Tag Archives: Peru

Lake Titicaca Tours: Uro + Taquile Island Homestay [Review]

Lake Titicaca tours - Lake Taquile homestay

Peru’s islands, Taquile Island and Amantani Island, offer tourists the chance to live like a local by the piercing blue waters of Lake Titicaca. Titicaca is best known as the home of Uros Floating Islands but believe me, it offers so much more than the mass-produced Peruvian souvenirs found at on the islands made of totora reeds. Visitors have the chance to take a day trip from Puno on all three islands or stay the night on Amantani and Taquile; we opted for a Taquile Island homestay, the less touristy of the two.

Taquile Island

Isla de Taquile is an island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca (not the Bolivian side). This island is special because there are no roads for cars, no WiFi and the locals, Taquileñoslive by some pretty cool rituals!

The 2000 inhabitants mainly speak Puno Quechua although some also speak Spanish which makes it a great spot if you are looking to enhance your Spanish like we were.

The young are taught Spanish at school on the island. One of the other attractions of Isla Taquile is the weaving work, which dates back to ancient Inca, Pukara and Colla civilizations.

Taquile Island textiles are recognised by UNESCO. It is one of the first things you will notice as you dock as it is the island uniform; the locals wear it with pride! Want to know the neatest thing about the craftsmanship?

Both genders and all age groups take part, it’s not just for the women.

Taquile Island Homestay family

Things to do in Taquile Island

As part of a Taquile island tours group, visitors are given a presentation about the handwoven textiles and its importance to the community. When a young man is interested in a local young lady he has to show his strength.

However, I’m not talking about muscle mass here; the gent is expected to weave/knit a strong hat which can hold water and if there are leaks he has to try again!

Men are responsible for weaving their own hats and the colour choice matters. Red (check out Cielo’s hat above) means that you are married while white means you are single and ready to mingle (as long as you can hold your water). We witnessed a group of young lads wandering the island supporting their white threads.

Women are responsible for making the men’s Chumpis – the colourful belt you can see poking from Cielo’s waste. Fun Taquile Island facts eh?

The island is hilly, if you struggle to walk it may not be the best tour or homestay for you.

If you are able, the hikes are beautiful. You can take stunning pictures of Lake Titicaca with Bolivia in the backdrop from the Arc or beach snaps down on the shore.

Along the way, there are pre-Inca ruins and a monument to the Goddess, Pachamama.

Typical Arc of Taquile

How to get to Taquile Island

Tour pickups start early around 06:30 where a bus drops you off at Isla Esteves Port.

Here a boat jets for approximately 30 minutes to the first stop of the day, Uros Floating Islands. There are around eighty floating islands on Lake Titicaca (guides can’t quite confirm a number!)

At the floating island, we are met by the President who tells us how the islands are created. It’s take up to one year to make and assemble using mud and reeds. This particular island is home to six families.

If you are short on time or are only interested in visiting the floating islands, half-day tours are available from Puno. Or alternatively why not try to kayak across Titicaca to Uros?

Uros Floating Islands in Peru

The next stop is our intended destination, Taquile Island.

Due to some miscommunication our homestay dad, Cielo (which means Sky in Spanish), isn’t there to meet us as promised so we watch the day-trippers consume a 20 soles two-course meal in one of the island restaurants.

The menu consists of trout or omelette and each family-run restaurant gets their turn to cook for group tours to ensure that money is distributed equally (told you this island was interesting!)

Want to visit Uros and Taquile Island but not stay over? Check out this full-day tour here.

Or add Amantani too during this two-day tour. It takes around 2 and a half hours to reach Taquile from Puno.

Taquile Island homestay

Our homestay house is clean and our family are friendly. Cielo’s wife, Juana, doesn’t speak Spanish so we communicate through smiles and gestures. Their eight-year-old son, Winfredo, does and we feel we’ve pitched at the right level here, primary school!

Lunch of quinoa soup and trout for the main meal is served and we work off the meal playing with Winfredo. Cielo takes us on a tour and shares stories about his life on this eerily quiet yet intriguing island.

He leaves us to explore the monument to Pachamama as locals can only visit during festivals. Our meals are all based on food from the land and sea; eggs, fish and we drink lots of muña leaves in hot water (my favourite). Coca leaves are offered during our hike.

