Trip of a lifetime - three weeks in Peru

Despite this article having nothing to do with copywriting, marketing, or freelancing, it has everything to do with my business.

It’s because of my business that I was able to spend three weeks travelling Peru with my husband. I didn’t work – didn’t even take my laptop – and rarely had internet access. In fact, apart from replying to a couple of client messages, I barely thought about work at all.

Instead, I was completely immersed in the whole Peru experience, and I loved every minute. So I decided I would share that experience with you.

Table of Contents

Trip overview

Three weeks really isn’t long to explore a country with as much to offer as Peru, so we decided to get a bit of help. We booked a G Adventures tour through Trailfinders, which meant the whole trip was organised for us – itinerary, flights, accommodation, transport and guides.

We were a little apprehensive about doing it this way – after all, three weeks is a long time to spend with a group of strangers (especially if they aren’t your kind of people).

Fortunately, we struck gold. The other 10 people on our tour were genuinely lovely people, and we all got on brilliantly. We had a great group dynamic and managed to find that hard-to-achieve level of banter where nobody gets too personal, nobody takes themselves too seriously, and nobody gets offended.

The tour itself was pretty full on – it had to be to fit in as much as we did in such a short time.

I’m not going to give a full minute-by-minute breakdown, but here is a quick overview of each day.

Day 1: Arrive in Lima
Arrived at the hotel around 6pm just in time for our welcome meeting and our first meal with the rest of our group.

Day 2: Lima & Paracas
Spent the morning in the Miraflores district of Lima before travelling down the coast to Paracas. A quick paddle in the Pacific, followed by dinner on the seafront and a local beer.

Day 3: Ballestas Islands & Huacachina Oasis
A boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands (aka mini Galapagos) to see birdlife, sea lions and some wild dolphins. Then back on the road to Nazca, with a quick stop at a winery and lunch by a pool near the oasis of Huacachina, surrounded by sand dunes.

Day 4: Nazca
Took a flight over the famous Nazca lines and geoglyphs and debated the likelihood of them being created by aliens. Learnt about pre-Incan civilisations in the Chauchilla desert cemetery. Back to Nazca for dinner before taking an overnight bus to Arequipa.

Day 5: Arequipa
An increase in altitude as we arrived in Arequipa – 2300 metres above sea level. Tried our first (and only) fried guinea pig before exploring the white city and enjoying the views from a rooftop restaurant.

Day 6: Chivay
Altitude sickness strikes as we visited the highest point of our tour (Mirador de Patapampa) at 4900 metres before heading down slightly into Chivay

Day 7: Colca Canyon
Condor spotting at Colca Canyon and some fantastic views on the way to Puno.

Day 8: Lake Titicaca
A day on Lake Titicaca, learning about island life before staying with a local family on the shores of the lake.

Day 9: Lake Titicaca
Helping our host family with daily chores, including making bread, milking the cow and shelling beans for our lunch. Kayaking on Lake Titicaca before saying goodbye to our host family, visiting one of the reed islands, and then heading back to Puno, where our guide took us to his home to sample his wife’s rice pudding (which was delicious).

Day 10: Puno to Cusco
A long journey from Puno to Cusco, arriving just as the sun started setting. Time for some food followed by some local craft beers.

Day 11: Cusco
A free day to explore Cusco and get to know this amazing city.

Day 12: Ollantaytambo
Travelling from Cusco to Ollantaytambo with a few stops along the way. A women’s weaving cooperative, a pottery-making community, and a five-course meal at a community restaurant. Just enough time to see the storehouses in Ollantaytambo before sunset.

Day 13: Inca Trail day one
A pretty steady walk with a few uphills, covering around 7 miles between the starting point and the first campsite.

Day 14: Inca Trail day two
Mostly uphill, with a steep ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass, before heading back down the mountain to camp.

Day 15: Inca Trail day three
Mostly downhill today, which sounds great, but took its toll on my poor old lady knees.

Day 16: Inca Trail day four & Machu Picchu
The end of the trail and the main event – Machu Picchu – which didn’t disappoint. We got lucky with clear skies and a beautiful sunny day. After a guided tour of the ruins, we headed to Agua Calientes for lunch and pisco sours before heading back to Cusco for a much-needed shower.

Day 17: Cusco
Some of our group headed up to rainbow mountain while we decided to spend another day in the beautiful city of Cusco. After coffee and cookies, we headed up to Saqsayhuaman and explored the ruins in the gorgeous sunshine. Back down to the city centre for lunch, shopping, corn beer, and more shopping, a visit to the vicuña factory before a delicious dinner and a craft beer at the Scared Valley taproom.

