The Perfect Two Week Itinerary For Peru And Bolivia

Johnny

The neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia make for a perfect trip together. Chalk full of some of the world’s greatest natural and historical wonders, visiting both countries is easy to do for those with limited time. While Peru gets far more yearly tourists thanks to its culinary prowess and Machu Picchu, Bolivia is vastly underrated. The Uyuni Salt Flats was the coolest thing I did on this trip!

 

Itinerary Summary


I had just over two weeks for my trip to both countries. Originally, I didn’t know if it would be logistically possible to visit Peru and Bolivia in two weeks and do it justice. However, with some planning and research, we saw all the main highlights on our list, which turned out to be quite extensive.

peru bolivia itinerary map

Map of where I went in Peru and Bolivia

In total, our trip was 16 days and our itinerary included:

If these sights are on your list and you have about two weeks for a visit, this post is for you!

 Google Maps:

 

Day 1 to 3: Exploring Lima


We landed in Lima International Airport at 7am in the morning. After a slow Uber ride to our Airbnb in Barranco, we proceeded to immediately explore the city. Lima has such an amazing culinary scene and we spent a solid three days eating, and then eating more even if we were full.

La Mistura

Enjoying some whole roasted pig at the La Mistura food festival

Countless ceviche, Lomo Saltado, and endless pisco sours were consumed. We were also in Peru during La Mistura, South America’s largest food festival featuring some of the continent’s best culinary minds. We ate here three hours before a 13 course dinner at Maido. It’s an understatement to say we ate too much in Lima!

La Mar ceviche lima

Eating lunch at La Mar cevicheria in Lima

Day 4-6: Paracas


We left Lima the morning of day 4 to head south to the beautiful beaches and nature reserves of Paracas. Located only three hours south of Lima, Paracas is an easy getaway from Lima’s hustle and bustle. The ocean is calm, and the scenery is beautiful. We had an AMAZING stay at the Luxury Collection Paracas Hotel for a very reasonable price where we had the most amazing ceviche ever. Isla Ballestas, dubbed the poor man’s Galapagos is home to millions of birds and was great visit.

Paracas mountain

Soaking in the views of the Paracas national reserve from way up high.

In addition, the Tacama winery and sand-boarding on the incredibly beautiful dunes of Huacachina made for great day trips.

Sandboarding Huacachina

Sandboarding down the dunes of Huacachina!

Read more about Paracas

 

Day 7-8: Machu Picchu


We took a bus early in the morning back to Lima to catch out flight from Lima to Cusco. Upon landing, I immediately felt the effects of altitude sickness as Cusco’s altitude is at 3,300m (11,000 feet). We took a taxi straight to our guesthouse in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is almost 1000m lower than Cusco and allowed me to acclimate to the altitude easier, ultimately saving me from feeling the full effects of altitude sickness.

No trip to Peru is complete without a visit to one of the new wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. Although it appears the whole world has visited Machu Picchu, being there in person made me quickly forget its commercialization as I soaked in the views from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. After a long day of hiking, we returned back to Aguas Caliente and drank copious amounts of Pisco sours after meeting another pair of travelers. We ended up missing our train and didn’t get back to Ollantaytambo until late in the night.

Machu Picchu Mountain top view

Viewing the ruins after hiking to the top of Machu Picchu mountain

How to plan for Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu

 

Day 9-11: Sacred Valley, Cusco, and Rainbow Mountain


After an amazing visit to Machu Picchu, we visited the main sights within the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Moray, Chinchero and ended the day in Cusco. Cusco is Peru’s second largest city and could not be more different from Lima. After a nice night’s rest, we toured around Cusco, visiting the main sites for a day. We stayed at another wonderful guesthouse/Airbnb in the old town with fantastic views of the city and mountains.

Ollantaytambo

The town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred valley

The next day, we took a day trip to the beautiful Rainbow Mountains in Vinicunca. This is a newer tour and gaining popularity quickly. Pictures don’t do it justice!

