Destinations | South America

Peru Travel Guide & Salkantay Trek

30 Jan 2020 | Destinations, Outdoors, South America

Peru is by far the most beautiful journey I have ever experienced. It is a justifiably dream destination for many as it is home to one of the seven wonders of the world with many breath-taking sceneries, a rich culture and great cuisine. In short a country that needs to be on your South America bucket list!

In this Peru travel guide I will take you on a journey of a lifetime through the Peruvian mountains and desert with hikes through the Amazon rainforest and towards the Machu Picchu.

To really discover Peru, you actually will need several months but here I give you the highlights for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime trip throughout this incredible country.

Best time to visit Peru

The dry season is from May to September and therefore the best time of the year to travel to Peru. Summer season from December till March is the warmest but also the wettest, with very frequent rain showers all day every day. In April and October, the weather can be unpredictable with varying conditions.

How to get to Peru

The most important and accessible airport is located in the capital Lima. You will be traveling out of Belgium for around 15 hours. After the long flight, a night in Lima is certainly not a superfluous luxury. Although not many tourists stay in this city, it will certainly be good to come to your senses.

** Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links which means that purchases made through these links reward Bey of Travel a small commission without any additional charge for the purchaser.** 

PERU TRAVEL GUIDE & SALKANTAY TREK

Cusco

From Lima we travelled to Cusco by bus to get used to the altitudes. A necessity as we had to get ready for our Salkantay trek. Cusco is not immediately a city that you will fall in love with at first sight, but here is my advice on the best things to do in Cusco.

Have a coffee at Plaza De Armas, you will often cross the central square during your visit of Cusco. It is the ideal place to dive into the culture and just watch people from a terrace.

Visit the authentic San Pedro market, simply a feast for all your senses.

Enjoy a coffee in one of the honest coffee shops such as The Meeting place, as shops like these focus on fair trade products.

The prices of hotels in Cusco are considerably higher than in other parts of the country. Especially during the high season, both hostels and hotels are often overpriced. Don’t wait too long to book your accommodation. Keep in mind that it is s best to find something in the cosy old part of town.

Find the best hotels for Cusco here.

The Salkanty Trek

Looking for all the essential information to plan and prepare for the Salkanty trek? You have come to the wright place!

After the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek is the second most popular hike to Machu Picchu and it is a lot less crowded. This beautiful route is perfect for adventurers and active hikers. The trek is famous for the Salkantay Pass, which is 4600 meters high and must be crossed, along the Salkantay glacier. You walk through vast, magical landscapes from a snow-covered mountain paradise to a tropical jungle where you will find a wide range of animals and plants and flower species

Duration: 5 days

Total distance: 75 kilometers

Average walking time per day: 8-9 hours

Highest mountain peak: 4600 meters

Price: € 500 per person, a lot of money but worth every penny.

Age restrictions: Children under 14 years old are not allowed to do the trek

No matter how beautiful and tiring the hike may be, the real reason for its popularity lies at the end of this five-day trek, when walking through the Sun Gate and suddenly taking the first magical look at the ruins of Machu Picchu. Only Salkanty trek hikers have early access to the Sun Gate at sunrise that makes this hike to one of the seven wonders of the world a feature on so many “South America bucket lists”.

Do You Need to Book the Salkantay Trek Tour in Advance?

The Salkantay Trek is definitely one of the very best trekking adventures that you will find in Peru and in the continent of South America. So yes, booking the Salkantay in advance will be necessary.

Do not underestimate the tour, the trail can be heavy at times and the altitude certainly does not make it any easier.

I will always remember the last day of the trail when we saw the Machu Picchu for the first time from behind the clouds. Tears ran down my cheeks, of pain and tiredness but most of all of pure beauty! At that moment you realize why you started the hike in the first place, and you fall asleep truly satisfied. The next morning you get up at 4 o’clock in the morning for the final effort, which is the 1800 steps climb to the top of this Seventh World Wonder.

 Some more tips for the Salkantay Trek:

  • Don’t forget to bring your international passport. When you leave Machu Picchu you can put a stamp of the World Wonder in your passport.
  • Take pills for altitude sickness
  • Wear proper clothing. The temperature throughout the tour varies from ice cold to sob hot, so put on layers that you can easily take on and off.

After the hike we went through the rainforest to Puerto Maldonado for three days. We stayed in lodges and enjoyed the beautiful nature. Butterflies, macaws, sloths, porcupines, crocodiles, tarantulas, snakes, anacondas and jaguars all live in the forest. We did different day trips and enjoyed every second on the spot. 

Top things to do in Puerto Maldonado 

Birdwatching at the Clay Lick: set your alarm early and go on a boat to search for thousands of parrots.

Take a jungle walk during the night. Go on an adventure in the jungle with a guide and you will be surprised how many animals are active at night.

Watch out for spiders! When we arrived in the jungle, I was so smart to leave our luggage open for three days. When we left I wanted to pack our backpack and saw a tarantula in our pocket. I screamd so hard that, although I have alarmed the entire resort all together, a guide was soon at our cabin. He picked up the spider (without protection) and put it back in nature. 

We continued our journey to Arequipa, a wonderful city to wander through. You can eat decently in different places and the climate is very enjoyable.

Top Things to Do in Arequipa

  • Go rafting on the Rio Chile.
  • Visit San Camilo Market.
  • Hang out on Plaza The Armas and have a meal in one of the restaurants hidden away on the second floor so you can enjoy the views.
  • .Discover San Lazaro, Arequipa’s oldest neighbourhood

Next on the list: Titicaca. Personally, I thought Lake Titicaca was not really an added value to our trip so if you are short in time, you can easily skip this.

Huacachina is very focused on tourists. It is built at an oasis where you can sand board and ride a buggy through the desert. Nice to do, but there are much nicer spots in Peru like Paracas for example.

The main reason why most travellers descend to Paracas is to make an Islas Ballestas tour and this should definitely be on your Peruvian bucket list. Islas Ballestas is located in the Pacific Ocean and is home to penguins, sea lions and many other bird species. With a bit of luck you can even spot humpback whales here!

Be sure to visit the red beaches of Paracas or rent a bike and cycle through the Paracas National Reserve.

Belgian citizens don’t need a visa, for a maximum stay of 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for the period of six months.

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