12 Tips for Peru

12 Tips for Peru

Hi everyone! It’s been a month since returning from Peru and serendipitously in that time, two other groups of family visited Peru and another is leaving in two days! It appears Peru has been a popular destination!!!

August 2018 was peak tourist season but it was actually quite quiet. My girl friend and I had a superb time and we thought we’d share some tips from our 10 day trip and things to expect. Plan to spend about $700 USD on your trip splitting with a friend, for hotel, food, gifts, tours, rides, etc. You can probably spend less but that’s just my rough estimate excluding perks like massages or fancy meals. And yes, us two girls felt safe in Peru.

Our Tips for Peru

  1. Acclimate by staying in lower elevation for about two or three days before attempting to trek Machu Picchu. Don’t even think about climbing up Rainbow Mountain near Cusco if you don’t acclimate.
  2. We recommend planning for a 10 day visit that includes, in our preferred order:
    1. Starting with the Ollantaytambo Inca Ruins but don’t shop here as it’s more expensive
    2. Horseback riding with zip lining in Urubamba
    3. Taking a train to Machu Picchu
    4. Trekking to Machu Picchu along the bus route up
    5. Visiting the night markets in town
    6. Hiking to Los Jardines de Mandor, aka Botanical Gardens and Waterfall for a serene and leisurely day
    7. Staying in Cusco towards the end of your trip
    8. Hiking up Rainbow Mountain is a MUST – visit attraction for both it’s beauty and the feeling of satisfaction for getting up there
    9. Walking up to Sacsayhuaman, pronounced as “Sexy Woman”, to see the Christo Blanco, white Jesus statue and visiting the ancient ruins in the city of Cusco
    10. Waiting to shop at Centro Artsenal Cusco on Avenida el Sol to find good deals and keep your luggage light till the end.
  3. If you have a fear of heights, skip the horseback riding and zip lining in Uru. Also, skip hiking up to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. You can still walk up to the actual Machu Picchu ruins but stick to the bus route on the trek up. You should have no problems getting up to the Ollantaytambo Inca Ruins or both the Sacsayhuaman and ruins in Cusco. The trail up to Rainbow Mountain isn’t too bad either.

  4. Keep a copy of your passport with you, either in paper format or on your phone. I haven’t traveled much outside of the U.S. but apparently, you always need your passport to book trains and tours.
  5. Strap on a fanny pack to keep your money and passport secure. Use a drawstring backpack and pack a light jacket or sweatshirt (depending on the time of year/weather), plus water and sunblock (even if overcast). Keep all your other stuff in your hotel room. You don’t need to haul around a large backpack.
  6. Have one or two Soles with you for the restroom. The Soles buy you a few sheets of toilet paper so I recommend bringing extra sheets with you in case you have to go number two.
  7. Wear sturdy shoes. I don’t think you need to pack hiking boots. Good tennis/running shoes are sufficient but trail running shoes have even better grip and are less bulky to pack than hiking boots.
  8. Don’t over pack because the trains won’t let you bring on huge suitcases and you really don’t need a lot. We washed our shirts in the sink so we could pack light.
  9. Bring clothes for layering. At the end of August, we experienced not only micro-climates throughout the day but from one part of the country to the next, we had sun, cold, and thunderstorms. We both packed:
    • Dry fit tank tops
    • A pair of running shorts
    • Long sleeved dry fit running shirts
    • Leggings
    • Jeans
    • A light North Face-like jacket
    • Gloves, a knit hat, and a scarf. Cusco does drop down to the 30’s at night so I was really glad I packed some winter stuff. My friend bought her hat and scarf at the Cusco night market because there’s a ton of alpaca stuff to buy and the prices are decent.
  10. Wait to buy your tours in Peru so you can pay in Soles. You can get Soles out of the ATMs. Most restaurants accept credit cards but the Machu Picchu ruins only accept MasterCard.
    • Skip the General Pass for 130 Soles purchased at the Inca Trails if you plan to book guided tours that drive you around. The tours usually include your entrance fee. We liked the General Pass because it gave us entrance to many attractions throughout the area, and we simply followed groups who paid for guides and listened in.
  11. Purchase just the basic economy train ticket if you can. The trains are extremely clean and comfortable and you don’t really need the upgrade.
  12. Stay in a resort like the Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Urubamba at the beginning of your trip if you feel like splurging so you can get massages and do yoga with the mountain backdrop. Book your stay in Machu Picchu at Rupa Wasi and experience sleeping in a nice tree house, plus the food there is really good. Stay at Hotel Torre Dorada on the outskirts of Cusco to experience more of the local scene and get your steps in. And they provide exceptional customer service.