Travelling to Peru & Brazil for Christmas
-I am thinking of flying out of Los Angeles to Lima/Peru. 3-4 days in Lima?
-Then going to Cuzco, 4 days? Is it better to fly or take the train? Is there a website or travel book that compares prices and travel time when taking the train vs. flight? If I decide to fly, what's the best way to buy the tickets since I am going to multiple cities. Should I look for a local travel agent so they can book me going in one country and getting out another country. I think doing this with on line sites can get really expensive.
-From Cuzco going to Machu Pichu. Is it better to go to Aguas Calientes and stay a day or two for Machu Pichu or should we just go from Cusco direct? Given that they say you have to be in Machu Pichu early in the morning, 5-6am? I don't know how it's possible to take a three hour train prior to that.
-My mother really wants to go to Rio de Janeiro and Iguacu falls so my challenge is going from Machu Pichu area to Iguacu falls. We have two weeks and I thought it may be good to end the trip, being it's New Year in Rio. So that would mean going to Iguacu Falls first and then Rio.
-I haven't included any Amazon trip to this itinaray because I don't know what the train distance is from Rio to any region of Amazon. I would love to take a couple day trip to Amazon, but keep in mind, I am with my mother and she won't be up to a challenging/scary adventure. But I think if I go all the way there and not see the Amazon, I'd come back with a life time of regrets.
Please suggest any city I missed, shorten or add to the days (total 2 weeksish, I am sure my boss can spare me a couple more days if I have to get it off). I am an architect and I love to see world heritage towns and old buildings.
Thank you so much for reading my questions and any feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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I need to know how many days to allow for each city and how to get from one place to another.
I generally stay in each, for at least 3 days. Otherwise, travelling gets too tiring.
...how to get from one place to another.
In those countries, I got around mostly by bus. Night busses in Brazil were a good option for the longer journeys, because they are comfortable as busses go, and distances can be very long, so travelling at night saves on time and accomodation costs. The air conditioning was ice cold though, so be sure to have some warm clothes to put on, and maybe a light blanket or sleeping bag.
In Peru, I also travelled by bus, but didnt try any night busses.
Plane travel is another option, if you want to avoid long bus journeys.
There are two critical factors, one is that my time is extremly short, only two weeks, so i would like to take the faster easier form of transportation.
If you got to Peru from Brazil and back again entirely overland, in 2 weeks you will be very tired. I went from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Uruguay and back again in 2 weeks last year overland, because I prefer overland travel whenever possible, but I was tired and whether you mind being tired all the time is something for you to consider when deciding how many flights you should take.
The other factor is that I am taking my mother :) she is very easy going but not greatly in shape and kind of goody tooshu.
HaHa! With such a travel companion, I would certainly fly and take only short bus journeys. Crime on night busses can be a problem, and those unused to travel in certain places might be unnerved by it. And, sleeping on busses is more something for the physically fit and healthy, or at least fairly physically fit.
Flights into Brazil are generally much less expensive than flights into Peru, and they are likely more frequent too, so I would choose to fly into Brazil, rather than Peru.
Do you think this is ridiculously a short time.
Not really. I do this quite often. It does involve being sensible about how much you expect to see though. I think, it is an idea to pick out a few things and places that appeal to you most about Brazil and Peru, and dont get tempted to squash in more.
... fly or take the train?
Mostly, I would avoid train travel in south america. Bus travel is more efficient.
I think doing this with on line sites can get really expensive.
I use online sites most of the time to book flights. They can be very inexpensive if you book in advance and are flexible about your flight times and days. I would book them all in advance, before you get there. Dont crowd the flights too close to each other, because flight delays and cancelations are a risk. I personally would book no more than 2 or 3 flights to get around Brazil and Peru if I had 2 weeks and combine that with bus journeys.
...being it's New Year in Rio.
With those being Catholic countries, there will be a lot of places closed for the Christmas and New Year time period. So, it might be worth finding out a bit more about that. Machu Pichu might even be closed.
So that would mean going to Iguacu Falls first and then Rio.
I think, flying into and out of Rio might be a good plan. It has a huge international airport, so flying in and out of there is easy. Also, if you can affort it, it may be worth considering one way flights to Rio, and then one way flights out of Lima to and from the US. That will be a relatively expensive option, but it would preven backtracking. It would mean your flights will cost almost double what return flights would cost though, because one way flights often cost almost as much as returns.
I am an architect and I love to see world heritage towns and old buildings.
I think, you will see plently of old colonial buildings in most places you go. There are lots of lovely towns that you are missing from your plans, but you can always go back to south America for more trips.
But I think if I go all the way there and not see the Amazon, I'd come back with a life time of regrets.
Life lasts for a long time usually. You could go back to South America without your mother and see the Amazon. I have been in South and Central America around 5 times already, and havent been in every country, let alone seen everything. I am not sure there is a comfortable way to see the Amazon. Here is a recent blog that somebody wrote about visiting the Amazon. It will give you some idea about what travel and accomodation conditions are like.
Welcome to the Jungle!
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Lima is not so interesting, 3 days would be my maximum.
A flight over the Nazca lines is great but be aware the planes are small and the flights semi acrobatic (the words of our pilot) as the plane swoops around so people on each side get a view.
Some people love Cuzco, we liked it but didn't find it so great, so again if you're just talking about the city 4 days is too much. For Machu Picchu you need to stay the night before in Aguas Calientes then make an early start the following morning.
Arequipa is a beautiful city and well worth a visit.
So for Peru you could do Lima, Nazca, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Arequipa.
Cruz del Sur is far and away the best bus company in Peru, but is also a bit pricier.
We travelled overland so I can't advise on flights between Arequipa and Iguacu (there are airports on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides though). Iguacu was one of the highlights of our trip and needs to be seen from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. Half a day is enough for the Brazilian side but the Argentinian side needs a full day.
Rio is fantastic. We used public transport and our feet to get around and didn't have any problems with crime, you do need to keep your wits about you but no more so than in any other big city. We stayed in Ipanema which is a nice part of town.
I would forget the Amazon, you don't have enough time. Reply to this
With regards to Rio for New Year, accommodation can be really pricey- we booked a dorm bed in a hostel for £180 each for 4 nights (minimum booking time almost everywhere) and this was the cheapest we could find available almost 6 months ago.
Probably spend less time in the cities, and more time seeing the famous sites. We have found so far on our travels that we end up staying in places less time than originally planned- especially the cities.
It is not a ridiculous amount of time for your trip. I would advise wherever possible don't book more than one night accommodation, suss out the places then decide how long you wish to stay.
We have a flight booked from Lima to Rio for New Year and have found that flights in South America are very expensive. Like Mel said, it is probably cheapest for you to book them directly with the airlines online, as you won't be paying agent fees.
Good luck and happy travels
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