Anchorage<- ->Ushuaia

Visiting: Argentina,Belize,Bolivia,Canada,Chile,Colombia,Costa Rica,Ecuador,El Salvador,Guatemala,Honduras,Mexico,Nicaragua,Panama,Peru,America

Code: DCAU

Kitty: As this trip is an overland trip. it has a kitty on top of the tour price. As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only - please click here to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
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DCAU Kitty Details

This trip is an overland trip run in an overland truck. In addition to paying for your trip, you're require to make a separate payment to your tour leader at the start of the trip, usually in USD. Kitties are flexible and change as prices are updated. Therefore you should check the latest kitty amount on this website before you depart.

A kitty is a group fund which covers all accommodation, meals while camping (not in hotels) and activities listed as included. It's a system unique to overlanding to provide the maximum flexibility and best value on the road (you get everything at cost price!). The kitty is your money, not ours, so any amount left over is divided among the group as a refund.

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Trip CodeStart DateEnd DateCurrencyKitty
CAUWednesday 24 Dec 2014Saturday 18 Jul 2015USD6110.00
CAUSaturday 18 Jul 2015Tuesday 09 Feb 2016USD6180.00
CAUSunday 03 Jan 2016Wednesday 27 Jul 2016USD6110.00
CAUSaturday 06 Aug 2016Tuesday 28 Feb 2017USD6180.00


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Anchorage<- ->Ushuaia (DCAU)

Ushuaia to Anchorage 207 days.

Trip notes navigation

  • Trip Type: Traveller Basic
  • Route: Ushuaia to Anchorage
  • Length: 207 days
  • Transport: Dragoman overland vehicle, boats, local bus, plane
  • Accommodation: A mix of small hotels, hostels, homestays, campsites and wildcamps.

Trip Type: Traveller Basic

These tours are all about exploring the world with like minded people and getting under the skin of a country. Dip your toe beneath the usual tourist surface and discover the real essence of the region, people and culture - enjoy family homestays, interact with locals and experience a traditional way of life. These basic tours allow you the freedom to explore without breaking the bank. Plenty of free time to explore independently. Optional activities to suit your budget. Freedom to choose your own meals. Simple family run hotels. A colourful variety of transportation. Fully trained and experienced leaders.

Countries Visited

Argentina

Bolivian Altiplano Volcano

Argentina is a vast country which has a staggering diversity of climates and landscapes. With vibrant cities, the pampas, jungles and wind swept Patagonia it is a country with a very special character all of its own. Its initial appearance is fairly western but this disguises a long history of its own cultural heritage.

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, lying at the mouth of the River Plate, it is a real viberant city. Full of life, from great local restaurants to local street markets and dances, showing the amazing local tango dance, Buenos Aires is the heart and soul of Argentina. Also home to some exquisite wine bars and an amazing nightlife, Buneos Aires is a must see city if you visit Argentina.

On the pampas the Gaucho people of Argentina spend their days working, riding their horses and protecting their cattle. This has resulted in worldwide export for beef, sunflower oil and wheat, making the Argentina Pampas famous for agriculture.

Deep in the south of the country is Patagonia. This beautiful area is known for its breathtaking landscapes, magnificent lakes and beautiful glacial scenery. It is a great place for outdoor activities, such as, trekking, horse riding, kayaking and mountain biking.

Patagonia is also full of culture, with the Welsh language kept alive for generations, and although it is starting to die out, there are many Welsh communities in Patagonia, especially around the Chebut river.

Heading further south is Tierra del Fuego. Lying across from the Magellan Straights, "The Land of Fire" is mainly in Chile, but 30% of it, including Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, belongs to Argentina.

Argentina is also the home to some beautiful wildlife. The Valdez Peninsular, in the Atlantic ocean, is a protected area which is the habitat for whales, penguins and seals. At certain times of the year, there is a chance to see the killer whale. This is also the home for land animals such as the Patagonian fox, guanacos and hairy armadillos.

To the north of Argentina is the Esteros del Ibera reserve in an area of swampland. Near to the borders of Paraguay and Brazil, this is one of South America's most important wilderness areas and is also the place to spot the rare marsh deer, maned wolf, howler monkeys, capybara and over 350 different species of birds.

Belize

Belize is a country of many cultures and there are a number of different languages spoken, despite having the lowest population density in Central America (320,000 citizens). Belize's official language is English.

There are many amazing places in Belize to visit. The Great Blue Hole near Ambergis Caye is a breathtaking sight of 300 metres of an underwater sink hole. Formed by flooded caves and a collapsed roof, this is the only known place like it in the world. In the Cayo district of Belize is the 1000ft falls.This is the largest waterfall in Central America.

Inspired by British, Mexican and Western Caribbean cuisines, rice and beans are the main base for typical Belizean cuisine. This mixed with chicken, pork, fish, vegetables or coconut milk are just a few of the meals which can create a delectable tropical taste.

Bolivia

Salar De Uyuni Close Up

Bolivia's major attraction is its wild natural beauty, with much of the country being off the beaten track. The country is divided into two distinct regions, the Amazonas and the Altiplano. Between the two lie the Yungas or cloud forest. Bolivia is a country for the outdoor enthusiast, with horseriding, trekking, mountain biking and jeep trips available in many of the areas we travel through. It is a country that most visitors to the Andes miss as they seldom leave Peru and yet it has as much to offer the visitor as it's more popular neighbour. Its salt pans, high lakes and mountains and its beautiful jungle make it a great destination for any traveller.

The dizzying heights of the capital, La Paz are enough to take your breath away. With buildings that hug the side of the canyon, and the spectacular views of Mount Illimani, the city is over 3,650 metres (11,975 feet) above sea level and is one of the fastest growing in Latin America.

There are many area of natural beauty in Bolivia, and many that benfit from a low number of visitors such as the stunning lakes of the high altiplano. More famous are the perspective bending salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

In the north in Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake and  home to the floating islets home to the Uros people.

Predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, the statue of Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba is a symbol of the influence of the religion in Bolivia. With nearly 60% of the population following this religion, it is a national landmark which provides inspiration to millions.

Agriculture is important in Bolivia, with soybeans being the main product sold into the Andean Community market. Many foods such as potatoes, rice and fruit and vegetables are harvested across Bolivia. National diet ranges from spicy lunches in the higher parts of Bolivia, to the less spicy dishes and mainly plantain or boiled maize in the lower parts. Made from fermented maize, the drink Chica is not an oppurtunity to pass upon. Although normally non alcoholic, it can be served as a brewed beer, and is one of Bolivias fine gastronomies. A taste of Bolivia could be the start of a wonderful adventure.

Canada

Canada, Banff

Chile

Cuernos Torres Del Paine National Park

With some of the most diverse landscapes in the world, Chile has the beauty of it all. From  the driest deserts in the world, to the breathtaking sites of huge glaciers, this country is made for the outdoor enthusiast. Chile is a country full of volcanoes, lakes, rivers and beaches, and there is always an exciting adventure waiting to be found. If you venture off the beaten track, be prepared to make friends for life out of the welcoming locals.

A visit to Chile has to include a trip to the amazing capital of Santiago. This city sits in the country's central valley, and is a place full of amazing landscapes and a gorgeous Mediterranean climate.

With so many locations to visit, the culture of Chile can be exposed through the sound of the music. Ranging from traditional folk music, to popular and classic sounds, the tradition of Chile is seeped into every area of the country.

Seafood is Chile's main cuisine and with so many dishes to try, it is an opportunity not to be passed upon. With 2700 miles of astounding coastline, Chile is the perfect location for the variety of dishes available.

So make friends with strangers, feel the vibe of Chilean music, and let Chile get into your pores.

Colombia

View Of Old Town From Walls, Cartagena

For most people Colombia is an unknown, the forgotten part of South America. This makes it a fantastic place to explore. Colombia's geography is one of the most diverse in South America; it really is a kaleidoscope of colour, life and culture. It has an undeserved reputation due to some internal instability but the warmth of its people mean that it is worth the challenge to see such a fascinating country. Colombia is on the beautiful Caribbean coast and the home to some of the best coffee in the world.

The culture of fiesta is a central to the national psyche with the country, playing host to some of the most fabulous carnivals in the world. The Carnival of the Barranquilla lasts four days, celebrating the tradition of Colombian dance and music.

With many festivals and parties, the opportunity to relax might sound out the question, but along with the lively ongoing parties, cooking is an important icon of Colombia. Fritanga is a set of dishes enjoyed throughout the country. A barberque style meat full of flavours and aromas that will leave your mouth watering is accompanied by small potatoes and tortilla style bread. If meat isn't your preference, then the plantain of many vegetables and pulses is a beautiful choice of a meal.

Colombia's glorious sands and upbeat lifestyle is there to be cherished, and there is no doubt it will leave a special mark on your travels.

Costa Rica

Rafting In Costa Rica

Welcome to the easiest going place on earth. Welcome to beauty and paradise. Welcome to Costa Rica - so reads the national tourist board literature. Although hyperbolic it's hard to disagree.

Costa Rica has some of the most scenic views in Central America. The Poás Volcano National Park is a chance to get to the heart of a crater and see the astonishing views of the green lake. Paths leading up to these can lead to the amazing wildlife that lives in the park. Mountain squirrels, clay coloured robins and hummingbirds can be seen and heard all around, and it adds to the reasons why it is one of the most visited places in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica you can try something new every day, and Costa Rican food is just beautiful. Let your mouth water from the juices of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the country. Have breakfast the traditional way - fried plantains, egg and orange juice is the perfect way to experience yet another flavour of Costa Rica.

Ecuador

Equator Ecuador

Ecuador is a small country with a diverse landscape including highlands, volcanoes, numerous national parks, stunning Pacific beaches, and the enthralling Galapagos Islands.

The Amazon rainforest has the greatest bio diversity on the planet. And it's possible to take trips deep into the rainforest to see jaguars, monkeys, iguanas and uncountable numbers of insects. Off the coast is the Galapagos Islands, arguably one of the world's most prestigious wildlife destinations.

If  heart racing activities is more your thing then Ecuador has plenty to offer. Surf the waves, trek through the foothills or step out of the ordinary and try some mountaineering.

Aside from the outdoors and wildlife there are lots of great coloninal towns or cities. And Quito has a more relaxed atmosphere than most Latin American capitals. Lying in a hollow at the base of Volcano Pichincha, the old city is a maze of steep cobbled streets with finely carved overhanging balconies. Its mixture of colonial and new architecture together with its European and Indian cultures make this a fascinating city.

As you explore, the discovery of food will be found and the choice of a traditional meal is hard to turn down. Ecuadorian cuisine is again diverse, and different regions boast different meals. Meat, potatoes and rice are popular in the mountain regions, where as the coastal areas boast fantastic meals containing marinades of fish onions and delectable seasonings.

There are many types of music in Ecuador and the most popular is the rhythm filled, dancing type which can get you up on your feet and joining in with the sounds of panpipes, bamboo flutes,  drums and charangos.

With so much to offer and explore - Ecuador is the place to be if you want to try something new every day.

El Salvador

San Salvador El Salvador

El Salvador is one of the most fascinating and exciting countries in Central America.

El Salvador translates as "the saviour" in Spanish, and there is much culture similar to Spain. It has many notable dishes, one being a delectable chicken and shrimp paella. Many dishes can be found in restaurants around the country, and although influenced by Spanish cuisine, it has it's own distinct taste. Like the food, the music is also distinct. There are many types of music in El Salvador including folk, popular and alternative tunes. Influenced by South American music of Mexico, Colombia and Cuba, this country has managed to develop the sounds to make it their own. The capital, San Salvador is home to some fantastic gastronomy festivals, and is the place to discover typical El Salvadorian cuisine, music and art. The largest city in El Salvador is a generally Spanish speaking city, and this runs throughout the country.

With some of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Central America, El Salvador is one of the most captivating places to visit.

Guatemala

With mountains and volcanoes setting the landscape, Guatemala is a perfect place to get out and explore.

The capital is Guatemala City, and it is a city bursting with culture. From the amazing art galleries and museums, to sporting venues and shopping centres, Guatemala City is full of life.

Quetzaltenango is the city with everything. Climb a volcano, hike through the countryside and listen to some live music by local bands. Known as Xela by the locals, it is the place in Guatemala to learn Spanish, help on extraordinary volunteer programmes and see amazing picturesque views.

In Guatemala, there is a tradition to eat certain foods on certain days. "Paches" is a potato based dish and is usually eaten on a Thursday. These traditions continue into special occasions such as Christmas. Like food, music is an important tradition in Guatemala and the national instrument is called the marimba. This type of xylophone is heard all over the country. It is not the only type of music in the country and the traditional music could be Marimba music, Garifuna and even rock music.

For a country with a difference, and many traditions, Guatemala is the place to visit.

Honduras

Honduras has an amazing coastline spanning hundreds of miles along the Pacific coast

With some of the whitest beaches in Central America, escaping and exploring is a must. The Bay Islands is the place to be for snorkling and scuba diving. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world, and submerged below the clear waters lie unspoilt coral and an arrary of colourful underwater life. With bright fish, manta rays, sea turtles and even white sharks split into 3 isles, it makes the Bay Islands the perfect place to explore.

Away from the coastline are the fantastic mountains that soar above the country. There is some amazing scenery in Honduras and it is the place where so many resources are found. Gold, silver, lead and zinc are only a number of these.

Another treasure to be found is the Honduran music scene. Garifuna and Reggae are two of the most popular sounds of country. Music is important to Hodurans and there is an institution in the city of Comayauga. It's a central point in Honduran meals, especially the national dish of Plato Típico. This meal is a centre of beef surrounded by drinks and music. These two Honduras' icons are brought together, and made a magnificent part of Honduran culture. The food is influenced by Spanish and African cuisine. Typical Honduran food has infused these two flavours together to create its own specific taste. 

The capital city of Honduras is Tegucigalpa, and it is also the largest city in the country. There are so many places of interest including museums and national parks. The river Choluteca runs through the capital city which runs over 200 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The city is surrounded by mountains and the heart of Honduras is ready to explore.

Mexico

Mexico Beach Blue

Mexico is a country full of culture and history.

Home to the Aztec empire that ruled through three different centuries, the architecture left behind is nothing short of magical. The best places to see Aztec ruins are Palenque, Teotihuacan or Mexico city the Aztec capital and also the modern capital. The city has a diverse feel to it and the temples and palaces are a world away from the lively nightlife. It gives the feeling of a new adventure every day. On Lake Xochimilco, the landscape of the capital can be explored on a Tarajinera boat. 

Mexico is a country rich in taste and is most famous export comes from the city of Tequila. Made from the blue algave plant, the drink has protected geographical status, so only true Tequila comes from this region. Foodwise Mexico is known for it's fire; the spicy Jalapeno pepper was originated in Mexico, and is used in many dishes. But also the sweet taste of chocolate was another treasure of ancient Mexico. Cacao beans were used as a currency in Mesoamerican times. 

There are many types of Mexican music, from traditional folk to Latin Alternative. Influence from other cultures, has created a diverse sound. Instruments used in traditional music use a range of stringed and wind instruments.

One more of Mexico's icons is the cactus, this is one of over 30,000 plants in the country. The wildlife in Mexico is amazing. There are over a thousand species of birds including the beautiful Quetzal and with mammals such as lynx, wolves, snakes and crocodiles.

Nicaragua

The rugged beauty of Nicaragua makes it one of the most interesting places in Central America to visit. The landscape is lined with many volcanoes, of which you can climb and explore.

The capital, Managua is flowing with adventure. The traquil surrounding of trees and many untouched trails means exploration is a must. Discover the magic of poetry flowing through the city and enjoy one of the most relaxing capitals in Central America.
The contrasting city of Leon however, is full of culture. Churches, cathedrals and many art galleries are scattered around the city. Exploring sites and learning about the culture can be hard work, but with the wide variety of food and drink available, are a chance to relax. There are many street barbeques about, and with grilled meats and lovely pastry dishes. Nicaragua is a country that grows tropical fruits all year round. Juicy fruits such as mangoes, bananas, watermelons, plums, dragon fruits, star fruits and passion fruits are just some of the many wonderful fruits that can be found across the country. Like the fruit, the wildlife too is colourful. It is the place to find the three toed sloth. This wonderful animal can be seen swinging through the tree life, so keep your eyes peeled and there is a high chance you can see one. Other animals include anteaters, armadillos, sea turtles and spider monkeys.
 
A country brimming with culture is also home to some beautiful music. The Marimba is a xylophone styled instrument and infused with guitars and drums, the sound of Nicaragua can be heard. On the east side of the country, the music is heavily influenced from an Indian and Spanish culture, while on the west, the music is influenced by Africans.

Nicaragua is the forgotten treasure of Central America and is a perfect place to explore.  

Panama

Panama Canal

Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and links Central America with South America having a land border with Colombia. Despite this travel between the two continents is diffcult due to the Darien Gap and the security situation within it. That said Panama is a safe country to travel around with a stable economy and because of its key geographic location, it is an important country in the area with a well developed service sector heavily weighted towards banking, commerce and tourism.

Democracy is now strongly emerging in the country as Panama puts behind it the political turmoil of the Noriega regime which saw American troops invading the country in the late 1980's and early 1990's in support of the Panamanian people who were being repressed.

The Panama Canal is obviously intrinsically important to the economy and has been since it was built between 1904 and 1914 and the tolls from the canal now form a considerable part of the country's gross domestic product.

Panama does not produce any banknotes of their currency, the Balboa, but use the American dollar. One dollar has the same value as one balboa, though it is difficult to find out what exactly a balboa is as the last and only time the currency was in use was back in 1941 and only for 7 days!

Peru

Alpaca Machu Picchu Peru

Peru is home to some of South Americas most glorious landmarks, and the opportunity to partake in an activity seem endless.

The capital is Lima and it is known of the City of the Kings, it was founded by the Conquistador Pizarro in 1535. The elegant architecture runs through the capital and the cultural effects of the museums are all tucked away in this classic city.

Any introduction to Peru wouldn't be complete without the Inca civilisation. Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca empire. Even today, many of its buildings have original Inca stonework as part of their structure. The Incas had a highly organised and labour intensive society. They managed to conquer vast tracts of land and, through strong central and regional government, retained control over an empire that spanned South America, from mid Colombia in the north, to the middle of Argentina in the south and lasted for over four centuries.

The most famous Inca legacy is undoubtedly the Inca Trail the ancient set of pathway in the Andes that include the route up to the fantastic site of Machu Picchu. You can trek through the countryside making your way through the unspoilt land and view the breathtaking scenery that carries on to the horizon and beyond. When you reach Machu Picchu you will realise what a beautiful place it is, no photograph can really do the site justice. The long forgotten site was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and is simply awe inspiring and is a must visit place in South America.

Peru is flowing with fabulous landscapes and this continues at Lake Titicaca. On the border of Peru and Bolivia it is the highest navigable lake in the world. In the culture of Lake Titicaca, comes the sound of panpipes. An Andean music form, this woodwind instrument plays tranquil sounds and is a nice form of relaxation. The Charango is the national instrument of Peru. This stringed instrument was from a Spanish influence and has a distinctive sound. The taste is as distinctive as the sound and the national dish of Ceviche. This is a fish based dish where the fish is 'cooked' in lemon or lime juice.

The history and sites of Peru are outstanding, but also the friendly welcome visitors receive make Peru one of the most enjoyable countries in the world to visit. 

USA

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Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Ushuaia

Border information: Welcome to Ushuaia, the most southern city in the world. If you are starting in Ushuaia, enter Argentina at Ushuaia Airport.

Today is an arrival day with a pre departure meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned so you can arrive at any time. Your leader will leave a note in reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting. Accommodation is in a lovely hostel in central Ushuaia.

Hotel for the night: Hostal Los Cormoranes

Hostal Los Cormoranes

Kamshen 788, esquina Alem

Ushuaia

Tel: +54 02901 423459

Ushuaia

End Of The World Ushuaia

Ushuaia lies at the southernmost tip of the Americas, the most southerly city on the island of Tierra del Fuego and often referred to as "the city at the end of the world". The town itself is low-lying and unassuming, centred around one main street and a waterfront that overlooks the Beagle Channel. Originally Ushuaia was little more than a remote outpost, first colonised by a British-funded mission in the late 1800's and subsequently used by the Argentinian government as a penal colony. What was once a sleepy small town has grown rapidly in recent years, much of which is due to tourist development and particularly to the increasing number of Antarctica trips calling to port here.

