By far one of the most picturesque countries I have ever been. Whether you decide to trek around the country or explore it by using internal flights/buses here are a few travel tips to consider.
MUST GO CITIES/EXPERIENCES in PERU
Inca Trail (Experience)
Colca Canyon (Nature)
Cuzco City (Historical Heritage)
Rainbow Mountain (Hiking)
Machupicchu AND Waynapicchu (Natural Wonder)
WHAT TO EAT
Rocoto relleno (spicy)
Camarones de rio
Cuy chascado – If you are BRAVE enough!
WHERE TO START YOUR JOURNEY
I recommend to land in Lima and proceed with your discovery of Peru by the coast and then in the land: Paracas, Huacachina, Arequipa, Cuzco etc..
One major reason why I suggest to start by coastal cities (Lima) when landing is due to the high altitude of other cities such as Arequipa and Cuzco. You may suffer altitude sickness if you land in cities located high above sea level.
However, NO NEED to panic, there are TONNES of remedies on how to effectively fight ‘altitude sickness’.
Arequipa – Spanish colonial city not to miss out for its enchanting square, historical significance and proximity to the world deepest canyon in the world.
Where to eat: La nueva Palomino and La Mundial (lunch time only)
Where to stay: Flying Dog Hostel
To-do: Free walking tour from Plaza San Francisco.
Whilst in Arequipa, make sure to do a day trip to what is regarded by some as the deepest and most spectacular canyon in the world, Colca Canyon.
Most famous hike in SA (if not the world) and without a doubt a life-changing experience. It is an ambitious, yet enchanting hike passing through the Inca’s sacred valley and all the way up to Machu Picchu. Below a few shots of what views/stops to expect/make.
Paying a visit to the lost city of the Incas is a must-do thing whilst in Peru. Comes without a surprise that this is one of the 7 man-made wonders in the world. A city which was never found/discovered by the Spanish conquistadores due to its intrinsic and strategic geo-location. This place will surprise you. It was so mystic and awe-inspiring at the same time.
Tickets to Machu Picchu can be purchased on the door or as part of a tour you can organise in loco. However duing high-season (late May – September) it is advisable to book in advance. Book them via the official website: here.
TIP: should you have your student ID card bring it with you/make the most of it whilst booking it. GREAT discount!
Ever heard of Wayna Picchu?
YES, another mountain to hike! It is the mountain you see at the background when looking at Machu Picchu village. Yes, THAT one: steep and high. I must admit it was not an easy hike, in fact rather difficult and scary but so worth it as you get the BEST view of Machu Picchu (different perspective than the above one). If you want to brave it make sure to purchase your ticket in advance (up to 2 months in advance during high season) here.
Yes, that little concentration of houses is Machu Picchu. Different perspective, indeed. Also from here you can see the peak of all other surrounding mountains: scary but cool!
The city seen as the belly button of the world by the Incas. A visit to this city will take you back to the mystic Inca’s empire. This would be your first stop before embarking your journey through the Sacred Valley and Andean countryside dotted with villages, ruins and high altitude hamlets.
What to visit: Museo Inka, Museo Casa Concha (Historical museums)
Where to get souvenirs: Inti Killa (artisan souvenirs) – called marques 250.
Where to eat: Nikkei food (fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines) at Takysan Bar in Santa Ana neighborhood.
Best FRUIT JUICE
When visiting San Pedro market in Cusco treat yourself in a rich cup of blended exotic fruits. Genuinely the best fruit juice I have ever had. The variety of fruit you can choose from is INSANE and all very fresh and appealing.
Experience Nikkei cuisine
Peru’s culinary tradition is a mix of the various cultural influences which have swept over the South American country. One such cultural influence was Japan, and the combination of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine known as Nikkei. At first glace, it might look like a sushi menu but their dishes are more unique and tastier. Perfect blend!
Please be aware that when traveling around Peru, certain destinations (eg Cusco and Machu Picchu) are located at very high altitude where you might experience breathing problems (and other minor consequence for lower oxygen levels). Do not freak out as this is totally normal and in fact it is important to know this prior to your departure so you know how to cope with it. Below is a list of what you might experience and in the paragraph below how to protect yourself against it
How to cope with altitude sickness
You might read and/or have read about various altitude sickness remedies such as chewing coca leaves or carrying a bottle of oxygen with you. Personally, having spent almost 1 month traveling between Peru, Bolivia and Chile we came across with other effective (if not more effective and practical even) remedies. Here’s a list of these,
Alti-vital pills (natural product to be purchased in local pharmacies)
Agua Florida (natural scents to be purchased in local markets)
Tea bags of Cuña and Coca leaves (natural tea to be purchased in local supermarket)
How to get around
It is safe to say that Peruvian roads aren’t the best of Latin America, especially when talking about getting to places such as Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain. The best bus service you can use generally around Peru (and/or for overnight buses too) is Cruz del Sur. I cannot recommend this company enough: absolutely THE BEST! It was like traveling in a first-class seat on a plane with complimentary service and assistance during cruising. However an alternatively and cheaper option is Peru Hop. Nevertheless when heading to Machu Picchu I strongly advise to avoid any kind of bus service as the ‘road’ is pretty much non existent and particularly unsafe. Instead book ahead a train ticket with PeruRail. Beside enjoying a pleasantly smooth journey, the train will pass through the entire Inca Trail/Sacred Valley: spectacular scenery comfortably sat in first class seats.
As I have already gone through the above journey and traveled around South America, if you require further specialised support on an itinerary and extra tips and discount feel free to contact me directly.