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My Detailed 2 Week Peru Itinerary

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Machu Picchu peru itinerary

When planning our short trip to Peru (yes, 2 weeks is short!) we found it tough to decide what to see. Everyone goes to Machu Picchu, but beyond that there are so many lesser-known (but amazing) places to visit that we really had to cut down our wish list to fit everything into just two weeks.

We went with Peru Hop to get us around the country and this made our lives really easy (read about our bus experience here). I’d definitely recommend that if you want to do a similar itinerary.

Here’s our basic itinerary:

Day 1
Day 2
Paracas
Day 3
Islas Ballestas and Huacachina
Day 4
Day 5
Arequipa
Day 6
Colca Canyon
Day 7
Colca Canyon
Day 8
Puno
Day 9
Uros and Amantani Islands
Day 10
Taquile Island
Day 11
Cusco
Day 12
Sacred Valley
Day 13
Machu Picchu
Day 14
Cusco
Day 15
Lima then fly home

As you can see, we did a lot of travelling and didn’t stay in any one place for very long. It was tiring but so exciting and definitely worth it! We got to see so much and we really made the most of our time. If you’d rather have a more relaxed experience then I would suggest skipping the two days in Colca Canyon.

If you’re after a full, detailed itinerary with hotels, restaurants, and activities, you’re in the right place!

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Day 1
Lima

I arrived in Lima early on Saturday morning after hopping on a plane from London after work on Friday night. Although I had heard not-so-great things about Lima, I was determined to give the city a chance so I joined a free walking tour of the old town. I fell in love with the colourful colonial architecture and met some nice travellers to have lunch with. I then spent the afternoon walking from Parque del Amor in Miraflores (by the seaside) to the Bridge of Sighs in Barranco (area with bohemian vibes) before meeting my friends for dinner by the pre-Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana.

  • Stay here: Pariwana hostel has a fun atmosphere, in a nice location. It was easy to meet people there.
  • Eat here: Punto Azul or La Mar for ceviche for lunch, and Huaca Pucllana for dinner in an amazing setting.
  • Do this: A walking tour is great if you’re short on time or if you’re travelling solo. Lima by Walking starts tours in Parque Kennedy which is close to many hotels in Miraflores.

Read about why I think Lima is massively underrated!

paracas-kokopelli-hostel

Day 2
Paracas

Our Peru Hop bus picked us up in front of our hostel early in the morning and took us to Cristo Pacifico to show us the view of the city and tell us a little bit about the history of Peru. After another quick stop at a bakery for freshly baked bread, our bus took us to a quiet beach where we chatted with friendly coastguards who gave us a list of Peruvian foods we should try. We arrived in Paracas around lunchtime, had some ceviche, walked along the beach and had a few beers while watching the sunset. Nice and relaxing!

  • Stay here: Kokopelli hostel is really nice. It has a pool and a great bar right on the beach.
  • Eat herePukasoncco does good traditional food, including vegetarian options.
  • Do this: catch the sunset on the beach and book your tour to the Islas Ballestas.
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Day 3
Islas Ballestas & Huacachina

I think this was one of the best days of my life!

We met up with our Peru Hop group for the Islas Ballestas tour they organised for us. The tour took about two hours. It took us past the “Candelabra“, a mysterious prehistoric geoglyph, before showing us around the islands that are full of wildlife. We were lucky enough to see a few penguins (!) and many birds and sea lions. I actually felt quite emotional seeing these wild animals up close. We were there at the end of March and there were hundreds of baby sea lions. Amazing!

  • Top tip: don’t forget sunscreen and hats for the boat tour.

After the tour we got on the Peru Hop bus to Paracas National Reserve. I really wasn’t expecting much from this stop but the landscapes actually blew me away. We stopped to admire La Catedral, Playa Roja, and Supay Beach.

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We arrived in Huacachina in the afternoon and got ourselves booked onto a dune buggy and sandboarding tour. Do not miss this! Even if you don’t want to do the sandboarding you’ll enjoy the views from the desert and if you’re lucky you will catch an amazing sunset. I was a bit scared to do the sandboarding but in the end I did it lying down on my front and it was sooo fun!

After dinner we went back up to the dunes with a group of new friends and had beers by a bonfire, surrounded by stray but friendly dogs. Nothing beats a bit of spontaneity!

