Around South America

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Around South America in 90 Days: 

Around South America in 90 Days

So where is it?: 

So where is it? Sydney … about 14 hours later South America

What’s it look like?: 

What’s it look like? The blue circles indicate the main areas we are travelling to. Basic travel order is: Chile Easter Island Chile Ecuador Galapagos Ecuador Peru Bolivia Paraguay Brazil Argentina (Buenos Aires) Argentina (Patagonia) Chile home

Another Map of South America: 

From Lonely Planet “South America on a Shoestring” Another Map of South America

Overview: 

Overview

Easter Island: 1 Dec 04 – 4 Dec 04: 

Easter Island: 1 Dec 04 – 4 Dec 04 The first phase of our epic journey is a 4 day stop on Easter Island. Easter Island is the most remote populated place on earth, the two nearest population bases are in Chile or Tahiti. Easter Island is famous for the large statues that “litter” the island. But there are a few volcanoes and other natural suprises.

Easter Island: Statues: 

Tongariki ahu – line of statues on burial mound Easter Island: Statues

Easter Island: Volcano: 

Rano Raraku crater Easter Island: Volcano

Galapagos Isles: 6 Dec 04 – 10 Dec 04: 

Galapagos Isles: 6 Dec 04 – 10 Dec 04 After a few hops through Chile & Ecuador, we arrive in the Galapagos where we board a boat for a 5 day cruise. The Galapagos is a group of islands off Ecuador situated right on the equator. It is famous due to the diversity and abundance of wildlife, and was the inspiration for Darwin’s theories of evolution.

Galapagos Isles: 6 Dec 04 – 10 Dec 04: 

Galapagos Isles: 6 Dec 04 – 10 Dec 04 Marine Iguana Giant Tortoise Frigate Bird

Quito, Ecuador: 10 Dec 04 – 20 Dec 04: 

Quito, Ecuador: 10 Dec 04 – 20 Dec 04 We spend a long time in Ecuador, particularly Quito, mostly because we have a week of intensive Spanish study. In case you don't know, Spanish is the official language of most countries in South America. Brazil is the odd one out … speaking Portuguese. Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and despite being on the equator, it is almost 3000m above sea level, so the climate isn’t tropically hot. The city is split into the Old Town and New Town. The Old Town is very heavily influenced by the Spanish colonial period.

Quito, Ecuador: 10 Dec 04 – 20 Dec 04: 

Quito, Ecuador: 10 Dec 04 – 20 Dec 04 Some images of Quito

Gran Aventura: 20 Dec 04 – 03 Feb 05: 

Gran Aventura: 20 Dec 04 – 03 Feb 05 The “Grand Adventure” starts in Quito, Ecuador, and travels across to the Amazon jungle and then turns southward into the dry Sechura Desert of Peru that lies sandwiched between the Pacific and the Andes mountain range. Further south we explore Lima before we head eastward to Cusco, heart of the Inca Empire. We'll hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and stay with an Indian family on Lake Titicaca before arriving in the Bolivian capital of La Paz. Next are the colonial towns of Potosi, Sucre and Santa Cruz and then it is on to the Brazilian frontier at Corumba. We visit the Pantanal, one of South America's most famous aquatic reserves before turning south to the Iguazu Falls and the Atlantic Rainforests of the eastern seaboard. And finally, we arrive at the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema in spectacular Rio de Janeiro. Read on for the detailed description…

Gran Aventura: 20 Dec – 23 Dec: 

Gran Aventura: 20 Dec – 23 Dec Day 1 & 2: meet in Quito, with time to look around. Day 3/Tue/Mishuali We leave Quito early in the morning, heading eastward down the mountains, to our simple lodge on the banks of the Napo River. Day 4/Wed/The Amazon After breakfast our local guide joins us and we travel by canoe along the Arajuno River. See medicinal plants, the indigenous people from the Amazon Jungle, and wildlife such as Tapirs, Toucans, Wild Cats, monkeys, capybaras, and boa constrictors.

