RIO TO CARTAGENA (18.5 WEEKS) KINGDOMS & CARNIVALS

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(£6395)


RIO TO CARTAGENA (18.5 WEEKS) KINGDOMS & CARNIVALS
South America
From: £6395

Explore the very best that this part of the world has to offer with a trip which takes you from the Brazilian capital all the way to densely bio-diverse Colombia. This trip has something for everyone and offers a real taste of all the different facets that South America has to offer. Along the way pay a visit to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, take in the cultural diversity and extremes of climate that spanning 9 countries will inevitably showcase and see both extremes of city immersion and real remoteness. While there will be long drives and tough camping and cooking conditions this tour gives you the unique opportunity to see the real South America and the possibility to meet people you would never otherwise encounter.

Suitable for:

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Additional information

Itinerary

DAYS 1 - 3
RIO TO PARATI

Rio de Janeiro, famous for it's Carnival and ability to party at any time is our starting point. Christ the Redeemer, landmark on the top of Corcovado Mountain has been named one of the 'Seven New Wonders of the World.' Nicknamed 'Cidade Maravilhosa', or the 'marvellous city' it lives up to it's name on many levels. With over 50 kms of white and golden sand beaches and South America's largest urban forest and legalised 'street art' there is a lot to see.

From Rio we head to the coastal village of Parati. This unspoilt and picturesque town has remained fundamentally unaltered for three centuries. Cars have been banned from its cobbled streets that run down to the seashore, instead mountain bikes are used and are a good way to get around. Another great way to explore the secluded islands of this pristine coastline is taking a sailing trip in one of the traditional schooners.

DAYS 4 - 12
PARATI TO PARAGUAY

We enjoy a couple of wild camps over the next few days as we make our way to the incredible Iguazu Falls which form the natural border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls, they are an awe-inspiring place to spend the next three days. The lush tropical forest surrounding the falls has many walking trails leading to smaller hidden falls, ideal to refresh from the steaming heat and abounding with parrots, toucans, woodpeckers and colourful plants. Here you can also undertake a number of optional activities such as whitewater rafting, helicopter flights and mountain bike riding.

From here we travel west, crossing the border into Paraguay and journeying to the country's capital, Asuncion. Fewer tourists come here than Rio or Buenos Aires and the city is great to explore with plenty of bars, cafes, plazas, museums, art galleries and interesting architecture on offer.

Our next stop is Trinidad, home to two of the most well preserved Jesuit Missions in South America. Now UNESCO World Heritage sites, the missions here were founded in the 17th century with the aim of converting the local Guarani people to Catholicism. An optional excursion will take you out to one of the missions where you can explore the ruins and learn about their history and the relationship between the Jesuits and the Guaranis.

DAYS 13 - 23
URUGUAY TO BUENOS AIRES

After crossing the border into Argentina, we head to Esteros del Ibera. This extensive wetland area is home to a vast array of fauna and flora and comprises swamps, marshes and lagoons stretching southwest from the city of Ituzaingó to the town of Chavarría. Beside Iberá lagoon is Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, a popular village base for the area. It is an exceptional place to come for wildlife in Argentina and whilst here we hope to spot some of the huge range of bird species, pampa and marsh deer, caiman and capybara, anacondas and anteaters and if we are really lucky, giant river otter.

Journeying south and crossing the border into Uruguay, we visit the city of Salto and the nearby Termas del Dayman hot springs before returning to the coast at Punta del Este. Located on the tip of a peninsular, this modern city has some beautiful beaches, the famous ‘La Mano’ (the hand) sculpture and an interesting port to wander around with its fish market and cafes.

Montevideo is Uruguay’s capital and we have a couple of nights here to explore the colonial and art deco buildings of the old town, visit a theatre or an art museum or try some traditional Uruguayan dishes a the Mercado del Puerto.

Next stop is Colonia del Sacramento, a small picturesque town on the banks of the Rio de la Plata founded in the 17th century. The historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a wealth of beautiful old buildings and cobblestone, tree-lined streets and plazas to explore with colonial houses, the Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento, the restored city gate and drawbridge and the more recent 19th century lighthouse with views over the old town.

Across the immense Rio de la Plata is Buenos Aires, our next destination as we leave Uruguay and re-enter Argentina to travel to the capital.

DAYS 24 - 26
BUENOS AIRES

Renowned for it's steaks, fine wines, tango dancing, ice cream and great nightlife! A few days in this smart cosmopolitan city and you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in Europe.

From here you will also have the opportunity to travel across the Rio Plata by ferry to Montevideo & Colonia de Sacramento to visit Uruguay.