  • Stay here: Banana’s Adventure is where most people on our bus stayed. It has a great atmosphere, a bar and a small pool. Best breakfast of our trip too!
  • Eat here: Banana’s hostel has a varied menu and lots of veggie options. La Casa de Bamboo also has good reviews.
  • Do this: you have to do a dune buggy and sandboarding tour! A bit scary but incredibly fun. If you stay at Banana’s it will be included in the price of your stay.
  • Top tip: leggings are a good idea for the sandboarding to avoid sandburn (but shorts are okay)

Check out my Huacachina post for more tips and photos!

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Day 4
Huacachina/Nazca

We spent the morning lazing by the pool in Huacachina, then joined Peru Hop for a Pisco vineyard tour. I have to admit I didn’t enjoy it much because I had a stomach bug at that point! The bus then took us to see the Nazca Lines, a collection of huge mysterious pre-Incan geoglyphs that form animal shapes in the desert sands. We were able to see a few shapes from the viewing platform but if you are interested in seeing the lines better you should stay in Nazca for a night and go on a flight above the lines. Personally I’m not sure I’d trust that the little planes used there are safe, so do your research first!

After a pretty awful dinner at a petrol station, we got back on the bus for a long, bumpy night time drive to Arequipa.

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Day 5
Arequipa

The bus dropped us off at our hotel early in the morning and we went off to explore the city straight away. We learned to tell the difference between llamas and alpacas at Mundo Alpaca, checked out the bank at beautiful Casa del Moral, and spent a couple of hours exploring the colourful Santa Catalina Monastery.

  • Stay here: Dragonfly hostel was cheap, central and quiet. If you’d like to treat yourself to something a little more special, I think Katari Hotel and Casa Andina Select both look fantastic!
  • Eat here: Crepisimo for crepes, Zig Zag for delicious steak or grilled fish. Try queso helado ice cream  (literally ‘frozen cheese’) from the corner of Plaza de Armas.
  • Do this: visit Santa Catalina Monastery, Mundo Alpaca, Casa del Moral, Mirador de Yanahuara, and Museo Santuarios Andinos.
  • Top tip: Again, if you only do one thing, visit Santa Catalina Monastery. Check the opening times before you go as last entry is 4pm on some days.

Read my full guide to Arequipa for more tips and photos.

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Days 6 and 7
Colca Canyon

Although many people will hike the Colca Canyon, we chickened out and went with a 2 day 1 night guided bus tour. I’m not a fan of guided tours so this was probably my least favourite part of our trip. It involved spending a lot of time in buses and eating in the mostly mediocre restaurants our guide took us to (food is SO important to me when I’m travelling!). I also suffered from the worst headache of my life because of the altitude (3,635m in Chivay). However, we did see stunning landscapes, lovely little towns, and some wildlife – so it was all worth it! We were lucky enough to see many condors, which are way more impressive than you could ever imagine.

Unfortunately I have no idea where we stayed (hotel with no name!) or even where we ate because everything was organised for us.

One thing we did which was pretty hilarious was go to a really basic, tiny hair salon in Chivay to have our hair dried because our hotel didn’t have any hairdryers!

  • Stay here: if I could do it again I’d skip the organised tour and stay at the Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs. Looks SO lovely!
  • Do this: visit Cruz del Condor, go for a dip in La Calera hot springs, look out for vicuñas and alpacas, and pose for a photo with a baby alpaca in Maca village.
  • Drink this: coca tea or my favourite, Inka tea, are said to help with the altitude.
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Day 8
Puno

After our two days in the Canyon, we returned to Arequipa for a night before getting back on the bus with Peru Hop early the next morning. We stopped once for a delicious breakfast (chicken and avocado sandwich) and again to admire the view from the Lagunillas viewpoint. We made it to Puno around 1pm and went straight to lunch on the main plaza. We did some souvenir shopping by the harbour and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the local market (you should find it if you walk down Titicaca street). I loved spotting colourful classic VW Beetles and pimped up mototaxis.

