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The Great South American Journey–Quito to Rio Adventure
This trip has alternate itineraries available.
Please select your preferred option to see itinerary and pricing.
Inca Trail Until Dec 17 Lares Trek Until Dec 17 Cusco Stay Until Dec 17 Inca Trail From Jan 18 Lares Trek From Jan 18 Cusco Stay From Jan 18

Sometimes the slow road is the way to go. Hit the road from Quito to Rio with other young travellers and experience pretty much everything you can imagine in between. Hike the Inca Trail and discover the thriving Inca culture, cross the Salt Flats of Bolivia, dance the tango in Buenos Aires, and hit the beach in Brazil. This trip offers up lively cities, stunning scenery, and tons of adventure. 65 days, seven countries, three nights in the Amazon, and one adventure you’ll remember forever.

Latin America
  • Duration: 65 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Not Rated%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: SEQR.F/201851
  • Starts: Quito, Ecuador
  • Finishes: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
You will Visit
  • Quito
  • Tena
  • Baños
  • Cuenca
  • Máncora
  • Huanchaco
  • Lima
  • Paracas
  • Nazca
  • Arequipa
  • Chivay
  • Cusco
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Aguas Calientes
  • Puno
  • Lago Titicaca
  • La Paz
  • Sucre
  • Potosí
  • Uyuni
  • Salar de Uyuni
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • Salta
  • Buenos Aires
  • Colonia del Sacramento
  • Montevideo
  • Mercedes
  • Foz do Iguaçu
  • Paraty
  • Ilha Grande
  • Rio de Janeiro

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Quito

Arrive at any time.
Spend the first day of your trip wandering Ecuador's capital city. Meet the group in the evening at the hotel.

02

Day 2: Quito/Tena

Travel to the jungle city of Tena and continue by truck to a jungle community.
Travel overland to Tena, located on the edge of the Amazon. From there, transfer for 45 minutes by truck to the local community of Pimpilala that will be our home for three nights. Stay with a Quichua family, enjoy the hospitality of these wonderful people, and experience life in the jungle first-hand.

03

Day 3: Tena

Head out on nature walks and learn about local traditions at an overnight homestay.

04

Day 4: Tena

Head out on nature walks and learn about local traditions at an overnight homestay.

05

Day 5: Tena/Baños

Travel to Baños, an adrenaline junkie's paradise.
Baños is the perfect setting for outdoor pursuits, including horseback riding, canyoning, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and rafting in the surrounding mountains and on the River Patate.

06

Day 6: Baños

Opt to soak in the nearby hot springs or get active by hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking.

07

Day 7: Baños/Cuenca

Travel to historic Cuenca.
Ecuador's third largest town, Cuenca, retains a pleasant provincial air with its colonial architecture, art galleries, and museums. The surrounding countryside is an outdoor playground. Visit national parks, take walks in the beautiful countryside, and see Ecuador's only Inca ruin site.

Explore the city's sights including cobbled streets, red-tiled roofs, art galleries, flower markets, shady plazas, and museums.

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Day 8: Cuenca

Enjoy a free day to visit Cajas NP or the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.

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Day 9: Cuenca/Máncora

Cross the border into Peru and head to the beach.
The adventure continues as we travel from Cuenca through the busy border town of Huaquillas and across the Peruvian border into Mancora. We follow the Pan-American Highway south to the seaside town of Mancora, a village populated by fishermen and surfers from around Peru and the world. Enjoy the relaxing beach atmosphere.

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Day 10: Máncora

Opt to relax on the beach, discover Mancora, go horseback riding, or take a surf lesson.

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Day 11: Máncora/Huanchaco

Free time in Mancora. Overnight bus to Huanchaco.

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Day 12: Huanchaco

Enjoy more beach time or opt to visit pre-Inca sites or the city of Trujillo.
We continue heading south along the coast to Trujillo, the largest city in northern Peru. It is known for its beautiful colonial structures and nearby attractions of Chan-Chan ruins and the resort town of Huanchaco, where we spend the night.

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Day 13: Huanchaco/Lima

Full day in Huanchaco before boarding a night bus to Lima.

