Enquire About This Tour Code AEL Andean Experience
Duration: 21 Days Route: Lima to La Paz Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$3,949.00
Experience the wonders of Peru and Bolivia on this fascinating trip through some of the world's most spectacular scenery. Travel through parched deserts, marvel at snowcapped mountains, trek through pristine rainforests and visit some of the oldest civilisations in South America. If you want to see the incredible diversity these countries offer then this is the trip for you.
The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is Andean Experience (AEP).
Tour Dossier Introduction
- Dossier Last Updated: 15-04-2015
- Tour Code: AEL
- Duration: 20 nights / 21 days
- Joining City: Lima
- Departure City: La Paz
- Nearest Joining International Airport: Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM)
- Nearest Departing International Airport: La Paz El Alto International Airport (LPB)
Please check this document just before departing in case of last minute changes to your tour.
A boat tour of the Ballestas Islands
Visit Huacachina Oasis
Entrance to & guided tour Colca Canyon
Inca Trail Trek
Guided tour of Machu Picchu
Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
Two nights in the Amazon Jungle in Peru
Overnight excursion & homestay on Lake Titicaca
13 nights in hotels, hostels & guesthouses, 1 nights on overnight buses, 3 nights camping, 2 nights in a Jungle Lodge, 1 nights in homestays
6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
Travel by local public bus, train, boat, taxi, on foot, 3 flight(s)
Tucan Travel tour leader, English-speaking local guide(s) on included excursions
What's not Included
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.
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 the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 after he eradicated the Incas and made the city his capital. Lima has many fine colonial buildings and some of the best museums in South America including the Gold Museum, Museum of the Inquisition and the Catacombs below the San Francisco Church. Peru's capital has much to offer and many of the sights, including the city's two main squares the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin, are within easy walking distance The Plaza de Armas houses the Cathedral, Municipal Palace and Presidential Palace where the changing of the guard can be seen every day at 12 noon. There are also many markets in Lima, possibly the best being in the central district.
Optional Excursions: Museum Inquisition – free • Monastery and Catacombs – US$3 guided tour • Plaza San Martin, one of the largest and most impressive squares • Paragliding – US$60 • Magic water circuit park (largest water fountain park in the world) – US$2 plus taxi
Day 2 to 2 - Pisco
After a leisurely morning in Lima, we travel down the coast to Pisco, from where the Peruvian national drink, the pisco sour gets its name. After a quick orientation walk we will relax with a drink in hand.
Day 3 to 4 - Nazca
The following morning we move along the coast to neighbouring Paracas where we take a motorboat out to explore the Ballestas Islands. The islands are teeming with over 150 species of bird life (including penguins, cormorants, boobies and pelicans), are home to thousands of sea lions and boast some amazing rock formations. Although it is not possible to set foot on the islands, you will experience the magnificent sight and sounds of the thousands of sea lions and birds and maybe even spot seals and dolphins playing around the boat. Our boat tour also takes us past the mysterious Candelabra figure etched on the side of a mountain. Best viewed from the sea, many believe the Candelabra is linked to the Nazca Lines.
We head deep into the desert towards the Huacachina oasis where you have the chance to ride dune buggies down the enormous sand dunes or relax by the pool. It's a lot of fun, but be careful, the dunes are very steep! The brave can go for a dip in the murky lagoon which is said to have therapeutic properties.
We continue to Nazca, an oasis town famous for the strange parallel lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. Although there is a viewing tower, these strange designs can only be fully appreciated from the air. You can take a fascinating flight (optional) over the 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. You can also take optional tours to visit the underground aqueducts, gold mines and ceramic shops. We'll have a chance to visit the extraordinary Chauchilla Cemetery where you can see the ancient mummies which still have skin and hair intact. In the evening we travel by luxury overnight bus to Arequipa.
