• a person wearing colorful clothes

Pearls of South America

Our Pearls of South America tour takes you on a highlights journey through Colombia, Peru and Brazil. You’ll visit iconic landmarks, marvel at places of outstanding natural beauty, and immerse yourself in the different cultures and fascinating histories of these three South American countries.

Starting in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, you’ll get a feel for the local life at its colourful Paloquemao Market. Delve into Bogota’s past at the city’s historic centre of La Candelara, while also discovering its modern street art. Another highlight is in Colombia’s seaside city of Cartagena, where you’ll learn how to prepare a traditional Colombian dish in an old colonial house in the city’s historic district. What better way to get a feel for a country than preparing a traditional meal from local produce in a historic building?

Your journey to Peru begins in its capital city, Lima, where you can explore its many rich historical gems, from the clay pyramid of Huaca Pucllana to standing in the Plaza de Armas where the city was founded in 1535.

No journey to Peru is complete without visiting Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Here you will enjoy visiting the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, marvel at Maras’ fascinating salt ponds, and explore Ollantaytambo - one of the best examples of an Inca settlement in the whole of South America. The ancient sites of the Sacred Valley offers you an interesting insight into the Inca Empire, while indulging in the incredible backdrop of the awesome Andes Mountains.

In Brazil, you’ll enjoy a fabulous trek through the jungle to see one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world - the impressive Iguazu Falls. From a glass cable car ride to observe Sugar Leaf Mountain to discovering the heady delights in Rio de Janeiro, your time in Brazil is the perfect mix of staggeringly natural beauty and vibrant city life.

Our Pearls of South America tour takes you to three different fabulous countries where all the highlights are covered, ensuring you will return home with treasured experiences you’ll never want to forget.

Duration
18 days

Guide Price

 £8,999  pp
Best time to go
December to March
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
a house that has a sign on the side of a building

Trip highlights

  • Stand in awe at one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world - Iguazu Falls - which lies on the Argentine/Brazilian border
  • Explore the Lost City of Machu Picchu in Peru, South America’s most famous archaeological site
  • Visit Brazil’s iconic Christ The Redeemer statue and take in the panoramic views over Rio de Janeiro
  • Tour Colombia’s capital city of Bogota, visiting its wonderful sites and interesting museums

After arriving in Bogota, you will be picked up at the airport and driven to the Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia. You will enjoy a two night stay at this five-star hotel, which makes the perfect base to explore Colombia’s vibrant capital city.  

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia
a view of a city with a mountain in the background

Your first visit of the day is to Botoga’s renowned Paloquemao Market. Selling a diverse array of fruit and vegetables, flowers, meat and fish, it’s a wonderful introduction to Bogota’s local produce. Colombia is the second largest exporter of fresh flowers and walking through the early morning flower market is a wonderful assault on your senses. Expect an explosion of colour, fragrance and glorious blooms. Get ready to haggle with the market vendors, as the first price is never their best price.

After feasting on local delicacies, head to the city’s historic district, La Candelaria. Built in 1580, you’ll feel charmed as you walk along its cobbled streets, stop in its leafy plazas and admire the fine Spanish colonial architecture. Plaza Bolivar is the district’s main square and was named after one of Colombia’s most important historical figures, Simon Bolivar. Simon Bolivar, or ‘the liberator’ as he is often called, helped Colombia to gain independence from Spanish rule in 1810. Another highlight of your day is a visit to the Fernando Botero Museum, which displays the world’s largest Fernando Botero collection, as well as pieces by Dali, Degas and Picasso.

No visit to Botoga is complete without visiting its Gold Museum, which promises to dazzle and delight you in equal measure. The museum houses more than 55,000 golden pieces and its sculptures give you a wonderful insight into the way of life of Colombia’s pre-Hispanic societies.

Your day will end with an interesting walking tour where you can discover Botoga’s vibrant street art. Learn about the fascinating backstory to these colourful and vivid murals.

