A Guide for Planning Your First Trip to Peru

Peru is a magical place and I’m sure you want to enjoy your first trip to Peru to the fullest, right?  Well, before you go, be sure to sift through my guide for planning your first trip wisely.  Being prepared will enable a stress-free and unforgettable experience.

My time in Peru was something fiercely inexplicable.  Looking back on my photos and videos, I feel my heart forcefully aching for that distant land once more.  I vividly recall her people who touched my soul, her landscape that took my breath away, her art that gave me full body chills, her history that made my jaw drop, her culture that expanded my mind and her food that broadened my tastes.  The longing to return gnaws at my entire being, intensifying with every recollection.  Its intensity is so powerful that I am able to relive the exact feeling I exuded in those moments and I sense them encompassing me all over again.  Experiences like my Peru adventure are nothing short of magic and I relentlessly seek these likenesses out, over and over again, from north to south and east to west.  I walked away from Peru having grown as a human being through profound enlightenment and total joy.  THAT is why I’d love to encourage all of you, who have yet to travel to there, to take that first trip to Peru!  With it being your first trip, I know there must be a few questions and curiosities weighing on your mind.  Thus, I hope to provide some help via my following guide…

Contents:

〉Things to know before your first trip to Peru

〉Packing Recommendations for your first trip to Peru

〉First trip to Peru Itinerary (at a quick glance)

〉Places to stay on your first trip to Peru

One minute video of our Peruvian Adventure

Filmed by Doug Michaels
Edited by Mindy Michaels

Things to know before your first trip to Peru:

♦MAIN LANGUAGES:  Spanish and Quechua

♦PASSPORT & VISA:  A valid passport is required (with at least 2 free pages and 6 months remaining).  Currently, US citizens can visit Peru for up to 183 days per calendar year (though 30 days is the standard issued) without a visa.  VISA is NOT required.

♦ELECTRICITY:  220 volts and their sockets are a mixture of the European, tow-pronged round variety and US flat-pin.

♦LOCAL TIME:  Peru Time (PET).  They do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

♦CURRENCY:  Nuevo Sol , Abbreviation: PEN.  1 Sol (PEN) = 0.30 USD or  $1.00 USD = 3.35 Sol

♦CREDIT CARDS:  All major credit cards are accepted but may be limited outside of tourist regions.

♦ATM:  ATMs are regarded as one of the best ways to obtain money in Peru and are found almost everywhere, including small towns.  However, when traveling to remote areas, it is wise to bring along some cash just in case.

♦INTERNET:  You can find internet cafes in every major Peruvian town (average cost is $0.40USD per hour).

♦WEATHER:  Best time to visit is between May-September (the driest season) especially if you’re planning to visit Cusco and trek to Machu Picchu.  Temperatures for these months  (in Cusco) average high between 64 – 68°F with chillier nights.  However, rain averages only 1-3 days per month during this season.

♦VACCINES: 

ALL travelers need to be up to date on routine vaccinations (measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, Tetanus, Polio and your yearly flu shot).

MOST travelers are recommended to get: Hepatitis A vaccine and Typhoid (can contract these through contaminated food and water).

SOME travelers (based on where you’re going and how long you’re staying) are recommended to get: Hepatitis B, Malaria, Rabies and Yellow Fever.

→Check the CDC site for more details and information AND be sure to look at their Yellow Fever Map and Malaria Map to see if the areas you’re planning to travel to in Peru are at risk or not.

♦ALITITUDE SICKNESS: Throughout parts of your trip, you’re going to be staying and adventuring in places that are really high in elevation (for example: Cusco sits at 11,152 feet elevation and Puno sits at over 12,500 feet elevation).

Altitude sickness symptoms include: fatigue, loss of appetite, low oxygen in body, nausea or vomiting, headache, shortness of breath, fast heart rate

Take precautions to avoid altitude sickness: Slowly adjust to the elevation by taking it easy at first, drink a lot of water and eat carbohydrates, get a prescription for Diamox (if you’re super worried or prone) and definitely try the local Peruvian remedy: Coca (drink Coca Tea or chew on Coca Leaves).