Rainbow mountain view

And we made it! To the top of Rainbow Mountain at last.

Day 11-12: Cusco to Lake Titicaca to La Paz


There are regular flights from Cusco to La Paz, but we wanted to also visit Lake Titicaca. We took an overnight bus with Bolivia Hop that left from Cusco. We traveled overnight, stopping in Puno in the morning, crossing over the Peru-Bolivia border to Copacabana (a huge hassle for Americans), and arriving in La Paz at 10pm. The bus made long enough stops in Puno and Copacabana to allow for quick tours of Lake Titicaca. This is the one part of my itinerary that I wish I had more timeas Lake Titicaca was stunning.

Lake Titicaca uros reed island

Views of Lake Titicaca from one of the Uros people’s reed islands

 

Day 13-15: Uyuni Salt Flat Tour


After a short night sleep in La Paz, we took a 7:30am plane from La Paz to Uyuni. Our 3 day, 2 night Salt Flat tour started that morning at 10am. This might seem hectic to take a plane and go straight to a three day tour, but it is quite common from what all the tour operators in Uyuni told me.

Salt flats depth photo

Stepping on little people in the salt flats

The salt flats was probably my favorite part of the trip. The landscapes were so unique and picturesque, with one wow moment after the other. I felt like I was on another planet on a regular basis.

Red Lagoon Eduardo Avaroa

The red lagoon is nothing short of amazing. There’s everything you could think of here.

 

Day 15-16: La Paz


Our salt flat tour ended at 5pm on the third day. We flew back that same evening to La Paz. The last day was spent walking around the highest city in the world (12,000m). We walked through the witches market and bought alpaca sweaters as La Paz is the cheapest place in South America to buy them. The cable cars that connect La Paz and El Alto offer fantastic panoramic views of the city and the Andes.  I really enjoyed my time in La Paz and I think it’s a vastly underrated city.

Mi Teleferico La Paz

The La Paz cable car is one of the most extensive cable car networks in the world, and is an attraction in and of itself.

 

Day by Day Itinerary


Day 1: Land in Lima, explore city and eat at various restaurants
Day 2: Sightseeing around Lima
Day 3: More sightseeing and eating
Day 4: Bus from Lima to Paracas, explore Paracas National Reserve
Day 5: Visit Ilha Ballestas in the morning, relax in the afternoon
Day 6: Day trip to Tacama winery and Huacachina Oasis
Day 7: Bus back to Lima, flight from Lima to Cusco, taxi from the airport to Ollantaytambo for the night
Day 8: Machu Picchu day
Day 9: Sacred Valley, ending in Cusco
Day 10: Explore Cusco
Day 11: Rainbow Mountain tour, overnight departure on Bolivia Hop bus
Day 12: Lake Titicaca, end in La Paz at night
Day 13: Early morning flight to Uyuni, being Salt Flat Tour
Day 14: Salt Flat Tour
Day 15: Salt Flat Tour, evening flight back to La Paz
Day 16: Explore La Paz

This itinerary might not be for everyone, and it certainly is not the way I would choose to travel if I had it my way. Nevertheless, sometimes you need to make do with the time you have. I met numerous travelers that were spending months traveling through South America, giving each destination the just time it deserved and drawing my envy. With that said, I never felt overly rushed with my trip. Although I definitely want to revisit both countries, I felt like I saw all the highlights in Peru and Bolivia.

Continue Reading:

Peru and Bolivia make for a perfect trip together. We spent two weeks traveling both countries and visited all the highlights. It is possible and the planning is easy with my guide! #peru #bolivia #lima #machupicchu #travelitinerary #cusco #saltflats #paracas
Showing 55 comments
  • Avatar
    Shalabh Agarwal
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,

    Do you think February is a good month to follow through this itinerary. I have been planning to visit Peru and Bolivia with my wife in the February for our Anniversary next year.

