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Tailor-made South America tours are sometimes seen as expensive indulgences which can only be afforded by those with deep pockets. In truth, bespoke tours can actually save you money in this glorious continent, alongside offering superb conveniences and inarguably the best bonus of all: no compromise. Whether you’re planning a South America vacation with your partner, extended family or even a group of your bestest friends, a tailor-made tour of South America has the potential to turn a good overseas holiday into the most epic adventure you’ve ever had. Go only where you want, do only what you wish, see only what you desire.
When planning a once-in-a-lifetime tour of South America…why compromise?
The Most Popular Tailor-Made Tours in South America
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Every tailor-made tour is unique in many ways yet we’d be lying if we didn’t say that there are a few ‘itinerary inspirations’ which do get used as springboards quite a lot. And that’s only natural. The following popular bespoke tour itineraries are wonderful travel-canvas on which to paint your very own unique South America picture.
A Taste of South America – Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires
As the name suggests, this 2-week itinerary aims to bring you the best and most famous highlights in the continent and is aimed at first-time visitors who want to soak up some of the world-famous attraction. On a tailor-made trip like this you get to include three fantastic cities for gourmet dining, wining and shopping and get to visit the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu – among many more sites in the Sacred Valley of the Incas – as well as the most magnificent waterfalls on earth.
Short, sweet and decadent – the best taster of South America you’ll ever find.
Iguazu Falls in sunny day
Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro - If you don’t quite have two weeks up your sleeve, then you can opt for a more synthesized version of the above and concentrate your travels to the two vibrant megacities of Buenos Aires and Rio, with a couple of fantastic days exploring those magical falls in-between. This tour comes in at almost one-third the price of the first, enjoyed over 9 exhilarating days.
Colorful street in South America
The Big Five Explorer – Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu, the Amazon, the Galapagos Islands
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive journey to tick off South America’s Big Five’: its five most revered highlights. This mammoth 27-day odyssey is the ultimate thrill for those looking for an unrivalled, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The bucket-list challenge for those who don’t necessarily travel to tick boxes but wouldn’t dream of travelling through an entire continent without experiencing its most raved-about wonders.
Indigenous people on top of the mountain
Peru Highlights – Lima, Lake Titicaca, Cusco Machu Picchu
This intensive 9-day itinerary brings you the best of Peru and brings about an excellent point on tailor-made South America tours: sometimes, the most immersive experiences come when you concentrate your itinerary on one country alone. This way, you spend much more time touring, seeing, doing and feasting and less time on time-sucking transfers (especially flights). For dedicated single-country tours, Peru definitely reigns supreme as the most popular destination. Between the historical, cultural and astonishing natural delights, Peru can kidnap you for weeks if not months at a time.
View of Machu Picchu in the clouds
South America Circle - Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Peruvian Amazon, Santiago
Here’s a whirlwind journey of truly epic proportions – a 3-week jaunt that delivers an overwhelming travel experience, one that includes the most famous highlights as well as a spectacular 3-day jaunt into the Peruvian Amazon. One of the most comprehensive itineraries of all and one offering an exceptional value-for-money. Like all tailor-made tours of South America, the South America circle is totally customisable (add more days in Cusco or the Amazon, for example) although we trust you’ll simply love how encompassing this itinerary is. One of our best-sellers.
Rio de Janeiro
The most expensive destinations on tailor-made South America tours
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If you’re wondering how a 14-day tour could be almost three times as expensive as a 9-day tour, do note that not all destinations in South America are created equal. Some are decidedly more expensive to visit than others. If that’s not enough, you also ought to know that internal flights in Latin America are quite expensive – the more flights you include in your itinerary, the (much) steeper the price of your tailor-made tour.
Machu Picchu – The Peruvian Government greatly restricts numbers at Machu Picchu in an attempt to protect it and charges quite the hefty sum to visit it. Alongside entry ticket prices, you can be up to USD$500pp for permits to hike the Inca Trail or about USD$200pp to take the tourist train instead. Further transport and mandatory guide-hiring costs also add up to make this quite the expensive highlight. The main difference between our 9 and 14-day tour is that the former does not include Cusco and Machu Picchu, hence the greatly reduced cost.
The Galapagos Islands – Likewise fiercely protected, the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve comes with its own steep entry price, dedicated flight from Quito to Guayaquil and because most touring is done by small ship cruise, an added cruising expense at that. After cruises to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands are probably the most expensive destination in South America although the sheer variety of ship comfort-level and cruise durations offers an array of budget-saving options.
Iguana in Galapagos
The Amazon – The jungle, river and rainforests of the Amazon spread across several countries, each one offering unique experiences, be they luxury eco-lodges, comfortable river cruises or more rustic, land-based journeys. Moreover, each one boasts its own unique ‘access point’ which can be convenient and inexpensive or, you guessed it, time-consuming and expensive to reach. You need not pay an entry fee to visit the Amazon but most destinations necessitate an inward internal flight and various transfer methods like 4WD and canoe. All of this can add up to a decent cost yet the varied options mean you can keep costs at their lowest by wisely incorporating the best access point into your already established itinerary.
Cruise ship in Amazon
Should I Join a Tailor Made Tour?
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The beauty of tailor-made South America vacations is that you’re in charge of the itinerary yet (the best part) you don’t have to waste any time actually planning and making bookings for it. Some first-time travellers think the continent is a breeze to travel through, especially if one sticks to the well-trodden Gringo Trail but the fact is that most countries are still fairly undeveloped or, at the very least, lack the kind of modern tourist infrastructure you’re probably used to. Between overbooked domestic flights, ‘chicken-buses’, dodgy hotels that look decidedly different from their website photos and overrun tourist attractions, even the most developed destinations in South America can hide a multitude of traps. So why risk it? On tailor-made tours, you’ll trust a professional, knowledgeable and well-reviewed travel operator to book the right flights and hotels, to advise you on where to go and when, and to share all the best-hidden gems of each spot many people never discover on their own.
Boat tour in Amazon
Should you be travelling alone to South America then we agree that a tailor-made tour is probably not suitable for you (but small group tours can be) Yet add a few family members of varying ages to the equation and the picture is altogether different. Most especially if you’re planning to travel with kids.
For more detailed advice on how to best include the Amazon or any other wonderful highlight into your South America tailor-made vacation, simply contact us, right here.