Gran Aventura: 24 Dec – 25 Dec: 

Gran Aventura: 24 Dec – 25 Dec Days 5 & 6/Thu & Fri/ Banos Today we leave the Amazon and, travelling by local bus, we climb steeply into the Andes. The town of Banos lies in one of the most beautiful settings in the Andes. We have time to explore the town, and venture off into the surrounding countryside. There are many optional activities including mountain bike riding, white­water rafting and horseback riding.

Gran Aventura: 26 Dec – 28 Dec: 

Gran Aventura: 26 Dec – 28 Dec Day 7/Sat/Rio Bamba In the afternoon we take the local bus to the town of Rio Bamba, ready to board our train on Sunday morning Day 8/Sun/Train to Cuenca Today we take a train journey through the mountains riding “The Devil's Nose” on top of the train! The train ride finishes in the town of Alausi. We then board a local bus to Cuenca. Day 9/Mon/Cuenca The colonial city of Cuenca is the focal point of the region. Not far from the city are the huge Inca ruins of “Ingapirca”.

Gran Aventura: 29 Dec – 2 Jan ‘05: 

Gran Aventura: 29 Dec – 2 Jan ‘05 Days 10­12/Tue­Thu/Sechura Desert to Huanchaco We catch the bus down to the Peruvian border at Tumbes where we change over our leaders before continuing south. We stay overnight in the towns of Mancora and Chiclayo before arriving at the fishing and surfing village of Huanchaco. Days 13 & 14/Fri & Sat/Huanchaco & Lima Huanchaco village is famous for its narrow pointed fishing rafts made of reeds. From Huanchaco we will visit the magnificent ruins of Chan Chan, the imperial city of the Chimu Kingdom. We'll also have some free time to spend at the beach before continuing on by bus to Lima arriving early evening.

Gran Aventura: 3 Jan – 4 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 3 Jan – 4 Jan Days 15 & 16/Sun & Mon/Lima Our hotel in Lima is based in the seaside suburb of Miraflores. Lima is the capital of Peru During our stay in Lima we’ll visit the colonial city centre and take in the many excellent museums that house the priceless artifacts of the Inca and ancient coastal civilisations.

Gran Aventura: 5 Jan – 6 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 5 Jan – 6 Jan Days 17 & 18/Tue & Wed/Cusco On Tuesday morning we fly to Cusco. We will spend the next two days exploring this beautiful colonial city. Cusco is about 3300m above sea level, and is the prelude to the Inca trail. It is important to aclimatise to the altitude now before the hike to Machu Picchu. Famous landmarks include the Plaza de Armas and the many cathedrals and museums in the city. Behind the main town are the great Inca sites of Sacsayhuaman, Quenca and Tambo Machay. Further on is the beautiful 'Sacred Valley' and the market town of Pisac.

Gran Aventura: 7 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 7 Jan Day 19/Thu/Inca Trail to Yuncachimpa (13km) We leave Cusco by bus and travel over the mountains and down into the Urubamba Valley to the ancient Inca town of Ollantaytambo where there is time to gaze upon the massive Inca fortifications before continuing to Kilometre 82 the starting point of our trek. Today is a relatively easy hike past the ancient hill top fort of Huillca Raccay and the beautiful archaeological site of Llactapata. Along the way there are stunning views of snow­capped Veronica Peak (5860m). Our first camp will be just past the village of Wayllabamba (3000m).

Gran Aventura: 8 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 8 Jan Day 20/Fri/Inca Trail to Pacaymayo (11km) Today is the most difficult part of the trek, climbing to the Warminwanusca (or Dead Woman's) Pass (4200m). Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways, the true beginning of the Inca Trail. The descent is steep although not difficult as we make our way to the valley below and to our campsite at Pacamayo (3600m).

Gran Aventura: 9 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 9 Jan Day 21/Sat/Inca Trail to Winaywayna (15km) We climb to the ruins of Runcuracay on our way to the “second pass” (4000m). From here it is a steep descent to the “third pass” and the ruins of Sayacmarca where we enter the beautiful cloud­forest, full of orchids, ferns, flowers and hanging moss. Butterflies flutter across the trail and the air is pure and clean as we head to Winaywayna (2450m).

