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The Ultimate Itinerary for Peru: Perfect Planning Guide for the land of Incas

The Ultimate Itinerary for Peru: Perfect Planning Guide for the land of Incas
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Tall mountains are topped with undulating grass. The road stretches out in front of my eyes. Beyond it, I can see a glacier peeking through mountain tops and then there is that sky, that snatches my breath every single time I look at it. Ancient Peruvians worshipped Pachamama – (Mother Earth). Now I know why….

 

Peru has fascinated travellers for centuries. It has been a constant source of inspiration to culture connoisseurs, historians, artists and travellers alike. Join us on this trip of a lifetime through the heartland of Peru on a vacation where you will see the desert, spend lazy evenings in vineyards, drool over Incan ruins, witness wonders of the world, crumbling villages, and the mighty Amazon Rainforest.

 

Ever since we got back, many of you have asked us to divulge information about our itinerary for Peru. Well, we finally have a guide for you to plan the perfect trip to Peru. Adjust the days according to the time you have at hand, because it is easy to spend months in Peru. Choose hotels according to your budget – Peru has everything from basic backpacker accommodation to luxurious boutique hotels. But don’t waver when it comes to the destination – Peru is special in so many ways and you must experience it for yourself. So go, go, go 🙂

 

Peru Panoramas

Panoramas that await you in Peru 🙂

 

Peru Itinerary – Days 1&2: Fly into Lima

There are talks of an airport being constructed in Cusco but till that happens chances are you will fly into Peru’s busy capital, Lima. Lima is a large and sprawling city with unsafe pockets. Take adequate precaution and book a hotel in a safe area. Miraflores, Lima’s upscale suburb is the hub of most tourist accommodation in the city. Expect beaches, flower-lined promenades, parks, and shopping centres here.

If you want to escape the sanitised safety of Miraflores, Lima’s bohemian district Barranco is the answer. It is Lima’s response to London’s Brick Lane or Berlin’s Kreuzberg. Here colourful houses populate streets laden with bougainvillea. Quirky street art adorns walls, hole-in-the-wall eateries call out to tourists, and locals go about their daily lives. Barranco is home to a burgeoning community of artists and musicians and it’s possible to discover a number of great acts at small independent bars here. We loved it!

 

Accommodation in Lima:

We stayed at JW Marriott, Lima. It is centrally located opposite the beach and a shopping centre in Miraflores. As is the case with most large cities in Peru, Lima offers a variety of accommodation for everyone from backpackers and budget travellers to luxury travellers. There is no shortage of options, whatever your budget. We suggest choosing any hotel or hostel in Miraflores for your days in Lima.

 

Top tips for Lima:

  • There’s no better place than Lima to try Peru’s national dish Ceviche that consists of cured raw fish, served with red onions – best with a glass of chilled beer.
  • Read about places before visiting them in Lima. This might seem surprising coming from intrepid travellers like us but safety is a concern in Lima. It’s best to exercise caution when you leave districts that are traditionally considered safe. Steer clear of shanty towns to avoid getting in trouble. We always rely on information provided by locals.
  • Ask your hotel to call a cab for you or prebook transfers with a known company. We found a local cab company called Taxi Datum on Tripadvisor forums (always the best place to look for recommendations!) and used their services extensively while we were in Lima. Their website is http://taxidatum.com/. We even booked our airport transfer in Lima with them before we boarded our flight from London – their service was reliable and safe.
  • If you decide to hang around in Lima for more than 2 days, visit the Temple of Pahcacamac. The Incan site is about 40 kilometres from Lima and is shrouded in mystery. Most cab drivers will take you to the site and wait there for you. Make sure you settle on a rate beforehand.

 

Cafe in bohemian Barranco lima

Lima’s Barranco district is full of quirky cafés and independent restaurants

 

Street art in Lima's bohemian Barranco district

Street art in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district

 

Pacific Ocean JW Marriott Lima

The view of the Pacific ocean from our hotel room

 

Days 3-5: Marvel at Ica, Nazca, and Huacachina 

On our third day in Peru, we took a short 4 hour bus ride from Lima to Ica. The landscape begins to change almost as soon as the bus leaves Lima. Buildings give way to Incan temples and shopping centres give way to barren deserts. The arid landscape in this part of the country seems shrouded in mystery. This feeling only amplifies as one goes deeper into the Peruvian hinterland. We passed colonial houses that secrete tales of slavery and offer a window into Peru’s dark past.

I remember feeling very excited as the bus pulled into Ica. Ica is the gateway to the mighty Nazca Lines, something I’d always dreamt of seeing. Hundreds of massive lines shaped like animals, birds, geometric figures, pagan gods, and even an astronaut, extend for countless miles throughout the remote Peruvian desert. These figures are so huge that they can only be seen from an aircraft. They were carved in the desert by the Nazca people centuries ago but refuse to wither or change with time. Researchers are yet to figure out whether the enigmatic designs are indicative of some kind of pagan ritual, an ancient astronomical calendar, or alien activity. It’s been weeks since we visited Nazca but we’re still completely dumbstruck at the sheer size of these strange remains of an ancient civilisation left behind in the desert sand.