DAYS 27 - 33
BUENOS AIRES TO USHUAIA

After our time in Buenos Aires we traverse the vast Pampas grasslands, South America's cowboy country, where gun-toting gauchos on horseback look after vast herds of cattle. Following the Atlantic coast of Patagonia, we stop in Puerto Madryn which was the landing place over a century ago for the first group of Welsh settlers that subsequently colonised and now farm the surrounding area. You have the option to visit Valdez Peninsula one of the marine sanctuaries in this region where we might see Penguins, Sea Lions, Sea Elephants, Sea Birds and maybe even Whales.

We continue south towards the wild and hauntingly beautiful land at worlds end, the island of Tierra del Fuego. We cross by ferry and visit the most southerly town in the world Ushuaia, from where we can view the green waters of the Beagle Channel and the surrounding snow clad peaks.

DAYS 34 - 45
USHUAIA TO PATAGONIA

Continuing our journey in Patagonia, we have options to explore the area by hiking or horseback. There is also an option to complete the famous W-Trek. Please note that spaces on this trek are subject to availability and this must be booked in advance. This can be added to your booking, at additional cost. For those who do not want to complete the W-Trek there are options of shorter day hikes in the park which do not need to be booked ahead and you are free to do as you choose once there. We visit Torres del Paine NP, another area of outstanding beauty where huge granite cliffs dominate the landscape. From here we travel to Los Glaciares NP, home to the largest glacier in the world. Here we have the option to take a boat ride up close to Perito Moreno Glacier, almost 200 ft high. Heading northwards, on a good dirt road we continue our journey in the vast wilderness of Patagonia. The perpetual wind makes it difficult for trees and plants to grow, so for a while we are faced with endless grassland.

Note - for trips travelling during the winter, many of the optional hikes and activities in the mountains will not be available due to the snow and weather conditions.

DAYS 46 - 59
PATAGONIA TO SANTIAGO

Arriving in Bariloche, Argentina, this very popular holiday destination for Argentinians is the top ski resort on the continent and also has several hiking trails and a great nightlife. From here we travel to Pucon, Chile, an outdoors centre in its own right, and our base for the next few days from where it is possible to organise whitewater rafting, water sports, horse riding and one day hikes up nearby Villarrica Volcano. Travelling through small villages, alongside deep blue lakes with mountains towering above us as we wind through Chile's Lake District until we reach the country's capital Santiago.

We have a free day or two to explore Santiago, with famous Chilean Steak houses, Casillero del Diablo winery and skiing available in the winter, you will find it easy to pass the days away.

DAYS 60 - 69
SANTIAGO TO UYUNI

Leaving Santiago, we continue north and head inland, climbing up to 2407 metres to reach the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. Here you can take a trip out to the Valley of the Moon to see it’s lunar-like landscapes or spend the evening stargazing in the desert.

Next, we leave Chile and cross into Bolivia, driving through the remote and incredible scenery of the Altiplano. This plateau is a vast area of salt flats, mountains, volcanos, lagoons and geysers at an average altitude of 3750 metres. Vicunas and flamingos can be spotted against the backdrop of stark peaks and brightly coloured lagoons. Our journey brings us to the shimmering white Uyuni Salt Lake, where it is possible to venture out into the salt lakes for a 1 day excursion. With no roads and only vague tracks to follow it makes for an unforgettable overland experience.

DAYS 70 - 76
UYUNI TO LA PAZ

In many places in Bolivia you will notice differences to Chile and Argentina, as paved roads become much rarer and many locals still follow tradition, wearing bright woollen clothes and bowler hats.

Continuing north we arrive in Potosi which at over 4000m, it is the highest city of its size in the world and 400 years ago it was the largest city in all the Americas. Vast amounts of silver were extracted from Potosi and shipped to Spain. There are tours to the mines and it is still clear to see that, unfortunately, working conditions here have hardly improved over the centuries. The adventurous among us will appreciate the opportunity to go down one of these mines with a local guide. The less adventurous can visit the ancient mint or take a tour around the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Money House) which will provide a good look into Potosi's and Bolivia's past. The history and past colonial splendour make Potosi a fascinating place to visit on an overland trip to the Andes & Amazon.

A tortuous drive across the Altiplano, where Aymara and Quechua Indians scrape a sparse living from their small plots of land in this harsh climate, brings us to La Paz. It's the highest capital city in the world and is built on a steep slope that falls away from the Altiplano. La Paz is a great place to visit on an overland trip to the Amazon, be sure to stop in at a 'pena' club, where live bands entertain us with Andean folk music.

