Tag Archives: Arequipa

Peru Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Peru [Routes, Transport, Accommodation]

Machu Picchu llama lying down

You’ve picked the right country! Peru is safe, developed, and boasts of every type of terrain possible. 2 weeks in this South American country is ample time to soak up the Peruvian culture without feeling rushed. Here is our extensive Peru itinerary, which can be reduced or extended depending on your timescale. It details the top Peru tourist attractions, how to get around, what to eat and drink, where to stay and how to make your budget stretch. Although I have recommended a number of days for each location, you can pick and choose which stops meet your touring Peru needs best.

2 Weeks in Peru Itinerary – The Route

1. Lima

Most travellers fly into the capital, Lima.

If you have one night, stay in Miraflores, it’s very touristy but has everything on your doorstep – food markets (North America’s embassies – McDonalds etc), clothes shops, bars (Tenerife strip style), and an amazing view of the beach.

The Larcomar is a complex of more upmarket shops and restaurants as well as a cinema and bowling alley. The sunset is not to be missed from this spot.

If you have more than one night in Lima, stay in the trendy area of Barranco. Cute coloured buildings, art, and microbreweries! A nice balance of attractions for your Peru itinerary.

  • Recommended nights: 2-3 nights maximum in Lima is required. Taxi Green or Uber from the airport to Miraflores will cost around S/50 (£10 / US$16) or use the new airport bus for $8 US
  • Lima to Paracas: Approximately 3 – 4 hours
  • Lima to Màncora (see below): 17 – 19 hours (1-hour 45-minute flight approximately £225.00 / $322)

Accommodation in Lima

Hotels in Lima

Hotels in Miraflores are surprisingly cheap. Apart Hotel Petit Palace Suites is popular with holidaymakers who like the clean comfortable rooms, fruit and bread continental breakfast and professional staff.

Free bikes are available, take a ride along the Malecón! Standard rooms start at approximately £50/$71, prices go up to suites at £100/$143 (5 people). Click to check availability.

The Luxury Inkari Hotel is spectacular! The heated swimming pool and gym with sauna get a thumbs up from visitors who also enjoy the restaurant and cocktails. An airport shuttle is available. Click to check availability.

For a rooftop pool in Lima check out the 5-star Hilton Lima Miraflores. The super modern rooms are kitted out in luxury linen. Deluxe rooms start at around £150/$215 with the Executive for four people capping at around £320/$459. Click to check availability.

Lima Hostels

Hostels in Lima are your cheapest option and they are pretty economical starting at just over £5/$7 per night for a dorm bed. Most offer a (dry) bread and jam breakfast and social events on rooftops etc – click here to check reviews and best prices for Lima hostels.

Private rooms average at around £25/$35, which is pretty typical for hostels in Peru. I would honestly love to stay in the Barranco area of Lima and there are a few welcoming options for backpackers such as Barranco’s Backpacker’s Inn.
Where to stay in Lima - Miraflores

2. Paracas and Isla Ballestas

Paracas is a small beach town approximately four hours from Lima. It is the gateway to Isla Ballestas,  ‘the poor man’s Galapagos Island.’

By speedboat (not fancy a cabin boat, take layers to wrap up), you can see Humboldt penguins, seals, sea lions, and birds. Isla Ballestas has its very own Nazca Lines called Candelabra Geoglyph, 150m high and 50m wide.

A must-see highlight on your Peru itinerary. It was hot during the boat tour, make sure you pack a hat, sunglasses and factor 50.

Ladies, I like La Roche-Posay factor 60 cream when splurging. Never sacrifice a smooth face for the sun! Check out boat tour availability by clicking here.

  • Recommended nights: 1 night (unless you want some beach and not just boat time)
  • Paracas to Nazca Lines: approximately 1 – 2 hours

Accommodation in Paracas

Paracas Hotels

Hotel Hilton Paracas is the most popular option. This modern hotel is located next to the Paracas National Park.

Many of the rooms have balconies with either a swimming pool or sea view. There are a restaurant and breakfast for an extra fee. The Inca Spa offers massages so if you are after a relaxing break, there’s really no reason to leave the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort. Room prices start at £127-280. This is luxury in Paracas.

A cheaper option is the new Hotel Riviera Inka Paracas. One of the nicest features is the balcony as well as the proximity to the beach and El Chaco Boardwalk. Breakfast is included and rooms start at £40/$57.

Hostels in Paracas

Paracas is a small town so there is not much choice when it comes to accommodation with under 10 hostels available in the area.

However, sometimes size does not matter, Paracas ticks the box for variety – party backpackers tend to flock to the well-known chain Kokopelli Backpackers which has a pool and is directly on the beach (we walked right through it to get to the playa). We stayed in their capsule-style dorms in Cusco and found it private but still sociable, great concept. Breakfast is also included. For rates under £8/$11+ and reviews see here.

For a more chilled stay check out the new 11 rooms with private bathrooms and 12 share of the Paracas Backpackers House. Facilities include a kitchen, three common areas, one with hammocks.  Prices, reviews and availability can be found here.

The most interesting looking to me (which wasn’t there when we visited) is the Paracas 360 Eco Hostel, check out the bedrooms; they are like mini-caravans (there’s a bar and swimming pool too). No breakfast provided. To see if there are rooms available and at what cost, click here.

Budget backpackers, there are dorms available for under £5/$7. See reviews for the full range of hostels in Paracas – read the overview.

