Lima<- ->Buenos Aires, (JLB)

Lima to Buenos Aires 75 days, departing 13 Nov 2014
A beatuiful from amongst the ruined buildings of Machu Picchu The majestic Plaza de Armas of Lima, the Peruvian capital The beautiful yellow buildings of Lima's historical centre The iconic Obelisk in central Buenos Aires, Argentina

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Lima to Buenos Aires
Duration: 75 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle and local minibus
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


These are physical tours; you may well be travelling at high altitudes, across deserts or through cold and windy or hot and steamy areas.
Accommodation:

51%49%

Mainly hostel/hotel and wildcamps (50% camping, 50% hotels)

Route Map

Countries Visited

Argentina

Idyllic scenery on the lower stretches of the Iguazu Falls, 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.

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.

Chile

The spectacular Three Towers of Torres del Paine, 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.

Peru

The breathtaking Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, 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. 

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Daily Itinerary

A beatuiful from amongst the ruined buildings of Machu Picchu
A group dressed in traditional Quechua clothes at our Raqchi homestay
The view from Incahuasi Island, Salar de Uyuni
Ice climbing on the Viedma Glacier near El Chaten, Argentina
The mighty 6962m Mt. Aconcagua near Mendoza, the highest mountain in South America
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa, Peru
Inside the Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa
Looking over Arequipa's Plaza de Armas
The beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche, Argentina
On the road through the beautiful alpine region near Bariloche, Argentina
Taking a boat trip on Lake Nahuel Huapi near Bariloche
The iconic Obelisk in central Buenos Aires, Argentina
Colourful houses in La Boca, Argentina
The Plaza de los dos Congresos in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires
A tango performance in the famous Café Tortoni, Buenos Aires
The Floralis Genérica sculpture in the Recoleta area of Buenos Aires
Some of the atmospheric vineyards of Cafayate, Argentina
The sun rises under the grape vines of Cafayate, Argentina
The stunning rock formations of the Quebrada de las Conchas between Salta and Cafayate
An inquisitive llama in the beautiful countryside around Chivay, Peru
Getting the truck blessed in Copacabana, Bolivia
The wonderful vista over Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca
The central Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital
Colourful cloth for sale in the markets of Cuzco, Peru
The picturesque Plaza de Armas in Cuzco after dark
The phenomenal Inca stonework at the ruins of Saksaywaman near Cuzco
Overlooking the picturesque city of Cuzco, Peru
Walking on the Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, southern Argentina
The colossal Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate in southern Argentina
The mighty Mt Fitzroy dominates over the town of El Chalten, Argentina
Stunning autumn colours on a walk along the base of Mt Fitzroy, El Chalten
The incredible view over La Paz, Bolivia
Central La Paz, Bolivia
Taking the local barge from Copacabana to La Paz, Bolivia
A typical street in La Paz, Bolivia's largest city
The Hummingbird' figure at the ancient Nazca lines in Peru
The ancient Nazca cemetery of Chauchilla, Peru
A view of 'The Monkey', one of the mysterious figures of Peru's Nazca Lines
The beautiful coastline around Paracas, Peru
Wild camping in the desolate beauty of Paracas, Peru
The mountain of Cerro Rico looms over the silver-mining town of Potosi, Bolivia
Llamas near Potosi, Bolivia
Trekking up the Villarica volcano near Pucon, Chile
On the upper slopes of Villarica volcano, Pucon
A view of Villarica volcano from the town of Pucon, southern Chile
Some of the sea cliffs at the Peruvian Pacific coast of Puerto Inca
The rugged coastline of Puerto Inca
A Southern Right Whale spectacularly breaching off the Valdes Peninsular, Argentina
Young elephant seals sunbathing on beaches of the Valdes Peninsular
A friendly Magellan penguin on the Valdes Peninsular
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Day 1: Lima

( Thu 13 Nov )

Border information: if joining in Lima, you will most likely enter Peru at Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

In Lima we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the city's historical centre.

