Traveling to Peru the smart way

As you may know, it is extremely common to get sick due to the altitude as an example, Cusco is at “only” 3000 meters high (ish). I say “only” because it is quite easy to do some trekking at more than 5000 meters high!! So don’t be foolish, do everything step by step and I will do my best to get you prepared to everything!

Let’s get started!!

(ALL THE PRICES AND OPENING HOURS MIGHT HAVE CHANGED SINCE SEPTEMBER 2017. This is my personal experience and my point of view is mine only and I would love to hear yours as well!)

I: How and when to get there? 

Compare on the internet which company offers the cheapest flights! Don’t by them at the last minutes otherwise you might have a stroke when discovering the price.

Personally I flew from Paris to Lima and it took 12 hours with a straight flight and cost 889€. But if you do not check in advance and especially if you are going there during the high season (June to auguste) you may pay over 1000€/pax (for a return).

II: places to visit!

Don’t go straight to Cusco or in a place too high. Let your body adapt itself progressively. I will give you an example of what to see and the order to do it! Of course it is only an example and you are completely free not to follow any of it!

1: Lima

I have not spent much time in Lima… only two days, and I have to admit, I thought that it was a COMPLETE different “world” from the rest of the cities or town. It is modern and you have all the amenities that you need, except for the metro. Make sure that you book your hotel in MIRAFLORES or San Isidore district. They are the safest place to stay. In Lima you have some neighbourhoods you really don’t want to be, and are dangerous!

In Lima what you have to visit:

– The historical center: You can book a guide tour or, just walk around with your travel book.

– The Larco museum: this museum is extremely helpful and interesting if you wish to learn and understand more about the origins of the country and the pré-Columbian society who existed far before the Incas! The museum is located in an old house. If you are lucky you will witness the incredible garden!

 

Admissions fees:

Adults: S/30

Students and teenagers (9 to 17 years old): S/15

Seniors: 60 years old and more S/25

Children (8 years old or less) free

Open from 9am to 10pm. Except for the 24/25/31 of December and the 1st of January: 9am to 6pm. – the Plaza de Armas: You will find a plaza the armas in every town or city of the country! It is the main square of the city. That’s the meeting point if you ever loose your friends or group. From there you can do some shopping and walk around.

– the Covent of San Francisco:

The most incredible thing to see there are the catacombs. Over 25 000 people rest there!! The entrance fees are really cheap!

Adult: S/10

Students: S/5

Children S/1

Open from 9 Am to 8:15 pm

– Paragliding:

We had some time to spend at the end of our trip in Lima so we thought why not try to do some paragliding! We choose the “company” called Condor extreme. You will fly over the coast during 10-15 minutes. It is really fun to do!! It is a bit hard to find as there is only a tent were the people in charge are waiting. You can book the tour online. You often have sales so it is a good deal!

Price m: S/180 with the sale (48€/56$) Paragliding website Take a taxi to go there and if you don’t have your own car, ask him to wait for you or order a Uber. It is on the costa verde but it might be tricky to get a taxi there (we did not find any who would stop), and because it is a bit far from the centre walking home might be long.

2: The dunes of Huacachina and Paracas/Ica

These are the places where to have fun!

– The Dunes of Huacachina:

There, you will enjoy one of the craziest experience! You will be doing a buggy tour in the dunes! The speed, the adrenaline! Goodness me! The drivers are all professionals even if sometimes you truly think that you will crash! You have no choice but to trust your driver!

Pregnant women, or person with a heart condition shouldn’t do it!! You want to do something even cooler? What about some sand-skiing or sand-boarding! Yep you red it right!! When you are booking your tour you can choose between different packages.

– only the buggy tour- buggy tour + sand-skiing/sand-boarding/ or you can just lay on one board and slide downhill! They will explain everything before leaving and also during the tour! You have to do it!!!!

From Lima: the easiest way is by bus! (4h minimum it can be delayed) you take the bus from Lima to Ica. Stay at least 4 days in Paracas (ica) because you have so much to do!