DAYS 77 - 79
LA PAZ TO LAKE TITICACA

Leaving La Paz we head to a Peru tour highlight - Puno. Nestling on the shores of Lake Titicaca it is a friendly, well-kept place and much calmer than the hustle and bustle of La Paz. A must visit attraction on any Peru tour, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake at 3800m, it is also the original home of the Uros Indians who have made their dwellings on floating reed islands. By boat we visit the floating islands during the day and then we go that one step beyond the average and spend the night with one of the Indian families on the lesser known islands Isla Amantani or Taquile. Spending some time in these local communities on a Peru tour will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditional lifestyle of the Andean people and their customs.

DAYS 80 - 86
LAKE TITICACA TO CUSCO

Continuing on our Peru tour, from Lake Titicaca we drive on very good sealed roads through some spectacular scenery as we make our way to Cusco, the outdoors capital of Peru and our base for the next 6 days. This gives us enough time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, enjoy the architectural uniqueness of Cusco and explore some of the colourful surrounding markets. There are several treks which you can take in Machu Picchu. When permits are still available, we will organise the Classic Trail trek, but great alternative Inca Trail treks, like the Lares or Salkantay can be arranged when the Classic is not available or by your choice (must be pre-arranged at time of booking). Tours to Machu Picchu are absolutely unbelievable; a trip to this City in the Clouds is an ancient and awe-inspiring part of South America travel.

Besides seeing Machu Picchu, you are able to enjoy the architectural uniqueness of Cusco and explore some of the colourful surrounding markets. Please note that for all those visiting Machu Picchu there is now the option to buy a ticket to go up the summit next to Machu Picchu, Huanapicchu. Tickets for this must be requested at the time of your booking with us, and payment made in advance in the UK. You will have the option to add the tickets to go up Huanapicchu when you make your booking online, be sure to add them if you would like them.

DAYS 87 - 91
CUSCO TO COLCA CANYON

From here, we continue west on our Peru tour, passing herds of llama, alpacas and unspoilt Andean villages as we head towards the world's deepest canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon is an awesome spectacle. Here you have the option, accompanied by a local guide, of a one day excursion to view Condors circling lazily on the thermals rising from the canyon floor. On your trip into the canyon you can overnight in the town of Chivay. Because it was isolated for so many years, customs and dress have changed relatively little, which gives a rare glimpse of what life in the Andes would have been like during colonial times. From here we begin dropping down out of the Andes as we head to Arequipa, a beautiful colonial city set at the foot of the impressive El Misti Volcano.

DAYS 92 - 96
COLCA CANYON TO LIMA

We then camp on our way to one of the world's great archaeological mysteries and a Peru tour highlight - The Nazca Line. These huge figures and shapes, carved into the stony desert are best viewed from the air, we also visit Chauchilla Cemetery with its well-preserved mummies. We stop in the Oasis town of Huacachina, where there is the option for the adreneline rush of a dung-buggy ride across the enormous sand dunes, and you can also try your hand at sandboarding down them, before a barbecue and night out under the stars in the desert. Following the Coastal Highway, the Ballestas Islands in the Paracas National Reserve is our next stop. Here you can take a boat trip to view one of the most important marine reserves in the world with one of the highest concentrations of rare and exotic sea birds and sea mammals.

Further up the coast is Peru's capital city, Lima. On this stop on your overland trip to the Amazon you will encounter both abundant wealth and grinding poverty, modern skyscrapers next to some of the finest museums and historical monuments in Latin America.

DAYS 97 - 104
LIMA TO PUNTA SAL

Continuing north along the coast towards Huanchaco we reach the Chan Chan ruins & the Temple of Sun and Moon, the imperial citadel of the pre-Inca Chimu Kings which the Incas later conquered - claimed to be the largest mud brick city in the world. Nearing the border with Ecuador we have a couple of relaxing days chilling by the beach at Punta Sal or Mancora before our tour of Peru comes to an end.

DAYS 105 - 109
PUNTA SAL TO BANOS

You will see an almost immediate change from the dry, barren desert of Peru through sub-tropical forest to the fertile farming country of highland Ecuador. We will visit Cuenca on our way to the outdoors mecca of Banos, a spa town nestled at the foot of a volcano, where Ecuadorians go to relax in the thermal baths. On this stop of our overland Amazon trip you can hike, mountain bike or horse-ride to one of the surrounding waterfalls including El Pailon del Diablo. For the more adventurous there is the option to go canyoning down one of the many rivers in the area.

