Lima – Cusco – Urubamba – Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu
Rio de Janeiro – Iguassu Falls – Buenos Aires
Tour: May 04, 2019 – May 16, 2019 Price: $5,595 + Tax + Visa
Iguazu Falls in South America
Check-in at Los Angeles Airport. Depart for Lima, Peru. AV Travel Tour Director will assist and escort travelers throughout the trip.
This morning, you will board a short flight to Cusco (Cuzco), capital to the Inca Empire, located 11,000 ft above sea level. Cusco is also an important agricultural region with a natural reserve of native Peruvian species, including 2,000 varieties of potato cultivated by the local people. You’ll see the Plaza de Armas, the center of the Inca Empire, where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. Here, you’ll find Cusco’s beautiful 16th-century cathedral, built on the ruins of the Koricancha, an important Inca temple to the Sun God. (L/D)
During the Inca period, this temple was literally covered with gold but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors, this incredible wealth was all taken as treasure for Spain. In the recent years, many fusion and neo-Andean restaurants have developed and their cuisine is prepared with a modern techniques and a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients. Next, a journey to the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley) in the Andes of Peru is a must. According to a few colonial documents, the Sacred Valley is referred to as the “Valley of Yucay”, which encompasses the heartland of the Inca Empire. However, the valley generally includes all the towns that are formed along the Urubamba River such as Calca, Lamay, Písac, and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred River is fed by numerous rivers, which descend through adjoining valleys that contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. This special geography and climate was once the Inca Empire’s main region of natural wealth and corn production in Peru. (B/L/D)
The train at the Ollanta railroad station that will take you through the lush Urubamba Valley, passing through stunning scenery before arriving to Machu Picchu, one of the most spectacular and enigmatic archeological sites in the world. Machu Picchu though was unknown to the outside world until archeologist Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911, is now the most recognizable symbol of the Inca Empire. It is believed to have served as a country retreat town for the Inca nobility. The complex consists of giant walls, terraces and ramps constructed from precisely cut rock formations. The combination of impressive architectural feat and breathtaking natural setting covered by the green mountains above the rushing Urubamba River makes it mystically and visually stunning. Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, the cultural site is relatively intact and was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. (B/L/D)
Fly back to Lima, known as City of the Kings. Lima has a population of 8 million. Mestizos (mixed between Europeans and indigenous people) is the largest ethnicity group, accounting for 90% of the population. The city of Lima was founded in 1535 and inherited rich natural resources (gold & silver) from the Andes. For 300 years under Spain’s colonization, Lima became the cultural, economic and trading hub of South America. Following the independence war in 1821, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. In the evening, you will join us in a party and a traditional music-dance performance that will take you on the journey of Peru’s history, from the early to modern times. (B/D)
Leave Lima for Rio de Janeiro. During Portugal’s colonization, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for 200 years. It is now one of the most populous cities of South America with a population of over 10 million. Where did the city get that name from? Back in January, 1501, the Portuguese explored this city and thought Guanabara Bay was the mouth of a large river. Then, the captain of the expedition wrote on the map the name of a newly founded land: Rio de Janeiro, meaning “January River.” The residents of the city often call it with a short – yet dear nickname as Rio. Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Rio de Janeiro is blessed with so many heritages. The city is also known for its natural settings, Carnaval and the vibrant Samba dance.
As in the rest of Brazil, football is the most popular sport in Rio. When you visit the Maracana Stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup finale, you will understand why people call this stadium “football’s basilica.” It is also from this stadium that so many football legends such as Pele, Ronaldo, Romario, and Zagalo were born. Especially, you will stay for two nights at the 5-star Sheraton Hotel & Resort, which is situated at Copacabana Beach – the best spot in Guanabara Bay – and has a private beach for Sheraton’s customers only. (B/D)
We will go by cable car to visit the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain. The panoramic view from the mountain’s peak includes downtown Rio, the granite Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana beach, and Maracanã Stadium. Rio de Janeiro is surrounded by blue sea and green mountains, and what stands out from this landscape is the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Just like the Statue of Liberty of New York, the Eiffel Tower of Paris, Christ the Redeemer is the most visited landmark in Rio. Corcovado mountain, with its 730m height, has been an excellent support for the statue. The statue was built to mark the 100th anniversary of Brazil’s independence day. It is 38m (124 ft) tall, excluding its 9.5 (31 ft) pedestal. The arms stretch 30 metres (98 ft) wide. The head weighs over 9 metric tons (10 US tons). The statue weighs 635 metric tons (625 long, 700 short tons). Christ the Redeemer is one of the greatest sculpted masterpieces of mankind. In 2007, it was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The strange thing is wherever you go in Rio de Janeiro, when you look up to the sky, you will always see the statue of Christ the Redeemer, extending his kind-hearted arms as if he is welcoming and protecting you. Of Brazil’s population, 95% are Christians. Christ the Redeemer is considered a symbol of Christianity across the world, and also a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
Continue the journey to Sugarloaf mountain by cable car and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Sugar Loaf is a granite mountain that rises straight from the water’s edge around Rio de Janeiro. From a distance, the mountain looks like a refined loaf sugar. (B/D)
Visit the world-famous Iguassu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. Gaze at the falls from the Brazilian side. With its splendid, yet enormous beauty, Iguassu Falls were listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. In 1986, UNESCO recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site.
