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Discover South America

You are viewing the 2025 itinerary. Select your departure year
16 days From £5,695 per person
4.3 stars(6 reviews)

A rich and varied discovery tour, staying in diverse locations, from ancient Incan cities to modern capitals, the Sacred Valley to the Iguazú National Park

Mobility Rating 3

2025 Tour code: LAG25

About the tour

A once-in-a-lifetime tour of South America's great historic cities, stunning natural wonders and extraordinary ancient treasures. From the intriguing Peruvian capital of Lima, we enter the Sacred Valley and visit the iconic 'Lost City' of Machu Picchu, amid emerald green hills, floating mist and soaring peaks.

Explore fascinating Incan relics in Cusco, discover stylish Buenos Aires, encounter the Iguazú Falls in its lush rainforest, and experience stunning Rio de Janeiro, with an uphill ride on a heritage railway to the Statue of Christ, and a trip up Sugar Loaf mountain.

Unforgettable experiences

Tour the unique cities of Lima, Cusco, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro
Tour the unique cities of Lima, Cusco, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro
With knowledgeable local guides we explore four great cities, each with a fascinating heritage and eclectic architecture – from pre-Columbian to Spanish colonial, classical to modernist – on our discovery of the diverse, dynamic and colourful South American continent.
Discover the wonders of the ancient site of Machu Picchu
Discover the wonders of the ancient site of Machu Picchu
Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the incredible UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan citadel, set amid emerald green hills, floating mist and soaring peaks – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 
Experience the exhilarating Iguazú Falls
Experience the exhilarating Iguazú Falls
Feel the fantastic force of the powerful Iguazú Falls, an extensive waterfall system in the sub-tropical rainforest of its national park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and New Wonder of the World – which we explore from both the Argentine and the Brazilian side.
Enjoy an authentic tango show in Buenos Aires
Enjoy an authentic tango show in Buenos Aires
The tango, an emotive partner dance, originated in the streets of Buenos Aires and Montevideo in the 1880s. After a group dinner in downtown Buenos Aires we experience an authentic and impassioned show of this historic dance form.

What’s included


Day 1 - Our journey starts – overnight flight to São Paulo, Brazil

Our discovery tour of South America starts at London Heathrow, where we meet our Tour Manager and group of fellow travellers for our overnight flight to São Paulo, Brazil.

Day 2 - Arrival into Lima, the historic Peruvian capital

On arrival in São Paulo, we take a connecting flight to Lima in Peru. Touching down in the Peruvian capital, we transfer to our modern, 4-Star hotel in the Miraflores district - a cosmopolitan residential area beside the Pacific Ocean - where we settle in and enjoy breakfast. After time to relax, this afternoon we enjoy a guided coach tour of Lima.

Lima's rich history dates back to pre-Columbian times, when it was settled by the indigenous Lima and Ichma people. The city was colonised by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and has a remarkably well-preserved colonial centre. On our tour we visit the historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with free time in the Plaza d'Armas, the birthplace of the city. We also see the church and convent of Santa Domingo, and explore the beautiful courtyards and catacombs. In Miraflores, we visit the Parque del Amor, a colourful park with mosaics reminiscent of Barcelona's Park Guell.

The rest of your afternoon and evening is free to explore and to dine independently. You may like to visit the nearby Barranco district of Lima, a colourful quarter with vibrant street art, where you will find several restaurants dotted along the coastal walkway.

Day 3 - Into the Sacred Valley of the Incas

We have an early start this morning, to catch an internal flight to Cusco. On arrival, we are taken by coach to our hotel in the Sacred Valley, a journey of two hours into spectacular mountain landscapes. We stop along the way to take part in a Coca Kintu ceremony - an ancient custom in which good wishes are sent to the Pachamama, the fertility goddess of the Indigenous peoples of the Andes, and the mountain spirits - to show gratitude for their protection during our trip.

Situated in the Peruvian Highlands and encircled by the peaks of the High Andes, the Sacred Valley was once the beating heart of the Incan empire. Today, it is a peaceful region of fertile farmland, soaring mountains and traditional villages, stretching for more than 60 miles.

