Top 7 Peru Travel Tips from Local Experts
Are you in the process of planning your trip to Peru? Then you’re in luck! We are sharing 7 insiders tips from our team of local Peru travel experts in Lima and Cusco, Peru. Make sure you consider these tips before heading off to Peru and exploring the all the highlights and hidden treasures of this South American gem.
If you have any specific questions for our Peru travel experts, contact us or give us a call: +1 877 240 4770.
#1 Acclimatize in Peru: Start your Peru trip in the Sacred Valley
Let’s face it; part of your reason to travel to Peru is seeing beautiful Machu Picchu.The ancient Inca city is an absolute ‘must see’. But heading off there immediately after arriving in the capital of Lima, might create altitude sickness which will ruin an important part of your Peru trip.
So after arriving in Lima, fly to Cusco (where all Machu Picchu tours begin) and head straight out into the Sacred Valley. There are a couple of towns in the Sacred Valley with hotels ranging from comfortable to unforgettable.
Arriving in Cusco takes you to over 11,000 ft / 3,400 meters above sea level. To some, that altitude can catch people by surprise and potentially ruin an incredible experience and vacation. The Sacred Valley drops you down in altitude, and can help a bit when acclimatizing to the altitude. You also get to experience the progressive build up in the path of the Inca, ruins and culture to the civilizations religious center at Machu Picchu.
Have a look at a great example itinerary of one of our most popular Peru tours that takes you through The Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu.
#2 How to reach Machu Picchu: by Inca Trail or Train?
Typically the easiest or rather the less strenuous way of reaching Machu Picchu is boarding the Vistadome train from the Sacred Valley. This shaves 2 hours off what is normally a 4-hour journey from Cusco (which, don’t get us wrong, is a beautiful train ride… but the first two hours out of Cusco are actually just switchbacks through the Andes with not much to look at!). It begins at the most beautiful part of the stretch leaving from the small town of Ollantaytambo.
The Vistadome train has a glass viewing dome, with large windows allowing you to see from the peaks of the Andes as they fall down into the flowing rivers on the valley floor. All from the 1st Class comfort of your seat (take the seats on the left side to Machu Picchu, return on the right side). Alternatively, for those looking for more depth and discovery, you may want to consider the 2-day Inca Trail Express, or Classic 4-day Inca Trail Hike to reach the World Wonder of Machu Picchu.
#3 Stay overnight at Machu Picchu and see the sunrise
The most interesting time to be in Machu Picchu is during the early morning sunrise. It’s a mysterious experience! Therefore, stay overnight in Aguas Calientes, the small town at the foot of the mountain. Your can either take the bus up Machu Picchu early in the morning or climb the stairs to see the sunrise break through the cloud forest. No matter how early you arrive, it’s likely that you won’t experience the sun actually rising. However, during the dry season, find your way to the guard house to witness the magic as the clouds lift away and allow the sun to shine over the center of Machu Picchu. Sunrise or not; the early morning has the best lighting and is the most mystical time to visit the ancient Inca city with all it’s secrets.
As long as you’re not too pressed for time, almost all of our Peru tours include this overnight experience. Machu Picchu surely is the pinnacle piece of your experience in Peru. Consider making the time and let this sunrise be an experience you and your family or friends will never forget!
#4 Yes you want to see Machu Picchu, but what else should you visit in Peru?
The most popular travel destinations in Peru are located in the southeastern region of the country. All within a short flight, drive, or train ride from Machu Picchu. If you have a few weeks on your hands and really want to dive in and explore the country and culture in depth, you may want to consider a 3-week long Peruvian Odyssey.
If you only can get away for 2 weeks you may want to see the Highlights of Southern Peru, which includes the coast south of Lima through Paracas, Ica and Nazca. If it’s something in between, consider adding on a quick trip to the Amazon Rainforest after Machu Picchu. There are many Amazon lodges to choose from… but only a handful of lodges we highly recommend. One of the highlights of Southern Peru are the Floating Islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca.
#5 How to prevent altitude sickness in the Peruvian Andes
If you’re concerned about altitude sickness in Peru, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Get medical advice to receive the best information related to your personal needs. Prescription medications such as Diamox and Acetazolamide are great preventative measures to consider. Of course medication should be your last option, as the more natural methods of letting your body acclimatize itself is the better option.
Consider that altitude sickness is actually caused by lack of oxygen in your blood due to lesser amounts of oxygen in the ‘thinner air’ at high altitudes. So remember to simply breathe, don’t get off the plane and hit the ground running, drink plenty of water and coca tea. If you really want to ‘go local’, you can chew the coca leaves mixed with Llipta, a mass formed by a mixture of lime and/or ash amaranth or quinoa. This enhances the extraction of alkaloids of the coca leaf and opens the capilaries in your lungs to receive more oxygen from the air. In essence, it allows you to acclimatize more easily in Peru.
#6 Experience the Peruvian cuisine: suggestions on great restaurants
Peruvian cuisine achieved international recognition back in 2011 when famous Spanish Catalan chef, Ferran Adrià, exclaimed that Peru held the key to the future of gastronomy. Peruvian food has since become one of the leading players on the global culinary scene. It would not have achieved such a status without famous chefs like Gaston Acurio (Astrid y Gaston, ChiCha, La Mar), Virgilio Martínez Véliz (Cental in Lima) and many others who’ve used the fusion of Peruvian ingredients that will simply sizzle your taste buds.
Must try dishes of Peru: Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, Causa, amongst others.
Must try culinary tour: Culinary Tour of Peru. Let us share with you some of the best culinary experiences and restaurants Peru has to offer. We’re foodies too!
#7 Make sure you travel Peru with Local Experts
You’ve obviously made it this far while doing due diligence for your big adventure to Peru… don’t stop there! When you’re traveling anywhere in the world, knowing the right people when you get there is always an advantage in many ways. Believe us, there are many more details you can miss by not traveling with local experts!
Not only does it save you time planning, but you also capture so much more of the experience and culture by knowing all the secret spots in between all the highlights.
Class Adventure Travel has offices in both Lima and Cusco, and has been operating in Peru & South America for over 20 years. Which means we know the best local guides and will make sure that all your Peru travel plans run like clockwork! Meet the CAT Team and read 100’s of Testimonials by CAT Travelers who give testimony of our excellence in service. So get in touch now and start planning the adventure to Peru you’ll never forget.
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