Anchorage<- ->Ushuaia (CAU)

Anchorage to Tierra Del Fuego 207 days, departing 26 Jul 2014

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: Strenuous in parts

STRENUOUS IN PARTS: These are physical tours; we may well be travelling at high altitudes, across deserts or through hot and steamy tropical countries. Physically it can be quite tough, but not necessarily all the time and there will be plenty of rest days and time to relax as well. The fitter you are the more you will enjoy the trip.

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.

Belize

Belize is a country of many cultures and there are a number of different languages spoken, despite having the lowest population density in Central America (320,000 citizens). Belize's official language is English.

There are many amazing places in Belize to visit. The Great Blue Hole near Ambergis Caye is a breathtaking sight of 300 metres of an underwater sink hole. Formed by flooded caves and a collapsed roof, this is the only known place like it in the world. In the Cayo district of Belize is the 1000ft falls.This is the largest waterfall in Central America.

Inspired by British, Mexican and Western Caribbean cuisines, rice and beans are the main base for typical Belizean cuisine. This mixed with chicken, pork, fish, vegetables or coconut milk are just a few of the meals which can create a delectable tropical taste.

Bolivia

Bolivia's major attraction is its wild natural beauty, with much of the country being off the beaten track. The country is divided into two distinct regions, the Amazonas and the Altiplano. Between the two lie the Yungas or cloud forest. Bolivia is a country for the outdoor enthusiast, with horseriding, trekking, mountain biking and jeep trips available in many of the areas we travel through. It is a country that most visitors to the Andes miss as they seldom leave Peru and yet it has as much to offer the visitor as it's more popular neighbour. Its salt pans, high lakes and mountains and its beautiful jungle make it a great destination for any traveller.

The dizzying heights of the capital, La Paz are enough to take your breath away. With buildings that hug the side of the canyon, and the spectacular views of Mount Illimani, the city is over 3,650 metres (11,975 feet) above sea level and is one of the fastest growing in Latin America.

There are many area of natural beauty in Bolivia, and many that benfit from a low number of visitors such as the stunning lakes of the high altiplano. More famous are the perspective bending salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

In the north in Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake and  home to the floating islets home to the Uros people.

Predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, the statue of Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba is a symbol of the influence of the religion in Bolivia. With nearly 60% of the population following this religion, it is a national landmark which provides inspiration to millions.

Agriculture is important in Bolivia, with soybeans being the main product sold into the Andean Community market. Many foods such as potatoes, rice and fruit and vegetables are harvested across Bolivia. National diet ranges from spicy lunches in the higher parts of Bolivia, to the less spicy dishes and mainly plantain or boiled maize in the lower parts. Made from fermented maize, the drink Chica is not an oppurtunity to pass upon. Although normally non alcoholic, it can be served as a brewed beer, and is one of Bolivias fine gastronomies. A taste of Bolivia could be the start of a wonderful adventure.

Canada

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.

Colombia

For most people Colombia is an unknown, the forgotten part of South America. This makes it a fantastic place to explore. Colombia's geography is one of the most diverse in South America; it really is a kaleidoscope of colour, life and culture. It has an undeserved reputation due to some internal instability but the warmth of its people mean that it is worth the challenge to see such a fascinating country. Colombia is on the beautiful Caribbean coast and the home to some of the best coffee in the world.

The culture of fiesta is a central to the national psyche with the country, playing host to some of the most fabulous carnivals in the world. The Carnival of the Barranquilla lasts four days, celebrating the tradition of Colombian dance and music.

With many festivals and parties, the opportunity to relax might sound out the question, but along with the lively ongoing parties, cooking is an important icon of Colombia. Fritanga is a set of dishes enjoyed throughout the country. A barberque style meat full of flavours and aromas that will leave your mouth watering is accompanied by small potatoes and tortilla style bread. If meat isn't your preference, then the plantain of many vegetables and pulses is a beautiful choice of a meal.

Colombia's glorious sands and upbeat lifestyle is there to be cherished, and there is no doubt it will leave a special mark on your travels.

Costa Rica

Welcome to the easiest going place on earth. Welcome to beauty and paradise. Welcome to Costa Rica - so reads the national tourist board literature. Although hyperbolic it's hard to disagree.

Costa Rica has some of the most scenic views in Central America. The Poás Volcano National Park is a chance to get to the heart of a crater and see the astonishing views of the green lake. Paths leading up to these can lead to the amazing wildlife that lives in the park. Mountain squirrels, clay coloured robins and hummingbirds can be seen and heard all around, and it adds to the reasons why it is one of the most visited places in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica you can try something new every day, and Costa Rican food is just beautiful. Let your mouth water from the juices of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the country. Have breakfast the traditional way - fried plantains, egg and orange juice is the perfect way to experience yet another flavour of Costa Rica.

Ecuador

Ecuador is a small country with a diverse landscape including highlands, volcanoes, numerous national parks, stunning Pacific beaches, and the enthralling Galapagos Islands.

The Amazon rainforest has the greatest bio diversity on the planet. And it's possible to take trips deep into the rainforest to see jaguars, monkeys, iguanas and uncountable numbers of insects. Off the coast is the Galapagos Islands, arguably one of the world's most prestigious wildlife destinations.

If  heart racing activities is more your thing then Ecuador has plenty to offer. Surf the waves, trek through the foothills or step out of the ordinary and try some mountaineering.

Aside from the outdoors and wildlife there are lots of great coloninal towns or cities. And Quito has a more relaxed atmosphere than most Latin American capitals. Lying in a hollow at the base of Volcano Pichincha, the old city is a maze of steep cobbled streets with finely carved overhanging balconies. Its mixture of colonial and new architecture together with its European and Indian cultures make this a fascinating city.

As you explore, the discovery of food will be found and the choice of a traditional meal is hard to turn down. Ecuadorian cuisine is again diverse, and different regions boast different meals. Meat, potatoes and rice are popular in the mountain regions, where as the coastal areas boast fantastic meals containing marinades of fish onions and delectable seasonings.

There are many types of music in Ecuador and the most popular is the rhythm filled, dancing type which can get you up on your feet and joining in with the sounds of panpipes, bamboo flutes,  drums and charangos.

With so much to offer and explore - Ecuador is the place to be if you want to try something new every day.

El Salvador

El Salvador is one of the most fascinating and exciting countries in Central America.

El Salvador translates as "the saviour" in Spanish, and there is much culture similar to Spain. It has many notable dishes, one being a delectable chicken and shrimp paella. Many dishes can be found in restaurants around the country, and although influenced by Spanish cuisine, it has it's own distinct taste. Like the food, the music is also distinct. There are many types of music in El Salvador including folk, popular and alternative tunes. Influenced by South American music of Mexico, Colombia and Cuba, this country has managed to develop the sounds to make it their own. The capital, San Salvador is home to some fantastic gastronomy festivals, and is the place to discover typical El Salvadorian cuisine, music and art. The largest city in El Salvador is a generally Spanish speaking city, and this runs throughout the country.

With some of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Central America, El Salvador is one of the most captivating places to visit.

Guatemala

With mountains and volcanoes setting the landscape, Guatemala is a perfect place to get out and explore.

The capital is Guatemala City, and it is a city bursting with culture. From the amazing art galleries and museums, to sporting venues and shopping centres, Guatemala City is full of life.

Quetzaltenango is the city with everything. Climb a volcano, hike through the countryside and listen to some live music by local bands. Known as Xela by the locals, it is the place in Guatemala to learn Spanish, help on extraordinary volunteer programmes and see amazing picturesque views.

In Guatemala, there is a tradition to eat certain foods on certain days. "Paches" is a potato based dish and is usually eaten on a Thursday. These traditions continue into special occasions such as Christmas. Like food, music is an important tradition in Guatemala and the national instrument is called the marimba. This type of xylophone is heard all over the country. It is not the only type of music in the country and the traditional music could be Marimba music, Garifuna and even rock music.

For a country with a difference, and many traditions, Guatemala is the place to visit.

Honduras

Honduras has an amazing coastline spanning hundreds of miles along the Pacific coast

With some of the whitest beaches in Central America, escaping and exploring is a must. The Bay Islands is the place to be for snorkling and scuba diving. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world, and submerged below the clear waters lie unspoilt coral and an arrary of colourful underwater life. With bright fish, manta rays, sea turtles and even white sharks split into 3 isles, it makes the Bay Islands the perfect place to explore.

Away from the coastline are the fantastic mountains that soar above the country. There is some amazing scenery in Honduras and it is the place where so many resources are found. Gold, silver, lead and zinc are only a number of these.

Another treasure to be found is the Honduran music scene. Garifuna and Reggae are two of the most popular sounds of country. Music is important to Hodurans and there is an institution in the city of Comayauga. It's a central point in Honduran meals, especially the national dish of Plato Típico. This meal is a centre of beef surrounded by drinks and music. These two Honduras' icons are brought together, and made a magnificent part of Honduran culture. The food is influenced by Spanish and African cuisine. Typical Honduran food has infused these two flavours together to create its own specific taste. 

The capital city of Honduras is Tegucigalpa, and it is also the largest city in the country. There are so many places of interest including museums and national parks. The river Choluteca runs through the capital city which runs over 200 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The city is surrounded by mountains and the heart of Honduras is ready to explore.

Mexico

Mexico is a country full of culture and history.

Home to the Aztec empire that ruled through three different centuries, the architecture left behind is nothing short of magical. The best places to see Aztec ruins are Palenque, Teotihuacan or Mexico city the Aztec capital and also the modern capital. The city has a diverse feel to it and the temples and palaces are a world away from the lively nightlife. It gives the feeling of a new adventure every day. On Lake Xochimilco, the landscape of the capital can be explored on a Tarajinera boat. 

Mexico is a country rich in taste and is most famous export comes from the city of Tequila. Made from the blue algave plant, the drink has protected geographical status, so only true Tequila comes from this region. Foodwise Mexico is known for it's fire; the spicy Jalapeno pepper was originated in Mexico, and is used in many dishes. But also the sweet taste of chocolate was another treasure of ancient Mexico. Cacao beans were used as a currency in Mesoamerican times. 

There are many types of Mexican music, from traditional folk to Latin Alternative. Influence from other cultures, has created a diverse sound. Instruments used in traditional music use a range of stringed and wind instruments.

One more of Mexico's icons is the cactus, this is one of over 30,000 plants in the country. The wildlife in Mexico is amazing. There are over a thousand species of birds including the beautiful Quetzal and with mammals such as lynx, wolves, snakes and crocodiles.

Nicaragua

The rugged beauty of Nicaragua makes it one of the most interesting places in Central America to visit. The landscape is lined with many volcanoes, of which you can climb and explore.

The capital, Managua is flowing with adventure. The traquil surrounding of trees and many untouched trails means exploration is a must. Discover the magic of poetry flowing through the city and enjoy one of the most relaxing capitals in Central America.
The contrasting city of Leon however, is full of culture. Churches, cathedrals and many art galleries are scattered around the city. Exploring sites and learning about the culture can be hard work, but with the wide variety of food and drink available, are a chance to relax. There are many street barbeques about, and with grilled meats and lovely pastry dishes. Nicaragua is a country that grows tropical fruits all year round. Juicy fruits such as mangoes, bananas, watermelons, plums, dragon fruits, star fruits and passion fruits are just some of the many wonderful fruits that can be found across the country. Like the fruit, the wildlife too is colourful. It is the place to find the three toed sloth. This wonderful animal can be seen swinging through the tree life, so keep your eyes peeled and there is a high chance you can see one. Other animals include anteaters, armadillos, sea turtles and spider monkeys.
 
A country brimming with culture is also home to some beautiful music. The Marimba is a xylophone styled instrument and infused with guitars and drums, the sound of Nicaragua can be heard. On the east side of the country, the music is heavily influenced from an Indian and Spanish culture, while on the west, the music is influenced by Africans.

Nicaragua is the forgotten treasure of Central America and is a perfect place to explore.  

Panama

Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and links Central America with South America having a land border with Colombia. Despite this travel between the two continents is diffcult due to the Darien Gap and the security situation within it. That said Panama is a safe country to travel around with a stable economy and because of its key geographic location, it is an important country in the area with a well developed service sector heavily weighted towards banking, commerce and tourism.

Democracy is now strongly emerging in the country as Panama puts behind it the political turmoil of the Noriega regime which saw American troops invading the country in the late 1980's and early 1990's in support of the Panamanian people who were being repressed.

The Panama Canal is obviously intrinsically important to the economy and has been since it was built between 1904 and 1914 and the tolls from the canal now form a considerable part of the country's gross domestic product.

Panama does not produce any banknotes of their currency, the Balboa, but use the American dollar. One dollar has the same value as one balboa, though it is difficult to find out what exactly a balboa is as the last and only time the currency was in use was back in 1941 and only for 7 days!

Peru

Peru is home to some of South Americas most glorious landmarks, and the opportunity to partake in an activity seem endless.

The capital is Lima and it is known of the City of the Kings, it was founded by the Conquistador Pizarro in 1535. The elegant architecture runs through the capital and the cultural effects of the museums are all tucked away in this classic city.

Any introduction to Peru wouldn't be complete without the Inca civilisation. Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca empire. Even today, many of its buildings have original Inca stonework as part of their structure. The Incas had a highly organised and labour intensive society. They managed to conquer vast tracts of land and, through strong central and regional government, retained control over an empire that spanned South America, from mid Colombia in the north, to the middle of Argentina in the south and lasted for over four centuries.

The most famous Inca legacy is undoubtedly the Inca Trail the ancient set of pathway in the Andes that include the route up to the fantastic site of Machu Picchu. You can trek through the countryside making your way through the unspoilt land and view the breathtaking scenery that carries on to the horizon and beyond. When you reach Machu Picchu you will realise what a beautiful place it is, no photograph can really do the site justice. The long forgotten site was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and is simply awe inspiring and is a must visit place in South America.

Peru is flowing with fabulous landscapes and this continues at Lake Titicaca. On the border of Peru and Bolivia it is the highest navigable lake in the world. In the culture of Lake Titicaca, comes the sound of panpipes. An Andean music form, this woodwind instrument plays tranquil sounds and is a nice form of relaxation. The Charango is the national instrument of Peru. This stringed instrument was from a Spanish influence and has a distinctive sound. The taste is as distinctive as the sound and the national dish of Ceviche. This is a fish based dish where the fish is 'cooked' in lemon or lime juice.

The history and sites of Peru are outstanding, but also the friendly welcome visitors receive make Peru one of the most enjoyable countries in the world to visit. 

USA

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Anchorage

Sat 26 Jul 2014

Welcome to Alaska: Today there will be a welcome meeting at 10 AM. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Anchorage. We stay the night in a centrally located hostel in shared dorm accommodation.

Accomodation for the night: Alaskan Backpackers Hostel, 327 Eagle Street,AK99501, Anchorage.

                                             001(907)2772770

                                            

Hotel for the night: Alaskan Backpackers Inn

Alaskan Backpackers Inn

327 Eagle Street

Anchorage

Alaska

USA

001 907 277 2770

Anchorage

Anchorage is set on the shores of the Cook Inlet at the base of the Chugach Mountains and is an excellent point to begin exploring the Alaskan glaciers and lakes.  Anchorage is historically a frontier oil and railway town and there are interesting museums reflecting the city's past.

Day 2 to 3: Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park

Sun 27 Jul to Mon 28 Jul 2014

We set off early this morning for Kenai Peninsula where we will camp for a couple of nights and explore the area. During these 2 days we will have time to explore the area and view the stunning Portage Glacier. There will be the opportunity to take a boat trip out into Kenai Fjords National Park and for you to perhaps hike up Exit Glacier to the Harding icefield.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip around Kenai Fjords National Park

USD 150

Hike up Exit Glacier near Seward

USD

Seward

Seward is a small fishing town on Resurrection Bay and our base from which to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. The town is quaint and lucky to still exist as was almost entirely destroyed by fires and tidal waves during the 1964 earthquake.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 and covers an area of approximately 4,600 sq km on the Kenai Peninsula. The park is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, including the Harding Ice Field and the largest which is Bear Glacier. Taking a boat out into the fjords is a great way to see the area.

Day 4 to 6: Denali National Park

Tue 29 Jul to Thu 31 Jul 2014

We drive back past Anchorage and head some 480kms to Denali National Park, the home of Mount McKinley, where we camp for 3 nights. There is plenty of time for optional activities here as well as a guided tour of the national park where if we are lucky we may even spot a grizzly bear.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Denali National Park

Included in Kitty

River rafting in Denali National Park

USD 90

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley; America's highest peak at 6000 metres.  You can take a scenic flight over the park and Mount McKinley.  Denali is full of moose, caribou, brown and black bears and over 150 species of birds that flock here during the summer months.

Day 7 to 8: McLaren

Fri 01 Aug to Sat 02 Aug 2014

We have a short drive today of 120 kms along the Denali Highway to a lodge on the McLaren river. We will have one night staying in the lodge and another in a remote bushcamp up stream and a chance to experience the Alaskan wilderness.

Activity Approximate Cost

Experience an overnight bushcamp in the Alaskan wilderness

Included in Kitty

Day 9 to 10: McCarthy, Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Sun 03 Aug to Mon 04 Aug 2014

We drive on 380kms and arrive at the old copper mining town of McCarthy where we camp for 2 nights and explore Wrangell-St Elias National Park. This is the largest national park in the USA and has an abundance of optional activities to partake in such as hiking, historic mine tours, glacier walks or ice climbing.

Activity Approximate Cost

Historic mine tours in McCarthy

USD 25

2 days to explore Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Included in Kitty

Hiking in Wrangell-St Elias National Park

USD 70

Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Wrangell-St Elias is the largest national park in the United States, some six times the size of Yellowstone. The scale of everything here is enormous. Four major mountain ranges meet here, and the park includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States including Mt Blackburn and Mt Sanford and there are huge chains of glaciers within the park. The high country is covered with snow year round, resulting in extensive icefields and glaciers. Numerous sheep and mountain goats patrol the craggy peaks whilst the park is also home to caribouand moose as well as brown and black bears that roam throughout the park.

Day 11: Tok

Tue 05 Aug 2014

A long but incredibly scenic drive of 420kms brings us to Tok which is a small town but a major centre for dog-sledding. We camp in Tok and you might have the opportunity to view the Dog Sleigh exhibition.

