South America Tour: Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca & Lima

Monday, February 25, 2013

A few months ago, I was sent to Buenos Aires for work so I decided to make a trip of it. As it turns out, hitting up all the hot spots that I've been wanting to go to in South America took a lot more planning than I expected.

With J at the Buenos Aires Airport

There were two places that I really wanted to go see this trip, Igauzu Falls in Argentina & Brazil and Machu Picchu in Peru. Luckily after some ambitious planning, I was able to visit both. After working in BA for a week, I made my way through South America for a 10-day packed itinerary travelling to 7 different cities via:

  • 6 flights
  • 2 train rides
  • Sleeping overnight at the Lima airport
  • A long altitude-sickness prone car ride passing La Raya, a 14,000 ft high mountain peak

The next few posts will be a series of posts about this trip, including a detailed account of the itinerary, tid-bits about each of the cities, and of course, food tours! Here's a preview of what's to come...

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentinian Tango Show at El Viejo Almacen

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the second largest metropolitan city in South America next to San Paulo in Brazil. It's a beautiful city that's rich in history, culture and romance, and probably especially well known for both their passionate Argentinian Tango and Argentine steak.

As I had a chance to work there for the week, I had a chance to know more of the locals and found that everyone was just really friendly.




Argentine Steak in the steak capital of the world. My favorite restaurant? Cabaña Las Lilas at Puerto Madero (Blog Post Here)

Finding Gastronomy in Buenos Aires at Chef's Counter at Aramburu

After trying to blow my travel budget on expensive food in Buenos Aires, I realized that $$$ does not equal deliciousness in Buenos Aires. Sadly, I realized that too late and didn't have a chance to try more street food.

One of many empanadas I had over the whole week

Alas, I was glad I had my handful of empanadas that I tried from different regions. I didn't realize there were so many varieties, but it is one of the things I do miss most - a flakey crust and a nice spicy meat filling.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil

Rainbows and waterfalls, that's what Iguazu Falls is made of 

Iguazu Falls is only a quick 1.5 hour flight away from Buenos Aires. I have a slight obsession with water, so the 150+ waterfalls in Igauzu is truly a beautiful site. J and I ended up staying inside the waterfalls at the Sheraton and were able to explore the natural wonder for two and a half days.

The view of the falls from the Brazil side

The falls stretches across Argentina and Brazil borders and since we had to fly out of Brazil to Lima, we were able to explore both sides of the falls. Since most of the falls are coming from Argentina, Brazil has a beautiful panoramic views of all of the falls. Our trek from Iguazu to Machu Picchu was quite a journey...

Machu Picchu, Peru

The beautiful and scenic train ride up to Aguas Calientes

In order to get to Machu Picchu from Iguazu Falls, we had to first get to Lima, Peru. I think this was the most difficult part of planning the whole trip because flights to Lima from Iguazu were hard to organize.

In the end, we decided to fly into Lima at midnight, sleep in the airport overnight and fly out to Cuzco, Peru at 5AM. From Cuzco, we were able to catch a train via Peru Rail to Aguas Calientes which is only a short bus ride up to the Machu Picchu site.

More info can be found on my 10 Things You Need To Know about Getting to Machu Picchu post.



Machu Picchu and the surrounding sites is full of Incan history. It truly was fascinating to see how inventive and advanced the Incans were in their technology in building with interlocking stones. Also they were the inventors of terrace gardening, they flatten land on the side of the mountain for farming, and built terraces to prevent erosion.

What looks like an alien landing is actually Moray ruins, one of the greatest Incan farming experiment site

Watching a demo of how Peruvians make dyes from natural ingredients, even bugs!


Puno & Lake Titicaca, Peru

The floating islands in Lake Titicaca

With only a few days left for the trip, J and I decided to pay a quick visit to Puno to see the Uros Floating Islands, the group of pre-Incans who built tiny islands that floats on Lake Titicaca. It was amazing to stand on top of these manmade islands built of natural materials like reefs and corks. It was even more amazing that there are still families still living on these islands.

Lima, Peru

Miraflores, one of the more upscale districts right by the water with a ton of shopping centers, loved it

The final leg of our trip was a quick afternoon/night in Lima. We decided to stay a short 12 hours in the city because my friends have warned me, and I quote, that Lima "was a post-apocolyptic near-distant future". It was unfortunate that my friends felt that way, because after wandering around the area, J and I really fell in love with Lima and wish we stayed a bit longer.

Maybe it was because after wandering around South America for 10 days, Lima is where we found the best food. Maybe it's because I'm a city girl at heart and back to back nature destinations were just too much nature for me to handle. I am still obsessing about the amazing Peruvian/Japanese meal that we had as our last meal in Lima at Maido.

A true "Nikkei" dish, Peruvian styled influenced Japanese - seared tenderloin and quail egg nigiri. SO GOOD.

So that long post was a quick cliff notes version of our South America Trip, a more detailed account of each city, favorite foods and itinerary/planning information to come!

Check out my next post for tips on how we got from place to place, How to Plan a Trip Across South America & My Two Week Itinerary.

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