Homestay family Peru

Taquile Island homestay bedroom

Organising a Taquile Island homestay

Word of mouth directed us to Inka’s Rest Hostel in Puno.

Lake Titicaca homestays can be organised with Gilda and Ricardo (they just laugh all of the time, such lovely vibes!) on arrival and this warm and friendly hostel is close to the main street in Puno. Comfortable private rooms start at £13 and spacious dorms come in at just under £6.

Showers are hot which is great for itching those mosquito bites.

An exceptional buffet breakfast is included in the price (it’s not just ‘pan and jam’ for once!) and this kicks off at 6am which suits most travellers who are using Puno as a gateway to Uros Floating islands (touristy), Amantani Island (less touristy) and Taquile Island (not touristy at all).

Check rates and availability: Inka’s Rest Hostel
Address: Pasaje San Carlos No 158, Puno
Taquile Island homestay price: 85 soles / £ 17.72 each

Alternative Lake Titicaca Homestays

Taquile Island homestay is actually the lesser-known of the two island homestays. 

Amantani Island is far more popular which makes it a bit more developed than Taquile.

Friends who stayed on Amantani Island told us that the locals put on a performance for them, invited them to try on the native clothing and to buy products which they had made.

You’ll be lucky to see another human other than your homestay family on Taquile! Two different options to suit whatever type of travel experience you are looking for.

Cusco to Puno

We arrived in Puno very early via Bolivia Hop, the hop-on/off bus service. Alternatively, if you would prefer a direct transfer check out this private route for rates and availability.

Are Lake Titicaca tours worth it?

Personally, I found the Urso islands tour just about bearable. It is really set up for tourists and having done it twice now (also with Bolivia Hop on our way from Cusco to Puno) I won’t be doing it again.

Both islands sell the same ‘traditional’ souvenirs which makes me dubious of their authenticity.

The trip to Taquile however, was an absolute gem of an attraction; interesting and peaceful.

We felt a little ripped off at the end of our homestay when our return boat time was changed from afternoon to morning, cue speed walking to meet the day-trippers.

We were told we didn’t have time to purchase any snacks from the main square to find that we had plenty of time to buy a cooked meal at the restaurant…

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Taquile Island Peru

Have you stayed on any of Lake Titicaca’s islands?

Thank you to Inka Rest Hostel for working with us, as per… an honest review

8 Best Restaurants in Cusco + What to Eat

Hot Chocolate in Cusco

Cusco, Peru’s scenic city, is a hub for travellers and holiday-makers alike. Many spend at least two days in Cusco, acclimatising for trips and treks to to Machu Picchu. We (Gemma and Craig) actually lived in Cusco for two weeks; bouncing between accommodation, improving on our survival Spanish at San Blas Spanish school and hiking in the Sacred Valley. It rained every day during that fortnight which forced us indoors, experiencing the best restaurants in Cusco. So here’s where and what to eat in the city surrounded by the Andes Mountain Range.

Best restaurants in Cusco

Pachapapa Cusco

Pachapapa is part of the Cusco Restaurants chain (which also include Greens Organic) but don’t let that put you off. The traditional menu includes soups (Peru does really great soups, I particularly love the use of quinoa), mains featuring Peruvian alpaca, ceviche (raw fish cooked by lemon acids, yum) and more familiar dishes such as calzones. The chef often cooks by the BBQ and guess what you can see sizzling, guinea pig! Yes, Pachapapa has cuy on the menu. It is far pricey than other places to eat in Cusco so reserve for a special occasion. The atmosphere is pleasant, there’s a wood burning fire for the pizzas and a courtyard for nice days.

Address: Plazoleta San Blas 120
Reserve online: website

Jack’s Cafe, Cusco

Jack’s Cafe is a popular hangout for travellers. Expect to see queues at the door of this San Blas restaurant. However, waiting staff deal with this popularity effectively, taking orders from the queue to ensure a quick turnaround. The food is decent and the menu offers lots of home comforts and all-day breakfasts. Our travelling friend, Simon, had the French toast four times in one week (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating here!) We went twice; I had a chorizo and salad sandwich and Craig had a cheeseburger. The second time I went for the French toast and Craig had… a cheeseburger again (and a milkshake). All plates come in at s/ 10 – 26. They have a shelf stacked with British/American magazines too, nice touch. If wondering where to eat in Cusco after a few too many piscos the night before, this is our top restaurant recommendation.

