Inca Trail, Amazon & travel to Ecuador
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 30, 2012 10:40 AM Last Post By: Nicbug
Oct 8, 2012 4:49 PM
Inca Trail, Amazon & travel to EcuadorHi all,
Just need a little bit of advice on Peru and Ecuador. I will finish up my South American travels in Ecuador before flying to L.A on the 15th May 2013. I want to book to do the Inca Trail and I'm not sure how much time I should allow for travel from Cusco to Quito prior to my departure. I am looking at doing the Inca Trail possibly end of April over a 7-day tour. I don't need to rush to get to Quito. I will be stopping along the way for sightseeing, overnight stays and generally just being a tourist
I would also like to see some of the Amazon Rainforest and possibly do an overnight or a couple of nights stay in the jungle. Can anyone recommend where I should do this (apart from Brazil as I am only seeing Brazil from Rio southwards). I've read Bolivia is great but I thought perhaps I could get a tour of the Inca Trail and Amazon combined. So would Peru be advisable or are other countries a better option such as Bolivia? Or does anyone have any recommendations of tours combining the jungle and trail?
And can anyone give me advice on crossing the border between Peru and Ecuador? I've read it isn't the easiest to do. I'm a 25yo lone female people!
So basically what I would like to know is:
- How much travel time should I allow between Cusco and Quito?
- Advice on where to see the Amazon
- Border crossing tips between Peru and Ecuador
Thanks and I appreciate in advance any advice :)
Oct 8, 2012 6:05 PM
11. It depends on your interests. I took about seven weeks and managed to fill every moment, and still had to skip some of the "must sees" on my own personal itinerary. If you mainly want to do some light hiking/trekking, visit a few out-of-the-way but easily-visited ruins (like Kuelap), do some Huaca touring around Trujillo, or work in some surf/beach time but aren't picky about where or for how long, I think you could probably make a satisfying go of it in 3 weeks or so. If you want to do the jungle in Peru (see next), you'll need to add another week.
2. Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador all have large portions of the Amazon within their borders and all are relatively easy and affordable to access, though Bolivia is cheapest. Within Peru, your two primary options as a backpacker on a budget are Tambopata, near Puerto Maldonado in Southern Peru (best accessed by quick flight from Cuzco) and Pacaya-Samiria between Tarapoto and Iquitos, in northern Peru. You can fly into either Tarapoto or Iquitos and arrange transport from there (or fly to Tarapoto, boat downriver to the reserve, do a tour, and then hop back on another boat to continue to Iquitos). I never made it into the Oriente in Ecuador, so I can't speak to it though I know plenty of people have great experiences there.
Of the three jungle areas above, all are different--the Amazon is hardly a single entity. Madidi in Bolivia and Tambopata in Peru are located in the last Andean foothills, and as such provide a very different experience of plantlife and topography from the more "classic Amazon" seasonally-flooded forest around Iquitos. There are pink dolphins in Bolivia and the Amazon itself near Iquitos; none in Tambopata, but there are giant river otters. All regions have sizeable populations of Tapir, wild pigs, monkeys, birds, big cats, etc. So it really just depends on what you're into. Personally, if you weren't terribly concerned about time, I would go to Madidi in Bolivia, but I had a great experience with a community-run tour operator there and got on well with my guide. Others might point you elsewhere. If you have no other occasion to visit Bolivia, though, it would mean going out of your way and spending whatever you save on the tour itself on the transport to get there.
3. The border crossing is quite easy, my wife and I (both 23 at the time) crossed from Piura to Loja with no problems whatsoever. It's a longish bus ride, but the roads aren't bad and the scenery--coastal tropical dry forest--is wonderful. Plus Loja is a charming and affordable city. If you're crossing to Guayaquil, Cruz del Sur can take you there directly from Piura as well, and you can make onward connections easily. The bus terminal in Guayaquil is absurdly hectic, but you shouldn't let it intimidate you.
If you're talking about crossing the border from the highlands (i.e. via Jaen), I've not done the crossing but I have spent some time in that part of the northern highlands and can vouchsafe that it's pretty tranquil. Jaen is a friendly if nondescript hub for a beautiful agricultural region, and the road north will leave you in Loja, just like the coastal road.
So the moral of the story is, don't worry about it!
Hope that helps!
Oct 8, 2012 6:08 PM
Regarding the possibility of "combining" an Amazon tour with an Inka Trail tour: there are companies that offer such a combo, but the "jungle" part of these tours is rarely the kind of up-close enveloped-in-the-jungle experience you would get with a lodge. If you just want to sneak a peak at the Amazon they should do the trick, but of course Machu Picchu is itself in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin's cloud forest, so you'll be getting a bit of that experience either way. My advice there would be to either go all-out for a proper jungle trip or not bother and focus your energy on the trek to MP itself.
