Amazon & Machu Picchu

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates/Pricing
  • Activities
  • Accommodations
  • Maps
  • Photos & Video
  • Extensions
  • Testimonials
  • Physical Rating
On this scenic Peru tour, immerse yourself in the heart of the Andes and travel through the unparalleled biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, one of nature's true marvels. Our Peru ecotour takes you through the charming Andean town of Cusco, then on to the magnificent Sacred Valley through the snowcapped mountains of the Inca Empire. Continue to the hidden Inca city of Machu Picchu to explore its famed ancient ruins. Experience the beauty and fascinating history of Peru on this spectacular tour of Machu Picchu and the Amazon.




About this Location
Peru, the third largest country in South America and nineteenth in the world is slightly smaller than Alaska. It is located in the central part of the continent bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, Chile to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Peru claims the 200-mile wide corridor along its 1,544-mile Pacific coast as one of its natural regions. Seventy percent of the people live in urban areas. Peru has a large indigenous population and contains the most famous of the Inca Empire's ruins. English is spoken in all major cities.

OFFICIAL NAME:Republic of Peru
GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE
Democracy
PRESIDENT
Ollanta Humala (2011)
Peruvian Nationalist Party
Retired Army officer who held military attaché posts in Paris and Seoul
Attempted coup near end of Fugimori presidency
Master’s Degree in political science
POPULATION
27,968,000 (2005 est.)
CAPITAL
Lima
Population 8.4 million
OTHER MAJOR CITIES (ranked by population)
Piura
Arequipa
Chimbote
Iquitos
Trujillo
Chiclayo
Cusco
ETHNICITY
Amerindian 45%
Mestizo 37%
European descent 15%
African descent 2%
LANGUAGES
Spanish
Quechua
Aymara
Amazonian dialects
LITERACY
87.7%
LIFE EXPECTANCY
Men 67.9
Women 72.81
RELIGION
Roman Catholic 81%
Christian other 3%
None/unspecified 16%
AREA
496,222 square miles
PROTECTED AREAS (10% of its territory)
National parks 8
National reserves 9
National forests 4
National sanctuaries 28
NATIONAL FLOWER
Kantuta (also spelled Cantuta and Qantuta), it is called the Inca Magic Flower. (Cantua buxifolia or Fuchsia buxifolia).
NATIONAL BIRD
Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicola Peruviana)
NATIONAL ANIMAL
Vicuna
MAJOR INDUSTRIES
Mining
Steel
Petroleum
Fishing
Textiles
Tourism
MAJOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
Coffee
Cotton
Sugarcane
Rice
Coca
HOLIDAYS
1/1 New Year's Day
March-April Holy Week
5/1 May Day, Labor Day
6/29 Saint Peter and Saint Paul's Day
7/28-7/29 Peruvian Independence Day
8/30 Saint Rose of Lima
10/8 Battle of Angamos
10/20 Lord of the Miracles
11/1 All Saints Day
12/8 Day of the Immaculate Conception
12/25 Christmas
CUISINE
The New York Times calls Peruvian cuisine the best kept secret in South America. Lima has over twenty cooking schools and is at the heart of the new Andean food movement called Novandina, today considered Latin America's most sophisticated cuisine. The diversity of Peru's cuisine naturally lies in its mixture of indigenous and European culture. That blending is enhanced by its many varieties of ahi peppers, some found nowhere else in the world, the abundant species of fish caught off its long coastline, the tropical fruit, lucuma, its wheat staple, quinoa, and over 2,000 varieties of potatoes. Lomo Soltado combines strips of tender steak, sauted with tomatoes, onions, rice and believe it or not, French fries, a divine mixture. Peru's indigenous method of earth pot cooking called Pachamanca is considered a cultural treasure. Staple foods in the highlands include meat dishes, often with a spicy sauce. In jungle areas, fresh fruits, fried plantains, and vegetables are also common. Peruvian vegetarian dishes typically just leave out the meat rather than substituting a vegetarian protein source such as tofu, beans, or nuts. This is the place to experience the pisco sour, a heavenly concoction of lime, whipped egg whites and the country's native grape liquor, pisco.
CURRENCY
Nuevo Sol (PEN)
INTERNATIONAL DIALING CODE
51
TIME ZONE
Same as US Eastern Standard Time, no daylight savings
ELECTRICITY
220 V, 60 Hz
Traveling to this Location
Passport and visa requirements