Isla Ballestas and Paracas I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Isla Ballestas – Cute Penguins 

3. Nazca Lines

Man-made or aliens?! The burning question that lies with Peru’s Nazca Lines. Budget travellers can see the Lines from the viewing platform for a couple of Peruvian soles. For those who truly believe, there are companies which offer helicopter rides over the twelve Nazca Lines.

Check availability before you head to Peru – these helicopter guides are English speaking and the ride is 45 minutes for just under £300/$430.

  • Recommended nights: In & out unless taking a ‘copter ride, you’ll need to stay overnight
  • Nazca Lines to Ica (Huacachina): 2 – 3 hours
  • You may want to skip the overnight if you only have two weeks in Peru unless it’s a hot one for you

Accommodation in Nazca

If you do decide to take the flight you’ll need somewhere to stay and there are a few options with 9/10 reviews from fellow travellers so you are in safe hands. The small Nanasqa Hostel is close to a supermarket, offers a pick up from the bus station if the car is available and probably most importantly boasts of a selection of local beers.

Dorm rooms are economical, check out the best rates and availability.

Four-bed dorms and private rooms are also available at the Nasca Lodge. This colourful hostel also offers a car pick up from the bus station and towels (do you travel with a towel? I hate the feeling of those travel ones, we ended up just hiring or booking accommodation with them). Prices depend on the type of room, see here for more details.

Check out the full range of hostels in Nazca to see which fits your budget – see the overview here.

4. Huacachina

Ever partied in an oasis? Huacachina is one of the best places to visit in Peru!

A small (party?) town surrounded by large sand dunes, itching for you to board (or ski!) down.

There are a plethora of companies looking to take you to the dunes but for the authentic experience choose one which offers appropriate gear (authentic boards and boots) and the opportunity to ski.

Mode of transport?

Buggies! Huacachina is a fun place to spend a weekend if you want to relax by the pool (Banana’s Adventures Hostel) or have some drinks.

Warning, Huacachina can cause serious headaches, we now swear by these hydration tablets US / UK. Stock up! In fact, it was a British doctor on holiday in Cuba that recommended them (too much rum!)

The next town is Ica, there you will find banks, supermarkets, restaurants, and shops. It’s a short tuk-tuk ride away (approximately 15 minutes, 4-5 soles/£1/$1.43

  • Recommended nights: Max. 3 nights. 1 or 2 nights if only interested in sandboarding Peru
  • Huacachina (Ica) – Arequipa: approximately 12 hours (overnight available)
  • Why we didn’t sandboard in Huacachina…
    Huacachina and Sandboarding and Sand-Skiing in Peru

Accommodation in Huacachina

Hotels in Huacachina

An unusual hotel in Huacachina is Desert Nights Ecocamp. The glampsite is set up on the dunes looking down on the oasis. There’s definitely no sleeping on the floor – tents have double beds. A swimming pool is also available as well as a bar and cafe/restaurant.

A more basic option is the Hotel El Huacachinero which has private bathrooms, a shared common area, swimming pool. This hotel is only a three-minute walk to the restaurants and bars.

Huacachina Hostels

I honestly have such fond memories of our stay at Banana’s Adventure, we ended up staying for three nights instead of one.

There’s such a nice vibe around the pool, they put on BBQ nights, the poolside bar has smoothies and our Peru Hop (see below for more information) tour guide (who was not staying at Bananas) said that they do the best food in the town. The WiFi wasn’t great (non-existent) but that meant I could take a weekend off blogging and actually chill out (and party!)

Like all hostels in Peru, Bananas has dorms and privates, we had no issues sleeping regardless of the rooms being around the pool area, the bar closes and everyone heads around to Huacaf*ckingchinas, including the bar staff. Check out the best option for your trip here.

The rest of our Peru Hop companions stayed at the hostel with the Friday/Saturday nightclub attached, Casa De Arena. Personally, I avoid hostels which are the party place, I like to visit them, drink and dance and then get some rest elsewhere, the decision is yours. Check out more review here.

Huacachina hostels have seen a bit of competition over the last few years and there is certainly more choice, check out the other options at the Huacachina overview.

Huacachina I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

5. Arequipa

Arequipa (Are-eh-keepah), The White City and gateway to the Colca Canyon is a city like no other.

Peru’s second most populated city is surrounded by three dormant volcanoes, El Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu.

The ‘free’ walking tour, run by students (pay by tip, which is typical in South American cities) is extensive and recommended. Grab a jugo (juice) from San Camilo Market (The Witches Market) then get a good night’s sleep for your early rise to the Colca Canyon.

  • Recommended nights: 4 nights if hiking the Colca Canyon (1 night before and 1 after). 2 nights if not
  • Arequipa – Colca Canyon: Approximately 3 hours

Accommodation in Arequipa

Hotels in Arequipa

There are over 150 hotels in Arequipa ranging from £20/$29-£160/$229. La Hosteria is an elegant hotel located in a renovated Colonial house only 5 mins from the historic centre. Continental breakfast is offered daily and rooms have TVs. Click here to check availability.

Katari Hotel is located in the prime spot of Plaza de Armas and the panoramic views from its rooftop are incredible. Rooms are elegant and breakfast is included in the price which starts at £77/$110. Click here to check availability.

Hostels in Arequipa

We stayed at the chain hostel, the Flying Dog. It’s peaceful, breakfast is included and you can book your Colca Canyon Tour guide through them.

It is on the quiet side so if you are looking for a party hostel I’d veer towards Wild Rover which has a bar and swimming pool. Breakfast is also included. Arequipa is a big city, there are over 50 hostels to choose from so do check out which suits your needs and cash flow in this guide.

