... the first trip I took to South America was right after high school, and it seems so unreal now - like a distant dream whispering in my ear tales of the Incas and songs of Brazil.
Countries such as Peru were more 'raw', less-developed and full of adventure back then! Contrast that to now, and my latest adventure to Peru seems like a parallel universe: still full of adventure but now there’s an ‘app’ for everything (i.e; using an app to reserve a train to Machu Picchu and schedule an Uber pickup to take us to a rooftop party afterwards - which we heard about from friends online).
Modernized and Updated ...
Amazing how things have change ... take Peru as case in point: its economy is doing very well; with a ton of new small businesses, everything with connectivity (internet) and cell phones everywhere!
Imagínense muchachos - returning toTlalpan decade's later and finding Vivi's little neighborhood kiosko, in Benito Juarez street, with an online portal and accepting Applepay for chamois… or having Uber available for a quick pickup from Abelardo, to take you back to his shop to pick up your car (which he just finished fixing with bubble gum)! 😂
Andean South America has an amazing culture & trafition - and not only El Peru, but the other Andean countries surrounding it are the descendants from the Inca’s Tahuantinsuyu, or Land of the Four Quarters (encompassing what is modern day Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia - all the way down to beautiful Patagonia in Chile y Argentina)!
… so for this month-long trip to Andean 🦜 South America:
I tried to emulate the old world explorers’ journey over lan - traveling with friends and traversing the famous Inca Trail over former Inca empire territory.
We started from Peru through Beautiful 🇧🇴 Bolivia after crossing Lake Titicaca, and then heading via the salty Salar de Uynuni to the stark Atacama desert in Northern Chile (spectacular wow!) then winding down south to mi querida Argentina 🇦🇷 la niña de mis ojos.
The beauty of traveling is not having a checklist of places to visit - but it's about taking your time to really get to know a place and relishing & enjoying its ‘saborcito’ (flavour) while taking the time to actually live in the place and experiencing it as a local! The diamonds 💎 you find while traveling are the people you meet, and the people you travels along with - and share experiences .. these ARE the beautiful things that I carry in my mind and my heart.
So here it goes …
Traveling from Peru via Bolivia to Chile ⛰️ Overland: A Tica travel journey of Diversity, Adventure, and History.
Traveling overland from Peru through Bolivia to Chile is an incredible journey through some of South America's most diverse and breathtaking landscapes. This route takes you from the coastal deserts of Peru to the high-altitude plateau of Bolivia and finally to the dramatic deserts and lush oases of northern Chile. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to explore rich histories, diverse cultures, and an array of activities that will leave you with unforgettable memories. In this article, we'll guide you through this extraordinary journey, providing insights into the landscapes, historical significance, and must-do activities
The overland route from Peru to Chile through Bolivia offers a remarkable variety of landscapes that will leave you in awe. The journey typically begins in Lima, the capital of Peru, and heads south along the Pan-American Highway, taking you through the coastal desert regions. As you continue southward, you'll start to notice the gradual transition from arid coastlines to lush valleys as you enter the Peruvian Andes.
As you cross the border into Bolivia, you'll find yourself on the vast Altiplano, a high-altitude plateau surrounded by towering peaks. The landscape is dominated by the serene beauty of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, which you can explore from the town of Puno in Peru or Copacabana in Bolivia.
From the Altiplano, your journey will take you through the surreal Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, known for creating stunning mirror-like reflections after rain. The journey continues through the dramatic and colorful landscapes of the Bolivian Andes, including the cities of La Paz and Sucre.
Upon crossing into Chile, you'll be greeted by the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. This desert is a striking contrast to the landscapes you've encountered earlier on your journey, with its stark beauty, geysers, salt flats, and unique rock formations.
Things to Do
1. Explore Machu Picchu
Although not directly on the overland route, a detour to Machu Picchu is highly recommended. This iconic archaeological site, nestled high in the Andes, is one of the world's most famous tourist destinations, a testament to the architectural and engineering prowess of the Inca civilization.
2. Lake Titicaca
The towns of Puno in Peru and Copacabana in Bolivia offer access to Lake Titicaca. Take a boat trip to visit the floating Uros Islands or the more traditional communities on Taquile and Amantani Islands.
3. Salar de Uyuni
This vast salt flat in Bolivia is a surreal landscape that must be seen to be believed. The salt flats create a perfect mirror effect, particularly after rainfall, offering unique photography opportunities.
4. La Paz
Explore Bolivia's bustling capital, La Paz, and visit attractions like the Witches' Market, Moon Valley, and the world's highest golf course. Take a cable car ride for stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
Sucre, Bolivia's constitutional capital, is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the city's history and culture.
6. Atacama Desert
In Chile's Atacama Desert, the town of San Pedro de Atacama is a hub for exploring the surrounding natural wonders. Take a tour to see the Tatio Geysers, soak in hot springs, or go stargazing in one of the world's best astronomical locations.
7. Valle de la Luna
Just outside San Pedro de Atacama, the Moon Valley is a surreal landscape that closely resembles the lunar surface. The various rock formations and caves are perfect for hiking and exploration.
View of the night sky from the desert.
History of this area...
The historical significance of this overland journey is deeply rooted in the ancient cultures of the Andes and the colonial past of the region.
The Inca Empire, with its capital in Cusco, Peru, once controlled a vast territory that extended into Bolivia and Chile. Many Inca sites, like Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, and Ollantaytambo, are scattered throughout the region.
During the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the Inca Empire fell to Spanish conquistadors, who established Spanish colonial rule over the area. This period had a profound influence on both countries, shaping their culture, language, and heritage.
The overland journey also takes you through Bolivia's complex history. It was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until it gained independence in 1825. Bolivia has experienced political upheavals, territorial losses in the War of the Pacific, and the establishment of La Paz as its administrative capital.
Today, you can explore the remnants of these historical events in the form of colonial architecture, museums, and indigenous traditions. Learning about this history enhances your travel experience and provides a deeper understanding of the cultural richness of the region.