Please note that all trips coming through Lima on or after 1 August 2015 will be staying in Hotel Kamana rather than Hotel Inka Path:

Hotel Kamana
Jr. Camaná 547
Lima (Downtown)
Perú 
Website: www.hotelkamana.com
Phone: (+ 511) 426-7204
Fax: (+511) 426-0790

Trips coming through Lima before 1 August 2015 are staying in Hotel Inka Path:

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 Lima's famous Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), containing over 7000 pieces of gold, silver and gilded copper from a number of Peru's different pre-Columbian cultures

PEN 33

Visit the beautiful Baroque cathedral of San Franciso in Lima's historical centre, and explore the morbidly fascinating catacombs underneath

PEN 7

Explore the excellent Museum of the Nation in Lima, which has numerous exhibits highlighting many of the pre-conquest civilisations and an outstanding photo exhibit on Peru's Internal Conflict of the 1980s and 1990s

PEN 9

Explore the bohemian areas of Barranco and Miraflores on a cycling tour of Lima

USD 35

See the incredible 'Magic Water Circuit' in Lima's Parque de la Reserva, an astounding evening display of water, music, light, images, and laser effects across 13 huge water fountains

PEN 4

Explore the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum in Lima, containing the largest private collection of pre-Colombian art in the world

PEN 30

Take a cebiche and pisco sour class at one of the top restaurants in Miraflores, a lively district of Lima

USD 40
About 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.

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Day 2: Paracas, Ballestas Islands, Huacachina

( Fri 14 Nov )

Today we will have a very early start to leave Lima before the rush hour, and drive 270kms south to Paracas. There we will board one of the local boats for an included trip to the Ballestas Islands to view its incredible array of resident wildlife and birds.

After lunch, we will enter the desolate beauty of Paracas National Park and spend the afternoon exploring its haunting landscapes, visiting its museum, and searching for wildlife.

We will wild camp in the National Park tonight. 

Alternatively, if the group prefers, we can continue south to arrive at the stunning desert oasis town of Huacachina, where we have the option to head out for an evening of sand boarding and dune buggying and the further option to camp out under the stars in the deserts.

If we continue to Huacachina, those that do not wish to participate in the optional camping in the desert will stay in dorm accommodation in the village itself.

Drive time - 4 hours from Lima to Paracas (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, and see their colossal colony of resident seals and seabirds

Included in Kitty

Head out for an exhilirating dune buggy ride and sandboarding trip into the sand dunes of Huacachina, followed by a camp out around the fire and under the stars in the beautiful deserts

USD 60

Explore the haunting wilderness of the Paracas National Park on the Pacific coast of Peru

Included in Kitty
About 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.

 

About 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.

About 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.

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Day 3: Huacachina, Nazca

( Sat 15 Nov )

Today we continue south to the world-famous village of Nazca, the location of the mysterious Nazca Lines. On the drive, we will stop at a viewing platform to get a glimpse of some of these lines. The Nazca Lines are a series of figures, lines, and geometric shapes that were etched into the ground of the desert plateau over a thousand years ago by the ancient Nazca culture, and their purpose is still unknown to this day.

In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to take an optional 30-minute flight over the Nazca Lines in a small aircraft - this is by far the best way of seeing the figures, and we use a local operator with an excellent safety record.

In Nazca we will camp at a well-equipped campsite.

Drive time - 4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a scenic flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines, to get the best possible view of the world-famous figures

USD 130

See a section of the famous Nazca Lines from the viewing tower built by the archeologist Maria Reiche

PEN 2
About 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.

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Day 4: Nazca, Puerto Inca

( Sun 16 Nov )

This morning we head south of Nazca, and have an included visit to the nearby ancient sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Cahuachi Pyramid, thought to have once been the religious centre of the Nazca civilisation.

In the afternoon we will continue our drive to the coastal resort of Puerto Inca, where we camp at a well-equiped campsite on the beach.

Drive time - 4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the incredible ancient Nazca sites of the Chauchilla Cemetery and the nearby Cahuachi Pyramid

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 5: Arequipa

( Mon 17 Nov )

Today we will start our drive inland, and head uphill to the beautiful ‘White City’ of Arequipa.

In Arequipa we will stay in a good local hotel.

Drive time - 8 hours.

About 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.