Included Excursions: A Boat Tour of the Ballestas Islands
Optional Excursions: Scenic flight over Nazca Lines – US$110 + S/25 tax • Planetarium show & lecture – US$20 • Chauchilla Cemetery – US$15 • Cantalloc underground aqueducts - US$20 • Cahuachi pyramids – US$35
Day 5 to 7 - Arequipa & the Colca Canyon
Arequipa has a lovely central plaza dominated by a large cathedral. There are some fantastic restaurants in Arequipa and it is possible to enjoy many Peruvian delicacies here. Besides the stimulating architecture, the main attraction is the Santa Catalina Convent, which is almost a city in itself with its maze of cobbled streets, cloisters and decorative buildings. Don't miss the nuns' café for excellent freshly baked treats!
Next is Colca Canyon, the second deepest in the world. En-route we travel into the high, barren Andean landscape, passing through ghost towns destroyed by earthquakes while learning about the local fauna and flora of the region. After checking in to our hotel in Chivay, we visit the nearby hot springs for a relaxing soak.
Early the following morning travel to the Cruz del Condor (Condor's Cross) lookout point in search of the giant condors soaring out of the canyon on thermal currents. Afterwards we walk along the canyon's edge and then stop for lunch on the way back to Arequipa.
Included Excursions: Entrance to & Guided Tour of the Colca Canyon
Optional Excursions: City tour – US$12 • Monastery of Santa Catalina – US$15 • Museo Santuarios Andinas, where you can see the frozen Inca ice mummy princess ‘Juanita’ – US$8 • Plaza de Armas and churches – free
Day 8 to 8 - Cuzco
After a short flight from Arequipa we arrive in legendary Cuzco, where you will be taken on an orientation walking tour of this ancient Inca capital.
Day 9 to 12 - Inca Trail Trek
Before embarking on the Inca Trail Trek we will have a briefing to prepare for the next few days and an early departure the following morning.
During your hike of 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 4½ 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 Day two (and which translates to “Dead Woman's Pass”!). During Day two you will cover approximately nine kilometres in about 5-7 hours and after the high pass it's all down hill as the trail winds its way along old Inca stairs to our campsite. On Day three 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 discovered 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 quite intact and you can't help but admire Huayna Picchu (“Young 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 what 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 during the time spent in Cuzco.
Included Excursions: Permits and Guided three day hike on the Inca Trail • Guided Tour of Machu Picchu
Day 13 to 13 - Cuzco
A full day is spent visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Firstly we visit the Pisac ruins, perched on a hilltop with incredible views of the snow -capped mountains. We then go down to the famous traditional market of the same name, which is full of colour and atmosphere. A great place for souvenirs! After lunch, we continue along the valley to the temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo with its enormous Inca terracing constructed on the side of a steep mountain.
Included Excursions: Guided Tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
Day 14 to 15 - Amazon Jungle
Our rep will transfer you to the airport for your flight to the city of Puerto Maldonado located on the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers. The city is the starting point for our visit to the Amazon rainforest.
In Puerto Maldonado you can pick up any last minute drinks or snacks in the busy markets and shops. The first leg of our journey is by bus followed by canoe, a 35 kilometre journey along the river (approx two hours total). The canoes are very safe.
Arriving at the lodge located on the river’s edge, you will be allocated a bungalow all of which are built from local indigenous materials. Each room is sealed by meshed netting to keep out mosquitoes and other insects. All rooms have basic private bathroom facilities. Due to the remoteness of the lodge there is no hot water and drinking water should be purchased. There is also limited electricity so please charge any electrical equipment prior to your arrival. In the evening the lodge and walkways are lit by oil lamps. Other facilities include a welcoming reception area, dining room and bar facilities. All excursions are led by English speaking local guides providing plenty of opportunity to enjoy marvelous jungle landscapes and rich diversity of flora and fauna.
After lunch we will set off on a trek through the rainforest along wooden walk ways. On the way our guide will stop to show you various species of bird and explain the medicinal plants and delicate ecological systems of the Amazon Jungle. The scenery is extremely varied incorporating dense jungle as well as marsh areas. You will see incredibly big trees, several metres in diameter and around 450 years old. There is an opportunity to take a canoe ride drifting along one of the small lakes hidden away in the jungle, observing caiman and the abundant bird life. We then return to the lodge for dinner.
