South America tour ideas

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So, the idea was to not plan our trip too much – but of course we’re excited to travel and whenever we get a spare moment we can’t help ourselves from flipping through our dog-eared Lonely Planet and browsing through pictures, picking out which places we hope to see along the way. The only reservations we’ll make in advance are our first bus tickets out of Buenos Aires, our final flight home from Lima back to Buenos Aires, and we’ve reserved dates for the Choquequirao hiking trip in the middle. In between those dates we’ll just see what we feel like doing and see what fits in. We’ve never really had enough free time to travel without set plans, so we’re looking forward to having the luxury of making it up as we go along. Also, we’ve heard that transport in Bolivia can be pretty unpredictable so it’s best to keep an open itinerary with lots of extra time for delays. Anyway here are some of the places we’re hoping we might see!

first step: January 1st, 6:00 pm overnight bus from Buenos Aires Retiro bus station to Salta, arrive in Salta at 1:00 pm on January 2nd.

Convento de San Francisco, Salta

Convento de San Francisco, Salta

Salta street

Salta street

We’ve visited Salta before but we’ll be traveling with Andrew & Vickie, who’ve never been there, so we might stop over for a few days to see this beautiful colonial city and/or visit some of the surrounding countryside, perhaps Cafayate or Cachi.

Quebrada de Las Conchas

Quebrada de Las Conchas (near Cafayate), Salta, Argentina

Cuesta del Obispo

Cuesta del Obispo. The road from Salta to Cachi runs through the Valle Encantada (The Enchanted Valley).

Then northwards to Jujuy and the Quebrada de Humuhuaca, maybe stay a night in Purmamarca or Tilcara.

Bella purmamarca

Purmamarca. Jujuy provincia, Argentina.


Camino del Colorado – Quebrado de Humuhuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

If we can fit it in, we are eager to visit the isolated mountainside village of Iruya, 4 hours’ bus ride from Humuhuaca, over steep hairpin gravel roads but it sounds like it’s worth the detour.

At the end of the world...

remote mountainside town of Iruya, Salta, Argentina

Then we’ll part ways with Andrew and Vickie, who will fly out of Jujuy back to Buenos Aires and then head back to the US.

We’ll head northwards and cross the border from Argentina into Bolivia at the border town of Villazon. From Villazon there’s a train that runs north on Tuesdays and Saturdays or something like that. We’re thinking of riding the train up to Tupiza, and then in Tupiza find a jeep tour to bring us out to the salt flats (a place you can really only visit with a tour guide and a jeep). After the salt flats we’ll end up in Uyuni, and continue northwards, we’re thinking of stopping in Potosi, probably Sucre, maybe Ororu or Cochabamba, then a few days in La Paz, then on to Lake Titicaca…

Arequipa (2006)

Arequipa, Peru, with volcano Misti in the distance

Monasterio Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru

Monasterio Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru

Santa Catalina, Arequipa

Monasterio Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru


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