There's plenty to do in Ushuaia and the surrounding area. The town itself is home to an interesting museum where you can learn more about the history of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego and the indigenous people who originally lived here. The surrounding scenery is also impressive, so it's worth getting out on a boat-trip into the Beagle Channel, which will give you some great views of town with the Martial range in the background. You can also explore Tierra del Fuego National Park, another beautiful spot with some spectacular lake and mountain scenery.

The area is famous for its biting winds, so remember to pack your thermal undies if you're heading here, whatever time of year you're going to be visiting!

Day 2: Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego

Today is a non-driving day and a chance to explore Tierra del Fuego National Park as an optional acitivity. We stay for a second night in the same hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Beagle channel boat trips

USD 40

Guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park

ARS 310

Tierra Del Fuego

Tierra Del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego ("Land of Fire") is a large island separated from mainland South America by the Magellan Straits. Most of the island belongs to Chile, but 30% of the archipelago is in Argentina, including Argentina's southernmost town, Ushuaia. This is Patagonia at its most remote,with a landscape of windswept plains, forests and swamplands, home to Rheas, Condors, Buzzard Eagles, Seals and Sea Lions, all of which thrive in these conditions. Originally the home of the Yamana and Ona Indians, sadly there are not any indigenous communities left here. The people who inhabit Tierra del Fuego today are the descendants of the colonial settlers who came here from Europe in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mostly from Britain, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Day 3: Strait of Magellan

Border information: Exit Argentina at San Sebastian, enter Chile at San Sebastian.

We head north driving 430 kms, including a ferry crossing of the infamous Magellan Straits, into Chile where we bush camp for the night.

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Follow in Darwin's footsteps across the Strait of Magellan

Included in Kitty

Strait of Magellan

Separatyng Tierra del Fuego from mainland Argeninta are the infamous Strait of Magellan. This treacherous stretch of water is about 500km long and takes it's name from the explorer Magellan who first navigated these waters in 1520. It was the only ship out of a total of 17 attempting the passage that sucessfully managed to reach the Pacific. Before the Panama Canal was built, the Strait provided a useful route between Chile, Peru and Europe, and though they are less important as a major shipping route today, they still see a fair amount of traffic.

Day 4: Torres Del Paine National Park

500 kms drive to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. This is one of the most outstanding areas of beauty in Chile and the highlight of the trip for many passengers. We camp for the night at a stunning lakeside campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

4 days to explore and trek the rugged Torres del Paine National Park

Included in Kitty

Zodiac boat trips, horse rides and trekking in Torres del Paine National Park

USD 90

Torres Del Paine National Park

Cuernos Torres Del Paine National Park

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is home to what is undoubtedly some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Patagonia, if not all of South America. Rising up high above the Patagonian steppe are the 3 impressive granite towers that give the park it's name, surrounded by towering mountain peaks, the most famous of which are Los Cuernos and Paine Grande.  The park is a magical natural wonderland full of deep lakes, sparkling glaciers and cascading waterfalls, and it's also an important habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Patagonian rhea and guanaco, as well as flamingoes, condors and other birds.

The best way to explore is definitely to get out there on foot or perhaps on horse-back. The park is criss-crossed by a good network of trails, making it possible for you to see all the main sights either by doing a series of day hikes, or by doing a circular hike like the W-walk,  taking a few days and stopping off at the parks refugios or camping along the way. Horse-riding and kayaking can also be arranged locally, and boats and catamarans offer trips across Lago Grey and Lago Pehoe in season.



Day 5: Torres Del Paine National Park

During the next few days you will get to walk part of the famous W-walk circuit with a local guide. You can also complete the full trek if you have pre-booked this option.

Today we take the catamaran across Lake Pehoe to the Paine Grande Campsite. From here the group splits into 2 groups (base package group and W-walk extension group) and we walk with our respective local guides to view Glacier Grey. We then walk back down to Paine Grande where we will spend the night camping. Approximate distance: 22 km, estimated duration: 8 hrs.

Day 6: Torres Del Paine National Park

Today we leave Paine Grande and trek up the French Valley.

Base package group: If you have not opted for the optional 2 day W-walk extension package, you will walk back down to Paine Grande with your local guide. You then board the catamaran back to Pudeto, where the truck will meet you and drive you to our campsite for the night. If you are on a trip during low season you will instead be spending the night in Paine Grande. Approximate distance: 29 km, estimated duration: 11 hrs.

W-walk extension group: If you have chosen the optional 2 day W-walk extension, you will continue trekking with your local guide to Campsite Cuernos where you will spend the night camping. Approximate distance: 27 km, estimated duration: 11 hrs.

Activity Approximate Cost

W walk extension - 2 days

The package includes 2 nights camping with facilities, food for the duration of the trek and the service of an expert English speaking local guide. 

Please note that this package must be pre booked through your sales agent. Please book as early as possible to ensure availability. For further information on the W walk please refer to the trip notes.

GBP 120

Day 7: Torres Del Paine National Park

Base package group: Today is free for those that have not booked the W-walk optional 2 day extension package. There are many other optional activities available near our campsite, or maybe take a day to relax and just enjoy the spectacular views from the campsite. If you are on a trip during low season you will have the morning free around Paine Grande before taking the catamaran across to Pudeto and the campsite.

W-walk extension group: For those of you that continue on the W-walk, your local guide will direct you along Lago Nordenskjold to Las Torres Campsite where you will spend the night camping. Approximate distance: 11 km, estimated time: 5 hrs.

Day 8: Torres Del Paine National Park

Today is our last full day in this beautiful National Park.

Base package group: We hop on our truck which will take us to the base of the famous three peaks which give the name to the park. From there we will walk up the Torres with our local guide before we make our way back to the truck and onto our campsite for the night. Approximate distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.

W-walk extension group: This morning we will hike up to see the Torres and come back down to Las Torres Campsite where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the night. Approximate distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.

Day 9: El Calafate

Border information: Exit Chile at Cerro Castillo, enter Argentina at Cerro Castillo.

270 kms drive to El Calafate, crossing the border back into Argentina. We stay in dorm accommodation at a hostel.

El Calafate

Edge Of El Calafate Town

El Calafate is a small town on the southern shore of Lago Argentino in Patagonia. Originally a sheep station and trading outpost, today the town has developed a bustling small town atmosphere thanks to a growing tourist trade. Most people base themselves here whilst visiting the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier, located a short distance away at the southern reaches of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Interestingly the town takes its name from the Calafate berry, and locals claim that if you eat one of these and make a wish, you are guaranteed to return to Patagonia.

Day 10: El Calafate

Today we go on a guided visit to view the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the more spectacular sights in Patagonia. Second night at the same hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Guided full day trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier Included in Kitty

Boat trip beneath the Perito Moreno Glacier

ARS 120

Day 11: El Chalten

We drive 220 kms into Los Glaciares National Park to El Chalten. Here we have two full days to explore the area. We spend 3 nights camping with facilities.

El Chalten

El Chalten Village

The clouds that form around the summit of the surrounding mountains were mistaken for smoke, which gave the name "Chalten" which means volcano. The picturesque landscape is a perfect place for hiking, as there is so much to explore and the rewards of constant beautiful sights gives a perfect reason to hike.

Day 12 to 13: El Chalten, Los Glaciares National Park

Two days to enjoy the stunning Los Glaciares National Park and Fitzroy National Park where you can go trekking along world class tracks. There's also a wide range of activities available from horse riding to glacier trekking and a boat trip on Viedma Lake.

Activity Approximate Cost

Glacier trek, hikes and horseriding in Los Glaciares National Park

USD 50

Los Glaciares National Park

Glacier Boat Trip

Los Glaciares National Park is probably home to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Argentina, if not South America. This is classic picture-book Patagonia, wherever you turn you're surrounded by wide open skies, magnificent mountains, incredible glaciers, glistening lakes and thick verdant forest. By far the best way to explore is to get out on foot. There are plenty of well established trails through the park and maps can be picked up locally, so you can plan a short walk that will just take you a couple of hours, or the more adventurous might choose to hike out for a whole day or even overnight. Los Glaciares covers a massive area and there are two main gateways to the park; to the south, El Calafate provides access to Lago Argentino and the Perito Moreno Glacier and surrounding area, then in the North, the small town of El Chalten can be used as a base to explore the Fitzroy Mountains and Lake Viedma and it's glacier.

 

Day 14 to 17: Argentinian Patagonia, Carretera Austral, Puyuhuapi and Queulat NP, Futaleufu

Border information: On the second day exit Argentina at Huemules, enter Chile at Huemules.

We start off going north through Argentina and cross into Chile. We will spend 4 days overlanding through magnificent scenery, generally exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty. We go past the Chilean fjords and visit Queluat National Park where there is the option to walk to see the Colgante Glacier. Please note that the road on this section of the trip is rough and mostly unpaved meaning that the going is slow.

Argentinian Patagonia

Lake Icebergs Argentina Patagonia
Patagonia is the name of the region in the far south of South America, the southernmost stretch of the Andes and the surrounding plains and plateau. The area is split down the middle, with Chilean Patagonia on the east, and Argentinian Patagonia on the west. Renowned for its desolate landscape, unrelenting winds and magnificent lake, mountain and glacial scenery, the name Patagonia comes from the word "Patagon", used by the explorer Magellan to describe the local people who he believed to be giants. Today historians believe that the Patagons were actually Teheulches, with an average height of about 1.8m (or 5' 11) as oppose to 1.55m (5' 1) which was the average height of a Spaniard at the time. Argentinian Patagonia includes the spectacular national parks of Los Glaciares, Nahuel Huapi and Tierra del Fuego, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Argentinian Lake District and the Fitzroy Range.

Carretera Austral

The Carretera Austral or Southern Highway is a fantastic route that passes between Puerto Monte and Coyhaique, through vast tracts of untouched wilderness, past soaring snow capped mountains, glaciers, glass-green fjords and staggering, beautiful valleys. This is Chile at its best and is a perfect area to explore by overland vehicle. You need to have a flexible itinerary and to be able to camp in the wild, as settlements are few and far between. The attraction of this are are the wide-open spaces and the national parks. We spend our time driving through magnificent scenery, hiking, visiting glaciers and generally exploring this area of outstanding natural beauty.

Day 18: Bariloche

Border information: Exit Chile at Futaleufu, enter Argentina at Futaleufu.

Today we will cross into Argentina and continue our journey to the picturesque town of Bariloche. We will stay overnight in dorm beds in a local hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland through the stunning Argentinian Lake District

Included in Kitty

Bariloche

Ruta De Los Siete Lagos Near Bariloche Argentina

The Argentinian resort town of Bariloche has a picture perfect setting on the shores of Nahuel Hapi Lake, flanked by the peaks of the surrounding andean mountains. The scenery here is truly stunning, so it's a must to get out and explore and take in all the amazing views. In winter, the town is a popular centre for skiing and in summer the focus shifts to walking, mountain-biking, horse-riding and kayaking and canoeing on the lakes - and if all that sounds too much like hard work, you can sit back and enjoy the view on a leisurely boat trip across to Victoria Island.

Bariloche itself is also an interesting place to wander around. The town is famous for it's handmade chocolates and there are some really spectacular displays in the local chocolate shops. Because of it's popularity with Argentinians as well as international tourists, the town has a lively bar and restaurant scene, with some great places to choose from. This is a particularly good place to sample some world class Argentinian steak, and wild boar and Patagonian lamb is also worth a try here too.

Day 19: Bariloche

Today is a free day to enjoy this beautiful mountain town. Perhaps explore on a mountain bike, take a trip along the river in a kayak or enjoy the delights on a chocolate factory tour!

Second night in the same hostel.

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Horse riding and mountain biking around Bariloche

USD 80

Day 20: Pucon

Border information: Exit Chile at Mamuil Malal, enter Argentina at Mamuil Malal.

Today we cross into the Lake District of Chile and the town of Pucon. We will spend 2 nights in a campsite with facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up the snowcapped volcano Mt Villarica

USD 100

Horseriding, white-water rafting or hikes around Pucon

USD 50

Pucon

Villaricca Summit Pucon Chile

Southern Chile's lake district boasts some lake and mountain scenery comparable with what the Swiss Alos or New Zealand have to offer. Beautiful deep blue lakes are flanked by majestic forest-clad mountains with snowy peaks to provide picture-postcard views and a perfect spot for walking and camping. The attractive small town of Pucon is located at the heart of the northern Chilean lakes, a great place to stop for a few days so you can explore the area and get involved in some of the many adventure activities on offer here. At certain times of year it's even possible to do a day climb of the nearby Villarrica volcano, a challenging trek, but one that anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to manage - and you're rewarded with some fantastic views of the surrounding area from the summit. In fact the whole area is great for trekking and there are plenty of options to do some great self-guided walks.

Alternatively Pucon offers great horse riding, white-water rafting and mountain-biking opportunities. And if all this talk of activity just sounds a little too much, there are also some great thermal springs to relax in nearby, the natural pools at Pozones have a beautiful setting and is a great place to go and soak your weary limbs in the evening.

Day 21: Pucon

Today is a non-driving day with a range of activities available from hiking to hot springs. We stay for a second night in the same campsite.

Day 22: Santiago

Today we have a full days drive to Santiago. If times allows we will try to visit one of the many vineyard in the wine region south of Santiago. On arrival in Santiago we will stay in a centrally located hostel for the night. We suggest you might stay one extra day in Santiago.

Santiago

Vineyard Winery Visit Near Santiago Chile

Bisected by the Mapocho River, Chile's capital is a large, modern city with a very European atmosphere. In the centre of the city wide tree-lined boulevards lead to pleasant plazas and leafy parks and on a clear day the snow-capped peaks of the Andes provide a magnificent backdrop to the Santiago skyline.

Much of the centre is pedestrianised, which together with the wide streets and efficient metro system make Santiago an easy city to explore on foot. There are plenty of interesting museums where you can learn more about Chilean history and culture, from the City of Santiago Museum which chronicles the city’s history to the Natural History Museum and Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. The city's many wonderful parks are also worth a visit, particularly O'Higgins and San Cristobal which offers great views of the city from Cerro San Lucia.

As you would expect from a capital city of this size, Santiago is full of busy bars and restaurants and has some lively nightlife to offer. For cheap eats, full of local flavour, head to the Mercado Central (central market) which is packed full of food stalls and simple cafes and restaurants. For a real treat, you might want to head out to one of the more upmarket neighbourhoods like Bellavista or Providencia, home to some really world-class restaurants and great bars. Barrio Brasil is also worth a look; this old neighbourhood attracts an arty and bohemian crowd and there are often interesting events going on here.

If you have the time, there's also plenty to do in the area surrounding the city. Santiago is right in the middle of Chile's wine producing region, so it is relatively straightforward to arrange full day or half day tours out to the local wineries. You may also be interested in visiting the seaside town of Valapariso, which can be visited as a day trip from Santiago.

Day 23: Santiago

Border information: Welcome to Santiago, the capital of Chile. If you are starting in Santiago, enter Chile at Santiago Airport.

There will be a group meeting at 18:00 hrs on the first day. Please note the trip will depart Santiago the morning after the meeting. If you think you will enjoy a few days in Santiago let Dragoman Sales Team know, to be able to book extra pre nights accomodation.

Hotel for the night: Happy House Hostel

Happy House Hostel

Moneda 1829

Santiago

+56 2 2688 4849

Day 24 to 25: Mendoza

Today we head out of Santiago and cross the Argentine border to Mendoza, famous for its vineyards and indulge in a little wine-tasting or even rafting or mountain biking. We stay in a centrally located hostel.

Border information: Exit Chile at Los Libertadores, enter Argentina at Los Libertadores.

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover Mendoza's excellent vineyards and white water rivers

USD 20

Mendoza

Vineyards Mendoza Argentina

Mendoza is a vibrant city full of pleasant leafy boulevards and leafy plazas where the locals catch up over coffee in the many street cafes and bars. A university town and an important economic centre, the city has a bustling cosmpolitan feel and has all the amenities you would expect from great restaurants to lively nightlife, interesting museums and galleries and great shopping. On summer weekends, open air concerts and markets often take place in the beautiful plazas.

The city is perhaps most famous for it's wine. Whilst technically Mendoza is a desert town, extensive artificial irrigation have made it possible to grow grapes and olives here, both of which benefit from the long, hot, sunny summers. The wine made here is world class and tours of local vineyards and wineries are easily arranged.

Mendoza is also used by many people as a base from which to explore the mountains in this area. America's highest peak Aconcagua is nearby and skiing is popular in the winter months.

Day 26: Rio Ceballos

Leaving Mendoza we head east towards Rio Ceballos, we will spend the night at a wild camp, travelling around 300kms.

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend 3 unique days at an Anglo-Argentinian estancia to experience the gaucho way of living

Included in Kitty

Visit the National Jesuit Museum

USD 5

Rio Ceballos

Estancia Los Potreros Gaucho2

To the east of the Andes in the centre of Argentina is the country's second major city, Cordoba. Nearby are the beautiful hills of the Sierra de Cordoba where we will spend three nights at a unique Anglo-Argentinian estancia. The estancia has been in the same family for four generations, and is a working cattle ranch, farming the prized Argentinian Aberdeen Angus cattle. Here we will sample the traditional hospitality of the Anglo-Argentinian ranching community, with great food straight from the farm. An asado or Argentinian BBQ will be enjoyed on one of our nights here, as well as an evening of traditional music, a chance to try lassoing and fantastic wine tasting featuring some of the local produce. Daily horse riding excursions will also be arranged to ride through the hills on the fabulous horses and even completely inexperienced riders will feel like gauchos in a short time. Please note that these activities are subject to weather conditions.

Please also note that there is a strict weight limit for all riders of 15 stone / 95 kg to ensure the horses' well-being. If you are heavier than this weight you will unfortunately be unable to ride.

Day 27 to 29: Rio Ceballos

A 300kms drive brings us to an unique 3 night stay at an Anglo Argentinian estancia. We will camp within the grounds of the estancia and spend time with the gauchos - learning their skills, go horseback riding, and have a traditional asado or Argentinian BBQ.

Please note that there is a strict 15 stone / 95 kg weight limit for horseback riding. If you should weigh more than this you will unfortunately not be able to take part in this activity.

Day 30: Quilmes Ruins

335kms drive to a campsite via the Quilmes Ruins en route.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Quilmes ruins

Included in Kitty

Quilmes Ruins

The ruins of Quilmes are located in Tucaman province in north-west Argentina. The people of Quilmes were an indigenous tribe who inhabited this area as far back as 1000AD, resisting Inca invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries and even holding out against the Spanish for over one hundred years, before finally succombing to a siege led by the colonial powers in 1667. After the siege Spanish took the area over, deporting the few surviving indigenous people to a "reservation" close to Buenos Aires. The 2000 remaining Quilmes Indians were forced to make this 1500 km journey on foot, which meant that many died along the way, never reaching their final destination. At it's height, the city we see the ruins of here would have housed nearly 5000 people, today there are only a handful of Quilmes descendents left in Tucaman. It is interesting to wander among the ruins here today and imagine the city that would once have been.

Day 31: Cafayate

We head 370kms to Cafayate, lying at the centre of Argentina's principal wine producing region where we shall visit a vineyard. We stay at a camp site with good facilities

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover the bodegas and stock up on wine in Cafayate

Cafayate

Cellar Wine Cafayate Argentina

Cafayate is a small town in north-west Argentina and an important wine-growing area. The surrounding vineyards produce some of the best quality wine in South America, and you should look out for the Torrontes in particular, a distinctive white wine that is typically Argentinian and similar in style to a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Cafayate itself is small with a sleepy laid-back feel, although it can become busy during Argentinian holiday periods.  Many of the local bodegas offer tastings and tours of their wine cellars and this is easily organised while you are here. Also worth seeking out is the local ice-cream parlour, which together with the more usual flavours, also offers red and white wine ice-cream! If wine is not your thing, the area is also popular for walking and mountain-biking, as the gently undulating terrain makes for pleasant hiking and cycling.

Day 32 to 33: Salta

175kms drive to the fine Spanish colonial city of Salta. We stay in a simple hotel in the centre of town.

On the second day you have free time to explore Salta with plenty of optional activities available.

