Overland Santiago and Salvador, via Patagonia (JSD)

Salvador Da Bahia to Santiago 76 days, departing 21 Jan 2013

Ratings for this trip

Comfort Zone: Basic / Adventurous

Basic comfort levels. Expect to rough it every now and again. On OVERLAND TRIPS be prepared to have some nights wild camping, campsites with basic facilities as well as some basic hotels, often on a multi-share basis. Some of the roads we travel along may be poor. On our ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS you will stay in simple, budget (1-2 star) accommodation with some shared facilities. Some accommodation may be on a multi-share basis and transport will be mainly local.

Physical Challenge: Moderate Fitness

MODERATE FITNESS: You will travel through areas that may be physically challenging. For example you may be at altitude some of the time. Depending on the trip, activities may include treks of 3-4 hours across hilly terrain, horse-riding and other adventurous activities. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Countries Visited

Argentina

Argentina is a vast country which has a staggering diversity of climates and landscapes. With vibrant cities, the pampas, jungles and wind swept Patagonia it is a country with a very special character all of its own. Its initial appearance is fairly western but this disguises a long history of its own cultural heritage.

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, lying at the mouth of the River Plate, it is a real viberant city. Full of life, from great local restaurants to local street markets and dances, showing the amazing local tango dance, Buenos Aires is the heart and soul of Argentina. Also home to some exquisite wine bars and an amazing nightlife, Buneos Aires is a must see city if you visit Argentina.

On the pampas the Gaucho people of Argentina spend their days working, riding their horses and protecting their cattle. This has resulted in worldwide export for beef, sunflower oil and wheat, making the Argentina Pampas famous for agriculture.

Deep in the south of the country is Patagonia. This beautiful area is known for its breathtaking landscapes, magnificent lakes and beautiful glacial scenery. It is a great place for outdoor activities, such as, trekking, horse riding, kayaking and mountain biking.

Patagonia is also full of culture, with the Welsh language kept alive for generations, and although it is starting to die out, there are many Welsh communities in Patagonia, especially around the Chebut river.

Heading further south is Tierra del Fuego. Lying across from the Magellan Straights, "The Land of Fire" is mainly in Chile, but 30% of it, including Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, belongs to Argentina.

Argentina is also the home to some beautiful wildlife. The Valdez Peninsular, in the Atlantic ocean, is a protected area which is the habitat for whales, penguins and seals. At certain times of the year, there is a chance to see the killer whale. This is also the home for land animals such as the Patagonian fox, guanacos and hairy armadillos.

To the north of Argentina is the Esteros del Ibera reserve in an area of swampland. Near to the borders of Paraguay and Brazil, this is one of South America's most important wilderness areas and is also the place to spot the rare marsh deer, maned wolf, howler monkeys, capybara and over 350 different species of birds.

Brazil

Brazil has a totally different feel to it than the other Latin American countries. It positively vibrates, it is dynamic and the whole country has a unique energy. Its ethnic mix is very different from most South American countries with a predominance of Afro American people, especially in the Bahia coastal region. Brazil is a much underrated country in terms of tourism. Our trips explore much of the country, especially the little known regions and National Parks.

Most visitors start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's most famous city and home to the Christ the Redeemer statue. The deeper you travel into the country, the more the culture of Brazil is exposed. This is a chance to hear the soulful music which is influenced from Africa and Europe and brings the distinctive sounds of Samba, Choro, Brega and more, echoing throughout the land.

With the Amazon Rainforest covering large parts of Brazil, the natural environment is home to much wildlife and bio deversity. Eco safari in the rainforest and Pantanal are becoming popular elements of Brazilain tour

One of the many wonders is the language. Although Portuguese is the main language in Brazil, over 200 languages are spoken in the country, and the diversity of each reflects the diversity of the regions.

Brazil is also the place to taste  many unique foods. Inspired by others to cook, no matter what direction you head in the country, you are bound to find something new each time. To the south of Brazil is the taste of grilled meats that melt in your mouth, and to the north is the amazing Manicobo dish, that takes at least a week to prepare.

Chile

With some of the most diverse landscapes in the world, Chile has the beauty of it all. From  the driest deserts in the world, to the breathtaking sites of huge glaciers, this country is made for the outdoor enthusiast. Chile is a country full of volcanoes, lakes, rivers and beaches, and there is always an exciting adventure waiting to be found. If you venture off the beaten track, be prepared to make friends for life out of the welcoming locals.

A visit to Chile has to include a trip to the amazing capital of Santiago. This city sits in the country's central valley, and is a place full of amazing landscapes and a gorgeous Mediterranean climate.

With so many locations to visit, the culture of Chile can be exposed through the sound of the music. Ranging from traditional folk music, to popular and classic sounds, the tradition of Chile is seeped into every area of the country.

Seafood is Chile's main cuisine and with so many dishes to try, it is an opportunity not to be passed upon. With 2700 miles of astounding coastline, Chile is the perfect location for the variety of dishes available.

So make friends with strangers, feel the vibe of Chilean music, and let Chile get into your pores.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Salvador Da Bahia

Mon 21 Jan 2013

Border information: If you are starting in Salvador, enter Brazil at Salvador Airport.

Free time to explore Salvador with a group meeting day at 18:00hrs. We stay just by the old centre of Pelourinho in a lovely hotel.

Hotel for the night: Pousada Da Mangueira

Pousada da Mangueira

Ladeira da Saúde, 09

Bairro da Saúde

Salvador

+55  71  3242 3926

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the cobbled streets of historic Salvador and relax on the Atlantic beaches

Included in Kitty

Salvador Da Bahia

Situated on a peninsular jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, Salvador da Bahia was the capital of Brazil when it was first colonised, but now it can only claim to be the capital of the state of Bahia. Bahia is strongly influenced by its links with Africa, both in its language, religion, food, dance and music, and this certainly dominates the atmosphere in Salvador. If time allows we will take in a night at the Bale Folclorico da Bahia or the Oludum drummers for a taste of local traditions.

Apart from the historic interest of the town, there are some excellent beaches to visit nearby, but you should definitely try to get to a 'Candomble' evening while you are here. Candomble is a popular religious cult in the region, and the ceremonies offer a fascinating insight into the culture of this area.

Salvador is also well known for its spectacular Carnival and other festivities, but the nightlife is good here at any time of the year.

Day 2: Salvador Da Bahia

Tue 22 Jan 2013

Free time to explore Salvador.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the cobbled streets of historic Salvador and relax on the Atlantic beaches

Watch a candomblé ceremony in Salvador

USD 40

Visit the famous Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Salvador

USD 1

Visit the Forte Santo Antonioa da Barra, Brazil's oldest lighthouse, for panoramic views of the city.

USD 10

Visit a Capoeira school and watch the artistic fighting!

USD

Day 3 to 5: Chapada Da Diamantina National Park

Wed 23 Jan to Fri 25 Jan 2013

We head 400kms to the town of Lencois, the gateway to Chapada da Diamantina National Park. We camp in Lencois giving you the opportunity to enjoy a variety of treks into the stunning scenery of the national park.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 full days in Chapada de Diamantina National Park

Included in Kitty

Treks of 1 or 2 days in Chapada da Diamantina national park

USD 70

Chapada Da Diamantina National Park

In the hinterland of Salvador, just outside of the town of Lençóis, lies the Chapada Diamantina, or Diamond Highlands. Valleys of lush green dotted with bright tropical flowers surround a mountain range of twisted red-rock formations reminiscent of the American Southwest. Numerous small rivers carve their way through the highlands, splashing over waterfalls and natural slides. There are also numerous caves, some many kilometers long. Many are quite popular, some just being discovered, some restricted yet to geologists who are trying to figure out just how they and the rock formations they contain were formed.

The gateway community of Lençóis is an old colonial town of stone streets and little churches, with little signs of the modern world. The attractions here are entirely natural. We have the chance to walk the highlands, explore caves, mountain bike old miners' tracks, and swim in natural pools and waterfalls. This is the Brazil that so many travellers miss.  It is the other Brazil, away from the crowds of Rio and from the beaches or famous sites. This is the sort of place that you can visit so easily on an overland trip but that is so often inaccessible to the normal tourist or traveller.

Here you will have the opportunity to trek to many of the locations within the park, depending on your fitness and sense of adventure but either way is a wonderful place to spend a few days.

Day 6 to 7: Xique-Xique

Sat 26 Jan to Sun 27 Jan 2013

We drive north today to the wonderfully named town of Xique-Xique where we stay for a couple of nights on an Anglo-Brazilian working farm. We camp on the farm and enjoy a variety of activities and a great Brazilian barbeque.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a 2 night stay on a working farm with opportunities for piranha fishing, horse riding and other activities.

