Peru — Land of the Incas!

Peru is both diverse and intriguing — The Amazon Rainforest is breathtaking, Machu Picchu and the lost Incan city are magical, the journey up to Huayna Picchu surrounded by hundreds of llamas is incredible, Cusco’s colonial architecture is fascinating, the Sacred Valley is spectacular, and the world-class Peruvian cuisine in Lima is delicious — all this makes Peru a dream destination. Peru is a country featuring beautiful cities with interesting stories, ancient Peruvian villages that give you a glimpse into the Inca culture, and mysterious ancient Inca sites that will want you craving to learn more about this destination.

“Going to Peru is, well, if you ever have an opportunity in your life to go there, you should do it because it is absolutely mind boggling.” — Dean Stockwell

This was definitely an opportunity of lifetime for us, and we would be lying if we said the trip was not challenging, but it was so worth it. We absolutely enjoyed every moment of our time spent in Peru. You can’t help but admire the hypnotizing landscapes that exist in every direction. From vast deserts to rainbow mountains, and everything in between.

Peru is colorful and vibrant. Peru is filled with history. Peru is home to one of the seven wonders of the world. There are many reasons to visit Peru, from its diverse natural geography to its cultural festivals, and the remnants of an ancient civilization. Millions of tourists visit this Andean country every year to see the ruins of the Inca citadel Machu Picchu. Here is our Peru travel itinerary, and some pictures from our trip before we get into the details.

    • Day 1 — Arrive in Lima and explore Lima
    • Day 2 — Fly to Iquitos and head to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest 
    • Day 3 — Explore the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest
    • Day 4 — Fly from Iquitos to Cusco
    • Day 5 — Spend the night in the Sacred Valley in a hanging pod, 9,500 feet above sea level, attached to the side of a mountain in the Sacred Valley
    • Day 6 — Discover the ruins of the Sacred Valley & take a train to Aguas Calientes
    • Day 7 — Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu… explore the Lost City of the Incas
    • Day 8 — Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca)
    • Day 9 — Spend the entire day exploring Cusco
    • Day 10 — Fly to Lima, enjoy Lima at night and prepare for our Peru departure

What to see?

  • Lima, the City of Kings — Lima was our first stop in Peru. The bustling capital city is filled with amazing museums, boutiques, parks, plazas, beautiful neighborhoods, artisan markets, spectacular restaurants, and a very vibrant night life. After defeating the Inca ruler Atahualpa, Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro chose Lima as the new capital of the Spanish empire in 1535.
      • Lima’s Historic Center — The historic center of Lima showcases the best of Peruvian colonial architecture. It is lined with carved wooden balconies, baroque temples, gorgeous colonial churches, government palaces, museums, historic houses and so much more. Some of the must-see landmarks are the scenic Plaza de Armas, Plaza Bolivar, San Pedro Church, Balconies of Lima, San Francisco Monastery, Presidential Palace, Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, and Cathedral of Lima.
      • Food in Lima — Lima is known for its world-class gastronomic scene, and it is one of the food capitals of the world. Peru’s cuisine is a fusion of indigenous Peruvian culture with Spanish, Arab, African, Japanese and Chinese influences. If you’re in Lima, you have to work your way through a long list of must-eats including Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Causa Rellena, the national drink Pisco Sour, Picarones (Peruvian drip doughnuts), Suspiro de la Limeña (caramel custard with a port meringue) and so much more.
      • Miraflores neighborhood in Lima Miraflores is one of Lima’s trendiest neighborhoods. Miraflores is vibrant, and filled with an endless variety of cafes, restaurants, and bars. The Malecon boardwalk stretches 8 km along the coast in Miraflores. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll at sunset. As you make your way down the boardwalk, you’ll find the Parque del Amor, or “Park of Love”, aptly named for the giant kissing statue in the center of it. The mosaic walls remind you of Gaudi’s Park Güell in Barcelona.
      • Barranco neighborhood in Lima — The seaside community of Barranco has a bohemian vibe with colonial homes, colorful murals, and galleries. This would be a perfect neighborhood to stroll through, and check out Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) and Bajada de Baños (bohemian walkway leading to the beach).