Our skirmish with the desert did not end there. We visited Huacachina on a local’s recommendation. It is a tiny village which is literally an oasis in the middle of gigantic sand-dunes in the Peruvian desert. It’s possible to spend the entire day slipping and sliding down sand-dunes on sand boards or riding over the dunes in a buggy. Such fun 🙂

 

Accommodation in Ica

You can choose any hotel in Ica that offers transfers to Huacachina and Nazca. We stayed at Vinas Queirolo, a unique hotel, situated amidst 800 acres of Peruvian vineyards. It receives only a handful of international tourists every year, so it’s truly off-the-beaten path. We loved spending our evenings sipping on wine as we watched the sun go down.

If you don’t mind moving on a daily basis, you could spend one night each in Ica, Huacachina, and Nazca too.

 

Top tips for Ica

  • Read reviews before you book bus tickets for yourself. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We used the bus company, Peru Hop, for most of our bus journeys in Peru. They offer a flexible hop-on, hop-off service in one ticket, which is perfect if you don’t know how long you want to stay in each city. Buses were comfortable, punctual, and had an english-speaking guide. Passes start at $119/£80.
  • We pre-booked our flight to the Nazca Lines with www.tinggly.com. But it is possible to book the flight on getting to Ica as well. Just ask around and bargain before you book your flight.
  • Skip the flight over the Nazca lines if you suffer from the slightest bit of claustrophobia or vertigo. The abrupt twists and turns of the tiny aircraft are bound to leave you nauseous. If you do go, DO NOT have a heavy meal before the flight 😉
  • Try to opt for the dune buggy ride that starts at 4 pm in Huacachina. You will be at the top of sand dunes in time for sunset and the sight of the sun setting in Huacachina is nothing short of spectacular 🙂
  • You might want to take a change of clothes to Huacachina because you will be covered with a thick layer of desert sand if you choose to go sandboarding 🙂

 

Peruvian vineyard in Ica

It’s possible to stay in the middle of a Peruvian vineyard in Ica

 

Sunset over 800 acres of vineyard in Ica Peru

Sunset over 800 acres of vineyard in Ica

 

A romantic stay at Hotel Viñas Queirolo

An impromptu click by our friend Juan Diego – we loved staying amidst Peruvian vineyards 🙂

 

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The Nazca Desert, home to the Nazca Lines, is remote and barren

 

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Fying over the Nazca Lines

 

Astronaut shape in Nazca desert

Shape of an Astronaut drawn on a mountain slope

 

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Huacachina, Peru – an oasis in the middle of the desert

 

Days 6-9 – Be amazed at The Amazon Rainforest

Get ready to be transported into a different world altogether. Most lodges and hotels in this region are over 4 hours away from the nearest paved road. So this is well and truly remote! One is encompassed by nature on all sides and this is nature as you’ve never seen it before!

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first reached the rainforest. We saw dozens of colourful butterflies, brightly-coloured tropical birds, and howler monkeys waiting to greet us. Our days were spent exploring the trails of the Peruvian Rainforest, acquainting ourselves with the wildlife, stargazing every night, and enjoying the serenity in this corner of the world.

 

Accommodation in The Amazon Rainforest

We stayed with Rainforest Expeditions in the Peruvian Amazon. We’ve written a detailed article about our stay in the Amazon Rainforest, which you can consult for further details. You can pick a hotel of your choice – just make sure you consult the fine print and check the list of amenities before booking your accommodation in the Rainforest. Try to pick a place that offers electricity, hot water, and wifi (if you’re an internet fiend like us!) for a comfortable stay 🙂

 

 Top tips for The Amazon Rainforest

  • Regular price-comparison websites exclude a number of South America airlines. Make sure you check individual websites to bag the cheapest fares for flights within South America. We booked our Lima-Puerto Maldonado flight with Star Peru
  • Spend a short time (2/3 days) here if it’s your first time in the Amazon Rainforest.  The landscape is gorgeous and nature is stunning here. However there are creepie crawlies around, which can be off-putting for some.
  • Don’t forget to carry lots of mosquito repellent and long-sleeved tees to the jungle. Most hotels and lodges offer an extensive packing list. Try to consult it while packing for the Amazon Rainforest.

 

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View from the flight to Puerto Maldonado – The Amazon River snakes through hundreds of miles of lush rainforest

 

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Dining in the Amazon Rainforest – choose your accommodation carefully and read the fine print!

 

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Tambopata is one of the very few places on Earth where it is possible to spot bright red and blue macaws – they’re GORGEOUS

 

Days 10-14 Fall in love with Cusco

“Cusco – The whole city is an immense gallery: every house, every balcony looking out over every street, is like a museum with which to evoke the past”

Che Guevara’s description of Cusco in The Motorcycle Diaries is probably the best description of this endlessly-fascinating city. The bustling capital of the Incan empire is a decadent feast for the senses. Evidence of its rich and complex history is everywhere to be seen – walls that date back thousands of years, colourful rituals that are rooted in local legend, and alleyways that seem to have stood still in time. The very air that pervades the city of Cusco breathes history.

It’s hard not to spend hours running one’s fingers along Incan walls that surround the city, mollycoddling baby llamas on the roads, trying to decipher the intent of colourful posters hanging everywhere, getting lost in markets and watching local ladies scuttling about their business in colourful skirts. The best part? This is only the tip of the iceberg insofar as Cusco’s kaleidoscopic Peruvian aesthetic is concerned. The multi-hued disposition of the city will leave you dizzy with excitement.

 

Accommodation in Cusco

We stayed at JW Marriott in Cusco, a gorgeous hotel situated within walls that date back to Incan times. There is no shortage of accommodation options in Cusco, whatever your budget. You could also consult a portal like Flipkey for affordable options. In either case, try to choose a hotel that is located close to Plaza de Armas.

