Myself and Phil just go back from a 10 day trip to Peru, and it was amazing. It was our first taste of South America, and boy was Peru a good ambassador for the rest of the continent! It truly is up there with some of the best trips we have ever taken. Peru is full of so much history, culture and tradition and there is so much to see and do – and eat! We would have loved to spend longer there, but unfortunately with limited vacation days, 10 days was all we could manage, so here’s how we did it!
Day 1 & 2
Arrive into Lima, it was a direct, 8 hour flight from Toronto. I must mention here that we
got a great deal on our flights through YYZ deals – for anyone who lives in Toronto and isn’t signed up for these deals, do it now, they are AMAZING: http://www.yyzdeals.com/
We got to our hotel in Lima at about 4am. We stayed in Miraflores, as after doing some research this seemed to be a good area of Lima, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes. We sayed in Hotel Runcu, a very small but nice hotel. It was in a great location and we were about a 20 minute walk to Ave Diagonal which has numerous restaurants and cafes. The rooms were small and basic, but perfectly nice and really clean, and the shower was great. There’s nothing worse than arriving to a hotel after a day of travelling and hopping into a horrible shower with no water pressure! The staff was all really friendly and helpful and very willing to recommend restaurants. We liked it so much that we decided to book in there for our last two nights of the trip aswell.
Day 2 consisted of us walking around and making our way down to the water to Larcomer Mall, where we had to collect our train tickets from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The mall is right alongside the beach, it’s pretty high-end but has some cheap food options in the food court. There are also some nice restaurants in there where you can sit and enjoy a drink by the ocean. We then did the bus tour which is a great way to see Lima, especially if you have limited time there. It’s not a hop on hop off bus like in many cities, you only get off the bus once – at the monastery of San Francisco, which is really interesting and you do a tour of the catacombs. On the tour you see different neighbourhoods of Lima, the historical site of Huaca Pucllana and the Plaza Mayor, which is the core of the city.
We got our flight to Cusco, it’s only just over an hour to fly from Lima to Cusco, however, when we got to the airport that morning (3 hours befoRe our flight was due to leave), we were informed that the flight time had changed to 9am (it was 8.45am when we were checking in) so needless to say we missed the flight. I had read that this happens a lot with internal flights in Peru but didn’t really think anymore about it. Luckily, the guy checking us in was able to get us on another flight that had two spare seats on it, and it actually left earlier than our original flight was supposed to leave.
Our hotel in Cusco, Los Apus Hotel & Mirador, was also really nice, again, it was a small hotel but the rooms were really nice and the cost very reasonable. Our room had a small balcony which had fantastic views of the Andes and the location was great, it was a 5 minute walk away from Plaza de Armas – the main square of Cusco. After we checked in, we spent the day wandering away the cobble streets of Cusco, stopping in random bars for drinks, it was great! The main square is really nice, but of course the restaurants and bars around there were expensive. There’s also a cathedral on the square which you can do a tour of and walk up into the bell tower and get a nice view out the window.
Our train for Machu Picchu was leaving at 6.40am the following morning, so we were up a little early for my liking – 4.45am. The hotel organized a taxi to the train station for us. We were staying in Machu Picchu that night and then returning to the same hote in Cusco for 2 nights so we left our big backpacks there. The hotel also provided us with a packed lunch for the train journey! We booked the midrange train to Machu Picchu through Peru Rail and it was great. The scenery was stunning as we were passing alongside mountains for most of the journey. The train had huge windows on each side and also in the ceiling so it was perfect to capture some pictures of the scenery. We were also given snack on the train consisting of some fruit and a sandwich along with tea/coffee/water -this was included in the price. 3 and a half hours later we arrived in Machu Picchu Pueblo which is the gateway to Machu Picchu. We arrived at 10am and were greeted by a member of staff from the hotel we were staying in – Taypikala Machu Picchu Hotel. The hotel was about a 5 minute walk from the station.
Once we checked in we went to get our bus tickets up to Machu Picchu. There was a queue for the bus, about 30 minutes long and then we were on our way! The bus takes about 20 minutes to get up to the top and it consists of crazy hair pin bends – not for the faint hearted!! Once we reached the top and saw Machu Picchu for real, it is stunning. Pictures you see online do not do it justice, it’s simply amazing! I can’t fathom how the Incas built it, and I highly recommend it as a must see for everyone. We got some fantastic pictures up there and my personal mission was to get a selfie with a llama, which I’m glad to say I accomplished!
We stayed in Machu Picchu Pueblo for one night – in Taypikala Machu Picchu Hotel, which I cannot recommend enough. Our room was fabulous, complete with hot tub and stunning views out the window. The small town itself is very cute, surrounded by mountains and amazing scenery, but is there purely for tourists and therefore one night there is really enough.
