Category Archives: Peru

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amazon river boat

Best Things to do in the Amazon

A visit to the Amazon Rainforest is up there as one of the best travel experiences in the world. From wildlife-spotting opportunities to luxury accommodation, a trip into the jungle can be whatever you want it to be. This is where the tailor made travel companies really come into their own!

We take a look at the 10 best experiences and things to do in the Amazon Rainforest!


1) See the Meeting of the Waters in Manaus


This phenomenon is best observed near Manaus in Brazil, where the Rio Negro and the Amazon River meet. For over 5 miles the two rivers, one almost black and one a light sandy colour, run side by side without mixing. This is due to the Rio Negro being a much warmer, denser and slower flowing river than the Amazon. Nature really is amazing, isn’t it?

Where? The Meeting of the Waters is a great trip if you’re visiting the Amazon near Manaus in Brazil.


2) Head into the Treetops for a Bird’s Eye View

cloud forest

There are many canopy walkways in the Amazon, offering visitors a chance to see those animals which rarely venture down to ground level. These consist of a series of hanging bridges, towers and viewing platforms, most of which are over 25 meters high, so not a great experience for those with vertigo! But if you’re brave enough to take to the trees you will be rewarded with some fantastic photo opportunities!

Where? Inkaterra in Peru, and Refugio and Posada Amazonas in Brazil all offer great canopy walkways, but the bridge at Sacha Lodge in Ecuador is probably the most impressive, at over 250 meters long and 30 meters high.


3) Go Fishing for Piranhas

piranha fishing

Fishing with a typical bamboo rod might be a popular tourist activity, but it’s great fun. If you’re lucky enough to land on a school of hungry piranhas, you could literally catch hundreds of them. This normally happens during the dry season when water levels are lower, and the fish get trapped in smaller pools with no food. However this is also when most attacks happen, so you wouldn’t want to join them for a swim…

Where? Most Amazon stays will involve a boat trip to go piranha fishing, so no matter which country you visit the rainforest in, there should be the opportunity to catch (and eat!) them.


4) Watch the Parrots at a Clay Lick


Clay licks, or collpas, are naturally occurring patches of earth abundant in minerals and sodium, which attract flocks of hungry parrots, and are a great spot for wildlife photography. Amazonian birds have a diet mainly consisting of nuts, seeds, grubs and fruit, so these salt licks make up for the missing nutrients. Many colourful species can be observed, making for quite a spectacle.

Where? Yasuni National Park on the Napo River in Ecuador has a couple of popular clay licks, but they are dotted all over the Amazon and many lodges include them as part of their itineraries.


5) Learn about the Local Tribes

Brazil Amazon Tribe

The local tribes of the Amazon are some of the most untouched civilisations in the world. While most tourists visit the jungle for wildlife reasons, learning about the indigenous people is a fascinating experience, and one not to be missed during your trip. While most itineraries include educational activities, which teach you basic survival skills and the medicinal uses of various plants, it’s great to dig a little deeper if you can. Ask questions, support local businesses, and most importantly, be respectful and always use ethically conscious travel companies.

Where? The whole of the Amazon provides countless educational opportunities, and most of the lodges are passionate about protecting their environment.


6) Board an Amazon River Cruise Boat


An especially good option for those visitors who want to experience the jungle without compromising on comfort, an Amazon River cruise offers the best of both worlds. Staying on the river means you will get some unique wildlife-spotting opportunities, especially at night when the jungle really comes alive. However there are still plenty of opportunities to disembark and explore deeper into the jungle with your knowledgeable guide.

Where? Our favourite cruise boat is probably the Delfin I in Peru, which offers 5 star accommodation and even a plunge pool in the deluxe suite!


7) Try some Exotic Amazonian Cuisine

Amazon Food

Amazonian cuisine is gaining a bit more international recognition lately, which is unsurprising considering the deliciously exotic flavours and unique dishes. On any Amazon adventure you will have the chance to sample some local foods; everything from grilled river fish to fruits you’ve probably never even heard of. Of course there are a few more questionable snacks on offer, such as the Ecuadorian tree slug, or how about a handful of Colombian big-butt ants on your pizza?

Where? Don’t let us put you off! Everywhere you go in the Amazon will give you the chance to try the local cuisine, and the food varies greatly from place to place.


8) Take a Twilight Hike


As everyone knows, the jungle is a noisy old place at night, so the chance to spot some of the more elusive, nocturnal species is a great experience. The forest is a completely different place when the sun goes down, and feeling your way through the trees with just a torch for light is quite thrilling.

Where? Most Amazon lodges off night-time walks, and normally these are available on request, so you will have your own guide who will keep an eye (or an ear) out if there are any animals you are particularly interested in seeing.


9) Swim with Pink Dolphins


Ok, so you don’t actually have to jump into the murky Amazon River to enjoy these fascinating creatures, but there are plenty of tours which will allow you to do so. Apparently they prefer calmer waters, and use their sonar to steer clear of caiman and alligators, so the theory is that it’s safe to swim with them. There is much debate as to why they are pink in colour, but some believe it is due to the quality of the water they inhabit.

Where? It’s hard to predict where the elusive pink Amazon River dolphin will be, and they are less sociable than their salt water cousins, but there’s a good chance of stumbling upon them whilst on a boating or fishing trip.


10) Get Even Closer to Nature by Camping


Trekking and camping in the Amazon basin remains as popular as ever with seasoned-travellers and zoologists alike. It’s the best way to get up close and personal with the wildlife, plus, you’re environmental footprint is almost none existent. After a day or two of hiking and sleeping under canvas, you’ll no longer care about the critters in your bed or the smell of your sweaty socks! And sitting around the campfire as the sun sets, eating the fish you caught earlier, and spotting nocturnal creatures in the trees around you, has to be one of the best experiences on the planet!

Where? Iquitos in Peru is a good choice, and our favourite itinerary combines camping with some lodge stays as well, so you get a complete Amazon experience.


We hope we’ve given you some ideas of things to do in the Amazon. Of course, the rainforest has so much to offer its visitors, that we couldn’t include everything. So if you would like any more information or our assistance planning a jungle adventure, then just contact us!

