Peru Itinerary Suggestions

Old Nov 18th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Sorry this is going to be long but I hope someone w/experience won't mind reading through it!

Hoping some of you w/firsthand experience can offer some tips and info. My husband and I are hoping to visit Peru. Unfortunately we'll probably have to do it during the rainy season (around the central mts. at least) at the beginning of March. Have to admit, I wonder if that is wise - ? (Hope there is at least SOME sunshine for part of most days. Do any of you have experience in the area in early March?) Time-wise we have up to about 12 days, but money-wise, it's a different story! (I don't think it will be too hard to find relatively cheap accommodations.)

Initially I thought we would want to spend 2 nts. in Lima, but I think one will be enough. Either end of trip is o.k. for that, and if I had to forgo something, it would probably be the nt. in Lima, although it would depend upon our flt. times.

Most important are Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Pichu. (Not doing a trek.) I'd love to spend about 3 - 4 days in Cusco, w/perhaps an overnt. in "Olly" as I've seen it referred to. Then the backpacker train, w/maybe an extra night in Aguas Callientes.(f we had to give up EITHER "Olly" or A.C., which one?) So let's say at least 4 nts. for all of that. This may be all we can afford to do, depending upon the cost of getting around once we are in Peru.

Arequipa looks like a great place and I am certain we'd love to see Colca Canyon. Not sure the best cheap/safe way to get there and where to stick a visit there within the itinerary? (Hoping some of you can offer suggestions for that.) Guess seeing the canyon would involve getting on a tour from Arequipa. Have no idea of the cost or how long that takes -a day? Guessing we'd need 2 nts. in Arequipa to do this.

At first I wasn't all that interested in going to Puno and Lake T., but the more I look into it, the more interesting it sounds. Actually the bus ride between Cusco & Puno (either direction - whatever works best) interests me a lot because of just getting to sort of "relax" w/a chance to see some of the country along the road & to do the stops. Not sure where best to put this into the itinerary either.

I'd like to try to figure out how much of this will be doable and I'll have to work through a couple of different itinerary options, depending upon what costs are necessary.

I guess no one rents a car and just drives between these places? We have driven in many different countries, on both sides of the road, on tiny, twisting (but fairly well paved roads - although some were loaded w/potholes!), in mts., small towns, in very large cities, & on hwys. w/cars traveling at very high speeds. But the only mention I have even seen of renting a car in Peru was on another site where someone asked about renting at the airport in Lima to head out of town. Are roads just too bad, the gas & costs too high, traffic or driving style too risky, or is finding the way too hard, all of the above or what? (BTW, I do speak a fair amount of Spanish - enough to get by pretty well but am not fluent.)

Any suggestions regarding ways to get between towns safely & economically - via train or bus or air - would be appreciated. Also, I would welcome help with regard to planning an itinerary that would include either/and/or both Arequipa & Lake Titicaca. If one has to be left off, the one that would be a combo of the priciest and most difficult to do will be the one to "go" I think. (That might mean both!)

Any info. would REALLY be appreciated!
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Old Nov 18th, 2010, 10:40 AM
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One small suggestion for mlbcruiser
You can cut it into two halves and do one week now and one week another time (later on in the same year or next) - I have thought about this and two one week trips may be better than one two week trip both in terms of loading up too many things to see and price wise too - Most of out other trips have been one week or 10 day trips and you can see a fair amount in that in places like Costa Rica or Colombia and going back the second time you skip the parts that you didn't like and redo parts that you liked. Even our trip to India - we were overloaded with one week in Rajasthan and 4 days in Agra and Khujraho - next time we will only go to Bombay and Goa nothing else.
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Old Nov 18th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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mlbcruiser. If you browse back through this thread I think you will see some of your questions answered.

I was there in late March and early April. The mudslides happened a couple of months earlier; there was still some rain around but not too bad and it was sunny most days in the mountains. Is there no way to go a little later?