→ For more information, check out: Altitude sickness Peru: All you need to know and how to avoid it

♦DRINKING WATER:  Be very wary of drinking the local tap water (greatly advise against it).  Opt for bottled water and carbonated water which are widely available.  Even beware of brushing your teeth with tap water.  Instead, brush using bottled.

♦BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS: Many of these thieves exist in the touristy areas (I met a girl who had her cell phone stolen directly out of her back pant pocket).

ALSO, BEWARE OF STRAY DOGS: Peru is littered with stray, homeless pups (which is extremely heartbreaking).  Most of you will want nothing more than to pet and love on them.  However, you need to be very cautious because these dogs can carry a plethora of diseases such as rabies.

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Packing Recommendations for your first trip to Peru:

→A list of items that may not be obvious to first-timers (subject to change depending on your travel-style/itinerary).

(Click on the images below to shop them and/or find out more information)

♦CLOTHING: Lightweight, loose-fitting and easily washable layers.  Layering (thermals, windbreakers, flannels, t-shirts +) is very important as the weather can quickly change at such high altitudes.  Pack a fleece and winter outer layer/ coat for cool evenings as well as a waterproof/rain jacket.  Also, be sure to bring a hat, buff and sunglasses to protect from intense sun rays (higher elevations = closer to the sun).   Cotton undergarments and wool socks will provide the most comfort.


→ Spray your outermost clothing layers with Permethrin before packing them for your trip.  This protects against mosquitoes (which can carry Malaria in certain regions, etc) plus more than 55 other kinds of insects.  It also lasts for 6 weeks or 6 wash cycles.

♦SHOES: hiking boots, casual/”going-out” boots and comfortable sneakers

♦PASSPORT (with 2 free pages and 6 months remaining& RFID PASSPORT HOLDER/TRAVEL WALLET

♦OUTLET ADAPTER 

♦PORTABLE CHARGER 

♦TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT

♦MEDICATIONS: Imodium (in case you eat bad food), Allergy medication, Tylenol/Ibuprofen (altidude equals headache prone) and any others that you may personally need.

♦HAND SANITIZER 

♦SUNSCREEN AND BUG SPRAY

♦BUG/MOSQUITO HEAD NET

♦FANNY PACK: To carry your valuables and protect against pickpockets.

♦TOILETRIES 

CAMERA BAG AND GEAR: You obviously want to capture all your incredible Peru memories

RECOMMENDED SUITCASE: Hard shell, expandable and carry-on size

CHARGING CABLES AND HEADPHONES (etc): Personally, I brought my iPhone charger, a charging cable for my portable charger, headphones, laptop charger and camera battery charger.   This is a great organizer:

WATER FILTERING STRAW: This handy tool will help you if you find yourself in a location without available bottled water.  The straw will filter the tap water so that it can be safely consumed.


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Photo taken by: Doug Michaels

First trip to Peru Itinerary (at a quick glance):

DAY 1:

Fly into Cusco and settle in to your accommodations while remembering to take it easy while you acclimate to the altitude.

In the afternoon, take a city tour and be sure to visit:

San Cristobal Plaza to enjoy its panoramic view of the city.

→ San Pedro Market to soak in its local flavors and learn about the products locally grown.

→  Korikancha Temple with its gold covered walls and stunning garden views.

→  The Santo Domingo Church: see more here.

→ Inca Roca Palace: walk from San Blas to the Hatun Rumiyoc Street.

DAY 2 (or days 2-5 if you opt to do full trek):

Early in the morning, travel to Ollantaytambo train station to depart by train to visit one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

→ Make your epic trek to Machu Picchu and witness its marvels firsthand.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 Day Trek Itinerary

→ Climb down to the town of Aguas Calientes to explore its shops and dine at its delicious, cultural restaurants.

