South American Odyssey, La Paz - Rio - 36 Days
On this trip you will undoubtedly have a few of those ‘THIS IS WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT!’ euphoric moments. From the heights of Bolivia to the flats of Bolivia… a nice little view of Argentina from the eyes of Buenos Aires and Mendoza, to the awesome-tastic views of Iguazu Falls on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides to the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio... the cream of the crop of South America is literally just at your fingertips!!
Is this trip for you?
- Adventurous? Then YES!
- This is an organised group trip, so perfect for solo travellers or groups
- Group size from 1 - 16 people
- Age range from 18-39 year olds
- Accommodation will be a mix of dorms, estancia (ranch stay), hotels, and overnight bus (4 nights)
- Transport on tour
- Local guides
- Visit to ‘Fish Island’
- Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
- Uyuni Salt Flats tour including San pedro de Atacama
- Buenos Aires orientation tour
- Stay on a working estancia including meals & activities (3 nights)
- Iguazu Falls- Brazil side tour and Argentina side tour
What's not included?
- Flights - We can help you with this - request a quote
- Travel Insurance- We can help you with this
- Meals (unless stated on itinerary)
Day 1: La Paz
Bienvenido a Bolivia! Our epic trip is going to start with a welcome meeting this evening at 6pm. There’ll be a note at reception about where the meeting will take place. If you’re going to be late, let the hotel reception know, since we’ll be taking your insurance and next of kin details at this meeting (ensure you have all this info for your tour leader!).
A side note:
- La Paz is 3,600m above sea level, so do make sure you take the necessary precautions for altitude sickness.
- If your flight won’t come into La Paz in time, perhaps you could consider coming in a day early so you’re on time. We’ll be able to help you sort out additional accommodation (availability permitting of course!).
This trip will take you above 2800m, which is usually where people start feeling pretty funky due to altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender and fitness.
There are a few pre-existing medical conditions are going to worsen your condition at high altitudes, and could even be hard to treat at altitude. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, please do consult your doctor before you leave so you are prepared for any possible issues!
- To 3,600 Metres, and Beyond tour - USD37
- Coca Museum - BOB12
- Food With Altitude tour - USD52
Day 2: La Paz
Today we’ll have a free day to explore La Paz, to ease us into our tour. The city is well known for its markets (especially Mercado de Hechiceria, or Witches’ Market, selling potions, incantations, stones and artifacts). See if you can speak to a local about the significance of the market, Bolivians love a good chat! If you fancy, maybe visit the Coca Museum just a short walk away from our hotel. Otherwise, try one of the Optional Activities mentioned above!
We head onto an overnight bus late afternoon to Sucre (it’ll take 12-13 hours). The buses are quite comfy with recliner seats, but it can be quite cold on board, so make sure you bring warm clothes and layer up! Most buses also have toilets, and the driver makes a couple stops a long the way for us to stretch our legs!
- City Tour & Moon Valley - USD18
- Chacaltaya & Moon Valley Tour - USD16
- City Tour - USD18
- Tiawanaku tour - USD20
Days 3-5 Sucre
Once we arrive into Sucre, we’ll drop off our luggage at the hotel and head out to explore for a bit, maybe walk off the sleepiness of the night bus. This World-Heritage listed capital is a core centre of culture and also of Spanish colonial architecture. A few tips: Museo de la Recoleta for some fabulous views over the city, which also happens to house a great collection of sculptures and paintings. If you’ve got enough time, head to the Plaza de Mayo to take in the friendly atmosphere.
If you want to do something out of this world, head to Cal Orko to see some 60-million-year-old dinosaur footprints. Sucre also has an amazing foodie culture, so do make sure you give the empanadas here a shot.
- Casa de la Moneda- BOB50
- Casa de la Libertad - BOB25
- Dinosaur footprints at Cal Orcko
Day 6: Potosi
This morning, we grab a local bus for 3-4 hours to Potosi. This is a colonial mining city sitting at the base of Cerro Rico, a mountain that is full of silver ore. We’ll have a tour and a bit of a history of Cerro Rico, but we strongly advise you not to actually enter the mines (for safety reasons). With a bit of time, you should also consider visiting the Santa Teresa Convent Museum to see some amazing things on display inside the convent’s original walls.
A side note: We advice against doing a Potosi Mine Tour in which you actually enter the mine. Should you decide to go despite our warnings, you will be doing so at your own risk. Our tour leaders are prohibited from organizing this activity for you for the afore-mentioned safety concerns.
