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Ecuador (possibly Galapagos) Peru and Bolivia Last Minute!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Ecuador (possibly Galapagos) Peru and Bolivia Last Minute!

1. Posted by gi99les (Budding Member, 6 posts) 2 Jul '13 12:44

Hi,
So I have decided to go on a last minute trip to South America. I have booked my flights for middle of July until middle of September.
I have lots of questions as its such short notice but I guess I shall start with a few and see if some of you happy travelers can give me some advice!

1, I have been told not to book trips or anything (except a hostel for a few nights) before I go as there are better options when I get there and I might meet some people when I get there to do things with, good idea? Trouble is I really am not sure what to do once I get there. Was hoping to volunteer but seems like you have to do this for over 2 weeks if you want to?

2, Would love to go to Galapagos, (not sure if I am allowed to write company name) student travel company do a volunteer trip to Galapagos for 700GBP, I would be in Quito for 4 days before this leaves, not sure if its a good idea or not? not sure if it is worth the money, it seems a lot??

3, Have seen on FCO website there are some areas not to go, it also says there are lots of robberies on buses going from Ecuador to Peru. I was going to try and do this on a shoe string and thought the bus route might be quite fun, but now am worried as obviously don't want to put myself at risk?

4, Am blonde, fair skinned and travelling on my own... should I be worried? Worth dying my hair for? I'm pretty street savvy and careful but don't want to risk anything is it can be avoided... or should I not worry!

5, What to do in Peru, I obviously would like to visit Machu Picchu and have read that I should avoid floating island??

6, A few friends who have been travelling say Bolivia is their favorite place, obviously salt dessert is a must but how to get there as most comments are saying buses are very dangerous also what else to do? I leave from Santa Cruz...

7, Money, have ready getting cash out in Ecuador is hard? Shall I get Sols and Bolivianos before I leave??

8, Any tips about anything else more than welcome!

Thanks guys and gals sorry its long... hope to be able to help some of you one day too :)

2. Posted by Kiwi34 (Budding Member, 7 posts) 3 Jul '13 08:05

Hi

You are in the same boat as me, im planning to leave in september. South america is a massive state and unless one can find someone to do things with out there, it is hard not to want to book atleast in terms of tours before going.

I have made a decision to book tours here, then do whatever else as i go after that once familiar.

3. Posted by TeflonCDN (Full Member, 113 posts) 3 Jul '13 09:12

I like to book a few days of tours prior to arriving in a new area, especially if many "time zones" of travel were involved.

This allows you to get familiar with your new surroundings and it ensures you have someone looking out for you when you are still in that wonderful Jetlag Haze!

4. Posted by agwe (Budding Member, 3 posts) 3 Jul '13 09:23

Hey there, so what are your plans in Peru?; Im from Lima, tell me so i can give you any tips. And you have to go to cusco! Regards!

5. Posted by gi99les (Budding Member, 6 posts) 7 Jul '13 05:00

Hi,

Thank you everyone for the tips its much appreciated, I have been looking into booking some trips and tours in Ecuador but I don't know exactly when I will get to Peru so its difficult to book anything there and Bolivia.

Hi Agwa,
That is really kind of you to offer give me some advice!! Local knowledge is the best :-)
I was thinking (but not sure how long I need in these places or if its realistic really) of getting the bus from Ecuador via Tumbes or Loja, although i am a bit skeptical as I have read there are lots of robberies by the boarder, which I would rather avoid ;-)
1 The Mochica Trail
2 Máncora and the beaches
3 Chachapoyas and Kuelap
4 Tarapoto and the jungle
5 PARACAS AND THE BALLESTAS ISLANDS
6 HUACACHINA
7 NASCA
8 AREQUIPA AND CANYON COUNTRY
9 PUNO AND LAKE TITICACA
10 CUSCO
11MACHU PICCHU

I mean these are just things I see recommended on websites so if you think its going to take more than say 2.5 - 3weeks you can suggest I don't go to some places or if I have missed anything please let me know :-) I am not sure with me having not booked it if Manchu Picchu is off as I hear you have to book it months in advance?
Obviously traveling as a woman on my own I don't want to go anywhere that's dangerous either.

Have you been across to Bolivia at all?

Thanks for all the help.

Regards!