I've driven cars over some pretty hairy roads and, among other things, I'm also a retired cab-driver. There are two places in the world I would not drive if you paid me a fortune - India and Peru. Taxis are very cheap in the towns and the buses provide cheap transportation between them. When I was researching my own trip I found that Peru has one of the worst road accident records of any country.

Also browse through my trip reports commencing here:

Some of the information there may help.

Cheers, Alan

PS I'm no expert, I just happen to have been there recently. Hopefully some of the experts will drop in.
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Old Nov 19th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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motu, this could be the only time we ever make it to Peru. We've traveled a lot, but our bucket list just of the never been theres (not to mention places we LOVED and do plan to return to) is still way too long! I am in my late 50's, while my husband is in his early 60's. We are still quite active but time is marching on and money isn't increasing. The air alone is a significant cost. I certainly can appreciate what you are saying, but in our case, various factors will probably make this our only trip to Peru.

Alan, I have been mulling it over & this is probably IS the only time we can go. Actually, after I posted this last nt. I read a new guidebook and it went into detail about the driving situation. I agree w/you that it sounds like it would just be a mistake, not to mention even pricier. (Figured that, since no one was talking about it, but just had to ask!) Yes, I read the posts above and there was good info. in them. But felt some of the ?s were just enough different from mine that I needed to know more. Anyway, thanks for replying and I so appreciate ANY info. There is a lot of helpful stuff here. Will continue to do my research and I'm sure eventually all will get decided.

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Old Nov 19th, 2010, 02:37 PM
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For mlb, a suggested itinerary based on your post. Others may have better ideas. I've guessed as to your start date, adjust as needed. If day 0 could be included you can add an extra night at any desired location.

Day0 Saturday 05/Mar

Day1 Sunday 06/Mar Sleep Lima, travel by Air
Take the earliest flight you can, so that you can go into the Centro Historico in the afternoon but stay around tourist central in Miraflores for the restaurants and park activities in the evening.

Day2 Monday 07/Mar Sleep Arequipa travel by Air.
Take the earliest flight again, so you can look around in the afternoon. Stay at Los Tambos if you can. Walk around the tour operators near the main square to choose a tour for Colca Canyon the next day; get the operator to arrange accommodation and the 4M bus continuation to Puno. You could get some last minute discounts.

Day3 Tuesday 08/Mar Sleep Colca Canyon, travel by tour Bus.

Day4 Wednesday 09/Mar Sleep Puno, travel by 4M Bus.

Day5 Thursday 10/Mar Sleep Puno
Take a cab to the docks and choose a tour to see the Reed Islands. It's quite cheap, less than 40 soles from memery.

Day6 Friday 11/Mar Sleep Cusco, travel by Bus or Train.
Take the bus if you want to economise or spend the extra ($40 cf $220) for the train.

Day7 Saturday 12/Mar Sleep Cusco
Day8 Sunday 13/Mar Sleep Cusco

Day9 Monday 14/Mar AC/MP, travel by Train.
Day10 Tuesday 15/Mar AC/MP

I'd suggest the Vistadome on the way there and economise with the Backpacker on return.

Day11 Wednesday 16/Mar Sleep Cusco

Day12 Thursday 17/Mar Home, travel by Air via Lima

The nights in Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Macchu Picchu Pueblo) are fairly flexible depending on the timing of the trains you choose. I'd stay at least one night in AC so that you can get to the ruins early; seeing the mist clear over the site was magical on the day I went. Planning for two nights allows for the possibility of a bad weather day.

Just ideas. Hope that helps. If you are really trying to economise, look at and

I used them both, but eventually I decided my 63 yo body needed hotel quality beds
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Old Nov 21st, 2010, 08:14 AM
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Alan, GREAT info! Lots of good tips. The way you devised the schedule is super. Our timing will be similar except we'd probably start our trip a few days earlier - maybe about the 2nd. Easy to figure that out.

The idea about doing the Vistadome to M.P. one way and backpacker the other sounds like a good one! Am I correct in thinking you always face forward on the Vistadome train or not? (Just curious as I hate riding backwards.)