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Top 5 Amazon River Monsters

Everything in the jungle seems to be bigger and more dangerous, so choosing just five Amazon river monsters is a tough ask! From blood sucking fish to ferocious sharks, these guys make piranhas look like pets…



A real Amazon river monster - the Arapaima

Do not adjust your set… this is a real Arapaima

This carnivorous fish, known locally as the ‘Dragon Fish’, can grow to a terrifying nine feet in length and up to 90kg in weight. Its scales are as tough as armour, its tongue is barbed, and it can breathe oxygen from the air as well as the water. Although it mainly eats birds, small mammals and other fish, you wouldn’t want to join it for a swim, as there are many myths which tell of arapaima drowning men and then eating them!


Bull Sharks

Bull shark in the River Amazon

You talkin’ to me?

Although more commonly a salt water predator, the aggressive bull shark can happily survive in fresh water as well, and has been found nearly 2,500 miles from the ocean in the Amazon River. They are around eight feet long, can weigh up to 300kg! There is not as much food for them in fresh water rivers, which is why they have been known to attack small mammals, dolphins, and humans!



pacu amazon river fish

Coming soon to a river near you…

The pacu is a much bigger relative of the piranha, growing up to three feet in length. Their strangest feature is their human-like teeth, which assist with their omnivorous diet. Although scientists don’t believe they pose a danger to humans, there are plenty of myths which tell of men losing their testicles to the pacu… This news is even more worrying considering the rate at which they seem to be reproducing and migrating, having recently been found in Europe!



amazon riverboat

Is it safe to go back into the water?

Another one for the men, the candiru is the legendary fish which is said to implant itself into the male urethra, where it holds itself in place with thousands of tiny spines so it can drink the victim’s blood… And because of these spines, it is nearly impossible to remove, causing severe damage or even amputation! Scientists remain sceptical, claiming there is no firm evidence to support all the stories of Amazon river monsters, but there many unexplained mysteries lurking in its murky waters…


Electric eels


They may sound like the best of a bad bunch, but these Amazon river monsters grow over two meters in length and can generate powerful electric shocks of up to 600 volts! This is about five times stronger than a standard plug socket, and is powerful enough to knock down a horse. Although the shock alone probably won’t kill you, it will likely stun you, leaving you unconscious and at risk of drowning.


If you fancy meeting some of the most dangerous Amazon river monsters, as well as plenty of friendly parrots and butterflies, then check out our Amazon rainforest holidays and jungle lodges!

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Best Swimming Pools in South America

From jungle lagoons to natural hot springs, rooftop pools to private jacuzzis, they are all so impressive we struggled to choose between them! But here is our rundown of the best swimming pools in South America…


Pestana Rio Atlantica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


There are just too many fabulous rooftop pools along Copacabana beach to choose between, but the Pestana has to be one of our favourites. With panoramic views of the bay and Sugar Loaf Mountain, as well as a great bar, you might even bump into a celebrity or two!


Colca Lodge, Peru

colca lodge

Get closer to nature in one of Colca Lodge’s thermal pools, on the banks of the river and fed by natural hot springs. The water is not only lovely and warm but rich in minerals that are beneficial to your health, plus, the view’s not bad either!


Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, Brazil


It’s not so much the pool that’s special at Anavilhanas, but the location, set in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest overlooking the Amazon River, meaning you don’t even have to leave your rubber ring to experience some of the best wildlife in the world!


Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile

tierra atacama

If there’s one place you definitely need a dip in a swimming pool, it’s the Atacama Desert! And with views of the Licancabur Volcano and comfy seats to lounge in, the Tierra has to be our favourite desert oasis!


Nannai Resort, Porto de Galinas, Brazil



Located on the beautiful Pernambuco coast in Northern Brazil, the Nannai Resort offers a selection of pools to choose from. The main pool just off the beach takes in fabulous views of the Atlantic Ocean, while the spa pool is perfect for a relaxing, shady swim, but our favourite place for a dip is the private pool right outside your treehouse accomodation!


Loi Suites, Iguazu Falls, Argentina


One of our favourite hotels for a trip to Iguazu Falls, the Loi Suites offer luxurious accommodation in a secluded jungle setting, making for a really relaxing stay. A series of wooden walkways slope into the pools, creating a little lagoon in the middle of the forest.


San Alfonso del Mar, Chile

san alfonso

Although it may not be to our taste, the pool at San Alfonso is definitely impressive! Considered the largest in the world, it stretches over 1000 meters, covers 20 acres, and is filled with sea water from the Pacific. With plenty of wind surfers and kayakers, it’s not the best pool for relaxing in, but great if you like water sports!


Arennas Mancora, Peru

arennas mancora

The ultimate getaway, Arennas Mancora has to be the most luxurious hotel in Peru, and one of our favourite honeymoon destinations! With a private jacuzzi pool for every suite, and amazing views over the Pacific, you’ll want to get married again and again!


So after a sweaty few days spent trekking the Inca Trail or partying all night in Rio, it’s good to know there are some world-class swimming pools to float around in. So grab your swimsuit and dive in!


How about checking out some of our favourite hotels in Buenos Aires:

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coca tea

Altitude Sickness in South America

Altitude sickness is often a big worry for people travelling to South America, but there’s no reason for it to ruin your trip. If you are flying to altitude from sea level you are likely to notice a difference, but you’ll be glad to know that most visitors feel absolutely fine. Some experience a slight headache or fatigue for the first day or two, but it’s very rare for symptoms to be any more severe than that. The good news is that if you do find yourself feeling a bit unwell there are a range of options to help you recover quickly!

The main offenders for altitude sickness are Peru and Bolivia, but certain mountainous regions of Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador may also cause problems. This is because the Altiplano of the Andes stretches 4 countries, and is the second highest and most extensive plateau on Earth, outside of Tibet. The bulk of it covers the border between Peru and Bolivia, but the Andes continue north through Ecuador and Colombia, and south through Chile and Argentina.


In the clouds at Machu Picchu

 What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness occurs when your body is suddenly exposed to a higher altitude, usually above 2,500 meters above sea level. The thinner air means you won’t be taking in as much oxygen, which can lead to headaches, feeling tired, out of breath and nauseous. Most of the time the symptoms are mild, but in rare cases it can lead to hospitalization due to a build-up of fluid in the lungs or brain. But these kinds of reactions are extremely rare!

Will I get altitude sickness?

