When it comes to adventurous vacations, the right itinerary is key. I like to look at books from Lonely Planet and more places like this to show me what can I do. And based on this, I would choose the itinerary. A lot of times I’m not good at planning my time there. But anyway, Peru is an amazing and really big country and there is a lot of things to see in just two weeks. But it is not going to be as relaxing as you might have thought but still fun.
Two weeks in Peru
Let’s face is, Peru is a really big country, the shortest time of traveling I spend there was when I went from Lima to Paracas. So my itinerary is mainly about what to do in southern Peru, where is also most of the touristic things. The issue here is that you can spend one month in Peru and still won’t be bored. So my two weeks are mainly just to get a taste of what can you see here in that short period. It might sound like a lot but once you are there, believe me, you will think about spending more time in Peru. But even then, you will still see a lot of interesting things. So check the itinerary, pack your bags and go for your adventure.
Day 1 – 2 Paracas
After you arrive in Lima, jump to the bus to Paracas. It is a very small village, people here are living mainly out of fishery and tourism. But at the same time, there isn’t too much thing to do except for seeing the Ballestas Islas and Paracas national reserve. Both of them are interesting, but it is enough if you have there only one day. However, if you like golfing or kite surfing, Paracas can easily become a getaway for a whole weekend. If you are planning on a trip to Ballestas Islas, you will see most of the wildlife in the morning. So spend your afternoon walking around the beach and book a tour on the next day morning and rest a bit after the flight.
How to get to Paracas?
A bus would be your best friend here. It is the easiest and probably also the cheapest option. If you are going from Lima you can take the bus almost every 40 minutes. If you want to go on the touristic bus, you can go every 2 hours. The bus ticket cost 8 dollars.
Where to stay
Budget option: Ictus Paracas 17 dollars per night
Mid-range option: Hotel Riviera Inka 40 dollars per night
Luxury: Radisson Resort Paracas 150 dollars per night
All you need to know about the tour
Tour to Ballestas Islands cost 30 soles but additionally, you will also need to pay for entrance to Paracas reserve, which is 11 soles and port tax which is 5 soles.
The best way to get on a tour is just in the harbor. You don’t need any company, the harbor will set you on the boat in your preferable time.
Day 2 – 4 Huacachina
I would say that Huacachina is the ideal place on where to spend 2 days for rest, very often after long haul flight. It is a little magical oasis. I arrived in the afternoon, so I just walked a little bit around the lake and enjoyed my dinner. The day after I hiked around the dunes and in the evening I went for buggy rides and to watch the sunset in the desert. If you are feeling fancy and want to taste local wines you can get a wine tasting in town Ica, where they have delicious wine. Spend the next day by relaxing and book a night bus to Arequipa.
How to get to Huacachina
The easiest way would be the bus again. But this time it is a little bit more complicated. Whether you are heading here from Lima or Paracas, you will have to jump on a bus to town Ica. From Paracas, it takes only an hour and a half to get here and it cost about 50 soles per touristic bus. Once you step out of the bus you will need to use a taxi to get to Huacachina. It is only a 10-minute drive and they will ask you for 15 soles max. When you are stepping to the taxi, just tell the name of your hotel and they will get you directly there.
Where to stay
Budget option: Claudia II 28 dollars per night
Mid-range option: Huacachina Sunset 45 dollars per night
Luxury: DM Hoteles Mossone 80 dollar per night
Generally in Huacachina, you can get to a buggy tour. And then you have several options, whether you want to do it with snowboarding, without, or if you want to see a sunset in the desert. The most expensive one is probably the one that I took – a buggy tour with sandboarding and watching the sunset in the desert and it cost only 50 soles.
Another option would be to rent a sandboard and then you would pay 15 soles per hour.
Day 4 Arequipa
When you arrive in Arequipa, spend the whole day exploring the city. It is one of the biggest cities in Peru and it is really beautiful. There are a couple of things you really shouldn’t miss. Perhaps the biggest one is the Santa Catalina monastery. Which is the first monastery in Peru founded by women. Another thing you should do is to get on a free walking tour of Arequipa. It runs three times a day and you will get to know a lot about the city. To prepare for your next day, make sure you will ask your hotel for the Colca Canyon tour. You don’t need to book the tour online, the tours are almost everywhere so it is enough just to say it at the hotel.
How to get to Arequipa
If you are coming from Huacachina, the bus would be probably your best option. You will need to get on an overnight bus – that way you can safe money for a hotel. If you choose the VIP class, you will even get a nice seat to sleep in.
But otherwise, Arequipa has its airport, so you can get here by internal flight both from Lima and from Cuzco.
