Home >> Altiplano Tour to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil - Dossier

Enquire About This Tour Code LLR Altiplano

Duration: 46 Days Route: Lima to Rio de Janeiro Style: Overland Tours Price: TBA

Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil

This tour offers you the journey of a lifetime. From the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, across the heart of South America, encompassing all forms of terrain and most of the major sights that this amazing continent has to offer.

The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is Altiplano (LRL).


Tour Dossier Introduction

  • Dossier Last Updated: 08-09-2014
  • Tour Code: LLR
  • Duration: 45 nights / 46 days
  • Joining City: Lima
  • Departure City: Rio de Janeiro
  • Nearest Joining International Airport: Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM)
  • Nearest Departing International Airport: Rio Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim Intl Apt (GIG)

Please check this document just before departing in case of last minute changes to your tour.

What's Included

  • Boat tour of the Ballestas Islands

  • Visit the Huacachina Oasis

  • Entrance to Chauchilla Cemetery

  • Entrance to & guided tour Colca Canyon

  • Guided Tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas

  • Inca Trail Trek

  • Guided Tour of Machu Picchu

  • Excursion to and overnight homestay on Lake Titicaca

  • Take a day trip on to the Uyuni Salt Flats

  • Guided tour of Trinidad ruins

  • Entry to Iguazú Falls in Argentina

  • Entry to Iguazú Falls in Brazil

  • Entry to Parque Das Aves Parque Das Aves Bird Park

  • 23 nights in hotels, hostels & guesthouses, 17 nights camping, 2 nights in homestays, 3 nights in hotels or campsites on the trek route

  • 22 breakfasts, 32 lunches, 21 dinners

  • Travel by Tucan Travel Expedition Vehicle, train, boat, taxi, on foot, 4WD

  • Tucan Travel tour leader, Tucan Travel driver, English-speaking local guide(s) on included excursions

What's not Included

  • Sleeping bag & sleeping mat

  • International flights and departure taxes

  • Domestic flight taxes if applicable

  • Tips on included excursions, visas, travel insurance, personal items and single rooms.

  • Airport transfers and pre and post tour accommodation

  • Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs, laundry, tips and any extras

  • Optional excursions - Please see our optional excursions guide on the dossier page for a comprehensive list of optional activities and excursions available on this tour.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 to 1 - Arrive Lima

The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.

Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and called La Ciudad de Los Reyes (City of the Kings). It was the capital of the Spanish conquistadors until its independence in the early 19th century. Here you will find some of the finest museums in South America, such as the Gold Museum and the Museum of the Inquisition, to name but a few (optional). Our hotel is in close proximity to the main Plaza de Armas, where you'll discover fine old buildings with intricately carved wooden balconies and ceilings, a marvellous place for the culture vultures among us. The Government Palace facing the Plaza de Armas is beautifully built in white marble, as is La Cathedral, built in 1555, which also faces this square. You'll see an elegant bronze fountain at the centre of the square and standing tall behind the palace is the Cerro San Christobal Mountain, which offers great views of the city and the sea. San Francisco Monastery is a must see with its splendid interior, fine and detailed mosaics covering the walls, and the stunningly macabre catacombs with their thousands of bones - this display is certainly not for the faint hearted! With an estimated population of 8 million inhabitants, Lima is a melting pot of Peruvians, so you'll see a good cross section of the population. Lima has an array of churches, markets and other grand plazas plus an assortment of modern suburbs to visit.

Day 2 to 2 - Pisco

Continuing south we arrive at Pisco. Peru's national drink, the 'pisco sour', was named after this town. We spend the night in Pisco where you will have the opportunity to try some wonderful local seafood and perhaps sample one (or two) of the finest pisco sours to be found in Peru. In neighbouring Paracas, we will travel by boat to the Ballestas Islands the following morning - sometimes known as the 'poor man's Galapagos' because of the excellent opportunities to view wildlife such as boobies, pelicans and penguins so near to the mainland. The trip takes us past the giant "Candelabra" figure etched onto the side of a mountain. After our visit to the colonies of seabirds and sea lions basking on the rocks we'll head deep into the desert towards the stunning Huacachina oasis where you have the chance to try your hand 'sandboarding' or take an exhilarating ride in a dune buggy down the enormous dunes. The brave can go for a dip in the murky lagoon, which is said to have therapeutic properties.

Included Excursions: Ballestas Islands • Huacachina Oasis

Day 3 to 3 - Nazca

Nazca, an oasis town, is renowned for its mysterious parallel lines and geometrical figures etched onto the desert floor. Although there is a viewing tower, these giant designs can only be fully appreciated from the air. You can take a fascinating flight (optional) over the enormous lines and shapes, which include a monkey, hummingbird, condor, spider and even a spaceman. The designs are thought to have been made by three different groups of people: the Paracas (900-200 BC), the Nazca (200BC-600AD) and then new migrants from Ayacucho around 630AD. Other attractions around Nazca include watching workers extracting gold and a visit to ceramic workshops where you will receive a demonstration of their art.

Day 4 to 5 - Puerto Inca

On our way out of town, towards Puerto Inca, we visit the incredible Chauchilla Cemetery. The sites have been excavated so you can see ancient mummies with their hair and even skin still intact. We travel along the rugged coastline to Puerto Inca, the Inca port which connected the coast with the ancient city of Cuzco up in the mountains. Just five minutes walk away are the preserved ruins, which once stored sea produce to be traded with wares brought down from the Andes. In Inca times, messages and fresh sea fish were sent 240 kilometres to Cuzco using a series of relay runners each doing seven kilometres, taking 24 hours to complete the journey.

