Enquire About This Tour Code SAR South American Dreams
Duration: 40 Days Route: Rio de Janeiro to Lima Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$5,909.00
On this journey, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, you'll see not only some of the most spectacular scenery in the world but also visit Machu Picchu, the stunning Lost City of the Incas. There are markets to discover, museums to visit and ruins to explore. There is also the world's most spectacular waterfalls, Iguazú, and a wide variety of wildlife to be found on the world's largest swamp land, the Pantanal.
The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is South American Dreams (SAL).
Tour Dossier Introduction
- Dossier Last Updated: 26-03-2014
- Tour Code: SAR
- Duration: 39 nights / 40 days
- Joining City: Rio de Janeiro
- Departure City: Lima
- Nearest Joining International Airport: Rio Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim Intl Apt (GIG)
- Nearest Departing International Airport: Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM)
Please check this document just before departing in case of last minute changes to your tour.
Entry to Iguazú Falls in Argentina
Entry to Iguazú Falls in Brazil
Two full days in the Pantanal packed with activities
Drive on the Salar de Uyuní salt flats
Overnight excursion & homestay on Lake Titicaca
Two nights in the Amazon Jungle in Peru
Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
Guided tour of Machu Picchu
33 nights in hotels, hostels & guesthouses, 2 nights on overnight buses, 1 nights on overnight trains, 1 nights in homestays, 2 nights in a Jungle Lodge
22 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
Travel by local public bus, train, boat, taxi, on foot, 4WD, 4 flight(s)
Tucan Travel Tour Leader, English-speaking local guide(s) on 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 Rio de Janeiro
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.
Fantastic Rio de Janeiro has many things to see and do. There are trips up Sugar Loaf Mountain by cable car and Corcovado, with its famous Statue of Christ, for great city views. Another interesting journey is on the old tram system across the viaduct into the cobblestone 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 or one of the famous beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. If you are in Rio de Janeiro around February/March get ready for the world's biggest party, the Rio Carnival.
Day 2 to 3 - Parati
Following the stunning coastline south, we come to colonial Parati, an old pirate town with streets made of stone slabs designed to let the tide wash over and clean them. You have an option to go on a full day boat cruise around the bay with plenty of time to swim in the turquoise waters and eat fresh seafood.
Optional Excursions: Boat Cruise
Day 4 to 5 - São Paulo
We then visit the world's fastest growing city, Sâo Paulo, which has a metropolitan population of 19 million. We can visit a snake farm and the Latin American Exhibition Centre designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, who also designed Brasília, the country's capital (optional tours). After a hard day of sightseeing we can relax and perhaps have a meal in the Japanese quarter.
Day 6 to 7 - Curitba
Next we arrive at the university town of Curitiba where we spend the night before you have the option to take a scenic train trip to the coast. An overnight bus takes us through the rolling hills of Southern Brazil to the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu, our base for visiting the famous Iguazú Falls - the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. Unlike most other waterfalls that have just one or two cataracts, at Iguazú there are 275 cataracts in a magnificent 3 kilometre long U shape that we will visit from both the Brazil and Argentinean sides.
Day 8 to 9 - Foz do Iguaçu
On the Brazil side you can see the falls by walking through the rainforest and along catwalks above and below the rushing water or, for a bird's eye view a helicopter flight is on offer (optional). You can also visit the world's largest hydroelectric dam at Itaipu (optional) where you can learn more about the ecological issues faced during the dam's construction. There is also a very interesting bird park nearby, perfect for that must-have photo with a toucan!
Visiting the Argentine side of the falls you can board a speed boat which will take you under the falls soaking you from head to toe, an optional adventure you'll never forget! On the Argentine side you'll also find the famous "Devil's Throat" where fourteen falls drop with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead.
Included Excursions: Entry to Iguazú Falls in Argentina • Entry to Iguazú Falls in Brazil
Optional Excursions: Helicopter Ride • Bird Park • Rafain Show • Itaipu Dam • Zodiac nautical power boat • Eco tour, 4x4 drive & power boat
Day 10 to 11 - Asunción
We travel through fertile farmlands, destined for the tiny Republic of Paraguay's capital city, Asunción. You can shop until you drop in the city's huge duty free zone and along the riverfront are the Government and Municipal Palaces, and the cathedral.
Day 12 to 12 - Ponta Porã
We travel across the Paraguayan pampas, where we might spot the South American rhea bird (a type of emu) as well as the typical cowboys, (gauchos) en route. After sorting out our immigration procedures, at Pedro Juan Caballero, which you'll soon realise is the same town as Ponta Porã in Brazil, there is no border as such! You simply cross the road from one country to the other whenever you like. Only the change of language will give you a hint as to which country you are in!
Day 13 to 14 - Bonito
We travel to Bonito in the Sierra do Bodoquena mountains, famous for its caving and river activities. The following day is free to try some of the snorkelling activities in the lakes and rivers (optional). For those who prefer to stay on dry land, spectacular walks though the forest and mountains are on offer.
