Group trips to South America

Group trips to South America, Aracari Travel

As a budding new travel trend, group trips to South America are becoming increasingly popular. Over the last year, we’ve seen a steady climb in those choosing to visit our region as a group of more than four. A shift that shows group trips to South America becoming a means of spending time together with people outside of our immediate familial circle. Providing the grounds to reconnect in a different environment, enjoying shared moments that foster togetherness and build bonds that activate core memories, perhaps with people we aren’t often afforded the luxury of spending more than a day with.

Group Trips to South America with Aracari Travel

At Aracari Travel, group trips to South America are about far more than plane tickets and hotel suites. Every one of our bespoke vacations is delivered in detail for individual travelers. And that’s what makes this growing travel trend really exciting for us.

Within our portfolio of remarkable experiences, there are a handful that are even more special when enjoyed as a group. Whether that’s because you can make them entirely private – such as chartering your own cruise down the Amazon River – or because they take place in a scenery so sublime, that the involuntary effect is a feeling of humble appreciation, a gratefulness to find yourself in that very spot with those you love. Travel for the purpose of connection.

As luck would have it, we also have some exclusive intel. You may remember our friend Mirjam Peternek-McCartney who has spent the last seven months in South America on a family sabbatical. As has been the case throughout Mirjam’s journey, we have kept in touch – sharing mutual travel tips and tricks as she zigzags through our region. Given a sabbatical is perhaps the ultimate of group trips to South America, it felt fitting to get the family’s input. Asking which of the many unforgettable experiences enjoyed since September 2023, feel the most angled on fostering moments of connection, travel for the purpose of deep-rooted connection.

Alongside the selection from the Peternek-McCartney’s, we’ve picked a few of our own. The idea? To show you how with Aracari Travel, group trips to South America are made with moments that bring people together not just physically, but in a way that’s far more precious.

 

Group Trips to South America: Our Top 10 Experiences

1. Kaiara Expeditions, Brazil: Group Trips to South America aboard a private yacht

An experience featured in our hotlist of ten of the best places in South America for 2024, Kaiara is the brainchild of Brazilian-born Martin Frankenberg, who has previously spent many years in the luxury travel industry and is a friend of Aracari. Founded on a strong philanthropic ethos, the team here offers guests the chance to understand the forest from a different perspective with experiences that span from cultural to botanical to gastronomical. But what is that that sets Kaiara apart as an experience designed for group trips to South America?

Aboard one of three boats, ranging in size from 8 guests to 22 – you’ll explore one of the most remote pockets of our continent. Navigating through fresh and abundant waters, it is possible in a single trip, to visit three ecosystems of the great Amazon rivers during a Kaiara expedition: the green waters of the Tapajós, the white waters of the Amazon, and the black waters of the Arapiuns.

For us, what makes Kaiara exceptional is the opportunity to share a rare moment with some of the rural, local communities who call this part of the Brazilian Amazon home. Those such as Jamaraquá, one of the most interesting communities in the Tapajós National Forest (flora) of tapajós, located approximately 2.5 hours by boat from Alter do chão, up the Tapajós River. The community found here has a diverse craft store focusing on bio-jewelry, made mainly with latex and seeds.

Imagine waking up surrounded by your friends or family, listening to the call of the Amazon before a day interacting with its greatest wealth: the people of the forest. Gliding through the waters, Kaiara vessels enter the immense forest, anchoring at remote, pristine beaches where community members often greet our visitors with native customs, welcoming them to a place very few will ever step foot. What more fitting experience for a luxury vacation designed to bring people together?

2. Cooking on the coast: welcome to Penelope’s beach house

Lima is the gastronomic capital of South America, home to swathes of the world’s most influential restaurants, but beyond table reservations and tasting menus, there’s another way to get closer to the city’s magnetic foodie scene. Penelope is a professional chef and charming Lima native whose culinary experience and natural charisma will make any of our guests feel at home in her kitchen, an especially lovely setting for those traveling to Peru as a group of friends.

Arriving at Penelope’s condo in the coastal suburbs of Lima, the charming town of Punta Hermosa, you’ll be welcomed by the host herself and handed a woven basket, ready to be filled with fresh produce as you meander through the local market. Weaving you through stalls bursting with color, Penelope will tell you a little about the produce, much of which is destined for some of the most famous kitchens in Lima, before helping pick out the ingredients for lunch.

Before that though, you’ll head out onto the quaint streets of Punta Hermosa. This small, traditional fishing village is brimming with character, and you’ll visit the different stores and cafes that line its cobbled streets. As a local, Penelope will point out her favorite spots – and you’ll take a seat in one of these outdoor spots, sitting on the terrace just as the villagers do.