Included Excursions: Chauchilla Cemetery

Day 6 to 7 - Arequipa

We wind our way into the foothills of the Andes and the stunning colonial city of Arequipa, overlooked by the massive volcano "El Misti". This city has some of the best examples of colonial architecture and the main plaza is quite magnificent, decorated with archways and dominated by the splendid cathedral, which was completed in 1612. Although an earthquake in 2001 damaged the cathedral, it has not diminished any of the splendour of this charming square. One of the 'must see' attractions here is the vast Santa Catalina Convent (optional), a maze of cobbled streets, cloisters and other decorative buildings, it has only been open to the public since 1970 and it is certainly well worth the visit.

Another popular attraction is the acclaimed 'Museo Santuarios Andinas', which highlights well preserved mummies including the famous 'Ice Princess Juanita' - a young Inca maiden who was sacrificed some 500 years ago atop the Nevado Ampato volcano. You can enjoy a free day in Arequipa to explore these sights and more, at your own leisure.

Optional Excursions: City tour – US$12 • Monastery of Santa Catalina – S/35 • Museo Santuarios Andinas, where you can see the frozen Inca ice mummy princess ‘Juanita’ – S/20 • Plaza de Armas and churches – free • Local markets

Day 8 to 8 - Colca Canyon

Our next destination is the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world. The drive takes us through a high Andean desert, with amazing scenery all the way. We pass ghost towns destroyed by earthquakes and with luck we will see a condor or two soaring out of the canyon from our vantage point, 1,200 metres above the canyon floor. In the evening we have time to soak in the thermal springs near Chivay, where we spend the night.

Included Excursions: Colca Canyon

Day 9 to 9 - Cuzco

The oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, Cuzco was the hub of the Inca Empire and features a population of around 300,000, most of who are indigenous. This marvellous colonial city is situated 3,310 metres above sea level and has numerous churches, some of which were built using recycled Inca masonry, as were many other buildings in Cuzco. The main square is called the Plaza de Armas, which has the beautiful cathedral on one side, which took a century to build, and the Church of La Compañia de Jesus on the other. The colonial arcades, which occupy the remainder of the plaza, are full of restaurants and shops. Enjoy a cup of coca tea at one of the local cafés and take time to acclimatise to the altitude. There are also many fascinating markets in Cuzco, the most well-known being San Pedro where all kinds of textiles and artisan merchandise are sold. Enjoy wandering the streets, visit the many markets and soak up the friendly atmosphere. If you're in the mood for a cultural experience, take a peek inside the 14th-century Inca palace which was later converted into the city's Museo de Arte Religioso (Museum of Religious Art). Well worth exploring during your time here is the ancient archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman, which has the largest and most impressive Inca stonework of all. It is also well worth your time to visit some of the nearby Inca ruins: Kenko, Tambomachay and Puka Pukara.

Day 10 to 12 - Amazon Jungle Optional Excursion

Today you have a chance to visit the Amazon Jungle on an optional excursion. This trip must be booked in advance as flights are required to get to Puerto Maldonado where you will stay in rustic lodges deep in the Amazon and enjoy guided walks and hikes through the forest.

Day 13 to 13 - Ollantaytambo

On our full day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas we will visit the isolated Pisac ruins perched on a hill high in the mountains and visit the famous local market of the same name in the valley below. This is a great place to buy textiles, pottery and jewellery and a great place to admire the fantastic view. After some time at both the ruins and the markets, we move down the valley to the temple fortress of Ollantaytambo, with its enormous terraces climbing up the hillside. For those trekking the Inca trail, you will spend the night here in Ollantaytambo for your early start in the morning.

For those who have chosen not to trek the trail, you will continue back to Cuzco where you will have some time to further explore Cuzco before your trip to Machu Picchu by train. There are plenty of other optional excursions available, including white water rafting down the Urubamba River, horse riding through native villages and Inca ruins.

Included Excursions: Sacred Valley of the Incas Guided Tour

Day 14 to 16 - Inca Trail Trek

You will have a briefing to prepare for the trek by your local guide. They will cover ideal things to take, what the porters will assist you with and what you can expect from the trek each day. This briefing will take place during your initial days in Cuzco.

If you have chosen to hike the Inca Trail you will cross spectacular passes and visit more Inca ruins en route to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. A local guide will lead this expedition and there will be cooks and porters to carry the main equipment, leaving you with just a small daypack. The trek begins after a short bus journey and the first day is a relatively easy four-and-a-half hour, 13-kilometre-walk, which will get you limbered up for the highest pass at Warmiwañusca (4,200 metres) which you will reach before lunchtime on the second day (Warmiwañusca translates as 'Dead Woman's Pass'). During the second day you will cover approximately nine kilometres in about five to seven hours and after the high pass it's all downhill as the trail winds its way down old Inca-built stairs to our campsite. On the third day we pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15 kilometres in seven hours. The last morning, after an overnight stop at Wiñay-Wayna, you will rise early for the final walk to Machu Picchu and greet daybreak over the famous "Sun Gate". There will then be time to explore on your own or simply take in the magnificence of the place after your guided tour.

The Lost City of Machu Picchu was originally completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs. Located high above the fast flowing Urubamba River, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will simply take your breath away.

The ruins were only uncovered by the outside world in 1911, when American explorer Hiram Bingham found them while looking for another 'lost city' called Vilcabamba. Due to their isolation many of the buildings are still relatively intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu or 'Young Mountain' (Machu Picchu means 'Old Mountain'), which towers above the ruins. After spending most of the day at Machu Picchu you have the chance to soak your tired muscles in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes or meander through the markets before returning to Cuzco by train.

