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Planning 5 unforgettable weeks through South America

by chbuchie Online Now Oct 22, 2009 at 4:50 AM

Hola ,

I’ll be in South America in November and have drafted an impossible itinerary and now I can use all of your help to get it right. I do travel at a fast pace and take countries by storm instead of smelling the roses but transport limits anybody’s options

This is/was my initial plan
7/nov Flight Bxl - Rio
8/nov Rio
9/nov Rio
10/nov Iguazu BR
11/nov Iguazu AR
12/nov Buenos Aires
13/nov Buenos Aires
14/nov BA to PM
15/nov Perito Moreno
16/nov Perito Moreno
17/nov Travel to Atacama
18/nov Atacama Laguna Miscanti y Miniques & Valle de la luna
19/nov Atacama Chuquicamata & El Tatio Geyser
20/nov Atacama Buffer day
21/nov Chile - Bolivia
22/nov Uyuni
23/nov Uyuni
24/nov Uyuni
25/nov Uyuni or La Paz
26/nov La Paz
27/nov Coroico
28/nov Fly La Paz - Rurrenabaque
29/nov Rurrenabaque
30/nov Rurrenabaque
1/dec Rurrenabaque
2/dec Lago Titicaca
3/dec Copacabana & Isla del Sol
4/dec Arequipa
5/dec Colca Canyon
6/dec Colca Canyon
7/dec Cuzco
8/dec Machu Picchu sunset
9/dec Machu Picchu sunrise - fly Cuzco to Lima
10/dec Lima
11/dec Flight Lima - Atlanta
12/dec Atlanta
Flight Atlanta - Brussel
13/dec Back Home

My draft plan is indeed too tightly scheduled as I find out while booking flights/buses/tours..
My original plan was to fly between these destinations :
Rio - Iguazu - Buenos Aires - Perito Moreno - Calama/San Pedro de Atacama
But Perito Moreno is indeed too remote and takes a lot of time and money to reach, then also difficult to continue to Calama as this seems to be a small airport. Besides I prefer nature to cities and as I only planned to spend 2 days in Buenos Aires that is an expensive flight from Iguazu. So in case I skip BA and PM I can continue from Iguazu to Calama, unless the flight from Rio is a lot cheaper but then I should book an all in tour from Rio to Iguazu (return flight + park entrance + hostel).
Do you know by chance if there are any interesting offers ? I did some research on the internet but most sites are in Portuguese, difficult for me.
I'll land in Rio on November 8th , where I will spend 1 or 2 days so I can book a tour to Iguazu starting from November 9th or 10th to spend 2days there as I want to see both the Brazilian as the Argentinian side of the falls and preferably also go as close as possible by boat.
Do you also know which airline proposes a good connection from Rio (or Iguazu) to Calama (Chile) ?

If rio-iguazu-rio is not worthwhile then I might still fly to BA and continue by bus through North Argentina towards Atacama. How many days should I foresee for this, with stops in Mendoza and Salta? Can I include nightbuses to win some time?
Which option would you recommend? 1. Rio - Atacama or 2. Iguazu-BA-Mendoza-Salta-Atacama

I've been told about corrupt customs agents on the CL-BO border, now you tell me it's AR-CL.... it's all part of the fun I guess

Do tour operators offer to visit the nice places in Atacama and also drop you off at Uyuni? Do you have a website or email of the tour operator that can do all this?
Can I book the Salar de Uyuni tour towards La Paz, starting from Uyuni ?
So far I found there are only 2 buses a week from Atacama to Uyuni , but hope that is not true
Should I also include a buffer day to cross the Bolivia-Peru border?

Is it true that the Salar de Uyuni is flooded by rain in nov-dec? Does that not spoil the scenery? Hopefully I can get to see it at sunrise, the best moment of the day to enjoy nature's beauty.

Can I book an all-in tour from La Paz to Rurrenabaque(flight, safari, accomodation, .. booze?)

Re Machu Picchu I understood so far that the entrance to the site is unlimited, but they only allow 500p/day on the Inca Trail, which I'm not doing due to lack of time. On the other hand I should be very early there to get a ticket for the Huaynu Picchu on the other side so I can enjoy the sunrise from there. Is all this correct?

Sorry for this huge bunch of questions, but I'm looking forward to go to South America for the first time and really want to make the best out of it

feel free to contact me directly on as I read those emails a few times a day

Muchas gracias para ayudarme
hasta luego,

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3 Answers
  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo

    Re: Planning 5 unforgettable weeks through South America

    by AlbuqRay Online Now Oct 29, 2009 at 7:16 AM

    Christian, I can't help you much with this large itinerary, but I do see a couple of things you should address. On 22 Nov when you cross into Bolivia, you will be at a tiny outpost near Laguna Blanca. Three days is enough time to get to Uyuni from there, but you will have to have made arrangements for someone to meet you at the outpost and take you up the "back way," i.e., through the main sights. If there is water on the Salar, hopefully it will not be too deep. If it is passable, you will see some fantastic "mirror scenes." 25 Nov should read "Uyuni to La Paz" since it is a 7 hour train ride to Oruro and a 3 hour bus ride to La Paz. You need to make sure that a train runs on that day and what time it leaves. I believe that a recent forum response indicated that you may also take a bus from Uyuni to La Paz.

    A day trip to Coroico is awfully quick. It would be better to spend the night. Maybe you are just doing the bike ride down the most dangerous road. You are also very short on your time at Lake Titicaca. I would recommend at least one night in Copacabana and one night on Isla del Sol.

    I do not see the Sacred Valley in the Cusco part of your itinerary. It takes a day but Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley will be one of the favorite things you see in the Cusco area. Unless your 9 Dec flight from Cusco to Lima is very late in the day, I don't see how you can do the logistics. Don't forget that it is ~30 minute bus ride from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, and then a 4-hour train ride to Cusco.

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  • Re: Planning 5 unforgettable weeks through South America

    by kikkus Online Now Nov 28, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    See you are staying in Rurrenabaque. I have two important advise to give you: Go on the Pampas tour and NOT the amazonas/jungle tour. Its much more to see on the pampas tour.
    Be aware of all the loose dogs in Rurre during the night. They are extremely aggressive because they have not been treatet nice. During the day its no problem, but during the night they gather in groups and can attack you.

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  • chbuchie's Profile Photo

    Re: Planning 5 unforgettable weeks through South America

    by chbuchie Online Now Jan 5, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    thanks mate !

    indeed I enjoyed the Pampas tour and stayed away from the dogs !

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