I posted a while back with my itinerary and you all gave some great advice so I wanted to share my changes and get some suggestions. If you look at my profile picture it is my original itinerary. I have since bucked up and am looking to purchase a couple flights.
I have a flight from BA to Lima to end it all. The first few days will be Lima to Cusco April 2nd to the 5th, 2 night one day inca trail trek. I think I would like to bus from Cusco to Arica, is Arica a nice city to stay for just one night or 2 at the most (other options). Fly from Arica to Santiago spend a couple days in and around Santiago looks like there are some adventure trips in Pucon, and sounds like its easy to get to Pucon from Santiago. The stretch form Santiago to BA is the same, Bus ride with a lay over in Mendoza, Mendoza sounds verty appealing to me. Couple days in BA with a friend and then back to Lima to fly out on the 17th back to USA.
So I have roughly 15 days to do all this, what do you think? My main question is about Arica (Is there any alternatives?, and Pucon easy trip form Santiago?)
Thanks in advance.
That's a really busy trip. Personally, I think you are missing out on alot of the highlights of that region.
Arica is an OK city. It's fine for transit, and I did enjoy the day or two that I spent there. But it was not even close to being a highlight of my trip to South America. In fact, I would rate it as the most unexciting town I visited in my whole trip. A much better option is to spend those couple days on the Peru side in Arequipa, which for me was one of the highlights of the country. It's a great city for a few days or even a week and I think not to be missed. It will also save you a whole lot of travel time since Cusco-Arica isn't exactly a quick jaunt. Arequipa is probably half way between the two. You could skip Arica altogether and look into flights from Arequipa to Santiago (not sure if they exist) and this will save you a lot of travel time and make it a much more enjoyable trip.
Or, if you do want to see the North of Chile instead, San Pedro de Atacama is probably the undisputed highlight. Not exactly a quick trip from Cusco either, but you could fly from Calama to Santiago. Even Iquique is a nicer town than Arica.
if you're getting to Pucon from Santiago, the distance is about 800 Km, but you can do it by bus (10 hour trip, ticket from US$18) or plane. But if you only have 2 days available to stay in santiago, pucon is not an option for a day trip. In that case, you can go to valparaiso, 1:30 hour from santiago, located in the coast, it's a cute city, has lots to see and lots of different attractions (architecture, museums, restaurants, bars, pablo neruda's house (la sebastiana), beaches).
Anyway, here's a website with english version, about pucon:
Personally, i don't like pucon at all, i prefer the near town of villarrica, it's quieter in the summer, but if you're going in low season (march-december) then it sould be ok
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 5, 2007, at 9:59 AM by mariaines ]
I would agree with Degolasse. San Pedro de Atacama is a great stop to break your journey between Cuzco and Santiago.
Also, instead of flying...you could take an overnight bus to Santigo from San Pedro. Its quite a nice journey through the atacama desert.
Mendoza is lovely and a really nice place to break the journey from Santiago to BA.
I think you are going to find yourself really short on time though.
Its just not that simple sometimes in peru regarding buses and so on. You can often get delayed.
My advice to you would be instead of spending time down the spine of Chile you should cross into Argentina and visit Salta, maybe Cordoba and then over to BA.
I think, timewise, that might be more doable.