Nazca features heavily as a tourist attraction in Southern Peru due to the famous Nazca Lines. However, the recent restoration of the giant orca, which was rediscovered in 1960, has put Nazca back in the news.
After careful investigation and consideration the orca has been found to be the oldest Nazca-era geoglyph in the Nazca desert. The orca is over 60 meters in length and built on a slope in the Palpa region making it more prone to weathering and erosion. It was lost for over 50 years, from 1960 until 2015, when it was rediscovered. For two years, Johny Isla from Peru’s Ministry of Culture and six specialists carried out an extensive restoration project and study. The archeologists have confirmed that they have dated the soil surrounding the geoglyph back to 200 B.C. and returned the geoglyph to its former glory.
The orca is in the style of other older Nazca geoglyphs in the region but also shows considerable evidence that it was imprinted with the assistance of the Paracas, an older culture that predates the Nazca people (800 BC to 100 BC).
But, why a killer whale? An interesting question given that it was etched in the middle of a desert. Some believe that it was revered as a mythical creature and considered a deity. Interestingly enough, the orca symbol is often found in ancient Peruvian pottery and ceramics found in the area.
This latest discovery will certainly encourage more travellers to head to the Nazca desert to see the geoglyph in question. Will you be one of them?
Perú InsideOut offers many fascinating and varied trips around Peru. However, our Peru Cultural Tour is one of the most popular from a cultural perspective. It gives our travelers a fascinating overview of life in Peru, both past and present, in just 12 days visiting the sights in and around Lima, Arequipa, Puno and Cuzco. It is perfect for those with limited time who wish to hear more about the culture of this amazing South American country.
Learn about History
You can’t help but learn about the history as you visit the sights. In Lima, you are given a chance to visit Museo Larco and observe Huaca Pucllana. Both destinations will allow you to take a true step back in time and learn more about the pre-Colombian cultures that inhabited the area.
Sail On Lake Titicaca
Your trip to the Uros Islands, otherwise known as the floating islands, is the highlight of the cultural tour. The locals have built over 50 islands from totora reeds and have made these man-made islands their home. You will be welcomed with open arms and big smiles as you tour the islands.
Explore Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon and the surrounding towns offer a unique insight into the Andean culture. On the second day you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the soaring condors at Condor’s Cross before stopping for a delicious buffet lunch in Chivay before to continue to Puno.
Visit the Ruins
It wouldn’t be a tour of Peru without taking in some ruins. Our Peru Cultural Tour will not only give you a chance to explore Machu Picchu, but you can also visit Kenko, Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara and Sacsayhuaman, four ruins located on the outskirts of Cuzco.
For information on this tour, or any other tour that Perú InsideOut offers, hesitate to contact our friendly and serious team who will be happy to assist you. We are experts in assembling tour packages according to the demands of our potential passengers, we offer tours in Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador and we will be happy to answer any concerns that may arise regarding the quoted.
If you are a true foodie, you will have indeed heard that Peruvian food is popular the world over. Their food is constantly in the headlines showcasing mouth-watering dishes both in Peru and abroad.
Just recently (April 2017), Chef Virgilio Martinez won the Chef’s Choice Award in Melbourne, Australia. And rewind to December of 2016 when the World Travel Awards (WTA) labeled Peru as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination for the fifth year running. Not a year goes by where Peru doesn’t fail to get a nod for its gastronomic delights. These honors and awards are advantageous for the country and tourism in general.
When planning your trip, why not take the time to sample some of the leading dishes in the area? There is so much to choose from and, as the world is beginning to learn, Peruvian food is absolutely delicious.
Peruvian food is defined by the varied landscapes of the country. The coastal areas provide access to seafood such as fish, shrimp, scallops and squid, while the mountainous regions and lakes are based around quinoa, potatoes, cuy (guinea pig), trout and alpaca. And of course there are all the wonderful influences from other countries creating an exciting cultural and culinary blend. Chifa is the perfect example. It is Peru’s version of Chinese food and definitely worth trying at least once.
Here are some of the more traditional dishes you can expect to find in Peru.
Ceviche: A Peruvian delicacy consisting of raw fish marinated in lime juice. Chupe de Camarones: A thick, tasty chowder made with shrimp. Lomo Saltado: A stir fry combining beef, tomatoes, French fries, and onions served with rice. Adobo de Chanco: A marinated pork stew with garlic, peppers, aji panca and chicha de jora. Cuy Chactado: Deep fried guinea pig. Rocoto Relleno: These stuffed peppers are a specialty of Arequipa. Chicharrones: A dish made with fried pork rinds or pork belly. Salsa Ocopa: A delicious creamy sauce made from huacatay (Peruvian mint), chili and garlic, often served over eggs or potatoes. Picarones: Similar to a fried donut, picarones are made from squash and sweet potato served with sweet cane syrup. Aji de Gallina: A sauce made with peppers and walnuts served over rice. Quinoa Atamalada: A stew made with quinoa, chili peppers and cheese. Alfajores: Soft butter cookies filled with caramel.