Day 18: Cusco to Tambopata
From the Andes to the Amazon – we flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldanado, then got the boat to Tambopata. We settled into our jungle lodge, had a tasty dinner, then headed out for a night trek in the rainforest.

Day 19: Amazon rainforest
A day of wildlife spotting on the river, on foot, and on a lake with expert guides. Wild tarantulas, huge trees and lots of birds. Capybara and caiman spotting at night.

Day 20: Tambopata to Lima
A final jungle breakfast before flying back to where it all started, arriving at our Lima hotel around 3pm. A chilled afternoon before heading out for a final farewell dinner with our fantastic group and guide.

Day 21: Lima
Our 21-day tour had officially ended, but we booked an extra night in Lima so we could visit the old town. After a two-hour walking tour, we grabbed lunch, had a pisco sour at the Museo del Pisco and visited the catacombs. Then we got the bus back to Miraflores, dropped in for a couple of beers at the Sierra Andina taproom, and had a final Peruvian evening meal.

Day 22: Lima & goodbye Peru
Our flight wasn’t until the early evening, so we walked along the coast from Miraflores to Barranco, had brunch, explored a little, and got ice cream for the walk back. Then we headed home, flying via Amsterdam before arriving back in Leeds at around 7pm on 21st May.

Cities - Lima, Arequipa & Cusco

During our trip, we visited three main cities – Lima, Arequipa and Cusco.

Lima is Peru’s capital and is home to around a third of Peru’s population, split across 43 districts. It’s located on the coast and rarely sees any rainfall despite relatively high humidity.

Arequipa is located around 2300 metres above sea level at the foot of El Misti volcano and has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. It’s sometimes referred to as the white city due to many of the key buildings being constructed from white volcanic stone.

Cusco (or Cuzco) is located in the Peruvian Andes, at around 3400 metres above sea level. It was the capital of the Incan Empire, and foundations of some Incan structures can still be found in and around the city today.

Lima (part one)

I’m going to write about Lima twice because we visited twice – right at the start of our trip and again at the end.

Our first visit was very short – less than 24 hours. We arrived just in time to go out for dinner with our tour group and guide.

Fresh off our flight, we didn’t take much in as we walked to and from the restaurant. And, as we’d been sitting still on a plane for twelve hours being fed full of carby food, we decided not to order a huge meal.

We ordered a couple of starters – some tasty-sounding Peruvian dishes. They were both absolutely delicious, and we were surprised at how well presented all the food was – little did we know it was just a taste of what was to come (more on Peruvian cuisine later in this article).

After washing a day of travelling away in a hot shower and then collapsing into bed, we woke up (almost) fully refreshed and ready to explore.

Our hotel was in Miraflores – one of Lima’s more affluent areas and probably the most touristy area. It has a park full of cats, a beautiful coastline, and an abundance of cafes, bars and restaurants – what more could you want?

Parque Kennedy
View from Parque del Amor

We headed to Parque Kennedy, (which seemed to be a haven for sleepy cats) and tried our first (of many) chicha moradas (a traditional Peruvian drink made from purple corn).

We wandered down to Parque del Amor (Love Park) and had a coffee overlooking the Pacific Ocean, before heading back towards our hotel, grabbing some of the tastiest empanadas I’ve ever had on the way.

We might have only had a few hours to explore, but first impressions of Lima were pretty good.


We had a couple of stops after Lima – a night in Paracas and a night in Nazca – before we arrived in Arequipa on a surprisingly comfortable overnight bus.

Fortunately, we were able to check straight into our hotel and get a quick shower and change before going in search of coffee.

After an orientation walk, we headed for lunch with our guide and three others from our group and we ordered our first fried guinea pig.

Arequipa main square
Santa Catalina Moanastry

I’ve never seen guinea pig on a UK menu, but out in Peru, it’s pretty standard fare. And you know what – it was pretty tasty (once you got rid of the claws and face). But more on that later.

After lunch, my husband wanted to check out the Santa Catalina Monastery. It sounded pretty boring to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. The guidebook called it a city within a city, and I’d say that was pretty accurate. Interspersed with the nuns’ ‘cells’ were some cute cloisters and courtyards and pretty little alleyways. Definitely worth a visit if you have time.

