Enquire About This Tour Code BXPA1 Southern Cross
Duration: 49 Days Route: Lima to Rio de Janeiro Style: Budget Expeditions (18-35s) Price: US$3,169.00
From the pristine peaks of the Andes to the world's most famous beach city, and from one coast to another, this is an epic adventure if ever there was one! We'll take you through the ancient Inca Empire, across the Chaco of northern Argentina, up to the Iguazú Falls and Pantanal wetlands, and then we'll culminate on the coast of Brazil for the world's best party. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, you'll be immersed in the Latino way of life every step of the way.
The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is Southern Cross (BXAP1).
Tour Dossier Introduction
- Dossier Last Updated: 26-03-2015
- Tour Code: BXPA1
- Duration: 48 nights / 49 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.
25 nights in hotels, hostels & guesthouses, 19 nights camping, 1 RC
23 breakfasts, 29 lunches, 20 dinners
Travel by Tucan Travel Expedition Vehicle, taxi, on foot
Tucan Travel tour leader, Tucan Travel driver
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.
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. Now the fifth largest city in Latin America, Lima is home to around one-third of the country’s population.
The Historic centre of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city 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 plenty 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 of your hotel.
Lima offers an ample range of restaurants and bars where local as well as international cuisine is served – the city is known as the gastronomic capital of the Americas. A nice spot to head out at night for a meal is Miraflores on the coast.
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
Day 2 to 2 - Huacachina
Leaving Lima, a short drive south along the Pacific coast brings us to Paracas, where upon arrival we will have the option to go by speedboat to explore the Ballestas Islands, passing the unusual ‘Candelabra', a giant design carved into a desert hill, along the way. On and around these celebrated islands you'll see thousands of sea lions plus many varieties of aquatic birds. Continuing on, we stopover at spectacular Huacachina, a desert oasis surrounded by massive sand-dunes. You’ll have the option to do an overnight excursion into the desert, sleeping under the stars. This also incorporates the chance to take an awesome ride in dune-buggies, an unreal way to spend the afternoon and night. Tonight is a good time for a Pisco sour party!
Approximate Driving Time:Nine hours
Optional Excursions: Ballestas Islands – US$13 • Overnight dune buggy trip – US$50 (overnight) US$18 (two hours)
Day 3 to 3 - Nazca
We continue south along the famous Pan American highway, travelling further inland to Nazca, renowned for the mysterious parallel lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. Here you can take a flight in a light aircraft to see the ‘monkey', ‘hummingbird', ‘condor', ‘spider' and even what appears to be a spaceman. There are many more designs to be seen on this 30-minute flight. To this day no one is entirely sure why they are there.
Approximate Driving Time:Four hours
Optional Excursions: Scenic flight over Nazca Lines – US$110 + S/25 tax • Planetarium show & lecture – US$20
Day 4 to 4 - Puerto Inca
As we head out of Nazca we will visit the bizarre Chauchilla Cemetery where you'll see ancient mummies, some with hair and even skin intact after thousands of years.
Heading back along the coast our journey takes us to Puerto Inca, the Inca's original fishing port, which was only rediscovered in the 1950s. Tonight we camp by the beach just down from the actual ruins.
Approximate Driving Time: Six Hours
Optional Excursion: Chauchilla Cemetery – US$15
Day 5 to 7 - Arequipa & Optional Colca Canyon
Arequipa is located 2,380 metres above sea level and dominated by the conical snow-capped El Misti volcano. 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 visiting.
Another popular attraction is the acclaimed ‘Museo Santuarios Andinos’, 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.
From Arequipa you have the option for an overnight visit to the Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it is the world's second deepest. From the lookout point at Cruz del Condor you can see the river flowing 1,200 metres below and from this vantage point have a good chance of seeing condors as they soar out of the canyon on the hot thermal currents.
If you choose not to travel out to the Colca Canyon you can while away your time in Arequipa.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Optional Excursions: Colca Canyon overnight excursion – US$60 + $27 park entrance • 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
The landscape gradually becomes greener as we get closer to the former Inca capital of Cuzco, which means ‘Navel of the Earth' in the Inca language of Quechua. This enchanting city has a mostly indigenous population of around 275,000 and is centred on the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the cathedral and La Compañia de Jesus church. Nowadays, Cuzco is also legendary for its party atmosphere and brilliant nightlife and is jam-packed with arcades housing many fine restaurants, bars and shops.
