South America is a diverse continent that will captivate you with its mix of cultures, natural wonders and breath-taking landscapes. Visit the Incas Lost City Machu Picchu, regarded as the most significant archaeological site in the Americas where we learn about their incredible civilization. We’ll explore Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland and home to an immense variety of animals including Cayman, Jaguar, Capybara and a huge variety of birdlife. An awe-inspiring experience awaits at Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world and a New Seventh Wonder of the World. Here you’ll witness first hand nature’s power and majesty. In Buenos Aires, birth place of the tango we find European grandeur and sophistication combining with Latin passion and flair. Rio de Janeiro flanked by spectacular mountains, white sand beaches, verdant rainforests and the blue Atlantic Ocean, has an unrivalled setting and delivers on its reputation as being the salsa capital of the world. Both Lima and Santiago are blessed with an abundance of pre and post Colombian history, glorious, messy and brimming with aesthetic delights! We know South America will enthrall you!
"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken." - FRANK HERBERT
25 AUGUST – 17 SEPTEMBER • 24 DAYS
NEW ZEALAND – BUENOS AIRES three nights Buenos Aires
Day 1 We gather early afternoon at Christchurch bound for Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, the City of Fair Winds and known throughout the world as Paris of the America’s for its European elegance and French flavour. A relaxing night tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s activities.
Day 2 Buenosaireans or Porteños are expressive and passionate and can be found drinking mate and discussing controversial topics at all hours. They take pride in their country, themselves, and their rich cultural identity. The city comprises 48 districts or barrios; is the birthplace of Tango, and boasts it has the greatest number of bookshops per capita in the world. We’ll wander Plaza de Mayo to see the beautiful Casa Rosada Presidential Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral where Pope Francisserved as Bishop of Buenos Aires. Drive along Avenue De Julio, the widest avenue in the world, with its iconic obelisk. We visit the affluent suburb of the Recoleta with its chic fashion houses, galleries and cafes. We visit the Recoleta’s ornate cemetrey where Argentina’s most important families are buried including Eva Peron and writer Jose Hernadez and explore the working class districts of La Boca, home of the La Boca Juniors football team and their favourite son Diego Maradona. Last but not least San Telmo; here you’ll find the heart of the Tango and gain an insight into this fascinating city’s history, architecture, culture, inhabitants, anecdotes and secrets!
Day 3 Today is yours to do as you please. Buenos Aries offers some amazing shopping experiences and a wonderful café and restaurant scene. Visit the flea market at Plaza Francia, however if sophistication and designer fashion is more your style the Recoleta and Avenida Alvear should be on your list of stops with an array of upmarket boutiques and stores. If you’re in the mood for culture the Recoleta is home to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, displaying amongst other world renowned artists’ works by Goya and Rembrandt. This evening we have something special planned that we’re sure will be a memorable finale to our stay in this fabulous city.
BUENOS AIRES – IGUAZU FALLS two nights Iguazu Falls
Day 4 We depart Buenos Aires late morning for a short flight to Iguazu Falls, Argentina. Crossing the border we enter Brazil (Iguassu Falls), where we find our stunning hotel, located in an amazing setting inside Iguassu National Park and only metres from the falls themselves. Once settled in we’ll walk the well-formed trails for our first glimpse at one of the Seven Wonders of Nature.
Day 5 After breakfast we embark on a full day excursion, including a guided walk to the upper and lower catwalks, including the viewing station out over La del Diablo, the Devils Throat. Spread in a half moon over 2.7km Iguazu is the widest waterfall in the world and is topped in height only by Victoria Falls in Zambia and Angel Falls in Venezuela. They are listed as a World Heritage Site, and in 2011 announced as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. We’ll take a ride on a 4 x 4 vehicle through the lush tropical jungle and an exhilarating jet boat ride through the rapids and into the canyon to the very base of the falls. Here the waters converge at the point where Argentina and Brazil meet and there’s no better way or place to truly experience the falls majestic beauty and awesome power!