DAYS 110 - 115
BANOS TO QUITO

We descend to the lowlands and the steamy edge of the Amazon basin to the town of Tena, gateway to the Amazon jungle. Here, accompanied by experienced guides, we explore on foot and by motorised canoes this exotic environment for two days. There may also be the chance to go whitewater rafting on the rapids of the Rio Napo (time permitting).

We drive north and return to higher altitudes as we arrive in Ecuador’s richly historical capital, Quito. Here we have some free time to explore Quito’s old town, take a ride on the cable car for an awesome view or enjoy the city’s café culture.

DAYS 116 - 119
QUITO TO PARQUE PURACE

Leaving Quito, we cross the Equator and discover how Ecuador got its name before reaching the town of Otavalo, famous for its colourful crafts market. Next stop is Colombia and depending on the time we may cross the border and camp at either Ipiales or Pasto and see the Santuario De Las Lajas – a neo gothic church built on a stone bridge spanning a gorge.

We head to the beautiful colonial city of Popayan which is nicknamed the White City, where we shall make a small stop to admire the chalk white facades and take the opportunity to stock up on supplies before continuing our journey north.

DAYS 120 - 125
PARQUE PURACE TO MEDELLIN

We arrive on unpaved roads to Parque Purace, the only place in Colombia to see Condors. Whilst in the area there are good walking trails and the more adventurous can scale Volcan Purace at 4750 metres. However, there are less strenuous hikes to the sulphur mine and Termales De San Juan – a spectacular hot spring with mud slides!

Continuing north we head into the mountains around Salento. With its cool climate, this is the heart of coffee growing country where we have the opportunity to visit one of the coffee farms.

After Salento there is an opportunity to visit Santa Fe De Antioquia by local bus, to visit this sleepy colonial town and its several art galleries, museums and colonial architecture. We arrive into the famous and lively town of Medellin, a great spot to get some tango or salsa lessons before trying out your moves at one of the local bars or clubs.

DAYS 126 - 131
MEDELLIN TO CARTAGENA

We head off to Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park where we can explore the trails and beaches set in deep bays shaded by coconut palms. Here we have the option to snorkel and possibly scuba dive in some of the bays widely regarded as some of South Americas loveliest coastline.

Our final drive takes us west for a quick dip in the Volcan De Lodo el Totumo before heading towards Cartagena.

An undoubted highlight of any trip to Colombia is Cartagena with its colonial past and UNESCO World Heritage status. The old city is an ideal place to just wander the maze of cobbled streets and alleys amongst churches, monasteries, plazas and bougainvillea draped balconies. Las Murallas, the thick walls built around the old city to protect it from pirates are wonderfully preserved and make for an interesting walk before stopping off in one of the hidden patio cafes. The trendy area of Bocagrande is not to be missed. We spend two nights in Cartagena and get a flavour of the place on our included city tour as well as a boat trip at Playa Blanca. With its turquoise waters and golden sand, it is one of Cartagena's most famous beaches and the perfect end to our trip.

Experience

Enjoy Rio de Janeiro
Explore the wetlands of Esteros del Ibera
See Iguazu Falls from both sides
Discover Buenos Aires
Hike in Torres del Paine National Park
Boat trip to Perito Moreno Glacier
Explore Colca Canyon
Boat trip to the Ballestas Islands
Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu
3 nights in the Amazon Jungle

Included

  • Accommodation - approx. 50% camping & 50% simple hostels/hotels
  • Iguazu Falls - entrance to Argentina side
  • Esteros del Ibera - includes accommodation, meals & boat trip
  • Torres del Paine National Park - park entrance fee included
  • Boat tour on Lake Titicaca
  • Overnight stay with local family on Lake Titicaca
  • Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu - 4 days trek including all meals & guide
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu - including guide
  • Chan Chan Ruins - entrance & guided tour
  • 3 night Jungle Trip - includes accommodation and meals (activities are optional extra)
  • Tayrona National Park - includes entrance
  • El Totumo Mud Volcano
  • Coffee plantation tour - Salento
  • Playa Blanca boat trip - Cartagena
  • City tour - Cartagena
  • Meals - approx. 40%
  • All transport on Oasis Expedition Truck
  • Camping and Cooking equipment
  • Services of Oasis Crew

Not included

  • Visas
  • Local Payment of USD3050 (2024), USD3200 (2025) payable at the start of the trip
  • Optional Excursions as listed in the Pre-Departure Information
  • Flights
  • Airport Taxes and Transfers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Meals - approx. 60%
  • Drinks
  • Tips
RIO TO CARTAGENA (18.5 WEEKS) KINGDOMS & CARNIVALS
Next Booking: May 14, 2024
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