Definitely the bus for us between Puno and Cusco, but that actually sounds more fun to me due to the stops and price makes a huge difference.

W/regard to the accommodations, my husband is your age and I'm only a few yrs. behind him so, like you, we like decent beds as well. The ol' backs get pretty stiff and sore when we sleep in a "sinker", if you know what I mean! Some of the hostals I have seen online really look more like the guesthouse/B&B rooms we've sometimes stayed in in other places. Guess I can message those who have stayed at some that look promising via tripadvisor or something for first hand accounts.

The itinerary you cooked up looks great! One ? though: I had thought we would be able to stay in Arequipa before & after a tour to see Colca Canyon, but would there not be enough time to leave from & get back to Arequipa the same evening to stay there again?

Now if I could just hear some more reports about how travelers who went in late Feb/early March (in yrs. past - not the mudslide yr. if that is unusual) I would feel better about making the trip. I am so anxious but wonder if putting it off in hopes of maybe doing it at a better time another yr. would be wiser. Getting so gung ho to go, don't know if I can be that patient, though!

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to so many ?s!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2010, 10:46 AM
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I was on the Autovagons because that was the only version still on the Piscaycucho-Aguas Calientes section of track that was open, so I can't answer the Vistadome question. I sat up front and didn't notice the searts behind me

Every hostel I used had problems. All had lovely people; the problems were generally bed quality or noise. However, if you do some research there are some good cheap hotels.

The trip from Arequipa to Chivay was several hours long, including stops for photos and baños, with some very rough sections. I wouldn't like to try to do both ways in a day; it would also mean shortening the viewing period in the Canyon. It is quite possible to return to Arequipa the following day and then go to Puno, but about half the trip is repeating the section from the Puno-Arequipa road to Chivay. Alternatively, it may be cheaper and quicker if you omitted Puno and flew direct from Arequipa to Cusco.

I can't comment on the weather in early March.

Cheers, Alan
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Old Nov 24th, 2010, 03:09 PM
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Coming in late because just returned from Costa Rica which is not a destination for budget travelers.

But Peru still is! As far as getting around cheaply be sure to look into the alternative airlines such as Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines, in addition to long distance busses.

There is no earthly reason to rent a car. Busses, taxis, and the moto taxis can get you anywhere. In Lima, you may be able to figure out how to use the public bus system.

PS I like Lima, think it's worth a full day (could be one or two nights) at the END of the trip. I prefer to avoid Miraflores. Try Barranco or the neighborhoods closer to the center. I rented a dungeon of a little private room at "Home Peru" in Lima which I liked quite a bit for $30, they also have cheap hostel rooms. Quite a convenient location mid way between the coast (walkable) and Centro (can take the local bus on Arequipa Ave for less than $1.)

If you are traveling off season (not around any Saint Days or Easter!) you should be able to get some good hotel discounts. Book directly and ask in advance what the cash price is.

I traveld in January also off season, liked splitting my time between Ollantaytambo and Cusco. Did not overnight in Aguas and didn't regret it. I had no plans to do the Huayna Picchu hike (fear of cliff edges) and a day trip was just fine, and I enjoyed Ollantaytambo a lot.

Used El Balcon in Cusco (big time discount $25 booked direct for one person) and El Albergue. The latter is great for daytrip to MP since it is on the train platform. The ground floor rooms (no view) are reasonable. Suggest emailing and asking directly for the off season cash discount. I found sometimes if I booked through either the hotel website or something like hostelbookers I lost the discount and couldn't get it back.

As an alternative to some of the other typical Gringo Trail sights I suggest looking into Chiclayo/Trujillo, the "Egypt of Peru". It can be quite inexpensive if done directly either using the overnight busses (such as Transportes Linea) or roundtrip flight on Star Peru. Hotel Garza in Chiclayo was a very nice splurge at $60 (one person). Great food in that part of Peru, too.
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