Included in Kitty

Day 8: Parque Estadual Terra Ronca

Mon 28 Jan 2013

All all day drive through central Bahia and into the state of Goias brings us to the Parque Estadual Terra Ronca where we stay the night in a campsite.

Please note that in the rainy season the road to Terra Ronca may be impassable in which case we will spend an extra night elsewhere.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the enormous cave system at Terra Ronca

Included in Kitty

Day 9: Parque Estadual Terra Ronca, Cavalcante

Tue 29 Jan 2013

In the morning we visit the massive cave system at Terra Ronca for a guided visit before driving 200kms to the town of Cavalcante and visiting the local Kalunga community.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Kalunga community in Cavalcante

Included in Kitty

Day 10 to 12: Chapada Dos Veadeiros National Park

Wed 30 Jan to Fri 01 Feb 2013

We overland 300kms to Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park followed by two full days to explore the landscape and wildlife. We stay in an eco-tourism campsite

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of the national park

Included in Kitty

2 Full Days To Explore Chapada Dos Veadeiros National Park

Included in Kitty

Abseiling or Canyoning in Chapada dos Veadeiros national park

USD 30

Chapada Dos Veadeiros National Park

Located in the State of Goiás, about 250 km from Brasília, the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is, according to NASA, the most luminous point seen from the Earth's orbit. This is due to the quantity of quartz crystals present in the soil, besides several other metals and minerals. 

The main river that flows in Veadeiros National Park is Rio Preto. Along its course, there are many spectacular waterfalls, including Rio Preto Falls (120 metres high, 80 metres at the base) and the Cariocas. The canyons are just as beautiful, with walls of up to 40 metres high and valleys of up to 300 metres.  Forests are also present in the region, and are well worth exploring primarily because of the rich variety of flora, more than 25 species of orchids can be found for example. The rich fauna of the region includes species threatened with extinction such as the Pantanal deer, the Jaguar, the Maned Wolf.  More common are the Rhea (Brazilian ostrich), Seriema, Tapeti, Armadillo (Tatu Canastra), Anteater, Capybara (Capivara), Tapir (Anta), Green-Beek Toucan, Black Vulture, King Vulture. While the forests are home to this amazing wildlife it can be quite difficult to see, nonetheless this is a great place for us to explore for the amazing flora and landscape alone.

Day 13 to 14: Brasilia

Sat 02 Feb to Sun 03 Feb 2013

A short 150kms drive brings us to the futuristic capital of Brasilia. We stay in a basic campsite and enjoy a guided tour of this fascinating yet labyrinth like city.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland to the futuristic city of Brasilia

Included in Kitty

Full day guided tour of Brasilia

Included in Kitty

Brasilia

Brasilia is listed as a world heritage site and is one of the major examples of this century's modern movement in architecture and urban planning. Oscar Niemeyer was the chief Architect for the incredible project, an amazing feat that turned unpopulated swamp land into a purpose built city. To really appreciate the plan of the city with its bow and arrow or plane shape, try a trip up the television tower for a panoramic view. From there take taxis or walk to sights of your choice. The Metropolitan Cathedral shaped in a crown of thorns with amazing angels suspended from the ceiling should not be missed, neither should the incredible blue glass of Dom Bosco. Whatever you have time for, there is an amazing wealth of fantastic architecture and sculpture to take in within this unique city.

Day 15: Tres Marias

Mon 04 Feb 2013

550kms drive through Brazilian countryside and towns. We will find a nice spot and bush camp for the night.

Day 16: Ouro Preto

Tue 05 Feb 2013

Today is a full day 400kms drive to the beautiful old colonial mining town of Ouro Preto where we stay at a camp site with facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Time to explore unique colonial Ouro Preto and its architectural heritage

Included in Kitty

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is a beautiful colonial town with cobbled streets and many baroque churches. Famed for its school of mining, it was originally the capital of Minas Gerais, one of the world’s great mining regions. Many different types of gemstone can be bought here. We can visit the gold mine of Minas de Passagem and you may wish to also visit the Museum of Mineralogy. Some of Ouro Preto’s many churches feature the work of Aleijadinho - Brazil’s most famous sculptor - who worked in wood and soapstone. Replicas of his carvings can be bought in the town.

Day 17: Ouro Preto

Wed 06 Feb 2013

Today is a free day with time to visit the mine, museum or many of the baroque churches here. We spend a second night at the same camp site.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head underground into the gold mines of Ouro Preto

USD 6

Day 18: Teresopolis

Thu 07 Feb 2013

We continue south through Brazil, heading 450kms to the town of Teresopolis where we stay at a good campsite.

Day 19: Rio De Janeiro

Fri 08 Feb 2013

The first day of Rio Carnival is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check in is from midday and Dragoman crew will be on hand all day to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the afternoon. 

There will also be an optional dinner after dinner which you would have to pre-book with Dragoman.

If you are on an overland trip coming from Paraty or Teresopolis, today will be a short drive day, bringing you to the biggest party on the planet!

 

Hotel for the night: Hotel Paysandu
Activity Approximate Cost

Meet your fellow travellers at the welcome meeting

Included in Kitty

Welcome dinner with other fellow travellers in a Churrascheria, the famous Brasilian style restaurant

Rio De Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Sugar Loaf Mountain rises up out of Guanabara Bay, the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana cut beautiful curves in the shoreline, all under the watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer.

This is a city with something for everyone; beaches, history, shopping, culture, fantastic food and amazing nightlife. For amazing views of this spectacular city,  take the cable car up to the top of Sugar Loaf, or "Pao de Azucar" as the Brazilians call it, ride the train to Corcovado or jump on the tram to the historic hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. If you're interested in learning more about Rio and Brazil, the Historical, Indian and National Museums are all well worth a visit, and even just wandering around the older parts of the city you'll be able to see some fantastic architecture. Kick back and relax on the beach, enjoy a beer or caipirinha at one of the many pavement cafes and then when evening comes you can party the night away - Rio has some unbelievable bars and clubs, Lapa is always a fun night out and Ipanema is always buzzing too. If you need a bit of quiet time to recover, take a walk in the Botanical gardens, or escape town for the day on an excursion to the lust forests of nearby Tijuca National Park.

Of course Rio is particularly famous for it's huge annual party - Carnival. The celebration of Mardi Gras 6 weeks before Easter is a great Brazilian tradition - the whole city goes wild for a full 7 days in a whirlwind of music and colour. Samba schools compete with ever more awe-inspiring dance displays and costumes putting on marathon perfomances in the Sambadrome, street parties are held all over the city and friends and families take to the beach.

Day 20: Rio De Janeiro

Sat 09 Feb 2013

Today there is an optional visit up Corcovado mountain on a guided trip with all transport included to the Christ the Redeemer statue with great view of Rio.

This afternoon is free for you to do as you wish.

Activity Approximate Cost

Half day guided tour of Corcovado mountain and the world famous Christ the Redeemer

Day 21: Rio De Janeiro

Sun 10 Feb 2013

Today is a free day to sleep and gather your energies for the Sambadrome. 

You can also join an optional tour of the Morrinho Favela Project

In the evening the main event of carnival occurs with a trip to the Sambadrome for the samba parade. The top samba schools parade their outrageous floats and costumes and we'll party well into the early hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit one of Rio's favelas and a community project we support, Project Morrinho.

USD 86

Ticket to the Sambadrome Parade in sector 13

Included in Kitty

Upgrade to sector 11 in the Sambadrome for a closer view

Visit Community Project Morrinho - a model favela

Day 22: Rio De Janeiro

Mon 11 Feb 2013

Today is a free day after the late night last night.

You can spend the day relaxing at the beach or take part in optional activities such as visiting the majestic Sugar Loaf mountain from where there are stunning views over Rio and its surrounding beaches, going to the sambadrome for a 2nd night or actually taking part in the parade.

Activity Approximate Cost

Check out the local parades and soak up the Brazilian Carnival atmosphere

USD

Take a cable car up Sugarloaf mountain in Rio

BRL 53

Day 23: Rio De Janeiro

Tue 12 Feb 2013

Today you have a full free day to explore; perhaps find a 'block party' to continue the festivities.

In the evening there's the option to go to the gay ball.

Day 24: Rio De Janeiro

Wed 13 Feb 2013

There's free time in the morning but if you wish to explore further then join our local guide on an optional Colonial Tour of the city.