Activity Approximate Cost

Get the adrenaline pumping with some white water rafting in Salta

USD 40

Salta

Salta Architecture

Salta is an attractive town in the north west of Argentina. Nicknamed "Salta la Linda" (or "Salta the fair") the city is well known as a handsome town in a beautiful area. Home to some fantastic colonial architecture, the old town centres around the main plaza which is lined with cafes and restaurants, a great place to while away a couple of hours people-watching over a traditional morning snack of a cafe con medialunas (coffee and small croissant like pastries). It is an elegant and relaxed city, with a nice relaxed atmosphere, a perfect place to wander the streets and explore. To get a better view of the city and surrounding area you can take a cablecar from Parque San Martín up to the Cerro San Bernardo view point, and the many churches and the cathedral are also worth a visit. Salta is also home to some fantastic museums, making it a good place to learn a bit more about Argentinian history and culture.

Day 34 to 35: San Pedro De Atacama

A full 550kms drive across the Chilean border to the town of San Pedro de Atacama where we will overnight at a camp site.  We will visit the extraordinary Moon Valley, hopeful of a stunning sunset. In the evening there is also the chance to go stargazing (only possible when there is not a full moon).

Border information: Exit Argentina at Paso Jama, enter Chile at San Pedro.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the dramatic landscape of the Moon Valley

Observe the night skies at a Chilean observatory

USD 33

San Pedro De Atacama

Moon Valley

San Pedro is a small oasis town in the Atacama desert. It's a quirky little place, low-lying adobe buildings line the narrow streets, leading to a sleepy tree-lined plaza that's home to a pretty white-washed church and a fascinating small museum, home to some interesting mummies and various other Indian artifacts.

Pleasant though the town is, the real attraction here is the surrounding landscape. This part of the Atacama has become well-known as a tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery. Perhaps most well known is the unusual desert landscape of "Moon Valley", just a short distance outside San Pedro, where other-worldly rock formations, unsual layer-cake landscapes and huge dunes combine to create some incredible views. The sunsets here can be amazing, the changing light turning the stone and sand a kaleidescope of different colours, so the end of the day is definitely the best time of day to visit.

There are also a whole host of other activities on offer here, from star-gazing to horse-riding and mountain-biking in the surrounding countryside. The town itself is also a pleasant place just to kick-back and relax, with some good bars and restaurants thanks to the developing tourist-trade.

Day 36: Bolivian Altiplano

150kms drive towards Uyuni, seeing Laguna Colorado and Verde along the way. We spend the night in a basic hostel

Border information: Exit Chile at San Pedro, enter Bolivia at Uyuni.

Activity Approximate Cost

Exploration of Bolivia’s high Altiplano, Laguna Colorado and Verde

Included in Kitty

Bolivian Altiplano

Bolivian Altiplano Volcano

The high Bolivian altiplano stretches hundreds of kilometres from the small town of Uyuni out across to the borders with Argentina and Chile. This is real wilderness, there are no roads up here, just a few tracks to follow and you're more likely to see a flamingo or llama than another human being. The only way to cross the altiplano is by travelling in a specialist expedition vehicle like one of our trucks, or local jeeps. The crossing is an adventurous one, with no roads to speak of it's rough travelling and the trip from Uyuni to the border normally takes a couple of days - but it's without a doubt one of the most unforgettable journeys you'll ever make, because the landscape here is out of this world.

Wild and remote, the high altiplano is barren semi desert, but impressive nonetheless. The open plains are dotted by streams and lakes, many of which appear vividly coloured, due to the mineral deposits in the water. In the background the lakes are flanked by the impressive volcanic peaks of the high Bolivian Andes, awe-inspiringly beautiful and undoubtedly some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you'll have ever seen. You'll also pass a few remote villages, Quechua farmers who try their best to eke out a living up here from the rough pasture, grazing a few llamas and alpacas.

 

The altitude here is considerable and it n be very cold and windy. When travelling here you should be prepared for the cold temperatures and it is worth making sure you have a really good quality sleeping bag.

Day 37: Uyuni

320kms drive to Uyuni, gateway to the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. Overnight in friendly hotel serving the highest pizzas in the world!

Uyuni

Girl Salar De Uyuni

Arriving in Uyuni feels a bit like you've reached the end of the road, which in many ways is true. This remote small town sits on the edge of the high altiplano, a wilderness that extends for hundreds of kilometres towards the border with Argentina and Chile. So it's hardly surprising that the town can have a bit of a wild-west feel about it.

Affectionately nicknamed 'La Huja Predilecta de Bolivia', which means "Bolivia's favourite daughter",  Uyuni is perhaps best known for its proximity to the Bolivian salt flats known locally as the "Salar de Uyuni". Also in the area and definitely worth a visit is the Cementario de Trenes, a graveyard for the carcasses of old steam engines that have been left here to rust, an unwordly and eerie sight set in the bright altiplano sunshine, set against the background of the distant Salar.

Day 38: Uyuni, Salar De Uyuni

An amazing day out on the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. Great for all those perspective bending photographs.

Salar De Uyuni

Girl Salar De Uyuni

The Bolivian Salt Flats are a truly unforgettable sight, this is a landscape quite unlike anything you're likely to ever have seen before. The Salar de Uyuni is a dry lake of over 12,000 sq kms made of blinding white interlocking salt crystals. It is Bolivia's largest salt pan and when there's a little water on the flats, it reflects the bright blue sky of the altiplano perfectly, acting like a mirror and making the horizon disappear. The effect is positively eerie. When dry, the Salar becomes a blinding white expanse that stretches for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see.

On the edge of the flats, local workers carve blocks of salt by hand for processing in nearby antiquated factories, covered head to toe in old rags to keep their bodies protected from the harsh conditions. Then when you head out onto the Salar proper, you'll experience this unique "nothingness" of this unusual landscape. Miles and miles of bright white salt. Bizarrely there is a hotel situated out on the flats, where everything is made completely of salt from the walls to the furniture

 

Day 39 to 40: Potosi

An early morning drive of some 190kms drive will bring us to the colonial mining town of Potosi where we stay in a local, friendly hotel for the 2 nights and have the chance for optional activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head down into the tunnels of the Potosi silver mine

USD 20

Potosi

Potosi Miners Bolivia

Potosi is a colonial mining town, founded in the sixteenth century after the Spanish discovered huge silver deposits in the nearby Cerro Rico mountain. Situated at over 4000m altitude, high up on the Bolivian altiplano the city can claim to be one of the highest in the world.

Whilst in Potosi you can arrange to visit a mine that is still being worked, which offers a challenging and yet fascinating insight into how mining has shaped the history and culture of this town. Entering a dark maze of tunnels you will descend to four levels below, down to the work face where miners use hammers, chisels and dynamite more reminiscent of the 1800's than the 21st century to dig out the remaining metal. Most of the silver here is long gone - it's tin the miners are looking for now.

If you do choose to head down into the mines it's become a custom to take the miners gifts of dynamite, fuses and cocoa leaves in exchange for their stories of how their working conditions have not changed in centuries. Life is harsh for all who work here but the mines have now all been organised into co-operatives and so at least today the men have a say in their own future. You should note that visiting these primitive mines is not for everybody as it is pretty tiring, you will be in enclosed spaces and it can be dangerous.

Back in the city of Potosi itself, the winding streets are worth a wander. The town has a bit of an air of fading grandeur, many of it's beautiful colonial buildings and plazas having seen better days, but it's a fascinating place to explore nevertheless. You can also visit the "Casa de la Moneda", the old mint, which is a great place to learn more about Potosi's history and the story of the mines.

Day 41 to 42: La Paz

Early start and a long day drive across the dramatic windy road of the Altiplano to the highest capital in the world! We stay in a good quality hotel in central La Paz.

Hotel for the night: Estrella Andina

Estrella Andina

Av Illampu 716

Zona El Rosario

La Paz

+591 2 2456421

La Paz

Buildings La Paz Bolivia

Bolivia's largest city, La Paz lies huddled in a canyon basin, hiding from the harsh conditions of the surrounding altiplano. It is a fascinating city; the old town and more expensive neightbourhoods at the bottom of the canyon in the centre, surrounded by sprawling shantytowns which extend up the slopes of the bowl, merging into "El Alto" back on the plains, a suburb of La Paz that has grown to be a city in it's own right.

The city skyline is dominated by the snow-capped peaks of Mount Illimani, a staggeringly beautiful back-drop that leaves many visitors stunned when then catch their first glimpse of the city as they descend into the canyon. The old town is full of markets and winding cobbled streets full of people selling anything and everything you could ever think of. Different areas of the city have established markets selling things you'd expect like food and flower, and also things you've probably never seen before - check out the dried llama foetuses on sale in the witches market (Bolivian's believe that burying one of these in the foundations of your home will ensure prosperity and good fortune)

There are plenty of other activities to do in La Paz, from playing a round at the highest golf course in the Americas, skiing at an absurdly high height, or trekking and gravity assisted bike rides through the Yungas. You can also arrange excursuibs ti Mount Chacaltaya and Moon Valley where you can take in the superlative mountain views. Another option is to visit the Tihuanacu Ruins which are a short journey away close to the Peruvian border. The city is also full of impressive churches and museums, including one dedicated to the history of the Coca plant.

Please be aware that you may not be able to do all these activities during the time you will have in La Paz at the start or finish of your trip with Dragoman, so you may want to consider allowing some extra time here.

Day 43: La Paz

Border information: Welcome to La Paz, one of the highest cities in the world. If you are starting in La Paz, enter Bolivia at La Paz Airport.

Free time to explore La Paz with a group meeting at 18:00 hrs. We stay in a good quality colonial hotel in the centre.

Hotel for the night: Estrella Andina

Day 44: La Paz, Copacabana

Today we drive to the town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. We stay 2 nights in a simple hotel.

Copacabana

Copacabana Bolivia

Copacabana, Bolivia, has little in common with the famous Brazilian beach, but it's a picturesque small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca nevertheless. The town centres around it's small whitewashed square which is home to an amazing Moorish style Cathedral. At sunset there is no better place to be than sat at one of the many simple local fish restaurants on the shoreline, watching the sun slip down behind the horizon, before heading into town for a game of table football with the locals, or a visit to one of the many bars that feature live music here - many of whom are often from Argentina.

If you have time, this is a good place to take a boat trip out onto Lake Titicaca. By taking a local boat to Isla del Sol you can spend a day exploring this historic island, famous for being the birthplace of the whole Inca civilisation. The modern day Aymara and Quechua peoples of Bolivia and Peru still accept the legend of the sun being born on this island as their creation story even today. There are a host of ancient ruins to discover, tiny traditional villages and beautiful walking routes. You can wander through the stone ruins, exploring the islands dry slopes covered with sweet smelling incense brush, or hike over the ancient pampas which are still cultivated by the island families.

Day 45: Copacabana

Today is a non-driving day with an all day visit to Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca. We return in the evening to Copacabana to overnight in the same hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat to Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol

Included in Kitty

Day 46: Puno

Border information: Exit Bolivia at Kasani, enter Peru at Kasani.

Today we drive across the Peruvian border to the lakeside town of Puno. In the afternoon we enjoy a boat trip out to the floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca. We spend the night in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca

Included in Kitty

Puno

Uros Islands Boat Puno

Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca in the south eastern part of Peru is the small town of Puno. The town is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional andean customs are still strongly represented here.

Puno is known as the folkloric capital of Peru as result of the wealth of artistic and cultural expressions, particularly dance, that originate here. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.

The main attraction here though is the lake. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, a mythical expanse of deep blue waters, dotted with islands, some of which are still home to communities who have been living in the same way for hundreds of years. Perhaps the most famous islands are the Uros, often referred to as the "floating reed islands". Known as the “willow people”, the Uros have lived on these small man made islands built from compacted Totora reeds for many years.  Nowadays the young people leave the islands to live in Puno and the remaining population uses tourism as a way of providing extra income. A visit to the islands is no longer perhaps the authentic experience it once was, but the islands are still unique and make for an interesting short visit. You may also have time to visit the Yavari steam ship moored nearby, this was built in England then shipped out to Peru, traveling by train and animal to Puno before being rebuilt and launched on the lake.

Day 47: Puno, Cuzco

In the morning we will visit the Sillustani ruins before driving to Cuzco. We stay in a lovely colonial hotel in Cuzco.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the pre-Inca Sillustani Ruins near Puno

Included in Kitty

Cuzco

Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca empire and any adventure tour to Peru is centred around this stunning city. Even today, many of its buildings still retain some of the original Inca stonework as part of their structure. It is interesting to know that despite their advanced civilisation, the Incas did not know how to write and had not invented the wheel, yet they were skillful irrigation engineers, inventing the suspension bridge and hammock. They must have had theories on constructing buildings to avoid damage by earthquake, which may account for the way they fitted huge carved blocks of granite together in an incredibly precise jigsaw when creating new structures. Examples of their amazing building techniques can still be seen in and around Cuzco, including the infamous "twelve sided stone", now famous as part of the logo of Cuzco's native "Cusquena" beer.

The town is a fantastic place to spend a fews days. A good place to start your explorations is the majestic main plaza, heading out into the cobbled streets lined with attractive colonial buildings. Head up the hill into the neighbourhood of San Blas and you will discover another hidden square with a quiet laid back feel. All the streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants, from small local cafes to five star dining experiences. If you're interested in learning more about the history and culture of Peru, there are also some fantastic museums here and the many churches are well worth a look as well. So take to the streets and wander around, haggle with the street vendors, kick-back and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes with balconies overlooking the square and just enjoy Cuzco and it's beautiful surroundings.

Cuzco is also the gateway to Machu Picchu with most people trekking one of the many Inca Trails to reach this ancient Inca city. 

Day 48: Cuzco

Border information: Welcome to Cuzco, capital of the Inca Empire.  If you are starting at Cuzco, enter Peru at Cuzco Airport.

Free day to explore the wonderful city of Cuzco, the capital of the Inca kingdom. There will be a group meeting at 10:00 hrs. Tonight we are staying in a good quality colonial hotel in Cuzco.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Cahuide

Hotel Cahuide

Calle Saphi No 845

Cuzco

+ 51 84 222771

 

Activity Approximate Cost

7 nights in and around Cuzco and the Urubamba Valley

Included in Kitty

Day 49 to 52: Inca Trail , Sacred Valley, Cuzco

Trekking in the Andes - either the community trek or the classic trek. This is one of the world's best treks and a highlight for most visitors to Peru.

Activity Approximate Cost

Tour of the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo

Included in Kitty

EITHER

Hike unspoilt Inca Trails and visit Quechua communities in remote stunning Andes scenery away from tourist treks on our exclusive Inca Trails Community Trek

OR

Trek the Classic Inca Trail up the Royal Inca Road

IF YOU WISH TO BOOK THE CLASSIC INCA TRAIL THIS MUST BE ADVISED AT TIME OF BOOKING OTHERWISE YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE PUT ON OUR COMMUNITY TREK.

Included in Kitty

Inca Trail

Community Trek Campsite 1

When people talk about "The Inca Trail", they are usually refering to a particular trekking route that follows a ancient pathway that leads to Machu Picchu. What many people don't realise is that there are a actually a huge number of Inca Trails that criss cross the Urubamba Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, many of which are genuinely remote, rarely used by western tourists, offering a chance to experience the real unspoilt Andes. On all Dragoman overland tours that travel via Cuzco we offer you the choice to trek either the "Classic" Inca Trail or our unique alternative, the Community Inca Trek, which is exclusive to Dragoman.

The Classic Inca Trail

The "Classic" Inca Trail route usually starts at Kilometre 82 of the Cuzco – Machu Picchu railtrack, taking in Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's Pass, 4200m) and the ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna en route, eventually arriving at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu early in the morning after 3 days of trekking. This route is still extremely popular as it is seen by many as the "original" Inca Trail. It's also probably the best trek to choose if you're really interested in history and archaeology, because of all the other Inca sites it passes along the way.

Unfortunately, in recent years the classic trail has almost become a bit of a victim of it's own popularity. It is important to realise that the trail is now very busy, with 500 people starting the trek every day. There are only a certain number of places where it is feasible to camp, so your group will be camped alongside others, and you will meet a lot of other trekkers along the way. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome trek, passing through some stunning scenery from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forest, and the sense of achievement you'll have when you catch your first sight of the Lost City of the Incas is something you'll never forget.

The Community Inca Trek

Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route where you'll hike through pristine unspoilt andean scenery, walking ancient Inca Trails and pass through local communities as part of our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and getting out into the real Andes - not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects. The trek itself is about the same as the Classic Inca Trail in terms of length and difficulty, taking three to three and a half days and ascending to about 4700m when you cross the highest pass. The scenery out here is truly magnificent, spectacular mountain peaks, verdant hillsides dotted by isolated villages and the odd llama and alapaca, you are unlikely to see another tourist here. If you were to ask Dragoman which one we prefer, there is no contest, as the Community Inca Trek and Tarpuy Yachay Project is a much better and far more worthwhile experience.

Why we think the Community Inca Trek is better than the Classic Inca Trail:

  • You will trek through genuinely unspoilt, spectacular mountain scenery without seeing any other western tourists
  • We camp as guests of the villages we pass through, meeting the local families and getting involved with the local communities
  • Llamas, mules and horses are used instead of porters to carry equipment. These animals are sourced from the communities we travel through, providing a direct source of income for local families
  • You'll be helping to give something back to the local community. On this trek the staff and pack animals are all from the local villages, so they directly benefit from your trekking
  • We also make a financial donation from the group kitty, matched by Dragoman, for every person who does this trek. These donations help support a variety of projects, e.g. paying teacher wages for local community schools
  • By having the horses and mules along with us, you also have a much needed safety net if you suffer from altitude or exhaustion.... because you can always swallow your pride and hitch a ride

And a few things to consider when choosing the Community Inca Trek:

  • It's important to realise that whilst both treks finish at Machu Picchu on their final day, on the Community Trek you will not trek right through to the Sun Gate as you do on the Classic Inca Trail. However, you will still arrive before the crowds and it is possible to walk up from Machu Picchu itself to the Sun Gate to take in the famous view
  • The Inca trails that form part of the Classic Inca Trail route are what would have been the King's roads - and therefore they are better preserved than the trails we use on the Community Inca Trek
  • The ruins you will see on the Classic Inca Trail are more numerous than those on the Community Trek, however you will still see the main sites of Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo, plus a few others along the way
  • The Classic Inca Trail is closed for cleaning during February each year

Sacred Valley

The valley of the Urabamba river is more often referred to as “El Valle Sagrado de los Incas”, or the Sacred Valley. Close to Cuzco in Peru, the valley extends from the small market town of Pisac to Ollyantytambo, nestling at the foot of the Andean mountain ranges that are home to the magical lost Inca city of Machu Picchu.

Together with Machu Picchu itself, the Sacred Valley was a cradle of the Inca empire. The area is littered with archaelogical sites which include the magnificent ruins of Pisac, Sacsayhuaman and Ollyantytambo, as well as the Lost City itself. Together with the temperate climate, lively markets, sleepy andean villages and stunning surrounding landsccape, the rich history of the area makes it a truly bewitching place.

If you travel with Dragoman, whether you choose to take the Community Inca Trek, the Classic Inca Trail, or not to trek at all, everyone in the group will be able to take part in a tour of the Sacred Valley. We will typically leave Cuzco first thing in the morning and drive to Sacsayhuaman ruins which are just 15 mins from our hotel. These ruins are best known for the gigantic blocks that make up the zig zag frontal of this fort like construction. There are many theories as to why Sacsayhuaman was originally built and what it was used for but the most likely is that it was a temple complex where offerings were made to appease the gods. Sachsayhuaman is an amazing place and the early morning light makes the great view of the Cuzco rooftops that we get here even more beautiful.

We will then head further on into the Sacred Valley proper, stopping high on the mountainside to explore the ruins of Pisac. We will walk downhill along small pathways, through ancient arches, storage buildings and houses, learning about the history of the site from our local guide. 

If you are doing the Classic Inca Trail you will then head straight to Ollantaytambo from Pisac, exploring the ruins here that afternoon and camping overnight, heading to the Classic Inca Trail start point early the next morning.

If you are doing the Community Inca Trail we will drive to Chincheros, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. There you will see a weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years and you will tour the archaeological ruins there for another hour and a half. From Chincheros we will drive an area with great views to have an energizing picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumiyoc, also known as the Temple of the Moon. From there we will start our hike, returning to the Sacred Valley at the end of the trek when we arrive in Ollantaytambo. Here you are joined by any of your group who prefer not to trek at all for a guided tour of this Inca site, before leaving next morning on the early train for Machu Picchu

Day 53: Machu Picchu, Cuzco

Today is an early start to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. From there we take the bus to the Lost City of Machu Picchu - one of the world's most iconic sights. We'll have a guided tour with our local guide and plenty of time to explore this magical place. We will then head back to Ollyantaytambo and on to Cuzco for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Included in Kitty

Train back from Machu Picchu to Cuzco

Included in Kitty

Machu Picchu

View Of Machu Picchu End Of Trek

Machu Picchu is usually the highlight of any adventure tour to Peru.  It is one of those genuinely magical places, and catching your first glimpse of the lost city of the Incas through the early morning mist is definitely a moment you’ll never forget.

