Hello again, all!
I have been asked a few times for my Peru itinerary so below I have included all I could: costs, times, and some extra information for anyone that may not travel as often. When Analeise and I planned this trip, and as we went through it, we balanced out the cheaper “backpacking” lifestyle while allowing ourselves the occasional splurge for enjoyment. I included as close to the exact costs and conversions in soles as possible, but remember currency is constantly changing and, of course, often negotiable while traveling.
For starters, the biggest monetary savings that we accomplished was booking our round-trip tickets with United miles. It cost me 30K miles and $95 to go from Houston to Cusco (with a connection in Bogota) and back to Houston from Lima. Therefore, it was necessary to purchase an extra commuter flight from Cusco to Lima, which thankfully are frequent and affordable ($90).
Day One: Cusco
- Arranged pick up with the hostel ahead of arriving ($6/20 sol)
- Stayed at Pariwana Hostel ($15 a night/48.6 sols),
- Purchased Machu Picchu and Montaña hike tickets at the Ministero de Cultura (the guy we got only spoke spanish) ($65/210 sols)
- Ate the yummiest (and largest) empanadas at La Valernia ($6/19.5 sols)
- Then we just enjoyed the nightlife at Pariwana (which was incredible)
Day Two: Humantay Lale
- 4 AM show for the van to Humantay lake ($40/130 sols) (signed up through our hostel’s excursion desk). It was about a 4 hour (relatively bumpy) drive to the base of the mountain. They provided breakfast and dinner in a small town halfway through.
- 1 1/2 hour hike to top (45 minutes without any stops, which of course didn’t happen)
I would suggest the walking stick the guide will suggest, gloves, and if you get altitude sickness, the necessary precautions as the altitude may affect you.
Day Three: Hidroelectrica Trek
Now there are several ways of getting to Machu Picchu/Aguascalientes (the base).
- Peru Rail and Inca Rail $$
- Taking a shuttle to Hidroelectrica and then hiking $
- Taking collectivos and hiking the entire way to AguasCalientes (half a dollar sign)
- Bus to Hidroelectrica (signed up again through hostel excursion desk) ($15/50 sols). We left our packs at Pariwana to save ourselves the trouble of the weight.
- It’s a pretty long drive: about 7 hours. You do stop for bathroom and snack breaks, of course. This was when we met a group of Mexican female travelers that we ended up doing the hike with and meeting up on Montana. (and now we follow each other on Instagram!)
- Lunch at hidroelectrica ($3/10 sols) before the hike. You will also need to sign in at this booth before starting the hike. You’ll need your passport number. Also be aware the hike is open for certain hours during the day so make sure you start with enough time.
- ~3 hour hike and yes, there is the occasional bathroom stop if you need it.
- There’s a tunnel that you’ll reach before Aguascalientes. It was starting to get dark by this point so we used our flashlights and lights on our phones for help.
*Please please please be aware that it is an active train track so be extra careful and vigilant. *
- We stayed at Ecopackers Hostel ($14 a night/45.4 sols)
- After dinner we ended up purchasing our train tickets to Ollyantambo ($70/227 sols) and the bus tickets to Machu Picchu ($25 roundtrip/ 81 sols.) You will need your passport again for both)
Day Four: Machu Picchu
There are two ways to get up to Machu Picchu.
- Walking up and down
- Taking the bus
It was drizzly that morning and we were tired after the previous day so we decided to take the bus.
- 5AM breakfast
- The line was the longest line I have ever been in. It looks daunting as you continue to walk to the end of it. Overall, it went at an okay speed. We probably waited about an hour and a half. It was also very long to go back down to Aguascalientes.
- Bus up the mountain (30 minutes)
- Remember you will need your passport and the entry ticket
- Hike up mountain hike (2-3 hours long and you will need to sign in before)
- After walking around the main grounds of Machu Picchu, we went back to town and purchased llama sweaters, ate dinner, and enjoyed happy hour (it seems to always be happy hour there) with our hostel roommate Daniel.
