Overlanding is the best way to see South America by far! Dragoman have been leading the way in South American overland expeditions since 1990, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading to some unique hidden gems, well away from the usual tourist trail. Beginning in the iconic city of Rio de Janeiro on Brazil's Atlantic coast, this unique and pioneering trip from Dragoman cuts through the interior of the vast country of Brazil and continues into Peru. Our first stop is the old mining district of Minas Gerais, full of colonial history and grand churches telling of the local gold rush, slavery, and the Inconfidência Mineira, an important early attempt to break free from colonial rule. We then then head to the staggeringly-beautiful Chapada dos Guimarães National Park and explore its stunning scenery, table-top mountains, ravines, caves, streams and waterfalls - it's a paradise for walkers and nature lovers. Next we head to the northern Pantanal, one of the world's largest tropical wetland areas, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species. Even more famous than the Pantanal is of course the Amazon, and we will head overland into south-eastern Peru exploring one of the most untouched stretches of the beautiful Amazon rainforest. Finally we climb up into the high Andes and to the traveller's paradise of Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. Cuzco is our base for one of South America's best highlights, the Inca Trails and a visit to the legendary ruined city of Machu Picchu. A fantastic and pioneering itinerary along a route that very few tourists ever get to see - join us on this truly unforgettable South American journey!
Border information: if you are joining in Rio de Janeiro, you will most likely enter Brazil at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (IATA code: RIO/GIG).
There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Rio de Janeiro before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio de Janeiro we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the Flamengo region of the city.
Today we have a full day's drive inland to the beautiful old colonial mining town of Ouro Preto. En route we will stop at the village of Congonhas to see the famous 'Twelve Prophets' statues built by the local sculptor Aleijandinho.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
On the following day we will have free time to explore the town, and discover its cobblestone streets and stunning Baroque churches. We can also make an optional trip to one of the fascinating mines in and around town.
In Ouro Preto we will stay in dorm accommodation in a hostel.
Today we will have an early start for a full day's drive to Brasília, the country's capital.
Estimated Drive Time - 11-12 hours.
On the following day, we will explore the city's fascinating architecture on a guided tour. Designed by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s, the city was a landmark in the history of city planning - it is a very bizarre and interesting place to explore, quite unlike anywhere else in South America.
Today we set off west towards Chapada dos Guimarães, a stunning overland journey of almost 1000km in total.
Tonight we will wild camp en route, probably without facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
Today we complete our drive to Chapada dos Guimarães, and meet with our local guide who will be with us for the next 10 days!
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
We will then have 2 full days of hiking around the stunning landscapes of Chapada dos Guimarães. We will follow the popular waterfall trail, visiting natural pools and incredible viewpoints along the way - the highlight is the Véu de Noivas ('Bridal Veil') waterfall, one of the postcard views of the Chapada. We will also hike around the Rio Claro valley and visit the Cidade de Pedra look-out point.
In Chapada dos Guimarães, we will camp in a well equipped campsite.
Today we will have an early start from Chapada dos Guimarães and drive to Poconé, the gateway to the northern Pantanal region. From here we will start our trip along the Transpantaneira road, hopefully spotting plenty of wildlife along the way.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.
Over the next 2 days in the Pantanal, we will explore the flora and fauna of these vast wetlands on foot and horseback, as well as in boats and our overland vehicle. We will be in search of the area's incredible array of wildlife on a flexible itinerary with our expert local guides.
In the Pantanal, we will stay in lodges with all the food included.
After breakfast we will leave the Pantanal and have a full day's drive to the village of Vila Bela da Santíssima Trinidade.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
On the following day we will go a boat trip on the Guaporé River in search of wildlife and bird-life including capybara, anacondas, and most impressive of all the pink dolphins in the river. We will also explore the beautiful colonial town of Vila Bela, and learn how the local Marroon community came about from the local tribes and fugitive slaves. We then take a boat down the river visiting a number of small-hold farms to learn about the livestock, crops, fruit trees, and vegetables that they grow.
In Vila Bela da Santíssima Trinidade we will camp in a well equipped campsite.
Today we will say goodbye to our local guide, and embark on 2 days of driving the 1800kms north towards the Peruvian border.
We will wild camp en route, probably without facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours each day.
Today is our final full day in Brazil, as we drive to the far western border town of Xapuri.
In Xapuri we stay the night in a local pousada (traveller's guesthouse).
Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.
Border information: exit Brazil at Assis, enter Peru at Iñapari.
