The rugged stones of an Incan fortress tower over the mountainside of Machu Picchu as the melodic rhythms of a tango emanate from hidden dance studios in Buenos Aires. Your custom-tailored South America tour immerses you in Incan history and Argentinian culture on a luxurious exploration across mountain slopes and cobblestone streets. Toucans hide in the jungle canopy and staggering waterfalls cause the mist to rise across the sky. From verdant valleys to agricultural terraces, you will discover...
Lima – In the Image of Colonial Spain
The city of Lima shimmers with a mixture of colonial facades and high rises, traditional cevicherias (seafood restaurants) and remarkable cliffs ascending above the Pacific Ocean. Remnants of Pre-Columbian temples rise along the sands near chic cafes and 18th-century plazas. Your flight lands at Jorge Chavez International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon arrival. The remarkable mixture of historic streets and contemporary life spread from the gold-sand beaches to the mesmeric hills rising along the edges of the urban sprawl. You embrace the welcoming semi-sweet aroma of the ocean as you settle into a luxurious hotel in the bohemian neighborhood of Miraflores.
Your introduction to the vibrant city takes you beyond the hints of lemon emanating from the restaurants, dressing the celebrated ceviche. Your guide leads you to the marvelous cathedral in the neighborhood of San Isidro. The structure was first erected in the 1530s upon Spanish arrival to the city. The main portal at the center of the tripartite doorway contains Lima’s coat-of-arms and two slate spires of neoclassical design. The interior contains hints of myrrh drifting through the 14 chapels, connecting to the Square of the Orange Trees. Your guide brings your attention to the sleeping lion statue, demarcating the tomb of Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima.
Lima – The Vibrant Life of Lima, Past, and Present
In the morning, paragliders take to the sky along the cliffs of Miraflores, catching the sea breeze to soar over the splashing waves along the Pacific Coast. The sunlight reaches the statues of El Beso, located on the seaside walkway. The artistic depiction captures an endless kiss between young lovers, framed by the ocean horizon and the glamorous skyline of the city. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel, eager to lead you on a marvelous historical and cultural tour of Lima, taking you to the enrapturing plaza before San Francisco Convent. The yellow-brick exterior glows against the bright blue sky. The structure was erected between the 16th and 17th centuries in the Spanish baroque style and decorated with an enchanting lattice dome.
The monastery houses a superb collection of ancient religious texts in the library set above the captivating catacombs. Your guide leads you down the narrow stairwell into the dim light of the subterranean grounds of Lima’s original cemetery. The cool air swirls around the stone foundations. Several pits contain bones stacked in unique patterns around the circular stone. You can’t help but be intrigued listening to the stories of Lima’s distinctive history, the monasteries’ relation to the progress of the city, and how the catacombs seem connected to your fascinating visit to the tomb of Francisco Pizarro.
Cusco – Colonial Vision of an Incan City
In the morning, the vendors of the central market showcase the stunning produce cultivated around the Andes and plains outside of the city. Fishermen showcase luscious lobsters and sensational sea bass. Cevicherias, seafood restaurants, fill the air with hints of lime and remarkable shelled prawn spiced with chili flakes. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you from the hotel in Miraflores to the airport for your brief flight to Cusco. The Andean city was once the capital of the Inca Empire and remains the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America.
Narrow cobblestone walkways lead to wide avenues. The Spanish architecture provides embellishments of whitewashed walls and baroque facades between the persistent elements of Incan architecture. The city stands at more than 11,150 feet above sea level, surrounded by rolling hills and watched over by the remains of Sacsayhuaman fortress. Your private transfer leads you from the airport to a luxurious hotel in view of the cathedral spires and stunning dome of Coricancha, the former Temple of the Sun. Your guide meets you at the hotel ready to show you the marvelous blend of Inca style, Spanish heritage, and Andean culture spread across the city.
You make your way first to the stairs leading into Coricancha. Solid gold once lined the interior walls to imitate the reflective light of the sun. The temple was turned into a church after the Spanish took the 120 pounds of gold that framed the open courtyard. Gray stones continue to pave the sharp angles of the rooms the Inca had erected, contrasting the Spanish archways framing the internal square. Your guide leads you along the impressive curvature of the nearly 20-foot tall exterior wall running alongside the sloping street.