  • Stay here: Posada Kusillos is a centrally located B&B run by a lovely, welcoming family with a friendly dog called Jacinto.
  • Eat here: Mojsa for lunch with a view of the main square, and La Casona for delicious trout!
  • Do this: book your tour to the islands of Lake Titicaca.
  • Top tip: do some haggling at the Feria Artesanal market by the harbour and you can get some really good prices on your typical Peruvian souvenirs.
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Day 9
Uros and Amantani Islands

We opted for a two day, one night tour of Lake Titicaca including a homestay with locals on Amantani.

Day one started with our tour guide taking us to one of the 42 floating Uros islands. The locals told us a bit about how they live and took us on a short trip on one of their elegant boats. The Uros people make everything with reeds: boats, huts, and even the islands themselves. Kids happily munch on them. Although it was interesting to see how these people live, I have to say the whole thing felt a little bit staged and touristy. The next two islands felt much more authentic.

After Uros, we navigated to Amantani where we were to stay one night. We were divided into small groups of two to four people, with each group assigned to a local family. Our adoptive father Wilfredo took us to his beautiful home, where we had a very basic bedroom with candles for lights. The electric generator wasn’t working while we were there so going to the outdoor toilet in the dark was interesting! Evening activities included hiking up to a temple with a great view and going to a party organised for visitors.

  • Stay here: a local’s home on Amantani or Taquile.
  • Eat here: your host’s kitchen! We had delicious quinoa soup and local cheese.
  • Do this: hike up to Pachatata temple and try on the local traditional outfits.
  • Top tip: learn some basic Spanish before you go – the family you stay with will appreciate it!
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Day 10
Taquile Island

After staying the night on Amantani, we headed to Taquile island where we learned about local customs, including the different meanings of the hats people wear. We walked across the middle of the island, stopping to buy handmade knitted items (traditionally made by men) and snoop around the busy street market. Lunch consisted of quinoa soup and trout in the most beautiful spot with a view of the lake.

After lunch it was time for us to head back to Puno where we explored a little more before spending the night on the bumpy night bus to Cusco.

  • Top tip: buy something from the Taquile cooperative. The knitted products there were so affordable and much better quality than most of what we saw elsewhere in Peru. You’ll also be helping the local community!
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Day 11
Cusco

We arrived in Cusco really early in the morning and enjoyed our first shower in two days (!) as soon as we got to our hotel. I was so excited about being in Cusco that I then went straight out to explore with Arina. We wandered around the beautiful Plaza Mayor and had breakfast in the San Blas neighbourhood. We visited Qorikancha which once was the most important temple of the Inca empire, but was destroyed by Spanish conquistadors who used it to build a baroque-style convent.

After stopping for a lovely cheese and avocado sandwich, we explored the old town a bit more, including the colourful San Pedro market. Our final stop for the day was Sacsayhuaman (or ‘sexy woman’ to some!), an Inca citadel/fortress with an interesting story and great views over Cusco. I highly recommend visiting this site as it was a great taster for what we were about to see at Machu Picchu!

  • Stay here: Hostal El Peregrino felt almost luxurious after a night on the bus and two days without showers!
  • Do this: don’t miss Sacsayhuaman and the view of the city from up there.
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Day 12
Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes

We joined a small group tour to the Sacred Valley as this seemed like the easiest way to see some of the villages and sights there. We started off by visiting a weaving cooperative in Chinchero, where some local ladies showed us how wool is dyed and weaved the traditional way. Our tour also took us to the impressive archeological site of Moray, which is thought to be where Incas experimented with agriculture on different levels of terraces. The last stop for us was the Maras Salt Mines (Salinas). These beautiful salt pools spread out on a hillside are all managed by different families and the salt produced is sold through a cooperative. It was amazing to taste the salty water that comes out of a nearby spring! After this stop we got a taxi to take us to Ollantaytambo where we caught the train to Aguas Calientes. After dropping off our bags at a basic hotel, we explored the touristy town which is everyone’s stop before Machu Picchu.

  • Do this: don’t miss Moray and the Salinas. Get on the Vistadome train for amazing views on your way to Aguas Calientes!
  • Stay here:  we stayed at Catari’s House which was basic but fine for what was quite a short night. If you plan on spending a bit more time at the hotel, Panorama B&B looks great.
  • Eat here: Tree House was a nice escape from all the tourist traps of Aguas Calientes, but it is a bit on the expensive side.
  • Top tip: spend a night in Ollantaytambo if you have enough time. I wish we’d had the time to visit the ruins there!
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Day 13
Machu Picchu

We woke up incredibly early, intending to get the first bus up to Machu Picchu at 5:30. We were at the bus stop at 4:58 and made it onto a bus at 5:37, arriving at the citadel at 6:00, just in time for it to open! Waking up so early was hard but it was 100% worth it. We got to see an empty Machu Picchu and didn’t have to share the best photo spots with too many people.