While visiting Peru, you must savour at least a few of these dishes to understand why their food is so popular the world over. And don’t forget to wash it down with one of Peru’s national drinks for example the chicha morada or Pisco Sour.
Cusco is located at the centre of many great hikes, treks and nature walks. While tourists and visitors quite often use Cusco as a stepping stone to Machu Picchu, it is also central to many fun markets, stunning views and sights of interest. Here are four fun, but entirely varied, day trips you can do from the capital of Cusco.
There are many great reasons to visit Pisac. You can browse the wonderful craft markets full to the brim with silver jewelry, alpaca products, weaved products and souvenirs. It is a colorful experience and one which should not be missed. The market located in the central plaza operates seven days a week although Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday tend to be the most popular days to visit. Following your wander through the stalls, you will have the opportunity to visit a restaurant or enjoy a coffee.
You can also tour the ruins of the Inca citadel which lies on top of the hill overlooking Pisac. It is a great day trip with very few visitors compared to some other ruins scattered throughout the Sacred Valley. If you have time, you might also want to consider visiting Potato Park, a conservation initiative, where you can sample the diverse selection of potato dishes offered by Andean chefs. For those interested in a full day trip to Potato Park, it is also possible to tour the potato fields, visit Kinsaqocha Lake and view handicraft and medicinal plant workshops before finishing the day with a delicious meal consisting of a selection of their potatoes.
Rainbow Mountain is a relatively new attraction on the tourist map and, because of that, you will find that it is one of the least crowded tours. Rainbow Mountain can be a day trip from Cusco. The solitude of the area is clearly abundant, and the only visitors other than tourists are likely to be alpaca herders and their flock. The shades of rose and blonde mineral deposits are spectacular and are worth the arduous trek to the top. There are also horses available for those who prefer to ride the ascent to the top rather than walk.
Due to the altitude, the temperature does drop, so pack accordingly. Remember also to bring a hat and sunscreen to avoid sunburn at altitude. The views are stunning in every direction and the gentle strolls through the local villages, and past the mountainous streams, will provide many opportunities to snap some wonderful photographs of your excursion.
Maras and Moray
A tour to Maras, and the nearby salt fields, as well as the agricultural wonder known as Moray, should be added to your tour list. The salt fields of Maras are impressive as is the bus journey to get there. It is extremely fascinating to visit the salt pools (approximately 6,000) to see how the locals have been harvesting the salt in this area for over 500 years.
Moray is fascinating in its own right. The site offers a series of terraced circles set into the ground in an amphitheater style. It is believed that the Incas used the circles to experiment with crops and to study how plants adapt to a new ecosystem. As the temperature differs from the top level to the bottom, the Incas used hybridization to modify crops and studied them using the microclimates on the different levels. It is no wonder that over 4,000 types of potatoes can be attributed to Peru.
Awana Kancha and Ccocahuasi
Visiting Cusco without feeding an alpaca is indeed an oversight. Alpacas, vicunas and llamas are native to Sud America, and in Awana Kancha you can get close to these spectacular animals. The farm also has an exhibition on the processing and dyeing procedures commonly used in Peru. Entrance to the site is free although a donation is expected as you leave.
Ccocahuasi is literally a short walk (or drive) from Awana Kancha. The animal sanctuary takes in wounded or injured animals and cares for them. It is a privately-owned family operated venture which houses condors, macaws, deer, pumas, falcons and the odd llama and alpaca. In Awana Kancha, donations are welcome to continue to fund the enterprise. As both Awana Kancha and Ccocahuasi are situated close to Pisac, you can also combine your visits with a market tour, depending on your time availability and itinerary.
Arequipa, also known as the ‘White City’, is a wonderful destination to explore on your next visit to Peru. With the majestic backdrop of Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu towering over Arequipa, your adventures in this beautiful colonial city will be long remembered. Here are six places you should put on your must-see list of Arequipa. In fact, there is so much to do in this city that it is hard to narrow it down to just six.
Santa Catalina Monastery
Santa Catalina is a city into itself. As you walk through the grounds, you are instantly transported back in time. It is easy to imagine yourself as a novice in the monastery going about your daily chores and dedicating your life to religion. The colorful walls and beautiful rooftop views give plenty of great photo opportunities; and you can stop to enjoy a cake or acoffee in the monastery café.
Museo Santuarios Andinos
The Museo Santuarios Andinos is more than just a museum. Its main feature is a frozen girl known as ‘Juanita.’ She was sacrificed to the Gods in the 1400s, and the museum tells her story with a film with a viewing of her preserved body at the end.
Sabandia Mill was built in 1785 and is situated a few kilometers outside the city base. It is a wonderful way to explore some of the lesser known areas of Arequipa – and don’t forget your picnic lunch. Sabandia Mill’s expansive space also has a plenty of areas to relax and unwind.
The city of Arequipa gets it ‘White City’ nickname from the sillar that makes up many of the colonial buildings in the city. To see where the sillar comes from, you can visit the quarry to learn how they continue to mine the white rock by hand.
