Being based in NYC, I have access to various consulates. Unfortunately there are no tourist boards based in NYC for most of these countries, so I used the consulate as my tourist board. Some were more helpful than others.
To be fair, they offer services to their citizens and it’s not really their role to provide tourist services. I wanted them to talk about their favorite places. Only Ozzie from the Peru Consulate took the challenge 🙂
Uruguay Consulate: The woman I met recommended Colonia, Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio. She also recommended Tas’ de Viaje hostel in Punta del Esta because Aco and Juan, the owners, are her friends, and told me to tell them that she recommended me if I made it that way.
Address: 420 Madison Avenue 6th Floor
Ecuador Consulate: The woman at the window seemed shocked that I wanted information and found me a bunch of worn-in brochures that looked like they were stuffed in a drawer for a few years. When I asked about her favorite places – she gave me the name of one beach.
To be fair, the Ecuador Consulate was the most crowded. I had to take a number and wait to be called. In the meantime I chatted up the security guy to see if I could get additional information. I wanted to find out what he loved best about his country (thinking he was from Ecuador), and he told me that he was from Nicaragua. So our conversation went something like this.
Me: It’s supposed to be a beautiful country. Do you know much about Ecuador?
His reply: No.
And then my number was called.
Address: 800 2nd Avenue (at 42nd Street)
Chilean Consulate: She told me that the wine region is great (duh) and in South Chile there’s a town called Chiloe that’s worth visiting. It’s pretty far south and I won’t be heading back that way during this trip.
She did send me away with some brochures.
Address: 866 UN Plaza #601 (48th Street and 1st Avenue)
Address: 12 West 56th Street
Address: 241 East 49th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
I received tons of info. We talked for nearly twenty minutes. He told me:
- LAN is best airline within Peru
- Lima – 2 days is plenty
- Arequipa – canoeing and chocolate and v good food – spend three days here
- Mancora – beaches, there is an airport and you can get a bus to Ecuador from here
- Piura – I don’t remember what he said but it’s next to Mancora in my notes and I have a big star and a box around the name – so clearly was good recommendation.
- You can get from Tacna to Cusco from Atacama or from Calama (Chile) to Arequipa by air
- Cusco – 5 days. You need one day to adjust to the altitude. Go shopping but take it easy.
- Drink coca tea and don’t plan any tours that first day.
- On the third day in Cusco plan to go to Machu Picchu – if you are not hiking you will take a bus, a train and a van at various intervals of the journey
- Avoid Puno and Lake Titicaca – big protests happening.
But I say keep an eye out on the political situation because those floating islands look amazing. And where would they even protest here?