Optional Excursions: Snorkelling • Waterfall Tour • Abismo de Anhumas underground lake • Blue Lake Cave • Rio Sucuri Snorkelling • Balneario do Sol
Day 15 to 17 - Pantanal
After a free morning in Bonito we make our way towards the fabulous Pantanal.
We enter the Pantanal National Park for sightseeing in this fantastic region. The Amazon may have all the fame and glory, but the Pantanal is a far better place to see wildlife. The area is a huge wetland in the centre of South America and is truly a birdwatchers paradise but is also home to a multitude of other animals. The ecosystem is known to be home to at least 3,500 species of plants, 650 species of birds, 400 species of fish, around 100 species of mammals, and 80 species of reptiles, with an estimated 10 million caimans alone. Keep your eyes peeled and you may see giant river otters, anacondas, iguanas, jaguars, ocelots, cougars, crocodiles, marsh deer, armadillos, giant and lesser anteaters, black howler monkeys and zebu bulls, to name but a few! You may have to work a bit to catch your lunch, but mind your fingers or they'll be piranha stew!
We stay in the Mato Grosso do Sul Province, in the southern part of the Pantanal in an area called “Passo do Lontra”. Built on stilts due to the seasonal floods in the region, the facilities in our lodge are in keeping with the environment, maintaining it as natural as possible and thus preserving the local fauna and flora. Facilities include more than 2,000 meters of elevated walkways, which allow for a closer contact with nature. Because the work to conserve and preserve the environment at the site, a great variety of animals and birds species can be viewed, particularly howler monkeys, marsh deer, herds of capybaras, caimans, herons, and countless birds. The hotel is owned by the Venturini and Buzinhani families, who started it in 1979. One of its features is a homelike atmosphere, where its owners work together with a team of local professionals trained to cater to visitors and conserve the environment and the local culture.
The chalets are situated on the banks of the Miranda River and all of the food is included as part of the tour and is all prepared for you. After arrival and check in we go on a boat tour either up or down the Miranda River, each direction featuring a different delicate ecosystem. The following day, you will visit São João farm travelling 25km through the park to reach it, another opportunity to spot wildlife. Once there, you can enjoy an ecological walk and a horseback ride before lunch. On our final day in the park, we will go piranha fishing for our lunch on the floating platform on the Miranda River.
Please note: This is an example itinerary of your time in the Pantanal. The exact itinerary will be tailored by the english speaking local guides depending on the arrival/departure time, time of year and weather forcast.
Included Excursions: Two full days in the Pantanal packed with activities (Walking & Jeep Safari • Horseback ride • Boat Tour • Piranha Fishing • Ecological day at São João farm
Day 18 to 19 - Santa Cruz
We cross the frontier into Bolivia where we take an overnight train from Puerto Suárez to Santa Cruz and enjoy free time sightseeing.
Day 20 to 21 - Sucre
Landing in Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia, by law all buildings are painted white. Founded in 1538 it still has much of its colonial charm intact. The city is also famous for its warm and sunny climate. Don't miss a visit to the cathedral where you can see the jewel encrusted painting of Sucre's patron - the Virgin of Guadalupe. You have the option to visit the bustling Tarabuco market where ‘people watching’ is as interesting as the market itself. Try some of the cooked meals in the food market if you want to sample some of the locally grown hot chillies! Local indigenous people are famous for their multi-coloured textiles.
Optional Excursions: Hiking • Horse riding • Mountain biking • Motor biking • Paragliding • Climbing • Quadbiking
Day 22 to 23 - Potosí
A short journey along new roads brings us to the mining town of Potosí. The city was established by the Spanish in 1545 soon after the discovery of a rich vein of silver in a nearby hill, the Cerro Rico (or “rich hill”). It soon became the world's largest silver producer and silver from Potosí underwrote the Spanish economy, particularly the monarchy's extravagance, for over two centuries. In Spanish there is still a saying ‘valer un potosí’ (to be worth a fortune).
Millions of the indigenous population, and later, African slaves, worked in the mines in appalling conditions. You have the option to visit the mines, stopping first at the miners market to buy gifts such as coca leaves, dynamite and cigarettes. In the mines we will experience the difficult conditions in which the miners work - including 50°C heat. We'll pass several of the shrines they have made to the “Tios” which they hope will protect them while they are working in what they believe is the devil's territory. If you'd like to learn more of the historic silver industry you can take a tour of the Moneda, a museum exhibiting coins, artwork, mummies and many other interesting artefacts from Potosí's history. Travelling along scenic passes we come to the desolate town of Uyuní 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 Uyuní, which covers some 10,500 square kilometres and estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt. A 4WD excursion takes us to a hotel made entirely of salt and then surrounds you with a world of white and blue. Fish Island with stunning views of the lake, proves 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 will take your breath away. (Note occasionally in the rainy season the salt flats become overly flooded and we may have to alter the itinerary if the salt flats are not safe to traverse).