- Convento y Museo de Santa Teresa
Day 7: Uyuni Town
We say bye-bye to Potosi today and head to Uyuni (about 5-7 hours). This town sits on the edge of the Altiplano, which is a wilderness area that extends across into Argentina and Chile (so, like, hundreds of kilometres far). This area is infamous for being super cold, so please bring warm clothes for this!! Tonight, we stay in a basic hotel in Uyuni Town. We’ll be heading out to the desert for the next few days so make sure that you make the most of the hot showers!
Day 8: Salar de Uyuni
This morning we leave Uyuni and head out for a 4WD excursion! It’s going to be an exciting few days ahead, so be mentally prepared! We first stop at a Train Cemetery, and then continue on towards Salar de Uyuni, the famed salt flats. It might be a bit busy with other travellers, but it’s of course the highlight of the trip! Try and take as many photos as possible, taking advantage of the flatness for the perspectives!! See how many FB cover photos you can conjure up! There’s also a rocky island covered in cacti and coral-like structures.
A side note: Between December to March, the salt lake can be flooded. If it is, we will adapt the itinerary to accommodate this.
- Visit to 'Fish Island'
- Uyuni Salt Flats tour including San pedro de Atacama
- Altiplano tour including Laguna Colorada and Laguna V
Day 9: Andean Desert
We’re going to be taking in some spectacular landscape of the Atacama Desert today by driving through the volcanoes and lakes. We’ll be reaching up to 4,900m above sea level today, so make sure you remember all the precautions you've prepared for! We’re going to stop by the Laguna Colorada, where we are able to spot wildlife such as llamas, flamingos, vischachas and foxes, all feasting on the nutrient-rich waters of the red lake.
A side note: Accommodation here in the desert will be basic. Showers will likely be unreliable and cold, especially in winter when the pipes freeze. Electricity is generated by solar panels, so we won’t be able to charge electronic devices. In rainy season, we might have to amend the itinerary depending on the road conditions/accessibility.
Day 10: San Pedro de Atacama
This morning, we head to thermal baths in the desert for a bit of a soak. We’ll then head to the Bolivia/Chile border. We’ll say goodbye to Bolivia, and pass through some geysers, salt flats, and snow-capped volcanoes to hit the famous oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Use some free time to walk around. Check out the Church of San Pedro de Atacama, or try the Museo Gustavo le Paige (this is an archeological museum), or the town’s central plaza.
Day 11: San Pedro de Atacama
Today, really get into the foodie culture that San Pedro is nurturing. With it becoming a popular tourist destination, the town is using its Chilean, French and Italian influences to grow the restaurant and café scene. We would recommend heading out to the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna), or join an astronomical tour when the stars come out (this is genuinely one of the best places in the world to stargaze!)
Day 12: Salta
We’ll travel for quite a while today (about 12 hours) as wel head to Salta, Argentina. This beautiful town is rich in history as well as colonial architecture. Couple that with the friendly locals and the surrounding natural beauty, and you’ve got a great stay on your hands. If there’s a bit of time once we arrive, we should spend some time getting to know the area- Plaza 9 de Julio is a great place to stat with its gardens, fountains, and historic buildings!
- Gondola to Cerro San Bernardo - ARS32
- Archaeological Museum
Days 13-14 Salta
We spend two days exploring Salta at a steady, chilled out pace. If you want to get your adrenaline going, though, you can hike up Cerro San Bernardo, the mountain that looms over Salta. Or, take a gondola (cable car) to the top of the mountain if 1,070 steps don’t take your fancy. The view from the top is magnificent, regardless of how you get there! There are lots of adventure activities here, so do take advantage of the rafting, bungee jumping, and horse riding! Note that these activities are not included in the tour, so will have to come at your own expense.
Just strolling the streets of this quaint little town is amazing as it is, but you could also pop into a few of the museums that Salta has to offer. Or maybe you should take a paddleboat out onto the lake! In the early evening on our last day here, we’ll get onto an overnight bus to Mendoza (it’ll take 18 hours…). The bus will be quite comfy with reclining seats and a toilet on board!
Days 15-17: Mendoza
We arrive around noon on Day 15, and spend the next few days smack bang in the middle of Argentinian wine country, Mendoza. Take it easy the first day so we can get our bearings… let’s start with Plaza Independencia. The city centre is gorgeous and very well planned- you’ll see lots of green: trees, squares, and parks galore! They do observe the traditional siesta here from 1pm-4pm, just so you know not to try going shopping during this time!
