I've been reading some posts regarding how to get up to Peru by land as I hope to do that in February next year. We are travelling for 3 months around South America and I arrive in Santiago 23rd Jan. I'd like to travel up to Peru (and Bolivia aswell if there is time) and perhaps fly back from Lima in time for my international flight home to London from Santiago on 4th March. Do you think that is enough time?
Which buses do you recommend? Is it relatively safe and easy to go by bus up to Peru?
In a short space of time what highlights would you say were unmissable for me en route from chile to Peru?
Any help or suggestions would be most welcome.
I can help with bus routes from Chile-Peru, but one suggestion I have is that you should definitely go from Santiago-Buenos Aires on the bus. That is one of the most spectacular bus trips anywhere in the world going up through the Andes and is an overnight journey so you wont use more than a day doing it. From there after you have spent 3-4 days looking about you'd be able to head north towards Bolivia and across to Peru. I just got the cheapest bus across and it was perfectly fine for me. It seemed a little odd when we stopped for a break at Mendoza and then the bus leaft the depo to do another bus journey with everybody's luggage still underneath and onboard. The driver did come back with new passengers onboard, but all my belongings were still there untouched thankfully!
If you got time and a chance you should try and head to the far southern area of Chile/Argentina which is one of the most pristine areas anywhere in the world, but you would probably require a flight in there to travel all that distance south and then back north as well.
Have a great trip.
Hi! I was in South America earlier this year. I didn't make it to Chile but I know there is a bus from Santiago to Mendoza in Argentina which I think takes about eight hours. Mendoza is a great place to visit if you like wine, loads of vineyard tours etc. From there we got a bus to Salta and from there on to Tupiza in Bolivia. Be warned, the bus drops you at the border at about 6 in the morning and it is FREEZING!!! A lot of people take the Salar (Salt flats) tour from Uyuni but we were advised that it's better to do it from Tupiza because it's a little bit less commercialised. The Salar tour is a must-do if you're travelling through Bolivia, absolutely beautiful, amazing scenery, amazing sunsets, amazing landscapes and wildlife. A definite highlight of my trip (but again, pack loads of wooly jumpers!!). The tour stops in Uyuni and you can get a bus to La Paz from there. Cool city. Complete culture shock after the likes of BA. You can go quad biking around the rim of the crucible which is great fun, and the scenery is beautiful. From La Paz you can get a bus across the border to Puno in Peru, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. They do lake tours from there, where you stay overnight with a family on the island. It's a wee bit contrived for the tourists but all the people I met there were genuinely very friendly and generous and it's the closest you'll probably get to seeing these people and their customs in "real life". It was another highlight of my trip! From Puno you can get a bus to Cusco with it's obvious attractions (yet another highlight!!). From Cusco it's simple enough to get to Lima. We only saw the airport but by all accounts we weren't missing out on much.
I did Mendoza to Lima including four day Salar tour and four day Inca trail in about three weeks so I'm sure you could fit a lot more in there seeing as you have more time.
Have a blast, wish I was going back too!!
If you have about 5 weeks, I would avoid going all the way to Buenos Aires, and take a trip from Santiago up the Andes to Mendoza and travel northwards from there to Salta. Salta is a great place to spend 3 or 4 nights, with loads of trips to Cafayate for example or up into the Andes mountains. If there are more of you, consider on renting a car.
From Salta, it's good enough to take a bus in the early morning to the Argentina Bolivia border and travel to Tupiza by bus or train from there. Trains do not travel there every day, so check the bolivian trains website (google). you will be in Tupiza that same afternoon.
Tupiza tours is the touroperator I went with for 4 days to visit the salar, coloured lakes and more amazing stuff, like the Dali desert and sulphur/mud pools at 5000 meters. They are great and if you are with 6 in a 4wd it is about 100 dollar a person. you will end up in Uyuni and can travel up north like the other said, to La Paz, Cuzco etc.
But don't forget to visit the northern parts of Chile, with San pedro de atacama as a base for example to visit the el tatio geysir or other places nearby. The Atacama desert truely is very remarkable being the driest place on earth. No need of using flights, as Chilean buses travel in about 20 hours from there to Santiago on very good sleeper bus, usually with only 32 seats which is very comfortable.
Also if you are a train ethusiast, consider taking the train from Arica to Tacna in Peru or the other way around, depending on your route.
Have fun! Michael