I often receive emails from people like you, probably, dear reader, thinking about a trip in the same region, getting ready to leave and experience the Salkantay Trek, the Salar de Uyuni… or other locations covered in this Travel Journal.
I cannot be more happy to receive these messages. They always contain kind and positive comments about what you felt reading these chapters.
I try to reply to questions as much as I can, quickly and precisely. But sometimes I forget. So, I will group here the questions I received the most and the answers I shared.
Feel free to contact me if you still need more information… or just to send me your kind and positive comments about Heading South!
Q: “Heading South looks amazing, but I don’t have much time to read everything. Is there a way to get a glimpse?”
Salktantay Trek & Machu Picchu
Q: “I wanted to know if you could provide details on your tour to Machu Picchu? What company did you go with? Did you have to book it in advance?”
A: The agency we did the trek with was called SIW Travel Peru. Hopefully, it’s still running. They are located in the line of stores around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, exactly there: #169, Portal de Comercio.
We found this company while we were in the city, we didn’t book anything in advance. Because they are so many agencies around with different prices and tours, it’s probably for the best to wander around and check the different offers.
I may also advice you to go to the tourism office when you get to Cusco. They hold there a book with complaints and cases of tourists against the agencies and tours, so you can double-check that the agency you picked is doing good before buying your trip.
Copacabana, Isla Del Sol, La Paz
Q: “Where did you stay on the island? Price?”
A: On Isla del Sol, we stayed in one of the two hostels that are there. I don’t remember the name, I’m not even sure it had a name. But it’s the first one when you’ll be walking up the stairs of the Island, maybe 10 minutes from the port, take the stairs going to the right. I think we paid something like 20Bs. the night, so… nothing.
Q: “What time did the boat leave the island and arrive in Copacabana?”
A: About the times, that’s a question I won’t be able to answer, for a simple reason: there are no fixed schedules
I would say, to get to the island, just be sure to arrive in the morning in Copacabana, before noon. Depending on the weather, how many tourists are there, etc. you might find a boat end of morning or during the afternoon. Ours left around 2pm.
On the way back (Island > Copacabana), it’s a different thing. Boats leave at 10am or around. So, be there on time or you’ll have to wait the day and night on the island.
Q: “Which bus did you use for the Copacabana-La Paz trip and did you book in advance?”
A: Same thing. Check there, it can change without a warning. Ours left around noon, but check once you get in Copacabana, before going to Isla Del Sol. And get your ticket at that moment, to be sure.
We found some company with a good price, on the same street in Copacabana where the bus from Peru dropped us.
Q: “Which tour company did you book for the Death Road descent?”
A: Companies have more or less good references. We booked with Coca Travels, in La Paz. Good price, a bit cheaper than most of the companies, but we had an amazing guide and good bikes. Be sure of the company you take, there are stories of companies renting bikes with damaged brakes or else, and you don’t want to get that while riding down the Death Road!
Salar de Uyuni
Q: “Do you remember which agency you booked to cross the Salar to San Pedro?
If you were to do it again, would you book with the same agency, or do you have other advices in that matter?”
A: As I maybe wrote it, we were lost in the middle of the night, and this lady who “owns her agency” offered us coffee in the freezing morning and wanted to seal the deal. Her “agency” was just a room in her house, desk in the middle and papers, posters and maps sticked to the walls.
If you want to do the tour in the Salar de Uyuni, you have a couple of options: you can try to find an agency online, but it might be more expansive, find one in La Paz, because you’ll prpbably have to go through the capital city anyway, and you can book a lot of things from there, OR, like us, go to Uyuni and check there. There are several agencies in Uyuni, so you may have as many options there as online and La Paz together. We found our agency there, at this crossing, if it can help: Google Maps .
If I would advise you to go and check, there are some things that are not to forget:
• confirm that you want to be dropped at the border. Most people will do the loop and go back to Uyuni. Ask for the price of the loop, and negociate since you will only do half of the trip.
• ask to check if the food is included. It was, for us, and we just spent some extra for a couple of beers in the hostals.
• see if your guide speaks your language, or at least English.
• ask and confirm the total number of people in the vehicle. You will be seating in the Jeep for a long time, in the desert and the mountains. We were 7 in ours (driver included): 2 on the front, 3 in the middle, 2 on the back seats. We saw some over-packed cars, and you do not want to spend your time feeling like sardines in a box .