After checking into our lovely hotel, a mountain chalet-style retreat with locally-inspired rustic design and fabulous views of the Sacred Valley, there's time to relax before dinner.

Day 4 - Touring Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley

After breakfast we set off on a full day excursion. We follow the course of the Urubamba River through the Sacred Valley, to the town of Pisac. Here, we visit the colonial town, which has a fabulous market, where local stallholders sell handmade crafts, jewellery and textiles.

We have lunch at a restaurant in Pisac then continue to Ollantaytambo for a guided tour of this fascinating town at the centre of the royal Incan estate. The ancient fortress has important features such as the Sun Temple and Princess Baths fountain. In the Old Town, we discover an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings, where residents still live in accordance with their ancient traditions. If time allows, we visit a typical Chicheria, where the fermented maize drink of Chicha is prepared. We are transferred back to our hotel at the end of the afternoon and your evening is free to dine independently in this exceptionally beautiful location. Besides the gourmet restaurant at our hotel there are some eating places nearby, serving Peruvian and international cuisine.

Day 5 - Excursion to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas

Today is a major highlight of our holiday and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After breakfast we are transferred to the railway station where we board the scenic Expedition (or Voyager) Train for an unforgettable trip to Aguas Calientes where we visit the 'Lost City of the Incas' - the iconic site of Machu Picchu.

On arrival in Aguas Calientes, a winding bus ride takes us up to Machu Picchu itself where we're greeted by one of the most incredible sights in the world - an ancient Incan citadel built amid the clouds, mountains, and forested peaks of Peru. Our local guide explains the intriguing history of this awe-inspiring landmark, forgotten for 400 years before being rediscovered in 1911. Machu Picchu is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 

We return by coach to Aguas Calientes where there is free time for lunch, then return by rail to Ollantaytambo and on to Cusco, where we spend the next two nights. This evening is free to dine at leisure and there is a wide selection of restaurants to choose from in Cusco.

Day 6 - Touring Cusco, the ‘Archaeological Capital of the Americas’

One of the most important Incan cities, Cusco blends indigenous and colonial Spanish architecture. This morning, on a guided tour of this fascinating city, we visit the Plaza de Armas in the historic centre, see the Cusco Cathedral, then continue on foot to the Temple of Qorikancha, the Incan Temple of the Sun. Meaning 'golden temple' in Peru's indigenous language, Quechua, the temple was originally covered in solid gold, with more shimmering treasures inside. However, its gems were looted by Spanish conquistadors and much of the stone was used to construct the adjoining Santo Domingo convent.

Our tour continues to the Bohemian neighbourhood of San Blas, an artistic quarter where the rest of the day is at leisure. This may be an interesting location to find some lunch, and perhaps wander the colourful streets, browsing the galleries and shops. This evening, we reconvene to dine at a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel, where we enjoy a traditional folk performance with our meal.

Day 7 - Arrival in sophisticated Buenos Aires

Today, after an early breakfast, we are transferred to Cusco airport for an internal flight to Lima and then on to Buenos Aires, where we arrive in the evening and are taken by coach to our central hotel.

With a free evening ahead, you may like to soak up the atmosphere in the historic streets around our hotel. We are just seven-minutes' walking distance from the city's impressive Palacio Barolo, a unique building which pays homage to the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

Eating out in Buenos Aires is a real pleasure; the only difficulty is deciding on a restaurant. From sizzling steakhouses to Argentine pizza restaurants and upmarket seafood venues, this world-class city has an international reputation for exceptional cuisine.

Day 8 - Guided tour of Buenos Aires, the ‘Paris of South America’

This morning, after breakfast, we take a guided tour of the finest sights of Buenos Aires, known as the 'Paris of South America'. We discover glamorous neighbourhoods such as La Recoleta, known for its Parisian-style townhouses, where chic boutiques and elegant homes line the street. We visit the resting place of Eva Perón or Evita - the first lady of Argentina - who is buried at the local cemetery, one of the most beautiful in the world. We also see the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral with its spectacular dome, and visit Palermo, the largest neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Our tour also takes in the Plaza de Mayo, overlooked by Casa Rosada, the presidential palace.