Cuzco is our base for the next eight days for some really special optional excursions, including the challenging four-day Inca Trail trek and Jungle excursion both of which must be requested at the time of booking your tour. We have plenty of time here to squeeze in both of these excursions and more, or if you prefer, to relax and absorb the great atmosphere of such a cultural and friendly place.
Some of the optional excursions available include full-day trip through the Sacred Valley of the Incas which visits the Pisac ruins perched on a hill high in the mountains and the famous local market of the same name, in the valley below. This is a great place to buy textiles, pottery and jewellery, not to mention the delicious empanadas (pasties) at the famous bakery. After spending time here, we move down the valley to the temple fortress of Ollantaytambo, with its enormous terraces climbing up the hillside (you'll need your visitor's ticket again).
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
Day 9 to 12 - Optional Amazon Jungle
Covering the greatest area of South America, the Amazon Jungle is a must see part of your trip. If you wish to take part in this excursion, please inform your reservations consultant at the time of booking as this excursion has to be arranged in advance.
You will take a quick flight from Cuzco, deep in to the jungle to Puerto Maldonado where you will board canoes to take you further in to the canopy. Checking in to your jungle hut, it is not long before you are out exploring the trails with a trained guide. Your guide will help you identify some species endemic to the jungle with Peru's Amazon Jungle being home to some of the most diverse wildlife. You will journey out to Monkey Island where monkeys are rescued and rehabilitated, cared for by the jungle lodge. You will also have a chance to swim in nearby lakes.
Optional Excursions: Amazon Jungle excursion – US$699 or equivalent in your currency (must be booked in advance)
Day 13 to 15 - Optional Inca Trail Trek
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) that 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 down hill as the trail winds its way down old Inca stairs to our campsite. On the third day we pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, walking approximately 15 kilometres in seven hours. On 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 such 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, click here.
Optional Excursions: Inca Trail trek or Lares Valley trek • Train to Machu Picchu overnight excursion – US$379 (these activities must be booked in advance, please check prices with a member of our team)
Day 16 to 16 - Cuzco
After an action packed few days, return to Cuzco for the night and celebrate reaching Machu Picchu.
Day 17 to 19 - Puno & Optional Lake Titicaca
From Puno you have the chance to take an excursion to the islands of Amantaní and Taquile. On Amantaní we arrange home-stay accommodation with local Quechua families and you will have the chance to eat with the family, perhaps enjoy a party and dancing and maybe play football with the local children. The next morning you'll visit Taquile Island where the people live in simple adobe huts. You will also visit the astounding floating reed islands in the Bay of Puno, to see the first-hand the indigenous Uros’ way of life and ride in a traditional reed boat. Continuing back to Puno, you'll arrive in time to visit the colourful markets. That night back in Puno, you can try some of the local dishes; guinea pig, llama or some of the trout or kingfish from the lake and maybe check out some of the nightlife.
Should you choose to not visit the islands of Lake Titicaca you will have time to relax in Puno.
Optional Excursions: Lake Titicaca & Uros Islands overnight excursion – US$45 + lunch US$8
Day 20 to 22 - La Paz
La Paz is built in the basin of a spectacular ancient crater caused by a meteorite, with the snow-capped Illimani in the background. At an altitude of 3,660 metres, the city is said to host the highest football stadium in the world.
The city has colourful indigenous street markets including the ‘witches market' where women in flared skirts sell, amongst other things, dead cats and llama foetuses which are placed under new buildings in a bid to keep evil spirits away. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is where many years ago a president of the republic was lynched from a lamppost. La Paz is one of the best places to see a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance where local musicians play their time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (ukulele).
There are plenty of excursions available in La Paz. Check out the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another fantastic excursion is to 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 beware, colloquially known as ‘Death Road’, it is not at all for the fainthearted and great care must be taken!
