Grand Tour of South America    *alt*

22 days, from £5299
Titan
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Description

Few holidays can match this grand tour in scope, comfort and inclusions, encompassing four enthralling countries and myriad iconic highlights. Other operators grand tours only include Brazil, Argentina and Chile - we also include Peru. All Latin Americas great wonders are here - the mysterious mountain-top Inca city of Machu Picchu, breathtaking Iguazu Falls, stunning lake-lands of Chile and Argentina and exhilarating Rio. Our epic journey also presents unmissable opportunities to discover the colonial elegance of Cuzco and Santiago and the passion of Buenos Aires.

Itinerary


 Day 1

Titans VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport for a scheduled LATAM Airlines flight to Lima via Sao Paulo.


 Day 2

Upon arrival, we transfer to the Jose Antonio Hotel (4T).


 Day 3

A tour of Lima begins with a walk around the Plaza Mayor, the citys historic heart, where the surrounding buildings have been given a new lease of life thanks to a decade of painstaking restoration and renovation. We visit the 18th century cathedral, and continue by coach to view the Archbishops Palace, City Hall and Baroque Government Palace. We also pass San Francisco Monastery, with its stunning Mudejar-style interior and hugely significant library of parchments dating from the 15th century, sitting on top of an extensive network of underground chambers once used as the citys cemetery. After stops at Plaza San Martin, the centrepiece of modern Lima, and the Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History, where we learn more about ancient Peruvian cultures including the Nazca, Paracas, Chavin, Ica and Chimu. Remainder of the day is at leisure.


 Day 4

We transfer to Lima Airport for a LAN flight into the Inca heartland of Peru. We land in Cuzco, the high altitude capital of Incan civilisation, and travel onwards to the Sacred Valley, a river-carved area of flat, fertile land which sustained many ancient towns and villages. We visit the well-preserved fortress of Ollantaytambo, sophisticated 16th century stronghold of Inca resistance against the Spanish, and the village of Pisac, noted for its lively market and stone Inca buildings, before arriving at our hotel, the Sonesta Posadas del Inca Yucay (4T).


 Day 5

One of the standout highlights of Latin America - and indeed world travel - is Machu Picchu. Every aspect of our full day excursion is memorable, from the train that winds its way up the Sacred Valley to the breathtaking first sight of this legendary mountaintop city and the fascination of exploring its atmospheric ruins in the company of a knowledgeable guide. As you do so, take some time to imagine the excitement of American archaeologist Hiram Bingham (a possible inspiration for the film character Indiana Jones) who, in 1911, became the first outsider to experience the majesty of Machu Picchu since its abandonment at the time of the Spanish Conquest. There is plenty of time to appreciate the glory of this Inca citadel before we retrace our steps back into the Sacred Valley.


 Day 6

The ruins of another Inca fortress at Sacsayhuaman offer a wonderful, panoramic vantage point on Cuzco and the surrounding plains and mountains. From here, Inca warriors launched forays against Spanish-controlled Cuzco in the 1530s and the blocks used in its mighty walls well demonstrate the masterful stonework of that civilisation - though they each weigh up to 200 tonnes, they are so precisely cut and aligned that a single piece of paper will not fit between them. We take some time to absorb the site and its views before proceeding to Cuzco, for a city tour and time at leisure to admire its fine colonial architecture independently. Our hotel is the Xima Cusco Hotel (4T).


 Day 7

It is time to bid farewell to Peru and fly south via Lima to Santiago. Upon arrival in the evening, or early the following morning we transfer to the Plaza San Francisco (4T) for the first of three nights.


 Day 8

Though it may not quite enjoy the reputation of many of the continents other illustrious cities, Santiago is a delight to explore - a city of splendid colonial buildings sitting cheek by jowl with modern towers, all framed by the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Andes. Our tour commences at the National Museum, and also takes in Santiagos historic centre, the bohemian Bellavista district and San Cristobal Hill, presenting superb city and mountain views. The remainder of the day is at leisure.


 Day 9

A full-day excursion north of Santiago introduces two contrasting cities. Valparaiso, Chiles main port city built over 42 hills, has in places a strong British character from the 19th century days of empire when Britain was Chiles biggest trading partner. The ports turbulent past included piratical raids and, over many years, heavy fortifications were established to protect the city and its cargoes. The historic quarter is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vina del Mar could scarcely be more different - a popular, yet peaceful summer resort noted for its fine beaches, pristine parks and private gardens. En route back to Santiago, we stop at an award-winning winery for a brief tour and a tasting session with an expert sommelier.