After a break over lunchtime, you are free for the rest of the afternoon, and you may like to explore some of the sights we have seen, or continue on your own steam to visit one of the city's museums or galleries. This evening we enjoy a relaxed dinner with our group, followed by an authentic and impassioned Argentine Tango show, backed by a quintet which covers music from the 1920s to Argentina's most renowned tango composer, Astor Piazzola.

Day 9 - A free day to experience Buenos Aires at your own pace

With a full day to explore, you could visit one or two of the other city districts, each with a unique style and distinct atmosphere. One popular district is La Boca, a colourful neighbourhood which was first populated by Spanish and Italian immigrants in the mid-19th century and has been a favourite of artists for generations. Caminito Street in La Boca is a vibrant pedestrian-friendly area which has functioned as an open-air museum and art market since 1959. San Telmo, another artistic quarter, is the city's oldest neighbourhood, characterised by cobbled streets and antique shops.

This evening you might like to visit some of the city's cultural centres, such as the Teatro Colón, the Teatro General San Martin, or the Teatro Nacional Cervantes. These venues are as famous for their architecture as they are for their theatre, opera and ballet performances. For dinner, you could head to a cosy restaurant and experience two of the things Argentina is particularly well known for - red wine and steak.

Day 10 - To Puerto Iguazú, on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay

This morning we leave the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, and head into nature again. We transfer to the airport for a two-hour flight to Iguazú where we are transferred to our hotel in Puerto Iguazú, which has beautiful views and excellent facilities, arriving at the end of the afternoon for a two-night stay.

Our hotel overlooks the Iguazú River, an important tributary of the Paraná River - together these two rivers form the three borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Nearby is the National Park of Iguazú, and - marking the border between Argentina and Brazil - lies the tremendous waterfalls of Iguazú which we visit tomorrow. This evening we dine together at our hotel.

Day 11 - Viewing the Iguazú Falls from Argentina’s Iguazú National Park

Today is another highlight of our marvellous holiday, as we head out after breakfast on a coach excursion to the Argentine side of the spectacular Iguazú Falls. We enter the lush sub-tropical rainforest of the National Park with our local guide, walking into the heart of the falls, where we enjoy fantastic views of this extensive waterfall system made up of 275 powerful cascading falls. We then take the lower circuit and experience the invigorating effect of the iridescent spray. In this unspoilt wilderness it is possible to see resident capuchin monkeys.

We continue to the Upper Falls to a dramatic U-shaped section named Devil's Throat, once described as 'an ocean plunging into an abyss'. We stop here at the main balcony and viewing point where we can watch the roaring water descend from a height of 82 metres.

In the mid-afternoon we are transferred back to our hotel in Puerto Iguazú and the remainder of the day and evening is free, to enjoy at your own pace.

Day 12 - The Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls, and on to Rio de Janeiro

Today we travel to the west of the rainforest, to the confluence of the mighty Paraná and Iguazú rivers, for a better view of the main sources of this epic waterfall system. On a half-day tour, we follow the main circuit on the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls, through the dramatic landscapes of the National Park, with a local expert who points out the fascinating fauna and flora of this vast sub-tropical rainforest, one of the largest in South America and a World Heritage site. With the waterfalls constantly in sight, we follow an elevated route of 1,000 metres, just above the river level, where we can look out from the bridge across the water. There is an elevator which takes us up to the Salto Floriano viewing platform.

We are taken back to our hotel and, after a short break over lunchtime, we transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Rio de Janeiro. Arriving into Rio this evening, we are transferred by coach to our hotel, ideally located opposite Leme beach. The rest of the evening is free to get to know our new surroundings, and to dine independently.

Day 13 - Exploring Rio, Corcovado Rack Railway to the statue of Christ the Redeemer

We discover the vibrant metropolis of Rio on a sightseeing tour this morning. First, we board the Corcovado Rack Railway to ascend Corcovado Mountain, travelling uphill to a viewing platform where the astonishing statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooks the city. Our short but steep journey takes us up through gorgeous rainforest with views over the beaches, across to the favelas, and down to the city. On a clear day, the views across the sprawling city and the turquoise waters of the South Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking. Looking over the city, this colossal Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ paints an enduring image of Brazil and is one of the New Wonders of the World.

