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2 Weeks in South America Itinerary: Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia

Last updated on September 1st, 2023 at 07:48 pm

2 Weeks in South America Itinerary: Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia

Looking to travel the Andean region and having a focused 2 weeks in South America itinerary? Having a focused trip on the Andean region (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador) for a 2 weeks in South America itinerary is a great experience.

The Andean region, encompassing Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, is a tapestry of ancient civilizations, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse ecosystems. From the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu to the vast salt flats of Uyuni, this two-week journey promises an unforgettable experience.

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Best Months to Travel – 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

The best time to travel through the Andean countries is during their dry season, which is generally from May to September. These months offer clearer skies and fewer rain disruptions, making it ideal for trekking and sightseeing.

Preparation for Off-Season Travel (2 Weeks in South America Itinerary)

If you choose to travel outside these months:

  1. Packing: Ensure you pack waterproof clothing, especially if you intend to trek. The rain can be unpredictable.
  2. Travel Insurance: Always a good idea, but especially during the wet season due to potential travel disruptions.
  3. Flexibility: Be prepared to adjust your itinerary based on weather conditions. Some attractions might be closed or inaccessible due to rain.

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2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Days 1-5: Peru

  • Cusco: Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this city is a blend of ancient Incan architecture and Spanish colonial structures. Explore the Sacred Valley, nearby ruins, and traditional markets.
  • Machu Picchu: Trek the famous Inca Trail or take the train to this world-renowned archaeological site. Spend a day exploring the ancient ruins.
2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Peru Itinerary Breakdown

Day 1: Arrival in Cusco

  • Morning:
    • Arrive at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.
    • Transfer to your accommodation. It’s advisable to rest for a few hours upon arrival due to the altitude.
    • Take a light stroll around the main square, Plaza de Armas, to acclimatize.
  • Afternoon:
    • Visit Qorikancha, once the most important temple in the Inca Empire.
    • Explore San Blas, the artisan’s neighborhood, known for its quaint streets and unique crafts.
  • Evening:
    • Dine at a local restaurant. Consider trying cuy (guinea pig), a regional delicacy.
    • If you’re feeling up to it, take in a traditional dance performance at the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo.

Day 2: Cusco City & Nearby Ruins

  • Morning:
    • Start with the Cusco Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, which houses significant art from the Cusco School of Art.
    • Visit the Sacsayhuamán fortress, which offers panoramic views of the city.
  • Afternoon:
    • Explore the archaeological sites of Q’enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay. They’re relatively close to each other and offer insights into Inca architecture and ceremonies.
  • Evening:
    • Visit San Pedro Market. Try local fruits, cheeses, and maybe even an anticucho (grilled heart skewers).
    • Explore the nightlife by strolling around Plaza de Armas, where you’ll find a variety of bars and clubs.

Day 3: Sacred Valley

  • Morning:
    • Head to Pisac, known for its market and the in-situ ruins that sit high above the village. The terraces are a sight to behold.
  • Afternoon:
    • Travel to Ollantaytambo. The town serves as a gateway to Machu Picchu but is a significant site in its own right. Explore the ruins which provided a strategic defense against the Spanish.
  • Evening:
    • Stay overnight in Ollantaytambo to catch an early train or start the Inca Trail trek the next morning.

Day 4: Machu Picchu

  • Option 1 – Inca Trail: If you’ve opted for this, you’ll be on the second day of your trek, passing sites like Llulluchapampa and ascending the Dead Woman’s Pass.
  • Option 2 – Train Journey:
    • Take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the base town for Machu Picchu. The scenic train journey is a highlight with views of the ever-changing landscape.
    • Spend the afternoon exploring Aguas Calientes. Consider visiting the hot springs to relax.

Day 5: Machu Picchu Exploration

  • Morning:
    • Wake up early to catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. Watching the sunrise over the ruins is a magical experience.
    • Join a guided tour to understand the history and significance of various structures, including the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows.
  • Afternoon:
    • If you’re feeling energetic, hike up to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain for a bird’s eye view of the ruins.
    • Return to Aguas Calientes and catch a train back to Cusco in the evening.

Note: Remember that only a limited number of tickets are available for Machu Picchu and its additional hikes each day, so booking in advance is crucial.