The most popular way to approach the ruined city is via one of the many Inca trails that wind their way through the Andes Mountains. The Classic Inca Trail is a much-used route taking four days and culminating with an arrival at the 'Sun Gate' at sunrise on the final morning from where you descend into Machu Picchu itself. However the sheer number of trekkers following this route has resulted in erosion, deforestation, litter and overcrowding at campsites. To address this issue Dragoman has been running a 'Community Inca Trail' for the past seven years. This unspoilt route is totally unique to Dragoman clients so you will be able to enjoy the trek in peace and away from the crowds on the main trail.  It visits local communities allowing you to learn about the Quechua way of life and travels through stunning mountain scenery enabling you to fully appreciate the majesty of the Andes.

Machu Picchu itself is stunningly located, perching high in the Andes surrounded by verdant cloud forest, with the River Urambamba running through the gorge far below.  It's thought that the city was the location of a royal palace and estate, home to the Inca emperors, or possibly a sacred religious and ceremonial sight.

Discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham, although the ruins were heavily covered by dense jungle foliage, many of the buildings were well preserved and in excellent condition. The city consists of more than 200 buildings, from houses to temples, storage buildings and public spaces. It's fascinating to be able to gaze down on the city from above and imagine how it would have looked during the height of the Inca empire.

Day 54: Cuzco

Today is a free day to recover from trekking with optional activities available in Cuzco such as white water rafting. Overnight in the same colonial hotel

Day 55: Raqchi

Drive to Raqchi and visit ruins and local artisan centre. We stay overnight in local homestay. We stay in traditional family houses with clean but basic facilities. Whilst we are there we enjoy some of the ceremonial aspects of village life as well as much singing and dancing. This is a great local experience.

Activity Approximate Cost

Quechua Indian homestay and community crafts project

Included in Kitty

Guided visit to the Raqchi ruins

Included in Kitty

Raqchi

Party At Raqchi

Raqchi is a small village situated a short distance outside of Cuzco. On Dragoman trips we stay here as guests of the local families in their traditional houses, a fantastic way to get a real insight into how people live here and to learn about their culture and customs. If we are lucky there may be the chance to participate in some of the ceremonial and spiritual aspects of village life - and there is always plenty of singing and dancing as we get to know our new Peruvian families. The village is also well known for it's talented craftsmen and women and there will be the chance to buy some of the beautiful hand-made and intricately decorated pottery that is made here.

Day 56: Chivay

440kms drive day to Chivay with optional visit to thermal springs. We stay overnight in a hotel at Chivay

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in Chivay and guided trip to the Colca Canyon and Condors

Included in Kitty

Visit the thermal springs in Chivay

USD 10

Chivay

Condor 2

Upstream from the renowned  Colca Canyon, lies the rural town of Chivay. Heated pools just outside the town are one of the main highlights and a place to relax after a morning exploring the town centre and markets. Another magnificent site is the stone Inca bridge that crosses the Colca River Ravine that is thousands of years old.

Day 57: Arequipa, Chivay and Colca Canyon

Today we will visit the spectacular Colca Canyon to view condors and also local communities. We will then head on to the beautiful white city of Arequipa.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay in the beautiful white city of Arequipa

Included in Kitty

Arequipa

Arequipa Square Night

Situated on the Peruvian Altiplano, Arequipa sits at almost 3500 meters above sea level and is the second largest city in the country. Set against the stunning backdrop of the snow-covered volcano "El Misti", salt lakes, thermal springs and high-altitude deserts, the landscape of the area around Arequipa truly unique. If you have time, it's possible to arrange mountain-biking and rafting trips in the area as day tours from the city - and at certain times of year you can even try for an ascent of El Misti itself, though it's not an easy trek at these altitudes, so not for the faint hearted.

The city itself is very beautiful, full of beautiful colonial buildings built out of the soft white volcanic rock that is found in the area. As a university town, there is always a lively buzz about the place and there are plenty of good bars and restaurants to discover.

No trip to Arequipa would be complete without paying a visit to Juanita, the "Ice Maiden." This mummy of a young Inca girl has been described as one of the 10 most important historical discoveries of recent times by Time Magazine. Because the body was frozen at such low temperatures and high altitude, a really extensive study into the physical health of ancient Peruvian civilisations has been possible, with fascinating results. You should also try to visit the Santa Catalina Convent, which is almost a city within a city in the centre of the town. Not only are the buildings of the convent stunningly beautiful, with brightly painted walls and shady courtyards, it also has a fascinating history which you can learn about on a guided tour.

Chivay and Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Chivay is a small town nestled in the hills at the base of the Colca Canyon. The River Colca runs from high in the Andes right down to the Pacific, and between Chivay and Cabanaconde it flows through the bottom of a deep gorge, often claimed to be the deepest in the world. It is certainly spectacularly beautiful, the vast Andean terraces tower up over the canyon, dotted by tiny villages that haven't changed in centuries. The canyon is also renowned as a haven for condors and they can often be seen here at quite close range as they float on the rising thermals and scan for carrion far below. Catching a glimpse of these magnificent birds as they rise from their nests, gliding high above you is a truly magical experience and one you will never forget.

Chivay is also home to some natural hot springs that provide a welcome relief from the cold night air high up here in the Andes. The springs are known as "La Calera" and are located just a short distance outside the town.

Day 58: Arequipa

Free day to explore Arequipa.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Arequipa's Santa Catalina convent

USD 10

White water rafting, grade 1-4

PEN 60

Day 59: Puerto Inca

380kms drive day to Puerto Inca where we stay at a beach side campsite.

Puerto Inca

Puerto Inca is situated on the Peruvian coast in a beautiful bay and was once the Inca port that supplied the city of Cuzco with supplies of fish. There are a number of Inca ruins here, which includes a cemetery, a temple of reincarnation and part of the road that set out from the coast to Cuzco is still clearly visible. It is a great place to relax with a nice beach, the sea and swimming pool; water sports are also sometimes available. However, swimmers should be aware that there is often a strong under-current here.

Day 60: Nazca

A 270kms morning drive takes us to Nazca where you will have the chance of an optional flight over the mysterious Nazca lines and visit Chauchilla cemetery. We stay at a campsite with a pool.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Nazca Lines and Chauchilla Cemetery

Included in Kitty

Fly over the Nazca lines

USD 100

Nazca

Nazca Hummingbird Peru

Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the Desert on the arid high plateau between Nazca and Palpa. Many of the lines form stylised depictions of animals, for example you can make out llamas, monkeys, sharks and spiders, as well as trees and other designs.

Archaeologists believe the lines were created between 200BC and 700AD by three successive, different civilisations. The global importance of the region is reflected in UNESCO's declaration of the Nazca lines as a World Heritage Site in 1994. You can view the lines from viewing towers or take a flight in a small plane to see them from above.

Important - Flight over the Nazca Lines - As of November 2010 some western countries' travel advisories advise against this optional activity due to concerns around proper aircraft safety and maintenance standards not being reliably adhered to. For more information please refer to your country's travel advice website. Please note that due to Dragoman's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

Close to Nazca is the Chauchilla Indian Cemetery, where you can see the tombs of people of the ancient Nazca civilisation, dating from 100AD to 700AD. It is something of an eerie sight to see the skulls, bones and even hair of the dead, preserved in a remarkable state thanks to the dry desert air.

Day 61: Huacachina

We drive 220kms and visit the oasis town of Huacachina for optional sand boarding and sand buggying and an overnight trip to the dunes.

Activity Approximate Cost

Dune buggying or boarding in the spectacular sand dunes of Peru Desert

USD 20

Huacachina

Known as the 'oasis of America', Huacachina is near Ica in northern Peru, and is perhaps more reminiscent of the Sahara than South America. The picturesque lagoon is surrounded by palm trees and towering sand dunes and creates a tranquil oasis in the dusty coastal desert. The small town here has become a popular destination for sand boarding and buggying, although care should be taken before going on any of these trips, as standards are not always quite up to western expectations.

Day 62: Paracas National Park

A short drive via the town of Ica takes us to Paracas National Park where we will visit the museum in the park before bushcamping in this spectacular location.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to Paracas National Park, coastal wildlife reserve.

Included in Kitty

Paracas National Park

Spanning 335,000 hectares of land and sea, Paracas National Park and is widely regarded as one of the most important marine reserves in the world. This coastal and marine national park is located on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of the highest concentration of marine birds in the world. Providing a vital habitat for sealions and dolphins, Paracas National Park is without doubt one of the most biologically diverse coastal areas in the Americas. Historically the peninsula was the home to the Paracas people from 1200BC through to around 200 AD. Some remains of their culture can be found in the area, the most spectacular of which is the enormous candelabra - a giant etching – depicting a cactus inscribed onto a coastal hill overlooking the ocean.

Day 63: Ballestas Islands, Lima

In the morning we board a boat trip around the Ballestas Islands to view wildlife. We then head 270kms to Lima, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a good quality hotel in central Lima.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to see the seals & seabirds on the Ballestas Isles

Included in Kitty

Overnight stay in colonial Lima

Included in Kitty

Ballestas Islands

Bids Peru

The Ballestas Islands has weird and wonderful wildlife. From the boat trip you will be able to see Humboldt Penguins, Blackish Oystercatchers, Guano Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies living alongside vast colonies of Sea Lions nosily crowding the Ballestas coastline. The startlingly biodiversity around the Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Park is the result of two merging currents; the warm northern waters El Nino and the cooler waters of the Humboldt. The climatic conditions produced by the combination of these two currents create the perfect environment for a proliferation in the number of plankton and fitophankton, the core constituents in the diet of fish. The Ballestas Islands are one of the most popular ecotourism points of view along the Peruvian coast.

Lima

Colonial Lima

Lima is a city of hidden beauty. Dive in and explore the Peruvian capital's streets, parks and plazas and you will discover a real gem of a city. Infact there's so much to see here, a city tour is a great opportunity to find out about more about the rich history of Lima itself and Peru as a whole. The city was founded by Conquistador Pizarro in 1535 and was originally the administrative centre for Spain’s Vice royalty in South America, making it the continent’s most important city for nearly three centuries. It became a city of great wealth financed by the massive quantities of gold and silver that were mined in the area.

Whilst you are here there are many museums you can visit, such as the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum, which showcase the finest artefact's from the country's many ancient civlisations. You can also visit the finely preserved catacombs at the Church of San Francisco, and take in a bit of local culture at an evening folklore show.

Day 64: Lima

Border information: If you are starting in Lima, enter Peru at Lima airport.

Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned for today. We stay the night in a comfortable hotel in the city centre.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Inka Path

Jr. de la Union 654

Lima

+51 1 426 1919

+51 1 426 9302

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in colonial Lima

Included in Kitty

Day 65: Huanchaco

A full day's drive to Huanchaco, where we camp for 2 nights in the grounds of a hotel. 

Huanchaco

Reed Boats Huanchaco

Once the capital of the ancient Peruvian Moche civilisation, Huanchaco is a small town on the Peruvian coast that is rapidly acquiring a reputation for the quality of the surfing off its relaxed beaches. Wandering along the sea front you will come across the local fishermen's "caballitos de tortora", curved reed boats that they leave propped up in groups together on the sand.

Huanchaco is an ideal location from which to explore the numerous archaeological ruins the surround nearby Trujillo, such as the enormous pre-columbian complex of Chan Chan, a vast adobe city constructed by the emporer of the Chimu people, as well as the world famous Moche pyramids the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.

Day 66: Huanchaco

Explore the enormous ruins of Chan Chan and the world famous Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon) on a guided visit. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Moche Pyramids and the Chimu city of Chan Chan

Included in Kitty

Day 67: Punta Sal, Lambayeque

Another full day's drive. En route we will visit the Lord of Sipan museum in Lambayeque. We camp for 3 nights outside of Punta Sal, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. 

Please note that the museum is closed on Mondays, so this activity will not be available if your trip is here on a Monday.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Lord of Sipan Museum (not available on Mondays)

Included in Kitty

Punta Sal

Punta Sal Volleyball

Situated on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in a long, curvy bay, Punta Sal is a haven of sun and sand. The warm and tranquil waters are a pleasure to swim in and there's also the opportunity to set out on fishing trips and boat trips along the coast line. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, horse riding along the beach and salsa lessons can be arranged, or just kick-back in a hammock and laze the day away, enjoying the peace and quiet of this beautiful spot.

Lambayeque

The small Peruvian town of Lambayeque is home to the impressive Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan, a world-class museum that showcases the finest artefacts from the archaeological finds at nearby Sipan. This area on the northwest coast of Peru is well known for its rich historical heritage and the name Lambayeque originates from the ancient pre-Inca civilisation of the Lambayeques. Amongst the most extraordinary discoveries made here is the famous ‘Lord of the Sipan’, a Moche Priest found buried amidst an array of gold, jewels and fabrics.

Day 68 to 69: Punta Sal

We have 2 full days to just relax on the beach, or maybe for some activities in and around Punta Sal. 

Day 70: Cuenca

Border information: Exit Peru at Tumbes, enter Ecuador at Tumbes.

Today is a drive day north, crossing into Ecuador and heading to the beautiful colonial town of Cuenca. We stay 2 nights in a centrally located hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in colonial Cuenca

Included in Kitty

Cuenca

Cuenca is Ecuador's third-largest city and it's small centre is home to some beautiful architecture. This small university town is a pleasure to wander around and explore, take to the streets and you'll discover impressive churches that date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries, attractive colonial buildings, tranquil plazas and lively markets. The Ecuadorians consider it the finest city in the country and many of its buildings are constructed from marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. Cuenca is also the home of the Panama hat, and you can visit some of the famous hat factories, where you can watch the craftsman and marvel at their skill first-hand.

Because of all the students who are based here, the town has a lively night-life and there are some good bars and restaurants to choose from. Top that off with an evening stroll around the Plaza and you'll have spent the perfect day enjoying the city.

Day 71: Cuenca

Cuenca is the birthplace of the famous Panama Hat and today we visit one of the factories to learn about the manufacturing process. There will also be some time to explore the town.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit a Panama Hat factory

Included in Kitty

Time exploring the historic city of Cuenca

Included in Kitty

Day 72: Chugchilan

Today is a long drive day to the remote village of Chugchilán, passing through El Cajas National Park en route, seeing some stunning scenery. We stay 2 nights in a fantastic hostel where breakfast and dinner are included, giving you a chance to enjoy traditional Ecuadorian food.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland around the stunning Quilotoa Loop

Included in Kitty

Chugchilan

Lake Quilotoa

Set on the slopes of the Rio Toachi Canyon, Chugchilán is our base for 2 nights where we either stay in a wonderful eco-lodge or an equally fantastic hostel. From the front door of the lodge, several day hikes are available, the most famous being one from Lake Quilotoa which is considered to be one of the best hikes in Ecuador.

We will drive from Chugchilán to Quilotoa where you will be able to climb down the crater to the waters edge before we begin a 4-6 hour guided trek, mainly downhill, back to our eco-lodge base. A moderate level of fitness is required as the trek is at altitude but the walking itself is not too strenous.

Day 73: Lake Quilotoa, Chugchilan

Transfer to the town of Quilotoa to see the stunning Crater Lake and begin one of Ecuador's best day hikes back to Chugchilán. We will trek with a local guide and the mostly donwhill trek takes between 4-6 hours. There is however a section towards the end of the trek with a steep incline which you will need to be physically fit for.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan

Included in Kitty

Lake Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located at 3800 metres (12,400 feet) between the towns of Zumbahua and Chugchilán.  Its emerald water spans two kilometres.  Local legend claims it is connected to the ocean and is therefore salty and sulfuric.  Quilotoa is an active volcano, the last major eruption was over 850 years ago. 

It is possible to hike down from the crater rim to the lakeside. The descent takes 30 minutes and climbing back up takes about an hour.  It is possible to swim in the lake, but the water is very cold (5° celsius).  If the climb back up from the laguna is too strenuous, you can hire a mule to ride for a few dollars.

The lake also lends it’s name to the Quilotoa Loop, given to the winding circuit of spectacular dirt roads that connect Lake Quilotoa to Latacunga and the Pan-American Highway. The roads that lead away from Latacunga are unpaved, winding and have spectacular views of the mountains, rivers and verdant landscape. We will head to the town of Chugchilán on the northern section of the loop and after a 2 night stay head out on the southern section of the loop allowing you to see some of the more remote people and culture of the central Andes of Ecuador.

Day 74: Rio Verde

Drive day to Rio Verde via the spectacular Quilotoa Loop. We camp for 3 nights in a campsite with great facilities and a pool.

Rio Verde

Canyoning Rio Verde

A few kilometres from Banos, is the small town of Rio Verde, named after the clear green water of the river that flows through the town. A number of waterfalls are found along its course, the most spectacular being The Devil’s Cauldron (‘El Pailon del Diablo’), a 20-minute walk out of town. Whilst staying here, you will have the opportunity to take part in optional adventure activities like as horse-riding, canyoning, mountain biking and rafting, as well as making the short trip into Banos to visit the thermal springs.

Day 75 to 76: Rio Verde, Banos

Two full days of free time for a range of adrenaline activities or a possible visit to nearby Banos. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Half day rafting at Banos, including lunch

USD 75

Half day canyoning at Banos

USD 45

Banos

Set in the hillside of the Tungurahua volcano is the exquisite town of Banos. Tungurahua may be the biggest volcano in Ecuador, but it is also one of the most popular to climb. This creates hiking opportunities and if you explore you will discover the thermal baths and gorgeous waterfalls. Banos is also the perfect place if you want exciting bike rides when the unknown always lies ahead. Pitch black tunnels, sheer drops - it is a place for the bold, it is a place for the daring and most importantly, it is a place that will bring out the adrenaline seeker in us all!

Day 77: Coca

Today is a drive day to Coca (Puerto Francisco de Orellana). This is the base for our Amazon Jungle Expedition. Overnight in a simple hotel.

Coca

Coca is the more commonly known name for Puerto Francisco de Orellana, which is also the capital of the province of Orellana in the 'oriente' or the Est of Ecuador deep in the jungle. The city is located at the confluence of the Napo River and the Coca River which gives the nickname to the city.

Francisco de Orellana is the famous explorer who gives the name to the city. He explored the confluence of the Napo River and the Coca river. History says he set off from the current location of the city and made his way deep into the Amazon Jungle and river crossing indigenous tribes in which even women used to fight. He sailed all the way eventually makin it to the Atlantic. Francisco de Orellana died on his second expedition along the Amazon delta not being able to find his way through. 

 

Day 78 to 80: Amazon Jungle

We transfer deep into the jungle in boats (6-7 hrs), hopefully spotting wildlife on the way. Arrival late afternoon on the first day. We spend 3 nights in a remote lodge and explore the rainforest on foot and by boat.

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend 3 nights/4 days exploring the deep jungle along the river Panacocha. Activities include jungle walks, bird watching, piranha fishing and all that the jungle has to offer, far away from other tourists. A truly unique experience.

Included in Kitty

Day 81: Coca

After some morning activities in the jungle we transfer back to Coca by boat. Overnight in the same simple hotel.

Day 82: Quito

Today is a drive day to the country's capital, Quito. Overnight in a simple hotel.

Quito

Quito Streets

Quito has a more relaxed atmosphere than most Latin American capitals. Lying in a hollow at the base of Volcano Pichincha, the old town is a maze of steep, cobbled streets with intricately carved, overhanging balconies. Its mixture of old colonial and modern architecture and the mix of European and Indian cultures make this a really fascinating city. Wandering around, you will come across stalls displaying Indian textiles, colourful wall hangings, jewellery, pottery and woodcarvings - and the old town has some of the best examples of Spanish colonial art and churches anywhere in the Americas.With so much to see and do, it is well worth extending your time in South America to ensure you experience all that Quito has to offer.

Day 83: Quito

Border information: If you are joining in Quito, enter Ecuador at Quito airport.

Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned for today. We stay the night in a local friendly hotel.

