Plan Your Perfect Peru Tour in 5 Minutes

Plan Your Perfect Peru Tour in 5 Minutes

If you check 99% of blog posts or videos out there, it may seem that you need hours of careful consideration to plan your dream trip to Peru. Wrong. With our advice, you can plan it in 5 minutes. So, set your watches, we’ll be done here in 5, folks. Now, let’s get down to business.

 

There’s Way More To it Than Visiting Machu Picchu

What you need to know is that just visiting Machu Picchu is not enough to make a perfect trip to Peru, the important thing is how you visit it i.e. with the right context, the right pace and the right order of the tours in the itinerary. More about this point later on. But before, let’s get the usual suspect out of the way for now: the best time to visit Peru, a Peru packing list and top things to do in Peru.

Back to the planning. Below, there’s a typical 7 day itinerary to Peru.

 

The Typical Plan

7-day itinerary
Day 1: Arrival to Lima
Day 2: Flight to Cusco and city tour
Day 3: Sacred Valley tour and overnight in Aguas Calientes
Day 4: Machu Picchu tour
Day 5: Rainbow Mountain and flight to Lima
Day 6: Sandboarding at Huacachina Oasis tour
Day 7: Ballestas Islands or gastronomic tour

I know, there are too many unknown destinations so let’s cover that real quick.

happy travelers with ponchos at machu picchu ruins

Peru is more than just Machu Picchu. With us, you’ll visit all of the must-visit destinations.

 

Top Destinations in Peru

Lima

The capital of Peru, located on the Pacific Ocean coast. Roughly one third of Peru’s 30 million inhabitants live here. It has a great gastronomic scene with many restaurants ranked among the best in the world. Visiting for 1 or 2 days is enough to get a clear feeling of the city.

 

Cusco

The former capital of the Inca Empire. It’s located in Southern Peru’s highlands at 9900 ft. around 1.5 hours away from Lima by plane. The main tours (Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, Humantay Lake) are 2-4 hour drives away from Cusco.

 

The Sacred Valley

It’s a 2-hour drive away from Cusco and has lots of amazing landscapes and archaeological sites around. In the old days, it was a resort spot for the Incas due to its warmer weather. We highly recommended visiting it before heading to Machu Picchu.

woman at maras salt mines

The Maras salt mines are one of the most popular spots in Cusco’s Sacred Valley.

 

Aguas Calientes

Aka. Machu Picchu town. It’s the tiny town located in the rim of the jungle at the bottom of Machu Picchu, mostly filled with hotels, bars and restaurants. There’s not much to visit there. If you have time, it’s best to stay there overnight prior to the morning visit to Machu Picchu the next day.

 

Machu Picchu

No introduction needed. It’s located 4 hours away from Cusco (2 hour drive + 2 hour train ride). Day tours from Cusco are totally doable but that means a long day. Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain (the surrounding mountains) are excellent complementary visits to Machu Picchu but need to be booked in advance.

machu picchu view

The number 1 reason you want to visit Peru: Machu Picchu.

 

The Amazon

The exotic land. It’s an excellent visit to complement the landscapes of the coast and the highlands and get a full flavor of Peru.

 

Huacachina Oasis

It’s a cool getaway in the desert 4.5 hours south of Lima. Dunebuggies and sandboarding available for adventure seekers in the Huacachina desert.

huacachina oasis sunset

Did you know there’s a desert oasis in Peru that is surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in South America?

 

The Itinerary in Closer Inspection

I know what you’re thinking: why 7 days only? Why overnight in Aguas Calientes before visiting Machu Picchu? Where is Aguas Calientes? And I hear you loud and clear so let’s dissect the itinerary. There is quite some info coming next but just follow me along and you’ll see how easy we make progress.

Let’s talk about the trip length thing first. It’s 7 days simply because that’s the average trip length for most travelers coming to Peru. Ok but…

Why spend Day 1 in Lima?

Because Lima’s airport is the “most” international airport in the country. It’s the main hub connecting flights from the US and Europe.

Why do a Cusco city tour and the Sacred Valley first?

Because Machu Picchu is the main course of the whole trip and you’ll make the most of it with the right understanding and local context. Also, this way you’ll get used to the altitude.

Why spend the night in Aguas Calientes prior to the visit of Machu Picchu?

Main reason: Machu Picchu is 4 hours away from Cusco (by car + by train) so visiting Machu Picchu in a day tour from Cusco translates into a really long day.

Why Rainbow Mountain on Day 5 and not before?

To get used to the altitude. The peak of Rainbow Mountain is at roughly 15000 feet, which is 5000 feet above Cusco.

Finally, after learning about local living, Inca history, seeing amazing landscapes in the Sacred Valley and Rainbow Mountain and having visited Machu Picchu, it’s time for adventure on day 6 and 7, visiting the Huacachina Oasis or enjoying Lima’s booming gastronomic scene.

amazon river surrounded by jungle

Ready for some jungle vibes in Peru’s Amazon rainforest?

 

Hey, but what about the Amazon? Or other destinations?

You’re right. Peru has way more to show so it all boils down to time restrictions really. To make our point crystal clear, I’ll give you 2 more sample itineraries.

Option A
Day 1: Arrival to Lima
Day 2: Flight to Cusco and city tour
Day 3: Sacred Valley tour and overnight in Aguas Calientes
Day 4: Machu Picchu tour
Day 5: Rainbow Mountain and flight to Lima
Day 6: Sandboarding at Huacachina Oasis tour
Day 7: Ballestas Islands or gastronomic tour

 

Option B
Day 1: Arrival to Lima
Day 2: Flight to Cusco and city tour
Day 3: Sacred Valley tour and overnight in Aguas Calientes
Day 4: Machu Picchu tour
Day 5: Flight to Iquitos and tour in the Amazon Day 1
Day 6: Tour in the Amazon Day 2
Day 7: Tour in the Amazon Day 3 and flight to Lima

As mentioned before, as visiting Machu Picchu is the main reason for travelers coming to Peru, we can consider it the “core” of the itinerary.

After that, one may consider and add-on or extension, say the Amazon as shown in the Option B itinerary. So as long as you keep in mind all the considerations mentioned in the paragraph above, all your planning will be fine.

travel group in jungle holding exploor peru flag

Some of our travelers enjoying their jungle tour in Iquitos with us.

 

Plan the perfect trip to Peru with Exploor Peru

Looking for the highlights of Peru booking the accommodation on your own? Check out our Best of Peru Trips.

Looking for a total peace of mind and a unique end-to-end experience? Our Tailor Made Trips are what you need.

Want to play it safe with the Cusco part of your trip and have an amazing experience? Our Best of Cusco tours are waiting for you.

So no matter what your preferences, budget or time restrictions are, you can always find the right trip for you with Exploor Peru.

We hope you found the information useful and happy planning! If you have any further questions, feel free to send us an e-mail to info@exploor.pe.

2 Comments
  • 15 March, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    This is so good! What about accommodations for each spot? Any recommendations?

    • 17 March, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      Hello Jordan,
      thanks for your message. Here are the best accommodations for your time in Peru.
      Let us know if you have any further questions.

      Best,
      Team Exploor

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