Peru Itinerary Help needed

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Peru Itinerary Help needed

1. Posted by Beregond (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone,

Looking to close my itinerary for late next month in Peru.

We are planning to use Peru Hop (except to Puno) from Lima to Cuzco and then fly back to Lima.

Not all of our group feels that they can manage the hike to Machu Picchu (even the short). As such, we are thinking about going by train. Should we go the night before and do it in the morning or just go in the morning and do it in the afternoon? Is it worth to do one afternoon and morning of the day after with 2 tickets?

Additionally, we feel that Paracas may be taking too long in our itinerary. Would it be better do go at lunch time from Lima on day 1 and do Paracas (Ballestas + Reserve and Huachina on the same day)? Where could we allocate that day?
We are considering 2 nights in Arequipa to prevent altitude sickness.

Thanks in advance.

1 Arrival in Lima at 4am Sleep in Lima

2 Bus Lima Paracas, Paracas Sleep in Paracas

3 Paracas to Hucachina by bus, Hucachina Sleep in Hucachina

4 Transport to Nazca, Nazca (including flight), night bus to arequipa Sleep in bus

5 Arequipa Sleep in Arequipa

6 Arequipa Sleep in Arequipa

7 Colca Canyon Sleep in Colca Canyon

8 Colca Canyon, trip to Puno Sleep in Puno

9 Lake Titicaca, night bus to Cuzco Sleep in bus

10 Cuzco to Ollantaytambo, Ollantaytambo Sleep in Ollantaytambo

11 Machu Pichu Daytrip Sleep in Ollantaytambo

12 Chinchero, Maras, and Moray Sleep in Ollantaytambo

13 Cuzco Sleep in Cuzco

14 Pisac and Sacsayhuaman Sleep in Cuzco

15 Humantay Lake Sleep in Cuzco

16 Rainbow Mountain Sleep in Cuzco

17 fly to Lima (arrival at 9:50 am), Lima Sleep in Cuzco

18 Lima, international flight at 10am Sleep on Lima

2. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 386 posts) 1y 2 Star this if you like it!

Quick initial thoughts.

PeruHop is a waste of money and targeted at scared western youngsters who want to isolate themselves from local experiences. Plenty of commercial bus routes, more frequent, easy and much much cheaper.

Have you adequately considered Altitude acclimatisation? Having seen what happens when people are not properly adapted you really really don't want that (it's serious, incapacitating and dangerous). Colca Canyons is quite high. You are in a group and different people take different times to adapt and if it's a large group are you prepared for some not adapting well?

Colca Canyons holds different interests for different people. Depending on why you're visiting, for many it's the scenery and the Condors and those can be done in a day trip from Arequipa.

Paracas: Ballestas is best done in the morning (seas and wind get worse later in the day). Reserve is apparently not worth doing (I didn't do it but from talking to others who did).

Guessing but are you pre-booking everything? e.g. Nazca flight. Better to ask around and get a flight to include both Nazca and Palpa lines. Palpa lines are a different culture and interesting differences but only a few operators include them and I had to hunt around a bit to avoid being ripped-off and find an operator who would do it but the following day.

Other than the Floating Islands (which does not take long), what else are you planning in/around Puno? Not much in Puno so what else you are planing depends on what you are interested in.

Not much to see in Lima (others may have different opinions). Huaca Pucllana is worth seeing as you're entirely skipping Northern Peru (and the very different cultures and construction styles).

I assume it's mainly tour buses rather than any independent travel. If that's correct you will find most of the places crowded e.g. Ollantaytambo Temple Hill gets more crowded in the afternoon when the tour buses arrive.

ps: if some of your group are not up to hike tp MP, Rainbow Mountain is quite a trek.


[ Edit: Edited on 24 Jul 2022, 19:49 GMT by Psamathe ]

3. Posted by Beregond (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!


Thanks for your reply. Some comments on my side:
1) PeruHop: we do not feel comfortable travelling at night with other companies, based on reviews;

2) Altitude acclimatisation: we are considering 2 days in Arequipa instead of one due to this. Do you think it is not enough?

3) Colca Canyon: we are going for the scenery and condors. Due to altitude, we felt that a rushed visit with lack of sleep could me a problem. Are we wrong?

4) Paracas: we are doing Ballestas on day 3 and would do the reserve on day 2. We are considering doing Lima - Paracas on day 1 and skipping day 2 altogether.

5) We will try to book as much as possible.

6) Puno: we are just spending a day but still have to look more into it.

7) Rainbow Mountain: we are considering using horses.

8) We will be travelling independently in the Cusco Area (taxi + bus), except to Humantay Lake and Rainbow Mountain.

We are considering a second day in Machu Picchu. Does it make sense? What other changes would you recommend?

[ Edit: Edited on 25 Jul 2022, 17:55 GMT by Beregond ]

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5986 posts) 1y 1 Star this if you like it!

I did Colca Canyon after 2 nights in Arequipa, and suffered quite badly due to altitude sickness on the way to Colca Canyon, as the road between them takes you up to 4900 meters. Luckily you only stay up that high for a short amount of time, but the edge of the canyon is still very high. I ended up really wishing I'd had another night of acclimatization before heading out. Arequipa is also an amazing place in its own right; I hated the noise of the taxis and the dogs, but that is easily offset by the amazing restaurants and general vibe of the place.

