2 Weeks in South America- Need advice

Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 05:45 AM
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2 Weeks in South America- Need advice

Hello,
My partner and I have only 2 weeks vacation this year but we really want to see a part of South America and I'm hoping we can get some advice on narrowing down to one or two countries. We are fairly adventurous and don't mind the hostel life or rougher accommodations. We are looking for an active holiday where we can do some great hikes, see amazing views, visit some lakes or the ocean maybe and see some history. I was attracted to S.A. in the first place by pictures of rolling hills, mountains, colourful villages...and of course the lamas.... We don't really enjoy museums, restaurants, nightlife, or lying around on beaches (I mean, we do enjoy those things, just not in the budget for a trip!). We also enjoy things that are a bit off the beaten trail, although if there is something worth seeing that happens to be very touristy as well, exceptions can definitely be made! Our last trip was to Iceland and we had such an amazing time hiking all over the country... I'm hoping we can top that trip this time in S.A! Any advice on which country or countries we should see in our 2 weeks would be great!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 07:28 AM
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What time of year? If it's not the southern winter I would recommend a combination of BsAs, the Argentinian lake district (probably Bariloche) and El Calafate. Yes, it will be touristy, but the Patagonian countryside is worth it. If it's the southern winter you'd be better off elsewhere, though.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 03:15 PM
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I would definitely look into Bolivia, and then Peru. You can get between Cusco and La Paz by bus.

For Peru you can walk on other parts of the Inca Trail beside the famous one. A great off-the beaten path area is Chachapoyas. I also liked Ayacucho (Huamanga) quite a bit, the latter not really on the western tourism trail at the moment, with a good sidetrip to Quinua.

An area that is known for hiking is Huaraz, you can also do some side trips, eg Chavin or Pastoruri/and to see the Puya plants. You'll probably find that on these side trips, nearly everyone on the trip will be Peruvian tourists.

For anything in the Andes, be sure to check the weather situation in terms of which months will be rainy or not. June-early September is generally driest.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 03:51 PM
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When you are planning to go really does have an effect. Peru is probably my favorite, and I'd mix the Andes (Sacred Valley, Cusco, Macchu Picchu, etc.) with the Amazon for a glorious trip. I can only travel in the southern hemisphere winter, though, so can't speak to Patagonia.

Chile has one of my favorite places on earth, the Atacama Desert, but traveling within Chile can eat up your budget a bit and Chile seems pricier than Peru altogether.


Come to think of it, Argentina and Brazil are both pretty awesome, too, but my heart belongs to Peru. (Tied with, of all places, Iceland.)
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Old Jan 24th, 2016, 07:08 PM
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Thanks everyone for the great advice! We will be travelling in early September. I have heard so many great things about Peru and we'll definitely be looking into some of these hiking trails/ side trips that are mentioned. This is a great start.... Thanks again!
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Old Jan 25th, 2016, 10:57 AM
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You could also consider Ecuador - Peru. Ecuador has quite nice hostels for fairly cheap and some great adventure stuff.

If you head there don't miss the quilotoa loop, a beautiful 30km walk around the rim of an inactive volcano which has a beautiful turquoise lake inside. It wasn't too touristy when I went, the whole tiny town does seem geared for tourists (hostels/restaurants/handicraft shops etc) but for the most part the tourists appeared to be absent. Be warned however it is at 4000km above sea level so altitude sickness may be an issue. You could spend some time in Quito beforehand to adjust which is a lovely city.

Baños in Ecuador is also nice but very touristy. I did white water rafting there for very cheap and there are also bike rides to huge and beautiful waterfalls.

