A few years ago, I had the opportunity of taking an almost 1 month trip to Peru to take a class on indigenous rights and then backpack a bit around the country! I got the chance to spend a week in Lima, living in a Peruvian family (speaking only Spanish, ha!) while studying at the Lima University. Then I spent another week and a half in Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon helping a community defending their rights (read about it here). Then, I spent the other 3 weeks backpacking in Cusco, Maccu Picchu (duh!), Puno, and then came back to Lima! I loved each of the Peruvian place I step foot on so I’m really happy to dig back in my memories to tell you about what to do in each of those locations!
How to get around
Go2Peru is a really helpful website to find transportations around the country. However, make sure you also use other travel websites and apps (here are my suggestions) to find the cheapest options! I flew with Peruvian Airlines from Lima to Cusco, which is among the cheapest airlines in this area, however, it is not crazy cheap! Another great options are bus! Cruz del Sur is a great reliable bus company that isn’t too expensive! Plus, they are comfy enough to sleep in so it’s perfect for over night bus ride (which I totally recommend to save time + money on accommodation!).
I loved Lima as it reminded me of both my previous trips to Europe and a bit of Senegal… it was kind of the best of both worlds, while being nothing like my home country! Perfection. ( I do love Canada, though! I just enjoy different cultures!) I spent a lot of time at the Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Peru, since I was there to study. But I also got the time to see the old part of the city, which was really pretty, especially Plaza de Armas! I also loved the time I spent in Miraflores! It’s the best district to go shopping (they have a huge market) and to enjoy the view of the sea! It’s also the best area for restaurants and bars! While in Miraflores, make sure you go to Parque del amor. Even though Taxis are cheap (at least… compared to what I’m used to) try getting around by bus, it’s a real experience! However, make sure you question locals about the normal bus price from your location to your destination, as they tend to ask more to tourists!
I wasn’t expecting much of Cusco as all I heard about it was that it was the city from which you can get to Maccu Pichu. Therefore, it was a wonderful surprise when I got there and discovered this amazing city! Once again, Plaza de Armas is awesome! Around it, you can find multiple great restaurants and bars! I would recommend eating at Cava Mora, a great restaurant with a salad bar and where you can taste alpaca (although, I almost regret it after meeting charming alpacas on Maccu Pichu… oops!)! There is also an enormous market in Cusco, not far from Plaza de Armas, where you can find great souvenirs for much cheaper then in Lima (if you’re like me, you’ll end up with 10 000 colorful blankets and alpaca wool hats and sweater!). Also, I would recommend staying at Ukukus Hostel! It’s not only cheap, it also has super helpful staff and it’s really gorgeous ! Plus, it’s only 3 minutes walk from Plaza de Armas! Arriving to Cusco from Lima might bring you a headache because of the altitude… if that happens to you, drink lots of coca tea, it will help much!
Aguas Calientes & Machu Picchu
One would be crazy to travel to Peru without going to Machu Pichu… I mean, it’s only one of the seven wonders! Machu Picchu is located in Aguas Calientes. I wrote an article about how to get there (it’s harder than one might think) and what ticket to book, etc. You can read it here. However, I can tell you that I would recommend spending 1 or 2 nights in the area in order to make sure you get a full day at Machu Picchu. There are different kinds of tickets, some that allow you to hike mountains to have a more gorgeous view! The whole thing might seem expensive, but believe me, it’s so worth it!!
Puno is a small city in the South of Peru and it is mostly known because it’s next to lake Titikaka. You can get there by bus from Cusco (I would recommend a over night bus ride). The city is really cute, once again, Plaza de Armas is worth seeing and there’s a cute market to see as well. Lake Titikaka is gorgeous and I would absolutely recommend taking a boat tour to get on the floating island! There, you can learn about the history of the people who lived there. You can also take a tour in Uros boats made from reed. You don’t need to book a tour online, you can simply walk to the port and look at different options! I would recommend staying at Kantaya Hostel, however, no need to book more than 2 or 3 nights as it is a really small town!
Beside Maccu Picchu, my favorite part of this trip was definitely my time in the Peruvian Amazon. I was really lucky to be able to be there in a community since it gave me special access (together with information) on the area! However, you don’t have to be on this kind of “VIP” opportunity to see the jungle! There are a lot of other options! I flew to Madre de Dios, which is a cute little city where you can find different tour options to explore the jungle! Make sure you got all the necessary shots and some great mosquitos repellent, but most of all: make sure you have a great time!
Peru is on many travellers bucket list because it’s the location of one of the seven wonders, however, it has much more to offer than only this and is an amazing way to discover South America! I know there are a lot of other cities to explore in these beautiful countries… if you’ve already been to Peru, which other ones would you recommend? And if you plan on traveling there, what are you the most excited for? Let me know in the comments! Following this article are my own pictures from my time in Peru!