Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu - 6 Days
Experience the best of Peru with a personalized travel package that includes hotels, guides, transportation, and friendly, professional service from start to finish. Our expert Travel Advisors will work with you to create a tour itinerary that fits your needs and your travel style. All tours are fully customizable.
Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu - 6 Days
Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Cusco & Machu Picchu, Amazon - 12 Days
Lima, Paracas & Nazca, Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Cusco & Machu Picchu, Puno, Amazon - 16 Days
Short route to Machu Picchu - 2 Days
Classic route to Machu Picchu - 4 Days
From Salkantay to Machu Picchu - 5 Days
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Seeking travel inspiration? Experience Imagination: In South America is a 6-minute adrenaline-fueled short film, sponsored by Latin America for Less, that features the continent’s most stunning landscapes, and showcases travel’s power to enrich our lives.
Film editor Vincent Urban said it this way: “Seeing nature in all its beauty, as is the case for South America, really makes you care about our little planet. It’s not only the places and people you meet that spark your intellectual curiosity, it’s also about enjoying the present moment.”
Read about the making of Experience Imagination on the LAFL travel blog.
"The old Inca capital of Cusco, the breathtaking "Sacred Valley," and the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu are all overwhelming, each in their own right. But they can all be even more overwhelming after Peru-for-Less has done their trick of dressing them up a little for you."
Karl-Heinrich & Terttu Barsch (Orlando, Florida) Traveled to: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu
"Cusco and Machu Picchu were certainly the highlights of our trip. Even though we read books and have seen documentaries of the Inca Ruins, nothing prepared us for the immensity, lushness, and location of the ruin. Seeing the ruin as the morning mist cleared was so memorable."
Dave and Blanche (Colorado, USA) Traveled to: Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Puerto Maldonado
"We selected Peru For Less because of your willingness to individualize our trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu for a great price. Little did we realize just how wise a decision this would turn out to be."
Janet and Karlene (Texas and Virginia, USA) Traveled to: Cusco, Machu Picchu
Are you a foodie, nature lover, or armchair historian? No matter what your passion, Peru has something for you. Use our Peru for Less Travel Style Guide to help you find destinations and activities that match your interests.
With no shortage of mountains, jungles, deserts, and beaches, Peru was made for travelers in pursuit of thrills. Choose from trekking or horseback riding in the Andes, zip lining in the Amazon or the Sacred Valley, whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River or in the Colca Canyon. Try your hand at sand boarding in Pisco and Ica, parasailing in Lima, paddle boarding or kayaking on a rainforest river, kitesurfing in Paracas, or surfing on the beaches of Mancora in northern Peru. Don’t forget to pause, catch your breath, and let the beauty of Peru’s adventure hot spots sweep you of your feet.
Peru is a wonderland of culture and history. Cusco and Machu Picchu are the obvious places to start. But don’t stop there, because you’ll be missing out on a lot. Go to Lima to see the wonderful mix of America, Europe, Asia, and Africa that make up modern Peru. A tour to Puno and Lake Titicaca will transport you to the oldest Andes with vibrant festivals that celebrate Quechua and Aymara roots. Food lovers, bring your appetite to Peru. As you’ll soon discover, no matter where you go, food opens the widest window into Peruvian culture.
Get your nature fix in each of Peru’s three major regions -- coast, mountains, and jungle. South of Lima, the Paracas National Reserve protects a photogenic colony of sea lions and more than 100 species of seabirds. In the mountains, the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary preserves not just the historic Inca ruins, but also rare flora and fauna. Visit the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel’s private reserve to see this biodiversity in person. In the southeastern jungle, the Manu Biosphere and the Tambopata National Reserve are a hot spot of ecotourism in Peru. Go to see nature, stay to experience the magic allure of the rainforest.
Put on your urban explorer hat, because Peru has fascinating cities bursting with intrigue and cosmopolitan flair. Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo, Iquitos -- each has a character all its own. The oldest continuously inhabited city in South America? That’s Cusco. A few days in the former capital of the Inca Empire will convince you that it is one of the world’s great places. Whatever you do, make time to visit Lima. Diverse, energetic and vibrant, the Peruvian capital is home to an enchanting array of museums, restaurants, plazas, and gorgeous coastal attractions waiting to be discovered.
Peru is the place to go to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But beyond the famous trail, there are paths less beaten. Salkantay, Lares, Choquequirao, and Vilcabamba — these appeal to true adventurers. Outside of Cusco, the possibilities are equally endless. The Colca Canyon trek snakes along ancient terraced valleys shadowed by volcanoes. Further north, Huaraz, “trekking capital of Peru,” is basecamp for ascents to the icy 22,204-foot peak of Huascaran in the Cordillera Blanca.