Today we cross from Brazil over the Rio Acre and enter Peru. Once through border formalities, we drive on to Puerto Maldonado, the base of our upcoming expedition into the Peruvian Amazon.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
The following day we will have free time to explore the interesting town of Puerto Maldonado.
In Puerto Maldonado we will stay in a small locally-run hotel.
Today we will head 20kms from Puerto Maldonado to the Tambopata River port, where we will take a 45-minute boat transfer to our jungle lodge in the Peruvian Amazon where we will stay for the next 3 nights.
During our time here, we will enjoy a full schedule of activities to explore the phenomenal Amazon region of Peru. This will include a walk to the scaffolding canopy tower where you can enjoy spectacular views of the forest and the Tambopata River, a visit to the Tres Chimbadas Lake to look for the resident family of giant river otters and other lakeside wildlife, and an ethnobotanical tour to learn about the traditional ways of using plants as medicines. At night there's also an option of going for a hike in the forest, a time when most mammals are active but rarely seen so expect to use your ears more than your eyes! One of the mornings we will visit a 'Parrot Clay Lick', where if it's a clear morning you have the chance to see dozens of parrots and parakeets descend to ingest the clay on a river bank. We will also go on a guided hike in the forest, learning about the natural history of the rainforest, and visit one of the farms in the community of Infierno and learn about the different Amazonian crops grown here.
In the Peruvian Amazon we will stay in a jungle lodge, with all meals included.
This morning we depart Posada Amazonas and drive onwards towards the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco. We will break the journey in the town of Quince Mil, just before we head up into the mighty Andes.
In Quince Mil we will stay in a simple local farmstead guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.
Today we will complete our drive to the amazing town of Cuzco, once the centre of the Inca Empire.
In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel in the historical centre.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Border information: Welcome to Cuzco, capital of the Inca Empire. If you are starting at Cuzco, enter Peru at Cuzco Airport.
There will be a group meeting at 18:00 hrs to plan for next day's trek. Tonight we are staying in a good quality colonial hotel in Cuzco.
Leaving Cuzco early in the morning, we proceed to Sascayhuaman for a 1 hour tour of the archeological ruins. From there we will go to Pisac to visit the ruins, before continuing on to Chincheros, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. There you will see a weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years and you will tour the archaeological ruins there for another hour and a half. From Chincheros we will drive an area with great views to have an energizing picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumiyoc, also known as the Temple of the Moon. Then we will hike to Zurite where you will have a picturesque home stay in a house that is full of history from the Colonial period. In the house we will enjoy a nice dinner of traditional or contemporary food and you can experience the lifestyle of the locals.
After a hearty breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through Qenteqentiyoc (the hummingbird temple), where we can visit and admire this archaeological Inca site. Following the ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,400 meters, where we will have a dramatic view of both mountain ranges, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the Sambor valley where we will spend the night.
Early in the morning after breakfast we trek for 2 hours to get to our second pass; from there we have fantastic views of the rock formations below us. Sometimes it s possible to see Andean ivis, herons, torrent ducks, caracaras, eagles and foxes. After 2 hours we arrive to a nice highland valley, a place named Kenqo Mayu, or zig-zag River, where glacier water flows through the valley. Our lunch will be at the end of the river, and after lunch we will continue downhill and follow the ancient trail, which goes on a little uphill section which leads us to our campsite in a community called Ancascocha. We will arrive to our campsite near to a large glacier mount and glacier stream. If we arrive on time there is an optional hike to the lake that is just a one hour round trip.
After eating breakfast and breaking camp we start hiking down the Silque Canyon, we will descend by way of the narrow canyon, following a stream that will gradually get bigger. We can observe tall granite walls on the sides of the canyon, populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when they bloom. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the community of Camicancha, where we stop in a nice volcanic rock area, with magnificent views of mount Veronica, a snow capped mountain. From here we are very close to the Chilca community where we finish our trek. A vehicle will transfer us to Ollantaytambo and our hotel. After we have had showers and a little rest, we get ready for the cultural tour of this incredible archaeological site, which is very well known as the Temple of the Sun.
Today is an early start to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. From there we take the bus to the Lost City of Machu Picchu - one of the world's most iconic sights. We'll have a guided tour with our local guide and plenty of time to explore this magical place. We will then head back to Ollyantaytambo and on to Cuzco for the night.
Border Information: If you are finishing in Cuzco, exit Peru at Cuzco Airport.
The trip ends this morning. No accommodation is provided for tonight.
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Trip Name: Rio De Janeiro to Cuzco
Duration: 31 Days
From Price: $5,140
Supplier Tour ID: LJHN1/158357
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