Mundo Alpaca allows you to get a firsthand introduction of the alpaca’s fiber process from start to finish. It is only a short walk from the Plaza de Armas where you can browse the demonstrations, demonstration gallerys and more. You can also buy alpaca souvenirs direct from the boutique and factory outlet.
San Camilo Market
Markets in Peru are a lot of fun to visit, and the San Camilo Market in Arequipa is no different. The market has been operating for over 130 years and provides a glimpse into the lives of the Arequipeñan locals. It is clear San Camilo Market lies at the center of this bustling town.
Cusco is more than just a stop on the way to Machu Picchu – it is an amazing tourist destination in its own right, with so many interesting things to see and do. In fact, Cusco, the ancient city of the Inca, is famed for its diversity, culture and tradition. Here are our top recommendations of things to see and do while you are in Cusco to make your tour of Peru memorable.
1. Tour Koricancha
Koricancha was one of the most important Inca sites and is an intriguing place to visit, as it demonstrates the way the Spanish took over the Inca buildings and made them their own. What used to be a decadent temple was eventually turned into a colonial church known as Santo Domingo. It is a true mix of both Andean and Spanish architecture.
2. Visit Sacsayhuaman
If you only have time to visit one Inca ruin, then Sacsayhuaman is definitely our recommendation. It was the largest structure built by the Incas and is evidence of their incredible masonry techniques. Sacsayhuaman can be taken as a solo tour or combined with three other ruins also located in Cusco: Puca Pucara, Qenko and Tambo Machay.
3. Sample a Pisco Sour
You cannot visit Peru without tasting at least one Pisco Sour. It is a traditional Peruvian cocktail, made from the clear liquor, Pisco. You can opt for a standard Pisco Sour made from the traditional mix of lime, syrup, Pisco and egg white, or sample other more creative blends. Bear in mind they can be very strong, so you may find that one is enough.
4. Try a Peruvian Meal or Two
You cannot visit Cusco, without sampling the national fare. While you may not feel brave enough to taste cuy (guinea pig), there are many other delicious meals including lomo saltado (beef stir fry served with French fries and rice), ceviche (marinated fish), rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers) or aji de gallina (creamy chicken).
5. Visit San Pedro Market
Markets in Peru are very colorful, and San Pedro Market in Cusco is no different. Rows and rows of fruits and vegetables, hot food such as salchipapas (French fries and sausage), boiled corn and cheese. You can also find a wide array of herbs, spices, bread and more varieties of potatoes than you can ever imagine. The market also offers the odd souvenir to remind you of your South American adventure.
6. Stroll the Plaza de Armas
Sitting in the Plaza de Armas and watching the world go by is an amazing experience in its own right. There are so many sights and sounds (and vendors), and you cannot help but admire the colonial architecture which surrounds the plaza itself. If you get a chance, visit during the day and in the evening for comparison. The Plaza de Armas lies at the heart of any Peruvian city, and in Cusco, it is no different.
7. Seek out the cultural center of San Blas
Just a short, but steep, walk from the Plaza de Armas lies the bohemian area of Cusco known as San Blas. Also termed the artisans corner, you can sit down and enjoy a coffee or seek out some handmade souvenirs. The narrow cobblestone streets, boutique hotels and small bakeries make the walk up the hill worthwhile.
8. Stop by the Cusco Cathedral
While its full title is quite a mouthful, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, it is worth stopping by to have a look inside. It took over 100 years to complete and features a silver altar (originally gold) and over 400 paintings. The cathedral adjoins El Triunfo Temple, the first Christian church to be built in Cusco.
9. Tour La Merced Church and Monastery
La Merced, like many other churches and important buildings in Cusco, was destroyed in the earthquake in 1650 and rebuilt. You can tour the monastery and museum, and view original paintings of San Pedro Nolasco, the founder of the Mercedarian order. You may be surprised to learn that buried in the vaults are the bodies of two famous conquistadors, Diego de Almagro and Gonzalo Pizarro.
10. Take in a museum
There are many museums to choose from in Cusco, and it depends on how much time you have or what your interests are. You can visit the Choco Museum to sample some chocolate, the Coca Museum which traces the history of the coca leaf, the Inka Museum to learn more about the Inca heritage and see some mummies, or MAP (Museo de Arte Precolombino) to browse the Inca artifacts.
We hope you find the time to fit in a few of these suggestions on your next trip to Cusco. Of course, there are many more things to see and do in this fascinating city and, unless you are planning an extended visit, it can be difficult to fit them all in. Whatever you choose to do during your visit to the ‘Imperial City’, we guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The small town of Uyuni is a speck on the map of south-western Bolivia. With a population of just over 10,000 people, there is seemingly no reason to visit. However, this little town amazingly receives over 60,000 visitors a year from all over the world. Why? One reason, only – it is located in the world’s largest salt flats.
The Uyuni salt flats are a sight to behold. Formed by a number of prehistoric lakes, the salt flats are a unique sightseeing option for your Bolivian travels due to the extraordinary flatness of the region. The landscape of the salt flats is unlike anything else and will give you the opportunity to come up with some extremely creative photoshoots. If you cannot believe it, just Google images of the Uyuni salt flats to see what we mean!