Next up, we hit a rooftop bar for more coffee and a beer. Overlooking the city is El Misti – a huge volcano that stands alone. Every now and then, you’d look up and remember it was there, looking exactly like the kind of mountain you’d draw as a kid.

As sunset approached, we headed up to a viewpoint overlooking the city (and El Misti), where we sampled some cheese ice cream (which is far tastier than it might sound).

We had our evening meal and a few drinks on a rooftop terrace (yes another one) overlooking the main plaza and the cathedral. 

And that pretty much wrapped up our stay in Arequipa as we left early the next day. I’d have loved another day (if only to enjoy the view from a few more bars and restaurants).

Some of our group visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos, where the most famous exhibit is Juanita – the mummy of a 12-year-old girl who was sacrificed to the gods. Maybe if we’d been in Arequipa longer, I’d have dropped by, but we’d seen plenty of mummies in the desert the day before, so I’d had my fill of dead bodies.

Arequipa by night

I liked Arequipa a lot – it had a very different feel to Lima. Plus, with it being higher than Lima but lower than Cusco, it’s a great place to start acclimatising.


Views of Cusco from Saqsayhuaman

My favourite city of the three, I can see why Cusco is so popular with tourists – and it’s not just because of it’s proximity to Machu Picchu.

It pretty much has everything – history, culture, cuisine, shopping, architecture and stunning views. Surrounded by the Andes, it seems like a strange place for a city, but that’s part of what makes it so special.

We had a full day in Cusco before our Inca Trail hike and a full day afterwards, but I could have stayed there for a week. There were so many bars, restaurants, cafes and shops, I felt like we barely scratched the surface.

If you’re into hiking, you can opt for the Rainbow Mountain tour. Some of our group did it, but it was a full day trip, so we decided to stay in Cusco.

In between eating and shopping, we did fit in time to visit the cathedral (and two adjoining churches), the Santo Domingo priory, and Saqsayhuaman.

The cathedral was overpriced at 70 soles (around £15). You weren’t even allowed to take pictures, which would have at least been some consolation.

The key highlights were a stained Jesus on a crucifix, the oldest painting in Cusco, and a reinterpretation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper featuring a guinea pig as the main course. If you’re into churches, you might find it interesting – personally, I’ve visited better, and I’d suggest spending your time (and money) elsewhere.

Main square in Cusco
Santa Domingo Priory

The Santo Domingo Priory was more interesting (and a fraction of the price). The priory is built on the site of Koricancha (often spelled Coricancha) a holy Incan site. You can still see some of the original Incan architecture within the site (stripped of all the gold of course).

Saqsayhuaman (sounds like sexy woman) is definitely worth a visit. We walked up to it from the main square the day after completing the Inca Trail, which meant the steps felt much harder than they should have. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for meandering around Incan ruins and enjoying clear views over Cusco.

Food and drink wise, we were spoilt for choice – so much so that on our last day, we had two lunches and an evening meal. We also sampled some of the locally brewed corn beer.


I would definitely recommend including a stay in Cusco on your Peru itinerary (even if you have no interest in Machu Picchu). You can fly there directly from Lima, which significantly cuts down travel time.

 Lima (part two)

Our official tour ended in Lima, back in Miraflores, but we added an extra day to our itinerary to give us time to visit the historic centre.

To get from Miraflores to the historic centre of Lima, you need to take a bus or taxi. We booked a free walking tour with Inkan Milky Way. The guide met us in Miraflores and helped us with the buses to the old town, which involved one change, then we made our own way back later that day.

Lima old town
Lima old town

After the walking tour (which took around two hours once we’d arrived in the centre), we had lunch, had a pisco sour at Museo del Pisco, and then visited the catacombs.

Usually, the old town is the nicest part of the city, but that’s not the case in Lima. It’s not that the old town isn’t worth a visit, there just wasn’t much about it that I loved. Perhaps if we’d visited the old town before spending time in Arequipa and Cusco, it might have been more impressive.

Back in Miraflores, we decided to make the most of our last morning and walk along the coast to the neighbouring district of Barranco which took us around an hour and a half.

Barranco, like Miraflores, is an upmarket district of Lima. We didn’t have long there as we had to get back for our flight, but it was worth the walk. We treated ourselves to some ice cream for the walk back and finally got to try the Lucuma ice cream we’d heard mentioned a few times on our trip.

Coastal walk between Miraflores and Barranco

Lake Titicaca

Group photo with our hosts

Part of our trip involved staying with host families on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to this part of the trip. The idea of spending a night in the home of strangers, trying to make conversation with my limited Spanish skills, did not appeal. I thought it would be really awkward. 