Returning to the Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia, your evening is free to enjoy at your own leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia

Today, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to Bogota’s airport to catch a flight to Cartagena. After landing in Cartagena, you will be met at the airport and driven to your five-star hotel, the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara. The remainder of your day is free to explore this historic city on your own, or you can simply take time out and relax.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
a group of people walking in front of a statue

Today, you will dive into discovering the local produce at Cartagena’s Bazurto Market. This bustling food market has stalls piled high with fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, and even electronics. You will find everything from a pineapple to a freshly-caught red snapper here.

It’s off the well-trodden tourist map, and is the perfect place to find the freshest produce for if you want to try your hand at preparing a Colombian dish. After discovering Bazurto’s food and produce, you will be taken to a colonial house in the historic city centre where you will be given the opportunity to learn how to make a traditional Colombian dish. After devouring your own creations for lunch, your afternoon is free to enjoy exploring Cartagena at your own leisure.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

Today, your schedule is entirely clear, freeing you up to explore Cartagena at your own pace. We recommend exploring the colourful streets of Cartagena by heading to the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll be captivated by the Spanish colonial buildings with their balconies adorned with pretty bougainvillea, the beautiful churches, and the peaceful plazas. A great way to soak up this seaside city’s sights is to enjoy a late afternoon horse and carriage ride through the Old Town. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
Santo Domingo Monastery

Today, is a day of travel. You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your flight to Lima. Upon arrival into Lima, you will be met and driven to your five-star hotel, Hotel B Arts Boutique. The rest of your day is free to enjoy at leisure, and get a taste for your new neighbourhood. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel B Arts Boutique
Peru Chorrillos
a castle on top of a grass covered field

After breakfast, your day begins with a three-hour tour of Huaca Pucllana, a clay pyramid in the Miraflores district of central Lima, which dates back to 400AD. Huaca Pucllana played an important role as a ceremonial centre for the advancement of the Lima culture. Avoiding destruction from looters, four Wari mummies were discovered in 2010 at Huaca Pucllana and today it remains a site of ongoing excavations. There is an on-site small museum and also a reputed restaurant here with stunning views over the pyramid where you can enjoy your lunch.

In the afternoon, head to Lima’s historical centre. Take a moment to soak up the sights of the colourful colonial architecture before heading to the Plaza de Armas. This plaza is where Francisco Pizarro is said to have founded Lima in 1535. It is also surrounded by some notable buildings, such as the Cathedral de Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Municipal Palace (Lima’s Town Hall). Another highlight to your city tour today is discovering the treasures within the canary-yellow facade of the San Francisco Monastery. It’s a wonderful experience wandering through its maze of underground tunnels and vaults and delving into its many works of religious art.

After discovering the historic centre, you’ll head to the modern districts of San Isidro and Miraflores, which have a wonderful blend of contemporary architecture, beautiful parks, shopping and more. End the day with an interesting stop at the Larco Museum, which showcases an extensive collection of artefacts from pre-Colombian cultures. After this visit, enjoy dinner at the museum’s restaurant before returning to your hotel for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel B Arts Boutique

Today, you will have a cocktail class at Hotel B where you’ll learn how to prepare three different cocktails from three different spirits - rum, gin and piso. After becoming a mixologist master, you’ll enjoy drinking your cocktail creations alongside some delicious appetisers.
The remainder of your day is free for you to enjoy, explore and relax as you wish.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel B Arts Boutique
a view of a stone wall
a statue in front of a building

After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your flight to Cusco. Upon landing you will be met at the airport and driven to Sacred Valley
in Peru’s Andean highlands.

Your first excursion for the day takes you to the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary, a family-run organisation that is dedicated to the protection and rescuing of many of Peru’s endangered species. You’ll have the opportunity to observe a variety of exotic animals at the sanctuary, including giant tortoises, Andean condors, parrots and much more.

After discovering the wonderful work at the sanctuary and meeting these delightful creatures, you’ll be driven to the local market of Urubamba, which is around 30 miles from Ccochahuasi. Visiting a local market is an instant way to gain an authentic insight into a place’s culture and of course its fresh produce. This indoor market is a regular stomping ground for locals and its stalls are piled high with spices, seeds, farm produce, and even meat and livestock.