Jacks Cafe Cusco

Address: Choquechaka 509, Cusco, Peru
Contact: +51 84 254606

La Bo’M

I love this crêperie. Sara, the French owner, was travelling around Peru and fell in love with Cusco. She wanted to bring some of France to the small city in the form of delicious sweet and savoury crepes. My weapon of choice is the Nutella with mango (sweet tooth, 18 soles!) The La Boheme tea is also very tasty. The cafe is kitted out with very cool decor, which compliments the San Blas area where it’s situated. We managed to download two episodes of Game of Thrones from Dropbox (our kind friend hooked us up) via their WiFi. Happy campers!

La Bom breakfast in Cusco

Address: Carmen Alto, Cusco, Peru


Cusco’s bakery cafe come bed and breakfast is renowned for its pan (bread) across its three locations. I had heard the WiFi was magic here but I was disappointed. However, the banana bread did not let me down. It had chunks of chocolate throughout which was a nice touch to an often dry snack. You’ll find this Pantastico tucked away behind the Plaza de San Blas. Can you see a theme here? We love this area.San Blas Cusco

Address: Calle Tandapata 1024, Cusco, Peru
Contact: wesbite

Cusco restaurants: Vegan options at Green Organic

Vegan restaurants in Cusco are not as hard to find as they used to be. Greens Organic is a bright and airy cafe/restaurant surrounded by the wood decor. Keeping with the natural vibes, all sourced food is naturally grown where possible. The menu consists of salads, soups, smoothies (s/12) and main courses of curries, gnocchi (s/36) and meat dishes such as the tradition alpaca (s/36). Glutton free options are available too. Note: wine is offered by the bottle but organically grown grapes are used. Cocktails are also available. One of the recommended restaurants in Cusco’s square (or close enough for it not to be too much of a tourist trap!)

Address: Santa Catalina Angosta, 135 at Plaza de Armas – good for people watching!
Reserve: website

 Calle del Medio

If you are seeking a great people watching spot, look no further than Calle del Medio which overlooks Plaza de Armas. Grab a bite to eat or a coffee and check out locals going about their daily business and tour guides assembly for daily walks.

Calle del Medio Cusco

Address: Calle del Medio 113, Plaza de Armas.

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Sticking with the ‘home comforts’ theme, the hostel Kokopelli has a variety of food on offer. One hungover afternoon, I went for the chicken soup which is advertised as a lifesaver, and that it was. They also have happy hour, like most bars in Cusco. And the nice company, not like every bar in Cusco.

Address: San Andrés 260, Cusco, Peru

Korma Sutra

This Indian restaurant has high ratings on Tripadvisor and rightfully so. To Craig’s disbelief, Peruvian food is not that spicy and he needed to scratch that chilli itch. For 111 soles / £23.50 we dined on taco style crisps, the restaurant’s equivalent to poppadoms, a chicken tikka masala, jalfrezi, boiled rice and two naan bread. We both washed the curry down with a bottle of Cusquena and I couldn’t resist the Cuba Libre (fuerte, phew!)

Indian restaurant in Cusco

Address: Tandapata 909, San Blas

Set soles ‘turístico’ menus

Many restaurants around the streets of Cusco advertise a set menu. They usually come in at 10 to 20 soles. Our Spanish tutor proclaimed that this was caro (expensive) and said he would only dine for 4 soles. We never saw any menus that cheap, even in the cheaper area of Cusco during our homestay while learning Spanish! These set menus usually begin with a type of soup and a main. We often went for grilled chicken and vegetables for the main. The restaurant next to Jack’s was simple, decent and clean – the vegetable soup was good for the soul. The more expensive menus include alpaca in the mains if you are looking for a more authentic experience. However, don’t expect cuy (guinea pig) in the package; it’s actually pretty expensive for so little meat.

Cheap eats in Cusco

Address: All over Cusco (recommend the restaurant next to Jack’s on Choquechaka, Cusco, Peru)

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And the best coffee goes to…. a cafe we don’t know the name of! You’ll find it on Recoleta Street next door to Let’s Go Bananas. Blink and you will miss it! However, Craig, the coffee drinker, makes the decision with haste as it may be because he hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee since Austin, Texas. I hope you enjoy the food in Cusco as much as we did and do let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed anywhere.