DAY 3 (or 6):

Book an adventurous tour to explore around Sacred Valley.

→ We opted to take a full ATV tour making stops at such places as: Moray Inca Ruins, Maras Salt Mines, a local village and lake etc.

→ To read all about our tour, check out my post: ATV Ride Among the Andes.

DAY 4 (or 7):

→ Take a full day hiking tour to Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain.

Rainbow Mountain Tour and Itinerary

Hiking scene in Vinicunca, Cusco Region, Peru. Rainbow Mountain

DAY 5 (or 8):

Travel from Cusco to Puno, stopping at a multitude of sites along the way.  Stops are as follow (in order from first to last en route):

→ The village of Andahuaylillas to visit its beautifully adorned chapel.

→ Racchi, Temple of the Wiracocha god with narrow streets, walls, paths and Inca ruins.

→ The natural border between Cusco and Puno called “La Raya“.  Here you can stand at over 14,000 ft. elevation and STILL see the Andes Mountains tower above you.  Even more, there’s a roadside market where you can purchase local crafts and handmade goods.

→ Lastly, visit the  Pucara Museum before journeying onward to your destination: Puno.

Learn more about the Pucara Museum HERE

DAY 6 (or 9):

Wake up in Puno and take a voyage on a boat across Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world).

→ Visit the Floating Islands of the Uros.  This was a true highlight among my time in Peru.  This day, visiting the Floating Islands of Uros, truly meant the world to me.  It was such a heart-warming and profoundly enlightening experience.  A day I will cherish for the rest of my life.  When I originally planned our trip to Peru, I was most excited about seeing Machu Picchu and exploring Sacred Valley (which are so incredible in their own right).  However, I never imagined how impactful my time among the Uros people would be – I never realized how this would be the experience I’d walk away from Peru changed by.

To read all about my experience here AND to learn all about the Uros people and their way of life, visit my post: My Visit to the Floating Islands of Uros: A Photo Essay

→ Spend the rest of your evening roaming the streets of Puno, discovering their restaurants and nightlife (we even stumbled into a karaoke bar).

DAY 7 (or 10): 

Morning travel from Puno to Lima (Peru’s Capital City).  Once in Lima, tour her streets and plazas – stopping at such places as:

→ Love Park in Miraflores to see the lover’s statue and the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

→ The ceremonial center of the Lima culture called Huaca Pucllana (see more by clicking HERE).

→ Main Square to see the Government Palace and the Town Hall.

→ Tour the Cathedral and Santa Domingo Convent where San Rosa de Lima use to wander in the 17th century (and where her remains still rest).

DAY 8 (or 11):

 Depart Peru for home.

→ I highly recommend flying with Avianca Airlines.  Their flights are punctual and clean.  Furthermore, they include delicious inflight meals, ample leg space, charging outlets, television and movies (free of charge) and the friendliest staff.

NOTE: This itinerary is meant for first time visitors who don’t have multiple weeks /months to visit.  There’s obviously SO much more to do and see in this awe-inspiring land.


Recommendations for places to stay on your first trip to Peru:

♦Casa Andina Cusco Koricancha in Cusco, Peru

→ Address: Calle San Agustin 371, Cusco, Peru

→ Phone number: +51 84 252633

→ Website: Casa Andina Cusco Koricancha

♦Qelqatani Hotel in Puno, Peru

→ Address: Jiron Talapacd 355 Puno, Tarapaca, Puno, Peru

→ Phone number: +51 51 366172

→  Website: Qelqatani Hotel

♦Allpa Hotel in Lima, Peru

→ Address: Calle Atahualpa 119, Miraflores 15074, Peru

→ Phone number: +51 1 2068800

→ Website: Allpa Hotel and Suites


Enjoy this post? Feel free to pin it!

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As always…

Thank you for reading and happy travels,

Mindy

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