Due to a limited number of people being allowed on the trail a day, permits are limited and can sell out far in advance. If you wish to book the Inca Trail, please provide your Reservations Agent with your passport details by email as soon as possible so that we can secure your permit. Without your passport details, we are unable to arrange your Inca Trail Trek. Please click here for more information. For information on the Lares Trek including which meals are included, click here. If you are not participating in either trek then you will visit Machu Picchu by train and have plenty of free time to enjoy the activities available in and around Cuzco. Meals are not provided.

Included Excursions: Inca Trail Trek • Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Day 17 to 17 - Cuzco

Returning to Cuzco after the Inca Trail, enjoy your first hot shower in days and grab a drink at one of the lively bars.

Day 18 to 20 - Puno & Lake Titicaca

We are now destined for the town of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The journey takes us alongside majestic snow-capped mountains before reaching the La Raya pass at 4,321 metres. There is a research station, which studies high altitude animals such as llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. From Puno we visit the astounding floating reed Islands of the indigenous Uros people and experience their way of life. We will have the option to take a ride in a traditional reed boat made of totora plants, which also form a staple part of the local people's diet and medicine. We then make our way to Amantani Island to spend the night in the homes of local families. This beautiful, traditional island is home to Aymara people and is situated in the centre of Lake Titicaca. The following morning we'll stopover at Taquile, where the men stand, knitting typical woollen hats, while the women tend the fields. We return to Puno in time to do more shopping, Puno is one of the best places to bargain for alpaca sweaters.

Included Excursions: Lake Titicaca excursion & homestay

Day 21 to 23 - La Paz

Just about every building in La Paz is built on some sort of hill, so sightseeing will literally take your breath away! Our hotel is close to the fascinating indigenous markets. One is called the 'witches market' because the bowler-hat-wearing women here sell dead cats, llama foetuses (these are placed under the buildings to keep evil spirits away) and other strange potions. The main square is the Plaza Murillo, where a president of the republic was once lynched from a lamppost. One of the evenings here can be spent at a peña listening to locals playing "Andino" music on zampoñas and charangos. Nearby are a variety of optional excursions including the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another exciting option is the trip to the gateway of the Bolivian Amazon, Coroico, where you can climb a 5,000-metre-high pass before descending down to 1,300 metres, passing sheer drops of more than 1,000 metres on narrow, single-lane mountain roads. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but beware, colloquially known as 'Death Road', it is not at all for the fainthearted and great care must be taken! While in Coroico you can have lunch by a swimming pool and admire the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Day 24 to 25 - Potosí

We now travel across the Altiplano to Potosí, the highest city of its size on Earth at 4,070 metres, with a population of 110,000 people. The history of Potosí, its fame and splendour, as well as its tragedy and horror, is closely linked to silver. The city was founded in 1545 soon after the discovery of silver in a nearby hill, the Cerro Rico (or Rich Hill). The veins proved to be so prolific that they quickly became known as the world's richest source of the precious metal. Silver from Potosí underwrote the Spanish economy, particularly its monarchy's extravagance, for over two centuries. Millions of indigenous people, and later, African slaves, were made to work in the mines where conditions were so appalling and dangerous that miners died in horrific numbers, either in accidents or from silicosis pneumonia. During the three centuries of colonial rule, it is estimated that eight million Africans and locals died in the Potosí mines. Reminders of the grand colonial city are still evident in the narrow streets, formal balconied mansions and ornate churches. We offer you the opportunity to visit one of the mines (optional) where you will learn from first-hand experience some of the hardship that miners still suffer. You soon realise that the mines are worked today in much the same way as they were under Spanish rule.

Day 26 to 27 - Uyuní

Travelling along scenic passes we come to the desolate town of Uyuni in the south of Bolivia. From here we visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuni, which covers some 10,500 square kilometres and is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt. A four-wheel-drive excursion across the lake takes us to a world of white and blue. Fish Island offers stunning views of the lake which can prove quite otherworldly as giant cacti and wandering llama punctuate the scene and provide perfect photo opportunities. The fantastic contrast of the brilliant blue sky (weather permitting of course) and the pure white of the salt flats is surreal.

Included Excursions: Uyuyni salt flats excursion

Day 28 to 28 - Tupiza

Winding our way along the dusty roads of Bolivia, which are some of the most rugged in South America, we head towards the Argentine border amidst the vividly coloured rock formations and giant cacti. We arrive at Tupiza where we will take respite from the arid surrounds and dusty road. Legend has it that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their end at the hands of the Bolivian army near Tupiza, concluding their notorious string of bank raids.

Day 29 to 31 - Salta

Our next stop is the attractive city of Salta in the Lerma Valley, established in 1582. Salta has many old colonial buildings, a Cathedral with ancient statues of the Cristo del Milagro (Miracle of Christ) and the Virgin Mary, which were brought over from Spain in 1592. You will also find pavement plaques, which will guide you on an interesting walking tour of the city. During our time here a great optional excursion you may like to take is a day trip to Cafayate, one of Argentina's great wine regions.

Optional Excursions: Full day rafting with BBQ lunch – US$60 • Horse riding at ranch with BBQ lunch – US$70

Day 32 to 32 - En route

We drive through the area known as Mesopotamia on our way north, through a swampy region used mainly for cattle grazing. We will have an en route camp stop along the way.