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Day 6: Arequipa

( Tue 18 Nov )

Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Arequipa, or for some optional activities in and around the city.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a 'Reality Tour' of Arequipa, a walking tour with an alternative focus on the daily lives of the local people and contemporary issues facing modern Peru

PEN 40

Visit Arequipa's Museo Santuarios Andinos, home of the famous mummy of 'Juanita' mummy - the frozen remains of an Inca girl that was sacrificed on a nearby mountain over 600 years ago

PEN 20

Explore the beautiful monastery and convent of Santa Catalina, an incredibly photogenic 'city within a city' in Arequipa

PEN 35

Head out for an exciting morning of white-water rafting on the Chili River near Arequipa

USD 35

Take a fascinating cooking class in Arequipa, learning how to create some iconic Peruvian cuisine and taking a tour of the nearby food markets

PEN 90
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Day 7: Chivay

( Wed 19 Nov )

We will have some more free time to explore Arequipa this morning, before continuing our drive to the highland town of Chivay after lunch.

In Chivay we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 4 hours.

About 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.

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Day 8: Chivay

( Thu 20 Nov )

This morning we will head out on a short drive to some of the best viewpoints along the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world! The canyon is famous for its resident condors, and we will spend a good amount of time at the viewpoints to give ourselves the best chance of spotting them. We will also visit a couple of local communities on the way back to Chivay.

We will have a free afternoon to explore Chivay, and possibly take an optional trip to the nearby hot springs and zip-lining course.

Activity Approximate Cost

Fly through the stunning rocky landscapes near Chivay on an exciting 2-kilometre zip-lining course

PEN 150

Visit the phenomenal Colca Conyon and search for the native Andean Condors that fly through its spectacular scenery

Included in Kitty

Visit the La Calera thermal springs near Chivay

PEN 15
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Day 9: Raqchi

( Fri 21 Nov )

Today we will drive through the stunning landscapes of the Peruvian highlands to the small village of Raqchi. Here we will stay at a homestay as guests of the local villagers in their traditional family homes. The houses are very clean and have basic facilities. This evening the villagers will invite us to take part in a traditional Quechua religious ceremony, and we'll have some lively music from some of the village's musicians.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Stay at an incredible Quechua homestay with local families in Raqchi, taking part in a traditional religious ceremony and visiting a community crafts project in the village

Included in Kitty

Take a guided visit to the ruins of the Inca Temple of Wiracocha in Raqchi

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 10: Cuzco

( Sat 22 Nov )

This morning we will visit the Inca ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi, and then see a pottery demonstration at a local artisan centre.

In the afternoon we will drive to the incredible historical city of Cuzco, the former Inca capital. 

In Cuzco we will stay in a good colonial hotel.

Drive time - 3 hours.

About 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. 

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Day 11: Cuzco

( Sun 23 Nov )

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

 

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Day 12 to 15: Inca Trail , Sacred Valley, Cuzco

( Mon 24 Nov to Thu 27 Nov )

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

Options for the treks from Cuzco (please see the bottom of the Trip Notes for more details):

Option 1 - Community Trek

Hike on unspoiled Inca Trails through the stunning remote Andean scenery away from other tourists and through local communities, on our exclusive Community Inca Trek. If you choose this option you will get a small refund from kitty.

Option 2 - Classic Trek

Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road. Your kitty has been budgeted to accommodate for this option as it is the most costly of the 3 options.

Option 3 - MAPI non-trekking option

Relax in Cuzco and take the train to Machu Picchu without trekking. If you choose this option you will get a substantial refund from kitty.

Important note: You must advise us at the time of booking if you wish to book the Classic Inca Trail or the MAPI non-trekking option, otherwise you will automatically be booked onto our Community Trek.

Included in Kitty
About 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:

  • You will trek through genuinely unspoilt, spectacular mountain scenery without seeing any other western tourists
  • Llamas, mules and horses are used instead of porters to carry equipment. These animals are sourced from the communities we travel through, providing a direct source of income for local families
  • You'll be helping to give something back to the local community. On this trek the staff and pack animals are all from the local villages, so they directly benefit from your trekking
  • We also make a financial donation from the group kitty, matched by Dragoman, for every person who does this trek. These donations help support a variety of projects, e.g. paying teacher wages for local community schools
  • By having the horses and mules along with us, you also have a much needed safety net if you suffer from altitude or exhaustion.... because you can always swallow your pride and hitch a ride
  • You will arrive to Machu Picchu well rested after a night in a comfortable hotel - ready to get the most out of the tour of this magnificient site

