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Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

Washington DC...
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Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

Hi,

I am planning a trip to Peru around end of August, early September. Based on the travelbooks and forums I have come with a tentative itinerary. Will love to hear your recent experiences, and if I should consider/skip some parts of the trip.

Day 1: Arrive in Lima in morning. Spend time exploring the city. Overnight in Lima

Day 2: Fly to Cusco in morning. Explore Cusco during the day. Overnight in Cusco

Day 3 : Explore Cusco for first half of the day, then proceed to Sacred Valley. Reach Pisac in the evening. Stay overnight in Pisac (is it worth staying there? How easy will it be to find reasonable accomodation?)

Day 4: Go further in sacred valley. Stay overnight at Agueas Caliente

Day 5: See sunrise at Machu Picchu (do we need to do something to make sure we can make it there early in the morning? Should we get tickets beforehand? What are the chances we could go up Huyana Picchu? Head back to Cusco in evening. (Is it possible to be in Cusco by evening same day?) Overnight in Cusco

Day 6: Fly to La Paz, Explore the city and stay overnight at La PAz

Day 7: Fly to Uyuni in morning. Head out to Salar. Stay there overnight

Day 8: Spend another day in Salar. Head back to Uyuni in evening. Stay overnight in Uyuni (Last flight would have already left by the time we arrive in Uyuni. so we could either stay overnight and take early morning flight to La Paz, or take a night bus to La Paz. Which is a better option? )

Day 9 : Arrive in La Paz, head to Copacabana. Spend a day there to do half-day trip to Solar Island. (I'll arrive in Copacabana in afternoon. So can I still visit the island?) Stay overnight in Copacabana

Day 10: Go to Puno, and then to Arequipa. Overnight in Arequipa. Should we stop over for half day to visit floating island? Can we reach Arequipa by night, if we do that?

Day 11: Spend day in Arequipa

Day 12: 1 day trip to Colca Canyon (Can we visit Colca Canyon on our way from Puno? I have read this will save time)

Day 13: Take a bus north to Nasca. We are debating whether to stay overnight near Nasca (is there another place we should consider stopping?) or move on to Lima by night bus

Day 14: Arrive in Lima in morning/afternoon, depending on whether we stop overnight at Nasca. Spend evening in the city

Day 15: Take flight out of Lima

A few other questions hovering my mind are :

1. Is it a good time to visit Salar? Will it be too cold? covered with snow? If its not the best time to visit Salar, then I could consider spending time in Amazon forests. Any insights/opinion are welcome

2. Should we book all hotels and tickets before leaving for Peru? I have heard stories about how there can be travel delays and missed connections. In view of that, I was thinking of keeping things flexible by buying tickets a day/couple of days before journey, and getting a room on arrival. If thats not a good idea, then I will change my plan

3. Is 2 day, 1 night sufficient at Salar? I have seen enough desert, and since most longer duration tours spend considerable time in places outside Salar, I am not that keen on taking longer trip. Your suggestions/insights will be very helpful

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Dhruv

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1. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

A couple suggestions

First to make it easier to acclimate to the altitude, it's not good to go straight to Cusco and start sightseeing like you are doing. Cusco is really high and that is a big jump in altitude from Lima, at sea level. I would go to the Sacred Valley first. The SV and Machu Picchu are lower than Cusco so you are less likely to have problems that way. See Cusco after MP before flying to your next stop. There's a lot to see in the sacred valley so you could spend a night in Ollantaytambo or Urumbamba before heading to Agua Calientes.

Next, I believe but am not positive that Puno is lower than La Paz, so again you'd want to go Cusco-Puno-La Paz to minimize the chance of altitude sickness. Others should comment on that, though as I did not go to Bolivia.

Day 5: The Huayana Picchu tickets sell out a few weeks in advance. If you want to do that, make sure to buy them ahead of time. You can't really see the sunrise at MP. It's up in the mountains so the sun is up before it comes over the mountains. If you want to see when it first hits the site, get to the bus stop at 5:00 or 5:30. That should give you time to get there. In May, which is slightly less busy, we were in line at 6 and still were there in time. You can buy the bus ticket the day ahead to save some time in the morning. It is definitely possible to spend a day in Cusco, catch a late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo and then a taxi to Cusco to be in Cusco that evening.

