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Preliminary thoughts -- Peru and a bit of Bolivia?

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I am considering a trip to Peru and a bit of Bolivia next year and would be grateful for your input.

The trip would be for a total of one month centered in May. I have begun my preliminary research, but have not yet committed to this area and am hoping to get some input to help me make a decision and, should I choose to make this trip, move me a bit further along with my planning.

For those of you who don’t know me:
• I’m a reasonably experienced solo independent female traveler, although I have not been to any part of South America before.

• A central goal in planning my trips is to maximize the diversity of my experiences. I believe this trip would feature a variety of different ancient ruins, a wide range of stunning scenery and encounters with nature, a nice mix of different towns and cities (colonial architecture, local villages, etc.), and exposure to an intriguing range of cultural opportunities (festivals, foods, markets, etc.).

• My tastes are fairly eclectic, but not entirely indiscriminate: I typically enjoy art, architecture, museums, ancient ruins, religious sanctuaries, parks and gardens, natural scenery, markets (for their colors), picturesque villages, folk traditions and festivals, delicious foods and wines, textiles, and the chance to see and experience other parts of the world. I am not looking for beach time, nightlife, shopping (except for gifts for family and friends), or adventure sports (well, a stunning paraglide isn’t out of the question!). I would enjoy a few relatively easy hikes, but long or strenuous hikes are not currently on my agenda. (Kudos to all of you who have hiked the Inca Trail!)

For Peru, my priorities would likely include (in no partciualar order):
o Machu Picchu
o The Sacred Valley
o Cusco and surrounds
o Arequipo and the Colca Canyon
o Trujillo / Chiclay and maybe Huancharo
o Lima
o Huaraz, if only for the scenery, but also a short and relatively easy hike (if such exists)
o Maybe the Nasca Lines (I’m intrigued, but find the idea of taking a flight solely to see them inconsistent with my desire to be at least reasonably green)
o Maybe Ayacucho and the Huari ruins….

For Bolivia, my priorities would likely include (in no partciualar order):
o La Paz (including the Tiwanaku ruins)
o The Madidi National Park (including Lake Santa Rosa if possible)
o Lake Titicaca, Copacabana, and the Islas del Sol and/or de la Luna.
o And maybe a bit of Salar de Uyuni, if time permits.

I'm currently working with Rough Guides and Moon Guides, along with the Footprint guide that covers both countries. and (of course) many trip reports and planning threads on Fodor's. If I decide to make this trip, I'll order additional guidebooks, so if any of you have specific recommendations, please mention them!

I welcome any and all input! Am I on the right track, given my interests? Do my priorities seem to make sense? Any glaring omissions, obvious problems, or recommendations to seriously reconsider options? Any thing I should take into consideration before committing to such a trip?

Thanks in advance!

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    One thing to consider is your tolerance for high altitudes. A month is not really enough time for all you want to do, believe it or not, since in my opinion it's worth it to go by land on some legs to help acclimate (and some excellent scenery). Distance are longer than you'd think and anytime you need to go to Lima airport youcare losing much of the day. I don't know if you can allow more time. You should plan your route to gradually ascend (one way is to fly to Arequipa and then work your way to Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca and then La Paz and possibly Uyuni).

    If you can tolerate the altitude I might pick the Salar over Madidi (I've been to other parts of the Amazon but the Salar is unique). La Paz is also amazing...you could fly to Uyuni and do a standard 3 night tour if you are short on time and you can fly from La Paz to save time. I also would recommend continuing on via Potosi to Sucre with timing to include the Tarabuco market. There are still a few flights from Sucre to La Paz but you would want to confirm those ahead of time.

    Ayacucho is good for those with an interest in textiles & the many colonial churches and nearly complete lack of tourists except during festivals. You can now fly from Lima, although there is an interesting route across the Andes. I did a private tour with Wari Tours, they have a Facebook page if you need to find them in advance. Include a visit to Quinua and the rug makers in Santa Ana barrio. I might pick Ayacucho over Huaraz.