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

  • It's important to realise that whilst both treks finish at Machu Picchu on their final day, on the Community Trek you will not trek right through to the Sun Gate as you do on the Classic Inca Trail. However, you will still arrive before the crowds and it is possible to walk up from Machu Picchu itself to the Sun Gate to take in the famous view
  • The Inca trails that form part of the Classic Inca Trail route are what would have been the King's roads - and therefore they are better preserved than the trails we use on the Community Inca Trek
  • The ruins you will see on the Classic Inca Trail are more numerous than those on the Community Trek, however you will still see the main sites of Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo
  • The Classic Inca Trail is closed for maintenance during February each year
About 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

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Day 16: Machu Picchu

( Fri 28 Nov )

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

Explore the phenomenal and iconic Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World - take a guided tour and have plenty of time to freely explore before returning to Cuzco

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 17: Cuzco

( Sat 29 Nov )

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

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out for an exhilirating white-water rafting trip on the Urubamba River near Cuzco

USD 45
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Day 18: Puno, Sillustani Ruins

( Sun 30 Nov )

Today is a drive day to Puno. We will visit the Sillustani ruins en route and overnight in hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the myseterious pre-Inca ruins of the tombs of Sillustani near Puno

Included in Kitty
About 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.

About 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.

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Day 19: Copacabana, Puno

( Mon 01 Dec )

Border information: Exit Peru at Kasani, enter Bolivia at Kasani.

We head out on a boat on Lake Titicaca to the floating reed islands of Uros before crossing in to Bolivia and the lakeside town of Copacabana. We stay 2 nights in a simple hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip out on Lake Titicaca to visit the fascinating floating islands of Uros

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 20: Copacabana

( Tue 02 Dec )

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 trip to Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol, and head on a guided walk across the length of the stunning island

Included in Kitty
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Day 21: La Paz

( Wed 03 Dec )

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.

About 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.

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Day 22 to 23: La Paz

( Thu 04 Dec to Fri 05 Dec )

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

Explore the vibrant city of La Paz and discover its interesting markets, shops, and colonial buildings

Included in Kitty

Take a guided tour to explore the amazing pre-Inca ruins of Tiwanaku, once the centre of one of the most important cultures in South America

BOB 180
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Day 24 to 25: Potosi

( Sat 06 Dec to Sun 07 Dec )

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

Explore the claustrophobic tunnels of the Cerro Rico silver mines, an infamous mine orignally built by the Spanish

BOB 110
About 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.

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Day 26: Uyuni

( Mon 08 Dec )

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!

About 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.

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Day 27: Uyuni, Salar De Uyuni

( Tue 09 Dec )

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.

About 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

 

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Day 28: Bolivian Altiplano

( Wed 10 Dec )

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.

About 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.

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Day 29 to 30: San Pedro De Atacama

( Thu 11 Dec to Fri 12 Dec )

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, other-worldly landscape of the Moon Valley, and take in an incredible sunset from one of its high viewpoints

Included in Kitty

Observe the night skies through the powerful telescopes of the observatory in the Atacama Desert near San Pedro, and learn all about the heavens on a fascinating talk from one of the astronomers

CLP 18000
About 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.

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Day 31: Salta

( Sat 13 Dec )

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

Head out for an incredible white-water rafting adventure on the beautiful Juramento river near Salta

ARS 270
About 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.

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Day 32: Salta

( Sun 14 Dec )

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

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Day 33: Cafayate

( Mon 15 Dec )

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

Explore the vineyards of Cafayate and discover the area's delicious wines and bodgeas on a wine-tasting excursion

ARS 50
About 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.

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Day 34: Quilmes Ruins

( Tue 16 Dec )

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

Explore the atmospheric ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes in north west Argentina

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 35 to 37: Rio Ceballos

( Wed 17 Dec to Fri 19 Dec )

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 special days at a unique Anglo-Argentine Estancia, to experience the gaucho way of living and see the beautiful countryside by horseback

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 38: Mendoza

( Sat 20 Dec )

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

About 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.

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Day 39 to 40: Mendoza

( Sun 21 Dec to Mon 22 Dec )

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

Enjoy a day out rock climbing in the stunning landscapes near Mendoza

ARS 930
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Day 41: Santiago

( Tue 23 Dec )

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

About 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.

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Day 42: Santiago

( Wed 24 Dec )

Border information: Welcome to Santiago, the 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
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Day 43: Salto del Laja

( Thu 25 Dec )

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.

About Salto del Laja:

Salto del 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 del 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.

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Day 44: Pucon

( Fri 26 Dec )

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.

About 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.