A valid passport is required to enter and leave Peru. A visa is not required for citizens of the USA, Mexico and most Central American, Asian and European countries if visiting Peru for less than 90 days. It is the passenger's responsibility to check with local immigration offices or the Peruvian consulate prior to departure for current entrance requirements. For more information see www.americanpassport.com or www.peruvianembassy.us
Immunizations
The following vaccinations are recommended when visiting any area of Peru:
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tetanus-diphtheria and measles (as needed booster doses)
  • Typhoid
  • For travelers to the Amazon, a vaccination for Yellow Fever is required.
  • For travelers to certain lower elevations of Peru including the Amazon and rural areas on the coast, the Centers for Disease Control also recommends taking an anti-malarial medication.
  • The Centers for Disease Control provides immunization information for travel in Latin America. www.cdc.gov
Customs
Entry During the flight to Lima, a flight attendant distributes a Peru entrance form to all passengers. At Customs, travelers are asked to show the completed form along with their passport and asked how many days they plan to be in Peru. Normally, the passport will be stamped indicating a permissible stay of 60 or 90 days and a copy of the Customs form will be returned to the traveler.
Exit The Customs document must be presented when exiting the country. Passengers leaving on an international flight pay a departure tax of $25US and a $5 airport departure tax on domestic flights. These taxes must be paid in cash in $US.
Exchanging currency
Peru's unit of currency is the Nuevo Sol. Current exchange rate information is available on our website under "Traveler Information." Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most recognized credit cards in Peru. American Express is not widely accepted. ATM machines (Visa/MasterCard/Cirrus/Plus), with directions in English, are widely available 24 hours a day in all major cities and large towns, providing a convenient and economical way to obtain soles. ATMs are the only reliable method to get money on Sundays. There are no ATMs and no place to cash Traveler's Checks in Aguas Calientes or Ollantaytambo. Travelers going to Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley should obtain cash before leaving Cusco. On trips of two weeks or less, we recommend carrying only US cash in $20 denominations to exchange as needed. Hotels exchange money, and most offer safe-keeping for valuables. Before departure, we send booked passengers a packet of trip information that contains operating hours for money exchange offices (Casas de Cambio) and more money tips.
Using electricity
In all of Peru, the electricity is 220 volts and 60 cycles, standard to Great Britain. To use 110-volt American-made electrical appliances in Peru (for a hairdryer or to recharge digital camera batteries, etc.), bring 2-pin plug adapters and a voltage transformer. For video cameras, we suggest packing an extra set of charged batteries. Some hotels have hair dryers for guest use, but most do not.
Weather
Peru is a diverse country. With beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert, there is no off-season. But it does pay to know a bit about where you're going, and what you'll need on your Peru tour:

The Andes - Though officially part of the dry season, April and May are considered the Andean spring, while June through October marks the Andean summer. Mid-day temperatures range from 70 to 80 F in the sun. Nighttime temperatures in Cusco range in the 40s F and can dip into the 30s F. Weather is usually clear in the morning with clouds accumulating in the afternoon. Rain can happen in any season, so quality rain gear is essential.

The Amazon - A rainforest environment, the Peruvian Amazon has varied weather conditions and frequent unpredictable rain showers. It is generally hot and humid during the day with more comfortable temperatures through the night. Daytime high temperatures average between 82° and 93° F, and the average nighttime low is between 62° and 73°. Nevertheless, in some areas cold fronts can sweep into the Amazon and push daytime high temperatures down to 50° F and nighttime lows to 43° F. Any time of year, one should always be prepared for cooler temperatures and rain showers. Around 80% of the annual average 79 inches of rainfall occurs during the rainy season (December through March) when heavy rain may continue for hours or days.