Optional Excursions: Silver Mines • City tour • Hot Springs • The Museo de la Moneda • The Mint
Day 24 to 26 - Uyuní
We visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuní, which covers some 10,500 square kilometres and estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt. A 4WD excursion takes us to a hotel made entirely of salt and then surrounds you with a world of white and blue. Fish Island provides stunning views of the lake which 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 will take your breath away. We then return to Uyuní for one more night.
Please Note: The local transport timetable on this route changes frequently and this sometimes necessitates a small change to the itinerary. Your tour leader will advise as early as possible if this is likely to happen on your tour.
Included Excursions: Drive on the Salar de Uyuní salt flats
Day 27 to 29 - La Paz
Built on a series of hills and considered one of the world's most beautiful cities, La Paz was established in the basin of a canyon with the snow -capped Mount Illimani in the background. Our hotel is very centrally located and is just around the corner from the city's colourful indigenous street markets including the fascinating and suitably named "witches market'' where bowler hat wearing women in their flared skirts sell such items as dead cats and llamas foetuses 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 (ukulele).
There are also many optional excursions available. 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 fainthearted!
Optional Excursions: City tour • Moon Valley • Death Road mountain biking • Urban Rush
Day 30 to 32 - Puno & Lake Titicaca
Leaving La Paz we travel across the scenic Altiplano (high plain), eventually following the shores of Lake Titicaca as we make our way towards Peru. We cross the border and carry on around the lake through typical villages. The lovely scenery continues 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 hope to 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 honoour 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 Excursion Overnight excursion & homestay on Lake Titicaca
Day 33 to 33 - Cuzco
Leaving Puno we first pass through the bustling town of Juliaca, before travelling along roads abundant with herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas until we reach the highest point, the La Raya pass at 4,321 metres. From here you can see the research station for high altitude animals, past hot mineral pools, snow capped mountains and through villages where the indigenous locals sell food, fur hats and alpaca sweaters. We arrive in legendary Cuzco, where your tour leader will take you on an orientation walking tour of this ancient Inca capital.
Day 34 to 35 - Amazon Jungle
Our Tucan Travel rep will transfer you to the airport for your flight to the jungle community of Puerto Maldonado, 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 motorised 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).
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. Those who are trekking to Machu Picchu either following the traditional Inca Trail Trek or the Lares Trek will have a briefing to prepare for the next few days and an early departure the following morning. More information on the treks can be found on our website under the highlights section.
Included Excursion Excursions in to the Amazon Jungle on foot and by boat
Day 36 to 37 - Sacred Valley of the Incas
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 Excursion Guided tour of Sacred Valley of the Incas
Day 38 to 38 - Machu Picchu
The lost city of Machu Picchu (Old Mountain) 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.
Included Excursion Guided tour of Machu Picchu
Day 39 to 39 - Lima
Our Tucan Travel rep will transfer you to Cuzco airport for your flight to Lima, also known as the "City of the Kings". Here you will be met by another of our Tucan Travel reps and transferred to our hotel for one more night. You then have a free afternoon for last minute sightseeing and shopping.
Day 40 to 40 - Depart Lima
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.
This itinerary is a guide. Changes may be made before or during your tour to improve the running or due to unforseen circumstances.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each year this tour meets Rio Carnival. The dates of these tours are listed in our brochure and can be found on our website. Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro during the Carnival period must be booked for a four night stay only, including the nights of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This is an additional cost. Click here for further details about the Rio Carnival.
Rio Carnival Supplement
All Group Tours that start, end or travel through Rio de Janeiro for Carnival have an additional supplement added to cover the higher cost of accommodation for the arrival (Thursday) and departure (Tuesday) days. We are unable to secure single rooms over these days and so any upgrade to your own room will be unavailable.
Day by Day Itinerary
|Day 1||Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||✓|
|Day 4||São Paulo||B||✓|
|Day 5||São Paulo||B||✓|
|Day 7||Overnight Bus to Foz do Iguaçu||B|
|Day 8||Foz do Iguaçu||✓|
|Day 9||Foz do Iguaçu||B||✓|
|Day 12||Ponta Porã||Brazil||B||✓|
|Day 17||Overnight train to Santa Cruz||B|
|Day 18||Santa Cruz||✓|
|Day 25||Salar de Uyuní|
|Day 26||Overnight Bus to La Paz|
|Day 27||La Paz||✓|
|Day 28||La Paz||✓|
|Day 29||La Paz||✓|
|Day 31||Lake Titicaca||LD|
|Day 34||Amazon Jungle||LD|
|Day 35||Amazon Jungle||BLD|
(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)
Please note the day to day itinerary above is given as a GUIDELINE ONLY.
For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available.