Read here the best way to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Days 6-9: Bolivia

  • La Paz: Visit the world’s highest capital city, explore the Witches’ Market, and take a trip to the nearby Moon Valley.
  • Uyuni: A visit to the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, is a surreal experience, especially during the rainy season when it becomes a giant mirror reflecting the sky.
2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Day 6: Arrival in La Paz

  • Morning:
    • Arrive at El Alto International Airport in La Paz.
    • Transfer to your hotel. Just like Cusco, La Paz is at a high altitude, so it’s advisable to rest and acclimatize.
    • Begin with a light stroll around the main square, Plaza Murillo, to get a feel of the city.
  • Afternoon:
    • Ride the famous Mi Teleférico – the city’s cable car system. The red line offers fantastic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
    • Visit the Witches’ Market (Mercado de Las Brujas), where you can browse traditional Andean products, from herbs to talismans.
  • Evening:
    • Dine at a local restaurant. Salteñas (Bolivian empanadas) are a must-try.
    • Experience the nightlife of La Paz in the Sopocachi district.

Day 7: Exploring La Paz

  • Morning:
    • Visit Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna). Its unique moon-like terrain, formed by erosion, is mesmerizing.
    • Explore the Basilica of San Francisco. The views from the rooftop are a bonus.
  • Afternoon:
    • Head to Museo de la Coca to understand the historical and cultural significance of coca in Bolivia.
    • Check out the Costumbrista Juan de Vargas Museum to understand Bolivian traditions and customs.
  • Evening:
    • Enjoy a performance at the Teatro Municipal Alberto Saavedra Pérez, one of the oldest theaters in South America.

Day 8: Day Trip to Tiwanaku

  • Whole Day:
    • Take a day trip to Tiwanaku, a significant archeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ancient city pre-dates the Inca Empire.
    • Key attractions here include the Sun Gate, the Kalasasaya Temple, and the Akapana Pyramid.
    • Most tours will include a visit to Puma Punku, another fascinating archaeological site nearby.
    • Return to La Paz in the evening.

Day 9: Uyuni Salt Flats

  • Morning:
    • Catch an early flight or bus to Uyuni.
    • Begin your tour of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Depending on the season, you can witness a vast white expanse or a giant mirror reflecting the sky.
  • Afternoon:
    • Visit Isla Incahuasi, an ‘island’ with ancient cacti in the middle of the salt flats.
    • Explore the Train Cemetery, where old locomotives lie abandoned.
  • Evening:
    • Stay in one of the unique salt hotels in Uyuni or return to La Paz if you’re on a tight schedule.

Read here how to get from La Paz to Uyuni

Days 10-14: Ecuador – 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

  • Quito: Wander around the UNESCO-listed old town, stand on the equator at “Mitad del Mundo”, and visit the nearby Otavalo market.
  • Baños: This adventure capital offers hot springs, waterfall tours, and activities like ziplining or cycling.
2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Day 10: Arrival in Quito

  • Morning:
    • Arrive at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.
    • Transfer to your hotel. Given Quito’s high altitude, consider resting upon arrival to acclimatize.
  • Afternoon:
    • Explore La Ronda, a picturesque street in Quito’s historic center.
    • Visit the Basilica del Voto Nacional. If you’re brave enough, climb its towers for a panoramic view of the city.
  • Evening:
    • Have dinner in the Plaza de San Francisco area, where you can taste traditional Ecuadorian dishes.

Day 11: Quito Exploration

  • Morning:
    • Visit La Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World Monument). Stand with one foot in each hemisphere at the equator line.
  • Afternoon:
    • Explore the Church of the Society of Jesus (La Compañía), known for its gold-covered Baroque interior.
    • Wander through Independence Square, surrounded by the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
  • Evening:
    • Take a leisurely stroll in El Ejido Park and immerse in the local atmosphere.

Day 12: Otavalo Day Trip

  • Whole Day:
    • Head north to Otavalo, home to a famous indigenous market.
    • Shop for local handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, and more.
    • Visit nearby Laguna Cuicocha, a crater lake with two green islands.
    • Return to Quito in the evening.

Day 13: Cotopaxi National Park

  • Whole Day:
    • Take a tour or self-drive to Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.
    • Engage in activities like hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking.
    • If you’re feeling adventurous, consider a guided hike to the refuge on Cotopaxi Volcano.
    • Return to Quito by evening.

Day 14: Departure and a Half-Day in Quito

  • Morning:
    • Explore the Guápulo Neighborhood for a mix of bohemian vibes, colonial architecture, and stunning vistas.
  • Afternoon:
    • Depending on your flight schedule, consider visiting the City Museum (Museo de la Ciudad) or the Central Market for last-minute souvenirs.
    • Transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

Read here how to get from Quito Airport to city center

Best Months for Travel – 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

  • Given Ecuador’s position on the equator, it’s a year-round destination. However, June to September is typically drier and is considered the best time for hiking and visiting the Amazon.

