The Perfect Two Week Itinerary For Peru And Bolivia

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!

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.

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

  • Lima
  • Paracas
  • Huacachina dunes
  • Cusco and the Sacred Valley
  • Machu Picchu
  • Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca
  • Lake Titicaca (Puno and Copacabana)
  • La Paz
  • Uyuni Salt Flats

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

 Full Itinerary:

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 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 11,000m. We took a taxi straight to our guesthouse in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is almost 2000m 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.

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.

Showing 20 comments
  • 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
      Reply

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

  • 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
      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!

  • 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
      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!

  • 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
      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!

  • 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
      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!

    • Mark
      Reply

      Thanks so much Johnny! Super appreciate it!

      • Johnny

        No problem! Glad it helped.

  • 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
      Reply

      Awesome! Glad you found the post useful!

  • 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
      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!

  • 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
      Reply

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

  • 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
      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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