My brother and I are planning a South American trip for sometime this summer/Fall/Winter (from the US). We're both a bit cash poor, but are not going to let a little thing like money stand in the way of some much needed travel
So currently, the plan primarily revolves around visiting Machu Picchu and then working in whatever else we can over a total of 2-3 weeks. I'm wondering what you would recommend we try to fit in as well as where you would recommend we try to open-jaw back out of (Quito? Santiago?) Oh, and if it makes a difference, we'll be using award miles for the flight.
I'd like to fit in Easter Island possibly. Some place a off the beaten path like French Guyana sounds like a good story. Columbia and Venezuela frankly make me nervous. Antarctica would be awesome but obviously not this trip. Basically, just looking to hit what we can in the region on as an affordable but memorable introduction to the region. I totally understand we simply won't have time for any 'deep' vacationing.
What's cheap to fly to from Lima? What's worth spending the time to get to? If we go south the Chile, we'll have to make it back to Peru or Ecuador for the flight out as our tickets won't get us into or out of Chile. Whatever your thoughts, I would very much appreciate it.
I don't know about reward tickets in Peru, but I do know for cash one-way you are much better off buying a return ticket and not taking the return trip. (Between Buenos Aires and Lima the travel agent had quoted me $700 one-way but I looked harder and found myself a return flight for $300).
Easter Island is totally doable as you can now fly LAN from Lima direct for about $300 if you book early enough - I have my flight booked for Easter Sunday (by accident) and I will let you know how that goes!
Your plans seem to be rather fluid, to put it mildly. First you ask what there's to bo in Peru, and then go on to say you'd like to include Easter Island (Chile, though way far from the mainland) and French Guyana.
I doubt open-jaw is a term you'll see much in booking flights. You're talking about some options that cover very, very big distances and would likely cost you a lot of money. If you're on a tight budget, then trying to get to far-flung places served by few carriers, such as Easter Island and Cayenne, may well not be feasible. Your question is so open-ended right now, that I'd suggest getting a guide book to South America (e.g., Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, which have advice for "budget" travelers), and play around with different itineraries as far as travel is concerned.
I've not been to Easter Island but we did look into it, and found flights, and accommodations, to be very expensive. Maybe not enough to do to justify the high prices. Have you actually looked into travel in French Guyana or just thought it sounded like an exotic, unusual place to visit? I've been to Cusco and Machu Picchu and enjoyed both. I'm in Brazil, which, of course, is a huge country with lots to do, but which is not cheap (including flighs).
I'd start with the guide book and look at flight prices for your specific dates. And consider sticking to one region, such as Peru and Ecuador, or even Chile/Argentina (Patagonia is spectacular, if you go in their summer). Whether there'd be enough to occupy you for 3 weeks depends on your interests.