximately 1 hour to Lake Sandoval and take a can for a 25 minute journey on the lake before you arrive at your lodge in the middle of the jungle. The lodges we use are beautifully positioned and apart from being our jungle home, they also serve as a base for naturalists to work from. The rainforest (both pristine primary and secondary growth forest) surrounding the lodges are a naturalist's paradise. During the remainder of the day we go for walks with our naturalist guide along forest trails. After dinner we get a chance to relax and discuss with resident naturalists the research projects taking place in the area. Serenaded by a chorus of jungle noises we go to sleep in our comfortable bedroom.
NOTE: It is important to be aware that the lodges are comfortable but basic - only some of the lodges have electricity or hot water for a few hours a day. Please note that due to demand it is sometimes necessary to use an alternative lodge in this area. While staying at the jungle lodge you may be with other people from other operators worldwide in a group.
The day is spent enjoying jungle walks to find monkeys and capybaras and also taking cans out on to some of the jungle lagoons in the area. There is a particularly abundant bird life - including anhinga, hoatzin, horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. We can almost guarantee we will see lots of monkey including troops of capuchin, dusky titi, spider & howler, plus possibility of seeing large caymans and giant river otter. Before the evening meal we head out for a short river trip using torches to look for caymans - this always proves to be exciting.
PLEASE NOTE: The program may vary according to flight schedules, weather, river height, group sizes, etc and participants should be aware there is no guarantee of seeing specific animals or birds and in general you may not see much wildlife since the rainforest provides such good camouflage for its inhabitants - but you will have a good chance to experience true Amazon rainforest first hand.
Early morning departure after breakfast for the downriver trip to Puerto Maldonado. From here we take a short flight to Cusco 11,200' (3,400m), arriving there around midday. You'll be met at the airport and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel located in the historic centre where you will have some time to explore the city and also enjoy a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation to the altitude.
Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Cathedral or similar.
In the morning we take a tour of the city of Cusco. Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533.
In the afternoon you may wish to catch up on some washing or spend some time 'tourist shopping', visting some of the great varieties of open air stalls and shops where you can select from an array of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments.
After breakfast we take a four-hour drive across the immense altiplano to Bolivia's capital city, La Paz at 3800m (12,800ft), this is the world's highest capital city.
Overnight La Paz.
Today we drive around the lake and across the border into Bolivia to the town of Copacabana beautifully situated on the lake's shores. We overnight here and have an opportunity to savour the delicious Lake Titicaca trout.
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the shores of the lake and located on the great altiplano that stretches all the way to La Paz. There will be an opportunity to cruise Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world and visit some of the unique floating 'tortora' reed islands of the Uros Indians. We'll also visit the impressively built pre-Inca burial towers or 'chulpas' at Sillustani near Lake Umayo, an hour's drive from Puno.
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle* to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicu a. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! We spend our night at our hotel in Puno.
*Note: For smaller groups of 2 - 5 passengers we use the first class public bus to Puno.
Today we take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. Afterwards you may wish to take some time to explore some of the central parts of the city further or alternatively enjoy a leisurely afternoon reading, or writing postcards, in many of the cafes that surround Plaza de Armas.
From our hotel, we drive to the railway station at Ollantaytambo where we take an early morning train to Machu Picchu. Our early start ensures we can thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary which lasts 2 hours and at the end, you will have another 2 hours in the company of the guide to explore this fascinating site. We then take a late afternoon bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we spend the night. Overnight: El Mapi Hotel or similar.
After breakfast we drive for one hour to the Sunday Market at the town of Chinchero 3750m (12,300ft). Once the agricultural center of the empire and still renowned for its traditional weavings.
We then continue driving into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. During our time in the valley we visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins, including the site at Ollantaytambo. The valley follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon. We'll also be able to visit some of the small markets in the valley so you'll have the opportunity to do some shopping, selecting from a variety of expertly made craft work. The evening is spent at our hotel in the heart of the valley.
Overnight Sacred Valley.
We take a morning walking tour of this fascinating city, visiting its many local and tourist markets and one of its museums. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city center on your own.
Overnight La Paz.
This morning we get up early to savour the views and atmosphere of the mystical morning light over Machu Picchu. We are treated to a unique second visit to Machu Picchu including another guided tour (conducted by a local guide) visiting the sites that you may have missed yesterday in this colossal sanctuary. After the official tour ends, you will have more time in the company of the guide to continue exploring this incredible site. In the afternoon or early evening we depart from Machu Picchu for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Overnight: Casa Andina Cathedral Hotel or similar. NB - depending on train schedules, we may arrive into Cusco very late at night.
OPTIONAL HUAYNA PICCHU CLIMB OR MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN CLIMB - For the more adventurous, you can purchase an additional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permit (ask us for costs), and forego the guided tour of Machu Picchu which is non-refundable and non-transferable. Please be aware that this is NOT a guided climb, and it takes a minimum of 3 hours return. Both climbs are very steep (including many small and narrow steps) and can be slippery and are very exposed with vertiginous drops. Before purchasing the permit on your behalf (non-refundable and non-transferable), we require any passengers to sign a waiver form. Note - there are limited Huayna Picchu permits and they sell out fast, if you are interested in this option, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
Your trip concludes this morning with a transfer to La Paz airport for your onward flight.