 

Top Tips for Cusco

  • Most tourists set aside just 1 or 2 days for Cusco. We strongly recommend spending at least 3-4 days in the city. It will delight you to no end.
  • Spent the first day acclimatising yourself to the altitude – stick to light meals and short walks. If you feel nauseous, sample Peruvian Coca Tea. It is said to help with altitude sickness.
  • Take time out to explore Cusco’s rich culinary scene. There are dozens of affordable vegetarian and vegan restaurants that serve luscious smoothies, Quinoa stews, and bean burgers. We loved a tiny vegetarian restaurant called El Encuentro (huge portions and reasonable prices). If you’re a meat eater, make sure you hunt down a traditional Polleria. These establishments are frequented by locals. Most pollerias have a set menu that includes grilled chicken, fries, salad, and a soup for less than 10 soles (£2). Cusco is also a great place to try regional specialities like Lomo Saltado (beef sauteed with peppers and onions) and alpaca steaks.
  • Try to take a guided tour of Cusco’s cathedral to find out more about the unique ways in which Christianity was adopted by a nation that worshipped the elements of Earth
  • There is no dearth of shopping venues in Cusco but we recommend the Central Artisan Market (Centro Artesanal Cusco) on Avenida Del Sol for the best deals in town. There is a wide array of traditional bags, ponchos, colourful throws and Peruvian jewellery available for purchase. Make sure you bargain LOTS 🙂
  • Visit the surrounding ruins, especially the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Tambomachay.
  • Wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking around a lot.

 

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Cusco is a magical city full of colour – make sure you explore it well 🙂

 

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A panoramic view of Cusco – can we all take a moment to appreciate THOSE cotton candy clouds 🙂

 

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Cusco’s alleys have such tales to tell – there are surprises at every corner 🙂

 

Courtyard at JW Marriott Cusco

The beautiful courtyard of JW Marriott Cusco

 

Days 15-18 Explore the Sacred Valley

Few places in the world have the power to beguile travellers like Peru’s famed Sacred Valley. Driving through glaciers, mountains, and picture-perfect panoramas will snatch your breath way every second of the way. But that’s not all. There are quinoa, potato, and corn fields everywhere you look – the earthy tones of the crops complemented perfectly by the vibrant garments of local farmers. It’s safe to say that no itinerary for Peru would be complete without at least a couple of days in the Sacred Valley.

There’s no dearth of things to do in the Sacred Valley. Peru just doesn’t stop throwing surprises – there are amazing sights at every corner but here are some of our favourites:

  • The Pre-Incan Salt ponds of Maras, nestled between Andean Mountains, are still used to produce salt in Peru. There are over 3000 salt ponds in Maras. These are probably some of the most gorgeous farms we’ve ever seen!
  • The drive to the agricultural terraces of Moray will leave you spell bound. The terraces, shaped like a womb, throw light on the way in which key Incan beliefs – geometry, science, nature, and spirituality – come together as one organic whole. Make sure you include it in your itinerary of Peru.
  • The Pisac Market, although touristy, is definitely worth a visit. The colourful mélange of Peruvian fabrics, ornaments, jewellery, and colourful ponchos can be very seductive.
  • If you, like us, enjoy local and experiential travel, then you must take a cooking class in Urubamba. We spent one whole day with Ricardo, a Peruvian chef who is a bit of a legend in Urubamba. He taught us how to cook 4 signature Peruvian dishes. But my favourite part was the time we spent visiting the local markets. He introduced us to local Peruvian fruits, herbs, and vegetables, tore them open, made us smell them, and devour them. Here’s a rare selfie of the three of us having Chicha morada, a sweet beverage made from Peruvian purple corn, at a local market. Yum, yum, yum!

 

Accommodation in Sacred Valley

We moved around almost daily and stayed in a couple of hotels in the Sacred Valley. There is a lot to co-ordinate here because public transport isn’t readily available in the Sacred Valley, hotels fill up fast, and attractions are quite far apart. So we delegated this section of the trip (including private transfers, cab rides, hotel stays, guides, and tickets to all attractions) to Magical Cuzco Tours. It made life a lot simpler and we could concentrate on enjoying everything the Sacred Valley has to offer instead of getting lost in the nitty-gritties and logistics of it 🙂

If you do book everything on your own, then Casa Andina could be the hotel to consider. It’s a mid-range hotel located in close proximity to Urubamba and Maras. This was the most conveniently-located hotel of all the ones we stayed at.

 

Top Tips for Sacred Valley

  • If you enjoy a bit of luxury and fine dining, make sure you sample the 5 course lunch and dance of Peruvian paso horses at Hotel Sol y Luna.
  • Don’t try to cram everything in a day or two. If you’re in the Sacred Valley for a short time, pick and choose a couple of things to do. This way you will relish the surroundings and enjoy the Sacred Valley as its meant to be enjoyed. We suggest prioritising a visit to Maras, Moray, and the cooking class.
  • Do go on a long drive in the Sacred Valley – the panoramas will leave you spell bound. Pull over to chat with local farmers or weavers for a truly unforgettable experience
  • Cuy (guinea pig) is a local delicacy. It tends to be over-priced in most restaurants in the big cities. But it is the only dish on the menu in the eateries in Lamay (30 minutes from Cuzco) and Tipon (70 minutes from Cuzco). This is where the locals go to get their Cuy fix. Worth a stop if you want to sample a local delicacy!
  • Visit a local fruit and vegetable market, irrespective of whether you take a cooking class or not. Sample local Peruvian fruits and vegetables such as grenadilla (passion fruit), lucuma (eggfruit), mango, dozens of varieties of avocado, chirimoya (custard apple), pepino dulce (sweet cucumber) – fruits and vegetables are SO luscious here, you will not forget their taste for a long long time.

