Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Explorers! So back in June/July of 2017, I took a venture to one of the places on my bucket list which was Machu Picchu, the Incan Ruins nestled in Peru. I do have a video about the lessons learned and an adventure vlog out there but I decided to take my written itinerary and put it into a guide!!! In this Peru guide, I will discuss with you my activities, accommodations, money spent, and lessons learned.
Before I begin, a friend and I from high school visited two...well three locations in Peru. We went to Cusco, Lima, and of course Machu Picchu (the highlight of the trip). Machu Picchu is a must see as pictures do NOT do it any kind of justice!
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Things To Do
Catch a Train to Machu Picchu: In order to reach Machu Picchu, you must fly to Cusco and take a train from there. We used Perurail to transport us there. We took a taxi from our hotel to the train stop in Cusco (Station Name: Poroy) and boarded the Expedition train (there are different routes of trains). Before boarding, we arranged with our taxi driver to pick us up that evening from a different train station. The train departed the Poroy station at 6:40AM and it arrived at the Machu Picchu station around 9:54AM. At the train station our tour company greeted us and took us to buy tickets for the bus. The bus takes you to the top of the mountain where Machu Picchu is situated (probably about a 20 minute ride but the queue to board the bus took about an hour). You take the bus back down at the end of the day. On our return, we took the Expedition train from the Machu Picchu station to Ollantaytambo ("Ollanta") as there were not many options back to the Poroy station. We departed Machu Picchu at 6:10PM and arrived in Ollanta around 8PM with a strange fashion show, clown, music and pizza during the journey. There our taxi driver picked us up for about an hour drive back to our hotel in Cusco. We were lucky to find this taxi driver through our hotel receptionist. If you are not as lucky for this arrangement, there are buses and taxi drivers waiting near the train station in Ollanta. The round trip train tickets per person cost $154 USD.
Machu Picchu Tour: To ensure we learned as much history as possible during our time at the ruins, we hired a local guide. The local guide's company met us at the train station and took us to the queue for the bus. The pickup crew was not the best in informing you what needed to be done but they got it done. Once at Machu Picchu, the actual guide met us at the entrance. He was great! He told us so much history and showed us the best places for photography! He even took some photos for us and they were AMAZING! The guide cost $30 USD and entry tickets to Machu Picchu cost 152 PEN per person ($47 USD). Please keep in mind there are a variety of packages and hikes you can take there. Depending on what you decide to do you, your price may vary.
Go to the Plaza de Armas in Cusco: This is Cusco's center and where all things are happening. See historic buildings and grab a bite to eat around here.
Market Near Machu Picchu Train Station: You cannot miss this! There is a huge market right next to Machu Picchu's train station! You can do a little bargaining and buy your souvenirs!
Go to La Dama Juana in Lima: Experience a buffet with local Peruvian cuisine and live entertainment of traditional Peruvian dance.
Go to the Huaca Pucllana Ruins in Lima: This is a pyramid located in the Miraflores district of Lima. You can take a tour of the ruins learning how the people lived during these times.
Wyndham Cusco Sawsayhuaman: I do not recommend staying here! As we traveled to Cusco in June/July, it is Peru's winter and it was very cold in Cusco. But the hotel was not warm at all. The halls were cold and the heat in the room didn't do much at all. We also asked if a late checkout was possible and they said yes only to be informed of the additional costs afterwards. They also didn't have food open late. We returned from Machu Picchu around 10pm very tired and had to venture back out into the cold for food. And since they are wrapped up side of a mountain, taxis do not just pass by and we had to call for a taxi to come get us. But it is a short walk down the mountain to the main road where you can call a cab but only do this during the day time. The positive is the amazing views from the hotel!
Courtyard Lima Miraflores: This was perfect! It was in great location in the Miraflores area of Lima where you could easily grab a taxi or call an Uber. There were also a lot of options for restaurants and activities nearby. It is quite far from the airport. If you arrive during high traffic times, it could take over an hour to reach the hotel from the airport. Otherwise, it should take around 30 minutes.
Total Trip Costs
(all prices are listed in USD)
Per usual, the biggest cost of the trip were the airline costs. I actually had found a deal from Miami to Lima for $488 round trip. My flight from ATL to MIA was free thanks to my Delta SkyMiles points. And originally my round trip flight from LIM to Cusco was only going to be $156 for a total flight cost of $643 buuuuutttt LATAM Airlines screwed us all the way over!!! In order to get to Cusco after not being able to catch our original flight, we had to buy ANOTHER ticket with LATAM for $340...what a bummer (see more below in lessons learned)!
Travel and Transportation (this includes flights, train to Machu Picchu, Ubers, and taxis): $1,146.95
Tours (includes entry into Machu Picchu and guide): $78.72
Hotels (for both hotels in Lima and Cusco for a total of four nights): $127.84
All Other Spending (includes food, souvenirs and any additional excursions outside of Machu Picchu): $196.15
Learn more details about my total costs spent in Peru in the video shown below...
As with any trip, you learn a lot along the way. Here are some things I learned while traveling in Peru:
Be sure to have your Machu Picchu tickets printed in advance; which isn't the actual tickets received via email. If not, there is a center one street over from the bus pickup where you can print your tickets.
Once you decide when you are going to visit Machu Picchu, BUY YOUR TICKETS! If you go during high volume times for travelers (i.e. not the rainy season, weekends, etc.), tickets will sell out! Machu Picchu only offers a certain amount per time slot to help protect the ruins. Please keep this in mind!
Try to avoid visiting Machu Picchu on a Sunday as it is free to locals and can be overcrowded.
Be prepared for altitude sickness! If you are not used to high altitudes, I suggest going to a travel clinic to get altitude medicine. The medicine I was given I had to take before, during, and after my visit. I did not get altitude sickness while I was there. But if I tried running, I became short winded immediately! If you don't get medicine, coca leaves are given to you upon arrival at the airport for you to make tea. This tea, rest, avoiding alcohol and staying hydrated helps prevent/cure altitude sickness.
Do not fly LATAM! I repeat DO NOT FLY LATAM! When we arrived to Lima, we had some time to check into our flight to Cusco with LATAM. They don't have clear signage for LATAM as there were two separate lines. We first stood in one line that wasn't relevant for our flight. Then, we tried to used the automated machine to check in and were having problems. We asked for help by a representative standing by and SHE DID NOT HELP! As we waited, the flight closed long before 45 minutes prior to departure. We stood in a line for closed flights just to tell us to go to a rebooking counter in which they said their next flight was sold out. I ended up calling my aunt in the US who found flights with Expedia. We booked two tickets with Expedia as LATAM was of no assistance!
If you visit the Huaca ruins in Lima, be sure to have shoes on that you don't care about ruining. And don't have on clothes that will touch the ground. The red sand will get everywhere!
Some places will accept USD, so you don't necessarily have to do a money exchange. But having Peruvian Soles makes it easier especially for the local taxi driver. Also, credit cards are widely accepted.
Wear bug repellent while visiting Machu Picchu.
During Peru's winter, Cusco gets extremely cold at night while Lima is quite comfortable. Be sure to pack accordingly.
Learn more about my lessons learned in Peru in the video below...
Have you seen my Peru travel adventure vlog? If not, watch my complete adventure in the video below:
Would you like my EXACT Peru itinerary to save you time on planning your Peruvian excursion? If so, download a copy for ONLY $1.00 today from my site! Check it out here: https://www.kitatheexplorer.com/product-page/peru-adventure-itinerary!
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Have you ever been to Machu Picchu? Leave your comments and questions below!
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Thank you for reading!
- Kita the Explorer