If this sounds like your kind of trip, keep reading 😀
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We booked our flights using travel points to save on cost but they were just over $1,000 per person round trip. We will fly whichever airline we can get the best bang for buck with our points. Delta is who we flew with this particular trip.
Time of year:
We chose to go in November, which is the lower season for tourists and it was beautiful. The weather was amazing and the high elevation locations still had nice weather and only needed.
Don’t forget to pack:
1 Warm Jacket: the only time we needed this was hiking Rainbow Mountain at Sunrise
Rain Jacket: It rains often in the Amazon
LightWeight +Light Colored shirts and pants: In areas such as the Amazon, or Machu Picchu, there are tons of Mosquitoes. Covering yourself well and light colors really helps.
High Deet Bug Spray
Tums or something to calm your stomach – The food was delicious but I had a few days where I was feeling a bit off from eating so many new things I wasn’t used to.
Peruvian Food you HAVE to try while visiting the country:
Peruvian cuisine is renowned for its diverse flavors, fresh ingredients, and unique combinations of spices and herbs. Here are some of the best foods to try in Peru:
Lima is full of Culture, History and has a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences. We personally enjoyed so many different types of unique cuisine (will list some places we tried). The city has beautiful walkways that stretch along the coastline where you can spend time relaxing in parks, watching paragliders over Ocean, eating and incredible restaurants, and even enjoying some shopping. These are just a few of the many reasons someone may fall in love with Lima. Whether you’re interested in culture, food, nature, or simply the friendly people, Lima has something for everyone to enjoy.
We arrived in Lima on November 16th and spent 2 days exploring the city. 2 days was enough time for me to see what I wanted to see but if you love exploring cities, there are so many things you can do!
Best areas to stay:
We opted to stay in a cute Airbnb in the Miraflores area. This safe area sits along the coast and was walkable to most areas we wanted to go to. I’m a huge fan of the ocean so this was pretty perfect for us. Our second option would have been Barranco where you can find the best Nightlife. We did explore this cute trendy area and would absolutely recommend it as well.
Top things to do in Lima, Peru:
Lima, Peru offers a range of exciting activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some of the best things to do in Lima.
EAT FOOD: Try the dishes I mentioned above and these were my 3 favorite spots I tried!
Huacachina wasn’t the most convenient place to travel to but we were able to hire some local drivers to take us down to see it. It took us about 4 hours in the car. If you don’t feel comfortable hiring drivers, there are buses that you can take, you will just need to allow for more driving time.
We stayed in an airbnb about 20 minutes away from Huacachina but we had 6 of us which made the cost of the stay and going back and forth well worth it. If you are traveling alone or in a small group, you would probably want to stay closer.
What we did:
We arrived in the afternoon close to sunset and went straight to Huacachina. We hiked up onto the sand dune that overlooks the city to take a few photos and take in the beautiful views. There were quite a few tourists at sunset but not too many that you can’t get some good photos.
We came back the next morning for Sunrise and we were the only people there so this is a great option if you want to enjoy it with no one around. We knew we wanted to go sandboarding so we walked around to some of the local tour guides to get some pricing.
If you are not excited about actually sandboarding on a snowboard, they also have sleds which were super fun as well. Even just riding around on the dune buggy was a blast.
Cost for sand boarding: ~$13 USD or ~50 Sol per person and then the snowboard rentals were another couple bugs. The sleds were free.
*this was one of the locations that I wish we could have spent 2 nights instead of just one. I wanted more time to explore and relax.
We then made the trip back to Lima to catch our flight to Cusco (there isn’t an airport in Ica).
Flights within the country are pretty cheap but are very strict about carry on bags.
We paid about $30 per person. Some flights didn’t charge us extra for our carry ons but others charged us an extra $40 per person. Either way, a $70 flight is pretty affordable 🙂
Most of this day was focused on packing up our things, flying, and getting to our Airbnb in Cusco.
Elevation: Cusco is relatively high in elevation ~ 11,000′. Many people drink coco tea before arriving and somewhat regularly for a couple days while visiting. We did this and we had no issues with getting altitude sickness in Cusco. It’s good to arrange your site seeing so that the things you see that are highest in Elevation are last, this way, your body can acclimate!
Cusco was probably my favorite place we visited in Peru. If you only have a short time to visit Peru, this is where I would recommend going. The city is beautiful and full of incredible shopping and local artists. It’s also close to some of the most incredible sightseeing in Peru. This is where the protesting was bad so we made it to 2 of the 4 major sites we wanted to.
Lake Humantay is located about 3.5 hours from Cusco. The hike itself is rated (hard) on AllTrails and is 4 miles round trip so visiting this area from Cusco will be an all day trip. You can book tours in advance but you can absolutely book a driver to take you when you get to Cusco to save on cost. We were lucky we didn’t book in advance because all the tours were canceled and drivers wouldn’t drive because of the protests going on.
Travel to Machu Picchu is a bit complicated if you haven’t done it before, so most people will book with a tour agency. Navigating your way through the bus and train tickets, getting a place to stay, and getting the right tickets for Machu Picchu is also a bit confusing.