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Day 14: Lima

Explore Peru's capital on an optional city tour, try paragliding, or simply relax. Be sure to try the tasty ceviche and pisco sours.
To get a feel for colonial Lima, take a cab to the Plaza de Armas and watch the changing of the Palace Guard in the afternoon. Walk around the streets surrounding the Jirón de la Unión for great examples of Spanish-colonial architecture and to experience life in a large South American city. There are many fine museums in and around the city, including the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera. An optional city tour visits many of the cities highlights.

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Day 15: Lima

Enjoy the day exploring the city.

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Day 16: Lima/Paracas

Free morning in Lima before travelling by bus to Paracas.
Savour a pisco sour while staying in Pisco's neighbouring town of Paracas.

17

Day 17: Paracas/Nazca

Optional visit to Ballestas Islands before travelling to Nazca. En route, stop at a winery and at the oasis of Huacachina.
There is time in the morning for an optional excursion to the popular Ballestas Islands, which provide an excellent chance to view a lively sea lion colony, pelicans, penguins, and other varieties of birdlife.

Back on land, catch a bus south to Nazca. On the way, pass by the pleasant colonial town of Ica.

Ica enjoys a dry, sunny climate year-round and is known for its huge sand dunes. Located around the nearby oasis of Huacachina, the dunes are perfect as subjects for photographs and for a favourite local past time: sandboarding. Apart from the dunes, Ica is famous for its wines and there are several wineries and distilleries in the area.

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Day 18: Nazca/Arequipa

Opt for a flight over the Nazca Lines. Overnight bus to Arequipa.

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Day 19: Arequipa

Opt to visit the Santa Catalina Convent or a local hot spring.
Those with an interest in history and architecture may opt to visit the Convent of Santa Catalina, which offers a brief respite from the outside world and a unique view into a bygone way of life. Other optional excursions include rafting and mountaineering.

For spicy food lovers, checking out one of the “Picanterías” is a must. Arequipa has a variety of regional food: alpaca, shrimp, pork, lots of soups, and spicy sauces.

20

Day 20: Arequipa/Colca Canyon

Take a full-day tour of the spectacular Colca Valley, and opt for a soak in hot springs.
Enjoy an overnight excursion to the impressive Colca Canyon - one of the deepest canyons in the world. Stop in fascinating villages and at “miradors” (scenic lookouts), where, with a little luck, visitors can see Andean condors soaring over the majestic Andes. Other unusual animals that can be spotted in the Andean landscape include three different species of camelids: alpaca, llama and vicuña.

21

Day 21: Chivay/Arequipa

Set out looking for the majestic soaring condors over Colca Canyon. Head back to Arequipa to enjoy the city in the evening.
Get an early start to go on the lookout for flying condors. Travel from Chivay town to a condor viewpoint to admire these magnificent birds in the air. On the way back, stop by some local villages and viewpoints to see old terraces and sections of Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world.

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Day 22: Arequipa/Cusco

Explore Arequipa and opt to take a city tour. Take an overnight bus to Cusco.

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Day 23: Cusco

Free time to explore Cusco. Opt for a city tour or go whitewater rafting, horseback riding or mountain biking.

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Day 24: Cusco

Enjoy another free day in Cusco.

25

Day 25: Cusco/Ollantaytambo

Learn about the Sacred Valley en route to Ollantaytambo. Opt to take a Sacred Valley tour with a visit to a G Adventures-supported women's weaving co-op.
Ollantaytambo is a major Inca ruin site and a first taste of what lies ahead. For those craving more before they head out on the Trail, opt to take a Sacred Valley tour which includes not only Ollantaytambo and the ruin site of Pisac, but also a visit to a G Adventures-supported women's weaving co-op.

26

Day 26: Ollantaytambo/Cusco

Return to the Sacred Valley with the CEO to explore the sites of the Maras Salt Mines and the ancient Incan agricultural terraces of Moray. Continue on a scenic drive through small villages and stunning views of the Andean countryside. Stop for a picnic lunch at Piuray Lagoon and opt to explore by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Return to Cusco for the evening.
Leave the hikers to start their trek and head out to explore Moray and Maras ancient Incan ruins. Enjoy a scenic drive through Andean farmland on the way to Piuray Lagoon.