 

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Imagine waking up to such views everyday – The Sacred Valley is full of scenic panoramas

 

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The salt ponds of Maras, one of the highlights of a stay in The Sacred Valley

 

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Lunch and a dance of Peruvian Paso horses at Sol y luna ranch in The Sacred Valley

 

Peru Itinerary – Days 19 -21: Machu Picchu

Aah Machu Picchu – the Incan masterpiece that is the subject of many a reverie. It’s hard to say what makes the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu just so special. The mountain air is thick with mystery and anticipation here. A cloud of spirituality seems to hang over these ruins, hidden deep within a cloud forest. Dreamy clouds swivel over handsome ruins, which were made by the Incas to worship the Sun God.

We spent one whole day exploring Machu Picchu with a guide – the ruins of the city, its walls, Incan temples, and houses of Royalty and common people. No cement or mortar was used to build this sacred city. It is an intricate puzzle built entirely of stones that fit well together. What’s more, it is perfectly aligned with the surrounding mountains and the skies. This harmony of nature, spirituality, and science is impressive, to say the least. But the city is so massive that exploring it all can get a tad overwhelming.

So we decided to buy another set of entry tickets. On the second day, we did ‘nothing’ – we breathed the mysticism surrounding Machu Picchu, ran our fingers across Incan walls, stared at gorgeous crevices, and just lay under the Peruvian sun – that’s when our trip to Machu Picchu felt COMPLETE. So we highly recommend going back to the ruins a second time before leaving Aguas Calientes!

 

Accommodation in Machu Picchu

Spend 1-2 nights in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo as its now known. Accommodation options are plentiful.

We spent 2 nights at Sumaq Hotel – it has spacious rooms overlooking the river. The hotel offers free cooking classes, cocktails, beverages, and snacks to all guests, which came as a welcome surprise. The dining room offers a sumptuous menu showcasing local ingredients – Peruvian corn, Andean trout, yuca, and local cheese – nom! The hotel is a 5 minute walk from the bus station from where you should catch one of the first buses of the day up to Machu Picchu. This way you can catch sunrise at the ruins of Machu Picchu – score 🙂

 

Top tips for Machu Picchu

  • To get to Machu Picchu, you need to take a train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes. We took the Vista Dome train and loved it. It has large glass windows that offer amazing views of the Peruvian countryside and steep Andean peaks. Tickets start at £40/$60.
  • Book your tickets for Machu Picchu well in advance. Daily visits are limited and tickets often get sold out way in advance during peak season.
  • We continued our tryst with Magical Cuzco Tours and arranged our transfer to Ollantaytambo, train tickets to Aguas Calientes, and tickets for Machu Picchu with them. The service was impeccable and we would highly recommend them if you want to delegate the planning to a travel agency.
  • Carry some snacks, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and loose change (for using the public toilet) with you for your visit to Machu Picchu. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Hike to the sun gate for amazing views of the ruins. If you have time, hike to the top of the neighbouring mountain (Huayna Picchu/Wayna Picchu) for epic views of Machu Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed the trek to Huayna Picchu every day (over 2 sessions), so book in advance.
  • Stay in Aguas Calientes at least for a night. Machu Picchu will be the highlight of this trip of a lifetime to Peru and a rushed visit is no fun at all!

 

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Nothing will prepare you for the grandeur of Machu Picchu – it is well worth the hype

 

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Make sure you make time to do ‘nothing’ at Machu Picchu – it’s magical (you can thank us later 😉 )

 

Sumaq hotel in Aquas Calientes

Sumaq hotel nestled in the valley – a gorgeous view

 

Our room in Hotel Sumaq Aguas Calientes

Coming back to a platter full of moorish chocolate nibbles at Sumaq Hotel after a long, tiring day at Machu Picchu

 

Days 22 – 24 Live in a village in Huarocondo

If you want to experience true Peruvian village life without all the urban ‘noise’ (both literal and metaphorical), then head to Huarocondo. Huarocondo is in close proximity to the Sacred Valley but there is nothing to do here. That is what we love about it!

Spend languorous days getting accustomed to the slow pace of village life in Peru. You could help locals dry corn on their terraces, walk around the village and sample chicharron (fried pork belly, the local speciality), or visit offbeat Incan ruins that most tourists don’t know about.

 

Accommodation in Huarocondo

We stayed at Gringo Wasi B&B , an intimate and well-equipped B&B/home stay in Huarocondo. It is owned by an amazing American/Peruvian couple. Lyle and Lily are great hosts and extremely responsive to emails (which always gets a big thumbs up from us 🙂 ). There are barely any other accommodation options in this neck of the woods, so make sure you book ahead.

Top Tips for Huarocondo

  • Visit the agricultural terraces of Zurite. These ruins are completely off-the-beaten-path, free, and you’ll probably be the only person around!
  • Take the local minibuses (collectivos) to neighbouring towns and villages. They cost just 1 sole per person (£0.20) and they’re completely safe.
  • Hop over to neighbouring Izcuchaca to stock up on supplies and visit bustling local markets.  Make sure you head over to a traditional polleria for rotisserie chicken.

