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Southern Cross

  • 45 Day(s)
  • Trip Code : GASXMR

From the Nazca Lines and the heights of Incan archaeology to the beach at Ipanema, this 45-day long tour provides limitless opportunities for adventure. Explore the wetlands of the Pantanal, thundering Iguassu Falls and the bizarre landscape of the Uyuni Salt Flats. In the thin air of the Andes, trek the challenging Inca Trail to legendary Machu Picchu- From the Nazca Lines and the heights of Incan archaeology to the beach at Ipanema, this 45-day long tour provides limitless opportunities for adventure. Explore the wetlands of the Pantanal, thundering Iguassu Falls and the bizarre landscape of the Uyuni Salt Flats. In the thin air of the Andes, trek the challenging Inca Trail to legendary Machu Picchu-

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Itinerary

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Day 1 Lima

Arrive at any time.

Arrive in Lima at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Latin America (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control. Known as the City of Kings, Peru-

Day 2 Paracas

Free morning in Lima before travelling by bus to Paracas.

Take the morning to explore more of Lima before hopping on a bus for our short trip down the coast to Paracas. Walk the town-

Day 3-4 Nazca

Optional visit to Ballestas Islands before travelling to Nazca. Guided tour of Nazca desert cemetery and potter's studio. Optional flight over the Nazca Lines before the night bus to Arequipa.

There is time this morning for an optional excursion to the popular Ballestas Islands, an excellent chance to view a lively sea lion colony, pelicans, penguins and other varieties of bird life. On return to Pisco we catch a bus for the trip to Nazca stopping en route at the pleasant colonial town of Ica. Ica enjoys a dry, sunny climate year-round and is known for its huge sand dunes. Located around the nearby oasis of Huacachina, the dunes are perfect subjects for photography and for a favourite local past time: sandboarding. Apart from the dunes, Ica is famous for its wines and there are several wineries and distilleries in the area. Next we travel south to one of the world's greatest archaeological mysteries, the Nazca Lines. The lines consist of patterns and pictures etched in the ground, crisscrossing a wide area of flat desert. Some of the lines measure up to 10 km (32 miles) in length, and yet remain perfectly straight. The depictions of birds, insects and animals are only recognizable from the air. Who drew the lines, and why, is something modern archaeologists can only theorize about, but current beliefs suggest that they may be part of complex agricultural calendar. From the ground we can make out very little, and the best view is from a light aircraft, which can easily be arranged. The entire desert area was also once the home for the ancient Paracas and the Nazca cultures, which preceded the Incas by more than half a millennium. Remains of the Nazca culture are still visible during our included tour of the ancient Pre-Inca desert cemetery site of Chauchilla, with 1500 year-old mummies, bones and pottery on the desert floor. The tour also includes a visit to an artisan-

Day 5-7 Arequipa/Chivay/Colca Canyon (3B)

Free day in Arequipa. Optional city tour or visit to the Santa Catalina Monastery. While in Chivay, opt to spend time in local hot springs. On Day 7, enjoy a guided tour of Colca Canyon to spot condors, then return to Arequipa for the night.

Peru-

Day 8 Cusco (1B)

Fly to Cusco. Free afternoon to explore.

A short flight takes us to Cusco. Spend the next day relaxing or exploring this fascinating city. Cusco is the continent-

Day 9 Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo (1B,1L)

Full-day guided tour of the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo ruins along with a visit to a Planeterra-supported women's weaving project in a local community. Enjoy lunch at the Planeterra-supported Sacred Valley Community Restaurant in Huchuy Qosco, an ind

Travel through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas, visit a Planeterra-supported women's weaving co-op, the impressive Pisac ruins, the colourful artisan market (market days only) and the large ruin site of Ollantaytambo that lies adjacent to the town of the same name where we catch our breath and prepare for the hike ahead. Planeterra has been working with the Ccaccaccollo community since 2005 to develop a viable economic alternative for women by creating a weaving cooperative to sell traditional textiles to travellers. Donations by travelers have helped build a community centre supplied with looms and sewing machines for the women to use to expand their production. This project allows the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to maintain their cultural heritage and benefit from the tourism industry. Ollantaytambo is your first taste of what lies ahead on the Inca Trail. The town and fortress of Ollantaytambo are strategically situated overlooking the beautiful Urubamba River Valley. This major ruin site is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. It is admired for its huge steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress and for being one of the few places where the Spanish lost a major battle during the conquest. We spend the night in this small town before heading out for the start of the hike the next morning.

Day 10-13 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (4B,3L,3D)

4-day guided Inca Trail hike with visit to Machu Picchu. Planeterra-supported handmade biodegradable soap products for use on the Inca Trail. Optional visit to the Inca Bridge before returning to Cusco.