The price for the bus ticket is around 20$ with the company Cruz del Sur. We booked our tour with International sandschool peru

– Paracas:

This is the place to be if you want to go to the beach! Although when I was there the water was freezing cold and the wind really strong! It’s located 1h away from Ica. You can enjoy the beach or do a boat ride in order to see, sea lions, sea turtles! Sea foods are amazing there!

Our hotel was in Ica, and it offered us a private day tour to go to paracas for 100$ for 2. It was completely worth it! But I think it cheaper if you rent a car. If so you must book it at leat 2 days before your arrival!

– The Nasca lines:We did not have time to do this.. although we met many people who did it. Some were thrilled others disappointed. What you must remember.

What are they? They are forms “drawn” by the Nasca culture. We never truly determined their signification although they remain mysterious and a treasure for historians.

The only way to admire them properly is by plane. It is quite expensive. You have several options.

– The easiest: flight from Ica! How convenient! Price 280$ per person! flight from Nazca: 102$/ pax. Yes it seems more affordable but!! You have 3h drive from Ica. The easiest is asking to your hotel to book a tour for you and to include the transportations fees and to negotiate the price!

Airline company

3: Iquitos

Ladies and gentlemen welcome in the jungle! You probably know the film Fitzcarraldo? If not you should! Anyway, the movie was shoot in Iquitos and takes place during the golden age of the rubber (late 1800 to the beginning of the XXeme century. They needed huge boats to carry the rubber and the workers from the jungle! You have a museum about those boats who explains everything in details.

Iquitos is the place you land before visiting the jungle. No other way, as the only way to go to Iquitos is by plane.

Plane : A 1h40 flight from Lima

 You can take the company viva air which is the low-cost company.

For a return ticket for 2 you will pay 200 which is quite cheap compare to the 180$/pax for one way for the other company!

You can also take the lancas (boat) from Lima. Yes it’s cheap but it will take 7 days and  for the tourists it is not recommend AT ALL!!!!

Jungle equal, HEAT! The temperature is alway really worm and wet! Just in case don’t forget to bring a rain coat because when it rains. It’s no joke there!

I recommend you to book a 3 days tour in the jungle as it requires half a day to get there. Your guide will teach you all you need to know about the local flora and fauna during a 4h trek in the jungle. You will fish piranhas, obverse caimans, monkeys… and maybe bigger animals if you are lucky!!

You will leave early in the morning with your guide, by minivan or car for a 2h drive in order to arrive to Nauta. It’s were all the boats leave for the jungle tours.

Then a 3h boat trip on the Amazon (more or less depending on the location of your lodge. And from now on, you will be in complete harmony with the nature and you will meet you new friends. THE mosquitoes. Don’t forget to bring your repellent and to drown yourself in it.

You have two types of lodges.

The authentic ones.

If you choose this option Forget:

– the wifi,

– the air conditioning,

– hot water (it’s so warm out there any ways that it’s not a big deal)

– limited electricity so make sure to bring extra batteries.

And if you are invaded by ants, or if you cross the path of tarantulas keep calm and think about how unique it is to be there!

The lodges are made of simple wooden planks and even if there are mosquitoes nets you will be eaten alive.

We choose this type of lodge. Ok it was the cheapest option but beside that… we wanted something authentic… to be completely cut off from modernity for three days and to fully experienced this adventure.

This option is for backpackers, or people who do not fear some adventures! I promise you! If you choose the first option, Bear Grills will be proud of you, and you won’t regret it!

📧 Send me a message I will give the name of the people we booked the tour with. They were the nicest!

Price: 130$/pax all included You also have the option were you have all the comfort. Wifi, unlimited electricity and were the mosquitoes won’t bother you that much and with swimming pool. I would recommend this option for the elderly people. Or people with special needs or with young children.