As Argentina’s biggest and most well known grape growing region, it’s probably a good idea to go on a wine tour! This region makes 70% of the country’s wine, the Malbec being the signature variety of the region. If you prefer a good thrill to a glass of wine, you should try ziplining above Mendoza’s lakes, following a bunch of canopy wires. There’s quite a few good city and mountain tours available as well if you prefer to keep your feet planted on the ground! In the evenings, the restaurants, bars, and pubs along the Avenida Aristides Vilanueva come to life and everyone can be found enjoying the country air here!
- Mountain Tour - ARS210
- Winery tour - ARS105
- City Tour - ARS63
- Canopy - ARS152
Day 18: Buenos Aires
Today we fly over to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. As soon as we get here, it might be smart to hit the streets to explore this beautiful city. The streets of San Telmo are filled with antiques markets, and then you should see the presidential palace of the Casa Rosada on the Plaza de Mayo. This evening, take in a tango show, watch a football match, or have a famous Argentinian steak with a glass of Malbec!
Day 19-20: Buenos Aires
Over the next two days, take your time and take in as much of the city as possible: head to La Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of Eva Peron. There are some great museums to check out in this neighborhood, too. Make sure you go to the neighborhood of La Boca, where you’ll find the famous colourful houses of Buenos Aires. This is also home to the world-famous football team the Boca Juniors!
If you’re a foodie at heart, take our Gourmet Buenos Aires tour, or if you prefer wine, make sure you take part in the Malbec Trail of Palermo!
- Gourmet Buenos Aires Food Urban Adventure - USD77
- Malbec Trail of Palermo Urban Adventure - USD100
- Tango show - ARS1200
- Orientation Tour - Buenos Aires
Day 21: Colonia
Today we cross the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) to Volinia del Sacramento by ferry (this’ll take about 3 hours). Upon arrival, we’ll get some free time to explore this cute little colonial city, which is the oldest city in Uruguay. Start at Barrio Historico, which is World Heritage-listed. Head down cobblestone streets, chat with locals, and try their yerba mate (tea). Check out the noisy parakeets in Plaza Mayor, or try out the different small museums this city has to offer. If you’re one for the sweeping views, climb to the 19th century lighthouse that is still in operation to get that gorgeous picture in!
- Lighthouse visit - UYU16
Day 22: Montevideo
Today is just a small little three-hour bus ride to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city. It still has a very laid-back atmosphere despite being the commercial and cultural centre of Uruguay. If you like, you can take part in a city tour once we arrive. You can also explore on your own- why not head down to Ciudad Vieja (Old City) and visit the Plaza Independencia, where you can also visit the underground Artigas Mausoleum. The Gaucho Museum is also highly recommended, or otherwise head to Mercado del Puerto to hang out with the creative artist and musicians.
- Gaucho Museum - Free
- City tour - USD20
Day 23: Estancia Stay
Today is just another five-hour journey to Tacuarembo- this bus is another one of those comfy buses, but the bus won’t stop so make sure you bring some food! From Tacuarembo we get a truck out to the ranch where we’ll be staying for a few nights!
- Horse riding - Free
- 3-night stay on a working estancia including meals and activities
Days 24-26: Estancia Stay
This is the real deal: we are now on a working Uruguayan farm! You can laze around and explore the surroundings, or you can fully immerse yourself in ranch life and help out on the day-to-day jobs. These jobs change with the day and with the season of course, so it’s hard to say exactly what you’ll be doing. But you’ll likely be herding sheep and cows, branding cattle, or injecting lambs with anti-worm medicine, to name a few.
If you think that you’ll get a nice luxurious ranch stay, think again! Accommodation is dormitory-style, and hot water/electricity are only available for a few hours a day. Chores start at 7.30am! What you can expect, however, is a genuine, warm Uruguayan welcome from your hosts, and some of the best food you’ll ever eat (because it’s hard to beat Uruguayan home-cooked food).
On the afternoon of the twenty-sixth day, we’re going to travel to Concordia in Argentina. From here, we’re going to take a 12-hour overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu. By now, you must be used to the comfy overnight buses of South America! Simple dinner will be provided on board. be shown to keep you entertained. A simple dinner is also provided on board.
- Horse riding - Free
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner on all days
Day 27: Foz Do Iguazu
As soon as we arrive in Puerto Iguazu, we’ll go drop off our stuff at our hotel in Foz do Iguazu. This should take about an hour, but it all depend son the traffic. We’ll be closer to the Brazilian side of the falls from here, but we’re going to spend the next couple of days doing both the Argentinian and Brazilian side of the falls!