Oct 8, 2012 6:14 PM
3Wow - thank you so much for your amazingly detailed response! I truly appreciate it. I will print it out for some reading tonight and it will definitely help me in deciding which area of the Amazon to see. I think you make a very good point, focus on the Inca Trail and Amazon separately. I'll go with that :)
I was worried at first about being a solo female traveller but now I'm just looking forward to the journey, using my common sense, meeting people from all over and having a great time.
Thanks again :)
Oct 8, 2012 7:01 PM
Oct 13, 2012 9:43 AM
I live in Cusco, Peru. I work in a tourism. So, to do the Inca Trail, the recomendation is doing your reservation in advance to garante a space to the Inca Trail because we have just 500 spaces per day. At least 2 month before.
About Cusco - Quito by bus is a long trip. because Cusco is in south of Peru and Quito is in Ecuador located in the north of Peru Country. First you will need to take a bus from Cusco - Lima (22 hrs), flight (01 hour), after that take a bus from Lima to Tumbes (18 hours) and you are very close to the border. so from there you can take a bus to Guayaquil and the to Quito (about 18 hours Tumbes - Quito).
Oct 13, 2012 9:47 AM
I forgot about the jungle that we have here in Cusco. We have Tambopata Reserva in Puerto maldonado and also we have Manu National park this a very natural, but at lest to visit this park you will need 04 days. All that is iCusco. In the north of Peru we have Iquitos, Tarapoto, very nice places.
Oct 14, 2012 3:41 PM
Oct 14, 2012 3:44 PM
Do you think I should change my travel plans and just end up in Lima? Cut our Ecuador all together? Is there much to see and do in Ecuador? I am very open to everything to see and do (nature/art/nightlife/shopping/tourist trips). I am currently booked to fly from Quito to LA, via El Salvador for a 1hr stop. I can probably change my flight Lima to LA?
Oct 15, 2012 4:29 PM
9Ecuador is wonderful, but unless there's something specific you'd like to do there (hang on the beach, shop in Otavalo, hang in Cuenca, etc.) it might be worth slowing down and dedicating more time to the parts of Peru that interest you. Flying from Lima to LA is indeed a viable option, and you can probably stay with the same carrier (TACA, right?).
Domestic flights within Peru are cheap, so if there's anything in the north that calls out to you (Iquitos area, Chachapoyas, etc.), it's easy to hop up and back by plane. Or you could just hunker down in the Cuzco region and really get to know the Sacred Valley, Cuzco, and maybe spend some quality time in Arequipa before making your way to Lima. There's an enormous amount to occupy your time in Lima as well, by the way. A lot of tourists skip it or only give it a day, but that city is a magnificent destination in its own right.
Oct 15, 2012 11:46 PM
Oct 16, 2012 7:12 AM
Oct 30, 2012 10:35 AM
12just my 5 cents on crossing the border from ecuador to peru -
I crossed the border with my boyfriend a couple of days ago, and we did extensive research on it because he had a visa that was overstayed by over a month. Huaquillas sounded like a nightmare and a mess around having to get from a bridge by taxi to the next immigration point etc and the immigration point other than Macara wasn´t open 24 hours.
So we went from Loja to Piura crossing at Macara, on a night bus with Loja Internacional, it was our first night bus and relatively nice compared to other buses in Ecuador and they patted us and everyones bags down for guns (a great thing imho). Immigration was an absolute breeze, the officer was in a tiny ramshackle office who at 4am just wanted to process our bus so we signed a form, walked across the bridge to the Peruvian office, signed another form and got back on our bus who was waiting for everyone. He didn´t even say a word about my boyfriends overstayed visa.
So yeah, I´d recommend getting on a night bus from Loja, times change from week to week but when we were there they left at 6am, 11pm, 11.30pm and midnight, and if you dont want to stay in Loja just get a day bus from Cuenca to Loja and chill in the terminal until the bus to Piura :)
Oct 30, 2012 10:40 AM
13also I loved Ecuador haha, as a solo 25yr lady you will love places like Montañita and Baños (my favourite place in Ecuador). Also a trip to Isla de la Plata from Puerto Lopez near Montañita and the beaches around there is highly highly recommended :) Cuenca was also a very cool city, but absolutely hated Guayaquil and to a lesser degree, Quito.
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