But the price is obviously not the same: around 500$/pax ‼️DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR PILLS TO PREVENT YOURSELF FROM MALARIA!! NO JOKE!‼️

What to do in Iquitos?

– The museum of historic boats:

You will learn all you need to know about the golden age of the rubber which was a crucial period for the development and the economy of Iquitos at that time! An hour/ an hour and a half Is enough normally..

The price is around 15 soles (3$)

The museum of indigenous Amazonian culture. This museum is very interesting if you’d like to learn more about how the indigenous used to live. You still have some tribes who still live in the jungle and knowing them better is an incredible life lesson! While visiting it, I thought “goodness me, those people actually know so much more than we think we do”. Obviously it’s a different knowledge, although they truly teach us how to stay humble somehow….

The price is the around S/10 to S/15 ❗️Take a light scarf with you just in case because the Air conditioning is lethal there!! ❄️

The Amazon rescue center (CREA) I did my internship there because I was truly inspired by what they were doing there. It is a rescue center for manatees, they are big aquatic mammals completely inoffensive who feed on aquatic plants! You have different species. Because of their size they are easy targets for poachers. The issue is not only the poachers but the local people who hunt them for their meat. Yes we might think it is outrageous. But please people, keep in mind that an other big issue is education. The locals are not aware about how bad it is to hunt them… so the center has TWO MAIN MISSIONS.

1: Rescuing the babies manatees. Why babies? Simply because it is the adults who are killed. The hunters kill the adult without realising that there’s a baby. Therefore, the baby has only a few hours or a day to survive without his mother. The center rescues the babies, give them all the treatments they need and once they are ready release them into the wild. Each individual is released with a “radar” so the vets and the staff know 24/7 were they are.

2: Rising awareness among the population. If we don’t educate the people, the hunt will never end. That’s why they welcome schools, they have seminars and tourists from all Peru and elsewhere who are visiting the center. They are doing an amazing job and since 2009 they have released over 15 manatees!!

They also have, monkeys, sloths and snakes.

❗️If you go there please keep in Mind that the security norms are way differents to what you are used to… they are trying their very very best but they lack of funds to improve everything. I give you my word that ALL the animals are well treated. They clean the water every day, and the cages. I have been shocked the first time when I saw the infrastructures but then I witnessed how devoted each person of the staff was to his mission…❗️

Prices

Peruvians

Children over 12 years old

  • S/. 5.00
  • Students
  • S/. 5.0

ForeignersAdults

  • S/. 20.00
  • Children over 12 years old
  • S/. 10.00
  • Students
  • S/. 10.00

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 9Am-3PM

Link to the Amazon rescue center

Now there are two places I would like to talk to you about. I have mixed feelings about them positives and negatives.

📍It’s located 30 minutes away from Iquitos in Tuktuk and pay 15 soles MAXIMUM! Normally it’s 10!

Quistacocha zoo

During our stay in Iquitos my friend who was doing the internship with me and myself, were looking for a nice place to spend our free time. By asking around they told us that there was the Quistacocha lagoon. On TripAdvisor, you will find something called the “Quistacocha zoo” the lagoon is located in the zoo… yhea I know weird but why not. So we went there. We arrived and the place is huge. But for real… we have been so shocked by the life conditions of the animals… you have big felines sharing really small cages. They were walking around completely lost… they were so bored.. all the cages were in bad conditions…

Do you remember when I said that the security normes were different? Well this is beyond that… you have monkeys too and different animals but we saw only one person feeding the monkey… we did not see any love or respect for the animals comparing to the rescue center we were working for… and just thinking that those poor souls would stay there for the rest of their lives is heart breaking.

Now the positive part: the lagoon. I have to admit it was really pleasant to lay dow on the sand and to enjoy the sun. You can do some pedalling and when you’re in the middle of the water surrounded by the jungle the feeling is sooo satisfying.