- Bird Park - USD26
- Acquamania Water Park - BRL42
- Helicopter ride - USD116
- Iguazu Falls - Brazil side tour
Day 28: Foz Do Iguazu
We’re going to head back to the Argentinian side of the falls today for a bit of a visit—we’ll get so close to the boardwalks, we’re basically touching the huge waterfalls churning over rocks! Sitting at over 2km long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are 270 falls total, with a few reaching up to 80m in height. If you want the unforgettable views, you can take an optional helicopter flight over the falls (this will be at your own expense). We’ll return to Foz do Iguazu in the afternoon. If we have time, you can try and squeeze in a trip to the AcquaMania Water Park while we’re here!
- Great Adventure – BRL158
- Iguazu Falls – Argentina side tour
Day 29: Foz Do Iguazu
Today, we visit Iguazu from the Brazilian side. The panoramic views of the falls can be enjoyed from this side. After we’ve got our next FB profile pic in, we’ll start the long, 24-hour journey to Paraty. The first part of the trip is the 16-hour overnight bus from Foz do Iguazu to Sao Paulo. The bus is reasonably comfy, with the buses having toilets on board.
Day 30: Paraty
We arrive into Sao Paolo today, and we might have a few hours’ wait at the bus station until our next bus leaves. The second bus ride takes about 6 hours. Paraty is a World Heritage-listed site because it’s one of the world’s well-preseved Portuguese colonial towns… it won’t be difficult to unwind here after our long journey!
Day 31: Paraty
Today we have a free day to explore Paraty. We wander along the town’s pedestrian-only streets, lined with cobblestone. It’s truly amazing- the streets become partly-covered in seawater at high tide! Maybe explore the rainforest trails in the surrounding park, rich in wildlife and waterfalls. Otherwise, you can choose to take a boat trip for scenic views of the loads and loads of islands along the coast. You can also take an excursion over to the village of Trindade, which has some of the best beaches you’ll ever see!
- Boat trip - BRL40
- Trindade excursion - BRL9
Day 32: Ilha Grande
Today, we get the local bus and the local ferry to the island of Ilha Grande (this’ll take about 5 hours). This is truly an island paradise, with pristine beaches and rainforests that have been largely untouched by tourist development. There aren’t any banks on the island, so do make sure you bring plenty of cash with you. This used to be a pirate’s lair, a leper’s colony, and a prison for violent criminals… so the island truly has a fascinating history. You can still see the ruins of the prison today.
Days 33-34: Ilha Grande
We get two full days free to soak up the sun on this beautiful island. Make sure you walk along the rainforest trails to remote beaches. Top tip: Lopes Mendes and Aventureiro Beach are the most scenic ones!
Take an optional boat trip out to the Blue Lagoon and do a bit of beach-hopping along the way. There’s just so much to do here- eat fresh seafood, snorkel, swim… le sigh. Make sure you try out a caipirinha at a restaurant or bar in Vila do Abraao, the main town on the island.
- Boat trip to the Blue Lagoon - BRL70
Day 35: Rio de Janeiro
We get onto a boat and head to the port of Mangaratiba today, to take a minivan out to Rio de Janeiro. In total, it’ll take about 3.5 hours. From here… well.. YOU’RE IN RIO BABY!!! GO! EXPLORE! Go people-watching on Copacabana or Ipanema beach… take a tour of a favela, or maybe even watch a football match at the famous Maracana Stadium! You’ll probably want to take a tramcar up to Santa Teresa or head up Corcovado Mountain to kiss the feet of Christ the Redeemer. Take part in one of our many tours on offer, for they are great ways to see this exciting city! In the evening, you should definitely get the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain to watch the sunset. Then, head do the samba clubs of Lapa to … well, samba the night away!
- Maracana football match - BRL150
- Santa Teresa Discovery Urban Advenutre - USD67
- Botanical Gardens - BRL6
- Corcovado, Christ Statue and Favela Urban Adventure - USD99
- Santa Teresa tramcar - BRL1
- Total Rio Tour Urban Adventure - USD156
- Sugar loaf cable car - BRL65
- Favela tour
Day 36: Rio de Janeiro
Well, well, well. What a beautiful journey it’s been!! Sadly our journey comes to an end today. Hopefully, with the amazing people that you’ve met on tour and the locals that you’ve had the honour of meeting… you’ll walk away a far more enriched person.
There are no activities planned today, so you can leave the hotel at any time.