Machu Picchu Tours

Machu Picchu Treks

Hiking through the Andes to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is a truly memorable experience.  With supported treks from 2 days to a week or more, there is something for everyone.  The Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Treks offer some of the best hiking in Peru.  

Here we compare these three treks to help you find the right Machu Picchu trek for you.

Galapagos Land Tours

Machu Picchu Galapagos Tours – a great combination of history and nature

There is no better way to explore the best that South America has to offer than to take a trip combining  Machu Picchu with the unforgettable Galapagos Islands.

Peru is a country of friendly people, rich culture and fascinating archaeological remains, and The Galapagos Islands are one of the best places in the world to get close to wildlife in its natural environment.

Bolivia Tours

Bolivia Tours – Top Destinations

Organized Bolivia tours is a great way to explore the colorful diversity of this country with everything arranged for you beforehand so you can simply enjoy your trip without having to worry about anything else.

Given below are the top destinations to visit in Bolivia tours:


Lake Titicaca Tours

Bolivia Tour – Lake Titicaca to Uyuni

  • The mountains of La Paz and Sacred Sites in Lake Titicaca
  • The Salt Flats of Uyuni
  • All internal flights, transfers, tours and hotels included
  • Private tours and transfers

11 Days US $2, 195

  • Day 1: Arrive to La Paz
  • Day 2: Tour of La Paz and Moon Valley
  • Day 3: Lake Titicaca by hydrofoil - Uros Island and The Islands of the Sun and Moon
  • Day 4: The Island of The Sun and Inca Cosmology
  • Day 5: Uyuni Salt Flats Tour (flight included)
  • Day 6: Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Day 7: La Paz - Home
Argentina Tours

Reciprocity Fee for US Visitors to Argentina

Visitors to Argentina from The USA, Canada and Australia have long had to pay a reciprocity fee on arrival to Buenos Aires.  New regulations now mean that the fee must be paid online and before arrival to Argentina.

This rull is effective October 31, 2012 (Aeroparque, this is valid only for people taking International flights into Aeroparque) and December 28, 2012 (Ezeiza)

The National Immigration Agency (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones) has added a new form of payment of the reciprocity rate (visitor visa – rate for Americans of USD$160, Australia USD 100 and Canada usd 75 single entry), through the Provincia Payment System. Until now, this fee was paid upon arrival at the airport (either Aeroparque or Ezeiza). Effective October 31, 2012 for arrivals to Aeroparque and effective December 28, 2012 for arrivals to Ezeiza International airport, all U.S. tourist or business visitors must pay the reciprocity rates (USD$160 for Americans, Australia usd 100, Canada usd 75 single entry) with their credit card through the on-line system. After these dates, cash payments will NOT be accepted at the airports.
How to pay the reciprocity fee on-line:
1) Enter the web site or of Provincia Pagos and register to start the process.
2) Complete the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information.
3) Print the payment receipt.
4) On arrival in Argentina, this printed receipt must be presented at Immigration Control. The receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and the traveler’s entry to the country registered.

This fee is not applicable for visitors to Argentina who arrive by land or into airports outside of Buenos Aires.  Ask us at Ideal for more information.

Pantanal Tours

The Pantanal

The best place to spot wildlife in Brazil is not the Amazon but rather an area of swamp and wetlands in the south of the country known as the Pantanal.  Formed in a basin, annual floodwaters in The Pantanal regularly rise several meters and then recede, creating a haven for a spectacular abundance of plant and animal life.

The Pantanal is a huge are of 54, 000 square miles of savannas, forests, rivers and lagoons.  It is the largest freshwater wetland in the world, home to 1000 bird species and a shelter for some of the most endangered species in South America.  Wide open spaces between water and forest mean that, unlike the dense forest of the Amazon, wildlife in the Pantanal is easy to spot.  Despite all this natural beauty and incredible wildlife, The Pantanal is still a relatively unkown travel destination for Brazil and South America.