Hotel for the night: Alston Inn Hotel

Alston Inn Hotel

Juan Leon Mera N23-41 y

Ventimilla

Quito

Tel: 00 593 2 22 22721

Day 84: Quito, Otavalo

Drive north, stopping en route at the Equator for some must have photos. Tonight we camp just outside the market town of Otavalo. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the equator at Mitad del Mundo

Included in Kitty

Otavalo

Otavalo is a small town known for it's market, nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance north of Quito. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails. Infact, the Otovalan's weaving skills are quite renowned and they are rightly famous for their textiles, so rugs, wall hangings and knitwear are all well worth buying here. There are numerous other activities to do in the surrounding area, including horse-riding and trekking into the surrounding hillsides. If you have time, it may also be possible to visit the hot springs at Papallacta.

Day 85: Ipiales

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Ipiales, enter Colombia at Ipiales

Today we cross the border into Colombia to the town of Ipiales where we stay in a simple hotel. We visit Santuario de las Lajas this evening.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the jaw dropping Santuario La Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales

Included in Kitty

Ipiales

Santuario De Las Lajas

Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas squares and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel.

The star attraction of Ipiales, 7 km outside of town, is the famous Santuario de Las Lajas, the site of many a miracle and apparition over the years. Set amid breath-taking scenery, El Santuario is a spectacular gothic-style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.

 

 

Day 86: Popayan

Drive day to the beautiful town of Popayan where we stay for the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in the beautiful old town of Popayan

Included in Kitty

Popayan

Popayan

Nicknamed the White City, Popayan is a beautiful colonial town of white-washed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region and the former capital of Southern Colombia, Popayan somehow retains it's relaxed small town feel. The friendly locals can often be found sipping coffee in one of the city's excellent cafes or relaxing in one of the shaded parks, catching up with friends and watching the world go by.

The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayan a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church towers provide a sociable and relaxed location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club.

Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the Historic Centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of.

Another highlight of this area is the Silvia Indigenous Market. This beautiful Andean market town is absolutely bursting with colour and energy when the market opens on Tuesdays. Guambiano Indians from the surrounding communities make their way into Silvia to sell their produce and socialise with friends from neighbouring towns.

Day 87 to 88: Cali

Free morning to look around Popayan before a short drive to Cali, Colombia’s most lively city. There may be the chance to head out for a tour of the city in a traditional disco chiva bus or why not try some salsa classes. We stay 2 nights in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Cali in the evening on a chiva bus

USD 10

Learn to Salsa like a local

USD 20

Cali

Cali is a big and bustling city with a warm climate and pleasant atmosphere. Although there are comparatyvely few sights of special interest, just wandering through the mix-match architecture and relaxing in the sociable parks and plazas is a nice way to spend some time.

The city has made it's reputation in traveller circles thanks to it's nightlife and social scene and as such is increasingly popular. The Salsa capital of Colombia provides great opportunities to test out those dance moves and hit the fashionable bars and restaurants with the locals. For party seekers and those who enjoy the faster paced city life, Cali shouldn't disappoint. Avenida Sexta, is Cali's party street. With rows of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, this is where to head for a night on the town.

For others, the old neighbourhood of San Antonio is a lovely spot with arty, Bohemian cafes, shops and restaurants lining picturesque Colonial streets.

Alternatively why not head to Las Tres Cruces which is a great point from which to catch the best views over Cali. It’s quite a hike up there but it's a peaceful spot and a nice break from the rush of the city.

Day 89 to 91: Manizales

We head to Manizales where we stay for 3 nights on a coffee plantation, camping in the grounds of a traditional finca. During the next few days we will enjoy a night of music and dancing and a coffee plantation tour. Will will also visit a local childrens's charity which we support.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a night of traditional live Colombian music

Included in Kitty

Explore a working Colombian coffee plantation

Included in Kitty

Visit to the Sagrada Familia project

Included in Kitty

Manizales

Coffee Fields

Manizales is a friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer the visitor in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions. The town itself is a relaxed and friendly place centred around the magnificent cathedral with attractions such as the botanical gardens, thermal springs and eco-parks all easily access able from the centre of town. Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors.

In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking season.

 

Day 92 to 93: Guatapé

Drive day to the small town of Guatapé which is beautifully located aside a lake in rolling countryside. We will stay 2 days in dorm accommodation by the lake for various activities in the local area.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hire kayaks to explore the lakes around Guatapé

USD 6

Rent mountain bikes to explore Guatapé

USD 3

Guatapé

Old Guatape And El Penol

Guatapé is a picturesque town surrounded by the Embalse del Penol, an artificial lake built in the early 1960’s and wonderful countryside yet with a colourful and historic centre. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs. The area is great for activities but one of the main reasons to visit is to see El Peñón de Guatapé, a 650 foot tall granite monolith that divides the countryside and offers amazing views from the top. El Peñón is very similar to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) in Rio de Janeiro and has 644 steps which you need to climb to get to the top, but it is well worth it.

Day 94: Guatapé, Medellin

A short drive takes us to Colombia’s second city, Medellin. En route we stop by the towering El Peñón de Guatapé. We spend 2 nights in dorm accommodation in a centrally located hostel allowing you to enjoy the vibrant nightlife. 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Cilmb the 644 steps to the top of El Peñón de Guatapé for spectactular views.

Included in Kitty

Medellin

The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980's and 90's with international reputation of one of the world's most dangerous cities, Medellín has certainly turned itself around.

With the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel holding the largest drug-trafficking base here for decades, the city suffered a seriously damaged reputation amongst international travellers and has only recently become a popular destination amongst backpackers. Despite the damage of the city's past, the Paisas (as people from Medellin are known) have strived to change the it's reputation. Almost nothing of those former days can be seen in the character of the city today and visitors can comfortably enjoy the beautiful architecture, excellent facilities and all round well developed city!

Set amid the rolling green hills of the Aburrá valley and with a warm climate and comfortable altitude of 1538 metres, Medellín has seen more and more travellers flocking to the city in the past few years. With some of the country's finest museums, parks and most impressive architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it’s easy to see why.

Medellín is also one of Colombia's easiest cities to get around with the immaculate and convenient metro system passing all the main points of interest. If you use the metro then make sure you head up on El Teléferico, the city’s cable car, as this is included on your metro ticket and gives you a great view of the city.

Why not visit the Museo de Antioquia which combines pre-colombian exhibits with displays by several of Colombia's best known artists including a collection by the famous Fernando Botero and head to the 'Jardines Montesacro' to see where the infamous Pablo Escobar is buried.

A great side trip from Medellin is Santa Fe de Antioquia. Set in a lush low lying hot and sultry valley on the banks of the Rio Cauca, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the oldest settlement in the region. Founded in 1541 it served as the capital of the department until 1826 when the state capital moved to Medellin. The town has kept much of its Colonial charm, the narrow streets and whitewashed  colonial style buildings many of which with large central courtyard in which to relax away from the midday heat. The central plaza is dominated by the principal church of the town. The plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of Tamarind product that grow locally, take a tour of the stalls and try a few samples of this local delicacy. There are several other churches and important colonial buildings to visit but the greatest pleasure is simply exploring the narrow streets infused with history of the region.

 

Day 95: Medellin

This morning we have a guided tour of the city and then free time to explore in the afternoon.

Day 96: Lorica

Today is a full day's drive north to Lorica where we spend the night in a simple hotel.

Day 97 to 98: Mompós

A drive and a ferry ride across Rio Madgalena take us to Mompós where we stay 2 nights in a lovely hotel. We have a free day to explore this colonial town where Colombian independece was first achieved. Wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere of the architecture and maybe visit the ancient cemetery.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip on Rio Magdalena to spot wildlife

Day 99: Cartagena

Today we take the ferry back across Rio Magdalena and drive to Cartagena. We stay 2 nights in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in vibrant Cartagena

Included in Kitty

Cartagena

View Of Old Town From Walls, Cartagena

Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America. It is legendary both for its history and beauty and tends to be a favourite of all travellers who visit it. Having been the centre of many battles, the city is heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts, the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots; and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction particularly the inner walled town, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Wandering through the streets you get a real feel of the sense of history of this amazing city. The waters of the Caribbean surround Cartagena on three sides. It is possible to take a day trip by boat to the idyllic coral islands of Rosario. This archipeligo of small coral islands is surrounded by the largest and most magnificent coral reefs on the Colombian Caribbean coastline. Marine life is abundant and the whole area is protected under National Park status.

Day 100: Cartagena

A full day in the beautiful city of Cartagena. In the morning we will have a walking tour of the city and then the rest of the time is free for you to enjoy the many optional activities on offer or maybe relax on the beach. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Go diving or snorkelling around Islas Del Rosario

Explore Cartagena on a guided walking tour

Included in Kitty

Day 101: Cartagena

Border information: If you are finishing in Cartagena, exit Colombia at Cartagena airport.

The trip ends this morning. No accommodation is provided for tonight.

If you are continuing on to Panama then your leader will assist you with airport transfers for your included flight. You will overnight tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Panama City or Cartagena (depending on the flight times and availability).

Day 102: Panama City

Border information: If you are starting in Panama City, enter Panama at Panama City airport

Today there will be a trip meeting at 18:00 hrs. There are no activities planned for today but the afternoon is free for activities. Overnight in a centrally located hotel.

If you are continuing on from Cartagena then your leader will have assisted you with airport transport for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Andino

Hotel Andino

Calle 35 y Peru

Bella Vista

Panama City

Panama

+507 225 1162

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend the night in Panama City, the country's capital.

Included in Kitty

Day 103: Panama City, Santa Clara

This morning we set off to vist the Panama Canal and then we have a short drive to Santa Clara where we camp for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Panama Canal

Included in Kitty

Day 104 to 105: Boquete

Today we drive to the Chiriqui highlands and the town of Boquete where we stay 2 nights in a hostel. The area is famous for outdoor activities and the nearby Volcán Barú, the highest point in Panama.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights at Boquete to enjoy optional activities

Included in Kitty

Various treks and hikes around Boquete

USD 20

Day 106 to 107: Manuel Antonio National Park

Border information: Exit Panama at Paso Canoas, enter Costa Rica at Paso Canoas

We have a drive day to the Pacific coast when the Manuel Antonio National Park is located. We spend 2 nights in a basic hotel just outside the park. On our full day here we go for an easy guided walk in the national park and have the afternoon free for activities. Please note that this border crossing is notoriously slow.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in Manuel Antonio National Park

Included in Kitty

Relax on the beach at in Manuel Antonio National Park

Included in Kitty

Manuel Antonio National Park

At Manuel Antonio National Park there is the possibility to fish, walk or ride, but either way there is opportunity to see a host of wildlife.  The park is situated on the coast with beautiful secluded beaches.

Day 108 to 109: Monteverde

Today we drive to Tilaran where we leave our overland vehicle behind and transfer up to the dense cloudforest and coffee plantations of Monteverde where we stay 2 nights in a hotel. This stunning area offers an incredible diversity of flora and fauna which hopefully you will be lucky enough to see during a guided visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Please remember to bring some warm clothes as it can get chilly on 1440 metres above sea level.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde

Included in Kitty

Travel above the Cloud Forest of Monteverde on a zip line

USD 25

Monteverde

Monteverde and the cloud forests which surround it are considered the top destination in Costa Rica and certainly one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world. The bulk of Monteverde's rainforest and cloud forest can be found in the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde which attracts huge numbers of naturalists each year and the area is one of the best in Central America to view the indigenous bird, the Quetzal.

Day 110 to 111: La Fortuna

This morning we transfer with taxi and boat to La Fortuna in Costa Rica, where we stay 2 nights in cabanas outside of town. From La Fortuna you have fantastic vistas of the Arenal volcano and its lava flow glowing in the night, and an opportunity to take part in a number of adventure activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the thermal pools around the Arenal volcano

USD 20

Kayaking and rafting around La Fortuna

USD 60

La Fortuna

La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most active volcano: the majestic Arenal. The Arenal Volcano is a regularly spewing smoke and ashes and is beautiful to behold at night as is glows from across lake Arenal, the second largest man made lake in Central America. Besides the panoramic views offered of Arenal from La Fortuna the town also offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metres high La Fortuna Waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and also some water sports on Lake Arenal.

Day 112 to 113: Ometepe Island

Border information: Exit Costa Rica at Peñas Blancas, enter Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas

This morning we cross into Nicaragua, drive to San Jorge and board a boat to take us across Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake, to Isla Ometepe. On the island we will stay in a small hotel for 2 nights giving you the chance to explore all the island has to offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights on Ometepe Island

Included in Kitty

Climb the Madera volcano on Ometepe Island (please note that this is a very strenuous hike and you need to have a high level of fitness to complete it)

USD 25

Ometepe Island

Isla de Ometepe is beautifully located within Lake Nicaragua and is formed by the 2 volcanoes which rise from the lake. In fact, the name of the island literally means 2 volcanoes in the Nahuatl language with 'ome' meaning two and 'tepetl' meaning mountain. The island's wonderful hourglass shape is home to great beaches and deep jungle making it a great place to spend a day or two.

Day 114 to 115: Granada

We take the ferry back to San Jorge and have a short drive to Granada. We spend 2 nights in a simple hotel, allowing for time to explore this beautiful colonial town.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the colonial city of Granada

Included in Kitty

Granada

Granada is the oldest city of the 'new world' having been founded in 1524 and was registered as such registered in the official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain. Due to its Moorish and Andalusian appearance it is nicknamed as the Great Sultan, La Gran Sultana, and has a rich colonial history. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and simply is a beautiful place to visit.

Day 116 to 117: Masaya National Park, León

We drive to the university town of León, visiting Masaya National Park en route. We go to the active Masaya volcano that lies in the middle of the park to view the crater and lava flows, and visit the market. We stay 2 nights in a centrally located hotel with a full day to explore the wonderful colonial architecture of León or go for optional activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the volcano at Masaya National Park

Included in Kitty

Visit the market at Masaya

Included in Kitty

Visit the charming colonial city of Leon

Included in Kitty

Masaya National Park

At the Masaya National Park, the twin volcano craters of Masaya and Santiago are an incredible sight. At the bottom of a vast crater a glowing red fire, like a furnace, fills the air with a pall of pungent sulphurous fumes and rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The park is inhabited by many different kinds of animals including coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys and the park makes a wonderful place for trekking.

León

The town of León is lined with derelict buildings and the walls are adorned with political murals and graffiti. Given this extraordinary setting it is a pleasant surprise to discover that you receive a cheery welcome from the locals in the market, though the variety of goods and foodstuffs available is limited.

Day 117: León

A drive of approximately 130kms takes us to the university town of Leon, with wonderful colonial architecture ranked second best in the country behind that of Granada. We may also possibly stop in Managua en route if time allows. We stay the night in a centrally located hotel.

Day 118: Lake Yojoa

Border information: Exit Nicaragua at Las Manos, enter Honduras at Las Manos

Today is a full day's drive across the border to Lake Yojoa in Honduras where we can camp for the night in the grounds of a brewery turned lodge.

Day 119 to 121: Roatán

A short drive brings us to San Pedro Sula and we board our flight to Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands. We stay for 3 nights in a lovely posada and have plenty of time for optional activities or just relaxing.

Please remember there is an airport tax not covered by kitty.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights stay on Roatán in crystal clear Caribbean waters

Included in Kitty

Go diving or snorkelling off the coast of Roatán

USD 50

Roatán

Roatán is one of the famous Bay Islands.  This archipelago of coral islands set in the Caribbean is known for its laid back atmosphere. The scuba diving around the reefs is said to be some of the best in the world and extremely good value.  During your stay on Roatán you can snorkel, go sea kayaking, hire jeeps or even get your PADI licence.

Day 122 to 123: Copán

We start early today to catch our filght back to the mainland. Upon arrival back at San Pedro Sula we head to Copán where we stay for 2 nights a hotel. On our full day here we visit the spectacular ruins of Copán.

Please remember there is an airport tax not covered by kitty.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins at Copán

Included in Kitty

Copán

The ancient ruins of Copán are the southernmost of the great Mayan sites for which Central America is famed. This particular site is unique because of the 21 stelae or columns that have been found there. These are heavily carved with reliefs depicting the passage of time and the lives of the Royal families.  There are also a number of small pyramid shaped temples and excavated vaults.

Day 124: Suchitoto

Border information:  Exit Honduras at El Florido, enter Guatemala at El Florido. Exit Guatemala at Anguiatú, enter El Salvador at Anguiatú.

Today is a drive day as we cross into Guatemala and then onwards to El Salvador and the lovely town of Suchitoto. We camp with basic facilities by the lake.

Activity Approximate Cost

Free time to explore the wonderful town of Suchitoto

Included in Kitty

Suchitoto

Suchitoto is a reminder of El Salvador's past.  A beautiful colonial town with painted houses and cobbled streets it is a world away from modern El Salvador. The town overlooks the Embalse Cerrón Grande, also known as Lago Suchitlán, which is a haven for migrating birds, particularly falcons and hawks.

Day 125: Cerro Verde National Park

Free morning to explore Suchitoto and its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. In the afternoon we drive to Cerro Verde National Park which offers amazing views of the surrounding volcanoes and countryside. We camp in the park with basic facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Cerro Verde National Park

Included in Kitty

Hike up Santa Ana volcano

Cerro Verde National Park

The highlight of Cerro Verde National Park is the Cerro Verde, an extinct volcano which last erupted around 2500 years ago. On the top of its crater there is one of the few cloud forests in the country, located at 2030 meters above sea level. The Cerro Verde along with the volcanoes of Santa Ana and Izalco form one of the most impressive landscapes in El Salvador. These 2 otehr volcanoes can be viewed from lookout points inside Cerro Verde national park. The park offers some wonderful treks enabling fantastic views of northern El Salvador.

Day 126 to 127: Los Cobanos

This morning is free for optional acitivities in Cerro Verde before we head to the coast. We spend 2 nights in a hotel on the beach in Los Cobanos, a fisheman village away from the tourist trail.

Day 128: Antigua

Border information:  Exit El Salvador at La Hachadura, enter Guatemala at Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado,

Today we drive to Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 60 kms from Guatemala City. Overnight in a comfortable hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the beautiful town of Antigua

Included in Kitty

Antigua

Antigua, the old colonial capital of Guatemala,  is only a short distance from the international airport at Guatemala City.  Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua remains the cultural centre of the country and has a mixture Indian markets and colonial buildings. It's cobbled streets and indigenous marimba music in the many bars and restaurants create a fantastic atmosphere. It is usually possible to arrange an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano.  This can be one of the most exhilarating experiences as it is often active.

The reward for a few hard hours of climbing in the late afternoon is to sit and watch the spectacular eruptions of the volcano from close quarters.  The red hot lava explodes into the dark night air and lights the whole sky like a spectacular firework display.

Day 129: Antigua

Border information: If you are starting in Antigua, enter Guatemala at Guatemala City airport

Today there will be a trip meeting at 10:00 hrs. There are no activities planned for today but the afternoon is free for activities. Overnight in a lovely colonial hotel.

Hotel for the night: Posada La Merced

Posada La Merced

7a. Avenida Norte 43

Antigua

Guatemala

Tel: +502 7832197

Activity Approximate Cost

Pacaya Volcano Walk from Antigua

USD 15

Explore the beautiful town of Antigua

Included in Kitty

Day 130 to 131: Panajachel, Lake Atitlan

Today is a short drive to Panajachel, situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan, where we stay 2 nights in a hotel. There is the opportunity to take a boat out onto the lake or perhaps just enjoy some relaxation. If possible, we will visit the Chichicastenango Market during these days depending on the weekday. Please note that the market is only open on Thursdays and Saturdays so you may not be able to visit during your trip.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip to visit villages around Lake Atitlan

USD 30

Panajachel

Basing ourselves at Panajachel, we spend a couple of days exploring these surrounding villages. You may like to walk to the nearest village, Santa Catarina Palopo, where you can watch the women weaving their huipiles, or perhaps take a boat to the further villages of Santiago Atitlan or San Pedro la Laguna.  Santiago is known for its colourful markets whereas San Pedro has a tranquil atmosphere and is the base village from where the more energetic can climb the San Pedro volcano.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan's beautiful waters change colour to suit the mood of the weather from emerald and azure to lapis and olive. It is set amongst forest-clad hills with three volcanic peaks on its far shores.  All around the lake are small villages where the local Indian life has changed little for hundreds of years.  The people from each village have their own typical dress, and make all the textiles themselves in designs passed down through generations.