After taking in the colourful market, you will tuck into a farm to table lunch at the Hacienda Sarapampa, a working farm in the Sacred Valley.

After a delicious feast, you will be driven to the five-star Hotel Belmond Rio Sagrado. After checking-in to the hotel, the rest of your evening is free to enjoy at your own leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Rio Sagrado
Sacred Valley Machu Picchu V

After breakfast, your day of discovering Peru’s ancient settlements will begin with a visit to Moray. Marvel at the fascinating concentric ruins of this tiny town, which forms a very similar shape to that of a Roman amphitheatre. The actual purpose of Moray’s circular stone platforms is still widely debated.

Your next stop of the day is to marvel at the salt mines in Moras. Stand in awe looking out across the 3,000 salt ponds in Moras, while learning about the ingenuity of the Incas and their expert knowledge of their local environment. Even today, water fills these ponds and once it evaporates salt can be collected and harvested.

The final stop for the day is to the impressive ruins of Ollantaytambo, which is considered one of the best surviving examples of an Inca settlement. You can climb the ancient stone stairway that takes you to the top of the hill where the fortress sits. The impressive vistas over the village and the valley at the summit are worth the effort.

A highlight of the day is stepping inside a nearby local family home, and discovering the unique way of life in the Sacred Valley. It’s a typical Sacred Valley home and one that has been in the family for generations.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Rio Sagrado
Machu Picchu

Today, you will be driven to the train station to board the Sacred Valley train. After settling into one of the train’s sumptuous 1920s-inspired carriages, your journey to Machu Picchu will begin. You’ll love the views along the way of majestic snow-capped Andean peaks and idyllic mountain villages. Once the train pulls into the small village of Agus Calientas, it’s time to disembark and take a shuttle bus up to the ancient citadel and UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu.

Visiting Machu Picchu, you’ll learn about the Inca civilisation and the many different theories that surround this mysterious and spectacular archeological site. Machu Picchu was one of the few settlements that avoided Spanish invasion in the 16th century. It’s often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas, as this impressive stone citadel remained undiscovered until the early part of the 20th century. Historians believed Machu Picchu acted as a safe haven for the Inca aristocracy during the Spanish occupation. Seeing its interlocking stones up close, you’ll be impressed that they were built without machinery or mortar. They are carved so precisely, that you can’t even fit a credit card between them.

After ticking Machu Picchu off your bucket list, it’s time to return by shuttle bus to Aguas Calientes. Boarding the train, you will journey to Cusco, where upon arrival you will be met at the station and driven to your hotel. After settling into the five-star Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, you can spend the rest of your evening relaxing.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
a large building with a mountain in the background
a group of people standing in front of a church

Today, you will enjoy a city tour of Cusco, exploring what is considered one of Peru’s oldest inhabited cities. Starting at the Plaza de Armas, discover the city’s cathedral that was built on the ruins of an ancient Inca palace. Wandering through the old town, you’ll see the beautifully-restored colonial buildings surrounded by the stone walls built by the Incas. Head to the site where the Inca temple of Koricancha once stood, a temple dedicated to the sun, which is thought to be the most important temple for the Incas. Koricancha was destroyed by the Spanish and its foundations built upon, and is today the Catholic Church Santo Domingo.

Next stop is to the ancient ruins of Sacsayhuaman, which is an Inca fortress built upon a hill. The views over the city here are utterly breath-taking.

Other highlights of your city tour today include the Puca Pucara Fort, and Q’enqo, an ancient ceremonial centre with a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers that were hand-carved from colossal monolithic boulders.