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Restaurants in Cusco Peru

Where did you dine in Cusco? Ask any questions in the comments below.

Cultural Immersion: Our Homestay Peru Review

Cultural Immersion Homestay Peru

During our travels around South America, Craig and I (Gemma) decided enough was enough; we had to learn survival Spanish. Cultural immersion is the best way to learn a language because you are forced to put the textbook into action and you get to experience what life is really like for citizens who speak that language. Most homestay families in the likes of Peru will not speak your native tongue, pushing you out of your comfort zone or relying on a long game of charades! We carried out two homestays in Peru – our first in Cusco was combined with a week a San Blas Spanish School and the second on Taquile Island near Puno where locals mainly speak Puno Quechuan!

What is cultural immersion?

Cultural immersion involves moving into a new culture to study, work or learn a new language. The new arrival settles into a city, town or village and interacts with locals socially and at work and is open to getting to know their way of life. Homestay programmes can offer people the chance to do this because new arrivals live with families, help out with chores and interact socially with them. Although some homestay experiences are short (like ours) they are still better than school-led language courses or self-taught apps because the recipient is forced to use the language at all times so it reinforces their classroom learning.

Homestay family Peru

Why we chose homestay Peru

Craig and I quickly discovered that we were the only couple who could not speak Spanish during our Colca Canyon trek in Peru (if you are going to Peru, do this trek – it is lush!) We chose the small Peruvian city of Cusco as our school destination as we were about to embark on another two months of backpacking around Bolivia, Colombia and Cuba. We did try to learn Spanish before we left Scotland on our 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe, however, our teacher was malo and working full time then going home to play on the Johnny Spanish app clearly did not cut it. Our survival Spanish was not helping us survive. The weather was perfect for a one-week school programme at San Blas Spanish School in the bohemian area of the city because it was rained every day – great for forcing us to do our homework (while eating pancakes, check out our Cusco food guide). As part of the Spanish programme we lived with an older lady called Doris, Doris could not speak English!

Our second homestay on Taquile Island was different. This island is silent, there are no cars or TVs! Families predominantly speak the Puno Quechuan language, only our homestay dad and son could speak Spanish. However, we could still communicate with the mum through smiles and gestures. This homestay family was different because they had an eight-year-old kid called Winfredo, the family worked on the land and were accustomed to rural life in contrast to Doris who lived alone just outside of Cusco’s main area. The Taquile homestay was organised through Inka’s Rest Hostel for 85 soles/£19 each.

Mi Casa Su Casa

During our homestay in Cusco, we shacked up in a three bedroom apartment in the Wanchaq area of Cusco. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the San Blas area of Cusco yet is massively cheaper than Cusco central (Inka Kola for 50 centimos, six pan rolls for 1 soles). A plus to those taking a budget backpacking trip around South America.

The homestay provides three meals each day (desayuno, a grande almuerzo, and cena at 8pm) as well as Spanish conversation and help with our tarea (homework). Breakfast consists of the traditional pan bread rolls with dulce con leche (the Peruvian Nutella but toffee flavoured!), fruit and tea/coffee. The large lunch always starts with homemade soup (yo extraño la soupa de Doris!) and a main meal such as meat with rice and vegetable or an omelette and vegetables. At dinner, Peruvians dine lighter to help the digestive system fight the altitude. Dinner is usually soup or leftover lunch and a sweet dessert.

Doris’s dinner table ramblings really pushed us with our Spanish. We’d sit with our books from school and the handy phrasebook at hand to engage in conversation about our families, Scotland, and school.

On the Saturday we visited the authentic food market next to her house. Our Sunday morning stroll through the town was interesting. Keen to check out the local talent we popped into a bar ‘local’ at 11am. We definitely received the ‘you’re not local’ deadeye but within ten minutes, old men were blowing me kisses and Craig was throwing shapes on the dance floor with his new ‘novia’ (50-year-old girlfriend with no teeth!) This is why homestays are worth it!

Cusco local people

Homestay fees

Naturally, the cost of homestays depend on the destination, timeframe and expectations put on the family. The price of our Cusco homestay is 365.00 soles per week/£82 (five nights so £16 per night for two with three meals, muy econimico!)