Day 5 & 6
We got the train back to Cusco for 2 nights and just enjoyed Cusco, the cobble stone streets
and the food. Unfortunately we both got colds and were feeling really crap our last day in Cusco so we didn’t do much, we just relaxed and tried to get our energy back before we went to the jungle. We did eat in a great restaurant one night – called Kushka Fe, it was away from the main square and actually just across the street from our hotel and the food was great. The owner’s boyfriend had great English and was really chatty and friendly. They also serve cuy there – guinea pig! It’s a great restaurant and if we were feeling better we would have stayed longer and had some drinks there.
Day 7 & 8
On day 7 we left for the Amazon jungle. We flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado and from there we had about a 2 hour boat trip to reach our jungle lodge. The flight to Puerto Maldonado was really short, about 40 minutes. A lady from our lodge met us at the airport and then we got the boat to Amazon Planet. Our two days in the jungle were fantastic. The lodge is set up really well; there’s a main area for all meals, along with a small bar, and then everyone has their own wooden cabins consisting of your bed, a table and couch, a small veranda that you can sit out on and a bathroom complete with shower and toilet. When we were booking our jungle lodge we did pick a nice one rather than a budget one as we wanted some level of comfort. Amazon Planet is not at the top end of the lodges in there but would follow petty closely behind the most expensive (which can be more than $1,000 a night). The lodge had electricity for a few hours in the morning until about 9am, then for a couple of hours at lunch time and again in the evening from about 6pm to 10pm. Once the lights went out at 10 that was it, no lights until the next morning s needless to say, everyone wanted to be back in their lodge before 10pm so they could turn their fans on and try to cool the place down! Your days are jam-packed in the jungle, you usually have a morning activity, a lunch time activity and an evening/night-time activity with free time in between. It’s exhausting as you are constantly walking and it’s really hot and humid in the jungle. We did a night walk of the jungle, which was great, we got up close and personal with a tarantula! We did a canopy walk up on top of the trees which was really fun, we visited a rescue centre within the jungle where volunteers are doing amazing work to re-introduce and re-populate animals into the jungle and we went caiman searching along the river at night. We also rafted down the river – just myself and Phil, which was horrific and frankly I thought we were going to end up floating to Bolivia!!!
After our jungle experience, the holiday was drawing to an end unfortunately and it was a flight back to Lima to enjoy our last two nights. W Due to flight delays, we didn’t get back to Lima until about 7pm that night so we were exhausted and just went out for dinner and a few drinks. We had amazing food this night and when in Lima, you should definitely visit this restaurant. It was in Miraflores but it was somewhat off the beaten track. The restaurant was called Santa Pez and it was amazing. The menu was completely in Spanish and none of the waiters spoke any English, but don’t let that turn you off. Luckily for us, the manager (or she could have been the owner) had excellent English and she was so helpful. We knew we wanted to try Ceviche so she explained the different ceviche dishes they had and made recommendations. Both of our ceviche dishes were excellent! When it came to desert, she brought out each dessert and showed it to us and again explained everything. It is slightly on the more expensive side but for the food and the service we got, it was actually very reasonable.
This was the last day of our trip (sob) and we wanted to get some presents and souvenirs so we went to a market in Miraflores – Mercado Indio or the Indian market. It’s great for any little trinkets you want to take home to remember your time in Peru – just remember to haggle!!!
Top Tips for Peru
- Check your internal flights the day before you are due to fly. As mentioned above it is pretty common for flights to change very quickly and without any warning.
- Buy your tickets to Machu Picchu in advance. They only allow a certain amount of people into Machu Picchu per day (I believe it’s around 2,000) so make sure to buy your tickets in advance, especially if you are travelling there during high season.
- Bring bug spray to Machu Picchu. There are flies up there that will eat you alive if you don’t have bug spray on. I had a tiny gap between my sock and my leggings and they feasted on my ankles but once I put the bug spray on, they left me alone. When waking around Machu Picchu we saw numerous people who were covered in bites.
- Be prepared to queue to get the bus back down from Machu Picchu. When we were finished walking around and wanted to go back down to Machu Picchu Pueblo, the queue was crazy and took over an hour to get on the bus. Keep this in mind if your train is leaving that day as we came across many people who missed their train because of the queue.
- Take altitude sickness pills. We hadn’t even considered this until I spoke to a few people who had been there and were effected by the altitude. We took the tablets so thankfully we didn’t experience the headaches or nauseousness, however, we both experienced shortness of breath when walking around.
- If you’re going into the Amazon rainforest, have a smaller bag that you can bring with you instead of your big backpack or suitcase. Most of the lodges don’t want guests bringing big suitcases on the boats and offer for you to leave your big bags in their office before you go on the boat. That’s what we did and it was so much easier just having a small bag each, after all we were only going into the jungle for 2 nights.
- Drink Pisco Sours, it’s the drink of Peru and it’s delicious!!!