Andes to Incas: Chile to Peru overland


Greg and Tania wanted to travel to Chile, Bolivia and Peru, so we sat down with a cuppa to look at maps and plan things to see and do. We created a tailor-made journey that is a fantastic segue between Chile and Peru, taking in the stunning Atacama Desert, Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia and then crossing Lake Titicaca to the Inca heartland of Cusco in Peru.

Greg and Tania loved what we came up with (and we do too!). This 11-day journey begins in the cosmopolitan city of Santiago before venturing off the tourist trail to explore some of South America’s most impressive natural and historic sites.

Day 1 in Santiago

DAY 1

Welcome to Santiago, your gateway to South America. This modern city hosts plenty of parks, markets, bars, restaurants and friendly faces. You’ll be staying in the charming Lastarria neighbourhood and soaking in the true Latin lifestyle.

Day 2 in Casablanca Chile

DAY 2

Discover why Chile is famous for its wine, with a private tour through the Casablanca Valley and the historic port of Valparaiso. This World Heritage city is famous for its labyrinth style slopes, street art, colourful houses and funicular railways.

Day 3 in Atacama Desert

DAY 3

Today you’ll fly north to the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest desert, for your three-night stay in the oasis of San Pedro. With almost no clouds, and even less rain, San Pedro has the world’s clearest skies. Distant volcanoes seem touchable and entire constellations are visible at night. This afternoon, take a walk through the Valley of the Moon, and watch as the colours change with the setting sun and look up to see the sky light up as darkness arrives.

Day 4 in El Tatio

DAY 4

Visit the spectacular geysers of El Tatio, one of the biggest geothermal fields in the world, where boiling water gurgles in the frozen ground and then emerges violently as steam. Soak in the thermal pools with soaring snow-capped volcanoes as your backdrop.

Day 5 in Dali Desert

DAY 5

Start your overland adventure as you are driven across the Bolivian border. Your first stop is the Green Lagoon in front of the Licancabur volcano. Explore the ‘Dali desert’ and be reminded of the surrealist painter’s work as you witness the unusual rock formations in this arid landscape.

Later, soak yourself in the hot springs before reaching the Red Lagoon, home to three types of flamingos, as well as ancient stone sculptures ‘Pampa Siloli’ and ‘Bosques de Piedra’.

Day 6 Uyuni Salt Flats

DAY 6

Heading north, you will arrive at the amazing Uyuni salt flats and start your drive across them. This is sure to be a highlight of your trip, where the blue sky merges onto a seemingly endless white salt earth that stretches over 10,000 square kilometres. You will then spend the night in a hotel made entirely of salt.

Day 7 in Salar

DAY 7

Today you will journey to the centre of the Salar and the surreal Isla Incahuasi – a rocky, cactus-studded island rising defiantly from the sea of white and promising the very best of views.

Day 8 in Lapaz South America

DAY 8

Take a flight to La Paz and immerse yourself in the charismatic culture of one South America’s most ethnically diverse capitals.

Day 9 in Lake Titicaca

DAY 9

A morning bus takes you to Copacabana where you cruise across Lake Titicaca to Moon Island, to visit Iñaq Uyu. Roughly translated as ‘house of the virgins of the sun’, this site is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America.

Later, you will sail to Sun Island. This mythical place is said to be the site where Inca couple Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo emerged from the lake to found the Empire of the Sun.

Day 10 in Andean Mountain

DAY 10

Enjoy a spectacular rail journey to the historic city of Cusco, across the magnificent Andean Mountains. This journey always rates highly with our travellers and sets the scene for what is to come as you watch the mountainous Andes scenery pass by.

Day 11 Macchu Picchu

DAY 11

This part of your journey ends, but there is much more to see. We suggest spending some time in The Sacred Valley before visiting Machu Picchu. The valley has fabulous sites which are often excluded from the tourist trail. Hike or bike through the mountains and villages before taking a short train ride or extended hike to Machu Picchu.

‘Andes to Incas’ is a great starting point to a Peruvian adventure. Why not check out our 11-day Peru itinerary?

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