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Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile itinerary in Winter

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile itinerary in Winter

1. Posted by pendleton (Respected Member, 8 posts) 17 Dec '08 03:43

Hi there

My husband and I are flying into Lima on 5th June and fly out of Santiago on 2nd September. I'd really appreciate advice on where we can/cannot go as it will be winter, and a recommended itinerary to help us with acclimatising to altitude. I can't find advice on this anywhere.

We were planning on the following:
- 4 weeks Peru (Pisco, Huacachina Sandboarding, Nazca lines, Inca Trail booked for 18th June, Cuzco for Inti Raymi)
- 3 weeks Bolivia (seeing Lake Titicaca first then La Paz, then not sure which order to see Potosi, the Salar de Uyuni and Laguna Colorada and go on an Amazon trip to see pink river dolphins)
- 3 weeks each for Argentina and Chile - we want to do some snowboarding and see some of the desert, lakes, pampas and Patagonia if possible (it will be July/August then)

My questions are:

What should our route around Bolivia be to help with the altitude?

As we have flights out of Santiago, what would be the best route to see Argentina and Chile from Bolivia? Should we go to Chile via Laguna Colorada, then cross into Argentina and work our way down to Mendoza then cross back into Chile?

Will we be able to see Patagonia in July/August or is this not do-able (in the time we have)?

Many thanks for any help you can offer.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4274 posts) 17 Dec '08 04:30

Of these countries, I only have been to Peru, so my remarks will be limited to that. I assume others will speak up on the other countries.

Quoting pendleton

My husband and I are flying into Lima on 5th June and fly out of Santiago on 2nd September. I'd really appreciate advice on where we can/cannot go as it will be winter

At least for Peru, there's effectively no "winter". Just wet season and dry season. June is dry season, so it's the perfect time to be there (also high season). Most days, you can expect the daytime temperature to be around 20 degrees Celsius under bright blue skies. (Often up to 25, even.) The first night of the Inca Trail will be really cold though (around freezing, or even below, depending on which company you're going with (and thus which campground you're staying at)), and subsequent nights won't be much better than 5-10 degrees above.

and a recommended itinerary to help us with acclimatising to altitude. I can't find advice on this anywhere.

I know my Lonely Planet for Peru had a good section on this, listed altitudes for all cities, and for the really high ones frequently repeated warnings about altitude sickness and what other cities would make good destinations to acclimatize at.

We were planning on the following:
- 4 weeks Peru (Pisco, Huacachina Sandboarding, Nazca lines, Inca Trail booked for 18th June, Cuzco for Inti Raymi)

Don't go straight to Cuzco from Nazca; you'd be going from 600 meters to 3300 meters (after which the Inca trail goes up to 4200 meters at Dead Woman's Pass), which is too much. (Or you'd be out of it for ~3 days in Cuzco during which you couldn't do anything.) Arequipa (at 2350 meters) is the most frequently used halfway-there city to acclimatize at, and totally worth visiting in its own right. (Alternatively Abancay at 2400 meters is a good stopping point en route to Cuzco, but you hit 4500 meters getting there by bus (probably barely an hour after leaving Nazca), so if you're susceptible to altitude sickness, be prepared for a day of misery in Abancay while recovering.) The classic gringo trail continues from Arequipa to Puno/Lake Titicaca (4000 meters; just doable as long as you don't exert yourself too much), after which Cuzco and the Inca Trail are a virtual walk in the park. You could head straight from Arequipa to Cuzco, though and should be fine. (Spend at least three nights above 2000 meters before heading above 3000 meters, though! I personally went above 5000 meters (even if only for an hour) after only 40 hours in Arequipa (doing a Colca Canyon trip), and had a massive headache and balance problems for the entire next day.)

- 3 weeks Bolivia (seeing Lake Titicaca first then La Paz, then not sure which order to see Potosi, the Salar de Uyuni and Laguna Colorada and go on an Amazon trip to see pink river dolphins)

After Cuzco (and especially Lake Titicaca), you should be good for anything, altitude wise. You can dip down to sea level for roughly 2-3 days (or to ~2000 meters for 4-5 days) before you've lost acclimatization to higher altitudes, so either make the Amazon trip the last thing you do, or keep it short.

What should our route around Bolivia be to help with the altitude?

I don't know what altitudes places there are, but in general: Keep it gradual; don't go up more than 1000 meters a day; if it must be 2000 meters, take a rest day (2 nights, preferably). You can go down a lot and back up without ill effects, just as long as you don't stay low for too long.

Hope that helps a bit. :)

[ Edit: Edited on Dec 17, 2008, at 4:43 AM by Sander ]

3. Posted by pendleton (Respected Member, 8 posts) 18 Dec '08 02:58

Sander, thanks very much for your advice on Peru, I hadn't been aware of that route to help with acclimatisation, we had just resigned ourselves to spending 3 dead days in Cuzco before the Inka trail.

If anyone has any advice on the route around Bolivia and into Chile or Argentina I'd be grateful for your input.

Many thanks