After an early breakfast we hike deeper in to the jungle, enjoying the surroundings and exploring the delights and hidden wonders of the Amazon Rainforest. We may also catch a glimpse of the rare giant otter. Afterwards we will enjoy the view of the lake from our viewing point/observation platform, where you can experience the canopy wildlife such as parrots, guacamayos, toucans, camungos, shanshos, herons, turtles and caiman. We will return to the lodge for a well deserved lunch.
After lunch, we take a short boat trip across the Madre de Dios River to Monkey Island. On the way over you may spot caiman from the boat. Once on the island it is possible to see a great variety of monkeys such as the ‘maquisapa’, black and white ‘Martins’, ‘Leoncito de la Selva’ (Little Lions), ‘Frailes’ (Friars), ‘Achuñis’, ‘Ronsocos’ as well as an array of birdlife. In the evenings it is often possible to enjoy the wonderful sunset, one of the most impressive sights of the forest (weather permitting).
Included Excursions: Excursions in to the Amazon Jungle on foot and by boat
Day 16 to 16 - Cuzco
On the final day we awake to the sounds of the jungle before departing this jungle haven and returning to Puerto Maldonado for our flight on to Cuzco, where you have the rest of the day free to explore this fascinating ancient capital.
Optional Excursions: Cuzco Visitor Ticket, this gives access to most museums and monuments – US$45 • Salt Terraces Maras Moray – US$30 • Massages – US$25/hr • City tour – US$25 • Chocolate-making course - US$25 • Peruvian cooking class - US$25
Day 17 to 19 - Puno & Lake Titicaca
Leaving Cuzco, we'll drive along roads abundant with herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas before reaching the Altiplano (high plain) where our journey takes us past hot mineral pools, snow capped mountains and through villages where the locals sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters. At the highest point, the La Raya pass at 4,321 metres, you can see the research station for high altitude animals.
The beautiful scenery is continual all the way to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which at 3,855 metres above sea level, is the highest navigable lake in the world. We'll arrive in time so you can visit the colourful local market.
The next morning departing Puno for our overnight excursion we visit the floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno to see the Uros islanders way of life and we will have the option to ride in a traditional reed boat before continuing our boat journey to the island of Amantaní. Unlike other islands in the area, Amantaní Island is not manmade or floating but is at high altitude. On arrival, we will be assigned local families to stay with, enjoying the hospitality of the local Aymara/Quechua families, sleeping in their homes, enjoying their food and learning about their way of life. We recommend you purchase gifts for the families at the port of Puno before leaving to offer to the families – they will greatly appreciate this gesture as it is often difficult and expensive for them to acquire goods from the mainland. There is limited/no electricity in the homestays and very basic bathroom facilities. We recommend charging your cameras in Puno.
Tonight you will have the chance to dress up in local costumes and take part in traditional dances and celebrations put on in your honour on the island. You can also watch the sunset from the top of Amantaní Island for exceptional views and participate in football matches with the local children.
The next morning we visit Taquile Island, where the men stand around knitting distinctive woollen hats while the women work the fields. You can buy some of these unique handicrafts in the local cooperative shops. After lunch we board our boat for the return journey to Puno.
Included Excursions: Overnight Excursion & Homestay on Lake Titicaca
Day 20 to 20 - La Paz
We travel around Lake Titicaca as we make our way towards Bolivia. After crossing the border, we continue to travel across the scenic Altiplano (high plateau) following the shores of Lake Titicaca. As we continue our journey we have breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains as the road winds its way into La Paz, 3,636 metres above sea level. We arrive in La Paz in the late afternoon.