In the afternoon there will be the included sunset boat trip, to enjoy Rio de Janerio from a completely different prospective.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a tour of colonial Rio and learn about the city's history and heritage

GBP 34

Discover the Colonial Gems of Rio on a city tour

GBP 30

Day 25: Rio De Janeiro

Thu 14 Feb 2013

Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned today and tonight we stay in a good quality hotel by the beach in Rio

Hotel for the night: Hotel Paysandu

Rua Paissandu, 37

Flamengo

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil

Tel +55 21 2558 7270

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a cable car up Sugarloaf mountain in Rio

BRL 53

Visit the world famous statue Christ the Redeemer

BRL 46

Discover the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro

Included in Kitty

Day 26 to 28: Paraty

Fri 15 Feb to Sun 17 Feb 2013

We drive 235 kms along the Emerald Coast to Paraty where we spend 3 nights at a beachside hostel. Free time to explore, including boat trip out to a small island to go snorkelling or diving

Activity Approximate Cost

3 days on Brazil's Emerald Coast

Included in Kitty

Boat Trip Out To Islands And Beaches

Included in Kitty

Horseriding or mountain biking around Paraty

USD 15

Paraty

The Emerald Coast, or the "Costa Verde" as it is known in Brazil, stretches south from the city of Rio de Janeiro, a thin strip of land sandwhiched between verdant green mountains and the sparkling waters of the Atlantic. Picture-book islands, deserted beaches and picturesque coves with excellent swimming and diving make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a couple of days of R & R. Dotted along the coastline itself are lots of small towns and villages, not to mention the hundreds of tiny islands, best explored on a lazy boat-trip.

The old Portuguese colonial town of Paraty is perhaps the most attractive spot on the coast. Low white-washed buildings with colourful doors and shutters crowd around the cobbled streets and plaza, full of interesting shops, bars and restaurants. Paraty really comes alive at night, when locals and tourists alike sit outside the many street cafes and congregate in the main square. The town also has a couple of beaches and there are plenty of others in the surrounding area - and this is also a good place for diving and snorkelling trips, which can be arranged locally.

 

Day 29: Brotas

Mon 18 Feb 2013

Today we drive 560 kms drive to the remote town of Brotas in southeast Brazil. The afternoon is free for adventure activities and we stay in a campsite with facilities

Brotas

Located in southeast Brazil, in the state of Sao Paulo, the remoteness of Brotas has meant that the forests surrounding this isolated town are teeming with species crucial to the maintenance of global biodiversity. The perfect location in which to experience untouched natural environments, Brotas has subsequently become an important destination in Brazilian eco-tourism. Alongside those visiting to enjoy the remarkable fauna that inhabit this area, Brotas is gradually acquiring a reputation for the quality of the adventure activities that are on offer. From horse riding and canyoning, to rafting and kayaking, Brotas is synonymous with the spirit of adventure that characterises any Dragoman Overland trip.

Day 30: Brotas

Tue 19 Feb 2013

Non driving day, free for adventure activities such as white water rafting.

Day 31: Campo Grande

Wed 20 Feb 2013

We overland 650 kms towards Bonito, our base for the Pantanal trip where we bush camp for the night

Day 32 to 34: Southern Pantanal

Thu 21 Feb to Sat 23 Feb 2013

Following a 4 hour drive from near Campo Grande we spend 3 days in Brazil's amazing Southern Pantanal. From a ranch base we explore the surrounding area on horseback, from boats and canoes, from farm trucks and on foot staying in shared accommodation. The last night is spent at a campsite in Bonito.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night wildlife safari into the Pantanal

Included in Kitty

Southern Pantanal

The Pantanal is a vast wetland that covers much of inland central and southern Brazil, teeming with birds and wildlife from toucan to caiman, capybara, ocelot and even Jaguar. Originally this was a predominantly agricultural area, dotted with cattle ranches known locally as "Fazenda". Today the cattle ranchers live side by side with the anaconda and Jaguar, having realised the importance of their home as a unique habitat for wildlife, with many of the Fazendas opening up for eco-tourism and offering safaris and tours of the area.

The wildlife here is staggering and there is probably no-where else in South America where you'd be able to see as many indigenous species. Over 250 different birds have been recorded here, including parakeets, macaws, kingfishers, ibis, storks, kites and hawks, hummingbirds and more - and there are also prolific numbers of jacare, anacondas, iguanas, two species of anteaters, ocelot, jaguars, cougars, giant river otters and thousands of pamba and march deer. One of the easier animals to spot is the capybara, a giant guinea pig type rodent that grows up to 60 kg. and lives in large herds in the swamps.

Day 35 to 36: Bonito

Sun 24 Feb to Mon 25 Feb 2013

These are non-driving days where you have free time to enjoy the range of activities available in Bonito such as snorkeling, rafting or a jungle trek. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Caving, rafting and snorkeling in the waters of Bonito

USD 80

2 full days to enjoy Bonito, Brazil's ecotourism capital

Included in Kitty

Bonito

The area around the small town of Bonito really is unique. It’s main attractions are its crystal clear rivers, springs and caves, not to mention the abundant wildlif, which includes monkeys, alligators, anaconda, over 30 varieties of fish and tremendous birdlife. Unsurprisingly, the town is often described as the "eco-tourism capital of Brazil".

There are endless activities on offer, from spectacular walks through the surrounding hills and forest, to caving, horse-riding, abseiling, and snorkeling. Many of the best attractions are on private land and the area is being very carefully managed in order as to protect the wildlife and habitats found here.

Day 37: Foz Do Iguacu

Tue 26 Feb 2013

Full day 800 kms drive to Foz de Iguazu where we stay at an excellent camp site with facilities and a pool

Activity Approximate Cost

2 full days to discover the unbelievable Iguazu Falls

Included in Kitty

Foz Do Iguacu

Foz do Iguacu is named after the impressive waterfalls located close to the town forming the border with nearby Argentina and Paraguay. Foz is on the Brazilian side and is much larger than nearby Puerto Iguazu. Visiting the Iguacu falls is a must from here, even though you can visit the Argentinian side as well. The Brazilian park features a number of cleverly constructed walkways that allow you to get right out over the water up close to the falls themselves - and you will often be able to see fantastic rainbows forming as the sun catches the spray. If you want the ultimate waterfall experience, you can also organise helicopter flights here, where you'll be taken out right over the horseshoe of the falls, giving you a spectacular view of this natural wonder from a totally different perspective.

As well as the magnificent waterfalls, there's also a great bird park in Foz, where you can see many of Brazil's native species, including Toucans and Macaws. You can also visit the incredible Itaipu Dam, a vast concrete edifice that spans the Rio Parana and has been described as one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.

Day 38: Foz Do Iguacu

Wed 27 Feb 2013

Non-driving day. Free time to enjoy the famous Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side, with a range of activities available. Second night at campsite

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trips, forest hikes and helicopter over Iguazu Falls

USD 70

Day 39: Puerto Iguazu

Thu 28 Feb 2013

60 kms drive across the border to see Iguazu Falls, from the Argentinean side. We stay at Puerto Iguassu at a campsite with good facilities

Puerto Iguazu

Puerto Iguazu is in Argentina, but its right on the border with neighbouring Brazil and Paraguay. This otherwise small, sleepy town has one main attraction, the famous Iguazu Waterfalls. The falls are best seen from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides, as the perspective you get it is totally different from different sides of the border. On the Argentinian side you can easily spend a whole day exploring, as there are plenty of footpaths to follow in and around the park that protects the area around the waterfalls. From this side of the falls you can also take a jet-boat trip along the river under the falls, experiencing the full, life-afirming force of all that fantastic cascading water.

Day 40: San Ignacio De Mini

Fri 01 Mar 2013

We drive 270 kms drive to the Jesuit Mission of San Ignacio de Mini. Overnighting in a campsite with good facilities. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Jesuit ruins at San Ignacio de Mini

Included in Kitty

San Ignacio De Mini

Misiones province is so called because of the many Jesuit missionaries who arrived here in the 17th century, setting up "Reductions", or missions, throughout this area of Argentina, as well as parts of neighbouring Paraguay and Brazil. The small town of San Ignacio de Mini was once the centre of one such mission, and it's ruins  can still be seen today. The buildings are very well preserved and include a church, cemetery and monastery and provide an interesting insight to the history of this area.

 

Day 41: Buenos Aires

Sat 02 Mar 2013

Full day 560 kms drive towards Buenos Aires. We bush camp for the night

Buenos Aires

At the mouth of the River Plate lies Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan capital of Argentina. It's a buzzing, energetic city that often feels more European than Latin American, so much so that it's often referred to as "the Paris of the South". Not surprising when you consider how much the city has been influenced by immigration, with it's large Italian and Spanish communities.