Included Excursions: Trinidad Ruins

Day 33 to 34 - Trinidad

We enter Paraguay and visit the Jesuit ruins of Trinidad. The Jesuits came to Paraguay in the 16th century and built these magnificent missions to convert the indigenous Guarani population to Catholicism. The buildings fell into ruin with the expulsion of the Jesuits from South America in 1767. We camp at Mantanial Park with its surrounding farmland and pristine swimming pool. This is a great place to relax, with optional horse riding available.

Day 35 to 36 - Asunción

We make our way to the capital Asunción, a pleasant city with a hot and humid climate. Built on the banks of the Paraguay River, the streets are laid out in the Spanish grid pattern and lined with beautiful trees. Asunción is a good place to stock up on copies of designer watches and clothing, as it's another duty free port. Along the riverfront are the Government and Municipal Palaces, the cathedral and a shantytown. There are a few markets where you can buy local handicrafts.

Day 37 to 39 - Foz do Iguaçu

Welcome to Foz do Iguaçu, home of over 275 separate waterfalls that cascade over a two-and-a-half-kilometre-wide cliff face. There is also an excellent bird park which we will visit near the entrance to the falls. The falls straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil and we visit both sides of the falls. From the Brazilian side there are panoramic views of the numerous falls and if you feel like a cooling-down, take a zodiac boat ride up the river and under the falls - a fun way to get a different perspective of these impressive falls. From the Argentine side, you can walk through rainforest along catwalks directly above the falls and the "Devil's Throat" (optional). For a bird's eye view take the optional helicopter ride.

You may like to take the option to visit the world's largest hydroelectric dam at Itaipu where videos show the environmental planning behind the dam project.

Included Excursions: Iguazú Falls in Argentina & Brazil • Parque Das Aves Parque Das Aves Bird Park
Optional Excursions: 4WD and boat trips – ARS180-380

Day 40 to 40 - En route

Leaving Iguazú Falls we journey east towards the coast camping for one night en route.

Day 41 to 44 - Parati

Following the stunning coastline along the Costa Verde where we arrive at Parati, which is a preserved Portuguese colonial town (1500-1822), with streets made of stone slabs designed to let the tide wash over and clean them. The town is renowned for its historical centre, the coast and mountains in the region. Parati was also a major port for the exportation of gold and coffee during the 17th and 19th centuries respectively. You have an option to go on a full-day boat cruise around the bay with plenty of time for swimming in the turquoise waters and eating the fresh seafood. We have plenty of time to relax and soak up the coastal atmosphere.

Day 45 to 45 - Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, or more commonly known as Rio, is the second largest city in Brazil and arguably one of the most beautiful cities of the world. In the late 17th century the Portuguese found gold and diamonds in the nearby state of Minas Gerais and thus Rio became the main port for exporting the new found wealth. During the colonial Portuguese period of 1763-1815, Rio was the capital of Brazil.

Visit Rio's stunning beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. There are excursions up Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Corcovado with its famous 'Cristo Redentor' (Christ the Redeemer) statue and great city views. Another interesting excursion is on the old tram system across the viaduct into the cobble-stoned neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. A walking tour of Rio's historic buildings is also a lovely way to pass an afternoon, or you may like to visit the Botanical Gardens.

Day 46 to 46 - Depart Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, or more commonly known as Rio, is the second largest city in Brazil and arguably one of the most beautiful cities of the world. In the late 17th century the Portuguese found gold and diamonds in the nearby state of Minas Gerais and thus Rio became the main port for exporting the new found wealth. During the colonial Portuguese period of 1763-1815, Rio was the capital of Brazil.

Visit Rio's stunning beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. There are excursions up Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Corcovado with its famous 'Cristo Redentor' (Christ the Redeemer) statue and great city views. Another interesting excursion is on the old tram system across the viaduct into the cobble-stoned neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. A walking tour of Rio's historic buildings is also a lovely way to pass an afternoon, or you may like to visit the Botanical Gardens.

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

Day by Day Itinerary

Day Activity Country Meals
Day 1 Lima Peru
Day 2 Pisco L
Day 3 Nazca LD
Day 4 Puerto Inca BLD
Day 5 Puerto Inca BLD
Day 6 Arequipa BL
Day 7 Arequipa
Day 8 Colca Canyon
Day 9 Cuzco L
Day 10 Cuzco / Jungle Option
Day 11 Cuzco / Jungle Option
Day 12 Cuzco
Day 13 Ollantaytambo
Day 14 Inca Trail Trek LD
Day 15 Inca Trail Trek BLD
Day 16 Inca Trail Trek BLD
Day 17 Cuzco B
Day 18 Puno L
Day 19 Lake Titicaca LD
Day 20 Puno B
Day 21 La Paz Bolivia L
Day 22 La Paz
Day 23 La Paz
Day 24 Potosí L
Day 25 Potosí
Day 26 Uyuní L
Day 27 Uyuní L
Day 28 Tupiza L
Day 29 Salta Argentina LD
Day 30 Salta BLD
Day 31 Salta BLD
Day 32 En route BLD
Day 33 Trinidad Paraguay BLD
Day 34 Trinidad BL
Day 35 Asunción
Day 36 Asunción LD
Day 37 Foz do Iguaçu Brazil BLD
Day 38 Foz do Iguaçu BLD
Day 39 Foz do Iguaçu BLD
Day 40 En route (Sao Paulo) BLD
Day 41 Parati BLD
Day 42 Parati BLD
Day 43 Parati BLD
Day 44 Parati BLD
Day 45 Rio de Janeiro BL
Day 46 Rio de Janeiro B

(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)

For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available. The detailed and day by day itineraries above are provided in good faith and it is our intention to adhere to the published route. Changes may be made before or during your tour for operational or safety reasons or to incorporate improvements. Impromptu changes may also occur whilst you are travelling as a result of one-off circumstances such as an excursion being closed on a particular day, weather conditions or transport. Delays are rare but occur occasionally and for this reason and the reasons above this itinerary should be considered as a guide only. Published transport times are approximations and may vary depending on local conditions.