Tok

Amidst the Land of the Midnight Sun lies the small town of Tok which originally was a camp for the workers constructing the Alcan and Glenn Highways in the 1940s. Tok is best known for it's assocation with dog sledding as well as dog breeding, training and mushing. The Tok Race of Champions Sled Dog Race, one of the oldest in the Alaska, is held each March.

Day 12 to 13: Dawson

Wed 06 Aug to Thu 07 Aug 2014

Border Crossing:  Today we will cross the border from USA to Canada at Boundry.

We travel 300kms today along the 'Top of the World Highway', amidst incredible scenery, enter Canada and into the Klondike where is situated Dawson City, once a hive of activity for gold prospectors. We will camp here for 2 nights, visit the gold mining areas and in your free time you may want to visit Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, a real outwest experience!

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy the cabaret and hopefully win a dollar or two at Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino in Dawson City

USD 5

Enjoy a guided tour of the gold mining areas around Dawson City

Included in Kitty

Dawson

Dawson takes us back to the times of the Klondike Gold rush. It is easy to imagine the old pioneering spirit of the place with it’s boardwalks and boat cruises on the Yukon River all adding to the experience.  We will visit Dredger No 4 (one of the original mining rigs) and Diamond Tooth Gerties, a traditional cancan beer hall.

Day 14: Whitehorse

Fri 08 Aug 2014

A drive of just over 500kms bring us to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon territory. You have free time to explore town of relax in the hot springs by our campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax in the Takhini Hot Springs at Whitehorse

Included in Kitty

Whitehorse

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and has the feeling of a frontier town.

Day 15: Cotton Lake

Sat 09 Aug 2014

We cross from the Yukon into British Colombia and head towards Cotton Lake area. We will camp on a campsite en-route today

Day 16 to 17: Hyder

Sun 10 Aug to Mon 11 Aug 2014

Today we will set up camp at a camp site in Stewart for 2 nights. We will be driving to Hyder located at the head of the Portland Canal. We will have time to explore this area and drive up Fish Creek Bear and Salmon Glacier Road and hopefully spot some bears amongst amazing scenery.

Hyder

Hyder is on the edge of Misty Fjords National Park. During our visit here we can hopefully catch sight of grizzly bears fishing for salmon in the rivers.  The rivers come from a glacier called Salmon Glacier,  we can take a hike to view this immense natural structure. Hyder is actually a dangerous place, as the local custom is to be 'hyderized' in the local bar.  This entails knocking back a shot of some ferocious 150% proof local alcohol!

Day 18: Hazelton

Tue 12 Aug 2014

Today will be an all day as we make our way towards the Rocky mountains. Will will find somewhere to camp for the night and en route have the chance to stop off in Hazelton to visit the Ksan Indian Village.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Ksan Indian Village in British Columbia to visit the museum and view original totem poles and Indian history

Included in Kitty

Day 19 to 20: Jasper

Wed 13 Aug to Thu 14 Aug 2014

We continue our drive in to the Candian Rockies arriving to Jasper amidst amazing scenery. Here we camp for 2 nights for a variety of activites.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Athabasca Falls near Jasper, among the most powerful and breathtaking falls in the Rocky Mountains

Take the Tramway up Whistler's mountain in Jasper

USD 30

Hire mountain bikes and explore around Jasper

USD 32

Jasper

Set deep inside Alberta's Rockies, Jasper is surrounded by mountains making this an incredibly beautiful place to visit. The road south out of Jasper towards Lake Louise offers wonderful vistas and the Columbia Icefield is one of these. The area offers numerous activities to keep you busy or alternatively just relax and enjoy the views!

Day 21: Banff

Fri 15 Aug 2014

Today even thou we say we will stay in Banff, is more of a spare day to be used by the leader and the group anywhere along the trip.

Banff

Banff is one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations, known for its mountainous surroundings and hot springs so a great place to visit at anytime of the year.  Situated amidst mountains within Banff National Park, a World Heritage Site, it is packed with activities for you to partake in and a wonderful place to stay.

Day 22: Banff

Sat 16 Aug 2014

We drive on 300kms to the town of Banff, where there is a plethora of stunning sights and wonderful activities to occupy our time. We camp here for 2 nights and explore the surrounding area.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Lake Louise near Banff

Included in Kitty

Take the Gondola up Sulphur Mountain near Banff

CAD 30

A visit to Banff National Park

Included in Kitty

Relax in the Sulphur hot springs at Banff

CAD 7

Visit the Columbia Ice Fields near Banff

USD 50

Day 23: Banff

Sun 17 Aug 2014

 

Today is our last day in Banff and also of our trip. We will move into a comfortable hostel for our last night.

Day 24: Calgary, Banff

Mon 18 Aug 2014

 Border Information:  Enter canada at Calgary Airport

Today there will be a group meeting at 10 AM. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Banff. We stay the night in a centrally located hostel in shared dorm accommodation. Banff is located 1.5 hr drive from Calgary. Is very well connected to the International Airport of Calgary and our friendly sales team can help you out with information on how to book your transfer.

 

Hotel for the night: Y Mountain Lodge

The Banff Y Moutain Lodge is located in a unic downtown location in Baff. 

info@ywcabanff.ab.ca, 001 (403)7623560

102 Spray Avenue, Po Box 520, Banff, Alberta, Canada

T1L1A6

 

 

 

 

 

Day 25 to 26: Glacier National Park

Tue 19 Aug to Wed 20 Aug 2014

Today we cross into the USA and after a drive of 400kms we reach Glacier National Park where we camp for 2 nights and you have a chance to go hiking.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Included in Kitty

2 night stay in Glacier National Park for optional trekking

Included in Kitty

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park (called Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side) is where the Rockies rise out of the Prairie lands. The park offers wonderful trekking opportunities and contains over 700 lakes, the largest of these being Lake McDonald which is over 9 miles long.

Day 27 to 28: Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner

Thu 21 Aug to Fri 22 Aug 2014

Our journey continues south through Montana to the town of Gardiner where we will camp for 2 nights following a 600km drive and explore Yellowstone National Park. We will visit the park and the famous Old Faithful plus other geysers and there are plenty of optional activities to entertain you.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights stay in Yellowstone National Park.

Included in Kitty

Horseback riding and hiking in Yellowstone National Park

USD 30

Visit Old Faithful and other geysers in Yellowstone National Park

Included in Kitty

Kayaking and whitewater rafting in Yellowstone National Park

USD 70

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is famous as the home of Old Faithful, however it has other claims to fame. Yellowstone was established as the world's first national park in 1872.  It also has the highest density of geysers, hot springs, fumeroles and mud pots of any area in the world.  Old Faithful (which is a geyser) can be seen spurting into the blue skies and we will have time to trek to various other geysers and mud pot sites.  As we drive through the park there is a good chance of seeing moose, bison, elk and grizzly or black bears - don't feed the bears!

Day 29 to 30: Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park

Sat 23 Aug to Sun 24 Aug 2014

A drive of 250kms takes us from Montana to Wyoming as we head to Jackson where we will camp for 2 nights just south of the town. En route to Jackson we will visit Grand Teton National Park to view the spectacular mountain range and a chance to do some hiking.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Included in Kitty

Grand Teton National Park

The first permanent settlers began arriving in Jackson Hole in the late 1880's and soon after efforts began to preserve the surrounding area leading to the establishment of Grand Teton National Park in 1929 to protect the major peaks of the Teton mountain range. The national park is named after the Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the range, which is 4,199 metres high.

Day 31: Salt Lake City

Mon 25 Aug 2014

We leave Wyoming behind and head to Salt Lake City in Utah where we camp for the night. The city is wonderfully located, surrounded by mountains and we will explore the Mormon culture which began here.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City to learn about Mormon pioneer history

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the most populous city in Utah and today is a great place to base yourself for skiing and outdoors activities. The city, commonly abbreviated to SLC, was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and his Mormon followers as they searched for a place to settle and practice their faith away from the violence and persecution they faced within the boundaries of the original united states. Today only about half of the city are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints yet the city is still synomynous with the religion. There are lots of places of interest in the city regarding the Mormon faith and in beautifully located, surrounded by mountains and the Great Salt Lake.

Day 32 to 34: Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park

Tue 26 Aug to Thu 28 Aug 2014

We continue our drive south through Utah to Moab where we camp for 3 nights. We visit 2 incredible national parks, those being Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park plus ample time for own own exploration and optional activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Canyonlands National Park

Included in Kitty

Visit Arches National Park

Included in Kitty

Enjoy whitewater rafting around Moab

USD 85

Hire mountain bikes and explore the canyons around Moab

USD 40

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park near Moab in Utah consists of canyons and plateaus carved by two mighty rivers - the Colorado and the Green. The park offers some of the most challenging whitewater rapids in the world as well as great opportunities to hike and bike. With wonderfully coloured rocks the park is a photographers dream and contains the much captured image of Mesa Rock.

Day 35: Monument Valley

Fri 29 Aug 2014

We drive 250 kms to the iconic Monument Valley, the film set for countless movies and explore the area. 

We will be joined by our local Indian guides at the entrance of Monument Valley Tribal Park. They will drive us around the park for a couple of hours, showing us some of the incredible formations and explaining everything there is to know about the Navajo view of the buttes and mesas that will be surrounding us.

We then drive to our night camp where we spend the night in a traditional Navajo ‘Hogan’, all sleeping together on the ground in a circle. In the evening we also have a traditional meal of Navajo Tacos. We get up at dawn the next day to watch the sun as it rises over the valley.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the iconic Monument Valley

Included in Kitty

Horseriding in Monument valley

USD 65

1 night sleeping in a traditional Navajo hogan and jeep tour of the Monument Valley

Included in Kitty

Monument Valley

They were initially hunter-gatherers that lived peacefully alongside existing tribes.  When the Spanish arrived in the 1800’s, the Navajo acquired the horse thus becoming a powerful nation.  Today the horse is still the best form of transport to get a feel for this valley - horse riding with Navajo guides is a great experience.

Day 36: Lake Powell

Sat 30 Aug 2014

We head into Arizona to Lake Powell, a drive of 200kms where we camp by the lake with over 2000kms of shoreline. En route we will visit the Navajo National Monument.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is the second largest man made lake in the USA, Lake Mead being the largest, and is a reservoir on the Colorado River. It was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon which at the time was very controversial. There are a number of activities that you can enjoy on the lake and it's gret for swimming in the summer months.

Day 37: Bryce Canyon

Sun 31 Aug 2014

A 250km drive brings us to Bryce Canyon which we visit before moving on to camp for the night in a wonderful spot in Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin State Park

Included in Kitty

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not actually a canyon but in fact is a giant natural amphitheatre created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colours of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors so get your cameras at the ready!

Day 38: Zion National Park

Mon 01 Sep 2014

Another short drive day takes us to Zion National Park for more incredible scenery and optional activities a plenty. We will camp for the night in the park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Zion National Park

Included in Kitty

River tubing in Zion National Park

USD 15

Canyoning in Zion National Park

USD 75

Hiking in Zion National Park

USD 5

Zion National Park

In 1863 Mormons fleeing religious persecution settled in the area, naming it their Zion. The Native American Paiute people previously inhabited the area.  Trekking in Zion National Park is an assault on the senses - amazing colours that change depending on the time of day, cliffs that tower above you and trails that seem just as steep as you clamber up them.

Day 39 to 40: Las Vegas

Tue 02 Sep to Wed 03 Sep 2014

We have a break from camping for the next 2 nights and the chance to enjoy a bed, assuming you can drag yourself out of the various all night entertainment options as we head into the bright lights of Las Vegas. En route to Vegas we stop at the Hoover Dam and then the time in the city is free for you to explore and enjoy.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the various casinos in Las Vegas

USD 1

2 nights in Las Vegas, gambling capital of the world!

Included in Kitty

Las Vegas

Las Vegas was once described as a huge cash register in the middle of the desert. Cruise down the lively “Vegas Strip” a boulevard jammed full of neon lights calling you to the various casinos, restaurants and live shows.  Food, drink and entertainment prices here are incredibly low as each casino encourages you to “Take a Chance”.  Vegas owes its growth to the Hoover Dam which brought a large supply of construction workers into the area at the same time as the Nevada Government legalised gambling.

Day 41 to 42: The Grand Canyon

Thu 04 Sep to Fri 05 Sep 2014

After 2 nights in Las Vegas we hit the road again, hopefully bringing your liver and some money in your wallet with you as we head over to one of the USA's highlight's, the Grand Canyon. We camp by the canyon for 2 nights and allow free time for optional treks and flights.

Activity Approximate Cost

Treks into the Grand Canyon

USD 5

Visit the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river that carves the canyon's shape

Included in Kitty

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is carved by the Colorado River and is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide in places and over a mile deep making it one of the largest canyons in the world and allowing it to justifiably call itself grand. The canyon is one of the most famous natural sights in north America and a real must see for any visitor to the USA.

Day 43: Nogales

Sat 06 Sep 2014

From the Grand Canyon we head south through Arizona and towards the Mexican border near the town of Nogales.  

Day 44: Los Mochis

Sun 07 Sep 2014

We wave goodbye to the USA and say Hola to Mexico on an all day drive to the Pacific coastal town of Los Mochis. We camp here for the night.

Day 45 to 46: Sayulita

Mon 08 Sep to Tue 09 Sep 2014

We progress further south into Mexico on another long drive day and along the coast to the Riviera Nayarit and the surfing town of Sayulit. We have 2 nights here camping near the beach and a chance for you to relax by the ocean and maybe have a go at surfing.

Activity Approximate Cost

Try your hand at surfing in Sayulita

USD 20

2 nights on the Pacific coast at Mexican town of Sayulita

Included in Kitty

Sayulita

Sayulita is a coastal town situated on the Riviera Nayurit which stretches from San Blas in the north to Nuevo Vallarta in the south. It's a laid back town with miles of sandy beaches and a wonderful spot to relax or get involved in the many watersports on offer as is a surfing hotspot.

Day 47: Tequila

Wed 10 Sep 2014

We drive 270km to the town of Tequila where we stay the night in a hotel and have a guided tour of the Cuerva tequila distillery.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of a tequila distillery

Included in Kitty

Tequila

The scent of tequila is in the air as soon as we reach the town of Tequila and pass fields of blue agave, the plant from which tequila is distilled. Due to the popularity of the drink the town and the surrounding area have been declared a World Heritage site and it will be only right to try a shot or two!

Day 48 to 49: Angahuan

Thu 11 Sep to Fri 12 Sep 2014

We continue south to the small town of Angahuan where we will camp for 2 nights. This quaint town is the gateway to the Paricutín volcano and there will be optional climbs around the volcano on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up the Paricutín volcano in Angahuan

USD 35

2 nights in Angahuan by the Paricutín volcano

Included in Kitty

Angahuan

The small village of Anguhuan is situated around the Paricutin Volcano which erupted in 1943 and continued to erupt until 1954 when it ceased as suddenly as it had started.  In that time the volcano engulfed two entire villages and all that remains are the eerie church spires protruding from the lava.

Day 50: Patzcuaro

Sat 13 Sep 2014

We have a short drive today into the Michoacan hills and the small colonial town of Patzcuaro where we camp for the night. Set amidst beautiful scenery Patzcuaro is the perfect place to relax before the hustle and bustle of Mexico City.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax in the lakeside town of Patzcuaro

Included in Kitty

Patzcuaro

Patzcuaro is a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lago Patzcuaro and was the capital of the Purepechan Indian empire in the early Fourteenth Century.  The Spanish took the city between 1522 and 1529, and they committed atrocious crimes against the Purepecha people.  Today the town is tranquil with Indian markets and outdoor cafes, a far cry from its turbulent history.

Day 51: Mexico City

Sun 14 Sep 2014

We head into the captial of Mexico today, one of the world's busy and most populated city. We stay for the night in a centrally located hotel with plenty of time for optional activities or to enjoy Mexico City's vibrant nightlife.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Isabel

Hotel Isabel

Calle Isabel La Catolica, 63

Centro Historico

Mexico City

Mexico

0052 5518 1213

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend the night in one of the world's busiest capitals, Mexico City

Included in Kitty

Mexico City

Mexico City is the world's largest metropolitan area and is home to a population of some 20 million. Despite its size the city centre still has a colonial feel with a massive Hispanic cathedral dominating the Plaza de la Constitucion - the main square. The cathedral is built on the site of the ancient Aztec capital, the remains of which can be viewed alongside at the Temple Mayor and its Museum.  You may like to extend your time in Mexico City and allow yourselves a day or two more to take in some of the spectacular sights. These include the palaces, churches and temples, the anthropological and other museums. Alternatively you may just want to watch life go by in the Alameda Central - the central park.

Day 52: Mexico City

Mon 15 Sep 2014

Today there will be a group welcome meeting at 9am allowing us ample time to head out of Mexico City to the pyramids of Teotihuacan for a guided visit. We will then return to the capital and stay the night in a centrally located hotel allowing you to enjoy the abundant nightlife.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Isabel
Activity Approximate Cost

Spend the night in one of the world's busiest capitals, Mexico City

Included in Kitty

See the mariachis of Garibaldi Square in Mexico City

USD 1

Guided visit of the pyramids of Teotihuacan

Included in Kitty

Day 53 to 54: Oaxaca

Tue 16 Sep to Wed 17 Sep 2014

We leave the hubub of the capital behind and journey to Oaxaca where we stay for 2 nights in a posada allowing you the chance to explore this this wonderfully laid back colonial city. During our stay here we will have a guided visit of the Zapotec remains at Monte Alban, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the churches and museums of Oaxaca

USD 1

Visit the Zapotec remains at Monte Alban near Oaxaca

Included in Kitty

Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a beautiful old colonial town.  Its graceful arcades and colourful markets are populated mainly by the descendants of Zapotec and Mixtec Indians, who come to sell their colourful woven blankets and shawls in the Zocalo.  Here you can explore the narrow, cobbled streets, which gave D.H.Lawrence the inspiration for his novel, The Plumed Serpent, or simply sit in the square drinking the local mescal and tequila and watch life in this colourful town go by.

