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Help me pick me one-month route


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 1
Joined: February 27th, 2011
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

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Tags: peru, bolivia, ecuador, south america
  • Added on: April 19th, 2011
Hi everyone!

This September I have 4 weeks off from work and I have decided to go to South America. Basically, I can leave Sept 1, come back Oct 2.

So far, I have done a ton of research, and I have narrowed down two possible routes to take, with some potential places to visit, but I am having a hard time choosing which one.

Option 1) Ecuador + Northern Peru
Start in Quito - Otovalo, Cotopaxi Park, Quilota Loop, Banos, Trujillo, Huaraz, 3-4 days in rainforest tour (Iquitos) - End in Lima
Option 2) Southern Peru + Bolivia (Northern)..
Start in Lima (or Cusco)- Rainforest tour, Colca Canyon, Cuzco + Macchu Picchu (+ Lares trek probably), Lake Titicaca, La Paz

Some things you may need to know about me. I have never travelled outside of Europe or North America. My spanish is very limited (I am taking introductory spanish classes this summer). In terms of things that are most important on my trip, is probably: Scenery/Nature, Ancient civilzations, Culture.. In that order, but only ever so slightly... I do want a mix of everything. Don't care much for the partying.

If anyone can maybe give a good recommendation on taking one vs the other I would really appreciate it (given my experience, plus, the weather in September).


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 3
Joined: April 19th, 2011

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  • Added on: April 20th, 2011
Hey there!

Either way you do it, it sounds like you'll have a pretty amazing time!!
Fantastic scenery and nature will be found in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia - so with whichever option you chose - you'll have that one down.
Both options also are on the Gringo Trail/party circuit - so you will find plenty of English speakers who don't know a word of Spanish and are still making it OK.... but also tons and tons of party backpackers. That isn't really what you wanted - but hey - just don't chose hostels that have a big bar or nightclub in them and you should do ok. :)
As for the Ancient Civilizations.... it seems that Macchu Picchu and Lake Titicaca would be places you'd want to see... if you are interested in more of a colonial history trip, beautiful cities would include both La Paz, Quito (and Cuenca!).

You CANNOT go to Peru without going to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I won't let you :D So if you chose Option #1, please edit it that option to include those two places. You won't regret it!
Financially speaking, your money will go further in Bolivia than in the other two countries... and Bolivians might be one of the friendliest groups of people I've met (if I'm going to stereotype an entire nation...) if that sways you more towards the Bolivia option. I guess I haven't really given you a concrete answer - but if I had to chose between option one and option two, I'd say option #2 because it seems to fit the bill a bit better - both have good scenery and interesting cultures - but option 2 has the ancient civilization component that the first option is lacking.

Well whatever you decide, have a fantastic time!!! :D


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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 156
Joined: December 22nd, 2006

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  • Added on: April 21st, 2011
Both options look pretty good. For 1 month you can see a little bit more, than you listed. 3 weeks for Peru would comfortably allow you to add a few more destinations such as the Galapagos, or the the Amazon. Check this site to get an idea . You do not have to buy from them but you can get a good idea using their customize option. Bolivia and Ecuador are both cool as well.

Two key pieces of advice. If you can travel from low altitude to high or viceversa, it would be perfect, 50% of travleers get some form of altitude sickness, so you may want to minimize or avoid all toghther by avoiding sudden altitude changes. The second advice would be to not loose sleep if you do not see Lima or do not spend too much time there. It may take quite a bit of effort to avoid it altoghter, but it can be done. Just about every other part of Peru is amazing . There are direct flights into Cusco, you can start your trip from Bolivia....


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Joined: December 5th, 2005
Location: London or Chicago

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  • Added on: April 21st, 2011
Either are fine choices. The only critical piece is being able to arrange the Machu Pichu trek. I'd eliminate the Peru/Bolivia route if you can't arrange the appropriate dates.

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