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South America travel route

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean South America travel route

1. Posted by Gocrackers (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y

Hey guys just trying to plan a trip to South America next year and was wondering if this route is posable in two months?I realise its not as long as would be ideal but if I'm happy to do a "highlights tour " and keep moving is this realistic amount of ground to cover? Also i will be bussing and staying in hostels. Any additional advice would be much appreciated.
Route is- Santiago- San Pedro arcana- Uyuni- La Paz - Cusco - Colca - Lima - then up into Equador to spend a few days on the Galápagos Islands then up though Colombia to Cartagena

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Dec-2014, at 15:24 by Gocrackers ]

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2434 posts) 1y

"... I realise its not as long as would be ideal..."

In my opinion it's already waaay too long to be ideal, but that's just me, I'm a slow traveller.

Tranquilo and have fun.


3. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 443 posts) 1y

We did pretty much this trip last year. We are presently on holiday touring Cental America but I can give you more details once we're back home after 20 January.

4. Posted by Gocrackers (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y

That would be awesome, I'll be looking forward to that post. Enjoy the rest of your Central America trip.

5. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 443 posts) 1y

OK - a bit of down time here in Nicaragua. If I continue drinking all afternoon, I won't see in the New Year.

We do things quickly - I get seven weeks so we try to pack as much in and, although it's not Terry's style, we find it suits us.

We flew from Auckland to Santiago with LAN and had return tickets from Guayaquil to Auckland via Santiago, also with LAN. This gave us access to something similar to a LANpass - cheaper flights within South America. In all, our trip was about seven weeks including Chile (almost), Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and the Galápagos.

From Santiago, we flew directly to Calama and then caught a local bus to San Pedro de Atacama on the edge of the desert and were there for about three nights including one day in the desert.
Then we took a trip with Candillera Tours across the salt flats in Bolivia; three days, two nights, ending in Uyuni - superb! We arrived there at 4pm and took a local bus out at 7pm to Potosi. We stayed in Potosi just one night and went down the mine the next morning; quite an experience. The miners are handling sticks of dynamite after a few shots of 95 proof spirit!
We caught an overnight bus out of Potosi to La Paz that evening and waited at the airport for a flight to Rurrenabaque that afternoon. The next morning we went up river in a boat to Madidi National Park with Mashequipe and had two nights in the Amazon then a boat and drive eastwards for one more night in the pampas - brilliant!
Then we had a return drive to Rurrenabaque and a flight back to La Paz and had three nights there but extended it to four so we could attend a football match, Bolivar v Blooming - an exciting experience.
From there we had a morning bus to Copacabana for one night and then a boat trip to the Isla del Sol for one more night then a boat back to Copacabana in the morning and an afternoon bus ride into Peru, arriving at Arequipa at 2am via a quick tour of the Floating Islands off Puno. from Arequipa, we caught a local bus at 3am to Cabanaconde via Chivas. We hiked down the canyon, had a night at the bottom in Sangalle, and hiked back up the next day. The following day we went to see the condors and the day after that at 6am we left on a local bus for Arequipa, arriving there at about 6pm. We had one night in Arequipa and left the next afternoon at about 6pm on a night bus to Cusco, arriving at about 5am on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we went on a tour around the Sacred Valley and on 27 Dec we started the four-day Inca Trail with Peru Treks. That was awesome! Three nights camping and four days with a bush of sixteen people from all over the world - absolutely brilliant!
We arrived back in Cusco at 12:30am on New Year's Eve and celebrated in the square that evening.
Then it was a 4pm bus on New Year's Day to Nazca, arriving at 7am. We took a flight over the Nazca Lines, wandered around the town and then left at 2pm the same day for Lima, arriving there at around 9pm. We stayed in Milaflores for four nights (at the Dragonfly - a microbrewery).
We then flew from there to Quito for four nights - that would have been better but for the fact that it rained permanently while we were there.
Then we flew to the Galápagos (via Guayaquil) and stayed three nights in Puerto Ayora, took a ferry boat and stayed two nights in Villamil and then took another ferry (via Puerto Ayora) and had three nights at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The snorkelling at Kicker Rock with the hammerheads was great.
Then it was a flight from there to Guayaquil for one night and then out to Santiago, five hours around the city, and a flight to Auckland.

It was a wonderful trip at breakneck speed - tiring but well-worth it. I can give you more details about the hostels we stayed in and the bus companies we used once I get back home. I think the timings are correct but they may be slightly out; again I have the exact information at home.

It is said that you can't do the Galápagos unless you buy a cruise - not true. Apart from the National Park fees to get in, it was probably no more expensive than anywhere else in Peru or Ecuador. Bolivia was the cheapest of the countries.
From memory, we left Auckland on 30 November 2013 and arrived back on 19 January 2014 - I think my map has the exact dates.
Columbia is going to be another trip, probably with Venezuela and elsewhere along that Northern part of the continent.

Hope this helps - enjoy your planning! :)

6. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2434 posts) 1y

Fabulous trip, Boris. When are you coming to see me in Cuba?!


7. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 443 posts) 1y

You're in Havana?! We were there but just for 6-10 Dec. I didn't realise you lived there - sorry!

8. Posted by Gocrackers (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y

Wow! That sounds like an awesome trip. That gave me heaps of info, I really appreciate the effort. I'm glad to hear my schedule although a bit rushed is at least realistic.

Another question I have for people is how busy will it be between July and September? I've figured out I'm going to need to book my inca trail pretty soon but what about other things? Will the best hostels be booked out early or will I be able to book a few days I'n advance? I'd prefer not to have to plan out my exact trip before I leave but I really like to stay in the more popular social hostels. Also is there anything else I'll need to pre book? Galapagos maybe??


9. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 443 posts) 1y

You will need to book Machu Picchu pretty soon, especially if you want to do the Inca Trail. In addition, if you want to climb Hyuanna Picchu after walking around Machu Picchu, you'll have to book that very soon - they only allow something like 400 people a day to do that, 200 at 8am (too early if you do the trek) and another 200 at 10 or 10:30am. We did it - quite an effort after the trek and then the clouds rolled in; could hardly see your hand in front of your face!

You might need to book the internal flights pretty quickly too. The flights we had in and out of Galápagos were completely full (but I can't tell you how quickly they booked up though.

I think July - September might be busier than December/January because of the European school holidays so hostels might book out quickly, I have no idea. I can let you know where we stayed once I'm back home.

Now typing this facing the Caribbean Sea at Tortuguero, Costa Rica! :)