After exploring for hours, getting soaked while hiking the Montaña, and taking hundreds of pictures, we headed back to Cusco in time for dinner.

  • Do this: get there when it opens, I promise it’s worth it!
  • Top tip: 1) bring lunch and snacks. 2) go up the stairs to your left when you enter the citadel – the best view can be seen from the ‘Watchman’s Hut’.
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Day 14
Cusco

On our final day in Cusco, we visited three more Inca ruins: Q’enqo, Pukapukara and Tambomachay. I have to admit that these were not very exciting to see the day after visiting Machu Picchu – I’d recommend visiting them first and combining them with your visit with Sacsayhuaman (see Day 11). We also got drenched in the rain at Q’enqo so I don’t have the best memories of it!

After changing into dry clothes we went to the Museo Historico Regional which is a great place to learn more about Peru’s history. We also returned to San Pedro Market to pick up a few last souvenirs.

  • Stay here: Hostel Kokopelli had a great atmosphere, really nice food and was perfectly clean. We had a fun evening drinking piscos there.
  • Eat this: street food! We bought some delicious stuffed churros and grilled meat from street vendors and I regretted not trying any before day 14!
punto azul lima
Day 15
Lima then flight home!

On our last day, we caught an early flight from Cusco to Lima and hopped into a taxi (I’d recommend Taxi Green) to Miraflores. Our number one goal was to eat one last ceviche before flying home to London, and we nailed it. We found our way to Punto Azul which turned out to be super popular with locals at the weekends (go early to reserve a table!). With our bellies full, we wandered around the neighbourhood a bit more and stocked up on exotic Peruvian snacks at a supermarket before heading back to the airport! 🙁

chinchero-peru-baby-alpcaca

Needless to say, we were sad to have to leave beautiful Peru after only two weeks! If you can, I’d definitely recommend staying longer and taking the time to explore each place a bit more. I would have loved to spend more time in Cusco and the Sacred Valley and maybe even do the Rainbow Mountain hike.

Are you planning a trip to Peru?

Let me know your questions, thoughts, and experiences in the comments!

A detailed 2 week itinerary for Peru, including stops in Huacachina, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Cusco and Machu Picchu. Read for tips for restaurants, hotels and activities!

Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru!

By Posted on 3 min read 1191 views
All the tips you need if you're going to Huacachina in Peru. Read about my experience of sandboarding and riding a dune buggy.
sandboarding peru

Huacachina

A little desert oasis town, Huacachina doesn’t have a lot more to offer than sand, sunshine, and sandboarding. In case you haven’t heard of sandboarding before, it’s just like snowboarding but on sand and a lot more difficult! After seeing a few pictures and videos online, I was very excited about giving it a go.

The Dune Buggy

Before you get to swish down the dunes, you have to hop onto one of these dune buggies and let the driver do his thing. I think this was simultaneously the scariest and the most fun thing we did during our time in Peru. Make sure your seatbelt is tightly fastened because this is one hell of a bumpy ride! The buggies fly over huge bumps and ride downhill on the steepest of inclines! I held onto my seat the whole time with a huge grin on my face. And I don’t even like rollercoasters!

Sandboarding

After that scary ride we were told to grab our boards and start waxing them. Most of the boards have seen a lot of action in their time so you need the wax to make sure they slide over the sand properly.

My friend Arina and I were both way too scared to go down a big dune so we practised on a very little one. The buggy drivers are there to help people and one of them helped us practice. First we tried sitting on the boards, then we went down lying face first. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it would be!

In the end we both plucked up the courage to go down the big dune, and it was really fun!

If you go to Huacachina please try it! You don’t have to do it standing up like you’re snowboarding – it can be more like sledding if that’s what you’re comfortable with.

