Coast to coast…through Latin America
We flew from our local airport and connected with a KLM flight in Schiphol, allowing us to arrive in the Peruvian capital of Lima in the early evening – a real bonus to the start of our trip. We were met by a fantastic local guide who escorted us to a well-earned rest in a lovely hotel in a modern area of the city.
Lima proved to be a traffic-challenged capital city but the journey into the old town the following morning was well worth it. We were accompanied by a most helpful guide who explained the marvellous history and gave us a real flavour of Peru to start our week in this wonderful country.
We set off early the following day (a regular occurrence on this trip, but always rewarding) to the city of Cuzco, gateway to the Inca Trail and our first experience of high altitude. An afternoon to relax in the picturesque Sacred Valley allowed for some acclimatisation. The next day we enjoyed our first taste of the majestic structures left behind by the ancient Inca civilisation in Ollantaytambo. Led by yet another wonderful local guide, we saw how the Incas built iconic buildings so intricate that you couldn’t fit a credit card between the placed stones if you tried.
Pisac market, Peru
In the afternoon we boarded our first train, which led us along the Inca Trail and through mountainous terrain in great comfort. We were then taken to see the marvels of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, perched high on a mountain top. Whatever expectations we had, this place matched them and more. We enjoyed an extended walk around the ruins before descending to a well-earned rest in the most beautiful hotel surrounded by orchids and humming birds; a true paradise. I woke early to take part in a bird-watching trip around the grounds, one of multiple excursions that the hotel included in our stay.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The next morning we rested before heading back to Cuzco by rail to explore everything it had to offer. We stayed for two nights and were escorted around the sights by yet another fantastic guide.
The following day we boarded the splendid Belmond Andean Explorer sleeper train. I have never travelled in such luxury: the room we had on board and the service we experienced was an absolute joy. We watched the Andes roll by from the elegant viewing cars and the train stopped several times for exploration along the route. The most memorable moment was watching the sun descend over the snow-capped peaks of La Raya mountain range. We chose to dress for dinner (not compulsory) and declined the option of an early morning excursion to see the sun rise over Lake Titicaca (perhaps one too many of the complimentary drinks on board helped our decision).
Belmond Andean Explorer, Cuzco to Puno, Peru
The morning saw us explore the wonders of Lake Titicaca, travelling between the floating islands and meeting with their residents. We then circumnavigated the lake by road, leaving Peru behind, for a marvellous lunch on Sun Island on the Bolivian side of the lake.
We then travelled on to La Paz, capital of Bolivia and a place most of the party believed to be just a convenient stop over. How wrong we were. This fascinating city set high within the Andes is filled with wonderful people and sights. We discovered the delights of public transport by cable car and the spectacular eroded landscapes of Moon Valley, just a short distance outside of the city. Just when we thought we had experienced the highlight of the trip, the following day always surprised us.
We flew on to Buenos Aires and yet another welcoming hotel. We discovered the marvels of the Argentine capital on an escorted tour of all the sights, with plenty of time to spare for independent exploration. We ate the biggest and best steaks, enjoyed the Malbec and watched tango late into the night. Buenos Aires was like all the locations on this tour – something to experience.
If we thought we had topped off the trip, then the thundering falls of Iguazú proved me wrong. Throughout all my many travels, I have never been to nor stayed in a place like this. This was a wonder from the moment we arrived at the fantastically located hotel, situated within the national park itself. Beautifully designed walkways allowed us to experience the nature and the wildlife that surrounded us, including the breathtaking waterfalls and flying toucans into the bargain. It was truly exceptional.
Iguazú Falls, Argentina
Last but by no means least, we reached the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. We stayed at the Belmond Copacabana Palace and opted to upgrade to a Copacabana beach-view room. This grand hotel has welcomed the world’s rich and famous, including our own royal family. Pictures lined the walls of those that had stayed here. We saw all that Rio had to offer with the customary professional and excellent guides provided on this trip. We shall never forget the views of this wonderful city from the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
View from Sugar Loaf mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This was one of the most exciting and rewarding trips that I have ever undertaken and with a group of fellow travellers who made it an experience of a lifetime.
Mr and Mrs Crouch travelled on Cox & Kings’ Grand Tour of South America small group tour. If you are interested in private travel, please either call one of our South America experts or complete our tailor-made request form and one of the team will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.