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Traveling to Peru

Peru Travel Photography - Machu Picchu
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Hey fellow travelers! When I first started researching traveling to Peru I found it hard to find specific information or that information was lacking in general. So I’ve decided to write my own blog about Peru with all the information I’ve found helpful. Brace yourself, it’s going to be a long one!

First thing’s first , my husband and I booked this trip on a whim when covid restrictions were still in place and we decided to go to Peru since it was a more affordable option without realizing all that it had to offer. We booked our flights on United about 6 weeks before our trip.

We started planning our itinerary and getting the necessary information for booking tickets to Machu Picchu and our air bnbs.

The Details for Traveling to Peru

Where we chose to stay – We booked air bnbs throughout the whole trip. While they are super inexpensive most of them had incredible views and were pretty cozy, but some of the older buildings did not have heat, or you could hear every noise on the street or the restaurant below you. All in all I still enjoyed the spacious rooms and quaint details of the architecture.

Tap Water – Since this was our first time visiting a South American country I didn’t really know what to expect when it came to avoiding the tap water so we did not get sick. I chose to only brush my teeth with bottled water, and not eat any fresh produce that may have been washed in tap water. I did find that drinking the tea was totally fine which was something I was also nervous about. If you’re like me, you don’t want to risk shitting yourself in the middle of another country.

Itinerary – We spent 9 days in Peru, the first day was a travel day and we got in pretty late. If you’re trying to see Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu I think this was a great timeline. The only thing I would have changed is spending one extra day in Cusco before heading back to Lima.

Day 1 – Travel day to Lima

Day 2 – Explore Lima 

Day 3 – Early morning flight to Cusco (full day to explore) 

Day 4 – Early Train to Aguas Calintes (arrive around 10 am)

  • Afternoon booked at Machu Picchu 

Day 5 – Early morning at Machu Picchu ( we had Huchuy Picchu hike Booked ) 

  • Spent the afternoon in the hot springs and hiked to the waterfall 
  • Late train back to Cusco 

Day 6 – Full day in Cusco  

Day 7 – Horseback riding in Cusco 

Day 8 – Early flight back to Lima 

Day 9 – Last day to explore Lima and Travel home 

Booking Tickets – Some stuff you’re definitely going to want to book in advance, for instance we could not get tickets to Huayna Picchu since it was sold out. Be sure to book your tickets to Machu Picchu and the train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco ahead. We also booked the bus tickets for both days at Machu Picchu a day ahead , and decided to hike down the last day. Most other things you can do on a whim like getting a tour guide for Machu Picchu or going horseback riding in Cusco. I will link everything below.

Packing – If you’re just going on a casual trip like this one you won’t have to worry too much about hiking and camping gear. We went in late May and the weather in Lima and Aguas Calientes was warm but Cusco was fairly chilly especially at night. 

For hiking Machu Picchu I was slightly over packed. If you aren’t doing the hikes and just doing a few of the circuits then you’ll just need a pair of comfortable sneakers. I brought a rain jacket just in case, a pair of hiking shoes and my trusty bedrock sandals, great for when you’re adventuring and want to get in the water (perfect for the hot springs).  I also packed wet wipes, since there seems to be a concern of lack of toilet paper in public restrooms, I only encountered this once during the entire trip. If you’re concerned about altitude sickness I brought liquid chlorophyll and liquid Iv packs to stay hydrated. 

Currency / Tipping  – Peruvian soles to US dollars was 4-1 . We went out to quite a few fancy meals with apps ,entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine for $70. If you’re on more of a budget you can totally eat a meal for 2 for $5. As you can imagine, a little money can go a long way in Peru.

Language – Traveling to Peru you can most likely get by if you only know English but a little Spanish can be very helpful and it’s fairly easy to learn. This will help you get to know the locals a little better, have a more customized experience and be more aware of what is going on around you which is most important in Lima but also maybe if you don’t want to get scammed or go to a less touristy town.

Uber / Taxi’s – Leaving the airport seemed to be the hardest since the phone service was sketchy and people will tell you that the airport does not allow access to Ubers. This was not true but we did end up taking a cab from the airport and got scammed by the cab driver for 2x as much money as we had tried to confirm when we left with him and he only took cash. We did take some Ubers which were totally fine and we also found some trustworthy drivers through our hotel’s accommodations. 