There is a huge amount to do see and do here and a good place to start is with a city tour, which will help you get your bearings and see all the main sights. You can take in a lot on foot, as the wide streets are very pedestrian friendly and the underground metro system is cheap and easy to navigate. The neighbourhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta and Palermo are certainly all worth exploring, San Telmo for it's olde worlde charm, antique shops and Sunday street market, Palermo for it's unique quirky shops and restaurants and Recoleta is the "Mayfair" of Buenos Aires and home to the La Recoleta cemetry, Eva "Evita" Peron's final resting place. The waterfront area known as La Boca is also worth a look, this slightly down-at-heel neighbourhood is Buenos Aires' most colourful barrio, the ramshackle buildings painted in a rainbow of different bright colours.

In the evenings, you are also spoilt for choice. Buenos Aires has a vibrant nightlife, with a huge number of bars and night clubs to choose from. Restaurants here vary from cheap and cheerful to world class and it's a great place to get stuck into some of Argentina's finest steak and red wine. Of course this is also the home of Tango, and there are many evening Tango shows you can buy tickets for, or if you want a more "real" Tango experience you can check the local papers for details of where tango "milongas" are being held. This is where the locals go to tango, with dances held in school halls, meeting rooms and even warehouses. You might also like to visit the Teatro Colon, one of the world's greatest opera houses - even if you don't go to watch a show, it's usually possible to take a guided tour of the building during the day.

Everywhere you go you'll be surrounded by some fantastic architecture. The Plaza de Mayo is perhaps the most historically interesting - as this is the ste of the Cabillo (original town hall), Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace) and the cathedral where the body of General San Martin lies. Finally, if you get the chance, try and get hold of tickets for an Argentinean football match while you're here, even if you're not usually a sports fan, the electric atmosphere of a local match is definitely something you'll never forget - tickets are usually available from local tourist agencies - and if you've still got time to spare, why not take the hydrofoil across the water to Uruguay for a day.

Day 42: Buenos Aires

Sun 03 Mar 2013

We set off early morning to drive 415 kms into the capital, Buenos Aires arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. There are various optional activities to enjoy.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, the coolest city in South America

Included in Kitty

Practice your dance steps in the birthplace of Tango

USD

Head over to Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, for the day

USD 140

Watch a football game at La Bombonera

USD 40

Enjoy a free city tour of Buenos Aires

USD

Day 43 to 44: Buenos Aires

Mon 04 Mar to Tue 05 Mar 2013

Border information: If you are starting in Buenos Aires, enter Argentina at Buenos Aires Airport.

Free time to enjoy the wonderful city of Buenos Aires where there is lots to see and do. Today there will be a group meeting at 18:00 hrs. We will be staying in a good quality hotel in the city.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Splendid

Hotel Splendid

Avenida Rivadavia 950

Buenos Aires

Argentina

+54 11 4345 2800

Activity Approximate Cost

Practice your dance steps in the birthplace of Tango

USD

Explore cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, the coolest city in South America

Included in Kitty

Head over to Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, for the day

USD 140

Watch a football game at La Bombonera

USD 40

Enjoy a free city tour of Buenos Aires

USD

Day 45: Monte Hermoso

Wed 06 Mar 2013

We head of BA and drive almost 700 kms across the pampas. Tonight we will bush camp along the coast somewhere near Monte Hermoso. 

Day 46: Puerto Madryn

Thu 07 Mar 2013

Full day 750kms drive to Puerto Madryn where we stay at a camp site with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided visit to the Valdes Peninsula to meet the elephant seals and sealions

Included in Kitty

Whale watching off Puerto Madryn (seasonal)

USD 45

Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn is a port town on the atlantic coast of Argentina, gateway to the Valdez Peninsula, known for its wildlife. The town is also popular with locals as a beach destination and it can become quite busy in summer months with Argentinian holiday-makers. The original settlers here were Welsh, founding the port and colonising the Chubut River valley. Some of the smaller communities are still fiercely Welsh, retaining many of the original immigrants traditions and customs, and in places like Gaiman you can even go for a Welsh afternoon tea in one of the local tea houses. Whilst the Welsh language was kept alive for over four generations, it is now gradually dying out, although the area still offers an interesting insight into the lives of the people who landed here during the latter part of the last century.

Day 47: Valdes Peninsula

Fri 08 Mar 2013

Guided day trip to Valdez Peninsula to see its abundant marine life. Optional boat trip to see whales and dolphins if time allows. Second night in campsite with facilities

Valdes Peninsula

The Valdes Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic close to the Argentinian town of Puerto Madryn, at the northern edges of Patagonia. The area is protected as a wildlife sanctuary as it provides an important habitat for whales, penguins, seals and sealions as well as a lot of land animals such as Patagonian foxes, guanacos and hairy armadillos. Exploring the peninsular there are various spots where the various different animals can be seen. You can also take a  boat trip that will get you even closer to some of these magnificent aquatic mammals, often the dolphins and whales you will see will only be a few feet away.

Day 48: Gaiman, Camarones

Sat 09 Mar 2013

370 kms drive to Camarones with a visit to one of Patagonia’s Welsh Villages en route. We will stay at a camp site with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy tea and cakes in the Welsh village of Gaiman

USD 10

Visit the penguin colony at Camarones

Included in Kitty

Camarones

Bahía Camarones and Cabo Dos Bahías are both important nesting sites for large colonies of Magellanic penguins, Camarones alone is home to around 25,000. Between September and April, the penguins come to these sites to incubate their eggs and prepare their offspring for migration. Each couple stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food.

Day 49 to 50: Atlantic Wildcamp, El Chalten

Sun 10 Mar to Mon 11 Mar 2013

Overlanding over 1500 km through spectacular scenery following the Atlantic Coast, wildcamping along the way until we reach El Chalten. There's lost to see and do as we go such as a visit to Cabo dos Bahias Magellan Penguin Colony.

Activity Approximate Cost

Horse riding and trekking around El Chalten

USD 50

El Chalten

The clouds that form around the summit of the surrounding mountains were mistaken for smoke, which gave the name "Chalten" which means volcano. The picturesque landscape is a perfect place for hiking, as there is so much to explore and the rewards of constant beautiful sights gives a perfect reason to hike.

Day 51 to 52: Los Glaciares National Park

Tue 12 Mar to Wed 13 Mar 2013

2 free days to explore the Fitzroy range in Los Glaciares NP from El Chalten. A range of activities are available from hiking, glacier trekking to horse riding. Second and third nights in same campsite with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Glacier trek, hikes and horseriding in Los Glaciares National Park

USD 50

Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park is probably home to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Argentina, if not South America. This is classic picture-book Patagonia, wherever you turn you're surrounded by wide open skies, magnificent mountains, incredible glaciers, glistening lakes and thick verdant forest. By far the best way to explore is to get out on foot. There are plenty of well established trails through the park and maps can be picked up locally, so you can plan a short walk that will just take you a couple of hours, or the more adventurous might choose to hike out for a whole day or even overnight. Los Glaciares covers a massive area and there are two main gateways to the park; to the south, El Calafate provides access to Lago Argentino and the Perito Moreno Glacier and surrounding area, then in the North, the small town of El Chalten can be used as a base to explore the Fitzroy Mountains and Lake Viedma and it's glacier.

 

Day 53: El Calafate

Thu 14 Mar 2013

230 kms drive through incredible scenery to El Calafate. We stay in dorm accommodation in a comfortable hostel

Activity Approximate Cost

Glacier trek, hikes and horseriding in Los Glaciares National Park

USD 50

El Calafate

El Calafate is a small town on the southern shore of Lago Argentino in Patagonia. Originally a sheep station and trading outpost, today the town has developed a bustling small town atmosphere thanks to a growing tourist trade. Most people base themselves here whilst visiting the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier, located a short distance away at the southern reaches of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Interestingly the town takes its name from the Calafate berry, and locals claim that if you eat one of these and make a wish, you are guaranteed to return to Patagonia.

Day 54: El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier

Fri 15 Mar 2013

Today is a non-driving day with a guided visit to view the stunning Moreno Glacier. Second night at hostel

Activity Approximate Cost
Guided full day trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier Included in Kitty

Boat trip beneath the Perito Moreno Glacier

ARS 120

Perito Moreno Glacier

If Patagonia is synonymous with jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain scenery, then the Perito Moreno Glacier certainly doesn't disappoint. This incredible glacier is the highlight of the southern region of Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, a spectacular wall of ice over 60m tall above the water and 5km wide. One of only three Patagonian glaciers that are not retreating, you can stand on one of the many catwalks and marvel at the glacier, listening to it creak and watching as enormous chunks crash into the water. It's also possible to take a short boat trip out onto the lake in order to get up even closer to the face of the glacier itself.