Galapagos Cruise

Galapagos Prices Set To Increase 15% in 2013

Early indications are that Galapagos Cruises are set to go up in 2013 by at least 15%.  If you can’t travel to the Galapagos this year though, we can offer 2012 rates on some 2013 cruises for bookings made by Sept. 30

The increase is down to increased fuel prices and rises in other operating costs for our Galapagos partners.   The good news though is that there is still time to book a luxury Galapagos cruise at great value 2012 prices, and we are finding that many of our passengers are putting The Galapagos at the top of their vacation list, and doing just that.

Even better, our special offer on select Galapagos cruises gives you savings of US$800 or more on cruises in 2012. 

Galapagos Cruises: Save US$800 per couple

6-Days, 5-Nights - Ecuador & Galapagos Tour, Includes:

•          4 Day, 3 Night Luxury All-incl. Cruise of the Galapagos Islands

•          Flights:  Quito - Galapagos - Quito

•          Two nights in first-class hotel, w/break

•          Tour of Quito – first UNESCO Heritage city

•          All airport and land transfers

From US$ 2,195 per person

 Representing a savings of more than US$ 800 per couple!

Tour Dates (starting Quito/Guayaquil)                 

Sept      19, 22, 26, 29

Oct       3, 6, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26, 31

Nov       3, 13, 14, 17,

Dec       1, 5, 8, 12, 19, 21

(or start earlier in Peru-Machu Picchu – write or call for details)            

Contact us for more information about this special offer, Galapagos Tours on other dates, Land Based Galapagos Tours,  or tour programs to Machu Picchu, Argentina and much more.


Ideal South America Travel Agent

Ideal South America On The Road

This month, you can find us at TravelMart LatinAmerica - the signature travel event for the southern continent – this year in Cartagena, Colombia.  Here we will be meeting with suppliers from all over South and Central America, to both improve and expand the breadth of the tour program services we offer.  We will also be searching for the best tours and accommodations in Colombia - one of our exciting new destinations. 

In October it´s off to Granada, Spain for CULTOUR Fair 2012 - The International Cultural Travel Fair.  This will bring together travel and tourism professionals from around the world, with a focus on cultural and heritage tours. Dates for the CULTOUR Fair are October 3-5th. 

November, we head to London, UK for the World Travel Market being held on November 6-8.  This is the leading global event of the travel industry where we will have the opportunity to meet and network with both suppliers and fellow travel agents from across the globe.

If you would like to meet us at any of these destinations, please contact Donovan Hervig at to make an appointment.


South America Tours

Ideal Launches New Website


At Ideal South America we are absolutely delighted to launch our new, improved website.  

With more destinations, tours and travel information - we know you´ll find plenty of inspiration for your South America vacation plans.

  • New Destination information to help you plan your Galapagos Tour or Amazon Encounter
  • New Cruise Ship and Hotel sections
  • FAQ section with helpful information on visas, health and more
  • New Tours - Pantanal, Brazil and Specialist Cooking Tours
  • New Ideal Blog with personal experiences and great travel ideas - this month, we find out about Donovan´s close encounter with ceviche

Take a look around our new website and tell us what you think - Karen would love to hear from you at


Peru Cooking Tours

Lima Cooking Class

There´s no denying it – Ideal South America´s Director, Donovan,  likes his food, and he’s never happier than when confronted with a plate of spicy Peruvian ceviche. So as part of our new Argentina and Peru Cooking Tours, Donovan was delighted to spend the day enjoying the food and cooking of Peru recently.

Here's what he said about the day:

'The day started at one of Lima’s most colorful, noisy and varied food markets in the district of Surquillo.  Peru, undoubtedly has a great culinary tradition.  With high mountains, dry coast, jungle and everything in between, the country has an incredible range of fruit and vegetables all year round.  The potato, for example, has its origin in Peru, where you can find an incredible 3800 varieties of potatoes of all shapes sizes and colors.  There are two types of spicy pepper – the rocoto and aji; as well as multiple herbs, peppers and root vegetables.  Surquillo Market is a bewildering blur of color and noise leaden with piles of unusual fruit  -  such as maracuya, chirimoya and guanabana.


