Peru versus Bolivia

Sep 2nd, 2014, 03:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 95
Peru versus Bolivia


I was wondering what people think about combining a trip to both Machu Picchu and bits of Bolivia in a week (9 days max)? I've read about the common routes to Machu Picchu from Cuzco, and the overnight Aguas Calientes appeals to me. I'd also like to visit Salar de Uyuni whilst in Bolivia, but given the distance between above sites I'm not sure if it's doable. I'm sure that there'll be enough to occupy me in Bolivia in just the 9 days but I'm not sure if I'd be headed to this part of the world again so don't want to miss Machu Picchu. I guess another option would be to spend the whole 9 days in the Sacred Valley, but Bolivia actually attracts me more as a country because I want to go somewhere less touristy (relatively speaking, of course).

Also, how safe in general terms are both countries? Mainly because I will be carrying a DSLR, and traveling alone. Have been told by friends that crime's more of an issue in places like Santiago and Buenos Aires, but much less so in other Latin America countries. I'm young guy and pretty sensible with things and have traveled to dodgy places before. My only concern is if daylight mugging is a real risk, because sneaky petty crimes are things I'm capable of taking proper precautions against.

oliveroliver is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2014, 07:00 AM
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I think it would be tough do both in 9 days. Where does the count of 9 days start from, & does it include the time to fly in to Peru or Bolivia? Will you be able to fly in to one country and then out of the other?

To get to MP, you probably fly in to Lima, often the flights arrive too late to catch a same day flight to Cusco since they don't fly at night.

Day 2 assume the next morning flight to Cusco. If you can arrive in the morning in Cusco, take a taxi to Ollantaytambo and get on the train to Aguas Calientes.

Day 3 to see MP and take a train back to Cusco (or Ollantaytambo and taxi).

Day 4, if you are lucky, there will be a flight Cusco to La Paz on Amaszonas. If not, you will want to be on an overnight bus the prior night to Puno. Then Day 4 you can bus to La Paz.

Day 5 I would recommend flying in the morning, LP to Uyuni. However flights are not guaranteed to go, can be disrupted by winds in Uyuni. The alternative is a very long bus ride, you would want to start that on Day 4 to arrive on Day 5.

If you fly in the am, you should be able to get on a tour that day.

Day 5-7 Depending on how much time you have left, you should try to take the 3day/2 night tour which takes you down to the colored lakes and volcanoes and back to Uyuni.

Day 8 fly back to LP. Put in a full day cushion for delays or if you have to bus back.

Day 9 Fly home.

If you are lucky and get all your flights to line up correctly you might be able to squeeze it in. Otherwise you will be spending most of your time on buses.

I don't think either country is especially unsafe, but around bus stations be careful and never take your hand off your luggage. Also I would disguise the camera bag if you are using something with a logo, eg stuff it in another grotty backpack or other cheap looking luggage. And get insurance.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2014, 02:06 PM
Join Date: May 2013
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Tough call. MP is of both amazing and very touristy, of course, and Bolivia is much less so. But I agree with mlgb that trying to do both in 9 days would be tricky, and make your trip less enjoyable. I'd probably stick to one country or the other. Both are great and warrant some time to see them.
pantanal is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2014, 06:32 AM
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Combining Machu Picchu with the Salar in 9 days, while technically feasible, is something I really wouldn't advise. You'd be running a great risk of feeling like you're just moving from A to B, without the chance of taking in what you're seeing. You should also consider that most of the areas you'll be travelling through are very high altitude, which makes rushing around even less sensible - and altitude sickness can affect anyone of any age / health profile.

I'd strongly recommend you focused your time either around Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, or Bolivia. If you zip in and out just to see Machu Picchu, as you suggest, you will feel like you're just 'ticking something off' the tourist list. Peru is an amazing country, which does have a great deal of visitors, but by allowing yourself more time there you have a much better chance of getting under the skin of it and avoiding the crowds. Equally, if you do want to get off the beaten track and away from the hordes, Bolivia is a wonderful destination, although very much on the backpacker's circuit in truth. It sounds as though you'd find it very rewarding though, and the landscapes and culture are incredible, particularly down around the salt flats.

As to crime, I wouldn't say daylight mugging has never occurred, but it's pretty rare. I've travelled extensively through these areas, often alone, and never had any trouble. That said, of course you need to watch your belongings, and avoid ostentatious displays of wealth (jewellery, watches etc) where possible. Don't carry the camera out at night, take recommended taxis and so on.

Hope that helps, enjoy your trip - I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you go to in this part of the world!

PuraAventura is offline  
Sep 13th, 2014, 02:28 AM
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Hello everyone! Thanks for all the feedback Based on your input I had come to the conclusion that I would be better spending all of my time in Bolivia and I got myself pretty hyped up with a rough itinerary, including the salt flats and the interesting things in La Paz e.g. the Witch's Market.

Unfortunately hit a snag--I've calculated that if I wanted to go to Bolivia, I'd pretty much be spending about 1-2 days just in transit on planes (from the Australia side of the world). On the other hand, Santiago is a direct flight that would clock less than 12 hours, and an extra day (and a half) counts for a lot when you've got only about 9 days. Chile looks amazing but my interest is very much indigenous culture and historical ruins, with perhaps a side serving of mountains.

Any recommendations as to a Chilean itinerary that would fit these interests? I'm struggling to find one as most samples I've looked at recommend the Andes or spending time in Santiago or Valparaiso. I'm not saying that these places are not attractive, but I'd rather experience distinctly new things...
oliveroliver is offline  
Sep 13th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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Had a quick look on Kayak and the shortest flight from Santiago to La Paz is 4.5 hours so i doubt your travel time would exceed 1 day unless you get really bad connections. A few years back we flew from Auckland to Santiago and directly on to Lima and it really wasn't too bad. La Paz should be even easier.

We have always enjoyed our time in Chile but it really is mostly about the stunning landscapes. The area around San Pedro de Atacama is similar to the area around Salar de Uyuni - effectively it is the same region divided by a political boundary.

You won't find much by way of indigenous culture etc. in chile in the way that you would in Bolivia or say Peru. So if that really is your primary interest I would stick with Bolivia.
crellston is offline  
Sep 14th, 2014, 11:50 PM
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Hi Crellston, thanks! Which airline did you travel with?
oliveroliver is offline  
Sep 15th, 2014, 07:38 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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We flew LAN from Auckland to Santiago. Bizarrely, my son and his wife are staying with us at the moment on a visit from Australia and I was only saying to them that it was one of the more pleasant long haul flights I have taken. My son mentioned that Virgin are also now also offering cross pacific flights but where to, I am not sure.
crellston is offline  

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