Founded in 1998, Peru for Less has more than 15 years of experience crafting travel packages to Peru and Latin America. We've done the research. We've searched far and wide for the best hotels, tours, and guides. And we've honed our itineraries to make the most out of precious vacation days. We're here to help you travel the way you want. We're here to make your dream vacation happen.
Peru for Less knows how to plan and execute vacation itineraries that work. Travel to one destination or ten, by yourself or with your family, our staff will work full time to get you where you want to go safely and efficiently.
It matters to us that you get exactly what you want from your trip. Whether it takes 3 emails or 30 emails and a few phone calls, your expert Travel Advisor will work with you to adjust your itinerary until it's just right.
Book with Peru for Less and you'll get expert hotel and tour recommendations, phenomenal guides who will make you feel at home, and friendly service from start to finish. At the end of your trip, we're sure that you'll feel you've gotten more than what you bargained for.
Search TripAdvisor for reviews of Peru for Less. Or browse through our collection of 2,000+ testimonials. Our goal is to serve you with the same standards of service and attention to detail that have earned us glowing reviews from thousands of satisfied clients since 1998.
We give you a 24-hour phone number to call during your trip. We also monitor your trip from beginning to end to make sure your itinerary goes as planned. If there's a problem, our team will work full time to get your vacation back on track.
Peru shares borders with five countries in western South America: Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, and Chile to the south. Slightly smaller than Alaska, Peru encompasses 1,285,216 sq km (496,225 sq mi) of land. The Andes Mountains form a rocky spine through the middle of Peru and divide the country into three distinct geographic regions: western coast, central highlands and eastern jungle. An astounding 84 of the world’s 117 life zones can be found within Peru.
Peru’s arid coastline stretches over a length of 2,412 km (1,500 mi) from the the southern border of Ecuador to the northernmost tip of Chile. Outside of Lima and a few other coastal towns irrigated by freshwater runoff from the Andes, most of this area is uninhabited.
The deep cold water Humboldt Current, which flows up the coast from Antarctica, has a huge influence on the coastal climate and ecology of Peru. Interaction with marine air currents produces upwelling, bringing micro-nutrient rich water up to the surface and supporting a very rich marine ecosystem. The cold water current also cools the air and reduces moisture, producing an cooler overall climate, less precipitation, and the arid conditions that characterize Peru’s southern coastal region.
The snow-clad peaks of Peru’s Andean highlands host a range of climates. The lower and more humid northern section morphs into higher and colder altitudes of the central Cordillera Blanca where the country’s highest peak, Huascarán, soars to a staggering 6,768 meters (22,205 feet) above sea level near the mountain town Huaraz. The wider southern Andes form a high plateau known in Spanish as the “altiplano” that extends to Lake Titicaca and into Bolivia.
The Peruvian Amazon jungle ranks among one of the most biodiverse and pristine regions in the world. Year round weather is hot and humid with plenty of rainfall. In total, this tropical region covers more than 60 percent of the country, but is home to only 12 percent of the total population. Much of the Peruvian Amazon is uninhabited and ongoing exploration continues to expose new and exciting findings about native jungle flora and fauna. Jungle lodges near Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado — Peru’s gateway cities for Amazon tours — are the best way to have close encounters with the environment and animals in a safe environment.
Walk on a busy street in the capital of Lima and you’ll see a cross section of the world’s population. How did the country get to be so culturally and ethnically diverse? It’s a long story and it begins thousands of years ago.
About 200 kilometers from Lima, Caral is one of 6 sites in the world where human civilization first originated. At the Sacred City of Caral-Supe, archaeologists have unearthed urban settlements and pyramids developed between 3000 and 1800 BC.
In subsequent millennia, separate cultures flourished in every major geographic region of Peru - coast, mountains, and jungle. In most cases, we know very little about these groups, but ruins and artifacts give important clues to their rise and fall. Significant pre-Inca cultures include: the Chavin (900-200 BC); the Paracas (600-50 BC); the Nazca, creators of the Nazca Lines (50 BC - AD 700); the Moche (AD 100- 800); the Wari (AD 550-950); and the Chimu (AD 900 - 1400).
More than any other pre-Columbian culture, the Inca Empire exerts the strongest influence on Peru’s history and identity. Most travelers arrive in Peru to see the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Lesser-known (yet still impressive) Inca ruins are found not just in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, but also across the Andes and beyond.