 

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Village hopping in Peru – that bag is full of fruits and vegetables from the local farmers’ market – nom!

 

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If you want to go off-the-beaten-path consider staying at a village in Peru

 

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Visiting Lyle and Lily’s local cheesemonger in Huarocondo, Peru

 

Days 25-28 The best for last: Puno & Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, straddling the borders of Peru and Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world (12,500 ft. above sea level). It is also said to be the birthplace of the Incan civilization. It’s hard to articulate Lake Titicaca’s remote and otherworldly beauty but we’ll just say this – a languorous stay at a luxury lodge on the shores of Lake Titicaca will make you forget the ‘real’ world. Order your coffee in a lake pavilion as you contemplate the beauty of the lake’s glistening waters.

Don’t forget to visit The Uros Islands, a group of 90 floating islands, made entirely of reed. The inhabitants on the Peruvian side occasionally ‘anchor’ the islands to stop them from floating across the border to Bolivia. A day trip to the Uros islands offers a rare opportunity to sample a completely different way of life. These islands are self-sustainable and completely removed from modern life. Inhabitants still use the barter system to purchase groceries, food, and clothes.

As for evenings, there’s nothing like spending chilly evenings by the bonfire with a picnic basket, nibbles and warm mulled wine to hand as you watch the sun dip over Lake Titicaca. We followed this up by counting millions of stars and staring at the elusive Milky Way – the night sky in this corner of the world is extraordinary.

 

Accommodation in Puno/Lake Titicaca

We stayed at Titilaka, a luxury eco lodge poised beautifully on the banks of Lake Titicaca. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Titilaka one of the best hotels we’ve encountered on our travels. Everything from its location on a remote peninsula to its rooms bedecked in bright colours favoured by native Aymara people is nothing short of perfect. There are a number of other properties in the area as well – choose one that fits your budget. We recommend avoiding accommodation in Puno and choosing a hotel or lodge that overlooks Lake Titicaca for an unforgettable experience in one of the most spectacular and remote corners of the world. Read about our experience at Titilaka here.

 

Top Tips for Lake Titicaca

  • There are direct overnight buses available from Cusco to Puno. Most hotels offer a pick-up service from Puno Bus Station. We took a Peru Hop bus from Cusco to Puno – punctual and comfortable.
  • If you’re short on time, you could take a flight to Juliaca Airport. Most hotels offer a pick-up service from Juliaca Airport.
  • Do try the local produce and trout at Lake Titicaca. It’s scrumptious.
  • The Uros Islands are amazing and we highly recommend a day trip to the islands. You could also go rafting amidst reeds at Lake Titicaca
  • If you have more time, venture to Lampa, a quaint city which has several interesting manors and alleyways. There are also several interesting Incan temples, including Aramu Muru in the area.
  • Stock up on woollies before you trip to Lake Titicaca. The high altitude ensures chilly evenings.

 

Hotel Titilaka views

End your trip with a bang at Lake Titicaca!

 

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Picture-postcard perfect?Sunset over Lake Titicaca from our room

 

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The floating islands of Uros in Lake Titicaca

 

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Life on the Uros Floating Islands is unique

 

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A rare portrait of an Uro girl. Her cheeks are red because of the lack of oxygen at such a high altitude and sunburnt because of the harsh sun in these parts. Isn’t she precious? 🙂

 

Getting to Peru

We flew to Lima from London on Air France with a short stopover in Paris. If you are based in UK or Europe/Asia, chances are that Air France/KLM will offer the best connectivity to Peru. Return fares in economy class from London to Lima start at £466.

 

That’s it! The perfect itinerary for Peru that will help you plan the trip of a lifetime through handsome deserts, remote rainforests, Incan ruins, quaint villages, and glorious wonders of nature. Peru will snatch your breath every second of the way – book your flights now? 🙂

 

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We loved every bit of Peru and couldn’t pick a favourite part even if we tried 🙂

 

Planning a trip to South America? Read all our articles on South America here

Do you seek once-in-a-lifetime experiences while travelling? Read our Top 10 Travel Experiences here

 

Have you been to Peru? Did you love it as much as we did? 🙂

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72 Comments

  1. Amazing guys! I fancy each and every trip that you guys plan but guess all are not lucky enough to travel the world. But you guys have definitely inspired me to travel as much as I can. Happy destination hopping!

    • Hey Suheil – we are SO happy to hear we inspire you – you made our day. So happy to hear you enjoyed reading our itinerary of Peru – I hope you get to travel tons this year

  2. thank You for sharing your itinerary. Just in time because I have been planning a week long Peru trip in December. And the only reason I’ve wanted to go is because you’ll tantalized me!!! So excited. Just need to start booking flights ad acco now. Thanks!

    • So happy to hear that Neha 🙂

  3. Great read we loved Peru as well and spent a week at Gringo acclimatizing before our trek. Agree Lyle and Lilly great hosts. Excellent photos as well – whar camera do you use?

    • Hi Sue,

      Vid uses a Nikon D610 with 3 lenses – 50mm f1.8, 28-300mm, and 18-35mm

      Cheers!

  4. Have been to Peru, stayed only for 14 days, so could not do a few things u guys did, but would luv to travel again if possible.