Day 132: San Andres Itzapa

A short drive brings us to San Andres Itzapa, a small village located in the moutains around Antigua. We spend one night at the centre of Manos Amigas, run by the Italian NGO 'Mani Amiche' in support of local women who have been abandoned and abused, and who are staying in the centre with their children. This is the project to which Luca, our Wanderlust 2012 Guide of the Year, donated part of his bursary.

Activity Approximate Cost

1 night at the Manos Amigas centre which helps local women and their children

Included in Kitty

San Andres Itzapa

San Andres Itzapa is a small village tuched away on the mountains around Antigua. 

Day 133 to 134: Rio Dulce, Livingston

Drive day to Rio Dulce where we stay for 2 nights in an eco lodge. We take a boat trip to Livingston on the Caribbean coast on our full day here.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a boat ride down the Rio Dulce to Livingston

Included in Kitty

Rio Dulce

From Puerto Barrios we will take a boat trip along the Rio Dulce. The river flows through dense forests and the jungle comes right down to the water's edge.  Tropical birds nest in the trees around us and fly overhead.  At one part of the river hot water bubbles from a natural spring in the bank, creating a localised hot pool.  For those wanting a hot bath or a swim, you can simply jump over the edge of the boat.

Livingston

At the mouth of the Rio Dulce we come to the small town of Livingston.  It has no roads connecting it to the rest of the country and as such has developed its own rather unique character with something of a Caribbean feel and is a great place to spend the night by the coast.

Day 135 to 136: Poptún

Today we have the morning free for activities in Rio Dulce and then a short drive to the small town of Poptún. We camp for 2 nights outside of Poptún and have a free day here for outdoor activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

River caving near Poptún

USD 40

Day 137: Tikal

Short drive to the incredible Mayan ruins of Tikal where we have a guided tour and then camp for the night close to the ruins. We will probably be stopping in Flores en route.

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy a guided tour of the incredible ruins of Tikal

Included in Kitty

Day 138 to 140: San Ignacio

Border information: Exit Guatemala at Melchor de Mencos, enter Belize at Benque Viejo del Carmen

We have a short drive to San Ignacio, locally known as Cayo. We camp here for 3 nights, allowing for plenty of time for optional activities.

Activity Approximate Cost
3 nights in San Ignacio, Belize's adventure activity centre

Included in Kitty

Take a canoe trip down the Macal River near San Ignacio

USD 15

Visit the Actun Tunichil Mukwal Cave

USD 75

Rent mountain bikes and explore the area around San Ignacio

USD 30

Horse riding around San Ignacio

USD 30

San Ignacio

San Ignacio, close to the Guatemalan border gives us many options. You can choose from numerous activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, caving and canoeing.  Some of the caving trips here are unique and this is a stop that everyone enjoys.

Day 141 to 143: Caye Caulker

We have a short drive to Belize City where we board a boat taking us to Caye Caulker where we spend 3 nights in a hotel. You will have plenty of free time in this incredible Caribbean location to relax, sunbathe or enjoy the many waterbased activities on offer.

Activity Approximate Cost

Snorkelling off Caye Caulker

USD 50

Visit the stunning Blue Hole off Caye Caulker

USD 200

3 nights on the stunning island of Caye Caulker in Belize

Included in Kitty

Caye Caulker

The Belize Cayes are a group of islands a short boat ride away from the coast, where scuba diving and snorkelling are about the hardest work to be done all day.  There are a number of these islands to choose from, but we will base ourselves on Caye Caulker as this is one of the more popular islands with travellers.  From here it is possible to arrange day trips to other Cayes, to the best reefs for diving, or simply to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself.  Each island has its own particular character but all of them have the unmistakable Caribbean pace and charm.

Day 144: Tulum

Border information: Exit Belize at Santa Elena, enter Mexico at Subteniente Lopez

Early start as we head back to the Belize mainland, catching a boat over to Belize City and driving onwards to Tulum where we stay for 2 nights in a hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights camping on the beach near Tulum

Included in Kitty

Tulum

The ruins of the ancient city of Tulum sit on the clifftop overlooking the white beach, the palm trees and the turquoise sea.  It is easy to see why the location was chosen for these temples to the God of the Setting Sun.

Day 145: Tulum

This morning we visit the Tulum ruins, one of the last cities built by the Maya and one of the best preserved coastal Maya sites. The afternoon is free time.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the clifftop Maya-Toltec ruins at Tulum

Included in Kitty

Day 146: Chichen Itza, Mérida

Early morning start to drive to Mérida where we stay 2 nights in a colonial hotel in the heart of this bustling city. We visit Chichen Itza en route for a guided tour around this spectacular Mayan site.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the spectacular Chitchen Itza on a guided tour, a UNESCO world heritage site

Included in Kitty

Chichen Itza

We stop at Piste from where we take in the Light and Sound Show at the famous site of Chichen Itza.  The following day we return to Chichen Itza where Toltec and earlier Mayan ruins lie alongside each other.  The famous El Castillo pyramid houses a huge staircase to a crypt that is guarded by a jaguar statue. The crypt houses a throne in the shape of a jaguar, painted red and inlaid with eyes and spots of pure jade.  The site has the largest ball-court from which any losing player taking part in the games would not have escaped with his head. The games are depicted in carvings on the walls.  Nearby the well of sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones when it was excavated at the start of the century.

Mérida

Mérida is the Yucatan State capital.  Here we get a chance to browse the excellent markets.  This is perhaps the best place to buy a hammock to get into the swing of things or even a Panama hat if you want to get ahead.

Day 147: Palenque

All day drive to Palenque where we camp for 2 nights in the grounds of a hotel located within the national park.

Palenque

Palenque, at the start of the Yucatan Peninsula, is sited on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle and hosts probably the most impressive series of Mayan ruins, which date back to AD 600.  Whilst walking amongst the ruins it is quite often possible to hear the eerie calls of the Howler Monkeys echoing from the jungle around us, which gives an added dimension to this magnificent archaeological site.  In the Templo de las Inscripciones the excavators actually found an intact funerary crypt containing the sarcophagus of the Sun God.  The temples are superb relics of the Mayan culture, and there are many ruins here still un-excavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.

Day 148: Palenque

Today we visit the incredible ruins of Palenque, rising high from the jungle. A guide will show us around the ruins and in the afternoon you will have free time to go on a jungle tour around the ruins or visit the on site museum. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the incredible ruined city of Palenque on a guided tour

Included in Kitty

Day 149: Frontera Corozal, Yaxchilán

Morning drive to Frontera Corozal where we camp for the night in the grounds of a hotel. Guided visit to the ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilán in the afternoon.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Mayan ruins at Yaxchilán

Included in Kitty

Yaxchilán

Yaxchilán, meaning green stones in Mayan, is an ancient Mayan city located on the bank of the Usumacinta river in the Lacanja region. Yaxchilán was an important site and dominated smaller sites such as Bonampak.

Day 150 to 152: San Cristóbal de las Casas

A full day's drive takes us to the beautiful old colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, one of Mexico's most beautiful towns. We stay 3 nights in a hotel in the historical centre of town. We will take a boat trip down the stunning Sumidero Canyon and have ample time for optional activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights in the colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas

Included in Kitty

Boat trip along the stunning Sumidero Canyon

Included in Kitty

Mountain biking near San Cristóbal de las Casas

USD 20

Visit the Tzotil village of San Juan Chamula

USD 10

Visit the museums of San Cristóbal de las Casas

USD 2

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas is the administrative centre of the Chiapas region. We will get the chance to visit some of the surrounding Indian villages perhaps taking a gentle horse-back ride to get there. The villages are populated with Tzotzil and Tzeltal Indians who still show their tribal origins through their varied traditional costumes and customs. You may also like to take a horse ride or mountain bike to explore the surrounding area.

Day 153 to 154: Oaxaca

Another full day's drive to Oaxaca where we stay for 2 nights in a hotel allowing you the chance to explore this this wonderfully laid back colonial city. During our stay here we will have a guided visit of the Zapotec remains at Monte Alban, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the churches and museums of Oaxaca

USD 1

Visit the Zapotec remains at Monte Alban near Oaxaca

Included in Kitty

Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a beautiful old colonial town.  Its graceful arcades and colourful markets are populated mainly by the descendants of Zapotec and Mixtec Indians, who come to sell their colourful woven blankets and shawls in the Zocalo.  Here you can explore the narrow, cobbled streets, which gave D.H.Lawrence the inspiration for his novel, The Plumed Serpent, or simply sit in the square drinking the local mescal and tequila and watch life in this colourful town go by.

Day 155: Mexico City

A drive day brings us to the hubub of the Mexican capital where we stay the night in a comfortable hotel.

Mexico City

Mexico City is the world's largest metropolitan area and is home to a population of some 20 million. Despite its size the city centre still has a colonial feel with a massive Hispanic cathedral dominating the Plaza de la Constitucion - the main square. The cathedral is built on the site of the ancient Aztec capital, the remains of which can be viewed alongside at the Temple Mayor and its Museum.  You may like to extend your time in Mexico City and allow yourselves a day or two more to take in some of the spectacular sights. These include the palaces, churches and temples, the anthropological and other museums. Alternatively you may just want to watch life go by in the Alameda Central - the central park.

Day 156: Mexico City

Today there will be a welcome meeting at 10 am. The rest of the day is free for you to explore and we stay the night in a centrally located hotel.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Isabel

Hotel Isabel

Calle Isabel La Catolica, 63

Centro Historico

Mexico City

Mexico

0052 5518 1213

Activity Approximate Cost

Spend the night in one of the world's busiest capitals, Mexico City

Included in Kitty

See the mariachis of Garibaldi Square in Mexico City

USD 1

Day 157: Angahuan

We leave the capital behind and drive all day to Angahuan. This village inhabited by the Purepecha who were indingenous to this area a thousand years before the Spanish invasion. Angahuan is the gateway to the Paricutin Volcano, the only volcano in the world that has been born in modern times.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in Angahuan by the Paricutín volcano

Included in Kitty

Angahuan

The small village of Anguhuan is situated around the Paricutin Volcano which erupted in 1943 and continued to erupt until 1954 when it ceased as suddenly as it had started.  In that time the volcano engulfed two entire villages and all that remains are the eerie church spires protruding from the lava.

Day 158: Angahuan

Today is a free day for you to look around the village or go for optional waks around the area of the Paricutin Volcano. The colcano buried to villages during its creation in 1943 and it's still possible to see the cathedral of San Juan Parangaricutiro stickign up from the lava field.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up the Paricutín volcano in Angahuan

USD 35

Day 159: Tequila

Drive to the town of Tequila where you stay the night in a basic hotel. Depending on timing you will have the option to go to visit some of the tequila distilleries this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of a tequila distillery

Tequila

The scent of tequila is in the air as soon as we reach the town of Tequila and pass fields of blue agave, the plant from which tequila is distilled. Due to the popularity of the drink the town and the surrounding area have been declared a World Heritage site and it will be only right to try a shot or two!

Day 160 to 161: Sayulita

Drive to the coast of Mexico and the surfing town of Sayulita. We have 2 nights here camping near the beach and a chance for you to relax by the ocean and maybe have a go at surfing.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights on the Pacific coast at Mexican town of Sayulita

Included in Kitty

Try your hand at surfing in Sayulita

USD 20

Sayulita

Sayulita is a coastal town situated on the Riviera Nayurit which stretches from San Blas in the north to Nuevo Vallarta in the south. It's a laid back town with miles of sandy beaches and a wonderful spot to relax or get involved in the many watersports on offer as is a surfing hotspot.

Day 162 to 163: Mazatlan, Guaymas

A couple of long drives north along the Pacific coast. You will spend the night camping en route, probably close to Mazatlan and Guaymas.

Guaymas

Patzcuaro is a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lago Patzcuaro and was the capital of the Purepechan Indian empire in the early Fourteenth Century.  The Spanish took the city between 1522 and 1529, and they committed atrocious crimes against the Purepecha people.  Today the town is tranquil with Indian markets and outdoor cafes, a far cry from its turbulent history.

Day 164: Nogales

Time to wave goodbye to Mexico as you will cross the US border. Tonight you camp outside Nogales.

Day 165: Phoenix area

Drive north and spend the night in a campsite in the Phoenix area.

Day 166 to 167: The Grand Canyon

Continue north to one of the US highlights, the Grand Canyon. Camping by the canyon for 2 nights and free time for optional treks and activities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Flights over the Grand Canyon

USD 200

Visit the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river that carves the canyon's shape

Included in Kitty

Treks into the Grand Canyon

USD 5

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is carved by the Colorado River and is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide in places and over a mile deep making it one of the largest canyons in the world and allowing it to justifiably call itself grand. The canyon is one of the most famous natural sights in north America and a real must see for any visitor to the USA.

Day 168 to 169: Las Vegas

We have a break from camping for the next 2 nights and the chance to enjoy a bed, assuming you can drag yourself out of the various all night entertainment options as we head into the bright lights of Las Vegas. The time in the city is free for you to explore and enjoy.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights in Las Vegas, gambling capital of the world!

Included in Kitty

Visit the various casinos in Las Vegas

USD 1

Las Vegas

Las Vegas was once described as a huge cash register in the middle of the desert. Cruise down the lively “Vegas Strip” a boulevard jammed full of neon lights calling you to the various casinos, restaurants and live shows.  Food, drink and entertainment prices here are incredibly low as each casino encourages you to “Take a Chance”.  Vegas owes its growth to the Hoover Dam which brought a large supply of construction workers into the area at the same time as the Nevada Government legalised gambling.

Day 170: Zion National Park

Short drive to a campsite just outside Zion National Park. Free time in the afternoon for walks or maybe go on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on a shuttle bus.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Zion National Park

Included in Kitty

River tubing in Zion National Park

USD 15

Canyoning in Zion National Park

USD 75

Hiking in Zion National Park

USD 5

Zion National Park

In 1863 Mormons fleeing religious persecution settled in the area, naming it their Zion. The Native American Paiute people previously inhabited the area.  Trekking in Zion National Park is an assault on the senses - amazing colours that change depending on the time of day, cliffs that tower above you and trails that seem just as steep as you clamber up them.

Day 171: Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park

Very scenic drive out of Zion NP and onto Bryce Canyon NP for a few hours hikin to see the hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion). Another short drive to a wonderful camping spot in Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin State Park

Included in Kitty

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not actually a canyon but in fact is a giant natural amphitheatre created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colours of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors so get your cameras at the ready!

Day 172: Lake Powell area

Drive towards Lake Powell. Camping for the night.

Day 173: Monument Valley

Drive to the iconic Monument Valley, the film set for countless movies. Visit to the Navajo National Monument en route. 

Guided jeep tour of Monument Valley Tribal Park, seeing the incredible formations and learning about the Navajo view of the buttes and mesas.

Spend the night in a traditional Navajo ‘Hogan’, all sleeping together on the ground in a circle.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the iconic Monument Valley

Included in Kitty

1 night sleeping in a traditional Navajo hogan and jeep tour of the Monument Valley

Included in Kitty

Visit the Navajo National Monument in Arizona

Included in Kitty

Monument Valley

20rg Na Usa Monument Valley, Sunset

They were initially hunter-gatherers that lived peacefully alongside existing tribes.  When the Spanish arrived in the 1800’s, the Navajo acquired the horse thus becoming a powerful nation.  Today the horse is still the best form of transport to get a feel for this valley - horse riding with Navajo guides is a great experience.

Day 174 to 176: Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park

Drive into Utah to Moab, stopping en route to see the Mexican Hat Rock. Spend 2 days visiting  both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Arches National Park

Included in Kitty

Explore Canyonlands National Park

Included in Kitty

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park near Moab in Utah consists of canyons and plateaus carved by two mighty rivers - the Colorado and the Green. The park offers some of the most challenging whitewater rapids in the world as well as great opportunities to hike and bike. With wonderfully coloured rocks the park is a photographers dream and contains the much captured image of Mesa Rock.

Day 177: Salt Lake City

Head to Salt Lake City in Utah, visiting Temple Square and learning about the Mormon culture which began here.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City to learn about Mormon pioneer history

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the most populous city in Utah and today is a great place to base yourself for skiing and outdoors activities. The city, commonly abbreviated to SLC, was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and his Mormon followers as they searched for a place to settle and practice their faith away from the violence and persecution they faced within the boundaries of the original united states. Today only about half of the city are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints yet the city is still synomynous with the religion. There are lots of places of interest in the city regarding the Mormon faith and in beautifully located, surrounded by mountains and the Great Salt Lake.

Day 178: Jackson Hole

Cross from Utah to Wyoming and Jackson Hole where you will camp for 1 night. 

Day 179 to 180: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park

Drive north through Grand Teton National Park  to Yellowstone National Park where you will camp for 2 nights. Spend a full day exploring the park and seeing the different geysers, of course including Old Faithful geyser.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights stay in Yellowstone National Park.

Included in Kitty

Kayaking and whitewater rafting in Yellowstone National Park

USD 70

Visit Old Faithful and other geysers in Yellowstone National Park

Included in Kitty

Horseback riding and hiking in Yellowstone National Park

USD 30

Yellowstone National Park

15rg Na Usa Yellowstone Pool

Yellowstone National Park is famous as the home of Old Faithful, however it has other claims to fame. Yellowstone was established as the world's first national park in 1872.  It also has the highest density of geysers, hot springs, fumeroles and mud pots of any area in the world.  Old Faithful (which is a geyser) can be seen spurting into the blue skies and we will have time to trek to various other geysers and mud pot sites.  As we drive through the park there is a good chance of seeing moose, bison, elk and grizzly or black bears - don't feed the bears!

Grand Teton National Park

The first permanent settlers began arriving in Jackson Hole in the late 1880's and soon after efforts began to preserve the surrounding area leading to the establishment of Grand Teton National Park in 1929 to protect the major peaks of the Teton mountain range. The national park is named after the Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the range, which is 4,199 metres high.

Day 181 to 182: Glacier National Park

Continue north through Montana, reaching Glacier National Park after a full day's drive. Camp for 2 nights and spend a full day in the park for activities. Maybe jump on a shuttle bus along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay in Glacier National Park for optional trekking

Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park (called Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side) is where the Rockies rise out of the Prairie lands. The park offers wonderful trekking opportunities and contains over 700 lakes, the largest of these being Lake McDonald which is over 9 miles long.

Day 183: Banff, Glacier National Park

Full day's drive to Banff, stopping en route at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Tonight you stay in dorm accommodation in a centrally located hostel.              

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Included in Kitty

Banff

Banff is one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations, known for its mountainous surroundings and hot springs so a great place to visit at anytime of the year.  Situated amidst mountains within Banff National Park, a World Heritage Site, it is packed with activities for you to partake in and a wonderful place to stay.

Day 184: Banff

Border information: If you are starting in Banff, enter Canada at Calgary Airport.

Today there will be a welcome meeting at 10:00 hrs. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Banff. We stay the night in a comfortable hostel in shared dorm accommodation. Banff is located 1.5 hr drive from Calgary Airport.

Hotel for the night: Y Mountain Lodge

The Banff Y Moutain Lodge is located in a unic downtown location in Baff. 

info@ywcabanff.ab.ca, 001 (403)7623560

102 Spray Avenue, Po Box 520, Banff, Alberta, Canada

T1L1A6

 

 

 

 

 

Day 185: Banff

In Banff there is a plethora of stunning sights and wonderful activities to occupy our time. We camp here for 2 nights and explore the surrounding area. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Take the Gondola up Sulphur Mountain near Banff

CAD 30

Visit Lake Louise near Banff

Relax in the Sulphur hot springs at Banff

CAD 7

Visit the Columbia Ice Fields near Banff

USD 50

Day 186: Spare

This is a spare day that could be used in Banff or a different location depending on the local conditions at the time of your trip.

Day 187: Jasper

A scenic drive through the rugged landscape of the Candian Rockies along the Icefields Parkway, travelling through Banff NP and Jasper NP. Visit to the Athabasca Falls en route. Camping 3 kms outside of Jasper.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Athabasca Falls near Jasper, among the most powerful and breathtaking falls in the Rocky Mountains

Included in Kitty

Jasper

Set deep inside Alberta's Rockies, Jasper is surrounded by mountains making this an incredibly beautiful place to visit. The road south out of Jasper towards Lake Louise offers wonderful vistas and the Columbia Icefield is one of these. The area offers numerous activities to keep you busy or alternatively just relax and enjoy the views!