Day 55: Torres Del Paine National Park

Sat 16 Mar 2013

400 kms drive into Chile to Torres del Paine National Park via Puerto Natales. We stay at a camp site with facilities.

Border information: Exit Argentina at Rio Don Guillermo, enter Chile at Cerro Castillo.

Torres Del Paine National Park

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is home to what is undoubtedly some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Patagonia, if not all of South America. Rising up high above the Patagonian steppe are the 3 impressive granite towers that give the park it's name, surrounded by towering mountain peaks, the most famous of which are Los Cuernos and Paine Grande.  The park is a magical natural wonderland full of deep lakes, sparkling glaciers and cascading waterfalls, and it's also an important habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Patagonian rhea and guanaco, as well as flamingoes, condors and other birds.

The best way to explore is definitely to get out there on foot or perhaps on horse-back. The park is criss-crossed by a good network of trails, making it possible for you to see all the main sights either by doing a series of day hikes, or by doing a circular hike like the W-walk,  taking a few days and stopping off at the parks refugios or camping along the way. Horse-riding and kayaking can also be arranged locally, and boats and catamarans offer trips across Lago Grey and Lago Pehoe in season.



Day 56 to 59: Torres Del Paine National Park

Sun 17 Mar to Wed 20 Mar 2013

Four days to to explore Torres del Paine National Park. Lots of opportunity for short day walks, or take on the challenging 'W' walk. This is a beautiful part of Patagonia and a highlight for many travellers. We camp at the lake unless you decide to undertake the ‘W’ Walk. If you do decide to do the 'W' walk then tonight will be the first night you will need to book a refugio.

Activity Approximate Cost

Zodiac boat trips, horse rides and trekking in Torres del Paine National Park

USD 90

4 days to explore and trek the rugged Torres del Paine National Park

Included in Kitty

Day 60: Strait of Magellan

Thu 21 Mar 2013

500 kms drive including ferry crossing of the infamous Magellan Straits and into Argentina where we bush camp.

Border information: Exit Chile at Cerro Castillo, then enter Argentina at San Sebastian.

Activity Approximate Cost

Follow in Darwin's footsteps across the Strait of Magellan

Included in Kitty

Strait of Magellan

Separatyng Tierra del Fuego from mainland Argeninta are the infamous Strait of Magellan. This treacherous stretch of water is about 500km long and takes it's name from the explorer Magellan who first navigated these waters in 1520. It was the only ship out of a total of 17 attempting the passage that sucessfully managed to reach the Pacific. Before the Panama Canal was built, the Strait provided a useful route between Chile, Peru and Europe, and though they are less important as a major shipping route today, they still see a fair amount of traffic.

Day 61 to 62: Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

Fri 22 Mar to Sat 23 Mar 2013

A 230kms drive takes us to a 2 night stay in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost town in the world. We enjoy a half day excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park. We stay at a camp site with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Beagle channel boat trips

USD 40

Guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park

Included in Kitty

Follow in Darwin's footsteps across the Strait of Magellan

Included in Kitty

Light plane flights over Ushuaia

USD 100

Ushuaia

Ushuaia lies at the southernmost tip of the Americas, the most southerly city on the island of Tierra del Fuego and often referred to as "the city at the end of the world". The town itself is low-lying and unassuming, centred around one main street and a waterfront that overlooks the Beagle Channel. Originally Ushuaia was little more than a remote outpost, first colonised by a British-funded mission in the late 1800's and subsequently used by the Argentinian government as a penal colony. What was once a sleepy small town has grown rapidly in recent years, much of which is due to tourist development and particularly to the increasing number of Antarctica trips calling to port here.

There's plenty to do in Ushuaia and the surrounding area. The town itself is home to an interesting museum where you can learn more about the history of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego and the indigenous people who originally lived here. The surrounding scenery is also impressive, so it's worth getting out on a boat-trip into the Beagle Channel, which will give you some great views of town with the Martial range in the background. You can also explore Tierra del Fuego National Park, another beautiful spot with some spectacular lake and mountain scenery.

The area is famous for its biting winds, so remember to pack your thermal undies if you're heading here, whatever time of year you're going to be visiting!

Tierra Del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego ("Land of Fire") is a large island separated from mainland South America by the Magellan Straits. Most of the island belongs to Chile, but 30% of the archipelago is in Argentina, including Argentina's southernmost town, Ushuaia. This is Patagonia at its most remote,with a landscape of windswept plains, forests and swamplands, home to Rheas, Condors, Buzzard Eagles, Seals and Sea Lions, all of which thrive in these conditions. Originally the home of the Yamana and Ona Indians, sadly there are not any indigenous communities left here. The people who inhabit Tierra del Fuego today are the descendants of the colonial settlers who came here from Europe in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mostly from Britain, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Day 63 to 65: Strait of Magellan

Sun 24 Mar to Tue 26 Mar 2013

We catch the ferry crossing of the infamous Magellan Straits. Then spend a few days overlanding across the Patagonian steppe wildcamping as we go. 

Border information: On the first day we exit Argentina at San Sebastian and enter Chile at San Sebastian. The same day we then exit Chile at Monte Aymond and re-enter Argentina at Monte Aymond.

Day 66: Rio Pinturas

Wed 27 Mar 2013

A morning drive takes us to Rio Pinturas. In the afternoon we visit the UNESCO site Cueva de las Manos and stay at a campsite with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the UNESCO site Cueva de las Manos at Río Pinturas

Included in Kitty

Day 67: Esquel

Thu 28 Mar 2013

Full day 650 kms drive through the Argentinean lake district to Esquel, staying at a campsite with facilities

Day 68: Bariloche

Fri 29 Mar 2013

320 kms drive to the mountain resort town of Bariloche where we stay in dorm rooms in a comfortable hostel

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland through the stunning Argentinian Lake District

Included in Kitty

Bariloche

The Argentinian resort town of Bariloche has a picture perfect setting on the shores of Nahuel Hapi Lake, flanked by the peaks of the surrounding andean mountains. The scenery here is truly stunning, so it's a must to get out and explore and take in all the amazing views. In winter, the town is a popular centre for skiing and in summer the focus shifts to walking, mountain-biking, horse-riding and kayaking and canoeing on the lakes - and if all that sounds too much like hard work, you can sit back and enjoy the view on a leisurely boat trip across to Victoria Island.

Bariloche itself is also an interesting place to wander around. The town is famous for it's handmade chocolates and there are some really spectacular displays in the local chocolate shops. Because of it's popularity with Argentinians as well as international tourists, the town has a lively bar and restaurant scene, with some great places to choose from. This is a particularly good place to sample some world class Argentinian steak, and wild boar and Patagonian lamb is also worth a try here too.

Day 69 to 70: Bariloche

Sat 30 Mar to Sun 31 Mar 2013

28-29: 2 free days in Bariloche with a range of activities available from mountain biking to horse-riding. Second and third night at hostel

Activity Approximate Cost

Horse riding and mountain biking around Bariloche

USD 80

Day 71: Pucon

Mon 01 Apr 2013

410 kms drive across the border and into the Lake District of Chile. Tonight we stay in Pucon at a camp site with facilities.

Border information: Exit Argentina at Mamuil Malal, enter Chile at Mamuil Malal.

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover the Chilean Lake District

Included in Kitty

Pucon

Southern Chile's lake district boasts some lake and mountain scenery comparable with what the Swiss Alos or New Zealand have to offer. Beautiful deep blue lakes are flanked by majestic forest-clad mountains with snowy peaks to provide picture-postcard views and a perfect spot for walking and camping. The attractive small town of Pucon is located at the heart of the northern Chilean lakes, a great place to stop for a few days so you can explore the area and get involved in some of the many adventure activities on offer here. At certain times of year it's even possible to do a day climb of the nearby Villarrica volcano, a challenging trek, but one that anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to manage - and you're rewarded with some fantastic views of the surrounding area from the summit. In fact the whole area is great for trekking and there are plenty of options to do some great self-guided walks.

Alternatively Pucon offers great horse riding, white-water rafting and mountain-biking opportunities. And if all this talk of activity just sounds a little too much, there are also some great thermal springs to relax in nearby, the natural pools at Pozones have a beautiful setting and is a great place to go and soak your weary limbs in the evening.