Travel Style

This is an Overland Tour, travelling by custom built vehicle and camping along the route. There is a maximum of 34 travellers with an average group size of 15-24. Please read the Overland Tour travel style dossier to ensure you understand the style of travel you are undertaking: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-styles/dossier/overland-tours

Rio Carnival - Feb 13-17 2015

Each year this tour meets the famed Rio Carnival. We offer a 4 night/5 day Add-on before/after tours that meet Carnival which includes accommodation in designated Tucan Travel hotels as well as a ticket to the Samba parade at Sambadrome (sector 13) to see the main event. If you add Rio Carnival to your booking, you will stay in the same hotel as your fellow tour participants, enjoy the convenience of a helpdesk from 9-11 am and 5-7 pm, and attend the parade with your group. Over carnival dates, accommodation in Rio de Janeiro can only be booked as part of the Rio Carnival Add-on and cannot be booked separately. Read more about Rio Carnival here.

Rio Carnival Supplement

If you are in Rio de Janeiro on a group tour or have pre or post accommodation booked in Rio de Janeiro on the Thursday night immediately before or the Tuesday night immediately after the Rio Carnival weekend you will be required to pay a supplement of US$119 or equivalent per night. This is paid in addition to the cost of your tour, pre or post accommodation or local fund. The supplement is to cover the markedly increased cost of accommodation in Rio de Janeiro at this time. If you have booked a single supplement on your group tour, please be aware we cannot guarantee a single room on the night directly before/after Rio Carnival.

4-day Inca Trail Trek or Train to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Trek

This tour includes the famous Inca Trail trek. The Inca Trail trek is a permit regulated activity which can have limited availability and sometimes sells out months in advance. It is closed in February for maintenance. Permits are booked with your passport details which must be provided to us in writing. We cannot guarantee permit availability until we have received your deposit, passport details in writing and have applied for your permit with the government-run office in Cuzco. You can view the current Inca Trail permit availability on our permit calendar: www.tucantravel.com/travel-highlights/inca-trail-trek/booking-and-inca-trail-permit.

If permits are not available over your dates we offer an alternative trek called the Lares Trail - www.tucantravel.com/travel-highlights/lares-trek/lares-trek-overview. Both treks involve high altitude and require a certain level of fitness. Please check this with your doctor before travel and contact us if you have concerns.

Train to Machu Picchu

If you prefer not to trek, you can take the train to Machu Picchu. This is included in the tour price at no extra charge.

Inca Trail Packing List

You will need a good warm sleeping bag and ideally a sleep sheet for added warmth and comfort. Sleeping bags can be hired locally for approximately $10 but we cannot guarantee the quality of these, so we recommend bringing your own if possible. Roll mats are provided on the Inca Trail however for greater comfort and warmth, Thermorest style mattresses can also be hired in Cuzco for US$10.

Additional advice on packing for the Inca Trail can be found here: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-highlights/inca-trail-trek/inca-trail-trek-packing-list

Joining your tour

Your joining location is:

The Kamana Hotel
Jiron Kamana 547

Tel: (+51) 1 426 7204

The hotel is centrally located in downtown Lima, 30 minutes from Jorge Chávez International Airport.

The hotel has a 24 hour cafe next door called Koala which serves breakfast from 6am to 10am. Continental breakfast (bread, jam and tea or coffee and juice) costs approximately 7 soles and an American breakfast with eggs costs approximately 10 soles. Safes are available in each room, requiring a deposit of US$10 and a fee of US$2 per day.

Please leave all of your important documents, money and travellers cheques here when you go out but remember to carry some form of ID and a photocopy of your passport with you. Be careful of pickpockets everywhere, but especially on the pedestrian street Jiron de la Union. It is advisable not to wear chains or expensive looking watches or jewellery while in major South American cities. You should also keep your camera concealed when not in use and carry daypacks on your front for extra safety.

Arriving in Lima

On arrival in Lima, we recommend you change enough money into the local currency (the Peruvian nuevo sol) for the first four or five days of your trip. This is especially important if you are arriving on a Saturday night. The exchange rate at the airport is just as good as in the city centre. The bank is located on the far right as you enter the baggage claim area after passing through passport control. There is an ATM in the airport arrivals area which will give you Peruvian soles or US dollars, so make sure you pay attention when it asks you which currency you want.

ATMs in Peru do not always automatically release your credit or debit card at the time when you receive your money. Please be aware that you sometimes have to push a button to request your card to be returned. Many ATMs in main towns have instructions in English.

Airport Transfers

Airport transfers are not included in the tour price and must be booked separately in advance through Tucan Travel. If you have booked an airport/hotel transfer with us, please look out for someone with a sign which has your name, Tucan Travel, or both after exiting the customs hall.

If you have booked an arrival transfer with us and you are going to be delayed by more than two hours, you must advise us of the delay at least six hours before arrival. If we are advised in time, we will make every effort to reschedule your transfer and your driver will be asked to wait for two hours after your new expected arrival time. However, if we are not made aware of any change, the driver will only wait for two hours after the original scheduled arrival time and after this point it will be up to you to arrange transport to your hotel at your own expense. Please contact us on the emergency contact details below if you are likely to be delayed.

