I don’t usually set off for a country with a developed itinerary. Sometimes, things are scheduled more or less to the minute, like my eight days in Iceland. Sometime, my plans for five months in Southeast Asia can be summarized as — and I don’t want to overwhelm you here with how detailed this is — “go to Southeast Asia for five months.”
There are a few reasons why things are so mapped out when it comes to my trip to Peru. One is the Inca Trail reservation — it is ironclad and must be booked months in advance, so once you have it you kind of need to work around it and make sure that you’re in Cusco forty eight hours ahead of your start time for official check in. Not to mention, there are tons of festivals going on in Peru around my time there, and I tried to devise a route that would allow me to hit up a couple of them.
Another major reason for my pre-planning is that I am lucky enough to have some special people joining me for set periods along the way. Understandably, when someone is taking what will possibly be their only major international trip for the next year or two, they might want to make sure they fit in a few highlights and nail down something more solid than, “Hey, let’s just chill in Lima for however long and just see where the wind takes us!”
A final factor is that for this trip I have worked out some really cool partnerships with travel brands I love, like Viator and Hostelworld. I’ve also pitched stories to my freelancing outlets that have led to some really fantastic opportunities. It’s a perfect balance for me — unlike a press trip I am making my own itinerary, setting my own schedule, self-funding the vast majority of my trip, and maintaining 100% of my freedom. Yet thanks to those partnerships and assignments I can lower my travel costs, earn a bit of cash, and stretch my budget further — which means more travel for me and more content for you. Yay!
This will be a budget backpacking trip, with a few fun splurges thrown in. I’ll be staying primarily in hostels, with a few hotels thrown in there thanks to various freelancing gigs. One area I always tend to spend big in is activities — what can I say, I’m a yes girl! As far as transit I’ll be traveling primarily by bus with the exception of crazy cheap Star Peru flights to Iquitos ($148 RT from Lima) and Puerto Maldonado ($90 RT from Cusco — for comparison, the bus takes twenty hours and cost $70 RT!)
• 11 Days / Iquitos / My first stop will be the Amazon. Here I’ll be reviewing one of Viator’s jungle trips (in conjunction with a fun giveaway coming up on Alex in Wanderland!) followed by a few days exploring the city and catching up on work. Then, courtesy of one of my freelance writing gigs, I head out on a luxury river cruise. I know, right? Tough job.
• 3 Days / Lima / Zoe arrives! I wish we had more time here but we are rushed somewhat by our Inca Trail reservation. We’re planning to go paragliding, check out the El Señor de los Milagros Festival, and take advantage of Miraflores’ trendy food and nightlife scene. I also have a few Viator tour reviews to do, which Zoe will be my trusty assistant on!
• 3 Days / Huacachina / Again, I wish we had more time here, but we’re going to make the most of this desert oasis and try sandboarding and dune buggying, lounge by our hostel pool, and go on a tour of nearby Ica’s wineries. Depending on how our wallets feel, we may pop south to fly over the famous Nazca lines. Then it’s off on an overnight bus to Cusco.
• 8 Days / Cusco and the Inca Trail / We’re doing the classic trek. Thankfully, we don’t have anything planned for this time aside from the hike and celebrating Halloween and it’s Peruvian cousin, Día de todos los Santos Vivos.
• 4 Days / Puno / This might seem like a lot of time to those who dismiss Puno as “a total dump” but one of those days is taken up entirely with travel. The rest will be dedicated to checking out Puno Week festivities and taking an overnight trip to the islands of Lake Titicaca.
• 7 Days / Arequipa and Colca Canyon / We arrive in Arequipa just in time to celebrate my birthday! Depending on our energy levels we might take advantage of all the hiking, biking and rafting that Arequipa has to offer… or we might just chill. After Zoe leaves I’ll head into Colca Canyon (independently or on a tour will depend on whether or not I find a buddy — as a lady traveler I don’t hike alone!) We don’t have any accommodation booked here so I’d love your suggestions.
• 8 Days / Cusco / An overnight bus from Arequipa will bring me back to Cusco, where I’ll meet…. Anders! He and a friend will have just arrived in Peru. While the boys head off on an alternative Inca Trek, I’m going to relax in the city and catch up on work.
• 9 Days / Cusco to Lima / Once the boys are back, we will head overland towards Lima, probably stopping in Paracas and Huacachina along the way. One we hit Lima, this group of scuba addicts is diving right in… to a sea lion colony!
• 6 Days / Puerto Maldonado / As Anders’ friend boards a plane back to Sweden, we’re going to be hopping on a flight of our own, to the heart of the Peruvian rainforest. We’re going to document the heck out of our adventure tour to South America’s most remote jungle lodge — between my photos and Anders’ videos you’ll basically be there right along with us.
• And Beyond… / These plans will bring me into December, and my next move will depend on what I decide to do about the holidays. Right now, I’m reveling in seeing blank spaces on my calendar.
Now that you know where I’m heading, I’d love your help. Are there any restaurants along the way I just can’t miss? Is the Nazca lines flight worth it? Would you do Lake Titicaca independently or with a tour? What about the Colca Canyon? I hope you aren’t getting sick of me using the comments section as my own personal travel agency, ’cause I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say.
Top image sources clockwise from top left. Book photo by me. Destination photos are edited by me and sourced from the following locations: Iquitos, Lima, Huacachina, Machu Picchu, Puno, Cusco, Paracas, Puerto Maldonado.