Day 72 to 73: Pucon

Tue 02 Apr to Wed 03 Apr 2013

2 free days to explore Pucon and the surrounding area with a range of activities available from hiking to hot springs. Second and third nights in campsite with facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up the snowcapped volcano Mt Villarica

USD 100

Horseriding, white-water rafting or hikes around Pucon

USD 50

Day 74: Salto De Laja

Thu 04 Apr 2013

320 kms drive to the wine growing region of Salto de Laja. We stay at a campsite with facilities

Salto De Laja

Salto de Laja is a small resort town named after the four impressive arch-like waterfalls formed here by the cascading Laja river. It is easy to see the waterfalls by crossing a bridge from the main road through town, or if you have time you may be able to experience the spray from below on a river-boat trip during Chilean holiday season. Salto de Laja town is a small place, popular with Chilean tourists during the summer months, so there are lots of campsites, hotels and cabanas here. It's a pleasant place to break the journey between Santiago and Pucon, gateway to the Chilean lake district and Patagonia.

Day 75 to 76: San Javier, Santiago

Fri 05 Apr to Sat 06 Apr 2013

Full day 520 kms drive to the capital, Santiago, arriving late in the afternoon. En route we will visit a vineyard for optional wine tasting. We stay the night in a good centrally located hotel allowing for optioanl activities the following day.

Border information: If you are leaving in Santiago, exit Chile at Santiago Airport.

Activity Approximate Cost

Whet your palette during winetasting at a vineyard in San Javier

Explore and discover the streets of Santiago

Included in Kitty

Santiago

Bisected by the Mapocho River, Chile's capital is a large, modern city with a very European atmosphere. In the centre of the city wide tree-lined boulevards lead to pleasant plazas and leafy parks and on a clear day the snow-capped peaks of the Andes provide a magnificent backdrop to the Santiago skyline.

Much of the centre is pedestrianised, which together with the wide streets and efficient metro system make Santiago an easy city to explore on foot. There are plenty of interesting museums where you can learn more about Chilean history and culture, from the City of Santiago Museum which chronicles the city’s history to the Natural History Museum and Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. The city's many wonderful parks are also worth a visit, particularly O'Higgins and San Cristobal which offers great views of the city from Cerro San Lucia.

As you would expect from a capital city of this size, Santiago is full of busy bars and restaurants and has some lively nightlife to offer. For cheap eats, full of local flavour, head to the Mercado Central (central market) which is packed full of food stalls and simple cafes and restaurants. For a real treat, you might want to head out to one of the more upmarket neighbourhoods like Bellavista or Providencia, home to some really world-class restaurants and great bars. Barrio Brasil is also worth a look; this old neighbourhood attracts an arty and bohemian crowd and there are often interesting events going on here.

If you have the time, there's also plenty to do in the area surrounding the city. Santiago is right in the middle of Chile's wine producing region, so it is relatively straightforward to arrange full day or half day tours out to the local wineries. You may also be interested in visiting the seaside town of Valapariso, which can be visited as a day trip from Santiago.

Visa Information:

Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

 

We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.

Rio Carnival detailed notes

Rio at Carnival

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Nestling beneath the Sugar Loaf Mountain, "Pao de Acucar", that rises out of Guanabara Bay, and flanked by the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The Carnival at Rio is one of the best spectacles in the world and lasts for about 5 days on the run up to Shrove Tuesday. The whole city comes alive with music, singing and dancing and the streets are never empty. Be prepared for sleepless days and nights, as the partying is non-stop, be it in the streets, or at one of the many balls, or in the famous Sambadrome watching the parading carnival groups with their extravagant costumes and floats. The various samba 'schools' all compete for a prize and the honour of being the champion carnival group of the year. Around the time of the Carnival, our trips are timed to fit in with the event, so you can be sure of enjoying Carnival with a group of like-minded people and there are likely to be over 100 fellow travellers enjoying the carnival experience. We will however aim to keep you in smaller groups of 20-25 for planned activities.

There is just so much to see and do in Rio and at Carnival it is even busier than usual, but there is still something for everyone. As part of the Carnival package we provide you with a Sambadrome ticket to sector 13 plus your accommodation; however we offer the opportunity to do a lot more. There are many other activities to do whilst in Rio at Carnival time. Dragoman has arranged a number of optional activities that you can book in advance. Prices for these optional activities and further details are available here. We recommend pre booking, as this way we can make all the necessary arrangements ready for your visit - other options may be available and could be cheaper but availability cannot be guaranteed. For other things to do, try some quiet time in stunning surroundings at the Botanical gardens, shop at the "hippie" markets for jewellery and paintings and of course there are the beaches to lie on and all the local street parades to dance at. Just make sure you get plenty of sleep before you arrive in Rio for Carnival.

Day 1: Friday

The first day is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check-in is from midday and Dragoman staff will be on hand to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the Paysandu Hotel in the afternoon. Please check the noticeboard in the Hotel Reception for further details on arrival. After the meeting we have a table booked at a nearby buffet restaurant if you fancy joining your leader and group for a meal.

Day 2: Saturday

Today you may wish to join us on a guided tour to one of landmarks of Rio - the Sugar Loaf mountain. In the afternoon there's an option to go for a football game in the famous Maracana stadium,  the site of the FIFA World Cup final 2014. 

Optional Sugar Loaf Mountain visit 

We will take an afternoon half day tour to visit the iconic Sugar Loaf mountain. We leave from the hotel on our coach, accompanied by our local guide and all entrances are included. The Sugar Loaf mountain gets its name from its shape, as the huge rounded incline looks like traditional cones of sugar. These sugar cones were made from raw sugar to make transportation easier. On arrival at the base of the mountain, we will board the cable car and head up to the mid way point and then up to the top station. The ride in itself is a fantastic experience skimming above the forested mountain peak with the sea and city spreading out below. At both stations there are incredible views of the city below and across to Corcovado. There will be plenty of time to wander around and take in the spectacular views, learn more about the construction of the cable car and enjoy a drink or snack at one of the restaurants. Just make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card for all your photos. Once we have taken our fill of the panoramic views we return to the bottom by cable car and back to the hotel on our waiting coach.

Optional Football Game

In the afternoon we will head off to the Maracana stadium for a game of football. Please note that the stadium will almost certainly feel empty as it seats almost 79,000 spectators and a local game will not draw enough people to fill the stands. However, for most people it's still a fantastic experience to visit this legendary stadium. You'll be travelling to the stadium on the Metro, accompanied by a local guide.

Day 3: Sunday

Early this morning you have the opportunity to go for a guided tour of Corcovado and the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Late afternoon it may be wise to have a disco nap before the big highlight of Rio Carnival - a visit to the Sambadrome! Included in your trip is a ticket to sector 13, or you may chose to upgrade to sector 11 for a bit of a closer view of the parade.

Sambadrome

The Sambadrome was designed by Brazil's world-famous architect, the modernist Oscar Niemeyer. It was purpose-built for the Samba Parade and inaugurated in 1984. Being made of concrete, it seems a bit dated for the post-modern eyes of today and feels derelict if not ugly, surrounded only by favelas, serving only little cultural events, during the year. However it comes to life and is totally magnificent and overpowering being lit up with special effects on. Samba Parade nights, filled with thousands of cheering spectators and surrounded by other thousands of people who could not get in. It can seat around 70,000 people, which is already far too few for the ever growing Rio Carnival Parade. However, since it is under protection, it cannot be rebuilt or even extended. The Samba schools have prepared all year for their hour of glory on carnival night. The top 12 Samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday, six each night. The two nights are similar in terms of set-up, the only difference being the schools parading. These are the most glamorous parades, the ones which need to be seen. The best school is chosen by a hand-picked set of judges on the basis of many components including percussion, the theme song, harmony between percussion, song and dance, choreography, costume, storyline, floats and decorations. The championship is hotly contested, with the winner becoming the pride of both Rio and Brazil. Samba is a glitzy, lavish, vegas-style affair with beautiful, topless mulatas who make samba look easy in their feathered head-dresses, long flowing capes sparkling with sequins and rhinestone studded G-strings. The floats are also extremely lavish and some of them are technically quite amazing. The Brazilians harness sweat, noise and confusion and turn it into art, with the parades beginning in moderate mayhem then working themselves up to a higher plane of frenzy. The samba is driven by the drummers with between 200 and 400 per school. This samba is the loudest music you are ever likely to hear in your life. The parades head down the "run way" of the Sambadrome flanked by the tiers of spectators, singing, dancing and applauding their favourite schools. The parade continues on through the night and into the morning. Some of the best schools are always kept until last to make sure that the party continues until the very end. Click here to view a map of the Sambadrome.

Sambadrome Visit (sector 13) - included

We will be situated in sector 13 which allows an overview of the whole event and a good chance to party with the locals. Sector 13 is at the end of the sambadrome runway and has the best atmosphere of all the stands. It is full of local Cariocas who really support their samba school with lots of singing and dancing. It is a wonderful local experience but can get very busy, reminiscent of a noisy football crowd. There are no fixed seats but concrete bleachers and people stand up as the samba schools pass by. We will travel to the Sambadrome in the early evening by metro and on foot with the Dragoman crew. It is up to you how long you stay but every year there are a few who make it through to the last parades and get back to the hotel for breakfast at 7am! Please note that sector 13 is set back a bit from the actual runway so does not offer the best close up views of the parade. If you should wish there's an option to upgrade to sector 11 for a much closer view of the parade - this is highly recommended if you're interested in photopraphy and would like good pictures of the costumes and floats.