You also have a botanical garden were you can learn many things concerning the medicinals plants

It could have been such a lovely place, but the way the animal is  treated is just heartbroken. We talked about the conditions to our managers. They were aware of the conditions and they tried to talk to the owner apparently many times, but nothing came out of this. The problem is that most of the locals don’t see the issue there so as long as there are visitors in large number nothing can be done… I know… I was outraged myself. I am not an animal activist but I still am an animal lover. I do believe that they deserve respect and love. I do understand that some species must be protected in zoos or sanctuaries but not that way. This was animal cruelty. It was my personal opinion of course, although, if you ever visited it, I would be really interested by your feedbacks!

📍How to get there: it is 2 minutes away by tuktuk from the rescue Amazonian center. So 30 to 40 Minutes in tuktuk from Iquitos. 15 soles MAXIMUM!!

Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm
This place is wonderful for those in love with butterflies or just the curious ones. They truly do their best to preserve as many species as possible. Everything is well explained and you gat to see the circle of life of some species which is extremely interesting!! So well done for that!!!

They also have different other species such as monkeys and birds.

Let’s talk about the “strange” thing about this place. Before visiting the place we talked to several locals and travel agencies there in Iquitos.

Most of them told us that this butterfly farm’s aim was only to make money and that the animals were not their priority. That, they had two animals who have died in strange circumstances. We wanted to go and make our own opinion on the subject. We thought that maybe all these people were jealous because the farm is number one on trip advisor.

So we went. And as I said! For the butterflies part there is absolutely nothing to complain about and all the guides speak a perfect English or Spanish. The visit was very interesting. Concerning the animals they were all in large cage. I mean compare to Quistacocha it was “luxury” and did not shock me.

There is only once thing I did not appreciate to be honest. There was a tiger in a cage who apparently did not want to come out. Our guide started banging on the cage with large peace of meat to make him move. We gently told him that it was ok that there was no need to disturb him. There was an other guide who was walking around with a baby tiger to show him around… the baby was 2 or 3 months old and is not a toy so we did not appreciate this. But honestly, we were expecting the worst and despite the two incidents everything was absolutely lovely and interesting.

So guys, hear what people have to say but it is best to make up your own judgement! 

📍20 minutes away from Iquitos normally all the tuktuk know where it is.

$5 for the adults and $3 for the students

Now let’s start our ascension. Lima, Paracas and Iquitos are at the same altitude as the ocean so altitude 0 (ish) next stop:

4: Arequipa

2335 meter high! Yes compare to Cuzco or other places in Peru this is not high but still!! Many people may feel sick already. Don’t forget to bring some pills against hight sickness. I absolutely loved this place!

You should stay minimum 4 days there. 1 day to adapt yourself to the altitude 2 days for the trek in the Colca Canyon and 1 to rest. This place is so nice and if you just came back from the jungle you will be pleased (or not) to find a bit of modernity!

How to get there?

From Lima:  

  • By plane 1:35 flight 50$ all included (luggage, check in, seat….) Viva air
  •  By bus with Sur del Cruz. Between 35$ and 50$) for one way and a 17h30 trip. So in that case the plane is the best option!

From Puno: (Titi caca lake)

  • By Bus with Cruz del sur: This is the easiest option, it is a 6h trip for 28$.
  •  By plane you do not have straight flight and it takes at least 9h for a minimum of 160$ for one way. 

What to do?

– The Colca canyon

I have three words to describe it. Breathtaking, exhausting, unique.

We had the incredible chance to be only the two of us with the guide. Because it was not the high season not to many people had booked the tour. As a result, we had the guide only for us, and we could walk at the speed we wanted. I am asthmatic so it was a real challenge for me but at the end I’ve never ever been so proud of myself!

Book the 2 days trek or the three day trek otherwise you will miss everything!

‼️Book your tour with a professional guide do not walk by yourself you could get lost!‼️

If you can book a private tour it will be the best for you. The other groupes gathered at least 15 to 20 people and when we talked to some of them, they loved their experience but apparently, it had been a bit ruined by some morons who were there only to show the rest of the world how athletics they are without enjoying any of the view or the nature, and were pissed to wait for the slowest ones.