Gran Aventura: 10 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 10 Jan Day 22/Sun/Inca Trail to Machu Picchu & return Cusco (5km) The final leg to Machu Picchu is the most spectacular of all. We arrive at sunrise at Inti Punku, the `Gateway of the Sun', and through the rectangular doorway there's a panoramic view of the Machu Picchu citadel. A short path down and it's time to explore! If we have plenty of energy left there is the climb to Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking the site. The climb to the top takes up to 90mins. In the afternoon we take the bus down the side of the mountain to the town of Aguas Calientes where we have time to relax at the thermal pools before the late train back to Cusco.

Gran Aventura: 11 Jan – 12 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 11 Jan – 12 Jan Day 23/Mon/Cusco Our final day in Cusco to relax or explore. Day 24/Tue/Cusco to Puno After breakfast we transfer to the bus station where we join a special tour bus to Puno. On the way we visit the pre­Inca ruins of Pikillaqta and the beautiful 17th century cathedral in Andahuaylillas. We travel over the Le Raya pass and make our way across the Altiplano to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Gran Aventura: 13 Jan – 14 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 13 Jan – 14 Jan Day 25/Wed/Lake Titicaca After breakfast we board a boat and travel across the waters of Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians. We make a brief stop here and then continue on to the beautiful island of Amantani. We move into family homes for our overnight stay. The facilities on Amantani are quite basic. Many homes have no power and the bathroom and toilet facilities are not the best! During our time on Amantani we will have time to explore the island. Day 26/Thu/Amantani to Puno We have breakfast with our Indian host family and then board our boat and travel to Taquile Island before returning to Puno.

Gran Aventura: 15 Jan – 17 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 15 Jan – 17 Jan Day 27/Fri/Puno to La Paz Our bus to La Paz follows the shore of Lake Titicaca to the lakeside town of Copacabana in Bolivia. We stop for a short visit and lunch, before continuing on to La Paz. Days 28 & 29/Sat­Sun/La Paz La Paz, the highest city in the world, lies nestled in a steep canyon on the Altiplano. Mount Illimani towers over the city. We have time to wander the cobblestone streets and alleyways of this charming city, explore the colourful markets and relax in the trendy cafés. On Sunday evening we take the overnight bus to Potosi.

Gran Aventura: 18 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 18 Jan Day 30/Mon/Potosi Potosi, situated at 4,070 metres, is dominated by the immense Cerro Rico Mountain. In its heyday it was considered the richest silver mine in the world. Potosi was founded in 1545, following the discovery of silver in Cerro Rico. Evidence of Potosi's rich colonial past is still to be seen in the form of its grand colonial architecture, narrow streets and ornate churches. We enjoy a guided tour of the city, visiting many of its highlights including the San Lorenzo church, the Cobija Arch, the main square and its Cathedral, the Jesuit Tower and the museum of La Casa de la Moneda. We do our own thing in the afternoon.

Gran Aventura: 19 Jan – 20 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 19 Jan – 20 Jan Days 31 & 32/Tue & Wed/Sucre This morning we drive to the beautiful colonial city of Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia. The road descends more than 1,000 metres to the temperate valleys of Chuquisacra. Small rivers, cactus fields, fruit and vegetable fields, gentle local people and their mud huts dominate the valleys. Sucre is a pleasant city set in a valley surrounded by low mountains, and has retained the flavour of its colonial heritage in its churches, museums and ancient mansions. On arrival we transfer to our colonial guesthouse, and then enjoy a guided tour of “Old Sucre” Wednesday is free.