The salt flats are also home to a number of breeds of pink flamingos as well as many other birds and wildlife including the Andean goose and the Andean fox. Large cacti scatter the surrounding areas of the flats.
Many of the tours of the area also include Laguna Verde (the green lake) in the National Reserve Eduardo Avaroa as well as Laguna Colorada (the red lake) situated at the foot of Licancabur volcano, and the hot springs.
If you have time to spare, it is also worth checking the aptly named train cemetery in Uyuni. It is located about 3 km outside town along the old train tracks. When the mining companies collapsed in the 1940s, the transport system dried up, and many trains were left abandoned. They now sit there left to rust in the elements and are a popular tourist attraction for those passing through the region.
Other sights of Uyuni include an old locomotive on Avenida Ferroviario as well as many other railway relics scattered all over town. Uyuni also houses a small archeological and anthropology museum featuring a handful of skulls and mummies.
If you intend visiting the region, remember to pack your winter woollies. The icy winds can surprise even the most prepared visitors.
Lima is more than just a stopover on your way to other destinations in Peru. This cosmopolitan capital offers plenty of history and culture to keep you enthralled for at least a few days. And let’s not forget the fact that Peruvian food is award-winning on so many levels. Here are our top tips on what to see when you visit the exciting South American city of Lima. Don’t forget to plan for a few of these when you book your next trip to Peru.
The historic center of Lima will definitely be a highlight of your trip. It is a UNESCO World Heritage listed area with the central post office building, the Cathedral of Lima and the Presidential Palace. Take your time to admire the intricate wooden balconies, stop by Plaza Bolivar and admire San Pedro’s gold altars. Don’t forget to spend some time relaxing in Lima’s central plaza, the Plaza de Armas.
The Larco Museum is full to the brim with pre-Columbian art which is stored in an 18th Century building built over a 7th Century pyramid. There is so much history in the building and the amazing artifacts it holds. You might be surprised to learn that the most talked about aspect of the museum is a collection of erotic pottery. (Yes, there really is such a thing!)
Saint Francis Monastery
The Saint Francis Monastery and Church, with its catacombs, make an enjoyable stop on your tour of Lima. Over 30,000 people have been buried in the catacombs, and today you can wander through the crypts filled with skulls and other human remains. The building also represents a wonderful example of colonial architecture in Lima and houses over 25,000 books, detailed wooden carvings and a large collection of colonial paintings.
Museo de Oro
Lima’s Museo de Oro is a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon. It showcases many fabrics and decorations of the pre-Colombian era, some of which are over 2,000 years old. It also holds an interesting collection of antique and modern weapons and firearms from various continents around the world.
Parque de la Reserva
If you happen to be in the city in the evening, it is worth stopping by the Magic Water Circuit at Lima’s Parque de la Reserva. The 13 fountains are a great modern addition to many of the traditional things to do in this busy city and even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Do try to time your visit to coincide with the Fantasia Fountain water show which occurs later in the evening.
Making a change from the sophisticated center of Lima, Barranco offers a charming respite with its bohemian atmosphere. Walk the Bridge of Sighs overlooking the ocean and enjoy a coffee in one of the trendy cafes and eateries. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) and the Museo Pedro de Osma are both located there and come highly recommended.
The Peruvian Amazon is one of the most magnificent and unique places on Earth. Where else can you see the macaws in all their glory or spy pink dolphins in their natural habitat?
Peru offers three wonderful springboard points to visit the Jungle – Puerto Maldonado and the nearby Tambopata National Park, Iquitos, the well-known port city, and the protected reserve of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. June through to October are the most popular months as it is the dry season in the jungle. Outside of these months be prepared for lots of rain and even more humidity. Whichever destination you visit, there is no denying that you will have some amazing memories.
The wildlife that inhabits the Amazon Jungle in Peru is one of the reasons why many people visit the area. Depending on your destination, you might be able to see capybaras, caimans, turtles, puffins, poison dart frogs, fresh water dolphins, otters, monkeys, macaws, coati, tapir, sloth, toucans, parrots, capuchins, jaguars and more. And don’t forget the colorful Amazonian butterflies and the unusual insects which call this place home. Whether you venture out during the day, or in the evening, there are so many incredible experiences waiting to happen.
You may be surprised to learn that the Amazon Jungle features a large number of plants with amazing medicinal properties as well as plants that are only found in this part of the world. Did you know over 3,000 species of orchids can be found in the wilds of Peru alone? Jungle treks are great opportunities to explore the flora and learn about the plants and plant remedies such as ayahuasca.
The Amazon River is a huge draw card to the area. As soon as you see it, you can feel its amazing power and understand why explorers have been drawn to the waters for thousands of years. Imagine taking a boat ride up the Amazon River at night on the lookout for caimans? You can even fish in the lagoons or ride on the lakes spotting the myriad of animals in and around the water. Visiting the Amazon Jungle in Peru, these and other amazing adventures, are indeed possible.