  • Visit the Amazon Rainforest in Iquitos, Peru — The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, it spans across 9 countries and 2.5 million sq miles. The Amazon rainforest covers nearly two-thirds of Peru, and when it comes to nature and wildlife, this is the place to be. We traveled from Lima to Iquitos to visit the portion of the Amazon Rainforest located in Peru. Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon aka the ‘Capital of the Peruvian Amazon’. From Iquitos, we traveled on a boat across the Amazon river to reach the Amazon rainforest. There are over 2.5 million types of insects, 40,000 different types of plants, and thousands of different types of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Our excursions included: Sunrise on the Amazon with Pink Dolphins, daytime and nighttime jungle cruises, early morning bird watching, nighttime Caiman and Giant River Otter spotting, fishing for Piranhas, blowdart gun workshop, visiting local Amazonian communities, Island of Pihuichos or Parakeet Island, Treehouse canopy walk, and jungle walk to learn about medicinal plants and insects of the Amazon. There are so many opportunities to connect with nature here. Picture credit for wildlife photos in this blog goes to Vill Sa, our tour guide in the Amazon, and an exceptional photographer! If you’re in this area, we highly recommend Vily, and the Treehouse Lodge where he works!

  • The Sacred Valley Tour in Cusco, Peru — Visit the Moray ruins & Maras Salt Mines or Salineras de Maras — Peru’s Sacred Valley lies just north of Cusco between the villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley in Peru is incredible, magical, and cannot be missed. Visiting the sacred valley with the Inca ruins scattered along the hillside, takes you back in time. The Inca Empire rose to power during the 14th century, and during this time, Cusco was the capital city where the king resided. The surrounding fertile fields of the Sacred Valley served as the civilization’s breadbasket, which produced varieties of grains, fruits and vegetables.

Exploring the sacred valley can take several days, so we focused our tour on the Moray Ruins and the Maras Salt Mines. The concentric terraces of Moray once served as an agricultural laboratory for the Inca, with each terrace having a unique microclimate. The stunning Maras salt mines or Salineras de Maras features salt pans that are still used exactly as they were at the time of the Incas. As you make your way through the region, you’ll see people doing the backbreaking work of harvesting salt on small family plots. The salt gathered here is some of the best in the world.

  • Visit Historic city of Cusco, Peru — Situated in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of 11,152′, Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire, under the Inca ruler Pachacutec. When the Spaniards conquered the city in the 16th century, they preserved the basic structure, but built Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins of the Inca city. As a result, Cusco is now known for its archaeological remains of Inca stonework, as well as Spanish colonial architecture — both of which we absolutely admire. The central square in the old city is called ‘Plaza de Armas’ with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins. Santo Domingo Convent built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun, Qoricancha, and still has the Inca archaeological remains.

In 1983, Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the title “City of Cusco“. When you walk around the streets of Cusco, you’ll notice that every building, every corner tells a captivating story, where time seems to have stopped. This city has done a great job preserving its history and ancestral magic. Lima might be the capital of Peru, but Cusco will always be the historic capital of Peru.

        • Plaza de Armas — Plaza de Armas is stunning, and it is one of the top plazas in the world, that served as a gathering spot for people. This used to be the ‘Great Inca Square’ where meditation ceremonies were performed by Inca nobility. These ceremonies typically ended in tears, giving the original square the name Huacaypata, which translates to “place of crying” in Quechua (language of the Inca). The city’s most well-known religious buildings, Cathedral of Santo Domingo and Church La Compañía de Jesús are located at the plaza. The plaza has a statue of Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru who played a crucial role in the Peruvian struggle for independence from the Spanish.
        • Cathedral of Santo Domingo — Cathedral of Santo Domingo or ‘Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin’ was the first church built in the city. The cathedral is famous for its depiction of ‘The Last Supper’ with Jesus and his disciples dining on a chinchilla, a traditional Peruvian dish. Construction started in 1559 and finished in 1654, on the grounds of the Inca’s Kiswarkancha temple, and the Spaniards actually used stones from the dismantled Inca temples that lined the square to build the church.
        • Visit San Pedro Market and San Blas neighborhood — For a glimpse into Peruvian life, visit the San Pedro market and San Blas district. This neighborhood is lined with boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants and gives you a perspective of how the local people live.
        • Best Chocolate in Peru — Chocolate is a big part of Peruvian culture and Peruvian cuisine. Peru is said to produce some of the best chocolate in the world! One of the must-do items should be visiting Cusco’s chocolate factories for a tasting experience or a class, if time permits. Some stores that are worth checking our are: The Choco Museo, Tika Chocolate, Monkey Coffee Cusco, Bonbonoa, and La Chocolita.

