Going to Peru!

Mod Note: I don’t really know where to put this, but from the forum descriptions I read this seemed the best place.

Budista here, asking for some help and information from the SDMB again! You guys haven’t steered me wrong yet.

One of my best friends and I have been talking about taking a trip this year and the country that’s sort of come up again and again in our conversations is Peru. We checked airlines and return flights are quite cheap. The bare-bones details we’re looking at are the following:

  1. I’ve backpacked extensively before, in China, Europe and the Western US. Neither of us are strangers to hiking. He’s never been out of the country.

  2. Our preliminary budget is about $3500 (including a $1000 plane ticket). We’re not going to nickle and dime ourselves out of an amazing time, but coming home with a couple bucks would be nice.

  3. The trip is going to be 21 days (the maximum holiday time we can take off) long, give or take a day for travel.

  4. I speak Spanish well enough to get by.

  5. We’re very open minded and willing to try just about anything.

What I’m wondering is, aside from the very obvious things like the Incan Trail and Macchu Pichu, what other amazing things are there to see in Peru? Over a 3 week trip, is it worth dropping the few hundred to hop over the Chile or other neighboring countries?

Any tips for traveling in South America? My Spanish is rusty, but I got by in Spain well enough.

Any info would be nice!


  • Budista

Nazca Lines…pictures didn’t turn out as well as i would have hoped but worth seeing with my own eyes.

When I was in South America, I went to Chile mainly to go to Easter Island. It is pretty spendy to go there tho, but I thought I wasn’t likely to get the chance again - no regrets about that money spent either.

I advise against the Inca Trail actually, and recommend the Salkantay Trek.

Second the Nazca Lines, do the fly over. Arequipa is a beautiful city. Take a tour of the Cantalloc aquaducts. Visit the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in Cusco. If you can, take a trip to the Colca Canyon and watch the Condors fly!

On our 25 day trip we did all this, landing in Lima and travelling along the coast, through Nazca and Arequipa to Cusco, then did the Salkantay Trek to MP. Back to Cusco and flew into Lima to catch our flight home the next day.

We booked along the way with no set plan other then to do the trek to MP at the end of our trip. We stayed in mid-range hostels the entire time. You should be good with basic Spanish. We hardly knew any and were fine (the more we had to use it, the better we got at it).

I love Peru. It is my favorite country so far!

I second Arequipa. Had a nice relaxing time there.

Take some Imodium with you and be prepared to get sick*; if you don’t, excellent, but if you do get sick it will pass and you’ll come out of it stronger than before.

Otherwise, I think that’s sounds like enough money, the food can be awesome, people are generally nice, Lima is dirty but you won’t spend much time there, etc. When I was there the Sendero Luminoso (sp?) and Tupac Amaru were just being put out of business, so there wasn’t too much thought to bopping around in the back country.

*Personal experience from trips to Lima, one trip I got an intestinal bout to test my fortitude.

Also, air travel within Peru was very pleasant and relatively inexpensive. (The airplanes are much newer and nicer than the ones you typically see in the US.) So don’t hesitate to fly from one city to another if you are looking to save time.

I would recommend Colca Canyon,Aguas Calientes, Lake Titicaca,Salinas, Moray, and visiting the Amazon. I would also recommend not traveling by bus if you are going relatively far within Peru. Domestic flights are relatively cheap there, and it will save you tons of time. Also, the Inca trail fills up really early (limited number of permits), and it’s honestly not worth wasting 3 days doing it from all that I’ve heard. Let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything.

I went to Peru last summer, but I’m far from a backpacker. So, I suppose I can only offer so much advice.

That said, we flew from LAX to Lima, Lima to Cusco (had to book that leg separately), then back again. I paid $500 round trip. I certainly saw the prices of $1000 round trip, which was crazy to me-- but if you just check every single day, specials WILL pop up. I swear. Just be armed with a card the minute you see it.

Seriously, we checked airfare maybe 3 times a day, every day, for a month before we got that special. We had an agreement that whoever saw the special would just buy the two tickets, then we’d pay each other back.

You might want to brush up on the news and weather of the region.

Yeah, I made the mistake of checking the State Department’s website after coming back. . . we did a lot of stupid, stupid things in stupid places we stupidly shouldn’t have been. So, just be well informed. There are lots of big scary men with big scary guns all over Peru (police/ military/ etc.)

I third Arequipa (if you go, I suggest winding down the day at Cafe y Vino on the second level of the church cloisters). Also Colca Canyon (didn’t see any stinkin’ vultures, but still a nice trip).

Puno, with a boat ride to Uros man-made reed islands and Taquile (island populated by Quechua).

Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley on a rail stop between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Really enjoyed that village a lot, small as it was. The ruins there are amazing, not to mention a great hotel, beautiful scenery, and some good, interesting restaurants/watering holes in the village itself.

Places I would have gone to if I’d had the time (I was there two weeks):
Nasca: both the lines and other archaeological sites
Iquitos, at the Amazon.