Arequipa I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

6. Colca Canyon

You are researching a trip to Peru so it is highly likely that you have either secured your place on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or you are deciding between one of the alternative treks to the seventh modern wonder of the world.

Stop right there! Consider this – two or three day hike down into the world’s second deepest canyon (3,400m), a sound sleep in the canyon, and then a steep climb out!

The Colca Canyon trek is often overlooked and shouldn’t be. Watch condors swoop overheard, sip soup in a local’s home, and feel self-satisfaction as you make it to the top!

Hiking is great for keeping fit while travelling, add to your Peru trip itinerary to combat the backpacker’s belly.

  • Recommend nights: 1 or 2 nights depending on the trek
  • Arequipa to Cusco: Approximately 10 hours (overnight bus available)
  • Which trek did I prefer, Colca Canyon or Lares Trek to Machu Picchu? Find out here: Colca Canyon Essential Guide and Colca Canyon Packing Guide
  • Although this was one of my highlights, many visitors with only one week in Peru prioritise Machu Picchu hikes 

7. Cusco

Another overnighter to the cobbled streets of Cusco. Many travellers get sucked in by Cusco’s beauty and simplicity.

Everyone that is backpacking Peru ends up in Cusco at some point (the start of their Peru itinerary if coming from Bolivia or near the end if they are starting in Peru). It did rain every day for one week in Cusco!

It also rained every day during our trek to Machu Picchu so think about taking a waterproof jacket with you.

I like my Marmot PreCip US / UK as it is light and folds into its own pocket, small enough to pop into my bag after the downpour.

Cusco I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary
This is where you will begin the trek to Machu Picchu (Inca, Salkatanky, Lares or Jungle Trek – anywhere from £199-£332+/$285-$475+).

It is vital that you spend some time acclimatising before you begin your trek or you run the risk of suffering from altitude sickness. It is also advised that you select a travel insurer which allows you to climb to the heights stipulated in your trek guidelines (for example, the Lares Trek reaches highs of 4650m15255ft above sea level).

We shopped with True Traveller because of their coverage of these high altitudes, mass importante! See if their rates work for you by clicking here.

Machu Picchu Peru Llamas

Hiking, not your thing? The train to Machu Picchu leaves and returns to Cusco. Do stop in the archaeological site town of Ollantaytambo, if you have time! Machu Picchu is not the only day trip.

Machu Picchu I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

It is easy to spend a fortnight in Cusco if you are looking to attend Spanish school (and a homestay to practice what you are taught). For space geeks, Cusco has its own family-run planetarium!

Accommodation in Cusco

Hotels in Cusco

Cusco has some of the loveliest hotels in Peru and prices start from around £23/$33-£450/$645. Why not stay in a former monastery which dates back to 1592? Belmond Hotel Monasterio is a luxury hotel in Cusco, close to the action but set in serene gardens. Rooms are fully equipped and there are dining options on-site. Prices start at £294/$421. Click here to check availability.

Cusco hostels

We played Goldilocks in Cusco over the two weeks we spent in Peru’s cutest city. We tested the beds of three different hostels and dined and partied in a few more. Initially, we stayed with Kokopelli Hostels, their private capsule style dorms are really neat, you just pull a curtain over for privacy. The hostel has a bar which serves food and puts on social events. Free tea is available and coca leaves are in abundance. We left our luggage with these guys when we hiked to Machu Picchu. Check the variety of rooms and rates here.

After Machu Picchu, we tried the ‘other side’ of Cusco, San Blas. This is the more bohemian side of the city. Our first hostel was Casa de la Grinda which is an option for those in Peru to try some of its more ‘natural remedies’ (we didn’t).

We ended our time in Cusco at Thomas Grill and Garden, the views from the top room are incredible. The hostel also has a kitchen. It’s very quiet so not for those looking for a disco. We partied at Loki Hostel which is another popular choice for backpackers throughout Peru. There are over 100 hostels in Cusco! Check out more here.

8. Puno

A small town which is very much a ‘normal town’ in Peru but has a port where boats take travellers to the Floating Islands of Uros. These are reed (also know ask totora) islands inhabited by the Uros people on Lake Titicaca. The half-day trip from Puno is a wonder to behold but may be looked upon as ‘touristy’.

If you are looking for a more authentic experience to add to your Peru travel itinerary, why not stay on Taquile Island with a local Peruvian family?

Many of the women on the island only speak Quechua but some of the men and children can converse in Spanish (even if yours is broken Spanish!)

There are no cars on Taquile Island, life is simple and traditional. Ask about the environmentally friendly, Chukjo! This tour can only be booked through Inka Rest hostel, we stayed there for two nights in a private room, breakfast was extensive and the staff were friendly (a tad mad!) This Peru trip would really only be feasible for those spending 3 weeks in Peru.

For a less authentic but still different experience try a homestay on Amantaní Island. Both islands can be reached by boat, however, this must be booked through an organised tour (approximately 85 soles/£ 18/$27 each).

  • Recommended nights: With homestay: 3 nights (1 night on the island) / without homestay: 1 night
  • Cusco to Puno: Approximately 8 hours
  • Read about our night without WiFi! Puno and Taquile Island
  • 2 week Peru itinerary would probably remove a stay on Taquile Island (especially if you can’t speak any Spanish) 

Uros Floating Island, Peru I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Uros Floating Islands 

9. The Jungle in Peru

Over half of Peru is a jungle! This country really has it all. Peru shares The Amazon with Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. There are many indigenous tribes still living in the Peruvian rainforest and a variety of animals call this region home too. The city of Cusco is the best entry point for travellers looking to spend time in the jungle and there are many companies who sell trips.