Homestay family Peru

Homestay rules

Rules will be set out by the company organising the homestay and between the family and visitor. The following should be considered:

  • Access to house keys
  • Meal times
  • Smoking
  • Electricity use like Aircon, WiFi etc
  • Shoes on/off policy
  • Quiet time
  • Socialising
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Use of kitchen facilities
  • Laundry

Final thoughts

The success of the homestay experience will be down to how positively you utilise your time during it and how well you gel with the host family. Personally, I enjoyed taking part in responsible travel in Peru; we do like to socialise but partying in a hostel every night is not the reason we travel. Our only concern was that I am one of those rare coriander haters (tastes like perfume) and Craig is a really fussy eater but we managed to work around this thanks to our survival Spanish, the main reason we wanted to experience a Peruvian homestay.

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Peru homestay

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Cusco Hostels: Review of the 5 Best Hostels in Cusco

Cusco hostels Peru

Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu hikes in Peru but also home to Spanish schools, a market, the planetarium, chilled out cafes, nice eateries but with over 100 hostels in Cusco how do you choose? Here are our best Cusco hostels guide from the party magnet to shut-eye central, dorms to private rooms. Why trust us? We stayed in Peru’s small city feel, Cusco for a month; hopping about hostels in between hikes and homestays.

Cusco Hostels


I love Cusco’s Kokopelli hostel. If you are looking for an electric vibe in the touristy area then this is The One. Kokopelli is a chain of hostels, they also offer accommodation in Lima, Paracas and Mancora (both Paracas and Mancora have swimming pools) so we were keen to try one out.

The hostel offers 10, 8, 6, 4 and 3 bunk dorms; private rooms and uniquely an 8-bed ‘pod’ room (room 105).

It really caters for all budgets and dorms can be found for under £10.

For our first night, we stayed in the 10-bed dorm with a private bathroom and a door which directly opens on to the garden. Cute.

Each bed has a wooden box ‘locker’ big enough to store your backpack for safety.

The usual issues come with a large dorm, there is always someone sleeping but that’s the price you pay for not going private.

Nights two and three were spent in the unusual ‘pod’ rooms.

The beds in the room each have a curtain to shut out the world. It felt very private.

Each bed has a cupboard and storage space with plugs. It also had a private bathroom AND WiFi for occupants of that room only.

There are a variety of casual social areas with bean bags as well as a TV room and a bar which serves food.

Typical Peruvian breakfast (pan and marmelada) is included and is served at the bar. The WiFi was at its best at the bar during the morning hours.

The clientele are cool, met some very sound travellers here.

  • Pros: Aesthetically pleasing; bar with decent food; the pods
  • Cons: We were really craving a bit of fruit for breakfast by this point but the bread/jam combo is pretty standard. No kitchen for those hoping to cook

Kokopelli - Where to stay in Cusco

Check rates and availability: Kokopelli Cusco
Price: Dorms under $11/£8, privates under $53/£40
Address: Calle San Andres 260

Wild Rover Cusco

The notorious party hostel, Wild Rover, has had a facelift and is now proudly located in a multi-million dollar purpose-built premises with dorms, privates, games rooms, and most importantly – that view, that balcony.

Believe me, getting high in Cusco is worth it for the Andean landscape views.

We have a secret though, Wild Rover is not the only hostel to have these sights, keep reading to find a quiet alternative with great views of the city.

Prices include free linen (not a given), locker and access to WiFi.

Food is available, Irish bar now with soundproofing. 

  • Pros: new built, linen, social, views
  • Cons: it is a party hostel so…
Check availability and reserve: Wild Rover
Dorms under $8/£6, privates under $54/£41
Address: Cuesta de Sta. Ana 782

Loki Hostel

Another chain party hostel (you will stay in one at least once during your time in South America!) Loki Hostel has an extensive happy hour and even happier customers.

Honestly, this hostel in Cusco sells out fast.

The bar allows for a tab which is either genius or dangerous depending on your spending habits. Rooms away from the bar are quiet.

Beds are comfy and some have a personal outlet for phone charging. Lucky dwellers get rooms with views of Plaza de Armas.

Food is less than to be desired but very close to the San Blas area which has lots of choices.