1. We got a driver to take us to Salineras de Maras from Cusco.
2. This is where you will need a train ticket to take you to Aguas Calientes.
I recommend arriving in Aguas Calientese the day before you book the hike to Machu Picchu. The town is stunning so give yourself some time to walk around.
3. Book a place to stay in Aguas Calientese.
4. The day of your tickets to Machu Picchu, you will either need to hike up from the town or purchase a bus ticket to take you to the site. The hike to Machu Picchu from the town doesn’t allow you to see anything that you can’t see from the bus so if you want to save time you can skip this hike. Your energy will be better spent on Hyunupicchu or another hike within the sites 🙂
Note: If you ride the bus, your ticket is first come first serve so if you have early tickets to get into Machu Picchu make sure you get in line early. We were in line for the bus at 4:30 am and our ticket times were for 6 am.
We had all of this booked before arriving to Peru.
If you book through a great tour agency, they typically arrange all travel, a place to stay, some meals, and your tickets to Machu Picchu. We booked everything ourselves but it definitely took some extensive research.
If you are booking Machu Picchu on your own (without a guide), you should be aware of the following!
I already mentioned this before but try to book an early time, we were some of the first people into the sites and it was so peaceful, even one hour later there were loads of people pouring through the ruins. When there’s a lot of people, the security guards will also make you keep moving so it’s hard to take photos. Early morning was so much more relaxing!
If you hike Machu Picchu in the morning, you should have plenty of time to take the train back to Salineras de Maras. We got back to Machu Picchu city around 1 pm, ate some delicious food at Chef House and then caught a bus around 2:30 pm. If you eat there, the Alpaca Burger was incredible!
You can go to Sacred Valley from Salineras de Maras which was our plan but once again, the protests were a major concern so we had to skip this portion and head directly back to Cusco. This would have been what we did on day 8 instead of exploring Cusco for 2 days. That being said, Cusco was amazing so we weren’t upset having more time there.
We used these two days to really explore Cusco. I was so glad we had a lot of time because it was amazing to see!
San Pedro Central Market – this one is the most popular in Cusco, tons of cute shops, and food vendors.
Mercado “San Blas” – this market had more of a locals feel. It was mostly food vendors and fresh produce, there were less tourists, and we had the best fresh juice and sandwiches we had on our entire trip.
Cusco, Peru has several excellent museums, but some of the best ones are:
Museo Inka (Inca Museum)
Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum)
Museo de Historia Regional (Regional History Museum)
Museo de Sitio Qorikancha (Qorikancha Site Museum)
Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (Traditional Textile Center of Cusco)
If you aren’t the museum type, here are some nice areas you can walk around:
Sapantiana Aqueduct – rock arch waterfall. This entire area is so cute to walk around.
Archbishop Palace and Twelve-Angle Stone – these agent stones are cool to see and the streets surrounding it were full of shops and local artists selling beautiful artwork!
You can also check out these areas as well:
We were lucky the protests calmed down enough to make it to Rainbow MT. We booked a local driver for around $15 USD per person. We left Cusco at 2:30 am to get to the base of the hike before sunrise.
The mountain is approximately 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level, and is known for its vibrant colors, which come from the natural mineral deposits in the rocks. The mountain was only discovered in recent years, as the snow and ice that once covered it has melted due to climate change.
The hike is not super long but it was pretty difficult near the end because of the altitude. One person traveling with us had to turn back and pay to be taken up on a horse ( I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this because the horses can’t get up the steepest part of the hike so you will have to do that on your own) take the hike super slow if you need to!
Getting here early is a must if you want good photos because within 30 mins – 1 hour of getting there, the entire place was full of people.
After our hike we headed straight to the airport to catch a flight to the Iquitos to spend time in the Amazon.
We only had time to do the 3 day experience so I will break down what we did.
After arriving in Iquitos, we hopped on a moto taxi’s to get a ride to our Hostel. If you walk out, away from the airport, you should get a better price. We stayed in a cheap hostel for the night which was around $8 USD per person. Since we booked an experience with Muyuna Lodge, the remaining time was coordinated and covered by them.
We were picked up in the morning from our hostel, taken to a boat and taken deep into the Amazon to our Ecolodge.
We were greeted by an amazing lunch and drinks and showed to our rooms.
The afternoon consisted of:
If you are lucky, you will even get to hold a small alligator.
The lodge’s many programs help protect and hatch turtles that they then release into the river. We were super fortunate to be there when they were releasing the baby turtles and we got to be a part of the beautiful ceremony.
A few other highlights:
I get no commission off promoting Muyuna so this is my genuine review! If you go to the Amazon, you consider having them help you experience it. https://muyuna.com/
After making our back to Iquitos, we spent the night exploring the city. We found some cool markets and restaurants along near the Amazon. There are areas of Iquitos that can be dangerous so please be careful while exploring here!
Travel home from our hostel back to the airport, fly to Lima, then catch our international flight home 🙂