    In Lima don't miss the Amano museum. And stay at 3B Barranco!

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    Thanks, mlgb -- your comments are very helpful!

    I am aware that my wish list is ambitious and am hoping to be better able to pare my list to a manageable itinerary for one month (a hard limit) as I learn more – which is what you are helping me do!

    Although I realize that there is much to see in Bolivia, and much that I would enjoy seeing, I’m focusing on Peru for this possible trip and including places in Bolivia primarily to “round out” my experience of Peru. So I’m aiming to see the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca rather than the Peruvian side because I’ve read that the Peruvian side is now too touristy, and I’m considering the Madidi because it sounds more accessible and easier to visit than most similar parks in Peru, and moreover, seems to offer a wider range of easily accessible experiences of river, jungle, and wildlife (water, ground, and air) than most other options – at least from what I’ve read so far. If I do visit the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and the Madidi, then it would (I think) make sense to include La Paz as one of my endpoints. If time permits, I’ll include a bit more of Bolivia, but I’m reasonably comfortable with skipping much of that country on this trip, which means that I’m not currently considering Potosi or Sucre. But nothing is writ in stone.

    I hope to make a number of my transitions by land, not just to acclimate and see the scenery, but also because I find that buses offer irreplaceable insights into local people and their culture. I will admit, however, that I don’t do well with buses on poor roads with lots of steep, blind switchbacks and no guardrails, so I’ll probably try to be a bit selective. ;-)

    I’m glad to hear your confirmation that Ayacucho is worth considering, I will look into Quinua and the Santa Ana barrio, and I will definitely look forward to seeing the Amano Museum – thanks for making sure it was on my radar! Staying in Barranco for my time in Lima is a given – whether at the 3B or elsewhere!

    A question about acclimating to the altitude: Assuming I take the route you suggest, Uyuni and Madidi would seem to be outliers. If I visit the things I most want to see in La Paz and then “descend” to these lower options, would I likely need to re-acclimate just to fly out of La Paz, which could mean spending a night there prior to a departure flight?

    Thanks again!

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    Uyuni is among the highest elevations, Madidi is the outlier. I find there is some residual effect and you could stay at the lower end of La Paz. But I am not badly affected by elevation to start with so YMMV.

    I don't know that I would add Bolivia just to see that side of L.Titicaca. I don't know that you can escape tourism. You might look at All Ways travel, to see if any of their tours in Peru eg Sillustani instead of the typical visit to Uros (although I think it's almost impossible to avoid a stop there first on most tours). I did like Bolivia a lot but Copacabana and Moon Island were not the highlights for me (that would be the Salar, La Paz and Sucre/Tarabuco). I didn't go to Tiwanaku because it seemed difficult to do it except as a day tour from La Paz. From photos it looked badly restored. Maybe I'm wrong. There will still be a lot of tourists no matter where you go. Bolivia isn't on American radar but there will be tons of Europeans who don't have to pay the reciprocal fee.

    If you give up Bolivia there are so many other archaeological sites in Peru that you could include Kuelap, Caral, the El Brujo site between Chiclayo and Trujillo.
    You won't want to take that bus to Ayacucho, and you won't like the bus to Machu Picchu! I don't like Huaraz the town, but some of the outlying places such as Chavin were interesting.

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    As this is your first foray into South America, much as I love Bolivia, for one month, I think I would stick to Peru. There is more than enough to explore in that time.

    The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu are, of course, must dos, but there is so much more, much of which you have already listed.

    The area around Huaraz has some of the most spectacular scenery I have seen anywhere. There are some (relatively) easy hikes from the Lazy Dog Inn but the main ones like the Santa Cruz are multi day and quite hardcore. Laguna 69 was amazing but I confess, there were times when I almost gave up!

    Trujillo is a fascinating city, Chiclayo, not so much. Chachapoyas was amazing a few years ago but I read somewhere that they were installing a cable car which would probably ruin it so I would check that out.