Peru Family Tours

6 of The Best Adventures for Families in South America

South America is so full of wildlife and outdoor activities that there is always and adventure around the corner.  Here is our pick of 6 of the best adventures for families with children.

1. The Amazon, Peru

Just a short flight from Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Peruvian Amazon has fun packed jungle lodges for the whole family.  With special programs for toddlers to teens, The Amazon has family adventure for all ages. 

Amazon Tours

2. Banos, Ecuador

Ecuador´s outdoor activity center is filled with hot spring pools, has a smoky volcano, numerous waterfalls and caters well to active families.  Here you can hike, bike, try out canyoning, take a quad bike or just splash about in the hot springs.  Located mid-way between the jungle and the high mountains, Banos is also a great base for visits to the Amazon, or the volcanoes and traditional mountain communities of Ecuador.

Ecuador Tours

3. Tayrona Park, Colombia

A few hours from the busy port of Cartagena, this beautiful national park has miles of white sandy beaches backed by protected forest.  Reefs and an abundance of wildlife as well as safe swimming beaches mean there is something here for the whole family.  Accommodations run from isolated cabins to small, resort style hotels with all facilities.

Colombia Tours

4. The Galapagos Islands

Get up close to an iguana and bump into a sea turtle in the Galapagos; what is there not to like for children in this wildlife paradise?  Yachts take children from age 5 or you can choose a combination land and boat based tour for smaller tots.  Flexible programs mean grandpa can walk with the tortoises while grandma goes kayaking with the sea lions.

 Galapagos Family Cruise




Patagonia Tours

El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier and More

It’s difficult to top Iguazu Falls, but after a visit there how about following up with a trip to Argentina’s second natural wonder; Perito Moreno and the glaciers of Patagonia.

There’s surely something magical about glaciers.  It could be just the massive or the beauty of blue ice shining in the sun     Maybe it’s nature’s power on display when huge pieces of icebergs crash into the water , or the majesty of the setting amidst rocky mountains and vast plains.  Or perhaps it is that glaciers represent the wild untouched spirit of Patagonia; a place where nature is still supreme.

Hotels Sacred Valley

Seven Special South America Hotels

Some of our favorite South America Hotels designed to give you are special, memorable experience.

1. Aranwa Hotel - Sacred Valley, Peru

This hotel from the Aranwa chain is a gem in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The location is perfect, midway between Cusco and Machu Picchu with superb views, extensive gardens and peace and quiet all around.  There is a wellness spa, chapel, library and wandering llamas as well as evening activities such as cookery classes. Stay on your own island in the hotel lake in some of Aranwa´s suites.


Argentina Wine Tours

Donovan talks Argentina in ASTA Magazine

ASTA, the world´s largest association of travel agents, looked at the appeal of Argentina as a travel destination  in its latest magazine.  As experts on South America, it was no surprise to find Ideal South America featured in the article, with Director, Donovan Hervig, talking about the attraction of Argentina for visitors from North America.


South America Nightlife

9 Night Tours to Remember in South America

Find out what Night Tours and attraction you can add to your South America Vacation

1. Star Gazing in Chile

There is a reason why international astronomers put their telescopes in Northern Chile: it´s the driest place on earth so the skies are clear year round. Spend the evening star gazing in Atacama or visit an international observatory with a really, really big telescope in Norte Chico.


South America Tours

8 Adventures in South America

From high mountains to deep mines: where to go for adventures in South America

1. Kayak Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is also the birthplace of Andean culture and home to some of the most intact indigenous traditions in South America. Kayak past pre-Inca towers, snow capped Andes and traditional floating islands.

Puno Candelaria

10 Unforgettable Experiences in South America

Unforgettable experiences from draw dropping views to exciting festivals.