Making your own way

If you decide not to pre-book an arrival transfer, you can either take a taxi from one of hundreds of touts outside or arrange a taxi at one of the pre-pay taxi desks just after customs. Recommended companies include Taxi CMV and Taxi Mitsui Remise. For safety and convenience, we recommend you use the taxi desks as haggling with touts and taxi drivers can be very difficult, particularly if you do not speak Spanish. The cost of a taxi from the airport to our hotel in downtown Lima should be approximately US$10 to $15. The airport is approximately 30 to 45 minutes from the city centre (depending on the traffic). 

Important: Don't take unmarked taxis in Lima, and preferably don't travel alone by taxi, particularly late at night.

Pre-Departure Meeting

When you arrive on day one of your trip, you should find some local information at the hotel lobby. Your tour leader will be staying in the hotel and should have put up a welcome note to let you know what room they are in. A pre-departure meeting is usually held in the afternoon or early evening of day one. You will need to bring the following important items to the meeting with your tour leader:

  • Your passport, including any necessary visas and at least one photocopy to give to your tour leader
  • Vaccination certificates if relevant to any destinations on your tour
  • Travel insurance policy and a photocopy to give to your tour leader
  • Your travel voucher
  • Your local payment in US$ cash (Budget Expeditions only)

Missing the tour departure

If you miss the start of your tour, please ask at the reception of the hotel for a message from your tour leader which will give you instructions on how to catch up with the group. Any associated costs will be at your own expense (although, depending on the reason, you may be able to claim these from your travel insurance so ensure you keep all receipts).

If you know in advance that you are unlikely to arrive on time, please contact Tucan Travel immediately so we can inform the tour leader. Tucan Travel cannot be held responsible should your airline/boat/coach be delayed and we are unable to refund any unused portion of your tour.

Time Keeping

Punctuality is very important and throughout the tour your tour leader will give you the time to meet in reception. Tour leaders will often post notes at reception with meeting times, so remember to always look out for these.

Although rare, delays can occur and we therefore advise you not to arrange your onward travel too close to the end of the tour. We take no responsibility for any missed flights or additional expenses If the group arrives late into the departure city at the end of the tour.

Emergency Contact Details

In the case of an emergency before you meet your tour leader, please contact Rolf Stanley, Latin American Destination Manager:

Tel: (+51) 984 76 21 64 (phone only)
Email: sacrew@tucantravel.com

In the unlikely event that you unable to reach the number above, please contact Keiko on (+51) 984 65 3726

Please note that these numbers are a service for emergency calls only. We respectfully request that you consider the urgency of your enquiry. Non-urgent enquiries should be made during office hours. Please be considerate of time zones.

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm; Saturday 9am-1pm (based in Peru)

Keeping in Touch

Your tour leader will point out internet cafes in all major cities and towns and Wi-Fi may be available in some hotels. Mobile phones may not work locally depending on your network. If you have an unlocked phone you may be able to purchase a local SIM card. Hotel details, apart from the joining hotel, are not given in advance and are subject to change, so if someone needs to contact you urgently during your tour the best method is to contact our office who can pass a message on to the tour leader.


For personal spending money you should bring US dollars to use alongside the local currency (where applicable). Some countries do not accept US dollars printed before 2006 and it can be very difficult to obtain US dollars in Brazil. While bank cards provide a very good way to access funds overall, it is not recommended to rely on them as your sole source of funds as cash machines do not always work and may not be available in remote locations. Carry a mix of cards and cash with you, including notes in small denominations.

Your spending money should cover some meals, optional excursions, souvenirs, drinks, laundry, border and airport taxes and any visas obtained locally. We provide guideline prices for optional excursions in the itinerary to help you budget, but ultimately the amount you will need to budget for your trip very much depends on your individual requirements. We recommend bringing extra money to cover emergencies or unexpected situations.


Tipping is a part of the life in South America, but you should not feel obliged or pressured to tip if you have not received good service. A gratuity of 10% of the total bill is recommended in restaurants. Gratuities are usually expected for local guides on included and optional excursions. Tips are also appreciated by Tucan Travel tour leaders at the end of your tour and we recommend an average of $2-$4 per person per day for the duration of your tour. This is only if you feel that their service was up to standard and is completely at your own discretion.

Packing List

The best advice when packing is to travel light and leave space for souvenirs in your bag.


The majority of the time, your luggage will either stay in the overland truck or a few metres away in your tent. However, it is important to remember that in some major cities and towns, you will be staying in hotels and hostels and the overland truck may struggle to get down narrow or busy roads and you may need to walk from the parked truck to your accommodation, potentially down cobbled streets or dirt roads. Space is also an issue on the overland truck and with up to 34 other passengers, it is important to take a versatile and sturdy rucksack that can take wear and tear.

We recommend a frameless backpack or a sports type shoulder bag which fits comfortably on your shoulders, as they are less bulky and easier to handle than rigid suitcases or framed backpacks. Suitcases are not suitable for our tours and are not recommended. Tucan Travel takes no responsibility for damage to your luggage while on tour.

In addition to your main bag, you will need a small daypack for your everyday excursions. Try to keep this bag as light as possible and make sure that all main sections of your bags can be padlocked. This daypack should have enough room to carry food and snacks for long hikes and treks and space to carry belongings for overnight excursions.

Sleeping Bags and Mats

Sleeping bags and sleeping mats are essential. For all tours through Patagonia and areas of high altitude (such as the Inca Trail) we recommend a four season bag with side zip which can be opened out when you reach warmer weather. If you do not have a four season sleeping bag, you may be able to purchase extra blankets locally. If you are doing an ‘Amazonia’ Overland Tour, you do not need a thick sleeping bag as the climate will be warmer. However, please be aware that weather can change from region to region and quite suddenly.