If you are athletic and well trained you should not have to much difficulties except if you suffer from the hight.

Day 1:

The day before the beginning of the trek your guide will meet you at your hotel to explain to you how everything will happen, and gives you some advices and precautions to take. If you have any concernes or health issues it’s your moment!

Your guide will pick you up around 8Am. There you will have about a 1h30 drive. Then you will admire the condors flying above your head and in the Canyon! It as absolutely fantastic to see!! They are beautiful creatures. Then you will have a 15 minutes drive in order to get to the starting point. 

You will walk for at least 2h30/ 3h depending on your speed straight down in the canyon were you will have lunch.

The path sometimes is not easy, trust me. People who have difficulties to walk I do not recommend you to do it. You have other options to discover the canyon (by car for exemple). 

For lunch you will stop in a lovely tiny village were the locals prepared a delicious lunch for you. After lunch the hardest part of the day! An other 3h walk. There you will enjoy the luxurious view. It is absolutely extraordinary due to the fact that there is one side of the canyon completely arid, and the other side, so luxurious and full of life!

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By the end of the afternoon you will finally arrive at the oasis where you will spend the night. There is no wifi, but I can assure you it will be the least of you problem! your only wish will be to have a nice shower and if you have the time… Dive in the pool!! a pool in the middle of a canyon how can you say no to that! 

DAY 2

You have 2 options to get to the top:

  • By foot: You will have to leave around 6AM as the way up is extremely difficult but you will be so so proud of yourself!! You will arrive at the top around 10AM. 
  • With a mule: You have the possibility to rent a mule for S/60 per person (18$). Many people choose this option as they were completely exhausted. I have no idea how there was no incident with the mules as the path is extremely narrow and they literally have to climb stairs! 

Once you have arrived at the top, you will get a good breakfast, and have the opportunity to bath in naturals hot springs after your breakfast. However, to be completely honest, they are absolutely filthy… Then you will have lunch and then it’s time to go back to Arequipa.

 $140/PAX

$235 USD Per Person Private VIP Service (Private guide/ van)

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING

  • Rain jacket (December to April)
  • Sweater and jacket (something warm)
  • Hat or cap to protect you from the sun
  • Sun block (sun protection cream)
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit
  • Strong comfortable and waterproof footwear
  • Bottle of water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Insect repellent

link to the agency we booked our tour with

Activities in Arequipa

– Museo Santuarios Andinos

I am sure you have heard about this young Inca called Juanita who has been find on the top a glacier? Well you can admire her in this museum and learn everything about the inca Culture. It is absolutely fascinating to learn their rituals, their way of living! You are not allowed to take pictures of juanita for a matter of respect but the way she is preserved is unbelievable!

Monday to Saturday: 09:00 – 6pm
Sunday: 09:00 – 3pm

Prices

  • Adults: S/20
  • Students and children: S/10

 

Cooking class

Because we love eating (like 99% of the population I guess…) We thought that learning how to cook local specialities would be fun and interesting! You will have diferent choices of menus to  learn. If you are more than one, you all have to choose the same menu.

We choose the “Criollo menu”:

  • You have a ceviche,
  •  Lomo saltado.

 

It takes 3h because between each preparation you will taste your food (the best part!). 

Ok… My ceviche doesn’t look incredible, but I promise you it is soo good! 

