HOW TO GET THERE
Airlines I recommend to fly from Lima to Cusco are LATAM, Avianca, Star Peru. There are others but these seem to be the most reliable. I recommend the Manhattan hotel for short night Lima stays for budget accommodations.
Hotel Link: https://hmanhattan.com.pe.
The Lima Wyndham is connected to the Lima airport and is a nicer option.
You can easily route your flights using FlightsFrom.com to view the best way to get to and from destinations. We also recommend using Google Flights to compare the diﬀerent airlines and their prices/routes. ALWAYS book your flights direct on and airline’s website and don’t use third-party sites. You don’t want to have issues in travel and must rely on calling a third-party for assistance. Airlines will not speak with you directly about third-party bookings.
WHAT ELSE TO SEE AND DO
Peru is a vast country and while we are seeing the most famous and visited sites, there are also other places you should try to visit if you have time. These are things you can plan to visit on your own, but we wanted to share.
Lima – Lima is a great portside city with tons of museums, culture, dining and more. If you have time in Lima, I recommend taking a visit to the Museo Larco and adding on the Erotic Pottery Exhibition. While Peruvians sell funny playing cards depicting the exotic pottery around Peru, the exhibit holds a very interesting history and is worth the visit! For more information on what to see/do in Lima click here.
Amazon Rainforest – you can either fly into Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos to visit the Amazon. There are several adventure lodges or cruises you can book to extend your stay. I have personally stayed at one of the Inkaterra Lodge in Puerto Maldonado and it was a first-class experience. Their stays include transfers, tours, and dining the entire time during your trip. There are many options out there, so do your research!
Rainbow Mountain – another picturesque place to visit in Peru. Something you should add to your list if you have time. For more information about visiting Rainbow Mountain click here.
Most places in Peru do not take credit or debit cards and prefer cash. USD is accepted at most places (if the bills have no rips or tears). There are also ATMs at all the towns we visit to get cash on the go. Try downloading a currency app like XE Currency to see the most current currency conversion.
There are not any visas or vaccines required to visit Peru.
The entry requirements for US citizens to visit Peru is a passport with at least 6 months of validity and 1 blank page. For more information, please visit the State Department website here.
There are not vaccination requirements to visit Peru as of June 19, 2023, but we always recommend checking Sherpa travel requirements that are updated by the government. That site can be found here.
It is a bit different when you see this information on paper. Still, the reality is that once you arrive in Cusco, you’ll instantly realize that the air is thinner. You might be even welcomed by a mild headache.
There are some altitude drops you can start taking prior to the trip to help acclimate yourself ahead of time. If you are having a real issue with the altitude and breathing, there are tubes of oxygen you can purchase from various places around Peru.
Americans may find themselves with stomach issues while traveling in Peru. Come prepared with stomach medication if you are worried about this, otherwise you will be able to find medication available at pharmacies at the cities we visit.
We always recommend visiting your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to travel and consult with them for medical needs.
Peru uses 220 volt electricity, so visitors will need a converter for 110 volt devices. Most plugs in Peru are the two-pronged flat type found in the US, but a three-pronged and a two-pronged circular type are also found. An adapter may be necessary depending on which type your devices use.
Click here to purchase your adapter/converter and see other travel accessories that will be great for this trip.
Each traveler will be expected to bring $100 per person to tip the guides and the porters. Tip $80 for guides and $20 for porters. USD dollars are good, but just make sure all bills are crisp, no tears. Your Happy Guide will collect tips from everyone towards the end of the trip before giving them to the guides and porters.
WEATHER & WHAT TO WEAR
As the high season comes to an end, September is the perfect time to visit the highlands. The Sacred Valley, Cusco and the main treks to Machu Picchu, such as the Inca trail are quieter than in the previous months, while dry weather makes hiking in the Cordillera Blanca near Huaraz similarly possible. Dry weather continues in the Amazon, with fewer mosquitos and warmer temperatures, too.
The weather in Peru is unpredictable and can change frequently during the day. It is best to dress in layers and have a pack to store your unused layers during the day.
What to Wear
Dress in layers. No shorts on the Inca Trail because of the sand flies. Typical weather can change so make sure you bring a poncho. If mosquitos are attracted to you more than usual, try to avoid wearing black as they are really attracted to this color.
Our top packing recommendations:
I also recommend packing mosquito wipes, sunscreen (the sun is INTENSE at high elevation), and toilet paper. We also highly recommend packing a rain poncho. You want to be protected from the elements while hiking if the weather decides to change. Many of the rest stops when you are on the go will not have toilet paper and that is something you will want to have!
You can find many of these items to purchase here.
What to Pack Videos:
Check out these videos on packing, please check them out.
We are traveling in the amazing, adventure destination that is Peru! When traveling to Peru, please do not forget to pack your patience. The hotels we will be staying at our locally owned and small-boutique properties to give you the most authentic experience possible. Some places may run out of hot water quickly or may not offer A/C. This is typical of Peru. Come prepared and ready for adventure!
Peruvian cuisine has received an increasing amount of press, including one article stating that the country is experiencing “a revolution in gastronomy,” particularly in Lima.
So do sample the local food—Peruvian dishes can be outstanding—but to be on the safe side, dine in the better hotels and restaurants. Much of the food is highly seasoned—in fact, it can be hot and spicy, although not always so. Lomo saltado is a hearty beef, vegetable and rice dish that seems to appear on every Peruvian menu: When in doubt, order it (vegetarians excepted).
