Study of South America: Peru & Bolivia

Moray
Exploring around the Moray ruins

Just got home from a three week trip to Peru and Bolivia with my sister, and I’m still amazed at how smoothly everything went! While planning for this trip, many of the articles I read and friends I talked to emphasized how easily things could get delayed in South America, and how ambitious our itinerary was (What can I say? I’m an ambitious person).

Riding on my post-trip excitement, I’ve decided to jot down details of this trip, and hopefully it will help with your planning! Without further ado, here was our itinerary:

Date City Morning Afternoon Evening Accommodation Altitude (m)
Sept 13 Cusco Arrive to Cusco Marriott 3400
Sept 14 Cusco Free Walking Tour Yawarmaki Hostel 3400
Sept 15 Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Tour Sumac Chaska Hostal 2800
Sept 16 Aguas Calientes Train to Aguas Calientes Joe’s Inn 2000
Sept 17 Aguas Calientes 5:30am bus to Machu Picchu 5pm bus to Aguas Calientes Inka’s Wonder 2400
Sept 18 Cusco Train to Ollantaytambo Collectivo back to Cusco Yawarmaki Hostel 3400
Sept 19 Cusco Moray & Maras Salineras Tour Yawarmaki Hostel 3400
Sept 20 La Paz Flight to La Paz   La Posada de la Abuela 3500
Sept 21 La Paz Red Cap Walking Tour Bus to Uyuni (9pm) Overnight Bus 3700
Sept 22 Salt Flat Tour Start Tour (10:30am) Tour included 3700
Sept 23 Salt Flat Tour Tour included 3700
Sept 24 Salt Flat Tour Arrive to Uyuni (~4pm) Bus to La Paz (8pm) Overnight Bus 3700
Sept 25 La Paz Arrive to La Paz (6am) Miradora Lookout La Posada de la Abuela 3500
Sept 26 Copacabana Bus to Copacabana (8am) Stroll around Copacabana Hostel Cupula 3800
Sept 27 Copacabana Hike Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) Hostel Cupula 3800
Sept 28 Puno Bus to Puno (9am) Stroll around Puno Quechua’s Backpackers 3800
Sept 29 Puno Lake Titicaca Tour (Isla Uros & Taquile) Bus to Arequipa (10:30pm) Overnight Bus 3800
Sept 30 Arequipa Free Walking Tour Mango’s Hostel 2400
Oct 1 Arequipa 1 Day Colca Canyon Tour Bus to Lima (8pm) Overnight Bus 2400
Oct 2 Lima Arrive to Lima (12pm) Free Walking Tour (Central Lima) Dragonfly Hostel N/A
Oct 3 Lima Miraflores Taxi to Airport Airport N/A
Oct 4 Morning Flight (2am)

Why this schedule?

If you jot down the cities on a map, you can see that our trip followed a clockwise tour throughout southern Peru and southwestern Bolivia. We scheduled the highlights of our trip, Machu Picchu and Salar de Uyuni, to the first two weeks just in case we run into any delays.

September to October was an amazing time to go. It’s shoulder season, and the weather was dry (best recipe for timely travel).  Since it was shoulder season, we only pre-booked tickets and accommodations for the first week. Everything else we booked on the fly.

Money Matters

As professional number crunchers, we had a running budget for our trip. I would suggest everyone to have one since Peru and Bolivia could become expensive countries to travel. It’s not as cheap as you think! Here’s a rough breakdown of our three week spending (Converted to Canadian dollar at current rate, for one person):

International Flight (Vancouver > Lima): $1,133

Intercity Travel: $434

In-town Travel: $210

Tours & Entrance Fees: $538

Accommodations: $320

Food: $203

Miscellaneous: $94

TOTAL: $2,932

Notes:

  • Intercity Travels includes both flight and bus rides between cities in South America
  • Mostly made up of day tours, but the biggest bill in Tour & Entrance fees was our 3D2N Red Planet tour to Salar de Uyuni (CA$245). It was well worth it!
  • We mostly stayed private double bedrooms in mid-range hostels. It was shoulder season, so we were able to bargain down some of the prices
  • There are really cheap (sometimes fantastic) set menus in Peru & Bolivia.
  • Miscellaneous includes souvenirs, health insurance, and toilet fees!

Reflections

If I had an extra few days, I would have loved to join a tour for Manu National Park or challenge the four day Inca trail hike. But aside from that, I couldn’t have asked for more! For me, there was a perfect mix of culture and landscape. I’ll get around to going into details for each city, so hold tight!

Up Next… Lesson One: 7 days in Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu

Salar de Uyuni
Hanging on the Salar de Uyuni

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