Just Booked a trip to Peru...suggestions?

My trip will be 6-7 Weeks in South America. I plan to spend at least three of them in Peru and then venture East. I’d like to go through Bolivia and finish up in Brazil. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Maccu Piccu
Amazon Forest trek
Bolivia salt flats
Sand dunes in Peru
Lake Titicaca
If I can manage it, the Iguazu falls
Rio, Lima, Cuzco for cities.

Thanks all

Wow! Have fun and wear good walking shoes!

I wish I were going too.

Peru: A gazillion things

Northern Coast - Trujillo/Chiclayo:
Moche Ruins (Temple of the Moon, Sipan, Lady of Cao, Túcume)
Reserva de Chaparrí or Bosque de Pómac if you like nature.

Northern Jungle: Chachapoyas
Kuélap fort
Gocta waterfall (long horseride + walk but totally worth it)

Chavín de Huántar

Lima: Pachacámac, Museo Larco (don’t miss the massive collection of erotic pottery), Lima Cathedral and its museum.

Nazca lines (although it’s the best view I cannot advice taking the small airplanes the fly over them)

Arequipa: Cathedral and museum, Santa Catalina cloistered convent.

Cuzco: Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, Maras (you’ve got to go there), there are Inca trail walks of several days.

Colour me green with envy! I’ve been and would love to return someday!

Make sure you go to a gold museum, maybe in Lima, but there are others! It’s an amazing collection of wonders, not to be missed.

Check out the Crossed Keys pub in Cuzco!

And when come back, bring photo!

If you find yourself in Colca Canyon, see if you can find the guy who hangs out at tourist rest stops with the black-chested eagle-buzzard. You can get a picture of yourself with it standing on your head.

Search for Paddington’s birthplace?


I am a fairly frequent traveler too all kinds of places and I can tell you that Lima is probably the only place I’ve ever been genuinely uncomfortable about my safety. I’m not sure if it was a regular thing or just happened to be the case when I was there, but there were soldiers and such with huge guns and riot gear everywhere you looked, etc. Now, this might make some folks feel safer, but it was unnerving. I’m still bummed out the San Francisco Cathedral was closed, because I wanted to see some catacombs.

Cusco is really beautiful, lots of neat churches and museums to see. Good food, too. I really enjoyed my time wandering around there! I did get a wicked case of altitude sickness, so keep that in mind, as it’ll really mess with you. I thought it was maybe because I was so out of shape, but then I saw super fit European backpackers doubled over on the sidewalk huffing from oxygen tanks and realized that it wasn’t just me gasping for air after walking a city block. Mate de coca really did help me feel substantially better-- I felt like a new woman, in fact.

Machu Picchu is hands down the coolest thing I’ve ever seen (in fact, I’m going to Egypt this summer and can’t wait to see if the ruins there can top MP). Seriously, MP is breathtaking– when you walk in and cross the hill, seeing it sort of unfold before you, it’s an almost religious experience. My favorite thing was to go to the back side-- almost everyone hangs out on the front-- and sit and look at the vista. I figure long ago, some Incan sat in that same spot, looking at that same, unchanged vista. It was just so cool. MP is also much, much bigger than you imagine, which is what kind of surprised me.

As far as getting from Cusco to MP, we drove to Ollantaytambo (that drive is an experience, to say the least), then we took the train to Aguas Calientes, checked into our hotel, and took the bus up the mountain to MP. While you can hike this whole trek, honestly, the hikers looked absolutely miserable. I mean, I guess I’m not a big trek hiker or anything, but I rather enjoyed my relaxing, scenic train ride with beverages-- plus I had lots of energy when we actually got to MP.

I went back in summer of 2009, but if you have any questions about Lima, Cusco, or MP, I can do my best to answer them. It’s been a minute, but that was a great trip I won’t ever forget.

I won’t be able to take the Incan trail as it is sold out. Any reccomendations for the alternative hikes?