27

Day 27: Cusco

Enjoy a free day to explore the city or take advantage of the many optional activities available.

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Day 28: Cusco/Aguas Calientes

Travel by van to Ollantaytambo to catch the scenic train to Aguas Calientes.

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Day 29: Aguas Calientes/Cusco

Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu. Opt to visit the Inca Bridge before returning to Cusco in the evening.
Rise early to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu with the guide. Enjoy a guided visit of the ruins followed by free time to explore. When ready, head back down by bus to Aguas Calientes to meet up with the rest of the group and take a train back to Cusco.

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Day 30: Cusco

Free day to explore more of Cusco or just relax.

31

Day 31: Cusco/Puno

Travel through the high Altiplano region to travel to Puno on Lake Titicaca.

32

Day 32: Puno/Lago Titicaca

Guided tour of Lake Titicaca with a homestay in a local village.
Head out by boat across Lake Titicaca. Visit the community on Taquile Island and enjoy a local lunch with spectacular views.

After, cruise to another village for an overnight homestay on the shores of the lake (the homestay location can vary based on community availability). This experience provides an opportunity to learn more about rural life in the Peruvian highlands and to participate in local traditions. Eat with the family, learn some Quecha and Spanish language skills, try on traditional costumes, and help out with daily chores around the village.

33

Day 33: Lago Titicaca/Puno

Visit the floating islands of Uros. Optional visit to the Sillustani burial site.
Leave the homestay families late morning, and visit the Uros Islands on the way back to Puno. A popular optional activity in Puno is a visit to the spectacular chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani, a pre-Inca archaeological site only a short drive away.

34

Day 34: Puno/La Paz

Cross over into Bolivia for a night out in the highest city of the trip. Oxygen bar anyone?
Enjoy a full-day drive around the lake and through the Altiplano to La Paz. Bolivia is filled with spectacular views of the countryside. La Paz sits nearly 4,000m (13,120 ft) above sea level, so be prepared for cool evenings and mornings.

35

Day 35: La Paz

Free day in La Paz. Opt to visit Iglesia de San Francisco, the Valley of the Moon, the Witches' Market, or the nearby Tiahuanaco Ruins.

36

Day 36: La Paz/Sucre

Enjoy a free day to explore the vibrant markets and winding streets of the city before boarding a night bus to Sucre.

37

Day 37: Sucre

Free time to explore the city, the former capital of Bolivia. For more active options opt to go hiking in the surrounding area or mountain biking.
Travel south to Sucre. Tackle the city as there is a lot to offer during the two days here. Optional activities include a visit to an old tin baron's mansion, mountain biking, and hiking.

38

Day 38: Sucre

Enjoy another free day to explore Sucre and surroundings.

39

Day 39: Sucre/Potosí

Travel south to the one of the world's highest cities.
Staying in the Bolivian highlands, we travel south to the city of Potosí. The highest city of its size in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has had a tumultuous history as a silver mining centre during colonial times.

40

Day 40: Potosí

Get out and explore Potosí, learn about the history of the city while wandering the streets. Stop at the market and interact with the locals.

41

Day 41: Potosí/Uyuni

Travel to Uyuni and get ready for an excursion to the salt flats.

42

Day 42: Uyuni/Salar de Uyuni

Enjoy a three-day 4x4 excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats and surrounding desert altiplano with spectacular scenery. Last stop for the evening is a G Adventures-supported community lodge in a traditional agricultural village in the heart of a desert oasis.
Travel through the Bolivian landscape to the town of Uyuni. Despite its isolation and challenging climate (cold and blustery most of the year), the town of Uyuni has earned the nickname of Hija Predilecta de Bolivia (Bolivia's Favourite Daughter). It is also the starting point for our 3-night excursion through the spectacular Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats) in 4x4 vehicles.

Spend three days in the stunning landscapes between the Salar de Uyuni and the Atacama Desert in Chile. Our groups like to get creative with photography, as the endless white of the salt flats creates some great depth illusions that are fun to play with in photos.

The tour takes us through the impressive large red lagoon of Laguna Colorada and the striking blue-green Laguna Verde at 5,000m (16,404 ft).