 

It’s chef Arthur who will be supervising the class. The cooking class takes place in his own restaurent. He studied in the UK and worked in France! So he speaks fluently english and understand french very well. You can also learn how to make a Pisco sour “the national drink” (S/. 50). You barely taste the alcohol and it is devine! you also have other options to cook: 

The Andean menu:

  • Shrimp soup
  • stuffed Pepper (rocoto peper stuffed with alpaca tender loin with a peanut sauce)  and potato gratin
  • You have a vegetarian option

Three days lesson (3 sessions of 2hours)

Day 1:

  • Causa pulpo al olive: (Cold potatoe spicy timbale stuffed with tender octopus, avocado and olives.)
  • Aji de gallon:Shredded chicken breast in aji amarillo sauce, olives and steemed yellow potato”

Day 2:

  • Chupe de camarones: “Crayfish Bisque flavored with red chili and garnished with fava beans and pumpkin”
  • Rococo Relleno: Rocoto Pepper stuffed with Alpaca tender loin in red chili and peanut sauce roasted in the oven with native potato and cheese gratin

Day 3:

  •  Patarashka: Grilled Fish wrapped in banana leaves stuffed with turmeric chili jungle tomato”
  •  Takacho:Deep fried banana meet balls stuffed served with crispy Confited Pork Cocona Salsa”

Price: S/. 350.00

Experience: 

Duration: 5hrs/  Price: S/. 200

Content: Market tour , cooking class criollo menu and pisco sour making

In this class you will also visit the local market which is a good opportunity to understand and observe the Peruvian biodiversity. They have over 3000 varieties of potatoes!! You will also taste seven kinds of suits and some cheese and olives!  

To book a class I recommend to contact chef Arthur directly by a WhatsApp message:

(+51) 958798514

cooking class link

5: Puno (TitiCaca lake) 

Here it is! The famous Lake Titi-caca: 3827 meters high

How to get there?

From lima:

By plane: 1:40 hour flight from 74$ (straight flight). The airport is located in JULIACA, which is one hour way from puno. 

From the airport you will have to take a taxi or the bus. 

  • Taxis from the airport of Juliaca to Puno: pay no more than 35$! which is around 115 soles. Make sure that you take a taxi INSIDE the airport, and even so, be extra careful! Once you have negotiated the price, repeat two or three times the price you fixed together. 
  • Do not take the bus as most of the buses are going to Arequipa first which takes over 16h and cost from 34$ to 54$ then you have a connexion at Arequipa to take a new bus which will take you to Puno. 

From Arequipa: 

  • By plane: you don’t have any straight flights and the lowest price is 190$ 
  • By bus: 6h30 hours trip. Price between 22$ and 28$ 

From Cusco: 

  • By Plane: Straight flight of 55 minutes around 123$ 
  • By bus: 6h30 trip, between 19$ and 25$

Many people I have met told me that they dislike Puno, or at least the Titicaca lake tour. For those who do not have much time to spend there or have only a few hours before going to Bolivia, they chose to do the half day tour where you will be taken on the floating island. Floating why? because they are literally floating and are fixed to the bottom on the lake by some roads attached to pikes. They are made with local reeds.

Now the reason why so many people dislike “so much” this tour is that, there is nothing “natural or authentic about what you see, sort of… You are welcomed in the communities with many groups of tourists and it is CROWDED! You will be dressed up as locals and then, you will be explained the history of the islands. Once the presentation is over, behind you, the entire island will be covered with all the marchandises sold by the women. Afterward, you will leave the island to do a boat tour. But honestly, there is no charm, no authenticity and all the tourists are gathered a bit like cattle’s. As a result most people are disappointed and feel like they have waisted their time and money. 

The price: between 10$ to 15$ person 

Most of our friends told us not to go to Puno as they had been disappointed. However, I wanted to make mu own opinion about it. I planned a three days tour with a two nights homestay in a local family. And it was FANTASTIC! 

When I contacted the travel agency in Puno, there were two tours that were interesting.

  • The Uros (floating island) homestay
  • Amantani homestay.

Day 1:

You are picked up at your hotel in order to get a boat which will take you to one of the floating island and where you will be meeting you host family. The first day will be slightly like what I have described above… It was nice as on our island there were only my boyfriend and I and an other family of tourists. Although we did not do much. It was just nice to think that we were sleeping on a floating island.

day 2:

This is where it starts to be interesting. After breakfast, we are heading to the island of Amantani. It is located at 2h from Puno by boat. It as an amazing small island were you have some vestiges older than the incas’s civilisation! In the boat, your guide will explain to you the history of the lake and the different islands you can find on the Peruvian side of the lake. Once you have arrived on the island, you will be introduced to your host family for the night and then, you will have a small walk to the top of the Pachamama mountain.  