The Desert - the Atacama Desert is nearly rainless all year long. Expect hot days and warm nights.

Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

LIMA JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Max. Air Temp 79 80 80 76 72 69 67 66 67 69 72 76
Min. Air Temp 68 69 69 67 63 61 60 60 60 60 62 64
Avg. Rainfall 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0
*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

CUSCO JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Max. Air Temp 65 65 66 67 67 66 66 67 68 69 69 69
Min. Air Temp 44 44 43 41 39 33 32 35 39 42 43 44
Avg. Rainfall 6.3 5.2 4.3 1.8 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.9 1.9 3.1 4.7
*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

PUNO JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Max. Air Temp 62 62 62 62 62 61 61 63 64 65 66 64
Min. Air Temp 38 38 38 33 25 19 18 22 29 33 35 37
Avg. Rainfall 5.2 4.3 3.8 1.5 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.8 1.5 2.0 3.6
*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

PUERTO MALDONADO JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Max. Air Temp 88 87 88 87 86 84 85 88 90 90 89 88
Min. Air Temp 71 70 70 69 66 63 62 64 66 69 70 70
Avg. Rainfall 13.6 12.8 11.9 6.1 4.2 2.3 2.2 2.5 3.9 6.5 9.3 12.1
*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



When to Visit
  • jan
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  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec
FAQ
Q: When is the best time to go on a Peru tour?
A: Peru is a diverse country with beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert. For this reason, there is no off-season in Peru. One can travel to Peru any time of year and find good weather in certain areas
Q: How far in advance should I book a Peru tour?
A: When booking a Inca Trail Trek, we recommend that you book your tour 6 to 9 months in advance. For other Peru tours, we recommend 3 to 6 We recommend booking your tour before your international flight.
Q: Are these Peru tours suitable for children?
A: It depends on the trip. Our Peru tours have received rave reviews from families visiting the Amazon, Machu Picchu and even hiking the Inca trail. If children enjoy wildlife, learning about other cultures and meeting new people, Peru may be a great choice. To make family tours more flexible, we often recommend putting together a private group instead of booking one of our pre-set group trips. This works especially well with younger children. We are happy to answer all of your questions to give you the most accurate impression we can of what to expect.
Q: Can I extend my stay?
A: Yes. We offer many exciting extensions to suit the individual needs and interests of our passengers both in Lima and other areas from paragliding in the Sacred Valley to archeological tours. These trip extensions are described on our website. If you would like to discuss the options or arrange a trip extension on either end of your trip, please contact us.
Q: What airport do your passengers fly to?
A: Passengers fly into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport. Our Peru tours all begin in Cusco
Q: How do passengers get from one tour destination to another?
A: In Peru, we use a mix of private and public transportation to get travelers to their destinations safely and efficiently. This includes local air carriers, trains, private vans/cars, comfortable tourist buses and canoes, etc. For short distances, we may get around in unusual ways such as rickshaw, bicycle taxi, "chicken bus" etc. to give travelers the local flavor.
Q: What are the accommodations like in Peru?
A: All of our Peru accommodations have private baths and hot water. They are located within walking distance of the town center, and most of the reception staff speaks English. Our standard adventures feature 3-star accommodations. If desired, 4 and 5-star accommodations are available upon request. We personally inspect the rooms and amenities of all potential hotels and lodges in each tour location and select only those that meet our rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort, convenient location, safety, customer service and ambiance. We support lodges and hotels that employ sustainability practices and are owned and operated locally.
Q: What are the meals like?
A: Meals served during all of our Peru adventures are nutritious and plentiful. Hotel breakfasts usually include fresh fruit, breads and eggs, as well as coffee, tea and juices. On the hiking portion of our trekking tours, our guests are awakened with a fresh cup brought to the tent and are served breakfast, lunch and dinner daily prepared by expert trail cooks with years of experience. Dinners usually consist of fresh vegetables and beef or chicken. During our Amazon adventures, the lodge menus generally include a variety of seafood, fish, beef, fresh salads and soups, as well as dessert and hot drinks
Q: How concerned should I be about the altitude?
A: Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and much of the Inca Trail are at high altitudes (at 11,600 ft, 6,000 ft, 12,600 ft and an average of 10,000 ft respectively). The highest altitude reached on the Inca Trail is the pass at (13,780 ft/4200 m). We sleep at approximately (11,811 ft/3600 m) for one or two nights. In planning trips to these destinations, we include sufficient days at the outset to allow the body to begin acclimatizing. We start with mild activities prior to hiking to give travelers a good indication of how they will feel on the hike since symptoms usually subside. We have never had a traveler who had to be evacuated to low altitude. Please see the "Safety Tips for South and Central America" article on our Home Page for more information about altitude.
Q: Is it possible to leave the Inca Trail in case of an emergency?
A: Any exiting of the Inca Trail due to emergency is by foot or horse (if available). No airlift options are available. In the event of a debilitating injury, two porters would carry the injured person to the nearest train station where they would then board the train to Ollantaytambo. A vehicle would be waiting to drive the injured person to the Cusco Hospital or other location. Please note that throughout the Inca Trail there are park rangers with walkie-talkies. Also, all Southern Explorations will have satellite phones with them while on the Inca Trail.
