Whether you’ve got two weeks or two months up your sleeve, without a doubt Peru can occupy any which type of traveler. Moo and I decided to experience a taste of South America by spending 3 weeks in Peru. Before 3 weeks in Ecuador and then I went on to explore 3 weeks in Colombia el solo. Even though the majority of our time in Peru was made up of trekking mountains and canyons and everything in between, we were still able to see a good amount of the country with our time.
We arrived on the arduous flight from Sydney to Santiago and then onto Lima later in the night. As Aussies we expect long haul flights regardless of the destination, but this one felt particularly prolonged. On arrival into Lima we stayed in an AirBnb apartment in between the Miraflores and Barranco districts. We didn’t really have too much of a plan, but knew we had to get to Cuzco by a certain date for our trek briefing at Loki Hostel.
The beautiful part about traveling in any country is the freedom to make ones mind up about where to go next in the blink of an eye. Most plans are made up after conversing with other travelers and hearing tales from their experiences. Others are planned just by the desire to go off the beaten track.
Read on for my top tips on where to go and what to do in Peru. Leave a comment if you agree and feel free to share with any fellow wanderers who may be heading over that way soon.
Adrendalin junkie or no, I’d say there’s something for everyone in Huacachina. The small oasis is situated 4km from Ica and 300km south from Lima. There really is only one way in and one way out but do try and stay out for sunset as the views over the sand dunes (surrounding the oasis) are next to impeccable. The core reason for visiting Huacachina is to plop yourself in a dune buggie and go for a joy ride.
I’m no scaredy-cat generally speaking, but this experience was certainly hair rising. The buggie will zoom you up and over the dunes at warp speed. Stopping occasionally for both a good photo opportunity and also to try sand boarding (quick visual: swap snow with sand.) We’d heard many a tail of people breaking ankles, wrists and more on these steep slopes so we only tried standing on a few slopes before the nerves and shakes got the better of us. We went down horizontally instead of vertically.
My biggest tip; don’t stay longer than one night. We stayed for two and wished we’d moseyed on, to pass the time though, we did do a wine and pisco tour in Ica which was more odd than it sounds. Hey, at least I can say I’ve tried pisco straight from the source, but honestly… it was a pretty intense tasting for 10am.
Visit the Nazca Lines
Unfortunately, Moo and I didn’t get the chance to visit Nazca but it’s still on my bucket list for next time. I’ve heard about/have seen so many incredible pictures and stories about the view from above that I feel it necessary to included the blog so you won’t miss out too.
Trek Colca Canyon
One of the best two day hikes I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, ever. This hike was unfathomable. We opted to self guide ourselves once arriving at the canyon and I wouldn’t do it any other way. Certainly do your research, I’d scoured Alex in Wanderlands‘ blog for weeks before arriving in Peru and found her descriptions easy enough to follow. It’s fairly easily way marked but if you’re like me, you’ll need a little more help than what’s provided. You’ll start the hike with a pretty reasonable decent, forget the Mirador Cruz del Condor look out, here is where we spotted countless Condor’s gliding with ease above us.
Once you reach the bottom you’ll find a checkpoint and cross the bridge, from here it’s up, up, up again with another gigantic descent into the depths of the canyon. We stayed in the oasis overnight at Oasis Paraiso Ecolodge and enjoyed the drop in altitude, if only for a few hours (they’ve also got a pool!) An early night, meant an even earlier rise the next day. Here we had a four hour straight switch backed incline before the sun rose up high over the canyon for all to see. The views along the way were breathtaking (re-check the feature image for proof!), and gave me a perfectly good reason to stop, take a break and another photograph.
Trek Machu Picchu
If you haven’t already read my blog about Trekking Machu Pichu, please do. You’ll find a nice little recount of our journey and some pretty good tips. Especially if you’re considering the Jungle Trek option over the traditional Inca Trail option. If you’re not inclined to trek, no problem! The Peruvians have made the historical site accessible for all. There are daily trains to Aguas Calientes and return bus departures to deliver you directly at the entrance gates. My only advice, go early! The whole experience was made better when the crowds were at a minimum.
Chill out in Mancora
Moo’s mother (Soz) wanted to indulge us by treating us to a nice hotel after our trek, in particular to reign in Moo’s 30th birthday . We flew into Talara airport from Cuzco and had the hotel collect us from there. The ‘hotel’ that I’m referring to by the way is DCO. It is without a doubt, to this day, the best hotel I’ve EVER stayed at. Mancora is known well by backpackers for it’s late night bars, surf scene and general raucous behavior. All of which, we ignored. DCO is located 5km out of town, which was the perfect haven for us knowing we could escape the noise at any time. Before you ask, of course I surfed here. I hired a board and went out early one morning. Unfortunately the swell was small, one footers would have to do.
My final note: If you’ve got the spare coins to stay at DCO, it is a must.
PS: Did I miss any key things to do in Peru?