Gran Aventura: 21 Jan – 22 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 21 Jan – 22 Jan Days 33 & 34/Thu & Fri/Santa Cruz On Thursday morning we transfer to the airport for the flight to Santa Cruz, the second largest city in Bolivia and the starting point for our train journey to the Brazilian frontier. Founded in 1561, Santa Cruz originally lay 220 kilometres east of its present location. Towards the end of the 16th century, however, the city was proving to be vulnerable to Indians so it was moved to its present location. This cosmopolitan city has retained the flavour of its past, with its wide streets, frontier architecture and small town atmosphere. Friday is for exploring the main plaza and the huge cathedral and colonial buildings before boarding the overnight train to Puerto Suarez bordering Brazil.

Gran Aventura: 23 Jan – 24 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 23 Jan – 24 Jan Days 35 & 36/Sat & Sun/Corumba and the Pantanal This morning we arrive in Puerto Suarez where we take taxis to the border to meet our Brazilian leader. After clearing immigration, we board a van to our lodge at Passo do Lontra in the heart of the vast wetlands of the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a huge aquatic reserve, home to some 650 species of birds, 230 varieties of fish and a huge variety of other exotic wildlife. Our activities here include horseback riding through the wetlands; a forest walk and a boat ride on the Miranda and Red Rivers. We expect to see a variety of wildlife including caiman, capybara, jabiru stork, giant otter, toucan, blue macaw and marsh deer. We’ll even go piranha fishing.

Gran Aventura: 25 Jan – 26 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 25 Jan – 26 Jan Days 37 & 38/Mon & Tue/Bonito We depart around midday for the four­hour van ride that will bring us to the beautiful town of Bonito, surrounded by caves, rivers and forests. We have plenty of time to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this pristine area, and take advantage of some of the great optional activities available including rappelling, snorkelling, cave exploring, ranch visits and waterfall treks.

Gran Aventura: 27 Jan – 28 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 27 Jan – 28 Jan Days 39 & 40/Wed & Thu/Iguazu A long day's drive brings us to Foz do Iguacu, the small Brazilian city on the border with Argentina. Twenty metres higher than the Niagara Falls, the Iguazu falls are without doubt one of the most impressive sets of waterfalls in the world. The water cascades over the edge of a 2.5 kilometre wide plateau in 275 separate falls. On Thursday morning, we'll visit the Brazilian side of the falls where there are fantastic panoramic views. If time permits, we’ll travel to the Argentinean side of the falls or perhaps the massive Itaipu Dam, the World's largest single power generation plant. In the evening we return to Foz do Iguacu where we board the overnight bus to Curitiba.

Gran Aventura: 29 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 29 Jan Day 41/Fri/Atlantic Rainforest We arrive into Curitiba in the early morning. We leave excess luggage in storage then board the train for an incredible ride across the Atlantic rainforest to Marumbi State Park station. The "Serra Verde Express" is one of Brazil's most famous train rides. Beautiful rainforests, rivers and superb mountain scenery make for an exciting and spectacular journey along this magnificent old railway line that has linked Curitiba to Paranagua since 1885. At Marumbi Station we begin an easy 3­hour trek along the Rainforest Trail to Rochedinho Peak and Marumbinistas Waterfall and from there we walk two hours down to our lodge located on the edge of the Rainforest.

Gran Aventura: 30-31 Jan: 

Gran Aventura: 30-31 Jan Days 42 & 43/Sat & Sun/Paranagua & Honey Island We head into Morretes to discover the charm of this small historical town before descending to the coast to Paranagua. Here we board a boat, exploring some of the islands and wildlife that make up the Superagui National Park. Honey Island will be our home for two nights. This beautiful island is a great place to relax, swim, fish, party or just laze around on sensational sandy beaches. During our stay you will have time to visit the historical fortress area plus the Enchanted Grotto and the views from the lighthouse are amazing.

Gran Aventura: 1 Feb: 

Gran Aventura: 1 Feb Day 44/Mon/Honey Island & Bus to Rio de Janeiro We have the morning free before boarding the boat back to Paranagua and the local bus on to Curitiba. Here we collect our stored luggage and join the overnight coach service bound for magnificent Rio de Janeiro.