Therm-a-rest self inflating mattresses are comfortable and provide protection against the cold ground, while foam roll mats are compact, inexpensive and have similar features. Avoid air mattresses as these can be bulky and puncture easily.

Clothing and Footwear

We recommend packing lightweight and durable clothes. Nights can be cold at higher altitude (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador) and in southern Patagonia, so it is a good idea to bring at least one pair of warm trousers plus several thinner sweaters / fleeces which you can layer. Please avoid military or camouflage-patterned clothing as it can cause problems and in some countries may be illegal.

Good, comfortable walking shoes are essential. These do not need to be expensive boots, but they should have good ankle support and grip, be worn in and ideally waterproof.

Essential items:

  • A lightweight water/windproof jacket with hood
  • East to pack wide-brimmed hat of cap
  • Towel - you will need a towel for most overnight excursions
  • Swimwear
  • Sandals or thongs/jandals/flip flops

Suggested items:

  • Money belt
  • Sunglasses
  • Small calculator
  • Small collapsible umbrella
  • Universal washbasin plug
  • Head torch or flashlight
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Lip balm, sun block with high UV factor
  • Wet wipes
  • Cheap plastic watch
  • Plenty of spare memory cards for your camera
  • Spare rechargeable batteries for camera
  • Writing materials, address book and diary
  • Travel games, cards and a couple of paperbacks
  • Toilet paper (best to carry a roll with you at all times and/or tissues)
  • Small medical kit with diarrhoea remedy, rehydration salts, antiseptic cream, sterile dressings, plasters, bandages, pain-killers, safety pins etc.
  • Plastic bags for waterproofing
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Swiss army type penknife
  • Binoculars
  • Travel plug adaptor with a USB port
  • Small sewing kit
  • Insect repellent (DEET 35% min) and bite cream
  • Antibactarial hand clensing gel
  • Ear plugs and sleep mask
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Spare pair of spectacles or contact lenses and solution
  • Hard drive or USB stick to back up your photos
  • Pocket size phrasebook
  • Pegless washing line & travel laundry detergent (bio-degradable preferable)
  • As gifts for local children - pens, coloured pencils, small notepads. To discourage a begging mentality we recommend that you try to give these gifts at schools or childcare centres rather than on the street.


There are usually laundromats or laundry services in or near most of our hotels. Hotel services can be pretty costly however your tour leader will be able to recommend cheaper options. If you wash clothes yourself take care not to be too obvious where you hang them as most hotels do not like guests washing and drying their clothes in the hotel rooms.

Electricity Supply

The power supply and plug types in South America vary from country to country. The power supply in Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay is 220-240 volts and uses either a typical European rounded two prong plug or North American flat pronged plug (Argentina also sometimes uses a 3-pronged plug such as that used in Australia). In Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela it is 120 volts with North America flat pronged plug. Brazil has both voltages depending on the region and uses a number of different outlets. We recommend bringing a universal plug adaptor with you. You can also charge your iPods, MP3 players, laptops, cameras, etc using power boards aboard the overland truck, while travelling.

Health, Fitness & Safety


It is important to consult your doctor or travel clinic in good time before your tour departs to determine what vaccinations you require. You may need several vaccinations and/or malaria tablets and you should be aware that some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer. Always carry your International Certificate of Vaccination with your passport.

For areas with malaria, make sure you pack sufficient prophylactics for the duration of your tour and the incubation period after. Some countries prevent entry for travellers without a valid Yellow Fever certificate. This must be acquired before departure and takes ten days for your body to build up a resistance. This certificate must be taken with you on your tour with a photocopy stored somewhere safe.

Pack a Medical Kit

A medical kit is handy for minor wounds and ailments. In areas with limited or dubious medical facilities, an emergency medical kit containing sterile syringes is also advisable. By law our staff are not allowed to administer first aid or give drugs to travellers, so please be prepared with your own supplies.

If you are taking medication, please ensure you bring an adequate supply and a letter from your doctor to avoid potential issues at border crossings.

Fitness & Suitability

This is a participatory tour involving camping and with basic facilities at times. Disruptions are likely, and while your tour leader will make every effort to ensure your trip runs smoothly, patience, a sense of humour and willingness to get involved are essential ingredients for a successful and happy overland group.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions please let us know at the time you book or as early before departure as possible. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may be asked to produce a medical certificate from your doctor approving your participation in this tour. While this would only happen in very exceptional circumstances, if we consider you incapable completing this tour or you have concealed an existing medical condition which is affecting your ability to participate in the tour of Tucan Travel reserve the right to turn you away without reimbursement.

Safety & Security

South America is generally very safe, even more so in a group. Reasonable precaution is advised; do not bring valuable jewellery or watches (even fakes can catch the eye of a thief), do not walk by yourself at night, heed your tour leader’s advice and always keep an eye and a hand on your camera and bags in public places.


In some countries it is customary to leave a gratuity of 20-50 cents when using public conveniences. An attendant may collect this or a dish/box will be left out. Our vehicles do not have toilets on board for hygiene and logistical reasons. This may mean roadside toilet stops on travel days and our crew always try and stop in isolated areas with as much privacy as possible if this is necessary. There will be some occasions where free camping is necessary. On these occasions there will not be any facilities available and you will have to use the facilities mother nature provided. On these occasions we recommend wet wipes while your Tour Leader will tell you about environmentally sound 'bush toilet' practises.