Q: How much should I budget for a Peru trip beyond the tour fee and international airfare?
A: Meals/beverages not included in trip price $20US - $25US per day Airport taxes $30US Tips, depending on activities and length of trip $60US - $150US The markets can be a shopper's paradise. Budget according to your tastes
Q: What bathing and toilet facilities are there at the Inca Trail camp sites?
A: There are some toilet facilities, depending on the campsite. Where there are no facilities, a toilet tent is set up for temporary use. Bowls of warm water are often provided for a quick wash in the morning and evening, but no showers are available while on the trek. The first warm shower comes on day four upon the arrival at your hotel in Aguas Calientes day four of the trek.
Amazon & Machu Picchu
Day 1: Arrive Lima, Peru
Transfer to your hotel and settle in. If you arrive early, we can arrange optional museum visits or tours of the city and surrounding sites.
Day 2: Lima to Amazon Jungle
Accommodations at Posada Amazonas OR Hacienda Concepcion depending on availability. Your Peru tour begins with a morning transfer to the airport for a flight to Puerto Maldonado. A one-hour motorized canoe ride up Peru's Tambopata River brings you to the lodge to unpack and unwind. Receive a short welcome orientation and a complete briefing about the lodge and the Ecotourism Project before the afternoon's activity, climbing the Canopy Tower. The Canopy Tower is a 115 ft-high scaffolding offering spectacular views of the river and the surrounding forest. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Amazon Jungle
Accommodations at Posada Amazonas OR Hacienda Concepcion depending on availability. Make an early morning visit to the Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake. After breakfast, depart from Posada Amazonas by boat and take a brief walk to the lake shore followed by a long, easy canoe ride around the lake where your Peru ecotour may include sightings of giant river otters, turtles, hoatzin and wading birds. Return to the lodge's trails to see a small parakeet clay lick where dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of parakeets congregate on clear days to ingest clay. In the afternoon, visit the community's ethno-botanical center and hike the surrounding trails with a resident guide who will explain the everyday uses of forest resources in medicine, construction, food and fiber. After this educational day on your Peru ecotour, the evening will be spent at the lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Amazon Jungle to Cusco
Depart early by boat to Pto. Maldonado and the airport for a short flight to Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire. Your Peru travels continue as you are picked up at the airport and taken on a quick tour of the lovely Plaza de Armas on the way to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing and becoming accustomed to the altitude (10,856 ft). (B)
Day 5: Explore Cusco
Start the day on a guided walking tour through the distinctive markets of Cusco, the colonial cathedral, and Koricancha, the impressive Temple of the Sun. After lunching on tasty local cuisine, depart for an afternoon tour of the temples and visit several prominent Inca sights, memorable sights of your Peru tour: the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, with its expansive stone terraces; the carved stone surfaces and subterranean altars of Kenko; the small fortress of Puka Pukara that protected Cusco; and the Tambo Machay water temple. In the late afternoon, you'll return to your hotel to relax or to further explore captivating Cusco. (B)
Day 6: Cusco to Sacred Valley of the Incas
Embark on a day-long guided excursion through the Andean landscape to the legendary Sacred Valley, passing Inca terracing that climbs the steep valley walls and the ruins of Pisac temples offering panoramic views of granite peaks. In the town of Pisac, enjoy hunting for bargains at one of the best textile markets in the Andes and find many great souvenirs of your Peru travel. After lunch, reach the small town of Ollantaytambo (9,185 ft.), where you'll spend the night and visit a famous Inca fortress. (B,L)
Day 7: Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu
After a satisfying breakfast at your hotel, begin a walking tour of the Ollantaytambo ruins and town. Midmorning take a leisurely walk from the hotel to the train station at Ollantaytambo. Follow the Urubamba River through a scenic cloud forest, arriving at the station where you will have lunch before boarding a bus that will take you to the hidden citadel of Machu Picchu (7,875 ft.). Spend the day exploring the famous ruins and return in the late afternoon to nearby Aguas Calientes to soak in the local hot springs and dine on Peruvian cuisine. Overnight at a nearby hotel. (B)
Day 8: Machu Picchu, Chinchero Artisan Market to Cusco
If you choose to get up before dawn, you can see an unforgettable Machu Picchu sunrise with few other visitors. Spend the morning exploring Machu Picchu on your own which could include a climb to the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu or a walk through the lush cloud forest to the Temple of the Moon. After lunch in Aguas Calientes, embark on the mid-afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. Meet your private van to travel to the cooperatively run Chinchero Market, home to some of the most remarkable textiles in Peru. Here enjoy an introduction to the way the weavers shear, dye, spin and weave using traditional methods. This is the perfect opportunity for last minute shopping before returning to your Cusco hotel in the evening. (B)
Day 9: Cusco to Lima to Your Home
In the morning, transfer to the Cusco airport for the return flight to Lima and your connecting international flight, ending Southern Explorations' services. Trip extensions to other areas or extra days in Lima and/or Cusco can also be arranged. (B)

