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Lima, Peru to Rio - Itinerary

THE ROUTE - WEEK TO WEEK

Week 1: We start in Lima, the capital of Peru

You can take a boat to the Ballestas Islands National Park, to see the sea lion colonies and penguins.

The Nazca Lines are a series of enormous drawings of animals, geometric figures and birds.  They seem as though they are drawn in the desert by a giant hand, from the air.  Opinions as to their mysterious origins over 2000 years ago vary; from space craft landing sites to astrological calendars. 

Week 2: We leave the coast and climb into the Andes to Chivay Hot Springs.  To Arequipa, a beautiful colonial town overlooked three old volcanoes.  On the fields by the road, we see Llamas also their relatives the Guanaco, Alpaca and Vicuna.  The Colca is the deepest canyon the world, we stand on the edge and watch Condors soar above us on the thermals, rising from below.

Week 3: We drive across remote passes in the Andes to Cusco, the Incas Holy city; it’s the archaeological capitol of the continent.  The Spanish colonial buildings are built on the indestructible foundations of the vanquished Inca.  We spend time among the ruins of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  You can hike for four days along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or if you prefer take the train in a day.

Machu Picchu was lost to history around the time of the Spanish invasion; most likely everyone died from the smallpox which travelled with the invaders. The city was rediscovered with the idols left intact, unlike all the other cities in the regions where the Spaniards destroyed non-Christian imagery and statues. The discoverer of the city in 1911 was Hiram Bingham III. From him it’s thought the Indiana Jones character was developed. Bingham was actually led to the ruins by an 11 year old Indian by who famed nearby, so perhaps the city was never actually lost.

Some 40,000 objects sent to Yale University in USA have now mostly been returned to Peru and are on display at the La Casa Concha Museum in Cusco
Our last stop in Peru is Lake Titicaca we take boats to visit the Indians living on floating reed islands on the lake.  Still on the lake we enter Bolivia, to the islands of the Sun and Moon, where the Incas believe they were created.

Week 4: Set dramatically against the mountains, high in the Andes, at 2,100 feet is La Paz a magnificent Andean Indian city, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Week 5 : We cross the stark, high country of the Altiplano and Potosi where a tour of the silver mines is a must.  Mining is still carried out deep into the earth as it has been for over 400 years since the Spanish opened it.

The Uyuni Salt Pan is the largest in the world and so is the biggest slab of salt in the world; ten billion tons of it.  In the dry season you can hire jeeps for 2 days to cross it.

We cross the border of Argentina, first visiting the city of Salta and on to Cafayate and Mendoza. In this wine growing area you can do a wine tasting tour on push bikes.

Week  6: We enter Chile to Santiago for a short break in the town. From Santiago, set against the backdrop of the snow covered Andes, we head south, past vineyards and wineries to Pucon Lake District.  Here you can hike up an active Villarica Volcano, (gas masks at the top), go white rafting then relax in thermal springs

Week 7: Argentina.  We cross to the Andes to Bariloche alpine resort, it’s a beautiful area for hiking and chocolate super markets, for those the chocoholics.  We head south through the vast grasslands of Patagonia.

In Los Glaciares Park is the massive Moreno Glacier, its 60 metres high and five kilometres-wide and is advancing slowly into Lake Argentinio.  Twenty storey high chunks of ice sporadically break from the ice face and tumble and roll into the lake.  You can walk across the top of the glacier and take a boat trip thru the lakes in front of it and other glaciers.

Week 8: In the Torres del Paine Park or Towers of Pain, are immense granite towers, which soar 2,000 metres above the national park.  We go hiking around the network of trails surrounding the peaks.

Week 9: Weather permitting; we cross the Straights of Magellan to the most southern tip of the habitable world - Ushuaia town in Tierra del Fuego or in English the ‘Land of Fire’ which is an island group at the southern tip of South America, split between Chile and Argentina. You can take a boat to the Island of the Wolves in the Beagle Channel.  We turn north following the coast to Punta Tombo Park with over half a million nesting penguins. 

Valdez Peninsular is a marine park with sea lions and elephant seals.  On the Atlantic coast we stop on one of the sandy beaches near Bahia Blanca.  We cross the Pampas, a long flat plain; home of the famous Gauchos and big cattle country.

Week 10: Buenos Aires, we have a couple of days here to eat steak till you moo, go night clubbing and drink till you dance the Tango.  

Uruguay Optional ferry across the River Plate for a visit to the capital of Montevideo

Week 11: We follow the Parana River to Buenos Aries; its south Americas second longest river after the Amazon. We visit the Jesuit Missions, which were built in an attempt to save the Indians, these mission stations featured in the film The Mission, with Jeremy Irons. We see the ruins of San Ignacio Mini, was one of the many missions founded in 16th Century, as part of the ‘Jesuit Reduction’; a gathering the Indians into areas to control, tax and Christianise them

Iguassu Falls; one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, spreading over hundreds of cascades.  There are rainforest walkways below the falls and boats dart into the cascades below.

Week 12: We enter Brazil at Iguassu Falls and head north west to Bonito, where you can swim and dive in the crystal clear river and lakes and hike into forests to search for wildlife. The Pantanal is a large tropical wetland- organise treks out into the vast wetlands, home to birds and fish.

Parati on the Atlantic Coast, relaxed historic coastal village without cars, take a schooner to the nearby islands.

Rio de Janeiro, Carnival & New Year’s Eve celebrations are great times to be here and party.

Other sights in Rio are the statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the city, map-like below, and the famous Copacabana & Ipanema Beaches.

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