Imagine hiking the pristine trails in the Amazon jungle? There are so many fascinating things to see and do; and, if you are lucky, you may even spot a monkey or two. There is just no better way to connect with nature than a relaxing ethno-botanical walk. This bio-diverse area is a treat for all the senses, and don’t forget those fabulous sunsets which are not to be missed.
The jungle offers a fantastic array of lodgings, many of which cater for eco-friendly tourists. They are often located directly in the jungle habitat, allowing the local fauna to venture close to your door. Jungle huts with mosquito nets and traditional set dinner menus are the norm for those visiting the Selva. And all accommodation offers nearby access to expeditions, hikes and boat rides as part of the remarkable jungle experience.
Do you like action and adventure? How would you like to zoom through the jungle on a zip line or kayak down the river? Would you like to visit a Manatee Rescue Center or learn about the traditional culture of the indigenous population of the jungle area? Perhaps you would like to try your hand at fishing in a lagoon or undertake a canopy walk? These are all experiences that you will not forget in a hurry.
Seemingly endless and naturally beautiful, a trip to the Amazon Jungle or a ride down the Amazon River is unlike anything else. Tours can be arranged to suit your timetable and your budget. Contact Perú InsideOut for more information.
Peru is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, so you want to make sure it is as magical and as spectacular as you imagine. As experts in creating customized tours to Peru and other South American countries, our team at Perú InsideOut would like to share their expertise with you. Here are our tips on how to plan the perfect trip to Peru.
1. Do your research
Before you book your trip, do some research to learn a little bit about the culture, the history and the amazing selection of destinations available to visitors, Peru is a vast country and offers exciting trips to the desert, the jungle, mountainous villages and busy cosmopolitan cities. You can visit the floating islands, or hike the Inca trails and canyons. Once you know what there is, you can start to plan your trip.
2. Consider your Peruvian bucket list
After you have done your research, you can plan your bucket list – the ultimate must-see destinations you don’t want to miss. Do you intend to go to Machu Picchu? Do you want to visit the Amazon jungle? Is Lake Titicaca on your wish list? Did you want to fly over the Nazca Lines? Once you have decided on what you don’t want to miss, it is easier to come up with your itinerary.
3. Take into account time restrictions
If you are planning to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and visit Lima, Cusco and Arequipa, with side trips to Nazca, Lake Titicaca and the Ballestas Islands, you will obviously need more than a few days. Some places require a couple of days to visit, whilst others, such as Cusco, need a bit of acclimatization due to the altitude. Your destinations will act as a base guide to the length of your tour.
4. Think about the best time of year to travel
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed in February although the ruins remain open all year long. May to September is the best time to visit Peru as it is the dry season. December through to March is the wettest period with constant showers, although you can still visit during these months and create great memories.
5. Consider your budget
Your budget will also have something to do with the planning of your trip. If you are looking at the train ride to Machu Picchu, a boat road on Lake Titicaca, a 3-day hike to Colca Canyon and a flight over Nazca Lines, then you will need to cost it out to see if you can manage the expense. Remember you will need to take into account accommodation costs, dining out expenses and enough money for souvenirs.
Once you are ready to book your travel, contact the team at Perú InsideOut, and we can work with your plan. We offer both packaged and personalized plans to Peru and will be happy to advise you on your trip.
It is no surprise that Machu Picchu tops the must-visit list every time the subject of Peru or South America is mentioned. Machu Picchu, despite a significant number of annual visits , remains a magical magnet and an exciting travel destination for all kinds of travellers.
From January 1, 2017, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture increased prices for all historical sites and archaeological parks across Peru. This increase affects the entry tickets to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, as well as the cost of permits for Inca Trail hikes and accompanying porters and guides. The price to Machu Picchu rose by just over USD$7 and combined tickets to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain increased by approximately USD$15.
That is not the only change affecting national parks. Last year an exit ramp was completed to reduce the bottleneck of people entering and exiting through the same gate. This new addition has reduced much of the congestion for entry to the citadel. And more plans are in the pipeline.
Tickets are going to be strictly regimented in the future with definitive morning and afternoon shifts , as well as the requirement for all visitors to be accompanied into Machu Picchu by a certified guide.
There are also plans to construct a Visitor and Orientation Center which will serve as the new entry point to the citadel. And more talks about a cliff railway are under way to protect the quality of the roads in and out of the busy site.
For those interested in hiking to Machu Picchu, two new alternative routes to the ruins are being opened over the next two years. One gentle trail will ascend through the Eastern Terraces and enter the site at the Temple of the Condor. The more challenging hike will pass through the Inkaraqay Inca ruins leading to the Temple of the Condor.
These projects and ideas are in keeping with the overall goal to ensure that Machu Picchu is protected for the future and provides a more authentic and unique visit than ever.
Travel is fun until something goes wrong, so it is important to ensure you have covered all the basics before you set off. Here are our 5 useful tips to help you plan the perfect trip.
1. Decide where you want to go
The first thing is to decide where in the world you want to go. Are you dreaming of far-flung destinations like Peru or Bolivia? Or are you looking for something a little closer to home? Think about what you want to see and how much time you have for your vacation. Research your destination and start planning. Let your imagination run wild.
