Help with 4 week itinerary

Old Mar 24th, 2016, 09:47 PM
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Help with 4 week itinerary

Hi all,

We are starting to plan a trip to South America at the end of the year from mid-December to mid-January.

Our absolute 'must-sees' are Machu Picchu, Bolivian salt flats, Amazon jungle and Rio - and we'll have just under 4 weeks. We are young and don't mind full-on itineraries, as long as there are a couple of days to relax built in somewhere!

Has anyone done something similar in this time frame? And what would you suggest the easiest way to combine these places would be? Are we trying to see too much?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 24th, 2016, 10:45 PM
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I would leave Rio for a trip on which you could actually see some of the treasures of greater Brazil (Colonial towns, beaches, festivals, African culture, music) instead of simply checking off some box for the Cristo statue.

You might also want to consider doing the Amazon from an entry point in Peru, instead of the rather superficial experience you might have from Manaus.

In general, too much flying/moving. Limit your trip to one country, maybe two, and enjoy more of what each has to offer. It's a very large continent and it will be there for awhile, no matter from what distance you come.
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Old Mar 25th, 2016, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for the tip about the Amazon - I will look into going from somewhere in Peru.

I know it would be easier for us to just concentrate on one coast/two countires, but we really want to visit Rio. It's likely to be quite some time before we can make it back to South America so we're trying to see the things that are the top of our list! So while we'd love to see greater Brazil, we're happy enough to visit just Rio for now.
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 01:15 AM
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I think you are trying to see too much. Although I haven't been to Rio I tend to agree with SC re leaving Brazil to another time. But if you want to include it, it would be possible.

Obviously you would need to get an open jaw ticket into Lima and out of Rio and, even doing that it is a pretty full on experience and, having done a similar route, a couple of times, I would cut something so as to enjoy the trip at a more relaxed pace. Flying, especiallybetween countries, can be very expensive in South America - a Lan Pass might be a good option.

The other important point to consider is the weather. December -January is the wet season in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes and road travel, especially in Bolivia could be difficult with washed out roads etc. Travel takes time in South America and rarely goes entirely to plan.

As far as an itinerary is concerned, something like this could work:

Lima (2 nights)
Cusco for Sacred Valley and MP (6 nights)
Side trip to the jungle from Cusco (3 nights)
Puno for Titicaca (2 nights)
La Paz (2 nights)
Uyuni for a Salar and Lagunas tour. (4 nights)
Iguazu for the falls (3 nights)
Rio ???

There are other ways of doing this. We went overland from Uyuni to Salta in NW Argentina which was a fantastic trip but does take a lot of time.
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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Just what is it you are imagining Rio to be? Rio is not as much fun in the rain and overcast common in that time frame. No views from the Cristo statue many days, or even of it from street level sometimes, for example, same for Sugarloaf, and no beach weather when it rains. Just walking around sweating profusely in the humidity, under an umbrella in the mist. Beach weather is better in parts of the northeast, but you have nixed this option.
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 12:07 AM
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Realistically, this might be our only trip ever to South America, so I guess while it would be a little harder/pressed for time, surely it would be better to go and see the things we've always wanted to while we can?

We only have this time in December available and we can't extend it longer than 4 weeks - so we're trying to make the best of what we have.

crellston - thanks for the itinerary suggestion! I've had a look into it and everything looks good until the Uyuni - Iguazu leg of the trip. Do you have any suggestions for travel between the two places. Or Uyuni to Rio if we missed the falls?

In terms of travel between areas, are local/tourist buses the best option? We used these in Central America and everything was relatively easy so I'm hoping it will be similar!
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 01:53 AM
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Bolivia is your main problem as is not well connected with flights with the rest of South America and usually requires at least one flight connection to get anywhere. But from you have a number of choices:

Fly to Rio, probably via La Paz, Santa Cruz. Lima or Santiago. Check kayak.com.

Alternatively, get your Salar tour to drop you off in San Pedro de Atacama , get a bus to Calama, fly to Santiago from where there will be direct flights to Rio.

Finally, take a Salar tour from Uyuni to Tupiza (4 nights), drive to the border at Villazon / la Quiaca get a bus to Salta ( about 10 hours door to door ). Salta is a great city and there is loads to explore in the NW corner of Argentina but you don't have the time. (On our first trip there we rented a car and drove the region for 10 days - amazing scenery - I digress!). There is a direct AA flight to Uyuni at 18.40 which takes around two hours ( there is also a VIO bus that goes overnight and takes 20 hours - not a bad option as it save the cost of a nights accomodatio and possibly a little time). Stay overnight and visit the argentine falls the next day. Cross over to Foz on the Brazilian side, explore that side of the falls, stay the night and fly to Rio the next day. If you are teh sort of person, like me, who feels that the getting there is all part of the experience, then it is a great journey. I do appreciate that many would find it a complete PITA!

Buses in Peru and Argentina are great and I recommend them as the best option. In Peru it is generally cheaper to travel by bus than by air but in Argentina the cost difference seems to be marginal. Some journeys are so long that flying is the only option. We have done the Lima - Cusco route a coupe of times - 1.5 hours by air and 25 hours by bus. Cheaper by bus but mainly because of saving on accomdation costs. Short on time, I would fly.
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Old Mar 29th, 2016, 01:29 AM
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My daughters and I are in the middle of a 35 day tour.( My husbathnd joined us for 17 days) We loved Buenos Aires and have yet to visit but excited about going to Easter Island later in April. If you are students LAN offers discounted rates. We booked 3 months ago Santiago to Easter Island and the price for students was $318 RT and my ticket was $429 RT.Book early , the same ticket is $1700 the week before travel. We used the Freetournetwork in Buenos Aires , Montevideo, and Santiago ( better than some of our very expensive tours. These tours are available everywhere- google search your location with free tour. You simply tip the guide at the end and I have never heard anyone say the were not an excellent experience.
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