Day Five: Ollantaytambo
- Peru Rail to Ollantaytambo for 90 minutes with complimentary snacks and beverages ($70/227 sols)
- Don’t lose your phone like I did (reference previous posts)
- Found a collectivo bus to Cusco in center (~ $4/12 sols)
- Stayed in Cuscopackers on the hill ($24/78 sols)
Day Six: Salineras de Maras
Forgive me for not remember exactly how much we paid for the collectivos, but just know they were all less than 20 sols, which is about $6. As we bartered for cheaper prices we realized in reality we were actually arguing over cents.
- Collectivo to Maras (~ $2/6 sols) Ask your receptionist where to pick it up.
- We probably gave the taxi driver about $15/50 sols plus tip to drive us around for the afternoon and wait for us at the Salineras. Entry to Salineras ($3/10 sols)
- Collectivos back to Maras turnoff and then to Cusco.
- Once we were back in the center we explored Mercado Central de San Pedro
Day Seven: Free Day in Cusco
As I wrote in the previous post we gave ourselves a free day to recuperate from excursions and further explore Cusco.
- Free two hour walking tour of Cusco (you can find the tours in the center advertising)
- Splurged on a fancy dinner (definitely the most expensive of the entire trip) at Chicha Por Gaston Acurio ($28/90 sols)
Day Eight: Lima
We always arranged our taxis through the hostel. Normally they were a little cheaper and a lot more trustworthy. Unfortunately, once we arrived in Lima, we struggled to connect to Ubers outside of the airport. Wearily, we got into a- pretty sketchy- one hour taxi ride ($18.5/60 sols; $15/50 sols return) to the Point Hostel on the coast. ($10/33 sols). I made sure to follow the path on my Google Maps, just in case (you never know)
I actually wish we had more time in Barranco. The Point Hostel definitely seemed like a pretty chill spot. Unfortunately we did only spend a couple hours here as we relaxed before our taxi back to the airport that late evening. As soon as we dropped off our packs we asked the front desk where the nearest, cheapest, best place for ceviche was ($13/42 sols).
Again, the free walking tours would prove how important and worthwile they are when first exploring a city. As Analeise first walked along the Coast, we weren’t sure what we were looking at or what we were supposed to be looking for. The group consisted of a good looking Italian couple and was led by a young Peruvian college student studying in the U.S. and one of the founders of the tour (as there weren’t any in Barranco), a Eastern European lanky guy with long blonde hair and a “hippie” vibe.
I’m glad we accidentally chose Barranco to explore instead of downtown Lima. It is such a fun, quiet, artistic town with legal graffiti, the Coast, and its own colorful story.
Unfortunately, time was up and our 8 day trip to Peru was coming to a quick end.
We landed back in IAH after a 6 hour 30 minute flight.
Most expensive things:
- Ticket to Machu Picchu $65
- One way train ride to Ollantaytambo $70
- Humantay lake excursion $40
- Bus round trip ticket to Machu Picchu $25
What I plan on seeing next time
- Rainbow Mountain
- Floating Markets
- Cusco museums
- Etc. (It’s pretty much a never ending list I need to rewrite)
- Your passport will be extremely important while in Peru. I have never been asked for it as often as I was while there. You will need it to purchase any tickets and entry to Machu Picchu.
- Carry extra 1 sols for restrooms
- Anis Tea was my stomach’s lifesaver. Remember to try and avoid extremely heavy foods as you adjust to the altitude. Try to eat before your hungry to avoid nausea.
- Take the collectivos!
- Take the free walking tours- trust me!
- Don’t push your body too hard. If you need to rest, you need to rest.
So I have tried my very best to include the details of our trip, including which hostels we stayed at, a rough estimation on how much we paid for everything, and some quick tips on what I would recommend. I hope this helps inspire you to plan your trip to Peru! I just know I will get myself back there someday soon. If anything, with all the other travelers that we encountered, I am even more driven to continue exploring South America. The word “beautiful” does not even begin to describe what I saw. It was inspiring. It was awing. It was beyond memorable. The people. The kindness. The faith.
I will forever carry with me the faith that it takes to continue walking up mountains, along train tracks, and around silent villages. I’ll see you again, Peru, I’m sure of it.
If there is ever anything you want to know, please feel free to ask!
Lastly, I hope you have the best time on your trip. This world is so remarkable; it is our duty to learn as much as we can from it.
Until next time, friends! (Whenever I get this cast off, of course!)