Day 55 to 57: San Cristobal De Las Casas

Thu 18 Sep to Sat 20 Sep 2014

Today is an all day drive to the beautiful old colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, one of Mexico's most beautiful towns, where we stay in a family run hotel. We have 3 nights in San Cristobal during which we will take a boat trip down the stunning Sumidero Canyon plus allowing ample time for the abundant optional activities that exist.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights in the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas

Included in Kitty

Horse-riding around San Cristobal de las Casas

USD 10

Boat trip along the stunning Sumidero Canyon near San Cristobal

Included in Kitty

Mountain biking near San Cristobal de las Casas

USD 20

Visit the Tzotil village of San Juan Chamula near San Cristobal

USD 10

Visit the museums of San Cristobal de las Casas

USD 2

San Cristobal De Las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas is the administrative centre of the Chiapas region. We will get the chance to visit some of the surrounding Indian villages perhaps taking a gentle horse-back ride to get there. The villages are populated with Tzotzil and Tzeltal Indians who still show their tribal origins through their varied traditional costumes and customs. You may also like to take a horse ride or mountain bike to explore the surrounding area.

Day 58: Yaxchilan

Sun 21 Sep 2014

We have an early start today and drive to the Lacanja region where we camp for the evening. We visit the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan, taking a boat to get to the site and see the impressive murals at Bonampak.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Mayan ruins at Yaxchilan

Included in Kitty

Marvel at the beautiful murals at Bonampak

Included in Kitty

Yaxchilan

Yaxchilan, meaning green stones in Mayan, is an ancient Mayan city located on the bank of the Usumacinta river in the Lacanja region. Yaxchilan was an important site and dominated smaller sites such as Bonampak, an equally interesting site some 30kms south of Yaxchilan.

Day 59 to 60: Palenque

Mon 22 Sep to Tue 23 Sep 2014

We drive towards Palenque where we will camp for 2 nights and visit the waterfalls of Agua Azul and Misol-Ha en route. On the second of the two days we will visit the incredible ruins of Palenque, rising high from the jungle. A guide will show us around the ruins and you will be free to see if you can visit all 200 of the buildings that make up the city!

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the incredible ruined city of Palenque on a guided tour

Included in Kitty

Palenque

Palenque, at the start of the Yucatan Peninsula, is sited on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and hosts probably the most impressive series of Mayan ruins, which date back to AD 600.  Whilst walking amongst the ruins it is quite often possible to hear the eerie calls of the Howler Monkeys echoing from the jungle around us, which gives an added dimension to this magnificent archaeological site.  In the Templo de las Inscripciones the excavators actually found an intact funerary crypt containing the sarcophagus of the Sun God.  The temples are superb relics of the Mayan culture, and there are many ruins here still un-excavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.

Day 61: Merida

Wed 24 Sep 2014

Today we have an all day drive to Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state. We stay in a colonial hotel in the heart of this bustling city and a chance to enjoy it's nightlife.

Merida

Merida is the Yucatan State capital.  Here we get a chance to browse the excellent markets.  This is perhaps the best place to buy a hammock to get into the swing of things or even a Panama hat if you want to get ahead.

Day 62: Chichen Itza

Thu 25 Sep 2014

We have a short drive to Piste today, the gateway for Chitchen Itza, one of the most spectacular Mayan sites. Here we enjoy a guided tour of the site as well as the daily spectacular light and sound show.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the spectacular Chitchen Itza on a guided tour, a UNESCO world heritage site

Included in Kitty

Chichen Itza

We stop at Piste from where we take in the Light and Sound Show at the famous site of Chichen Itza.  The following day we return to Chichen Itza where Toltec and earlier Mayan ruins lie alongside each other.  The famous El Castillo pyramid houses a huge staircase to a crypt that is guarded by a jaguar statue. The crypt houses a throne in the shape of a jaguar, painted red and inlaid with eyes and spots of pure jade.  The site has the largest ball-court from which any losing player taking part in the games would not have escaped with his head. The games are depicted in carvings on the walls.  Nearby the well of sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones when it was excavated at the start of the century.

Day 63 to 64: Tulum

Fri 26 Sep to Sat 27 Sep 2014

After some incredible Mayan ruins and a few colonial towns we reach the Caribbean coastline for 2 nights of camping on a remote beach location near Xpuha follwing a drive of some 270kms. The time here allows you relaxation and on the second day we will visit the Maya-Toltec ruins of Tulum, perched high on the cliffs above the glistening blue sea, an incredible sight.

Activity Approximate Cost

Snorkelling at Tulum

USD 10

2 nights camping on the beach near Tulum

Visit the clifftop Maya-Toltec ruins at Tulum

Included in Kitty

Tulum

The ruins of the ancient city of Tulum sit on the clifftop overlooking the white beach, the palm trees and the turquoise sea.  It is easy to see why the location was chosen for these temples to the God of the Setting Sun.

Day 65: Corozal Town

Sun 28 Sep 2014

Border day. We might camp in the Carribean village of Corozal Town in Belize, or try to make it all the way to the ferry to go to Caye Caulker.

Day 66 to 68: Caye Caulker

Mon 29 Sep to Wed 01 Oct 2014

We leave Xpuha early in the morning and head to Chetumal where we board a boat, wave goodbye to Mexico and head for Caye Caulker in Belize. We have 3 nights in this incredible Caribbean location staying in a small hotel close to the beach. The time on the island is your to relax, sunbathe or enjoy the many waterbased activities on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights on the stunning island of caye Caulker in Belize

Included in Kitty

Scuba diving trips off Caye Caulker

USD 100

Snorkelling off Caye Caulker

USD 50

Visit the stunning Blue Hole off Caye Caulker

USD 200

Caye Caulker

The Belize Cayes are a group of islands a short boat ride away from the coast, where scuba diving and snorkelling are about the hardest work to be done all day.  There are a number of these islands to choose from, but we will base ourselves on Caye Caulker as this is one of the more popular islands with travellers.  From here it is possible to arrange day trips to other Cayes, to the best reefs for diving, or simply to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself.  Each island has its own particular character but all of them have the unmistakable Caribbean pace and charm.

Day 69 to 70: San Ignacio, Belize City

Thu 02 Oct to Fri 03 Oct 2014

Today we head to the Belize mainland, catching a boat over to Belize City, the country's former capital. We will have a few hours to look round the city before heading on to San Ignacio, locally known as Cayo. We stay here for 2 nights and camp where a variety of optional activities are on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in San Ignacio, Belize's adventure activity centre

Included in Kitty

Take a canoe trip down the Macal River near San Ignacio

USD 15

Horse riding around San Ignacio

USD 30

Visit the Actun Tunichal Mukwal Cave near San Ignacio

USD 75

Rent mountain bikes and explore the area around San Ignacio

USD 30

San Ignacio

San Ignacio, close to the Guatemalan border gives us many options. You can choose from numerous activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, caving and canoeing.  Some of the caving trips here are unique and this is a stop that everyone enjoys.

Day 71: Tikal

Sat 04 Oct 2014

We make the short drive across the Guatemalan border to the incredible Mayan ruins of Tikal, with it's temples hiding in the tropical jungle. We camp near the ruins and have a guided tour of the ruins.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a guided tour of the incredible ruins of Tikal

Included in Kitty

Day 72: Poptun

Sun 05 Oct 2014

Today we head to the small town of Poptun where we stay for the night on a working farm, camping in the grounds of the finca. 

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay on a working Guatemalan farm

Included in Kitty

River caving near Poptun

USD 40

Horse riding near Poptun

USD 30

Day 73: Livingston, Rio Dulce

Mon 06 Oct 2014

We have a very short drive today to Rio Dulce where we board a boat to Livingston on the Caribbean coast. The town is distinctly different from the rest of the country and we will enjoy a night in a hotel here mixing with the locals.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a boat ride down the Rio Dulce to Livingston

Included in Kitty

Livingston

At the mouth of the Rio Dulce we come to the small town of Livingston.  It has no roads connecting it to the rest of the country and as such has developed its own rather unique character with something of a Caribbean feel and is a great place to spend the night by the coast.

Rio Dulce

From Puerto Barrios we will take a boat trip along the Rio Dulce. The river flows through dense forests and the jungle comes right down to the water's edge.  Tropical birds nest in the trees around us and fly overhead.  At one part of the river hot water bubbles from a natural spring in the bank, creating a localised hot pool.  For those wanting a hot bath or a swim, you can simply jump over the edge of the boat.

Day 74: San Andres Itzapa

Tue 07 Oct 2014

In the morning we journey back down the Rio Dulce to rejoin the truck and drive 300kms to San Andres Itzapa, a small village located in the moutains around Antigua. We spend one night at the centre of Manos Amigas. This centre is run by the Italian NGO 'Mani Amiche' in support of local women who have been abandoned and abused, and who 'hide away' in the centre with their kids. Dragoman is supporting this community and it is also the project that Luca, our Wanderlust 2012 Guide of the Year, will be donating part of his bursary to.

Activity Approximate Cost

1 night at the Centre Manos Amigas which helps local women and their kids.

Included in Kitty

San Andres Itzapa

San Andres Itzapa is a small village tuched away on the mountains around Antigua. 

Day 75: Panajachel / Lake Atitlan

Wed 08 Oct 2014

Being an exploratory trip we have left this day as a spare day to be used at leader and group discretion.

Day 76: Panajachel, Lake Atitlan

Thu 09 Oct 2014

Today we may have the chance to visit the market at Totonicapan before a short drive to Panajachel, situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan where we camp in the grounds of a hotel. There is the opportunity to take a boat out onto the lake or perhaps just enjoy some relaxation.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to visit villages around Lake Atitlan

USD 30

Panajachel

Basing ourselves at Panajachel, we spend a couple of days exploring these surrounding villages. You may like to walk to the nearest village, Santa Catarina Palopo, where you can watch the women weaving their huipiles, or perhaps take a boat to the further villages of Santiago Atitlan or San Pedro la Laguna.  Santiago is known for its colourful markets whereas San Pedro has a tranquil atmosphere and is the base village from where the more energetic can climb the San Pedro volcano.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan's beautiful waters change colour to suit the mood of the weather from emerald and azure to lapis and olive. It is set amongst forest-clad hills with three volcanic peaks on its far shores.  All around the lake are small villages where the local Indian life has changed little for hundreds of years.  The people from each village have their own typical dress, and make all the textiles themselves in designs passed down through generations.

Day 77: Panajachel, Chichicastenango

Fri 10 Oct 2014

We spend a second day camping by the lake and will visit Chichicastenango and it's fantastic market.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the market at Chichicastenango and shop 'til you drop

Included in Kitty

Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango is perhaps the most colourful of markets in all of Guatemala and everywhere you look your eyes are met by stalls of multi-coloured textiles, by Indian people in their multi-coloured clothes, or even by the colours of the fresh produce in the vegetable market. This is the ideal place to pick up all those souvenirs and presents for the people back at home.

Day 78: Antigua

Sat 11 Oct 2014

We drive 200kms back to Antigua where we have more free time to explore the town and stay in the same colonial hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the beautiful town of Antigua

Included in Kitty

Antigua

Antigua, the old colonial capital of Guatemala,  is only a short distance from the international airport at Guatemala City.  Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country and has a mixture Indian markets and colonial buildings. It's cobbled streets and indigenous marimba music in the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere. It is usually possible to arrange an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano.  This can be one of the most exhilarating experiences as it is often active.

The reward for a few hard hours of climbing in the late afternoon is to sit and watch the spectacular eruptions of the volcano from close quarters.  The red hot lava explodes into the dark night air and lights the whole sky like a spectacular firework display.

Day 79: Antigua

Sun 12 Oct 2014

Today is free for you to explore Antigua and there will be a group welcome meeting at 6pm. During the day the more adventurous of you may wish to try and climb up Pacaya, an active volcano. We stay the night in a lovely colonial hotel.

Hotel for the night: Posada La Merced

Posada La Merced

7a. Avenida Norte 43

Antigua

Guatemala

Tel: +502 7832197

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the beautiful town of Antigua

Included in Kitty

Pacaya Volcano Walk from Antigua

USD 15

Day 80 to 81: El Impossible National Park

Mon 13 Oct to Tue 14 Oct 2014

This morning we drive roughly 300kms and across the El Salvador border to El Impossible National park. We camp for a couple of nights and explore this incredible park with it's great diversity of plant and animal life where you may be lucky enough to see pumas, tigrillos or black crested eagles.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore El Impossible National Park

Included in Kitty

El Impossible National Park

As you can guess from its name this is a remote area, a national Reserve set up to protect the flora and fauna of the rocky slopes and forests of the Cordillera de Apaneca. This area was named for the perilous gorge which used to claim the lives of farmers and pack mules transporting coffee to the Pacific port. Today the park makes a great place for a trek and maybe the chance to see pumas, tigrillos, wild boars, king hawks and black-crested eagles. Hiking can get muddy and steep but offers grand vistas of misty peaks and the gleaming Pacific Ocean.

Day 82: Cerro Verde National Park

Wed 15 Oct 2014

An early start takes us some 170kms to Cerro Verde National Park which offers amazing views of the surrounding volcanoes and countryside. We camp in the park which has basic facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Cerro Verde National Park

Included in Kitty

Cerro Verde National Park

The highlight of Cerro Verde National Park is the Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2030 meters above sea level. The Cerro Verde along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These 2 otehr volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside Cerro Verde national park. The park offers some wonderful treks enabling fantastic views of northern El Salvador.

Day 83: Suchitoto

Thu 16 Oct 2014

We take a short drive to the lovely town of Suchitoto, with it's cobbled streets and whitewashed houses where we stay in a local hotel for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the wonderful town of Suchitoto

Included in Kitty

Suchitoto

Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past.  A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerrón Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlán, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.

Day 84 to 85: Copan

Fri 17 Oct to Sat 18 Oct 2014

We cross the border and enter Honduras. Once border formalities are dealt with we will continue to the spectacular ruins of Copan where we camp for two nights in the grounds of a hotel for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins at Copan

Included in Kitty

Copan

The ancient ruins of Copan are the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famed. This particular site is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the Royal families.  There are also a number of small pyramid shaped temples and excavated vaults.

Day 86 to 88: Roatan Island

Sun 19 Oct to Tue 21 Oct 2014

A drive of just over 300kms brings us to the caribbean port town of La Ceiba from where we will get our flight to the stunning Bay Islands and to Roatan. Here we stay for 3 nights in a lovely posada near many of the bars and restaurants the island has to offer.

Please remember there is a 25 USD airport tax not covered by kitty.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights stay on Roatan Island in crystal clear Caribbean waters

Included in Kitty

Go diving or snorkelling off the coast of Roatan Island

USD 50

Explore Roatan island by bicycle

USD 20

Rent sea Kayaks and explore the Caribbean waters surrounding Roatan island

USD 45

Roatan Island

Roatan Island is one of the famous Bay Islands.  This archipelago of coral islands set in the Caribbean is known for its laid back atmosphere.  The scuba diving around the reefs is said to be some of the best in the world and extremely good value.  During your stay on Roatan Island you can snorkel, go sea kayaking, hire jeeps or even get your PADI licence.

Day 89: Lake Yojoa

Wed 22 Oct 2014

We start early today to catch our filght back to the mainland. Upon arrival back at La Ceiba we head 230 kms to Lake Yojoa, half way between San Pedro de Sula and Tegulcigalpa where we can camp for the night by the lake.

Please remember there is a 25 USD airport tax not covered by kitty today.

Day 90: Leon

Thu 23 Oct 2014

We enter Nicaragua today andafter a long drive of 400kms head to the university town of Leon, with wonderful colonial architecture ranked second best in the country behind that of Granada. We stay the night in a centrally located hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the charming colonial city of Leon

Included in Kitty

If the season is correct it may be possible to see turtles on the nearby beach of Playa La Flor

USD 30

Leon

The town of Leon is lined with derelict buildings and the walls are adorned with political murals and graffiti. Given this extraordinary setting it is a pleasant surprise to discover that you receive a cheery welcome from the locals in the market, though the variety of goods and foodstuffs available is limited.

Day 91: Masaya National Park

Fri 24 Oct 2014

We drive approximately 130kms to Masaya national park, possibly stopping in Managua en route if time allows. We will visit the national park and the active volcano that lies in the middle of the park, viewing the crater and lava flows. We spend the night camping in the park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the volcano at Masaya National Park

Included in Kitty

Visit the market at Masaya

USD 5

Masaya National Park

At the Masaya National Park, the twin volcano craters of Masaya and Santiago are an incredible sight. At the bottom of a vast crater a glowing red fire, like a furnace, fills the air with a pall of pungent sulphurous fumes and rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The park is inhabited by many different kinds of animals including coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys and the park makes a wonderful place for trekking.

Day 92: Granada

Sat 25 Oct 2014

A short hour long drive in the morning brings us to Granada, Nicaraguas's oldest city, oozing with colonial charm where we spend the night in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the colonial city of Granada

Included in Kitty

Granada

Granada is the oldest city of the 'new world' having been founded in 1524 and was registered as such registered in the official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain. Due to its Moorish and Andalusian appearance it is nicknamed as the Great Sultan, La Gran Sultana, and has a rich colonial history. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and simply is a beautiful place to visit.

Day 93 to 94: Ometepe Island

Sun 26 Oct to Mon 27 Oct 2014

This morning we will hop aboard a boat and across Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, to Isla Ometepe. On the island we will stay in a small hotel for 2 nights giving you the chance to explore all the island has to offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights on Ometepe Island

Included in Kitty

Climb the Madera volcano on Ometepe Island

USD 25

Ometepe Island

Isla de Ometepe is beautifully located within Lake Nicaragua and is formed by the 2 volcanoes which rise from the lake. In fact, the name of the island literally means 2 volcanoes in the Nahuatl language with 'ome' meaning two and 'tepetl' meaning mountain. The island's wonderful hourglass shape is home to great beaches and deep jungle making it a great place to spend a day or two.

Day 95 to 96: La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano National Park

Tue 28 Oct to Wed 29 Oct 2014

We drive 240kms to La Fortuna in Costa Rica, near the shores of Laguna de Arenal where we camp by the lake for fantastic vistas of the Arenal volcano and its lava flow glowing in the night. We stay by the lake for a couple of nights allowing you time for optional activities around the lake.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights around Volcano Arenal

Included in Kitty

Visit the thermal pools around the Arenal volcano

USD 20

Kayaking and rafting around La Fortuna

USD 60

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano National Park

La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most active volcano: the majestic Arenal. The Arenal Volcano is a regularly spewing smoke and ashes and is beautiful to behold at night as is glows from across lake Arenal, the second largest man made lake in Central America. Besides the panoramic views offered of Arenal from La Fortuna the town also offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metres high La Fortuna Waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and also some water sports on Lake Arenal.