There is no way of telling who will suffer, and you may be fine on one trip and not on another. The best way to avoid it is to ascend gradually, each day increasing the altitude by no more than 500 meters. Flying straight to a high altitude destination is not recommended but is sometimes the only option, in which case we have plenty of tips to alleviate symptoms:

  1. Keep Hydrated – This is probably the most important tip! Not only are you at high altitude on the Altiplano, you are also in an extremely dry environment, so your body will lose water much quicker than it normally would. As one of the main symptoms of altitude sickness is a headache staying hydrated will make a huge difference. Avoid drinking a lot of caffeine or alcohol for the first couple of days as well.
  2. Eat little and Often – Andean cuisine is hearty and filling (also delicious!) but this is not necessarily what your body wants whilst trying to acclimatise. Eating small portions will keep your energy levels up without making you feel lethargic.
  3. Take it Easy! – Your body will have to adapt to functioning with less oxygen, and you will probably find yourself out of breath quite easily for a day or two, so don’t rush out for a full day of sightseeing as soon as you step off the plane!
  4. Drink Tea – The locals recommend coca tea to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness, and although there is no scientific evidence that it helps, the warm, herbal drink seems to make people feel better. You could also try Andean mint tea, which is caffeine free and great for upset stomachs as well.
  5. Medication – There are plenty of over the counter medications for altitude sickness which you might want to consider, but be aware that most of these treat the symptoms not the cause. Taking paracetamol and having a lie down normally does the trick. Speak to your doctor if you are worried or have a medical condition which may be affected by high altitudes.
  6. Oxygen – Most hotels have oxygen tanks for guests who are feeling particularly unwell. In extreme circumstances you may have to see a doctor or descend to a lower altitude, which is the only way to alleviate the symptoms.
  7. Ascend Gradually – The best (and really the only) way to avoid altitude sickness is to ascend gradually, each day increasing the altitude by no more than 500 meters. Ok, so we know this isn’t always possible, but acclimatising in somewhere like Cusco before travelling to Lake Titicaca will make a noticeable difference.
coca tea

Coca tea can help alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness

Where might I get altitude sickness?

  1. El Tatio Geysers, Chile – This might come as a surprise, but certain places on the Chilean Altiplano and the Atacama Desert are 4200 meters above sea level! However, it is likely you will be acclimatising in San Pedro de Atacama which is significantly lower, and most visitors will only be spending day trips at high altitude.
  2. La Paz – El Alto is over 4000 meters above sea level and most visitors do experience some symptoms. We don’t recommend flying straight into La Paz; our preferred route is via Lake Titicaca which is beautiful and will give you time to acclimatise first.
  3. Lake Titicaca – At 3800 meters Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. If you are arriving from Cusco you will only be ascending slightly, which shouldn’t cause too many problems.
  4. Uyuni Salt Flats – It’s hard to say exactly how high the Bolivian salt flats are, but most of the plains that tourists visit lie at approximately 3600 meters above sea level. If you are travelling from either La Paz or the Atacama you should be well acclimatised.
  5. Cusco – Although not the highest tourist spot in South America, at 3400 meters, you may feel the effects of the higher altitude, as most visitors fly in straight from sea level. In which case you should take it easy for the first couple of days.
  6. Quito – At 2800 meters most visitors should be fine visiting Ecuador’s capital, but flying in from sea level may cause some symptoms.
  7. Bogota – Similarly to Quito, Colombia’s capital lies at 2,600 meters, which may cause symptoms for some people.
  8. Machu Picchu – Contrary to popular belief, Machu Picchu lies at just 2400 meters above sea level, and with most visitors travelling from Cusco, you should be feeling great by the time you arrive at the Inca site!

The hilly streets of Cusco will leave you breathless, literally!

So, we hope we’ve put your mind at rest! South America is an amazing continent with so much to see, that the fear of feeling slightly unwell for a day or two really shouldn’t put you off. As you can see, Machu Picchu isn’t as high as everything thinks, and if you’re brave enough to road trip through the Atacama Desert to see the geysers then we’re sure you’re not afraid of a bit of altitude sickness!

So start brewing that coca tea and head to the Altiplano!

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Best Flight Routes to South America

It’s a long way from Europe to South America whichever way you look at it, but the journey doesn’t have to be as gruelling as you might think. There are a number of direct routes, plenty of airlines to choose from, daily flights to most capital cities, and, most importantly, some very competitive prices!

Last week, British Airways announced they would be launching a direct flight between London Gatwick and Lima in Peru, starting May 2016. We couldn’t be happier to hear the news! In fact, it’s inspired up to put together a list of the best flight routes to South America…



From May 2016 British Airways will fly direct from Gatwick to Lima on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays throughout the summer, and then twice weekly from October. This is great news for anyone wishing to visit the land of the Incas, as Peru is a popular destination in South America, and these quicker, easier flights will surely be more appealing!

The flight times are good; a day time flight outbound and an overnight flight inbound, and it takes just over 12 hours. We’re seeing plenty of return flights for around £660 which is really good value, and during the school holidays you can still get a return for less than £1000 which is very reasonable too.

If your dates don’t fit in with the direct route, British Airways have plenty of indirect flights with a short connection, which are still good value. Alternatively, Avianca and Air Europa have some good deals for around £800, from other London airports.



British Airways run direct flights daily between London Heathrow and Rio; a day time flight outbound and an overnight flight inbound. The flight is around 11 hours, and you can find fares for less than £700.

We also like the indirect TAP flights via Portugal, as they offer a lot more flexibility. You can fly into Rio and out of a Northern airport, such as Salvador, Fortaleza or Recife. Prices are around £700 for indirect returns, but there are cheaper deals to be had as well.

And if London isn’t the most convenient airport for you there are some good indirect flights to Rio with KLM via Amsterdam or Air France via Paris. The flight times are good, with short connections, and prices of around £700.

But if you’re a real bargain hunter and you’re flexible on dates and airports, then you can get a return flight to Rio for less than £500! Most of these flights involve mixing and matching airlines on your outbound and inbound trip, and some of them have longer connections.



Avianca run direct flights daily between London Heathrow and Bogota, which take just over 11 hours. They vary in price depending on the season, starting at just below £500, but £700 is more realistic.

Indirect flight with KLM and Air France mean you can fly from other UK airports. These come in at around £700-800, but the flight times are still good, with changes in either Amsterdam or Paris.

Colombia is one of the rare gems where you can still pick up cheap deals; as low as £400 for a return flight! These often involve flying out of one London airport and in to another, but if that’s not a problem for you then you can grab yourself a real bargain!