  • Pros: Location, party hostel
  • Cons: Food, can be loud

San Blas Cusco

Check availability and reserve (sells out quick): Loki Hostel
Dorms under $11/£9, privates under $40/£31
Address: Cuesta de Sta. Ana 601

Casa de la Gringa

If you are in Cusco for more than one night we highly recommend skipping over to the bohemian San Blas area which has cute shops, eateries and is less commercial (food in the markets is cheaper) than the other side of Plaza de Armas.

Casa de la Gringa fits in with this laid back and loving vibe.

The hostel is beautifully decorated and we were thankful for our ‘matrimonial’ verde (green) bedroom after hiking the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu.

The owners Mark and Simon, South Africans with Scottish ancestry, (we didn’t get the chance to meet their Mum) are very cool and offer sound advice and service to anyone looking to experience the San Pedro plant.

Breakfast is refreshing. The staff offer you a fruit salad with yoghurt or scrambled egg with the usual bread. There is a kitchen for those on a budget.

Like Kokopelli, tea and coffee are free all day. The shower is always hot and the company eclectic.

  • Pros: Looks cool breakfast, the area, area wise – this is where to stay in Cusco for a less touristy scene
  • Cons: Not a party hostel if that is what you are after, we met lots of couples there

Casa de la Gringa Best hostels in Cusco

Rooms start at under £$32/£25 for a private double
Check availability and reserve: Casa de la Gringa
Address: Cusco 08000

Thomas Grill and Garden

Thomas Grill and Garden is in the sweet spot of San Blas, right next to my favourite street, Calle Carmen Alto. It’s clean, has the hottest shower so far but the real gem is the receptionist/chef/ gardener/all-rounder, Jenny!

The hostel has two social areas and a nice garden with tables and chairs.

This was ideal for airing out my smoky clothes after a night of debauchery at the Mythology club! No such thing as the smoking ban in Cusco. 

There are a variety of rooms, some with shared and others with private bathrooms.

Initially, we were housed in a matrimonial room with a private bathroom and TV but decided to stay longer as we were enjoying the peace. Jenny put us in the ‘double mountain view’ room and a view it sure had.

You get a key for the front door so feels more like an apartment with breakfast than a hostel.

This is one of the best hostels in Cusco for WiFi in my experience; a blogger’s dream.

This room is really cute, it has a campervan feeling and you can’t beat waking up to the best views of Cusco. The room is cold at night (Cusco is frío in the evenings) but we were given a heater to take the edge off.

Breakfast is varied. Some days we had bread with butter/jam and fruit, others we had (bread and) cereal and yoghurt.

There is a decent-sized kitchen for those wishing to cook.

  • Pros: The staff; hot water; superfast WiFi; the view from our room
  • Cons: Again, not a party hostel if that is your bag, we met even more couples but there was one solo guest kicking about

Andean Mountains from Thomas Grill hostels in Cusco Peru

Check availability and book: Thomas Grill – Garden
Privates start from just under $32/£25
Address: Atoqsaycuchi 281 -a San Blas

Final Words

Cusco really is a cool city to spend a few days or couple of weeks in hence why we went bed-hopping, Goldilocks style in the city!

Whether you are looking for a party or some much-needed downtime there is a bed (or pod!) for everyone in Cusco.

Things to do in Cusco

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Cusco hostels | Hostels in Cusco


There are hundreds of hostels, hotels and apartments in pequño (small) Cusco.
Leave any questions in the comments below.


Alternatively, click here to see all 100 Cusco hostels 

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Peru Hop – Honest Review of Peru’s Hop On/Off Bus Service

Peru is the ideal South American country for backpackers of all ages to travel around. The varying landscape from mountains to jungle, to sea, and sand (dunes!) ensures that there is something of interest for everyone. However, the public transport system is notoriously not excellent, and like many other backpacking countries, tourists are often the target of crime. The solution? Peru hop – the safe hop on/off bus for travellers in Peru. Here’s our (Gemma and Craig) Peru Hop review taking your from Lima to Cusco with scenic stops along the way.

» Plan your trip to Peru with our popular Peru itinerary

Peru Hop Transport

Peru Hop – safe and fun travel in Peru

Why Choose Peru Hop?

Craig and I (Gemma) can’t believe how quickly we have progressed through Peru without feeling rushed.

After our fast-paced five-week trip through South East Asia in 2013 (SingaporeVietnamCambodia, and Thailand) we were adamant we would take our time.

We do have 18 months worth of career break after all (annoying, I know!) The reason?