Amazon & Machu Picchu

Pricing
Per Person
$2,795

Domestic Airfare:
$550 (Lima/Puerto Maldonado/Cusco/Lima) – Subject to change

Single Supplement: $725
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.
Trip Dates
Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 to Friday, May 29, 2015
6 Spaces Left
Thursday, June 11, 2015 to Friday, June 19, 2015
Available
Thursday, July 2, 2015 to Friday, July 10, 2015
6 Spaces Left
Thursday, August 6, 2015 to Friday, August 14, 2015
Available
Thursday, September 3, 2015 to Friday, September 11, 2015
6 Spaces Left
Thursday, October 8, 2015 to Friday, October 16, 2015
Available
Thursday, November 19, 2015 to Friday, November 27, 2015
Available
Thursday, December 24, 2015 to Friday, January 1, 2016
Available
Thursday, January 14, 2016 to Friday, January 22, 2016
Available
Thursday, February 11, 2016 to Friday, February 19, 2016
Available
Thursday, March 24, 2016 to Friday, April 1, 2016
Available
Thursday, April 14, 2016 to Friday, April 22, 2016
Available
Thursday, May 19, 2016 to Friday, May 27, 2016
Available
Thursday, June 9, 2016 to Friday, June 17, 2016
Available
Thursday, June 30, 2016 to Friday, July 8, 2016
Available
Thursday, August 4, 2016 to Friday, August 12, 2016
Available
Thursday, September 1, 2016 to Friday, September 9, 2016
Available
Thursday, October 6, 2016 to Friday, October 14, 2016
Available
Thursday, November 17, 2016 to Friday, November 25, 2016
Available
Thursday, December 22, 2016 to Friday, December 30, 2016
Available
Included in tour cost
  • Private transportation
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
Cultural
The countries of South and Central America are filled with art, crafts and historical artifacts. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite, some of which are included in our itineraries. We also build in free time so our passengers can explore on their own according to their interests.