As for Peru I can't speak much about it as I only went to Cusco where I did the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. Both were incredible, particularly the scenery on the trek, but of course very touristy. Oh and I also went to Puno on Lake Titicaca which I wouldn't really recommend (so so many tourists, but a convenient stop on the way to Bolivia).
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 06:16 AM
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I would really recommend Bolivia! I spent eleven months there and fell in love with the place! If you want to go hiking, there are some stunning trails that you can do near La Paz such as the Takesi Trek (http://www.roughguides.com/destinati...-takesi-trail/) and El Choro (http://www.roughguides.com/destinati...e-choro-trail/) both of which are accessible without a guide and are stunning and pass from mountains down almost into the Bolivian rainforest.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 01:33 PM
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Peru has my vote too. We spent a month in SA several years ago, 10 days in Argentina, 10 in Peru and 10 in Ecuador. We loved the whole trip - but Peru was the highlight. A few days in Lima is worth it just for the wonderful food - a kind of Euro-Asian-South American fusion that is truly one of the great cuisines of the world. The Sacred Valley and Macchu Picchu were favorites; just unbelievably beautiful and dare I say it, kind of moving. We have traveled alot, visited a lot of places, UNESCO world heritage sites, etc etc, but this area just really got to us. It's possible to visit Macchu Picchu in such a way to miss the hordes, even if you can't stay at the impossibly expensive Sanctuary Inn. Just plan to stay until as late as possible in the afternoon and walk back down to Aguas Calientes. By the time we left there were only a handful of people in the whole complex and we had spent the last few hours nearly alone - amazing. We also gave ourselves nearly two full days at the site so we could experience all the adjacent hikes, which were well worth it.

Happy planning!
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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Like Amy, I carry Peru in my heart. So Peru and possible a day or two in Bolivia, although two weeks is not much time.
I've spent months in Peru alone and could spend more months there.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 07:43 AM
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You can visit Ecuador, there are many beautiful places, the most famous places are: Mindo, Otavalo Indian Market, Quilotoa lake, Cotopaxi National Park, city line ecuatorial day tour.

Good luck in your trip
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 01:02 PM
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What is it about Fodors South America that draws out the self-promoters?

Rob, you have entered a no-advertising zone. So your postings with your own link included will likely be deleted.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 02:32 PM
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You think SA is bad? Try Morocco...
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 12:34 AM
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Or Vietnam..

But re Brooke's OP. You have received some stellar suggestions here. Your biggest problem I feel will be choosing from the myriad of options and making best use of your time. Given your interests, Peru and Bolivia offer great hiking, biking and riding opportunities, spectacular scenery, great food and reasonable costs. Parts of both countries could easily be combined. I would probably avoid the classic inca trail as too busy in favour of one of the lesser known hike. We did Lares to Ollantaytambo over three days. It is very easy to spend a week or more just in the sacred valley area and then head into Bolivia via Tiitica to La Paz. Lots of hiking in the Yunga area which is not far from LP. On thing which is on my bucket list, is the 4 day cycle ride from the Yungas down into the Rurrenabaque in the Amazon basin.

We also had some great times in Chachapoyas and Aycucho as mention by mlgb (in fact it was at her suggestion we visited!). Both very interest places , great hiking and very few foreign tourists. Can be combined with the non inca historical sights such as Chan Chan near Trujillo. Haven't been yet but we are also looking at Huaraz this year.

Ecuador is an easy country to get around ( bus rides rarely take longer than 4 hours and generally cost $1 per hour) and is packed with places to go in a very small area. Notable hikes we enjoyed were around the Mojanda Lakes, north of Otavalo and the Quilatoa loop. However both are at altitudes of c 4000m and should be attempted until acclimatised. Another highlight was mountain biking down Chimborazo volcano from 5000 metres back through the villages and countryside. Around 50k but clearly most was downhill! The views were simply out of this world.
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Old Feb 5th, 2016, 09:07 PM
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I recommend Peru and Ecuador.
In Peru, go to Iquitos and book a tour for the Amazon jungle. Spend 2-3 nights there. Cuzco is awesome, and there Machu Picchu there, which you can get to doing the Inca trail. Then in Ecuador Baños is a must. Its a small town surrounded by mountains, in which you can do all sorts of activities. Ive been there last week and we bought a pack (never do this online since its always more expensive) which included rafting, puenting (jumping off a bridge, but not bungy- the difference is they don't tie you by your feet but by your waist, so its way more comfortable and enjoyable), whole day trip to Quilotoa (amazing volcano with a lagoon inside, where you go down all the way, and can choose to kayak in its waters), and hiring bikes to go to 'Casa del Arbol' where you have swings which swing over the deep valley (swings of the end of the world, google them up), and to go to 'Pailon del Diablo' a cool waterfall. All that just for $85 dollars. And theres plenty of other things to do there too, we just couldn't stay more days.
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