Settle in to your G Adventures-supported community salt-brick bungalow, complete with salt floors and furniture, after a guided walking tour up to the sacred Jukil mountaintop for sweeping valley views and a dinner of local ingredients prepared by ladies from the community.

43

Day 43: Salar de Uyuni

Continue exploring the Uyuni Salt Flats on a 4x4 excursion. Admire the spectacular scenery while passing red and blue lagoons along the route. Spot wild llamas, alpacas and even flamingos deep within the desert.

44

Day 44: Salar de Uyuni/San Pedro de Atacama

Rise early to cover more ground of the unique landscape of the Uyuni Salt Flats. Continue to see incredible scenery, including volcanoes, salt lakes and geysers. Travel to the border and descend by bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. It's a long but scenic drive.
After continuing through the Uyuni Salt Flats in the morning, hop on a bus further south to the dry desert regions of Argentina and Chile, where we stop in the little town of San Pedro de Atacama, on the edge of the Atacama desert—the driest place on earth.

45

Day 45: San Pedro de Atacama

Opt to go sandboarding or mountain biking, or visit the Valley of the Moon.
There are plenty of optional excursions here -- biking, exploring nearby ruins, horseback riding, and touring the Valley of the Moon.

46

Day 46: San Pedro de Atacama/Salta

Cross the border into Argentina.
We make our way to Salta, situated in the Lerma Valley of northern Argentina. Salta is home to empanadas salteñas - the delicious local specialty, and no visit to the town will be complete without giving them a try. In the evening, opt to experience a local celebration at one of the "Peña" folklore shows.

47

Day 47: Salta

Explore the city and enjoy the local cuisine. Opt to take a trip through the scenic Quebrada de las Conchas to Cafayate, or visit the High Mountain Archaeological Museum.

48

Day 48: Salta/Buenos Aires

Skip a long bus journey with a quick flight to Buenos Aires. Take an optional city tour, and enjoy free time to explore the many attractions. In the evening, consider hitting a tango show, then sample the city's famous nightlife.
When you are done exploring, settle your weary feet and enjoy a drink in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants and begin to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life. Try the succulent bife and parrilladas!

49

Day 49: Buenos Aires

Enjoy a free day to explore beautiful Buenos Aires.
Get out and explore. Consider visiting the districts of La Boca, Recoleta, and San Telmo or catch a tango show at one of the many famous tanguerías. Wander the pedestrian walkways and see some dancing in the streets.

50

Day 50: Buenos Aires

Free time to explore the many attractions. Check out a football match, a tango show or the city's famous nightlife.
Known as the ‘Paris of the Americas,' Buenos Aires is a vibrant city full of life. Visit the districts of La Boca, Recoleta, and San Telmo or catch a tango show at one of the many famous tanguerías. Wander the pedestrian walkways and see some dancing in the streets. Whatever you do, Buenos Aires is sure to leave lasting memories.

51

Day 51: Buenos Aires/Colonia

Cross the Río de la Plata by ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. Explore on an orientation walk, then enjoy free time to explore the area and relax at a streetside café.

52

Day 52: Colonia/Montevideo

Travel from Colonia to Montevideo in the morning. Free afternoon to explore.
Spend free time in Montevideo exploring the city and Mercado del Puerto, having a picnic in the park or visiting Estadio Centenario where the first World Cup was played in 1930. Cycle around the coast or head to the beach.

53

Day 53: Montevideo

Free time to explore Montevideo.

54

Day 54: Montevideo/Estancia Stay

Travel by day through picturesque settlements and pastures finishing in the last Uruguayan stop—a local ranch, known in the region as an estancia.


55

Day 55: Estancia Stay

Get dirty working at the ranch, go for a hike in the countryside, and indulge in local barbecues and wine.
Spend a day at the estancia getting into rural life. Learn about the historical roots of the region, lend a hand on the farm, go for a walk, make empanadas or sit back and sip on the wines of the region as you take in local Uruguayan life.

56

Day 56: Estancia Stay/Iguassu Falls

In the morning cross the border into Gualeguaychu in Argentina, then begin the long overnight journey to Iguassu Falls.