Unfortunately there are no direct flights between the UK and Quito, but KLM are our top choice for flight times and short connections. Flying to Ecuador is an expensive affair anyway, and KLM are more expensive than other airlines, with return fares costing around £800.

Although we prefer the convenience of a European connection, lots of these flights go via Bogota in Colombia, which often means a longer stopover. But if this doesn’t bother you, and you are also happy flying in and out of a different airport in the UK, there are some cheap fares to be had. At certain times of the year you can get a return flight to Quito for just over £600 with Avianca or Iberia.




British Airways fly direct daily, excluding Tuesdays and Thursdays, from Heathrow to Buenos Aires. The flights takes 13-14 hours and cost around £700-800 return, which is fairly good value given the distance. The trip is made more bearable given the fact that both flights are overnight, making it one of the best flight routes to South America!

For a cheaper deal, British Airways do indirect flights via Madrid for less than £700. There are plenty of other airlines who fly similar routes, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to get off the plane and stretch your legs for a few hours, so it’s always worth shopping around when booking flights to Argentina.



Chile is the furthest away from Europe, and thus the longest flight! Unfortunately the options are limited and often expensive. However, there are bargains out there if you are flexible with dates and don’t mind a longer connection. We found returns between London and Santiago for less than £600, often combining airlines or flying in and out of different UK airports. Airlines to look at include British Airways, Iberia and Air France.

We like the LAN route via Madrid, as the flight times are good with overnights in both directions, and the connections in Spain are short. The downside is this route tends to be quite expensive, but until British Airways brings out a direct flight (hurry up!) it is one of the better routes.

We don’t usually recommend flying via the USA, although you can do with American Airlines, as you’ll need to leave longer for your connection due to airport security procedures, and all travellers must have a valid US visa or ESTA visa waiver. Remember that the visa will add slightly more to the cost of the trip and can be a hassle to sort out, making that bargain flight option look significantly less attraction.



Flying to Bolivia is a nightmare for aeroplanes due to the high altitude, and for this reason there aren’t many flights into La Paz, and the fares are normally quite expensive. American Airlines have plenty of options via American airports such as JFK New York and Miami, but just be aware that you’ll need a valid US visa or ESTA visa waiver even if you just have a short connection time.

We prefer to fly to Bolivia with Avianca, changing in Madrid and another South American airport. Many international flights land in Santa Cruz, as the altitude is a lot lower. Fares from Europe to La Paz are some of the highest in South America, but for around £700 you can usually get an indirect flight with 2 or more changes.

This kind of trip doesn’t suit most travellers, so if you’re not flexible on dates and want the quickest flight possible be prepared to fork out upwards of £1000 for your return fare!



Which is the best airline to fly to South America with?

We often get asked which airline is the best, and to be honest most of them are fairly similar. Nearly all long haul airlines offer the same amount of leg room (not much!) and inflight meals (albeit the same-old tasteless plane food!), as well as seatback entertainment.

If you are part of a frequent flyers programme then it makes sense to collect air miles on longer flights like South America, however it’s still worth considering other airlines as they might turn out to be significantly cheaper.

Even on non-English speaking routes we’ve found good service. Maybe we’re old fashioned but we believe a smile gets you everywhere, so be nice to the airhostesses and they’ll be nice to you! On long haul flights the staff tend to be more attentive anyway, bringing the drinks trolley round every hour or so (great news!), and giving out blankets and eye masks. So don’t be put off flying with TAP Portugal or the South American airline TAM/LAN, as they


AerolineasWhat about flights within South America?

In most cases you won’t have too much choice of airlines within South America. TAM or LAN (recently merged into one company), Star, Avianca, Gol and Azul are popular low cost options. They all offer competitive prices on popular routes, and are similar to the European budget airlines like Ryanair, Jet2 and EasyJet.

We often get asked about the safety of airlines in South America, and in our experience the planes are modern, the staff are friendly, and everything is comparable to their European equivalents. Even flying to the Bolivian Salt Flats or the Amazon Rainforest in one of the smaller carriers shouldn’t be any less safe, so just relax and enjoy your holiday!

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Holidays to Peru and Iguazu Falls

Holidays to Peru and Iguazu Falls are a popular option when considering a trip to South America, as you get to see some of the best sights the continent has to offer: one of the great wonders of the world in Machu Picchu; the ancient Inca city of Cusco; the high altitude beauty of Lake Titicaca; and, of course, the breathtaking Iguazu Falls, second only in size to South Africa’s Victoria Falls! There are plenty of international flight routes to choose from so getting around is easy, which is why combined holidays in South America are becoming increasingly popular. Afterall, you’re probably going to be spending a fair few hours on a plane to get there, so it makes sense to extend your trip to include another country or attraction.

Iguazu borders both Brazil and Argentina, so deciding which route to take can be a tricky decision. Do you get a return flight direct from Lima? Do you go via Bolivia? Or, do you fly onwards to another destination in South America afterwards? We take a look at some popular itineraries for holidays to Peru and Iguazu Falls.


Sunset at Iguazu Falls

Keep it Simple: Lima to Iguazu Falls

After a week or two in Peru visiting Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, you could fly from Lima to Iguazu Falls for a couple of days before returning to Lima for your international flight home. With 5 direct flights a week in both directions between Lima Jorge Chávez airport and Foz de Iguazu airport in Brazil with Tam/Lan Airlines, and a flight time of around 4 hours, this is a popular option for visitors with less time to spare and a smaller budget.

Itinerary: Our classic Inca Heaven trip lets you see the highlights of Peru, and can easily be extended to include a trip Iguazu Falls.

Route: Lima – Cusco – Machu Picchu – Lake Titicaca – Lima – Iguazu Falls – Lima


In the clouds at Machu Picchu

High Altitude: Peru to Bolivia across Lake Titicaca, and La Paz to Iguazu Falls

One of our favourite trips within South America has to be crossing Lake Titicaca between Puno and La Paz. Many visitors have avoided Bolivia in the past as it can be hard to get to and there aren’t as many international flights as there probably should be. But now Amaszonas Airlines are staring to fly direct from La Paz El Alto Airport to Iguazu Falls, a trip that should only take a couple of hours, so Bolivia can easily be combined with one of our holidays to Peru and Iguazu Falls.

Itinerary: Our Altiplano Explorer itinerary includes 3 weeks of travel around Peru, Bolivia and Chile including all the highlights such as Machu Picchu and the Salt Flats, but you could easily fit in a detour to Iguazu Falls from La Paz.

