Top 9 Questions for Planning your Trip to Peru

Travel to Machu Picchu PeruIf you are ready to start planning your Machu Picchu trip, we have all the answers!  Read on for the top 9 questions on traveling to Peru!

  1. How many DAYS does a trip to Machu Picchu take?
  2. What if I want to HIKE to Machu Picchu?
  3. What if I DON’T want to hike to Machu Picchu?
  4. What ELSE is there to do in Peru?
  5. How about fun, ACTIVE things to do?
  6. How much does it COST?
  7. Can I visit the GALAPAGOS as well as Machu Picchu?
  8. Isn’t Machu Picchu very HIGH in altitude?
  9. When is the BEST TIME to visit Peru?

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#1) How many days does a trip to Machu Picchu take?

Cusco is great city in Peru

Cusco is great city in Peru

How many days do you have to travel? For a basic trip, you will want plan on a 7-day Peru trip to Machu Picchu.  This would include

  • Starting and ending in Lima
  • A few days in Cusco to acclimatize and see the great Inca and Colonial sites
  • A day in the Sacred Valley to see Inca ruins, culture, and local markets
  • Train to Machu Picchu with overnight in Aguas Calientes

There is plenty to see and do if you have more time.  If you cut this trip short, you may have some issues with altitude, you may only see Machu Picchu when it is very crowded, and you will miss experiencing the culture and beauty of this great country.

#2) What if I want to hike to Machu Picchu?

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Great idea!  The most popular way to hike to Machu Picchu is the Inca Trail Trek in 10 days.  This includes 5 days in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Lima plus 5 days of hiking and seeing Machu Picchu.

You can actually hike the Inca Trail in 4 days or 5 days, or you can just hike the last day on the 2-day Inca Trail Express.

For a spectacular hiking experience, we recommend the 7-day Luxury Lodge to Lodge Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.  This is one of the best hiking experiences anywhere!

#3) What if I DON’T want to hike to Machu Picchu?

See Machu Picchu without all the crowds

See Machu Picchu without all the crowds

No problem!  The train goes from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (in the Sacred Valley) and then to Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu.  Most visitors to Peru take the train up and back to Machu Picchu in one day.  This means Machu Picchu is extremely crowded from 10am to 2pm.  We recommend spending one night in Aguas Calientes so that you have the opportunity to tour the site early in the morning without all the crowds.  This also gives you the opportunity to climb Wayna Picchu.

TRAIN OPTIONS:

  • Vistadome Train: The most popular, best value for experience
  • Hiram Bingham Train: Ultimate luxury train experience
  • Peru Rail Presidential: Another upscale train option, starts/ends in Ollantaytambo only
  • Backpacker Train: Cheapest option, still clean and safe, and it’s fun to chat with all the backpackers

#4) What ELSE is there to do in Peru?

Where to begin!?  If you have a more time to dedicate to your Peru trip, here are the most popular extensions:

Amazon Rainforest

The closest rainforest experience starts in Puerto Maldonado.  There are a number of lodges to choose from.  Alternatively, Iquitos offers a great Amazon experience by boat or in a lodge, but it is further away.  This can be done in a minimum of 3 days, but we recommend 4 or more.

Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands

Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands

Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest inland lake.  But it is the boat ride out to the floating islands of Taquile, Uros and Amantani that makes it an amazing cultural experience.  This can be done in a minimum of 3 days.

Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is the world’s second deepest canyon and home for the impressive condors.  This can be done in a minimum of 3 days.

Nazca Lines

Overfly the mysterious Nazca Lines by small airplane. This is a day trip from Lima or 3 days to see the Ballestas Islands and Paracas Reserve.

Extra days in Cusco and/or Sacred Valley

There is so much to do here!  Add as many days as you want!

  • Maras salt mines and Moray agricultural terraces
  • Cooking class
  • Peruvian Paso horse show
  • White water rafting
  • Ziplining
  • Horseback riding

Lima

Lima is known world-wide for its amazing art, historic museums, and great food.  Spend a few days exploring

  • Pachacamac and Caral Archeological Sites
  • Palomino boat tour to snorkel with sea lions
  • Peruvian Paso horse show
  • Cooking class

#5) How about fun, ACTIVE things to do?

Zip Line in the Sacred Valley

Zip Line in the Sacred Valley

Peru has it!  How about

  • Ziplining in the Sacred Valley
  • White water rafting on the Urubamba River
  • Sea kayaking on Lake Titicaca
  • Horseback riding in Arequipa
  • Mountain biking from Chinchero to Maras near Cusco

#6) How much does it COST?

Shopping at the Pisac Market in the Sacred Valley

Shopping at the Pisac Market in the Sacred Valley

Good question!  The starting land-only price for the 7-day Peru Machu Picchu Tour by Train is $1035/person.  This is based on a group of 4 people traveling, group day tours (instead of a private guide), and budget accommodations double occupancy.

For a 10-day Peru with Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the price starts at $1765/person.

REMEMBER: Our prices and itineraries can be customized to meet your interests, time frame, and budget!

#7) Can I visit the GALAPAGOS as well as Machu Picchu?

Visit Peru and the Galapagos in one trip!

Visit Peru and the Galapagos in one trip!

Absolutely!  However, I must first say that there is plenty to do in each country to fill two separate vacations.  That said, if you are only going to this part of the world once in your life, you might as well do both.

If you just have 2 weeks for your vacation, your best option will be the 7-day Peru + 5-day Galapagos cruise.  If you have more time, you can do a full 8-day Galapagos cruise and/or add on some nice excursions.

#8) Isn’t Machu Picchu very HIGH in altitude?

Condors in the Colca Canyon get very high!

Condors in the Colca Canyon get very high!

Yes and no.  Some travelers report getting altitude sickness at Machu Picchu.  It is actually Cusco that affects people the most.  When you are met at the Cusco Airport, you are given Coca tea, water, and given time to rest and acclimatize.

Here are some altitudes of note:

  • Machu Picchu: 8000 feet
  • Sacred Valley: 9700 feet
  • Cusco: 11,000 feet
  • Lake Titicaca: 12,000 feet
  • Highest pass on Inca Trail: 13,500 feet (Dead Woman’s Pass)

#9) When is the BEST TIME to visit Peru?

Weavers in the Sacred Valley

Weavers in the Sacred Valley

Right now!  Seriously though, the best season to visit Peru is between May and October when it is dry.  December to March is the rainiest season, but Christmas and New Years are still extremely busy.

NOTE: The Inca Trail is CLOSED for the month of February every year

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