How to see all the main spots in a limited amount of time
A Complete Backpacking Travel Guide if you have a fixed timeline
If you are short on time and don’t want to miss any of the main attractions, follow this guide.
P.S not suitable for those who like to travel in comfort
Day 1 Lima
Arrive in Lima, honestly there is not much to see in the city. One day is more than enough time to get a feel for the city and start tasting the delicious Peruvian food. Some of the best restaurants in South America are right here!
Find an accommodation in Miraflores or Barranco area
Day 2-3 Huacachina
Take a bus from Lima to Ica and then a taxi or a Tuk Tuk to arrive in around 10 minutes to Huacachina desert oasis
I recommend sleeping in Huacachina if you have time, there are different hotels, we choose to stay in the camping Ecocamp Huachachina
You can add a stop and day in Paracas before going to Huacachina and exploring the Ballestas Islands, the bus stops directly in Paracas from Lima.
The hotel in Huacachina can arrange all desert adventures such as Dune Buggy, sandboarding, sunset etc, otherwise there are plenty of options online
Day 4 Nazca lines
Stop in Nazca to explore the famous and mysterious lines, a group of geoglyphs, large line drawings that from a distance appear to be engraved on the earth’s surface.
From Nazca catch a night bus for Arequipa to save some times
Day 5-6 Arequipa
You will arrive in Arequipa in the morning take these two days to acclimatise to the increasing altitude
Colca Canyon is not super far, this is a scenic canyon known for its condors is a popular destination for hiking tours & bird-watching.
Day 7 Puno
Take a bus for Puno for around 7h, it is your entry spot for the Titicaca lake, the world’s highest altitude navigable lake
Day 7-8 Titicaca lake
Explore the island and sleep with the locals
On the second day take a night bus from Puno to Cusco it will take around 7 h and save you some times traveling during night
Day 9 Cusco
The city is really touristic but take the time to get use the altiudine and get ready to the inca trail.
Former capital city of the Incas, Cusco is the starting point for all the excursions
Day 10-11 The inca trail to Machu Pitch
It also known as Camino Inca. I highly recommend to do this famous hiking that terminates at Machu Picchu.Trekkers normally take four or five days to complete the “Classic Inca Trail” but a two-day trek from Km 104 is also possible.
It is an incredible and amazing combination of incas ruins, mountain landscapes and jungles.
- You cannot hike the Inca Trail without a professional guide and all the necessary permits, there are several gates where it is checked (don’t forget your passport)
- If you do not feel sporty enough, you can take a train from Cusco that will take you directly to Ollatatainbo to visit only Machu Picchu.
- If you have time you can also add the Maras Salt Mines or the Humantay Lake in the area
Day 12 Rainbow Mountain
It will take some time to get there (about 2 hours), but it is possible to organise a day trip to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco and it is definitely worth it. There is no need to book in advance online, there are many local travel agencies to choose from once there.
Be careful because you get to an altitude of over 5,000 meters and the hike is very strenuous.
Day 13 Iquitos
Iquitos can only be reached by plane. It is the gateway to the jungle lodges and tribal villages of the northern Amazon. From Cusco it is necessary to make a stop in Lima first.
Internal flights are very cheap, we paid around 50EUR round trip from Cusco to Iquitos with the airline LATAM. You can also choose Star Peru.
Day 14-15-16 Peruvian Amazon forest
Book a lounge in one of the many tribal villages in the forest and enjoy life in the jungle. We found an amazing Airbnb with a local family in the middle of the jungle, only reachable waking 1h
Drop me a message if you are interested to get in touch with a Shaman for trying some of the aborigine rituals
Day 17 Lima
Go back to Lima to catch the return flight and maybe take some time to explore the highlight you missed in the first day
Try the Nikkei food is a delicious combination of both Japanese and Peruvian ingredients – a cooking style which dates back to the turn of the century -and has influenced chefs everywhere.
- You can follow my saved Google Maps with places to see and restaurants
- If you are planning to do the inca trail trek I can only recommend Miguel and his team: https://www.cuscojourneys.com/
- Try to go easy on the altitude and avoid flying directly to Cuzsco from Lima, you will feel it.
- You can buy bus tickets directly at the different bus stations, the most recommended companies for tourists are cruzdelsur and Civa I travelled with several unknown companies and never felt unsafe, but you can notice a higher quality in CruzDelSur buses
- Drink as many Pisco Sour as you can
- If you only want to go to Machuu Pichuu and avoid the trek, buy your tickets in advance on the official website, making sure to buy the right path, the famous photo point from the top is on the path 3.
- To travel lighter, you can keep booked your hotel room or ask the hotel in Cusco to keep your luggage when on your way to the Inca Trail or Machu Picchu
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