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2-3 months backpacking trip to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Buenos Aires


Apr 9th, 2014, 07:27 AM
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2-3 months backpacking trip to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Buenos Aires

My work contract is finishing on September and I am thinking of taking the opportunity to plan a long trip to South America for about 2-3 months.

Based on friends' accounts and a personal interest to visit Chile since ever, I decided that my itinerary would be:
Lima-Cusco-Macchu Picchu-La Paz-Salar de Uyumi-San Pedro de Atacama-???-Santiago-**Patagonia?**-Buenos Aires-Iguasu-?.
As you guessed, I am not quite sure if I should visit Patagonia or not yet and I haven't done so much investigation on the what to visit in Chile.
Also another issue I have is if I should go back to Lima by air or by land as I will have booked a return flight from Lima.

My budget is around 4,000 Euro (~5,500 USD) including flights and I have been informed that this would be enough if I stay in hostels and travel by buses.

Any suggestions on the itinerary, hints and tips, opinions on if there is enough time and budget to visit Patagonia and how to go back to Lima from Buenos Aires would be more than welcome.
Also, note that I haven't booked my main flight yet, so that is flexible too.

Thank you all for the info.
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Apr 9th, 2014, 08:39 AM
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I'm not sure if the budget and timing would work if you include Chilean Patagonia, by that I mean Torres del Paine.

But you could leave it for the end of your trip, and buy a r/t ticket on Sky from Santiago to Punta Arenas.

crellston did a good trip report recently on his trip that covered parts of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, San Pedro de Atacama, and nearby parts of Argentina.

I have an older one of the Bolivian bit doing a less costly Salar tour that leaves from Uyuni rather than Tupiza


My TdP report is getting a bit long in the tooth but I haven't seen another backpacker (or near bp) level one here that I can recall. The prices would need to be verified due to passage of time and changes in currency rates.


There is so much more to Peru than just Machu Picchu. I would include time in the Sacred Valley, & possibly Arequipa and Colca Canyon. If you look at crellston's report you can see that they routed themselves back from SPdA via Arequipa.

One thing to consider is your timing is at the start of the Andean rainy season so if the rains have started in earnest do your best to avoid night buses.

If you will be arriving in Lima in early September it might be fun to go to Mistura for a day. The dates are now set at 5 to 14 September. More info would be found closer to the dates at http://mistura.pe/mistura_english/#what-is-mistura?
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Apr 9th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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If you haven't yet booked your flight, why not buy an "open jaw" ticket say into. Lima and out of BA or VV? It probably won't cost any more. We got a really good deal flying into Quito and out of Lima on our trip last year. When last in Lima bus station, I did see Cruz del Sur advertising tickets from Lima to BAA buy bus. I can't recall the price but I do remember that it took three days!!!

Here is a link to my blog of that trip http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/6/tpod.html alternatively, click on my screen name for the trip report mlgb refers to.

Travelling on your own by bus, staying in dorm rooms and eating in markets or "local" restaurants ( where often the best food is to be found!) you probably get by on your stated budget although costs do vary from country to country. Chile and Argentina are more expensive whereas Peru is cheaper and Bolivia is really cheap.

Mlgb makes a very good point about the weather which varies tremendously with both location and altitude. Do check with decent guidebook / website when finalising your plan.

My main advice is to identify the main places you want to see and things you want to do and put an outline plan together. Once that is done you can always adjust things on the go.

Breaking your budget down is also a good idea. If you start off with say $4500 after airfares that gives you $1500 a month over 3 months which is $50 a day. A dorm in many places will set you back less than $10. A filling meal in a local restaurant in many places will be $3-5, sometimes less. You can spend more, a lot more and you do need to allow for entrance fees and tours which can quickly rack up. Bus fare cost around a dollar and hour in most places ( strange but true!)
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May 25th, 2014, 11:50 AM
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Thanks folks!
The latest update is that I have already booked my inbound flight to Lima for 11th of September and I am thinking of booking a return flight from BA for around 20th of November.
The plan is to spend around 5-6 weeks from Lima to San Pedro de Atacama and after that, it is a bit obscure. The only certainty is that I will visit BA and Iguazu Waterfalls.

My big question is whether I should visit Santiago and then travel to Arg. Patagonia (El Chalten and El Calafate) via bus or skip Santiago and take a detour to the right from Atacama towards BA stopping on the way at Iguazu and then take a return flight from BA to El Calafate. Or is there a third option?
Is visiting Patagonia something worth doing within the frame of this trip and at this time of the year? There is always the possibility of skipping Patagonia and focusing on Peru-Bolivia-Iguazu-Buenos Aires during a period of 8 weeks...

All suggestions welcome!
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May 26th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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Patagonia is going to break your budget. Just getting there is expensive. It is going to involve a flight at some point, whether you approach from the Argentine or Chilean side. As far as time of year, it would be fine if at the end of your trip. In Argentina you could always throw in the Salta region in the north instead. Bolivia is definitely the most budget friendly country but does need a bit of flexibility.
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May 26th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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You need to do your own cost estimates, looking at flying on Sky Airlines to Punta Arenas vs a long bus ride on the Argentina side. Transportation is really the big cost in either time or money.

It's possible to take public conveyances to Puerto Natales, from there to the park. Camping and Refugios (bunks) are available inside the park as lodging. Even the dorms are expensive, though (starting at $46 without board). Not sure what camping costs, if you are not already carrying a tent it probably isn't worthwhile for a few days.

Gorgeous scenery among the best I've ever seen. Weather is always an issue. But I can't answer "is it worth it" questions for anyone else. It was for me.
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May 26th, 2014, 02:50 PM
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Thanks mlgb!
So, you mean that if I approach from Santiago it's better to fly directly to Punta Arenas even if my destination is El Calafate?
How long would the road trip from Punta Arenas to El Calafate last?
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May 26th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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For Torres del Paine, the air approach from Punta Arenas (or Puerto Montt).

For El Calafate, from elsewhere in Argentina.

You can find ground transport between Puerto Natales and Argentina if you decide to visit both TdP and El Calafate.
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May 26th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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You can get between PN and El Calafate in a day although I do not know the timing of the transfers. There may also be other (probably very expensive) transfer options. If you have not found any recent reports online, I would write to a few hotels in Puerto Natales and El Calafate and ask, there is Erratic Rock Hostel if you have not seen their website it has some info.

To fly to Punta Arenas and not see Torres del Paine would be criminal!
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