Part 2 of Peru Travel Blog Series: Complete Peru Travel Itinerary for 2+ weeks. Start your journey to the land of Machu Picchu from here.
Blog Part 3: Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley Hike in Peru
Part 4: Day Tour to Laguna Paron, Peru
How many of you are able to take extended periods of time off from work & daily routine to travel? Not many of us, for sure. We all work really hard and live for those 20 odd vacation days away from work life. As a result, our list of countries we want to visit keeps getting larger and larger. When you have a strong desire to explore one country / location, you kind of wonder how to squeeze 1 or 2 months of travel in just 2 weeks. Peru is one such location which deserves at least one month of exploring. For poor, holiday deprived souls like us, we have created an travel itinerary to explore Peru in a little over two weeks.
This travel itinerary to the gorgeous Peru is going to be super long article, but we cover everything you need to know to plan an epic trip!
Detailed 2+ weeks Peru Travel Itinerary
Here is our complete itinerary for an epic trip to Peru, filled with most amazing things to do and explore. We wished we had more time in hand, but actually covered a lot of places, and explored the length and breadth of Peru in over two weeks. Of course, our itinerary can be customised, and we will include other areas of interest which we couldn’t cover in this trip.
Day 1: Reach Lima and explore the city
- Land in Lima, rest your tired body and explore some food scene in Miraflores
- Stay in Lima
Lima, the capital city of Peru, is rather a big city which probably doesn’t offer much uniqueness in terms of Peruvian culture. We decided to limit our time in Lima and explore other nooks and crannies that would be of more interest. However, depending on your interests, you can decide to spend a day or two in the city immediately after arrival or before departure. A word of caution regarding Lima though. The city is known to be unsafe in most parts and so, you should limit yourselves to only a few areas like Central Lima i.e. Historic Center, Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro.
Day 2: Explore Huacachina
- Take an early morning bus to Ica, and then taxi to Huacachina
- Enjoy the stunning Peruvian sand-dunes. We highly recommend taking a sunset buggy tour and going for sand boarding.
- Stay in Huacachina
Huacachina, is the only desert Oasis in South America and the city of Ica is the gateway to Huacachina. We would highly recommend including Huacachina in your travel itinerary for Peru. We had so much fun here, and so, it’s really worth making that long 5 hours one way trip from Lima to Ica. There are more places in and around Huacachina which we didn’t get a chance to explore, but we are listing those towards the end of this article.
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Looks like we are back to our routine but the holiday hangover lingers. Works been busy like hell but I want another break.. 🤭 Anyways here are some Huacachina travel tips. You can save this post for later.. . ▪️Huacachina is 5hours by bus from Lima. ▪️You can take Peru Hop bus from Lima to Ica and then a Taxi to Huacachina from INSIDE Ica bus stop for 5 USD. Taxis are bit unsafe in Lima and Ica, so better to be careful. ▪️It's possible to do Huacachina in one day and back to Lima including the sunset buggy tour, but we suggest staying overnight. ▪️Late evening busses from Huacachina, will drop you in Lima at a location that's slightly unsafe at night, so suggest taking a day bus back. ▪️Stay in Huacachina and not Ica. Ica is just another city and Huacachina is the main highlight. ▪️If you have more time in hand, you can do Paracas and Nazca lines as well. We highly regretted missing Paracas, but we could only do so much in those 18 odd days. ▪️Hike up the sand dunes because they are so worth it, especially during sunset or sunrise. ▪️For the buggy tour, we suggest getting it from your hotel. Most of the drivers are very rash and it felt so unsafe looking at the way they were driving. So, we careful about the tour you choose. But it's so much fun! ▪️Buggy tours can cost upto 40soles per person which is around 13 USD when booked directly from the hotel. Online rates are higher. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #peru #peru🇵🇪 #ica #huacachina #huacachinaoasis #desert #southamerica #hike #sheisnotlost #passionpassport #girlslovetotravel #travelgirl #travelgoals #travel #indiantraveller #indiantravelblogger #travelgram #planetearth #wanderout #wanderlove #earthlove #beautifulplanet #beautifulplaces #photooftheday #girlsloveoutdoors #outdoorslife #wanderers #ohtheplacesyoullgo #makethemostoflife #placestotravel
Day 3: Travel to Cusco
- Check-out sunrise over Huacachina
- Take early morning bus to Lima
- Then take an afternoon flight from Lima to Cusco
- Take it easy in Cusco, to adjust with high-altitude (around 3200m)
- Stay in Cusco
Cusco is part of everyone’s Peru travel itinerary and more often than not, people end up spending maximum chunk of their time here. It’s understandable, as Cusco is the gateway to be beautiful Machu Picchu and other parts of Sacred Valley. In the recent years, Rainbow Mountain and other treks around Cusco have been famous as well.