We descend Corcovado on the railway then visit the Botanical Gardens - a gorgeous green area with thousands of varieties of indigenous and exotic plants where there's time to wander and soak up the scents and colours. We continue by coach to a local restaurant where we enjoy a typical Brazilian Churrascaria-style barbecue lunch. The rest of the day is free to spend as you wish, perhaps take a stroll along the waterfront or enjoy an evening of people watching at a beach café.

Day 14 - A cable car trip to iconic Sugarloaf Mountain

Today's explorations start after breakfast with a fabulous journey by cable car up the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain. This distinctive landmark soars almost 1,300 feet into the air, a natural wonder, named for its resemblance to a loaf of refined sugar. From our spectacular vantage point, we enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across the harbour area and Guanabara Bay.

After a break to enjoy lunch independently, our tour continues into the mid-afternoon. We visit the Sambadrome where Rio's famous carnival is held, as well as seeing the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral and the Municipal Theatre - an elegant opera house built in an eclectic Art Nouveau style. This evening we dine together at our hotel.

Day 15 - Leaving South America

Enjoy a relaxing morning at your own pace - maybe taking a walk along the beach to catch some last rays, or having a swim in the hotel pool - before our afternoon transfer to the airport where we begin our journey home. From Rio de Janeiro we fly to São Paulo where we join our connecting flight to London Heathrow.

Day 16 - Homeward bound

We land in London Heathrow today with memories of our South American adventure still fresh in our minds. From the exquisite ancient temples of Peru to the glorious waterfalls and rivers of Argentina and Brazil, as well as the unique cities of Lima, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, these unforgettable experiences are certain to stay with us forever. We say farewell to our Tour Manager, our fellow travellers and new friends, then continue our journey home.

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Costa del Sol Wyndham Hotel, Cusco

Costa del Sol Wyndham Hotel, Cusco

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Windsor Leme Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Windsor Leme Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

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Casa Andina Select Miraflores, Lima

Casa Andina Select Miraflores, Lima

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Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel, Yanahuara

Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel, Yanahuara

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02 Hotel Iguazu, Puerto Iguazu

02 Hotel Iguazu, Puerto Iguazu

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Hotel Grand Brizo, Buenos Aires

Hotel Grand Brizo, Buenos Aires

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4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 6 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Lynda Robins

5 stars

Submitted 28 Oct 2023

Itinerary was great. Tour manager excellent. the only thing that didn’t live up to expectations was the ranch excursion, it was ok but expensive for what it was.

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Mrs Janet Mountford

5 stars

Submitted 28 Oct 2023

One of the best trips we have done with Great Rail. There are a lot of flights but totally worth it, to see everything that we did.

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ian davis

5 stars

Submitted 27 Oct 2023

Fantastic experience

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4 stars

Submitted 27 Oct 2023

If you want to explore the culture, history and sights of three South American countries this is the trip for you. Explore the mist covered site of Macchu Pichu and the wonderful city of Cusco in Peru, then move on to Argentina and enjoy a tango show, the bustling streets of Buenos Aries, and the Iguazu falls, then complete the set with a trip to the Brazilian side of the falls before flying into the home of Carnival, Rio de Janeiro and marvel at Sugarloaf Mountain, gaze up at Christ the Redeemer, or walk along Copacabana beach, this tour has it all, and has knowledgeable and passionate local guides to enhance your stay. Book this tour, you won't regret it.

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Mr Ellis

3 stars

Submitted 10 Jun 2023

If you are after a holiday where the pace is relatively slow, an itinerary done to make sure you have 3 meals in the day at "normal hours": this is probably for you. We did go to all the most famous sights in each place and our guides in Buenos Aires, Iguazú and Rio were great, knowledgeable and taking the time on the coach to explain what we were going to visit, giving us the freedom to explore at our pace the sight. I wish the guides in Peru had done the same For me Lima was a waste of time; in general the time could have been optimized better by spending less time in airports and also flying in the evening, rather than spending the next morning/day travelling.

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Brian Mclean

4 stars

Submitted 09 Jun 2023

A place I have never been before which was quite exciting in many ways

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