    Thanks

    Shalabh

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hey shalabh, I think all months have its pros and cons and while Feb is the rainy season in the sacred valley, it doesn’t mean it is raining the entire time. However, I think you’ll be able to visit the salt flats with the reflective water which would be super cool!

      • Avatar
        Shalabh Agarwal

        So do you think we could visit Machu Picchu as well during February?

      • Johnny
        Johnny

        Yes of course!

  • Avatar
    Insulated Backpack
    Reply

    I am planning a similar trip. I had got alot of information 🙂

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Enjoy! You’ll love it.

  • Avatar
    Gulbagh
    Reply

    Hi Johnny!
    Thanks for the amazing post, I have been reading through it for the last hour. Just wanted to appreciate the effort you put. I am planning my trip in March next year, am finding varied opinions about travelling in march being the shoulder months. Would love to hear your opinion based on your interactions with the locals there.

    *Also just wanted to correct a slight error, I believe the altitudes are in feet, 11000m would be beyond the Everest :P.

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Gulbagh, I think March should be okay as it is nearing on the dry season. However, I have heard stories of people going to Machu Picchu during the wet seasons and it was closed because of storms. Thanks for the spell check though 🙂

  • Avatar
    Pei Ying
    Reply

    hello! what was the rough cost of your trip?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi pei, i would say roughly $1500 per person excluding international flights.

  • Avatar
    aggie
    Reply

    I am so relieved to stumble through your blog because we are planning on doing Peru and Bolivia in May 2020! A few questions I have (sorry for the questions lol)

    -How many days do you think we need to acclimate to the altitude in Cusco before hiking Machu Picchu?
    -We only have 8-9 days, how many days would you recommend we spend in Lima? (we aren’t doing the Paracas part of your tour, we are planning on going from Lima to Cusco)
    -For the overnight bus from Cusco to La Paz, do you think we can use a large backpack and a carry on bag and those things will be okay (not stolen or taken off the bus)? Did anyone bring luggages with them such as small carry ons?
    -overnight bus question again lol, did they wait for you if you were running behind from your day trips (i.e. day trip at Lake Titicaca and Copacabana). I’m just scared of being left behind with all my stuff in the bus. Also, can you leave your stuff in the bus during the day excursions and they won’t be stolen?
    -Is there a toilet in the bus or does the driver stop for time to go to the bathroom, etc?
    -last question I promise (for now lol), for the Salt Lake tour, is it possible to do it in a day (i.e. fly in the morning, buy a day tour on the spot at Uyuni, then fly back that same day back to La Paz)

    Thanks so much in advance!!!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Aggie, wow long comment 🙂

      1. I didn’t stay in Cusco when i first got there. We went to Ollantaytambo straight from the airport which is lower in altitude so i ddin’t have issues. Had i stayed in Cusco from the getgo, I would have been in bad shape because it really affected me (didn’t take any tablets).
      2. I would say 3 days is a healthy amount of time for it but with your timeline maybe less.
      3. Yes wil be fine. Nothing wlil be stolen
      4. You will be back on time because the day trips are organized by the bus company. But otherwise, would definitely not be late for anything as they will leave.
      5. there is a toilet on the bus 🙂
      6. I think you can do in the day as the flights leave at 6am and only take 1 hr. You can see the salt flats during the day and fly back, but you won’t be able to see anythign else besides the salt flats. Hope this helps!

  • Avatar
    Connie
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,

    I found your 2-week itinerary to Peru and Bolivia. Your photos are stunning. I am a solo traveler and I am trying to stitch together several small group tours to Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, Lake Titicaca and the Salt Flats. You have a side trip from Lima to Paracas. I assume you were on Peru Hop for that trip. I had not considered going to Pacaras.. I feel like the only way to work it in my itinerary is to do 2 day/1 night hike in Machc Picchu rather than 4 day 3 nights hike. How much did you like the Paracas area vs Machu Picchu?

    I appreciate your ideas for me.