IGUAZU FALLS – CUIABA – PANTANAL three nights Patanal
Day 6 Late morning we depart Iguassu bound for the little known area that encompasses 195,000 square kilometres and borders Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The Pantanal is a natural floodplain encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland. Its biodiversity rivals that of the Amazon, and is home to a diverse and concentrated mix of animal and plant species. The Pantanal has earned its title as one of the world’s last great natural wonders. Unlike the Amazon where wildlife is sometimes difficult to see due to the dense vegetation, the open habitat of the Pantanal offers prime viewing opportunities, with many species now regarded as endangered regularly seen and in healthy numbers. The next two days we’ll spend on forays into the Pantanal in search of the more common species and hopefully see some of the rarest endangered species in their natural environment.
Day 7 It’s is not uncommon to see capybara, the world’s largest rodent, congregating in large herds, or a bask of sunbathing caiman as we motor slowly past giant lily pads, some spanning as much as 1.5 metres in diametre, all the while accompanied by masses of complaining water -fowl. Try your hand at piranha fishing, before we set off in search of the more elusive species that inhabit the area such as marsh deer, giant otter and if we’re lucky the beautiful Hyacinth McCaw.
Day 8 The Pantanal has been bestowed with the title of Jaguar watching capital of the world, perhaps a title that should be reserved for the more remote regions where human access is less frequent. However, sightings of the largest cat in the Americas still occur on a regular basis, especially at this time of year, when water levels have receded and the big cats are seen basking in the sun on exposed riverbanks.
PANTANAL – RIO DE JANEIRO three nights Rio de Janeiro
Day 9 We bid farewell to the Pantanal, bound for South America’s salsa capital, Rio de Janeiro, the Cidad Marvelosa Marvelous City. Rio’s flanked by spectacular mountains, white sand beaches, verdant rainforests and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, giving it the designation of having the most spectacular setting of any city in the world. Located on the famed Copacabana Beach our hotel is surrounded by shops, restaurants and lively Copacabana Beach atmosphere.
Day 10 Today we set off on a morning drive along Copacabana, Impanema and Leblon Beaches, passing by Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, site of the Olympic rowing regatta. We take the cog-wheel train to the summit of Corcovado Mountain from where we’re treated to spectacular views over Rio from its most famous landmark Christ the Redeemer. Our day of sights includes a ride on the cable-car to the summit of another of Rio’s iconic landmarks Sugarloaf for more fabulous views over Copacabana Beach and the city.
Day 11 Today is yours to do as you please. Stroll Copacabana’s boardwalk to stylish Ipanema Beach, Rio’s fashion runway, brought to prominence in 1964 with the smash hit The Girl from Ipanema. Perhaps a visit to Santa Teresa with its cobbled streets, 19th century Mansions and Bohemian Cafes. The 137 hectare Jardin Botanical Gardens has over 5000 species of tropical plants including a large collection of orchids, and giant water lilies found in the Amazonian section, or you might prefer to while the day away at one of the many beachside cabanas that line Copacabana, with a refreshing drink in hand and a selection of dishes from the tapas menu. Tomorrow we bid farewell to Rio and Brazil bound for Peru where another fascinating adventure awaits.
RIO DE JANEIRO – LIMA two nights Lima
Day 12 Enjoy a leisurely morning with time available to stroll along Copacabana or indulge in some last minute shopping. Mid afternoon we transfer to Rio’s Galeao International Airport for our flight to Peru’s capital city Lima. Arriving late evening we’ll transfer to the Miraflores district of Lima, an upmarket area south of the city centre, located on the Pacific Coast.
Day 13 We spend the morning exploring Plaza Mayor the birth place of Lima, founded in 1535 and the cities centre. The beautifully restored architecture surrounding the plaza has had bestowed upon it UNESCO World Heritage status. Here we find the Presidential Palace, Archbishop’s Palace, Municipal Palace, Palace of the Union and the Cathedral of St John the Apostle whose foundation stone was laid in 1535. The afternoon is free to wander, sightsee and shop. Tonight’s dinner will be served at Huaca Pucllana Restaurant with its unparalleled setting within the compound of 1,500 -year old- adobe pyramid, built by the original inhabitants of Lima.