Please do some research on the ethics of companies, there are stories of mistreatment of animals by some.

If there is a guide holding a snake in an advertisement photo, give that trip a wide berth! There are lots of options depending on budget and wants. Puerto Maldonado is accessed by air and road which is the base for Madre de Dios (Reserva Nacional Tambopata and the Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene) and deemed the best place to go to visit wildlife by Rough Guide.

Cheaper options may include taking a bus from Cusco via Ollantaytambo to Quillabamba where lots of travellers go to do white water rafting on the Río Urubamba.

There are options from Lima too. According to Go2Peru, Iquitos is the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road! Iquitos can be reached by plane, LAN, Peruvian Airlines, and Star Peru fly daily. There are one-day or multi-day trips to the Amazon to suit every budget and can be booked before you reach Iquitos for whilst you are there.

Naturally, there are lots of scams so choose your company wisely. It is cheaper to go to the rainforest via Bolivia, this is what we intended to do so skipped it in Peru. You will 100% need some form of mosquito repellent.

We initially travelled with a DEET heavy repellent like OFF but moved on to a DEET free product called Avon So Soft US / UK after nothing was working for us and we had the fear about putting DEET on our skin after a year of applying it on and off.

  • Recommended nights stay: Depends on excursions --> unless priority Peru highlights, I’d skip this on a 14 day Peru itinerary
  • Cusco to Puerto Maldonado: Approximately 1-hour flight
  • Cusco to Quillabamba: Approximately3.5-hour bus ride
  • Lima to Iquitos: Approximately 2-hour flight

10. Huaraz Hikes

Huaraz is a small town known as the hotbed for Peruvian hikes. This high altitude town (3000m absl) is a base for many backpackers who are planning 1 day and multi-day treks around Peru’s Andes Mountain Range. The best time to visit is typically June when there is little rainfall or snow.

Popular hikes include the 1-day trek to Laguna 69/ Lake 69 (that Canadian blue!), 1 day Paron Lake, 3-4 day Santa Cruz hike (best views of the peaks of the Cordillera Blanca) or the 12 day Cordillera Huayhuash circuit.

It is advised that you do two 1 day hikes (or more) to help acclimatise before attempting the multi-day Peru treks. Highs can reach 5000m absl. I really wish we had added this to our Peru backpacking itinerary.

Trekking Peru at high altitude can get uncomfortable, make sure you acclimatise well. 

  • Recommended nights stay: this really depends on what treks you are doing
  • Lima to Huaraz – 8 hours by bus (Cruz del SurMovil Tours and Oltursa) 

*If Huaraz is on your Peru itinerary, I would suggest visiting after Lima as it is north of the capital. I am very disappointed that we missed this out. But do check out Jon is Traveling’s experience of his trek to Laguna 60.

Huaraz Accommodation

There are quite a few options for hostels in Huaraz.

You definitely want to get a good night’s sleep before the hike so be sure to check the reviews before you book. La Casa de Zarela is a fair trade hostel only 10 mins walk from the bus station. There are a variety of rooms and kitchen facilities. For reviews, prices and availability click here.

Laguna 69 I Three Weeks in Peru I Image by Jon Is Travelling

Laguna 69 Jon Is Travelling

11. Màncora – Backpacking Peru Itinerary for Surfers

North of Lima you’ll find the Piura Region and a coast of beaches where travellers go to party.

Not a bucket list option for many travellers who have previously spent a month on the Colombian coast but an option for those looking to chill out (in what some critics say, not the cleanest of beaches), surf (South Beach), or dive (Vichayito Beach).

*If Màncora is on your itinerary, I would suggest you visit there before moving further south. I’m not disappointed we missed this, we never actually met anyone who had Màncora on their Peruvian itinerary.

  • Recommended nights stay: Depends on how much partying / beach time you’d like
  • Lima to Màncora: 17 – 19 hours (1 hour 45-minute flight / approximately £225.00/$322)

Màncora Accommodation

There is a mix of chill and party in Màncora hostel wise. Loki makes another appearance (you’ll see the popular party hostels at most stops in Peru) with Loki del Mar, not only is it close the surf breaking point but it also has its own swimming pool.

More laid back options include ocean view bungalows at Misfit Hostel. Vegetarians may want to swing by Marcilia Beach Bungalows (accommodation available as well as a cafe). There’s more! Check out reviews, rates and availability.

Our Three Week Peru Itinerary

Craig and I were spoiled for time so spent one month in Peru in March/April, taking one week out to attend a Spanish school in Cusco.

We flew into Lima from Austin (we are from Scotland but started our long-term travel itinerary from New Orleans then Austin for the music festival South by Southwest).

After three nights in Lima, we took the Peru Hop bus and following this Peru travel itinerary

  • Paracas/Isla Ballestas (nature/one night)
  • Huacachina (sandboarding/three nights) with a trip to the bank in Ica
  • Arequipa and Colca Canyon (stunning hike/5 nights)
  • Cusco (Machu Picchu two weeks including one week at school)
  • Puno and Taquile Island (this island is silent/three nights) then Bolivia (two and a half weeks – check our guide)

Playa Roja Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Playa Roja near Ica 

The Best Time to Visit Peru

Peru’s weather is best measured by the ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ season as opposed to summer and winter.

