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Hi, I'm flying into Santiago, Chile the first week of July, and am planning to spend a few days in Santiago, then take a bus up to San Pedro de Atacama which looks great. I'll nthen have three weeks left before flying home from Lima on August 9th. I need to get to Lima and hope to see Macchu Picchu. Anybody any advice on which route to take to get there? Would it be better to head through Bolivia on a salt flats tour, or carry on through Chile to Arica etc? I am on a very tight budget so buses (or the very cheapest way) is necessary. Thanks.

Also, does anybody know the very cheapest was to see Macchu Picchu? Bit of a cheapskate here.
I believe the numbers allowed into Macchu Picchu are limited by the Peruvian government. I don't know how long the list is, but I believe it's several months.

By the way, the "gate" to Macchu Picchu is at Cuzco, not Lima.

I took the trip many moons ago but here is a link anyway:

By the way...Torres del Paine, check it out.
hi Georgia,

Sounds cool! smile.gif

I'd suggest if your budget is really tight to try and get to Bolivia / Peru as soon as you can. Chile is more expensive (San Pedro de Atacama moreso!) SPdA is the jumping off point for the salt flat tour, so if you plan to go this way (which I'd recommend if you have time -- the salt flats are ace!) perhaps try and organise your jeep in advance.

You'll need 3 days for the salt flat tour (2 overnight stays en-route) if you do it, then from Uyuni to La Paz, another day, and from there into Peru and up to Cusco, a couple of days in total - obviously stopping in places.

Bearing in mind your budget and what you want to see, I think you'll be better doing the salt flat tour, as travelling through Bolivia once you are in there is mega-cheap. You might want to break up the journey to Peru, with Bolivian Potosi and the capital, La Paz.

If you can then get to Cuzco from La Paz (again, you might want to break up the journey - e.g. at Puno to see the floating islands). Once in Cuzco, I'd recommend a couple of days to see around - then, if you're not doing a trek, which it doesn't sound like you are, you can go to Macchu Picchu by train (train to Aguas Calientes, then bus or foot from there but it will need an overnight stay in AC)

You can go direct from Cuzco to Lima by bus, but I recommend not booking the cheapest bus company for that route, as it is quite a journey! If you had the time, you might prefer to go via Arequipa, and then stopping at Huacachina for some sandboarding on the way up to Lima... (in fact, even if you do the overnighter from Cuzco to Lima, take the 5 hours extra south to Huacachina, as it is sooooooo worth it!)

Let me know if you want to hear more! I'm mega jealous!
QUOTE(laorfamily @ Jan 19 2010, 09:08 PM) *

I believe the numbers allowed into Macchu Picchu are limited by the Peruvian government. I don't know how long the list is, but I believe it's several months.

Meant to comment on this also - this is if you're trekking, then yes, there are restrictions and you do need to book in advance, but you can get there from Cuzco by train to Aguas Calientes, then either walk or bus it to the ruins smile.gif

If you want to climb Waynu Picchu mountain in the grounds, get there early, as only around 400 people can climb it per day - the view of Macchu Picchu from above is amazing!
Hey Kathryn,
Wow thanks for all that advice, that was very useful. Where have you been? all over South America? You sound very well travelled! Mint. Ah ok, I'd pretty much given up on Bolivia but if it's that cheap I'm coming round to the idea again.What happens with the jeeps?Do you take one from SPdA with a driver all the way to Bolivia? Any idea how much? You've been to Macchu Pichu?! Was it as amazing as it looks? Wow my heavens how very exciting.
Cheers x
Hi Georgia,

No worries at all! I love South America - I went travelling there 'for 3 months'....and stayed for 9! laugh.gif It is amazing! I went to Peru; Bolivia; Chile; Argentina; Uruguay & Brazil. (it's in my Big Trip link below, and I did kinda what you're planning to do, but the other way round - i.e. I started in Lima)

Bolivia is by far the cheapest country in SA (from my list above anyway), closely followed by Peru. Brazil & Chile were most expensive out of the ones I visited.

The salt flat tour - yeah, you have to do it with a tour, and it's the same jeep and driver the whole way. Your driver is the driver, cook and guide! There'll be about 6 of you in the jeep in total, and it takes you all the way from SpdA to Uyuni (I did it the other way round, so if you're doing it that way you should know you will pay more in Chile as there's less competition since most people do it from Uyuni) I'm so sorry but I can't remember how much it was, but I do know that I didn't rebound in shock at any huge dent in my travelling budget, so it must've been 'OK'! It is really REALLY cold up there though, so be prepared!

Bolivia - I loved Bolivia - it was so random, and traditional too. It's the least developed of all the countries I visited, and it was great to experience that 'step back in time'. It's got so much to offer too - the salt flats; the silver mines in Potosi; La Paz the capital is great too - if you're adventurous, you can do the Death Road bike ride from there! Incredible!

Macchu Picchu is....out of this world!!!! I literally was gobsmacked - when you're up there, and you can feel the effects of the altitude on yourself, it's so amazing to think people could build this kingdom so high in the mountains. I took tha train as I said, stayed overnight in Aguas Calientes, then got up early in the morning to try to get there 'before all the tourists' - it was still really busy though! But, I didn't go with a tour guide, I went on my own, and I'd recommend that (if you're not trekking it) as you can listen in on the tourguides whenever you want by blending into groups, and then you can take off on your own and feel like you're up there on your own, just with the turn of a corner - amazing! I'd also recommend doing the Waynu Picchu climb as I mentioned before - it's pretty steep, but doesn't take much time (maybe 1-2 hours up and down) but the view is amazing. You're going to love it smile.gif

Feel free to ask any more - I love talking about South America! laugh.gif Kx

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