HISTORY

Gold In colonial times, gold mostly left the New World for the old, but that which remained and is today housed in South America’s gold museums reflects the craftsmanship of the continent’s indigenous populations. The two most famous are located in Bogota and Lima. The Cuzco School Visitors on Peru tours will be able to view representative works of the Cuzco School, paintings from the 300-year colonial period that incorporated Roman Catholic themes, European painting styles and an indigenous slant, with bright colors and gold leaf plus native flora and fauna. The largest collections are housed in Cusco and Lima museums.

QUIRKY

Chile Chileans call Pablo Neruda “the people’s poet” because they understood what he had to say about love and life. The Nobel Prize winner filled his three charming homes between Santiago and the coast with items he collected in his travels as writer, diplomat and rebel-on-the-run that today are popular museums. Uruguay Begun before paved roads, built over decades and today a prominent landmark on the Uruguayan Riviera, Casapueblo is the studio, gallery and guest lodgings of abstract painter, Paez Vilaro. It is also a divine spot for cocktails at sunset.

MODERN

Brazil After a decade of prominence in the contemporary international art scene, Brazil’s distinctive grafite has begun to flourish at home, since the decriminalization of street art on buildings with the consent of the owner. To see the city’s largest street art collection, visit Rio de Janeiro’s upscale Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico) north of Ipanema Beach. Street art walls may also be seen in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. Another arresting street mural that has made international headlines is by French street artist, JR, and consists of realistic-looking eyes painted on many hillside buildings in the Providencia favela, a Rio slum. Another favela, Santa Marta, contains Tudo de cor para voce, a brilliant block-long recoloring of facades, painted by neighborhood residents with donated paint. Colombia: Travel to Colombia and you are bound to see renowned Colombian artist, Fernando Botero’s mammoth rounded human and animal sculptures. The best place is Medellin, Botero’s home town, where his works are everywhere. One spot is Botero Plaza in front of the Museum Antioquia where 23 of his bronze pieces are located. Uruguay: Dramatic 15-ft tall concrete Los Dedos, by Chilean sculptor, Mario Irarrazabal, resembles a partially buried human hand, fingers extended in the sand. It is located on the La Brava beach peninsula that divides Punta del Este’s calm waters on the Rio de la Plata side from the rough Atlantic waters.

CRAFTSMEN WORKING CRAFTSMEN SELLING

Crafts are a way of life in some villages. To name a few, in some places, whole villages make their livelihood from crafts. From the Andes, you’ll find camelid fleece apparel, shigra totes and plenty of exquisite silver and gold jewelry; from the Amazon, carved tagua nut jewelry; from Panama’s Kuna Yala, one-of a kind molas; and from Ecuador, Panama hats for as much as you want to spend. In addition to stopping at craft markets in Ecuador, Peru and elsewhere, our tours also get you into studios where crafts are being made, continuing centuries-old traditions of indigenous cultures. The challenge will be how much you can pack into that suitcase.
Most Popular
Some destinations start off the beaten track and then as word of mouth and media coverage grow end up getting on to the beaten track. The number of visitors who travel to the Galapagos Islands has tripled over the last decade. Who could have imagined ten years ago that islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador could be attracting some 200,000 visitors annually or that a million people a year would want to visit so difficult a destination to reach as Machu Picchu? Fortunately, governments of the countries where this has happened (or before) have set limits so that these destinations won’t be overrun. Some places will always remain popular. No matter how many fellow-tourists surround you, who doesn’t want to watch skyscraper-size slabs of the Perito Moreno Glacier come splashing down into a lake or witness a waterfall made up of 275 waterfalls at Iguazu? Our category of popular trips does not mean the most popular of all our trips but rather, the most frequently-booked trips in each country.