May – October is essentially the dry season which results in more tourists. However, nights can still be cold, especially for those who are in Peru to trek. November through to April fall into the ‘wet’ season.

This is subject to change as Peru is seeing the effects of the weather phenomenon, El Niño.

The Inca Trail is not available in February of each year for annual clean up. It snowed during our trek! I told you the weather could be grim, don’t forget your rain jacket.

Lares Trek Machu Picchu Peru I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Currency in Peru

Peruvians use the Peruvian Nuevo Sol or soles.

ATMs in Cusco have a maximum withdrawal which can be problematic when settling bills for treks to Machu Picchu. Expect a 5.5% charge when using Visa. Bargaining in markets is acceptable but not always successful!

Getting to Peru

Most of the larger city airports have flights to Lima.

UK and U.S citizens do not require a visa to enter Peru and should be granted six months on their ‘little white sheet’ at immigration. This is not always the case when you arrive at immigration. Keep the immigration information (‘little white sheet’) with your passport as you need it to leave the country.

Getting Around Peru + Peru Hop Bus

Cruz del Sur is popular but is simply a bus company, no tours or information offered. Internal flights will connect Lima with Arequipa and Cusco but again, remember to give yourself time to acclimatise when arriving in Cusco. There is an efficient and safe hop on/off bus service called Peru Hop.

It is aimed at travellers (although we did meet people of all ages on the bus, including a 9-month-old baby!)

Peru Hop I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Hop on/off bus – Peru Hop

Accommodation in Peru

For those on a budget in Peru, hostels are your best sleeping option. Prices vary depending on where you are. For examples in Lima, a dorm bed may cost £5.50 to £12 whereas in Huacachina you will find one for £5/6. Homestays are popular in Cusco for those looking to work on their Spanish (although cheaper in Sucre, Bolivia if heading that way).

For those on a more modest Peru vacation, with the exception of the homestay islands, you will find hotels from basic to boutique or uber luxury with spas.

Food and Restaurants in Peru

  • Desayuno (or breakfast to us), typically consists of pan (white bread roll), butter and jam, with hot drinks. If you are lucky you may get huevos (eggs) and / fruit salad. You will be bored of pan by the end of your trip
  • Peru‘s famous cuisine is ceviche – raw white fish, cooked in strong lemon juice served with cold sweet potato, corn, and cilantro (coriander). Locals tend to eat this late morning. I tried it twice, once in Lima and then Paracas (a beach town)
  • You’ll find lots of different types of everyday meats and the addition of alpaca (heavy like lamb), llama (lighter), and cuy – guinea pig! Fish, especially trout, is popular around the Uros Floating Islands region
  • Chifa is Chinese food with a Peruvian fusion, or just Chinese food really!
  • Western food can be found in most towns and cities (including the ‘American embassies’ in the big cities)
  • Set menus are a good way to get your fill cheaply. In Cusco, you can eat a two-course meal for 10-20 soles. The soups are the best in Peru. They make great use of quinoa, my favourite sopa
  • Dulce de leche, the Peruvian Nutella! It’s toffee not chocolate, rico (tasty)!

Restaurant article – from cheap to a bit less cheap: Food in Cusco

Ceviche I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Ceviche – fish, sweet potato, sweetcorn, onion, coriander 

Peruvian Snacks

You’ll get all your normal fruits in Peru, they are just bigger and tastier! New additions include Granadilla which gives you the sensation you are sucking frog spawn but it is delicious and refreshing. Corn is very popular, you’ll find lots of vendors selling popcorn.

Peruvian Drink

Before I get onto the hard stuff let’s talk about drinking water. It is not advisable to drink tap water in Peru. We travelled with a purifying and filtering water bottle and managed to avoid Dehli belly for the full month so I suggest you do it!

Trusted makes include Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]  which is slightly cheaper than the most popular, LifeStraw. 

  • Pisco Sour! The Peruvian sweetheart! Pisco is the national drink, add lemon juice, raw egg, and sugar to it then tadah – a Pisco Sour. Fuerty (strong)
  • Each region has local beers for cheap. Cerveza (beer) is very popular and cheap. Pilsen, Cristal, and Arequipeña are a few labels to look out for
  • Chicha! The locally brewed corn drink, not for gringo consumption our tour guide warned us. Still up for it? Look out for the red flag outside people’s houses or shops, this indicates it is on sale
  • Coca tea helps with altitude. You’ll drink heaps of this in either leave form (add sugar) or teabag. Locals chew on it for energy
  • Muna is delicious. Drink with hot water, like a tea, to help with digestion

Please take our point about travel insurance seriously! We met a guy who was sick and when his friend finally dragged him out of the dorm bed to see the doctor it turned out he had dehydration.

Look after yourself and get travel insurance, here is the link to the company we use

Coca Leaves I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Coca Leaves – Altitude relief?

Final Words

It’s easy to see how 2 weeks in Peru can be extended or merged into a quick trip by picking what you feel would be the highlights from above. I hope that you find this Peru 2-4 week itinerary useful. Share your Peru itinerary below. 

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Over to you – any other suggestions/questions?

Colca Canyon Trek – The Essential Hiking Guide

Colca Canyon Tours

Just wait until you experience the sweeping beauty of the Colca Canyon, Peru which sits on the Colca River. The Colca Canyon trek is often viewed secondary to the famous hikes to Mach Picchu but once you have trekked with condors swooping above, you will agree that this hike is incredible in its own right. We (Gemma and Craig) opted for the 3 day guided hike but others complete it in 2 days, with the aid of a guide, or unguided, with ease. Colca Canyon tours also leave from Arequipa for those who don’t want to miss out but can’t trek due to ability or time constraints.

