Peru and Bolivia
March 5, 2005 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Peru and Bolivia in late May, with a small group. We're starting in Cusco and winding up in La Paz, with Macchu Pichu and other relatively well-known archeological sites on the itinerary. Have other MeFites had experience in that area? How about wonderful, off-the-beaten-track recommendations or practical tips? Google is remarkably short on substance on this.
posted by moonbird to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend checking out the 'thorn tree' posts on the Lonely Planet site, under 'South America':
The information there is very timely, posts often come from people currently traveling there.

I've made the trip to Peru/Bolivia before and had a great time, Macchu Pichu is fabulous of course, but I also thought the Uros Islands were very interesting.
posted by sdinan at 2:06 PM on March 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Arequipa is supposed to be very nice, but this is probably biased because the guy who told me this was born there.
posted by dhruva at 5:36 PM on March 5, 2005

1- That's a great trip, been in the area a number of times. You won't regret it.

2- Avoid Puno like the plague. The city is dangerous (as in getting mugged, your bags stolen, etc.) The Uros islands are crap, IMO, full of "natives" trying to sell you cheesy souvenirs. Stay in Copacabana, on the Bolivian side, nice, friendly, safe town, from where you can get a boat to the islands of the Sun and Moon, both worth a visit and maybe even a night. Bolivia is generaly cheaper and safer than Peru, in my experience.

3- Heard reports about the segment of the Inca Trail that goes to Macchu P. being dangerous, too (muggings, rape, etc.) THe network of Inca Trails is much wider than just this one segment, so if you're in a hiking mood, why not try some other, less travelled part?

4- Don't miss the Valle Sagrado, near Cusco on the way to M.P. Try to hit one of the indian markets, you might find some interesting stuff.

Email me if you have questions. I live in Chile, but spent a couple of summers backpacking through Peru and Bolivia in my student years.
posted by signal at 5:46 PM on March 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Peru is amazing; I was there last winter on a study abroad trip, and fell hopelessly in love.

Huaraz, a mountain town that you can take a bus to from Lima, is a gorgeous, charming little place. Lots of hostels, lots of fabulous nightlife. Go to Club Extreme (I forget where it is, sorry!) and get Banquo to show you his bar tricks.

When you're in Cusco, take a day trip out to Chinchero--you can catch a bus there easily, or take a cab. It's a weaving village, and wonderfully non-touristy. There's a big marketplace where you can buy gorgeous textiles, chess sets, etc. for not very much. Stop by Minka, the weaving guild; I think you can arrange for a demonstration of Peruvian weaving techniques. They also sell their wares, and they're wonderful, wonderful people.

Lima was easily my most favorite city--go out to Pachacama (I think that's what it's called), which is a huge archaeological site of a city of temples. Stay in the Miraflores and Barranco districts, though--anything else is too dangerous. Visit everything that remotely interests you in the city--there's a great museum, the Plaza de Armas, etc.

Practical tips: Take cabs everywhere, they're cheap and fast, and it's about the only way for most of the population to make money. There are lots of street kids in Peru, mostly in Lima and Cusco, but some in smaller cities too. The Cusco ones will absolutely dog you, but the others are okay. Sit around and talk with them; most speak perfect English, and are happy to hang out and talk. Whether you give them money or not is up to you, but be aware that there is an informal welfare system, based on these kids begging for money. It's also okay to tell them to bug off if they're annoying you. When you go up to elevation, drink coca tea, or chew the leaves; it helps *immensely*. Macchu Picchu is extremely touristy; if you want to avoid the crowds, take the first bus up at 6:30 am, or take the train out to the first stop before Aguas Calientes, and hike the Inca trail up to the Sun Gate.

Drink pisco sours, and face death in taxicabs, and party until dawn. Eat lots of sebiche, and walk along the cliffs in Lima. If you go to a small city, talk to the people there. They'll happily tell you where the best clubs are, the best restaurants, etc. They'll happily talk about *anything* with you--I got really good at political discussions in Spanish. That's mostly what I remember about Peru.
posted by kalimac at 6:53 PM on March 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Puno sucks absolutely. I reccomend seeing the Inca River Valley and all that shit, but if you can get into Bolivia, it is far cooler than Peru. I especially love Rurrenabaque and the Parque Nacional Alto Madidi (or at least its borders) and all of the Rio Beni. Coroico is a nice relaxing place. La Paz is neat. Potosi is scarely cool (buy some dynomite).
posted by punkbitch at 11:45 PM on March 5, 2005

« Older Rap/Dance music w/arabic influences?   |   Marriage of convenience? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.