How to celebrate in style on a South American adventure
Wednesday 07 May 2014
Q. I am fast approaching my 40th birthday and want to mark it with the definitive South American adventure with my husband. We plan to spend four weeks there from mid-February and do some serious hiking, too. How can we make the most of our time? Name withheld
A. For the "definitive" trip, start in the amiable city of Santiago. Make a side-trip from the Chilean capital to its colourful port, Valparaíso. Then go north to the Atacama Desert – contender for driest location in the world and an astonishing place to explore.
Cross the border into Bolivia. Pause for a day in the contrasting and fascinating cities of Potosi and Sucre. Then travel overland to La Paz, the highest capital in the western world. You should be acclimatising nicely, which will help when you cross the border at Lake Titicaca into Peru. This is the highest navigable lake in the world; make an excursion from the city of Puno out to the islands.
Another full travelling day takes you to Cusco, the Inca capital. From a traveller's point of view, the most significant bequest from the Inca Empire is known as the Inca Trail, which begins outside Cusco. While March is not the optimum month, because of the likelihood of rain, it is drier than February. The three- or four-day hike along the trail is tough but rewarding, and the culmination at Machu Picchu will be the climax of your trip. From here, it is mostly downhill to the capital, Lima. Spend a day or two in the Peruvian capital before your flight home.
Ask a specialist agent to make all the arrangements – in particular, the Inca Trail component. On a trip to mark a milestone in life, it is worth paying a little more for expertise and reassurance.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
The 50 Best spas
Thailand tourism video Love En Route criticised for featuring Instagram stalker
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
Chief executive of Malaysia Airlines: The toughest job in travel?
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
£12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...
£23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...
£18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...