We went to Peru over ten years ago, but I suspect most of this advice is still relevant:

  1. Avoid bus tours. We did one, and it was mostly a parade of restaurants and souvenir markets the tour operators likely got kickbacks from. After that, we hired an English-speaking guide and driver from a travel agency to take to a few places we couldn’t easily get to ourselves, one of which was through Colca Canyon where watched most of the bus groups miss the condors that day because they had a tight schedule of restaurants and markets to get to. The condors came swooping over about 15 minutes after they left, and were by far the highlight of the day. I’d have been really sad to have missed them.

  2. We took Diosa’s route to Machu Picchu, i.e. train to Aguas Calientas, early bus to the site the next morning. While I’ve heard the hike in provides a spectacular entrance, we’d just come out of the jungle and were not up for more camping. No matter how you get there, it’s amazing. Be sure to climb Huayna Picchu (steep staircase hike) for a great view.

  3. Cusco was our favorite city/town, really charming.

  4. We did the flight over the Nazca lines. It was…fine, but I can’t say I really got a lot out of it. Plus the little plane circling in a tight loop is a bit nauseating.

  5. If you’re anything like us, you’ll start out being endlessly charmed by the flute bands and be so sick of them at the end that you’ll flee from them at every opportunity.

I have never heard so many pan flute renditions of ‘Imagine’ and ‘Hey Jude’ in my entire life as I did during that 10 day trip.

Indeed, the Pan Flute is an instrument of The Devil.

Do not carry a purse or bag in Lima or Rio. Instead of trying to make The Falls (waaaay down south), try Brasilia instead. Interesting city. Seconded on all the positives on Machu Picchu.

For us, it was El Condor Pasa (“I’d rather be a hammer than a nail”). Every goddamn one of them played it every other song. Awful.

A whole bunch of random thoughts.

Get altitude sickness pills.

Lemme repeat that.

Get altitude sickness pills.

I was the only one in my group that took them right off the bat and only had a little trouble with shortness of breath. Others were throwing up, headaches, nausea, etc until they took them. You can get 'em OTC in Peru at any pharmacy or get 'em from your doctor before you go as I did.

When in Puno at Lake Titicaca you can go visit the floating islands where the locals have fashioned their moving cities out of reeds. It’s all very National Geographic and then you get to visit inside one of their houses and see the kids watching cartoons on a TV and it seems to anachronistic but wonderful in its own weird way.

How are you planning on getting around the country? I heard the bus system is good but we rented a car (this was heavily, HEAVILY advised against by guide books, the US gov’t, and locals too). In the end, it was kind of worth it. But it also lead to some very frightening experiences like passing a semi on a blind curvy mountainous road or driving so long at night that I began to wonder if I was stuck in a circle as there was nothing to guide my way.

I will say though, that the people are so friendly, wonderful, and the best part, all but one spoke Spanish at such a slow pace that it was easy to understand and be understood.

Put the camera down when you get to Machu Picchu and just take it in for a while. I’d seen pictures, hundreds of pictures, but they never really captured what the view is at all. It’s spectacular.

The Nazca lines are very cool and the only way to really see them is in a tiny frightening airplane that will probably be very hot. If you get motion sick or have a fear of heights, this will definitely push you to your limits as the plane banks hard left to right and back again to make sure both sides get to see all of the glyphs.

The small town of Huacachina is really a great stop. It’s nestled in amongst the sand dunes and is its own unique experience.

The Ballestra Islands near Paracas is a great experience if you’re looking for something different. A boat will take you out around the islands, you’ll see glyphs on the shoreline similar to those in Nazca and you’ll get up close to a lot of sealife and things like boobies (the birds). It’s called the poor man’s Galapagos, but I enjoyed it.

By all means, avoid Puquio. It’s a relatively large city between Cusco and Nazca but there’s no reason for anyone to go there.

Regarding lake Titicaca-there is a beach there called “Copacabana”-like the one in Rio. Does anybody actually swim in the lake? At that altitude, it mst be cold!

Just to be nitpicky, the Brazilian beach got the name from the image of the Virgin of Copacabana.