Keen snowboarders definitely have an advantage. Please just be a bit careful because I’ve heard stories of people getting injured here!

huacachina oasis at night

The sunset from the dunes was gorgeous and our buggy stopped near the town so that we could take pictures at dusk. (Sorry for the low quality phone photo!)

huacachina bananas hostel

Where to Stay in Huacachina

Other than dune buggies and sandboarding, I really don’t think there is much to do in Huacachina. You should make sure your hotel has a pool and a bar! We enjoyed our time at Banana’s Adventure Hostel. It has a pool, a nice bar, outdoor space to lounge around in, and decent food. Actually our breakfast there was the best of our entire trip! Fresh tropical fruit and pancakes, yum.

We met some great people at the hostel. One guy saved my life by lending me his camera charger (I forgot mine in London – a blogger’s worst nightmare!!! Luckily I had three batteries) and we ran into our roommate twice in the following week and ended up drinking with him in Cusco.

huacachina desert bonfire

The barman became our friend too, and after his shift he took a group of us to his friend’s bonfire up in the dunes. We were all a little tipsy, surrounded by friendly stray dogs, it was very dark and we had a really hard time finding the fire – it was hilarious. We drank beers by the fire until late, speaking a mix of Spanish and English and celebrating the lovely barman’s birthday at midnight.

The most memorable experiences are often the ones you don’t plan!

What do you think about sandboarding? Would you try it?

A Quick Guide to Arequipa, Peru

By Posted on 3 min read 1566 views
arequipa peru
arequipa plaza de armas

AREQUIPA

I didn’t know quite what to expect from Arequipa. I’d seen pictures and I was excited to see the super colourful Santa Catalina Monastery but what I didn’t realise is that Arequipa is a charming city that I could happily have explored for a few more days.

Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa is nicknamed Ciudad Blanca because of the white sillar volcanic rock that many of its buildings are made of. Unlike Cusco, Arequipa doesn’t have any Inca ruins for you to visit. Instead, it is its colonial architecture that earned its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

santa catalina monastery arequipa
alpacas arequipa peru

What to see

Santa Catalina Monastery (40 soles) should be number one on your list of places to visit in Arequipa. This 16th century convent is almost like a village within the city. You could easily get lost here, exploring the many quiet rooms that nuns used to live in. I loved the colours – red walls paired with green cacti and blue walls with red flowers.

Mundo Alpaca (free) is the place to learn about alpacas and llamas (and the difference between the two!). You will see both animals, as well as learn about their cousins and how their wool is dyed using natural ingredients and used to make gorgeous jumpers and tapestries.

Casa del Moral (free) is now a commercial bank but you can still wander around this 18th century mansion and enjoy its mestizo baroque style of architecture. Not the worst place use an ATM!

Iglesia de la Compania (free) is a small church with an intricately decorated facade. Worth a detour.

Mirador de Yanahuara (free) is located within walking distance of the city centre (roughly 25 minutes) and has a great view of Arequipa and El Misti volcano.

Museo Santuarios Andinos (20 soles) is where you can come face to face with Juanita, the frozen mummy of an Inca girl who was sacrificed in the 15th century. We didn’t have the time to visit but people say great things about this museum.

Go to San Camilo market (free) to see how the locals shop or to buy a few souvenirs. How many types of potato can you find?! Go to the top floor to try queso helado (literally ‘frozen cheese’), which is kind of like a vanilla flavoured shaved ice and is a speciality of Arequipa.

Where to eat

If you love food, Arequipa is the place for you!

Zig Zag is the place to try a juicy alpaca steak served on volcanic stone, although their fish, lamb and beef are also super tasty and perfectly cooked. Look out for the iron staircase – it was designed by Gustave Eiffel.

Crepisimo has a huge menu of crepes and is a great option for a quick lunch. I just had to try a cheese and avocado-filled crepe, yum! They make the crepes with cañihua, quinoa’s cousin.

Go to Chaqchao to enjoy some fine Peruvian chocolate from a balcony overlooking a pretty street.

Potato lovers, rejoice! Visit Hantunpa (Quechua for ‘big potato’) to try seven different types of potatoes with your choice of delicious topping. My friends went there and really enjoyed it (I was ill and didn’t eat that night, boo!).

Where to stay

We stayed at Dragonfly hostel which is central, quiet and affordable. We enjoyed the hammocks on the rooftop and the crepes for breakfast.

If you’re looking for more of a party hostel, Wild Rover is the place to be.