The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and the excursion is within the ability of most reasonably fit people. It is a 44km (27 mile) hike, with three high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13,776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below freezing, so it is important to come prepared. NOTE: We offer two alternatives to hiking the Inca Trail. If Inca Trail permits are sold out, travellers will be given the option to hike the Lares Trek (details below). Travellers not able to hike or not interested in hiking, can opt to spend two extra days in Cusco (details below) before travelling to Machu Picchu. If you do not want to hike, we need to know at the time of booking in order to obtain train tickets. Once Inca Trail permits are confirmed there will be fee for any changes made. The fee may vary depending on the changes that are made to your itinerary. Please advise your agent or G Adventures. Also note the Inca Trail is closed for general maintenance every February for the entire month. Travellers will be hiking the Lares Trek during this time. Other closures to either trek may occur at anytime throughout the year due to inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control. In these instances, itineraries will be reworked to provide the best and safest possible experience. INCA TRAIL DETAILS Day 1 of the Inca Trail: Depart Ollantaytambo by van to km 82 where the hike begins. This takes about 40 mins. Our crew of local porters, cooks and guides will take care of all the details for the duration of the hike. Porters carry the majority of the gear so you-

Day 14-16 Cusco (3B)

Free time to explore Cusco or relax. Active options include whitewater rafting, horseback riding and mountain biking.

Cusco is considered the mecca of Peru and rightly so. This beautiful colonial town offers nearby ruins, cobble-stoned streets, museums, churches and a lively atmosphere. The more adventurous optional activities available in Cusco include horseback riding around archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Tambo Machay and Puca Pucara; white water rafting on the Urubamba River; and mountain biking down to the Sacred Valley, perhaps visiting an Inca ruin along the way. Please note that if you booked the Adrenaline Theme Pack, on Day 15 you will be picked up from your hotel at approx 8:00 for the fantastic opportunity to raft in Class III and IV rapids. You will return back to your hotel around 17:00. On Day 16 you will be picked up from your hotel at approx 9:00 and transferred to the ranch for horseback riding. You will ride to a few archaeological sites and enjoy the countryside of Cusco. You will return back to your hotel around 13:00. Optional Amazon Jungle Excursion: Experience 3 days and 2 nights at our G Lodge Amazon. All meals and excursions with a local naturalist are included during your stay. If you are interested in this opportunity, please inquire at time of booking or add it to your experience online. If you pre-book this activity you will travel to the Amazon jungle on Day 14 and will return to Cusco on Day 16.

Day 17 Puno (1B)

Travel day by bus from Cusco to Puno.

Enjoy spectacular views of the countryside on this full day of travel from Cusco to Puno, through the high Altiplano region. Located at 3830 m above sea level, Puno is the highest altitude of any place we sleep on the tour. As a result the weather can be extreme with very cold nights and a strong sun during the day (don-

Day 18-19 Lake Titicaca (2B,1L,1D)

Visit to the floating islands of Uros and guided tour of Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca. Optional visit to Sillustani burial site.

This morning we board a boat and head to Taquile Island for lunch in a local restaurant and the chance for some shopping in the local weaving cooperatives. From there we head to Amantani where overnight with a local family and enjoy typical music of the area. The following morning we will visit the floating islands of Uros en route to Puno. Titicaca is the largest lake in the world above 2000m, and the views from both Amantaní and Taquile Islands are stunning. On our way to Taquile Island we pass the floating islands of the Uros people. The Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the Colla and Inca tribes. Sadly, the Uros language has died out, and today they speak Aymara due to intermarriage with Aymara-speakers. Today about 300 families live on the islands, however their numbers are slowly declining. The Totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake are used for making everything from the islands themselves to the model boats that the islanders sell. The islands are made up of layers upon layers of reeds; as the layers closest to the water start to rot, they are replaced with fresh reeds on top. The reeds are also used to build their boats, which if constructed well will last up to 6 months. The people of Taquile Island's unique culture, style of dress and lifestyle make for a memorable visit. The men of the community do all the knitting, as this is strictly a male domain, while the women do the spinning. High quality, locally knitted goods are available for purchase at various cooperatives on the island. Despite the short distance that separates the two islands, Amantaní is quite distinct. Its soil is a rich terra cotta red, due to the high iron deposits, and the colour contrasts brightly with the deep azure blue of the lake and sky and the greenery of the local crops. For the night we split into smaller groups and billet into family homes to experience their style of living first-hand. The following morning we visit the Uros Islands on our way back to Puno.

Day 20-21 La Paz (2B)

Travel by bus and cross the border into Bolivia, arriving at La Paz. Optional excursion to the Valley of the Moon or explore the city's winding streets and lively markets.