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4358 posts) 8 Jul '13 12:10

Quoting gi99les

1 The Mochica Trail
2 Máncora and the beaches
3 Chachapoyas and Kuelap
4 Tarapoto and the jungle
5 PARACAS AND THE BALLESTAS ISLANDS
6 HUACACHINA
7 NASCA
8 AREQUIPA AND CANYON COUNTRY
9 PUNO AND LAKE TITICACA
10 CUSCO
11MACHU PICCHU

I mean these are just things I see recommended on websites so if you think its going to take more than say 2.5 - 3weeks you can suggest I don't go to some places or if I have missed anything please let me know :-)

I only know about these places from Nazca onward, but I'd say just Nazca to Machu Picchu will take two weeks minimum. (Colca Canyon is a 2 day minimum (3 days strongly recommended) side-trip from Arequipa, which should not be undertaken until you've had 3 days altitude acclimatization at Arequipa. (Puno also desperately needs altitude acclimatization, so expect to spend that time at Arequipa; totally worth it, too - gorgeous city. (Though it's possible you gain altitude acclimatization at one or more of the destinations I don't know about, and so can shave off two days there.))

I am not sure with me having not booked it if Manchu Picchu is off as I hear you have to book it months in advance?

Machu Picchu itself doesn't need to be booked much in advance; there's 2500 tickets available every day, which (last I heard; I might be completely out of date, though, and would appreciate if someone with more recent info corrects me if I'm wrong) is enough most days. (You do have to reserve a ticket before going there, though. No tickets at the gate.) You can take a train (or bus/train combination) from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes, and then just bus up to the gate. That train would be good to book a few days in advance so you don't get stuck on a too early train back, and can actually spend a significant amount of time there (worth staying overnight at Aguas Calientes either the night before or the night after so maximize your time at Machu Picchu), but otherwise you'll be good. What needs to be booked months in advance is the 4 day "classic inca trail", which consists of 2.5 days of hiking, followed by a full day at Machu Picchu. Only 500 people a day are allowed on the inca trail (including guides and porters), which is the reason it's booked so far ahead. If you like to do a multi-day hike through that general region (even if not past the same stunning sequence of inca sites), there's various (cleverly marketed) "alternative inca trails", which consist of hiking, train/bus transport to Aguas Calientes, and then a visit to Machu Picchu; you can generally still book these as late as 2 weeks in advance (and you might be lucky and even do it a day or two in advance, though I wouldn't count on it).

edit: Actually, andean travel web, which I regard highly, recommends booking regular Machu Picchu tickets at least 5 days in advance, and expects that to increase over time. I defer to them.

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Jul-2013, at 13:03 by Sander ]

7. Posted by akashjv (First Time Poster, 1 posts) 8 Jul '13 14:23

1, I have been told not to book trips or anything (except a hostel for a few nights) before I go as there are better options when I get there and I might meet some people when I get there to do things with, good idea? Trouble is I really am not sure what to do once I get there. Was hoping to volunteer but seems like you have to do this for over 2 weeks if you want to?

Regarding your above questions, there are a lot of places you could find tours before going there that arent your regular tourist scam. I would suggest staying away from big companies, and ones that are clearly touristy and look for more authentic experiences.

I'm not a 100% on this, but I know vayable is a good site for stuff like this. Also, checkout http://www.tripzaar.com/s/Peru/.

What you are ideally looking for here is someone who can:
1) Plan some activities for you for your first couple of weeks there.
2) Connect with you other local sources so that you can fend for yourself from then on.

Hope this was useful.

8. Posted by parisgong (Budding Member, 6 posts) 9 Jul '13 01:39

Hi!

Good for you, booking a spontaneous trip!

My girlfriend and I are heading out this autumn and we are volunteering in Brazil.

Check out these websites: www.workaway.info & www.Helpx.net

they're very similar, as they are both networks of volunteers and hosts looking for workers, often free and very rewarding.
You do have to pay a small fee to sign up, but thats totally worth it after even the shortest of stays.

Good luck and have a great time!

Paris

9. Posted by KathyTitan (Budding Member, 10 posts) 1 Aug '13 22:01

Hi I was just reading your threa-all great information! I´m currently in Santiego Chile I just landed but am keen to leave for further north asap. I was just wondering where you are now maybe we could meet up? Its always nice to see a friendly face esp being out here alone.. I´ve got a month to travel freely so I was hoping to see some of northern Chile, Argentina and Bolivia before making my way to Peru for sept 1st. If you´d like to meet or if its even possible let me know, it´d be great to meet up with a fellow traveller along th way=)
Take care and hope to hear from you
KathyTitan