Welcome to Cusco Contiki crew! After getting acquainted today we'll have the chance to shop for artisan jewellery and woodworks, roam the cobblestone streets or just stroll the San Pedro markets eating cacao buds and sipping on coca leaf tea. Today really is what you make it as you’re in total control…except for dinner with your new friends – that’s on us.
Heading out of Cusco and bound for the Sacred Valley on our private coach, this is where our journey into the ruins and mystique of this land truly begins. But first, llamas. An iconic symbol of Peru, we’ll be stopping off at a llama farm to show some love to these furry favourites up close, and we’re talking the whole humpback family – llamas, vicuna and alpacas. #llamaselfie achieved, we’ll then stop off to witness the ancient Incan art of weaving in practise by a group of talented local artisans. Throughout the journey, play close attention to your surrounds – there’s the chance to spot the Incan farming technique of terracing, as well as the ‘salineras’ (salt mines). Want to know what the Peruvians do for fun? You’ll get the chance to play the traditional game of “Sapo”, and exactly what that entails we’ll leave to the imagination… Our explorations of the Sacred Valley will begin with a guided tour of the Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. Our Local Guide will give you the d-l on both, visiting the circular terraced Pisac ruins first which date back to the 1400’s. Moving on to Ollantaytambo, base camp for those taking the trek tomorrow, we’ll appease dry mouths with some homemade Chica de Jora brew. This tiny town may be small in geographical terms, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude, with artisan shops and cafes spilling out onto streets, and the roaring Urubamba river providing the perfect natural background noise. For those embarking on the Inca trail tomorrow this is your final chance to stock up on last minute essentials (socks, socks and more socks). For all others, spend your time soaking in the vibes, hanging with other travellers and just getting a feel for this iconic little town.
For those embarking on our epic 1 day trek, we’ll catch the train to KM104 and the start of a day to remember. With just 3.5 hours on foot and 6-kilometres to cover, the enchanting site that awaits us will make it all worthwhile. Descending into the site we’ll take in Wayana Picchu 'Little peak' – the iconic peak you’ll have seen in every picture ever – marvelling at the incredible handiwork of the ancient Incas. Satisfaction levels at an all-time high and with a big ol’ smile on your tired face, we’ll head back to Aguas Calientes and a squishy hotel bed you couldn’t be more deserving of. For those not embarking on the Inca Trail,the morning is yours to enjoythe surrounding lush mountains of Aguas Calientes.Can you feel the excitement mounting? Yep – those are pretty much the feels when Machu Picchu is quite literally on the horizon. This afternoon we’ll hop on the train to Aguas Calientes, a cute town in its own right complete with roaring river, quaint bridges and local haunts, but most famously known as the gateway town to Machu Picchu. We’ll meet up with those who opted for the one day trek, and basically spend the evening hyping each other up for what’s to come tomorrow.
Excitement levels at an all-time high, the day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here – it’s Machu Picchu time! Built around 1450 at the height of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the new world. We’ll be treated to a guided tour of the site taking in such wonders as the Temple of the Three Windows and Wayana Picchu (the peak you’ll of seen in every Machu Picchu image ever), and of course you’ll have some alone time to explore the area as only you can do. This is one big old tick off the life goals list, so enjoy every single second of it.Back on the train we’ll de-brief on our once-in-a-lifetime experience as we head back to Cusco. Last time round was all about getting acquainted with the city, so now you’ve got you’re bearings you can really get lost amongst the market stalls and cobbled streets, maybe even going truly local by trying out a serving of cuy.
The last few days have been pretty full on, so today is all about seeking out some much needed r’n’r. Grab a lie in at the hotel then sip fresh mountain coffee in the Plaza de Armas, or maybe take a stroll around town to pick up an alpaca sweater or ten (they are super snuggly). Can’t shake that taste for adventure? We hear you.
Saying a final farewell to Cusco, we’ll hop on our included flight over the Andes to the city of Puerto Maldonado. With the sound of macaws and toucans welcoming us in, this can only mean one thing…it’s jungle time.A quick tour of the city will reveal colourful fruit stalls, open air markets and locals going about their day. But now we're back underway and we just want to get to the jungle…What’s accessible only by boat, is made from wood and clay and surrounded by the sounds and colours of nature? Answer – our rainforest lodge, your blissful home for the night. We’ll work up a pre-dinner appetite by hiking to the canopy tower, then after a tasty home-cooked dinner continue our outdoor pursuits by heading out to spot caimans – a member of the alligator family native to the Amazon. Tonight promises to be one for the story bank as you fall asleep in your open-walled room to the exotic sounds of the surrounding jungle.
If the vibrant morning song of the jungle birds hasn’t roused you early doors, the prospect of the Tres Chimadas lake teeming with wildlife will. Our morning catamaran cruise will have us spotting prehistoric hoatzin birds and giant river otters. Satisfaction levels on high, the rest of the afternoon is all yours – canopy climbing or kayaking ticking any of the boxes?Tired and hungry after another adventure filled day, we’ll head back to Puerto Maldonado to make camp for the night. After such an epic day of jungle antics, we’re guessing a good night’s sleep and some sweet group hangs are pretty high on the agenda.