Route: Lima – Cusco – Machu Picchu – Lake Titicaca – La Paz – Iguazu Falls – Uyuni – La Paz


Lake Titicaca in the Andes Mountains

Three Wonders: Peru, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro

Visit three wonders in two weeks on one of our favourite trips to South America. You’ll get to see Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, before spending a few days at Iguazu Falls, and finishing your trip in Rio de Janeiro, where you’ll be flying home from. There are numerous daily flights direct between Foz de Iguazu and Rio International Airport, with Tam/Lan and Gol Airlines. The journey is only a couple of hours and the prices are fairly cheap.

Itinerary: Our Three Wonders trip is a great way to cram in as much of South America as you can in 2 weeks!

Route: Lima – Cusco – Machu Picchu – Iguazu Falls – Rio de Janeiro


Downtown Rio and Sugarloaf Mountain

North to South: Peru to Iguazu Falls to Argentina

It might sound like a long way but this route is surprisingly easy! After you’ve explored Peru and spent some time at Iguazu Falls you can fly straight to Buenos Aires to experience a completely different side of South America. You’ll fly from Lima into Foz de Iguazu Airport on the Brazilian side, and out of Iguazu Cataratas Airport on the Argentinian side. There are a number of direct flights daily to Buenos Aires with Areolineas and Tam/Lan Airlines, which only take a couple of hours.

Itinerary: Base the first part of your trip on one of our Peru itineraries, before heading to Buenos Aires via Iguazu Falls, from there you can either fly home or extend your trip to include one of our Argentina itineraries.

Route: Lima – Cusco – Machu Picchu – Lima – Iguazu Falls – Buenos Aires


Central Buenos Aires


Whether you want to see the highlights on a whistle-stop tour, or spend a bit longer immersing yourself in the local culture, with more domestic and international flights than ever, multi-country travel in South America has never been easier. Planning combined holidays to Peru and Iguazu Falls with our tailormade service means it’s easier than ever to create your dream trip, so why not get in touch?

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death road 2

The 5 Worst Roads in South America

South America is a popular destination with all kinds of visitors from backpackers to luxury holiday-makers, and some opt for the freedom of a self drive holiday, which we highly recommend! Hiring a car means you get to see some pretty amazing scenery, and are in complete control of your itinerary, so you can stop to take photos of said scenery whenever you like!

However, there are certain roads which might be best left to the professionals (or avoided at all costs!) if you are planning a road trip to South America…

christ rendentor

There are some real hair-raising roads in South America


1. Death Road, Bolivia

It’s got all the ingredients for a dangerous road: cliffs with sheer drops, a very narrow single lane, hairpin bends, no guard rails… Plus, at its summit you’ll be 4,800 metres above sea level, and at the bottom you’ll be in the steaming heat of the Amazon Rainforest… In winter, the rain and fog make visibility terrible and mudslides are a common occurrence. While in summer the dust clouds cause even more visibility problems and rockfalls happen daily… Yes, we think the Yungas Road in Bolivia deserves the name ‘Death Road’, and no, we wouldn’t recommend a road trip here!

But that doesn’t seem to put some people off, as it’s become one of the most popular tourist spots in the country. Every year hundreds of people head down the Yungas from La Paz to Coroico (despite the fact there’s a much newer, less dangerous road!), either by bus or, wait for it… bike! There are many reputable tour companies who offer the trip, and safety is their absolute top priority, so if you are brave enough to free wheel down the steep and rocky road at least you’ll be in good hands!

Do you dare take on Death Road?

Do you dare take on Death Road?


2. BR319 through the Amazon, Brazil

There are plenty of dangerous, unpaved roads into the Amazon, but the BR319 has to be one of the worst roads in South America; a colossal 500 miles of “highway” through the rainforest from Porto Velho to Manaus. The combination of remote location and poor workmanship has led to much of the road being washed away, while other sections have crumbled and cracked causing great craters in the ground. Although the bridges are replaced regularly, the wooden struts often rot and break, and the road becomes practically impossible to navigate in the rainy season when the clay ground turns into a boggy mess.

However, don’t worry! There is no reason for visitors to use this road, as there are plenty of boat routes into the Amazon which are much safer and more scenic anyway. The boats range from fairly basic houseboats with hammocks and shared sleeping quarters to luxury, multi-storey cruise boats with a swimming pool. This really is the best way to get up close and personal with the native wildlife in the jungle, and if you’re lucky you may even get a pod of pink Amazon River Dolphins swimming alongside you!


Travelling by boat makes perfect sense in the Amazon!


3. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Technically not a road, as there isn’t actually one! We don’t recommend even considering a self drive here, as you’ll almost definitely get hopelessly lost, breakdown, or both. The high altitude of around 3600 metres makes it harder for vehicles (and humans!) to run properly, as does the wet, salty terrain. Plus, the vast expanse of salt flats way into the distance mean there is literally nothing to help you get your bearings. If you do happen to get lost or breakdown there is no phone signal, no garages for miles, and night time temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius…

However, don’t let us put you off, as this is still a trip worth taking! If you are determined to go overland there are night buses from the capital or you can organise a private jeep tour, both of which are safe, comfortable options. The journey takes about 10 hours but the further into the Salt Flats you go the more incredible the scenery is. Alternatively you can fly to Uyuni from La Paz which takes less than an hour, and is definitely our preferred route!

You don't want to get lost out on the Salt Flats!

You don’t want to get lost out on the Salt Flats!


4. Paso de Los Libertadores, Chile/Argentina

The Paso de los Libertadores, or ‘The Snail’s Pass’ as the locals fondly call it, is the main route over the Andes between Santiago in Chile, and Mendoza in Argentina. For this reason the road experiences heavy traffic, especially cargo vans who are forced to travel at snail’s pace to safely negotiate the often snow covered, zig-zagging road. Although the road is only around 220 miles long, it takes at least 6 hours to drive it, and add that to your wait at the border (which is inevitable!) and you’ve got a full day’s stomach-turning road trip ahead of you!

One of the things that makes this one of the worst roads in South America is the threat of altitude sickness as you climb from the lowlands up to the Pass itself. Here the summit of the drive takes you through a 3000 metre tunnel which often closes during the winter due to heavy snow storms blocking the entrance and exit, as well as the risk of landslides in bad weather. If we’ve not put you off then at least get some snow tyres as the route sees snow year-round. Oh, but did we mention that you can fly the exact route and it only takes an hour? No-brainer!