    • Hi Meera,

      Peru is such a beautiful country it definitely warrants a return visit 🙂

  5. You guys had one action packed month! Also, I’m so glad you made it to Viñas Queirolo – it’s such a beautiful property and the perfect spot for a bit of pampering after a few days of heavy travel. 🙂

    • It was an amazing month, Audrey. Viñas Queirolo was special – we loved the wine tasting at sunset 🙂

  6. Nice write-up, the 400 limit is not the for the actual ruins, its for the Inca Trek and the HuyanaPicchu is limited to 200 per session and they have 2 sessions.

    • Hey Guys,

      Thanks for the heads-up. It was a typo and we had intended the 400 per day for Huayna Picchu (over 2 sessions) and not for Machu Picchu. The daily limit for inca trek is actually 500.

      Cheers

  7. Great post and we enjoyed having the both of you here with us as well as following your continued travels. I do have a few comets on some of the above information to further help your readers.

    1) The Vistadome trains only have about 6” more glass than the Expedition trains so I would not use visibility as a basis for choosing this train class, choosing it for a preferred time would be best as most of our guests that have taken both train clases (one each direction) have felt the differences do not generally justify the additional cost of taking the Vistadome.
    2) While trek may not have been the proper word, your mention that “Only 400 people are allowed the trek to Huayna Picchu every day (over 2 sessions) “ was correct. And for further reference here are the number of available tickets for each category.
    1. Machu Picchu general entry 2,500
    2. Machu Picchu + Mountain 400
    3. Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu 400 (200 each group)
    4. Inka Trail 500, although only 200 of those are tourists, the other 300 would be the trek support staff.
    5. Machu Picchu Late entry (after 11:00am) 1,000

  8. Your posts have inspired me to put Peru on my list of places to go! Thank you for this great itinerary that makes it much less daunting!

    • Hey Lori

      You MUST go to Peru – it’s an incredible country 😀 Drop us an email if you need any help planning your trip to Peru

  9. Extremely in-depth, perfect guide for anyone looking to travel here. You should turn this into a guide for download 🙂

    • Apeksha that’s actually a great idea – thanks, we might actually do that 🙂 We couldn’t find the kind of articles we wanted to read before we went to Peru, so thought we’d address that issue – that’s probably why we went a bit overboard with detail 😉

  10. Awesome stuff guys!! Loved reading your post on Peru…Machu Pichu and Titicaca are at the top of my list…some day for sure 🙂

    • Vatsal you definitely need to visit both those places – they’re absolutely stunning (to say the least!)

  11. Love your “Ultimate Itineraries” they’re so thorough!

    • Thanks Rad – I keep taking copious notes through the length of the journey and finally put it all down in the Ultimate Itineraries in the hope that it will help a curious traveller or two make the most of their trip to that particular country 😀

  12. Such a great guide guys! We are looking to head to South America hopefully by the end of next year so I’ll be bookmarking this and coming back to it often. Cheers guys and thanks for putting this together.

    • Hey Ross – glad you found it helpful. We tried to include as much information as we possibly could 😀

  13. I love the photo of your dinner in the rain-forest. It looks like the table is set for a third guest…a bird or a monkey perhaps?

    • Hehe Deborah

      You have a great eye for detail – the table was always set for 3 people because our guide would occasionally join us for dinner 😀

  14. Very detailed post – very useful, and nice pictures. Thanks for the information. Planning a trip to Peru next year. Can you give an indication on how much will be the miscellaneous expenses per day? Local travel, food etc.
    Also, did you face problems with altitude?

    • Hi Upasna

      Glad to know you found the post helpful.

      If you go through Lyle’s response, you’ll notice that he has detailed many of the expenses as much as he can from his experience.

      In Peru, you can do things really cheaply and you can also spend a lot. This holds true for both food and transportation. We like travelling comfortably, so we ended up spending quite a lot of money on internal transfers.

      Internal flights in South America can be quite expensive – we paid quite a lot to get from Bolivia to Ecuador (close to £1000 for both of us for a one-way flight!! Yep, told you it’s crazy). Internal flights in Peru are slightly cheaper. If you book in advance, you can get one-way tickets for £75-£100.

      As for bus travel, again, depends on which one you choose. Bus travel starts at around £10 for long-distance journeys but we chose the more comfortable options and paid around £20-£30 for most bus journeys.

      As for altitude sickness, no problem at all on that front 😀

  15. As Savi and Vid may not be familiar with all the options I thought I would help out by answering this.

    So to your question on Mic. Expenses, many of these things will vary but here is a rough idea of what you can expect.

    Transportation – Buses and colectivos are the cheapest way to get around but can also be the slowest, taxis are the quickest mode of transport but do tend to cost more, for example colectivos between our town and the historic center in Cusco would run about about $3.00 per-person, a Taxi on the other hand would run between $20.00 to $30.00 per-car.

    Food – This is the area that has the greatest variance, you can eat at local menu restaurants for as little as $3.00 or less per-person, or you can eat at tourist or gourmet restaurants and spend $30.00 per-person.

    Site seeing – the cheapest way to visit the sites would be by local transportation or even taking a group tour, local transportation is generally cheaper but as I mentioned previously it is also slow and will limit the number of places you can see. Group tours on the other hand are structured and usually have shopping stops that will eat into the time and are not the best places to shop anyway. Hiring a car and driver for the day would be the most expensive option but will give you the most flexibility and allow you to see more places. For example the standard Sacred Valley tour runs about $16.00 per-person and stops at an artisinal market, jewelry store, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. Hiring a car and driver for the day would run about $100.00 for the whole day and if you ship the shopping, would allow you to spend more time at each site, or adjust the sites for better flow allowing you to see more. Doing this itinerary by public transportation would be all but impossible as it is far too slow, but you could easily visit one or two of the sites listed for about $6.00 to $10.00. In addition the transportation you must also consider the cost of entry to the sites which requires the purchase of a tourist ticket these are S/.70.00 Soles for a partial ticket (3 options) and S/.130.00 Soles for the full ticket.

