Replies: 3 - Last Post: Sep 23, 2012 8:53 PM Last Post By: chris1953
Sep 20, 2012 7:06 PM
Salt FlatsWe are travelling to Sth America in March 2013. 14 days on tour in Patagonia and 10 day tour on Inca Trail, Amazon. We have 7 days between tours and at the moment are flying from Puntas Arenas to Santiago for 3 nights and on to Cusco for 3 nights before second tour starts. Would really like to go into Bolivia and salt flats from Santiago, realise will probably have to forgo flight from Santiago to Cusco, but that's OK. Appreciate any help, and recommendations on tours from this end, would be nice to spend some time in La Paz.
Sep 20, 2012 8:51 PM
1Personally I would immediately fly from Santiago to Calama/San Pedro Atacama the minute I land in Santiago.
Santiago IMO is relatively uninteresting.
The Santiago-Calama plane flight will burn about 3-4 hours then San Pedro de Atacama (SPDA) is about 1 hours drive from Calama and the salt flats are about an hour from SPDA.
While in SPDA you could cover both the geysers (morning) and salt flats (afternoon) in 2 half-day trips. Both are amazing places and well worth the trip. I recommend the Hotel de Don Tomas. You would need 2 nights minumum in SPDA.
Sep 21, 2012 11:45 PM
2Different salt flats from the ones being asked about, #1. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the OP is asking. 7 days to play with, spending 3 in Santiago and 3 in Cuzco.....?
Basically I think #1 has the right idea: hit the ground running in Santiago by flying immediately to Calama, busing to San Pedro de Atacama, then take a 4x4 tour to Uyuni, bus train or fly to La Paz and hustle by bus train or flying to Cuzco. Rushed, but do-able as long as there are no petrol strikes, miners strikes, bus driver strikes, indigenous villagers strikes, public servants strikes.....
Hope that's helpful.
Sep 23, 2012 8:53 PM
3Ah yes, I forgot about the strikes. There is a greater risk of strikes and civil unrest in Bolivia compared to Chile. This IMO tips the scales in Chile's favour for visiting salt flats (and geysers).
Having said that, when I was over there in March, there was a peaceful protest in La Paz, but its only effect on us was that as part of the road was closed we had to walk our bags about 100 metres from the hotel to get transport to the airport. Moral of story: travel light and be ready to walk.
The upside is that Bolivia is much cheaper to live in than Chile. While in Bolivia I would try to visit La Paz (and San Pedro prison if you dare). Probably not enough time for Lake Titicaca.
PS: The other advantage of minimising Santiago time is that you can acclimatise (presumably to walk the Inca trail) by spending more days at altitude whether it be in Atacama, La Paz, Titicaca or Cusco.
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