Day 188: Jasper

Free day for activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and fishing.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take the Tramway up Whistler's mountain in Jasper

USD 30

Hire mountain bikes and explore around Jasper

USD 32

Day 189: En route in British Columbia

Today we leave the Canadian Rockies behind and head northwest on a full day's drive. We will will find somewhere to camp for the night.

Day 190: Hazelton, Stewart

Today we will drive to Stewart  where we camp here for 2 nights. En route we stop off in Hazelton to visit the Ksan Indian Village. Stewart is situated by the border with Alaska and is called "The Gateway to the Klondike". Its first permanent settlement dates back to the late 1800s when prospectors first came searching for gold. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Ksan Indian Village in British Columbia to visit the museum and view original totem poles and Indian history

Included in Kitty

Day 191: Stewart, Hyder

Today we drive into Alaska and the Hyder area. We visit Fish Creek bear viewing platform where iAlaskan brown grizzlies and black bears come to fish and eat salmon. We also view the Salmon Glacier, the fifth largest glacier in the world.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Fish Creek for a chance to see both Alaskan brown grizzlies and black bears fishing for salmon

Included in Kitty

Hyder

Hyder is on the edge of Misty Fjords National Park. During our visit here we can hopefully catch sight of grizzly bears fishing for salmon in the rivers.  The rivers come from a glacier called Salmon Glacier,  we can take a hike to view this immense natural structure. Hyder is actually a dangerous place, as the local custom is to be 'hyderized' in the local bar.  This entails knocking back a shot of some ferocious 150% proof local alcohol!

Day 192: Watson Lake

Today we drive north to Watson Lake where we camp for the night. 

Activity Approximate Cost

See a show at the Northern Lights Centre

Day 193: Watson Lake, Whitehorse

Free time in Watson Lake this morning - perhaps visit the world famous signpost forest. Afternoon drive to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon territory, where we camp outside of town.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the famous Signpost Forest - why not make your own sign to put up?

USD

Whitehorse

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and has the feeling of a frontier town.

Day 194 to 195: Dawson

We drive into the Klondike to Dawson City, once a hive of activity for gold prospectors. En route we visit Dredge No 4 which is one of the original mining rigs and the largest woodel-hulled bucket dredge in North America. We will camp across the Yukon river from Dawson City for 2 nights, and in your free time you may want to visit Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, a real outwest experience!

Activity Approximate Cost

Enjoy the cabaret and hopefully win a dollar or two at Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino in Dawson City

USD 5

Visit one of the original mining rigs, Dredge No 4

Included in Kitty

Dawson

Dawson takes us back to the times of the Klondike Gold rush. It is easy to imagine the old pioneering spirit of the place with it’s boardwalks and boat cruises on the Yukon River all adding to the experience.  We will visit Dredger No 4 (one of the original mining rigs) and Diamond Tooth Gerties, a traditional cancan beer hall.

Day 196: Tok

Border information: Exit Canada and enter the USA at Little Gold/Poker Creek

A 301km journey along the 'Top of the World highway' on an incredibly scenic drive brings us to Tok where we will camp just ouside town. En route we cross into Alaska via the most northen international border corssing in North America.

Tok

Amidst the Land of the Midnight Sun lies the small town of Tok which originally was a camp for the workers constructing the Alcan and Glenn Highways in the 1940s. Tok is best known for it's assocation with dog sledding as well as dog breeding, training and mushing. The Tok Race of Champions Sled Dog Race, one of the oldest in the Alaska, is held each March.

Day 197 to 198: Wrangell-St Elias National Park

A drive day takes us to Wrangell-St Elias National Park where we camp for 2 nights. This is the largest national park in the USA and has an abundance of optional activities to partake in such as hiking, historic mine tours, glacier walks or ice climbing.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hiking in Wrangell-St Elias National Park

USD 70

Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Wrangell-St Elias is the largest national park in the United States, some six times the size of Yellowstone. The scale of everything here is enormous. Four major mountain ranges meet here, and the park includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States including Mt Blackburn and Mt Sanford and there are huge chains of glaciers within the park. The high country is covered with snow year round, resulting in extensive icefields and glaciers. Numerous sheep and mountain goats patrol the craggy peaks whilst the park is also home to caribouand moose as well as brown and black bears that roam throughout the park.

Day 199 to 200: Denali Highway

Today we drive along the very scenic and rugged Denali Highway to a lodge situated near the base of the Maclaren Glacier. We will have one night camping by the lodge before going on a remote bushcamp to experience the Alaskan wilderness for the second night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Experience an overnight bushcamp in the Alaskan wilderness

Included in Kitty

Day 201 to 203: Denali National Park

A short and very scenic drive along the Denali Highway brings us to Denali National Park, the home of Mount McKinley, where we camp for 3 nights. You have a full day included shuttle bus tour to the Toklat River area and then a free day for optional activities such as hiking and cycling.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a shuttle bus around Denali National Park to the Toklat River where you have excellent hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities

Included in Kitty

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley; America's highest peak at 6000 metres.  You can take a scenic flight over the park and Mount McKinley.  Denali is full of moose, caribou, brown and black bears and over 150 species of birds that flock here during the summer months.

Day 204 to 205: Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park

A full day's drive takes us to our campsite south of Seward where will camp for 2 nights. During your free day there will be the opportunity to take a boat trip out into Kenai Fjords National Park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip around Kenai Fjords National Park

USD 150

Seward

Seward is a small fishing town on Resurrection Bay and our base from which to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. The town is quaint and lucky to still exist as was almost entirely destroyed by fires and tidal waves during the 1964 earthquake.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 and covers an area of approximately 4,600 sq km on the Kenai Peninsula. The park is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, including the Harding Ice Field and the largest which is Bear Glacier. Taking a boat out into the fjords is a great way to see the area.

Day 206: Anchorage

A short drive brings us to Anchorage where we stay in dorm accommodation in a hostel.

Hotel for the night: Alaskan Backpackers Inn

Alaskan Backpackers Inn

327 Eagle Street

Anchorage

Alaska

USA

001 907 277 2770

Anchorage

Anchorage is set on the shores of the Cook Inlet at the base of the Chugach Mountains and is an excellent point to begin exploring the Alaskan glaciers and lakes.  Anchorage is historically a frontier oil and railway town and there are interesting museums reflecting the city's past.

Day 207: Anchorage

Border information: If you are leaving in Anchorage, exit the USA at Anchorage Airport.

The trip ends this morning. No accommodation is provided for tonight.

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Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, information and kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regualarly and so please ensure you have an up to date version of these Trip Notes

We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.

Specific notes

Because of its nature, this itinerary may vary: occasionally road conditions are too adverse during the rainy season (Jan & Feb) to make the crossing from Uyuni to Argentina and we may have to change the route. During the winter months in Argentina and Bolivia we will spend a higher proportion of nights in hotels and less time camping. Kitty may be higher than expected and you should allow extra funds for this and personal funds for more meals out. There may well be snow and you should be aware that it can get very cold at night. Please ensure that you bring a decent sleeping bag and adequate clothes, including thermals.

The Community Inca Trek, Classic Inca Trail and Non Trekking Package – more information

The Inca Trail usually refers to the ancient pathway used by the Incas leading to Machu Picchu, but in fact there are a number of Inca Trails running through the Urubamba Valley. On all Dragoman trips that travel via Cuzco we include the choice between three options: the Classic Inca Trail, our Community Inca Trek which is exclusive to Dragoman, or a non trekking package.

The costs for each option are included in the kitty, but you must tell us at the time of booking if you want to book the Classic Inca Trail or the non trekking option. If you do not tell us this you will automatically be booked onto the Community Inca Trek. Full details of all three options are below.

Option 1: The Community Inca Trek

This unique and pioneering trekking route is automatically included in all of our trips that visit this area of Peru. The trek travels through spectacular scenery, passing through Inca ruins and staying in remote villages. You'll be hiking unspoiled trails used only by local villagers and Dragoman passengers, avoiding the crowds of the Classic route. You will be camping as guests of the local communities we pass through and may have the opportunity to help out with some hands-on projects, for example at the local schools. This is the real Andes, trekking pristine trails with spectacular mountain scenery at every turn. After a comfortable overnight stay in Ollantaytambo we head to the ancient citadel Machu Picchu. Although we do not enter the site through the Sun Gate as on the Classic Inca Trail there is plenty of time to hike to the Sun Gate for those who wish.

This option is automatically included as part of your trip unless you advise us otherwise. So if you want to take the Community Inca Trek no further action is required. If you would prefer to trek the classic Inca Trail, or choose not to trek at all, you let us know at the time of booking.

To be able to buy your train ticket between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

  • Full name (EXACTLY as it appears in the passport you are travelling on)
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport Number
  • Passport Expiry Date

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel on may result in you not being allowed to board the train.

DAY 1: Cuzco to Zurite
Leaving Cuzco early in the morning, we proceed to Sascaywaman for a 1 hour tour of the archeological ruins. From there we will go to Pisac to visit the ruins, before continuing on to Chincheros, a small village in the Sacred Pampa where the locals speak mostly Quechua, the language of the Incas. There you will see a weaving demonstration that has been unchanged for a thousand years and you will tour the archaeological ruins there for another hour and a half. From Chincheros we will drive an area with great views to have an energizing picnic lunch. We will then drive to Quillarumiyoc, also known as the Temple of the Moon. Then we will hike to Zurite where you will have a picturesque home stay in a house that is full of history from the Colonial period. In the house we will enjoy a nice dinner of traditional or contemporary food and you can experience the lifestyle of the locals.

Meals provided: Morning snack, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 4hrs
Distance: 8km

DAY 2: Zurite to Amaruwatana
After a hearty breakfast we leave Zurite and head towards Amaruwatana camp. The walk will take us through Qenteqentiyoc (the hummingbird temple), where we can visit and admire this archaeological Inca site. Following the ancient path all the way to the top of our first pass at 4,500 metres, where we will have a dramatic view of both mountain ranges, Vilcabamba and Vilcanota. From here we start walking down on the way to our first camp in the Sambor valley where we will spend the night.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 8hrs
Distance: 13km

 DAY 3: Amaruwatana to Ancascocha
Early in the morning after breakfast we trek for 2 hours to get to our second pass at 4,700 metres; from there we have fantastic views of the rock formations below us. Sometimes it is possible to see Andean ibis, herons, torrent ducks, caracaras, eagles and foxes. After another 2 hours we arrive to a nice highland valley, a place named Kenqo Mayu, or zig-zag river, where glacier water flows through the valley. Our lunch will be at the end of the river, and after lunch we will continue downhill and follow the ancient trail, which goes on a little uphill section which leads us to our campsite in a community called Ancascocha. We will arrive to our campsite in the late afternoon near to a large glacier mountain and glacier stream. If we arrive on time there is an optional hike to the lake, a one hour round trip.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Approximate walking time: 6½hrs
Distance: 10km

DAY 4: Ancascocha to Ollantaytambo
After eating breakfast and breaking camp we start hiking down the Silque Canyon. We will descend by way of the narrow canyon, following a stream that will gradually get bigger. We can observe tall granite walls on the sides of the canyon, populated by a large variety of orchids and bromeliads, filling the environment with magnificent colours when they bloom. We continue on the trail making zig-zags. After crossing many little bridges we will reach the community of Camicancha, where we stop in a nice volcanic rock area, with magnificent views of mount Veronica, a snow capped mountain. From here we are very close to the Chilca community where we finish our trek. A vehicle will transfer us to Ollantaytambo and our hotel. After showers and a little rest, we get ready for the cultural tour of this incredible archaeological site, which is very well known as the Temple of the Sun.
Meals provided: Breakfast, lunch
Approximate walking time: 5hrs
Distance: 12km

 DAY 5: Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu – Cuzco
Early morning after breakfast, we catch the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes where a short bus ride takes us to the 15th-century Inca site of Machu Picchu where we have a full day to walk around the ruins with our guide. We arrive back in Cuzco late evening after the return train and bus journey via Ollantaytambo. We spend the night in Cuzco.
Meals provided: Breakfast

Community Trek inclusions

  • Guided tour of Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo & Machu Picchu with a professional, bilingual tour guide
  • All transport to and from Cuzco
  • Return train ticket Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
  • Return bus ticket Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu
  • 1 night in Ollantaytambo hotel
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
  • High quality double-occupancy tents and camping equipment
  • Sleeping mat
  • Duffle bag
  • Hot water in the morning for washing
  • Drinking water throughout the trek
  • Dining tent, kitchen tent, and latrine tent
  • First aid kit and oxygen bottle
  • Professional, bilingual guide
  • Team of camp staff including cooks, porters and wranglers
  • Llamas and horses to carry camping equipment and passenger bags
  • Emergency horse for riding in case of illness or injury
  • All camping meals with plentiful and nutritious food (vegetarian option available) and snacks

 

Communities Supported

The communities that we visit are remote Andean farming communities with traditions dating back to the Incas. They are primarily Quechua speaking, with some Spanish, and little contact with the general population. Their daily lives consist of potato cultivation, weaving, and the herding of llamas, alpacas, and sheep. Considered by the Peruvian government to be living in extreme poverty, they often face malnutrition, severely cold weather, poor hygienic conditions, and little medical or health assistance. These communities typically have small schools that often need support with construction, furniture, materials and teachers. Villagers live in thatched-roof stone huts and cook with firewood. Because of the disproportionate supply and demand of native trees and bush, there is a great need for an effective reforestation project in the area. Since 2006, Dragoman has worked with Ecoam (who helps us with our reforestation project) and thanks to the support from Dragoman and our passengers, the area we used to visit around Quishuarani, Cuncani and part of the mountain range of Lares has been declared a Private Landscape Reserve.

The fairly recent introduction of tourism to the region has brought some needed assistance and economic development to the communities, but there is still much more to do. Our local trekking operator working within the guidelines of sustainable tourism has met with the communities and discussed the pros and cons of tourism in the area. Together they have established still un-official guidelines for trekking and tourism through the Cordillera such as: established campsites to avoid contamination of community areas, use of community animals and personnel on treks, training of community members through workshops on camp maintenance, hygiene, client service to enhance their economic viability, maintenance of camp trails, camp sites, and environmental conservation. Many agencies respect these guidelines, but because making things official often brings on unwanted government intervention, they are now a pact between the communities, agencies, and tourists.

Option 2: Classic Inca Trail

This original King's route still remains popular and it is a 4-day trek, which passes through cloud forest and dramatic mountain scenery. It ends at sunrise on the last day as you trek to the Sun Gate for your first views of magnificent Machu Picchu. If you would prefer to trek the Classic Inca Trail then you must advise Dragoman at the time of booking. Dragoman will then apply for your permit but please note that these can never be guaranteed and if unavailable we will automatically book you onto the Community Inca Trail.

To be able to apply for your Inca Trail permit, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

  • Full Name (EXACTLY as it appears in the passport you are travelling on)
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport Number
  • Passport Expiry Date

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel with may result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.

DAY 1
This morning we go for a guided tour of the Sacred Valley and enjoy lunch at Pisac. We then head to Ollantaytambo to view more Inca ruins and we stay in a nice hotel for the night.
Meals provided: Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 2
The following morning after breakfast, we catch a bus to the 82 km marker and are joined by a crew of local porters, cook, etc. As we hike from high plateau to dense forest, you will see some remains of ancient villages and temples, the first of which is Llactapata. The starting point of the trek (the 82 km marker) is located at 2,850 m above sea level. The trek includes some uphill trekking to the campsite (over 3,000m above sea level). Take advantage during the 4 days of the trek to get to know your porters. You will realise they work the hardest on the team and are gentle people willing to share with you their culture, language and trek experiences.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 3
This is the most challenging of the trek as w.e ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hrs) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman's Pass, at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley (3,650 m above sea level - 2 hrs downhill). Depending upon local conditions, you might camp here today, or may need to continue further up and down. We might cross the first and second passes on this day. From the second pass, Runkuracay (3,980 m above sea level - 90 min uphill) we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2 hours downhill). From here it is only a few more minutes to the Chaquicocha campsite (3,620 m above sea level).
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 4
Today we continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds' (3,850 m above sea level – 90 min uphill). Start descending real Inca Steps (2 hrs) to reach our final night's camp by the Wiñay Wayna, or 'Forever Young' ruins (2,750 m above sea level), with panoramic views of the valley below.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks

DAY 5
Today is only a short final hike (90 min) to Machu Picchu and we climb the steps to the Sun Gate to watch the ruins emerge from the mist below. As with the community trek our guide will show us the most important constructions as well as explain the history and the mythology of this magnificent place. There is some free time to explore the ruins further at your own pace or maybe if you haven't experienced enough steps and trekking, why not visit the Inca Bridge. Or you can just chill out and watch the hummingbirds or vizcachua. Late afternoon we head back down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco for a well-deserved rest.
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks

Option 3: Non Trekking Package

If you do not wish to trek but want to take part in the Sacred Valley Tour and guided tour of Machu Picchu, then this is the package for you. You will receive a refund from kitty for the unused part of the excursion as your kitty amount has been calculated for the trekking options. Please note that in order to obtain a refund you MUST inform us that you would like the non trekking package at the time of booking. Please also note that there is a possibility that you may be the only person booked on to the non trekking package.

To be able to buy your train ticket between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, it is vital that you provide the following information at the time of booking:

  • Full name (EXACTLY as it appears in the passport you are travelling on)
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport Number
  • Passport Expiry Date

 

Any inconsistency between the information provided and the passport you travel on may result in you not being allowed to board the train.

DAY 1
You will leave Cuzco with your fellow passengers who will be trekking the Community Trek of the Classic Inca Trail. You will visit the fortress of Sacsaywaman, followed by a beautiful scenic drive over mountains and through valleys, via the ancient city of Pisac and on to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After lunch you will head back to Cuzco where you will stay at our nice, centrally located hotel for a further 3 nights. These hotel nights will be booked for you by your tour leader.

DAYS 2 & 3
There are no activities booked or organised for you during these two days. There will be plenty of free time for you to go out and enjoy the many beautiful restaurants and shops that this wonderful town has to offer.

DAY 4
After being picked up from your hotel in the morning you will be driven to the fortress city of Ollantaytambo and our hotel for the night, the Tunupa Lodge. Here you will rejoin the Community Inca Trekkers and your tour leader who will be arriving from their trek this afternoon.

DAY 5
After an early breakfast and a 10 minute walk to the train station, your stunning 2 hour train ride to Aguas Calientes begins. The journey takes you through several different micro-climates, past Inca terraces, lookout posts, ancient river bank reinforcements and small towns. You will get a glimpse of different temples and the beautiful Mount Veronica (18,800 ft. / 5,750 m). Passing through 8 tunnels, the train journey finally comes to an end in the busy pueblo, Aguas Calientes. From here you take a local bus that winds up the mountainside for about 30 minutes until you arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu (7,800 ft / 2,400 m), the awe inspiring 'Lost City of the Incas'. The guide will take you around the immense, mystical ruins for about 2 to 2 ½ hours, explaining the rich history of the ancient site. Afterwards, you will have time to explore on your own before returning down the mountain to Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon you will catch a train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and a private transfer will take you back to your hotel in Cuzco.

Non Trekking Package inclusions

  • Transport from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo via the Sacred Valley.
  • Return train ticket Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes
  • 3 night stay at our hotel in Cuzco (Nights 1, 2, & 3)
  • 1 night stay at a hotel in Ollantaytambo (Night 4)
  • Return bus ticket Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu
  • Guided tour of Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo & Machu Picchu with a professional, bilingual tour guide
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
  • Transfer Ollantaytambo to Cuzco

 

Still Unsure of Which Trail?

Dragoman's Community Inca Trek is a unique trekking route that not only involves trekking through pristine unspoiled mountains along ancient Inca Trails, but also allows the trekkers to stay within local communities and get involved with our pioneering community-based tourism project, Tarpuy Yachay. This trek is all about getting away from the overcrowded thoroughfares of the Classic Inca Trail and instead getting out into the real Andes. Not to mention being part of a project with provides a genuine, direct benefit to the host communities we travel through, by supporting education, income generation and environmental sustainability projects.

The Classic Inca Trail is the trek which you will see in every tour operator's brochure and website that features Peru as a destination. It is the most common trekking route taken to get to Machu Picchu.