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Day 45 to 46: Pucon

( Sat 27 Dec to Sun 28 Dec )

We have two full days in Pucon with a range of activities available from hiking to hot springs. We stay for a second and third night in the same campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

Horseriding, white-water rafting or hikes around Pucon

USD 50
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Day 47: Bariloche

( Mon 29 Dec )

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
About 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.

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Day 48 to 49: Bariloche

( Tue 30 Dec to Wed 31 Dec )

Two full days 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 and third night in the same hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Horse riding and mountain biking around Bariloche

USD 80
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Day 50: Esquel

( Thu 01 Jan )

Today we drive 280 kms to Esquel and stay the night in a campsite with good facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to traditional Welsh Tea house for afternoon cakes and tea.

USD 25
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Day 51: Rio Pinturas

( Fri 02 Jan )

Today is a full day's drive through the Argentinian lake district to Rio Pinturas. We stay at a campsite with facilities.

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Day 52: Rio Pinturas, Cueva De Las Manos

( Sat 03 Jan )

In the morning we will visit the UNESCO site Cueva de las Manos. In the afternoon we will drive south and bush camp for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the UNESCO site Cueva de las Manos at Río Pinturas

Included in Kitty
About Cueva De Las Manos:

The world heritage site of Cueva de las Manos lies in an isolated spot in the valley of Rio Pinturas. The cave takes it's name from the hundreds of paintings of hands made by it's indigenous inhabitants some 9000 years ago - possibly the forefathers of the Tehuelche people. As well as the hand impressions, there are also depictions of of human beings, guanaco, rhea and other animals, as well as representations of the sun, moon and hunting scenes.

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Day 53: El Chalten

( Sun 04 Jan )

We drive 250 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.

About 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.

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Day 54 to 55: El Chalten, Los Glaciares National Park

( Mon 05 Jan to Tue 06 Jan )

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
About 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.

 

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Day 56: Strait of Magellan

( Wed 07 Jan )

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

We head south, overlanding across the Patagonian steppe and catching the ferry across the infamous Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. The night will be spent bush camping.

Activity Approximate Cost

Follow in Darwin's footsteps across the Strait of Magellan

Included in Kitty
About 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.

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Day 57: Tierra Del Fuego, Ushuaia

( Thu 08 Jan )

Today we drive roughly 300 kms through spectacular scenery to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. Here we will stay 3 nights in dorm beds in a hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland to the end of the world

Included in Kitty
About 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.

About 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!

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Day 58 to 59: Tierra Del Fuego, Ushuaia

( Fri 09 Jan to Sat 10 Jan )

We have 2 full days in Ushuaia with time for optional activities such as a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Second and third night in the same hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park

ARS 310

Beagle channel boat trips

USD 40

Light plane flights over Ushuaia

USD 100
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Day 60: Strait of Magellan

( Sun 11 Jan )

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

Today we have a 500 kms drive and a ferry crossing to Punta Delgada in Chile where we will bush camp for the night.

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Day 61: Torres Del Paine National Park

( Mon 12 Jan )

Border information: Exit Argentina at Rio Don Guillermo 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. 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. We will stop in Puerto Natales en route to shop for supplies for our whole stay in the national park and also pick up our local guide.

Activity Approximate Cost

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

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

USD 90
About 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.



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Day 62: Torres Del Paine National Park

( Tue 13 Jan )

 

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. Approximate distance: 22 km, estimated duration: 8 hrs.

Activity Approximate Cost

Base package

Guided base package to trek part of the famous W-walk. The package includes camping with facilities in Paine Grande, food during the trekking days and the service of an expert English speaking local guide.

Included in Kitty

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 140
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Day 63: Torres Del Paine National Park

( Wed 14 Jan )

Base package group: If you have not opted for the optional 2 day W-walk extension package, this morning will be free time around Paine Grande. You then board the catamaran back to Pudeto, where the truck will meet you and drive you to our campsite for the night. 

W-walk extension group: If you have chosen the optional 2 day W-walk extension, you will leave Paine Grande and trek up the French Valley with your local guide. From here you will continue trekking to Campsite Cuernos where you will spend the night camping. Approximate distance: 27 km, estimated duration: 11 hrs.

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Day 64: Torres Del Paine National Park

( Thu 15 Jan )

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. 

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. Approximate distance: 11 km, estimated time: 5 hrs.

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Day 65: Torres Del Paine National Park

( Fri 16 Jan )

Today is our last full day in this beautiful 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. Approximate distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.

