Tips for Travel in Peru

Peruvian Indian woman looking at colorful textiles
 Peruvian Indian woman looking at colorful textiles
Travel in Peru

I've been on treks to Peru twice - first time in 1979, and travel about the country was fairly primitive. Our trip in 2008 was much easier. Rather than having to use letters & telex, it's easy to set up your trip directly with people in Peru. Lima is best known for its museums. Plan on a day or 2 to overcome 'jet lag', then move to higher elevation

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  •  Panorama – Jirishanca, Yerupaja and Siula mountains

     Cordillera Huayhuash, Siula and Yerupaja and lake
    Trekking in the Andes in Peru

    We've gone each time for 2-3 week treks - first in the Cordillera Blanca, in 2008 in the Cordillera Huayhuash, one of the more difficult treks in the Andes - over 10 days of travel above 14,000', with passes between 15,000 and 16,000' almost every day. Huaraz is the jumping off point for most treks, so you should contact one of the trekking agencies there. They can also set you up with a pension for your stay there. Should run about $30-50 / night for the hotel; soemwhere between $40-100 per day for your trek including guide, cook, porters or mules, and all group camping gear. You can do these treks as a backpack carrying all your own gear, but it's definitely not recommended - all you'll see is your feet trudging up steep dirt trails carrying an enormous pack.

    Getting to Huaraz or most other towns in Peru is easy and comfortable - large, air conditioned buses run frequently from Lima.  In a few cases, there are trains.


     Huayna Picchu mountain overlooking Machu Picchu

     Panorama – Terraced fields and guardian huts

    Machu Picchu

    After the trek, head for Cusco, and the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Again, there are many about 50% over a package tour. We stayed at the hotel just outside Machu Picchu the first time we went - it was expensive, with poor food and surly waiters & management. We ended up with 6 people in a double when our reservations were overbooked. Today the hotel is aover $400 per night, plus you have to stay in a 5 star hotel in Cusco before you can get a reservation! From what I've heard from other travelers, the rest of the hotel experience on top hasn't changed. Instead, stay in Agua Calientes, the strain stop at the base. It's a comfortable train ride from Cusco, a relaxing afternoon in town, then you'll have a full day to explore the ruins [mini buses take you up the narrow twisty road] before taking the late train back to Cusco. The trains do fill up, so you should make your reservations beforehand - again, easy since it's online at PeruRail [hub pages doesn't allow many external links]. On our return, we stopped at Ollantaytambo, less often visited, but definitely worth a visit.


     Panorama Massive stones in Inca fortress walls
    Handmade Indian dolls
     Handmade Indian dolls

    Plan for several days in Cusco itself - you can take local buses or taxis to the many sites nearby. Time your Cusco stay to visit the Pisac market. Sunday is the best day, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are good too. We took a taxi out to the Pisac Inca ruins above the town, then after exploring dropped down to the market and later took the local bus back to Cusco. Rather than booking Sacred Valley tour advertised everywhere, you can just take a taxi to the end of the valley at Puca Pucare. Then you can walk down at your own pace to the 8 km to Cusco, visiting the various sites, ending at Sacsayhuaman, finally walking back to Cusco itself.

    Peruvian food is varied and tasty - there are many small restaurants and cantinas in the major tourist cities.

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