Cost per day: $31/person
Cities visited: 6
Converstion rate: $1 = 272 PEN
Cost per day: $31 per person
The Big Spenders: Organized tours and Machu Picchu
Peru is more expensive than Ecuador ($21) and about the same as Colombia ($30). We took more organized tours here than ever before. Our Huayhuash Trek costs about $40/day per person.
And then there’s Machu Picchu. Doesn’t matter how you cut it, it will cost you at least $50 just for the entrance ticket. Then there’s a matter of getting there, your accommodation/food at Agua Calientes (rip off central), and if you want to climb Wayna Picchu, there’s extra fee for that too.
Peru is large and transportation cost quickly adds up. We mainly took Cruz del Sur or other premium bus companies because – well, they have nice buses and have good safety records. Try to get the ‘cama’ seats. They only costs only about $5-$10 more but you get comfier chairs that recline almost 180 degree. Definitely worth the extra costs so get them whenever you can (they’re sold out quick). Expect to pay $2-$3 per hour of travel.
We saved a lot on accommodation by Couchsurfing, staying with friends, and getting free accommodations in return for work.
A big tip we learned from our friends over at We Are All Made Of Love was to stay at hospedajes for local tourists (as opposed to hostels catered towards foreign backpackers). We paid on average 40 soles ($15) for a double room with private bathroom in Peru.
Food in Peru is cheap – as cheap as you want it to be. Some set menus (soup, main dish, and a drink) go for as little as 3 soles (about $1). There’s a big variation in price. Stick to gringo restaurants and expect to pay around 15-30 soles a dish. We never cooked when we were in Peru because eating out was easier and can be just as cheap.
To get to Peru from Ecuador
There are 3 ways to get to Peru from Ecuador. We took the most inland route through La Balsa. The journey took us 2 days but it was the most relaxing border crossing we’ve ever done. There were only 4 gringos doing the crossing – no line, no crowds, no touts. Read our experience here: The Long Way to Peru.
Our Peru Itinerary
Chachapoyas – 6 days
We didn’t plan to stay here for that long, but we liked Chachas’ cute downtown area and laid back vibe. The surrounding area is of valleys and rivers and is dotted with ruins – big and small, famous and less so – enough to occupy ruins enthusiasts for many weeks. We ended up visiting the pre-Incan ruins of Kuelap (recommended), the sarcophagus of Karajia, and the waterfall Gocta (tough hike).
Where to eat:
“El Eden” Vegetarian Restaurant – on Grau. Half a block from the plaza.
Where to stay:
Hostal Revash by the plaza – on Grau. S/50 for a matrimonial room with private bath. We got a discount for staying for multiple days.
Trujillo – 3 days
We didn’t do much here other than hanging out at a shopping mall, eating western food, and hanging out with our Couchsurfing host who’s a mean chess player. We took a day trip to the beach town of Huaychaco in search for seafood (and found it).
Huaraz – 30 days
Our favorite city in Peru! An ugly city surrounded by some of the most impressive mountain ranges we’ve seen, Huaraz offers a little bit of everything to outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re into mountains, hiking, trekking, or climbing, you’ll like it here.
Where to eat:
plenty of restaurants in town, but for good quality and reasonably priced gringo food – Cafe Andino.
Where to sleep:
Hatun Wasi. It’s about 15 min walk to town, but it has large rooms, hot water, and hearty breakfasts.
Lima – 2 days
We came to Lima for 2 things: finding the best Peruvian food, and seeing erotic pottery at Larco Museum. We’re proud to say that both missions were accomplished with a bang.
Cuzco – 21 days
Despite its bad rap, we actually liked Cuzco with its pretty main square and narrow, confusing alleys. Machu Picchu and the salineras of Maras were the highlights of the area. We were in Cuzco for 3 weeks because we were waiting for my Bolivian visa to come through (it never did).
Towards the end of our stay the hordes of tourists and the constant hassle were finally getting to us. Despite all that, now that we’ve been away from it for awhile, we have to say we kind of miss Cuzco.
For recommendations on where to eat and sleep in Cuzco, check out this post we wrote: Cuzco on A Budget.
Arequipa – 5 days
The lack of hustlers here was refreshing after Cuzco. Mountain biking down Mt. Chachani was such a rush (recommended for intermediate bikers). It’s not as scenic, but it’s longer, more difficult, and more varied than biking down Cotopaxi in Ecuador. We didn’t care so much for Monastery of Santa Catalina (pictured above). We didn’t go to Colca Canyon, but we sure did eat a lot of Arequipeña food.
Where to stay: Los Andes B&B
Where to eat: La Capitana for typical food of Arequipa.
Related: Staying longer in South America? Here’s a sample itinerary for one month in Peru and Bolivia.
Ironically by this time the post is up we are currently making our way back to Lima from Chile by bus (that’s 50 hours – ugh) to catch our flight to New York. We’ll be traveling up and down East Coast for 3 weeks. After that? Africa. Morocco to be exact.
So stay tune!