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My Whistle-Stop Tour of Peru by Sally Ward

For more information on the below, please contact Sally Ward in our Tunbridge Wells branch on 01892 511999

South America is somewhere I have always wanted to explore. So, when the opportunity came up to join the Latin Routes Classic Peru trip, I jumped at the chance.

What an incredible introduction I have had, this trip touched on some of the countries highlights including Cusco, Sacred Valley and the world-famous Machu Picchu.  All the arrangements Latin Routes put in place for my trip, from flights to airport meet and greets, accommodation to the trip recommendations and their incredible & knowledgeable local guides could not be faulted. I felt reassured knowing I was in safe hands, yet able to explore Peru knowing I had local guides to help and assist if needed.

I flew with LATAM from London to Buenos Aires, connecting on to Lima with a spectacular view of the Amazon snaking its way through the country, all in all around 20 hours of travelling, but it was totally worth it!  First stop Lima.

My Itinerary:

  • Lima      1 night
  • Cusco    3 nights
  • Lima      2 nights

First stop: Lima

Welcome to Lima, the capital of Peru.  I was met by the wonderful Latin Routes team on arrival at Lima airport and I had private transfers arranged.  Landing on a Sunday late afternoon did mean that I missed the heavy traffic you can often experience during the week.  Lima is a modern city built along the scenic coastline is a great starting point for your travels. The international airport here makes it a convenient entry point for your Peru itinerary.

I would suggest spending some time wandering around in the artist area Barranco, hire a bike to discover the city and coastline, and a must on your tick list is to taste Peru’s national dish ‘Ceviche’!  Although I felt tired, I dumped my bags and headed out for a stroll around the city. Always a great idea to break up the journey and to acclimatise to the time difference (-5hrs GMT) and the warmth before heading on to higher altitude.

Where to Stay in Lima

The best areas to stay in Lima are Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco. These areas are safe and offer a good variety of accommodation choices & local restaurants to experience as well as being in the heart of all the things to do in Lima.

I stayed at the Iberostar Miraflores, one that I would return to.  It offers a touch of luxury to your stay and has an incredible rooftop terrace where you can sip on pisco sours watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, great service and facilities. Plus, you can easily explore from the hotel taking a walk along the promenade that passes along the edge of a cliff like no other.

Next stop: Cusco

From Lima I took the 1-hour internal flight with LATAM to Cusco – the gateway to the Sacred Valley and Macchu Picchu.

Cusco is a small but charming cobblestone-street city is situated at an altitude of 3,400m above sea level and from personal experience, you will need some time to get used to the altitude, plus a great location to use as your base to explore from.  A full day is what I needed before rushing in to my first trip. 

Visiting in March (which is the end of their summer) you can expect the occasional drop of rain as well as plenty of sunshine. The days are warm, but take note, when the sun sets the temperatures drop and irrespective of time of the year and evenings in Cusco can be a little chilly. So, my top tip is to be sure to pack the appropriate clothing including layers, fleeces, warm jumpers etc.  But don’t worry if you find you’re still a bit cold just remember that being in Peru means that you will never be too far from a stall selling alpaca jumpers, socks and gloves!

Cusco is a fantastic city with beautiful architecture, cathedrals, museums, and some of the best restaurants in the country – trust me, I tried a few!


  • Drink plenty of water, sip on muna & coca tea and avoid alcohol for the first 24-36 hours until your body adjusts. It really does work!
  • Pack for a mixture of weather patterns, layers are the way forward and make sure you include a fleece & raincoat – the weather can change in a matter of minutes!

Where to stay in Cusco

There is no wrong area to stay in Cusco so as long as it is in a 15 minutes’ walk to the main square. There are plenty of boutique hotels to choose from ranging in standard and offering great value for money. I stayed at Las Portales Hotel, a boutique property just a short walk from the main square.  I had breakfast included, which is all you need as there are some many amazing little restaurants catering for all dietary requirements in the town. The cost of living is very low so you can get incredible a delicious Peruvian 3-course meal for around £16 per person!

Some of the must-see highlights from Cusco…

The Sacred Valley

Once I spent a day acclimatising in Cusco, I took my first trip to visit the incredible Sacred Valley where I discovered sights like the Moray circular terraces, Pisac, Maras Salt Mines, and Ollantaytambo.

Machu Picchu

The day I had looked forward to the most, well maybe not the 4am wakeup call, but I was ready for the anticipated highlight of my trip. After a 2-hour coach ride from Cusco to Ollyantambo. I checked in for my 1 hour 45-minute train journey onboard Inca Rail where I sat back and enjoyed the amazing landscape of snow-capped peaks and towering mountains, through the panoramic windows.

The train took me to Machu Picchu Pueblo and on arrival it took a further 25-minute road journey winding up the mountain side to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, I met the guide and begin my hike to the citadel.

It goes without saying that visiting Machu Picchu was phenomenal and the highlight of my trip. I had one of the first entries of the day, which meant lower visitor numbers. I was incredibly lucky with the weather, plenty of sunshine and low cloud cover giving me the perfect conditions to just sit there and take it all in… 

I spent around 3 hours at Machu Picchu with my guide, learning about the history of the site.  Don’t forget that you will need to bring your passport for entry and your well-earned Machu Picchu passport stamp!


  • You do need a level of fitness to climb the steps to various viewing platform levels to see Machu Picchu, the altitude will take a small toll on your breathing, but each level can be handled at your own pace, but you will be to be able to climb a relatively steep incline to Huchuy Picchu which takes around 20 minutes
  • Visitor numbers to Machu Picchu are limited daily, during low season it is around 2,500 per day and in peak season this does increase to around 7,000 per day, so buying your tickets in advance of travel is a must to avoid disappointment.
  • Sunscreen, walking shoes or trainers, water, a hat, insect repellent and layers and a rain jacket are all needed for your day trip.  Make sure you visit the loo before entering the site as there are no facilities once you are in the UNESCO heritage site of Machu Picchu!
  • Depending on your time constraints, I would recommend staying a night in Machu Picchu or in one of the small towns close by such as Aguas Calientes or Ollyantambo to cut down the long journey to / from Cusco.
  • Don’t forget your passport – you will need this to collect your tickets and board your train up to Machu Picchu – PLUS you get a stamp in your passport!

Homeward bound

After spending the last night in Cusco, I flew back to Lima and a stay at Iberostar Miraflores where I enjoyed eating some delicious seafood ceviche and buying some final souvenirs.  A great way to break up the journey home. 

Peru, I will be back, and I cannot wait to return for a more Indepth dive and visit to Peru. Although this was the perfect introduction to the country, I would recommend that you would need around 2-3 weeks to make sure you touch on all country highlights including Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, Arequipa and the Amazon Rainforest.

Useful Information:

How to get around Peru

My recommendation would be to start your Peru itinerary in Lima, where there is an international airport with flights arriving daily from the UK. From here, it is easy to find connections on to your next destination whether it be by planes, trains or automobiles!

Best time to visit Peru

Peru can be visited throughout the entire year due to its main climate. For the routing I covered, the best time of year to visit is between end of April to October during the dry season. The rainy season runs from November until April, but places like Lima will have a more pleasant climate during these months.

Travel to Peru: Is Peru safe?

Cusco has one of the lowest crime rates in South America, but you still have to be aware of pickpockets in the tourist areas (much like you would in any tourist destination be it here in the UK or overseas) All tourist hotspots are safe to roam and walk freely, the locals are helpful and friendly, and I personally didn’t feel unsafe when I went out for a wander.

Visa for Peru

UK passport holders do not require a visa for entry to Peru.

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Amy Sharp