For as long as I can remember I’ve been wanting to visit South America. So when Acanela Expeditions invited me on a 7-day trip to Peru with an amazing group of girls, I couldn’t say no! Our trip to Peru was an adventure of a lifetime. The friendly locals, vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes we got to see are what made my trip to Peru feel so memorable. Now I can definitely see why so many people say Peru is one of their favorite countries in the world!
While the 7 day itinerary Acanela Expeditions organized for us was filled to the brim with adventures and cultural experiences, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There’s so much to see in this beautiful country that makes it hard to fit everything into one trip. I really enjoyed traveling with Acanela because they took us to some of the best locations in Peru while still ensuring that we had an authentic experience that also benefited the local communities. In case you’re planning a trip to Peru yourself or interested in visiting, I’ve put together a complete “7 Day Itinerary for Peru” that goes into detail about some of my favorite Peruvian experiences.
Day 1: Arrival in Cusco
I arrived to the charming city of Cusco early in the morning after a short flight from Lima and made my way to our hotel for the night, Casa Andina. After a quick nap to recover from the long flight over from Zurich, I set out to explore the city and meet the rest of the group I would be traveling with for the next week. We decided to take the first day easy, grabbing a quick lunch at Jack’s Cafe, a popular restaurant among backpackers and tourists looking for a hearty, western style meal with plenty of veg options. In the evening we made our way to the Cristo Blanco statue, which offers panoramic views over Cusco’s main square – Plaza de Armas as well as the rest of the city. It’s a great place to take pictures in front of the 26ft tall statue of Jesus Christ as well as with llamas and women dressed in traditional Peruvian wear. Nearby is also the Church of San Cristobal, which offers equally stunning views of the city especially at night when everything is lit up. We finished off with dinner at Nuna Raymi, a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel that serves traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Day 2: Salinas De Maras, Chinchero and Aguas Calientes
The afternoon was spent enjoying a private lunch experience at Mama Mary’s home and restaurant in the middle of the Sacred Valley. Then, with full stomachs we departed on a 2-hour picturesque train ride to Aguas Calientes, passing by rushing rivers through the surrounding mountains and trees. Aguas Calientes is a magical little town that can only be accessed by train. While small, it gets incredibly busy since it’s the ideal point to stay if you’re visiting Machu Picchu, so plan ahead when booking your hotel. We stayed at Tierra Viva, which was a modern hotel and well located.
Day 3: Machu Picchu
- You must wake up early (I set my alarm for 3:30am)
- Get in line around 4:00-4:15am, this will ensure that you are one of the first 100 people that will be allowed to take the bus up for sunrise. We learned that in order to catch sunrise at the summit on time, you must take one of the first 4 busses that go up the mountain. It was also shocking to see how many others were already in line when we arrived at 4:15am, so I can’t stress enough how important it is to get there as early as you can!
- Make sure to bring breakfast and warm clothes while you wait, but dress in layers as it gets warmer once the sun rises (although food is technically not allowed within the grounds of Machu Picchu)
- There are no bathrooms within Machu Picchu, therefore make sure to go before you enter and limit how much water you drink beforehand
- Take your time. The path through Machu Picchu is only one way, therefore make sure you spend enough time at the viewpoint above before heading down to the ruins since you can’t go back up. It’s an easily made mistake that could really ruin the experience.
Although we didn’t quite get the sunrise we anticipated due to clouds, this wonder of the world surely did not disappoint with its beauty. We also got to learn about Machu Picchu’s fascinating, yet mysterious history. It’s believed to have been constructed in the mid 1400’s and abandoned at the onset of the Spanish Conquest, where it remained unknown until 1911.
Day 4: Llama Blessing Ceremony
This ceremony only happens twice a year when new llamas are born, therefore it is something that most tourists don’t get to experience. The reason behind this ceremony is that it is believed to bring good luck and health to the herd, which the locals rely heavily on for wool and food. While there was plenty of ceremonial singing and dancing, one of the most memorable moments was when they actually married two young llamas together!
Day 5: Pisac market and ruins
Day 6: Exploring Cusco
We ended our tour at the San Pedro market where you can find everything including local fruits, chocolate medicinal herbs, handmade blankets and bags all under one roof. We all enjoyed some fresh pressed orange juice from the fruit stands and also picked up some tasty dried fruit and other snacks for the plane ride home.
In the evening we headed to Rooftop Kitchen where we learned how to cook gourmet local cuisine including quinoa risotto and trout ceviche, whilst watching the sun go down over the rooftops of Cusco. It was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone since I believe it’s one of the best ways to experience the culture.
Day 7: Rainbow Mountain and Travel Home