  • Machu Picchu — Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city, was built in the 15th century on top of a mountain by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca. Machu Picchu was most likely constructed as a royal estate due to elite residences discovered at the site. It is located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains in Peru. At 7,970 feet above sea level on the eastern slope of the Andes, it overlooks the Urubamba River. It is an archaeological masterpiece, and just like the Pyramids in Egypt, Machu Picchu belongs in the seven wonders of the world.

“Machu Picchu isn’t just beautiful, it’s sublime.” — Mark Adams

      • Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911, by explorer Hiram Bingham III, a professor at Yale University. The buildings were made with granite stones quarried and precisely cut and stacked without mortar, which was typical of the Inca. It’s spread across 80,000 acres, and the terraced fields on the edge of the site were used for growing crops, likely maize and potatoes.
      • Temple of the Sun — Temple of the Sun or Torreón, has an elliptical design similar to a sun temple found at the Inca capital of Cusco. It is located near where the Inca emperor is believed to have resided at Machu Picchu. A rock inside the temple could have served as an altar. During the June solstice the rising sun shines directly into one of the temple’s windows, and this indicates an alignment between the window, the rock and the solstice sun.
      • Principal temple & Intihuatana — “Principal Temple” is a carved stone altar, and next to it is the “Temple of the Three Windows”, which contains pottery broken during rituals. “Intihuatana” is a carved stone found in the Incan empire, situated on a raised platform that towers above the plaza. It may have been used for astronomical observations.
      • We took a train with an open dome from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, which was amazing and the scenery was breathtaking. From Aguas Calientes, a short bus ride gets you to Machu Picchu ruins. We decided to hike the scenic Huayna Picchu trail which took us another 3 hours, but it was absolutely worth it.

  • Huayna Picchu Hike (Optional) — The Huayna Picchu hike is a scenic trail that takes you up a jungle covered mountainside on stone stairways built by the medieval Inca empire. This is a bucket list hiking trail that takes you to the top of Huayna Picchu, and at the summit you get to spectacular views of Machu Picchu, the Inca buildings, and epic panoramic views. The name ‘Huayna Picchu’ comes from the Quechua language, meaning ‘young mountain’ as this mountain is not as tall as the Machu Picchu mountain. Huayna Picchu is the mountain behind the famous Machu Picchu citadel, which was home to the Incas in the 15th century. It’s a bit challenging, but it can be completed within 1 hour 30 minutes or less. The steepest staircases are at the end of the hike, near the summit. The stairs are dubbed the ‘Stairs of Death’ for their steepness and narrowness, but don’t let that stop you. This trail is in high demand and it’s limited to only 400 hikers per day, so you often have to book several months in advance to get a spot. The Huayna Picchu hike is hands down one of the best things to do in Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city of the Incas.
  • Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain — Vinicunca (Quechua name), or Montaña de Siete Colores or Montaña de Colores or Mountain of Seven Colors or Rainbow Mountain, is a mountain in the Andes of Peru with an altitude of 17,060 feet above sea level. Rainbow Mountain was discovered in 2015, when the snow covering it melted, revealing the natural beauty of the rock beneath. The sad part of this is that the climate change triggered it.

Turquoise, scarlet, and mustard-colored sediments drape down Rainbow Mountain, and give the mountain its striking appearance. These different layers of color represent distinct mineral contents and were formed over the course of millions of years before being exposed by the tectonic movements and intense wind erosion of the high Andes. The mountain’s unique minerology created a marbling effect, with layered hues of gold, lavender, red and turquoise towering into the sky. This is now the second-most visited attraction in the Cusco region, and ~1,500 people visit every day.