Back at the beachfront condo overlooking the ocean, whilst you and your group relax on the rooftop with a drink in hand in hand, Penelope and her assistant will set out the ingredients for your seafood lunch. Once ready, you’ll be invited downstairs to the kitchen to begin your private cooking class, preparing an array of different seafood dishes, including mussels in lemon and spices, steamed fish with herbs, fresh ceviche de lenguado, and sudado de corvina with olluco.

Full from lunch, you can opt for a dip in the Pacific Ocean right on Penelope’s doorstep, unwind on the sandy shoreline, or simply stay on the rooftop terrace, chatting with Penelope and her family about Peruvian cuisine and culture.

3. Connecting to Amazonian Culture in Lima: Shipibo Art Workshop with Indigenous Artists

One of the most remarkable experiences in Lima is the chance to meet women from the Amazonian Shipibo-Konibo culture. Heading to the Lima district of Rímac, where the largest urban indigenous community in the city lives – you’ll be invited into the home of one of the artists, learning of the ancestral Kene while painting a canvas with the same natural dyes used in the Amazon.

Ideal for family group trips to South America, this was a top pick of Mirjam’s eldest son, who is 14. “We were taken to the Lima neighborhood where the Shipibo people, an indigenous tribe from the Amazon, live. It was rather eye-opening for our son to see how people live in the humblest of circumstances, often without running water and no functioning sewage system,” explained Mirjam.

“Wilma, a hugely talented artist from the Shipibo community, explained her art to us. We learned about their immense foresight when it comes to protecting our natural resources and were able to try our hand at creating our own piece of art – using natural dyes from the forest on handwoven cloth while Wilma sang moving ancestral songs. It’s an experience we talk about often – even 8 months later.”

Reading Mirjam’s review of the experience, it was easy to see why the Shipibo art workshop would be perfect for group trips to South America. In a world where we can feel a disconnect between our modern lives and those preserving ancient traditions, meeting artists like Wilma is a poignant moment for pause. A quiet few hours to spend time celebrating art loaded with meaning and purpose – surrounded by those who mean most to us.

4. For the adventure seekers: Hot air balloons and horseback in Colombia

Found within the days of our luxury itinerary Colombia in Color: Culture, Coffee and Coast this is an experience ideal for those most adventurous group trips to South America. It takes place in the emerald hills of Zona Cafetera – or Coffee Triangle and specifically the Cocora Valley, with its towering wax palm trees, and vast sprawling coffee plantations.

The day starts early as you head deep in the countryside to a traditional hacienda. Then just as the sun rises, you’ll take to the skies in a hot air balloon, providing uninterrupted views of the landscape from the vantage point of an eagle. For the next 45 minutes, gently fly over the vast coffee plantations set against the majestic Andean mountains.

Back on land, you’ll be handed a locally produced coffee with some “pandebonos,” a typical Colombian bread made with yuca and cheese, before heading on to the second hacienda, where horses and a local expert guide will be waiting for you.

Here, you’ll be taken to the hacienda’s saddle room. Your host will guide you through the different traditional Colombian saddles, which come from all over the country and you’ll hear of the equine dressage that is performed in this part of the continent. Afterward, head to the stables where exceptional breeds of Spanish, Arabic, and Paso Fino Colombiano horses are kept.

It’ll now be your turn to take to the saddle as you begin a two-hour horseback adventure. Led by an experienced guide and horseman, you’ll cross through the hacienda and begin a climb up one of the nearby mountains. The carefully chosen route passes unique Andean sites, flora and fauna, and culminates in breathtaking views over the valley below.

A jeep will then take you quickly back down to the hacienda, where freshly prepared refreshments will be ready for you. Orange juice squeezed from the farm’s tangerines, and a typical “Fiambre Antioqueño,” lunch – the traditional Colombian Andean mule drivers.

5. The Glacial Lakes of Argentina: Kayaking in Nahuel Huapi

The Nahuel Huapi National Park is the oldest national park in Argentina, established in 1922. Its landscapes represent the north Patagonian Andean Zone consisting of three types, namely, the Altoandino, the Andino-Patagónico, and the Patagonian steppe but the jewel of its nearly 2 million acres is its lakes, found in the foothills of the Patagonian Andes.

The Nahuel Huapi lakes are glacial, which explains their striking lucid blue color. “I have never seen lakes like this before. Crystal clear, surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and dense forests,” Mirjam told us, choosing kayaking on these beautiful glacial lakes as another experience recommended for group trips to South America.