WARNING: Some people might suffer from the altitude.  

Enlight85

A party is thrown in “your honor” around 7:30PM after supper. You will be dressed up in a traditional costume for the occasion. 

IMG_5510

 

Day 3:

You will go to Taquile island which is about 35 to 40 minutes away. You will have to walk to the top of the hill and once again the hight my be an issue for some people. It is a lovely island with a wonderful view of the lake. You might think you are in the south of Italy or France! Everything is a bit expensive on the island but all the items that you buy is handmade and the money goes 100% to the seller. 

Skip the Uros island homestay, it nice nothing more… go straight to the Amantani home stay 🙂 

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Book The 2days/1 night tour which is 55$ but I am sure you can bargain the price for 50 or 45$. In this tour you will have the visit of the Uros (floating island) but don’t make up any quick judgment. wait until you see Amantani and Taquile! 

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link to the travel agency in Puno

Cusco and the Machu Picchu (3 399m high)

From Lima:

By Plane: with VIVA AIR: 81$ luggage and check in included. Straight flight of 1h20. 

By bus: Unless you have much time don’t take the bus… It takes over 21h to get to Cusco for 58$. 

From Puno: 

By plane from Juliana airport: You don’t have any straight flights. You have a connecting flight in Lima and the shortest flight takes 3h30 and the price starts at 106$. 

By bus: 6h30 trip from 19$ to 25$

From Arequipa:

By plane: 1h flight from 78$ 

By bus: 10h trip from 32$ to 45$

So many things to say about this place! First of all, due to the altitude it might get cold so don’t forget a warm coat and clothes. During the day you might have a temperature of 16°c/20°c, although during the night you will have a 6°c or a 1°c! 

while walking near the Plaza the Armas, you will know 100% you are in Cusco if you are hearing every two steps “Machu Picchu? Montana de colores? massages?”. You will get used to it! 

what to do IN Cusco? 

Well you have the cathedral or severals museum. We did not do it as our time was limited and we chose to focus on the Machu Picchu. 

The Machu Picchu:

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You have different options to get there. 

  • BY TRAIN

FIRST DAY:
–  picked up from your hostel and driven to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to explore the Inca town before catching your train to Aguas Calientes.

  • 2h trip i
  • Your tour guide will meet you up at your hostel to brief you about the trip to MachuPicchu for the following day.

SECOND DAY:

  • Starting your ascent to Machu Picchu to arrive in time for sunrise (2 hours aprox,) The bus is optional, US$ 10 each way; first bus leaves at 5:30am). We were at the bus station at 3AM to be the first and there were already many, many people waiting! If you are going by foot, it is not easy… it is 90% of steps and with the altitude you might be a bit dizzy. 
  •  Guided tour of MachuPicchu following which you will have the rest of the afternoon to explore MachuPicchu. You need to return to Aguas Calientes at least 30 minutes prior to your train departure at 9:30pm. 

Cost: 250$/pax (you can bargain a bit but just think that the train is already 170$ for a return and the accommodation is included)

In Aguas Calientes, be careful of the food you willet there. we have been extremely sick, and it is afterward some of our Peruvian friends told us that the food was not fresh there. As there are so many tourists, they don’t really care about the hygiene as they know they will sell their food anyways. 

BY WALK:

The most famous trek to Machu Picchu is the Salkantay Trek of 5 days 4 nights. you have shortest ones although everyone told me that the 5 days one is the best. I did nit do it as I am asthmatic and I had real bad issues with the altitude… 

My friends told me that it is a very difficult trek (not for everyone) although you fell so proud and you are in complete harmony with the nature. If you are interested I can ask my cousin who did the trek to do a video with me so she can talk to you about the trek. 