    If you did want to include Bolivia, then La Paz is worth a couple of days. Salar de Uyuni requires three nights. Madidi, I loved. Very accessible by air from LP but quite unspoiled. I have been in many rainforests around the world and this tops my list.

    Arequipa is one of my favourite cities in South America and Colca Canyon is breathtaking. We finally made it there last year after our two previous attempts were foiled by earthquakes.

    We visited Ayacucho at mlgb’s suggestion and loved it. Well worth a side trip from Lima, which, incidentally, is one of my favourite cities in the world.

    We are in Vietnam at the moment and just typing this is making me yearn for South America.

    Happy planning!

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    Another activity worth checking out is whether the train to Huancayo will be running your month. Although it can be difficult to fit into a schedule I enjoyed it as well. They do have a big Sunday market although it is not for tourists too much, I had some excellent brekkie there.

    Yes I do love the Chachapoyas area, and Leymabamba has a super little museum, Things have indeed changed since crellston and I first visited and the cable car has opened, as well as their are flights into Jaen.) I went back to Northern Peru last year pre cable car opening and the streets were all torn up in Chachas and it wasn't a great time. I hope things have changed for the better since but it will be hard to narrow down an itinerary even with a full month and just sticking to Peru.

    Chiclayo if you are interested in the excellent museums in Ferreñafe (Sican) and in Lambeyeque (Sipan) (where you can also stay) and the market is interesting. I liked it a bit better than Trujillo probably because I had a lodging I liked and a taxi driver. I also spent several nights at Chaparri which is a bear rescue private reserve.

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    I fear that I have mischaracterized my interest in visiting parts of Bolivia on this trip – it isn’t that I don’t think there’s enough in Peru to fill a month, it’s that some of the things that I thought I would like to do in Peru might be better accomplished in Bolivia, incliuding a visit to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca and particularly spending a bit of time in a jungle/river/rainforest setting.

    I must admit that I’m most happy spending several full days in art museums and stunning cathedrals, but I’ve had some great experiences of other types on various trips and thought a few nights in one of the national parks in the area would be something I should do at leaast once in my life. (The closest I came was a two-night, one-day stay in Calukmul before tourism infrastructure was constructed there.) The more I read about the various parks within Peru, the less comfortable I felt with including them – some seemed to take too much time to reach, some seemed a bit too rugged or strenuous, the options within my budget didn’t sound very comfortable, and none seemed to combine the experiences that most appealed to me … until I learned about the Madidi through a comment of crellston’s on a different thread. With limited research to date, it seems very interesting and also manageable for me. So that’s how I made the switch from focusing solely on Peru to considering adding a bit of Bolivia.

    My impressions are that I will find a great deal to enjoy should I make this trip, and will have some experiences unlike any I have had. I will also be well outside of my comfort zone with some frequency – and not just in a national park, should I include that, but also on those roads. OMG, they sound awful! Seriously, I had trouble on a bus in Spain’s Poqueira Gorge, and I’m going to guess that it would make some of the roads in Peru seem like a well-maintained interstate. Sigh. It’s definitely something I’m taking into consideration.

    I’m also trying to be realistic about hikes. I’m still slowly recovering from some injuries suffered in the last couple of years, and I’ve had enough close calls while hiking solo over the years that I keep telling myself to stick to easy routes where I am sure see others, just in case. So hiking aroiund Huaraz is probably not a good idea, not even the circular route crellston describe near the Lazy Dog Inn. (Kudos for making it to Laguna 69, crellston! I read your blog on that – it sounds awesome!) I can imagine including a night in Huaraz just for the views, even if I don’t hike (or just walk a bit out and back), or maybe there’s another place where I can glimspe similarly stunning scenery, or maybe I should stop seeking a place to spend a night or two for the alipine scenery….

    The museums of the Chiclayo area are of decided interest to me – and I hope I have better luck than crellston! If I pursue this trip, I’m going to count on MLGB for information about the lodging in Lambeyeque.