    Thank you so much and you have a beautiful blog. Best, Connie

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Connie! I did not use Peru hop from Lima to Paracas. There’s no need really as there are regular buses that make the journey but of course if you are with peru hop it will be more fun as you’ll meet more people. I never did the 4 day/3 night hike to Machu Picchu so I can’t comment on that but I really wanted to visit Paracas for some reason and I wasn’t keen on a multi-day hike so that’s why i went with it. I think if you’re set on doing the Inca trail, definitley go for it. Paracas is a bit of a sleepier place but you can also visit Hucachina which is quite cool. Hope that helps!

      • Avatar
        Connie

        Thank you Johnny! I guess I need decide on hiking for several days. I appreciate your help!

  • Avatar
    Haley
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,
    Did you rent a car in Peru and/or Bolivia? If not, how did you mostly get around to different parts of the countries?

    Thanks!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Haley! I did not rent a car, and I’m not sure if you could even take a car rented in Peru into Bolivia. I took buses from Lima to Paracas area, and flew from lima to Cusco. Then from Cusco to La Paz, I took a bus. i also tok a flight from La paz to Uyuni for the salt flats. So ya mostly buses and two flights!

      • Avatar
        Mallory

        Hi Johnny,

        Thanks for sharing your itinerary, it’s been a huge help. Question- Did you book your flights from La Paz to Uyuni and back ahead of time?

        I’m looking to fly into Peru and do a similar itinerary. I’m planning on flying to cusco, then flying to la paz instead of the bus, flying to Uyuni and back, and then back to Lima. I’m wondering if I need to book those ahead of time or if it’s better to do it there. I only have about 14 days so there’s some flexibility, but not much. Any recommended airlines? Thanks!

      • Johnny
        Johnny

        Hi Mallory! Yes I think you can definitely fly the entire way! From LA Paz to uyuni, amaszonas is the main airline I took there and back. I think latam also flies direct from cusco to LA Paz. I think if you can, book it ahead of time because you just never know and you don’t want to be stuck with no flights on a tight schedule!

  • Avatar
    Bruce Haynam
    Reply

    This is JUST what I was looking for! Thanks for such a helpful writeup and confirming that 2 weeks is enough for this trip!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Bruce! Obviously, I would prefer to have more time if I could but you gotta make due with what you have sometimes! Enjoy your trip and glad to be of help

  • Avatar
    Ana
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,
    I am so glad I came across this vlog! It is so helpful!

    My boyfriend and I are planning a trip at the end of September. I was wondering, do you advise to buy flights within south America in advanced or once we are there? I am trying to plan ahead as much as possible.

    Also, was the sea temperature warm in enough to enjoy swimming in Paracas when you visited?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Ana! I would def recommend to buy the flights beforehand because it’s good to hav eit all out of the way and it’s unlikely you’ll score any significant deals just being in the country.

      And for Paracas, it is definitely not warm enough to swim during the winter but I think it warms up enough in the summer months where people swim. So for the end of Sep, I would definitely not be swimming!

  • Avatar
    Kaushal
    Reply

    Hi Johnny, thanks for your awesome blog! How did you book the sacred valley/Pisac tour from Ollantaytambo ending in Cusco? I am trying to follow a similar itinerary. Any help will be great!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi kaushal, I booked the drive with my guesthouse in ollantaytambo as we were staying there for the machu picchu hike. Should be quite easy to find a service however!

  • Avatar
    Vanessa
    Reply

    Hey Johnny!

    My husband and I are planning to do a trip to Bolivia and Peru next year. I have read all your posts on these two places and I can’t be more excited! Just wondering when is a good time to visit according to your experiences. We are actually thinking of going in early October. By good, I meant ideal weather conditions such that we will not need to layer up too excessively while doing the hikes etc.. I saw that you did this trip in early September. Would you recommend we do the same as well? This is our first time to South America. Hence, would really appreciate your advice/ recommendation. Thank you!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Vanessa! I think early October is a great time to go. No matter what, the salt flat tour will always be cold at night. When you’re that high up in elevation, the temperature will always drop dramatically. October will probably be slightly warmer than September, but is still in the dry season. Enjoy your trip!