I needn’t have worried – the whole experience was great. 

G Adventures are committed to helping local people and communities in the countries they operate in. The Lake Titicaca homestay experience is just one of the ways they have been able to do this. 

They approached this particular community and asked if they would be interested in hosting tourists. They then helped them set up the infrastructure and create an authentic experience. This allows the villagers to maintain their traditional way of life, but make some money from tourism on the side. In fact, the initiative has been so good that some of the host families have started offering their guest rooms on Airbnb. 

Before our homestay, we stayed the night in Puno. In the morning, we got taken to the port by rickshaws. 

We bought gifts for our hosts – rice, sugar, cooking oil, fruit etc. Then we got on the boat and headed out onto Lake Titicaca. 

After two and a half hours, we arrived at an island called Taquile. Our guide gave us a tour of the island and explained a bit about this particular community. 

We had lunch and visited the textile shop, then returned to our boat and headed for Luquina, where we’d be staying the night.

Taquile island

When we arrived at Luquina, each pair on our tour was introduced to a host. Our host was Pedro, and he took us up to his house, which was right at the top of a huge hill. 

His home was made up of separate buildings – our accommodation, their accommodation, the kitchen and some other rooms. Pedro showed us to our room which was lovely. 

We freshened up and then met Pedro’s wife, Matilda, who was lovely. She invited us into the kitchen, where she was cooking our evening meal. 

Before we ate, Pedro and Matilda dressed us in traditional Luquina clothing, and we headed down to the village hall to meet up with the rest of our group, who were also wearing traditional outfits. 

There was a band, and the locals showed us their traditional dances, then we were invited to take part. Who doesn’t love a bit of forced fun?

After working up an appetite, we went back up the hill and had dinner with Matilda and Pedro. The meal was representative of the type of food they eat. Soup made with veg from the farm, and rice and veg. 

After dinner, we went to bed as we had an early start to help on the farm. Matilda and Pedro started at 4am, but we didn’t start until 7am. 

We helped Matilda make the bread for breakfast, which was delicious. Then we helped her with her daily tasks – we moved the pigs down the hill, shelled beans for our lunch, and milked the cows (turns out I’m not very good at it). 

Helping on the farm
Kayaking on Lake Titicaca

Some of us had booked to go kayaking on Lake Titicaca, so around 9am, Pedro took us (and the cows) down the hill to meet our guide. 

Kayaking on the lake was amazing, and the views were beautiful. We did manage to get stuck in some reeds, but I blame our guide entirely for taking us on a stupid detour. 

After our kayak adventure, we headed back to our homestay and had lunch with Pedro and Matilda before leaving.

On our way back to Puno, we stopped at the floating reed island of Uros. We were shown how the islands were made and got to go out on the reed boat. The local children decided to join us and worked hard for their tips, serenading us with traditional songs and pulling… I mean plaiting… our hair. 

Lake Titicaca is amazing – well worth visiting on a trip to Peru. It’s so interesting to see how the different communities have adapted to island life. 

Reed island of Uros

Inca Trail & Machu Picchu

Let’s talk about the highlight of the trip – the bucket list item – completing the Inca Trail and visiting the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu.

It’s worth noting you don’t have to do the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu. You can take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and then the bus up to Machu Picchu for a guided tour. Just make sure you book in advance, as train tickets and tours are limited.

The only difference with getting the train versus doing the Inca Trail (apart from not having to hike and camp for four days) is you don’t get to see the ruins from above. When you arrive via the Inca Trail, you get the views from the sun gate and are first in line for those iconic shots overlooking the ruins. 

But the Inca Trail involves four days of hiking and camping without hot showers, electricity, or internet access. We got lucky with the weather, but the people who did it the week before got rained on the entire trip. 

So if you don’t enjoy hiking, aren’t physically fit, hate sleeping in tents, can’t live without your phone, and have no desire to challenge yourself, then the Inca Trail isn’t for you. 

But if you can cope with four days of roughing it, I’d say go for it because it’s a fantastic experience. 


Day 1

We set off from Ollantaytambo around 8am and arrived at the start of the Inca Trail around 45 minutes later, where we handed our main bags over to the porters. The porters take care of carrying all the equipment and food, the tents and up to 6kg of additional luggage per person (which includes your sleeping bag, optional air mattress, changes of clothes, and any toiletries or luxuries you want to take). Anything over 6kg, you carry yourself on top of the stuff you need for the day (waterproofs, sun cream, snacks, water etc.).

