Peru

Complete guide to Peru

Peru is one of the most unique and magical places to visit in the world. From ancient Incan ruins to the mysterious Nasca Lines it has some of the most dramatic and diverse landscapes you are likely to see. From the humidity of the Amazon Jungle to the fresh mountain air of the Andes there is something for everyone.

It’s a great country to visit if you are an outdoor enthusiast and lover of adventure, from surfing. to sandboarding, hiking, to helicopter rides, Peru is sure to get your blood pumping!

Then there is the food! Peru is well known for its delicious dishes such as Ceviche, Papas a la Huracaina (Potatoes in spicy cheese sauce), and who could forget Cuy (guinea pig).

 

Complete guide to Peru

Top 10 Places to visit in Peru

  1. Machu Pichu
  2. Cusco
  3. Arequipa
  4. Sacred Valley
  5. Nazca Desert
  6. Iquitos
  7. Lima
  8. Trujillo
  9. Mancora
  10. Puno

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Arequipa Peru Guide

Peru Itineraries

Complete guide to Peru

Peru Travel Information

General Information

Peru is a country in South America and one of the most popular among backpackers and vacationers thanks to Machu Picchu and the delicious food available here.

The currency in Peru is the Sol.

The official language in Peru is Spanish but both Quechua and Aymara are widely spoken.

The dialing code of Peru is +51.

It’s hard to get a clear answer if the water is safe to drink from the tap in Peru. It does not pass the WHO standards, but many people do drink it and don’t get sick. The issue is more than the water is heavily treated with chlorine and contains a lot of heavy metals, which may not make you sick in the short term, but in the long term, this could prove deadly. I would always air on the side of caution and instead drink bottled water.

Accommodation in Peru

Accommodation in Peru is generally basic, but your money can go a long way. Hostels are common in the main tourist places and you can expect to pay on average 40-50 Sol ($12-15 USD) per night, although it can be as low as 25 Sol!

If you prefer a private room in a hostel expect to pay from 70 Sol ($20 USD) per night or for a room in a budget hotel you will pay around 40 Sol ($12 USD). 

Food in Peru

Peru is well known for having some of the best food in the world, and much of it is very inexpensive. In fact, it’s so cheap you will probably end up eating out 90% of the time here. There are so many traditional foods you must try while in Peru, so this won’t be a difficult task! Each region in Peru heads it’s own specialty dishes and you can expect to pay 3-6 Sol /$1-2 USD for street food.

If you choose to have a sit-down meal in a local restaurant expect to pay between 12-20 Sol ($4-6 USD). If you want to eat Western food you will pay a lot more for this.

Look out for the Menu del Dia which is a set menu that you can normally find for around about 10 Sol ($3 USD). 

Best Things To Do In Peru

There is so much to do in Peru and the biggest expenses are likely to be the trips to archaeological sites. A day trip to Machu Picchu will set you back around 190 Sol ($56 USD). If you want to do one of the multi-day trips such as the Inca Trail then you are looking at several hundred dollars

 

Here are a few must-do things in Peru:

  1. The Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek or a day trip to Machu Pichu 
  2. Visit the floating islands of the Uros
  3. Go Surfing
  4. Explore Cuzco
  5. Take a trip to the Amazon
  6. Go Sandboarding
  7. Hike to Rainbow mountain
  8. Fly over the Nasca lines
  9. Relax at Lake Titicaca 
  10. Visit the white city of Arequipa

Peru budget per day:

Peru is a great budget travel destination. What often hikes up prices in Peru is the cost of doing once-in-a-lifetime activities like the Inca Trail, and visiting Rainbow Mountain.

You can get super cheap accommodation and as long as you eat local food, you can keep your food costs low. But if you want to do these big trips and tours then you are going to have to budget for them.

The figures below are an average of what you can expect to spend per day.

Backpackers Budget – $35 USD

Accommodation: $10 USD
Food: $10 USD
Activities & Transport: $15 USD

Mid Budget – $130 USD

Accommodation: $30
Food: $30
Activities & Transport: $70

Luxury Budget – $250 USD +

Accommodation: $75 USD
Food: $50 USD
Activities & Transport: $125 USD

Peru Safety Advice

SafetyWing is insurance specifically for Digital Nomads which renews every month. Whereas World Nomads is more for Backpackers. You can read the full review I wrote about long term travel insurance here, and use the widget below to check the price of World Nomads.

