Let me start with the disclaimer , 9 days was not enough time for a country as spectacular as Peru. I am suffering from Peru withdrawal and I wanna go back asap. The only way I am coping with my withdrawal is by looking at the photos from my Peru trip and telling my friends and family to visit this country – once in their lifetime. You see my Peruvian hangover on my instagram feed. Yes that is the impact of Peru. Now before you start planning your trip , there are few things you wanna know about Peru. Peru was home to Incan civilization , so there is a lot of history to this country. Peruvian people are kind and hardworking . It is a country of vibrant culture and stunning landscapes. And to experience this all you will need time and you will want to make most of it. So here is “The Ultimate Itinerary for Peru” that will give you taste of everything. So lets start with …
Ok good news here for Indians , visa for Peru is on arrival. Isn’t it fantastic? Well hold your thought. This exemption is applicable only for those Indian nationals who have valid visa with minimum six months validity or are residents of either US, Canada, UK, Australia or any Shengen member country.
For more info on Visa process for Indians, click here.
Where to stay in Huaraz :
It goes without saying that Peru has something for every kind of traveler. If you are on budget there are hostels and if you have deep pockets there are some amazing luxury boutique hotels.
The choices of hotels might be limited in areas like Huaraz but in Lima and Cuzco you will get a lot of options. For Huaraz I also want to make a point that hotels are not fancy. We did not stay in hostels so cannot say anything about them , but from our 4 nights in a mid-range hotel in Huaraz , I can say that hostels are not fancy.
For Budget travelers :
Hostel Akilpo : This hostel is literally in the heart of the city – close to most bus stations. The hostel provides hot showers , WiFi, kitchen area and best part free luggage storage in case you are heading to multi day hike.
Dorm Bed – 7 USD
Private Room – 25 USD
Hostel Traveller’s palace : This hostel is comparatively new with all the new amenities and is located in the center of town. If you are vegetarian , there is a pure vegetarian restaurant right opposite to this hostel which offers excellent food.
Dorm Bed – 9 USD
Private Room – 24 USD
El Jacal : Affordable and known for being well kept and exceptionally clean , this hostel is backpackers favorite. This hostel is so popular that recently they have opened one more hostel a few blocks away. The only difference being that new one has more of a bed & breakfast feel and private rooms while the other has more of a backpacker vibe.
Dorm Bed – 10 USD
Private Room – 25 USD
For travelers with deep pockets:
Villa Valencia : This apartment style hotel is not in the city center but is literally 2 mins ride away. They have in house tour agency that organises all day trips. The kitchens are well equipped and breakfast is complimentary.
Apartment/villa – 54 USD
Room – 38 USD
Cuesta Serena : If you want to enjoy the views of the Huascaran and the rest of the Cordillera Blanca snow-capped mountains right from the window , this is the hotel to be in. This boutique hotel is the luxury at its best that you can get in Huascaran. The hotel features wellness in terms of massages , healing therapies and yoga classes. The food is exceptionally well and hotel has a travel desk from where you can book your daily excursions. I had booked this hotel , almost but then realized that it was a bit away from the city center. Back and forth from the city center to the hotel is not convenient but otherwise this hotel is perfect.
Day 1 : Arrive in Lima , relax
Ok so you have decided to go to Peru and most likely you would land in Lima. Now of-course if you have time at your disposal , spend some time in Lima. I have heard that Lima has some of the best restaurants in the country notably El Señorio del Sulco and Malabar. We reached around midnight and had an early morning 9 AM bus to catch to Huaraz so we decided so stay in Holiday Inn hotel near to the airport. The hotel offers pickup and drop service from the airport so it was super convenient. We reached the hotel , got the room and crashed for the night. That is pretty much Day 1.
Hotel : Holiday Inn Lima Airport
Address : Av. Tomas Valle s/n esq Av. Faucett Centro Aereo Comercial, Callao, Peru
Day 2 : Catch early bus to Huaraz . Get acclimatized.
As i said , reaching Huaraz requires some careful planning and its not easy , so Day 2 will go majorly travelling by bus from Lima to Huaraz. My recommendation for bus will be Cruz Del Sur , its one of the most known bus companies in Peru, its safe and not to mention that their buses are on time which is quite a rare thing in Peru. If Lima is just a pit stop for you , I will recommend to stay near the Airport and catch bus from Plaza Norte. The bus actually starts from Javier Prado located in the center of the city and from there the total travel time to Huaraz is 8.5 hrs. However if you catch bus from Plaza Norte, your total journey time shortens by an hour.
Most of the buses are at night time with the latest being at 11 pm. So if you are reaching Lima after 11 pm , you will have to spend a night in Lima. Now depending on if you want to stay for few days in Lima you can decide the starting point of your journey to Huaraz – Javier Prado vs Plaza Norte. No matter what time you pick , for an 8 hr 30 mins of a bus ride , you definitely would need some comfort. Cruz Del Sur buses have seats that recline almost 140 degrees so you could actually sleep in them comfortably. When you book the seats, you will have option to select your meal – so you will get food in the bus too.
We stayed at Holiday Inn near Lima airport and Plaza Norte was 15 mins away from the hotel. Our bus was at 10:30 am from Plaza Norte ( 9:30 from Javier Prado) and it took us 7.5 hrs to reach Huaraz. We reached Huaraz at about 5:30 pm and spent evening relaxing and looking for local tour companies to take us on day trips for next 4 days.