Peru Hop’s well-organised itinerary which offers enough flexibility to avoid the feeling confined. Maybe the coca tea is partly to blame too.

Peru Hop is a hop-on/off bus company is similar to those in Australia and New Zealand. 

Their buses travel to/from six to ten stops along the Western coast of Peru from the capital, Lima then inland towards Cusco, where you acclimatise before your trek to Machu Picchu which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Thinking of hiking to Machu Picchu? Here our guide on the 14 ways to get there

We did the Lares Trek, a less saturated alternative to the Inca Trail. 

Peru Hop Bus Transport

Peru Hop Guides

Peru Hop is more than transportation.

Each bus ride has a guide (a local who can speak Spanish and English) and depending on where you are going, the guide may be getting off with you (the bus that is).

Big shout out to Carlos who we partied with in Huacachina! Is Peru Hop worth it? We think so for the local knowledge. 

Peru Hop Pisco Tour | PeruSalud from me (Gemma) & Craig – try the Peruvian pisco!

Peru Hop and Hostels

Peru Hop is a hostel booking service. Not booked your hostel?

No bother.

Most guides will call ahead and book you into their partner hostels at a discounted price.

For example, Kokopelli Backpackers in Paracas is 35 Peruvian soles 8-bed dorm normally but 30 Peruvian soles exclusively for Peru Hop customers. The company offers 20% off all dorms and 10% of private rooms.

Peru Hop attempts to suit everyone’s needs too by offering a ‘party’ hostel option for the Pisco-loving Hopsters and a ‘quiet’ option for… us (although we loved Kokopelli in Cusco).

Have your hostel booked already?

No problem!

We wanted to stay at Bananas in Huacachina but still met up with everyone that night and you can use the facilities at the Peru Hop partner hostels anyway. No pressure to book through Peru Hop. 

 Check out the 14 ways to Machu Picchu – hike, bus, trains

Peru Hop Tours

Peru Hop organises tours. We weren’t going to bother going to Paracas but Will (co-founder of Peru Hop) suggested we researched it online.

I’m glad we did because we would have missed out on the cute penguins on Islas Ballestas!

These tours are discounted, for example, this trip with Paracas Explorers is not even available on their website but $15 USD with Peru Hop.

The tours are not mandatory. The company has attempted to make your life easier on the road but they are not forceful.

We skipped the sandboarding tour and opted for a more professional experience with Sandboarding Peru because we wanted to sand-ski too. Some stops have free Peru tours to break up the journey.

We enjoyed the Pisco vineyard tour on the way to Arequipa.

If you’ve seen Peru on Instagram then you’ll know Rainbow Mountain. Peru Hop offers an additional tour there too. 

Isla Ballestas and Paracas I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary
Isla Ballestas, can’t believe we nearly missed this!

Peru Tour Routes

Peru Hop has developed a variety of tours to suit all time frames and budgets starting from $70 USD (Canyon to Lake to La Paz) to $199 USD ‘The Full South’ Lima to Cusco which includes Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa and Puno (minimum 6 days).

The backpacker’s bus can start at Lima in Peru, La Paz in Bolivia or Copacabana on the border. Here’s an example of four Peru Hop itineraries.

Peru Hop Itineraries Tour Stops

Peru Hop Bus Facilities

Peru Hop is equipped for long-distance journeys.

The bus has a toilet which is only for ‘number ones’ though (the guides are very clear about this).

The guide will democratically let Hopsters choose a film from their collection. Meet The Millers is genuinely funny, who would have thought it?

The overnight bus from Huacachina to Arequipa was as comfortable as sleeping on a bus gets.

The guide gives you a blanket and the seats are semi-reclining.

For long-distance journeys, such as Arequipa to Cusco) the guide takes your food order and calls ahead to the stop point (such as a truck stop or restaurant) and puts in your order. You are paying for that convenience and communication. 

This meal was around ten Peruvian soles each (food options – chicken, rice and veg, chifa, vegetarian omelette etc).

Peru Hop Lima | Peru

Friends For Life

The bus is safe but most importantly you make friends!

Hello to Jess, Liam and Ryan who we met on our first Peru Hop journey and partied with on our last in Cusco!

Hester, gutted we missed you! I bought your sweatshirt by the way…

Hola to B, Ben and Simon who we trailed from Huacachina to Arequipa then on to Cusco with.

