Tips on Travelling in Peru

This post is long overdue, yet it has been on my mind every single day for the past half year. Our experience in Peru was so unforgettable; 6 months later, I am still in awe of the magnificence of its culture and rich history. Here I would like to share my experiences and some tips about getting ready for a trip to Peru. Through our initial research, we narrowed it down to three options. Option No. 1: we can travel independently, book our own transportation, hotel and flights. However, we were worried that we did not speak any Spanish and Mr. R has watched way too many episodes of Scam City and he was worried that it won’t be safe. Option No. 2: Go with G Adventures. Many of our friends went on trips with G Adventures and they all loved it. Option No. 3: Find another travel company that specializes in Peru tours, and that’s what we did. We stumbled upon Inka Crossland Travel and compared prices and the itinerary with G Adventures. We realized that with Inka Crossland Travel we can customize our itinerary and the travel dates are flexible. Overall, Inka Crossland Travel offers better value package than G Adventures. Our two week travel was semi-independent. When we arrived in a new destination, the local tour guide would come to the station or airport to pick us up. All the guides that we encountered on the trip were really knowledgable and friendly. At the same time we were given ample free time to enjoy and explore the cities on our own. Most of the time it would just be the two of us with the tour guide, only in the large cities that we would be put into small groups with the other tourists from all over the world. Meeting different travellers from different parts of the globe is really a wonderful experience, and I find people who are well travelled are more open minded and in general… just happier. Our itinerary takes us all over the vast country, from the damp and cold Capital City Lima right by the sea, to the dry and hot Nazca lines in the desert, to the humid and hot Amazon Jungle, and to the magnificent yet thin aired Andes Mountains. Every region has an entirely different climate and we have to be prepared for different challenges.

Brief overview of our itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Arrive in Lima
  • Day 2 – Lima to Paracus. Boat tour to the Ballestas Islands to see sea lions, penguins and millions of bird species. In the afternoon, we visited Huacachina Oasis, and experienced the thrill of riding the sand dunes on a dune-buggy and sandboarding.
  • Day 3 – Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines in the dessert. Tasting the famous Pisco Sour in the local winery.
  • Day 4 – Fly to Iquitos. Boat ride to Ceiba Tops Lodge in Amazon. Trekking in the jungles and night walk in the Amazon Rainforest with expert naturalists to spot wildlife.
  • Day 5 – Search for the mysterious pink dolphins in the amazon river and visit the Yagua tribe whose people still preserve their way of life as it was hundreds of years ago.
  • Day 6 – Arrive in Puno; enjoy a guided tour in Sillustani, the pre-Incan burial site.
  • Day 7 – Visit to the floating Islands of Uros and guided tour of Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca.
  • Day 9 – Travel from Puno to Cusco, the heart of Incan Empire by bus. Visit different archeological site along the way.
  • Day 10 – City tour of Cusco. Guided tour to Temple of the Sun, Sacsayhuaman, Quenqo, and more… with a small group.
  • Day 11 – Day tour of the Sacred Valley. Shopping in the traditional Pisaq market and off to another Inca ruins – Ollantaytambo.
  • Day 12 – Train Ride to Aquas Calientes. Enjoy a guided tour in Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Day 13 – Back to Lima. City tour of Peru’s capital city.

List of essentials that I’d suggest travellers bring:

  • Passport/Travel Visa and a photocopy of it (Put the two in separate places in case if you lose your originals)
  • Flight Ticket!
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine Certificate (if Amazon is on your travel itinerary)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Sturdy mid size backpack that’s easy on your back. Mine is light yet big enough to store water bottle, snacks, maps, documents, money, phone, medicine, souvenirs, even jacket.
  • Shoes:
    • Comfortable High Ankle Hiking boots
    • Sandals
    • Optional: Slippers to wear in the hotel room
  • Clothing:
    • Quick dry hiking pants
    • Quick Dry T-Shirts
    • One pair of shorts.
    • Fleece, Midlayer, and undergarments to keep you warm. Dress in layers as the diurnal temperature varies greatly.
    • Thick hiking socks with arch support will make walking much more comfortable, remember, you are going to be on your feet a lot!
    • A good wind jacket that’s going to keep you warm. You will need it for the boat rides and the cold nights in the mountains.
    • Raincoat (definitely useful in the rainforest, we bought ours from a dollar store)
    • Gloves for cold nights
    • Hat for sun protection
    • Sunglasses
  • Personal care products such as hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, Kleenex, toilet paper, sunscreen, lip balm, and lotion. The public toilets in Peru does not offer toilet paper, please bring your own.
  • Flashlight for night walks.
  • Basic first aid kit: Diamox for high altitude sickness, Cipro for traveler’s diarrhea, gravel for motion sickness, Advil or Tylenol for cold, bandage, polysporin, multivitamins, and after bite treatment. In addition, I would recommend magnesium supplements, it really helped us with pins and needles when we were suffering from the high mountain sickness.
  • Mosquito Spray (crucial if you are heading to the rain forest)
  • Cash (Although some might even suggest a hidden money belt, we felt really safe the whole time we were in Peru. We brough mostly US dollars and some Peruvian Sol. The exchange rate at the airport is really expensive, wait till you get to the local banks and the rates will be much more reasonable )
  • Camera, batteries, chargers, storage discs 
  • Phone (You can buy local prepaid cards to use while you are in the country)
  • Water treatment and Water bottles. The tap water in Peru is NOT drinkable. You will need to treat your water first or purchase packaged water bottles from the local stores. We use the treated water for brushing teeth and washing faces.

Things to do before travel

  • Book your tickets
  • Get your passport or travel visa ready
  • Get travel insurance ready
  • See a doctor at the travel clinic! You should get all the proper vaccination and all the necessary medication. We had Hepatitis A and Yellow Fever vaccination. Doctor also gave us prescription for Malaria, high altitude sickness, and antibiotic for traveller’s diarrhea.
  • Research on the weather in each city so you have an idea of what kind of cloth you will need.
  • Research restaurants in the area. There are many amazing restaurants in the big cities in Peru. I will try to post a few reviews once I am finished with them.
  • Get everything on the must-bring-list ready.We sure did spend a lot of money at Mountain Equipment Coop. When buying online, Altitude Sports from Montreal offers pretty good deals, sometimes even better than MEC.

Linking to Travel Tuesday