Peru Money Saving Tips

Eat the menu del dia

At lunchtime in Peru, you will find most local restaurants serving a menu del Dia, which is basically a set menu of the day. You can oftern get a great meal for 9 Sol ($3 USD). It’s cheap and will keep you full all-day.

Us the Colectivos

A collective is a common term used in Latin America for a minivan that runs along a set route transporting local people around. they are always cheap and often there is a door opposition (audante). The cost is always very cheap, normally around 1-2 Sol ($0.30-0.60 USD) per ride. 

Book tours last minute

Heres the thing. Is you are on a 2 week vacation and have a tight window in which to explore Peru. Then you are going to feed to book the big tours in advance. If you want to do the Inca Trail for example, you often need to book 6 months ahead of time. If however you aren’t pushed for time, then it’s worth not pre-booking and instead just turning up in Cusco and hanging around until you can get a last-minute deal. Booking a last-minute tour can save you lots of money, but you may have to wait for a while. 

Look Out For Accommodation With Kitchens

If you want to save money by cooking for yourself then I would strongly suggest checking before booking that the accommodation has a kitchen. 

Save money on accommodation using Worldpackers 

This is how I was able to stay in Guatemala for almost a year rent-free! There are lots of opportunities in Peru and it’s not expensive to join and if you join through my link and use the discount code in this blog post you get some money off… you’re welcome!

Don’t buy Bottled Water

Although the water isn’t safe to drink directly from the tap, almost all businesses including hostels have clean drinking water and they will almost always provide it for free. Although some hostels may ask for a small fee if you want to fill up large water bottles. So be sure to bring a good water bottle with you.

Peru Packing Advice

Wondering what to pack for Peru? I got you. Take a read of the packing lists linked below and download my printable packing list by dropping your email into the form below. 

Traveling in the Peru

When traveling around Peru the most common form of transportation is the bus. It is possible to fly between some places, but the cos is generally high.

The normal cost for a 10-hour bus journey is 40 Sol ($12 USD), although for a nicer more modern bus you can expect to pay more. Although the bus is much cheaper it will take you a lot longer as the roads aren’t great. To travel from Lima to Cuzco you can expect to pay around 185 Sol ($55 USD) for the 21-hour journey.  

One way to save money on transport in Peru is to use Peru Hop which is a hop-on-hop-off bus company with backpackers in mind. You can buy a 10 day Southern Pery Pass for 670 Sol ($199 USD) which could save you some money if you want to power your way around the southern part of Peru in 10 days.

Of course, if you have the budget then the best way to travel in Peru is flying, but this isn’t always the cheapest option.  The 1-hour flight between Cusco and Lima is likely to cost you around $35 USD if you can book it in advance. If you book closer to the time you can expect to pay triple that, and more in peak season. This may be worth it though to save precious time in Peru.

The Best Time To Visit Peru

The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season from May to October. The rainy season in Peru lasts from November to April and the rainfall is at its heaviest from January to April. Although things will be a lot cheaper during the rainy season, it’s really not a good idea to visit during the wettest months as often the rain causes roads to be closed and hiking trails to be shut. 

The peak season in Peru is during July and August. In my opinion, the best months to visit Peru are during May, September, and October. The country is less crowded, the weather is generally good.

What to Read in Peru

If you want a guide to Machu Picchu written by a very adventurous adventure writer Turn Right at Machu Picchu is it. It’s a New York Times best selling travel memoir, and a pretty funny account of Mark Adams’s attempt to recreate the original expedition to Machu Picchu. The biggest problem though is his lack of experience. Although he called himself an adventure travel writer, he has spent more time writing about adventure, than actually having it. In fact, he had never even slept a night in a tent! 

Conversation in The Cathedral takes place in 1950s Peru during the dictatorship of Manuel A. Odría and it’s the perfect companion if you want to gain a deeper understanding of Peru’s history. 

The book is a work of fiction that weaves a complicated web of secrets and historical references.  Llosa analyzes both the mental and moral mechanisms that govern power and the people behind it. Conversation in The Cathedral tackles the subject of identity and how a lack of personal freedom can forever scar a people and a nation.

In this book, José María Arguedas beautifully describes the magic of the Peruvian landscape, as well as the grimness of the social conditions in the Andes. The story follows Ernesto, a young man whose internal identity conflict reflects the larger struggle between native and Spanish cultures in Peru.

The book explores the serious and deep-rooted social issues still prevalent in Peru today while capturing the beauty of the landscapes. It’s a great read for anyone wanting to delve a little deeper.

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