Peru, 2022 Blog
I literally don’t know where to begin….I guess the planning process? First was identifying the time I wanted to go – I knew I didn’t want to go at peak (dry) season (April – October) which left the months right next to that. Less people, maybe a bit more rain, but a more enjoyable experience (usually). I didn’t do much training for this trip aside from a (very) long 18 mile hike with about 4k elevation gain. Doing a one day, strenuous hike like this helped me feel soooo much more confident in my ability to take on the Inca Trail! Do you need to? No. But even daily walks/weekly hikes would certainly be beneficial in helping you work in your gear and give you confidence.
Second thing I did was book the trek with a guide group. They do fill up fast and there are only so many people allowed to pass through to Machu Picchu each day. Visitors are no longer able to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu on their own – I went with Salkantay Trekking (4-day Classic Inca Trail) and absolutely loved my experience. The food, the educational components, everything was amazing. KJ was our guide – highly recommend asking for him! Booking flights came next. I used hopper to help me time the purchase for the least expensive options and ended up flying LATAM (pretty comfortable, food and drink was free, as was in flight entertainment). Last thing to book was where to stay the nights prior and after the trek. Hostels are cheap (avg 12 soles/3-4 usd) but we splurged for the JW Marriott (since there was three in our group – more affordable when splitting the cost). I will say the complimentary breakfast and comfort of a great shower and robes made is WELL worth it.
This is certainly a trip to be enjoyed with friends/family but also very safe and enjoyable for solo travelers!
**Pro tip: don’t let anyone swindle you at the Cusco airport – not knowing any better, the taxi driver told us it would be 25usd – come to find out it should only be 15 soles (4 usd) to get from the airport to most parts of Cusco.
PACKING LIST FOR 4-DAY TREK:
- 4 pairs of leggings
- 4 pairs of tall socks
- 2-4 sports bras
- 2 long sleeve tops
- 2 vests
- 1 puffy insulated coat for cold weather
- 1 long sleeve fleece (lighter in your pack than other fabrics)
- outfit for sleeping
- rain jacket or poncho (poncho is easier to carry & will protect your backpack too if it rains)
- THE BEST MOST PROTECTIVE SUNSCREEN (even if its rainy/cold) – sun hits different here
- Hiking boots (I recommend ankle high, terrain is not even)
- slides (sandals) after hiking
- toiletries (toothbrush, paste, deo, baby wipes, chapstick)
- water bottles (I bought the ones that roll up to save space when not in use)
- Snacks! I brought protein bars and ate them all. The trekking company provided snacks but I needed more lol
- Electrolyte packs (made a huge difference)
- Cash for tips (USD or Soles)
- Sleeping bag/sleeping pad (I rented from the guide company)
- Trekking poles (you can also rent these, I wouldn’t say they are mandatory but if you’re nervous on your feet, BRING/GET THEM) – poles help displace a lot of weight that can save your joints and help you move with more ease.
We arrived to Cusco, Peru 2 days early to acclimate to the elevation. Boy did we need it! After about 5 steps going up hill to snag some food we all needed to take a break and breathe lol we did come prepared, however, with Acetazolamide to assist – but you do need a prescription so plan ahead with your doctor.
I didn’t experience much adverse effects related to elevation. Outside of extreme and early onset of fatigue lol but doing this hike at any elevation is certainly hard too! The second day is commonly looked at as the hardest – not my take. The first day of hiking kicked my ass – mentally and physically had me worried for day two! I found day 2 to be hard – but more rewarding and enjoyable having acclimated more. Not to scare you – but a large part of day 2 I was taking 10 steps, pause for 10 breaths, repeat for all the uphills. It was like THAT.
Once you pass on to day 3 – wind beneath your wings! lol or so it felt.
Some of my favorite places to fill my tummy in Cusco…
- limbus restobar- view and food that’s worth the trek up the hill!
- L’atelier Café Concept – amazing coffee (highly recommend the chai) and cute, second story, window seating with a view down the street
- siete y siete – coffee + food & a view, doesn’t open until the afternoon
- calle del medio – another great view but without the trek, overlooks plaza de armas & the Peruvian food is UNREAL!
Some of my favorite places to fill my tummy in Lima …
- Colonia & co – so many great breakfast options
- caleta dolsa – amazing coffee & treats (highly recommend the banana bread!)
- La Rosa nautica – food/drinks on the pier, absolutely stunning. More expensive but worth the trip!
- la bodega verde – smoothies, coffees, teas galore! Lots of great options for those with dietary restrictions!
- Mercado San Ramon – open market, cafeteria style for a variety of dining options!
Favorite Peruvian foods/drinks to try:
- Aji de gallina
- Lomo saltado
- Pisco sour
- Soups! Legit all amazing
Outside of the hiking – we spent time relaxing at the hotels (Cusco, JW Marriott & Lima, Hilton Miraflores), shopping at markets (Cusco, Mercado Central de San Pedro – where we found the best deals between Lima and Cusco), drinking tons of coffee and eating lots of food.
Transportation: at airport (use the transportation options as you leave the terminal), elsewhere – UBER! Hotels will also likely offer affordable transportation.
Must be/see: undoubtedly Miraflores, safest part and right off of the water. Reminds me of Santa Monica in LA. Here you will also find the Inca market (still recommend Cusco shopping instead, but if you forgot something you can pick it up here) where vendors are selling blankets, sweaters, etc.
*If you have time (we didn’t) head to the surrounding beach towns (like huanchaco) – those came highly recommended by friends!