2. Check your documents
Check your passport to ensure the validity will expire after you return from holiday. If it is your intention to apply for a passport, make sure you allow enough time for processing and delivery. There are expedited services available, but these, of course, will incur extra fees. If you plan to drive abroad, you may need to consider getting an International Driving Permit. Double check whether a visa and whether vaccinations are required for your destination.
3. Set a budget
Once you have decided where you want to go and what you want to see, it’s time to budget for your holiday. Are you aiming for a personalized tour or prefer a group experience? Do you want to travel solo or arrange a trip with friends? Look at the options and assess all costs involved, leaving nothing to chance. Once you have a budget, you can start making a plan.
4. Create a rough plan of your itinerary
When you know how much you can spend on your trip, you can start to plan your itinerary in more detail. Research the cities and sites you want to visit and ensure you exploit at best the allotted time, staying within your budget. Firm up dates and timing as much as possible, allowing some time for relaxation.
5. Start saving for your trip
It is important you have enough money, so you have no worries whilst you are away. Also make sure you have enough to let your hair down a little at least once or twice during the trip. 6. Book your flights and accommodation. Once you know you can take the necessary time off work and have enough money available, you need to book your flights and accommodation, maybe also tours. When your flights are booked, you can refine the rest of your itinerary.
7. Notify your bank and let them know you are traveling
It is always a good idea to let your bank, and/or credit card issuer, know you will be traveling. Banks can be very quick to put a hold on cards if you are in faraway countries. To ensure your transactions are not marked as fraudulent, give them plenty of notice. There is nothing worse than being on holiday without access to money or credit card payments.
8. Pack well in advance
Make a packing list and make sure you have all you need. Allow yourself enough time to have everything ready so you aren’t running around at the last minute.
9. Travel insurance
You may not think travel insurance is necessary, but it is definitely worth looking into. It may cover flight delays or lost luggage. Read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms and conditions. You may need to shop around and compare policies to find one to suit you.
10. Have fun
Once everything is pre-arranged and you are ready to go, don’t forget to relax. It is a holiday after all!
Peru is a wonderfully diverse country with lots to offer. Great cuisine, friendly locals, exciting destinations and amazing cultural experiences. However, it can also provide many surprises to first-time visitors on so many levels. Here are some things you need to know before travelling to Peru.
There is more to see in Peru than Machu Picchu: While Machu Picchu is often the draw card, research what else Peru has to offer during your holiday. Perhaps you would like to visit the Amazon jungle, Rainbow Mountain or tour the city of Lima? Or maybe you would like to wander off the beaten track to visit Gocta Falls in Northern Peru, explore Santa Catalina monastery in Arequipa, or see the Uros islands on Lake Titicaca. Quite often travellers to Peru find out that the time they have to explore is not enough.
There is a wet and dry season: Peru does not have the traditional four seasons that many other countries experience. There is a wet season and a dry season so be aware before you book your trip. May to October is the dry season and December to March is the wettest time of the year.
Be ready for all kinds of weather: Destinations like Machu Picchu and Cusco are located at a high altitude, so once the sun goes down it can get cold. Be prepared to experience summer and winter in the course of one day. And during the wet season don’t forget to bring enough clothing to shelter from the rain.
Take good hiking shoes: Peru is a wonderful haven for all kinds of fantastic walks and adventures and having good quality hiking shoes or boots is important. Apart from Machu Picchu, the country offers many opportunities for exploration. From Colca Canyon to Salkantay, the views in each every direction are breath-taking. And travellers will also enjoy breath-taking views in many wonderful spots, from the Colca Canyon to Salkantay.
The locals eat guinea pig: Known as cuy, Peruvians enjoy dining on guinea pig quite frequently. It can be disconcerting particularly as they are often served whole and many people are put off by the little critter staring them in the face. It is a local delicacy so try it if you feel brave enough.
Adjusting to high altitude can be difficult: The altitude in Peru affects everyone differently regardless of your fitness level. You may find that you struggle to walk uphill and cannot breathe as soon as you start to do any exercise. Or you may suffer from headaches and feel dehydrated and overtired. Anything is possible. Bring some prescription medication if necessary and visit a clinic in Peru at the first sign of any trouble.
Don’t flush toilet paper: Like many other South American and Central American destinations, the sewer system is unable to cope with toilet paper. Generally, there are little bins next to the toilet to dispose of loo paper. This may take some time to get used to.
It’s okay to haggle: Shopping in Peru is a lot of fun, and you can take home plenty of beautiful souvenirs to remind you of your trip. However, the asking price will be over and above the regular price so be ready to haggle in the marketplace. Sellers will expect that from you. After a bit of practice, you may find you start to enjoy the shopping process.
Try the ceviche at least once: Ceviche is a delicious traditional dish and needs to be eaten at least once on your visit. Ceviche is made with fresh raw fish, onions, corn and potatoes. There may be slight variations but it is highly thought of and delicious.
