Peru Travel Tips & Tricks
I had no idea what to expect from Peru. As you may have noticed, Asia is more of my specialty and it had been nearly 13 years since stepping foot in South America. It’s interesting how once you start traveling regularly you notice the similarities between even the most distant of places. Parts of Peru were reminiscent of Cambodia while most others brought back distant memories from an Ecuador trip pushed down deep over the years.
In fact, the choice to go to Peru was made mostly on a whim. It had not even been on the radar until a friend traveled there earlier in the year. Her photos and experiences inspired me. The truth is I needed a new locale since Asia isn’t as geographically convenient as it once was.
Once the planning began the abundance that Peru offers became obvious. Peru is one of those places were you have likely heard of its best sites you just might not remember or maybe you cant place it as Peruvian. Everyone has heard of Machu Picchu and that is what the country is most well known for. I would bet you have also heard of the Nazca Lines, Amazon Rainforest and Lake Titicaca. All of those are Peruvian gems too.
So now that you know how much there really is to do the planning process becomes a bit more daunting. But don’t fear! Trip planning is my second favorite thing to do next to actually taking the trip itself !
Although there are some people that are comfortable traveling for extended periods of time, others have a sweet spot. For me, that sweet spot is 12 days. After that I am tired, cranky and ready to go home. That is why you will not find many itineraries that exceed that limit here. We spent 9 full days in Peru with a travel day on either end for a total of 11 days. Sitting in Cusco on the final day, there was still another full week of activities I wished there was time for.
Although Peru can be done in 9 days, if you are one of those who prefers long term travel than I would recommend staying closer to 14 days. The itinerary below will explain everything. As the name implies, this plan highlights the Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu but with plenty of other unique sites thrown in for good measure.
- The Amazon and Machu Picchu Highlights
- 1 Day Lima Walking Tour
- Cities aren’t usually the most unique places but there are some things to do in Lima, Peru that will help get your trip started of on the right foot.
All of the best experiences in Peru are either cultural or natural. If you are looking for the best place to shop, keep looking. That is not to say there isn’t awesome shopping in Peru but that is not the reason you should be going. If you are looking for a beach vacation…move along. Peru has plenty of beaches but it also has so much more to offer.
If you are looking to learn about wildlife, get up close and personal with nature untamed, explore Incan culture and ruins or eat some deliciously simple and unexpectedly flavorful food then you are in the right place.
In general big cities don’t do it for me. They lack authenticity and most have the same stores, restaurants and traffic. Lima is no different and 1 full day there was plenty but it does have some fun highlights to get you in the wandering spirit.
Iquitos and the Amazon Rainforest
Iquitos is your entry into the REAL Amazon rainforest of Peru. A lot of other blogs will point you in the direction of Puerto Maldonado and they are sadly mistaken. Even the locals in Lima and Cusco (ones that have nothing to gain or lose by sharing their opinions on this) ALL said that Iquitos is the superior choice for a genuine and authentic Amazon Rainforest experience.
According to one local, Puerto Maldonado is much more similar to a wildlife reserve than the untamed and true rainforest that exists near Iquitos. If you are going to take the time to go to the Amazon, do it right and go to Iquitos.
- A small town that doesn’t have a TON to offer but as your gateway to the Amazon you might have to spend 1 day or so here.
- The Amazon Rainforest
- The amazon jungle located near Iquitos, Peru is the most authentic amazon rainforest experience you can get in Peru. Skip Puerto Maldonado and go authentic!
Cusco, The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
Cusco is in the running for top 3 cutest cities ever. It is ADORABLE with its Incan rock walls, yellow painted buildings and blue doors. There is a lot to see in the city itself and even more to do when you start looking into potential day trips. Cusco is sometimes called “The gateway into the Sacred Valley” due to it being the largest city near the valley. The sacred valley itself has TONS to offer in regards to Incan ruins, which you will not want to miss. There is so much more than just Machu Picchu!
- The Sacred Valley
- Machu Picchu
Peru Travel Tips & Tricks
Peru is fairly easy to navigate on your own especially if you speak Spanish. A lot of people can also speak English or at least enough to communicate a point. As is true with any country there are some quirks that might be unexpected but are easily navigated or avoided once you know about them (Tada! You’re welcome!)
- Because Sometimes Trains Crash: Why You Should Hire A Guide
- Peruvian Air hates your carry-on luggage
- Peruvian Airlines does not want you to have carry-on luggage. I am not sure why and they cannot seem to tell you either. This is true for flights between Lima and Iquitos for sure and likely all other domestic flights. You are not allowed to place anything under the seat in front of you on even the shortest of flights. For this reason, all “personal items” have to go in the overhead bins meaning all carry-on luggage will be gate checked. You have been warned.
- How To Get To Machu Picchu: 10 Things You Need To Know
- Here is ONLY the need-to-know information about how to get to Machu Picchu, no excessive details or fluff necessary. Ignore the information overload!
- Learn about the Inca’s
- Hi my name is Erica and I was an uninformed tourist. I was the moron staring at the rock walls in Cusco and wondering why so many people were taking photos of all these damn rocks!! Learn from my mistakes don’t be me. While in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu I wished I knew more about the Incas or that the Internet was faster so I could download something about it! But alas, it was not to be so just be a better human than I and do your research on the Incas in advance, you’ll be glad you did!