This trip was very memorable, I’m so glad I decided to join this fun group of adventurers for their Peru expedition. I did things I’d never done before, I pushed myself physically and mentally with multiple 3 hour nights of sleep (if you know me, you know I like my sleep 10PM-7AM, always), I met new friends, I saw ancient ruins and some beautiful landscapes from the Creator, I enjoyed the hospitality of Peruvians and indulged in their cuisine, it was great!
Here are some tips I can offer from my experience:
- Practice Spanish – there are many Peruvians who speak English since they rely on a lot of tourism, but we found ourselves in situations (like the road strike on our Machu Picchu day) where being able to better communicate with Spanish-only speaking people would’ve made us feel more comfortable
- Download the TripAdvisor app and search the cities you’re going to, download the city to your phone so that you can access maps and search for businesses without using data
- Exchange money at your local bank in the states BEFORE leaving town – it is so much easier to have local currency when you arrive to the country rather than relying on finding a money changer which could be closed if you’re arriving later in the night; you’ll also likely get better exchange rates from your local bank, go a week or so in advance of the trip though in case they need to order the currency
- Get real hiking boots – I wore tennis shoes when I hiked in Italy and did okay, but got boots for the Peru trip and was super glad to have the extra support of the full hiking boot for the long days of exertion in Peru
- Go into the Andes, even if it’s just the single day Rainbow Mountain trek, it allows the opportunity to see the remote villages and experience the beauty and isolation in which they live, culture shock
- Check to see if accommodations have hot water before booking – this is “a thing” in Peru, some places don’t have hot water!
- We LOVED our accommodation in Cusco (Hotel Pension Alemana) and highly recommend them for the room comfort, incredible breakfast spread and views from the top floor restaurant, helpfulness of the staff providing recommendations and arranging taxis and even finding us an alternate travel arrangement during the taxi strike
- We made all accommodation bookings through 3rd party sites like Airbnb, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc.; this way you can use your credit card to pay online and avoid international credit card fees for charging at the hotel
- We backpacked, this was unnecessary, you could roll luggage pretty easily most of the time, though I wouldn’t recommend anything larger than a carry on, especially with the chaos of the Peruvian airports, you do not want to wait in those lines to check a bag
- Hike Machu Picchu with a guide, there’s too much history and detail to try to spot it all on your own, we learned so much about Hiram Bingham and the intricacies of The Citadel from our guide along the way
- The 2 day Rainbow mountain trek that we did with Flashpacker Connect was a highlight of the trip, but it was a real struggle mentally and physically, it was freezing cold at night and the days were long in the extreme altitude coming from sea level Houston, TX; I’m so grateful for the memories, vistas, and experiences of the 2 day trip, but would highly caution about the extremity of it (coming from a non-hiker)
- Pack light and plan to do laundry during the stay, but bring variety in terms of layers, we experienced warmth that warranted shorts and a tank in Machu Picchu but cold necessitating snow-ski attire down to addition of shake-to-heat hand-warmers in the Andes; you can plan to get warm alpaca wool goods for cheap in Cusco markets before an Andean adventure (we traveled in the first week of August)
- Lima is very inexpensive and has quite a few fine dining establishments mentioned in the San Pellegrino Top 50 List (Central, Astrid y Gaston, Maido); I wish I had taken the opportunity to indulge in at least one of these restaurants on my trip (~$100usd for a full tasting menu ranked among the top 50 restaurants in the world); reservations required far in advance for each of them
- Book flights at least 1-2 months in advance if possible, I booked about 2 weeks before the trip and paid 40% more than my travel companions who had booked months in advance
That’s a wrap of the recap of my Peru Adventure. Do you find anything on this list particularly helpful, or do you have any tips to add from your travels?