The final section of our 2016 global travels took us to South America. This was our 73 day itinerary which can easily be reduced or extended as required:
Day 1: Arrive in Bogota for 3 nights
Day 4: Fly from Bogota to Lima for 2 nights
Day 6: Fly from Lima to Cusco for 1 night
Day 7: Sacred Valley Tour (stay in Ollantaytambo)
Day 8: 12 km short Inca trek to Machu Picchu (stay in Aguas Calientes)
Day 9: Return to Cusco for 2 nights
Day 11: Cusco to Puno on Inka Express bus (stay in Puno for 2 nights)
Day 12: Lake Titicaca tour
Day 13: Bus from Puno (Peru) to La Paz (Bolivia) and stay in La Paz for 3 nights
Day 16: Overnight bus from La Paz to Uyuni
Day 17: Stay in Uyuni for 1 night
Day 18: Salt Flats tour
Day 20: Tour ends in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (stay in San Pedro for 5 nights)
Day 25: Bus from San Pedro de Atacama to Salta (Argentina) and stay in Salta for 2 nights
Day 27: Rent car and drive from Salta to Cachi (1 night)
Day 28: Drive from Cachi to Cafayete (2 nights)
Day 30: Drive from Cafayete to Salta then overnight bus to Mendoza
Day 31: Stay in Mendoza for 2 nights
Day 33: Bus from Mendoza to Santiago (Chile) and stay in Santiago for 2 nights
Day 35: Bus from Santiago to Valparaiso and stay in Valparaiso for 8 nights
Day 43: Transfer by taxi from Valparaiso to Vina del Mar for 2 nights
Day 45: Embark on 14 night cruise from Valparaiso, south to Patagonia, Beagle Chanel, Ushuaia, Cape Horn, Falklands and Montevideo to Buenos Aires
Day 59: Arrive in Buenos Aires and stay for 3 nights
Day 62: Fly from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls for 3 nights
Day 65: Fly from Iguazu Falls to Rio de Janeiro for 2 nights
Day 67: Transfer by bus and boat to Ilha Grande for 5 nights
Day 72: Transfer back to Rio for 1 night
Day 73: Flight from Rio
For us these were our main highlights of South America:
Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu: we did a short 12 km Inca Trail which ended at the Sun Gate and opened up the full and phenomenal view of Machu Picchu high up in the Andes.
Uyuni Salt Flats 3 day/2 night 4×4 tour: one of the most exciting adventures of 2016 with a brilliant group of people.
Salta road trip: fun to be independent and drive around the dusty but very scenic roads of Northern Argentina.
Beagle Channel glaciers: breathtaking to sail through the ‘Avenue of Glaciers’
Falkland Islands: interesting to see a little piece of Britain in the South Atlantic!
Iguazu Falls: one word… spectacular!
Ilha Grande: beautiful tropical island
Each of the cities we visited had its own unique culture and characteristics and we both preferred the natural highlights rather than the cities. We agreed that with its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful location, Rio de Janeiro was our favourite South American city.
We were less keen on San Pedro de Atacama and still cannot understand why this somewhat dirty and dusty town is so outrageously expensive… although experiencing one of the World’s clearest and amazing night sky views from the Atacama Desert was certainly a highlight.
We spent too long in Valparaiso too. This was partly because Laura had developed a lower back issue at this time which made travelling a little uncomfortable. We would like to experience more of Patagonia and the Chilean lake district at some point.
Overall we had a fantastic time in South America and would love to explore the northern part of South America i.e. Columbia, Ecuador and Venezuela on a future trip.
A rough outline of the route: