Trip Report

Rainbow Mountains, Incan Ruins, Abundant Alpacas, Rich Indigenous Culture and the Amazon Rainforest All Await in Cusco, Peru

Two months of exploring the best nature and culture that the world has to offer in the city of Cusco, Peru and the nearby Amazonas.

by wishingoceansAbout Me:Hi, my name is Oriana! I like working in and exploring the best that nature has to offer - hiking, trekking, climbing, diving, swimming, paddle boarding, and volunteering on farms. read more

South AmericaPeru57 days / January - February 2021

Highs & Lows

There is endless natural and architectural beauty and amazing traditional culture that has stood the test of time!

The elevation is very high, and often you will find yourself out of of breath walking up endless steep roads around the city.

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    You will want a lot of time in Cusco, and you will want to plan out your itinerary early as there is a LOT to do! Almost endless opportunities for day trips/hikes, multiday hikes, volunteer programs, museums.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    When I first arrived I didn't realize how valuable the coins are - in the U.S., people rarely will ever use coins, so I essentially just gave all my coins away as a tip to the taxista in the very beginning! However, in Peru you will pay for the majority of things with just coins! It is therefore very, very helpful to keep a coin purse and carry that around with you. You will be using coins more often than not.

  • How was the food?

    We frequented La Cantina Vino Italiano - they have the most delicious, authentic Italian pizza and cheese/meat platters, paired with delicious Italian wines. The owner is Italian and very friendly. KION Peruvian Chinese restaurant is delicious for Chinese food, very high quality. Kintaro Japanese Restaurant is the best for Japanese food and lovely sake. Taste of India is very good for Indian Food. Green Point Restaurant has great vegan food. Organika has great healthy and vegetarian food options. Fuego had great burgers. If you walk around the Plaza de Armas, you will also find a guy selling delicious crepes with all different flavors! Also, almost all of these places deliver right to your doorstep using Rappi! I highly recommend either downloading Rappi or using it on your computer. Then you can prepay and the food comes right to you. If you want to go out to eat, you can literally just walk around for 10 minutes and basically walk into any restaurant! There are guys outside waving around menus for their restaurants that you can read as you walk, and just pick one, most restaurants in Cusco are very good. Also, be sure to try the Pisco Sour (it should be a bit more expensive, otherwise it's probably not genuine) and the Chicha de Frutilla (strawberry beer)....Read More

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    San Pedro Mercado, right near the Plaza de Armas town square, is the best local market I've found so far in South/Central America, and they offer some extremely delicious food as well! We went daily for the huge, fresh and insanely delicious fruit salads (6 soles/$1.50) and the also fresh and huge combinado jugos (3 soles/.70Cents). The market also sells extremely cheap and delicious chocolates, cheeses, breads, meats, herbs, plants, vegetables, trinkets (the cutest little alpaca keychains) and many, many beautiful woven goods! The weaving in Peru is some of the most ancient and spectacular in the world, so I implore you to support the local women weavers and purchase some of their goods! I bought a coin purse, backpack, shawl, and scarf, and they are all absolutely gorgeous and well-made. I would go back to Cusco just for the woven goods. Also, most people in Cusco do not speak English (unless they work specifically in tourism industry), so try to learn at least the common Spanish words/phrases before you go and download the English-Spanish translation app on your phone....Read More

  • Packing tips?

    Peruvians dress rather conservatively - the general "uniform" is jeans and a jacket in neutral/dark colors. In Cusco, I never saw a single person wearing shorts and hardly anyone deviated from the jeans/jacket outfit, so pack accordingly if you would like to blend in! The temperature during the day is mild/warm, around 21C/70F, but it gets much colder at night (around 14C/55F) and will be colder as well when you go on hikes up the mountains, so for sure bring a warm jacket. It also rains pretty often, so you will likely want a rain jacket as well. Although there isn't water nearby, I recommend bringing a bathing suit for the amazing saunas/steam rooms in the city! If you travel to the Amazonas, you will want light clothing to wear around town as it is extremely hot and humid (semi-conservative shorts, skirts, or dresses are all appropriate), but you will also need long loose clothes and mosquito spray to protect from the massive amounts of mosquitos in the Amazon. Bring a sunhat as well....Read More

  • Transportation Tips?

    Cabs are always the way to go in Cusco. They are everywhere and very cheap. The fare should typically be no more than 5 soles ($1.30) to go around the city, and about 10 soles to get to the airport. Either screenshot the address of the place you need to go, or take a picture of the intersection, and show it to the cab driver. Always negotiate the price before stepping into the vehicle. Tipping the taxistas is not customary in Peru.

  • Any surprises?

    The buses in Peru can be rather difficult to maneuver. The longer-duration/overnight buses are relatively simple, you just have to buy the ticket, then go to a separate line to pay a fee (about 2 Soles), then take the ticket and fee receipt to the main line, and then board. The buses taking you around the city are another beast altogether. You essentially have to already know which bus you need to get on and exactly where you need to get off. You say "Abajo!" when you see your stop coming up, and you pay the guy speaking extraordinarily rapidly saying the different destinations at the door as you leave. It's hard to know exactly what the price is also as it changes fairly often, but it's normally around 1-3 soles depending on how far you go. So, I wouldn't recommend using the city bus unless a local shows you the way. It's easier to either take a taxi or simply walk! Cusco is a very walkable city, as long as you don't mind steep hills. Also, like in many countries, you cannot throw toilet paper in the toilet (only in the waste bin found in all toilets), and you will usually have to pay a small fee for toilet paper/usage of public toilets. I took to carrying toilet paper around in my purse just in case. Also, the Peruvian culture is not so "polite." You do not need to often say gracias, de nada, disculpa, permiso, or other such "courtesy words." It's also common that nobody uses headphones in public and everyone just plays their own videos loudly, so keep that in mind and bring earplugs/headphones for public spaces, especially the overnight bus!!...Read More

Lodging

  • Loki Hostel. The building is hundreds of years old, beautiful architecture, amazing views of the city and Andes from every direction, and the building features inside/outdoors living with large fields of grass and flowers to relax or exercise in throughout the hostel. Prices are very affordable and they offer a dinner menu and drinks at reasonable prices. The rooms are comfortable as well. Keep in mind this is a BIG party hostel! The party is all day and night here! Extremely social as well. Also, it is at the top of an extremely steep hill, so you will get your exercise in. The location is pretty good, a few minutes walk from the grocery store, directly across from a 2-hour laundry shop, and within 10 minutes walk from the best local markets and town square.

  • Panthera Sanctuary, about an hour's boat ride down the Amazon river.

  • Panthera Sanctuary, nestled an hour's boat ride down the Madre de Dios river from Puerto Maldonado.

  • Selina Hostel in Miraflores - very safe, beautiful hostel with all the amenities you could ever need.