Popular attractions have a way of opening up new worlds for travelers. Say you’re in  Buenos Aires and decide to pop over the Rio de la Plata by ferry to check out Uruguay for a day. You experience the beaches, have lunch in Montevideo’s 19th century Mercado del Puerto, do some wine-tasting and end up saying, “Let’s come back here next time.” Or the end of your two-day scheduled stay in Buenos Aires that  you thought would be enough draws near. You suddenly realize that you must return because you’ve just scratched the surface, that you missed the houses on stilts out on the Tigre Delta, didn’t see a performance at the Teatro Colon, the world’s most beautiful opera house, and didn’t get over to the Feria de Mataderos, a folk market with costumed entertainers and gauchos on horseback.

Many of our travelers are active so they tend to book trips that get them outdoors experiencing the sights rather than driving around in cars. We do our best to minimize car travel, not just because it’s boring, but because it’s also part of our environmental philosophy. Because of the distance and inaccessibility, driving to some places is the only logical alternative. To get from the prime Patagonia hiking areas of Los Glaciares National Park down to the south end where the park’s other big attraction is located, Perito Moreno Glacier, is a four-hour car ride, albeit a scenic one. Our multisport trips that offer a little of everything and mostly active excursions along with some other active trips are most popular. Even among our Antarctica tours, it is the adventure class vessels that people book most, though price may enter into that decision.

As we look at what are the most frequent trips we book and try to figure out why, it appears our travelers want to pack in a lot of top sights in case they don’t travel this way again. See Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires plus Iguazu Falls or Patagonia. Even destinations like Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay, the most popular trips tend to be those that travel to the most regions.

The most popular way that passengers book a trip with Southern Explorations is as a custom departure. They start with an itinerary, add on tour extensions according to their particular interests and travel in groups as small as two passengers on days that fit their schedule. We love making that happen.
Wildlife
Virtually every trip Southern Exploration arranges includes wildlife sure to awe travelers from the most experienced birder to ten-year olds seeing their first monkey outside of a zoo. These are some of the species and destinations that our passengers have in store.

THE MAJOR WILDLIFE MECCAS

Southern Explorations goes where the wildlife goes. To be awed by the most exotic of wildlife, the jaguars, the ocelots, the primates, the tapirs and all those other rainforest species one sees in books, most everyone wants to travel to the Amazon. We offer many Amazon tours to get them there. South America’s other top wildlife destination is the extraordinary Galapagos Islands, and we offer countless options for making that dream come true too. And then there is Antarctica, home to a multitude of species, including a preponderance of penguins. One place we don’t send many people but would if they knew what they were missing is the little-visited Pantanal, an area of Brazil’s interior the size of France where wildlife is just as diverse, profuse and unafraid of humans as in the Galapagos. Our 13-day Brazil Water Paradises trip goes there.

AND OTHER POPULAR SPECIES

We get asked about several animals more than others. Turtles Southern Explorations travels to several locations where turtles nest. Three top locations to have the once in a lifetime experience of watching this nighttime phenomenon are Panama, Costa Rica and Brazil’s Praia do Forte. In all of these places, poaching has been replaced by eco-tourism in local projects that are helping to bring back these mostly endangered species. Whales From Costa Rica to Antarctica, whales are in our itineraries. The baleens and many toothed species inhabit these waters at certain times of year.