If you have a bigger budget, Katari Hotel looks AMAZING. Right on the main square, its breakfast view is hard to beat! Casa Andina Select is also super central with a beautiful view from its rooftop swimming pool.

peruvian weaving
monasterio santa catalina
santa catalina monastery peru

Arequipa is also the best place to stop on your way to the Colca Canyon – if you love beautiful mountain landscapes you shouldn’t miss it. I’m going to write another post about our two days there so stay tuned!

Are you going to Arequipa? Let me know in the comments!

7 reasons why Lima is totally underrated

By Posted on 3 min read 1238 views
7 reasons why Lima, the capital of Peru, is the most underrated city in South America. #Travel

Lima Peru

When I was planning my trip to Peru, people told me that I shouldn’t bother with Lima. I was told that it was just a grey, uninteresting city and that spending more than one night there would be a waste.

But after spending 36 hours in Lima, all I wanted to do was stay and explore more. I loved the architecture, energy and food that the city has to offer, and there was so much that I had yet to see!

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t leave Lima out of your Peru itinerary.

 

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Its historic centre is beautiful

Lima’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. It’s filled with so many colourful examples of colonial architecture, the most significant being the Convent of San Francisco (with its bone-lined catacombs!). It’s hard not to love the bright yellow buildings of Plaza Mayor or the gorgeous pink walls of the old Central Post Office.

 

Barranco, Lima, Peru

It also has a bohemian neighbourhood

Barranco is always described as being Lima’s bohemian neighbourhood. This is the place to hunt for cool street art or enjoy a free outdoor concert.

Don’t miss the romantic Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), a great place to catch the sunset. If you like photography, pay a visit to Peruvian photographer Mario Testino’s MATE museum.

 

punto azul lima

It has some of the best food in the world

Lima is the foodie capital of South America. It has three restaurants in ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants‘ list, or the same number as London or New York.

Its location also makes Lima the ideal place to try fresh ceviche. A local told me that you should only have ceviche by the coast and never after 4pm, otherwise it’s not fresh enough. Fine by me! I loved our lunch at Punto Azul (pictured above) on our last day.

To combine food and sightseeing, head to the archeological site of Huaca Pucllana for dinner with a view on 1,500 year old ruins. There are also plenty of great food tours available in the city which I sadly didn’t have the time to try.

 

Miraflores, Lima, Peru

It’s always warm

If you look at the average temperatures in Lima you’ll notice that they’re never very far from 20°C – which is perfect if you ask me! The coldest month is August when the average low is 15°C and the average high is 19°C. (London is jealous!)

Don’t underestimate the Peruvian sun – you’ll end up with red shoulders like I did on my first day 🙁

 

Surfers Lima Peru

You can paraglide from its seaside cliffs and surf the waves of the Pacific Ocean…

Or in my case, watch from a distance! Now, I’m not going to pretend I know anything about surfing, so check out WannaSurf to find out where the best surfing spots are in Lima. For paragliding, try Aeroextreme – it has great reviews and they will fly you over Miraflores or Pachacamac.

 

sea lions Peru

… and you can even swim with sea lions

Head to the Palomino Islands to see penguins and swim with curious sea lions. I so regret not doing this! Thankfully I got to see these gorgeous animals in Paracas, the next stop on my Peruvian itinerary.

 

dancing Lima Peru

You can dance the night (and day) away

Go to Parque Kennedy in Miraflores in the late afternoon and you’ll probably spot a crowd of locals gathering around an amphitheatre to watch people dance. It made me smile to see young couples dance to the music while old ladies enjoyed chatting and watching the crowd!

A local that I met on my walk around Miraflores was surprised when I said that I don’t really go dancing very often in London. He thought everyone danced salsa on a Saturday night!

 

Have you been to Peru? What do you think of Lima?

P.S. If you’re going to be travelling by bus, check out my review of Peru Hop. If you’re looking for a hostel in Lima, I’d recommend Pariwana in Miraflores.

My Experience of Travelling with Peru Hop

By Posted on 4 min read 1428 views
Travelling by bus is the best way to explore Peru. Read this for a great 2 week itinerary and a review of Peru Hop.

peru bus travel

 

If you want to really explore Peru, you pretty much have no choice but to take buses. A lot of buses. There are a few different travel companies you can choose from and it can be hard to choose which one to go with – a bus is a bus, right? Wrong! My travel companion/friend Arina and I debated the pros and cons of different companies for days before finally deciding to go with Peru Hop.