We hope you have a strong stomach for this one!


5. Anywhere in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazil has a particularly high number of road traffic accidents per year, and driving in cities tends to be congested, confusing and often dangerous. São Paulo is definitely up there as having some of the worst roads in South America in terms of traffic, with many claiming it has the worst traffic jams in the world. Ironically, the roads are in great condition, well signposted and modern, but with queues of over 100 miles common during rush hour we just can’t understand why anyone would want to hire a car here!

The Rotating Transit Policy was brought in to try and reduce stand-stills, it states that certain license plate numbers are prohibited from driving on certain days (e.g. plates ending in 1 or 2 can’t circulate on Monday, 3 or 4 can’t on Tuesdays etc.) during rush hour. This just confuses things and further annoys people. All in all we can safely say we would not recommend a self drive in São Paulo. The public transport system is good and there are metro stops all around the city which, although still busy, are a good option for tourists.

Patience is definitely needed when navigating Sao Paulo

Patience is definitely needed when navigating Sao Paulo


“Best of the Rest” Worst Roads in South America

The ‘Devil’s Trampoline’ Road in Colombia is also, comfortingly, known as “adios mi vida!” or “bye bye my life!” and stretches over 40 miles between Mocoa and San Francisco crossing the Andes. It was originally built to transport soldiers in the 30s, but is still in use today and as dangerous as ever with over 100 hairpin bends.

The ‘Highway to Hell’, formally the BR116, consists of nearly 3000 miles of federal highway linking the north and south of Brazil. But with the highest concentration of truckers in the country, and its title as the worst road in the world for the sexual exploitation of children (by UNICEF), this is not a relaxing route to road trip along.

Curvas de Huanchaca on the 3SF Route in Peru is famous for its 24 tight hairpin bends, scaling a particularly desolate stretch of the Andes Mountain Range. This section of the road is only 6 miles long but rises in elevation by nearly 700 metres! The combination of steep, winding hill and sandy, gravel terrain makes this a very undesirable drive.


Hairpin bends in Peru

Hopefully this look at the worst roads in South America hasn’t completely put you off the idea of a road trip there! There are so many routes which are a great option for self drive holidays, some of our favourites are in Chile and Argentina where the landscape is particularly breathtaking. Imagine driving alongside snow-capped volcanoes and crystal clear glacial lakes as you wind through beautiful Patagonia… And trust us, the roads we’re talking about are much more visitor-friendly!

So don’t forget to check out our favourite South America Road Trips!


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The Capital Cities of South America!

From charming colonial old towns such as Quito to bustling modern metropolises like Santiago or Brasilia, there’s a capital city for everyone in South America!


buenos aires

Argentina – Buenos Aires

Let’s start with what is arguably the greatest of all the capital cities of South America, Buenos Aires! It’s a huge place, with a population of nearly 20 million – nearly half of the population of Argentina –  and its edgy mix of European and Latin styles could explain why so many travellers fall in love with it. There’s so much to see and do that you really need to spend at least a few days here to soak up the best of Argentina’s culture and eat as many steaks as you can!

A good place to start exploring is the historic centre and the Plaza de Mayo, where you will find the City Hall, Cathedral, and Presidential Palace of Casa Rosada and the balcony famously used by Eva Peron to address her supporters. Just north of the centre is the Recoleta cemetery where she is buried, which backs onto the lovely Plaza Francia Park and the National Museum of Fine Art. Further south you will find the upmarket district of Palermo, renowned for its top end restaurants and nightlife, and home to the Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

After all that sightseeing you will be in need of a good dinner, and with some of the best restaurants in the world you’ll be spoilt for choice! Of course it would be rude not to try a few of the best Parilla steak houses in Argentina while you’re here, but don’t miss out on the fantastic international cuisine on offer too, from Italian to Thai. And why not walk off a heavy meal along the cobbled streets of San Telmo, where you’re sure to see street performers dancing the passionate Argentine tango.

Hotel Pick – The Hotel Pulitzer offers both contemporary design and a central location, making it the perfect base from which to explore the city.


la paz

Bolivia – La Paz

La Paz is the highest of all the capital cities of South America. In fact it’s the highest capital city in the world, with an altitude ranging from 3100 to over 4100 metres above sea level! Established in the dried up canyon of a river in the 16th Century and surrounded by the Andes, it’s a city of contrasts, much like Bolivia itself. The impoverished urban sprawl of El Alto sits teetering at the top of the canyon, while the more affluent areas, like Zona Sur, are located at lower elevation where the climate is considerably warmer.

The best way to see La Paz is from the air, so if you’re not flying in we recommend taking the Mi Teleferico cable cars across the city, to really get a feel for the sheer size of the canyon and for fabulous views of the Altiplano. For more stunning views (if you are brave enough!) why not journey down the famous ‘Death Road’ to Coroico on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest. This 40 mile road is mostly one lane wide, has no guard rails to protect you from the 600 metre cliffs, and has been named the ‘world’s most dangerous road’… not one for the faint hearted!

If you prefer a gentler introduction to Bolivia, then the museums on the beautiful colonial street of Calle Juan are worth a visit, with a variety of exhibits including art, war relics and ancient artefacts. Just a short journey from the city is the ancient pre-Colombian site of Tiwanaku. These ruins are part of an empire which pre-dates the Incas and Machu Picchu, and makes for an interesting day trip. Or if you have a free afternoon you could wander round the bizarre Witches Market; the perfect place to pick up that llama foetus you’ve been after!

Hotel Pick – The La Casona Hotel is located in the historic centre in a 17th century colonial building, with parquet flooring, vaulted ceilings and a lovely rooftop terrace.



Brazil – Brasilia

Founded in 1960, and built in just 4 years to act as the new capital, Brasilia is a surprisingly young city with a futuristic feel. Designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its contemporary buildings and unique structure. The city is very symmetrical, numbered by block and then divided into sectors, with the centre taking the shape of an aeroplane when seen from the sky.

An exploration of the city should begin at the aeroplane’s fuselage, or Eixo Monumental, in downtown which was falsely named the widest road in the world (in actual fact is has the widest central reservation in the world!). In the middle of it lies the Three Powers Plaza, named because it is home to the three Government buildings: the National Congress, the Supreme Federal Court and the Palacio do Planalto (Presidential Office). The aeroplane’s curved wings are residential areas, in front of which you will find the Paranoa Lake, overlooked by the modernist architecture of the Palacio da Alvorada where the President resides.