Cusco – Taking Heart in the Sacred Valley
At breakfast, you recall the unique 18th-century version of the Last Supper as painted by Marcos Zapata. The work hangs in the Basilica and attempted to merge the traditions of the Andes with the images of Christianity, using a guinea pig as the centerpiece of the meal. Your guide meets you at the hotel and leads you into the lush countryside of the Sacred Valley. Rainforest trees dangle branches over the banks of the Urubamba River. Agricultural terraces texture the steep hillsides. The slightly bitter aroma of coca leaves fades beneath the herbaceous scent of blossoming orchids and wildflowers. You reach Pisac, an important town at the center of trade for the surrounding Andean communities.
Local women and children wear bright textiles of pinks, reds, and oranges, often showcasing the skill of elaborate weavers. The town was founded around the 15th century on the border of the rainforest and has preserved baths, altars, and a trickling fountain connected to the Temple of the sun located on the hilltops. Agricultural terraces sweep across the steep hillsides, reachable by diagonal flights of stairs crafted from flagstones. The stone structure at the top of the plateau that resembles a hitching post was an Incan tool astronomers used to mark the calendar; utilizing the solstices for agricultural purposes. Numerous holes honeycomb the cliff wall along Kitamayo Gorge, representing Incan tombs.
Aguas Calientes – Touching the Hidden Stones
In the morning, you find refreshing aromas of freshly brewed coffee and elegant cappuccino emanating from the chic cafes in the neighborhood of San Blas. Artists set out their works in small studios overlooking the narrow stairwells between San Blas and Plaza de Armas. After breakfast, you board the train taking you across the Sacred Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes. The glass-dome provides an unfettered view of the passing landscape, from the snowcapped peaks in the background to the lush rainforest canopy decorated with splashes of color from visible orchids. Aguas Calientes sits at the bottom of the mountain base beside the powerful rushing waters of the Urubamba River.
You depart the train and travel up the hillside with your guide until reaching the plateau. The stone temples and houses of Machu Picchu stand before you, surrounded by Andean Peaks and empty sky. The sound of the rushing water has disappeared, replaced by a serene quiet. Your guide explains the history of the city and its establishment in the 15th century before the arrival of the Spanish. The stones are thick and heavy, with a smooth cold texture against your fingers. You reach the Temple of the Sun, located above the ceremonial baths. The temple is the only round building in Machu Picchu and contains a curved, tapering tower.
Cusco – Hidden Wonder in the Hidden City
In the morning, you return to the gates of Machu Picchu, eager to continue your exploration of the ancient city. The altitude of the plateau chills the air, reaching nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. The sunlight spreads in thin wisps over the tops of the encircling mountains before washing over the thick, silver stones of the city. You make your way to the hidden temple at the base of Huayna Picchu. The trail clings to the steep cliff, leading you to the entrance of the Temple of the Moon, located inside a cave. The walls contain exquisite masonry and niches that once held mummies.
The cave walls hide the sunlight, returning a cool air against your cheeks. The traditional architecture depicts the three planes of Incan religion: the world above, the physical life, and the underworld, each represented by a specific animal. The iconic trapezoidal niches frame the doorways. After exploring the hidden city’s unseen temple, you descend the mountain and return to Cusco for the evening, more aware of the remnants of Incan architecture and styling than before your visit to Machu Picchu.
Iguazu – From Hidden Charm to Visible Power
The sunlight spreads across the charming flowers and grasses decorating Plaza de Armas. Women in traditional Andean clothing stroll along the cobblestone streets, guiding a llama to the market. You continue to find traces of the Inca across the city, including lining the narrow walkways in the form of thick stone walls on Loreto Street southeast of Plaza de Armas. At Hatunrumiyoc, east of the main square stands a 12-sided stone upon which the surrounding rocks cling to as if part of a perfect puzzle. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport for your flight to Iguazu, Argentina. The tropical landscape hides the thundering, raw power of Iguazu Falls, one of the largest natural waterfalls in the world.
Toucans nest in the encircling canopy and Ulysses butterflies glow iridescent blues against emerald leaves. Your private transfer leads you to a stunning hotel hidden by the rainforest trees, offering opulent views of the wildlife. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to relax in the calming pool on the hotel property or traverse the streets of the town at your preferred pace, taking you to the Garden of the Hummingbirds. The small conservation park houses more than 15 different species of hummingbird that freely traverse the orchids and tropical flowers in search of nectar. Their wings beat with vigor and their shimmering plumage changes from bird to bird.