Day 97 to 98: Monteverde

Thu 30 Oct to Fri 31 Oct 2014

We continue south through Costa Rica to the dense rainforest of Monteverde where we stay in a hotel for a couple of nights. This stunning area offers an incredible diversity of flora and fauna which hopefully you will be lucky enough to see during a visit to the Cloud Forest Reserve.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde

Included in Kitty

Mountain biking around Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

USD 25

Travel above the Cloud Forest of Monteverde on a zip line

USD 25

Monteverde

Monteverde and the cloud forests which surround it are considered the top destination in Costa Rica and certainly one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world. The bulk of Monteverde's rainforest and cloud forest can be found in the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde which attracts huge numbers of naturalists each year and the area is one of the best in Central America to view the indigenous bird, the Quetzal.

Day 99: San Jose

Sat 01 Nov 2014

We leave the cloud forest behind and head to Costa Rica's wonderful capital city of San Jose, some 140 kms away. We stay in a centrally located hotel allowing you the day and night to explore the city.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Costa Rica's capital, San Jose with free time to explore.

Included in Kitty

Day 100 to 101: Manuel Antonio National Park

Sun 02 Nov to Mon 03 Nov 2014

We leave the capital behind and head towards Quepos on the Pacific coast when the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is located. We spend 2 nights in cabins in the park enjoying jungle walks with a variety of optional activities on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in Manuel Antonio National Park

Included in Kitty

Horse riding near Manuel Antonio National Park

USD 30

Relax on the beach at in Manuel Antonio National Park

USD 1

Manuel Antonio National Park

At Manuel Antonio National Park there is the possibility to fish, walk or ride, but either way there is opportunity to see a host of wildlife.  The park is situated on the coast with beautiful secluded beaches.

Day 102 to 103: Chiriqui

Tue 04 Nov to Wed 05 Nov 2014

We travel across the Panama border today to the Chiriqui highlands and the town of Boquete where we stay in a small pension for 2 nights. The area is famous for rafting, hiking, horseriding and the nearby Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama.

Chiriqui

Chiriqui claims to be Panama's wonderland and it's little surprise. The province boasts of an amazing variety of scenery from pristine beaches on the Golfo de Chiriqui to lush tropical forests where you'll find exotic flora and fauna. The area is also Panama's main coffee growing area as well as being home to the Parque Internacional La Amistad for great hiking through the forests as well as incredible white-water rafting.

Day 104: Santa Clara

Thu 06 Nov 2014

We head towards the capital today and drive roughly 340 kms before arriving by the beach at Santa Clara for a chance to relax and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. We will camp for one final time in Panama by the beach.

Day 105: Panama City

Fri 07 Nov 2014

A short 3 hour drive brings us to Panama City where we stay for the night in a centrally located hotel. We will visit the Panama Canal today and have time for you to explore the city's old and modern parts.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Panama Canal

Included in Kitty

Spend the night in Panama City, the country's capital.

Included in Kitty

Day 106: Panama City

Sat 08 Nov 2014

The trip ends today after breakfast and no accommodation is provided.

However if you are continuing on to Cartagena then your leader will assist you with getting to the airport for your included flight.  You will overnight tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Panama City or Cartagena (depending on the flight times and availability).

Day 107: Cartagena

Sun 09 Nov 2014

Border Information: Welcome to Cartagena, the pearl of Caribbean. If joining in Cartagena, enter Colombia at Cartagena airport.

Free time to explore Cartagena with a group meeting day at 18:00hrs. We stay in a comfortable hotel in central Cartagena.

If you are continuing on from Panama then your leader will have assisted you with getting to the airport for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

Hotel for the night: Villa Colonial

Villa Colonial

Calle de Maravillas (C10)

No 30-60, Getsemani

Cartagena

Tel: 664 4996 / 664 5421

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in vibrant Cartagena

Included in Kitty

Cartagena

Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America. It is legendary both for its history and beauty and tends to be a favourite of all travellers who visit it. Having been the centre of many battles, the city is heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts, the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots; and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction particularly the inner walled town, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Wandering through the streets you get a real feel of the sense of history of this amazing city. The waters of the Caribbean surround Cartagena on three sides. It is possible to take a day trip by boat to the idyllic coral islands of Rosario. This archipeligo of small coral islands is surrounded by the largest and most magnificent coral reefs on the Colombian Caribbean coastline. Marine life is abundant and the whole area is protected under National Park status.

Day 108: Cartagena

Mon 10 Nov 2014

A full day in the beautiful city of Cartagena. In the morning we will have a walking tour of the city and then the rest of the time is free for you to enjoy the many optional activities on offer. We stay in the same centrally located hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Cartagena on a guided walking tour

Included in Kitty

Visit the historic Castillo San Fellipe

USD 20

Visit the mudbaths at the Totumo Volcano

USD 25

Go Diving Or Snorkelling Out To the Islas Del Rosario

USD 10

Day 109 to 110: San Bernardo Islands, Covenas

Tue 11 Nov to Wed 12 Nov 2014

We drive 150kms to Covenas on the Morrosquillo gulf and camp in the grounds of a local hotel for 2 nights near the beach with free time to relax. On the second day we will take a guided day tour out to the idyllic San Bernardo islands.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip out to the spectacular San Bernardo islands for the day

Included in Kitty

San Bernardo Islands

The islands of San Bernardo are made up of ten small islands with fine beaches and are the real travel highlight of this area. Sitting within the Golfo de Morrosquillo in the Caribbean sea the archipelago belongs to the National Natural Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo and consists of the islands of Boqueron, Cabruna, Ceycén, islote of Santa Cruz, Mangle, Maravillar, Múcura, Palma, Pandora and Tintipán.

The Islet of Santa Cruz which is an artificial island is supposedly the most densely populated piece of land in the world with just over a thousand people in less than a hectare of land!

Not all of the islands are accessible but contain stunning beaches, marshes, mangroves and diverse wildlife ranging from flamingos and monkeys to birds and crabs of all colours.

Day 111 to 112: Medellin

Thu 13 Nov to Fri 14 Nov 2014

A 525kms drive takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellin where stay in dorm accommodation in a centrally located hostel allowing you to enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 Nights to explore the vibrant city of Medellin

Included in Kitty

Day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia

USD 1

Visit the Catedral Metropolitana in Medellin

USD 1

Visit Medellin's beautiful Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe

USD 1

Relax and unwind on a stroll though the Medellin's gorgeous Botanical Gardens.

USD 1

Medellin

The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980's and 90's with international reputation of one of the world's most dangerous cities, Medellín has certainly turned itself around.

With the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel holding the largest drug-trafficking base here for decades, the city suffered a seriously damaged reputation amongst international travellers and has only recently become a popular destination amongst backpackers. Despite the damage of the city's past, the Paisas (as people from Medellin are known) have strived to change the it's reputation. Almost nothing of those former days can be seen in the character of the city today and visitors can comfortably enjoy the beautiful architecture, excellent facilities and all round well developed city!

Set amid the rolling green hills of the Aburrá valley and with a warm climate and comfortable altitude of 1538 metres, Medellín has seen more and more travellers flocking to the city in the past few years. With some of the country's finest museums, parks and most impressive architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it’s easy to see why.

Medellín is also one of Colombia's easiest cities to get around with the immaculate and convenient metro system passing all the main points of interest. If you use the metro then make sure you head up on El Teléferico, the city’s cable car, as this is included on your metro ticket and gives you a great view of the city.

Why not visit the Museo de Antioquia which combines pre-colombian exhibits with displays by several of Colombia's best known artists including a collection by the famous Fernando Botero and head to the 'Jardines Montesacro' to see where the infamous Pablo Escobar is buried.

A great side trip from Medellin is Santa Fe de Antioquia. Set in a lush low lying hot and sultry valley on the banks of the Rio Cauca, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the oldest settlement in the region. Founded in 1541 it served as the capital of the department until 1826 when the state capital moved to Medellin. The town has kept much of its Colonial charm, the narrow streets and whitewashed  colonial style buildings many of which with large central courtyard in which to relax away from the midday heat. The central plaza is dominated by the principal church of the town. The plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of Tamarind product that grow locally, take a tour of the stalls and try a few samples of this local delicacy. There are several other churches and important colonial buildings to visit but the greatest pleasure is simply exploring the narrow streets infused with history of the region.

 

Day 113 to 115: Guatapé

Sat 15 Nov to Mon 17 Nov 2014

We make a short drive this morning of a couple of hours to the small town of Guatapé which is beautifully located aside a lake in rolling countryside. The town is famous for the towering El Peñón de Guatapé which will will visit before enjoying 3 days of camping by the lake for various activities in the local area.

Activity Approximate Cost

Cilmb the 644 steps to the top of El Peñón de Guatapé for spectactular views.

USD

Waterfall treks around Guatapé

USD 6

Hire kayaks to explore the lakes around Guatapé

USD 6

Rent mountain bikes to explore Guatapé

USD 3

Guatapé

Guatapé is a picturesque town surrounded by the Embalse del Penol, an artificial lake built in the early 1960’s and wonderful countryside yet with a colourful and historic centre. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs. The area is great for activities but one of the main reasons to visit is to see El Peñón de Guatapé, a 650 foot tall granite monolith that divides the countryside and offers amazing views from the top. El Peñón is very similar to Sugar loaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro and has 644 steps which you need to climb to get to the top, but it is well worth it.

Day 116 to 118: Manizales

Tue 18 Nov to Thu 20 Nov 2014

We head 185kms to Manizales where we stay for 3 nights on a coffee plantation, camping in the grounds of a traditional finca. During the next few days we will enjoy a night of music and dancing, a city tour of Manizales and a coffee plantation tour. Will will also visit a local childrens's charity which we support.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a night of traditional live Colombian music

Included in Kitty

Explore Manizales on a city tour

Included in Kitty

Explore a working Colombian coffee plantation

Included in Kitty

Stay On A Coffee Plantation Near Manizales

Included in Kitty

Visit to Sagrada Familia childrens project

Included in Kitty

Manizales

Manizales is a friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer the visitor in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions. The town itself is a relaxed and friendly place centred around the magnificent cathedral with attractions such as the botanical gardens, thermal springs and eco-parks all easily access able from the centre of town. Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors.

In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking season.

 

Day 119 to 120: Cali

Fri 21 Nov to Sat 22 Nov 2014

Today we head out early overlanding to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. In the evening there may be the chance to head out for a tour of the city in a traditional chiva bus and there is the chance for optional salsa classes. During the day time there are lots of attractions to keep you entertained.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Cali in the evening on a chiva bus

USD 10

Learn to Salsa like a local

USD 20

Enjoy Colombia’s best nightlife in Cali

Visit Cali Zoo, probably the best in South America.

USD 5

Get wet at Cali's Water park!

USD 5

Visit Museo Arqueológico la Merced, Cali's best museum.

USD 2

Visit the Museo del Oro in Cali, with it's wonderful gold collection.

USD 1

Cali

Cali is a big and bustling city with a warm climate and pleasant atmosphere. Although there are comparatyvely few sights of special interest, just wandering through the mix-match architecture and relaxing in the sociable parks and plazas is a nice way to spend some time.

The city has made it's reputation in traveller circles thanks to it's nightlife and social scene and as such is increasingly popular. The Salsa capital of Colombia provides great opportunities to test out those dance moves and hit the fashionable bars and restaurants with the locals. For party seekers and those who enjoy the faster paced city life, Cali shouldn't disappoint. Avenida Sexta, is Cali's party street. With rows of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, this is where to head for a night on the town.

For others, the old neighbourhood of San Antonio is a lovely spot with arty, Bohemian cafes, shops and restaurants lining picturesque Colonial streets.

Alternatively why not head to Las Tres Cruces which is a great point from which to catch the best views over Cali. It’s quite a hike up there but it's a peaceful spot and a nice break from the rush of the city.

Day 121: Popayan

Sun 23 Nov 2014

A short 140kms drive brings us to the beautiful town of Popayan where we stay for the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in the beautiful old town of Popayan

Included in Kitty

Popayan

Nicknamed the White City, Popayan is a beautiful colonial town of white-washed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region and the former capital of Southern Colombia, Popayan somehow retains it's relaxed small town feel. The friendly locals can often be found sipping coffee in one of the city's excellent cafes or relaxing in one of the shaded parks, catching up with friends and watching the world go by.

The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayan a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church towers provide a sociable and relaxed location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club.

Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the Historic Centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of.

Another highlight of this area is the Silvia Indigenous Market. This beautiful Andean market town is absolutely bursting with colour and energy when the market opens on Tuesdays. Guambiano Indians from the surrounding communities make their way into Silvia to sell their produce and socialise with friends from neighbouring towns.

Day 122: Ipiales

Mon 24 Nov 2014

Today we drive the 315km to the border town of Ipiales. We stay the night in a local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the jaw dropping Santuario La Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales

Included in Kitty

Ipiales

Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas squares and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel.

The star attraction of Ipiales, 7 km outside of town, is the famous Santuario de Las Lajas, the site of many a miracle and apparition over the years. Set amid breath-taking scenery, El Santuario is a spectacular gothic-style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.

 

 

Day 123: Otavalo

Tue 25 Nov 2014

Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales. Enter Ecuador at Ipiales

We cross the border into Ecuador and head to the Indian market town of Otavalo where we stay in a friendly hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in the market town of Otavalo

Included in Kitty

Horseriding, rafting, biking or village tour around Otavalo

USD 15

Otavalo

Otavalo is a small town known for it's market, nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance north of Quito. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails. Infact, the Otovalan's weaving skills are quite renowned and they are rightly famous for their textiles, so rugs, wall hangings and knitwear are all well worth buying here. There are numerous other activities to do in the surrounding area, including horse-riding and trekking into the surrounding hillsides. If you have time, it may also be possible to visit the hot springs at Papallacta.

Day 124: Quito

Wed 26 Nov 2014

120kms drive to the capital, Quito arriving in the afternoon where we stay in a local friendly hotel. En route we will stop at the Equator for the must have photo ops.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in historic Quito

Included in Kitty

Visit the equator at Mitad del Mundo

Included in Kitty

Visit the Museo De La Cuidad

USD 2

Take a trip on El Telerifiqo, the world's second highest cable car

USD 4

Quito

Quito has a more relaxed atmosphere than most Latin American capitals. Lying in a hollow at the base of Volcano Pichincha, the old town is a maze of steep, cobbled streets with intricately carved, overhanging balconies. Its mixture of old colonial and modern architecture and the mix of European and Indian cultures make this a really fascinating city. Wandering around, you will come across stalls displaying Indian textiles, colourful wall hangings, jewellery, pottery and woodcarvings - and the old town has some of the best examples of Spanish colonial art and churches anywhere in the Americas.With so much to see and do, it is well worth extending your time in South America to ensure you experience all that Quito has to offer.

Day 125: Quito

Thu 27 Nov 2014

Border information: Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. If you are starting at Quito, enter Ecuador at Quito airport.

Day to explore Quito with a group meeting at 18.00hrs.  We stay in a local, friendly hotel in the city.

Hotel for the night: Alston Inn Hotel

Alston Inn Hotel

Juan Leon Mera N23-41 y

Ventimilla

Quito

Tel: 00 593 2 22 22721

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in historic Quito

Included in Kitty

Day 126: Coca

Fri 28 Nov 2014

Today we will drive around 350 km into the heart of the Amazon to Coca (Puerto Francisco de Orellana). This is where we will set off from tomorrow for our Jungle Expedition.

Coca

Coca is the more commonly known name for Puerto Francisco de Orellana, which is also the capital of the province of Orellana in the 'oriente' or the Est of Ecuador deep in the jungle. The city is located at the confluence of the Napo River and the Coca River which gives the nickname to the city.

Francisco de Orellana is the famous explorer who gives the name to the city. He explored the confluence of the Napo River and the Coca river. History says he set off from the current location of the city and made his way deep into the Amazon Jungle and river crossing indigenous tribes in which even women used to fight. He sailed all the way eventually makin it to the Atlantic. Francisco de Orellana died on his second expedition along the Amazon delta not being able to find his way through. 

 

Day 127 to 129: Panachoca Amazon Experience

Sat 29 Nov to Mon 01 Dec 2014

We will set off in the morning on a motorised canoe and leave civilization behind. for the next 4 days will be all about the jungle.

During your 3 nights here you will take trips out into the rainforest on foot and by boat to explore for wildlife.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights, 4 days exploring the deep jungle along the river Panachoca. Jungle walk, bird watching, piranha fishing and all that the deep jungle has got to offer, very far away from any other tourists. A truly unique experience.

Included in Kitty

Day 130: Rio Verde

Tue 02 Dec 2014

An early boat ride brings us back along the Rio Napo to Coca from where we rejoin our overland vehicle and drive 300kms to the beautiful town of Rio Verde. We stay at a campsite with great facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

2 or 3 nights camping at the stunning Rio Verde

Included in Kitty

Rio Verde

A few kilometres from Banos, is the small town of Rio Verde, named after the clear green water of the river that flows through the town. A number of waterfalls are found along its course, the most spectacular being The Devil’s Cauldron (‘El Pailon del Diablo’), a 20-minute walk out of town. Whilst staying here, you will have the opportunity to take part in optional adventure activities like as horse-riding, canyoning, mountain biking and rafting, as well as making the short trip into Banos to visit the thermal springs.

Day 131 to 132: Banos, Rio Verde

Wed 03 Dec to Thu 04 Dec 2014

These are non-driving days with free time for a range of adrenalin activities or a possible visit to nearby Banos. We stay at the same campsite

Activity Approximate Cost

Rafting and horseback trekking around Rio Verde

USD 35

Explore the beautiful hills surrounding Banos with an abundance of activities on offer

USD

Half day rafting at Banos, including lunch

USD 75

Half day canyoning at Banos

USD 45

Banos

Set in the hillside of the Tungurahua volcano is the exquisite town of Banos. Tungurahua may be the biggest volcano in Ecuador, but it is also one of the most popular to climb. This creates hiking opportunities and if you explore you will discover the thermal baths and gorgeous waterfalls. Banos is also the perfect place if you want exciting bike rides when the unknown always lies ahead. Pitch black tunnels, sheer drops - it is a place for the bold, it is a place for the daring and most importantly, it is a place that will bring out the adrenaline seeker in us all!