Price around 200$ after bargaining. 

The Salineras: 

A stunning natural place where the salt is “harvested”, the place is incredible despite the crowd. You can see the workers in the salty pools harvesting the salt. It is located around 1h30 away from Cusco. Unfortunately, our guide was not good and was pushing us to leave quickly. We had only a few minutes to enjoy but it definitely worthy!!! 

The price is usually S/10 so 2$, might be less if you pay directly at the entrance. 

For some places you will need the “BOLETO TURISTICO”. It is a ticket which gives you access to 16 different places in Cusco such as the museums and around Cusco. When you book a tour with a travel agency or by yourself make sure you won’t be needing this “boleto”. 

Where to get it?

  • Tourist Office : Galerías Turísticas de la Av. El Sol (next to the Banco de Crédito) Mondays to saturdays 8AM-6PM, sundays 8AM-1PM
  • OFEC (Casa Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Calle Garcilaso) Mondays to Saturdays from 8AM to 5PM and sundays 8AM-8PM
  • At the entrances of the places included in the boleto from 7AM to 6PMIn Cusco:
  • Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo (Musée d’art contemporain)
  • Museo Historico Regional (Musée d’histoire régionale)
  • Museo de Sitio del Qoricancha (Musée du Coricancha)
  • Mirador de PachacuteqNear Cusco:
  • Saqsaywaman
  • Qenqo
  • Pukapukara
  • Tambomachay

In the sacred valley​:

  • Pisac
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Chinchero
  • Moray

Price: S/170 full price, student with a student card and under 25 yrs old S/70 and your ID. 

The rainbow mountain:

You probably saw pictures of this beautiful and colorful mountain which looks like a real rainbow… Well it is not as colorful as in picture but it is stil breathtaking!!! When we got there we were a bit disappointed concerning the colors. It looks a bit like a rainbow don’t take me wrong be the pictures you see on the internet are sooooooo photoshopped… Sorry guys…

To be honest it was one of the  hardest thing I have ever done in my life as the altitude is extremely high! over 5000 meters!!

You can rent a mule for S/60 for the way up but you still have 100 meters to walk by yourself before arriving at the top.

Enlight60

Heres what the “rainbow” mountain looks like…. does not look like to a rainbow but it is still breathtaking. Perhaps we were on a side where to colors were less present. You still have some colors don’t worry although not as much as you may find on the internet…

Enlight65Enlight61

Now some recommendations:

  • NEVER EVER take a taxi outside the airport when you arrive somewhere. And in Lima it is S/60 or 20$ MAXIMUM!! make the driver repeat the price at least two times before getting in his car. Sounds stupid but we have been robed by a taxi driver who asked us 60$ instead of S/60 soles. We refused to pay as everyone at the airport told us the price is S/60 and nothing more!
  • Use UBER as you won’t have to worry about the price and also because it is really cheap there and you will be safe.
  • Bargaining is part of the game there! So play it!
  • During your homestay in Puno (Titicaca lake) there is no sockets to charge your phone, no hot water so bring extra batteries 
  • Always have small notes on you to use as tips or to pay your souvenirs as in the streets or remote villages you can not use your credit card.

Usefull links:

Airline compagnies or website which will help you to by your plane tickets at the cheapest price;

BUS company:

I hope you enjoyed this first article. Please comment all your questions and I will make a youtub video to answer everything. My next article will talk about the budget, and all the hotels we have been to and the restaurants in Perou we tried. I would love to hear YOUR stories as well so please please please do not hesitate to comment!!

 

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4 thoughts on “Traveling to Peru the smart way

    1. Indeed! Poachers only kill the adults as they are massive and easy targets… Manatees are completely inoffensives and because they are mammals, they need to go to the surface to breath. Most of the time, the manatee who is killed is a mother with a baby. The baby is hidden by his mother and is left alone once the mom has been taken away…

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