Colca Canyon Trek, Peru

Mirador Cruz del Condor

Like many great trips, it’s not just about the destination. Arequipa to the Colca Canyon takes around 3 hours to travel via tour bus and the start is early, 3 am to be precise. Luckily, our hiking guide, Juanito (which means little John he informs us), lays off the chat and lets us rest our heads for a few hours before we fill up on breakfast at Chivay (3,650 meters above sea level ) then on to the touristy Cruz del Condor. The viewing point, Mirador Cruz del Condor, is one of the popular stops for tours so you do need to elbow your way through crowds while staying away from the edge. The drop is 1200m deep but don’t just look down – check out the sky for the condors circling.

Note: The is an entry fee of 70 Peruvian soles each paid at the start of the canyon.

Colca Canyon Tours

Colca Canyon hike day 1

The trek for the first half of day 1 is mostly descent into the Canyon which starts at 3287 metres above sea level. To put this into perspective, the peak of the highest mountain in Great Britain (Ben Nevis) is only 1345. The landscape swallows you up and the blue, green and orange tones of the canyon are striking. The terrain is rocky, it can get tiresome of the knees but the pace is steady and the chat is electric. Juanito is honestly the best hiking guide I’ve trekked with. He shares stories of life growing up in Peru, trying to get his parents to recycle and the bad side of tourism in South America.

The Peruvian national drink, Inca Kola is consumed at the bridge before we make our ascent. Did you know that only two countries in the world where Colca Cola does not dominate supposedly – Peru (Inca Kola) and Scotland (Irn Bru, of course!) In the afternoon, going downhill niggles the knees and going arriba (up) steals my breath. If you really struggle, a taxi is on hand… as in a furry taxi donkey (which a member of our team did use on day two). Day one concludes with lunch, an unofficial walk with Juanito, dinner and a disturbed sleep in a cute cement house (damn cricket on the roof!)

Colca Canyon Peru | Hikes from Arequipa

Swimming in a Canyon

Day two of the Colca Canyon trek starts at 7am with an ascent along the water, passing interesting smelling plants (smell like weed, we’re told that it’s not marijuana). There are many ‘makeshift’ shops on the road for snacks. We spot caged guinea pigs but Juanito reassures us that they are not lunch. Cuy is not served on this Colca Canyon hike! Did you try it on your trip to Peru? Tell me in the comments below.

An easy afternoon walk takes us to our abode for the night – Paraiso Las Palmeras Lodge at Oasis Sangalle, sounds like paradise eh?

This lodge has a swimming pool and happy hour with mojitos.

Warning: Happy hour is not the best idea since you have a 5am start the next day to tackle the massive climb out and up the Canyon before the sun takes to the sky.

Colca Canyon sunrise

Trekking Out of the Colca Canyon

Day three is quite tough. It’s pretty much all up hill (you are climbing out of the Canyon) and I think Craig unofficially made this a competition as we completed it in 2 hours and 15 minutes, the second/third (debatable) couple to reach the summit. The last leg of the trek was pleasurable; food and hot baths! You’ve never seen a group of people so happy to see eggs for breakfast.

Colca Canyon Tours

You 100% can trek in/down/out/up of the Colca Canyon without a tour, however, I was thankful of joining one as our group (on the whole) was made up of funny, intelligent and inspiring travellers. 3 day/2 night hiking tours start at around £170 for 3 days hiking. This includes experienced bilingual guide, accommodation, meals and accommodation collection/drop off.

You can mostly rely on treks to meet like-minded ‘chévere’ (cool) people. We stole lots of ideas for Bolivia (next!) from Stefan, Sandy, Rose and Julien. We were also ashamed of how terrible our Spanish was so promised to sign up for  Spanish school in Cusco. But what really makes a tour is (the weather) and your guide. Juanito – I’ve honestly never met anyone like him. Craig still wakes up with ‘vámonos chicos’ (let’s go boys!) ringing in his ears. He is an asset to the company and Peru’s tourism.

Colca Canyon hike

Colca Canyon 2 Day Trek

We opted for the 3-day tour as we were a tad concerned about the state of our fitness after quite a heavy party session which kicked off our trip! However, there is a 2 day Colca Canyon trek which follows the same route, at a faster pace.  We met lots of able backpackers who completed this with no stress, and one who was pretty sick after it!

Colca Canyon Altitude

This trek around the Colca Canyon is highly recommended for those on their way to trek to Machu Picchu. Colca Canyon elevation can reach 4800 meters (15,800 ft) so it is excellent training to help avoid altitude sickness during your next trek to the seventh modern wonder of the world as the Lares Trek reaches highs of 4650m /15,255.

The Colca Canyon trek has taught me not to create preconceptions about trips. It is up there (literally) with the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu!

Colca Canyon Weather

Visitors have more chance of sun from May-August but average temperatures stay around 15 degrees for most of the year. There is more chance of rainfall at the start from January to April. We visited in April and experienced one downfall which was during our relaxing afternoon by the swimming pool at the Colca Canyon Oasis annoyingly.

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Colca Canyon Trek Peru

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Best Hostels in Arequipa Starting at $7

Arequipa Hostels Peru

Arequipa, The White City of Peru is the gateway to the Colca Canyon, home to three volcanoes and over 50 hostels! Travellers typically spend a few days in this city before they embark on the Colca Canyon trek or move on to Puno or Cusco. Here is our guide to Arequipa hostels, thrashing out the user-friendliness against the facilities and location to help you decide where to stay in Arequipa.

