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7 weeks South America trip - how much to fit in?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean 7 weeks South America trip - how much to fit in?

1. Posted by chris228 (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

Hi All,

I'm currently planning a 7 week trip to south america with my husband in Aug/Sept 2010 to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary. We're in our early 30s, love active holidays and exploring new cultures, have some flexibility on budget but not on time so we are currently planning to fly between most places. Trip will probably start around mid-Aug and we must be back home (Australia) by 9-Oct. I have a bad tendency to plan as much as I can in a really short time and I'm afraid I might be doing it again this time. Your advice would be really appreciated regarding pacing esp. since my husband has been affected by altitude sickness on a previous trip.

The itinerary is based around our key interests being:

- Inca Trail
- Galapagos
- Amazon
- Iguazu
- Glaciers
- Wine

The current itinerary:

Fly into Quito incl. Otavalo [3d] --> Quito to Coca for Amazon Cruise [5d] --> Quito to Galapagos [5d] --> Fly Quito to Lima [2d] --> Fly Lima to Cuzco [2d] --> Inca Trail [5d] --> Cuzco/Nazca/Lima by bus [2d] --> Fly Lima to Santiago [4d] --> Fly Santiago to Mendoza [3d] --> Fly Mendoza to Bariloche [3d] --> Fly Bariloche to El Calafate [3d] --> Fly El Calafate to Buenos Aires [3d] --> Fly Buenos Aires to Iguazu [2d] --> Fly Iguazu to Rio [3d] --> Fly Rio to Buenos Aires [1d] before flying back to Australia the next day

My key questions:

1. Is this too rushed? Do you recommend building in extra contingency days in the itinerary? If so, where?
2. Is 2 days enough time to acclimitize for the Inca Trail in Cuzco after flying in from Lima?
3. I've read some other posts that 4d in Santiago might be too much. Would it be better to cut this down and spend more time elsewhere? If so, where?
4. Have also read that Lima is not worth the time so would it be better to just use Lima as a fly through point rather than spend 2d there?
5. I have cutout Lake Titicaca, La Paz, salt flats out of the itinerary to save time. Realistically how much more time do you think I would need to include this (all or in part)? Is it worthwhile? Would you recommend Lake Titicaca/La Paz over Nazca?
6. Any legs where you recommend bus or other modes of transport instead of flying?
7. Any issues with safety and bringing my SLR?

Sorry for the long post and many questions.

Thanks in advance!!

chris

2. Posted by anonali (Budding Member 22 posts) 6y

Hi,

I can't comment on all of this but will try where I can:

Firstly, you don't need much planning except in one single area which is the Inca trail. There's a fixed number of people allowed on it at any given time so it needs to be booked well in advance and may well be booked out already. I went on the Salkantay trek and really enjoyed it. There're far less people and it's slightly longer and harder (I hear) and is more about the scenery than pointing at every rock as Inca-esque.

2. When I went to Cusco there's a fixed time you have to stay before they let you trek. At the time it was three days and can't see a reason why this would've changed.

4. Lima's not offensive but unless you plan on spending weeks or months there I'd get in and get out. Four days is definately too long for your trip.

5. The minimum time you could do this in is a week but I loved this part so spent much longer on it. Nazca's meant to be about the lines and not much else but would leave someone that's been to comment!

6. I didn't actually think that Iguazu was all that to be honest. I much preferred all the coast line just south of rio which I'd recommend busing if you need to get from Sao Paulo to Rio (and get a seat on the right side of the bus). Having said that I'm one of the few people that enjoys any bus journey so long as I've a window seat :)

7. I'd hesitate about an SLR in Rio. Not nessecarily becasue it might get stolen but because you'll spend all your time watching your back.

Let me know if you'd like more detail on any of this.

Have fun,

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4809 posts) 6y

I don't know much about South America outside of Peru, so won't answer most questions, but what I do know:

Quoting chris228

2. Is 2 days enough time to acclimitize for the Inca Trail in Cuzco after flying in from Lima?
4. Have also read that Lima is not worth the time so would it be better to just use Lima as a fly through point rather than spend 2d there?

Definitely cut out Lima completely (it's not all horrible, but it's just an ugly and noisy city, with horrible smog most of the time, and the rest of Peru is much more worthwhile), and just fly straight to Cuzco (or better yet, fly to Arequipa to take in that rather nice city, and bus to Cuzco via Lake Titicaca from there). That way you benefit from your altitude acclimatization from Quito (assuming you'll spend at least a day or two there before taking this flight; e.g. do the Amazon cruise and Galapagos first, and then spend time around Quito), and will be in much better shape at Cuzco.
If you'd lack any acclimatization, I'd say you'd need at least three days rather than two at Cuzco before starting the inca trail.

7. Any issues with safety and bringing my SLR?

Don't flaunt it; keep it out of sight (in a backpack) unless you're using it. Beyond that you should be fine.

4. Posted by chris228 (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

Thanks for your advice Anonali & Sander!

I will definately look into whether there is a fixed time to stay in Cuzco before the trek and will look at reworking the itinerary to reduce time in Lima and see if I can fit in Lake Titicaca/Arequipa! Thanks heaps!! :)