Optional Sambadrome Upgrade to sector 11

Sitting in sector 13 is not for everyone and for those of you who want a closer view of the parade we offer you the chance to upgrade to sector 11. This sector neighbours sector 13 but is much closer to the action. The seating however is identical, being on concrete bleachers and can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.

Optional Corcovado visit

We head to one of the most iconic sights in Brazil - the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado mountain. Accompanied by our local guide we will travel in a private bus to the foot of the mountain and onwards along the scenic route to the top. From the base of the statue there is an incredible vista of southern Rio and its beaches, as well as the Sugarloaf mountain and Guanabara Bay. The clouds can sometimes decide to hide all of this from us at a moment's notice, so take your photos as soon as you have the opportunity! You are free to wander around as you wish or you may like to listen to our guide who can tell you more about the history of the statue and the area. There is also a restaurant and shop for drinks, snacks and gifts as well as toilet facilities. At a prearranged time we will all meet to return back to our hotel.

Day 4: Monday

Today is a free morning to relax after a late night in the Sambadrome. In the afternoon you may wish to join us to a guided tour of a favela and a community project that we support. In the evening you have the chance to return for some more of the lavish spectacle in the Sambadrome - either as a spectator in sector 7 or why not don a fabulous costume and join in the parade!

Optional Morrinho Project 

Morrinho is the name used by the youth of the Pereira da Silva favela for their scale model of a favela made basically with bricks. The Morrinho began in 1998, when Nelcirlan (14 years old at that time) starting building the Morrinho, together with his brother Maycon. Both were impressed with the view of favelas, high on the hillside, and decided literally to bring it closer. The "toy" became a construction and attracted other boys like Rodrigo, Naldão, Júnior, Paulo Vítor, Luciano and Raniere, and became a part of the community. Today, the Morrinho model occupies an area of 300 square metres in the community Pereira da Silva and has a wealth of details such as funk clubs, police, drugs sales points, alleys, staircases, small bars etc. The colours are strong and vibrant, the constructions are unusual and unique, and the vegetation is integrated with the "bonsais" wisdom. Miniature vehicles and motorcycles fill out the streets. In the interiors of the residences you can see beds, dressing tables and closets. All the details show the creative imagination of the guys that constructed the Morrinho. They drew streets, built support walls to contain hillsides, distributed light posts etc. Their plastic universe reveals the aesthetic fullness of the favela, often portrayed by international artists, photographers and film directors. The model is now being used to generate money by the NGO Morrinho, a charity that provides professional qualifications to the residents of the Pereirão Community through workshops including audiovisual production, art-education, Brazilian culture, and youth and citizenship. The charity is also involved in utilising the project as a film set, which has raised awareness of how harsh life is for shanty town dwellers. The trip includes a donation to the charity.

Optional Return to the Sambadrome (sector 7) 

During Rio Carnival the top 12 Samba schools parade in the Sambadrome with 6 parading on the Sunday night and then 6 on the Monday night. This second visit will give you the opportunity to see all 12 of the schools so you can choose your own winner! You will be exhausted after a second visit but it’s a fantastic experience! Included is your Sambadrome ticket, Metro tickets and guiding services.

Optional Join the Parade 

Watching the parade is one thing but actually taking part in the parade, is a real thrill and an unparalleled experience. Yes, it will be hot and sweaty and your feet will ache after an hour or more parading but it will make a talking point for years to come. Not many people can say they have actually taken part in a Sambadrome Parade. You will be a part of one of the ground wings or alas, parading behind the massive floats that make up the parade. Each school has between 65 and 80 minutes to parade and each ala/ wing passes through the Sambadrome in about 30-40 minutes, it is exhausting but unforgettable! The alas provide a massive display of colour and movement, each school has about 25 alas – each one tells a part of the overall story/ theme of the Samba School. The alas get judged for their stamina throughout their parade, the singing of the whole parade, being able to Samba is not necessary – there is a kind of jumping, bouncing way that people parade to overall create the whole feeling of strength and happiness. You will be 1 of the approx 4,000 paraders in a school, each and every person must put their utmost energy into their performance for the School. This is the most important event of the year for Cariocas (the people from Rio) and you will be playing a part on the biggest stage in the world! It is an amazing once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.

Your costume will be delivered to the hotel ready for the parade, and is yours to keep! You will then be accompanied by a guide to the starting point. You will need to meet your ala and school about 2 hours before the parade time (the first school will meet at 19.00 and the last at 01.00 approx) the parade lasts about 1 hour. Please note that Metro tickets are included but entry into the Sambadrome is not included.

Please note that Brazilian shoe size and clothing sizes are needed at the time of booking - click here to view a conversion table and guide for sizing. For shoe sizes it is advisable to order one size larger than usual as the shoes are often very tight. 

Day 5: Tuesday

Today is free day for you to explore the city and an opportunity to have a walk along the beaches, maybe a swim or maybe just a long lie in! The famous sweep of Copacabana Beach is probably the most talked about length of sand on the planet. It is a fantastic location with Sugarloaf mountain at one end whilst far in the distance you see further peaks covered in Atlantic rainforest. There are plenty of small cafes serving drinks and snacks along the beachside pavement, when you are ready for a break from the sand. In this stunning location even the pavements are beautiful, with white and black tiles forming waves and patterns. Late evening there's the option to attend the famous gay ball!

Optional Gay Ball 

The balls at Carnival are part of the whole experience and this has been the most popular ball from previous years. If you are going to visit just one ball then this is the one we recommend! Put aside any inhibitions you may have, get your costume sorted - plenty of glitter absolutely necessary - and get dancing with all the other partygoers. It is a fantastic experience and people are generally very friendly with loads of photo opportunities and some incredible sights! Music is a variety of samba and more modern music so there's something for everyone, and if dancing is really not your thing there is plenty of people watching to do. The venue itself is like a night club rather than a lavish ballroom as the name might suggest, so the glitter and glam is created by the ballgoers rather than by the locality. The ball can startle some people and please be aware that in previous years you have had to parade down a pink carpet when you enter, usually whilst being filmed live on Brazilian TV. It really is a memorable event and one which you will talk about long after carnival has been and gone. Make sure you save a bit of energy for this climax to carnival. The ball goes from midnight on Tuesday until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Please note that transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revellers. Please also note that you may be able to find cheaper tickets once you are in Rio. However, previous years tickets have been known to sell out and as a result have changed hands at more than double face value during the days leading up to the ball.

Day 6: Wednesday

Today is a free day but if you wish to explore further then why not join our local guide on a Colonial Tour of the city. Today you will also have the option to go on a boat trip around the Guanabara Bay.

Optional Colonial Tour

This tour will give you an insight into another side of Rio from the one we see along the beaches and at the main tourist sites. Accompanied by our local guide we will travel in both private bus and on foot through the Cultural Corridor of Rio de Janeiro, visiting colonial buildings, centenary churches and Cultural Centres and discovering the heritage of Rio de Janeiro earlier days as a Portuguese colony. We will visit the area of Santa Teresa, the colourful Escadaria Selaron before heading to downtown Rio to view its stunning churches, cobbled street and wonderful architecture, both modern and historical. Cost includes entrances, transport by private bus and guiding services.

Day 7 Final day

This marks the end of our Rio carnival package and the start of our trips leaving Rio to explore more of Brazil and South America.

Additional Carnival notes

Optional activies – All the optional activities listed above need to be booked prior to arrival at Carnival and by 15 November 2014 at the latest. This can be done by contacting Dragoman's sales team or your agent. More details can be found here.

Accommodation – This is on a shared basis (twin/triple and quad share) with breakfast included daily but no other meals. All rooms are en-suite with air-conditioning, TV, fridge and safe.  

Money changing – Banks will be closed over most of Carnival but some money changers stay open although exchange rates are not always that good. Cash will give you the best exchange rates - usually USD, GBP and EUR are easily exchanged. Travellers Cheques whilst being the safest option will give you a poorer exchange rate - American Express Office is open through Carnival for exchange. Cash machines are located nearby to the hotel but can run out of money, so plan in advance and be very aware of theft and fraud.

Crew – Although there are likely to be over 100 people attending carnival you will be split into groups of no more than 25 for the included activities, each group being allocated a Dragoman leader.