Of all the capital cities of South America, Brasilia seems to divide opinions the most, with some praising its utopian design and good quality of life, while others see it as a sterile ‘fantasy land’ in the middle of a region of poverty. Is it worth a visit? Probably not, unless you’re an architecture buff, however a lot of domestic flights pass through Brasilia so why not spend a night or two and make up your own mind?

Hotel Pick – The Brasilia Palace was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the same simplistic style as the rest of the city; a glass box from the outside, modern interior, and loads of light, open spaces.



Chile – Santiago

For a country that has always been quite conservative, Santiago is a surprisingly quirky, young and permissive capital city. On first glance it might not seem like there’s much to see, but there’s a lot of culture to be discovered under the surface. Although very modern and European there is still some fine colonial architecture to explore, and it’s this juxtaposition of old and new which really defines Chile’s capital.

In the heart of the city, the remnants of a 15 million year old volcano rise out of the ground creating the Cerro Santa Lucia Park, filled with ornate fountains and castle facades, offering great views. Although worth a visit, there are better views to be had nearby, notably from the 1920’s funicular up San Cristobal Hill, where you will find the Chilean National Zoo. At the foot of the hill is the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood with its multi-coloured bars and cafes, enjoyed by the younger generation, in particular backpackers and students. It makes for a fun evening people watching, and trying out your Spanish on the friendly locals!

Surrounded by the Andes, Santiago offers the perfect location for nature lovers. For adrenaline junkies, Chile’s premium ski resort, Valle Nevado, nestles in the mountains just outside the centre. In summer, the chair lifts are used for other mountain sports such as horse riding and rock climbing. For those visitors who prefer a more relaxing holiday, a number of fantastic wineries are just a short drive North or South. We recommend the Aquitania where some of the first grape vines brought into the country were planted. Half or full day tours of the wine valley are possible from the city.

Hotel Pick – The Loreto Hotel offers a taste of communal living whilst still giving you the privacy of your own room. Socialise with other guests in the many common areas or the rooftop terrace.



Colombia – Bogota

Although not considered a highlight of Colombia, Bogota is nevertheless a friendly city with plenty to see. Another capital at altitude, this time slightly lower at 2600 metres, there are great views to be had from the top of the Monserrate Mountain, accessible by cable car from La Candelaria. This area is the cultural centre and is where the majority of visitors stay, so it’s a good base from which to explore the rest of the city. However there are plenty of interesting neighbourhoods to suit every type of traveller, from the boho district of Macarena to the modern international centre.

With what feels like hundreds of museums, art galleries and theatres, there’s definitely a lot of culture to experience here! Most noteworthy is probably the Gold Museum, with its impressive collection of pre-Hispanic artefacts. But you don’t have to spend all your time walking around museums and galleries to soak up the culture of Bogota, as street art is extremely popular, so why not join a graffiti tour to ensure you don’t miss the best bits?

Due to its altitude the city enjoys a year-round spring climate where flowers are constantly in bloom, and there’s no better way to appreciate this than with a trip to the Simon Bolivar Park, Northwest of the centre. Named ‘the lung’ of the city because of its sheer size, the park is known for its annual rock festival, as well as being home to a small amusement park, sports complex and boating lake, making it a lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon in Bogota.

Hotel Pick – The Hotel Park 63 overlooks the park and has its own garden and terrace from which to enjoy the views.



Ecuador – Quito

With the best-preserved historic centre of all the capital cities of South America, and the first to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978, Quito paints the perfect picture of what Colonial life would have been like in the past. Its setting is spectacular as well, situated at 2800 metres above sea level in the Andean Valley and surrounded by the peaks of the Pichincha volcano.

The combination of characterful old town and cosmopolitan new town, and the lively cultural scene makes Quito a very interesting city to visit. Once acclimatised it’s worth taking a trip up the slopes of the volcano for stunning views, this can be done using the sky trams, on horseback or by foot if you’re feeling up to a trek in the high altitude! For those visitors who prefer more historical sites, the Plaza de Independencia is home to the oldest Cathedral in South America, dating back to the 16th Century. The Plaza is also the location of the Archbishop’s Palace and Government’s Palace, which, although newer, are still very grand, impressive buildings. In fact, on practically every cobbled street you’ll find beautiful churches and baroque architecture.

Because you’ll probably never be this close to the equator again, it’s worth a day trip just for the photo! The Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the Earth) is a tourist complex built on the equator, although funnily enough it’s actually in the wrong place, as it was constructed before the invention of GPS. However just round the corner is the Intiñan museum, which is right on the equator, where there are live demonstrations proving that water does indeed go down the toilet in the opposite direction!

Hotel Pick – Café Cultura Hotel offers a refreshing change from the traditional chain hotel, with plenty of character and a warm, homely feel.



Peru – Lima

Probably the most up and coming of South America’s capital cities, Lima is only recently starting to appeal to travellers, who previously passed through purely out of necessity. Some of the best food in the world can be found here, so if you only visit for one reason make it this! Although the Western palate might not be accustomed to the cured fish used in the national dish, Ceviche, the popular spit-roasted chicken is definitely worth a try, especially when paired with the country’s famous Pisco Sour cocktail!

When compared to the ancient Inca influences of the rest of the country, Lima seems very modern, however there is still plenty of beautiful Pre-Hispanic and Colonial architecture to be found. There is also a huge Chinese influence in the city, mainly due to immigration, and it is estimated that 70% of residents on the coast have some Asian ancestry, so if you’re still feeling hungry why not try the Peruvian-Chinese fusion called Chifa?

Don’t let us fool you into thinking that the only thing to do in Lima is eat! The historic centre is a good place to start exploring, as it features an interesting mix of Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, including the impressive San Francisco Church, the 16th Century Archbishops Palace, and the House of Pizarro (Government Palace). For something really unique there is the Magic Water Tour (don’t be put off by the cheesy name!) in the Park of the Reserve. Currently the largest fountain complex in the world with 13 fountains, some with jets of over 80 metres high, and all of which light up at night in a colourful show.

Hotel Pick – The Casa Andina Private Collection benefits from a great location in upmarket Miraflores, with a fabulous rooftop pool and luxurious rooms.