Day 10: If you want to see the floating islands, you need to stay the night before in Puno. Tours all leave early in the morning I think. I do not think it is possible to go Copacabana-Puno, see the floating islands, and then get to Arequipa. Puno-Arequipa is a long bus ride, maybe 5-6 hours.

Day 11: YOu can definitely take bus from Puno-Colca Canyon, stay one night in Colca, see the condors the next morning, then take a bus to Arequipa. That is what we did and it saves time. To go Puno-Arequipa-Colca-then back to Arequipa is a waste of time. Colca is on the way sort of from Puno-Arequipa. Look at a map and you will see what I mean.

Lastly, I would book the MP train tickets and hotel in Agua Calientes ahead of time. You are going in high season and the trains and hotels get busy. If you don't, you might not get on the train you want, and your schedule is busy so if that happens, you would miss something else. You would not want to get there and find out you could not get a train ticket or a hotel in Agua Calientes

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2. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

Thank you Wes. That's very helpful. Some further questions :

1. What is a good place to spend a night in sacred valley? We will do what you advised / fly into cusco and go straight to sacred valley. We were thinking of staying in Pisac. Is it a good place to start, or should we go further west/north?

2. I'm reading mixed reviews about floating islands. Most say its a great place to spend a night. But we aren't planning on doing that. So we'll just take a half day trip. Will it be worth spending time?

3. Is it possible to start early from puno (or at night even), to reach colca in the morning. Spend the day around and then arrive in Arequipa at night? That way we'll not have to stay in Colca. Or do you think staying overnight in Colca is worthwhile?

4. Did you visit Nazca? If we want to go there on our way back from Arequipa to Lima, what are the good options? We can't afford taking air-taxi to Nazca

Thanks again

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

1. Based on my trip there, either Urubamba or Ollantaytambo. Urubamba is very central and is a bigger city and has a lot of nice hotels and restaurants. Ollantaytambo, which is where we stayed, is a smaller, mountain town at the Machu Picchu end of the valley. It's mostly smaller, B&B type hotels. It had great scenery but not as much of a restaurant scene and lots and lots of tourists walking around. Pisac did not seem to have many hotels, but I guess you could stay there, too. Being close to Cusco, Pisac is higher. From an acclimitization standpoint, Urubamba or Ollantaytambo would be better than Pisac.

2. I actually don't think you can stay overnight on the floating islands. We took a day trip, but when I was researching, all the overnight trips stayed on Taquile or Amanti, which are real islands. The tours all stop at the floating islands as part of the trip but you do not stay overnight as far as I am aware. The floating islands were very touristy with pressure to buy things but still fun. Taquile was incredibly beautiful and definitely worth a stop. We did not go to Amanti or stay overnight. Peru's a big country. We couldn't fit in everything.

3. I do not think you could start in Puno in the morning and reach Chivay at the end of Colca the same morning. It was at least a 5-6 hour bus ride. Maybe there are overnight buses. If you go to Colca, I would stay a night. To us, the best part of Colca was to see the condors. Those are another 2 hour ride up the canyon from Chivay. And you have to be there at about 8 or 9 in the morning to see them. If you could get an overnight bus to Puno, you could get on one of the day tours to see the condors when you arrive and then take a bus back to Arequipa. It would be very rushed, but I guess you can do it if you can find an overnight bus. Note the road into Chivay is mountainous and twisty and steep with potholes. I'm not sure I'd want to be on an overnight bus on that road.

4. We did not go to Nazca. We had only two weeks like you do, so could not see everything. We focused on the Cusco/SV area since that's what we really wanted to see, and then went to Lake Titicaca and squeezed in Colca to see the condors.

