A few years ago Matt and I both turned 50. We thought we should go somewhere different and special to celebrate this (rather shocking) joint milestone. After mulling a few ideas around, Matt mentioned that he would love to see Machu Picchu. And so the idea for a long trip to Peru was born.
I have to admit to being a bit dubious at first. Of course I had seen the stunning pictures of Machu Picchu on TV documentaries. In particular I remembered the wonderful “Around the World in 80 Treasures” presented by Dan Cruickshank (if you are interested in spectacular locations and missed this series it is worth seeking it out). But I wasn’t sure how accessible it would be.
I had heard about the Inca Trail, which is undoubtedly an amazing experience. But it involves pre-booking with a guide ages in advance, several days hard walking at very high altitude, and camping out in sub-zero temperatures. Great if you are young and fit and that way inclined, but not for us.
A bit of research soon showed that Machu Picchu is easily reached by train, and that there are some very special hotels in the area. I started reading about other places to visit, things to see, and places to stay. Sites in the Sacred Valley, the Colca Canyon, the Andes, Lake Titicaca…… And of course I was soon bursting with enthusiasm and in full travel planning mode.
After many hours of online research, we settled on the following itinerary:
Flight to Lima (2 nights)
Train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu (3 nights)
Coach excursion from Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca – 2 nights)
Bus from Puno to Arequipa (3 nights)
Transfer from Arequipa to hotel in the Colca Canyon (3 nights)
Transfer back to Arequipa (1 night)
Flight from Arequipa to Lima (2 nights)
(Click on the links above to learn more about each of the places we visited)
Please also see the Practicalities page for resources and advice if you are planning a trip to Peru yourself. This page includes links to many of the sites we used when planning our tour, and information on the accommodation, transport and excursion services we used and can personally recommend.
Peru was a totally different experience to anywhere else we have visited. Levels of comfort varied from the most luxurious hotels we have ever stayed in to being squashed in local buses so tight that we could hardly breathe.
We were frequently advised by hotel staff to stick to guided tours or taxis, but sometimes we just preferred to explore on our own. We got off the beaten track and walked on very dusty tracks at very high altitude. We found that the local people were incredibly hard-working, friendly and invariably helpful. We would never advise anyone to disregard safety advice, but we never felt threatened or uncomfortable in any way.
Of course you cannot see everything, even on a long trip. We prefer to choose a few locations and have enough time to appreciate them fully. The sites we did visit were truly amazing.
We will remember our tour around Peru with great fondness, and feel extremely privileged to have visited such remarkable places.
Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.