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Optional Excursions: Red Caps walking tours – free (tips appreciated) • Death Road Mountain Biking – US$107
Day 23 to 24 - 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.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Optional Excursions: Silver mine tour – US$15 • City tour – US$13 • Hot springs – US$11
Day 25 to 26 - Uyuní
Travelling on we head north to the desolate town of Uyuní, to visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliantly white and vast Salar de Uyuní. We will have an overnight stay in Uyuni, and you will have the opportunity to take an excursion onto the salt flats in four-wheel-drive vehicles, stopping off at places such as Fish Island (season dependent) where there are great views of the surrounding lake, and where giant cacti and llama 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. This area proves to be a very popular place for some creative photo opportunities.
Optional Excursions: Full day Salar de Uyuni tour – approx US$55
Day 27 to 27 - 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.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Day 28 to 30 - Salta
We arrive in the striking city of Salta in the Lerma Valley at the foothills of the Andes, 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. A variety of excursions await you here including rafting, horse riding and mountain biking.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Optional Excursions: Full day rafting with BBQ lunch – US$60 • Horse riding at ranch with BBQ lunch – US$70
Day 31 to 31 - En route
We make our way to San Ignacio Miní where we will find some of the best kept Jesuit ruins in the region. You will have the chance to visit the site. Founded in 1632, San Ignacio Miní was one of the many missions settled by the Jesuits in the Americas during the Spanish colonial period. San Ignacio Miní is one of the five Jesuit missions of the Guaranis that were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The ruins are one of the best preserved among the several built in a territory today belonging to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and one of the most visited due to its accessibility.
Optional Excursions: Mountain bike rental – US$12 • Guided jeep excursion and trekking – US$25
Day 32 to 33 - Puerto Iguazú
Continuing on we arrive in Puerto Iguazú. Here we visit the falls from the Argentinian side where you can walk through rainforest and along catwalks directly above the falls and you will also find the famous Garganta del Diablo, Spanish for "Devil's Throat", where fourteen waterfalls drop with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead. If you feel like 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. Tonight, visit some of the town's bars and clubs close to our hostel.
Approximate Driving Time: Eight Hour Drive
Optional Excursions: Iguazú Falls National Park entry – US$25 • Jungle 4WD and boat trips – US$12-60
Day 34 to 35 - Foz do Iguaçu
We reach the little Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls), where some 275 separate waterfalls cascade over a two-and-a-half-kilometre-wide cliff face. We first visit the stunning falls from the Brazilian side which offers panoramic views of the numerous waterfalls on the Argentine side.
For a bird's eye view over the entire falls you can take an optional scenic helicopter ride. There is also an excellent bird park nearby and you can visit the world's largest hydroelectric dam at Itaipu where videos show the environmental planning behind the dam project. If you’re keeping a keen eye on your country tally you can pop into neighbouring Paraguay by public bus (you don't even have to get your passport stamped) for a bit of shopping in Ciudad del Esté.
Approximate Driving Time:Two Hours
Optional Excursions: Helicopter ride – US$120 • Bird Park – US$14 • National Park entry – US$20 • Rafain Show – US$50 • Itaipu Dam – US$25
Day 36 to 36 - En route
We hit the road making our way north in the interior of the continent towards Bonito. It is a long drive and we will stop for one night en route to break up the journey.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Day 37 to 39 - Bonito
Bonito is located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and is renowned for the unbelievable blue of its rivers and cave lakes. The waters are filtered through the enormous quantity of limestone in the ground and the impurities are deposited at the bottom of the river bed making the rivers appear some of the clearest in the world.
We have time here to take in some great optional activities which include cave and river snorkelling, rainforest walks and wildlife spotting.
Approximate Driving Time:Four Hours
Optional Excursions: Rio da Prata snorkelling (7 hours) – US$75 includes lunch and guide • Mimosa waterfalls tour – US$38 includes buffet lunch • Balneario do Sol, local swimming hole and games – US$15 includes transport and entry
Day 40 to 42 - Pantanal
Our next stop is the Pantanal Wildlife Reserve, a massive wetland. One of the unusual things about the Pantanal is that there are also many farms in the area and the animals from these farms live quite comfortably with the other wildlife in the region. Wild animals include birds, capybara, howler monkeys, pumas, jaguars, ocelots, coatis, yellow anacondas, marsh deer, caiman, tapir and many more. The Pantanal is excellent for wildlife watching as the region is more open and flat than a jungle setting.
