(Teehee FX nerd joke… ok, moving on…)
I had the privilege of spending almost 3 weeks in Peru and the trip has been incredible experience from start to finish. I trekked through ancient Incan cities, hiked in the Amazon jungle, soaked in the mountain hot springs, sledded down giant sand dunes, ate deliciously fresh ceviche on the coast and drank plenty of Pisco Sours. Best of all, I got to frolic through the terraces of Machu Picchu chasing llamas all day!
This was the first time I had traveled for so long alone, and I admit I was a bit worried considering my non-existent Spanish skills. However, I was able to meet some truly awesome travellers along the way and also learned how effective facial expressions and body language can be in terms in communication. From this trip, I am probably most proud of my ability to work out the public transportation everywhere I went and that I packed for this entire trip with just one carry-on suitcase!
My itinerary was a bit scattered and inefficient as I did not really plan more than a couple days in advance… but by the end of the trip, I was quite satisfied that I had seen and done pretty much everything I had wanted to in Peru. I have outlined my itinerary below, and note it sort of follows the typical “gringo trail” in reverse.
If, for some reason, you decide to follow my itinerary when planning your own Peru trip, just note I did not allow myself anytime to acclimate to the high elevations of Cusco or Puno. Luckily, I did not experience any altitude sickness but it is usually advisable to give yourself a couple easy days to get used to the altitude.
Click on each link for a more detailed post on each area:
Day 1-3: Lima
I began my trip in the capital of Peru, where I wandered the beautiful seaside parks of Miraflores, strolled through bohemian Barranco, and viewed the colonial architecture of Central Lima. My favorite activity in Lima was my Peruvian cooking class.
Accommodation: Pariwana Backpackers Hostel (highly recommend! Super comfy beds, chargers inside the lockers, great location, fun bar)
Day 4-7: Amazon Basin
I left the coast to head to the jungle, and I spent a few days exploring the Southern Amazon rainforest and observing the diverse wildlife of the Tambopata Reserve.
Accommodation: Tambopata Lodge (fantastic food)
Day 8-9: Lake Titicaca
I left the world’s largest rainforest for the world’s highest lake, which sits on the border between Peru and Bolivia. I visited the unique floating islands made of totora reeds, and spent the night with a local family on Amantaní Island.
Accommodation: Local homestay
Day 10: Cusco
It was time to enter into llama territory! I spent a couple days in Peru’s historical capital before and after my Machu Picchu trek. The city was alive with cultural dances and celebrations for their most important festival of the year, Inti Riymi.
Accommodation: Pariwana Backpackers Hostel (same as in Lima – loved it! Open communal spaces, fantastic internet, fun bar, comfy beds)
Day 11-13: Inca Jungle Trek
I took the “fun” Inca Jungle trek to Machu Pichhu, which involved mountain biking, hiking, white-water rafting, ziplining, and hot spring-ing our way to the Lost City of the Incans
Day 14: Machu Picchu
The 4th day of the Inca Jungle trek brought us to our final destination: Machu Picchu (also known as “llama land” … to only me). After wandering the city ruins and climbing Wayna Picchu, I headed to Ollanyantambo to visit the fortress ruins before returning to Cusco.
Day 15: Cusco
I was back in Cusco for one more day of exploration and Inti Riymi festivities before heading to the Southern Coast.
Accommodation: Milhouse Backpackers (huge space but crowded dorms, ensuite rooms, fun bar, good breakfast)
Day 16-17: Arequipa
By the time I reached the “White City” of Arequipa, I was so exhausted I could barely do anything beyond visiting the alpacas. That was enough for me though!
Accommodation: Wild Rover (big party hostel but was a bit empty when I was there… has a pool and a chill pub scene)
Day 18-19: Huacachina
This desert oasis boasts one of the coolest activities ever — sandboarding down the giant sand dunes! I also took a pisco tasting tour as the Ica region is well-known for its grape brandy production.
Accommodation: Banana’s Adventure (super chill oasis hostel with a tiki bar and pool, terrific food and great sand dune tours)