There is no kitty. Accommodation is on a B&B basis, in shared rooms and is covered by the tour cost.

You may wish to consider bringing the following items with you to Rio Carnival:

Torres del Paine National Park and the W walk

The group will spend 5 nights and 4 full days in the Torres del Paine National Park, allowing plenty of time for hiking, trekking and other optional activities - such as the 4 day W walk, a popular route taking in 3 of the most famous features of the park.

The W involves 4 full days trekking and 3 overnight stays away from the truck - this could be done either staying in the Refugios (hostels) or camping along the way. 

Dragoman offers a 2 day W walk extension package which includes a local guide, food and accommodation in bunk beds in the refugios. This package enables you to complete the entire W walk circuit without having to carry your own tent, cooking equipment or food supplies. It is however important to bear in mind that you will have to carry your own personal effects for the duration of the trek, e.g. sleeping bag, clothes for 4 days, toiletries, snacks, water, etc. 

Please note that the extension package must be pre booked through your sales agent. To ensure availability we recommend that you book early, especially during high season (mid November to mid April). In case of limited availability you may be camping in ready set-up tents instead of staying in bunk beds in the refugios. If this is the case you will receive a refund of 11,000 CLP (roughly 20 USD) for each night spent camping rather than in beds. This refund will be paid to you by your trip leader. Please also note that any cancellation within 65 days of departure will incur 100% cancellation fee. 

Itinerary for Base Package (included in your trip):

Day 1: Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where a local guide will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.

Day 2: Torres del Paine – Refugio Paine Grande
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande. This afternoon the group will hike up to see Glacier Grey and return to Paine Granden time for dinner. The night will be spent in bunk beds in the refugio.

Day 3: Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite
The group will hike together from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley. The group then splits into 2. If you've opted NOT to do the W walk you will make your way back to Paine Grande (without the local guide) and then board the catamaran back to Pudeto. The truck will meet you here and drive you to our campsite for the night.

Day 4 : Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite
Free day for optional activities around the camp.

Day 5: - Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite 
This morning you will wake early to drive to Refugio Las Torres in the Dragoman truck. Here you will meet back with the W walkers and the local guide. The group will then hike together up to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return to the campsite for the evening.

Please note that you will be able to see most areas of the park in the included Base Package itinerary. You should also note that it is possible to visit other areas of the park on day hikes from the main campsite where the truck will be based for 4 nights. 

Itinerary for Extension Package to full W walk (optional):

Day 1: Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where a local guide will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.

Day 2: Torres del Paine – Refugio Paine Grande (already included in trip)
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande. This afternoon the group will hike to see Glacier Grey and return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent in bunk beds in the refugio.

Day 3: Torres del Paine – Refugio Cuernos (optional extra)
The group will hike from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley and then finally onward to Los Cuernos. The group will spend the night in bunk beds in Refugio Cuernos.

Day 4 : Torres del Paine – Refugio Las Torres (optional extra)
The group will hike from Refugio Cuernos along Lake Nordenskjold and Almirante Nieto Mountain to the foot of Ascencio Valley. The group will spend the night camping in bunk beds in Refugio Las Torres.

Day 5: - Torres del Paine – Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
This morning the group will meet up with the rest of the group and the Dragoman truck. The group will then hike together up to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return to the campsite for the evening.

Trekking - what to bring

Beds (or tents and sleeping mats) and breakfast, lunch and dinner during the trek are provided. You will have to carry your own daypack with any items you need during the trek.

You will need to be prepared for 4 seasons' weather in one day. It can be cold and windy and you may have to layer up with thermals and warm socks. 

Some very useful things to bring on the trek:

 

Multiple departures with amended itineraries

South America is very busy for travel at certain times of the year, particularly in connection with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro which takes place every year 40 days before Easter. If the trip you are on is connecting to Rio Carnival in any way then there is likely to be more than just one truck on your specific departure date. This means that each truck will operate on slightly different itineraries and your day to day itinerary may vary from your trip notes. You will of course still visit all the highlights listed, and the presence of other trucks can make for a great atmosphere leading to or from the greatest party on earth! 

Multiple departures with amended itineraries

South America is very busy for travel at certain times of the year, particularly in connection with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro which takes place every year 40 days before Easter. If the trip you are on is connecting to Rio Carnival in any way then there is likely to be more than just one truck on your specific departure date. This means that each truck will operate on slightly different itineraries and your day to day itinerary may vary from your trip notes. You will of course still visit all the highlights listed, and the presence of other trucks can make for a great atmosphere leading to or from the greatest party on earth! 

Physical Preparation

South America

South America is diverse continent from high altitude, to the steamy Amazon, to baking deserts. You should therefore be prepared for the full gambit of climates. There will be time for hikking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large the South America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Visa Information

Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. Some are best obtained before you leave home and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible.  Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate.  However, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible.  Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply.  ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process.  This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.

As you will need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process. 

Chile

Nationals of most countries including Australia, USA, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Chile

Argentina

Nationals of most countries including Australia, USA, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Argentina.

ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY TAX:

The Argentinian government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:

Australians - US$ 100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
Canadians - US$75 (single entry) or US$ 150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
Americans - US$40 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)

PLEASE NOTE: This fee has to be paid online before arriving to Argentina. The fee can be paid through the following webstes: www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar. For instructions on how to process this payment, please visit http://cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar/userfiles/Onlie_payment_instructions_0.pdf.

Brazil

Nationals of the EU, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, Switzerland and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration.

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the USA need a visa to enter Brazil. This visa must be obtained before entering Brazil.

If your nationality was not included in the above mentioned group, please contact your nearest embassy to find out your visa requirements.

Flying to Central or South America via the USA

If your flight to central or South America is via the USA then you MUST obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.

An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriatefee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in South America, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$15 and a maximum of US$30 per day. This amount is usually lower in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru but slightly higher elsewhere. 

This will cover expenses such as your drinks, meals when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permits.

What else you need to know

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is best. Most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash.

More and more people are choosing to travel with cash passports such as TravelEx cards (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these).  This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling.  You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change in South America with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. However due to a recent counterfeit scam central banks in several South American countries (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile) have temporarily banned the circulation of $100 notes bearing a series 2001 production date and a serial number starting with the letters CB or CF and ending in B2. The serial number is printed in green on the emblem. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. If you are taking traveller's cheques, we recommend that you should only take those issued by American Express. Please note that Thomas Cook traveller's cheques may be used in some places, but are becoming more difficult to change. Brazil can be difficult for changing forex, it’s handy to have a cash card as backup. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50. Kitty contributions should be at least half in cash and be in the same denominations and currencies as suggested above. Any proportion of kitty contributions paid in travellers cheques should be increased to cover the commission charge incurred in exchanging them.

Pre and post trip accommodation and connecting flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of your joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay. Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on. 

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet.  Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details.  These are normally payable in cash upon arrival, however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations. 

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer as not all hotels offer this service.

Accommodation on tour

Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities. 

Group size?

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location, however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16. 

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi for example will visit Zanzibar at the same time as groups starting their trips in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Who travels with Dragoman?

Our passengers come from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

Our Community

At any time before or after you book you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories You can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in, it's free and easy.

We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other - you can join here

Our crew and guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. On trips South of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. 

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew.

Your tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Health

All Dragoman travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of the trip without a refund. 

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase. 

For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all travellers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases customers should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. 

 

Vaccinations

 Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in. It is essential that you check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

 In the UK we have been working with Nomad travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up to date vaccination and health information. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

A good source of up to date information is the world Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/

Malaria

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your vaccination centre for the most up-to-date requirements

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores.  Mosquito coils are useful on still nights, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

Meals and group participation

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc.

While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

Responsible tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

A few Rules 

 Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman customers.  It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special.  The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children.  Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. 

 We expect all our customers to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass.  This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. 

Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

Safety and security

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise passengers to leave any valuable jewellery, watches etc at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice.

Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.

The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

Leaders reports from off the road

Local contacts we have built up over 31 years of experience

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougoThis website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip.

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites

Britain. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Emergency contact

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in theses trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.

Issues on the trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on customer_relations@dragoman.co.uk. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg.  Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to, there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created.  Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your Overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your hip pocket!

Personal medical kit

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only.  Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits  and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

Electrical equipment

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

The kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in instalments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew & kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The Kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility & transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive & save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties as they are the group's fund. 

We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.  Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

At least half of your kitty should be paid in cash in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars or Euros in West Africa). The outstanding amount can be paid in local currency during your trip; your leader will give you the exchange rate.  Most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

Continuing your trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet?  If on your trip you decide you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

Contingency emergency fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you should be prepared to contribute towards the costs and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.