Rally of the Incas 2016
November 13 - December 9, 2016
Rally of the Incas - Route Outline
The Rally of the Incas route may be subject to changes
Start: Buenos Aires
Pre event formalities will start with vehicle collection on the afternoon of Friday, 11th November. We will then host a welcome dinner in the evening, giving entrants the opportunity to meet their fellow competitors and the Organising Team. With one more day in Buenos Aires before we hit the road, cars will be checked, and crews will complete documentation before attending a short briefing on the event. In the evening there will be free time to enjoy one of the many fine restaurants in the city or perhaps catch a Tango show...
Day 1: Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata
An early start will see us leave the busy city of Buenos Aires. We have chosen a Sunday start to avoid the city’s traffic problems as much as possible. Competition commences almost straight away with a circuit test just south of the city before continuing on the coast road and exploring the gravel roads inland. No journey in this area would be complete without a visit to the Fangio Museum and Circuit at Balcarce, where we will finish the competition for the day. Our overnight stop is a short drive away in the city of Mar del Plata, the biggest beach resort in Argentina, so there will be an opportunity to catch some late afternoon sun before dinner this evening.
Day 2: Mar del Plata to Bahia Blanca
We re-start at the Fangio Circuit for the first test of the day before heading inland to drive some of the Pampas gravel roads, then join the main coast road as we head west to the city of Bahia Blanca, where we end Day 2.
Day 3: Bahia Blanca to Puerto Madryn
Today will be a long day on fast roads as we head south, hugging the Atlantic Coast, to the town of Puerto Madryn, the gateway to the Valdes Peninsula, for our first rest day of the event.
Day 4: Puerto Madryn - Rest Day
Today we leave you to relax and enjoy the natural wonders of the Valdes Peninsula. The coastline is populated by sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals. Whales frequently visit the warm and quiet waters of the gulf, making it the ideal location for whale watching. If you are lucky you might spot Orcas (or Killer Whales) in the open sea off the Peninsula.
Day 5: Puerto Madryn to Esquel
Leaving Puerto Madryn, we have a test at Trelew Circuit, before heading into the “Welsh Villages” and a stop for tea and cakes at a Welsh Tea Shop. This area still has pockets of the population who speak Welsh from the migration that took place in the 19th Century. The rest of the day sees the event head west through the Chubut Province to Esquel, a small frontier-like town close to where Butch Cassidy is reputed to have sought refuge. This is the southernmost point of the route, and from here, we begin to curve northwards as we traverse the high Andean Cordillera.
Day 6: Esquel to Bariloche
The day will start at the race circuit just outside Esquel with a chance to blow away the dust from yesterday’s long journey. Heading north we will use an excellent gravel road through the stunning Los Alerces National Park then more gravel follows to El Maiten and a final small circuit test, before heading in to the town of San Carlos de Bariloche and a second rest day at the fabulous Llao Llao Resort.
Day 7: Bariloche - Llao Llao Rest Day
A day to relax and enjoy the facilities at one of the most exclusive hotels in South America. Play a round of golf, walk, hire a bike or just simply unwind with friends around the pool and enjoy a cocktail or two.
Day 8: Bariloche to Pucon
Our route today takes us through the lakes area with stunning vistas before a short gravel hill climb test near San Martin de los Andes. We cross into Chile for the first time at the remote border post at the Paso Tromen and continue on a lovely downhill gravel road to our hotel for the night, on the banks of Lago Villarrica just outside the resort town of Pucon. It is worth taking a little while to explore Pucon in the evening before dinner as it has many unique shops and great bars.
Day 9: Pucon to Concepcion
After breakfast we head off into Volcano territory as the route goes past Volcano Llaima using a spectacular dirt road through the Conguillo National Park – a terrific driving experience. The volcano last erupted in 2008 and as you drive through the park you will be able to see the evidence of lava fields around you. We then head to the west coast of Chile and our first view of the Pacific Ocean as we make for our overnight stop in the coastal town of Concepcion.
Day 10: Concepcion to Vina Del Mar
Today will be spent exploring the maze of gravel roads along the Pacific Coast as we head north to the city of Vina Del Mar, literally “Vineyard of the Sea”. Vina Del Mar is now seen as the one of the most desirable places to live in Chile and is an internationally renowned coastal resort with superb beaches, excellent hotels and entertainment.
Day 11: Vina Del Mar - Rest Day
Vina del Mar offers lots to occupy crews on the rest day, alternatively this is the opportunity to spend the day working on your car. The evening will be free to enjoy one of the many excellent restaurants in the city.
Day 12: Vina Del Mar to San Juan
Today we head inland for our second border crossing back into Argentina at Los Libertadores. This border post, at over 3000 metres high, is set against a stunning mountain backdrop. It is one of the main border crossing points, so transit is generally quick and easy. From the border we travel to the city of Mendoza, passing Aconcagua - the highest peak in the Andes before turning north towards San Juan. The circuit just outside San Juan is planned as our final test of the day before we head into the city and our overnight hotel.