1. Iguazu Falls
Wider than Niagara and a jaw dropping sight; Iguazu is so big it spans both Brazil and Argentina. Walkways allow you to experience the falls from above and below, including places where you can get a truly spectacular soaking!


Train to Machu Picchu

Second Day At Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is a whole city; with agricultural sectors, temples, palaces and countless terraces.  Is just one day really enough to take it all in?

Reasons for the  Extra Day in Machu Picchu

1. So Much To See..

There is so much to see: ceremonial baths, temples, tombs, agricultural terraces, not to mention the wandering llamas.  There is a lot to explore, a lot of mysteries to consider and some magnificent views to admire.  Why rush?

2.  Travel Time

There is a reason Machu Picchu was lost for so long - it is in a remote mountain valley Even now, Machu Picchu is not the easiest place to get to: access is only by train or on foot. Trains leave from Poroy, just outside Cusco (3½ hours) and Ollantaytambo (1½ hours).  You arrive not into Machu Picchu but the small town of Aguas Calientes - located below the Inca citadel.  A short, 20 minute bus ride, takes you up an impressive series of switchbacks to the entrance of Machu Picchu itself.    Staying in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo the night before your visit, though, does cut two hours off your travel time.

3. Huayna Picchu

Machu Picchu the citadel is located between two peaks.  The peak that features in just about every picture of Machu Picchu is the steep and rocky Huayna Picchu; meaning small peak.  Many visitors enjoy the challenge of tackling the steep and narrow pathways up to the great views at the top. So much so that it is now necessary to buy Huayana Picchu tickets in advance. There are two entry times for Huayna Picchu: at 7am and 10am though even with the tickets you will still need to stand in line for around 30 minutes before you start, especially in high season, then allow around 2 hours for the climb up and down.

More on Machu Picchu entry tickets and Huayna Picchu.

4. More Things to Do and Places to See.

Aside from the extensive main buildings of Machu Picchu, there are other, hidden sections worth a visit.  Most need a couple of extra hours of walking to reach.

Machu Picchu Mountain is the other peak behind Machu Picchu.  It is far less crowded than Huayna Picchu, is higher and has equally fabulous views. The hike takes around 3 hours.

The Inca Drawbridge is an exciting one hour walk away along a trail set into a sheer precipice; or from Aguas Calientes you can climb Putucusi.  Meaning ‘happy mountain’, Putucusi is located opposite Machu Picchu so affords breathtaking and entirely different views of the site.

Reasons not to spend that extra day in Machu Picchu

1. A Full Day May Be Enough

Trains arrive at the Machu Picchu train station from 8am so you can be up the hill and in the ruins by 8.30am, stay until the gates close at 5pm and still be back in Cusco that night. The only thing likely to drag you away earlier is your rumbling stomach as it is prohibited to take packed lunches into the site.


Galapagos Tours

Why Visit The Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are surely on most people's “bucket list” of places to visit, so what´s all the fuss?  Here is our thoughts on why visit The Galapagos Islands.

That said  a visit there has something to offer almost everyone: warm weather and gorgeous beaches, fabulous snorkeling, swimming, special nature experiences, good seafood, cruising, unique animal interaction, photography, hiking, biking, sea kayaking, education, history … experiencing evolution!

Even 150 years after advancing theories of natural selection, “Darwin´s laboratory” still feels that way.  The rocky and colorful terrain is unique and there are animals there that exist nowhere else in the world, such as the ubiquitous marine iguana.  And amazingly even the mother sea lions don´t seem to mind a dozen humans with hats, water bottles and cameras hovering over their babies.  They say the lack of fear of humans by the animals on the Islands is due to the lack of natural predators, but anyway you slice it … it´s special.

Iguanas, Galapagos

1.   Snorkeling –  the Galapagos is a fabulous place for snorkelling.  There is surprising diversity of underwater life there including very colorful tropical fish, sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and much more.  And although the water surrounding the western islands can be a bit chilly, you can swim and snorkel here all year-round.

Baby Sea Lions, Galapagos