 Day 10

Today we fly to Puerto Montt, gateway to the Chilean Lake District founded by German colonists in 1852. We make a short tour of the city, enjoying views of Angelemo Bay and Reloncavi Bay, and then continue to the town of Puerto Varas, overlooking the vast Lake Llanquihue - covering more than 850km, the lake is the fourth largest in Latin America. In this magnificent setting, we stay at the Cabanas del Lago (4T).


 Day 11

A long - but unforgettable - day of scenic exploration takes us across lakes and through the dramatic Andes Mountains into Argentina and the city of San Carlos de Bariloche. We begin our journey tracing the south shore of Lake Llanquihue to Petrohue, a small town from which departs a catamaran, crossing Lake Todos los Santos in Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. The lake was created many centuries ago, when volcanic eruptions prevented water from the Petrohue River draining into Lake Llanquihue. We disembark at Peulla, with free time for lunch, then it is onwards by road across the Andes and the Perez Rosales Pass into Argentina. We cross two further lakes by boat - Lake Frias and the immense, glacier-carved Lake Nahuel Haupi - and make a final transfer to San Carlos de Bariloche, where our base for two nights will be the Hotel Edelweiss (4T).


 Day 12

We take a scenic tour of the region, stopping at the foot of the Campanario Mountain, the Llao Llao peninsula and the Angostura River, in the shadow of the Lopez Mountains. Your afternoon is free to explore San Carlos de Bariloche which, thanks to the influence of Swiss, Austrian and German settlers, somewhat resembles a European alpine resort.


 Day 13

After a second morning to enjoy Bariloche, we board a flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Pulitzer Hotel (4T), our comfortable base for three nights.


 Day 14

The Paris of the South, Buenos Aires is a city of simmering excitement and a tango heartbeat. Our morning tour begins at the Plaza de Mayo, lined with grand buildings including the Presidential Palace, Casa Rosada, Cabildo and the Metropolitan Cathedral. We then continue to San Telmo, a former port area now transformed into one of the citys most desirable residential districts, and La Boca, a district famous for its colourful tin houses and Italian immigrant history. Finally, we visit the walled cemetery of Recoleta to view the elaborate mausoleums and resting places of Argentinean luminaries, including Eva Peron.


 Day 15

Free for you to explore Buenos Aires further. Alternatively, why not join an optional full day excursion to a typical Argentinean Estncia to learn about the daily life of the gacho, South Americas answer to the cowboy.


 Day 16

A further flight takes us to the World Heritage Site of Iguazu Falls, a series of 275 distinct waterfalls on the Iguazu River, which forms a stunning natural border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Taller than Niagara and twice as wide, Iguazu Falls are an unforgettable sight - we view them from the Argentinean side today, presenting an awe-inspiring aspect of thunderous cascades set against a lush jungle backdrop, before crossing into the fourth and final country on this amazing tour, Brazil. The Hotel Bourbon Cataratas (4T) hosts us for two nights.


 Day 17

A further day in the environs of Iguazu Falls, this time on the Brazilian side, where carefully constructed walkways and viewing points yield breathtaking panoramic vistas - a photographers delight! Take some time to relax this afternoon, or enjoy further optional exploration.


 Day 18

A further flight delivers us to Rio de Janeiro (possibly indirect). Upon arrival, we transfer to the Windsor Excelsior (4T) for the first of three nights.


 Day 19

The samba city of Rio de Janeiro is another must-see of world travel. Our full day tour includes a cog-train ride through the Tijuca Forest to the summit of hunchback Corcovado Mountain, appreciating far-reaching views from virtually the same perspective as the iconic Statue of Christ the Redeemer, set in an eternal, open-armed embrace of the city, recently voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. We also pass some of the famous beaches and ascend the equally iconic Sugarloaf Mountain by cable car for more outstanding city views, this time with Christ the Redeemer in sight.


 Day 20

Free to relax and make your own discoveries in Rio before a farewell dinner at a popular churrascaria restaurant this evening.


 Day 21

Enjoy a few last hours at leisure in Rio de Janeiro, before we transfer to the airport for a scheduled, overnight LATAM Airlines flight to London via Sao Paulo.


 Day 22

Arrival at London Heathrow where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.