I am planning a trip to Peru/Bolivia in August/Sept this year - Not sure on length but up to 2 months. I have sort of got an itinerary going and just wanted some thoughts on whether I have missed anywhere out or if there is a better way to do it? I would like to fit in Huacachino in Peru but not sure how as of yet (?). Not doing Nazca lines as can't afford the flight - already doing far too many expensive things! The last leg double-backs but it is cheaper to fly in and out of Lima so its a bit annoying but not sure how to get around this....Plan to travel as cheap as possible so that I can afford to do the tours listed so that means horrendous buses galore!
All feedback useful and very much appreciated thanks!
Cusco - Inca trail
Puno - lake titicaca
Copacobana - isla del sol
Uyuni - salt flats 3 day tour
Cochabamba - Torotoro National Park tour
Rurrenabaque - Pampas and amazon tours
I spent three months in Peru and Bolivia only 4 months ago. Bolivia is a wonderful place, and remarkably easy to travel around.
Looking at your itinerary, a few things spring to mind:
1. Inca Trail in Cusco: if you haven't booked a place, think about doing so now. It is VERY popular and you will be going in pretty high season. If you turn up without a booking there is a strong chance you won't be able to do it. If you can't commit to an exact date there are plenty of other fabulous treks in the Cusco area - look at Salkantay (4-5 days) or Choquequirao (3 days). They are both less crowded than the Inca Trail!
2. This may of course be intentional, but you haven't included Tupiza on your itinerary. This is in the far south of Bolivia (reachable by bus 5-6 hours from Potosí) and is an absolutely fantastic place for horseriding, if you like that. 1,2,3 day rides can be arranged - the scenery is like the Wild West.
3. I skipped the north of Bolivia (Rurre) in favour of Tupiza as I had already visited Amazon rainforest and grassland areas in Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil. I think that if you had to choose between the north (jungle/pampas) and south (Tupiza) you've made the right choice if you can only do one. 2 months in plenty of time to see both though! You'll have to fly to Rurrenabaque unless you're willing to subject yourself to a VERY long and uncomfortable bus ride. I believe the vast majority of travellers fly.
4. Santa Cruz is not really a fascinating place. Interesting as it's so "different" from highland Bolivia.
5. Do at least look at internal flights. Bolivia is big, the roads are not good on the whole and overnight bus travel is best avoided. Flights are not necessarily bank-breakers. Buses can and do have serious accidents in Bolivia more than other South American countries. I flew from La Paz to Sucre for USD50 on TAM, the military airline which is quite cheap and, I think, safe. I also flew from Tarija to Santa Cruz on BoA, which was no too expensive (USD70). Bear in mind that bussing it from Tarija to SC is 24 hours. Versus 1 hour on the plane. The buses are also nowhere near as comfortable as Chile, Argentina or Peru (reclining seats etc.).
6. I keep saying this to lots of people, but on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca there is a stunning little peninsula called Capachica which is a great place to unwind for a few days in an unspoiled rural setting, and allows you to stay with local families, which greatly benefits the local economy. It's easy to get to (minibus from Puno) and has *very* few visitors. The whole experience is a lot less "slick" (something I personally dislike) than Taquile or Amantaní Islands. Also bear in mind that the usual "floating island" visits from Puno are to the intensely touristy Uros Islands - I met many people who returned quite disgusted by the experience. A huge bonus of going to Capachica is that you can organise tiny boat trips to Uros Titino, a group of 2 minuscule floating islands (8 families on each) which are not commercialised at all. Who knows how long they'll stay that way. Downside is that you need to charter a boat, but I got together with a Swiss guy and shared the cost. We found out about island life from people who actually live from the lake rather than from selling trinkets. No payment is even expected to visit the islands, although it's polite to buy a little something and accept the offer of a ride around the island on a reed boat for all over 2 dollars!
I have a travel blog with entries about these places (Cusco, Puno, Bolivia). It is against site rules to post links but let me know and I can send you the link via private message if you'd like to see some photos/read about some of these places.
Good luck planning, and enjoy your trip!
Your itinerary sounds good. In Cusco you may want to visit the local markets, visit the Sacred Valley.
Awesome advice thanks polyglot25 (Will)! I plan to book the trek next month so hopefully I should have plenty of time and yes I had thought of Tupiza but decided it was a bit too far to travel - although now you have convinced me to go as I love horse riding!! Can you recommend a tour company for the salt flats there? I know it can be very hit and miss! Will definitely look at those flights and Capachica as well - you obviously know what you are talking about which is exactly the sort of advice I was after Have you been to Huacachino? I've heard that is good but it seems a bit out of the way so not sure if it is worth the detour....
Would love to get your blog details thanks!