You can also take an overnight bus to Cusco from Ica which takes about 16-20 hours. We wouldn’t have survived such a long bus journey, so we took a flight instead. Internal flights in Peru are pretty affordable. Late afternoon flight to Cusco really helped us adjust with high altitude as well. It’s recommended that one should spend 24 hours acclimatising and we spent much of our initial hours sleeping instead of wasting a day.
Day 4 & 5: Explore Cusco
- Explore Cusco, local markets and food scene
- Explore Saqsaywaman
- Stay in Cusco
Cusco can’t be explained in words. We are not much of city explorers but Cusco stole our heart. It’s such a charming city and there is so much to do here. We suggest keeping at least 2 days to explore Cusco as you will need sometime to get adjusted with the altitude. Consider exploring Saqsaywaman on the second day. You can buy a 3 days Sacred Valley pass and cover all important sites instead of buying individual day / site passes (which are expensive as well).
Day 6: Explore Sacred Valley
- Take a colectivo from Cusco to Maras; Explore Maras Salt Mines
- Take collective from Maras to Ollantaytambo; Explore Ollantaytambo
- Return to Cusco & stay in Cusco
Sacred Valley is so beautiful! While a lot of people take day tours to explore this region, we decided to do it on our own. It’s easy and safe to rent a cab or take a colectivo to each of these sites in Sacred Valley. Again, you need at least 2-3 days to cover the gems of Sacred Valley, but we could spare only 1 day unfortunately. We rented a cab from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, with a halt at Maras and then returned to Cusco in a colectivo.
Day 7: Inca trail hike to Machu Picchu
- Hike the Inca trail from km 104, reach sun temple and finally Machu Pichhu;
- Spend the afternoon in Machu Picchu. Afternoons in Machu Picchu are generally less crowded than mornings, but it can get very hot during non rainy season, and there are no shades in Machu Pichhu
- Stay in Aguas Calientes
The highlight of our trip! Ideally, we would have preferred a 4 day Inca trail hike to Machu Picchu, but during peak season they sell out 6-8 months in advance. 2 days hike is such a nice spin to this classic 4 days Inca trail hike and allows you to save 2 days for some other activities. If hiking is not your thing, you can totally skip this and directly go to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
Rest assured, Machu Picchu will be on top of your list in the travel itinerary for Peru. It’s no surprise, but this sacred site is unlike anything else you would ever see in your lifetime.
Day 8: Visit Machu Picchu & explore Aguas Calientes
- Reach Machu Picchu for sunrise; get a guided tour and explore for 4 hours
- Explore Aguas calientes
- Return to Cusco & stay in Cusco
Machu Picchu during sunrise is magical; we could do it again and again given a choice. Machu Picchu is a one way circuit and you are allowed only 4 hours, so get all your photos before you enter the main ruins. We definitely recommend a guided tour. If you are doing the hike, your guided tour is covered in cost of hike. Getting afternoon train back to Cusco would be ideal, so that you can rest. Again, if you are doing the hike, the train tickets are included in the cost of hike.
Day 9: Hike the Rainbow Mountain
- Take a hiking tour to Rainbow Mountain & Red Valley
- Return to Cusco & Stay in Cusco
Hike the Rainbow Mountain only after you have done Machu Pichhu. Rainbow Mountain is hard and at higher altitude. You can’t predict how high altitude will affect you and you don’t want to miss out on Machu Pichhu because of a failed hike. Otherwise, this location is brilliant and we booked a tour from Cusco city. We highly recommend booking a tour that includes hike to Red Valley as well, because it’s mind blowing.
