South America overland tour

“This is a 'proper' small group traveling experience using local transport (including 3 flights) and staying in locally-owned accommodation in a variety of well-known and lesser visited locations.”


Lima | Paracas | Nazca | Arequipa | Colca Canyon | Cusco | Ollantaytambo | Wayllabamba Camp | Paqaymayo Camp | Wiñaywayna | Lake Titicaca | Puno | La Paz | Uyuni | Uyuni Salt Flats | Potosí | | Sucre | Santa Cruz de la Sierra | Puerto Suárez | Pantanal | Bonito | Foz do Iguaçu | Paraty | Ilha Grande | Rio de Janeiro |

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Check dates

Departs most Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the year
Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South America overland tour

Through our commitment to responsible tourism, we ensure minimal social and environmental impact in the places we visit by traveling in small groups, using local transportation and staying in locally-owned hotels. We also work with experienced local guides who are knowledgeable of local culture, history, flora and fauna.

This tour offers several opportunities to visit projects supported by the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization developed as a way to give back to the people and places we visit on our tours.

House of the People of the Sun – a drop-in center for street kids in Cuzco that offers support programs and workshops to teach the children valuable life skills.

Inka Porter Project (IPP) – strives to improve the lives and working conditions of porters in Peru. Through IPP you may have the opportunity to visit a porter community and learn more about how IPP are working to improve the lives of the porters we work with.

Hogar Sucre – is a home for over 50 orphaned children in Sucre, Bolivia. Children are provided with food, shelter, education, healthcare and workshops that develop workmanship skills. A visit to this project will allow you to spend time with the children and learn more about their programs.

1 Reviews of South America overland tour

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 27 Aug 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Iguassu Falls the Uyuni salt flats and the Inca Trail.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don’t go with this operator and don’t worry about the language barrier.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

In parts but I think it could have been better in particular on the Brazilian leg (I did the southern cross with this operator) where I don’t think there was any effort to interact with the locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Overall it was an amazing experience I think the trip needs a few tweaks and if I’m honest I’m not completely impressed by the operator but having said that I’ve done some incredible things and met some great people.

Read the operator's response here:

This is a long tour (45 days) and there is so much included on this tour. The Brazil leg of this tour starts in Rio de Janeiro in which you are fully immersed in the city. Then it travels to Paraty and Ilha Grande, these are smaller towns. These communities are welcoming and embrace tourism. So it would be difficult not to interact with locals in either place. The tour then travels to Iguassu Falls, which is a tourist destination. In Bonito, there is a local Bonito guide who would proudly show their town. The Pantal, the next stop on the tour, is remote, and imagine some form of local interaction almost impossible to avoid. Interaction is a two-way street, and requires travelers to make an effort to interact with locals, as it takes us to deliver them to local places.

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