When it comes to tourism in South America, tours in Peru have always been among the most popular. Cusco, with its amazing Inca heritage and, of course, Machu Picchu, are not just the most famous tourist attractions in the world, they feature on most people’s global travel bucket lists.
There’s more to Peru than you might have realized
However, it would be a mistake to assume that Peru is all about the Inca Trail and nothing else. From the spectacular Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon, to the sun kissed paradise beaches of Punta Sal, to rugged mountains such as Huascarán, there is something for everyone in Peru. Every year, more and more travelers with a spirit of adventure log on to sites like Bookmundi to choose from a growing range of guided tours in Peru. As a travel destination, Peru has never been more popular, and tips that follow below will help travelers young or old have the best possible experience as they enjoy Peru’s unique wonders.
Be prepared for extreme conditions
Peru is all about diversity. From tropical pacific beaches in resorts like Mancora to arctic conditions in the Andes, a Peru tour that takes in as much as possible will require careful and considered packing. Beach, city and remote mountain will all require different types of equipment and clothing, but for every leg of your journey, make sure your clothes are light, breathable and most important of all, comfortable. If you plan to take on the Inca Trail, sturdy walking boots are absolutely essential.
Also, do not underestimate the effects of altitude. Visits to the most popular landmarks from the Inca civilization such as the Urubamba Valley or the Sacred Valley of the Incas will mean traveling to the heart of the Andes mountain range, and altitude adjustment is necessary. For example, Machu Picchu is at an elevation of 2,430 meters above sea level. Stay well hydrated, make sure you get enough sleep and take care of the younger and more senior members of the party, and you will get through it fine.
Spend some time in Peru’s amazing capital
Most visitors enjoying a Peru tour fly in to Lima, and immediately leave the city to head for their tourist destination of choice. They don’t know what they are missing, so do yourself a favor and factor in at least a couple of days to explore some of the following highlights:
The Old Town – the area around Plaza Mayor is full of hidden courtyards and ancient buildings, providing a fascinating insight into the city’s past
Miaflores – this is the main tourist area that overlooks the Pacific. Pick out one of the many family-run B&Bs to get a local’s-eye perspective.
Food and drink – Lima has a great choice of restaurants offering freshly made, local fare at reasonable prices. For something truly out of the ordinary, head to Amaz and try their gourmet specialty, the Amazonian river snail.
Night life – from “hole in the wall” drinking dens such as Al Toke Pez in the Old City, to heaving nightclubs like Nebula in Miaflores, Lima is a city that comes alive after dark.
Don’t rely on the plastic for your Peru tour
European visitors, in particular, are accustomed to an almost cashless society, where they pay for even the smallest purchases using contactless cards and even phone apps. In Peru, it is always a good idea to carry some cold, hard cash. Just to add to the fun, most shops and restaurants will have signs up saying they accept Visa and Mastercard, but double check before you commit to buy or order that meal, as sometimes the signs appear to be little more than decoration.
Small denomination notes are preferred, and as is so often the case around the world, in case of emergency, US dollars are often acceptable. Just make sure the bank notes are in good condition, or they are likely to be refused.
ATMs are widely available throughout the towns and cities of Peru and with dispense cash in either nuevos soles and dollars. Exercise the same caution as you would when using an ATM anywhere else in the world – when possible, use machines that are inside, and avoid withdrawing cash late at night or in remote, secluded areas.
Anyone can do Machu Picchu
So on to the Inca Trail, a staple of most Peru tours. Probably the most famous adventure hike on the planet, the trail has a choice of two starting points, and depending which one you choose, it is either 51 miles or 55 miles in length. Most people look to complete the hike in four days. If the idea of 12-15 miles per day for four days, up steep stone steps with all your provisions on your back is sending you into a cold sweat, don’t worry, there are other ways to get to Machu Picchu.
Perurail runs trains to Machu Picchu, or there are buses available from Cusco or Aguas Calientes, that can allow you to visit the famous ruins in a day. However, that means missing out of the magic of the Inca Trail. For those of limited mobility or those looking for Peru tours for seniors, there is no need to miss a thing. Portering is big business for locals, and there are those who will willingly carry your equipment, your sleeping bag and even your aging grandmother in a sedan chair.
Note that if you do decide to walk the Inca Trail, you will need to buy a permit as part of your Peru tour planning, as numbers are strictly limited to 500 per day. Most travel agents suggest purchasing at least six months before your arrival to be on the safe side.
Visit Cusco, the birthplace of the world
The sobriquet might sound a little like marketing speech, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that Cusco is a very special city, and is the best place on earth to learn the mysteries of the ancient Inca civilization. The city itself is bursting with history, and in any Peru tour Cusco is an absolute must.
While you are there, set aside a day to see the Sacred Valley – it is less than an hour from the city, and the incredible Incan architecture against a backdrop of what has to be among the most beautiful natural countryside on earth is an image that will stay with you forever.