Day 10: Travel to Puerto Maldonado
- Have breakfast in Cusco
- Take early afternoon flight to Puerto Maldonado
- Stay in Puerto Maldonado
Puerto Maldonado is the gateway to Amazon. After an action packed travel itinerary in Peru, everyone needs a bit of slow time to rejuvenate and this location will allow you to do just that. And how can one miss out on Amazonia, after traveling half way around the world?
Day 11 & 12: Enjoy Puerto Maldonado
- Jungle walk and sunset boat tours in Puerto Maldonado
- Stay in Puerto Maldonado
You can either book your tour package before hand which includes your stay, guided tours, food etc. Or you can book your stay first and then book various tours like jungle walk etc directly from your hotel. We took the second approach, and it turned out cheaper. We could even pick and choose what we really wanted to do, instead of going on endless tours.
Day 13: Travel to Huaraz, the hiking capital of Peru
- Leave for Lima
- Take overnight bus from Lima to Huaraz
Huaraz is the hiking capital of Peru and the mountains are breathtaking. We both are mountain people and love hiking, so this place had to be in our Peru travel itinerary. If hiking is not on your agenda, you can totally skip this entire region and include some of the addition places detailed below.
Huaraz doesn’t have a direct flight and the best connectivity is via an overnight bus from Lima. So, if you book a late afternoon flight from Lima, you can directly go to the bus stop from the airport. We booked a room in Lima to rest for a couple of hours before boarding our bus.
Day 14: Take it easy in Huaraz
- Acclimatize to high altitude & explore Huaraz
- Stay in Huaraz
Huaraz is a small town and really a gateway into Andes for the mountaineers and hiking enthusiasts. A lot of people do Huaraz before reaching Cusco (our itinerary flipped backwards) but we don’t recommend doing that. Huaraz is at higher altitude than Cusco, so it will be difficult for you to adjust right away. And if you are going there for hiking, you don’t want to put yourself in difficult situation. Since our body was already adjusted to high altitude from Cusco, Huaraz was a breeze for us. This in turn made our hikes tad bit easier.
Day 15: Hike Laguna 69
- Laguna 69 hike
- Stay in Huaraz
There are a few popular lakes in this region and Laguna 69 tops the list. You need to book a tour and they will arrange everything for you excluding lunch. Do remember that this is a tough hike with lots of switch backs and high altitude. We did an alternative hike to Laguna 69 which we will detail out in future articles.
Day 16: Hike Laguna Parón
- Laguna Parón and hike to mirador
- Take an overnight bus from Huaraz to Lima
Laguna Parón was the reason we included Huaraz in our Peru travel itinerary. Look at that gorgeous lake! We booked a tour to this lake from Huaraz city and traveled about 3 hours to reach this lake. Laguna Parón is a thousand times prettier than Laguna 69, but is less popular as it’s not a real hike. You only need to hike 1 kilometer to the mirador and we highly recommend you do that, because the view is simply breathtaking.
Day 17: Return to Lima and fly back home
- Explore Lima
- Fly back home
Our earlier plan was to spend two days in Lima, but after reaching Huaraz and looking at all those stunning hikes, we extended our stay in Huaraz by a day. There is absolutely no regret in doing that, to be honest. We had a couple of hours in Lima and we explored Miraflores and the food scene in this area.
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Places we couldn’t include in our itinerary
There are so many places in Peru which we couldn’t include in our Travel Itinerary. Some of them we highly regret missing out on, while others not so much. Below is the comprehensive list of additional activities which complements our 2+ weeks Peru travel itinerary and will allow you to plan your travel better.
Paracas National Reserve
We really regretted not being able to include Paracas in our Peru travel itinerary. If you have watched planet earth on Netflix, you would remember the stunning scene of millions of birds diving into water, to catch fish. Paracas National Reserve is the place where you get to see all the wildlife in action.
Paracas is 4 hours from Lima and is on the way to Huacachina. You should take a tour to Ballestas Islands, which are very similar to Galapagos islands. The islands are protected and hence, you won’t be able to swim or sun bath on the island. Ideally, you should plan to take a morning boat tour which will cover 3 islands and allow you to see penguins, sea lions, thousands pelicans and other birds and mammals in their natural habitat.
