Since I’m currently in the middle of a digital dilemma with a lot of my photos out of reach and new ones not yet able to be loaded, today I am going to tell you about a bucket list destination I’ve been wanting to take for ages but haven’t been able to fit in yet – Peru!
One of my favorite things to do when I’m bored is plan future travels. I plan out routes to take, things to see and time it will take to do it all. These trips aren’t always for my next trip. But I like to have them on hand for the next time I don’t know where to go. You know, in case that ever happens. So now I want to share these plans with you in case you need Peru ideas, and even more so it’s written down somewhere so I don’t forget!
Ideally, this would be a 3 week trip, but you could take off the last stop and do it in 2 if you so desire. Back in 2008, I handed this itinerary over to Maggie (my favorite crazy Bulgarian) and her friends who did the 2 week version and were able to report back that everything was even more fun than I imagined. Jealous! So without further ado, here is my dream trip to Peru!
Day 1-2 – Seattle to Lima
Spend the first day in Lima, catching up from jet lag, wandering around the city, seeing the sites. I hope to check out the Monastery of San Fransisco…
…and the Plaza Mayor.
Both of these are located in the UNESCO World Heritage historic city center with it’s many churches, palaces and historic homes. I could easily spend a day and a half here without getting bored.
Peru has a relatively newish bus service, the Peru Hop, a hop on – hop off bus covering most of the major tourist destinations in southern Peru, and more importantly, everything I want to do! $200 gets you all the transportation you need between cities over 7 days (or more, if you want), stops at major tourist attractions and discounts on hotels and other tours. They even offer hotel/hostel pick up! It’s a safe and cheap alternative to the local buses and/or flying and still allows you flexibility to chose when you want to leave and which places you stop. It’s probably possible to do it for cheaper, but the price seems worth it to me to have the peace of mind knowing that I’m safe and knowing I’m going to go exactly where I want to.
On day 3, I plan to take the bus to Paracas to visit the Península de Paracas. I hope to rent a bike and tour the peninsula on my own.
I also plan to take the boat to the Ballestas Islands for some great marina life viewing!
I’m on the fence Huacachina. I would like to stop at the Paracas Natural Reserve on my way south, but I can’t decide if the sand dunes in Huacachina are worth spending the night at, or if I would rather continue on to Nazca. A night in an oasis in the desert could be cool. This might be a game time decision.
Back on the bus to Nazca! I seriously cannot wait to see the iconic and mysterious Nazca Lines. How were they made? Why do they exist? Maybe we’ll never know, but that only adds to their appeal. Flights cost about $80 for a 30 minute flight. Worth. Every. Penny.
Another bus ride, this time overnight to Arequipa. This charming colonial town has a lot to offer. The town itself is worth at least a day to explore its sites, including Plaza de Armas, San Camilo market, churches and UNESCO colonial buildings.
Near Arequipa is the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons. It’s possible to visit here on a very long day trip, or I may decide to stay the night in Chivay to be able to spend more time here.
I’d also like to maybe take a Peruvian cooking class, climb a volcano and maybe do some white water rafting. So many things to do here!
Next I would head to Puno on Lake Titicaca where the floating islands are! I would absolutely love to spend a night in one of these communities, learning about their unique way of life.
It’s the final leg of the bus tour and at last it’s time for Cusco.
This is the part of the trip that is the biggest draw for people to visit Peru, the reason I originally wanted to come here – hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! It takes 4 days and you are trekking at altitudes of ~13k ft, but you are following in the footsteps of the Inca people. It’s also supposed to get you to Machu Picchu earlier than the trains of tourist arrive, so you have the place kind of to yourself, at least for a short period of time.
It’s time to fly back to Lima and home again, if you only have time for 2 weeks (and a few days). But, if you have a full 3 weeks, continue on to Iquitos in the Amazon rain forest! Iquitos is not accessible by road, so flying there is the only option. Once there, it’s a great place to explore the rain forest, wildlife and the Amazon river.
Now it’s for real time to fly home. But 3 weeks in this country would be magical and worth everything! Just scanning through the photos above, I’m struck by what a diverse place Peru is. From colonial cities to rocky coasts, exotic deserts to soaring mountains, and of course the magnificent Amazon. You really get it all here. As of right now, I don’t know when I’ll be able to make this trip happen. 2016 is already pretty packed full of travel and I already have a couple potential options for 2017 that could happen. But maybe 2018? Or maybe I’ll win the lottery and get to travel full time! Wouldn’t that be the best?!