LIMA – CUZCO – SACRED VALLEY two nights Sacred Valley
Day 14 Today we fly to the onetime capital of the Incan Empire, Cuzco, where we embark on an adventure of discovery into a forgotten history and an incredible civilisation. At its height the Incan Empire was spread across western South America from Southern Colombia and Ecuador in the north to Chile and Northern Argentina in the south. It’s estimated this huge area had a population of over 10 million inhabitants, speaking 30 different languages, and governed by a total of 40,000 Inca, making this the largest and most successful empire the America’s have ever seen. Cuzco is situated at an altitude of 3400 metres (11,152 feet) above sea level, which can cause some discomfort due to altitude. To remedy any possible side effects we descend immediately 2000 feet to the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley of the Inca) where we’ll spend the next three nights acclimatising, making for a much more enjoyable experience.
SACRED VALLEY – AGUAS CALIENTES one night Aguas Calientes
Day 16 Today we travel by Vistadome train through the Sacred Valley, following the Urubamba Riveron its winding journey through the mountains to the small jungle town of Aguas Calientes. During our journey the landscape changes dramatically from arid sub-alpine vegetation and subsistence farming, to dense subtropical jungle. We’ll explore the quaint town with its colourful Indian market, unique shops and a vibrant café and bar scene.
AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHU PICCHU – CUZCO two nights Cuzco
Day 17 Early Spanish explorers searched extensively for a city of gold the local Indians talked of, but to no avail. Eventually abandoned by its inhabitants the city was buried in jungle and remained hidden for centuries until discovered in 1911. Today Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas, is a New Seven Wonders of the World and regarded as South America’s most spectacular archaeological site. This morning you’ll see for yourself an amazing feat of architectural engineering and a slice of history preserved and captured for all time. This afternoon we take the Vistadome train back to Ollanta Station, join our coach and transfer to Cuzco.
Day 18 This morning we take a slow walking tour of the town to see the beautiful Koricancha Templeor Sun temple and Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s main square, bustling with activity, and where we’ll find the colourful night market later tonight. The most dominant feature of the square is the ornate Cathedral, constructed in 1576. Following a delicious lunch we visit the famous Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, a remarkable Incan site featuring giant foundations stones, precision cut from granite. Witness other incredible feats of engineering at Kenko, Puca Pucara. Time permitting we’ll stop at the Inca site of Tambomachay to round off the day.
CUZCO – SANTIAGO three nights Santiago
Day 19 Mid-afternoon we depart Cuzco bound for Santiago, the capital of Chile. We arrive Santiago late evening however tomorrow you can enjoy a restful sleep-in and a leisurely breakfast.
Day 20 Late morning we’re taking you out of the city to a valley renowned for producing some of Chile’s famous grape varieties. Local wine growers believe the cooler climate found in the valley is instrumental for producing Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the white grape varieties Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah in the red. The majority of vines originate from cuttings brought from France to Chile by enlightened vineyard owners back in the mid-19th century. Chilean wine producers regard the ability to trace the ancestry of the grape and wine as an essential ingredient in the wine production process. Enjoy the day relaxing over lunch and sampling some famous Chilean wines.
Day 21 Founded in 1541 by the Spanish, Santiago is a bustling modern city nestled amidst the ever present snow-capped Andes Mountains. We begin the day at Alameda Bernado O’Higgins, Santiago’s main avenue and the commercial hub of the city. We’ll visit the historical Plaza de Armas, the cities historical centre and Main Square, where we find the Metropolitan Cathedral and other historical buildings. Included is a visit to the Bohemian District of Bellavista, before driving to the top of San Cristobal, the highest hill within the city for some commanding views. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner savouring local delicacies, great friendships and happy memories of a wonderful adventure.
Day 22 Today you’re free to explore at your leisure.Mid-evening we’ll leave the hotel for the airport and the beginning of our homeward journey.
SANTIAGO – NEW ZEALAND
Days 23-24 We depart Santiago for New Zealand.