3 Month Backpacking Itinerary Advice

Old Jan 5th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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3 Month Backpacking Itinerary Advice

Hey everyone, I was wondering if I could get some input on my planned itinerary for my 3 month/12 week backpacking trip. I'm planning on spending most of my time in Southern Patagonia, Bolivia (mostly west to central), and Peru (south of Lima). My interests are nature/wildlife, trekking/rock climbing, and genuine cultural experiences through interacting with locals. I would really appreciate if I could get some advice on which locations I should spend more or less time in based on the interests I listed. I haven't figured out details for Bolivia and Peru because if I did they would probably change anyway.

Here is what I have:

SUMMARY

mid-Jan to mid-April (12 weeks)
4 weeks in Patagonia
1 week or less in Chile
3.5 weeks Bolivia
2.5 weeks Peru
1 week dedicated to transportation

MORE SPECIFIC

.5 week Buenos Aires
1 week in/around Ushuaia
1 week in/around El Chalten
.5 week in El Calafate
1 week in/around Torres del Paine

Fly from Punta Arenas to Santiago

2 days Santiago
1 day Valparaiso
Fly from Santiago to Calama
2 days in Calama and desert

Laguna Colorada and Salar de Uyuni
Tupiza
La Paz (Overland travel from Tupiza or fly from Tarija. Depends on $$)
Trekking in/around Cordillera Real (there seems to be a plethora of treks to chose from so I would like to dedicate about 1 week to this)
Carnaval in Oruro (is this a good idea? It seems like fun but also chaotic and expensive)
Parque Madidi (I would like to see some Amazonian wildlife without going too remote east. Also, it seems like guides are mandatory and may cost a lot of $$?)

1 week Lake Titicaca

Colca Canyon and other stuff in Arequipa
Ausangate Circuit or another equivalent trek
Cusco
Machu Picchu
Lima
------------------

Something I am concerned with is trekking in the rainy season months of Feb and March in Bolivia and Peru. I'm planning on just playing it by ear when I get closer but is there anyone with knowledge/experience in the area that can give me some advice on which treks are generally feasible during the rainy season in the Central Andes?

Also, do you think this itinerary is feasible with USD$ 2800 not including flights? I am bringing my own tent, bag, stove, etc. and plan on camping and cooking my own meals when possible.

Happy New Year and Safe Travels!
el_colorado is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2012, 08:19 AM
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I suggest you consider joining http://www.saexplorers.org/club/home - it costs around $40 and is a much better source of information and advice for the sort of trip you are planning than you are likely to get on this forum. An added advantage is that they have clubhouses throughout SA where you can hook up with other travellers fro up to date advice on guides etc. Many of the trip reports are available online once you are a member which should help with your planning. We found the club invaluable during our 5 months in SA.

http://www.andeantravelweb.com/ is also worth a look for Peru
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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They just had to rescue a few cars from the Uyuni salt flats due to floods. Not sure how easy it is to get through the area from south to north at present. You may want to put together an itinerary that involves going up the coast from Calama to Arequipa, you can then get to La Paz via Puno, and round trip to Oruruo/Uyuni and back.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Also not a good time to go to the Bolivian Amazon due to weather.

I would definitely go to Oruro if you can, but you will want to find lodgings ahead and not wing it. Even if prices triple, Bolivia is still very inexpensive.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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http://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Planet-.../dp/1741041635

Good routes for you to follow road trip in SA a fair amount
5K mostly north last. Might look at the Route of the Cones
then pick up the Andean Route. Ormeno best bus there pick
up nice hostels on the fly like LokiHostels.com La Paz
Cusco Lima if time.

Slakantay with Flavio
through the Sun Gate would be great
incalandadventures.com from $300
way better than Ausangate.

Have fun!
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 02:33 PM
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Patagonia is part of both Chile and Aregentina.

You don't want to stay in Calama. It is just a large mining town. You want to go to San Pedro de Atacama. There are transfers from the airport. Two days is very little time there if you are going to go to the expense of a flight.

Your budget is fine for Bolivia but very low, even excluding the flights, if you are going places like San Pedro, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, TdP. Entrance fees and tours will soon deplete it.

Rainy season can be serious business in the highlands of Bolivia and Perú and seems to have gotten wetter and started earlier over the last few years. You would have to remain very flexible.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 07:53 PM
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Thanks for all the advice!

migb, going to Arequipa first is an interesting suggestion but I'm not sure if it would work very well because I would lose a lot of time going from La Paz to southwest Bolivia and back to La Paz. I need to leave from a major city- either La Paz, Lima, or Santiago. I'll probably skip the Amazon and Oruro too if the logistics are too complicated.

Huentetu, the reason I was thinking Calama was because I thought it would be a good entry into southwest Bolivia. Laguna Colorada is closer to Calama so I thought it would be better. I would just skip all of Chile north of Santiago if possible. Where do you think would be best to fly into from Santiago for good access to Uyuni and Tupiza? Arica? Iquique? La Paz? Would it be possible to travel on bus from southwest Bolivia to Laz Paz during the rainy season?

Thanks, you all are great
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 07:54 PM
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and as far as the budget goes, I'll be avoiding tours when I can. I'd like to do most of the travel independently or with people I meet along the way. Do you think its possible to do southwest Bolivia without tour guides?
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Old Jan 8th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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The best entry from Chile is from San Pedro de Atacama on one of the Uyuni tours to see the salt flats. The bus from Calama does not take the same route.
http://www.sanpedrodeatacama.net/ind...d=55&Itemid=76

Tours from Tupiza are supposed to be better, but I have no experience of them.

Because it will be rainy season you are going to have to remain very flexible about your routes in Bolivia.
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Old Jan 8th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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I'll definitely be flexible.

What is the cheapest way to see the salt flats? Is it possible to camp there? Or is it just way too vast and isolated
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Old Jan 9th, 2012, 06:54 AM
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The cheapest way to see the salt flats is on a Jeep tour from Uyuni. A 3day/2night tour should run $100 (700Bs) including transport, food, and lodging but not including 180 Bs in admissions fees, and you will want to bring extra water. If the flats are wet, there may be altered itineraries or shorter tours for correspondingly less. The overnight tourist bus from La Paz to Uyuni runs approximately $30.

You might check the Tonito Tours website www.bolivianexpeditions.com for FAQ.
Starting from Chile or Tupiza would approximately double your costs, not including transport to the starting point.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 02:30 AM
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i remember myself standing on that very fence about how exactly to make it happen. I would suggest you to make a good research on your destinations before hitting the road. check out www.backpackingsouthamerica.org and similiar sites to get some ideas... good luck man
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Old May 28th, 2012, 05:50 AM
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Some very high level thoughts on your itinerary:

One week in Ushuaia might be a bit much, it is nice but 4 nights might be plenty;

Why 1 week in Lake Titicaca? Excl. this you have allocated just 10 days for the remainder of Peru and you want to do a lot in those ten days. You would need ten days alone to see MP, Cuzco and do a trek.

You could skip Chile and add this time on to Peru. If you were to include Northern Argentina the landscape here is very similar to San Pedro De Atac and would save you going to Chile this time.

Then you have three countries in three months which seems better.
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