Once we’d arranged all the bags, we set off and walked for around three and a half hours, with some short breaks along the way. The first part was pretty easy-going, apart from one short uphill climb. 

We stopped for lunch and then continued walking for another two and a half hours, arriving at camp around 5pm. 

The porters already had camp set up and brought everyone a bowl of warm water to wash in before preparing dinner.

Day 2

Up at 5am for breakfast before leaving camp around 6:30am. 

The morning walk was all uphill – 40 minutes to Ayapta, then 80 minutes to Llulluchampa, then a 450m ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass, where we arrived around 11:40. The climb up to Dead Woman’s Pass was the steepest part, and probably the hardest part of the entire trail. 

Once the whole group had made it up (you walk at your own pace), we headed downhill to camp, arriving around 2pm. We had lunch and then had the rest of the afternoon to chill before dinner. 

Day 3

Another 5am start, leaving camp around 6:30. The first part of the walk was uphill with some amazing views. Then we headed downhill, stopping to explore some Incan ruins on the way. 

The next part of the trail took us through a cloud forest and was probably my favourite part of the trail. We had lunch at Phuyupatmarca, and then it was almost all downhill walking to camp with more ruins on the way. We arrived at camp around 5pm.

Day 4

A 3am wake-up call today. Not because we needed to be up at 3am, but because the train company only runs one service for the porters and if they miss it, they have to walk the whole trail back to the start. 

The way the train company treats locals is disgraceful, but as they are a private company with a complete monopoly over the services, not much can be done. Hopefully, us tourists can keep putting pressure on them to change their policies. But, for now, it means day four starts ridiculously early. 

We had a very short walk to the checkpoint, which didn’t open until 5:30am. Our group was one of the first groups to arrive, but it quickly got busy as all the groups lined up, ready to walk to the sun gate. 

This was the most congested part of the tour as we all set off together and power-walked to the sun gate. It was a narrow track, so was pretty much single file, and the pace was fast as everyone was keen to get their first glimpse of Machu Picchu. 

It was around 5km and mostly flat with a few uphills and a short steep scramble up the ‘monkey steps’. The sun rose as we walked, and we arrived at the sun gate around 6:40am. 

Entering the Sun Gate and our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. 

After taking endless amounts of photos on our way from the sun gate to the ruins, we headed out of Machu Picchu to use the toilets and store our bags before heading back in for a guided tour. 

We couldn’t have asked for a more glorious day – the sun was shining, and the sky was a beautiful bright blue. 

Machu Picchu is incredible and definitely worthy of its place as one of the 7 modern wonders of the world.

Inca Trail: the good, the bad, and the ugly

The trekking part

There are some tough sections – the climb up to Dead Woman’s Pass is hard on the cardio, and the long, steep downhills were hard on my knees. But if you’re in decent shape and of average fitness, you should be able to complete it. 

If you’re not used to long walks or walking uphill, it’s worth doing a bit of training in advance. Me and my husband climbed two of the highest peaks in Yorkshire beforehand, but we both do a lot of running and walking anyway. 

You don’t have to keep up with the group – we had a couple of people who were much faster than us and plenty who were slower. The guides manage it well, letting you know where the rest stops are and making sure nobody is left behind. You never feel rushed – plenty of time for snack stops and photos. 

Altitude sickness

One thing that can hinder people on the trail is altitude sickness. We were at altitude for a week before we started the trail, so it didn’t impact our trek, but it did hit us hard beforehand. 

Almost everyone in our group was affected in some way – ranging from shortness of breath and fatigue to head-splitting migraines and nausea. Both my husband and I suffered from headaches. We also found ourselves waking up extremely thirsty throughout the night – I was waking up almost hourly with a dry mouth which meant a broken night’s sleep. 

If you can, I recommend spending time at altitude before starting the Inca Trail. Either visit some places on your way as we did or give yourself a couple of days in Cusco to acclimatise. 

The food

The quality of food on the trail was incredible, given it was prepared in tents, on gas stoves, and mainly by torchlight. Even the fussy eaters and vegetarians were well catered for. 

Breakfasts were pretty carby – bread, cake, porridge etc. Lunches involved three courses (including some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had). Before the evening meals, we were treated to hot drinks and a snack. Evening meals usually consisted of soup and a main. 

On day one, there are plenty of places to stock up on extra snacks – we even passed a kiosk selling ice creams. Water is available at every meal, so you only need to carry enough for a few hours of walking.