Myths and legends from Inca times continue in the present. In rural communities, ancient wisdom is applied to all areas of life, including textile art, ceramics, handicrafts, food preparation, agriculture, ceremonies and rituals. In this way, pre-Columbian culture is very much alive and well in pockets of modern Peru.
The Inca Empire established its capital in the high altitude city of Cusco. Beginning in the early 1400s, territorially ambitious Inca kings extended their conquests across the Andes and down to the Pacific coast. It was the largest empire South America had ever seen, but Inca dominion endured for less than a century (1438-1532).
The arrival of conquistador Francisco Pizarro marked the downfall of the Inca Empire and the start of Spanish colonial rule in Peru. In 1535, Pizarro founded a new political capital in Lima, which had access to the seaport in nearby Callao and communication links back to the Spanish Crown.
In 1542, Lima became the seat of the Viceroyalty of Peru, a vast territory consisting of virtually the entire South American continent with the exception of modern-day Brazil (Portugal’s possession under the Treaty of Tordesillas). As a central nexus of political and religious power, the city of Lima became fabulously wealthy and powerful.
Everything changed when -- in an attempt to improve administration over South — the Viceroyalty of Peru was divided. In 1717, modern-day Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama were grouped into the Viceroyalty of New Granada. In 1776, modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay were clustered into the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. Under the same provisions, duty exemptions shifted the Spanish Empire’s commercial center away from Lima and to Caracas and Buenos Aires and sealed the gradual decline of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
When generals Simon Bolivar and José de San Martín began to organize the revolutionary movement against Spain, political and religious officials in Peru were among the last to join in because their positions were the result of loyalty to the Spanish Crown.
Despite this hurdle, Peru declared its independence on July 28, 1821 — if you travel to Peru in July, expect to see the red-and-white-colored national flag flying everywhere! For the remainder of the 19th century, Peru was involved in political and territorial conflicts as the newly independent countries of South America sorted themselves out. Lima suffered a humiliating 3-year occupation by Chilean forces during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883).
Immigration from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East was a trend of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thousands of French, Italian and German immigrants as well as Chinese and Japanese laborers came to Peru and many settled in Lima. They adapted their lifestyles to local conditions in Peru, but they also influenced Peruvian culture, especially in the kitchen, where the melting pot metaphor comes to life in extraordinary combinations of ingredients and flavors that characterize the national cuisine.
As throughout South America, Peru’s 20th century was marked by economic booms and busts, political dictatorships and guerrilla movements. In the 1980s, the Shining Path wreaked terror in Peru until the capture of leader Abimael Guzman in 1992.
The early 1990s marked an upward turn for Peru. With the return of political stability, Peru became a regional economic leader. Tourism is now at an all-time high. Sharp contrasts remain — a single day of travel separates the cosmopolitan districts of Miraflores and Barranco in Lima from rural towns that hold strong to ancient traditions. But it is this feature that makes travel to Peru so interesting.
It’s been the talk of the 21st century — Lima is the gastronomic capital of South America. And its reputation rests on culinary traditions that derive from every region of the country. For travelers who enjoy sampling creative fusions and new flavors, food can be the highlight of a trip to Peru.
The capital city of Lima boasts a high concentration of top-notch restaurants in the districts of Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco. Celebrated chef Gaston Acurio has dining venues across Peru and abroad. In Lima, Astrid & Gaston (Peruvian fusion) and La Mar Cevicheria (seafood) are among the best.
Another top choice is Central Restaurant where chef Virgilio Martinez is not afraid to mix ingredients and cooking techniques from across Peru and around the world. He uses products like cushuro, an edible cyanobacteria found in the Andean wetlands. Central was recently recognized as the #1 Restaurant in Latin America by San Pellegrino.
Peru has no shortage of options to satisfy your hunger. Be sure to seek out a chifa restaurant to sample the Peruvian version of Chinese food. Ceviche (pronounced “seh-BEE-chay”) is a local dish whose basic ingredient is raw fish marinated in lime juice, salt and seasoned. It’s hugely popular along the coast and also prepared in the jungle with tropical flair. Aji de gallina, lomo saltado, and rocoto relleno are other typical Peruvian dishes that everyone should try at least once. Peru is known for its selection of exotic meat dishes — think alpaca and cuy (guinea pig). But if meat is not your thing, no worries because a growing number of Peruvian restaurants cater to vegetarian and vegan diners. Then there’s dessert — try alfajores or the donut-like picarones.
The southern Andean region of Peru en route to Machu Picchu has its own food highlights. Both Cusco and Arequipa have their fair share of restaurants, bars and eateries that will satisfy any craving. Cuy (guinea pig) is usually consumed by locals during festival times but is also prepared year-round for tourists.
