I am taking a three month holiday in South America before I begin a graduate law program in Brisbane, Australia.
I will be flying into Lima, Peru mid-November 2008 and out of Buenos Aires, Argentina end-February 2009. I plan to travel through Chile and Patagonia. I plan to do the Inca Trail, but do not have many other plans.
I am interested in any destination suggestions you have or travel tips for someone travelling on their own.
peru's nice and easy I kept meeting people on buses/hostels.
my fave sights in Peru were the nasca lines (easy bus from Lima - which also passes Islas ballesta which are meant to be good) it's difficult not to get an overflight to see the lines. Arequipa was good, I didn't have enough time there, but it's a good base to get a 2 day trip to Colca canyon which was amazing ($35 US)
Cusco is obvioulsy amazing - you can easily spend a few days there, ollayntaytambo (between there and machu picchu) was a great little town and on the train route to MP. Travelling down the sacred valley to Pisac (by cusco) from there was also good, I cycled but there are buses... Pisac was another relaxed town to spend a night in.
Lake Titcaca is worth a visit, Puno itself is a crappy little town, but the floating Islands were impressive if touristy.
I've only been down to the Jungle past Tres Cruces (Manu Reserve I think) which was good, but I didn't have the time to really travel there, which is a shame it looked amazing.
If I'd had the time I would have gone to Chan Chan and Trujillo, maybe next time...
If you have three months you should be able to take in what you want to see at a relatively relaxed pace.
I'd suggest something like the following route, and I've done this one myself:
Lima -->Nazca (to see the Lineas, although you could skip this if you wanted to spend more time somewhere else) --> Cusco (Inca Trail/Machu Piccu) --> bus to Puno -->cross into Bolivia at Lake Titicaca -->bus to La Paz --> bus to Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) --> Cross into CHile at San Pedro de Atacama -->bus through Atacaman desert to Santiago
At this point, you can choose a number of options to get to Patagonia.
1. Bus to Puero Montt. From there take the Navimag ferry (I HIGHLY recommend) through the fjords of Southern Chile. Disembark at Puerto Natales and from there bus down to Tierra del Fuego. It's a long journey and does take some time to get down there, not to mention the fact that you then have to travel back from the very south. From Tierra del Fuego, you can then bus to El Calafate or Punta Arenas from where you can access Torres del Paine National Park. From there, bus to Bariloche back up Ruta 40. From Bariloche, bus to Buenos Aires.
2. You can bus all the way from Santiago to Tierra del Fuego and on to Buenos Aires, following more or less the route I just covered.
3. you can fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas to cut out some of the time, but honestly if you can afford the time, you cut out so much beautiful scenery if you fly. Overland travel is far preferable.
Anyway, hope that helps a bit. If you have any specific questions let me know.
Hiya Nic, from the Byron area here and travelled to Peru in 06, had a great time and can recommend the following; in the north there is the Amazon (although I missed it this time), if your into ancient culture the Moche and Chimu sites in & around Chiclayo, Cajamarca & Trujillio, great treking & Chavin sites in Huaraz, Lima, Inca sites in & around the Sacred Valley, just into Bolivia, Copacabana on Lake Titicaca and La Paz are worth visiting... buses were cheap and easy to get around although prone to breaking down, drop me a msg if you need any more info... enjoy your trip!
Inca trail advice. The trail is closed in Feb for cleaning so better not leave it till last. Also you need a permit for the trail places are limited to 500 (sounds a lot but this includes porters) per day. You cannot do the trail unaccompanied.
you can check availability at www.IncaTrailReservations.com
Me and my 3 friends plan to travel Peru, Chile and Argentina (Lima-Cusco-Machu-Picchu-Santiago-Puerto Montt-Punta Arenas-Buenos Aires). We have only 15 days available. So that's why I have so many questions Please help me to narrow my planning:
1) Is it possible to make such a trip in 15 days using only public transportation?
2) Are there any way to rent a car in Lima and than return it in Buenos Aires?
3) Is it any better to travel by car, than by public transportation? Is it possible at all to ride through these countries (road conditions)?
4) Are there campgrounds in these countries we can stay overnight safely (from wildlife and that worse part of human beings)?
5) What would be better way to see more of the beauty of these countries - stay within cities or go wild?
I must say that we are medium-advanced hikers, it is OK to sleep in the forest and walk extremely long distances for us.
Thanks in advance for any additional tips you will be willing to share with me. We dream to make this trip as close to nature and real life, as possible.
As for your question "1) Is it possible to make such a trip in 15 days using only public transportation?" well it would be very tricky I'd think as you are travelling quite a few thousand miles in very mountainous terrain. If it was you'd be on the bus practically your entire trip and have one very saw bum and be very tired by the end. It would be stupid to attempt such a thing as people spend many months in South America and don't get to see as much as you are talking about attempting in only 15 days! In Rio I met someone who lived in Lima and had dreamt of going to Rio all his life. He finally saved enough to get the bus from Lima to Rio, he went through Bolivia straight through (only stopping at a few bus stations along the way and for 10-30 minute stops to stretch your legs). I think from memory he said that took 7 days (it was 4 years ago so I may be a day out). If you look at the itinerary you are talking about, you are considering doing at least 2.5 times that distance but probably more like 3 times the distance. To make it even harder you'd need to get many buses along the way some of which probably do not operate every day.
With the question about seeing more beauty, a bit of both would be best. I think places like Buenos Aires are very nice to have a look around for a few days, but doing things like the W Trek in the Torres Del Paine National park (in Patagonia) bring some of the best scenery and rugged terrain you are likely to come across. It sure is a tough slog if you are carrying a backpack full of food, but is worth it especially if you get to see the towers without cloud covering the top of them like I did. Road conditions in these countries vary greatly from fairly safe to very dangerous. Personally I'd rather let someone who drives the roads for a living do all the driving rather than do the driving myself in a place which can be very hazardous and very different to what you are used to back home.
I'm not too sure about the hiring a car in Lima and returning in Buenos Aires but I doubt you would as it is going between countries and would require a huge amount of distance to be driven for relocating the car back to Lima.
I think you'd be better forgetting about Puerto Montt and also forgetting about Punta Arenas as that would be adding thousands of kilometres and a fair bit of time on to your journey time.
[ Edit: Edited on 03-Jul-2009, at 20:09 by aharrold45 ]
Thank you for your reply. As I've read more about South America, I understood we have to limit our trip to Peru and Chile.