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Top 5 Lima - Belmond

Our Top 5 Hotels in Lima

If you’re visiting Peru chances are you’ll be passing through Lima at some point, and with its fantastic museums, superb restaurants and a whole host of cultural sights, you won’t want to rush your stay in this bustling capital city. Having undergone a huge transformation in recent years we’re sure you won’t be disappointed with the great selection of hotels on offer. But the huge choice of where to stay can feel somewhat overwhelming. So to help you decide we’ve narrowed the list down to our top 5 hotels in Lima for you.


Antigua Miraflores

Originally a family home in the 1920’s, this boutique hotel offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of post-colonial Peru. Every room is fitted with handcrafted wooden furniture and original local artwork, offering bags of character and Peruvian charm which can be hard to come across in this cosmopolitan area of Lima. So if you fancy a change from the popular chain hotels, Antigua Miraflores’ eclectic décor and colourful history is sure to make you feel welcome.

We recommend upgrading to one of the deluxe rooms which are situated in the old casona for a truly authentic experience!

Top 5 Lima - Antigua Miraflores

The reception area at Hotel Antigua Miraflores is full of character


Hotel B

Set in the bohemian Barranco district of the city, which is often overlooked by visitors drawn to the hustle and bustle of neighbouring Miraflores, Hotel B boasts a decadent and traditional exterior. Designed as a summer retreat in the early 20th century by French architect Claude Sahut, it still offers the perfect mix of luxury, style and character. Relax in one of the numerous guest areas, whether that be the ‘Classic Explorer’s Club’ style library or the ‘Sundowner’ rooftop deck, which enjoys fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding area. The Hotel B has only existed as a hotel for a couple of years, but from the day it opened its doors it’s been straight in our top 5 hotels in Lima.

Don’t miss taking a peek at Lima’s emerging art scene, seen here in the hotel’s unique collection!

Top 5 Lima - Hotel B room

One of the Aposento rooms at Hotel B


Belmond Miraflores Park

If you are after an indulgent hotel experience Belmond Miraflores Park really can’t be beaten. Situated beside the Pacific Ocean, offering breathtaking sea views from its rooftop swimming pool, whilst still within easy reach of Lima’s wealth of attractions, this hotel as it all. If money is no object why not stay in the presidential suite with your own private terrace, sauna, plunge pool and panoramic vista.

We’d suggest a relaxing session in the Zest Spa to help you wind down after a hectic day exploring the city; and don’t forget to sample some indigenous Peruvian and Amazonian health products too!

Top 5 Lima - Belmond

Belmond Miraflores Park has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean


Dazzler Lima

A new addition to the Miraflores hotel scene, the Dazzler offers everything you would expect from a modern hotel. Great location, facilities and, most importantly, price, means you can’t go wrong here. With a range of rooms, self-catering facilities, free Wi-Fi, bar, gym and even a rooftop pool, this hotel deserves it’s place on our top 5 list.

Book in advance as Lima is notoriously busy and we expect this place to fill up quickly!

Top 5 Lima - Dazzler


Gran Hotel Bolivar

Build in the 20’s to lodge visiting politicians and foreign officials, this hotel is still one of our top 5 hotels in Lima, even if it’s perhaps for the history rather than the luxury it once offered. Hosting guests such as Richard Nixon and Ernest Hemingway, you will feel like you too have been transported back in time as you get lost in Gran Hotel Bolivar’s impressive history. As far as location goes you couldn’t be in a better position to explore Lima’s historic centre, with the Plaza San Martin on your doorstep.

Don’t forget to sample the classic South American pisco sour cocktail in the hotel’s art deco style bar!

Top 5 Lima - Bolivar

Gran Hotel Bolivar’s decadent exterior


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Lima to Huancayo Train

Peru Central Train Service: Timetable Released

The Central Train Service from Lima to Huancayo is one of Peru’s real undiscovered treats, and until the pesky Chinese completed the railway from Beijing to Lhasa, it was the highest-altitude passenger railway in the world. The steep climb from Lima’s historic Desemparados station up through the Mantaro Valley to Huancayo showcases some truly spectacular scenery, and it’s a fantastic journey. Frustratingly, however, there are only a few departures a year for passengers on what is primarily a freight line, and we’ve been waiting for months for the 2015 Peru Central Train Service timetable to be released by the Ferrocarril Central de Andes company.

You can get a flavour of some of the route from these YouTube videos:

Happily, the 2015 Central Train Service timetable has finally been released, so here are the dates for your diary. In both directions (ie: Lima to Huancayo and Huancayo to Lima) the trains depart at 7am, arriving at approximately 8pm – lunch is served on-board and there are several stops along the way:

Lima-Huancayo: Thursday 2nd April
Huancayo-Lima: Sunday 5th April
Peru Central Service Route Map
Lima-Huancayo: Friday 1st May
Huancayo-Lima: Sunday 3rd May

Lima-Huancayo: Saturday 27th June(*)
Huancayo-Lima: Monday 29th June

Lima-Huancayo: Sunday 26th July
Huancayo-Lima: Wednesday 29th July

Lima-Huancayo Friday 28th August
Huancayo-Lima Sunday 30th August(*)

Lima-Huancayo: Thursday 8th October
Huancayo-Lima: Sunday 11th October

As you can see, there’s no apparent rhyme or reason to the Central Train service timetable, which is why we’ve just had to wait for the confirmed schedule to come out before arranging any rail journeys from Lima to Huancayo for 2015. In fact this timetable is still provisional in some ways – the dates marked with an (*) may change depending on whether the Peruvian government declares extended bank holidays on those weekends. Our feeling is that they probably will, but that the departure dates will just change by a day in that case, so it’s just a question of building in an extra day into your itinerary to allow for that.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to travel by train in both directions. Particularly if you want to spend less time in Huancayo (although we’d hugely recommend at least visiting the Ocopa monastery, if only for the stupendous early-modern library) then you can always get the train up to Huancayo and then get a first-class coach back down to Lima. It’s a much quicker journey by road these days, albeit also less interesting!

So if you’re a train buff or just like the idea of getting off the beaten track, then the Central Train service is a fantastic addition to any holiday to Peru: so long as your dates fit the timetable, of course. Tickets in the rather more comfortable “tourist” class start from about £70 one-way, so it’s not going to add hugely to your costs. And it will also give you a chance to visit somewhere that most visitors to Peru don’t get to see, without taking up huge amounts of time or money: what’s not to like?