Peru hosts South America’s largest culinary festival called Mistura each year in Lima. This multi-day event attracts gourmands from near and far and gives Peruvians the opportunity to showcase their culinary talents. Along with stands selling food platters, there’s a variety of food-related activities including cooking demonstrations and competitions, round table discussions, and live entertainment. Mistura is also a good opportunity to see and sample dishes made from locally grown crops, such as quinoa, dozens of potato species, and exotic fruit from the Amazon jungle.
With a few exceptions, visas are not required for travelers entering Peru. Tourists are permitted to stay in the country up to 183 days without a visa. An entry stamp is placed into the passport and onto a tourist card, called a Tarjeta Andina de Migración (Andean Immigration Card), which you must return upon leaving the country. The actual length of stay is determined by the immigration officer at the point of entry. Be careful not to lose your tourist card, or you will have to line up at the oficina de migraciónes (immigration office), also simply known as migraciónes, for a replacement card. It’s a good idea to carry your passport and tourist card on your person at all times, especially when traveling in remote areas (it’s required by law on the Inca Trail). For security, make a photocopy of both documents and keep them in a separate place from the originals.
The currency of Peru is called the Nuevo Sol (PEN). Prices are abbreviated as S/. The Sol circulates in small copper-colored coins of 10, 20 and 50 centavos and 1, 2 and 5 Soles. Bills are produced in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Soles.
Where to change currency: You can change your money in Peru or in your home country. Many banks will exchange large amounts of money at no charge, but require several business days. You can also change money at the airport in Lima (open 24 hours) and the rest of it at your other destinations as needed. There are casa de cambio (money exchange offices) in all major cities, generally easily accessible.
The most secure and easiest places in Peru to exchange your US dollars are at the airport or at your hotel, but you will easily find places to change money in most cities. Make sure you know the official exchange rate, as not all places offer the same rates. You can also use ATMs to withdraw money throughout Peru (but not in very remote areas like Machu Picchu or the Titicaca Islands). Keep in mind that when you travel to more remote areas of the country you should have plenty of small bills or coins in Peruvian currency on hand.
Are American dollars readily accepted? Yes, US dollars (in mint condition, with no marks or rips) are widely accepted in Peru. You can use them in most of the hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants, but please carry Peruvian currency with you for remote areas or for shopping in small shops.
Large bills (soles): Avoid paying with or carrying around large bills. Many merchants can’t or won’t change them, and finding someone to provide change can be a hassle (this is particularly true for taxi drivers, who almost never have – or claim not to have – sufficient change).
Other currencies: It is easier to use US dollars, as larger stores and hotels readily accept them and it may be difficult to find places that will change other currencies outside banks and official currency exchange houses. However, you are still likely to get a better currency exchange rate in Peru than in your own country.
Fake currency warning: Though most travelers report no problems with fake currency, you can avoid receiving counterfeit bills in Peru by using official bank ATMs and reputable currency exchange offices. It is usually relatively easy to tell if you’ve received a counterfeit note; click here to see and read about the difference between real bills and fake ones.
Read our travel blog for more info. about how to avoid fake currency in Peru
Numerically, prices in Peru are very much like in the USA. But it’s really a bargain, because in Peru your dollar is worth almost three times what it is in the US. An average good meal in the US is $14-20, and a good meal in Peru is 15-25 soles (under $10 USD). A high-end meal that is $70 in the US is 70 soles (about $20).
Bargaining is expected when you shop in markets. Always make a counter offer lower than the amount asked. If you plan to make big purchases, a nice high-quality Alpaca sweater can cost around $100, while little trinkets will cost anywhere from 30 cents and up.
Peruvians generally do not tip well, if at all. From this perspective, you should tip according to how well you were served. Be aware that some restaurants already include a service charge in the bill.
Tour guide - $5 - $10 per person
Waiters in good restaurants - 10%
Waiters in budget restaurants - from nothing to 5%
Drivers/maids - $1 - $2 per person
Bellboys - 1 sol per piece of luggage
Read our travel blog for more info about tipping etiquette in Peru
Drivers in Peru usually do not receive tips. But at Peru For Less we take a liberal approach and would like to leave it up to you. Tip according to how well you were served. Usually 1 sol should be enough.
Everything is included except lunch and dinner, personal trip costs during your free days such as taxi rides, activities not mentioned in your itinerary, and some airport taxes.
The voltage in Peru is 220V. Some of your electronics may be able to take up to 220V; just look at the label on the charger. If not, you might want to carry an adapter/converter with you. Almost all of the outlets here accommodate both round and flat prongs (the outlet is a combination of the 2 pictures below).
