Peru is a must see for every traveler, it is a stunning country full of things to see and to do:
- Meet local people, know their wonderful culture and see their colored dresses
- Hike on the Andes enjoying the fantastic scenery and the wildlife
- Do a trekking in the canyon and see the majestic Andean condor at the sunrise
- Visit the sacred valley and learn the mystery of Incas
- Taste best tipical dishes in top restaurants of Lima
I organized my 3-weeks trip by myself so I would like to share some practical tips to get started!
Best time to go in Peru
If you would like to visit the South of Peru (so the main attractions) best time to go is during the dry season between May and October. In Lima and on the coast the weather will not be so nice, usually it is cloudy, but as soon as you leave the coast the weather will be much better. In the Andes you will find sunny days and bright blue skies, the clouds will seem very close! During the night and early in the morning will be cold but during the day the temperature will be perfect to walk and visit the attractions (around 20/22 celsius degrees).
One of the concerns I had it was about the Altitude sickness. As soon as you will leave the coast, the elevation will increase, very quickly. To avoid altitude sickness, you should acclimatise step by step and for this reason the itinerary below is strictly suggested. There are also some other suggestions to follow: drink often water, drink coca tea (mate de coca) and chew coca leaves to alleviate symptoms, eat light meals, avoid cigarettes and alcohol. We also bought pills called “Soroche Pills” (http://www.sorojchipills.com/) to avoid altitude sickness. These pills can only be bought in Peru, and they helped us a lot, we didn’t had any sickness!
Another concern I had was about the Transfers. Me and my boyfriend usually do all travels autonomously renting a car. In Peru we thought about it a lot because it is not a common solution, usually people catch the touristic buses. I don’t like to take buses because I would not be autonomous and I cannot stop where I wish to do some pictures.
At the end We decided to rent a car and we’ve done everything autonomously, it is a bit dangerous because Peruvians are not able to drive safely. I suggest to rent a car if you are an experienced driver and you can drive for long time (very often we had to drive 7 or 8 hours) so it is not eas… and renting a car is very expensive. If you are not sure to be able to drive with this conditions I suggest to catch the touristic buses (the best company is Cruz del Surhttp://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/). Anyway after my travel I am very happy to have rented a car because we stopped a lot of times to meet local people or take pictures.
Suggested Itinerary for 3 weeks
- Lima – 1 day – Visit the city and rest yourself after the long flight
- Paracas – 1 day (Lima-Paracas: 270 km; around 4 hours). Visit the reserve of Paracas (desert reserve close to the see) and visit the Ballestas islands (called the Peruvian Galapagos)
- Nazca – 1 day (Paracas – Nazca: 214 km, around 3 hours). Take a small flight to enjoy the Nazca lines and hear about the mystery around them.
- Arequipa – 2 days (Naza – Arequipa: 560 km, around 8 hours). Visit this outstanding example of colonial city.
- Colca Canyon – 2 days (Arequipa – Yanque: 170 km, around 3 hours). Do a trekking in the canyon, see the majestic condors at the sunrise and discover the small authentic villages.
- Puno, Titicaca lake – 2 or 3 days (Yanque – Puno: 277km, around 4 hours). Visit the Uros Islands (a too touristic attractions but at the end I think it worth to see them), Taquile Island and Amantani (if you can spend one night there).
- Cusco and sacred valley – 3 days (Puno – Cusco: 390km, around 8 hours). Visit all the Inca archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Pisac, Moray, Salinas de Maras.
- Ollataytambo – 1 day (Cusco – Ollanta: 80 km, around 2 hours). Visit the small town and the archaeological site and catch the train to Auguas Caliente.
- Aguas Caliente – 2 days (Ollanta – Aguas Caliente should be done by train, 1 hour an half). Aguas Caliente is the base to reach Machu Picchu. We arrived on top of Machu Picchu doing a trekking from Aguas Caliente (we wake up at 4;00 am in the morning and we arrived at Machu Picchu at 6:00 am). If you have time it would be much better doing the Inca Trail. The full trail is 5 days (and really long) but you can do also the last 2 days which I think it is more affordable!
- Cusco – 1 day (Aguas Caliente – Ollanta by train + Cusco – Ollanta by car: 80 km, around 2 hours)
- Andahuaylas – 1 day (Cusco – Andahuaylas: 340 km, around 7 hours). This is just a stop to come back to Lima.
- Ica – 1 day (Andahuaylas – Ica: 520 km, around 9 hours). Visit the desert oasis and see the sunset on a sand dune.
- Lima – 1 day (Ica – Lima: 300 km, around 4 hours)
I will give you more information of each place, what to see and what to do in my upcoming posts, so stay tuned!
Other Extensions (if you have more than 3 weeks)
- Bolivia – Copacabana: the bolivian side of the Titicaca lake is less touristy and more authentic, I read that it is really beautiful
- Bolivia – Salar de Uyuni: this is a really special place… I would definitely need to go in Bolivia to see it! If you have 4 days more you can add it in your trip
- Amazon Forest – you can arrive in the Amazon Forest from Cusco (After Machu Picchu) in Puerto Maldonado or Manu National Park. You will need 4 days more.