The sublimity of the landscape is something else, washing a quiet sense of calm over those who opt to spend a few days here. “Despite it being high season, we were often the only ones on the lakes,” Mirjam explained. To be alone as a family in nature of that magnitude, except for the company of their private kayaking guide was quite something as the Peternek-McCartney’s found out.

“We had three private kayaking days altogether and each time we went to a different lake in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Our favorite was Lago Espejo – “The Mirror Lake” and it was true to its name. Everything was reflected and you have visibility up to 15 meters down. The boys were in heaven!”.

Luckily for us, Mirjam has shared far more about her time in the Nahuel Huapi National Park than the kayaking experiences alone. This, combined with our own knowledge of the region plus that of our partners, has allowed us to curate some of our favorite ever private Argentine adventures. To find out more about those, get in touch with our travel designers directly today.

 

6.  A stay on an Argentine Estancia: Rock climbing in El Chaltén

Another Argentina pick from Mirjam is a stay on an authentic family-run Estancia located in El Chaltén, a town at the foot of the Cordón del Bosque, close to the country’s border with Chile. This charming estancia is made up of 8,000 hectares that include lenga forests, lakes, and mountains. The facilities here combine the typical Patagonian rural style with the highest comfort, part of the reason Mirjam chose to add the experience to our list of the best experiences for group trips to South America. That, combined with the superb activities offered onsite.

In one of the most beautiful corners of this vast ranch, the Vizcacha Canyon, you can find rock climbing routes of different degrees of difficulty. And by all accounts, it’s a magnificent way to spend a morning with friends or family, not only because of the adventure itself but because of those conducting it.

“Our youngest is an avid climber and this was his dream,” explains Mirjam in her note to us. “We spent the morning climbing up a 250-metre rockface, followed by a short hike, and once on top had the most magnificent view of Mount FitzRoy. But as has always been the case it’s the people who made the experience so special.”

“We had two guides for safety reasons and they looked after our kids very well, making sure we were comfortable at all times. I grew up near the Alps, but nothing beats the mountain scenery of El Chaltén! We finished the day off in Los Asadores, a truly special place for first-class asados.”

To find out which estancia exactly Mirjam is speaking of you can reach out to our travel designers who’ll be delighted to share more about this part of our region and how to curate an extraordinary group trip to South America around a stay here.

7. Argentina’s secret answer to The Galapagos: Wildlife watching in Bahia Bustamante

Described as ´Argentina’s Private (and Secret) answer to The Galapagos´ by the New York Times, Bahia Bustamante is a seaside lodge surrounded by 360° of pure nature, located in Patagonia, in an area recognized by its biological biodiversity. Only in a few places in the world, it is possible to find such an abundant diversity of seabirds and marine mammals, which is why this place has been included in Patagonia Austral National Park and the Blue Patagonia UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

“The Atlantic Coast of Argentina is a wonderful, but little visited area of Patagonia, rich in wildlife and full of amazing beaches if you are brave enough to swim in 13-degree water,” says Mirjam of the time she’s recently spent here during the family’s seven-month-long sabbatical.

“We all loved Bahia Bustamante, halfway between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, staying in an abandoned seaweed farm – indeed the area is the only town in the country dedicated to collecting seaweed. This was an experience in itself – I felt transported back to family holidays in Italy in the 1980s, with lots of architecture from the 1950s and the lodge also contains a great exhibition on the history of the seaweed farm!”

“There is so much to see in Bahia Bustamante: from getting up close to Magellanic penguins on Penguin Island to spotting seals and cormorants, guanacos and armadillos. Nearby is a petrified forest as the entire area was under water 10 million years ago and thus is a fossil lover’s idea of heaven.”

Sounds magic, but perhaps the best reason to visit during group trips to South America is that there are never more than 20-25 guests in Bahia Bustamante meaning you have nature all to yourself. “It’s also a truly eco-friendly lodge (hair dryers not allowed, solar panels provide electricity, etc) – and you eat what the surrounding nature provides from seaweed to local fish and lamb as well as vegetables from their biodynamic garden,” Mirjam explained. Imagine taking time out with a group of close friends and family for a week here, lost in the quietness of nature, eating soul-soothing food, and drinking the world-famous Argentine wine by an open fire in the evening.

8. Connecting with Community: Meeting the high-altitude villagers of the Sacred Valley, Peru

Part of an itinerary designed entirely to foster a connection between traveler and place – Connecting with Peru – this experience takes place in the mountainous region of Lamay in the Sacred Valley, Peru. Permitting travelers a unique insight into a traditional way of life, one that has remained unchanged for many generations.

It’s also an experience enjoyed by Mirjam and family. “This was community tourism at its best. Not imposed from the top down, but the campesinos decide what and how much they would like to share from their culture.”