    I’m glad for the warning about the altitude in Uyuni – when I googled it, I must have done sonething wrong as the answer I saw was on the order of 3,000 feet. But help me understand: Why does a visit to the Salar de Uyuni require 3 nights? Frankly, I think that much time would drive me bats, but I clearly don’t know much about it yet.

    I’m adding various places to my list of places to research … Kuelap, Caral, El Brujo, Chavin, Chachapoyas (that cable car may mean that I can actually get there without a panic attack!), the train to Huancayo (brekkie being breakfast?),…

    This information is incredibly helpful – thank you so much! And please, keep it coming. :-)

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    Kja - I’ve only been in the area twice so don’t rely on me. I hate twisty mountainous roads but I didn’t have any problem with the road down from Machu Picchu. Perhaps because I was tired but the driver was also extremely careful. It seemed the only potential problem was the brakes giving out. If that had happened this post would not be happening.

    The market in Puno - which I don’t see on your list - was the most fascinating market I have been too. Not big but colourful. Lots of EXTREMELY fresh meat for sale. I’m not sure some of those animals were dead.

    I am one of those who found the trip out into Lake Titicaca disneyesque. So much so that it was a memorable experience, but not a cultural one.

    I often read here people recommending learning a few words of the local language. I have really found that to be true in Peru. My wife speaks pretty good Spanish. When she is not around things are trickier.

    I hope you go so we have another great trip report to read.

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    Madidi’s attraction for me was that it was so unspoilt yet easily reached by air from LaPaz to Rurrenabaque. Being at the upper reaches of the Amazon Basin, it perhaps lacks the wide, wide rivers of other parts, but is still a pretty amazing place. Some combine it with a trip to te Savannah & marshes where more wildlife sightings are possible.

    I would recommend a 3N4D tour to the Salar de Uyuni simply because there is so much to see on the altiplano other than the Salar itself. Unfortunately, our old blog with all the photos and detail of our time there is now defunct as Travelpod closed for bus8ness and tranferring stuff across is exceptional time consuming! However, the scenery, other than the Salar itself ( e.g. te coloured lakes etc.) is simply breathtaking and deserves te time. It is however, bitterly cold, at very high altitude and accomodation is VERY basic.

    The distances involved are huge and made more so because there are no roads as such. It is possible to fly in and just stay one night and catch a sunset and sunrise and then fly out again but that would be missing a lot. Plus, Uyuni town itself is a necessary evil, a windswept, rubbis strewn dump!

    Re The Lazy Dog inn. Looking out of the property, which is around 8kms from Huaraz, you are surrounded by the most amazing scenery of the Cordillera Blanca with many peaks over 6000m . The co owner of the LD Wayne is an ex guide from one of the Canadian National Parks and I am pretty sure would take you out for a stroll from the property if you wanted. They also have some pretty special horses there For guests to use. Sadly, it never seems to work out well when horses and I join up so I agave it a miss! There are other similar lodges in the area and we stayed in a wonderful place in town - the Churup Inn, I think. I could probably check if you need it.

    Both being in Northern Peru, Trujillo is relatively easily combined with Huaraz, Chiclayo and Chachapoyas ( although the latter seems to have issues at the moment). I like Trujillo as a city, nice cathedral and a couple of decent museums. But the main reasons for going are arguably Chan Chan out by the beach and Huaca del Sol y la Luna, both are spectacular.


    To go to Bolivia, realistically would require quite a chunk of your 30days. Highlights of La Paz require a full day. (2 nts) More if you want to see the outlying sights. Madidi 3nts, 4 if you want to visit Santa Clara lake.

    Tititicaca is one of the wonders of the world but the floating islands are a theme park as are some of the more visited islands like Taquile. It can make a logical stopping point en route from Cusco to Arequipa and Colca. If travelling by bus, there is a lot to see along the way but it is a LONG way. For me it would be a toss up whether to fly Cusco- Arequipa or Cusco - LP and skip the lake or spend the time on the lake at the expense of somewhere else.

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    No floating islands on the Bolivian side...just islands.