Traveling Outside the Recommended Months – 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

  • The wetter season (October to May) sees fewer tourists but is still a good time to visit. The Amazon region can be wetter during this period, so pack accordingly.

Expenses

Traveling in the Andean countries is generally more affordable than in Western Europe or North America. However, prices can vary:

  • Accommodation: Budget hostels can cost as little as $10/night, while luxury hotels can be $100+.
  • Food: Street food is inexpensive, often under $5, while restaurant meals can range from $10 to $50 depending on the establishment.
  • Tours and Activities: Prices vary widely. For example, a guided trek to Machu Picchu might cost several hundred dollars, while local city tours might be under $50.

What to Expect on 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

  • Altitude: The high altitudes in these countries can be challenging. Consider taking it slow or consulting with a physician about altitude sickness medication.
  • Culture: Rich indigenous cultures are prevalent in these countries. Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Language: Spanish is the dominant language. While English is spoken in tourist areas, learning basic Spanish phrases can enhance your experience.

FAQs on 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Is it safe to travel in these countries?

Generally, yes, each of these countries is frequented by tourists and has established tourist routes that are considered safe. However, as with any international travel, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:

  • Pickpocketing: Popular tourist areas can attract thieves. Always keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places like markets or bus stations.
  • Scams: Be wary of unsolicited offers for help, especially if someone seems overly persistent.
  • Travel at Night: It’s often recommended to avoid nighttime bus travel in certain areas due to risks of road accidents and robberies.
  • Altitude Sickness: If heading to high-altitude areas like Cusco or La Paz, be mindful of altitude sickness. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It’s beneficial to acclimatize by spending a day or two at altitude before engaging in strenuous activities.
  • Local Advice: Always heed the advice of locals, especially when it comes to areas that might be considered off-limits.

Do I need a visa?

Visa requirements can vary based on your nationality and the specific regulations in place at the time of your visit. Here are some general guidelines, but it’s always best to check with the respective embassies or official government websites for the most up-to-date information:

  • Peru: Many nationalities, including U.S., EU, and Canadian citizens, can enter Peru for tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days.
  • Bolivia: U.S. citizens previously required a visa to enter Bolivia, but this can change. EU, Canadian, and Australian citizens usually don’t need a tourist visa for short stays.
  • Ecuador: Citizens from most countries, including the U.S., EU, and Canada, can stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days for tourism purposes without a visa.

What currency is used?

  • Peru: The official currency is the Sol. While major cities and tourist areas accept credit cards, always carry some cash, especially when traveling to remote regions or small towns. ATMs are widely available.
  • Bolivia: Bolivia uses the Boliviano. It’s advisable to have cash on hand, especially outside of major cities. While U.S. dollars are occasionally accepted in tourist areas, it’s best to transact in the local currency.
  • Ecuador: Interestingly, Ecuador adopted the U.S. Dollar as its official currency in 2000. This means you’ll be using familiar bills and coins. However, be aware that some places might not accept torn or overly worn bills.

Should I get vaccinated before traveling?

While there are no mandatory vaccines for entering these countries (unless coming from a yellow fever endemic area), it’s recommended to be up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Depending on your itinerary, consider vaccines for typhoid, yellow fever, and hepatitis A. Always consult with a travel clinic or your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What’s the best way to get around within countries?

Each country has its own transportation nuances:

  • Peru and Ecuador: Buses are the most popular mode of transportation and are relatively efficient. For long distances or to save time, consider domestic flights.
  • Bolivia: Buses are common, but the quality can vary. For remote areas, flights might be the best option. The scenic train journeys, like the one from Oruro to Uyuni, offer a unique travel experience.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

Spanish is the dominant language in all three countries. While major tourist areas will have English-speaking locals, learning a few basic Spanish phrases can greatly enhance your travel experience and interactions with locals.

Remember, preparing in advance and staying informed is the key to a safe and enjoyable trip.

Budget for 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

To enjoy a comfortable trip across the three countries, a daily budget of $50-$100 is realistic, excluding international flights. This would cover accommodation, meals, local transport, and some activities. However, for a more luxurious experience or if you plan to do many guided tours, you might want to budget more.

Final Thoughts on 2 Weeks in South America Itinerary

Having a focused trip on the Andean region (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador) for 2 weeks in South America itinerary is a great experience.

A journey through the Andean countries offers a rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether exploring ancient ruins, wandering through bustling markets, or marveling at the landscapes, these countries provide an unforgettable experience for every traveler.

Note: Always consider checking current travel advisories, local guidelines, and regulations when planning a trip.

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