Gran Aventura: 2 Feb – 3 Feb: 

Gran Aventura: 2 Feb – 3 Feb Days 45 & 46/Tue & Wed/ Rio de Janeiro Nothing quite equals the excitement and setting of Rio. Known as `cidade maravilhosa' (the marvellous city), Rio is truly a feast to the senses. A Portuguese navigator discovered Rio in 1502. The bay was mistaken for a river, and hence named Rio de Janeiro. During our stay we will visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado and all the other major sites. The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the Sugarloaf Mountain and the sound of samba all combine to make a colourful and unforgettable end to our adventure.

Gran Aventura: 4 Feb – 8 Feb: 

Gran Aventura: 4 Feb – 8 Feb Day 47/Thu/Rio de Janeiro The Gran Aventura comes to an end after breakfast. But wait … there’s still more!! While this tour ends, another adventure begins. For the next few days, we stay in Rio during the mayhem which is Carnivale!

Recovery! 9 Feb – 10 Feb: 

Recovery! 9 Feb – 10 Feb Buzios - Called the Saint Tropez of Brazil, is 170 km north of Rio (about 2hrs drive) and our recovery destination after the long journey across the continent. Oh and the hectic days of Carnival! The landscape is reminscent of Southern France in the spring, beautiful hills, green meadows and an abundance of flowers … or so the tourist blurb says 

Don’t Know Yet! 11 Feb – 16 Feb: 

Don’t Know Yet! 11 Feb – 16 Feb After our days of rest in Buzios, we catch the bus back to Rio, then have 6+ days to make our next organised accommodation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. No idea what we’ll do? ?

Buenos Aires, Argentina! 17 Feb – 19 Feb: 

Buenos Aires, Argentina! 17 Feb – 19 Feb More European than South American in flavour, Buenos Aires' heart boasts bustling streets, grand avenues, old-time cafes and stylish restaurants. The locals are renowned for their flair and cockiness, even in times of adversity. It's a city of tragedy and elation; a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital.

Patagonian Highlights! 20 Feb – 5 Mar: 

Patagonian Highlights! 20 Feb – 5 Mar The southern region of Argentina and Chile offers travellers some of the most spectacular scenery on the South American continent. The Patagonian Andes consist of towering granite peaks, pristine lakes and massive glaciers whose advances interrupt the haunting silence of an unspoilt and untamed land. The town of El Chalten lies at the base of the Fitzroy Massif and is our base for some great day hikes to Fitzroy base camp, Laguna de los Tres and magnificent Cerro Torre towering above the surrounding peaks. The sight and sound of the Moreno Glacier as it makes its slow and torturous advance from the mountains to the sea across a five­kilometre front will leave an unforgettable impression. Across the border in Chile we have some great day treks through the Paine National Park with its magnificent wildlife and the incredible "Towers of Paine" that thrust skyward over 3000 metres above the Patagonian steppe. Finally, at the tip of the continent, is the world's southernmost city ­ Ushuaia, on the island of Tierra del Fuego. Here we explore the Beagle Channel by boat, with the rare opportunity of viewing the many species of sub­Antarctic birds, seals and sea lions that inhabit this most remote of regions. Our final stop is the great metropolis of Buenos Aires, over 3,300 kilometres to the north.

Patagonian Highlights! 20 Feb – 22 Feb: 

Patagonian Highlights! 20 Feb – 22 Feb DAYS 1 & 2/BUENOS AIRES The group explores the city and outskirts. DAY 3/EL CALAFATE & EL CHALTEN We fly to El Calafate then travel to the town of El Chalten at the foot of Fitzroy Massif.

Patagonian Highlights! 23 Feb – 24 Feb: 

Patagonian Highlights! 23 Feb – 24 Feb DAYS 4 & 5/FITZROY CAMP & MT. PLIGUE TUMBADO El Chalten is our base for three days of trekking in the Glaciers National Park where the Fitzroy Massif (3,375m) towers above the surrounding peaks. Our trek today leads us to the beautiful Laguna de los Tres and the Fitzroy base camp. The following day we have a full day trek to Mount Pligue Tumbado where there are fantastic views over the whole Fitzroy Massif.