    Yes Uyuni takes more than one day because you include the lakes and volcanoes to the south. It can be a 3 day 2 night excursion if done round trip from Uyuni. Crellston did it from Tupiza hence the extra day..also would take more time to get to Tupiza, some people do it in that direction when they come from Argentina.

    Kanoo Tours has some good info on their website.

    If you go to northern Peru you'd want both Trujillo and Chiclayo.

    I don't envy you trying to narrow things down.

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    How I love Fodorites!

    @ xcountry: I am greatly relieved by your description of the roads – at least until I allow myself to realize that your comparison point is the actual Inca Trail. OMG! I'm taking slow breaths and working toward intentional forgetting. ;-)

    Seriously, I do appreciate that reassurance, as the prospect of some of those roads has been causing me to balk.

    My Spanish is nominal, but I always work with Pimsleur’s language lessons before a trip and usually make it through 25 or 30 lessons. I’m terrible at languages, so I really only end up with a few civilities and a chance of being able to ask for directions (and more importantly, understand the answers, at least if accompanied by gestures), order a glass of wine or beer (and pay for it – but that turns out to be surprisingly easy in any language), and ask someone to speak more slowly – just so that it is completely and utterly clear that the rate of speech is not responsible for my lack of comprehension.

    Puno is now on my the list of places to consider – thanks!

    And thank you for for those kind words about my trip reports. :-)


    @ crellston: Such a wealth of information!

    I must admit that Madidi is calling to me – the question is whether it’s the call of a classical siren. (Can you tell that my last trip was to Greece?) It really does appeal – if I include a national park in my itinerary. I’m not looking for the wide, wide Amazon; if I spend any time on the river, I want to be able to see one or both banks at least once in a while without binoculars! :-)

    If Huaraz is easily combined with Trujillo and Chiclayo, I’m inclined to continue considering a brief stop there, and appreciate the suggestion that The Lazy Dog Inn’s owner might be able to facilitate a short, safe walk – definitely worth pursuing! I haven’t been on a “real” horse in, well, I won’t name the number of years – I’ll just note that I still worry that I caused permanent injury to my guide at Gedong Songo and his “small” horse. Simply put: I’m not a natural born rider. :-( But I would love to see some of Peru's most spectacular Andean snowcaps and to take a short, safe hike and I'm grateful for a potentially workable solution.

    Chan Chan and Huaca del Sol y la Luna are the things that, more than anything, drive my interest in visiting that corner of Peru. That there are other elements of interests to me (museums, colonial architecture, etc.) make a vist to that part of the country a high priority as I currently see this trip.


    @ MLGB: And you, too, are proving invaluable to me! I greatly appreciate this additional information.

    IF I decide to visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, how difficult would it be to cross over to Bolivia there? The guidebooks I have so far seem to present very different pictures of the ease/difficulty of doing so – but maybe I haven’t understood.

    You are absolutely on target: Narrowing a trip down is, without doubt, the part of trip planning that I dislike the most. Not to put to fine a point on it: I HATE it! SOOoooo much to see, SOOOoooo little time in which to do so!


    TO EACH OF YOU: I suspect I’m going to go back and forth on Lake Titicaca for an age – so potentially interesting, so potentially NOT….. And whether Salar de Uyuni makes sense for THIS trip, and if so, how…. But with every message, I’m learning more that will help me decide. Thank you!

    I so appreciate all this input -- it is truly priceless!

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    The trip out to the Uros is done as an out and back or on the way to one of the other Peruvian places of interest but not on the way to Bolivia. To do a lake crossing there is an (expensive) catamaran that takes you from Puno to Copacabana, Sun Island, and then into La Paz. It appears that All Ways can book it for you

    http://titicacaperu.com/tours/catamaran-between-puno-la-paz
    I did it on Thanksgiving day as a splurge and it was nice and certainly took some of the stress out of a new crossing that I hadn't done before. Our guide on the Peruvian side was excellent, and the bus made a few quick stops along the way.