Where to stay
Budget option: Le Foyer Hostel Arequipa 20 dollars per night
Mid-range option: Palla Boutique hotel 70 dollars per night
Luxury hotel: San Agustin Posada Monasterio 120 dollars per night
You can get a free tour around colonial Arequipa three times a day, just go to the local tourism office that is offering this tour, they will tell you the times. The walking tour takes about two and a half hours.
Another thing you should visit would be the local monastery. The entrance fee there is 40 soles. Additionally, you can get a guide (if you do, make sure you ask for him inside of the area and not outside where there are a lot of people offering you tours as well). It is not necessary to get a guide for the monastery, but if you do, you will get a lot of information and pay only 15 soles for the guide.
Day 5 Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world. Here you will get to see an Inca culture, beautiful views on mountains and all the three volcanoes around Arequipa. At the same time, you will see one of the biggest birds in the world – Condors. And it is because of condors, you will need to get up early to see them fly around at 8 am. That’s when they are most active.
The Colca canyon tour starts at 4 am, because the canyon is about 3 hours away from Arequipa. Because you are entering mountains with a higher altitude, make sure you have some medicine with you. The tour cost 70 soles. It is also possible to get a 2-day tour for 140 which includes hotel in local town Chivay as well. On the next day, you can ask for a bus to Puno from Colca Canyon as well, which might be more comfortable than going back to Arequipa.
Day 6-8 Puno
When going to Puno, expect higher elevation and possible altitude sickness. But that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the city too much. I got to the hotel quite late in the evening, so I just went for dinner in the city and got to see some of the nightlife and night shops. On the next day, I went for a tour to see the reef islands and then I walked around the historic center. I waited around Lake Titicaca to see the sunset. One day in Puno is ideal, it is a nice place but at the same time very small. But nature around is just wonderful you should see at least the Lake Titicaca.
How to get to Puno
Puno has its airline but it is not that popular and there aren’t too many flights coming in this direction. But by all means, try it if you want. If you are coming here from Arequipa you can even jump on a train. It is not that common but it works just fine. My choice was to take a bus. It takes 8 hours from Arequipa and it costs about 120 soles.
Where to stay
Budget option: Casa Hotel Lago Titicaca 20 dollar per night
Mid-range: Tierra Viva Puno 60 dollars per night
Luxury hotel: Hotel Hacienda Plaza de Armas 95 dollars per suite
Stay on Lake Titicaca islands: Uros Waliski Lodge 160 dollars per night
About the tour
Tour to Lake Titicaca is a must when it comes to Puno. Like a lot of tours I mentioned before, it is not necessary to book it ahead since there is a lot of companies who offer it. However, once you are thinking about doing a tour like this, you should know that there are two options. One of them is to visit only Uros – the reef island and the other one is to visit Taquile island as well. The tour usually takes the whole morning from 7 am to midday. It very much depends on the tour from the tour, some of them take the whole day. The tour to Uros costs 70 soles and both islands are for 100 soles if it is a short tour.
Day 8-10 Cuzco
If you arrive in Cuzco in the afternoon, make sure you have the whole next day exploring the city. There is a lot to see and Cuzco is a fun city to explore in general. It used to be the capital of Incas and there is a lot of sights around it that are worth visiting. Besides that, you can also see the amazing colonial architecture and one of the most beautiful main squares in Peru.
How to get to Cuzco
Cuzco is one of the biggest cities in Peru which means that it is relatively easy to place to get to. You can come here both by bus or by train if you are coming from Puno. It takes nearly 7 hours and during this time, make sure you will enjoy the view outside. The bus ticket from Puno cost 120 soles.
On the other hand, if you are coming from Lima or Arequipa, you can easily choose an airplane, which would not be as cheap but it would be a lot shorter. One way flight ticket to Lima cost 50 dollars if you book it in advance.
Where to stay
Budget option: Antarki Guesthouse 10 dollars per night
Mid-range option: Loreto Boutique Hotel 60 dollars per night
Luxury hotel: Tierra Viva Cusco Centro 110 dollars per night
About tours in Cuzco
If you are planning to visit the local church and cathedral on Plaza de Armas, there is no entry fee and the visit won’t take you that long time. Probably only half an hour for each.
It is whole another story for the local monastery that used to be a sun temple during the Inca period and once was entirely covered in gold. The entry fee there is 15 soles but to see the whole building and the museum, you will need at least 2 hours.
There are also some other Inca places around Cuzco. They are easy to get to, but if you are planning to go there from the city center, you will need a taxi that would drive you around for a bit. And for entering sites like this you will need a Cuzco day ticket, which is for 70 soles but then you can visit all Inca sites around Cuzco.
