Hey guys. I am trying to organise some travel plans for south america and could really use your help.
I fly into santiago on the 30th of sept and am going to be spending about 3.5 months (until mid jan) travelling mainly the southern part of south america. I wanted to include: (if possible colombia and ecuador), peru, bolivia, chile, argentina, (possibly uruguay) and brazil.
My original plans have changed somewhat due to the booking of machu picchu (booked for 28th oct) which kinda messed up my ideas.
Essentially i was going to start in lima and work my way down, but now im hoping (if i have enough money or can find a cheap flight) to start in colombia, through ecuador and straight to machu picchu, then double back to do lima etc after. Then on down through bolivia, into chile, argentina, patagonia, up to uruguay and finally into brazil.
Because i only have 3.5 months im really worried about overshooting some places and having to skip others that i really want to see.
In a bit more detail im hoping to visit these places:
barranquilla - cartagena - medellin - bogota - cali - quito - quilotoa loop? - guayaquil - lima - pisco - nazca - arequipa - cusco - puno - copacabana - la paz - rurrenabaque - potosi - uyuni - valle de la luna/san pedro de atacama - santiago - mendoza - bariloche - el calafete - BA - montevideo - punta del este - iguazu - sao paolo - paraty - rio/ilha grande.
Basically im looking for any advice people can offer about what i cant miss (that i havent already included), what i should maybe skip, and if it's even possible or if im just living in a delerious wonderland at the moment?
I really appreciate you taking the time to look so please help me out - im panicking!!!
First off, I recommend not to plan too much. Have a general sense of where you want to go, but leave room for spontaneous side trips. Some of my favorite places were places that I knew nothing about until a fellow traveler shared stories.
Next, it does seem like you are trying to cover a lot of territory in 3.5 months, though if you are the type of traveler who likes to be on the move all of the time, it may be fine. Know that bus schedules change/are delayed due to all sorts of reasons (especially in Peru and Bolivia, in my experience.) You need to be flexible!
I have not explored Colombia or Ecuador yet, so cannot comment on those destinations. Here is my two cents about other places, though, really, depends on what you want to do:
Lima -- not much to see, could skip it (unless you are going to Huaraz and need to catch a bus there).
Montevideo -- same, not much to see, though the beaches to the east are nice
Arequipa is a neat colonial city.
Lago Titicaca in Bolivia is a fun stop, and La Paz is one of my favorite cities in the world - definitely spend several days here.
Cusco goes without saying - make sure you acclimate before you hike the Inca Trail.
The jeep tour from San Pedro de atacama to Uyuni was AMAZING, I wouldn't miss this.
Hope that helps a bit...Happy Trails!
The post above is right on the mark. We just spent 7 weeks in Bolivia and two weeks in Southern Peru. I will limit my comments to those two areas. The number of tourists in Bolivia is quite small so you really don't need to worry about things filling up especially that time of year. You will get better deals booking on arrival rather than over the internet. Don't miss Southwest Bolivia and the Lagunas. We took a 5 day jeep trek. If I was to do it again, I'd take 7 days. Sucre was our favorite city.
If I had any regrets it's that we spent too much time in La Paz. The countryside in Bolivia was far more interesting to me but I'm not a city person.
Nearly all of the larger towns in Bolivia have ATM's that nearly always work. Be careful though, places like Copacobana and Sorata where you would assume they have ATM's did not so you need to carry plenty of cash. I would not waste my time on travelers checks. Most money changers will charge you 8 to 10 percent to change them.
As for Peru, Arequipa is a great city. Cusco is very scenic but at the end of July was filled with tourists and was a bit of a shock after travelling in Bolivia.
If you are interested, I have a blog on this site http://boliviatrek.travellerspoint.com that you can check out.
Good luck and have fun.
Do less than you have planned, unless you want to spend most of your time getting from place to place. Skip Lima altogether, Jonshapiro