    The alternative is the standard and much less expensive bus. I'll just warn you now that I have a low opinion of all of the lines that run this route. You do have to change to a Bolivian line in Copacabana, Bolivia. They don't like the Peruvians operating there. If all goes on schedule you have enough time to pop into the basilica since Copacabana isn't that big.

    http://titicacaperu.com/tours/bus-between-copacabana-la-paz/

    Re snowy Andean mountains, there is no need to go to Huaraz for that..you will see them between Arequipa and Colca Canyon, between Puno and La Paz, and on the way between Cusco and Ollantaytambo (IIRC there is a decent view of Veronica from the environs of Ollantay). La Paz itself is towered over by Illimani always with snow at over 21,000 feet! Of course seeing mountains is weather dependent. May is a transitional month into the dry season in the Andes so your chances are good.

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    MLGB, I am again in your debt!

    I’ll explore these options for going from Peru to Bolivia. It’s interesting that one can’t see the floating islands “en route” – but I guess that’s one way to be sure to snag tourists. :-( If I promise not to spend anything, do you think they’d let me cross over? (If only, right!?!) Thanks for the links – it’s very helpful to see the options and what tour operators think worthy.

    I’m very glad to know that I’ll have planty of glimpses of snowy Andean peaks, whether I stop in/near Huaraz or not! :-)

    Thanks again -- with your help, I've learned so much just in the last day or so!

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    You are very welcome & we all look forward to your trip report. I found the one you did for Indonesia/Bali v helpful altho I only had a few days solo.

    I'm sure as another textile enthusiast you have stumbled across the website for textilescusco.org and will visit their locaton in Cusco...

    http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/museum/

    In La Paz, the Ethnographic Museum is wonderful and there is also MUTAB (which I didn't make it to).

    crellston used IIRC Banjo Tours in La Paz which I'm not sure existed when I went, so I just wandered about on my own. La Paz was essentially one giant street market.

    The guidebooks I like best for South America are Footprint (the country specific ones although there is also a Peru/Bolivia/Ecuador one that might work). They can be hard to find in the US so I've often ordered them used online.

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    In the interests of helping with the overall decision making process, rather than focusing on the specifics, I think once you have visited South America, it is highly likely you will return.

    With that in mind, I would be inclined to focus on Peru for a first time visit, a country to which, like mlgb, I am drawn back time and again. I was trying to work out how much time we ahead spent in the country and I think it must be somewhere around six months, possibly longer. Still haven’t seen all I would like to and still hanker to return. There is just so much to see.

    Bolivia is fantastic, the scenery, the culture and the fact that it is still well off the tourist trail for most ( Salar De Uyuni excepted), but is a lot more challenging country in which to travel and such travel does take a great deal more time than one would imagine and it would be a shame to rush either county. JMO.

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    @ MLGB: I’m glad you found some useful information in my trip report on Indonesia! Oddly enough, I trailed in crellston’s footprints for much of my time in Java. :-) I am taking note of all these museums and textile resources – thanks so much! I have the Footprint guide for Peru/Bolivia/Ecuador and will consider getting at least the Peru-specific one.

    @ crellston: I’m sure I will want to return to this area -- I just don’t know that I will. Travel was not always an option for me, and once it became a part of my life, I realized that if I travel for a month every year, as I am currently fortunate enough to do, I will visit all of the locations on my A list by the time I am 105. Not gonna’ happen! So I plan (and have always planned) my trips as though each might be my last. I don’t try to fit everything in, and I don’t skim (at least, not intentionally); instead, I do a ton of research and make some very difficult decisions about what I most want to see and experience and how to maximize the time I have for my highest priorities. And to that end, I am finding the comments that you and mlgb and xcountry are so kindly providing extremely helpful – so again, thank you!

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    Fair enough, noted. To include Bolivia I would allow 3 nights for Salar de Uyuni and the altiplano, two nights ( a full day) in La Paz and three nights in Madidi.

