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Andes to Rio

Rating
You start on the coast of Brazil from the world's most famous beach city across to La Paz, nestled high in the Andes in Bolivia! We'll take you to the Pantanal wetlands, Iguazú Falls and across the Chaco of northern Argentina and into the desolate lands of the high Altiplano. Visit Indian markets, ancient mines and a salt lake that shines! This trip will immerse you in everything; Latino.

From
GBP
1,274.15
pp

Day 1: Arrive 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!

Days 2-3: Parati

On the Costa Verde we arrive at Parati, 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: Six Hour Drive

Day 4: 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

Days 5-6: Bonito

Bonito 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.

Day 7: En route

We hit the road making our way south. 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

Days 8-9: 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

Day 10: 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.

Day 11: En route

Heading towards Argentina's capital, we drive past scenic landscapes, camping along the way.

Days 12-15: Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with lovely green parks, plazas and wide boulevards. Our hostel is an excellent location, within walking distance to many of the city's highlights and close to transport links to the rest of the city. The balcony of the presidential palace the Casa Rosada (Pink Palace) is where Eva Perón made many of her speeches and is also the place where Madonna sang, “Don't cry for me Argentina” in the film Evita. Across the Plaza de Mayo you will also find the Cabildo (the old town hall) the Palacio Municipal (City Hall) and the cathedral. Every Thursday afternoon in this plaza the "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo" march in remembrance of their family members who disappeared in the 1970s when the country was under military rule. There are many excellent restaurants in the Puerto Madera area and it is well worth a visit to the port of La Boca for its colourful buildings and cultural history. In nearby San Telmo, the bohemian area, there is a fascinating antique market every Sunday. The Recoleta Cemetery, almost like an enclosed city of its own, is where Eva Peron and many other rich and famous Argentines are buried - well worth a visit. The reputation of Buenos Aires' nightlife is not overstated as there are many nightclubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas open until all hours. For a great evening out, you may want to see a tango show in the city where the dance originated, and you shouldn't leave Buenos Aires before trying one of the best steaks you’ll find in the world!Why not get another country under your belt and catch a ferry over to Uruguay for a day trip to the fascinating town Colonia del Sacramento. Visit the historical old quarter-a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

Days 16-17: Cordoba

Cordoba is a busy modern industrial city near the geographical centre of Argentina in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas mountains. Established in 1573, Córdoba boasts the country's oldest university and a young, dynamic student population. During the day you can visit an array of richly decorated churches, including Argentina's oldest cathedral and the Manzana Jesuitica (Jesuit Block) which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.From Cordoba we have the chance to visit a traditional estancia, home to real-life cowboys.Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive

Days 18-20: Cafayate

We travel to Cafayate where the stunning multi-coloured sedimentary rock formations offer beautiful photo opportunities. For an adrenaline rush you can hire mountain bikes for a couple of hours of thrilling descents or take a quad bike tour to explore less challenging terrain. For a more peaceful excursion you can stretch your legs on a trek, taking in beautiful local flora and fauna, as well as an impressive series of cascadas (waterfalls).Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive

Days 21-22: Salta

We carry on to the north of Argentina and 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 and mountain biking although the most popular is horseriding through the valley and working up an appetite before enjoying a huge Argentinian barbecue with plenty of local wine to wash it down.

Day 23: Tupiza

Next we arrive in Tupiza where we will take a rest in this Bolivian town. 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.Please note: On arrival in Bolivia you will be required to pay an entry fee of US$10.Approximate Driving Time: Full Day Drive

Day 24: Potosí

Winding our way along the dusty roads of Bolivia, which are some of the most rugged in South America, we head through the vividly coloured rock formations and giant cacti to our next stop 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.

Days 25-26: Uyuni

Travelling on we head to the desolate town of Uyuní in the south of Bolivia, to visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliantly white and vast Salar de Uyuní. We will stay two nights here and you can enjoy an included excursion onto the salar in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Explore places such as Fish Island, where there are great views of the surrounding lake and giant cacti. 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.Approximate Driving Time: Five Hour Drive

Day 27: La Paz

Nestled in a steep valley that protects its inhabitants from the harsh elements of the Altiplano, La Paz makes for a striking cityscape, with bare-brick houses and tall skyscrapers seemingly built on top of each other in front of a dramatic mountainous landscape in the background. Our hotel is very centrally located, close to the city's colourful indigenous street markets including the fascinating and suitably named "witches market,'' where women wearing bowler hats and flared skirts sell strange paraphernalia said to ward off evil spirits. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is also within walking distance. The square still retains its colonial buildings including the Presidential Palace. La Paz is possibly the best place to experience a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance, where local bands play time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (similar t to a ukulele).

Day 28: Depart La Paz

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.Services end today. However, if you lengthen your stay, you will have time to fully explore La Paz, or partake in some optional excursions that depart from the city. You might like to visit the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather. Another fantastic excursion is to the emerald green area of Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub -tropical vegetation and plants. En route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops. The excursion to Coroico can also be done by mountain bike, as it is downhill nearly all the way and very exhilarating, but not for the faint-hearted!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.

What's Included

5 night(s) in hotels, 12 night(s) camping, 10 night(s) in hostels 21 Breakfast(s), 12 Dinner(s), 17 Lunch(es) Iguazú Falls from Brazil & Argentina, Drive through Argentina's wine region, Uyuni Salt Flats day trip Overland Truck

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