    Machu Picchu – Entry to Machu Picchu is S/.128.00 Soles for regular Machu Picchu entry, S/.152.00 Soles for Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu mountain, and S/.142.00 Soles for Machu Picchu with Machu Picchu Mountain. These prices are if you purchase the tickets through the official website, if you use an agency you should figure $50.00 for regular MP, $60.00 for MP+HP and $56.00 for MP+M. For reference the current exchange rate is $1.00 usd = S/.3.20 pen (Soles).

    Getting to Machu Picchu – Here there are several options, the most common is to take the train which on average can run about $120.00 round trip, the actual range runs from about $50.00 to $93.00 each way, depending on class and time, this does not include the luxury train which is about $350.00 each way. Another way to get to Machu Picchu would be to take the land route, from what I have read this can get you there for about $20.00 or $30.00 each way, but will take a whole day of travel each direction. The last way is to hike and options again are varied, the cheapest hike would be the one along the train tracks and would take one day, after this there are a variety of treks that run from 2 to 9 days and can run from about $200.00 per-person up to well over $1,000.00 per-person.

    • Dear Lyle,

      Thanks a lot for such a detailed and informative response – we are sure it’s going to help a lot of people.

      As for getting to Machu Picchu, we’d imagine taking the train would be the best option – fast, convenient, and scenic 🙂

      Cheers!

      Vid

    • Hi GringoWasi / Bruised Passports – Are the 4 day treks to Machu Picchu very basic or are there also luxury options? What kind of accommodation is available on the Machu Picchu Trek?

      • Hi Sam,

        Having done the trek this year, allow me to pitch in,

        There are no luxury options for the trek, all of the trek companies essentially stay in designated camp sites,
        Its basic tent sleeping in air mettress and sleeping bags and hole in the ground toilets.

        Food is prepared by the chefs and hot fresh food served everyday.

        Have a look at my blog to get an idea of how the trek and conditions are, nevertheless its an unforgettable experience.

      • Hey Sam,

        From what we remember from the days when we were planning our trip, there is one company that organises “luxury” inca trek – if I am not wrong, it’s called Mountain Lodges Peru. Perhaps a quick google search will yield more results? I think this company makes you stay in lodges and not pitched tents.

        Other than this, I think all other organise pretty much the same trek as SuniKans above has mentioned.

        • Hey Sam, Savi vid,

          The mountain lodges do the salkantay trek with luxury option stay, dont think the inca trail had any similar options that we saw,

          Salkantay is a good option too if you dont want the famous inca trail.

      • Yes Mountain Lodges of Peru does offer luxury lodge to lodge treks, these are on the Salkantay and Lares routes but both are listed at more than 4 days, their lodge to lodge Salkantay trek itinerary is 7 day and the Lares trek is 5 day, they may be able to modify one of these to a 4 day but I am not sure.

        These do appear to be the only routes that they offer as I do not see any others on their website, we did help arrange a overnight stay in the first lodge on the Salkantay route for some past guests and they were easy to work with and helpful so I would try contacting them and se if a 4 day option would be possible

    • hi gringowasi ur information is quite informative,if u don’t mind can u enlighten me with ur experinces ,as I ,m planning to do south America in two months starting from Santiago.my email id is -vicky1381@yahoo.com.ta

  16. was you wearing indian clothes in peru?

  17. Hi Savi/ Vid

    Absolutely loved this itineary. Would you recommend peru in Dec? I heard that Nov – March is rainy season. I have a week. Which places would you recommend? Macchu Pichu is a must.

    • Each season has its pros and cons Shilpa – yep, December gets quite rainy but it’s supposed to be lush green as well 🙂

  18. You guys are really awesome ??? and always motivating us to travel . Love you guys so much for giving us all tips to travel ????. I would love to visit Peru and yours pics are mind blowing !! Please share on how to Budget for South America trip also .

    • Dear Sujatha,

      Thanks so much – so happy to hear that you enjoyed this post 🙂

      We’ll write a post about budgeting in the near future for sure!

      Happy travels

  19. Hi Savi & Vid,

    Thought your readers might be interested in a giveaway I am running on my blog, I am giving away free City Walk Apps for Apple devices, there are well over 150 cities to choose from across the globe so if any of your readers have upcoming travel plans, they can check out my blog for details on the giveaway. https://agringoslifeincusco.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/city-walking-tour-app-free-giveaway/

    • Thanks for that Lyle!

  20. The last picture of the two of you with that famous Macu Picchu shot – is that at Huayna Picchu or just around Machu Picchu? I always see that shot in pics and want to know if we need to hike up to get there.

    Hubby and I are hoping to go in July – haven’t booked our tickets yet though. You guys bought your entry tickets to MP from Magical Cuzco then?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Naima,

      That picture is in Machu Picchu itself – there is a vantage point where you can go to get that picture. Yes, we arranged our entry tickets to MP from Magical Cuzco 🙂

      Have a great trip.

  21. Hey!!!

    Is there some /any part of this that is kid friendly…i want to travel and have a 3 year old …so just thinking out aloud

    !!!