 

peru hop bus

What makes Peru Hop different

It’s convenient and reliable

Peru Hop makes your life easy and stress-free. You buy one ticket on their website, choose on which days you want to take the bus, put in what hotel you’re staying in and just show up at your hotel lobby at the time stated on your timetable. You are then dropped off at your next destination in front of your chosen hotel. Easy! You don’t have to deal with the hassle of buying a ticket for each journey or having to make your way to a bus station at the other side of town. We actually met a lovely Canadian guy who started off his trip by travelling by public bus but gave up and bought a Peru Hop ticket so that he wouldn’t have to speak in broken Spanish to local taxi drivers and get told to pay gringo (tourist) fares.

If you don’t enjoy organising every detail of your trip, you can even let your Peru Hop guide do that for you. Before you arrive at each destination, your guide will ask if you need them to book a hotel or a tour for you. Although we booked most of our hotels in advance, lots of people just relied on Peru Hop to get them a room at the last minute.

 

It’s fun

Because everyone is doing roughly the same itinerary, you can easily make friends with other travellers on Peru Hop. You often end up staying in the same hostels or going on the same tours as other passengers which is really nice!

 

It’s flexible

Peru Hop gives you the flexibility to change your bus times whenever you like, and your ticket is valid for a whole year. So if you’re travelling in South America for six months and you fall in love with Arequipa, you can stay there for a month before getting back on the bus if you feel like it.

 

It’s a great itinerary

The Full South to Cusco itinerary takes you to all the most important sights in Southern Peru. While a normal bus company could take you from A to B, it wouldn’t do all the extra stops that Peru Hop does. We got to visit places like Cristo Pacifico in Lima, the Paracas National Reserve and the Nazca Lines, all without having to buy multiple tickets or change buses.

 

It gives you discounts

Peru Hop gives you access to discounts for hotels, hostels and tours. As an example, I tried to find an alternative company for the Lake Titicaca one day/one night tour and checked all the best ones on TripAdvisor but none could match the price we got through Peru Hop.

 

peru hop bus

My only (slight) complaint…

I have to be completely honest here and say that if you want to be very comfortable, maybe Peru Hop isn’t the best option. The buses were fine for the shorter journeys but the overnight trips were a bit rough. We had a good (Bolivia Hop) night bus for the Puno to Cusco part of the trip but for Nazca to Arequipa we were in a normal bus which wasn’t great to sleep in. It was just one night so it was fine but it’s something to be aware of! Other bus companies have more luxurious night bus options but they don’t offer the convenience or level of service that Peru Hop does.

 

Peru hop bus

The Full South to Cusco itinerary

Peru Hop offer other itineraries, including one that can link to Bolivia Hop, but we only had a limited amount of time. I don’t think I could have planned a better itinerary for 2 weeks myself! It was quite full-on but we made the most of the time we had and saw a lot of the country.

You start off in Lima, the underrated food capital of South America…

Lima Peru

… before going to Paracas to see amazing wildlife in the Ballestas Islands.

islas ballestas tour

Huacachina is probably the place we had the most fun in, with its sandboarding and dune buggies.

Huacachina Peru

After a night in the desert, you head to Arequipa which is a charming city I would have liked to spend more time in. Most people will do a tour or a hike to Colca Canyon from there.

Arequipa Peru

The next stop is Puno, an unimpressive city on Lake Titicaca. I recommend doing a tour to see how locals live on the islands on the lake!

Puno Peru

Finally, the last stop is beautiful Cusco. It used to be the capital of the Inca Empire and it is surrounded by historic sites. It’s a great place to stay if you want to explore the Sacred Valley and you can easily make your way to Machu Picchu from there.

cusco peru

 

Basically, Peru Hop made our trip sooo much more relaxed, and I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a fun experience, you get to visit some amazing places you wouldn’t go to otherwise, and you get dropped off at right in front your hotel!

I’ll be writing a more detailed day-by-day itinerary with recommended hotels, tours and restaurants soon but please feel free to get in touch if you need any advice!

 

My bus trip was courtesy of Peru Hop but all views are my own!