Patagonian Highlights! 25 Feb – 26 Feb: 

Patagonian Highlights! 25 Feb – 26 Feb DAY 6/CERRO TORRE BASE CAMP & EL CALAFATE Today we trek to the base camp of well­known Cerro Torre (3102m). In the late afternoon we travel by local bus to the town of El Calafate situated on the southern shore of Argentino Lake. DAY 7/MORENO GLACIER UNESCO declared the Glaciers National Park a World Heritage Site in 1981. 13 glaciers descend and flow into the Viedma and Argentino Lakes to form the Patagonian Continental Ice Field. During our visit to the park we will witness the most impressive of the glaciers, the Perito Moreno Glacier, which descends to the surface of the water across a five­kilometre frontage and reaches a height of sixty metres. The vivid hues of the ice floes and the dull roar of huge chunks of ice breaking away from the glacier, is unforgettable.

Patagonian Highlights! 27 Feb – 28 Feb: 

Patagonian Highlights! 27 Feb – 28 Feb DAYS 8 & 9/PAINE NATIONAL PARK & TORRES DEL PAINE A full morning's drive takes us across the border to one of the most spectacular national parks in Chile, “Torres del Paine National Park”. A UNESCO declared world biosphere reserve; it is a unique combination of huge, craggy mountains including the famous Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns), glaciers, waterfalls and lakes, plant and animal species. There are excellent chances to spot guanacos, rheas, Andean condors, Chilean flamingos and many other birds and animals. The “Towers of Paine” (Torres del Paine) rise over 3000 metres above the Patagonian steppe. A full day trek, takes us to the base of these amazing towers. We return in the evenings to our lodge located in the National Park.

Patagonian Highlights! 1 Mar – 2 Mar: 

Patagonian Highlights! 1 Mar – 2 Mar DAY 10/PAINE NATIONAL PARK TO PUERTO NATALES Today we have a full day visiting the different areas of this beautiful national park. Short walks will lead us to the Waterfall Salto Grande and the iceberg landscape of the Grey Lake. In the late afternoon we transfer to Puerto Natales, a picturesque fishing village on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. DAY 11/PUERTO NATALES TO EL CALAFATE Today we take the local bus to El Calafate. There will be free time this afternoon to explore the town or your tour guide will suggest optional activities such as bike riding or a bird­watching walk to Nimes Lagoon.

Patagonian Highlights! 3 Mar – 5 Mar: 

Patagonian Highlights! 3 Mar – 5 Mar DAYS 12 & 13/USHUAIA & THE BEAGLE CHANNEL A short flight brings us to the Argentinean town of Ushuaia on the island at the “end of the world”, Tierra del Fuego. This scenic flight takes us high over the Andes, the snow­capped peaks of Tierra del Feugo and the Magellan Strait. The following day we join an excursion to the Tierra del Fuego National Park and in the afternoon we explore the Beagle Channel. A catamaran trip will give us a chance to explore the tiny islands and rookeries in the Channel, where sub­antactic wildlife such as seals, sea lions, dolphins and cormorants provide us with a great opportunity for some close range photography. DAYS 14/BUENOS AIRES Return to Buenos Aires and the end of this leg.

Santiago Snapshot: 5 Mar – 6 Mar: 

Santiago Snapshot: 5 Mar – 6 Mar We’re almost home now. But one more stopover in Santiago, Chile. Resting on an inland plain, with the Andes glimmering in the distance, Santiago, the capital of Chile, is the fifth largest city in South America. Santiago is a city that seems destined for growth. The Mapuche destroyed it in 1541, only six months after Pedro de Valdivia founded it, but soon the Spanish were back and building it up again. Today, it is one of the most modern cities on the continent, home to nearly 5 million inhabitants--over a third of all Chileans.  The city is one of the largest in South America and Chile's center of commerce.

The Long Flight Home: 7 Mar – 9 Mar: 

The Long Flight Home: 7 Mar – 9 Mar