Day 133: Chugchilan

Fri 05 Dec 2014

An early morning starts a 300kms drive on the northern section of the spectacular Quilotoa Loop to the town of Chugchilán. We stay the night in a fantastic hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland around the stunning Quilotoa Loop

Included in Kitty

Trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan

Included in Kitty

Go Mountain Biking around Chugchilan

USD 20

Chugchilan

Set on the slopes of the Rio Toachi Canyon, Chugchilán is our base for 2 nights where we either stay in a wonderful eco-lodge or an equally fantastic hostel. From the front door of the lodge, several day hikes are available, the most famous being one from Lake Quilotoa which is considered to be one of the best hikes in Ecuador.

We will drive from Chugchilán to Quilotoa where you will be able to climb down the crater to the waters edge before we begin a 4-6 hour guided trek, mainly downhill, back to our eco-lodge base. A moderate level of fitness is required as the trek is at altitude but the walking itself is not too strenous.

Day 134: Chugchilan, Lake Quilotoa

Sat 06 Dec 2014

An hour's drive brings us to the town of Quilotoa to see the stunning Crater Lake and begin one of Ecuador's best day hikes back to Chugchilán. We will trek with a local guide and the mostly downhill trek takes between 4-6 hours. There is however a section towards the end of the trek with a steep incline which you will need to be physically fit for.

Lake Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located at 3800 metres (12,400 feet) between the towns of Zumbahua and Chugchilán.  Its emerald water spans two kilometres.  Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulfuric.  Quilotoa is an active volcano, the last major eruption was over 850 years ago. 

It is possible to hike down from the crater rim to the lakeside. The descent takes 30 minutes and climbing back up takes about an hour.  It is possible to swim in the lake, but the water is very cold (5° celsius).  If the climb back up from the laguna is too strenuous, you can hire a mule to ride for a few dollars.

The lake also lends it’s name to the Quilotoa Loop, given to the winding circuit of spectacular dirt roads that connect Lake Quilotoa to Latacunga and the Pan-American Highway. The roads that lead away from Latacunga are unpaved, winding and have spectacular views of the mountains, rivers and verdant landscape. We will head to the town of Chugchilán on the northern section of the loop and after a 2 night stay head out on the southern section of the loop allowing you to see some of the more remote people and culture of the central Andes of Ecuador.

Day 135: Riobamba, Chugchilan

Sun 07 Dec 2014

This morning we will drive the southern section of the Quilotoa Loop and then head to the Riobamba area where we will stay in a hotel for the night. We will cover approximately 320kms today.

Day 136 to 137: Cuenca

Mon 08 Dec to Tue 09 Dec 2014

A 250kms drive will take us to to Cuenca with a chance to explore the town and possibly visit it’s famous Panama Hat factory.

We spend the next 2 nights in a guesthouse

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in colonial Cuenca

Included in Kitty

Cuenca

Cuenca is Ecuador's third-largest city and it's small centre is home to some beautiful architecture. This small university town is a pleasure to wander around and explore, take to the streets and you'll discover impressive churches that date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries, attractive colonial buildings, tranquil plazas and lively markets. The Ecuadorians consider it the finest city in the country and many of its buildings are constructed from marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. Cuenca is also the home of the Panama hat, and you can visit some of the famous hat factories, where you can watch the craftsman and marvel at their skill first-hand.

Because of all the students who are based here, the town has a lively night-life and there are some good bars and restaurants to choose from. Top that off with an evening stroll around the Plaza and you'll have spent the perfect day enjoying the city.

Day 138: Punta Sal

Wed 10 Dec 2014

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Tumbes. Enter Peru at Tumbes.

A 285kms drive takes us across the Peruvian border to Punta Sal, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean where we camp at a hostel

Activity Approximate Cost

Try horse riding, fishing, salsa and surfing at Punta Sal

USD 20

Punta Sal

Situated on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in a long, curvy bay, Punta Sal is a haven of sun and sand. The warm and tranquil waters are a pleasure to swim in and there's also the opportunity to set out on fishing trips and boat trips along the coast line. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, horse riding along the beach and salsa lessons can be arranged, or just kick-back in a hammock and laze the day away, enjoying the peace and quiet of this beautiful spot.

Day 139 to 140: Punta Sal

Thu 11 Dec to Fri 12 Dec 2014

2 days with free time to enjoy the beach and activities at Punta Sal. Second and 3rd night camping at the same hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 night stay on the pacific coast at Punta Sal

Included in Kitty

Day 141: Lambayeque, Huanchaco

Sat 13 Dec 2014

610kms drive to Huanchaco, visiting Lambayeque for the Lord of Sipan Museum visit enroute. On arrival in Huanchaco we will be camping at a site with good facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the northern Peru Desert

Included in Kitty

Guided tour of Moche Pyramids and the Chimu city of Chan Chan

Included in Kitty

Visit to the Lord of Sipan Museum

Included in Kitty

Lambayeque

The small Peruvian town of Lambayeque is home to the impressive Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan, a world-class museum that showcases the finest artefacts from the archaeological finds at nearby Sipan. This area on the northwest coast of Peru is well known for its rich historical heritage and the name Lambayeque originates from the ancient pre-Inca civilisation of the Lambayeques. Amongst the most extraordinary discoveries made here is the famous ‘Lord of the Sipan’, a Moche Priest found buried amidst an array of gold, jewels and fabrics.

Huanchaco

Once the capital of the ancient Peruvian Moche civilisation, Huanchaco is a small town on the Peruvian coast that is rapidly acquiring a reputation for the quality of the surfing off its relaxed beaches. Wandering along the sea front you will come across the local fishermen's "caballitos de tortora", curved reed boats that they leave propped up in groups together on the sand.

Huanchaco is an ideal location from which to explore the numerous archaeological ruins the surround nearby Trujillo, such as the enormous pre-columbian complex of Chan Chan, a vast adobe city constructed by the emporer of the Chimu people, as well as the world famous Moche pyramids the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.

Day 142: Huanchaco

Sun 14 Dec 2014

Visit to numerous ruins in and around Huanchaco, the enormous ruins of Chan Chan, and the world famous pyramids of Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna. We stay at the same campsite.

Day 143: Lima

Mon 15 Dec 2014

A full drive day of 530kms brings us to the country’s capital, Lima, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a comfortable hotel in the city centre.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Gold Museum & Catacombs of Lima

USD 20

Overnight stay in colonial Lima

Included in Kitty

Lima

Lima is a city of hidden beauty. Dive in and explore the Peruvian capital's streets, parks and plazas and you will discover a real gem of a city. Infact there's so much to see here, a city tour is a great opportunity to find out about more about the rich history of Lima itself and Peru as a whole. The city was founded by Conquistador Pizarro in 1535 and was originally the administrative centre for Spain’s Vice royalty in South America, making it the continent’s most important city for nearly three centuries. It became a city of great wealth financed by the massive quantities of gold and silver that were mined in the area.

Whilst you are here there are many museums you can visit, such as the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum, which showcase the finest artefact's from the country's many ancient civlisations. You can also visit the finely preserved catacombs at the Church of San Francisco, and take in a bit of local culture at an evening folklore show.

Day 144: Lima

Tue 16 Dec 2014

Border information: Welcome to Lima, the capital of Peru. If you are starting in Lima, enter Peru at Lima Airport.

Day free to explore Lima, with a group meeting at 18:00 hrs. We stay in a good quality hotel in the centre of the city.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Inka Path

Jr. de la Union 654

Lima

+51 1 426 1919

+51 1 426 9302

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Gold Museum & Catacombs of Lima

USD 20

Overnight stay in colonial Lima

Included in Kitty

Day 145: Paracas, Ballestas Islands, Huacachina

Wed 17 Dec 2014

We have a very early start and head south and out of Lima to begin a 270kms drive to Paracas. There we board a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands to view wildlife before returning to Paracas to explore the national park. We will bush camp either in Paracas National Park or in Huacachina for optional sand boarding and dune buggying

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to see the seals & seabirds on the Ballestas Isles

Paracas

Spanning 335,000 hectares of land and sea, Paracas National Park is widely regarded as one of the most important marine reserves in the world. This coastal and marine national park is located on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of the highest concentration of marine birds in the world. Providing a vital habitat for sealions and dolphins, Paracas is without doubt one of the most biologically diverse coastal areas in the Americas.

Historically the peninsula was the home to the Paracas people from 1200BC through to around 200 AD and some remains of their culture can be found in the area, the most spectacular of which is the enormous candelabra - a giant etching depicting a cactus inscribed onto a coastal hill overlooking the ocean.

 

Ballestas Islands

The Ballestas Islands has weird and wonderful wildlife. From the boat trip you will be able to see Humboldt Penguins, Blackish Oystercatchers, Guano Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies living alongside vast colonies of Sea Lions nosily crowding the Ballestas coastline. The startlingly biodiversity around the Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Park is the result of two merging currents; the warm northern waters El Nino and the cooler waters of the Humboldt. The climatic conditions produced by the combination of these two currents create the perfect environment for a proliferation in the number of plankton and fitophankton, the core constituents in the diet of fish. The Ballestas Islands are one of the most popular ecotourism points of view along the Peruvian coast.

Huacachina

Known as the 'oasis of America', Huacachina is near Ica in northern Peru, and is perhaps more reminiscent of the Sahara than South America. The picturesque lagoon is surrounded by palm trees and towering sand dunes and creates a tranquil oasis in the dusty coastal desert. The small town here has become a popular destination for sand boarding and buggying, although care should be taken before going on any of these trips, as standards are not always quite up to western expectations.

Day 146: Nazca, Huacachina

Thu 18 Dec 2014

In the morning we will have a chance to stock up on supplies before driving approximately 200kms to Nazca where we camp. En route we have the chance to glimpse the Nazca lines from a viewing platform

Activity Approximate Cost

Dune buggying or boarding in the spectacular sand dunes of Peru Desert

USD 20

Nazca

Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the Desert on the arid high plateau between Nazca and Palpa. Many of the lines form stylised depictions of animals, for example you can make out llamas, monkeys, sharks and spiders, as well as trees and other designs.

Archaeologists believe the lines were created between 200BC and 700AD by three successive, different civilisations. The global importance of the region is reflected in UNESCO's declaration of the Nazca lines as a World Heritage Site in 1994. You can view the lines from viewing towers or take a flight in a small plane to see them from above.

Important - Flight over the Nazca Lines - As of November 2010 some western countries' travel advisories advise against this optional activity due to concerns around proper aircraft safety and maintenance standards not being reliably adhered to. For more information please refer to your country's travel advice website. Please note that due to Dragoman's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

Close to Nazca is the Chauchilla Indian Cemetery, where you can see the tombs of people of the ancient Nazca civilisation, dating from 100AD to 700AD. It is something of an eerie sight to see the skulls, bones and even hair of the dead, preserved in a remarkable state thanks to the dry desert air.

Day 147: Nazca, Puerto Inca

Fri 19 Dec 2014

In the morning there is an optional flight over the mysterious Nazca lines and an included visit to Chauchilla cemetery. In the afternoon there is a 270kms drive to Puerto Inca for an overnight stay at a beach camp site

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Nazca Lines and Chauchilla Cemetery

Included in Kitty

Fly over the Nazca lines

USD 100

Puerto Inca

Puerto Inca is situated on the Peruvian coast in a beautiful bay and was once the Inca port that supplied the city of Cuzco with supplies of fish. There are a number of Inca ruins here, which includes a cemetery, a temple of reincarnation and part of the road that set out from the coast to Cuzco is still clearly visible. It is a great place to relax with a nice beach, the sea and swimming pool; water sports are also sometimes available. However, swimmers should be aware that there is often a strong under-current here.

Day 148: Arequipa

Sat 20 Dec 2014

380kms drive day takes us to altitude and to the ‘white city’ of Arequipa where we overnight in a good quality hotel

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay in the beautiful white city of Arequipa

Included in Kitty

Arequipa

Situated on the Peruvian Altiplano, Arequipa sits at almost 3500 meters above sea level and is the second largest city in the country. Set against the stunning backdrop of the snow-covered volcano "El Misti", salt lakes, thermal springs and high-altitude deserts, the landscape of the area around Arequipa truly unique. If you have time, it's possible to arrange mountain-biking and rafting trips in the area as day tours from the city - and at certain times of year you can even try for an ascent of El Misti itself, though it's not an easy trek at these altitudes, so not for the faint hearted.

The city itself is very beautiful, full of beautiful colonial buildings built out of the soft white volcanic rock that is found in the area. As a university town, there is always a lively buzz about the place and there are plenty of good bars and restaurants to discover.

No trip to Arequipa would be complete without paying a visit to Juanita, the "Ice Maiden." This mummy of a young Inca girl has been described as one of the 10 most important historical discoveries of recent times by Time Magazine. Because the body was frozen at such low temperatures and high altitude, a really extensive study into the physical health of ancient Peruvian civilisations has been possible, with fascinating results. You should also try to visit the Santa Catalina Convent, which is almost a city within a city in the centre of the town. Not only are the buildings of the convent stunningly beautiful, with brightly painted walls and shady courtyards, it also has a fascinating history which you can learn about on a guided tour.

Day 149: Arequipa

Sun 21 Dec 2014

Free day to explore the colonial city of Arequipa

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Arequipa's Santa Catalina convent

USD 10

White water rafting, grade 1-4

PEN 60

Day 150: Chivay and Colca Canyon, Chivay

Mon 22 Dec 2014

Time in Arequipa to explore further in the morning. Then drive 150 km drive to Chivay with an optional visit to thermal springs. Overnight in a hotel at Chivay.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay and guided trip to see Colca Canyon and condors

Included in Kitty

Visit the thermal springs in Chivay

USD 10

Chivay and Colca Canyon

Chivay is a small town nestled in the hills at the base of the Colca Canyon. The River Colca runs from high in the Andes right down to the Pacific, and between Chivay and Cabanaconde it flows through the bottom of a deep gorge, often claimed to be the deepest in the world. It is certainly spectacularly beautiful, the vast Andean terraces tower up over the canyon, dotted by tiny villages that haven't changed in centuries. The canyon is also renowned as a haven for condors and they can often be seen here at quite close range as they float on the rising thermals and scan for carrion far below. Catching a glimpse of these magnificent birds as they rise from their nests, gliding high above you is a truly magical experience and one you will never forget.

Chivay is also home to some natural hot springs that provide a welcome relief from the cold night air high up here in the Andes. The springs are known as "La Calera" and are located just a short distance outside the town.

Chivay

Upstream from the renowned  Colca Canyon, lies the rural town of Chivay. Heated pools just outside the town are one of the main highlights and a place to relax after a morning exploring the town centre and markets. Another magnificent site is the stone Inca bridge that crosses the Colca River Ravine that is thousands of years old.

Day 151: Chivay and Colca Canyon, Chivay

Tue 23 Dec 2014

Short driving day to visit the spectacular Colca Canyon to view condors and also local communities. Overnight in the same hotel at Chivay.

Day 152: Raqchi

Wed 24 Dec 2014

Drive day to Raqchi and stay overnight in local homestay. We stay in traditional family houses with clean but basic facilities. Whilst we are there we enjoy some of the ceremonial aspects of village life as well as much singing and dancing. This is a great local experience.

Activity Approximate Cost

Quechua Indian homestay and community crafts project

Included in Kitty

Guided visit to the Raqchi ruins

Included in Kitty

Raqchi

Raqchi is a small village situated a short distance outside of Cuzco. On Dragoman trips we stay here as guests of the local families in their traditional houses, a fantastic way to get a real insight into how people live here and to learn about their culture and customs. If we are lucky there may be the chance to participate in some of the ceremonial and spiritual aspects of village life - and there is always plenty of singing and dancing as we get to know our new Peruvian families. The village is also well known for it's talented craftsmen and women and there will be the chance to buy some of the beautiful hand-made and intricately decorated pottery that is made here.

Day 153: Cuzco

Thu 25 Dec 2014

In the morning we visit the ruins at Raqchi and also a local artisan centre. In the afternoon we drive 160kms drive to Cuzco. Overnight in a lovely colonial hotel

Activity Approximate Cost

7 nights in and around Cuzco and the Urubamba Valley

Included in Kitty

Cuzco

Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca empire and any adventure tour to Peru is centred around this stunning city. Even today, many of its buildings still retain some of the original Inca stonework as part of their structure. It is interesting to know that despite their advanced civilisation, the Incas did not know how to write and had not invented the wheel, yet they were skillful irrigation engineers, inventing the suspension bridge and hammock. They must have had theories on constructing buildings to avoid damage by earthquake, which may account for the way they fitted huge carved blocks of granite together in an incredibly precise jigsaw when creating new structures. Examples of their amazing building techniques can still be seen in and around Cuzco, including the infamous "twelve sided stone", now famous as part of the logo of Cuzco's native "Cusquena" beer.

The town is a fantastic place to spend a fews days. A good place to start your explorations is the majestic main plaza, heading out into the cobbled streets lined with attractive colonial buildings. Head up the hill into the neighbourhood of San Blas and you will discover another hidden square with a quiet laid back feel. All the streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, from small local cafes to five star dining experiences. If you're interested in learning more about the history and culture of Peru, there are also some fantastic museums here and the many churches are well worth a look as well. So take to the streets and wander around, haggle with the street vendors, kick-back and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes with balconies overlooking the square and just enjoy Cuzco and it's beautiful surroundings.

Cuzco is also the gateway to Machu Picchu with most people trekking one of the many Inca Trails to reach this ancient Inca city. 

Day 154: Cuzco

Fri 26 Dec 2014

Border information: Welcome to Cuzco, capital of the Inca Empire: If you are starting in Cuzco, enter Peru at Cuzco Airport.