Your tour ends at Tambomachay, which is also known as the Inca Baths. Here, you will discover a series of canals, aqueducts and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. It’s purpose is still not clear, but many historians believe it served as a spa resort for the political elite.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the airport, where you will board your flight to Foz do Iguacu. After landing, you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel, the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas, where you can spend the rest of your day as you wish.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas
a large waterfall over a body of water

Today’s excursion takes you to the breath-taking Iguazu National Park. From the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls is just a short distance away and is a magnificent sight to behold. From the visitor’s centre, take a train up to the Upper Circuit to take in this magnificent network of cascading waterfalls.

The Iguazu Falls has an elongated horseshoe shape, which extends for 1.7 miles on the Argentina and Brazilian border, making it wider than Africa’s Victoria Falls and almost three times wider than Niagara Falls.

Stopping at Devil’s Throat, you will be able to take in the towering cascades of tumbling water that are considered one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.

Take in the incredible views of the national park’s iconic sites, including the Two Sisters and Bozzetti Waterfalls, the Superior Circuit, and the San Martin Island. The falls are surrounded by subtropical rainforest and you can enjoy discovering the lush vegetation and tropical wildlife.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas

After breakfast, you will be picked up from the Belmond Das Cataratas and driven to the airport where you will catch your flight to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. After landing, you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel, the classic venue of Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace. 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace
a statue of a clear blue sky with Christ the Redeemer in the background

Today will start with being picked up from your hotel and driven to the Cosme Velho District, where you’ll board a cogwheel train and journey through the Tijuca Forest, taking in the lush rainforest views along the way. As the train climbs up Corcovado Mountain you can admire the surrounding breath-taking scenery. Arriving at the summit, disembark and have time to admire the world-renowned Christ the Redeemer statue. This is the perfect introduction to your tour of Rio de Janeiro as you take in the majesty of Brazil’s most famous iconic statue. The art deco statue of Jesus stands 30 metres high, with the statue’s arms stretched out over the city below. After taking in its artistic beauty along with the panoramic views over Rio, you can understand why it is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Afterwards, head to the Botanical Gardens, which are located at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain. With more than 6,000 tropical and subtropical plants and trees to admire, including many species endemic to Brazil, be sure to keep an eye out for the many birds and monkeys that live within the garden. Your tour will end at the research centre, which has an extensive botany library and is a perfect spot for answers to any of your green-fingered queries.

After a wonderful day of exploration and sightseeing, return to your hotel and rest your head.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace
a large stone statue in front of a building
a group of people on a beach

After breakfast, you will enjoy a walking tour of Rio’s downtown, which is brimming with fascinating and culturally-important sites. This relaxed and captivating morning amble provides a perfect start to your day. As you wander along the cobbled streets, you’ll be struck by the Old Town’s beautiful architecture. A real showstopper of the morning is your visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its combination of unique architecture coupled with a beautiful interior and floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows.

Other highlights of your morning tour includes visits to the National Library, the Municipal Theatre, the Candelaria Church, and the Cultural Center. Your local guide will be on hand to explain each site’s importance, beauty and history.

Afterwards, you will be driven to the Urca neighbourhood, where you will enjoy a glass cable car ride with stunning views of the iconic Sugar Leaf Mountain.

You’ll then to the charming hilltop neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. Soak up the neighbourhood’s bohemian ambience and colourful buildings, as you wander around its winding narrow streets. Highlights of your visit include visiting the Largo Das Neves Plaza, and the Nossa Senhora Das Neves Church.

After visiting the municipal park ‘Parque das Ruínas’, where you’ll explore an old historic mansion with art exhibitions, your tour will end at one of the city’s top attractions: the SelarÓn Steps. Designed by Jose Selaron, observe the majesty of the 215 steps that are made from colourful bright mosaic tiles.

After the tour, you will return to the Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the airport where you will take your onward flight home. 

 

Included

  • Cost of accommodation (standard double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 17 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Board basis is Breakfast
  • Private/small group (air-conditioned) transport / transfers
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fee) for monuments and entertainment for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary

Not included

  • International flights and airfare taxes
  • Domestic flights and airfare taxes
  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
  • Video and professional still camera fees during excursions
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
  • Meals (unless specified)
  • Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)