Today marks our last day in Peru before heading east to Argentina and Brazil, so how better to spend it than one last night in the city where it all began – Lima. Options for your free evening in Lima are varied and endless. Maybe make for the trendy district of Miraflores, hang in Parque Kennedy or opt for one last plate of fresh to death ceviche in the city its best known for. One things for sure, we know you’ll be toasting your Peruvian leg with a final pisco sour, as tomorrow the nectar takes a decidedly red and rich turn as we enter Argentina.
Who’s ready for a new country? That’s right globetrotters, we’re up, up and away again this morning (how many included flights is that now?) in the direction of the Country of Seven Continents. Everything about Argentina gives us the tingles, and we know you're going to love it just as much as we do. But enough waving lyrical, we've got a new city to conquer…South America’s most cosmopolitan city will spread out before us like a treasure box waiting to be opened as we descend on Buenos Aires, and with 4 nights to spend in the Argentinian capital damn right those are excitement butterflies in your stomach. If the 4.5 hour flight zonked you a bit (just be glad you didn't do it overland) maybe keep it chilled in the afternoon, but for the balls of energy amongst you we’ve got plenty to keep you entertained. Tonight you'll meet those joining for the next epic 10 days, before heading to a tango show. Have a go yourself, enjoy the first of the Argentine food you're sure to love, and then watch the pros show you how it's done.
Today you've got the opportunity to take a day trip to a whole different country: Uruguay! If you're down, we'll head to the historic city of Colonia by boat, where you'll explore the cute cobbled streets and dreamy pastel coloured houses with a locally guided tour. Take some time to grab lunch, and the best part? Your transport here is golf buggies - seriously. If you'd prefer to stay the other side of the border, Buenos Aires is yours to explore today, your way.
Now's your opportunity to get the full Porteno (locals from Buenos Aires) experience. This morning why not go check out the colorful La Boca neighbourhood? Then, as the balmy afternoon draws in, get involved in an optional Argentine Food Experience. The best way to get amongst the culture is the food, and this meal won't disappoint.
Now that you know Buenos Aires like a Porteño the day is yours to explore! Join in a day at the Polo where you'll learn about the traditional Argentine game, learn how to play and even partake in a game of your own. If you're more comfortable out on the water, opt to experience the Tigre Delta for the day on a relaxing boat ride, or if you want to stay on dry land enjoy a short bike ride around the surrounding areas. No matter what you choose, we'll all dive into a delicious regional lunch. Weather permitting you can even swim and kayak. In love with the city life of Buenos Aires? Then spend some time exploring the museums and/or the shops in Palermo. There truly is something for everyone.
Rise and shine Latin adventurers, we’ve got yet another included flight to catch – Brazil bound…Landing in Puerto Iguazu we’ll hop over the border and dig our toes into Brazilian soil for the first time, clapping eyes on yet another astounding natural wonder. Listen out for all those oohhs and aahhs. A collection of 275 individual waterfalls, Iguassu Falls sprawls both Brazil and Argentina, with both sides offering up stunning UNESCO World Heritage parks and views. Today though, is all about the Brazilian side, and what better way to see the falls from every angle than with an optional helicopter ride, taking the term ‘birds eye view’ to a whole new level. Go on – treat yo’ self! For those keeping feet on the ground, take your time exploring the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, then tonight we’ll pencil in some group hangs over caipirinha’s to debrief yet another action packed day.
Iguassu we’re not done with you yet! Yesterday was all about the Brazilian side, but today we’re hopping back over to Argentina to see what the deal is from this side of the falls. We’ll take a hike to the very edge of Devil’s Throat, the highest of the 275 falls, and for those keen there’s even the option to take to the water with a speed boat ride through the spray of the falls. Refreshing? Oh you could say that…With a full day spent here, take your time exploring, trying to figure out the age old debate – which side wears it better? Tonight, dinners packing a serious punch – we’ll be treating you to an authentic Brazilian BBQ dinner. Say hello to the meat sweats…
Catch you later Iguassu – Rio, we’re coming in hot…If Rio knows one thing, it’s how to p-a-r-t-y, so having fun in this life loving city is already a given. But first things first – let’s get acquainted with our surroundings a little better. After a quick orientation tour, the afternoon is then yours to explore as you please, though given our hotel's beachfront location, we reckon you'll only have one thing on your mind.
Today check out the city from above, hang gliding to see Rio in all its scenic glory. Then this afternoon is all yours, and it sounds like Copacabana Beach is calling your name. Or if a game's in town watch the masters of football do it like no one else can, while you soak in the crazy atmosphere that goes alongside the national sport.
Excuse us while we cry into our caipirinhas - today is our last full day on trip. But before the emotions run too high, let's make sure we see it out with a bang, Rio style. First up is a visit to Christ the Redeemer, a New Wonder of the World. Standing at an impressive 30m high (98ft), this religious monument casts an almighty shadow over the city below, and will be a moment you won't be forgetting anytime soon. This afternoon, how does a boat cruise sound? Featuring cocktails, tunes and good times, it'd be rude not to.
This morning, this adventure of epic proportion will finally come to an end. Hug it out with the new friends you now class as family, and damn right you’re already on those reunion tour plans. Europe next summer, anyone?