To get to Rainbow Mountain, you start with a 2-3 hour car ride from Cusco to Pitumarca. Once you get to the base in Qesoyuno, you can start the trek, and it takes ~2-3 hours to get to the top and another three hours down to the base. The trip is fairly challenging, and the mountain sits at a very high elevation of 17,060 feet, so be prepared to tackle altitude sickness, and take your time on the ascent and descent. The entire trail is ~6 miles total, and takes ~5-6 hours to complete. Peru has two rainbow mountain locations — the very popular Vinicunca, and the less popular Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain. Palccoyo is at a slightly lower altitude, and takes about 1.5 hour to hike up to the mountain. If you want to avoid the tourists, this would be a better alternative.

The discovery of Rainbow mountains due to climate change is very unfortunate, but the beauty of this hidden gem, surrounded by gorgeous valleys with tiny villages and hundreds of Alpacas and Llamas is truly magical.

  • Day Trip to Abode of the Gods or Apukunak Tianan del Cusco (Optional) — The abode of the Gods is a complex of stone sculptures recently carved by a Cusco artist Michel de Titan Monteagudo Mejía. This attraction is dedicated to the Gods of the Inca culture, the Pachamama or Mother Earth, Andean creator deity Viracocha (or Wiracocha), the Inca trilogy (Condor, Puma and Snake), face of the last monarch of the Neo-Incan state, Túpac Amaru etc. The condor, the puma and the serpent were the three animals that represented the cosmovision of the Incas: the superior world of the gods, the world of the living and the world of the dead.

  • Day Trip to Chinchero from Cusco (Optional) — Chinchero is a small rustic town located between Cusco and Urubamba. This town has a great display of Inca architecture, ruins and megalithic carved rocks. Chinchero is also believed to be the birthplace of the rainbow. The terraces were built for farming and agricultural purposes. The soil of Chinchero is some of the most rich and fertile in the Sacred Valley. The land is used to produce potatoes, quinoa and fava beans. Chinchero is also home to the famous Peruvian weaving and also has a colorful market. It is home to the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles, which is completely owned by local women who show how they produce Alpaca wool products. We ended up buying quite a few Alpaca sweaters, scarves, caps and blankets from these wonderful ladies.

  • Day Trip to Pisac from Cusco (Optional) — Pisac is a village in Peru’s Sacred Valley, located about an hour northeast of Cusco. The village was built by the Inca emperor Pachacuti between 1438–1472. This small community in the Andes still practices a more traditional way of life, offering visitors a unique glimpse into Peruvian culture. This, combined with the Incan ruins perched atop the mountain looking down over the village, makes Pisac a great place to visit on a day trip from Cusco. You’ll get to see the locals dressed in traditional attire, eat fresh empanadas, visit local markets for hand crafted traditional items such as textiles, bags and wearable garments.

  • Day Trip to Sacsayhuamán Ruins near Cusco (Optional) — Sacsayhuamán is the largest structure that the Incas built on top of the mountains during the reign of Pachacuti. Sacsayhuamán is located right outside the city of Cusco, and its architecture still remains a mystery because of the immense size of the stones, as many of the stones weigh more than 100 tons. The stones have held together over 500 years without the help of mortar between them due to the precision of how they were fitted. Following the Spanish conquest of Sacsayhuamán many of the smaller stones were re-purposed in different areas of Cusco, for houses and other buildings. The Spanish then covered the ruins to prevent Incas from finding the site, and it remained hidden until 1934, when it was excavated.

  • Day Trip to San Pedro Market in Cusco (Optional) — Most travellers arrive in Cusco to visit Machu Picchu, but very close to the Plaza de Armas (main square), you’ll find the traditional San Pedro Market. Here you can experience the day to day life of the Cusquenians. We bought some passion fruit, and a few souvenirs here.

Where to stay?