    • Hi Neha,

      In fact, you could do most of this itinerary with kids as well. The only place we would have thought wasn’t kid-friendly was the amazon forest lodge. However, even there we met families who were travelling with kids aged 2-5 years.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  22. I absolutely love your post! We are 3 families travelling to Peru next week with toddlers (crazy right?) Any tips on activities that may suit them? Heading to macchu picchu , Cuzco, Lima and punos. We will be spending 4 nights in the sacred valley and 3 nights in punos. We are worried about finding the stay in punos too long. Besides the floating villages, what else do you recommend?

    • Hi there,

      Apologies for the late reply. Off the top of our heads, there are a few farms in Sacred Valley where kids (and even adults) can pet Llamas – it was a lot of fun 🙂

      3 nights in Puno should be fine. We didn’t do much other than Uros islands but we enjoyed sitting by the lake and enjoying the scenery. You could reduce your stay at Puno by 1 night and spend that extra night in Cusco 🙂

      Hope you have a great trip. We loved Peru 🙂

  23. Hey!!

    Your itinerary to Peru is brilliant. My husband & Ia re doing a 1 month Chile-Peru trip , and your post has been reference for planning everything in Peru. We are even staying at the Vinas Queirolo hotel , thank you for this wonderful post!

    We have 7 nights in Sacred valley , Machu Picchu & cusco. We plan to do the 1 day inca trail.
    So I am struggling to decide on how to split 5 nights between sacred valley and cusco :
    3 sacred valley , 2 cusco (or) the other way around

    What would you suggest?

    • Hey Lakshmi – so great to hear that. 3 days in Cusco and 2 in the sacred valley sound good. There’s so much to do in and around Cuzco 🙂 Have fun in Peru – please send us photos from you trip, would love to share them with our readers on Facebook and on our website

  24. Just returning from our 12 day trip… so my 2 cents..For all those planning the trip , add Arequipa City to the Itinerary as well! you will fall in love with the city ! ( Addn Tip: dont miss meeting the 500 year old Peruvian Mummy!)

    • Hey Vrutti – send us photos from Peru 🙂 Good to hear you loved Arequipa – hopefully some of our readers will include it on their itinerary after seeing your comment

  25. Very comprehensive post on traveling to Peru. Thank you for the info.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Dario 🙂

  26. HELLO, i loved your itinerary for Peru, sadly i only have 10days max for my trip !! How would you suggest we spend our time ! WE want to do it all but we know we can’t ! Any help would be amazing !!!

    • Hey Chantay – You could spend it in the Cusco/Titicaca area 🙂

  27. Wow, awesome read. Have read this post over and over.
    We are planning a trip to Peru for 9 days. I am quite confused finalizing the order we should visit the places. We will be visiting Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley , MP and Titicaca/Uros Islands.

    could i get your input? Should we Do Titicaca after Lima in the beginning or leave it till the end as above. If so, then does it mean we will actually have to come back to Cusco ( second time) and then take a flight to Juliaca ( since we are short in time)?

    • Thanks a ton – so glad you found it helpful. Have fun in Canada and do send us photos 🙂 You should leave Titicaca for the end as it’s much closer to Cusco than Lima. Yes, you’ll have to come back to Cusco after Machu Picchu to catch a flight to Juliaca. Alternatively you could take a bus from Cusco to Juliaca. Buses are super comfortable and convenient in Peru 🙂

  28. I love this itinerary and the pictures are beautiful! When you left lake titicaca did you fly back to Lima and then home? Or how did you manage it?

    • Hi Katelin,

      We crossed over to Bolivia from Lake Titicaca by bus and then flew out of La Paz after exploring Bolivia 🙂

  29. This is awesome! I love Peru, and I can’t wait to check out some of these cool spots when I go back in April! Thanks so much for all the info!

    • Thats so good to hear Lara.We really hope you have a blast in Peru and enjoy it as much as we did 🙂

  30. Hi Savi Vid i ll be traveling to Machu Picchu in May to celebrate my Bday. its a big one 😉 you mentioned in the article that we hv to book the tickets to machu picchu in advance. can you please she with me where i can book them. really appreciate your reply with some direction.

    • Hey Supritha,

      Sorry for the late reply – hope you had a great birthday in Peru :D. As for entry tickets to Machu Picchu, we had arranged all train and entry tickets through a travel agency (mentioned in the article) 🙂

      Much love
      Savi and Vid

  31. Peru is a wonderful country, where there are many tourist attractions for tourists.
    công ty thiết kế nhà xưởng

    • Ya sure, we loved being in Peru and plan to go there for a longer time in the future.

  32. One of the best blog , i ever read (y) <3

    • Thank you so much Ganesh…feedback like this makes our heart sing and all the hard work that we put into our work becomes worth while. Thanks a lot once again!!

  33. we are planning to Peru in few months. What are the places to see in Lima? how many days do you recommend?

    • Hi Sam,

      We’d say 2-3 nights are ideal for Lima. We loved Barranco 🙂

  34. I love this! I am going to Cusco in a few weeks. I was wondering how you all avoided getting sick? I have a friend that just went and got E. coli and some other illnesses!

    • Hey Katelin,

      We just took basic precautions to avoid altitude sickness and other illnesses 🙂 We had light meals and made sure that we drank bottled water and had cooked food 🙂

      Have a great trip – Cusco is one of our favourite places in the world 🙂

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