Benefits of the Community Inca Trek over the Classic Inca Trail

  • Unspoilt and absolutely spectacular mountain scenery.
  • Hands on involvement with local communities, including a variety of projects to provide infrastructure for the community.
  • A proportion of the costs are going back into the local community and the guides, pack animals and trekking staff are all from the local community. The community really benefits from your trekking.
  • Virtually deserted routes, used only by locals and Dragoman. Most groups see no other tourists while trekking.
  • Llamas, mules and horses are used instead of porters to carry equipment. The local communities we stay in provide the animals making this an example of Responsible Tourism in action.
  • Horses and mules provide safety if people suffer from altitude or exhaustion... you can always swallow your pride and hitch a ride.
  • Altitude Sickness - although we will trek higher than the Classic Inca Trail (4,700 m), we can always get you down to a lower altitude and into a local community if necessary. This is not possible on the Classic Trail.

 

Points against the Community Inca Trek

  • The Sun Gate & Machu Picchu - yes, we certainly will visit Machu Picchu after the trek, but we will not trek through to the Sun Gate as you will on the Classic Inca Trail. However, many group members chose to trek up from Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate to see the famous view. This is always possible and we do allow time during your visit to Machu Picchu for this.
  • The Inca Roads that the Classic Trail takes are the King's roads and therefore are better preserved that the Inca trails across the valley.The ruins along the way on the Classic Inca Trail are more numerous, however you will still see Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and other remote Inca sites on the Community Trail.

 

The Classic Inca Trail

  • This "original" route is still the most popular route because of its history.
  • The Classic Trail is not quite as challenging as the Inca Community Trail and the passes are not quite as high. That said, it is still a pretty tough and you will need to be reasonably fit.
  • The Classic Inca Trail finishes at the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu on the final morning of the trek, and you arrive at Machu Picchu by foot. On the Community Trek you will finish your trek the day before visiting Machu Picchu - and whilst we still arrive very early in the morning before the crowds, this is not a trekking day.
  • The crowds - unfortunately often as many as 500 people a day start the Classic Trail and it has become very overcrowded, especially during the peak months. Rubbish, dirt, sanitation and over crowding are a real issue now. The hordes of people trekking this route is unsustainable and the Peruvian Government are being forced to limit numbers. This has now meant that at certain times of the year, not only is the trail overcrowded but also it is hard to even get permits to trek.
  • The Classic Trail gives you no community involvement and you will be a trekking tourist in a national park.

 

However this is still the Classic Inca Trail and for some no other route will do, and we therefore offer it as an alternative. The Community Trek is included in our trips, but if you would prefer to take the Classic then you will need to let our sales team know at time of booking.

Trail fitness 

Trekking at altitude should not be undertaken lightly. Regardless of which trek you choose, you need to be in good health with good physical fitness to enjoy the experience. It is not about speed; trekking slowly is far better at altitude but you do need to have the stamina to keep going and altitude can have a negative impact on your general condition and physical performance. For your own safety you must accept that it is at the complete discretion of the professional trekking guides to decide if you are not fit enough to trek, whether it be before or during the trek. The Community Inca Trek reaches 4,700 m in altitude when we cross one of the passes. The trail can be steep and rocky but has few steps. The Classic Inca Trail has lots of steps and the highest pass is Dead Woman's Pass at 4,200 m. If you are in any doubt about your suitability to trek please consult your local doctor. 

Trekking - what to bring

Tents, sleeping mats and all food and drinking water during the trek are provided, as well as duffle bags for your personal gear that you don't need to access during the trekking hours (such as sleeping bags and extra clothes). On the Community Trek your duffle bag will be carried by pack animals and on the Classic Trail your duffle bag will be carried by porters. Please note that for the Classic Inca Trail there is therefore a strict weight limit of 10 kgs per bag, no exceptions. You will have to carry your own daypack with any items you need during the day.

You will need to be prepared for 4 seasons' weather in one day. Basically it will be cold after dark and in the mornings. During the night you will need to layer up with thermals and warm socks. In the morning when you've walked for a little while you will warm up and gradually strip off. Think layers! Community trekkers, you should also bring a set of clean clothes for night 4, which you will spend in Ollantaytambo where you have hot showers and the evening meal out in a restaurant.

Some very useful things to bring:

  • Daypack (less than 30 litres)
  • Waterproof bag(s) to keep you stuff dry (bin liners or similar are fine)
  • Warm sleeping bag (also available to rent from our local supplier)
  • Sleeping bag liner (for extra insulation)
  • Sleeping mat (only if you want extra insulation/padding as a mat will be provided)
  • Walking stick (basic wooden sticks will be available to buy)
  • Water bottle(s) with a total capacity of at least 2 litres
  • Head torch or normal torch
  • Small towel
  • Camera (also charger, extra batteries and memory cards)
  • Walking boots
  • Light shoes or sandals (to allow your feet to relax and breathe during the evenings)
  • Waterproofs
  • Thermal underwear
  • Warm socks
  • Fleece or other warm sweater
  • Woolly hat & gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Basic toiletries (lip salve, sun block, insect repellent, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc)
  • Toilet paper + plastic bags to carry your used toilet paper with you (only needed during the trekking hours, at night a dug toilet with toilet paper will be provided)
  • Basic medical kit (any personal medication, plasters, painkillers, etc)
  • Pack of cards / book / game for evenings
  • Money (for souvenirs, snacks, drinks, food, etc + tip for the guides and porters)
  • PASSPORT + passport photocopy
  • Cuzco Visitor's Ticket (this will be arranged for you by your tour leader)


We recommend a tip of US$20 for your guide and perhaps US$30 for all the rest of the staff. On the Community Inca Trek, you may also wish to bring financial or actual donations for the communities. Photos of your home area and family are great things to share with the children and families we may meet in the communities.

Responsible Trekking

Frostbite, altitude sickness and even death can be the cost for the guides and trekking staff. Tourism Concern has a campaign aimed to put a stop to the abuse of trekking staff's human rights. Equally pack animals suffer abuse and mistreatment. Mountain trekking is exhilarating and challenging, but how could many of us do it without the assistance of trekking staff. Once they have started a trek, trekkers are often horrified by the reality of the working conditions for the staff. The prices that tour operators charge for trekking does vary enormously, mainly due to the rates of pay and conditions that the trekking crew receive. It is easy to book a trip based purely on price, but in the case of trips involving Inca trails, this will probably be because the tour operator is using local suppliers without regard to the treatment of porters and guides. In keeping with our Responsible Tourism Policies, Dragoman has a strict Suppliers Policy, which also covers our trekking partners. We follow Tourism Concern's policies on trekking companies and the way that guides, porters or animals are looked after. We therefore use a local Cuzco based trekking company called Andina Travel to run all our Inca trails trekking trips. They have an excellent trekking record and good, knowledgeable guides. They have been at the cutting edge of developing codes of responsible tourism practice and involving the local Quechuan communities in the development of their various treks. They supply us with evidence of their code of practice concerning their guides, staff and pack animals. Please bear this in mind when deciding which travel company you will travel with. Remember many of the trekking organisations, as well as many overseas tour operators who use these suppliers, are happy to promote low cost trips, even if it is at the expense of the welfare of the guides and porters that they use.

Multiple departures with amended itineraries

South America is very busy for travel at certain times of the year, particularly in connection with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro which takes place every year 40 days before Easter. If the trip you are on is connecting to Rio Carnival in any way then there is likely to be more than just one truck on your specific departure date. This means that each truck will operate on slightly different itineraries and your day to day itinerary may vary from your trip notes. You will of course still visit all the highlights listed, and the presence of other trucks can make for a great atmosphere leading to or from the greatest party on earth! 

Torres del Paine National Park and the W-walk

The group will spend 5 nights and 4 full days in the Torres del Paine National Park, allowing plenty of time for hiking, trekking and other optional activities - such as the 4 day W-walk, a popular route taking in 3 of the most famous features of the park.

The W involves 4 full days trekking and 3 overnight stays away from the truck. Dragoman offers a 2 day W-walk extension package which includes a local guide, food and camping with facilities. This package enables you to complete the entire W walk circuit without having to carry your own tent, cooking equipment or food supplies. It is however important to bear in mind that you will have to carry your own personal effects for the duration of the trek, e.g. sleeping mat, sleeping bag, clothes for 4 days, toiletries, snacks, water, etc.

Please note that the extension package must be pre booked through your sales agent. To ensure availability we recommend that you book early, especially during high season. Please also note that any cancellation within 65 days of departure will incur a 100% cancellation fee.

High season runs from 1 November to 30 March.

Itinerary for Base Package (included in High Season trips):

Day 1: Pehoe Campsite
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande at 09:30 hrs. The group will split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to Glacier Grey with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.
Day 3: Pehoe Campsite
The groups will hike from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley. The base package group will then walk back to Paine Grande and board the catamaran back to Pudeto with their guide. The truck will meet the group here and drive to our campsite for the night. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.
Day 4: Pehoe Campsite
Free day for optional activities around the camp.
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite
This morning the group will wake early to drive to Refugio Las Torres in the Dragoman truck. You will hike with your guide to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

Itinerary for Base Package (included in Low Season trips):

Day 1: Pehoe Campsite
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande at 12:00 hrs. The group will then split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to the Glacier Grey viewpoint with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.
Day 3: Paine Grande Campsite
The groups will hike from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley. The base package group will then walk back to Paine Grande with their guide and stay a second night in the campsite. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.
Day 4: Pehoe Campsite
This morning is free time before boarding the catamaran back to Pudeto at 12.30 pm. The truck will meet the group here and drive to our campsite for the night. The afternoon is free for optional activities or relaxing around the camp. 
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite
This morning the group will wake early to drive to Refugio Las Torres in the Dragoman truck. You will hike with your guide to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Refugio Las Torres where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

Please note that you will be able to see most areas of the park in the included Base Package itinerary. You should also note that it is possible to visit other areas of the park on day hikes from the main campsite where the truck will be based for 4 nights.

Itinerary for Extension Package to full W-walk (optional):

Day 1: Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
The group arrives in Puerto Natales where two local guides will join on the journey to Torres del Paine.
Day 2: Paine Grande Campsite (already included in trip)
The Dragoman truck will drive the group to Pudeto. From here the group will take the catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande. This afternoon the group will split into 2 groups, one for the base package walkers and one for the extension package walkers, and hike up to see Glacier Grey with their respective guides. The groups will return to Paine Grande in time for dinner. The night will be spent camping in Paine Grande campsite. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.
Day 3: Campsite Cuernos (optional extra)
The group will hike from Paine Grande to the French Valley and then finally onward to Los Cuernos. The group will spend the night camping in Campsite Cuernos. Today the path climbs to reach the top of the French Valley and then descends again. Some parts are steep with loose scree and uneven terrain.
Day 4: Las Torres Campsite (optional extra)
The group will hike from Campsite Cuernos along Lake Nordenskjold and Almirante Nieto Mountain to the foot of Ascencio Valley. The group will spend the night camping in Las Torres Campsite. The walk today is mostly flat with easy terrain.
Day 5: Pehoe Campsite (already included in trip)
This morning the group will hike up to see the Torres (Towers), and come back down to Las Torres Campsite where the Dragoman truck will be waiting to return the whole group to the campsite for the evening. Today the path climbs to reach the Las Torres lookout and then descends again. The path is quite steep (the last part before reaching the lookout is very steep) with some loose scree and uneven terrain.

Trekking - what to bring

Tents as well as food during the trek are provided. You will have to carry your own daypack with any items you need during the trek, including sleeping bag and sleeping mat. 

You will need to be prepared for 4 seasons' weather in one day. It can be cold and windy and you may have to layer up with thermals and warm socks.

Some very useful things to bring on the trek:

• Daypack (less than 30 litres)
• Waterproof bag(s) to keep you stuff dry (bin liners or similar are fine)
• Sleeping mat (also available from our local supplier)
• Warm sleeping bag (also available to rent from our local supplier)
• Sleeping bag liner (if you wish for extra insulation)
• Walking sticks (some of the track is steep and made of loose scree)
• Water bottle(s) with a total capacity of at least 2 litres
• Head torch or normal torch
• Small towel
• Camera (remember extra batteries and memory cards)
• Binoculars
• Walking boots
• Light shoes or sandals (to allow your feet to relax and breathe during the evenings)
• Waterproofs
• Thermal underwear
• Warm socks
• Fleece or other warm sweater
• Woolly hat & gloves
• Sunglasses
• Sun hat
• Basic toiletries (lip salve, sun block, insect repellent, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc)
• Basic medical kit (any personal medication, plasters, painkillers, etc)
• Pack of cards / book / game for evenings
• Any snacks (also possible to buy en route but generally it's cheaper to get it in Puerto Natales)
• Money (for souvenirs, snacks, drinks, etc)
• Entrance ticket to Torres del Paine NP
• Passport + the immigration slip you receive when you enter Chile

Physical Preparation

South America

South America is diverse continent from high altitude, to the steamy Amazon, to baking deserts. You should therefore be prepared for the full gambit of climates. There will be time for hikking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large the South America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Physical preparation for North America

North America is diverse continent from high altitude to baking deserts. You should therefore be prepared for the full gambit of climates. There will be time for hikking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. The North America trip is primarily camping based so you need to be prepared to go for a number of days without the luxury of a real bed.

Physical preparation for Central America Itineraries

Central America is diverse continent so you should therefore be prepared for the adventure. There will be time for hiking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. The Central America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

South America is diverse continent from high altitude, to the steamy Amazon, to baking deserts. You should therefore be prepared for the full gambit of climates. There will be time for hikking and other activities such as horse riding and you will need to be reasonably fit. Overland travel can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large the South America trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Altitude

Please note that this trip spends time above 2800 metres/9200 feet where it is possible for travellers to experience some adverse effects on your health due to the altitude, potentially including Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

Because of this it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude and monitor your health during this trip. 

Your leader will also hand you a copy of the AMS information sheet during your trip as well as holding a short meeting prior to travelling to altitudes above 2800m/9200ft for the first time.

If you are starting your trip in a destination above 2800m/9200ft we strongly advise reading this information prior to arrival.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible.  Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. However, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process.

Panama

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 or 180 days. Depending on your nationality you may however be required to obtain a tourist card which are available upon arrival and cost $5. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Argentina

Nationals of most countries including Australia, USA, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Argentina.

ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY TAX:

The Argentinian government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:

Australians - US$ 100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
Canadians - US$75 (single entry) or US$ 150 (multiple entry for up to 5 years from date of issue)
Americans - US$40 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)

PLEASE NOTE: This fee has to be paid online before arriving to Argentina. The fee can be paid through the following webstes: www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar. For instructions on how to process this payment, please visit http://cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar/userfiles/Onlie_payment_instructions_0.pdf.

Brazil

Nationals of the EU, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, Switzerland and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration.

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the USA need a visa to enter Brazil. This visa must be obtained before entering Brazil.

If your nationality was not included in the above mentioned group, please contact your nearest embassy to find out your visa requirements.

USA

Nationals of many countries do not need a visa for a tourist visits of 90 days or less to the USA as qualify under the visa waiver scheme. Currently 35 different countries qualify under this scheme including nationals of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, South korea, Singapore plus most European countries. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months on entry and you need to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel. An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Colombia

Most nationalities do not require a visa for a visit to Colombia for less than 90 days and you will just receive a stamp in your passport upon entry at the border or airport.

Ecuador

Nationals of most countries including Australia, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Ecuador

Peru

Nationals of most countries including Australia, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Peru

Costa Rica

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Chile

Nationals of most countries including Australia, USA, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Chile

Belize

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to one month. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Canada

Nationals of many countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and many European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Canada. For certain other countries, including South Africa, you may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter the country.  Applications for a TRV need to be made through an embassy or consulate in your home country.

Bolivia

Nationals of most countries including Australia, the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK do not need a visa for tourist visits of limited duration to Bolivia. South Africans however DO require a visa which is advisable to obtain before departure.

USA citizens also DO require a visa to enter Bolivia. Please note: to support your visa application you will need a copy of the Dragoman voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip, as well as a copy of the itinerary, which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website.

Mexico

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, many European countries, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 180 days and are able to obtain a Blue Tourist Card on arrival. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Nicaragua

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Most nationalities are also required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Honduras

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Flying to Central or South America via the USA

If your flight to central or South America is via the USA then you MUST obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.

An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriatefee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

El Salvador

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Many nationalities however are required to purchase a tourist card upon arrival which cost 10USD. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Guatemala

Nationals of many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most European countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. For nationalities requiring a visa, these should be obtained in advance from your local embassy or consulate.

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in South America, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$15 and a maximum of US$30 per day. This amount is usually lower in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru but slightly higher elsewhere. 

This will cover expenses such as your drinks, meals when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permits.

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on trips in Central America, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$20 and a maximum of US$40 per day.

This will covers expenses such as your drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permit

What else you need to know

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is best. Most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash.

More and more people are choosing to travel with cash passports such as TravelEx cards (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these).  This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling.  You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change in South America with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. However due to a recent counterfeit scam central banks in several South American countries (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile) have temporarily banned the circulation of $100 notes bearing a series 2001 production date and a serial number starting with the letters CB or CF and ending in B2. The serial number is printed in green on the emblem. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. If you are taking traveller's cheques, we recommend that you should only take those issued by American Express. Please note that Thomas Cook traveller's cheques may be used in some places, but are becoming more difficult to change. Brazil can be difficult for changing forex, it’s handy to have a cash card as backup. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50. Kitty contributions should be at least half in cash and be in the same denominations and currencies as suggested above. Any proportion of kitty contributions paid in travellers cheques should be increased to cover the commission charge incurred in exchanging them.

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash, traveller’s cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. ATM's are everywhere through North and Central America so it is very easy to withdraw cash as you go and throughout this region the US Dollar is king.

Important Notes

 

Overland Lifestyle And Trip Suitability

 

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels With Dragoman?

 

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

 

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew And Guides

 

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation On Tour

 

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

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The Kitty

 

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your final documents upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals And Group Participation

 

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

 

 

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

 

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Itineraries

 

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

 

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

 

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

Additional Important Information

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Safety & Security

 

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Home stays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care. • We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays Fire Safety – Campsites • Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is. • Know how to raise the alarm. • Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite. Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

 

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

 

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

 

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

 

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

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Luggage & Kit List

 

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Ground mat or compressed foam

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Sleeping bag liner (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

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Personal Medical Kit

 

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

www.nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

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Passports

 

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

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Pre And Post Trip Accommodation And Connecting Flights

 

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

 

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

 

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

 

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

 

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

 

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

 

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

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Issues On The Trip

 

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping

 

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

 

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

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Feedback

 

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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Important Notes

 

Overland Lifestyle And Trip Suitability

 

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels With Dragoman?

 

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

 

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew And Guides

 

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation On Tour

 

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

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The Kitty

 

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your final documents upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals And Group Participation

 

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

 

 

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

 

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Itineraries

 

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

 

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

 

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

Additional Important Information

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Safety & Security

 

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Home stays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care. • We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays Fire Safety – Campsites • Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is. • Know how to raise the alarm. • Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite. Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

 

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

 

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

 

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

 

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

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Luggage & Kit List

 

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Ground mat or compressed foam

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Sleeping bag liner (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

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Personal Medical Kit

 

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

www.nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

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Passports

 

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

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Pre And Post Trip Accommodation And Connecting Flights

 

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

 

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

 

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

 

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

 

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

 

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

 

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

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Issues On The Trip

 

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping

 

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

 

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

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Feedback

 

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Version Of Trip Notes

Important Notes

 

Overland Lifestyle And Trip Suitability

 

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels With Dragoman?

 

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18, as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

 

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew And Guides

 

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation On Tour

 

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

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The Kitty

 

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your final documents upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals And Group Participation

 

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

 

 

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

 

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Itineraries

 

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

 

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

 

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

Additional Important Information

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Safety & Security

 

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Home stays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care. • We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays Fire Safety – Campsites • Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is. • Know how to raise the alarm. • Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite. Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

 

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

 

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

 

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

 

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

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Luggage & Kit List

 

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Ground mat or compressed foam

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Sleeping bag liner (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

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Personal Medical Kit

 

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

www.nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

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Passports

 

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

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Pre And Post Trip Accommodation And Connecting Flights

 

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

 

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

 

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

 

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

 

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

 

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

 

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

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Issues On The Trip

 

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping

 

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

 

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

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Feedback

 

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Version Of Trip Notes

Currencies & Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash, traveller’s cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Throughout Central America the US Dollar is king.

Also in this trip you will have the departure tax for the flight to Roatan not included in kitty. You will need 25 USD each way for this.

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