  • Avatar
    Erika Godfrey
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,

    Curious as to what your budget was for all this?

    Thanks

    Erika

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hey Erika, it’s tough for me to recall everything but here are some costs I know to be true.

      Lima to Cusco: $90 flight
      Machu Picchu entry: $45
      Machu Picchu Train+Bus: $165
      Salt Flat tour: $200
      La Paz to Uyuni Flights: $150 roundtrip

      That is $650 right there just in transportation and entrance fees. We stayed at Airbnbs most of the time, and splurged on a nice hotel in Paracas. We also ate at nicer places in Lima. All in all, I’d guess we spent about $2k per person (was me and my GF) for the entire trip (excluding flights to and from Peru). You could easily bring this down to $1.5k if you sticked to less fancy places and stayed in hostels depending on your style!

  • Avatar
    Daniel Bok
    Reply

    What tours did you go with on your trip?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Daniel, the only organized tour I did was the salt flats in Bolivia. That one is mandatory (can’t go on your own for that one). The other days were mostly activities I booked for a day, like sand dunes in huacachina, and hiring a driver to drive us around the sacred valley

  • Avatar
    Kate
    Reply

    I’m doing a 6 month around the world trip through every continent except Antarctica. I started in South America (I’m currently in Chile) and I followed your route from Peru to Bolivia, ending my salt flats tour in Chile. I just wanted to let you know that your blog was extremely helpful when planning this portion of my trip- from the bus routes, to getting my Bolivian visa, to what to expect in the salt flats. I really appreciate the time and information that you’ve shared in your blog. Keep up the excellent work!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Kate! Glad to have been helpful and enjoy the rest of your big trip! Super jealous.

  • Avatar
    Vinayak
    Reply

    Hi. Nice blog!

    Did you visit in Southern hemisphere Summer(Dec.-Jan.)? I have heard that rains can be a problem on the MP route from December to February. The same for Bolivia from December.
    However, your pics are sunny and hot! Would love to hear from you on this dreaded rain (I am based in Japan where it can can rain anytime).

    A note on the heights. Surely the altitude is in ft. and not meters? 12000m would definitely be on another planet 😉

    Cheers
    V

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi there, I went in September during the dry season. It was definitely mostly dry. I have heard the same things about the rainy season thay you have. I met travelers that had been to MP before and they couldn’t go because of rains during that time. But just like any wet season anywhere, it’s always variable. Also the uyuni salt flats take on a whole different form during the rainy season where it’s completely reflective. Thay alone would make me want to visit the region in the rainy season!

  • Avatar
    Terence
    Reply

    Hi Johnny! Thanks so much for posting your itinerary – it’s been so helpful even going through the comments! 🙂 Just a quick question for you, did you travel with luggage or a big backpack? I’m thinking of doing a similar trip as you with a 55L pack.
    Thanks,
    Terenece

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Terence, I prefer to always travel with a backpack so I am biased :). Honestly, because I am on the go so much, I think a backpack is the way to go, especially when you’re traveling through the salt flats!

      • Avatar
        Leon

        Hi Johnny 👋. If I can ask, what all did you bring? It sounds like you packed light. Did you just have one change of clothes or like a few? And how often were you able to shower or wash clothes? Guess I’m just wondering what all I should bring lol. Thanks 😊

      • Johnny
        Johnny

        Hi Leon, I generally pack light in all my travels. I had enough clothes to last me the two weeks 🙂 and no i did not wash my clothes at any time. I did shower frequently however!

  • Avatar
    Mark
    Reply

    Hello Johnny, thanks for posting your itinerary and experience in Peru and Bolivia! It is helping me a lot in booking my trip this coming August.

    Did you book all of your tours (like Machu Pichu, Rainbow Mountain, Salar etc.) in advance of you going to Peru and Bolivia? If so, which tour companies did you use?