There will be a group meeting at 10:00 hrs. We stay in a good quality colonial hotel in Cuzco.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Cahuide

Hotel Cahuide

Calle Saphi No 845

Cuzco

+ 51 84 222771

 

Activity Approximate Cost

7 nights in and around Cuzco and the Urubamba Valley

Included in Kitty

Day 155 to 158: Inca Trail , Sacred Valley, Cuzco

Sat 27 Dec to Tue 30 Dec 2014

Trekking in the Andes. We will have a tour of the sacred valley and either begin the community trek or the classic trek to the world heritage site of Machu Picchu. The nights are spent camping.

Activity Approximate Cost

EITHER

Hike unspoilt Inca Trails and visit Quechua communities in remote stunning Andes scenery away from tourist treks on our exclusive Inca Trails Community Trek

OR

Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road

IF YOU WISH TO BOOK THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL THIS MUST BE ADVISED AT TIME OF BOOKING OTHERWISE YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE PUT ON OUR COMMUNITY TREK.

Included in Kitty

Tour of the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo

Included in Kitty

OR Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road

Included in Kitty

Inca Trail

When people talk about "The Inca Trail", they are usually refering to a particular trekking route that follows a ancient pathway that leads to Machu Picchu. What many people don't realise is that there are a actually a huge number of Inca Trails that criss cross the Urubamba Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, many of which are genuinely remote, rarely used by western tourists, offering a chance to experience the real unspoilt Andes. On all Dragoman overland tours that travel via Cuzco we offer you the choice to trek either the "Classic" Inca Trail or our unique alternative, the Community Inca Trek, which is exclusive to Dragoman.

The Classic Inca Trail

The "Classic" Inca Trail route usually starts at Kilometre 82 of the Cuzco – Machu Picchu railtrack, taking in Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's Pass, 4200m) and the ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna en route, eventually arriving at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu early in the morning after 3 days of trekking. This route is still extremely popular as it is seen by many as the "original" Inca Trail. It's also probably the best trek to choose if you're really interested in history and archaeology, because of all the other Inca sites it passes along the way.

Unfortunately, in recent years the classic trail has almost become a bit of a victim of it's own popularity. It is important to realise that the trail is now very busy, with 500 people starting the trek every day. There are only a certain number of places where it is feasible to camp, so your group will be camped alongside others, and you will meet a lot of other trekkers along the way. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome trek, passing through some stunning scenery from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forest, and the sense of achievement you'll have when you catch your first sight of the Lost City of the Incas is something you'll never forget.

The Community Inca Trek

Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route where you'll hike through pristine unspoilt andean scenery, walking ancient Inca Trails and pass through local communities as part of our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and getting out into the real Andes - not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects. The trek itself is about the same as the Classic Inca Trail in terms of length and difficulty, taking three to three and a half days and ascending to about 4700m when you cross the highest pass. The scenery out here is truly magnificent, spectacular mountain peaks, verdant hillsides dotted by isolated villages and the odd llama and alapaca, you are unlikely to see another tourist here. If you were to ask Dragoman which one we prefer, there is no contest, as the Community Inca Trek and Tarpuy Yachay Project is a much better and far more worthwhile experience.

Why we think the Community Inca Trek is better than the Classic Inca Trail:

And a few things to consider when choosing the Community Inca Trek:

Sacred Valley

The valley of the Urabamba river is more often referred to as “El Valle Sagrado de los Incas”, or the Sacred Valley. Close to Cuzco in Peru, the valley extends from the small market town of Pisac to Ollyantytambo, nestling at the foot of the Andean mountain ranges that are home to the magical lost Inca city of Machu Picchu.

Together with Machu Picchu itself, the Sacred Valley was a cradle of the Inca empire. The area is littered with archaelogical sites which include the magnificent ruins of Pisac, Sacsayhuaman and Ollyantytambo, as well as the Lost City itself. Together with the temperate climate, lively markets, sleepy andean villages and stunning surrounding landsccape, the rich history of the area makes it a truly bewitching place.

If you travel with Dragoman, whether you choose to take the Community Inca Trek, the Classic Inca Trail, or not to trek at all, everyone in the group will be able to take part in a tour of the Sacred Valley. We will typically leave Cuzco first thing in the morning and drive to Sacsayhuaman ruins which are just 15 mins from our hotel. These ruins are best known for the gigantic blocks that make up the zig zag frontal of this fort like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for but the most likely is that it was a temple complex where offerings were made to appease the gods. Sachsayhuaman is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the great view of the Cuzco rooftops that we get here even more beautiful.

We will then head further on into the Sacred Valley proper, stopping high on the mountainside to explore the ruins of Pisac. We will walk downhill along small pathways, through ancient arches, storage buildings and houses, learning about the history of the site from our local guide. 

If you are doing the Classic Inca Trail you will then head straight to Ollantaytambo from Pisac, exploring the ruins here that afternoon and camping overnight, heading to the Classic Inca Trail start point early the next morning.

If you are doing the Community Inca Trail we will drive to Chincheros, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. There you will see a weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years and you will tour the archaeological ruins there for another hour and a half. From Chincheros we will drive an area with great views to have an energizing picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumiyoc, also known as the Temple of the Moon. From there we will start our hike, returning to the Sacred Valley at the end of the trek when we arrive in Ollantaytambo. Here you are joined by any of your group who prefer not to trek at all for a guided tour of this Inca site, before leaving next morning on the early train for Machu Picchu

Day 159: Machu Picchu

Wed 31 Dec 2014

Visit to Machu Picchu one of the world's most iconic sights. We'll have a guided tour with a local expert and plenty of time on site before catching the train back to Cuzco.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Included in Kitty

Train back from Machu Picchu to Cuzco

Included in Kitty

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is usually the highlight of any adventure tour to Peru.  It is one of those genuinely magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a moment you’ll never forget.

The most popular way to approach the ruined city is via one of the many Inca trails that wind their way through the Andes Mountains. The Classic Inca Trail is a much-used route taking four days and culminating with an arrival at the 'Sun Gate' at sunrise on the final morning from where you descend into Machu Picchu itself. However the sheer number of trekkers following this route has resulted in erosion, deforestation, litter and overcrowding at campsites. To address this issue Dragoman has been running a 'Community Inca Trail' for the past seven years. This unspoilt route is totally unique to Dragoman clients so you will be able to enjoy the trek in peace and away from the crowds on the main trail.  It visits local communities allowing you to learn about the Quechua way of life and travels through stunning mountain scenery enabling you to fully appreciate the majesty of the Andes.

Machu Picchu itself is stunningly located, perching high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the River Urambamba running through the gorge far below.  It's thought that the city was the location of a royal palace and estate, home to the Inca emperors, or possibly a sacred religious and ceremonial sight.

Discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, although the ruins were heavily covered by dense jungle foliage, many of the buildings were well preserved and in excellent condition. The city consists of more than 200 buildings, from houses to temples, storage buildings and public spaces. It's fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.

Day 160: Cuzco

Thu 01 Jan 2015

Relax after the trek with optional activities available such as white water rafting. Overnight in the same colonial hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

White-water rafting and mountain biking in the Cuzco region

USD 40

Day 161: Puno, Sillustani Ruins

Fri 02 Jan 2015

In the morning we have a 440kms drive to Puno. We will visit the Sillustani ruins and museum en route and overnight in hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the pre-Inca Sillustani Ruins near Puno

Included in Kitty

Puno

Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca in the south eastern part of Peru is the small town of Puno. The town is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional andean customs are still strongly represented here.

Puno is known as the folkloric capital of Peru as result of the wealth of artistic and cultural expressions, particularly dance, that originate here. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.

The main attraction here though is the lake. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, a mythical expanse of deep blue waters, dotted with islands, some of which are still home to communities who have been living in the same way for hundreds of years. Perhaps the most famous islands are the Uros, often referred to as the "floating reed islands". Known as the “willow people”, the Uros have lived on these small man made islands built from compacted Totora reeds for many years.  Nowadays the young people leave the islands to live in Puno and the remaining population uses tourism as a way of providing extra income. A visit to the islands is no longer perhaps the authentic experience it once was, but the islands are still unique and make for an interesting short visit. You may also have time to visit the Yavari steam ship moored nearby, this was built in England then shipped out to Peru, traveling by train and animal to Puno before being rebuilt and launched on the lake.

Sillustani Ruins

The small villages around Puno are mostly small subsistence farming communities, relying heavily on the wool from their herds of llamas and alpacas and agriculture for income. The farmers here use the same tools today as they have since time immemorial - wooden hoes, ploughs and sickles. Crops are sown and reaped by hand and maize, beans, potatoes, onions and rice predominate.

Tucked away in between the many small villages are the ruins of Sillustani. These ruined towers are set on a beautiful peninsula near Lake Umayo, built by a pre-Inca civilisation hundreds of years ago. The Sillustani Indians built several "Chullpas", funeral towers whose construction is far more complex than anything the Inca ever built. Each tower would have contained the remains of noble men, buried together with offerings to secure their comfortable passage into the next life.

Day 162: Copacabana, Puno

Sat 03 Jan 2015

Border information: Exit Peru at Desguadero, enter Bolivia at Copacabana.

We head out on a boat on Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands of Uros before a 200kms drive takes us across the Bolivian border to the lakeside town of Copacabana where we overnight in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca

Included in Kitty

Copacabana

Copacabana, Bolivia, has little in common with the famous Brazilian beach, but it's a picturesque small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca nevertheless. The town centres around it's small whitewashed square which is home to an amazing Moorish style Cathedral. At sunset there is no better place to be than sat at one of the many simple local fish restaurants on the shoreline, watching the sun slip down behind the horizon, before heading into town for a game of table football with the locals, or a visit to one of the many bars that feature live music here - many of whom are often from Argentina.

If you have time, this is a good place to take a boat trip out onto Lake Titicaca. By taking a local boat to Isla del Sol you can spend a day exploring this historic island, famous for being the birthplace of the whole Inca civilisation. The modern day Aymara and Quechua peoples of Bolivia and Peru still accept the legend of the sun being born on this island as their creation story even today. There are a host of ancient ruins to discover, tiny traditional villages and beautiful walking routes. You can wander through the stone ruins, exploring the islands dry slopes covered with sweet smelling incense brush, or hike over the ancient pampas which are still cultivated by the island families.

Day 163: Copacabana

Sun 04 Jan 2015

Today is a non-driving day with an all day visit to Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca. We return in the evening to Copacabana to overnight in the same hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat to Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol

Included in Kitty

Day 164: La Paz

Mon 05 Jan 2015

A 165kms drive brings us to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital where we have time to explore the city and do optional activities. Overnight good quality colonial hotel in central La Paz.

La Paz

Bolivia's largest city, La Paz lies huddled in a canyon basin, hiding from the harsh conditions of the surrounding altiplano. It is a fascinating city; the old town and more expensive neightbourhoods at the bottom of the canyon in the centre, surrounded by sprawling shantytowns which extend up the slopes of the bowl, merging into "El Alto" back on the plains, a suburb of La Paz that has grown to be a city in it's own right.

The city skyline is dominated by the snow-capped peaks of Mount Illimani, a staggeringly beautiful back-drop that leaves many visitors stunned when then catch their first glimpse of the city as they descend into the canyon. The old town is full of markets and winding cobbled streets full of people selling anything and everything you could ever think of. Different areas of the city have established markets selling things you'd expect like food and flower, and also things you've probably never seen before - check out the dried llama foetuses on sale in the witches market (Bolivian's believe that burying one of these in the foundations of your home will ensure prosperity and good fortune)

There are plenty of other activities to do in La Paz, from playing a round at the highest golf course in the Americas, skiing at an absurdly high height, or trekking and gravity assisted bike rides through the Yungas. You can also arrange excursuibs ti Mount Chacaltaya and Moon Valley where you can take in the superlative mountain views. Another option is to visit the Tihuanacu Ruins which are a short journey away close to the Peruvian border. The city is also full of impressive churches and museums, including one dedicated to the history of the Coca plant.

Please be aware that you may not be able to do all these activities during the time you will have in La Paz at the start or finish of your trip with Dragoman, so you may want to consider allowing some extra time here.

Day 165 to 166: La Paz

Tue 06 Jan to Wed 07 Jan 2015

Border information: Welcome to La Paz, one of the highest cities in the world. If you are starting in La Paz, enter Bolivia at La Paz Airport.

Free time to explore La Paz, the highest capital city in the world. We stay in a good quality colonial hotel in the centre. On the first day there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs.

Please note from many suggestions from previous passengers we suggest you fly 1 or 2 days before the beginning of the trip. There is really a lot to do in La Paz. If youv require pre nights accomodation please let the Dragoman Sales Team know, and they can sort it out for you.

Hotel for the night: Estrella Andina

Estrella Andina

Av Illampu 716

Zona El Rosario

La Paz

+591 2 2456421

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the vibrant city of La Paz

Included in Kitty

Guided tour to explore Tiahuanacu Inca Ruins

USD 20

Day 167 to 168: Potosi

Thu 08 Jan to Fri 09 Jan 2015

Today we will leave La Paz very early after breakfast and head to the colonial mining town of Potosi, the highest town in the world. We stay in a local, friendly hotel. And will have time for optional activities on the second day.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head down into the tunnels of the Potosi silver mine

USD 20

2 nights in Potosi, the world's highest city

Included in Kitty

Potosi

Potosi is a colonial mining town, founded in the sixteenth century after the Spanish discovered huge silver deposits in the nearby Cerro Rico mountain. Situated at over 4000m altitude, high up on the Bolivian altiplano the city can claim to be one of the highest in the world.

Whilst in Potosi you can arrange to visit a mine that is still being worked, which offers a challenging and yet fascinating insight into how mining has shaped the history and culture of this town. Entering a dark maze of tunnels you will descend to four levels below, down to the work face where miners use hammers, chisels and dynamite more reminiscent of the 1800's than the 21st century to dig out the remaining metal. Most of the silver here is long gone - it's tin the miners are looking for now.

If you do choose to head down into the mines it's become a custom to take the miners gifts of dynamite, fuses and cocoa leaves in exchange for their stories of how their working conditions have not changed in centuries. Life is harsh for all who work here but the mines have now all been organised into co-operatives and so at least today the men have a say in their own future. You should note that visiting these primitive mines is not for everybody as it is pretty tiring, you will be in enclosed spaces and it can be dangerous.

Back in the city of Potosi itself, the winding streets are worth a wander. The town has a bit of an air of fading grandeur, many of it's beautiful colonial buildings and plazas having seen better days, but it's a fascinating place to explore nevertheless. You can also visit the "Casa de la Moneda", the old mint, which is a great place to learn more about Potosi's history and the story of the mines.

Day 169: Uyuni, Potosi

Sat 10 Jan 2015

today we drive the 190kms to Uyuni, gateway to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. We overnight in a friendly hotel serving the highest pizzas in the world!

Activity Approximate Cost

Head down into the tunnels of the Potosi silver mine

USD 20

Uyuni

Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town can have a bit of a wild-west feel about it.

Affectionately nicknamed 'La Huja Predilecta de Bolivia', which means "Bolivia's favourite daughter",  Uyuni is perhaps best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the "Salar de Uyuni". Also in the area and definitely worth a visit is the Cementario de Trenes, a graveyard for the carcasses of old steam engines that have been left here to rust, an unwordly and eerie sight set in the bright altiplano sunshine, set against the background of the distant Salar.

Day 170: Salar De Uyuni

Sun 11 Jan 2015

We venture out on to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni in jeeps spending a full day on this stunning location. Great for all those perspective bending photographs.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take jeeps out onto the dazzling Uyuni Salt Flats

Included in Kitty

Salar De Uyuni

The Bolivian Salt Flats are a truly unforgettable sight, this is a landscape quite unlike anything you're likely to ever have seen before. The Salar de Uyuni is a dry lake of over 12,000 sq kms made of blinding white interlocking salt crystals. It is Bolivia's largest salt pan and when there's a little water on the flats, it reflects the bright blue sky of the altiplano perfectly, acting like a mirror and making the horizon disappear. The effect is positively eerie. When dry, the Salar becomes a blinding white expanse that stretches for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see.

On the edge of the flats, local workers carve blocks of salt by hand for processing in nearby antiquated factories, covered head to toe in old rags to keep their bodies protected from the harsh conditions. Then when you head out onto the Salar proper, you'll experience this unique "nothingness" of this unusual landscape. Miles and miles of bright white salt. Bizarrely there is a hotel situated out on the flats, where everything is made completely of salt from the walls to the furniture

 

Day 171: Bolivian Altiplano

Mon 12 Jan 2015

Today we cross the altiplano in a spectacular 320kms drive towards the Chilean border via Laguna Colorado and Laguna Verde. We stay the night in a basic hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Exploration of Bolivia’s high Altiplano, Laguna Colorado and Verde

Included in Kitty

Bolivian Altiplano

The high Bolivian altiplano stretches hundreds of kilometres from the small town of Uyuni out across to the borders with Argentina and Chile. This is real wilderness, there are no roads up here, just a few tracks to follow and you're more likely to see a flamingo or llama than another human being. The only way to cross the altiplano is by travelling in a specialist expedition vehicle like one of our trucks, or local jeeps. The crossing is an adventurous one, with no roads to speak of it's rough travelling and the trip from Uyuni to the border normally takes a couple of days - but it's without a doubt one of the most unforgettable journeys you'll ever make, because the landscape here is out of this world.

Wild and remote, the high altiplano is barren semi desert, but impressive nonetheless. The open plains are dotted by streams and lakes, many of which appear vividly coloured, due to the mineral deposits in the water. In the background the lakes are flanked by the impressive volcanic peaks of the high Bolivian Andes, awe-inspiringly beautiful and undoubtedly some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you'll have ever seen. You'll also pass a few remote villages, Quechua farmers who try their best to eke out a living up here from the rough pasture, grazing a few llamas and alpacas.

 

The altitude here is considerable and it n be very cold and windy. When travelling here you should be prepared for the cold temperatures and it is worth making sure you have a really good quality sleeping bag.

Day 172 to 173: San Pedro De Atacama

Tue 13 Jan to Wed 14 Jan 2015

Border information: Exit Bolivia at Uyuni, enter Chile at San Pedro.

We descend from the altiplano and a 150kms drive takes us across the border into Chile to the town of San Pedro de Atacama where we will spend the next 2 nights at a camp site.  We will visit the extraordinary Moon Valley, hopeful of a stunning sunset. In the evening there is also the chance to go stargazing (only possible when there is not a full moon).