Day 3 : Day Trip to Lake Paron
Today will be an introduction to Huascaran National Park, a gateway to Cordillera Blanca mountain range. As I said earlier acclimatization is must, specially when it comes to attempting any hike in Huaraz, Lake Paron is an awesome day trip that will help you in getting used to altitudes. Book a tour with a local tour company and they will pick you from the hotel between 8 am – 9 am . Drive to Lake Paron from Huaraz is about 3 hours so you will be spending a lot of time in the bus. The last 45 minutes of the journey are a bit rough as you will be riding through unpaved zig-zag roads. The bus will drop you at the visitor center and from there you will have 2 hours to enjoy the views of lake Paron. The hike to main mirador is about 30 mins. Do not underestimate this hike as you will be attempting it at about 4,200m above the sea level. Lack of oxygen and altitude sickness will kick your butt. But once you reach mirador, the views are amahzinggggg. Of all the day hikes we did , the view of Lake Paron was the best. More details on “How to visit Lake Paron” will come up soon, stay tuned.
After spending about 2 hours at the lake , you will head back to Huaraz and you will reach at about 5- 6 pm. Spend evening in the downtown , exploring market , buying essentials ( if needed) and enjoying dinner at one of the local restaurants. Take rest as Day 4 is going to be long day as well.
Day 4 : Day trip to Pastoruri glacier
Pastoruri glacier is another gem of a place that you must put in your itinerary for 2 reasons :
1) It is extremely beautiful and great for acclimatizing . It is at 5000 mts above sea level.
2) The glacier is receding fast – so if you miss it now , you might not get to see it at all.
So day 4 will start at about 9 am with your tour company picking you up from the the hotel. I personally enjoyed the day trip to Pastoruri glacier more than Lake Paron because , even though the drive was long , it was very scenic. The tour will include stopping at a local restaurant for you to enjoy lunch and pick up some snacks. This will be the same restaurant where you would stop in the evening on your way back to have dinner – if you want. On your way to glacier , there will be few more pit stops to show Puya raimondi plants, Patococha lake and 7 color lake. Once you reach the parking lot , you will have to hike up for about 40 – 50 mins to reach to the glacier. Round trip should take you about 2 and half hours with plenty of time at the glacier base. You will return to Huaraz at about 6 pm Take rest and sleep early as Day 5 is going to be long and hard.
Day 5 : Day trip to Laguna 69
The day will start very early at about 6:30 am with your tour company picking you up from the hotel. Yes you are going to hike up to Laguna 69. The hike is long , steep , at an altitude where your lungs will gasp for air but then you are doing it for views and it is totally worth it. You definitely need some fitness level to attempt this hike. You will have a stop over at a restaurant for a quick breakfast before you reach the starting point. Once you reach the starting point , you will be told the time to be back and trust me you need to keep this time in mind to pace yourself. It will take you about 6 hrs with good pace and 7 to 7.5 hrs on a medium pace to complete the hike. You will be back by 3 or 4 pm on the starting point from where your tour company will take you back to Huaraz. Take rest as the Day 6 is going to be even more challenging as you will be hiking up Lake Churup.
Day 6 : Day trip to Lake Churup. Back to Lima.
So you are tired as Laguna 69 was a hard and long hike. Kick it up a notch and you have Lake Churup to conquer. This hike is a bit shorter than Laguna 69 but is steeper. The last 1 mile of the hike will require all your limbs as you literally have to climb up using ropes. But as usual the reward will be awesome. A day trip to Lake Churup will take about 8 hours. You will reach back at your hotel at about 6 pm. Take rest, have dinner and get ready for an overnight journey as you will be catching a late night bus to Lima for an overnight journey.
Day 7 : Early flight to Cuzco from Lima. Spend day exploring Cuzco
You will arrive at Lima at about 6 am. We had booked our flights on the same day early morning for Cuzco . Its a 2 hr flight so you will reach Cuzco at about noon.Take rest and have this entire day to yourself to explore Cuzco. Ill share my favorite restaurants and main points to see in Cuzco in a detailed post later – So stay tuned. Take this evening to find a reasonable tour to Rainbow mountain or if any other day trip you would want to do. We had booked our tour beforehand which worked out perfect for us. The tour company picked us up from the airport and dropped us to our hotel. They had arranged for our day trips and transportation to Rainbow mountain and Maras Moray.
Day 8 : Day trip to Rainbow Mountains
This day will be a long day again. The tour to rainbow mountain starts at about 7 am. If you want the entire rainbow mountain to yourself , you will have to start at around 3 am. For us this was impossible as we had been hiking in Huaraz practically every day and we were exhausted. So we wanted to enjoy rainbow mountain at more leisure-ly pace. The drive from Cuzco to Rainbow mountains has nothing special. You will reach the parking lot at about 10:30 am from where you will start your an hour n half hike to reach the top. You can also ride a horse to reach the mountain top but the last 500 mts of the hike has to be walked. The mountain will be flocked by the people. Take your usual photos and head back. You will reach back to Cuzco at about 5 pm. Enjoy your evening in Cuzco downtown.
Day 9 : Half day to Maras and Moray. Fly back to Boston
Last day in Peru so you want to make most out of it. We had booked a trip to Maras Moray which was a half day tour. This tour starts at about 8 am and takes you to stunning Inca ruins of Moray. Next was a quick stop at a local Alpaca farming store where there showed a live demonstration on coloring of alpaca wool and how the wool is washed and processed. For us it was excellent place to buy souvenirs , specially some Alpaca wool sweaters. Last stop in the trip was Maras salt flats which I must say were a real treat to eyes. Since this was half day trip , we were back by noon. We rested in our hotel room and our flight to Boston was at night.
So that is it- 9 days with whole lot of walking , viewing some stunning sites and getting the taste of Peruvian culture was all i had expected from my first visit to this incredible country. I would love to know what you enjoyed the most in Peru. If you are planning a trip to Peru , have a look at “Things to know before you visit Peru”. It will help you a lot. If you have any questions , leave me a message. I will be posting detailed day trip specifics in my future posts. Thank you so much for stopping by.
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