    Do you have any hotel/hostel recommendations in all the locations you visited? Im basically following your itinerary but with 12 extra days.

    Many thanks in advance,

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi mark, I didn’t book a tour for Machu Picchu but did do so for the Rainbow Mountain and Salar de Uyuni. I honestly do NOT recommend booking a tour beforehand for rainbow mountain. I paid at least 2x the going rate. Literally, every shop and their mothers will sell you the rainbow mountain tour in Cusco so there is no point to prebook this as you’ll pay much more. The going rate on the street was around 100 soles which is a great deal in my mind.

      As for the Salar De Uyuni, I booked a tour with Andes Salt Expeditions which you can read about on my detaied salt flats post. Since you have less time, you should probably book this before hand so they pick you up from the airport and straight to the tour. I stayed at Airbnb’s in Cusco so can’t recommend any hostels unfortunately!

  • Avatar
    Hoi
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,

    Thanks for the great sharing! May I know how did you leave La Paz in the end of the journey? I was thinking that somehow I would need to head back to Lima from there…

    Also, was there enough time for acclimatizing yourself to the altitude from macchu picchu to rainbow mountain?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Hoi, I flew home back to the states from La Paz but I know there are direct flights to Lima nowadays (about $250 one way). If that’s out of the budget, I would take the bus back to Copacabana, then to Puno. From Puno, there are regular buses that will go to Lima and this whole trip should cost no more than $50.

      As for acclimation, Rainbow Mountain is very high but we were only at that altitude for a few minutes so it wasn’t that bad. I was also in Cusco for a few days before the Rainbow Mountain so the increase in altitude didn’t affect me as badly. That’s why I always recommend NOT to do the Rainbow Mountain trip immediately upon arriving in Cusco!

    • Avatar
      Mark
      Reply

      Thanks so much Johnny! Super appreciate it!

      • Johnny
        Johnny

        No problem! Glad it helped.

  • Avatar
    Nicola
    Reply

    Thanks Johnny- so glad to have seen your post- I didn’t know where to start when planning our trip- now I’ve started and finished!!!!

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Awesome! Glad you found the post useful!

  • Avatar
    Ericka
    Reply

    Hi Johnny, I’m so stoked that you posted this! You wouldn’t believe it but I’ve been trying to plan the exact same itinerary but have been feeling wearing, wondering if it’s too much in too short of a time. Your post is just what I needed to read!

    Btw do you happen to remember how much your flight from La Paz to Uyuni was?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Ericka, glad to hear it! The flights were fixed when I was there at about $75 one way on Amaszonas. Enjoy your trip!

      • Avatar
        Amy

        Hi,

        Thank you for this! Exactly what we were looking for. Can I ask regarding local flights-did you book before you left or is it ok to book when you are there? Planning to do a pretty similar trip to this in January.

      • Johnny
        Johnny

        Hey Amy, I think you can book local flights when you’re there no problem but if you can, no reason not to book them before hand. The Amazonas flight from LA Paz to uyuni was definitely no where near capacity so I think that one you can easily wait to book last minute!

  • Avatar
    Laura
    Reply

    Hi Johnny

    I am planning a similar trip at the moment and your itinerary looks awesome! Can I ask what time of year did you go?

    Many thanks
    Laura

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Laura! We went the first two weeks of September!

  • Avatar
    Anna
    Reply

    Very helpful! Thanks for the post Johnny, I am looking to visit Peru and Bolivia together as well. I have three weeks off however (more holiday in Europe). What would you change/add if you had another week on your itinerary?

    • Johnny
      Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Anna, that’s a great question! I think in a perfect world, I would have loved to have another week. I would have done the following:

      – definitely spent another night in Lake Titicaca, probably in Copacabana.
      – Spend a night in Huacachina instead of a day trip
      – Visit Arequipa, spend 3-4 nights
      – Another night in Cusco because there was just so much more to discover in that town

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