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Peru and Bolivia independently in 2 weeks

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1. Posted by Conflax (Budding Member 22 posts) 7y

Hi everyone,

I have finally sorted out my dates and itinerary and will be going to Peru and Bolivia for - wait for it - only 2 weeks! :-(

Arriving on 12 September and have to leave by 26th, we want to see Macchu Picchu (but alas, not the trail), Nasca Lines, Arequipa, Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia.

Really not bothered with anything else - would be great to squeeze in Colca Canyon and road of death but I am being realistic and avoid disappointment given the time, altitude, distances etc.

We plan to do the following route :-

Lima to Cuzco & do Macchu Picchu
Cuzco to La Paz (via Puno) & do salt flats
La Paz to Arequipa, maybe colca canyon trip
Arequipa to Nazca & do the lines flight.
Nazca back to Lima.

There are only three weeks left and I want to do as much independently as I can... but have booked NOTHING.... please can anyone help with general advice and the following questions ?

1) In terms of Macchu Picchu where is Poroy in relation to Cusco ? What are the trains like? I have looked at booking online and I can book a "Vistadome" train which seems MUCH cheaper than the other one ("Higham" or something?), is this correct and is there a catch ?

2) other than the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes what else do I need to book in advance for Macchu Picchu?

3) I have looked into the Andean explorer from Cuzco to Puno but it is $400 for two people for a 10hr journey! Has anyone done this? Visually it looks amazing but cost-wise is it better to fly? Can I fly? Who operates? LAN peru seem to insist on going back to Lima....

4) Once I get to La Paz how do we get to Uyuni and should I book a salt flats tour online before we go?

5) Can I book a Nasca flight independently or do I need to go through an operator? I have heard a lot about double-booking or cancellations....

6) Everything online in terms of PeruRail, Cruz del sur buses and LAN Peru flight websites etc looks really professional, are the transport links reliable? Do flights run on time etc ?

Sorry for all the questions it's just taken ages to work out what we want to do in the time available and now it;s all a bit last minute!

Thanks,
Steve.

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Hi Steve,

Good thing not to squeeze too much in two weeks. I'll try and be of some help

1. I took the Vista train as well, it's the best for a daytrip and you can book it at one of the agencies on the central square in Cuzco and leave the next day. There usually are places left so no problem. And no, there is no catch;)

2. Nothing. The bus going to machu picchu from Aguas Calientes is included as well.

3. I would advise to arrange bus tickets to Puno as well while in Cuzco. You didn't mentioned if you want to go on Lake Titicaca as well. Otherwise, try and arrange a bus ticket straight to La Paz. Did the trip in stages, so don't know for sure if you can book a direct bus.

4. There are buses to Uyuni or a bus to Oruro and trains from there. Once in Uyuni you can usually book for a tour for the next day, no problem.

5. haven't been there, sorry.

6. Never sure of course, but more buses/trains/planes leave on time compared to the ones being (very) late. Buses run quite frequently anyway.

Now, one thing more. You say you want to go back to La Paz after Uyuni and then to Arequipa. Personally I think you might do a tour from Uyuni ending in San Pedro de Atacama and take a bus from there to Arica in north Chile, with crossing to Tacan in Peru and on to Arequipa. Might take just a little more but you get the chance to travel through Northern Chile and see the Atacama desert.

The only flight I would book is Lima to Cuzco, saves you a long bus ride.

Actually, a better plan might be to do all of Peru first and fly back from La Paz.
Itinerary coulde be like this;
1. arrive Lima
2. towards Nazca
3. Nazca
4. to Arequipa
5. Arequipa
6. to cuzco
7. cuzco, arrange machu Picchu
8. Machu picchu
9. to Puno
10. To la paz
11. to Uyuni
12. salt flats tour
13. to La Paz
14. flight to Cuzco.

I think it might save you a day of travelling back to Arequipa.

Cheers!
Michael

3. Posted by Conflax (Budding Member 22 posts) 7y

Great feedback, thanks. Definitely keen on heading into Chile and back to Arequipa that way! Cheers.

I might actually book a flight from Cuzco to La Paz too. It's missing out a massive 20hr journey, which does look visually stunning but I will save 18hrs travelling time, and about $200 as Aerosur flights look cheap.

One more question though, how easy is it to get around given that neither of us speak any Spanish? I'm hoping that by sticking to -relatively- touristy places (macchu picchu, Salt flats etc) we can get by with absolute basics??

Thanks
Steve.

4. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Hi Steve,

Well, I only speak a few words of Spanish myself and didn't have problems at all. The basics would be more than fine, some words and phrases. I can't have a conversation though but although most people don't speak English a few of them do.

Michael

5. Posted by Conflax (Budding Member 22 posts) 7y

Hi,

Thanks - have finally booked flights! Unfortunately I lost a day due to the lack of availability, so excludng the day I land (which is 10pm) I have a full 13 days before flying back out of Lima the morning of the 14th day.

Just reading up on La Paz to Uyuni and the salt flats tour. I expect to arrive in La Paz on 17th Sept and excluding this day I have allowed 5 days in TOTAL to go from La Paz to Arequipa via the salt flats.

I have read that the bus to Uyuni takes about 15hours and is a nightmare, then I need to book a tour, then I need to get buses either from Atacama up to Arica then Arequipa, or from Uyuni back to La Paz and to Arequipa

Does this sound like a crazy idea in 5 days ???????

Thanks!
Steve.

6. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

It's only doable if you go back via La Paz, but even then it's madness actually.
You might enjoy more time in that part of Bolivia and southern Peru in my opinion.

7. Posted by Conflax (Budding Member 22 posts) 7y

Hi,

Thanks for all the advice :-)

I have reworked my plan and now have 6-7 days not 5, and also I learned I can fly to Sucre instead of La Paz, then get a bus to Uyuni via Potosi, which is supposed to be quicker.

Any thoughts on whether that is possible??

Thanks!
Steve

8. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting Conflax

Hi,

Thanks for all the advice :-)

I have reworked my plan and now have 6-7 days not 5, and also I learned I can fly to Sucre instead of La Paz, then get a bus to Uyuni via Potosi, which is supposed to be quicker.

Any thoughts on whether that is possible??

Thanks!
Steve

Well, at least you save some hours in buses, but not that much. However, like you mentioned you can break your trip in Potosi as well. It's about 3-4 hours from Sucre to Potosi, 6-7 from there to Uyuni.

Cheers!
Michael.

9. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y

I distinctly remember my trip from Potosì to Sucre taking twice that long, Michael, due to the appalling road conditions at the time. One rainy day is enough to add several hours to the journey. Nevertheless, it's worth taking that route, which carries you through one of the most beautiful parts of Andean Bolivia.

10. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting bentivogli

I distinctly remember my trip from Potosì to Sucre taking twice that long, Michael, due to the appalling road conditions at the time. One rainy day is enough to add several hours to the journey. Nevertheless, it's worth taking that route, which carries you through one of the most beautiful parts of Andean Bolivia.

Good thing to add Niels. The time it takes it never sure in countries like Bolivia. Most travel times are estimates when all goes well...not even mentioning the road blocks. Took me twice as long from Oruro to La Paz as well;)