Travel Post: Peru Planning, Travel, and Helpful Tips

5:30 PM

This blog is apart of my Peru travel post series. Read my previous posts about the Amazon rainforest, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Lima, and Huachachina!

In addition to my blog posts about all the places I visited in Peru, I created a video summarizing our trip: 

I hope you found my posts about Peru entertaining and valuable! It certainly is a wonderful country and I highly recommend visiting to all you adventure seekers out there. 

Because of its size, Peru was definitely one of the harder trips my friends and I planned. It took a good amount of time to gather all the necessary information to plan our trip. Thus, for those of you who are interested in planning a trip in the future, I wanted to provide some tips and packing necessities to ease some of the process. :)

Things to Pack, outside of the necessary travel accessories
If you are going to the Amazon rainforest or any other mosquito-ridden environment:
  • Bug repellent - be sure to spray yourselves down to avoid being bitten by mosquitos! Mosquitos are typically not present in the higher altitude places, such as Cuzco or Machu Picchu. If you are, however, planning to make a visit to the Amazon rainforest, be sure to buy enough bug repellent. I believe you need at least a Deet percentage of 30% and higher in order for the repellent to be effective.
    • Here are the ones that I used:
  • Permitern (sp): Spray down your clothes in advance so insects and mosquitos are not attracted to you!
  • Long pants and long sleeved shirts. I bought moisture-wicking workout clothes so that I could reuse them for the gym, thereby saving money in the process.
You can also buy clothing with insect repellent "built in"
Usually mosquitoes are not present in high-altitude places such as Cuzco or Sacred Valley.

Other Peru necessities
  • Small backpack for your hiking adventures. I purchased this backpack from REI and found it very helpful when hiking Machu Picchu. It even had space to put a camelback water pouch in it, which was very convenient during hiking.
  • Comfortable shoes - I bought hiking shoes from REI and used them for walking through cities as well. I adore these Merrell shoes I purchased:
  • Snack and granola bars in case you are unable to access food whilst hiking. My favorite are Kind Bars!

  • Light jacket - weather can be unpredictable at Machu Picchu, so a light jacket is important to have.
  • Camera - I took my go pro and used chest and head straps while hiking. I also carried around a extended stick to capture group photos without having to ask strangers. My friends brought their nice cameras, so it was the best of both worlds!
    • Travel Guide - I bought Fodor's travel guide and found it very informative in terms of history, recommendations on places to stay and eat.
      • Note: Do not use TripAdvisor as a guide on where to eat. We ate at one restaurant because of high ratings in TripAdvisor, and we were sorely disappointed.
    • Wool socks: i was able to wear my socks for 2-3 days without washing at a time! You can buy these at REI.

    • Book/Kindle: for the long bus and train rides during your travels. I really like my Kindle Paperwhite because it is so lightweight to pack and I can read for hours on its battery.

    • Hat: to shield yourself from the sun.
    • Sunglasses: see above!
    • Sunblock: high altitude (and use of Diamox): more sensitivity to sunlight
    • Other things to pack:

    Things to consider

    Other things you might consider for your trip are travel medications.
    • See and consult your doctor for prescription travel medicine that you may find necessary, such as:
      • Diamox for altitude acclimatization.
      • Traveler's Diarrhea medication
      • Yellow fever vaccination
      • Malaria vaccination: we were told that Malaria was not prevalent in the places we visited in Peru, so we personally opted out of this. However, please asses your own health needs as necessary!
      • Dramamine for motion sickness
      • Typhoid medication

    Getting to Machu Picchu
    Getting to Machu Picchu takes a bit of planning. I've included the two options that are most common for those interested in visiting Machu Picchu.

    Option 1: 
    1. Landing in Cuzco airport 
    2. Renting a van from Cuzco to Sacred Valley (about a 2 hour car ride). We rented our van through our hotel, Hostal Iskay, in Sacred Valley
    3. Staying overnight in Sacred Valley
    4. Taking a Perurail train from Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes to stay overnight. The trip from Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes was approximately a 1 hour 45 minute ride. We stayed at Casa Andina Aguas Calientes, and though on the pricier side, we felt it was well worth it to rest up before our big Machu Picchu day. 
    5. We also bought our bus tickets up to Machu Picchu the night before to save time in the morning. (You can ask any local for directions to the bus ticket booth.)
    6. Waking up at 5 am to line up for the bus ride up to Machu Picchu. 
    By taking this route, you get to go to Machu Picchu earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds, thereby ensuring prettier pictures!
    Option 2: 
    1. Landing in Cuzco airport
    2. Taking the Perurail train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes in the morning. Keep in mind that this train takes roughly 4 hours.
    3. Taking the bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. You would buy tickets at the bus ticket booth.
    By taking this route, you will arrive at Machu Picchu around 11 am, which is when it is most crowded. I would not recommend this route simply because Machu Picchu is not as magical when there are hordes of people in your pictures.

    Other Resources
    • Peruhop: We used this service to go sandboarding in Huacachina.
    • Machu Picchu Tickets: be sure to purchase your Machu Picchu tickets in advance on the government website
      • If you would like to hike up either Machu Picchu or Huayna Picchu mountain, be sure to buy the appropriate ticket.
      • This website is a great guide on how to purchase your Machu Picchu tickets as the website can be slightly confusing. Be sure to have your passport ready.
    • Bolesto Touristo for Sacred Valley sites: You can buy this at the entrance of the Sacred Valley sites. We bought ours at the Ollantaytambo Ruins.
    • Amazon Planet: We stayed at this all inclusive resort during our stay in the Amazon rainforest. They were wonderful for the price and I highly recommend them!
    • Peru Rail: We used Peru Rail to travel to Aguas Calientes, the town right below Machu Picchu.
      • You can travel to Aguas Calientes to stay overnight, or go early in the morning for Machu Picchu. We chose to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes.
    • Hotels we stayed a:
      • We stayed at Casa Andina Aguas Calientes overnight before we hiked Machu Picchu. Casa Andina is a chain of hotels in Peru. We found their rooms to be large, comfortable, and offered a nice shower with hot water! Apparently hot water is not common in some places in Peru (i.e. Cuzco and Sacred Valley), so keep that in mind as you look for hotels. 
      • Hostal Iskay in Ollantaytambo. This place was very reasonably priced and offers free breakfast. There was hot water and the beds were fairly comfortable, though keep in mind the rooms were on the smaller side.
    Peruvian beer. I really enjoyed this! It's light and refreshing.
    I hope you find this post helpful when planning your trip to Peru! If there is any other information that you would find helpful, please let me know in the comments below. :)

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