“We drove up high into the Andes and met with a small group of campesinos and shared breakfast with them (mountain potatoes, onions, and chicha). This was followed by a short hike to one of their fields where they showed us how they plow the fields – with the simplest tools and our boys were able to try their hand, which gave them a good workout!”

“We then met a weaver and were shown what plants to use to obtain certain colors for their woven textiles. We had a wonderful guide who was able to translate our questions into Quechua and we learned a lot about their lives, aspirations, and hopes. A wonderful, unhurried, and thoughtful day!”

Thoughtfulness is a great way to describe the essence of this experience. Introducing your group to people of a culture completely different from your own and building connection through humble practical activities like sewing fields, weaving, or learning to cook traditional Andean recipes in the very context they were first written.

 

9. The Hiram Bingham Royal Charter: a private charter train to Machu Picchu

Arrive at Machu Picchu aboard one of the most luxurious trains in Peru, a deluxe private carriage for up to twelve guests, complete with fine dining and dedicated butler service. The Hiram Bingham Royal Charter is a luxury train to Machu Picchu quite unlike any other. This premium service offers a private party of up to twelve guests a chance to glide through the Peruvian Andes in sumptuous 1920s glamour.

This luxury train service runs Monday to Sunday when the carriage can be anchored to the regular Hiram Bingham train schedule or can be arranged as a separate service whereby the private suite is attached to its own locomotive and adjoining kitchen carriage. For both options, Royal Charter guests will be welcomed on the departure platform, to witness a Pachamama ceremony and traditional Andean dance performance.

Onboard, the carriage features its own bar, attended to by a dedicated butler who will serve unlimited drinks throughout the journey. For lunch, an exclusive gourmet menu showcasing native Andean ingredients with innovative dishes will be served in a fine dining setting, as the carriage passes through some of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Peru. For us, it’s one of the most exclusive experiences for group trips to South America, creating an entirely private space from which to soak up a magnificent journey to Peru’s most famous Inca site. Once the carriage arrives at Aguas Calientes, there will be a private transfer waiting to take Royal Charter guests from the station up to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Unlike any other train service in the country, the Hiram Bingham Royal Charter is likely a once-in-a-lifetime to be shared between friends and for us, the luxuriousness of it is twofold. There’s the splendor of it yes – but more than that it’s the luxury of time together in an extraordinary setting. The chance to create a core memory and a bond between friends that lasts far longer than the journey itself.

 

 10. Journey to the Heart of the Andes: Hiking, Archaeology, and Conservation

Spend an unforgettable day journeying deep into the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes, spotting archeological relics and contributing to conservation, as you hike alongside Valle Sagrado Verde, an organization dedicated to preserving the native forests of this majestic mountain range.

It’s a scenic drive from Ollantaytambo to Pumamarca where your group will begin to explore this awe-inspiring Pre-Inca and Inca archaeological site perched on a ridge overlooking the stunning Patakancha Valley. The main site dates to 1300 but the oldest buildings are over 2000 years old. The site requires a bit of climbing, but the panoramic views are well worth the effort.

Having had the fascinating history of Pumamarca explained to you by our guide, you’ll embark on your next hike – a climb that takes in the beauty of a little-visited waterfall and a native forest of Qeuña, Unca, and its chachacomo trees. You’ll hear how these magnificent trees, once abundant in the Andes, have become increasingly rare due to deforestation.

Since you’ll be accompanied by a representative from our partners at Valle Sagrado Verde during today’s experience – you’ll have the opportunity to directly participate in a native-tree reforestation project, helping to restore the natural balance of the environment. Valle Sagrado Verde will provide all the tools necessary for the activity, and you’ll learn about the importance of preserving these trees and their unique ecosystems. An experience that feels like a poignant and symbolic moment to share during group trips to South America – planting a tree that will continue to flourish and grow in years ahead.

Alongside the archaeological site, waterfalls, and forest, another great joy of this particular day is enjoying a rare sense of peace and tranquillity between friends or family, free from the crowds that are often found in more popular destinations. All of this is made possible thanks to the commitment of Valle Sagrado Verde to the conservation of this magical corner of the world.

 

Group Trips to South America: Start planning yours today.

As ever, these ten experiences are of course only the beginning. We hope that the scope and diversity showcased highlight the unrivaled uniqueness of a group trip to South America handpicked and curated by Aracari Travel. But we are always led by you.

Aracari’s dedicated Travel Designers are equipped with all the specialist knowledge and contacts to weave a bespoke itinerary, tailored completely to your taste. Whether you choose a single-destination trip or build a tailormade vacation around multiple destinations – we’d be delighted to connect you to your own group trip to South America in 2024 and beyond.

Get in touch today 

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