Iguazu – Above and Below the Billowing Waters
In the morning, the enticing aroma of decadent coffee blends with the herbaceous scent of the tropical landscape. You can see a large toucan cracking a nut in the trees. Its arching yellow, red, and green beak stands out from the dense jade foliage. After the meal, you have a private transfer to the gates of Iguazu National Park, situated on the Argentinian border and encompassing nearly 260 square miles. A subtle mist spreads across the walkways and treetops emanating from waters Iguazu River. Sporadic timber trees shade the walkways and can grow to a height of 131 feet. Coatis, a South American mammal that resembles a raccoon, linger around the footpaths and benches.
They have rings on their tales and can grow to 44 inches long. You walk along the trails of circumnavigating the park to view the mist rising upwards from the small gorge the water has shaped over thousands of years. The river trundles over the cliff to create more than 275 distinctive waterfalls spread across the more than one mile of the upper rim. You reach the viewing platform to see the horseshoe configuration of the Devil’s Throat, where the endless plumes of water spout upwards from the water splashing into the waiting river.
Buenos Aires – Brazilian View to Colonial Facades
In the morning, you cross the border into Brazil for a tour of the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. The park, known as Foz de Iguazu, consists of a stunning walkway reaching the edge of a lower rim. The mist you saw the previous day at Devil’s Throat drifts across the distant narrows of the gorge. You can still hear the thundering splashes of the waterfalls all around you. Whitewater courses beneath the walkway upon which you stand. The panoramic view of the cascades is unmistakably brilliant, providing a wide, unfettered perspective of the rim’s curvature. You return to Iguazu in Argentina, where you continue to the Cataratas del Iguazu International Airport for your flight to Buenos Aires.
The city’s more than 26 neighborhoods contain a charm distinctive from one another spread across 78 square miles. Tango fills the air of La Boca, and chic boutique shops line the pedestrian streets near the rosy facade of the presidential palace. Your private transfer meets you at the Ministro Pistarini International Airport upon your arrival. The elegant neighborhood of Recoleta contains quiet cobblestone streets shaded by oak trees and the grandeur of the celebrated El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a former theater renovated as a bookstore. The remainder of the day is yours to delight in the charming atmosphere and bustling movement of Buenos Aires, taking you view the contemporary culture captured in the cobblestone streets and antique markets of the San Telmo neighborhood.
Buenos Aires – Before the Tango
In the morning, the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans overtakes the streets, drifting out of the chic cafes of Recoleta and blending with the scent of buttery filo dough. Restaurants and quiet food stalls showcase delicious empanadas filled with steak, chicken, or mushrooms. After breakfast, your guide meets you in the hotel lobby eager to introduce you to the historical streets spread across the city and accentuated with the passionate ambiance of a distinctive lifestyle. You begin at the Plaza de Mayo, the oldest square in the city, which was established in the 16th century upon the arrival of the Spanish.
The presidential palace known as the Casa Rosada adorns the head of the two-block-long square. Your guide points to the balcony from which Eva Peron addressed adoring crowds in the 1940s. Lavish domes and elegant facades add to the graceful ambiance of the plaza near the landmark Café Tortoni. The 19th-century establishment is considered the birthplace of tango and stands beside the National Tango Academy. The interior contains a central glass mosaic decorating the ceiling, with the staff moving passionately to the rhythm of an elusive dance.
Buenos Aires – In the Liberty of Buenos Aires
In the morning, the sunlight washes over the unique catacombs of the Recoleta Cemetery. The antique markets of San Telmo overlook the cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood. The Palacio Barolo was erected in correlation to Dante’s Divine Comedy, imitating the stanzas in the number of floors, and capturing the elements of the epic Italian poem in lavish art. The day is yours to indulge in the splendors of Buenos Aires at your desired pace. Continue to explore the charming cafés and exuberant lifestyles of the various neighborhoods or stroll beneath the vaulted glass ceilings of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires for an in-depth tour of the continent’s modern artwork.
For a fabulous introduction to the culture beyond Argentina’s largest city, you take a scenic train to the banks of the Tigre River. Riverboats cruise down the waters beneath the verdant oak trees and quiet life lingering on the riverbanks. A saccharine aroma emanates from the candy store and caramelized peanut vendor. Colonial mansions once belonging to wealthy land and ship owners continue to rise out of the lush plains. Peaceful trails meander through the region reaching into the distant hills. The jungle streams reach the Tigre Delta, enriching the water with iron. Step aboard one of the antique river cruisers to drift downstream for a fabulous, relaxing view of the delta, finding serene and lush life along the canals.