    With limited time in LP I would suggest a day tour. There are numerous operators but we used http://www.banjotours.com/ and found them to be excellent. Lots of options, we did the main sights of LP city plus a foray up to El Alto for a few hours. Details of that day on our blog. Banjo may not be the cheapest but they are very good. I believe they also run Tours to Uyuni rom LP via Sajama NP.

    https://www.kanootours.com/bolivia Are an agency for other operators and seemed pretty helpful when I called into their offices.

    Getting to and from Madidi takes 18 hours or so by overnight bus so we took the easy option and flew into and out of Rurrenabaque with Amaszonas. Bolivian bus travel s hit and miss to say the least. My experiences have not been great!

    Uyuni can be reached by air, bus or a bus/train combo on certain days. The latter two options would almost certainly require an extra day or two travel time. In essence, I would say you are realistically looking at spending a week in Bolivia,

    As far as acclimatisation issues are concerned, I would put your trip to Madidi to the end if at all possible.

    We used http://www.madidijungle.com and found them to be excellent. A night in Rurrenabaque probably won’t be necessary as they collect and deliver to the airport.

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    Crellston, your input continues to be incredibly valuable! :-)

    I’m currently thinking of skipping the Salar de Uyuni for this trip – while it seems extraordinary, it would take a chunk of time and at a lower level of comfort than I would prefer. I haven’t written it off, but might consider deferring it until I visit Chile or somewhere else in the area. But honestly, I’m still in the process of developing a wish list from which I can meaningfully work, so nothing is writ in stone or salt or anything else. ;-)

    If I include Bolivia, I’m thinking 2 full days in La Paz (I love cities and museums), maybe a 3rd day to visit Tiwanaku, and maybe a 4-night stay in Madidi (so I can include a lake visit), using flights to and from Rurrenabaque. I appreciate the input about the timing of a possible stay in Madidi, as I haven’t been sure how to manage the shifts in altitude, but that was what I was thinking, too: to basically follow an ascending path (as mlgb already suggested), with a last descent to Madidi before a pre-flight night in La Paz’s lower regions.

    I can’t thank you enough for all this information about tour operators – I know you research your trips very thoroughly, and it is very generous of you to share what you have learned. :-)


    ** NEWS! **
    With all this help, I have finally made one BIG decision: Barring the unforseen, my next trip will, indeed, be to Peru, whether with or without a bit of Bolivia. And I am absolutely sure that it will be another absolutely wonderful journey!

    Feel free to keep all these incredible comments coming, and do, please, watch for my eventual post with an actual preliinary itinerary. I still have lots of research to do, and work has an unfortunate way of interfering with trip planning (growl), so it might take me a while to put together a possible plan.

    Many thanks to crellston, mlgb, and xcountry (listed alphabetically) for giving me the information and inspiration I need to proceed – thanks so very much!

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    I agree that you can easily fill a month in Peru. There are so many ancient and current cultures, on top of the great food, markets, museums as I'm sure you are starting to realize. Air travel in Peru makes it easier to get around to different regions although often you backtrack thru Lima.

    I would also suggest that you save Bolivia for a combination perhaps with Argentina and/or Chile or even by flying into Cusco again, doing L. Titicaca and then out of La Paz. Travel is more time consuming and there are frequently protest, airline, and other issues that can delay your itinerary for days. Not a country to try to rush thru.

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    @ MLGB: It is absolutely clear to me that there is more than enough to fill an enjoyable month in Peru! And even if I limit my trip to Peru, I’ll face some very difficult choices about what to skip. :-(

    As suggested above, I’m currently inclined to include about a week in Bolivia, but only if it serves my aim to see my particular priorites in the way I want to see them. Now that I have fully committed to visiting Peru, I will start the next phase of my research and will hope to come up with a preliminary itinerary (or two!) within the next month or so. I’ll be sure to link in this thread when I do so, and sincerely hope that you will continue to let me benefit from your experience and expertise when I do so.

    Again, thank you so very much! Your comments have helped me zero in on Peru for this trip. :-)

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    Choquequirao is NOT an easy hike.

    This JG guy is just hoping that people visit his profile and click the link, he is raising up all kinds of threads. Probably learned this in tourism school.

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