Each excursion in to the Pantanal will vary slightly but you will have the chance to explore the vast region, searching for the elusive jaguar and anteater, camping on the wetlands. From walking tours to horseback riding, your days will be spent enjoying the scenery while nights are spent around the camp-fire with a beer in hand. Other, shorter excursions into the Pantanal can also be arranged with your tour leader.
Included Excursions: 3-day Pantanal excursion (all meals and accommodation, a walking tour, horseback ride, piranha fishing, boat tour, night walk & jeep safari included)
Day 43 to 44 - En route
We continue our trip making our way towards the Costa Verde. During the drive you will get some idea of the size of Brazil as it will take two days driving before we hit the coast. We will camp en route to break up the journey with travel times determining the locations.
Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive
Day 45 to 47 - Parati
Getting to the Costa Verde we arrive at Parati which is a preserved Portuguese colonial town (1500-1822). The town is renowned for its historic town 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 and recommended excursions include a sailing schooner cruise around the bays, rainforest treks and walking the gold trail.
Approximate Driving Time: Four to eight hours depending on the day before
Optional Excursions: Parati boat cruise – US$40
Day 48 to 48 - 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.
The city has so much to offer from its natural sites to its famous landmarks including Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Corcovado with its famous ‘Cristo Redentor’ (Christ the Redeemer statue) - both of which offer great views over the city. You of course have to visit the famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. And of course, if you are in Rio around February/March time, get ready for the world's biggest party, the Rio Carnival!
Please note that the four nights during Rio Carnival are not included in the tour price and it is essential to pre-book accommodation if you wish to stay on for the Carnival. Please see our brochure or the ‘Useful Information’ section of our website for important booking info and prices.
Approximate Driving Time: Six Hour Drive
Day 49 to 49 - Depart Rio de Janeiro
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||Puerto Inca||BLD|
|Day 7||Arequipa (optional Colca Canyon excursion)||BLD|
|Day 18||Puno (optional Lake Titicaca excursion)|
|Day 20||La Paz||Bolivia||L|
|Day 21||La Paz|
|Day 22||La Paz|
|Day 31||En route||BLD|
|Day 32||Puerto Iguazú||BL|
|Day 33||Puerto Iguazú||B|
|Day 34||Foz do Iguaçu||BLD|
|Day 35||Foz do Iguaçu||Brazil||BLD|
|Day 36||En route||BLD|
|Day 43||En route||LD|
|Day 44||En route||BLD|
|Day 48||Rio de Janeiro||BL|
|Day 49||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.
This is a Budget Expedition for young people aged 18 to 35 in South America, travelling by custom built vehicle and staying in a mixture of camping, hotels and hostels. There is a maximum of 34 travellers with an average group size of 15-24. Please read the Budget Expeditions travel style dossier to ensure you understand the style of travel you are undertaking: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-styles/dossier/budget-expeditions
The tour price is divided into a set amount paid in advance and a compulsory local payment which is due to your tour leader in US$ cash at the group meeting on the first day of your tour. The local payment amount is found on the tour price page and will be printed on your invoice and tour voucher. You are required to pay the local payment that is current at the time of your tour’s departure. This amount may change throughout the year and we advice clients to check your specific tour page on our website for the current amount if you are unsure about this. It can be very difficult to obtain US$ in some South American countries and virtually impossible in others, so we recommend organising your local payment before you arrive for your tour.
In general your local payment will cover:
- Meals while camping and some lunches on travel days on the expedition vehicle
- Campsite fees and cooking gas
- Hotels and hostels when staying in towns/cities (and possibly lodges if bad weather on camping days)
- National park entrance fees when visited in the expedition vehicle
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.
Optional Excursions in Cuzco, Peru
Your tour includes time in Cuzco for optional activities which must be booked in advance.
4-day Inca Trail Trek or Train to Machu Picchu
This tour allows time to complete the famous Inca Trail Trek at an additional cost. If you prefer not to complete the multi-day trek and just want to visit Machu Picchu, you have the option to book the train to Machu Picchu instead. 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 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.
Inca Trail Packing List
If you are hiking the Inca or Lares Trail 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
3-day Amazon Jungle Excursion
Your tour also has time to include an optional visit to the Amazon Jungle. This excursion includes flights into the jungle, sleeping in authentic jungle huts, eating delicious jungle meals and navigating the river by boat with specialist local guides.
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.
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.
- 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. 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.
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.