The day begins with an impressive journey along the shores of Titicaca, to La Paz, Bolivia. Founded by Alonso de Mendoza in 1548, La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (the City of Our Lady of Peace) is the highest capital in the world. Although Sucre is the official capital, La Paz is the Bolivian centre of commerce, finance and industry, and the de facto capital. This is a busy modern city, with its centre at the base of a canyon 5 km (3 miles) wide and sprawling impromptu housing all the way up the surrounding hillsides. The city is at nearly 4000 m (13,120 ft) above sea level, so visitors should be prepared for cool evenings and mornings. Explore the city-

Day 22 Uyuni (1B)

Travel by train and bus to the town of Uyuni.

Travel to Uyuni by bus/train. Next spend three days exploring the stunning landscapes between the Salar de Uyuni and Chile-

Day 23-25 Uyuni/Salt Flats Excursion (3B,2L,2D)

3-day 4x4 excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats and surrounding desert altiplano with spectacular scenery. Stay in simple hotels upgraded with solar panels to provide electricity and hot water.

Travel through the Bolivian landscape to the town of Uyuni. Despite its isolation and challenging climate (cold and blustery most of the year), the town of Uyuni has earned the nickname of Hija Predilecta de Bolivia (Bolivia-

Day 26 Potosí (1B)

Bus journey from Uyuni to Potosí. Optional excursion to a working silver mine or free time to explore the city.

Sitting at 4070m (13,350 ft), Potosí is the highest city of its size on earth. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 in recognition of its tragic history as a silver mining centre during the time of Spanish colonization. Potosí provided a large share of the silver mined and shipped back to Spain until the early 1800s, when both the supply of silver and world market prices began to decline; it-

Day 27-29 Sucre (3B)

Continue by bus to Sucre. Optional visit to the nearby dinosaur tracks, or explore the beautiful colonial city.

Often referred to as Bolivia-

Day 30-31 Santa Cruz/Puerto Suarez (2B)

Fly to Santa Cruz. Travel by overnight train to the Brazilian border at Puerto Suarez.

A local flight takes us to Santa Cruz, located close to the Cordillera Oriental foothills. Once a backwater frontier town, it has now grown into Bolivia-

Day 32-33 Corumbá/Pantanal (1B,2L,2D)

2-day excursion into the wetlands of the Pantanal with a local guide. Opportunities to spot wildlife such as monkeys, macaws, giant otters and caiman.

Puerto Suarez is Bolivia-

Day 34-38 Bonito/Iguassu Falls (5B)

Travel by van to Bonito. Optional snorkelling excursions in the crystal-clear rivers. Continue by overnight bus to Iguassu Falls, for two full days of exploration from both the Argentine and Brazilian sides. Optional boat ride at the base of the falls or

**NOTE: Canadians, Australians and Americans are now required to pay a reciprocity fee in order to visit the Argentine side of the falls. This MUST BE PAID IN ADVANCE. See Trip Details 'Visas' for a link. Bonito, as the name (-

Day 39-44 Paraty/Ilha Grande/Rio de Janeiro (4B)

Fly to São Paulo and continue by van to Paraty. Optional cachaça distillery visits or take a boat excursion in the bay to some of the nearby islands and beaches. Continue by van up the coast and take a ferry to Ilha Grande. Optional hikes and beach time.

Our next destination is Paraty, an architectural gem famous for its churches. Located on Brazil's Costa Verde or "Green Coast," UNESCO World Heritage Paraty is known equally for the cobblestone streets and cafés of its historical centre, the natural beauty of its surroundings and its excellent cachaça. A fun option during your time here is a -

Day 45 Rio de Janeiro (1B)

Depart at any time. We highly recommend booking pre- and post-accommodations to fully explore these lively cities.

Depart at any time.

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  • TRIP NAME: SOUTHERN CROSS
  • DURATION: 45 DAYS
  • FROM PRICE: $6699
  • TRIP CODE : GASXMR
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  • Peru > Brazil > Bolivia

Is this for me?

  • Trip Style: Small Group Adventures
  • Comfort Level: Standard
  • Physical Demands: You might encounter a few high-altitude hikes or other more strenuous activities. Pro tip: Put down that pastry, buster.

What's included?

Nazca desert cemetery and potter’s studio guided tour. Arequipa stay. Colca Canyon and surrounds guided tour. Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo ruins guided tour with visit to a Planeterra-supported women’s weaving project (full-day). Lunch at the Planeterra-supported Sacred Valley Community Restaurant in Huchuy Qosco, an indigenous village. Inca Trail guided hike with cooks and porters (4-day). Planeterra-supported handmade biodegradable soa...

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