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. Approximate distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.

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Day 66: El Calafate

( Sat 17 Jan )

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

We have a 300 km drive to El Calafate, crossing the border into Argentina and driving through incredible scenery. In El Calafate we stay 2 nights in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

About 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.

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Day 67: El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier

( Sun 18 Jan )

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.

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

Boat trip beneath the Perito Moreno Glacier

ARS 180
About 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.

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Day 68 to 69: Atlantic Wildcamp, Camarones

( Mon 19 Jan to Tue 20 Jan )

Overlanding over 1500 km, we will wild camp along the way north to Camarones on the Atlantic coast. From Camarones we have a guided visit of the Magellanic penguin colony of Cabo dos Bahias. In Camarones we will stay in a campsite with facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the penguin colony at Camarones

Included in Kitty
About Camarones:

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

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Day 70: Puerto Madryn

( Wed 21 Jan )

This morning we visit the colony of Magellanic penguins in Camarones before driving to Puerto Madryn where we stay 2 nights in a campsite with facilities.

About Puerto Madryn:

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

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Day 71: Valdes Peninsula, Puerto Madryn

( Thu 22 Jan )

Today is a guided day trip to the Valdes Peninsula to see its abundant marine life. We spend a second night in the same campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Valdes Peninsula to meet the elephant seals and sealions

Included in Kitty
About Valdes Peninsula:

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

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Day 72: Monte Hermoso

( Fri 23 Jan )

Full day's drive heading north towards Buenos Aires. We will find a spot to bush camp for the night, probably near Monte Hermoso.

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Day 73 to 74: Buenos Aires

( Sat 24 Jan to Sun 25 Jan )

Another full day's drive will take us to the cosmoplitan capital of Buenos Aires. Here will stay 2 nights in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take the passenger ferry over to the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo for a night (if time allows)

USD 140

Take the ferry over the river to Uruguay, and explore the serene colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento for the afternoon before returning

USD 45

Head out to an tango show in Buenos Aires' oldest cafe, the Gran Cafe Tortoni - seeing a slice of iconic Argentine culture in an ideal and intimate setting

ARS 240
About Buenos Aires:

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

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

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

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

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Day 75: Buenos Aires

( Mon 26 Jan )

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

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

 

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Important Notes

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

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our 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, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Altitude Warning

Warning - this trip goes above 2800m.

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 refer to 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.

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 kitty has been budgeted to include the cost of the Classic Inca Trail as this is the most expensive option. This means that you will receive a small kitty refund if you do the Community Inca Trek, and a substantial kitty refund if you do the non trekking package.

PLEASE NOTE: 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.

Please note that there is an overlap for the Inca trek. This means a group starting a trip in Lima or La Paz will do the Inca trek at the same time as a group starting their trip in Cuzco. This means there could be several groups on the Inca trek at the same time.

Full details of all three options are below.

Option 1: The Community Inca Trek

New Community Trek Info Sheet.pdf

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 some minor Inca ruins and staying close to remote villages. You will be hiking unspoiled trails used only by local villagers and Dragoman passengers, avoiding the crowds of the Classic route. 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. From there we will hike to Zurite where you will have a picturesque 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. 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 close to 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 support 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

Classic Inca Trek Info Sheet.pdf

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 Trekover 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 6 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. 

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.

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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.


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. 


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. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.


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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

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

Multiple departures and 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 but also at other times of the year. Please note that there may be more than just one truck on your specific departure date, and these trucks will travel in parallel with each other.

Trucks on multiple departures 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. If you should have any concerns then please contact your sales agent.

Even on the majority of our trips where there is only the one truck, you may from time to time meet up with other groups at points on the road, and may partake in activities jointly with other groups on these occasions.

This may also occur occasionally in Africa, but is very unlikely in Asia or North and Central America.

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 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.

W Walk Info Graphic.pdf

Itinerary for Base Package:

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 first catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande. The group will 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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


Day 3: Pehoe Campsite
This morning will be free to enjoy the surroundings of Paine Grande and then the group and the guide will take the catamaran back to Pudeto around midday. The truck will meet the group here and drive to our campsite for the night. 


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. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

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 first catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande. The group will 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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.


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. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.


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. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

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 your sleeping bag. 