Nazca Lines are a collection of enormous geoglyphs carved into the desert’s surface. These lines are estimated to be dated between 500 BC and 500 AD, and are known to have religious significance to the people of Nazca. There are about 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs. Imagine flying over the Peruvian desert to see these huge drawings on the surface – such archaeological marvel they must be.
The best way to access these is via the town of Nazca, which is about two and a half hours from Ica. There are two ways to witness these beautiful lines, one via the observatory in Nazca town and the other by taking a short 30 mins plane ride over the Peruvian desert. We highly recommend the second option, if you include the Nazca lines in your Peru travel itinerary. Wish, we had more time in hand to experience this place.
If you go further south of Peru, you will reach the colourful town of Arequipa. This beautiful white city surrounded by Volcanos, is the gateway to the famous Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon is the second deepest Canyon in the whole world, and for hiking enthusiasts, Arequipa should definitely be on the itinerary. From December to April, you can also do river rafting here. Another popular activity is a hiking the volcano El Misti. Arequipa city in itself is extremely beautiful, built from the white rock from volcanos.
Arequipa is about 10 hours from Nazca, and a Peru Hop bus from Lima to Arequipa will allow you to include Paracas, Huacachina and Nazca on the way. This city also has an airport, so you can choose to take a direct flight from Lima, but miss all the amazing attractions on the way.
Puno & Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca was never part of our Peru travel itinerary, as we decided to go to Huaraz instead. However, this lake is very famous destination among travellers. This Andean lake is one the largest lakes in South America, and is famous for it’s floating man-made islands (called Uros Islands) and high altitude. The city of Puno is the gateway to this gorgeous lake. The cheapest and most popular way to visit the Urno Islands as a group tour from Puno. For someone wanting a bit more of local experience, you can choose to stay on one of the floating islands of Uros.
Jumping to Cusco now, as there is so much you can do in and around this city. Moray is about 50 kms from Cusco and lies in the Sacred Valley. This Inca ruin looks like a roman amphitheater. They are circular terraces and are popularly believed to be agricultural observatory for the Inca people.
Moray is very close to Maras Salt mines and can be covered on the way to Ollantaytambo. There are a lot of Sacred Valley tours covering Maras and Moray and you can choose to take one of these for convenience. However, we recommend doing this on your own as it’s super easy to take a taxi or colectivo to this region.
Pisac is a village in the southern Sacred Valley and is on the opposite side of Maras and Moray. The ruins in Pisac are one of the stunning archaeological gems of the Incans, but in addition Pisca is also famous for it’s Sunday Market. Pisac Markets are open all days of the week, but Sundays are special as the entire town is turned into a small shopping area.
Just like Maras and Moray, it’s easy to get a colectivo to Pisac but you will also find a number of travel agencies around Cusco offering a day tour.
Laguna Humantay is another beautiful hike near Cusco. We decided to skip this hike and spend our time in Cusco instead. We don’t regret not being able to cover this, as we did Laguna 69 instead which looks very similar. This is a good hike for anyone who is not planning to go to Huaraz and wants to experience a glacial lake. You can book a day tour from Cusco and go as a part of their itinerary or you can rent a taxi and go on your own. We found this blog very helpful, while we were planning our trip as they explain how to do this hike on your own.
Moving to Amazon region now. We chose to go to Puerto Maldonado for our Amazon experience, but given a choice now, we would have definitely considered Iquitos. Iquitos is on the north of Peru, far away from Puerto Maldonado, but is deep in the Amazon basin. Iquitos is the worlds largest city that can’t be reached by road. The only modes of transportation are air or water. Iquitos is set around the Amazon river, however Puerto Maldonado is located on Amazon tributaries of Madre de Dios and Tambopata. Do your research and then decide where you want to go for your Amazon jungle experience.
Just a word of caution, we found Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers really dirty because of illegal mining in that area. This brings me to the recent Amazon wildfires (Aug 2019) and it makes me sad to even think about how mankind is destroying our home one step at a time, mostly for money and greed.
Our last location is Laguna Churup, which is in the Huaraz region. There are three beautiful and famous glacial lakes in this region and this is the third one. This is one of the easier hikes in this region and you don’t need to take a tour. A simple 45 mins colectivo from Huaraz, will bring you to the hiking trail. We would suggesting doing this hike when you are acclimatising and want to start with something simple.