If you want fizzy drinks or alcohol, you’ll need to stock up before setting off or buy from one of the small stalls you pass on day one. Alternatively, wait until the end of the trip and treat yourself to an ice-cold beer in Aguas Calientes.

Camping, toilets and showers

This was the part I was most worried about. I’m not a princess, but I’d read all kinds of stuff about carrying pee-pee cloths, peeing into big yoghurt pots, and the etiquette around pooping in bushes. 

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do any of that stuff. I only did one wild wee all trip, and I could probably have held it if I’d needed to. All the camps had toilets, and there were toilets at most rest stops and lunch areas. 

There was one lunch stop without a toilet, but the porters erected a toilet tent with a portable loo in it. Most of the men went wild, but us ladies had somewhere private to pee. And it wasn’t much different to using a normal toilet – apart from the fact some poor soul had to empty it afterwards. 

One of the camps had squatter toilets, but I’m ok with these after travelling Asia. Apparently, there were some Western toilets in that camp, but they were further from the tents, so I stuck with the squatter loos. 

My top tip would be to pack a head torch for nighttime toileting – most of the toilets don’t have lights, and you’ll want to keep your hands free.

Regarding showers, there were no hot ones. There were a couple of cold showers, but they didn’t look particularly inviting. We’d already made peace with the idea of not showering before setting off. I had a long shower the morning we left and an even longer one the day we got back. 

Every time we arrived at camp, the porters brought each of us a bowl of warm water for washing. Every morning they woke us up with a cup of tea and a fresh bowl of warm water for washing. We also had some wet wipes, so were able to wash our faces, pits, and bits. I also took some deodorant and dry shampoo, but that was pretty much the extent of my toiletries. 

The tents themselves were more spacious than I expected, and, with the air mattresses and sleeping bags, it was pretty comfortable. Temperatures can drop below freezing at night – we were lucky, it never got very cold during our trek, and we actually slept really well.  We did wear thermal base layers as well as ‘pyjamas’, but didn’t have to go as far as sleeping in all our clothes.  


After recovering from the Inca Trail, we flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldanado and were taken by boat to Tambopata Lodge, where we’d be spending two nights. 

On the first evening, we did a nighttime jungle walk on one of the trails near the lodge. I was hoping to see some snakes, but we mainly saw bugs, moths, and spiders. We did see a tarantula, a sloth, and a cane toad. 

The next morning, we took the boat over the river and had a guided rainforest walk. The trees and plants in the rainforest are incredible – nature truly is amazing. 

During our morning walk, we got a raft over an oxbow lake full of piranhas and various other fish. 

In the afternoon, we headed to a nearby orchard and sampled various fruits straight from the trees. We also got to try fresh Brazil nuts, which were delicious. 

At night, we headed out on the boat to go caiman spotting and were lucky enough to see white caiman and a dwarf caiman, plus a few capybaras.

Heading into the Amazon, we were warned to take plenty of insect repellent and to cover our arms and legs. We got lucky. We didn’t get bitten or stung at all during our stay. The weather also held out for us too, and we didn’t get a drop of rain (unusual for a rainforest). 

The lodge was far nicer than I had been anticipating – we did a jungle stay in the Gambia six months earlier, and our room was crawling with bugs, so I was expecting similar. I was pleasantly surprised when there was not a cockroach in sight. We had to catch a few moths and release them back into the wild, but other than that, it was pretty bug-free. 

The food was absolutely fantastic, and the bar even stocked three locally brewed craft beers. 

In terms of wildlife, we saw tarantulas, caiman, capybaras, macaws, howler monkeys, tortoises, a sloth, and all kinds of birds, butterflies, and bugs. 

Other highlights

After a flight over the Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

The Nazca lines are pretty incredible. Nobody knows for sure how or why they were made. A common theory is they were created as messages for the gods, but some people also believe aliens created them. 

The only way to see the Nazca lines in all their glory is from above. Unfortunately, this involves a 30-minute vomit-inducing flight.

Our group was split into two, and six of us climbed aboard our vomit comet. Only one of us returned not feeling ill, but luckily only one of us puked up our breakfast (not me – but another ten minutes, and it might well have been). 

Despite the sickness, I don’t regret doing it – the views were worth it. 

Ballestas Islands

We spent our second night in Peru in the coastal town of Paracas. Paracas itself was nice, but the highlight was taking a boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands.