  • Amazon Forest in Iquitos, Peru | Treehouse Lodge — This all-inclusive Treehouse lodge in the Amazon, delivers a once in a lifetime experience. It is nestled deep in the Peruvian Amazon, near Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. This is a magical place for any wildlife or nature lover to stay. The Treehouse bungalows are located on top of trees and offer stunning views of the Amazon. Getting here is not easy… we flew into Iquitos by air, followed by a 2 hour journey on road, and 1 hour by boat across the Amazon river. The lodge will take care of all your transportation needs except for the airfare into Iquitos. The walkway to the Treehouse includes several cable bridges suspended mid-air in the jungle, ~65 feet above the forest floor. The ‘Treehouse Lodge’ includes a private tour guide, a captain and a boat to navigate around the rivers, driver service, butler service that includes three Peruvian-inspired meals a day, and ~20 private excursions. This lodge definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted or those who are scared of heights as the tree houses are suspended very high in the trees. We highly recommend staying here, so you can see the rainforest from an entirely new perspective that most visitors never experience… the tree top canopy. You’ll never forget the experience of watching monkeys and birds at eye level as every morning you’ll wake up to a safari of animal life before you even get out of bed.
  • Sacred Valley in Ollaytantambo, Peru | Starlodge Adventure Suites Located an hour a half away from Cusco city, Starlodge Adventure Suites brings the opportunity to spend a night in a hanging pod at ~9,500 feet above sea level, enjoying the comfort of Starlodge pods with one of the best views of Inca’s Sacred Valley. You can take the stairs up to the Starlodge, or you can hike the mountain to the Skylodge to get to your pod. We chose to stay at the Starlodge, and it takes ~30 min to get to your Pod. You will have the opportunity to enjoy an open-air bath inside an Onsen-type wooden tub surrounded by the splendid view of the Sacred Valley, illuminated by the Milky Way and Inca Empire’s constellations. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience you can not miss!
  • Machu Picchu Pueblo in Aguas Calientes, Peru | Inkaterra Pueblo Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is an intimate Andean village with terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways and whitewashed adobe casitas tucked away in the cloud forest. The property has 12 acres of exquisite natural beauty, where 214 bird species such as the golden-headed quetzal, and the world’s largest native orchid collection of 372 species. Inkaterra is a Peruvian organization that is celebrating 40 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives. It focuses on preserving Peru’s nature and cultures and sharing them with the world. Each year Inkaterra hosts more than 200,000 travellers providing authentic nature experiences in Peru, while rescuing, presenting and showcasing Peru’s culture and nature for the world.
  • Cusco, Peru | JW Marriott El Convento Cusco — JW Marriott in Cusco blends historic grandeur and modern comfort. Housed in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of Cusco, this boutique hotel features two exhibition halls with ancient Peruvian artifacts. This hotel is centrally located, with convenient access to local attractions, such as the Historic Center of the City of Cusco and Plaza de Armas. Location is a big factor when it comes to picking a hotel in Cusco. Most hotels and restaurants in Cusco are not accessible by taxis, due to the ups and downs in this town. It will require taking stairs, which is not easy at this high altitude. We also stayed at an Airbnb for a few days that was about a 10 minute drive from Cusco city center.

What to eat?

“The world of cuisine was looking for diversity and they discovered Peru as the country with the most diversity. People wanted to taste what we have in Peru and it was then we decided to become a movement for this change and after a couple of years we came up with a strategy. We decided we will cook as Peruvians to put a value on our own ingredients, culture, traditions.” Gastón Acurio, Peruvian Celebrity Chef and Ambassador

  • Ceviche: You’ll easily get obsessed with Ceviche, Peru’s national dish. The taste of the sea bass, onion, lime juice, salt, and hot chiles will make you want to eat some more.
  • Lomo Saltado: Fusing Chinese stir-fry and Peruvian ingredients, the Lomo Saltado is something you shouldn’t miss!
  • aji de Gallina: Made with ground walnuts, aji amarillo, cheese, cream, and shredded chicken, this is a dish that reflects the Peruvians love of chilies, cream and cheese.
  • Papas a la Huancaina: Often served as a side dish, the Papas a la Huancaina is a common appetizer that you’ll wish was the main dish!
  • Causa: Potato casseroles, anyone? The Causa is a Quechan dish that starts with potatoes blended with oil, lime, and spicy aji amarillo sauce.
  • rocoto Relleno: The rocoto dish consists of stuffed red aji rocoto chilies. What you will find inside are raisins, olives, garlic, onions, ground beef, herbs, and spices. The queso fresco on top will get you addicted.