Antwerp, Belgium
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4. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

If you have é weeks of vacations i will recommend to do the next

1day Lima Arrival (3 msnm)

2day Lima to ica -sanboading in ica

3day Nazca lines

4day Nazca to Arequipa ( 2'335 M )

5day Arequipa city

6,7day Colca Canyon - Puno (3'600)

8day Titicac lake

9day puno- cusco

10day Cusco City (3'400m)

11day Sacred Valley -Machupicchu

12day Visit machupicchu -Cusco

13Day Maras Moray

14Day visit local markets

15day Flight to Lima -Home

i hope this scheduel is helping you alot !!!!

i dont recommend to have flight from cusco to La Paz and then flight to Uyuni it is not worth if you not spend a 3 days of Tour in the Salt Flat and get into Bolivia as American you have to pay for your visa just get in

in my opinion is better you go from Low altitud to hight altitud so then you body already is good aclimate for Cusco and the other cities

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

I think you're trying to fit too much in. Don't you want the chance to stop and smell the roses?

Try to do the 3 day Uyuni tour - the desert landscapes and lagoons and wildlife were the highlight for me and unlike anything I have ever seen. Loved it.

You haven't given yourself any time at all to acclimatize in La Paz/Uyuni. La Paz requires that you really slow down the first day or 2.

Paris, France
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6. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

I just returned from Peru. I didn't go to Bolivia but I would like to share my thought about Peru. Anyhow, Peru is a great country and we really love it. Can't wait to go back soon. Foods are great and people are so helpful.

1) & 3) didn't go to Bolivia

2) Yes. booked everything in advance. It tends to get delayed, but they normally exchange your tickets to later ones without any fee. No problem. In our case, due to the heavy rain, Perurail didn't keep good schedule and I didn't see our train at the platform. No announcement!!! We still don't know what happened to our train. They cancelled trains on the previous day too. Terrible mess at the station. Perurail made our trip miserable. It happens sometimes, but you will be ok eventually. All flights went well without delay for us.

Additional comments;

<Day 1> We flew immediately to Cusco, without entering to Lima city. I didn't see any point to go to Lima as you would stay Lima in the end of trip. We encountered terrible traffic jam to/from the airport, so, you would waste your time and money, just commuting to/from the airport for no reason. Plus, Lima city is not so interesting.. Great foods though. No reason to go twice in the same journey.

We stayed in Ollantaytambo, skipping Cusco, on Day 1. As wes032 said, it is easier to acclimate to the altitude in SV than in Cusco.

As the same logic, it is also better to go to Machu Picchu at first, then explore Sacred Valley (Pisac and etc) then finally go to Cusco. Start from lower altitude.

Alternatively, as Tkinfo M said, it is a great idea to do counterclockwise way. We witnessed many tourists were doing so. We just did clockwise because of the festival schedule. Otherwise, starting Nazca, Arequipa ---- might be better. but don't start from Lima, anyway. You want to stay in Lima in the end of your trip, one of two nights ,so that you can't miss miss your flight going back to your own country.

<Day5> Sunrise at Machu Pichhu. It was somewhat confusing. I don't know the case of August, but I will write about June 21, the shortest day of the year. Our hotel said that the sunrise should be around 6:20am but the website said 7:10am. It was already confusing. Without any good information, we decided to take the earliest bus anyway, 5:30am, but due to the lines and delay, we arrived at MP entrance around 6:10am. Just after 6am, It started to get light gradually. We felt we missed the sunrise. It was the shortest day of the year. If you really want to see the sunrise, you better stay at Sanctuary Lodge or I still don't get who could see the sunrise if MP opens at 6am?

Anyhow, after hiring a private guide at the MP entrance, he explained to us that official sunrise was 7:10am on June 21. MP is surrounded by mountains, so it gets already light before the official sunrise. At 7:10am, it is already very bright but you could finally "see the sun" coming from the "V-shape" of the mountain. The light reflects on the mirror inside templo del sol, which was nice. June 21 was a festival day at MP. However, if it is clouded, you wouldn't see anything. It is nice to plan to see sunrise, (nice to start early anyway), but go there without any excessive expectation.

Regarding to other questions, please go to Huyana Picchu. It is better to buy the entrance ticket at least one month ahead. It would be sold out. We got 10am entrance and it was jut right.

www.machupicchu.gob.pe/‎

You can go back to Cusco on the same day.

<Day10> Go to Lake Titicaca if you are in Puno. We went to Uros and Taquile and they are so interesting and beautiful. They are too unique to miss.

titicacaperu.com/classic_uros_taquile.html

As you wrote, please go to Colca Canyon directly from Puno. We found many people somehow go to Arequipa at first, but you would waste one full day.