57

Day 57: Iguassu Falls

In the morning opt to visit the Brazilian side of the falls and get an incredible panoramic view. Opt to take a helicopter ride over the falls, visit a bird park or see the Itaipu Dam.

58

Day 58: Iguassu Falls

Today enjoy a full day excursion to the Argentinian side of the falls. Wander along the walk paths that connect different view points of the falls. Opt to take a boat tour to see the cascading falls from below.

59

Day 59: Foz do Iguaçu/Paraty

Skip an overnight bus ride and fly to São Paulo, heading straight to the coast. Explore colonial Paraty, then hit the beach.
Skipping the long bus ride, we fly to Sao Paulo and head straight to Paraty, a quaint colonial town on the coast renowned for its architecture.

60

Day 60: Paraty

Free time to explore Paraty's beaches, a national park and surroundings. Opt to visit a cachaça distillery or take a boat tour to nearby islands.
Paraty is a quaint colonial town renowned for its architecture—the pace might be slow but there's a lot to choose from. Considered one of the world's most important examples of Portuguese colonial architecture by UNESCO, the historic centre is a well-preserved national historic monument, and today has been closed to vehicles to preserve its laid-back colonial ambiance. Optional caipirinha boat trip, regular boat trips, kayak tours, horseback riding and jeep tours.

61

Day 61: Paraty/Ilha Grande

Continue by van up the coast, and take a ferry to Ilha Grande.
Tavel to the port in Angra dos Reis and catch a boat over to Ilha Grande not far from the coast.

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Day 62: Ilha Grande

Free time to explore the beaches of Ilha Grande. Opt to hike the remote trails, take a boat trip around the island, play in the waves or go snorkelling.

63

Day 63: Ilha Grande/Rio de Janeiro

Travel to Rio de Janeiro, and explore the city using a centrally located hostel in Copacabana as a base.
Leaving the port after returning from Ilha Grande, a dramatic road then takes us north along the coast through superb scenery before rounding the cliffs at Vidigal. Get a first glimpse of one of the most memorable cities in the world, Brazil's ocean-side jewel, Río de Janeiro.

Enjoy any free time by taking an optional city tour or exploring the wonders that this city has to offer from the centrally located hostel in Copacabana.

64

Day 64: Rio de Janeiro

Rio has so much to offer, take advantage of the day and opt to take a city tour. Visit the Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain and enjoy the incredible views of the city. Sip on a Caipirinha drink and relax on Copacabana beach.

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Day 65: Rio de Janeiro

Depart at any time.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • G Adventures for Good: Jukil Community Experience & Lodge, Santiago de Agencha Local Living: Amazon Jungle Experience, Tena Hands-On: Huacachina Winery Visit, Huacachina Big Night Out: Cusco Local Living: Lake Titicaca Homestay, Lago Titicaca Local Living: Estancia Stay, Colonia La Concordia
    • Amazon Jungle excursion
    • Beach time in Mancora, Huanchaco and Ilha Grande
    • Pachamanca ceremony (Nazca)
    • Colca Canyon excursion
    • Guided tour of Machu Picchu
    • Inca Trail hike with a local guide and cook (4 days)
    • G Adventures-supported handmade biodegradable soap products for use on the Inca Trail
    • Lake Titicaca excursion
    • Uyuni Salt Flats excursion
    • Entrance and visit to Argentine side of Iguassu Falls
    • Transportation between destinations and included activities
    • Internal flights
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Simple hotels (twin-share) or hostels (multi-share) (50 nts), jungle homestay (3 nts), overnight buses (6 nts), homestay (1 nt), basic hotel on Uyuni Salt Flat excursion (2 nts, multi-share), estancia/ranch (2 nts, multi-share)
    • 39 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners
    Transport
    • Local bus, boat, truck, motorized canoe, train, hiking, plane, 4x4 truck
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO), local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Mingle with the locals at a homestay in the Amazon
  • Spot condors at Colca Canyon
  • Conquer the Inca Trail on the way to Machu Picchu
  • Experience traditional life on Lake Titicaca
  • Cross the Uyuni Salt Flats on a 4x4 excursion
  • Stand in awe at Iguassu Falls.