'a land of native history, mountains, food & the largest desert in south america'
i came to peru in 2015 to visit the countries most famous site, machu picchu. even though i only had a few weeks in the country at the time i totally fell in love with it, i vowed to come back. that time arrived this year. i decided after flying into lima that i would do the south coast then on to arequipa, puno then ending in on the border of bolivia.
the capital of peru is vast & for travellers can be daunting to say the least. the best places for travellers to stay are miraflores and barranco. both totally different in style but very safe when it comes to foreigners.
i decided to stay in che lagarto hostel in miraflores. i have stayed in miraflores and its one of the most interesting areas of lima. the hostel itself is located in an amazing area that close to all the attractions that you want to see in mira. its a safe place for you to enjoy the the city without it being a party hostel. so if your not into partying overnight and want to meet genuine travellers then this is the hostel for you. they offer 24 hour reception and staff with good english. book here.
lima has so many things to do so all i can tell you is the experiences that i has while in the city for only a few days. i decided to go on a food tour while in lima as peru has one of the best culinary scenes worldwide with two of the top ten restaurants in the world. i chose to go with the lima gourmet company they had the top reviews on trip advisor and seemed extremely professional. as soon as the bus arrived and jossy the guide welcomed me i knew i made the right decision they whole experience was totally amazing. we where ferried around the city from the coffee shops of barranco to the fresh market on the coast and then on to making are own ceviche and pisco sours. we then finished with a hugh meal at the of the best restaurants in lima that is right on the archaeological site of huaca pucllana. i can honestly describe this as one of the best food tours that i have ever taken from morning to the afternoon we were always stuffed eating fish, fresh fruits then local dishes at the end that rounded of the day. i can honestly say that this is a must do while in lima.
in 2019 i came back to lima for a few days while on a stop over on my way to easter island. I had been dreaming about peruvian food for the last two year and this time i got to experience it in what has to be one of the most amazing restaurants in the world statera is truly a one of a kind place where you can taste the best peru has to offer from the fruits of the amazon to the awesome seafood of the coast. truly peru has some of the most unique food in the world and this place shows it in a unique style. i had the tasting menu with wine paring, if you want the best this restaurant has to offer then take this option as its a great way to taste your way around peru one small bite at a time from the local chocolate to the peruvian olive oil you will not be disappointed.
i took the bus to paracas. its about 4 hours from lima on the pacific coast. as with most travel in peru the best way is to travel by bus. the best service with online payment is busbud, its super easy to use and the payments always go through.
now on to paracas this small fishing town has boomed into a tourist hot spot where you can take tours to islas ballestas (the poor mans galapagos). they take you on a 3hour boat tour for around ($10) and its well worth it from all the different species of birds, penguins & seals you will spot. i stayed in the kokopelli hostel right on the beach for around $10 a night, the bar is great.
this small desert oasis is something to behold. grab your camera and be prepared for some epic sunsets & general feelings of isolation. while the main area next to the lake may feel a little touristy its the things you can do around the area that make it. from the sunset dune buggy rides to the vinyard tours that are both not to be missed. i stayed in the most beautiful eco tent village (eco camp huacachina) located just away from the main area and i was so impress the tents, they are super luxurious, have a swimming pool and bar area. organise tours and best of all the tents can fit 4 people, perfect for a family. to answer what your thinking, no it doesn't get too hot as the have palm leaves above the tents to keep the heat at bay.
depending of the season it costs around ($25)pppn. this includes use of the pool and all areas of the grounds, it also includes one of the best breakfasts that you will have in peru consisting of some of the best produce from all over peru. the attention to detail and general friendly service in spanish and english of-course made this a great stay while exploring the sand dunes.
my next stop continued my theme of traveling south in peru but this time going inland to the historic and second city of peru, arequipa. this old colonial city is one of my favourites in peru, its super safe and has small town charm to it. the main square is something special with views of the surrounding mountains and volcano. most people visit arequipa as its the gateway to the colca canyon, famous for its spectacular scenery and condor birds. it can be done on a day tour for around ($40) or you can do a 3 day trek from less than ($100). i took the one day tour and it was amazing so if your short of time then get ready to wake up early. i have to mention one the of best restaurants that i visited 3 times in 3 days its call hatunpa a restaurnat specialising in potatoes, yes potatoes. peru is the home of potatoes and here you can try a variety of potatoes that you have never seen anywhere else in the world. just add a topping and you have a filling meal for around ($5). after staying for a few days here i decided that it was time to move on to...
this town is the gateway to lake titicaca and the uros islands, a set of floating islands that indigenous people have lived a simple life on for years. puno its self is nothing special but its a nice place to explore for a day. the next day i woke up early to explore the lake and the uros islands. this can be a little touristy but its now one of the only ways the indigenous people here can make enough money to survive. its a special place where you can find some fantastic opportunities to take amazing photos of the people and surrounding area.
the next day i was on my way to bolivia but i heard that it was complicated and dangerous to make the trip from puno so i decided to go with the only hop on / off bus service that operates the the service that had amazing ratings on trip advisor, bolivia hop. they have a super comfy bus leaving from puno daily on the journey to la paz, make sure to find a seats below for that extra bit of luxury. the guides on-board show you through the whole process of the boader crossing in a safe and fast way. i found the whole process to be super smooth and well worth the money for the added protection and service that comes with this amazing company. you can book here.
my second time in peru had to come to an end at sometime. its a sad occasion for me to leave peru as i really love this country for it beautiful landscapes and friendly people. but i always know that i will be coming back to this diverse place as i have such a fondness and history with it now. pack your bags and get to this place before its totally over run by tourists. you will not regret it.
my recommended places to visit
places to eat
- hatunpa (arequipa)
- lima gourmet company food tour (lima)
- local street stalls
- markets for the freshest fruit
how to get around
- bus companies can be booked with busbud
- hop on and off service | peru & bolivia hop
-uber (super cheap here) (use code; carlm5078ue for a free ride)
where i stayed
- (lima) che lagarto hostel
- (paracas) kokopelli hostel
- (huacachina) eco camp
- (arequipa) wild rover
length of stay
- i would say if you truly want to experience all of peru then at least 3 months but if your tight for time they just plan ahead.
- they use peruvian sol, its a relatively cheap country.
- if you a european citizen and you travel often see my blog post on the curve card its the best travel card around i have saved hundreds of euros using it. download the app and enter my promo code to get a free card & €/£5. click here to see the post
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: can be expensive here take an uber
sim card: i used clarlo. go to an official store with your passport its around ($10) for 3GB
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here: www.airbnb.com/c/cmuies