Travelling in Peru is extremely rewarding and memorable. If you would like more information on travel or personalized tours to Peru, contact Perú InsideOut. They specialize in trips to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, the Peruvian Amazon and tailor made experiences covering both the north and south of Peru.
The colourful beauty of Vinicunca, or Rainbow Mountain as it is appropriately named, cannot be ignored. However, despite its attraction and close vicinity to Cusco, it remains a destination slightly off the beaten path. Why? This is largely due to the altitude and extreme weather conditions often experienced in the area.
However, don’t let that put you off entirely. For those who do make an effort, it can be an extremely rewarding trip. As long as you are prepared for the hike, both mentally and physically, it should be no major issue. The picturesque view and the backdrop of Ausangate Mountain in the distance are indeed worthy of a place on your list.
One positive thing to note about Vinicunca is that there are no massive crowds like those found at Machu Picchu. You don’t have to struggle to take a photo of the scenery surrounding you in every direction. There is an air of quiet isolation all around.
And no matter what time of the day you arrive, you can’t help but revere in its beauty. Since well before the Inca times, Rainbow Mountain has been a place of worship, and this is still true today for the locals. They have a natural respect for the landscape which is apparent in everything they do.
So what gives the painted mountain its incredible range of colors? The multi-colored surfaces are due to mineral deposits located in the sediments. Iron oxide creates the reddish hues, iron sulphide the yellow, and chlorite the green. Due to the variation of the mineral makeup, it is spectacular looking from any direction.
Visiting Rainbow Mountain can be done as a day trip from Cusco offering unspoilt glimpses into the local traditions and lifestyle. For more information on this amazing destination, contact Perú InsideOut. For those who have had the pleasure of visiting Rainbow Mountain, it remains the highlight of their trip to Peru.
Easter Island’s famous stone figure monuments draw thousands of visitors interested in the culture of the Polynesian people every year. Now part of Chile, the UNESCO world heritage site of Easter Island offers an eco-friendly tourist destination for all ages.
The mysterious moai statues were carved into head and torso figures, but no one is quite sure of the reason why. Many speculate it was to honor ancient chiefs and ancestors, but as little written history remains, this is simly a well-educated guess. The inhabitants’ fascination for the statues, unfortunately, bought about their own demise as forests were depleted in order to extract the rock to construct the figures.
Easter Island is incredibly isolated from South America, and the nearest island lies approximately 1,100 miles away. Because of this isolation, the Rapa Nui inhabitants were able to develop their distinctive culture in relative peace. Over the years they built more than 900 moai statues all over the island, 400 of which remain today in varying stages of completion. These figures are unique, different from all other Polynesian and South American sculptures uncovered over the years.
The island was initially thought to be inhabited between 800AD and 1200 AD although no one knows where this population came from or why they settled on the island. What is known, however, is that when the Europeans landed, they found a barren land because of the severe erosion and very few remaining inhabitants.
The beauty of the island has much to offer to visitors: snorkeling, diving, surfing, horse riding or hiking as well as an exploration of the remaining statues scattered on the island.
Easter Island can be reached from Santiago, Chile and is a wonderful mystical and relaxing tourist destination. It may be added on to our Chile-Bolivia-Peru tour for a diverse and complete personalized tour. Contact Perú InsideOut for more details on this captivating island.
Koricancha (meaning golden courtyard) located in Cusco was one of the most important sites of the Inca Empire. It was said to be a splendid place with gold doors, emerald studded wall; and courtyards filled with gold statutes.
Within Koricancha the Temple of the Sun was a holy site for the Inca. Dedicated to Inti, the walls were covered gold plated and the temple housed a jeweled-encrusted golden statue of the sun god. Each day the statue was taken outside and moved back inside the temple each evening. A gold and silver garden was created in Inti’s honor featuring a corn field, guinea pigs, birds, shepherds, jaguars, llamas, monkeys, insects and butterflies. What a sight to behold! Unfortunately all that remains today is a selection of corn stalks as proof of the people’s respect for the sun god.
In addition to the Temple of the Sun, Koricancha housed five separate temples dedicated to Viracocha, the creator god, Quilla, the goddess of the moon, Illapa, the god of thunder, Cuichu, the rainbow god and Venus, the goddess of the dawn. Each temple contained a statue in honor of the god as well as art and other religious objects.
It is said that the original construction of Koricancha had been carried out under the orders of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui and additional construction was done by Maco Capac in the early 12th Century. The site was built to resemble the sun complete with rays shining in all directions.
The Spanish colonists eventually built the Church of Santo Domingo demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the church in an attempt to obliterate the Inca beliefs. Any remaining gold was melted into ingots and claimed by the Spanish crown.
Little remains of the Koricancha original buildings or the temple other than sections of the stone walls for which the Inca are well known. Their masonry skills were avant-garde. It is definite worthwhile visiting Koricancha and the Santo Domingo Church to admire the combination of Inca and colonial architecture.
For thrill seeking and bold tourists, we recommend heading away from Lima and visit Huacachina. Known as ‘the oasis of America’, the famous lush oasis in the desert has quite a folktale behind it; but it is not the mermaid from the lagoon that draws in the majority of the crowds.