Lying on the Brazil – Argentina border, Iguassu Falls can be viewed from both countries. The Falls attract over 7 million visitors every year. Iguazu Falls was formed as the result of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. This eruption left a large crack and over time, has formed the enormous falls as can be seen today.
Iguassu is written Iguaçu in Portuguese. In Guarani, Iguaçu means “great water.” Legend of the Guarani Indians has it that the Serpent God, who lived in the Iguazu River, planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her warrior lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. He forced the earth to split, and turned Naipi into a rock that couldn’t escape, and Tarobá into a palm tree on the other side of the falls. This was the god’s way of revenge, separating the two lovers by enormous waterfalls, so they could see each other but never touch.
Best seen from the Brazilian side is the spectacular U-shaped Devil’s Throat, where 14 falls drop 350 ft with such force that there is always a 100-ft cloud of spray overhead. Watch for the rainbow when you visit here. From a 5-mi distance, you can still hear the thundering sound of the fall. From the Brazilian side, a magnificent scenery unveils with 270 waterfalls plunging around 330 ft into the ground. One would absolutely have to admire the endless natural beauty of this place. The Iguassu Falls are 4 times larger than Niagra Falls in Canada. (B/D)
Gaze at the Iguassu Falls from the Argentine side. Two-thirds of the falls belong to Argentina’s territory. The remainder in Brazil, although smaller, is actually more splendid than the Argentine part. The Portuguese explorers named this part Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat). From the Argentine side, after taking a short walk in the National Park with boundless rainforests, you will hop on a nice type of electric car. From here, we will get to know more about the Amazon rainforest, a symbol of the mysterious South America with the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. (B/D)
Argentina, home of the Tango. When the Spanish first set foot in this land, they saw the indians all wearing silver jewelry. For this reason, they named the new land Argentina (Silver Land).
Its capital city, Buenos Aires, originally named as “Real de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre,” the name of a goddess who rescued the tailors in history. Over 400 years, from the 16th century to end of World War II in 1945, Buenos Aires was always a promise land for European immigrants.
Buenos Aires was founded in 1536, but not until 1880 did it become the official capital of the Argentine Republic. One would refer immediately Buenos Aires to the Tango. Since its birth over 150 years ago, the Tango has still retained its passionate depth and richness. You can see people dancing Tango almost everywhere, from luxurious theaters to normal cafes and even out in the streets. The CyberPress ranked Buenos Aires, following Venice (Italy) and Paris (France) as the third most romantic city in the world. Meanwhile, the Traveler’s Digest, when considering cities with the most attractive people, ranked Buenos Aires second, following Stockholm. Indeed, the women of Argentina, to a great extent, symbolize an unique fusion of Europe and South America. The gorgeous beauty of these women owes something to their Spanish or Italian blood but their confidence is all their own. The hotel that we choose for you is located in downtown. From here, you can take a walk to Plaza de Mayo (The May Square), where the President Palace is right behind. Not far from that is the Metropolitan Cathedral, the main Catholic church in Buenos Aires. The city is also the hometown of Pope Francis, whose house in also included in our itinerary. (B/D)
Visit the Recoleta Cemetery and pay tribute to former First Lady Evita Peron, the wife of Argentine President Juan Peron who made history with the world-famous song Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Visit La Boca and the La Bombonera Stadium, which is called a “volcano” whenever a football match takes place here. In this city and in Argentina, football is not just a sport, it is a “religion” where the players and fans are the “followers.” It would be a disappointment if you missed the Argentine BBQ beef served with potatoes and salad. The quality of Argentine beef is world-renowned, and Argentina has been the world’s top per capita consumer of beef with an average person eating 70 kg (150 lb) a year, compared to 35 kg (70 lb) per person in America. What’s more, Argentine beef must be paired with Malbec wine, also made in Argentina – the 5th biggest wine exporter in the world.
In the evening, you will join us in a feast and a live Tango performance where you are also invited to dance. The farewell dinner, served with Argentine specialties and wine, will bring you some of the best memories before we say goodbye to Buenos Aires. (B/D)
Go shopping and sightseeing on your own in the morning. Depart for the U.S. at night. (B)
Land at LAX International Airport on the early morning of the 13th day.