28 Day Andes to Rio Tour - Laz Paz to Rio De Janeiro
A great journey that starts up in the world’s highest capital city of La Paz travelling through the high country of Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the world. You’ll head down into the northern desert of Argentina and across the Chaco marshlands to the famous Iguazu Falls. On to the best animal viewing area in South America, the Pantanal before heading across to the beaches and Rio de Janeiro; party time!
Day 1: La Paz (Bolivia)
Your tour leader will usually hold a group meeting at approx. 6.00pm on Day 1 (check the notice board in the hotel reception for the exact time and location). Your tour leader will give a briefing about the tour, outline the plan for the next few days, answer any questions and collect your ‘Local Fund’ payment in full in US$ cash. Then there will usually be the option for everyone to go out for dinner and drinks to start to get to know one another. La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at 3,636 metres. La Paz is built in the basin of a spectacular valley with the snow-capped Mount Illimani in the background. The city has colourful Indian street markets including the ‘witches market’ where women in flared skirts sell, amongst other things, dead cats and llama foetuses which are placed under new buildings to keep evil spirits away. The main square, Plaza Murillo, is where many years ago a president of the republic was lynched from a lamppost. La Paz is one of the best places to see a traditional peña show of Andean music and dance where local musicians play their time-honoured instruments such as zampoñas (pipes) and charangos (ukulele). As La Paz is at altitude, it is a good idea to arrive at least one day before the start of the trip to rest and acclimatise. There are also are heaps of optional excursions available which you can only do if you arrive a day or two early. Check out the Moon Valley with its strange rock formations shaped by the weather or take in the incredible views from Mount Chacaltaya and the world's highest ski resort at 5,221metres. Another fantastic excursion is to Coroico, the gateway to the Bolivian jungle region and a great place to see sub-tropical vegetation and plants. En-route you will cross a 5,000 metre high pass before descending to 1,300 metres on narrow mountain roads bordered by sheer drops.
Days 2-4: Free Camping - Potosi
From La Paz we travel across the Altiplano free camping on our way to Potosí. At 4,070 metres, Potosi is the highest city of its size on earth with a population of 110,000. The city was established in 1545 soon after the discovery of a rich vein of silver in a nearby hill, the Cerro Rico (or “rich hill”). Silver from Potosí underwrote the Spanish economy, particularly the monarchy's extravagance, for over two centuries. Millions of Indians, and later, African slaves, worked in the mines where conditions were so appalling and dangerous that miners died in astronomical numbers, either in accidents or from silicosis pneumonia. You have the chance to visit one of the mines where you can see first hand how rough the working conditions were and still are!
Days 5-6: Uyuni
Travelling on we head to the desolate town of Uyuni, in the south of Bolivia, to visit what is claimed to be the largest salt flat in the world, the brilliant white vast Salar de Uyuni. There is an opportunity to take an excursion to Fisherman’s Island where there are great views of the surrounding lake and giant cacti and llama provide perfect photo opportunities. The fantastic contrast of the brilliant blue sky (weather permitting of course) and the pure white of the salt flats will take your breath away.
Days 7-9: Free Camping – Salta (Argentina)
Winding our way along the dusty roads of Bolivia, which are some of the worst in South America, we head towards the Argentine border passing through Tupiza and Villazon. Our first night in Northern Argentina is spent free-camping amidst the vividly coloured rock formations and giant cacti of Humahuaca Canyon. Next stop is the striking city of Salta in the Lerma Valley, established in 1582. Salta has many old colonial buildings, a cathedral with ancient statues of Cristo del Milagro (Miracle of Christ) and the Virgin Mary, which were brought over from Spain in 1592.
Days 10-11: Free Camping – San Ignacio
We travel through the Chaco, a mixture of savannah and marshlands teeming with wildlife. We will be free-camping along the way and will hopefully see lots of wildlife and the odd gaucho (Argentine cowboy) as we make our way to San Ignacio Mini past some of the best kept Jesuit ruins in the region.
Days 12-15: Foz do Iguacu (Brazil)
Crossing into Brazil we reach Foz do Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls), where some 275 waterfalls cascade over a two and a half kilometre wide cliff face. We spend the next 4 nights here and there is plenty to do. You can visit both sides of the falls; on the Brazilian side there are panoramic views of the numerous waterfalls and on the Argentine side you can walk through rainforest and along catwalks directly above the falls. On the Argentine side you’ll also find the famous "Devil's Throat" where fourteen falls drop with such force that there is always a massive cloud of spray overhead. For a bird’s eye view over the entire falls you can take an optional scenic helicopter ride. There is also an excellent bird park nearby and you can visit the world’s largest hydroelectric dam at Itaipu where videos show the environmental planning behind the dam project (this tour is free!). If you want to do a bit of country counting, then you can pop into neighbouring Paraguay by public bus (you don’t even have to get your passport stamped) for a bit of shopping in Ciudad del Esté.
Days 16-18: Free Camping – Bonito
Leaving Foz do Iguaçu we free camp on the way to Bonito where we have plenty of time to enjoy its waterfalls, caves and rivers. A variety of activities are available which include cave and river snorkelling, rafting, rainforest walks and wildlife spotting.
Days 19-21: Pantanal
Our next stop is the Pantanal Wildlife Reserve, a massive wetland of 230,000 square kilometres. One of the unusual things about the Pantanal is that there are also many farms in the area and the animals from these farms live quite comfortably with the other wildlife in the region. Wild animals include approximately 650 species of birds, capybara, howler monkeys, pumas, jaguars, ocelots, coatis, yellow anacondas, marsh deer, caiman, tapir and many more. The Pantanal is excellent for wildlife spotting as the region is more open and flat than a jungle setting.
Days 22-26: Campo Grande – Free Camping – Parati
Leaving the Pantanal, we make our way past the modern city of Campo Grande and across the rolling hills of Southern Brazil to Parati, free camping en route. Parati, our final destination before Rio, is an awesome little colonial coastal town and we have two nights here. Vehicles are banned from entering the town centre leaving the cobbled streets traffic free and peaceful. Parati was a major port for the exportation of gold and coffee during the 17th and 19th centuries respectively and recommended excursions include a sailing schooner cruise around the bays, rainforest treks and walking the gold trail.
Days 27-28: Rio de Janeiro
We say goodbye to our final campsite possibly with a lunch of locally caught seafood and drive on to Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and where our trip ends. There are many things to see and do in Rio so you may wish to stay on for a few more days after the end of the trip. You can take a trip up to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado with its famous Statue of Christ – both of which offer great city views, visit to the Botanical Gardens or the famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. And of course, if you are in Rio around February/March time, get ready for the world's biggest party, THE RIO CARNIVAL! Please note that the 4 nights during Rio Carnival are not included in the tour price and it is essential to pre-book accommodation if you wish to stay on for the Carnival.
80% camping, 20% hotels/hostels * All transport on a fully equipped expedition truck * Fuel, road taxes, tolls and ferries * Services of your driver and tour leader * All camping & cooking equipment (BYO sleeping bag and roll mat) * Specialist vehicle liability insurance * Three daily meals while camping and lunches on travel days on the truck * Campsite fees & cooking gas * Hotels & hostels when staying in towns & cities *National park fees when visited in the truck.
January, May, August and September. Please enquire for available dates
£550 GBP per person (Local Fund of $300 USD) - BOOK NOW
This tour is also available in reverse - £550 GBP per person plus local fund of $300 USD.