The desert of Huacachina entices men, women and children of all ages to climb aboard the dune buggies or slide down the dunes on sandboards. Unlike snowboarding, no experience is required; you can literally lie down on your stomach and ride the sand dunes to the bottom where your buggy driver will be waiting to take you to the next dune. Then repeat twice more, each time the size of the dune gradually increases.
Note that the sand dunes in Huacachina are huge and buggies go fast – very fast; together they ensure quite an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster-like experience.
This tour is one of the most popular in the area and even rivals the Pisco tours in nearby Ica.
A local legend attributes special healing powers to the mud and the water in the area for curing all manner of ailments including arthritis, asthma and rheumatism.
If you think the oasis looks and sounds familiar, then you may be surprised to learn that the image of the Huacachina Oasis is actually on the Peruvian 50 Nuevo Sol note.
The sand dunes in Huacachina are inspiring and offer a truly out of this world experience. A rare opportunity to have a personalised and unique tour of the desert.
We specialize in creating travel packages for visitors from all over South America. Some are first time visitors to Peru and others are return visitors wanting something a little different from what the traditional tour guides offer.
Our team works hard to source quality guides and reputable experiences that showcase the best that Peru, and in some cases Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, have to offer. Here is what some of our customers had to say.
The remote ruins of Choquequirao lie in the Vilcabama mountain range in Peru and will remain a highlight of the visit to this amazing South American country if you have the time.
If you are looking for an adventurous and alternative hike to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is perfect and can be reached from Cusco. Treks usually start from the small village of Cachora. Meaning “cradle of gold”, Choquequirao is a trek for those looking for something a little off the beaten path.
Choquequirao shares similar architectural styles to Machu Picchu and, from a historical perspective, was an administrative settlement associated with the Inca Empire. The city was an important link between the Amazon Jungle and the city of Cusco.
For those who embark on this hike, the landscape will offer breathtaking experiences in every direction. From amazing flora and fauna to snow-capped mountains and glaciers, Choquequirao lies I the impressive Apurimac Canyon to reach the ruins.
There are many sections of Choquequirao which are quite spread out usually requiring a full day of exploration to see it all. Unlike Machu Picchu, the site is not overrun with visitors and you will enjoy a tranquil tour. Less than 100 people visit Choquequirao each day in comparison to 2,500 people visiting Machu Picchu. Only 30-40% of the ruins have so far been excavated.
As the hike is quite strenuous, there has been much talk over the years of a cable car which will eliminate the difficulty in access and increase the number of visitors. The Peruvian Government is yet to confirm its decision.
If you are looking to visit ruins which remain fairly untouched, the lost city of Choquequirao is worth exploring.
Peru is one holiday destination that never disappoints especially when it is packaged and presented as spectacularly as our flagship tour offer available August 2017. Perú InsideOut’s Machu Picchu Classic August 2017 Tour not only takes you to the wondrous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, but you get to explore fascinating parts of Peru that you never thought possible. From the depths of the Colca Canyon to the splendid waters of Lake Titicaca, from the cosmopolitan city of Lima to the ancient capital of Cusco; Perú InsideOut gives you the opportunity to experience all of this and more. Add the amazing flora and fauna of the Ballestas Islands and the mysterious Nazca Lines and you have a South American holiday that you will never forget.
Day 1: Your trip will start in Lima – you will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel.
Day 2: Tour colonial Lima and travel to Paracas with a VIP bus service.
Day 3: Sea lions, penguins, and sea birds abound in today’s tour of the Ballestas Islands. Tour Paracas National Reserve before embarking on the drive to Nazca.
Day 4: View the much acclaimed Nazca Lines (optional plane ride) and try and imagine about their origin. Spend the evening in Arequipa.
Day 5: Wander around the resplendent Santa Catalina Monastery and sample the delights at San Camilo market.
Day 6: Travel to the Colca Canyon taking in the scenery that the Peruvian countryside has to offer. After a traditional lunch, you will spend the night in Yanque.
Day 7: See the condors soar in their natural habitat at Cruz Del Condor after which you will journey to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Day 8: Turn back time with a relaxing visit to the floating islands of Uros, and Taquile, where you can learn more about traditional Andean hand-woven practices.
Day 9: Travel to Cusco via the Ruta del Sol discovering the villages and sites along the way. Spend the night in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco.
Day 10: Delight in a tour of the temples and Inca remains based in and around Cusco followed by a trip to San Pedro market.
Day 11: Explore the ruins of Pisac and stroll the local markets picking up souvenirs in our Scred Valley tour . Savor lunch in Urubamba before heading to Ollantaytambo fortress to board the train to Aguas Calientes.
Day 12: Nothing compares to a visit of the citadel of Machu Picchu particularly at sunrise. Enjoy the views and learn about the history of this new wonder of the world before returning to Cusco.
Day 13: Your tour to Peru in August 2017 ends with your return flight to Lima.
Don’t let another year pass by without experiencing the best that Peru has to offer. Let your Andean adventure start today by getting in contact with Perú InsideOut.