Tip: don’t listen to taxi drivers who tell you that a certain hostel is full, this is a typical South American tourist scam.

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Arequipa Hostels

Party Hostels in Arequipa

There really is no shortage of party hostels in Peru and Arequipa, one comes with a swimming pool! You will see the same names pop up at each stop as these chain hostels are extremely popular with backpackers who are up for a booze.

While the term ‘party hostel’ doesn’t sound appealing to some, do not be put off entirely. We did partake, even as a couple, we just made sure our private room was far from the dance floor. There’s no denying that the atmosphere can be electric in these party hostels so never say never (saying never? Just scroll down for more options).

Wild Rover Arequipa

Atmosphere and attractions, that’s the appeal of the infamous Wild Rover Arequipa.

This is the only hostel in Arequipa with a swimming pool and facilities also include a bar, restaurant serving cheap food with big portions to feed the hangover, three patios, charging electronic lockers for phones etc.

Social events are the big deal here – staff and volunteers arrange fancy dress parties, beer pong, DJs and football games (to play and watch on TV). It’s also super cheap with dorms starting at just under $8.

  • Address:  Calle Ugarte 111
  • Location: 2 blocks from the main square, smack bang in the nightlife

Bothy Hostel

Although more social than party, Bothy Hostel Arequipa gets a great write up from guests who feel especially well looked after by Orlando and Andrea.

Breakfast is basic but the WiFi works (which is a miracle in Peruvian hostels) and the terrace social area gets a thumbs up. Dorms start at just under $8.

  • Address: Puente Grau 306
  • Cons: Breakfast is basic (this is typical in South America)

Chill Hostels in Arequipa

Just because you don’t want to party doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Peru!

Park Hostel Arequipa boasts of 180-degree views of the stunning volcanoes with access to the hostel rooftop for travellers who want to catch some rays or relax pre/post-Colca Canyon trek. It also has a kitchen and comfortable private rooms and dorms starting at just over $8 (request to pay in Soles when checking in).

  • Address: Dean Valdivia 238 A
  • Cons: Street noise

Flying Dog Arequipa is another popular chain hostel in Peru. We stayed here and also booked our Colca Canyon 2-day trek through reception.

The dorms are spacious, has lockers and two shower rooms. Breakfast is included, kitchen use available (supermarket called Super is three blocks away) and I really like the suntrap courtyard. Dorms start at just over $7, privates $30 per room.

  • Address: Calle Melgar 116
  • Cons: Not a party hostel if solo travellers are looking to make friends

Flying Dog Arequipa

Private Rooms in Arequipa

Of course, not every traveller is looking for a pool party and the good news is that there are hostels which are more like guesthouses for couples, groups or solo travellers searching for some downtime. Incredibly the
Las Torres de Ugarte receives 9/10 from over 200 reviews.

Private ensuites can be booked from $50, three and four-bed dorms are available which is ideal for groups. Las Torres de Ugarte offers free buffet breakfast, WiFi, 24/7 front desk and luggage storage. The building also has a courtyard with pet tortoises!

  • Address: Ugarte 401 – A, Cercado
  • Location: Excellent, behind Santa Catalina Monastery
  • Cons: This is not a social hostel, best for couples, families or those travelling in groups

El Patio de Elisa is a little cheaper at $40 for a private ensuite and it also has a bar on their terrace. Reviews state that that staff are helpful, breakfast is incredible and common areas are comfortable.

  • Address: Calle Peral 206 Cercado
  • Cons: Same as above

Ärequipa Backpackers is quite a usual setup, more apartment than a hostel but reviews are really positive and guests love the calm, the large fully equipped kitchen with washing machine and friendliness of Jose. Private rooms start just under $25 but guests must book for two nights.

  • Address: Avenida Arequipa 711 B Alto Selva Alegre
  • Cons: 25 mins walk to the centre (or 8-minute bus ride)

Airbnb in Arequipa

There are a quite a few options for Airbnb in Arequipa. Some of the apartments have basic rooms, others have beautiful terraces. Prices starts at $10.

Final Words

From party to peace, this Arequipa accommodation guide has your stay in Peru’s White City covered. Don’t forget to read our guide to the Colca Canyon, my favourite hike in Peru. Are you going to Peru, tell us your plans in the comments below.

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Hostels in Arequipa Peru | Arequipa accommodation

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» Read next: how to get to Machu Picchu (14 ways)

10 Things to do in Arequipa, Peru’s White City

Things to do in Arequipa Peru

Arequipa (Are-eh-keepah), she’s a keeper. Peru’s second biggest city is part of the Southern Peru Tourist Corridor but unlike Lima (Peru’s largest city) it does not feel over populated. The population is only 1 million in comparison to Lima’s 10.5 million. The city is in good company, overlooked by three dormant volcanoes (El Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu). The most famous, El Misti, is named after ‘mister’ in Spanish, according to our walking tour guide. However it was not always called this, it was nameless for 300 years after locals took the hump with it after an eruption. The White City is the gateway to trekking; one of the many things to do in Arequipa is hike.

