Overland tour to South America, Andes to the Amazon

“From Andean peaks to barren salt flats, lush rainforest to fragrant wine country, this South America journey is a bonanza of adrenaline and cultural activities. ”

Highlights

Quito | Amazon Rainforest lodge | Banos spa town | Cuenca | Chan Chan | Lima | Ballestas Islands | Huacachina Oasis | Nazca Lines flight | Chauchilla Cemetery | Arequipa | Colca Canyon | Cuzco | Sacred Valley of the Incas | Machu Picchu | Lake Titicaca | La Paz | Altiplano | Potosi Silver Mine | Uyunyi Salt Lake | Mendoza | Santiago |

Description of Overland tour to South America, Andes to the Amazon

Adventure awaits around every bend in the road on this incredible tour through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. And no, we’re not being melodramatic.

You’ll get underway in Quito, the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, with its volcanic backdrop giving way to the Amazon basin. Staying a few nights in a comfortable jungle lodge, you’ll be guided around rainforest trails to learn about the medicinal, edible and hallucinogenic plants growing here. From here you’ll head to the spa resort of Banos, a base from which you can hike, ride horses, or even go canyoning. Moving on into Peru, and the Pacific coast, you’ll pause in Chan Chan, largest mud brick city in the world, to see the Temple of the Sun and Moon.

After some time exploring cosmopolitan Lima, you’ll visit the marine reserve off the Ballestas Islands, and the Huacachina Oasis deep in the Ica Desert, where you can sandboard, ride dune buggies, and sleep beneath the stars. Then it’s on – to an optional flight above the mysterious Nazca Lines, the colonial city of Arequipa, and Cuzco, from where you’ll start a trek to Machu Picchu. Sure to be a highlight of the tour, the ancient Incan ruins kept their secrets for centuries before discovery on a mountain ridge.

Over the border to Bolivia, and Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water. You’ll roam the wild landscape of Altiplano, a centuries-old working silver mine in Potosi, and the vast Uyuni salt lake. Finally, relax in scenic Mendoza wine country, before the tour winds to an end in Santiago.

Travel Team

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Check dates

2020: 30 Oct
2021: 6 Jul, 17 Sep, 12 Nov
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Holiday type

Overland

If you’re looking for adventure, an opportunity to travel with like-minded travellers and to get off the beaten track then this type of trip is for you! We will sometimes be covering long distances over a period of a few days but will then most often be camped up for a few days with opportunities for adventure activities, visiting local communities, time in a town or city to chill out or wildlife viewing experiences. The roads are sometimes bumpy and you need to expect the unexpected! This type of travel is through regions where things can change and experiences are more important than luxury – borders sometimes close and there may not always be hot water in the showers! You will generally be camping out under the stars, sometimes out in the bush, but generally more on campsites. (Our South America and Central Asia trips also use small locally-run hostels and guest houses). The trips are fully participative so you will be involved shopping for food in local markets, cooking for your group (on a rota system), collecting water and setting up camp. If you’re not confident about doing any of these things beforehand, don’t worry our crew are there to help you and you’ll be good at it by the time you finish!

You will be travelling on one of our own purpose built overlanding vehicles with up to 24 travellers, many of whom will be travelling on their own. It is a great way for solo travellers to travel. We have lost count of the number of travellers who have met their future spouse on one of our trips! Our vehicles are fully equipped with tents and cooking equipment and are designed for great all-round viewing and a sociable seating plan. You will be accompanied on your trip by a Driver and Tour Leader and, depending on your trip, we often use local guides at sites of specific interest for more detailed information.

This type of travel will provide you with a plethora of memories and stories to tell, new-found travelling companions and friends and a well-exercised spirit of adventure!

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
On this trip we stay at small, locally run campsites or hostels and buy our food locally, thereby directly supporting local communities. We use local companies to run all our excursions. They, in turn, employ local drivers and guides-supporting the local economy.

Before the trip commences clients are sent detailed pre-departure information which includes advice on responsible travel. This information is re-emphasised by the tour leader at the start of the trip. Clients, for example, are advised about respecting local customs, conservation of natural habitats and wildlife, litter disposal etc.

Clients are also given the opportunity, before the trip commences to attend a Spanish language school in Quito. This involves staying with a local family for a week, sharing their home and meals and one-to-one language tuition. The school also organises a programme of cultural activities. This project helps provide local families with an additional source of income and is a fantastic opportunity for our clients to experience life in Ecuador at first hand. It also obviously enables them to get more out of their entire trip as they are, hopefully, more able to communicate with the Spanish speaking South American people they meet en route. (All of our crew attend this language school before they run their first trip with us).

We try to select campsites or hostels that share our environmental concerns-although this is not always possible. In Ecuador we stay at the Arajuno Jungle Lodge and Forest Reserve. This project not only runs its accommodation on sustainable principles but supports the local community in a variety of ways (including the development of small-scale fishponds in remote indigenous villages partly to stop villagers from fishing with dynamite in the rivers. They have also trained local people to become licensed guides). The forest reserve has a native species reproduction project for guatusas and capybara and are currently involved in trying to re-introduce turtles to the Arajuno River.

We spend one night of the trip as guests in the homes of a community of Uros Indian families on the islands of Amantani or Taquile. This gives our clients an opportunity to learn more about their hosts traditional lifestyles and also provides the families with an additional source of income.

One of the highlights of this trip is obviously trekking the Inca Trails to Machu Picchu. This trek offers opportunities of employment to large numbers of the local community. Porters, cooks and guides are required. However, much of this employment is poorly paid and working conditions are not good. The local company we use to organise our trails has a commitment to the welfare of their porters providing them with a professional wage and health insurance. They are also in the process of completing a house for the porters so that they have somewhere comfortable to stay the night before they start the trail, as many of them travel in from rural areas.

The numbers of clients we take on this tour are limited, to a maximum of twenty four, thus reducing the environmental and cultural impact of a large group.

On this trip we support a small, Peruvian charity called Pachamamas Children, based twenty minutes outside of Cusco, in the community of Tika-Tika. The charity is in the process of reconstructing a derelict school in an impoverished community. The children of the community currently have no access to formal education. Once completed the school will not only provide education to the children of the community but the plan is also to provide adult education and a basic Medical Centre. We make a regular monthly, financial contribution to this project and once the building work has been completed we hope that our clients will be able to visit the school and that we will be able to offer volunteering opportunities there.
Community
Climate

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