A daytrip to the Colca Canyon sounds like hell to me; faaaaar too much time on the road compared to how much time you have for seeing the canyon. We did it as a 3 day trip (picked a tour company without any of the traditional dance and pottery sale stops, and found nearly everything else very worthwhile, excepting perhaps the hot springs on the way back), and I very fondly remember camping down in the canyon, and drinking coca tea early in the morning at Cabanaconde, watching the locals pass up by with their donkeys. The condors themselves were cool, and I got some pretty cool photos - but all in all, it felt like one of the less important parts of the trip for me.

I think there's a lot to see in Lima - it just to me felt about twenty times less interesting than everything else Peru has to offer, and on a next visit, I'd definitely hightail it out of Lima as swiftly as possible. (So basically agreeing with Psamanthe there.) :)

I hiked the classic inca trail, which passes by a series of ever more impressive inca sites before you finally arrive at Machu Picchu, and from that experience, Macchu Picchu felt overwhemling, and the dawn-to-late-afternoon day we had there - before catching one of the last trains out - felt too short. However, our visit did include a long time on Wayna Picchu as well. Assuming a good guide and initial awareness, plus permits for hiking Wayna Picchu, I'd recommend two days for Machu Picchu. Without, one day should suffice.

5. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 386 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Colca Canyons

Colca Canyons on a "day trip" is fine. I did it and it's a long day (you sleep on the bus). I departed Arequipa about 3:00 am, get to start of Colca area in time for breakfast, etc. and got back to Arequipa after 22:00.


Don't just focus your trip of the few famous sights (like the lines, MP,). e.g. at Nazca make sure you also visit the Acueductos de Cantayoc. Fascinating place. Take a few hours to get there look around and get back to town. Very relevant to understanding the nature of the culture that lived in the region. Los Paredones (again Nazca) a very different construction from the famous Inca sites.

Local buses

Local buses are far more flexible (more buses more places more routes more times) and I travelled Peru/Bolivia for 4 months on local buses and never has any issues. Most of the "reviews" will be from scared western youngsters who are PeruHop's target audience. People travel all over the country in local buses and there are a lot of safety measures e.g. one trip I did on Cruz del Sur I arrived early for an overnight bus in a really poxy little bus terminal and saw the drivers prepare - they have 2 drivers as Peruvian laws limit the number of hours a driver can drive and the time limits are shorter through the night so buses have 2 drivers. Security setup a video camera and each driver in turn had to stand in front of the camera and say his name, show ID (to the camera) was handed a breathalyser and had to blow into it and the breathalyser was then shown close to the video camera, repeat for 2nd driver. On board some buses, once everybody is onboard terminal security walk through the bus with a video camera recording faces of every passenger in every seat.

Shorter Distance Travel

Depending on the size of your group, consider Colectivos. Very practical and cheap except you will have to mix with locals (something I guess you don't like the idea of given your going with PeruHop). e.g. In Cusco, depending on where you want to go you go to a set place (often cross roads) and a minibus is there or soon arrives and when enough passengers it heads off, generally with the door open and somebody shouting out its destination to get more passengers in. For example, want to go to Pisac you get to Calle Puputi (Cusco) wander down the street and the "stop" is obvious (if there is no minibus waiting) ... (location may have changed since I went). Same for Ollantaytambo, except it's Calle Belen (Cusco). Hostel will tell you where for the different Colectivo destinations.

Altitude Sickness

As far as Altitude Sickness - I'm no expert so cannot advise beyond what I've read and seen (I didn't suffer). My understanding is it is difficult to predict who will suffer (fit youngster might suffer whilst a 70 year old heavy smoker might not, or vice versa) and having been OK before does not mean you'll be OK next time. Just that the larger your group the more likely some will adapt slower so you need to be have decided what you will do (e.g. will group split, those OK continuing, others going to lower altitude). Risks depend on the group size. I went on one trek in a protected National Park (which meant I was legally obliged to take a guide); ended-up going with some Peruvians 2 of whom suffered to the point where they were staggering around, vomiting, dazed (on a different planet) and guide telling them "we don't have a helicopter ...".

I am no medic and cannot give advice (never take medical advice from unknown people on the internet) but depending on your group (age, etc.) maybe talk to your GP/Dr about taking some Diamox with you. If you do make sure anybody who might take it checks with their Dr (don't pass medication around without Dr giving recipient OK). This is NOT advice but something to check with a qualified person (GP/Primary Healthcare) about.

People say chewing Coca leaves helps. Remember that some jobs involve drug tests and if you chew coca leaves then head back to work and get drugs tested you might be positive. I have no idea how long it takes to flush down to levels not detected.

Some claim Condor Urine helps - in my opinion an old wives take.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is great and the regime for visiting has changed a lot since I visited (I got a "morning ticket" and went in at 06:00am and didn't leave until late pm). Even then it was a strict one way round and no going back. Since then I understand entry and control is stricter due to the numbers. Inside MP I also went out to "The Sun Gate" and Inca Bridge (short walk away from MP but inside the ticket entry). The Sun Gate is not itself amazing but the walk there has some amazing views. Inca Bridge was interesting but people who don't like cliff edges wont manage it (I met one person who had to turn round before getting there).

Even though amazing, on a 2nd day what will you see you didn't see on the 1st day. Overall you have a very short trip for a country with loads to see and in my opinion see as much as you can rather than focus on the few sites that everybody knows about.

Things May Go Wrong

In my view you trip is short and tight and things may easily go wrong. e.g. locals spontaneously closing roads at midnight for a few days protesting mining company pollution, breakdowns (roads are "tough" on buses). Given your fast pace, think about what you really don't want to miss and what you can do to mitigate the risk; which depends on how tight budgets are e.g. fly Arequipa to Cusco.