Things to do in Arequipa

1. Free walking tour Arequipa

It is disputed why Arequipa is known as the La Ciudad Blanca/The White City and one of the hot topics discussed in detail during the city’s walking tour.  One argument is that the name comes from the buildings being made of sillar, although our tour guide said that they used to be painted so he doesn’t believe that version of events. The second is down to the European white immigrants moving to Arequipa. Answers on a smiling alpaca postcard please! Tours start at 10am and 3pm and meet next to the IPeru office (official tourist board) at Plaza de Armas. Tour guides are mostly students who live in the city and are keen to share what life is like in Arequipa with visitors. The 2.5 hours tour ends at a rooftop bar and of course, the national drink, Pisco!

  • Where: Plaza de Armas
  • When: 10am and 3pm (the afternoon tour ends at sunset which is recommended)
  • Price: Free, pay for via tips

2. Plaza de Armas

Like most South American cities, the best place to people watch is the main square and in Arequipa that is Plaza de Armas. Street performers, workers on their lunch, protesters (now banned), tour guides, backpackers, families – if it’s happening in Arequipa it’s going on here. The Plaza is surrounded by colonial buildings making it part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. Cafes and restaurants are tucked away amongst the arches, perfect for an afternoon coffee/Pisco.

3. Visit Mundo Alpaca

There’s two reasons to visit Mundo Alpaca. Firstly to see the local weavers threading the vibrant Andean textiles and to visit the museum and exhibitions.

Mundo Alpaca | Arequipa what to do

4. Llamas and alpacas!

The second reason is to snap a picture of a startled llama or alpaca. They’re not really startled, they tend to work this reaction often!

  • Where: San Lázaro, Arequipa
  • Price: Free of charge, tip for weavers
  • Tip: one of the best free things to do in Arequipa

Mundo Alpaca | Arequipa attractions

5.  Mercado San Camilo (market)

San Camilo Market, the so-called Witches Market is the place to go to pick up some Andean souvenirs (new bag 25 soles/£5) and a fresh fruit juice (8 soles/£2, not cheap). Legend has it that shoppers can purchase all sorts of portions at Arequipa market, the Diagon Ally of Peru. Watch out for the cattle.

  • Opening times: 6am – 6pm, 7 days a week

Mercado San Camilo

6. Museo Santuarios Andinos

What would you sacrifice for your god? Every Sunday morning? A quarter of your monthly wage? What about a pre-teenage local kid? That was the fate of Juanita, the Ice Maiden of Peru. Juanita (relatively new name) was the chosen one, selected by the Incas as an offering to the gods, never to be seen again after her death until her discovery at Ampato volcano’s summit, and the remains of this mummy, packed with ice, were found and can now be viewed at the museum as one of the top Arequipa attractions.

  • Address: Calle la Merced 110, Arequipa, Peru

7. Santa Catalina Monastery

Take a guided or a self-guided tour of Arequipa’s monastery made up of cloisters, a plaza and gallery, once home to nuns in the 16th-18th century (and now a small religious group). 

Address: Santa Catalina 301, Arequipa, Peru

8. Get high

Always one of my favourite things to do in any city is to find a view point or rooftop bar for sunset and there’s plenty of choice in Arequipa. The free afternoon walking tour (tip 1) ends at around sun down and conveniently concludes at a rooftop bar with a Pisco to warm up with (it gets chilly, remember a sweater).  Rooftop bars in Arequipa that come recommended by visitors include Katari Hotel at Plaza de Armas and Mirador Misti. 

Sunset in Arequipa

9. Party

Many visitors to Arequipa might not make it out of the hostel to see any of the above advice because Arequipa is quite the hub for the party hostel. Like La Paz, Wild Rover is the merry magnet, especially when the sun is out – the main attraction? Its pool.

10. Hike

What to do in Arequipa? Leave! The final tip is to get out of the city. Take group hiking trip to the glorious Colca Canyon which was my favourite hike in Peru (sorry Machu Picchu). Colca Canyon treks can be completed in two or three days depending on time constraints.

Colca Canyon Peru | Hikes from Arequipa

Arequipa accommodation

Hotels in Arequipa

There are over 150 hotels in Arequipa ranging from £20-£160. The elegant  La Hosteria is located in a renovated Colonial house 5 mins from the historic centre. Continental breakfast is offered daily and rooms have TVs. Click here to check availability.

Katari Hotel boasts of panoramic views from its rooftop. This hotel is situated Plaza de Armas. Rooms are elegant and breakfast is included in the price. Prices start at £77. Click here to check availability.

Arequipa hostels

The Flying Dog was out hostel of choice. It’s quiet, breakfast is included. You can also book your Colca Canyon tour guide there. It is on the quiet side so if you are looking for a party hostel I’d veer towards Wild Rover which has a bar and outdoor pool. Breakfast is also included. Arequipa is a big city, there are over 50 hostels so do check out which suits your needs and budget in this guide.

Getting to Arequipa

We arrived at 05:30 on the overnight Peru Hop bus from the magical Huacachina (this is where revellers go sandboarding, we went skiing! Highly recommend) Public bus is also an option from Lima (17 hours) or if not on budget or on a tight timescale, a short flight arriving at Rodríguez Ballón International Airport.

How many days in Arequipa?

You could comfortably visit the main attractions in one or two days but the real star of the show, the Colca Canyon, requires a further two-three. You may find after a few days in Lima, two in Paracas, and two-three in Huacachina that you are ready to pause by the swimming pool by the time you get to Arequipa. Avoid travel burnout where possible.

Mundo Alpaca Arequipa

Altitude in Arequipa

Although not the highest or lowest city altitude wise, some visitors may feel the impact of altitude sickness. Personally, we did not. This was our second week in Peru.

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Things to do in Arequipia Peru | South America | Peru travel


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