Peru was elected for nine years in a row as the world’s best culinary destination, so this pretty much sums it up in terms what to expect here. This country is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. Here are a few restaurants we visited during our trip. This is one destination that is worth a foodie tour, once you are done visiting the other wonders in this country.

  • La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, Lima ‘La Mar Cebicheria Peruana’ is one of Gaston Acurio’s many celebrated restaurants in Lima. Chef Gaston Acurio is credited with raising awareness of Peru’s cuisine, most notably Ceviche. The brainchild of Peruvian culinary godfather Gastón Acurio, La Mar brings the best from Peru’s Pacific waters to the table daily. The pioneering cevicheria, sits in the heart of Lima’s upsscale Miraflores neighbourhood, and it is regularly featured on Latin America’s 50 Best list. And this was probably hands down the best Ceviche ever!

  • Ceviche Seafood Kitchen, Cusco — Cusco is the gateway city to reach the incredible site of Machu Picchu, and it also has a thriving and diverse food scene. We visited the ‘Ceviche Seafood Kitchen’ to try Peruvian Ceviche, and both the view of Plaza de Armas, and the food was incredible. Here you can discover the flavours of coastal Peru. Located in the Plaza de Armas in the historic centre of Cusco, Peru, Ceviche Seafood Kitchen brings modern style to the traditional Peruvian cevichería. This restaurant uses only the freshest seafood, and finest local ingredients in order to bring you the best in Peruvian coastal cuisine and beyond.

  • Morena Peruvian Kitchen, Cusco — Morena Peruvian Kitchen is a modern and bright restaurant nestled in the heart of the ancient city of Cusco offering the delicious flavours of Peru – from the coast to the Amazon right up to the Andes. We tried Alpaca meat (when in Peru, try what the Peruvians eat), and after seeing the cute little Llamas and Alpacas everywhere, it was impossible to finish our plate.

  • Limbus RestoBar, Cusco LIMBUS, was born at the end of 2013 as a result of Joseph Corimaita Cuba’s passion for unconventional mixology and contemporary Peruvian cuisine. It is a tribute to the gastronomic tradition of Peru, collecting its multiple influences, such as Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, mulatto or Italian, contextualizing them in the present with creativity, technique, love and respect. This restaurant has THE BEST view of Cusco. Food was unique and delicious. Drinks were outstanding. This restaurant has over 5k reviews, and it didn’t disappoint.

  • Chicha, Cusco Chicha by Chef Gaston Acurio! Chicha honors the flavors and culinary wisdom of ancient Cusco. We tried the chef’s menu and it was outstanding. Chicha is about regional food: the produce, traditions and culture from each location elevated with good culinary techniques, working with responsibility and by the hand of the local producers.

  • Qucharitas, Cusco Qucharitas  is a cute little Helados place, located about a block from the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, that serves delicious Peruvian ice cream. I had the Maca (Peruvian Ginseng) and Lucuma ice cream. Love their creative “periodic table style” menu for ice cream. Qucharitas is located in a historical building, where the first Spanish conquistidor Francisco Pizarro lived back in the 1500’s. His expedition led to the Spanish conquest of Peru.

  • Limo, CuscoLimo is a Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant with the best view of Plaza de Armas in Cusco, and delicious food. The KATAIFI Scallop and Maki rolls were so good. This restaurant is located on the upper floor of an ancient colonial building overlooking the gorgeous Plaza de Armas.

  • Astrid y Gastón, #4 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, #96 on the World’s Best Restaurants Located in a beautiful 300 year old historic house in the centre of San Isidro district, this restaurant has a beautiful ambience, and serves up the most innovative and delicious food. Chef Gastón Acurio, and pastry chef Astrid Gutsche’s share their contemporary take on Peruvian cuisine via their food, and draw inspiration from the traditions, and the biodiversity of Peru. Creative dishes like the gnocci made with the native Peruvian Lucuma fruit have won this restaurant many awards. Acurio won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, #1 restaurant in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and Gutsche won the Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef Award.