Ceviche de corvina (white sea bass marinated in lemon, chilies and onions, served cold) is a Peruvian specialty. The best ceviche is in Lima, but good ceviche can be found all up and down the coast. Trout is particularly good from Lake Titicaca, while the highlands are also home to some unusual meats, including cuy (grilled guinea pig), alpaca steak and lechon (suckling pig).
Within Peru, the dishes also vary, and some of the best Andean food can be found in Arequipa, where you can try the local specialties: Rocoto relleno (stuffed hot red chili pepper), adobo (marinated pork or beef) or anticuchos (skewered beef heart).
Try the local drinks. Pisco—brandy from the Ica valley—is used to make delicious pisco sours. Mate de coca, an herbal tea brewed from coca leaves, is a popular energy booster and is said to relieve symptoms of altitude sickness. (It’s available free in many hotel lobbies, especially in higher altitudes.) Inca Kola has a very sweet, bubble-gum flavor that does not appeal to everyone. Fruit juices are also delicious, but confirm that they are made with purified water.
TRANSPORTATION & SECURITY
We offer airport pickups and drop-offs for this trip. You will need to send us your flight details in advance so that we can organize the transportation. You will also have an English-speaking guide during the duration of your trip and be transported by air-conditioned van during most of this trip. For part of the trip, you will be on a train in the Sacred Valley.
Peru is a safe country, but as always when you travel, petty theft can be an issue in larger populated areas. Be mindful of your belongings.
US EMBASSY INFORMATION
U.S.: U.S. Embassy, Ave. de la Encalada 17, Surco, Lima 33. Phone 1-618-2000. http://lima.usembassy.gov.
INTRO, HISOTRY, & GEO
Lake Titicaca, which straddles Peru’s border with Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world—and one of the most beautiful. The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, which would be stunning anywhere, are truly spectacular in their Andean setting, high above the Urubamba River. And Cusco, once the center of the Incan empire and now a vibrant gateway to Incan ruins, is also high in the Andes.
Yet even at sea level, Peru can leave you breathless. With unspoiled beaches, coastal desert, deep canyons and dense Amazon jungle, its variety of natural wonders is astonishing.
Then, there are the cultural treasures. The contrast between old and new runs throughout the land: Poncho-clad indigenous peoples walk their llamas through modern cities, past Spanish cathedrals built on the foundations of ancient Incan ruins. Giant, stylized designs were etched in the earth by the Nazca—a great pre-Columbian civilization.
Peru is where pre-Columbian culture reached its most graceful peak. Like the Parthenon in Greece or the Pyramids of Egypt, the Incan and pre-Incan ruins of Peru provide an unforgettable glimpse of the genius of a lost world.
Peru can be divided into three distinct geographic regions: the coastal desert, where most of the major cities are located; the Andean Highlands, where mountain peaks soar above 20,000 ft/6,000 m; and the largely undeveloped Amazon jungle, with isolated villages and cities and a tremendous number of plant and animal species.
Although the northern tip of Peru reaches within a mile/kilometer of the equator, coastal temperatures are moderated by the Humboldt Current, which rises from Antarctica and creates frigid swimming conditions as well as rich offshore fishing.
Before the Incan empire, many civilizations flourished in Peru. The Moche culture (noted for exceptionally fine pottery), the Nazca culture (which made huge etchings in the desert) and the Chimu culture (with its large adobe cities) are but three examples. It is the Incas, however, whose civilization is best known—their empire, though short-lived, covered the South American Andes from modern-day Colombia to Chile.
Their lands were held together by an extensive network of roads, traversed by imperial messengers bearing quipus, or knotted-string messages. The empire was incredibly skillful in its use of dry masonry, irrigation and terraces. The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu—made of large stones interlocked like fingers with no mortar used—attests to the technical and aesthetic mastery of this Amerindian empire.
All that came to an end when, in 1532, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived with a small but well-armed force, captured the emperor Atahualpa and began the destruction of a civilization. Today, Peruvians are ambivalent about their past: Pride in their Spanish and indigenous heritage mixes with shame over the sometimes brutal actions of their forefathers.
After declaring independence from Spain in 1821, Peru enjoyed a short period of republican government, followed by nearly 160 years of “good” dictatorships alternating with corrupt tyrannies, ineffectual democratic administrations and sheer anarchy. Sporadic attacks by guerrilla groups continued into the late 1990s, despite the arrest of most of the leaders of the Shining Path, the most violent group. Recent years have signaled a new era of stability, and while extreme poverty remains in parts of the country, the economy is growing at one of the fastest rates in the region.
Outsider Alejandro Toledo was elected president in 2001, following the ignominious flight of Alberto Fujimori. Toledo struggled with low approval ratings and strikes despite pretty robust economic growth throughout his presidency. He was replaced in 2006 by former president Alan Garcia, who led Peru to hyperinflation and foreign capital flight during his first term in the 1980s. Peruvians accorded him a remarkable second chance, and he presided over a rapidly expanding economy, but not without criticisms of growing social unrest, environmental mismanagement and, later, allegations of corruption. In 2011, Garcia was replaced by the current President of Peru, Ollanta Humala.