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 (only for base package; a mat is included in the extension package)
• 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 Physical Preparation

South America is diverse continent, from high altitudes in the dry Andes, the steamy and humid Amazon, the cold moorlands of Patagonia, to the lush green pampas of northern Argentina. You should therefore be prepared for the full gambit of climates. There will be time for hiking and many other activities such as horse riding and white water rafting, and you will need to be reasonably fit to be able to participate in everything on offer.

Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large the South America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Visa Information

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. 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 read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, please complete the ‘Visa Support Form’ available at this link: http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/visa-support.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, 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. The visa service is not always available for all nationalities or non-UK residents, depending on the requirements of each specific embassy. The Visa Machine will advise you what they can and cannot provide for your specific circumstances.

As you will often 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.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

Peru 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Peru as a tourist for up to 183 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance. Only a very small number of nationalities will require a visa.

Brazil

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Brazil as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the USA will need a visa to visit Brazil. You will need to obtain the visa in advance. You can arrange this in advance of your travel by applying directly yourself with your nearest Brazilian Consulate, or by hiring a visa agency such as The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf. Please note that most Brazilian consulates do not accept postal applications, so require either you or a visa agent to make an appointment in person – there are also strict rules regarding where you can apply for your visa, and the application will be rejected if it is not made at the consulate nearest to where you are ‘resident’, so please check the consulate’s jurisdiction before your application.

Another option to obtain the visa is by applying at the Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is possible for most foreign tourists, but you will need to allow at least 3 working days for the visa to be processed, and you must make an appointment and fill out a visa request form online prior to your arrival at the embassy, and there are strict requirements for what supporting documents you will need – please visit the embassy’s website here for more information and to set up your appointment: http://www.conbrasil.org.ar/CONSBRASIL/visas_otros01engl.asp

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

Bolivia 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit Bolivia as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of the USA, South Africa and certain Eastern European countries will need a visa.

The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for most nationalities at all land borders and airports into Bolivia. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD135 for USA passport holders, and USD52 for all other nationalities that require a visa. Please make sure you check which documentation you need to bring to obtain a visa on arrival. Dragoman can help with hotel lists if required.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance.

Chile

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit Chile as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Please note that citizens of Australia will need to pay a reciprocity fee of USD117 upon entry to Chile. This will be valid for mulitple entries to Chile over 90 days, and can be paid in cash or by card upon arrival.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

Argentina

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Argentina as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Please note that citizens of Australia, Canada and the USA will need to pay a reciprocity fee in order to enter Argentina. This fee must be paid online and in advance – please go to https://reciprocidad.provincianet.com.ar/ , sign up for an account, and pay the appropriate fee for your nationality; then they will send a receipt to your email address which you must print out to present at the border. Please note that it must be done this way, and you cannot just pay this fee at the border in any circumstance.

At the time of writing (2015), the amounts are as follows:

Australians - USD100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from the date of issue)
Canadians - USD75 (single entry) or USD150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
Americans - USD40 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

Flying to Central or South America via the USA

If your flight to Central or South America goes via the USA, then you must obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.

An ESTA must be obtained online and in advance via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ - please note that you will be denied boarding your flight if you do not have this arranged.

Personal Spending

South America Currencies and 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 and do not recommend that you bring them for your personal spending money.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. 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 no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Brazil can be difficult for changing money, so 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 USD50.

Please note that due to a recent counterfeit scam central banks in several South American countries (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile) have temporarily banned the circulation of USD100 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.

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.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people 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 (or 7 on our Family Trips), 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.

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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 group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the 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, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them 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 the entire 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 crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you 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.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying 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 and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on 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.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

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. Occasionally 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.

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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 (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments 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 and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

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

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and 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 and 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.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. 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).

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.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Itineraries

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for 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 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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 also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

You 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 assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you 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. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you 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.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

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 GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are continuing to spread and becoming a bigger problem around the world. Bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing 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 outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your 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 and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different 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 so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

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. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

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 you 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. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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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.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. 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, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

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.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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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 these 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

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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. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

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 a maximum of 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 that 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:

• Sleeping bag* - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

 

*For trips with camping nights

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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:

http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/pharmacy

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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.

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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 the 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 that 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.

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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 that 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.

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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 will be required to contribute the additional costs involved 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.

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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.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

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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 sterilised 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 pocket!

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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.

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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 groups. 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. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you 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.

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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.

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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 USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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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 to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and 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

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Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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