Nestled in a steep valley that protects its inhabitants from the harsh elements of the Altiplano, La Paz makes for a striking cityscape, with bare-brick houses and tall skyscrapers seemingly built on top of each other in front of a dramatic mountainous landscape in the background. Our hotel is very centrally located, close to the city's colourful indigenous street markets including the fascinating and suitably named "witches market,'' where women wearing bowler hats and flared skirts sell strange paraphernalia said to ward off evil spirits. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is also within walking distance. The square still retains its colonial buildings including the Presidential Palace. La Paz is possibly the best place to experience a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance, where local bands play time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (similar t to a ukulele).
Day 21 to 21 - Depart La Paz
Services end today. However, if you lengthen your stay, you will have time to fully explore La Paz, or partake in some optional excursions that depart from the city. You might like to visit the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another fantastic excursion is to the emerald green area of Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub -tropical vegetation and plants. En route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but not for the faint-hearted!
Optional Excursions: Red Caps walking tours – free (tips appreciated) • Death Road Mountain Biking – US$107
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 4||Overnight Bus to Arequipa|
|Day 6||Colca Canyon|
|Day 9||Inca Trail Trek||LD|
|Day 10||Inca Trail Trek||BLD|
|Day 11||Inca Trail Trek||BLD|
|Day 14||Amazon Jungle||LD|
|Day 15||Amazon Jungle||BLD|
|Day 18||Lake Titicaca||LD|
|Day 20||La Paz||Bolivia|
|Day 21||La Paz|
(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.
This is an Adventure Tour, we see a destination from the locals' perspective using a variety of transport and staying in small locally owned accommodation. There is a maximum of 16 travellers with an average group size of 8-12. All our Adventure Tours are priced per person on a shared room basis meaning there is no compulsory extra payment for those travelling on their own. Please read the Adventure Tour travel style dossier to ensure you understand the style of travel you are undertaking: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-styles/dossier/adventure-tours
I'd like my own room
If you are a solo traveller, a single room is available on most occasions at an extra cost. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. This must be booked in advance.
4-day Inca Trail Trek or Train to Machu Picchu
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.
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 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$15 to $25. The airport is approximately 30 to 45 minutes from the city centre (depending on the traffic).
Important: Don't take unmarked taxis in Lima, and preferably don't travel alone by taxi, particularly late at night.
When you arrive on day one of your trip, you should find some local information at the hotel lobby. Your tour leader will be staying in the hotel and should have put up a welcome note to let you know what room they are in. A pre-departure meeting is usually held in the afternoon or early evening of day one. You will need to bring the following important items to the meeting with your tour leader:
- Your passport, including any necessary visas and at least one photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Vaccination certificates if relevant to any destinations on your tour
- Travel insurance policy and a photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Your travel voucher
- Your local payment in US$ 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.
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)
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.
The best advice when packing is to travel light and leave space for souvenirs in your bag.
It is important to bring luggage you can carry and lift comfortably, potentially up several flights of stairs in hotels where elevators are not available and between bus/train stations and hotels. There may be times when you have to get your luggage through crowded streets which may be cobbled or store your luggage in lockers. Luggage too large for lockers will have to be left insecurely or carried for the duration of the day.
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.
Accommodations provide adequate bedding and sleeping bags are not required for the majority of Adventure Tours with the exception of the following:
- Tours including the Inca Trail or Lares Trail
- Tours including camping in the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia
Thick blankets are supplied on the the Amantani Island (Lake Titicaca) homestay, but they can be dusty, so you may wish to bring a sleeping bag or sheet (they cannot be hired locally). You may also wish to bring a sleeping sheet if you are going into the Amazon Jungle. A sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet is optional on all Adventure Tours. Some passengers like to use them on long bus journeys and overnight trains.
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.
- 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
- Sandals or thongs/jandals/flip flops
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.
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.
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 public transport-based tour so it is essential that you be able to carry your bags over distances between bus and train stations and hotels, generally for up to 20 minutes. Disruptions happen 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 and help your tour leader are essential ingredients for a successful and happy 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 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. Tucan Travel cannot accept responsibility for any valuables left in safe deposits in hotels or on public transport.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.