Read our travel blog for more information about using your electronics in Peru.
This will depend very much upon which area of Peru you are visiting. Here is a rough guide to help you decide. The secret, by the way, is layering. Peel off during the warm day, and layer on for cool nights. But pack as light as possible. You don’t want to lug around lots of unnecessary bags during the trip (and you might need room for souvenirs!).
A duffel bag with wheels and a lock (for security) is a good option since you will go through some cobblestone roads. Pack a daypack for short journeys, when on the Inca Trail, or when heading to your jungle lodge.
There are no dress codes, and you are unlikely to offend anybody with your appearance. Peruvians and the Andeans are very open-minded and used to foreign travelers with different types of fashion.
Flight restrictions in Peru are not as strict as in the USA. Whatever you can bring from the US, you will be able to carry on your flights within Peru.
You can make cheap international calls using a calling card. We recommend either 147 or Hola Peru. For 10 soles (about $3.57) you get 48 minutes of call time to the States from a standard landline (pay phones have very high surcharges). Skype is always an option if you have access to a computer.
In most of the places you'll be visiting, your international cell phone will work and will be able to get a signal. However, for remote places like the jungle, a satellite phone is best if you wish to keep in touch.
There are two major telecommunications companies in Peru: Claro and Movistar. You can buy a prepaid SIM card for about 15 soles then recharge them depending on your needs in any store selling Claro or Movistar products, as well as in most supermarkets and gas stations. Before buying a SIM card, make sure that your phone recognizes the local networks, as this is not always the case.
Read our travel blog for more info about using your phone in Peru
Peru is five hours behind GMT (same as EST). Peru does not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Peru is on CST.
Watch what your children eat and drink because they are generally more prone to food sickness. You can rest assured that the food in good hotels and reputable restaurants is safe. For children with asthma, it would be best to consult your doctor before traveling, especially if you are visiting a city at high altitude such as Cusco or Puno.
Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and always keep your belongings close to you. Since you will be traveling with Peru For Less and your transportation will be arranged for you, you should feel safe. Traveling in a group or with your guides, you can always feel secure. However, as with any crowded area in any city, exercise caution – keep an eye on your bags, don’t put your cameras or cash on display and watch out for pickpockets.
Yellow fever vaccination is recommended but not required if you are traveling to the jungle. If you want to be on the safe side, you should get your shots 12 days prior to entering the Amazon jungle.
Drinking only bottled water is a good idea. You’ll find many brands in supermarkets or in little stores called bodegas. Common brands are Cielo, San Antonio, San Luis, and Fresh (lemon infused water). There are two types of water you can buy: sin gas meaning un-carbonated, still water, and con gas which is carbonated. Peru for Less works with good hotels and the food in these hotels is of high quality. Make sure to eat in good restaurants and buy fruits from quality supermarkets like Vivanda and Wong (found all over Lima). If you buy fruit from a street market, take extra care to wash it very thoroughly before eating.
Important note: Peruvian tap water is not potable. It is fine to use for teeth-brushing and cooking (provided it is boiled) but should not be ingested directly from the tap.
Read our travel blog for more info about how to avoid altitude sickness
The weather in Peru varies from region to region and climatic conditions vary depending on the time of year. The weather in Lima is generally pretty mild regardless of the time of year; winters are chilly but not very cold (lows are around 50°F or 10°C), with warm summers. Locations at high altitude are naturally going to be colder than those at low altitudes. See specific location FAQs for more detailed weather information.
A sizable amount of the population in Lima speaks passable English, but many Peruvians do not. In other areas of Peru, that amount is much smaller. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can probably get by with gestures and a few common English words. Depending on where you plan to go, it may be a good idea to purchase a phrasebook.
LAN, Star Peru, and TACA are three principal airlines that operate domestic flights in Peru – all are good options. LAN is a bigger airline carrier and serves a higher number of daily flights to major destinations within Peru compared to Star Peru and TACA. LAN has the best track record for on-time flights throughout the year and offers the highest level of flexibility with last minute changes and cancellations. However, fares for LAN tend to be more expensive than those of Star Peru and TACA.
Read our travel blog for more info about domestic flights in Peru
There is really no place on Earth like Peru. The country has everything - literally, everything - that a traveler might want to do.
Animal residents of the Amazon set the fashion curve in South America. Some opt for a classic chic clook, while others pull from a wildly eclectic palate of bright colors, spots, and stripes.
Barbara, Doug, and friends sport some amazing Cusco-style on their trip to Peru. Learn more about their adventure!
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