Peru – 2 weeks in the land of the Incas

There is so much more to explore in Peru beyond Machu Picchu!

Holiday Snapshot

  • Day 1: Arrive in Cusco via flight from Lima
  • Day 2: Explore Cusco city
  • Day 3: To Ollantaytambo and explore part of Sacred Valley ruins
  • Day 4: Start of Machu Picchu trek
  • Day 5: Machu Pichu guided tour and back to Cusco
  • Day 6: Rainbow Mountains day trip
  • Day 7: Sacred valley (Maras and Moray) tour and overnight bus to Puno
  • Day 8: Lake Titicaca islands tour and overnight bus to Arequipa
  • Day 9: Explore Arequipa city
  • Day 10: Colca Canyon tour including overnight at Chivay
  • Day 11: Visit Colca Canyon and back to Arequipa
  • Day 12: Long bus trip from Arequipa to Huacachina with stopover at Nazca lines
  • Day 13: Sand boarding and dune bashing in Huacachina desert oasis. Transfer to Paracas for night
  • Day 14: Ballestas island tour and explore Paracas. Transfer to Lima for night
  • Day 15: Explore Lima city including Miraflores
  • Day 16: Flight back home

To slowly get acclimatised to the high altitude, this itinerary can be done in reverse too. SS Tip: If you have more time, add more days in Cusco!

Click on the cities for day wise itineraries [coming soon].

Travel

  • The main decision which made our travel easy was booking Peru Hop for travelling between cities.
    • Super convenient to book one ticket online with flexibility to move dates and pick-up locations
    • It was absolutely safe with English speaking guide
    • We got great deals on their recommended hotels and day tours
  • It was easy and seemed safe to walk everywhere in Peru – suggest staying close to the ‘Plazas’ so that hotel, restaurants and tour pick-up/ drop-off points are easily accessible
  • Getting taxis in Cusco was easy – we used to show the address, Google maps and negotiate the price! While Uber is available in Lima, we read some scary reviews online, so we took the Airport Express, which is a shuttle bus from main hotels in Miraflores to Airport. Tickets could be bought online or on the bus itself
  • We used shared taxi, called Colectivo to go from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and public transport in Lima – more on that in city specific blogs…

Hotels

This itinerary meant changing hotels so often that we lived out of our Suitcase the whole time… We did a mix of standard large hotels, boutique small hotels, some hostels and even 1 night of camping! Breakfast was included in all the hotels – they even provided boxed meals whenever we had an early start.

  • Cusco: We stayed in Polo Cusco Suites the first 2 nights which was very spacious and offered airport pick-up. It was slightly away from the main action but offered great views and good breakfast. They stored our luggage while we went to Machu Picchu. Post the trek, we shifted to Estancia San Blas near the Plaza. This boutique hotel was recently refurbished and very convenient for exploring Cusco.
City Of Cusco
  • Arequipa: After the overnight bus ride, we wanted a good place to relax. We booked a suite at the Mint Hotel for 2 nights – one before and one after the Colca Canyon trip. We paid extra for super early check in at 5 am on the day we arrived (so worth it!). We stored our luggage with them when we went for our overnight Colca trip. The hotel is in a safe and quiet neighborhood, close to a super-market but away from main city (20 mins walk).
Hotel Room in Arequipa
  • Lima: We stayed for 2 nights in Hotel Las Palmas which is bang in the middle of Miraflores action. Nice old hotel, extremely convenient for restaurants, shopping and travel. Welcome chocolates and a Pisco Sour were cute little touches which made it stand out. It’s a safe and great suburb to stay.

In the other cities, we stayed for just 1 night and went with basic hotels…

  • Ollantaytambo: We stayed in Hostal Iskay which was a small but warm place for an overnight stay before the Machu Pichu trek. As it’s on the way to Machu Pichu, this helped us save time and get few more hours of sleep. It’s a very small town where the ruins and restaurants are very close.
  • Puno: We booked a room just for the 1 day at Suite Indendencia which was recommended by Peru Hop. We checked in early after an overnight bus ride. Had a warm shower and breakfast before heading out for our boat trip. It was also convenient to freshen up before getting back on the bus for another overnight trip. A very basic room but absolutely worth it!
  • Huacachina: We stayed at Huacachina Curasi, one of the few hotels in the Oasis. It was surreal to wake up and see sand dunes all around you! Spacious room with good air-con. Great thing was, even post check-out we could use the pool and relax at the property.
View from room at Huacachina
  • Paracas: We stayed at another Peru Hop recommendation, Hotel Residencial Los Frayles. Close to the beach and restaurants, with a nice breakfast around the pool. SS tip: Ask for a ‘matrimonial room’ if you want a queen bed

Food

  • While we were initially apprehensive about vegetarian food, there were multiple and good options available in all the towns. They had clearly marked vegetarian dishes making it super easy.
Our favourite, Quinoa Soup
  • Lunch seems to be a big deal in Peru – lot of restaurants offer set lunches targeting tourists for very reasonable prices… Makes it a great way to try the local cuisine
  • Do try the Peruvian favourite drink, Pisco Sour! Many restaurants offer free Pisco Sour with the entrées 😉
Typical Tourist Menu in Towns

Miscellaneous

  • Altitude: The main cities like Cusco are 3,400m (11,000 feet) above sea level and we took altitude sickness medicines till we were in Arequipa which was also high at 2,300m (7,500 feet) above sea level. Rainbow mountains at 5,200m was the highest point we went on this trip. While the locals recommend Cocoa leaves / tea, you can also buy medicines over the counter at stores in Cusco
  • Language: The main language is Spanish, and majority of the signs will be in Spanish. However, many people speak English and we did not have any issues. Few places, we relied on Google Translate app to help us e.g. figuring out the mobile plan, getting a taxi and shopping! SS tip: Just remember to say “Gracias’’ at the end 😊
  • Sim card: We bought a local sim card from Claro store in Cusco. They just need a copy of your passport and you are good to go. It was very reasonable and cost us just 50 soles for voice and data.
  • Foreign Currency: We carried USD and converted some amount to Soles. While you can get away with a credit/ forex card at lot of places (hotels, restaurants), there was additional charge for using credit card at few places and some local places you had to pay cash only. We found costs to be reasonable – it was not as cheap as some of the Asian destinations.
  • Day Tours: There are multiple tour operators offering similar day trip in each of the towns. Apart from Inca Trail – where they have limited tickets for Inca trail (people book 6 months in advance), we booked rest of the trips once we landed in Cusco. We were very happy with Alpaca Expeditions who we did our short Inca trail with. We used Find Local Trips for finalising other tours.

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