Us Two Scots (Gemma and Craig) are social creatures; we need a break from each other for our own sanity!

Can Peru Hop Save You Money?

Peru Hop is actually cost-effective, for what’s included.

I was pricing the individual journeys we wanted to do with Cruz del Sur, the bus company mostly used by tourists in Peru, and Peru Hop popped up in the search engine. I was pleasantly surprised to see the comparison between the two services. 

For example, ‘regular class’ seat prices with Cruz del Sur:

  • Lima to Paracas ($18 USD)
  • Paracas to Ica ($6)
  • Ica to Arequipa ($32)
  • Arequipa to Cusco ($42)
  • Total: $98

If you want VIP seating (160-degree reclining seats), add approximately $3-5 per trip, $110-118. 

Peru Hop’s price for this above itinerary is $179, which is the ‘To Cusco Without the Lake’ option as the Cruz del Sur route does not include a Lake Titicaca crossing. That was some experience!  

Cruz del Sur rides don’t include:

  • English and Spanish speaking guides
  • Convenience calls like booking food ahead on long-distance trips  
  • Local tours 
  • Discounted accommodation

Naturally, not everyone wants that. If this is your style of travel, go for the public buses. Tranquillo!

We measure how cost-effective something is by not just taking money into an account and also the time saved.

Peru Hop has saved a massive amount of time, and arguments, the main reason we fought in Asia was through planning.

Check out this post on South America bus travel for another comparison. 

» We saved £20K to travel! Click to discover the 5 S’s of saving

Peru Hop BusA Soft Warning – An Honest Peru Hop Review

The only warning – Peru Hop does not leave from every destination every day so you need to do a bit of forwarding thinking to ensure your itinerary is met.

However, this is probably the case with other forms of transport too.

Peru Hop has factored in how long they would recommend staying in each place so if you are taking a fast route through Peru you can do with missing the hot spots.

Oh and don’t forget to check out our Peru guide which details what not to miss, and all the other vital information required for your trip to Peru.

If you fancy heading to Chile from Arequipa it can be done independently, check out this article on how to take the bus from Arequipa to San Pedro Atacama.

Peru Hop Testimonial

Don’t believe our glorious review (they are partnering with Peru Hop so obviously they are raving about it…)?

Here is a testimonial from Simon, our Hopster amigo, explaining why this service is one of the best Peru tours –

The pickup service makes travelling in Peru very easy.

The guides made bus rides interesting with their explanations about local culture and Peruvian history. Every effort was made to ensure that arriving at your hostel was simple, no more stressing about finding a taxi and attempting to communicate an obscure address.

Included tours removed the hassle of trying to plan events ahead while remaining competitive in price.

Peru Hop On Hop Off Bus | PeruHopsters at the Red Beach

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a more ‘mature’ person, is Peru Hop for me?

Thanks to Marty for leaving a comment about his experience ‘I am a 61-year-old man and did the Peru Hop with my nephew and had a great time. There were other middle-aged people on the bus but most were the younger traveller types. Everyone got along fine and had a great time’.

Is Peru Hop really worth the money?

It really depends on what you are in Peru for. Do you want a safe, efficient trip where destinations are planned out for you with support in finding accommodation and the chance to make friends? Yes!

Are you on a very tight budget and willing to spend longer than necessary on public transport? Go for the alternative local route.

Is Peru Hop suitable for solo travel?

Peru Hop was made for solo travel. You have a ready-made family waiting for you four wheels.

Final Thoughts

A serious round of applause to Will and Connor (travellers themselves) aka Peru Hop.

The company is now well established in South America, working effectively in a ‘foreign’ country (the boys are Irish) they’re doing a great job keeping the rest of us safe and connected.

This is an honest review (as always) in exchange for two Hop passes. Well done lads and thanks for all of the advice. We look forward to our next trip with… Bolivia Hop!

  • Peru Hop Lima office address: Centro Comercial “Torre Larco” Office 206, Avenida Jose Larco 812, Miraflores, Peru
  • Contact:  [email protected]

Going to Peru? Pin to your Peru board

Peru Hop On Hop Off Bus

Are you going to hop on/off in Peru? Do let us know in the comments below.  Gracias!

» Read next: everything you need to know about travelling in Peru

Thanks to Peru Hop for partnering with us. An honest review as always.