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Advice on South America Trip

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Advice on South America Trip

1. Posted by 1985goldie (Budding Member 5 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hy Guys,

I'm just looking for a bit of advice for a short trip to South America. I've only travelled in Aus and Asia before with zero planning but i feel like S.A being so big requires a little this time.

Basically i have 5 weeks. I realise this isn't anywhere near enough time to see the whole continent so basically, i've narrowed it down to two countries for this trip. Brazil qnd Peru. I am interested in Rio for new year celebrations, then from there somewhere in Brazil where i can take a trip into the amazon. I really want to see primary rainforest, and camp there. Possibly from Manaus. From there moving onto Cusco to do the Inca Trail.

Is this enough time for a trip like this?
Will it be rushed?
Are there any places, given what i would like to see natural features like rainforest and mountains etc...that anyone would recommend on this route?
Also, what is the best way to organise an amazon trip which is as least touristy as possible.

Budget isn't too much of a problem, but time is. I will be returning for future trips so i dont want to cram in all the main cities. I just want to see good things in this short trip.

Thanyou ?

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5174 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

For the inca trail: You'll be going during the low (wet) season, so should be okay with booking a spot, but all the same, don't wait till the last minute. And be prepared for hiking in the rain. The trail will be closed all of February for cleanup, so keep that in mind, too.

The other thing to be aware of is altitude. Cuzco lies at 3300 meters, and the inca trail climbs up to 4700 meters. If you go there straight from sea level, you'll run a very high chance of suffering from altitude sickness, and at the very least can expect to be completely out of breath and to feel incapable of any strenuous activity for the first few days. Don't take that chance, but go somewhere around 2000-2500 meters first to acclimatize (Arequipa is always my first suggestion, since it's a lovely city to explore in its own right, and (once you've been acclimatized), also a great base of operations to visit the Colca Canyon from. After that still give yourself two or three nights at Cuzco altitude before starting out on the inca trail itself.

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4. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1855 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

If you want the Rio Carnival, everything gets booked up a LONG time beforehand and it is an expensive time to be there.

For me, much of what is worth seeing in South America is in Peru, and don't forget Lima.

If you do the Amazon, don't forget your inoculations and pills.

5. Posted by VintageRider (Budding Member 23 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

I think you should stay 7-10 days in Cuzco for acclimatization. It is at a higher altitude than Machu Picchu.
If you narrowed it down to 2 countries and 5 weeks, then concentrate on Cuzco-Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu, prolly Lima and Rio with a few hotspots like Outo Preto, Parati.

I wouldn't venture into the Amazon. Because I wouldn't combine the high altitude hiking with the jungle stuff. Two types of adventures with different risks. Much preparation requited.

I'd spend 3 weeks in Peru and 2 in Brazil. And 1 week only in Rio. I think it's worth.

just my opinion, happy travels! ;)

6. Posted by 1985goldie (Budding Member 5 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for advice guys.

One of the main things i want to do is the Amazon so i'll try to squeeze it in. If i have to i can extend my trip slightly.

Thanks again ?

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 941 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

The Amazon River basin is quite large, emcompassing not only Brazil, but also Peru (The River begins where the Ucayali and Maranon rivers meet near Iquitos), Bolivia and other countries. If you're going to be in Cusco, why not join a 7-day or 9-day tour to the reserved zone of remote Manu National Park? The tour will wend its way through high mountain passes near Paucartambo, drop down to the cloud forest (lots of birds), then to the jungle (by boat). You may get to see jaguar, giant otter and the Great Potoo, a bird that resembles a tree branch. You'll also see parrots and macaws swoop down to a river bank to feed on minerals. There are a number of tour operators in Cusco that are licensed to enter Manu's reserved zone. I went on one of the tours after visiting Machu Picchu. From Manu, I returned to Cusco, went to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca, then continued to La Paz, Bolivia, where I joined bike riders on the "Death Road," now almost devoid of truck traffic (there's a new safer road). From La Paz, I took a bus to Arica, Chile, going through two national parks with stunning views of snow-capped volcanoes. If you're flying in Chile, Sky Airlines is a less-expensive alternative to LAN. Hope this helps.

8. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 884 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

If you want to do the Amazon Basin and the Inca Trail a possible alternative is to start in Chile and spend the majority of the time in Bolivia. We did this last year.

We flew into Santiago and then on to Calama and took a bus to San Pedro de Atacama. After a couple of days there, we started on a 4x4 tour of the salt flats in southern Bolivia, ending up at Uyuni and then taking a bus to Potosi. We went into the mine and then got an overnight bus to La Paz and straight out again by plane to Rurrenabaque and a trip into the Amazon rainforest at Madidi National Park for a couple of nights (and built a raft to float back to camp) and then a further night over near Santa Rosa in the Pampas. The a flight back to La Paz for a football match and the death road for four nights and then a bus journey to Copacabana and a night on the Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca.

From there we caught a bus into Peru including a trip to the floating islands at Puno and ending up at Arequipa. We were straight out on a bus to Cabanaconde and the Colca Canyon - great acclimatisation for Machu Picchu. We walked down the valley and spent a night at Sangalle before hiking back up the next day. We got a bus back to Arequipa and had a lovely two nights there before getting an overnight bus to Cusco where we had Christmas Day followed by a day trip through the Sacred Valley. The next day we started the four-day Inca Trail, getting back to Cusco for New Year.

That section took us about five weeks in total. We went on to fly over the Nazca Lines, stayed in Lima, went up to Quito in Ecuador and then the Galapagos Islands before leaving for home via Guayaquil and Santiago.

Bolivia is one of the cheapest counties in South America and it also offers the cheapest options for trips into the Amazon Basin - well worth considering.

Whatever you decide, enjoy South America! :)

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 941 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Borisborough is absolutely right. Bolivia is great. I'm thinking of an encore visit next year.