Buenos Aires – Morning of Medialunas
The aroma of medialunas, sweet crescent rolls, drifts out of the bakeries in the morning. The crescent-shaped pastry resembles small croissants and often accompanies a sweet and creamy coffee with milk. In Recoleta, chic couples sit on outdoor patios at the local cafes and enjoy the cool morning air beneath the shading canopy. Lavish window displays line the pedestrian street of Calle Florida, which reaches the edge of Plaza de Mayo. Artists return to the cobblestone walkways of La Boca to paint the pastel-colored houses and capture the passionate embrace of the tango dancers performing on the street. The vibrant culture of the city enraptures you with its history, ardor, and unique character. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to Ministro Pistarini International Airport for your flight home.
- Discover the treasured temples and homes hidden on a high-altitude plateau in the Andes at Machu Picchu
- Witness the preserved Incan architecture and Andean culture in the town of Pisac
- Traverse the remarkable walkways of Iguazu National Park for different perspectives of the stunning magnificence of Iguazu Falls
- Delight in the marvelous neighborhoods of Buenos Aires for an in-depth experience of antique architecture, contemporary life, and timeless tango
- Step beneath the colorful façade of San Francisco Monastery in Lima to view the unique catacombs of the city’s Spanish colonial history
- Stroll along the antique walls of Coricancha, the former Incan Temple of the Sun in the remarkable high-altitude city of Cuzco
- Visit the hidden Temple of the Moon at Machu Picchu, connected to the secluded city by a narrow trail hugging a steep cliff
- Cruise the canal of the Tigre Delta for a relaxing and refreshing view of the Argentine pampas
- See the tomb of the legendary Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro, located in the Lima
South America offers endless cultural exploration for immersive experiences amidst Andean heritage and life on the pampas, colorful textiles, and enthusiastic dances. Your 12-day tour of South American takes you from Peru to Argentina, emphasizing the unique characteristic of Incan history and the contemporary lifestyle of Buenos Aires. The distinctive properties of the landscape help shape tradition, and the exciting scenery captivates and inspires. Your South American tour begins with your arrival in Lima. Contemporary life meets tradition along the streets of Peru’s capital city. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to a luxurious hotel in the chic seaside neighborhood of Miraflores. You have an introductory tour of the city that highlights how the past and present blend to form a consolidated representation of the country.
The following day, your guide leads you on a full day tour of the city’s marvelous colonial architecture and into the depths of the catacombs beneath San Francisco Convent. Then, you depart Lima for Cuzco, located in the high-altitude hills of the Andes Mountains. After leaving the airport, you settle into a comfortable hotel near Plaza de Armas and take a tour of the preserved Incan architecture and traditions filling the city. You venture outside the former Incan capital to visit the vibrant town of Pisac, which sits at the center of Andean culture. Visit the thriving market and the surrounding Incan ruins before continuing to the fortress and preserved Incan homes at Ollantaytambo. Next, you board a scenic train through the Sacred Valley to reach the base of Machu Picchu. Relish a guided tour of the once hidden city for spectacular insight into the captivating past of the life lived on the plateau.
Return to the summit of Machu Picchu for a morning amongst the ruins, ascending to the peak of Huayna Picchu or traversing the hidden trails leading to the Temple of the Moon. You return to Cuzco in the afternoon and have the remainder the day at your leisure to stroll along the cobblestone streets or visit the art galleries and museums. Afterward, you have a private transfer to the airport for your flight to Iguazu in Argentina. Rainforest encircles the town known for its proximity to Iguazu Falls. You have the day at leisure to relish the luxury of your secluded jungle hotel or visit one of the bird sanctuaries or botanic gardens around town.
Then, you venture into Iguazu National Park to wander the trails. Each walkway leads to a marvelous view of the cliffs encompassing nearly 300 distinct cascades. Cross the border into Brazil to view the falls from the Brazilian side of the river before taking your flight from Iguazu to Buenos Aires. Your private transfer meets you at the airport in Buenos Aires and escorts you to an elegant hotel in the lush neighborhood of Recoleta. Enjoy an introductory walking tour of the city to gain your bearings of a city often referred to as the “Paris of South America.”
Your guide leads you on a spectacular tour of the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires to view the unique qualities that create the city’s vibrant amalgamation. In the afternoon, you meet a tango instructor to partake in a private dance lesson for which the city is famous. Spend a day at your leisure to relish the rhythm of the city at your desired pace. Continue to bask in the café culture or visit the various art museums and boutique shops. You could also explore the outer reaches of the region by venturing to the Tigre Delta to delight in a canal cruise. On your final day, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the hotel for your flight home, leaving the splendors of Buenos Aires behind.
$2,815 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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