BIRDS OF MANY PARADISES

Birds together Seeing large groups of birds all in one place is an unforgettable experience. There are clay licks in the Amazon that attract hundreds of macaws, with hidden nearby places for humans to watch. Visitors who travel with Southern Explorations will probably see more penguins together than any other bird species where in places they number into the millions. Big birds South America is home to many large species. You’ll find three different species of flamingos in some places such as the National Flamingo Reserve Chile’s Atacama Desert and elsewhere in the Atacama Desert where vicunas, the tiny, soft wild camelids congregate too. If flamingoes are on your bird bucket list, the Atacama is the place to go. We offer several short trips to this region of Chile that may be added on to Patagonia tours. Fortunate is the traveler to South America who gets to see the largest of the vultures, the Andean condor. Two most likely spots are Colca Canyon where parents teach their wee ones to fly, and Colombia’s Los Nevados National Park where the government is working with the San Diego Zoo to reintroduce the species. To see the world’s largest population of black-necked swans, the Uruguayan coast, east of Punta del Este is the place. The signature bird of Brazil’s Pantanal is the jabiru. The ibis may be seen in many parts of Argentina. Pretty birds The world’s most beautiful bird, the Resplendent Quetzal, resides almost exclusively in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Panama’s Volcan Baru National Park.

We go all these places. You just tell us what wildlife you want to see and we’ll tell you where to go.
Aguas Calientes
Amazon
Cusco
Lima
Sacred Valley

One Day

Multi-Day

Our trip was rather complex with three different sections (Amazon, Galapagos, and Machu Picchu (Peru)).  There were a number of internal flights as well as trains, boats, and more.  We also had coordination of people joining us part way through, special guides, and special activities for some people.  I was very impressed that all of the transfers, activities, and connections occurred without a hitch.  There were ample opportunities for things to go wrong, but the whole trip went exceptionally smoothly.  All of the guides were outstanding - knowledgeable, personable, with good communication skills, and a good sense of humor.  I appreciated the very small groups, which afforded just the right balance.  We were able to see more than expected.   It couldn’t have been better.   -Linda Tredupp, Wisconsin (Amazon, Galapagos Island Cruise & Peru)




I have traveled many places in the world but the trip put together by Southern Explorations may well be the best. The amazing biology we saw on the Galapagos and in the Amazon, wonderful guides both on the Eclipse and at Sacha lodge, excellent food, and great coordination of the different parts of the trip made for an incredible journey.   -Marilyn Parsons, USA (Galapagos Island Cruise & Amazon)


Please consider strongly using Southern Explorations to book your trip to South America. These folks are well organized and provided excellent preparation materials. The two tours that I took (Galapagos Islands and the Amazon) were outstanding, in part due to the people working with Southern Explorations. There was excellent communication between Southern Explorations staff and myself which helped markedly in planning the trip, the exact locations to be visited, and the accommodations. Do not miss this opportunity to work with this wonderful group!   -Renée Leboeuf (Galapagos Island Cruise & Amazon)
 


Thank-you for the trip of a life time and I have already recommended you to everyone who asks!   -Wendy Williams, Canada (Amazon, Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)
 


 

Southern Explorations did a superb job creating an individual guided trip for us to the Amazon, Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The guides were terrific - well-informed, friendly and flexible. The accommodations were excellent. The trip was a thrilling experience for us - exceeded our expectations at all of the locations. Thank you!!   -David Bergen & Rhea Feldman, USA (Amazon & Peru)


We had an outstanding time on our Galapagos Adventure + stay at the Sacha Lodge. Everything ran seamlessly and our guides were fun and knowledgeable. It was the perfect mix of activity, education, and relaxation! We also highly recommend the Sacha Lodge.  - Eric & Leah Monson, USA (Galapagos Island Land & Amazon) 

Moderate

Our moderate trips require an average level of fitness. Itineraries may include walks or short hikes of up to two to three hours with little elevation gain, sustained walking at higher altitudes, and/or other similar level physical activities. Many activities are optional.

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