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Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Toronto, Canada
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Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Before I start researching and setting any itinerary, I'd like to hear from anyone who has been to Chile AND to Bolivia recently, if possible, or just either and enthusiastic.

We are healthy Canadians. One of each. About 60 years old. We travel by bus & airplane. We enjoy hiking and spending our winters where snow does not appear. Nothing too physical or demanding.

Three winters ago we spent 7 weeks in Argentina. Very wonderful. El Chaltin, Bariloche, Salta, Mendoza, Califate, Purmamarca, Cafatate, Iguazu, Beunos Aires and others.

Two winters ago we spent 7 weeks in Peru. Wonderful. Lima, Sacred Valley, Pizac, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Chachapoyas, Machu Picchu, Kuelap, and others.

This winter that's just ending now saw is in the coffee growing area of Colombia, for about 7 weeks: not so wonderful. Medellin, Manizales, Jardin, Armenia, Ville de leyva, Salento, Guadape, Bogota, and a bunch of other places.

After spending this past winter in Colombia, I am anticipating that it may be difficult to generate enough enthusiasm to return to South America. I'm OK with it, but my wife may take some convincing. I'm certainly glad that we went to Colombia last, because if we had gone there first, we never would have gone back to South America.

So..... Advice please. Should I concentrate on Chile or should I concentrate on Bolivia when whipping up a tour that will keep two mature Canadians out of the snow for about 6 or 7 weeks next winter ? Don't feel you have to supply an itinerary - I'll whip that up myself - unless you want to include some "Must See" places. That would be grand.

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Both. Recommend Sucre, Uyuni Sal flats (link to Chile by short tour), Tiwanaku, plus most of Chile....

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Thanks for this.... I would like to visit 10 locations in 40 days and spend anywhere from 2 to 6 days / nights in each, with bus links in between, with a minimum number of flights. Possibly impractical with Chile, due to the distances involved...

I suppose I have more than a few hours of forum reading to do.

London
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3. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

On balance, I think I would go for Bolivia. Both have a huge amount to see and do! Fantastic landscapes, great food etc. Bolivia is obviously a lot cheaper and you money will go a LOT further. Chile is way more developed and has much better infrastructure, hotels etc.

We spent six months in South America last year and absolutely loved Bolivia and would return in a heartbeat. We also spent a couple of weeks in northern Chile but it was our second visit and were really only passing through.

A link to my blog with photos, route and more detail

…travelpod.com/travel-blog/…tpod.html

In 2008 we also spent time in SA and more time in Chile, venturing further south and my regret is that we did not venture much gru their south into Patagonia more info on another blog

…travelpod.com/travel-blog/…tpod.html entries 65 on cover Chile

With 40 days to play with it is not inconceivable for you to cover both Bolivia and at least part of Chile crossing over from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama. As an alternative, I would also consider the north west of Argentina which is one of my favourite parts of South America.

London, United...
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4. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

You could start in La Paz, head to Rurrenabaque for the jungle and some wildlife, then come back to La Paz. Head to Lake Titicaca (Copacabana/Sun Island), then head off to Sucre, Potosi, Tupiza (for the Salt Flat/lakes tour and cross over into Chile...

La Paz - 3 nights (we stayed for 10 nights as we were tired of travelling around but you can see the main sights in a few days)

Rurrenabaque - 5-6 days (2 nights in jungle) and 2 nights at a ranch exploring the pampas etc. We did this with Lipiko Tours and loved it.

Copacabana is only 4 hours from La Paz. 2 nights there.

Potosi, Sucre are worth a couple of nights each.

Tupiza - we saw the Salt Flats from here and thought the town itself was lovely - tour 3 nights and maybe a night or two in Tupiza (it's warm there!).

Head over the border to Chile...

We caught the Navimag container/tourist ship in Chile and really enjoyed that for a few days heading south to the glaciers.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Thanks for the suggestions. Time to get out my maps & bus schedule...

London, United...
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6. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

It's much quicker to fly to Rurrenabaque (obviously!) but we took the bus and loved it.

It's dangerous - here's a video I took!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaXBsP1fUzs

Cherry Hill, New...
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7. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

What about Colombia did you find so disappointing? We are about your same age and were thinking of spending 3 weeks hiking/touring next winter.

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

Did you read my first post ?

" We are healthy Canadians. One of each. About 60 years old. We travel by bus & airplane. We enjoy hiking and spending our winters where snow does not appear. Nothing too physical or demanding.

Three winters ago we spent 7 weeks in Argentina. Very wonderful. El Chaltin, Bariloche, Salta, Mendoza, Califate, Purmamarca, Cafatate, Iguazu, Beunos Aires and others.

Two winters ago we spent 7 weeks in Peru. Wonderful. Lima, Sacred Valley, Pizac, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Chachapoyas, Machu Picchu, Kuelap, and others.

This winter that's just ending now saw is in the coffee growing area of Colombia, for about 7 weeks: not so wonderful. Medellin, Manizales, Jardin, Armenia, Ville de leyva, Salento, Guadape, Bogota, and a bunch of other places.

After spending this past winter in Colombia, I am anticipating that it may be difficult to generate enough enthusiasm to return to South America. I'm OK with it, but my wife may take some convincing. I'm certainly glad that we went to Colombia last, because if we had gone there first, we never would have gone back to South America."

Here is my impression of Colombia. Any tour promotors who lurk here will find lots to object to.

We stayed away from the most touristic parts of Colombia ( like Cartegena) and spent all of our time in the coffee growing district of the southern & central highlands. We were in Ville de Leyva, Guadape, Bogota, Medellin, Armenia, Jardin, Manizales, Salento and a bunch of little haciendas & hostal places. We went to Colombia for the hiking, (and to get away from the winter) hoping to find experiences like we had in Peru & Argentina but we were warned in several places that we would be inviting robbery if we hiked without a group or a guide. Not that Colombia was all bad, as such, but it is really not ready for tourists. The food was a disappointment everywhere we ate except for one little restaurant (called Brunch) in Solento that was owned & operated by an American from somewhere near Seattle.

They have just one type of cheese (queso) in Colombia and they serve it on thin cornbread wafers called arepas. The cheese is like salty white cottage cheese in a loaf and the commercial arepas are either white or yellow pancakes, depending on what type of corn is used to make them, and they have all of the flavour of the thin dense cardboard that is used to make shoe boxes. And they put corn in EVERYTHING, including scrambled eggs, and the soup. We even got corn on a pizza. Irma took some pictures of the big advertisements in some restaurant windows that featured entrees like grey soup that looked like a small tub of dishwater with chicken bones, skin & floating fat with part of a cob of corn. It was like they were daring us to eat it. Mostly we bought fruit bread & sliced ham from grocery stores. What they do have in Colombia is SOAP. The big grocery stores had displays of soap that were bigger than the displays of breakfast cereal.

The transportation system is adequate but not nearly as efficient nor as comfortable as we found in Peru & Argentina. The buses were not as nice and the airfares were prohibitively expensive.

They are transitioning the economy from what it was to tourism but it will take a few decades for them to make the switch. People we stayed with in Medellin (Canadians teaching English there) told us that EVERYBODY they know there has a story about a relative or someone they knew being directly affected by the violence that was endemic during the worst of the drug wars. Kidnappings, murder, beatings, extortion, whatever. We found it safe enough, but there just wasn't much to do and there are no really impressive ruins or archeological sites to visit.

I can only speak for my own experiences. Would I recommend Colombia ? Short answer, no. Would I recommend Peru & Argentina ? Short answer? Absolutely yes.

9. Re: Next Winter.... Bolivia OR Chile ?? Where am I going ??

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