Day 11 Sacred Valley tour
As I mentioned previously, there is a lot of Inca sites around Cuzco. There is the whole valley of them. To see the main one is the best to take a tour. That way you will see sites like Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero and more. The tour like this takes a whole day.
About the tour
Full day tour in Sacred Valley of Incas is an amazing experience and fun. I felt like Indiana Jones with a little bus and tourists all over. Tours like these start early in the morning. Usually, around 8 am and you will come back to the hotel in Cuzco around 7 pm. It cost about 90 soles. And again you don’t need to book a tour in advance, these kinds of tours are very common and it is enough to ask your hotel or at the tourist office. And when you do, make sure you also ask about which sites you will see. Because there is a lot of sites and it would be a shame if you would see only some of them.
If you don’t feel like seeing other Inca sites, there is a good alternative to it. You can also visit Rainbow mountain which is also a very popular day trip from Cuzco. But prepare yourself for high altitude.
Day 12 Machu Picchu
And we finally get to the only thing that most people traveling to Peru don’t want to miss. Machu Picchu. I did a one day trip, but there is a lot of ways of how to get to that spectacular sight. But whichever way you choose, it is something big to see.
A little bit about a day trip to Machu Pichu
It is expensive and not the most comfortable day trip but it does the job. You will see the site and on the next day, you will be ready to say that you have even enjoyed it.
Unlike many other tours in Peru, this one you should book even before you even buy flight tickets to Peru. There is a lot of restriction on how many people coming to the site per day, which means that it is better to have a ticket in hand even before you book the flight.
But otherwise, the day trip to Machu Picchu also starts very early around 4.30 am and you will get back to the hotel at around 8 pm. And even though it sounds like a lot of time, the tour is very tight when it comes to time.
If you are planning to get a day trip tour to Machu Pichu from Cuzco, prepare your self for paying at least 300 dollars.
Day 13-14 Lima
After seeing Machu Picchu, hop on the plane from Cuzco to Lima. Lima might not seem that interesting but after two weeks in Peru, you deserve some rest. And this is an ideal place to get it.
You can enjoy both the modern part of the city that is full of parks and skyscrapers or the old city of Lima with colonial history.
If you like the beach, you can also try to do some surfing or kite surfing here. There are a couple of schools that are dedicated to these activities. But if you prefer air from the elements, you should try the local paragliding experience. It is amazing and right on the coast.
Where to stay
Budget option: Hospedaje Santa Rosa 24 dollars per night
Mid-range option: Selina Miraflores Lima 45 dollars per night
Luxury hotel: Casa Adina Premium 130 dollars per night
When to spend two weeks in Peru
When it comes to Peru, timing your trip is crucial. The main season is in the Peruvian wintertime, which is from June till about September. Those days you get to see clear skies in the mountains where I have most of my itinerary anyway. But you should still expect very cold nights and especially in areas with a higher altitude, it is going to be cold.
If you want to go in the summertime, you can go around November till February. At that time humidity in the mountain reaches the peak and very often it is misty and cloudy. On the other hand, the coast is perfect during this time.
A lot of travelers prefer to come in shoulder season around April, where there are generally not that many cloudy days in the mountains and it is still relatively warm weather.
Things to know when going to Peru
When taking a taxi… be sure about the price before you hop in. Also, don’t put your bag there before you are in. It is best to have a bag somewhere close to you.
When taking a bus… It is generally better to take a touristic bus, these are better guarded and less often jumped by thieves. For an overnight bus, it is better to reserve it in advance, these tickets might be quickly gone.
When booking a hotel… make sure it exists by trying to talking to them first. That might generally help to avoid all kinds of hotel scams.
When drinking a local tea… It is very common to drink local coca tea, but you need to know that if you will take any drug test anytime soon after, you will probably be positive on cocaine.
When ordering in restaurants… Peru is a big country, so if you order food in a restaurant, choose what you want to eat based on the region you are in. For example, don’t eat fish salad somewhere in the mountains. The fish won’t be fresh and you might get sick
If you get altitude sickness… slow down, stay in the area until you get used to it. Drink coca tea, ask your hotel for a bottle of oxygen. But don’t go anywhere further until you get better, it might be life-threatening.
What to pack for two weeks in Peru
Warm clothes – So you will see some mountains and reach some higher altitudes. Especially because a lot of tours are happening early in the morning, it is not the most comfortable to wear just shorts. so make sure you have some long pants and a jacket with you.
Sports shoes – Some of those tracks will involve hiking and especially in the Andes it is not comfortable to run around in heels so take nice sport shoes as well.
Altitude medicine – I have already mentioned that but one of the highest points you might visit during two weeks in Peru is 4000 meters above sea levels. And that is a lot not just for headaches but also for far worse medical conditions. Ask your doctor before you leave if you can get something for these situations.
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