Altitude – This is a big one for me. I am highly affected by altitude and I tried to do everything I could to prepare (Liquid IV, liquid chlorophyll, hiking at altitude and 45 min a day on the stair master) for this without taking the prescription for it (i’m sensitive to everything and get anxiety). Unfortunately nothing can prepare you for flying from sea level to over 11,000 feet before traveling to Peru. For me I could feel the difference the second I stepped foot off the plane. I was cold, shaking and immediately had to go to the bathroom. I had a headache and felt short of breath and sick to my stomach for about 6 hours. I caved and tried the coca leaf tea which I was hesitant to drink since I’m so sensitive to caffeine (did not affect me). Hydration and a nap was just what I needed and the rest was smooth sailing. 

Flying Home – One of the things I thought was important to share is when you’re leaving Peru at the airport, you’re allowed to bring drinks through security. I was very confused by this as a sip of water won’t make it through security in a US airport. So we bought a bunch of drinks to take home and then didn’t know that you had to throw away all beverages at the checkpoint at your gate. So if you’re like us don’t waste a bunch of money on drinks you can’t have unless you plan on chugging them pre flight. I always bring my own water bottle on a flight and for whatever reason this wasn’t allowed. Hopefully the flight attendants enjoyed  bringing us 10 cups of water for an 8 hour flight.

Now, on to a little more about each city, where we stayed and what we did.

Where we stayed and what we did!


We were here for the freshest cibiche and the beach views, am I right?!

Lima is a coastal city that you will most likely fly in and out of when you’re visiting Peru.

Here we did a lot of walking and saw a bunch of the main attractions such as the plaza del armas, Miraflores, and Barranco.


Circuito magico de lagua – $4 admission

Chocolate making class – $25 admission per person

Kennedy Park if you love to pet street cats like me

Seafood with a view

More great seafood/ fancy beach vibe

Visited the Parque del Amor – Here were breathtaking views of the beach, paragliders and LOTS of surfers! 

Larcomar for shopping and gorgeous neighborhoods. 


Barranco – For the beginning of the trip, there was late night food nearby.

Airbnb Barranco, Peru

The end of the trip we stayed in San Miguel to be closer to the airport.

Flight to cusco


Once getting over altitude sickness this city was my absolute favorite. The old and charming architecture, local shops and views will have you instantly falling in love. There are street dogs around every corner which may come as a bit of a shock to some. The only downside to this city was the amount of street vendors constantly haseling you, which is also understandable. Here we tried to walk as much of this incredible city as we could. We ate amazing food and went horseback riding. We also experienced our first earthquake in Cusco our last day here, while it was quick it was quite an intense ride!


Horseback Riding/ Cave exploring – we booked this last min – $60 per person, we booked this through Get your Guide.

4 hours, snacks and a ride to and from pick up point in Cusco well worth it and we had an incredible time!

Pachapapa – some of the best peruvian cuisine, we ate here multiple times

Ciccolina – Peruvian Tapas


Central Cusco – Great location and very large/nice rooms, but a little loud if you’re above the restaurant at night and there is an event.

Airbnb in central Cusco

Main square – charming view and amazing location, a little noisy but well worth it.

Airbnb in Cusco main square

San Blas – We can not say enough good things about our host George! Stay here if you can!

Airbnb San Blas, Cusco

Aguas Calientes 

Finally, Aguas Calientes! Getting up early for the train to Aguas Calientes was well worth it, and some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. The town was breathtaking, in all the best ways. While traveling to Peru, spending two days at Machu Picchu was especially worth it. The town is small but a lot of stuff is quite touristy.  The bus up the mountain was without hesitation, one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. So if you’re afraid of heights don’t sit near the window. Here we found amazing lucuma ice cream and had some drinks and coffee with riverside views near the train tracks. The hot springs were a great place to relax after a 26k step day. We had tea and walked to the waterfall which was about 10 -15 min from the cafe at the top of the hot springs. We decided to leave early even though I would go back in a heartbeat, just because we loved Cusco more and we had seen everything there was to see. 10/10 recommend an air bnb on the water. 


Air bnb in Aguas Calientes

I hope this blog was a little bit helpful! Traveling to Peru is incredible and I certainly recommend it to everyone! Peru is still one of the most magical places that I have traveled and I can not wait to go back. 

Now if only someone would hire me to be their wedding photographer in Peru… to see some of my destination wedding photography clink here.

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Hey there, I’m Brandi!

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