Travel Guides

If you would like to discover more about your destination, including history, geography, climate and language, please have a read of our country travel guides available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/destination-travel-guides/south-america-travel-guides.



Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you have finished your tour with sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps. Photocopy your passport, leaving one copy at home and taking one with you on tour. If you lose your passport while on tour, you will be responsible for any expenses incurred such as extra accommodation and transport while replacing your passport and will not be entitled to a refund of any unused portion of your tour.

Tour Documents

Before you depart you will be issued with a voucher for your tour and separate vouchers for any extra services such as airport transfers and pre/post tour accommodation. Please print these out and bring them with you. This dossier is updated regularly, so we recommend checking our website for the latest version just prior to the start of your tour.

Final Balance

The balance for your tour is due no later than 60 days prior to the start of your tour and no tour vouchers will be issued until this is received. In addition please send the following details at least 60 days before you depart:

  • Passport number, date of issue, date of expiry, nationality and place of issue
  • Your full name and date of birth
  • Flight arrival details in your starting city
  • Special requirements, e.g. special dietary requirements or allergies

Please let us know if you are travelling with another person on the tour but have made separate bookings and we will endeavour to make suitable rooming arrangements.


All countries have visa requirements that are subject to change at short notice. A general guideline for visa requirements is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/visa-guide, but you must check with your local embassy or consulate for the very latest visa requirement information based on your nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas for your tour. If you would like help applying for visas, we have recommended visa agencies on our visa page that we work with regularly.

Important things to check when applying for visas:

  • Does the validity of the visa cover the duration of your time spent in the country?
  • Do you require a single or multiple entry visa(s) for your tour?
  • Are you required to show additional documentation when you arrive in a country? (Examples include proof of onward travel and travel itinerary)

Some visas are only valid for entry within three months of the date of issue which means on some of our longer tours the visa would expire before you are scheduled to enter the country. In these cases you must obtain the relevant visa during your tour. If it is necessary for you to obtain any visas en-route, please contact Tucan Travel or your travel consultant and inform your tour leader at the start of the tour. If you do not have the appropriate visas, Tucan Travel will not reimburse any expenses incurred in acquiring visas or any unused portion of the tour.

It is best to apply for visas in your home country if possible. If applying for visas by post, please allow plenty of time before departure and send your application by registered mail. Postal applications tend to be given a lower priority than in person applications and can take longer to process.

Special Note: If you have dual nationality it is advised not to obtain different visas in different passports. Although this may sometimes be cheaper, you may encounter problems at border crossings if your exit stamps from one country are not the same as your visa for the next.

Travel Insurance Policy

Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours. You must be adequately insured for medical, hospital, baggage and personal expenses, any necessary extra travel (rejoining tour or repatriation) as well as curtailment and cancellation.

We strongly recommend that all clients carry a copy of their full policy document with them at all times, together with any certificate showing the policy number and emergency contact details. Your tour leader will also ask for a photocopy of your insurance document, so please take this to the pre-departure meeting at the start of your tour. You will not be able to commence your tour unless you can provide proof of insurance to your tour leader.

Document Checklist

  • Tour Voucher & Vouchers for extra services
  • Passport (with photocopies of information pages and visas)
  • Tour Dossier
  • Cash & credit/debit cards (best to take a mixture and more than one card in case one does not work)
  • Travel Insurance Certificate and photocopy for tour leader
  • Travel consultant's phone number and email address
  • Proof of onward travel, ie airline ticket

Optional Excursions

Optional excursions are not operated by Tucan Travel and while every effort is made prices may not be up-to-date and are intended as a general guide to help you budget for your trip. Prices for vehicle-based excursions such as game drives are approximate based on the optimum number of participants and the actual price may vary depending on group size.

Sufficient safety equipment such as helmets and life jackets are sometimes not available and Tucan Travel is unable to provide this equipment. If you intend to participate in an optional excursion you may like to consider bringing your own safety gear.

Excursions are run by a local operator or third party with both Tucan Travel and the Tour Leader acting as a booking agent only. Optional activities are not part of the tour and Tucan Travel’s booking conditions do not apply to them. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance for the excursions you intend to take part in and Tucan Travel is not liable for any injuries incurred.

Responsible Travel

We work hard to ensure our tours are sustainably and ethically run. You can read our responsible travel policy and advice on how you can travel responsibly here: http://www.tucantravel.com/about-us/responsible-travel.

Meet Up

Our free Meet Up app, available on Facebook, on iTunes and Google Play is an opportunity to chat with others passengers before you depart or keep in touch when you arrive back from tour. Information on the app is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/meet-up

Add-ons & Extras

On many of our Group Tours, we spend one night in our arrival and departure cities. If you want to explore these cities more we can book pre and post tour accommodation, city tours and airport transfers for you. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. We also have Add-ons - short packages that can be booked alongside a tour or on their own and have been carefully designed to ensure you don't miss out on popular highlights.

Illegal Drugs

The possession or use of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our tours. When overseas you are subject to local laws and the penalties for breaking these laws can be harsh. In order to safeguard the interests of the group as a whole, our tour leaders have been instructed to insist that any person found with illegal drugs leave the tour immediately – without refund. The tour leader’s decision on this matter is final. If you need to carry certain drugs with you for purposes of medication, please inform your tour leader and ensure that you carry a copy of your prescription or letter from your doctor.

Customer Reviews


"One of the best ways to do South America! Stunning sights, unbelievably knowledge tour and local guides and time well spent with lifelong friends. An experience like no other."

Received March 2014

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