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the dramatic landscape of the Moon Valley

Included in Kitty

Observe the night skies at a Chilean observatory

USD 33

San Pedro De Atacama

San Pedro is a small oasis town in the Atacama desert. It's a quirky little place, low-lying adobe buildings line the narrow streets, leading to a sleepy tree-lined plaza that's home to a pretty white-washed church and a fascinating small museum, home to some interesting mummies and various other Indian artifacts.

Pleasant though the town is, the real attraction here is the surrounding landscape. This part of the Atacama has become well-known as a tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery. Perhaps most well known is the unusual desert landscape of "Moon Valley", just a short distance outside San Pedro, where other-worldly rock formations, unsual layer-cake landscapes and huge dunes combine to create some incredible views. The sunsets here can be amazing, the changing light turning the stone and sand a kaleidescope of different colours, so the end of the day is definitely the best time of day to visit.

There are also a whole host of other activities on offer here, from star-gazing to horse-riding and mountain-biking in the surrounding countryside. The town itself is also a pleasant place just to kick-back and relax, with some good bars and restaurants thanks to the developing tourist-trade.

Day 174: Salta

Thu 15 Jan 2015

Border information: Exit Chile at San Pedro, enter Argentina at Paso Jama.

A full drive day takes us to the fine Spanish colonial city of Salta. We stay in a simple hotel in the centre of the city

Activity Approximate Cost

Get the adrenaline pumping with some white water rafting in Salta

USD 40

Salta

Salta is an attractive town in the north west of Argentina. Nicknamed "Salta la Linda" (or "Salta the fair") the city is well known as a handsome town in a beautiful area. Home to some fantastic colonial architecture, the old town centres around the main plaza which is lined with cafes and restaurants, a great place to while away a couple of hours people-watching over a traditional morning snack of a cafe con medialunas (coffee and small croissant like pastries). It is an elegant and relaxed city, with a nice relaxed atmosphere, a perfect place to wander the streets and explore. To get a better view of the city and surrounding area you can take a cablecar from Parque San Martín up to the Cerro San Bernardo view point, and the many churches and the cathedral are also worth a visit. Salta is also home to some fantastic museums, making it a good place to learn a bit more about Argentinian history and culture.

Day 175: Salta

Fri 16 Jan 2015

Today is a non-driving day with free time to explore Salta staying in the same hotel

Day 176: Cafayate

Sat 17 Jan 2015

150kms drive to Cafayate, lying at the centre of Argentina's principal wine producing region where we will visit a vineyard. We stay at a camp site with good facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover the bodegas and stock up on wine in Cafayate

Cafayate

Cafayate is a small town in north-west Argentina and an important wine-growing area. The surrounding vineyards produce some of the best quality wine in South America, and you should look out for the Torrontes in particular, a distinctive white wine that is typically Argentinian and similar in style to a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Cafayate itself is small with a sleepy laid-back feel, although it can become busy during Argentinian holiday periods.  Many of the local bodegas offer tastings and tours of their wine cellars and this is easily organised while you are here. Also worth seeking out is the local ice-cream parlour, which together with the more usual flavours, also offers red and white wine ice-cream! If wine is not your thing, the area is also popular for walking and mountain-biking, as the gently undulating terrain makes for pleasant hiking and cycling.

Day 177: Quilmes Ruins

Sun 18 Jan 2015

We cover around 400kms as we head south through beautiful scenery, visiting the Quilmes ruins en route. Tonight we will camp somewhere around Recreo, after the ruin visit.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Quilmes ruins

Included in Kitty

Quilmes Ruins

The ruins of Quilmes are located in Tucaman province in north-west Argentina. The people of Quilmes were an indigenous tribe who inhabited this area as far back as 1000AD, resisting Inca invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries and even holding out against the Spanish for over one hundred years, before finally succombing to a siege led by the colonial powers in 1667. After the siege Spanish took the area over, deporting the few surviving indigenous people to a "reservation" close to Buenos Aires. The 2000 remaining Quilmes Indians were forced to make this 1500 km journey on foot, which meant that many died along the way, never reaching their final destination. At it's height, the city we see the ruins of here would have housed nearly 5000 people, today there are only a handful of Quilmes descendents left in Tucaman. It is interesting to wander among the ruins here today and imagine the city that would once have been.

Day 178 to 180: Rio Ceballos

Mon 19 Jan to Wed 21 Jan 2015

A 270kms drive brings us to an unique 3 night stay at an Anglo Argentinean estancia. We camp within the grounds of the estancia and spend time with the gauchos - learning their skills, go horseback riding and have a traditional asado or Argentinian BBQ.  

Please note that there is a strict 15 stone / 95 kg weight limit for horseback riding. If you should weigh more than this you will unfortunately not be able to take part in this activity.

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend 3 unique days at an Anglo-Argentinian estancia to experience the gaucho way of living

Included in Kitty

Visit the National Jesuit Museum

USD 5

Rio Ceballos

To the east of the Andes in the centre of Argentina is the country's second major city, Cordoba. Nearby are the beautiful hills of the Sierra de Cordoba where we will spend three nights at a unique Anglo-Argentinian estancia. The estancia has been in the same family for four generations, and is a working cattle ranch, farming the prized Argentinian Aberdeen Angus cattle. Here we will sample the traditional hospitality of the Anglo-Argentinian ranching community, with great food straight from the farm. An asado or Argentinian BBQ will be enjoyed on one of our nights here, as well as an evening of traditional music, a chance to try lassoing and fantastic wine tasting featuring some of the local produce. Daily horse riding excursions will also be arranged to ride through the hills on the fabulous horses and even completely inexperienced riders will feel like gauchos in a short time. Please note that these activities are subject to weather conditions.

Please also note that there is a strict weight limit for all riders of 15 stone / 95 kg to ensure the horses' well-being. If you are heavier than this weight you will unfortunately be unable to ride.

Day 181: Mendoza

Thu 22 Jan 2015

We leave the estancia today and make our way towards Mendoza covering around 300kms. We will find somewhere to camp en route

Mendoza

Mendoza is a vibrant city full of pleasant leafy boulevards and leafy plazas where the locals catch up over coffee in the many street cafes and bars. A university town and an important economic centre, the city has a bustling cosmpolitan feel and has all the amenities you would expect from great restaurants to lively nightlife, interesting museums and galleries and great shopping. On summer weekends, open air concerts and markets often take place in the beautiful plazas.

The city is perhaps most famous for it's wine. Whilst technically Mendoza is a desert town, extensive artificial irrigation have made it possible to grow grapes and olives here, both of which benefit from the long, hot, sunny summers. The wine made here is world class and tours of local vineyards and wineries are easily arranged.

Mendoza is also used by many people as a base from which to explore the mountains in this area. America's highest peak Aconcagua is nearby and skiing is popular in the winter months.

Day 182 to 183: Mendoza

Fri 23 Jan to Sat 24 Jan 2015

A further 300kms drive brings us to the beautiful town of Mendoza where we stay in a hostel for 2 nights. Here you have the chance the to take part in various optional activities from wine tasting to mountain biking

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover Mendoza's excellent vineyards and white water rivers

USD 20

Day 184: Santiago

Sun 25 Jan 2015

Border information: Exit Argentina at Los Libertadores, enter Chile at Los Libertadores.

A 340kms drive takes us across the border and into Chile where we arrive at the capital, Santiago. We spend the night in a centrally located hotel.

Hotel for the night: Happy House Hostel

Happy House Hostel

Moneda 1829

Santiago

+56 2 2688 4849

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.

Day 185: Santiago

Mon 26 Jan 2015

Border information: Welcome to Santiago, teh capital of Chile. If you are starting in Santiago, enter Chile at Santiago Airport.

Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned so you can arrive at any time before the meeting. We will stay in a good quality hostel in central Santiago. The trip will leave Santiago tomorrow morning, so we suggest you might fly to Santiago a day earlier if you want to visit any sites in the city.

Hotel for the night: Happy House Hostel

Day 186: Salto De Laja

Tue 27 Jan 2015

Today we leave Santiago and head south driving 440 kms to the wine growing region of Salto de Laja where we stay in a campsite with good facilities. We will stop en route at a vineyard for a chance to sample some of the local produce.

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 187: Pucon

Wed 28 Jan 2015

In the morning we will drive 300 kms to the Lake District of Chile and the town of Pucon. The afternoon is free to explore and we will stay in a campsite with facilities.

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 188: Pucon

Thu 29 Jan 2015

Today is a non-driving day with a range of activities available from hiking to hot springs. We stay for a second night in the same campsite. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up the snowcapped volcano Mt Villarica

USD 100

Horseriding, white-water rafting or hikes around Pucon

USD 50

Day 189: Bariloche

Fri 30 Jan 2015

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

Today we will cross the Andes into Argentina and continue our journey to the picturesque town of Bariloche. We will stay overnight in dorm beds in a local 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 190: Bariloche

Sat 31 Jan 2015

Today is a free day to enjoy this beautiful mountain town. Perhaps explore on a mountain bike, take a trip along the river in a kayak or enjoy the delights on a chocolate factory tour!

Second night in the same hostel.

Day 191: Futaleufu

Sun 01 Feb 2015

Border Information: Exit Argentina at Rio Futaleufu, enter Chile at Rio Futaleufu.

Today we cross back into Chile and stay at our Campsite in Futalefu. From this point we will join the famous Carretera Austral, probably one of the most stunning roads in South America. Please note that the road from here to El Chalten is rough and mostly unpaved meaning that the going is slow.

We stay overnight night in a local campsite.

Day 192: Puyuhuapi and Queulat NP, Carretera Austral

Mon 02 Feb 2015

We will leave Futalefu and drive through the Chilean Fjords to Colgante Glacier where there is an optional walk to see the glacier.

We will camp for the night near Puyuhuapi.

Carretera Austral

The Carretera Austral or Southern Highway is a fantastic route that passes between Puerto Monte and Coyhaique, through vast tracts of untouched wilderness, past soaring snow capped mountains, glaciers, glass-green fjords and staggering, beautiful valleys. This is Chile at its best and is a perfect area to explore by overland vehicle. You need to have a flexible itinerary and to be able to camp in the wild, as settlements are few and far between. The attraction of this are are the wide-open spaces and the national parks. We spend our time driving through magnificent scenery, hiking, visiting glaciers and generally exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty.

Day 193 to 194: Carretera Austral, Argentinian Patagonia

Tue 03 Feb to Wed 04 Feb 2015

Border Information: Second day we exit Chile at Huemules, enter Argentina at Huemules.

Overlanding through magnificent scenery and generally exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty we will bush camp as we go. On the second day we cross into Argentina.

Argentinian Patagonia

Patagonia is the name of the region in the far south of South America, the southernmost stretch of the Andes and the surrounding plains and plateau. The area is split down the middle, with Chilean Patagonia on the east, and Argentinian Patagonia on the west. Renowned for its desolate landscape, unrelenting winds and magnificent lake, mountain and glacial scenery, the name Patagonia comes from the word "Patagon", used by the explorer Magellan to describe the local people who he believed to be giants. Today historians believe that the Patagons were actually Teheulches, with an average height of about 1.8m (or 5' 11) as oppose to 1.55m (5' 1) which was the average height of a Spaniard at the time. Argentinian Patagonia includes the spectacular national parks of Los Glaciares, Nahuel Huapi and Tierra del Fuego, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Argentinian Lake District and the Fitzroy Range.

Day 195: El Chalten

Thu 05 Feb 2015

We drive 580 kms into Los Glaciares National Park to El Chalten. Here we have two full days to explore the area. We spend 3 nights camping with facilities.

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 196 to 197: Los Glaciares National Park, El Chalten

Fri 06 Feb to Sat 07 Feb 2015

Two days to enjoy the stunning Los Glaciares National Park and Fitzroy National Park where you can go trekking along world class tracks. There's also a wide range of activities available from horse riding to glacier trekking and a boat trip on Viedma Lake.

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 198: El Calafate

Sun 08 Feb 2015

220 kms drive through incredible scenery to El Calafate where we stay in dorm accommodation in a lovely 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

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 199: El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier

Mon 09 Feb 2015

Today we go on a guided visit to view the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier, a World Heritage Site and one of the more spectacular sights in Patagonia. Second night at the same hostel.

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 200: Torres Del Paine National Park

Tue 10 Feb 2015

Border information: Exit Argentina at Cerro Castillo and enter Chile at Cerro Castillo.

Today is a full 430 kms drive day across the border and into Chile to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. This is one of the most outstanding areas of beauty in Chile and the highlight of the trip for many passengers. We camp for the night at a stunning lakeside campsite with facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

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

Included in Kitty

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

USD 90

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 201: Torres Del Paine National Park

Wed 11 Feb 2015

During the next few days you will get to walk part of the famous W-walk circuit with a local guide. You can also complete the full trek if you have pre-booked this option.

Today we take the catamaran across Lake Pehoe to the Paine Grande Campsite. From here the group splits into 2 groups (base package group and W-walk extension group) and we walk with our respective local guides to view Glacier Grey. We then walk back down to Paine Grande where we will spend the night camping. Packed lunch and dinner are included.

Activity Approximate Cost

W walk extension - 2 days

The package includes 2 nights camping with facilities, food for the duration of the trek and the service of an expert English speaking local guide. 

Please note that this package must be pre booked through your sales agent. Please book as early as possible to ensure availability. For further information on the W walk please refer to the trip notes.

GBP 120

Day 202: Torres Del Paine National Park

Thu 12 Feb 2015

Today we leave Paine Grande and trek up the French Valley.

Base package group: If you have not opted for the optional 2 day W-walk extension package, you will walk back down to Paine Grande with your local guide. You then board the catamaran back to Pudeto, where the truck will meet you and drive you to our campsite for the night. Breakfast and packed lunch are included today. If you are on a trip during low season you will instead be spending the night in Paine Grande and dinner tonight will also be included.

W-walk extension group: If you have chosen the optional 2 day W-walk extension, you will continue trekking with your local guide to Campsite Cuernos where you will spend the night camping. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included.

Day 203: Torres Del Paine National Park

Fri 13 Feb 2015

Base package group: Today is free for those that have not booked the W-walk optional 2 day extension package. There are many other optional activities available near our campsite, or maybe take a day to relax and just enjoy the spectacular views from the campsite. If you are on a trip during low season you will have the morning free around Paine Grande before taking the catamaran across to Pudeto and the campsite.

W-walk extension group: For those of you that continue on the W-walk, your local guide will direct you along Lago Nordenskjold to Las Torres Campsite where you will spend the night camping. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included.

Day 204: Torres Del Paine National Park

Sat 14 Feb 2015

Today is our last full day in this magic National Park.

Base package group: We hop on our truck which will take us to the base of the famous three peaks which give the name to the park. From there we will walk up the Torres with our local guide before we make our way back to the truck and onto our campsite for the night. Packed lunch is included.

W-walk extension group: This morning we will hike up to see the Torres and come back down to Las Torres Campsite where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the night. Breakfast and packed lunch are included.

Day 205: Strait of Magellan

Sun 15 Feb 2015

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

Today is a full 600 kms drive including a ferry crossing of the infamous Magellan Straits to Tierra del Fuego. We will bush camp for the night.

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 206: Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

Mon 16 Feb 2015

Today we drive through spectacular scenery to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. Here we will stay in dorm beds in a hostel. If time allows there are several optional activities for this afternoon.

Activity Approximate Cost

Beagle channel boat trips

USD 40

Light plane flights over Ushuaia

USD 100

Guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park

ARS 310

Overland to the end of the world

Included in Kitty

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 207: Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

Tue 17 Feb 2015

The trip ends this morning. No accommodation is provided for tonight.

Border information: If you are leaving in Ushuaia, exit Argentina at Ushuaia Airport.

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.

Specific notes

Because of its nature, this itinerary may vary: occasionally road conditions are too adverse during the rainy season (Jan & Feb) to make the crossing from Uyuni to Argentina and we may have to change the route. During the winter months in Argentina and Bolivia we will spend a higher proportion of nights in hotels and less time camping. Kitty may be higher than expected and you should allow extra funds for this and personal funds for more meals out. There may well be snow and you should be aware that it can get very cold at night. Please ensure that you bring a decent sleeping bag and adequate clothes, including thermals.

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:

 

The Community Inca Trek, Classic Inca Trail and Non Trekking Package – more information

The Inca Trail usually refers to the ancient pathway used by the Incas leading to Machu Picchu, but in fact there are a number of Inca Trails running through the Urubamba Valley. On all Dragoman trips that travel via Cuzco we include the choice between three options: the Classic Inca Trail, our Community Inca Trek which is exclusive to Dragoman, or a non trekking package.

The costs for each option are included in the kitty, but you must tell us at the time of booking if you want to book the Classic Inca Trail or the non trekking option. If you do not tell us this you will automatically be booked onto the Community Inca Trek. Full details of all three options are below.

Option 1: The Community Inca Trek

This unique and pioneering trekking route is automatically included in all of our trips that visit this area of Peru. The trek travels through spectacular scenery, passing through Inca ruins and staying in remote villages. You'll be hiking unspoiled trails used only by local villagers and Dragoman passengers, avoiding the crowds of the Classic route. You will be camping as guests of the local communities we pass through and may have the opportunity to help out with some hands-on projects, for example at the local schools. This is the real Andes, trekking pristine trails with spectacular mountain scenery at every turn. After a comfortable overnight stay in Ollantaytambo we head to the ancient citadel Machu Picchu. Although we do not enter the site through the Sun Gate as on the Classic Inca Trail there is plenty of time to hike to the Sun Gate for those who wish.

This option is automatically included as part of your trip unless you advise us otherwise. So if you want to take the Community Inca Trek no further action is required. If you would prefer to trek the classic Inca Trail, or choose not to trek at all, you let us know at the time of booking.

To be able to buy your train ticket between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel on may result in you not being allowed to board the train.

DAY 1: Cuzco to Zurite
Leaving Cuzco early in the morning, we proceed to Sascaywaman for a 1 hour tour of the archeological ruins. From there we will go to Pisac to visit the ruins, before continuing on to Chincheros, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. There you will see a weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years and you will tour the archaeological ruins there for another hour and a half. From Chincheros we will drive an area with great views to have an energizing picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumiyoc, also known as the Temple of the Moon. Then we will hike to Zurite where you will have a picturesque home stay in a house that is full of history from the Colonial period. In the house we will enjoy a nice dinner of traditional or contemporary food and you can experience the lifestyle of the locals.