Known locally as the mini Galapagos, the Ballestas Islands are home to all kinds of bird and sea life. We saw plenty of birds, lots of sea lions, and even some wild dolphins on the way back (which apparently is quite rare). 

Sea lion spotting
Views of Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

On our way from Chivay to Puno, we were treated to some of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen – the photo doesn’t even do it justice. 

Colca Canyon is just beautiful, and we were lucky enough to see the condors flying overhead. 

There are lots of hiking opportunities in Colca Canyon. We weren’t in the area long enough to explore – we were only passing through. But if I was going back to Peru, I’d definitely spend more time here. 


We had a night in Ollantaytambo before starting the Inca Trail, but I’d have loved to have had a full day to explore. 

The town itself is heavily geared towards tourists, with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. But it’s also surrounded by some magnificent Incan ruins, including the storehouses that overlook the town. 

Ollantaytambo storehouses

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

If you’re interested, Peru has 13 UNESCO world heritage sites, and we were able to tick off 6 during our trip:

  • City of Cusco
  • Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
  • Historic Centre of Lima
  • Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa
  • Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa
  • Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System

Plus Machu Picchu is one of the 7 modern wonders of the world (and deservedly so as it’s incredible).

The 6 UNESCO sites we visited

Food & drink

One of the most surprising things for me about Peru was the food. Not just the quality, freshness, and tastiness of the ingredients but the presentation of the dishes. Everything was incredible – I didn’t have a single bad meal on the whole trip.  

Foodie highlights

Ceviche – fresh raw fish served in a citrus (usually lime) marinade that “cooks” the fish on your plate. 

Causa – chicken mayo, avocado, and egg, sandwiched between layers of mashed potato, sometimes topped with ceviche. Sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it’s absolutely delicious. 

Rocoto Relleno – pepper stuffed with seasoned mince, eggs, veg, and cheese. Sometimes the peppers are mild, and sometimes they are hotter than jalapenos – you never know which you’re getting until you take your first bite. 

Alpaca burgers – exactly what it sounds like – a burger made from Alpaca meat. 

Feeling adventurous

One of the national dishes of Peru is Cuy (Guinea Pig). In some parts of Peru, they are fried. In other parts, they are roasted or grilled on a barbeque. They are served whole (face and paws still intact). 

We tried fried cuy in Arequipa. There wasn’t huge amounts of meat, but the back legs came off like chicken drumsticks, and the meat on them was delicious. 

Feeling thirsty

There are plenty of drinks on offer in Peru. 

Chicha morada – a non-alcoholic drink made from purple corn. Not too sweet and very refreshing. 

Chicha de jora – low-alcohol fermented corn beer.

Inka Cola – a bottled fizzy drink that tastes a bit bananary. 

Coca tea – tea made from coca leaves (the leaves used in cocaine production). It’s recommended to prevent or help with altitude sickness. 

Muña tea – made from muña leaves and has a minty flavour. You can also get tea infused with coca and muña.

Coffee – despite producing some of the best quality coffee in the world for export, it’s not easy to get bean-to-cup coffee. Most hotels serve instant coffee, so you have to search out cafes with espresso machines, but when you find them it’s worth it. 

Pisco sour

Pisco & pisco sour

Pisco is the national drink of Peru and is available pretty much everywhere. As with any spirit, the quality varies. 

You can drink pisco neat or in a cocktail. 

The most popular pisco cocktail is pisco sour – made from pisco mixed with lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Sometimes with Angostura bitters, sometimes with cinnamon. 

We had several pisco sours throughout the trip, and no two were quite the same. 

Pisco sours are a must-try on any trip to Peru. 

Craft beer

Another surprising thing about Peru was the amount of locally brewed craft beers on offer. 

Cusquena is the national beer, and we worked our way through all of the core beers- negro (dark), trigo (wheat), roja (red), dorada (golden ale) and doble malta (double malt).

We also managed to work our way through all nine Sierra Andina beers. Starting in Paracas with the Pachacutec (an imperial ale) and completing the collection at the tap room in Lima. 

Sierra Andina beers
Rainforest beer

We also got to try three of the Guaraya (Huaraia) beers during our stay in the rainforest – Carambola, Chchuhuasi, and Copoazu. 

Other beers we tried included:

  • Moche Loche (a pumpkin beer)
  • Chaschaschay (an imperial IPA)
  • Sumaq Warmi (a purple corn beer)
  • Muna Pale Ale
  • Dark Charlie (from the Sacred Valley Brewing Company)
  • Lima Pale Ale
  • Choy Soy Pale Ale
  • Inti Punku (listed in the book ‘1001 beers to try before you die’)
  • Quinua Wheat (from the Cerveza 7 Vidas brewery)

We also sampled some frutillada, made from chicha de jora and fresh strawberries.