We joined this tour.

www.killawasilodge.com/eng/toursDeta.php…

I decided to join it, as it was recommended by this forum and couldn't find other alternatives starting from Puno. It was a last minutes decision for us, but we were very happy to do this. I believe wes032 also recommended it. Thank you(^^;

The owner of Killawashi Lodge is a very smart person to sell such package. He built the business in the middle of nowhere and we highly respect him. Honestly, we wanted to stay at colca-lodge.com but we gave up the idea because Colca Lodge doesn't offer such deal and we couldn't find such tour in any website. It turned out later that we could have arranged such tour very easily, starting from Puno, staying at Colca Loge and Spa and finishing in Arequipa. (If you are interested, I can explain more. but I wouldn't do so here because I am not sure if you are excited about the hot springs as we are.)

We were so pleased to go to Colca Canyon. We could see many condors flying over us!! We also managed to go to hot springs in Colca Lodge and Spa and it was just perfect!! becomes one of the highlights of our trip.

<Day 13> We took an overnight bus from Arequipa to Nazca. BTW, Arequipa is a very beautiful city and we really enjoyed just walking around. The city is more pleasant and beautiful than the old city of Lima. Don't miss The Monastery of Saint Catherine and Juanita in Museum of Andean Sanctuaries.

We arrived in Nazca at 6am on the following day. We were so afraid that it would be a miserable day, after taking an overnight bus and carrying suite cases. So, we decided to hire a private transportation & guide. He promptly picked us at Curz del Sur bus terminal at 6am. It was a bit foggy and the airport was not yet opened that day. My husband demanded a quick shower, so, our guide, Raul, brought us to the hotel Algeria, where you can have shower at 10 soles. It was really nice, indeed. We had a crappy breakfast there and head to the airport. We chose AeroParacas based on the review and the price was $75 pp. Raul said that the price really fluctuates depending on the season. It was $110 a few months ago. After Naca Lines flight, Raul took us to (1) Chauchilla Cemetery, (2) Pottery making demonstration, (3) lunch, (4) Mirador Observation Tower in Nazca, (5) The Maria Reiche museum, (6) Palpa Line Mirador, (7) Huacachina Oasis (you can do sand buggy, 70-80 soles pp), (8) Winery in Ica, then finally dropped us at a hotel in Paracas at 7pm. It was a long day but we are so glad to go with Raul. Otherwise, we could't have accomplished so many things in one day. BTW, Huacachina Oasis is really great. He provided 13 hours service (6am to 7pm) and we paid $220, which includes all entrance fees except for Nazca line flights and sand buggy. It sounds quite expensive, but if you consider buying the tour independently, it ended up less expensive. Curz Del Sul from Nazca to Paracas cost $36*2=$72 anyway, Chauchilla Cemetery tour is $20*2=$40, Miradors and Museum tour is $40*2=80 anyway, and Huacachina Oasis tour is $XX... if you add up like this, we concluded that we made a right decision to go with Raul and it also added great flexibility to our plan.

If you are interested in him, this is his information.

Mario Raul Pino Berrocal <mariolard@hotmail.com>

www.pinotours.com

I heard that his father is one of the oldest tour guides in Ica/Nazca region. Raul himself is a young passionate person with good English. He has a clean and nice Toyota car. We highly recommend him.

At Paracas, we went to Ballestas Island and Paracas Reserve. There, we hired a private guide, whom I highly recommend. But I will write about her in a different thread sometime, because it may be irrelevant to you.

Sorry for my bad English. I tend to write too long...

Hope it helps.

Washington DC...
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7. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

Thank you Wes, Tkinfo, Kateoz and Merci.

I think I was being over-ambitious, trying to cram everything in 2 weeks. We have decided to skip Bolivia for now. Will spend an extra day in Cusco now (2 full days , and 2 days in sacred valley. Hopefully that should be sufficient) a trip to Nasca and Ica, and an extra day in Lima.

all over
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8. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

My Fiance and I are also heading to Peru around the same time.. What do you suggest on Clothing ???

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

Layers so you can take them

On and off during the say as it gets hot or cild

10. Re: Need your feedback on Peru-Bolivia Itinerary

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