Day 13: San Juan to La Rioja
From San Juan our route takes us through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Talampaya National Park, famous for its breathtaking gorge and rock formations. The park is verdant with wildlife, including guanacos, maras, foxes and condors. Our overnight halt is in La Rioja, the capital city of the province of the same name. Here we also plan to use the local race circuit for a quick blast of a test to round off the day’s activities.
Day 14: La Rioja to Tucumán
Leaving La Rioja we head off to explore the gravel roads of the Sierra de Manchao and the Sierra Aconouija for some challenging test sections before arriving in San Miguel de Tucumán (usually referred to as simply Tucumán), our overnight stop.
Day 15: Tucumán to Salta
The centre of the Argentine wine region will be the focus of our route for today as we travel through Cafayate, and on to the city of Salta. Nicknamed Salta la Linda (“Salta the beautiful”), it has become a major tourist destination due to its old, colonial architecture, glorious weather and the beauty of the scenery in the surrounding valleys.
Day 16: Salta to San Pedro de Atacama
Today promises to be one of the epic drives of the event. We head north west from Salta to cross back into Chile at the Paso Jama, the most northerly border between Argentina and Chile. The road over the pass is now all tarmac but rises to a height of 4,300 metres (14,100 ft.) at the border and continues to rise to 4,810 metres (15,780 ft.) around 100 kms west of the actual crossing point. From the highest point the road drops to the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Considered as the archaeological capital of Chile, San Pedro also benefits from the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Our home for the next two nights is the incredible Explora Hotel where the team of guides will help you through the wide range of activities available.
Days 17: San Pedro de Atacama – Rest Day
A day off to relax, unwind and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Explora Hotel in this amazing setting. Get involved with the range of activities, explore the local area, or just chill and enjoy the wonderful food and wine on offer.
Day 18: San Pedro De Atacama to Iquique
From San Pedro we head west through the “Valle de Luna”, named for the incredible rock formations which look like the surface of the Moon, and on past the town of Calama, home to the largest open pit copper mine in the world. We are now in the heart of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest landscapes on earth with an annual rainfall of only 5mm. Seeking refuge from this desolate environment, we make for the Pacific Ocean which will accompany us for the latter part of today’s journey north to Iquique. This bustling port city was actually part of Peru until the latter part of the 19th Century.
Day 19: Iquique to Arica
Leaving the coast behind, we climb back up into the Atacama Desert, where the eeriness of this almost alien landscape is brought home with a morning stop at the deserted Saltpetre mines at Humberstone. Here we join the Panamerican Highway which speeds us north towards the Peruvian border. With a relatively short day in prospect, we have the chance to explore some of the wonderful gravel roads in the area for a brace of challenging test sections before arriving at our overnight halt in Arica, the northernmost city in Chile and only 18kms from Peru.
Day 20: Arica to Arequipa
We have a short day today, to allow time for the border crossing into Peru. Once across the border we head to Tacna, clearing the cobwebs from the engine and the pedal with a test at the local circuit, before heading northwest to our overnight halt in Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. Arequipa is located at 2,328 metres above sea level so will allow everyone a little time to acclimatise for the next few days spent in the higher altitudes.
Day 21: Arequipa to Puno
A beautiful and stunning driving day, climbing ever higher into the Andes as we explore the many gravel roads on offer before arriving at our overnight stop in Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca - the largest lake in South America. Out hotel is set right on the water’s edge, surrounded by stunning scenery with Peru on one side and Bolivia on the other.
Day 22: Puno to Cusco
Another fabulous driving day travelling along spectacular roads with incredible scenery on our way to Cusco, the historical capital city of the Inca Empire, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Cusco will be our base for the next three nights, giving everyone time to explore the cultural and historical highlights of Cusco and to visit Machu Picchu.
Days 23 and 24: Cusco - Rest Days
No trip to this part of the world would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Machu Picchu. The Incas built the citadel in around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known to the local population it remained undiscovered by the outside world until 1911 when American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to the attention of the wider world. As the site was undiscovered by the Spanish Conquistadors, it was not ransacked, and it is highly significant as an important archaeological and cultural example of Inca life before the arrival of the Western, Christian world. There is no road linking Machu Picchu to the outside world so we will take the train that runs from Cusco to a station at the foot of the hills and a short walk up to the ruined citadel.
Day 25: Cusco to Nazca
Today sees a long day on the road as we head down from the high Andes to the lower altitude of the Nazca Desert and the world famous Nazca Lines. This will be a tough drive but crews will be rewarded by more stunning scenery and some exhilarating driving experiences.
Day 26: Nazca to Paracas
We set off at lunchtime today, giving entrants the chance to take a morning flight over the “Lines” and to explore this incredible area at their leisure. The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Scholars believe the Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, killer whales, and lizards. Leaving Nazca, we have a short afternoon’s run through the desert to the coastal resort of Paracas and a final dinner before the drive in to the finish in Lima.
Day 27: Paracas to Lima
One final race circuit awaits us, a last chance to unleash the throttle on your car, before our final run along the Pacific Coast to the finish in Lima and some well-earned champagne at one of the city’s finest hotels. In the evening we will celebrate the end of this epic adventure with a sumptuous Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony.