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> From Cuzco to Uyuni to La Paz
matt_barr
post Apr 19 2009, 04:11 PM
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Hi,

I'm planning a trip to Peru and Bolivia in May, and have found myself stuck and a little nervous that getting in a tour to the Salar De Uyuni isn't going to be possible!

My current itinerary finds me in Cuzco on Friday, 22nd May and I'm flying out of La Paz on Saturday, 30th May. That leaves me a week to get down to Uyuni and back again - and not best placed to take advantage of the well recommended Expreso Del Sur (which seems to only leave on Tuesdays and Fridays).

Can getting down to Uyuni and back again be done? Perhaps I be looking at a different route to the salt flats?

Any advice would be most appreciated.

Thanks,
Matt
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kathryn77
post Apr 19 2009, 06:30 PM
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QUOTE(matt_barr @ Apr 19 2009, 10:11 PM) *

Hi,

I'm planning a trip to Peru and Bolivia in May, and have found myself stuck and a little nervous that getting in a tour to the Salar De Uyuni isn't going to be possible!

My current itinerary finds me in Cuzco on Friday, 22nd May and I'm flying out of La Paz on Saturday, 30th May. That leaves me a week to get down to Uyuni and back again - and not best placed to take advantage of the well recommended Expreso Del Sur (which seems to only leave on Tuesdays and Fridays).

Can getting down to Uyuni and back again be done? Perhaps I be looking at a different route to the salt flats?

Any advice would be most appreciated.

Thanks,
Matt


Hey Matt,

I'm a bit nervous about that too... Are you including (While in Cusco) getting to Macchu Picchu & seeing the sites in Cusco, before you leave - so your start point is actually the 22nd? (i.e you've already accounted for Cuzco and around?)

If so, it might be do-able, if you go from Cuzco to Arequipa, then down to Chile to get to San Pedro de Atacama in Northern Chile - from there, you can do the Salar de Uyuni (allow 3 days, 2 nights - non-negotiable!) and end up in Uyuni. I did it the other way round, and to be honest, the salt flats are stunning, and would be brilliant as the end-point to a trip - if you do it from Chile, it would be like that (the only thing is there's less agencies, and the prices are higher in Chile)

BUT, from Uyuni, you would then be in a better position to get to La Paz, without doubling back on yourself. The roads in Peru and Bolivia aren't great, so you might cut some time out by doing the route I've suggested - Chilean roads (and the coast road in Peru) are pretty good, so faster. When you get on Bolivian roads, you're in the desert in places, so travel is slower and more unpredictable (take account for occasional roadblocks too!)

I didn't do the Expreso Del Sur, because I was either there on the wrong day or it wasn't running - I can't remember, sorry. Maybe someone can help with that - I think the main thing to remember is that travel in Peru & Bolivia (especially) is slow, so if you're on a tight time-frame like that, you'll have to be ahead of yourself for any unforeseen circumstances.

Also, depends what you want to do in the places - Horse riding in San Pedro de Atacama? The Salt flat tour? Climbing down a silver mine in Potosi? Cycling Death Road in La Paz or going to the Witches Market there?

Let me know if I can be of any more help, and hopefully someone can give you more detail on the train smile.gif


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mmbcross
post Apr 20 2009, 12:03 PM
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What more can I say! Kathryn has just about covered every eventuality. As Kathry states, it would help a lot to know what day you will be leaving Cuzco. That gives us an exact time period to calculate.

Cuzco to Arequipa is 10 hours
Arequipa to Iquique is 10 hours (plus border crossing, which is relatively easy.)
Iquique to San Pedro de Atacama is 4 hours
San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni is anyone's guess as you have to go through customs and immigration, and the crossing is not a very important entry point.
Uyuni to La Paz is 14 hours

So you see, it's quite a long haul. If you are going through Arequipa you should spend at least a day there. It's Peru's second city. If you take this route you will not be visiting Lake Titicaca, unless you make another stop at Puno, which is a miserable town, and probably the worst place to see Lake Titicaca from.

Frankly if I were in your shoes, I would give Uyuni a miss, and spend more time at Lake Titicaca (Copacabana in Bolivia is the best base for this) and La Paz.

See if you can get some gems of wisdom in our Uyuni forums
http://www.travelpod.com/forum-discussions...ivia/Uyuni.html


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matt_barr
post Apr 20 2009, 05:35 PM
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Well, thanks to you both, I really appreciate your time!

I am in a position to leave Cuzco on the 22nd, I get back from the Lares trek the day before.

I'm starting to think that perhaps a flight from Cuzco to La Paz could be an option. Not the cheapest one of course, but as I'm also keen to visit Lake Titicaca, and this won't be a trip I get to repeat in the foreseeable future, I'm seriously considering it.

My current, incomplete and possibly hopelessly optimistic, itinerary is...
  • Sat May 23rd - Fly to La Paz - late afternoon/early evening in La Paz - catch Todo Turismo express bus to Uyuni
  • Sun May 24th - Arrive in Uyuni early morning, start a tour late morning
Here's the hole. Either a two day or three day tour, I'm assuming a two day would be wisest. Then I'm aiming to get all the way back up to La Paz, and beyond to Lake Titicaca.
  • Thurs May 28th - ...already at Lake Titicaca. Spend night in Copacabana.
  • Fri May 29th - Travel back to La Paz
  • Sat May 30th - Fly out of La Paz early morning.

As you can see, I'm hoping to avoid going through Chile at the moment. That's mainly to avoid missing Lake Titicaca, and also getting to Salar de Uyuni from the San Pedro side which I've heard is a brutal change in altitude.

What do you think - am I crazy? smile.gif

Another option would be to shift everything a day earlier, and leave Cuzco on Fri 22nd May.

Thanks again for lending your expertise!
Matt
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kathryn77
post Apr 21 2009, 04:34 PM
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Hi Matt,
I don't think you're crazy, there's so much to see and do in South America, and you want to cram in as much as you can!!

Thanks for sending your itinerary plan so far - that really helps.

This is my opinion for you to consider....

Leaving Cusco on Friday or Saturday? If you leave Friday, does that mean you won't get a chance to have a look round? If so, I'd suggest leaving Saturday then - give you a chance to recover from your trek and have a look around Cuzco, which is a great city, I loved it! There are also loads of masseuse people specializing in achey post-trek legs as well, if they are in pain!

So, I'll base this on if you were leaving Cuzco on Saturday....

I know you said you wanted to avoid the Chile route for the two reasons you mentioned, but with the route below that I'm suggesting, you still get to see Lake Titicaca, and yeah, the altitude can be problematic, but if you've already been to Cusco, that's pretty high altitude, and you'll have been trekking, so your body will be used to it. If you fly into La Paz, it's a higher altitude than Cuzco - and the flights are expensive as you mentioned, I think because it's the highest airport in the world?! So....

Sat May 23rd - bus to Puno = 6 hours
Sun May 24th - early morning boat to visit floating islands on Lake Titicaca, which takes a couple of hours (I actually liked it from this viewpoint, if you went out on the boats. The floating islands are commercialised a lot, but I still found it a unique experience...and if I was pushed for time, it would be an option if I'd never been before) Then you could get an afternoon bus to Arequipa = 5 hours, then like Martin said, Arequipa to Iquique is 10 hours and Iquique to San Pedro de Atacama is 4 hours. I would recommend staying in Arequipa a night as well, it's a great city! So if you were to do that, let's say you set off on an overnight bus to Iquique on Monday night....so...
Mon May 25th - Day in Arequipa, nightbus to San Pedro de Atacama via Iquique...
Tues May 26th - 3 day/2 night jeep tour over the salt flats....to Uyuni....
Thurs May 28th - Arrive Uyuni, and get a bus when possible to La Paz - if you get one immediately, it's 14 hours like Martin said....so .......
Friday May 29th - day to relax and sight-see in La Paz before your Saturday flight...

OR.........

Fri May 22nd - bus to Puno, around midnight? = 6 hours = arrive 6am in Puno
Sat May 23rd - early morning boat to visit floating islands on Lake Titicaca, then catch a bus to Copacabana in the afternoon - night and half-day in Copacabana, so Lake Titicaca from that view too?
Sun May 24th - bus from Copacabana to La Paz, connecting to a 14 hour night bus to Uyuni
Monday May 25th - Arrive Uyuni, and start tour (I think they leave at 9am or 10am - also Peru is one hour behind Bolivia - just to take that into account!)

....so if you do a 2 night/3 day tour, you're back in Uyuni, late Wednesday - I'd recommend staying a night - to get some sleep and get cleaned!

Thurs May 28th - travel back to La Paz, at your leisure - may even have time to go via Sucre or Potosi? (Or get to La Paz faster and cycle 'Death Road'??)
Fri May 29th - day in La Paz

With this second option, you're missing the expensive flight, plus you're not doubling back on yourself, and *I think* getting to see everything you want? What do you think?

Martin, what do you think? Are my timings OK on option 2? I think option 1 is pretty accurate for timings?

I'm so jealous, I'd love to be going to Peru/Bolivia next month! I loved it! smile.gif Let me know what you think of these anyway, and we can help with any more 'tweaking'!


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matt_barr
post Apr 23 2009, 03:11 PM
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Hi Kathryn,

I think the second option you've outlined looks great! Well both look great, and thanks for going to the effort to think of different options, but it's the second one I'm going to look into first.

One last thing you could provide some advice on. I've found it hard to find timetables for buses (and trains too in Bolivia) and was wondering if there is a reliable resource online somewhere? With all the careful timing involved, I'd like to avoid working out leaving times when I first arrive in a place.

Cheers,
Matt

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kathryn77
post Apr 23 2009, 04:24 PM
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Hi Matt, No worries at all, happy to help smile.gif

I'd only thought of option one originally, but when I was near the end, started thinking "hang on, what about xxx" and that's where option 2 came from, so glad you like it.

One thing about Bolivia, is they don't really work to timetable, so I wouldn't rely on it. That's probably why you can't find anything on the internet. I'd suggest that when you arrive in a place, check the times on arrival at the bus station, and buy your ticket, as then you're guaranteed a seat. Buses often leave early because they're full, so I'd suggest getting to the bus station a bit before, just to be sure...

From option 2, you'll easy get a late bus ticket to Puno. When you arrive, you can buy a ticket for later that day to Copacabana. You can just turn up and easily get a boat to the floating islands, you don't need to pre-book.

From what I remember the buses from Copacabana to La Paz are frequent and easy too - so many people hop off here from either direction, you'll get a seat easily.

I'd say your difficult timing will be La Paz to Uyuni - maybe try and get a bus around 7pm, to be sure you get to Uyuni on time to catch a jeep tour when they leave in the morning. Uyuni is tiny, with one main street, lined with agencies offering jeep tours, so you'll get one easily.

I think with that you'll be OK, as then I suggested staying a night in Uyuni, and you still have 2 days to play with after that - if the worst came to the worst, and you were running a day behind for whatever reason, you have that spare time at the end to allow for that. A direct bus from Uyuni to La Paz, with no time in La Paz would be the worst that could happen I think with this 'plan' - and that would be losing 2 days somewhere...if you are at all worried near the end about your time, I'd just head straight back to La Paz after the salt flats - there's loads to do and see there, and at least you'd be relaxed about being nearer to the airport.

I hope that helps, and sorry I don't have an actual website, but like I say, it's probably because it's not stuck to religiously, and it may not be very reliable anyway...
Cheers
Kathryn


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kathryn77
post May 5 2009, 05:38 PM
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How're you getting on with your planning Matt?

It's May!! hyper.gif How excited are you? hyper.gif

I'll need to follow your blogging, see where you end up (and possibly get nervous for you if you're behind on time wink.gif )


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matt_barr
post May 17 2009, 07:07 PM
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Hi Kathryn,

Sorry I've not replied already - that was lame of me given all the advice you've offered.

We're currently in Cuzco - and so far the holiday's been great! The first (just over a) week was pretty hectic, Rio to Iguasu to Buenos Aires, and then to Cuzco. The weather's been a bit hit and miss, but I guess that's to be expected for this time of year, and we've not had to deal with anything worse than cloudy days and a few showers.

Tomorrow we're heading off on the Lares trek. I felt awful yesterday when we first got to Cuzco, but much better today so I'm really looking forward to it. On Friday, we'll have had a day off rest back in Cuzco and will be starting to head south, which is where all your advice is going to really help.

I'm not writing a TravelPod blog, but I'll post more on this thread to let you and others know how we get on!

Cheers,
Matt
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mmbcross
post May 18 2009, 01:41 PM
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Hello Matt,

It's good to hear from you as you wend your way through South America. We appreciate you keeping us up to date with your travels.

Keep your notes and photos, then write your travel blog when you get home. That's the way I do it. I never seem to have time while I'm actually on the road.


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kathryn77
post May 20 2009, 06:35 PM
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Hey Matt,
Cool, hope the trek goes well then. No worries about not keeping in touch, enjoy yourself!
When you get back to Cusco, if you're trying to chill for a day or two, there is a cool bar called 'Indigo' that you should check out.

If you're standing in the main square, facing the cathedral, turn to your left, and go up the alleyway in the middle of that section of the plaza. At the top of the alley, turn left, and in the corner there is a hostel called the 'Royal Qosqo' - 'Indigo' bar is upstairs.

Reason it's great is that it has swings for seats, and if you get in early, they let you pick the films if you want to watch one, and they do good drinks - it's good to chill out, especially if you've just done the trek!

Happy travels!!


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ponae
post Jun 3 2009, 09:58 AM
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Hi,

I have been reading this thread and found that the suggestions have been very good.
I will be travelling in the area in Early July very similar to the suggestions.
My rough itirinary as follows:
D1 Cusco - Puno + PM trip to Isla Flotanates
D2 Puno - Copacabana + Trip to Isla del sur +/- overnight stay
D3 Copacabana/Isla del Sur - La Paz
D4 La Paz
D5 La Paz - Uyuni
I think there is a overnight bus - Are there any other options? How easy is it to go via Potosi?

D6-8 Uyuni
D9 San Pedro de Atacama

From there I have a bit of dilemma. I have 8 more days and I am flying out of Buenos Aires. My options from San Pedro de Atacama are:
1. Take a 12 hr bus trip to Salta and fly to Buenos Aires. However, I have read that there are only 2 Bus companies Pullman and Gemini that service this route and only travels on Tue, Fri and Sun - is this correct? This will limit my options

2. Travel on to Calama and fly to Buenos Aires via Santiago (which will take 6-8 hrs with connections) but miss out on seeing Salta

From BA I will be planning to spend a few days there and drop into Iguazu before departing from BA later on.

Any thoughts of this? I have also heard there are recent road blockades in Uyuni by locals - is there anyway of finding this out ahead of time? This happens frequently?

Cheers

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kathryn77
post Jun 3 2009, 03:35 PM
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Hi Ponae,
Glad you're finding this thread useful.

Yes, you can go from La Paz to Uyuni via Potosi no problem. I travelled overnight from La Paz to Sucre, and then a shorter bus journey to Potosi, but there's probably a direct overnight bus from La Paz to Potosi. From Potosi to Uyuni, it's about 5 hours by bus, so if you go early morning, you can be there by lunchtime.

You seem to want to see Salta; Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires most with the rest of your time. Why not do 12 hours overnight from San Pedro de Atacama to Salta, and then get a bus from Salta to Iquazu Falls - that's the way I went, so it is do-able...You could then go from Iguazu to BA, and not have to double back on yourself...

As for the road blockades, I'm afraid they are unpredictable and can happen anywhere, anytime in Bolivia, so you can't really plan for that until you're actually there


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mmbcross
post Jun 3 2009, 03:50 PM
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Kathryn's suggestion is great. Nevertheless Santiago is the Capital of Chile and Salta, although a very nice town, is only a provincial city of Argentina. I would go for Santiago.

If you decide for SCL, from Santiago to BA you should take the luxury day bus to Mendoza so you can cross the Andes in daylight (you pass close to Aconcagua). From Mendoza to BA you can either fly, or take the overnight sleeper bus.

News of disturbances in Bolivia. Only the local newspapers can help there:
http://www.redbolivia.com/




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kathryn77
post Jun 3 2009, 05:05 PM
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I wasn't that keen on Santiago...but the journey over the Andes is awesome, and I loved, loved, LOVED Mendoza! I also really loved Salta too, because it was similar to Bolivia & Peru in culture and scenery


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ponae
post Jun 4 2009, 06:17 AM
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Thanks for the tips guys.

Salta - Iguazu on bus seems like it will take a long long while - may be 24 hrs?
I am keen in going to Iguazu and spend some time in BA - most people I spoke to thinks BA is really nice to spend a bit of time in.

Salta seems nice but only problem I have is that I will have to take a 12 hrs bus ride and the limitation of which days the bus run as I was planning to leave San Pedro on a Sat but I think they haven't got a bus service on that day which then sets me off another day.

Will be spending 1.5 days in Santiago on way into Cusco before all of this - so not planning to go into Santiago again but to just transit there to catch another flight.

Any suggestions for what's the best way of doing an island tour for Isla del Sur - I have seen a website advertising a tour for hydrofoil from Copacabana to Isla del Sur and overnight there before they depart the following day into another place to catch a bus into La Paz - Its a bit more expensive I think.

Also any suggestion for Salar de Uyuni 4WD companies to go with? I am aware they keep changing all the time.

Cheers

PS: Thanks for link to redbolivia - unfortunately can't read spanish.....


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mmbcross
post Jun 4 2009, 09:02 AM
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Any suggestions for what's the best way of doing an island tour for Isla del Sur - I have seen a website advertising a tour for hydrofoil from Copacabana to Isla del Sur and overnight there before they depart the following day into another place to catch a bus into La Paz - Its a bit more expensive I think.

There are regular motor boats that do the trip very inexpensively. It takes about two hours, and hopefully the lake is not too choppy while you are there. Skim through these blogs from Travelpodders like yourselves:
http://www.travelpod.com/s/Isla+Del+Sol,+Lake+Titicaca

Also any suggestion for Salar de Uyuni 4WD companies to go with? I am aware they keep changing all the time.

I'm sure Kathryn can advise you here. Also looking at some of these blogs may help:
http://www.travelpod.com/s/uyuni

Salta seems nice but only problem I have is that I will have to take a 12 hrs bus ride and the limitation of which days the bus run as I was planning to leave San Pedro on a Sat but I think they haven't got a bus service on that day which then sets me off another day.

Considering that you have already been to SCL, and unless you really want to see more desert, I suggest you drop San Pedro de Atacama entirely, and travel south from Uyuni to Salta, crossing the Bolivia/Argentine boder at Villazon/La Quiaca. There is regular daily service from Uyuni to Villazon. Cross the border on foot and in La Quiaca hop on a bus to Salta, which operate several times daily. You should be able to do this in a day (a LONG day!)

Salta - Iguazu on bus seems like it will take a long long while - may be 24 hrs?

Can't help you there I'm afraid. There are no motorways across the Chaco, but you will see a part of Argentina very few other travellers experience. It's about a 14 hour ride. From Corrientes there is regular bus service to Asuncion (which will add another country to your portfolio) and then on to Iguassu. There is also direct overnight luxury bus service from Corrientes to Puerto Iguassu if you prefer to skip Asuncion.
http://www.travelpod.com/s/Corrientes

Here's a good site to investigate Argentine bus services.
http://www.andesmar.com/shop/default.asp

Most people I spoke to thinks BA is really nice to spend a bit of time in.

They are not wrong...they are right!





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kathryn77
post Jun 4 2009, 03:43 PM
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Salta - Iguazu on bus seems like it will take a long long while - may be 24 hrs?

You can definitely do this - I went from Salta to Iguazu via Resistencia (I was going to stay there overnight to break up the journey, but ended up just doing two overnight buses, and just had a day in Resistencia) I'm sure there was a direct bus to Iguazu as well - yeah, it will take a long time, but maybe 18 hours, rather than 24? My two overnighters weren't 12 hours each - that's where I'm getting that logic. I had a look for bus companies, but I can't find anything on the web that lets you search from Salta to Iguazu - they're all BA orientated. What about searching the blogs for someone who's in Salta or Iguazu right now, and ask them to check for you when they're at the bus station?

Also any suggestion for Salar de Uyuni 4WD companies to go with? I am aware they keep changing all the time.

I can't remember the name of the company I went with, but they are all on one street (and Uyuni isn't big! Just ask for prices and stuff - they all offer the same trip, but the price affects other stuff, e.g the food you get to eat on the trip - I didn't meet anyone who had a bad experience with their tour, put it that way...


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joost9009
post Jul 21 2009, 02:26 PM
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From Salta you can take a direct flight nowadays for only 100 USD, check next link

http://www.andesonline.com/
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evazantha
post Jul 22 2009, 02:35 PM
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Interesting reading, hoping you can give me some good advice too!

My friend and I are planning a trip to Bolivia and Peru over Christmas and wondering if anyone knows whether things stop in Bolivia over Christmas or if its business as usual? Ideally we're hoping to start the Uyuni tour on Dec 24th, but while operators have replied about tour dates, I'd like to know if we can just turn up in Uyuni and book a next day tour?

Also, interested in advice about crossing from Bolivia into Peru via Lake Titicaca - we were thinking of leaving La Paz on 30th Dec, spending night on an island, then arriving in Puno. Are there many options of how to do this? Any tips?

Definitely hoping to check out the chill out film bar in Cuzco...
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