Would I recommend Peru?

Would I recommend Peru? Without a doubt. 

I haven’t even mentioned the shopping or the people or the culture or the history – all of which are amazing. 

It’s right up there as one of the best countries I have ever visited. There is literally something for everyone. 

If you like shopping, you won’t be disappointed – there are stalls and shops everywhere selling handmade textiles. My recommendation – take a bag with plenty of space. If I hadn’t run out of room in my rucksack, I’d have brought back so much more than I did.

Our tour group, guides, and porters on the Inca Trail

I’ve already covered food but barely scratched the surface. Honestly, if you’re a foodie, Peru should be high on your list of places to visit. The food is epic, and I can’t believe there aren’t more Peruvian restaurants in the UK – it’s a travesty. 

History, culture and architecture buffs will have a field day – whether it’s wandering around ancient Incan ruins or photographing stunning Spanish colonial architecture.

As for nature, Peru has it all. Coastline and beaches, mountains and canyons, cloud forest and rainforest. In fact, Peru has 90 different microclimates, including 30 of the 32 world climates, making it one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of microclimates.

And finally, let’s talk about the people. Peru is heavily reliant on tourism, but I don’t think that’s the only reason the people are so welcoming. They seemed genuinely proud to share their culture and history. Everyone we met was so friendly and hospitable.

The country has had its share of political problems (like any country), but don’t let that put you off because it’s one of the most amazing places you’ll ever visit. 

If you are planning a trip to Peru, here are my top tips. 

Plan ahead 

Peru is a huge country with an incredible amount of things to do and see, so if you only have limited time there, plan ahead. 

The Inca Trail has to be booked in advance as they have a limit on how many people (including guides and porters) can be on the trail at any one time. That means you can’t just rock up and start walking – you have to get your permit beforehand and leave on your scheduled day. 


Packing for Peru is hard – there are 90 microclimates, so you need to be prepared for anything. This is why it pays to plan in advance and check whether you’re visiting in the rainy season or dry season.

Fortunately, there are plenty of shopping opportunities, and you can buy everything you need, from hats, scarves, gloves, and ponchos, to hiking shoes, walking poles, and sun hats. 

G Adventures

This was the first time we’d ever done a tour like this, and I would definitely recommend G Adventures. 

If you want to fit a lot into a short time like we did, booking with them just makes everything so much easier. We always knew where we needed to be and when, didn’t have to worry about getting from A-B, and had a completely stress-free experience. 

Our main guide – Romel – was with us for the whole three weeks (except for our time on the Inca Trail). He took care of getting us where we needed to be, gave us an orientation walk every time we arrived somewhere new, and provided excellent restaurant recommendations – we didn’t have a single bad meal. 

The local guides were helpful and knowledgeable, especially our guides on the Inca Trail (Javier and Walter), who did an amazing job. I also have to give a massive shout-out to the porters on the Inca Trail, who were absolutely incredible. How they were able to get from camp to camp with all those huge bags and create such delicious meals by torchlight is beyond me. 

My favourite thing about G Adventures is the stuff they do for the local people. The homestay on Lake Titicaca was just one example, but we also visited a women’s weaving cooperative and had a five-course meal at a restaurant, which were both initiatives supported by G Adventures through their partnership with Planeterra. 

You can find out more about G Adventures here: Adventure Travel & Tours – G Adventures

And Planeterra here: Planeterra – Turning Travel Into Impact 

Thanks for reading

Thanks for taking the time to read my review of Peru. There are so many parts of the trip I haven’t included – not because they weren’t worthy of mentioning, but because this post could easily have turned into a book. There were also a lot of “you had to be there moments” that didn’t make it in because, well, because you had to be there. 

It’s incredible to look back at just how much we did in three weeks, and I feel very fortunate to have had this experience. 

A big thanks to our fellow travellers – the Fernandito Trekkers. I don’t think our experience would have been the same without this wonderful group of people.

If you get the chance to visit Peru, do it. And say hi to Fernandito for me. 

Fernandito - the coolest Alpaca in Peru

Hi – I’m Lisa

If this is your first time here, thanks for reading. 

I’m Lisa – owner of Make Your Copy Count Ltd, and author of the ‘A-Z of Blogging’ and ‘The Freelance Fairytale‘. 

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