  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Restaurant, Aguas Calientes This fine dining restaurant is located inside the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel. The restaurant and adjacent terraces were built as a large glass house with an exceptional view of the Vilcanota River and the surrounding green mountains. This is a great place to enjoy a fantastic meal before you go on your Machu Picchu tour.

When is the best time to visit?

Peru’s climate is very diverse. There’s a large variety of climates and micro-climates throughout the country. The Andes mountains have a cool-cold climate with dry winters and rainy summers. The coastal climate is arid and semi-arid with very little rainfall. Peak season for tourists is May through October during the driest months.

  • Dry Season: May to September (Winter)
  • Wet Season: December to March (Summer)

May we recommend?

  • Get Travel Insurance — We highly recommend travel insurance for this destination due to several reasons such as, altitude sickness can cause you to change travel plans, Covid related issues, domestic commute between airports can be challenging etc. We bought our travel insurance through InsureMyTrip.
  • Hire a Travel Company We normally plan our trips on our own, but this is one destination that requires working with travel professionals due to the complexity involved, getting from one destination to other, hiking that should not be done unassisted, experienced travel guides etc. We hired FlashpackerConnect for our customized travel plan. We were able to customize every segment per our preference.
  • Be prepared to deal with Altitude Sickness Altitude sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen at higher altitudes, and can set in when you go above 8,000 feet above sea level. Rainbow Mountain is at an altitude of 17,060 feet, so there is a high possibility of experiencing altitude sickness. The symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath.
      • Take the time to acclimatize to the altitude for at least one day
      • Drink coca tea, an herbal remedy for altitude sickness
      • Avoid heavy meals especially at night, and alcoholic beverages
      • Stay well-hydrated at all times
      • Keep oxygen cylinders handy so you can get some immediate relief
      • Minimize physical activity on the first day

  • Cash In Peru, people can transact in both US dollars and Nuevos Soles. We recommend bringing around $100 USD per day, but this depends on how much you plan to spend. You may find ATMs throughout Lima, and most major cities accept credit cards.
  • Electricity Peru has sockets of 220 volts / 60Hz. Most 4 and 5-star hotels do have sockets equipped for 110 volts. Some of your devices may accept dual voltage, if not, your hotels should be able to lend you adaptors.
  • Vaccinations You will need the Yellow Fever vaccination if you plan on traveling to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Although it is not mandatory, it is highly recommend. It should be administered at least 10 days before your trip to Peru.
  • Tipping Tips follow a standard 15% of the actual bill, in some cases the cost of service may be included in your itinerary. You can use the following guidelines.
      • Restaurants: 10-15% of the total bill
      • Tour guides: ~25 USD per day of service
      • Tour drivers: ~15 USD per day of service
      • Baggage Handlers / Bartenders: ~2-3 USD based on service provided
      • Trek muleteers / Cooks: ~25-50 USD per person

There’s a country on earth that has everything. Peru is a country with ancenstral myths and legends that have been passed from generation to generation, with a history dating back thousands of centuries. Peru is home to first known civilizations, and biggest empires that once lived on this earth. Peru is a country characterized by cultural diversity, and various landscapes from the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, Pacific coast from north to south, and the Atacama Desert. Peru is a hidden gem ready to explore.

“In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no other place in the world which can compare with it.” Hiram Bingham, ‘discoverer’ of Machu Picchu

Peru is an incredible country that we would encourage everyone to visit! We hope that our travel blog can assist you in making the idea of visiting Peru a reality. Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, adorable llamas and alpacas, rich culture and delicious food, Peru is a popular destination for travelers all over the world, and a major bucket list destination for us. There is so much to do in this country… cruise along Amazon waterways, hike through canyons, glacier lakes or Incan ruins, explore the unique indigenous Inca culture, and so much more. So what are you waiting for… make Peru your next dream destination!

Always remember… Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!