Meals provided: Morning snack, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 4hrs
Distance: 8km

DAY 2: Zurite to Amaruwatana
After a hearty breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through Qenteqentiyoc (the hummingbird temple), where we can visit and admire this archaeological Inca site. Following the ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,500 metres, where we will have a dramatic view of both mountain ranges, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the Sambor valley where we will spend the night.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 8hrs
Distance: 13km

 DAY 3: Amaruwatana to Ancascocha
Early in the morning after breakfast we trek for 2 hours to get to our second pass at 4,700 metres; from there we have fantastic views of the rock formations below us. Sometimes it is possible to see Andean ibis, herons, torrent ducks, caracaras, eagles and foxes. After another 2 hours we arrive to a nice highland valley, a place named Kenqo Mayu, or zig-zag river, where glacier water flows through the valley. Our lunch will be at the end of the river, and after lunch we will continue downhill and follow the ancient trail, which goes on a little uphill section which leads us to our campsite in a community called Ancascocha. We will arrive to our campsite in the late afternoon near to a large glacier mountain and glacier stream. If we arrive on time there is an optional hike to the lake, a one hour round trip.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 6½hrs
Distance: 10km

DAY 4: Ancascocha to Ollantaytambo
After eating breakfast and breaking camp we start hiking down the Silque Canyon. We will descend by way of the narrow canyon, following a stream that will gradually get bigger. We can observe tall granite walls on the sides of the canyon, populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when they bloom. We continue on the trail making zig-zags. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the community of Camicancha, where we stop in a nice volcanic rock area, with magnificent views of mount Veronica, a snow capped mountain. From here we are very close to the Chilca community where we finish our trek. A vehicle will transfer us to Ollantaytambo and our hotel. After showers and a little rest, we get ready for the cultural tour of this incredible archaeological site, which is very well known as the Temple of the Sun.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch
Approximate walking time: 5hrs
Distance: 12km

 DAY 5: Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu – Cuzco
Early morning after breakfast, we catch the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes where a short bus ride takes us to the 15th-century Inca site of Machu Picchu where we have a full day to walk around the ruins with our guide. We arrive back in Cuzco late evening after the return train and bus journey via Ollantaytambo. We spend the night in Cuzco.
Meals provided: Breakfast

Community Trek inclusions

 

Communities Supported

The communities that we visit are remote Andean farming communities with traditions dating back to the Incas. They are primarily Quechua speaking, with some Spanish, and little contact with the general population. Their daily lives consist of potato cultivation, weaving, and the herding of llamas, alpacas, and sheep. Considered by the Peruvian government to be living in extreme poverty, they often face malnutrition, severely cold weather, poor hygienic conditions, and little medical or health assistance. These communities typically have small schools that often need support with construction, furniture, materials and teachers. Villagers live in thatched-roof stone huts and cook with firewood. Because of the disproportionate supply and demand of native trees and bush, there is a great need for an effective reforestation project in the area. Since 2006, Dragoman has worked with Ecoam (who helps us with our reforestation project) and thanks to the support from Dragoman and our passengers, the area we used to visit around Quishuarani, Cuncani and part of the mountain range of Lares has been declared a Private Landscape Reserve.

The fairly recent introduction of tourism to the region has brought some needed assistance and economic development to the communities, but there is still much more to do. Our local trekking operator working within the guidelines of sustainable tourism has met with the communities and discussed the pros and cons of tourism in the area. Together they have established still un-official guidelines for trekking and tourism through the Cordillera such as: established campsites to avoid contamination of community areas, use of community animals and personnel on treks, training of community members through workshops on camp maintenance, hygiene, client service to enhance their economic viability, maintenance of camp trails, camp sites, and environmental conservation. Many agencies respect these guidelines, but because making things official often brings on unwanted government intervention, they are now a pact between the communities, agencies, and tourists.

Option 2: Classic Inca Trail

This original King's route still remains popular and it is a 4-day trek, which passes through cloud forest and dramatic mountain scenery. It ends at sunrise on the last day as you trek to the Sun Gate for your first views of magnificent Machu Picchu. If you would prefer to trek the Classic Inca Trail then you must advise Dragoman at the time of booking. Dragoman will then apply for your permit but please note that these can never be guaranteed and if unavailable we will automatically book you onto the Community Inca Trail.

To be able to apply for your Inca Trail permit, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel with may result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.

DAY 1
This morning we go for a guided tour of the Sacred Valley and enjoy lunch at Pisac. We then head to Ollantaytambo to view more Inca ruins and we stay in a nice hotel for the night.
Meals provided: Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 2
The following morning after breakfast, we catch a bus to the 82 km marker and are joined by a crew of local porters, cook, etc. As we hike from high plateau to dense forest, you will see some remains of ancient villages and temples, the first of which is Llactapata. The starting point of the trek (the 82 km marker) is located at 2,850 m above sea level. The trek includes some uphill trekking to the campsite (over 3,000m above sea level). Take advantage during the 4 days of the trek to get to know your porters. You will realise they work the hardest on the team and are gentle people willing to share with you their culture, language and trek experiences.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 3
This is the most challenging of the trek as w.e ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hrs) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman's Pass, at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley (3,650 m above sea level - 2 hrs downhill). Depending upon local conditions, you might camp here today, or may need to continue further up and down. We might cross the first and second passes on this day. From the second pass, Runkuracay (3,980 m above sea level - 90 min uphill) we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2 hours downhill). From here it is only a few more minutes to the Chaquicocha campsite (3,620 m above sea level).
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 4
Today we continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds' (3,850 m above sea level – 90 min uphill). Start descending real Inca Steps (2 hrs) to reach our final night's camp by the Wiñay Wayna, or 'Forever Young' ruins (2,750 m above sea level), with panoramic views of the valley below.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 5
Today is only a short final hike (90 min) to Machu Picchu and we climb the steps to the Sun Gate to watch the ruins emerge from the mist below. As with the community trek our guide will show us the most important constructions as well as explain the history and the mythology of this magnificent place. There is some free time to explore the ruins further at your own pace or maybe if you haven't experienced enough steps and trekking, why not visit the Inca Bridge. Or you can just chill out and watch the hummingbirds or vizcachua. Late afternoon we head back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco for a well-deserved rest.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks

Option 3: Non Trekking Package

If you do not wish to trek but want to take part in the Sacred Valley Tour and guided tour of Machu Picchu, then this is the package for you. You will receive a refund from kitty for the unused part of the excursion as your kitty amount has been calculated for the trekking options. Please note that in order to obtain a refund you MUST inform us that you would like the non trekking package at the time of booking. Please also note that there is a possibility that you may be the only person booked on to the non trekking package.

To be able to buy your train ticket between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel on may result in you not being allowed to board the train.

DAY 1
You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers who will be trekking the Community Trek of the Classic Inca Trail. You will visit the fortress of Sacsaywaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After lunch you will head back to Cuzco where you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights. These hotel nights will be booked for you by your tour leader.

DAYS 2 & 3
There are no activities booked or organised for you during these two days. There will be plenty of free time for you to go out and enjoy the many beautiful restaurants and shops that this wonderful town has to offer.

DAY 4
After being picked up from your hotel in the morning you will be driven to the fortress city of Ollantaytambo and our hotel for the night, the Tunupa Lodge. Here you will rejoin the Community Inca Trekkers and your tour leader who will be arriving from their trek this afternoon.

DAY 5
After an early breakfast and a 10 minute walk to the train station, your stunning 2 hour train ride to Aguas Calientes begins. The journey takes you through several different micro-climates, past Inca terraces, lookout posts, ancient river bank reinforcements and small towns. You will get a glimpse of different temples and the beautiful Mount Veronica (18,800 ft. / 5,750 m). Passing through 8 tunnels, the train journey finally comes to an end in the busy pueblo, Aguas Calientes. From here you take a local bus that winds up the mountainside for about 30 minutes until you arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu (7,800 ft / 2,400 m), the awe inspiring 'Lost City of the Incas'. The guide will take you around the immense, mystical ruins for about 2 to 2 ½ hours, explaining the rich history of the ancient site. Afterwards, you will have time to explore on your own before returning down the mountain to Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon you will catch a train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and a private transfer will take you back to your hotel in Cuzco.

Non Trekking Package inclusions

 

Still Unsure of Which Trail?

Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route that not only involves trekking through pristine unspoiled mountains along ancient Inca Trails, but also allows the trekkers to stay within local communities and get involved with our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and instead getting out into the real Andes. Not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects.

The Classic Inca Trail is the trek which you will see in every tour operator's brochure and website that features Peru as a destination. It is the most common trekking route taken to get to Machu Picchu.

Benefits of the Community Inca Trek over the Classic Inca Trail

 

Points against the Community Inca Trek

 

The Classic Inca Trail

 

However this is still the Classic Inca Trail and for some no other route will do, and we therefore offer it as an alternative. The Community Trek is included in our trips, but if you would prefer to take the Classic then you will need to let our sales team know at time of booking.

Trail fitness 

Trekking at altitude should not be undertaken lightly. Regardless of which trek you choose, you need to be in good health with good physical fitness to enjoy the experience. It is not about speed; trekking slowly is far better at altitude but you do need to have the stamina to keep going and altitude can have a negative impact on your general condition and physical performance. For your own safety you must accept that it is at the complete discretion of the professional trekking guides to decide if you are not fit enough to trek, whether it be before or during the trek. The Community Inca Trek reaches 4,700 m in altitude when we cross one of the passes. The trail can be steep and rocky but has few steps. The Classic Inca Trail has lots of steps and the highest pass is Dead Woman's Pass at 4,200 m. If you are in any doubt about your suitability to trek please consult your local doctor. 

Trekking - what to bring

Tents, sleeping mats and all food and drinking water during the trek are provided, as well as duffle bags for your personal gear that you don't need to access during the trekking hours (such as sleeping bags and extra clothes). On the Community Trek your duffle bag will be carried by pack animals and on the Classic Trail your duffle bag will be carried by porters. Please note that for the Classic Inca Trail there is therefore a strict weight limit of 10 kgs per bag, no exceptions. You will have to carry your own daypack with any items you need during the day.

You will need to be prepared for 4 seasons' weather in one day. Basically it will be cold after dark and in the mornings. During the night you will need to layer up with thermals and warm socks. In the morning when you've walked for a little while you will warm up and gradually strip off. Think layers! Community trekkers, you should also bring a set of clean clothes for night 4, which you will spend in Ollantaytambo where you have hot showers and the evening meal out in a restaurant.

Some very useful things to bring:


We recommend a tip of US$20 for your guide and perhaps US$30 for all the rest of the staff. On the Community Inca Trek, you may also wish to bring financial or actual donations for the communities. Photos of your home area and family are great things to share with the children and families we may meet in the communities.

Responsible Trekking

Frostbite, altitude sickness and even death can be the cost for the guides and trekking staff. Tourism Concern has a campaign aimed to put a stop to the abuse of trekking staff's human rights. Equally pack animals suffer abuse and mistreatment. Mountain trekking is exhilarating and challenging, but how could many of us do it without the assistance of trekking staff. Once they have started a trek, trekkers are often horrified by the reality of the working conditions for the staff. The prices that tour operators charge for trekking does vary enormously, mainly due to the rates of pay and conditions that the trekking crew receive. It is easy to book a trip based purely on price, but in the case of trips involving Inca trails, this will probably be because the tour operator is using local suppliers without regard to the treatment of porters and guides. In keeping with our Responsible Tourism Policies, Dragoman has a strict Suppliers Policy, which also covers our trekking partners. We follow Tourism Concern's policies on trekking companies and the way that guides, porters or animals are looked after. We therefore use a local Cuzco based trekking company called Andina Travel to run all our Inca trails trekking trips. They have an excellent trekking record and good, knowledgeable guides. They have been at the cutting edge of developing codes of responsible tourism practice and involving the local Quechuan communities in the development of their various treks. They supply us with evidence of their code of practice concerning their guides, staff and pack animals. Please bear this in mind when deciding which travel company you will travel with. Remember many of the trekking organisations, as well as many overseas tour operators who use these suppliers, are happy to promote low cost trips, even if it is at the expense of the welfare of the guides and porters that they use.

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! 

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. Dragoman offers a 2 day W-walk extension package which includes a local guide, food and camping with facilities. 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 mat, 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. Please also note that any cancellation within 65 days of departure will incur a 100% cancellation fee.

High season runs from 1 November to 30 March.

Itinerary for Base Package (included in High Season trips):

Day 1: Pehoe Campsite
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande at 09:30 hrs. The group will split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to Glacier Grey with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. Packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 3: Pehoe Campsite
The groups will hike from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley. The base package group will then walk back to Paine Grande and board the catamaran back to Pudeto with their guide. The truck will meet the group here and drive to our campsite for the night. Breakfast and packed lunch are included tonight.
Day 4: Pehoe Campsite
Free day for optional activities around the camp.
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite
This morning the group will wake early to drive to Refugio Las Torres in the Dragoman truck. You will hike with your guide to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Packed lunch is included today.

Itinerary for Base Package (included in Low Season trips):

Day 1: Pehoe Campsite
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande at 12:00 hrs. The group will then split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to the Glacier Grey viewpoint with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. Packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 3: Paine Grande Campsite
The groups will hike from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley. The base package group will then walk back to Paine Grande with their guide and stay a second night in the campsite. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 4: Pehoe Campsite
This morning is free time before boarding the catamaran back to Pudeto at 12.30 pm. The truck will meet the group here and drive to our campsite for the night. The afternoon is free for optional activities or relaxing around the camp. Breakfast and lunch are included today.
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite
This morning the group will wake early to drive to Refugio Las Torres in the Dragoman truck. You will hike with your guide to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Packed lunch is included today.

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: Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite (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 split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to see Glacier Grey with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. Packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 3: Campsite Cuernos (optional extra)
The group will hike from Paine Grande to the French Valley and then finally onward to Los Cuernos. The group will spend the night camping in Campsite Cuernos. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 4: Las Torres Campsite (optional extra)
The group will hike from Campsite Cuernos along Lake Nordenskjold and Almirante Nieto Mountain to the foot of Ascencio Valley. The group will spend the night camping in Las Torres Campsite. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included today.
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
This morning the group will hike up to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Las Torres Campsite where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Breakfast and packed lunch are included today.

Trekking - what to bring

Tents as well as food during the trek are provided. You will have to carry your own daypack with any items you need during the trek, including sleeping bag and sleeping mat. 

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:

• Daypack (less than 30 litres)
• Waterproof bag(s) to keep you stuff dry (bin liners or similar are fine)
• Sleeping mat (also available from our local supplier)
• Warm sleeping bag (also available to rent from our local supplier)
• Sleeping bag liner (if you wish for extra insulation)
• Walking sticks (some of the track is steep and made of loose scree)
• Water bottle(s) with a total capacity of at least 2 litres
• Head torch or normal torch
• Small towel
• Camera (remember extra batteries and memory cards)
• Binoculars
• Walking boots
• Light shoes or sandals (to allow your feet to relax and breathe during the evenings)
• Waterproofs
• Thermal underwear
• Warm socks
• Fleece or other warm sweater
• Woolly hat & gloves
• Sunglasses
• Sun hat
• Basic toiletries (lip salve, sun block, insect repellent, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc)
• Basic medical kit (any personal medication, plasters, painkillers, etc)
• Pack of cards / book / game for evenings
• Any snacks (also possible to buy en route but generally it's cheaper to get it in Puerto Natales)
• Money (for souvenirs, snacks, drinks, etc)
• Entrance ticket to Torres del Paine NP
• Passport + the immigration slip you receive when you enter Chile

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.

Physical preparation for North America

North America is diverse continent from high altitude 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. The North America trip is primarily camping based so you need to be prepared to go for a number of days without the luxury of a real bed.

Physical preparation for Central America Itineraries

Central America is diverse continent so you should therefore be prepared for the adventure. There will be time for hiking 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. The Central America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

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.

Altitude

Please note that this trip spends time above 2800 metres/9200 feet where it is possible for travellers to experience some adverse effects on your health due to the altitude, potentially including Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

Because of this it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude and monitor your health during this trip. 

For further information please click here to download our AMS information sheet or check out the following website www.high-altitude-medicine.com

Your leader will also hand you a copy of the AMS information sheet during your trip as well as holding a short meeting prior to travelling to altitudes above 2800m/9200ft for the first time.

If you are starting your trip in a destination above 2800m/9200ft we strongly advise reading this information prior to arrival.

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. 

Panama

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 or 180 days. Depending on your nationality you may however be required to obtain a tourist card which are available upon arrival and cost $5. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

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.

USA

Nationals of many countries do not need a visa for a tourist visits of 90 days or less to the USA as qualify under the visa waiver scheme. Currently 35 different countries qualify under this scheme including nationals of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, South korea, Singapore plus most European countries. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months on entry and you need to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel. An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Peru

Nationals of most countries including Australia, 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 Peru

Costa Rica

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

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

Belize

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to one month. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Canada

Nationals of many countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and many European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Canada. For certain other countries, including South Africa, you may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter the country.  Applications for a TRV need to be made through an embassy or consulate in your home country.

Bolivia

Nationals of most countries including Australia, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Bolivia. South Africans however DO require a visa which is advisable to obtain before departure.

USA citizens also DO require a visa to enter Bolivia. Please note: to support your visa application you will need a copy of the Dragoman voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip, as well as a copy of the itinerary, which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website.

Mexico

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, many European countries, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 180 days and are able to obtain a Blue Tourist Card on arrival. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Nicaragua

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Most nationalities are also required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Honduras

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

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/

El Salvador

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Many nationalities however are required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Guatemala

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

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.

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in Central America, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$20 and a maximum of US$40 per day.

This will covers expenses such as your drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permit

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.

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also 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, traveller’s cheques and ATM cards is best. However, 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. ATM's are everywhere through North and Central America so it is very easy to withdraw cash as you go and throughout this region the US Dollar is king.

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.

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also 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, traveller’s cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Throughout Central America the US Dollar is king.

Also in this trip you will have the departure tax for the flight to Roatan not included in kitty. You will need 25 USD each way for this.