An introduction to Peru
We have put together this guide to introduce Peru to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at our website southamericaodyssey.com/peru or get in touch, we would be delighted to talk you through the options.
Peru is a fantastic destination with something for everyone. Whether you visit the ancient Andean citadel of Machu Picchu, explore the traditional villages and towns, head east into the dense and biodiverse Amazon rainforest, or if you go to the cosmopolitan capital city of Lima on the Pacific you are sure to love Peru. A country with a fantastic infrastructure for tourism and some of the friendliest locals.
Highlights of Peru
Lima is an interesting mix of old history and new development. It’s location on the Pacific Coast means picturesque views and opportunities for day trips to nearby islands if time allows. Among the historical intrigue of the city is the Museo Larco which has more than 45,000 Ancient Peruvian pieces including old treasures and mysterious artefacts to goggle at on your stop here. There is much to see in these world class museums, and also lots to eat with some of the world’s best restaurants.
We suggest staying in the fitting former colonial mansion Hotel B, a beautiful boutique and arty hotel which is a perfect base to explore the city from.
Cuzco, The Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu
Cuzco is a fantastic location for wandering around and soaking up the interesting atmosphere is provides. As the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is seeping with old history and hidden gems. With its cobbled streets, markets and nearby Inca Ruins it makes for an extremely interesting city.
There are lots of great hotels from which to select. La Casona is a small and luxurious option located in a exclusive private and historical plaza. Another luxurious options is the Hotel Monasterio that seeping with history it perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the city. For a more economical option then El Mercado is a good four star hotel abundant with quirky local design and colours.
A short drive from Cuzco, the Sacred Valley is the place to be. It has everything – culture, colourful markets including Pisac (the best in South America), horse riding, water rafting, mountain biking, trekking and even more historical sites.
For an authentic experience with a picturesque view of the Andean Mountain, we recommend staying at the Explora Sacred Valley or Sol y Luna. Sol y Luna is our favourite hotel that is run by the owner Petit, with the sole aim of financially supporting her extremely successful local school.
Finally, you will not find a more dramatic backdrop than the infamous Machu Picchu – the main reason to visit Peru. It is 120km south of Cuzco, and can be accessed through the popular Inca trail (a 4/5 day trek), or alternatively via train and bus – you can basically decide how long your trip there will take. Whatever your transport mode, this historical mystery is sure not to disappoint and is a serious must see.
For easy access then the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is the no.1 choice, but being the only hotel in this location comes with a hefty price tag. El Mapi and Puebla in nearby Aguas Calientes are both more reasonable priced alternatives.
The Peruvian Amazon
This area is what you’d expect from the name. Hugely dense with 20,000 different plant species and one of the most biodiverse pockets in the world, the nature and wildlife here is unparalleled. This is a fantastic opportunity to see a different side of Peru, and a nice contrast to the other places you will visit. We recommend that you immerse yourself in this wild environment by staying at one of the remoter located, yet basic lodges such as Tambopata Research Centre. The most comfortable lodge is Reserva Amazonica.
Arequipa, Colca & Lake Titicaca
If you have time go and see the UNESCO ‘white city’ of Arequipa, aptly named for its buildings of white volcanic rock which makes this world heritage site a possible attraction along with its view of El Misti volcano. Colca is another option for the culture keen – it is a canyon surrounded by picturesque towns, with an authentic Peruvian feel as many of the women still dress in traditional clothing. Cola Lodge is a wonderful, charming and lush place to stay as you can enjoy their natural hot springs whilst drinking a cocktail under the stars. Close to the Bolivian border sits Lake Titicaca, a huge body of water with fascinating islands dotted around it.
Even more places in Peru
Nazca Chiclayo and Trujillo are also options if you are on your trip for the long haul. Please contact us for any more information on the above.
Neighbouring countries to combine with a Peru itinerary
Visiting Peru is also a fantastic opportunity to branch out to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for nature lovers. Or even Chile for a more diverse experience – visit Patagonia, one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the world or hit up the lights of Santiago; there really are lots of options. It just depends on what kind of holiday interests you the most.
When is the best time to visit?
The three main regions of Peru all have their own microclimates, meaning that the best time to visit one area doesn’t necessarily make it the best time to visit another. That being said, for most the highlights of Peru are focused around the southern highlands which are best visited between April and September. During these months the weather in the highlands will be dry and sunny during the day and very cool in the evenings due to the altitude. If you want to spend an extended amount of time in Lima then the best months are from December to March.
How much dos a trip to Peru cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then a two week trip to Peru staying in mid-range hotels would cost £3,500/$4550 per person excluding international flights. For a full itinerary please see http://digital.africaodyssey.com/Itinerary/Map/b1dd82d3-d2d9-4d9b-8005-600c789ae0c1
Is the altitude a problem?
Many of the sites in Peru are in high altitude, which can cause altitude sickness. It is not a problem, but just something to be wary of. Even if you are very fit, keep in mind to always stay hydrated and hopefully you will acclimatise quickly. We always design our trips taking into account the altitudes that you will be experiencing. Talk to your GP if you have any medical conditions prior to your trip.
What is the currency?
Peruvian Nuevo Sol is the currency. UK credit/debit cards are accepted at many ATMs.
What is the language?
Spanish is the main language and English is widely spoken by those working in tourism.
What is the time difference?
GMT -5 hours.
How do I get there?
If you are flying from the UK then flights are around 12.5 hours long. Hop on the direct flight from London Gatwick or other non-direct routes which include changes in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid. There are lot of options from the US.