Peru: How I Spent $143 for Flights & Lodging For 8 Days
Traveling with a large group of people can really bring down the price of your lodging, not to mention group rates for activities and extremely low taxi fares per person. With the use of points and great Air B&B prices due to the low season, I calculated that flights and lodging cost me $143 in total. In fact, all 8 of us spent $143 for all 8 days.
Do not fear! I’m sure you heard of Machu Picchu closing but it is not true. The Inca trail is what usually closes during February and March due to maintenance, but Machu Picchu remains open to the public 365 days a year. Besides Machu Picchu, there are so many other things to do and sites to see. 8 days was not enough but we did indeed cram as much as we could.
Below is my 8 day itinerary with a cost breakdown.
Before You Go
- Malaria Pills – find out if you need to take malaria pills. It’s medication you take a couple days before departure, during and a couple days after. I’m prone to mosquito bites and I saw quite a few mosquitos in Huacachina, Aguas Calientes and when we were on our hike up Machu Picchu.
- Altitude Sickness Pills (Acetazolamide) – Cusco (11,152 ft) is at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu (7,972 ft). I brought some just in case for the group. No one got really ill from this but we did feel like dying every time we walked up the stairs.
- Travel Insurance – If you don’t have travel insurance with your credit card I
recommend purchasing a policy with Allianz (as low as $63), especially if you plan on doing extreme sports – Dunebuggy, sand boarding and hiking up Machu Picchu
- Buy your entry ticket for Machu Picchu. Here is the OFFICIAL WEBSITE and here are detailed instructions on how to book your tickets. Our group did the more popular route – Huayna Picchu hike for the 10am-11am entrance time. Total fee: $62 USD
- Double check your receipts. A couple restaurants overcharged us but luckily we caught it
- Only drink bottled water
- Boleto Turistico – If you want to see other ruins chances are you need this Boleto Turistico card to get in. It costs $46 USD and it´s valid for 10 days. Or if you want, you can also do the partial pass which costs $25 USD. I didn’t get this because we didn’t have enough time to go see the ruins and it was pretty costly. Plus, there are other sites that you can see for free.
Tips To Know
- Pack no larger than a carryon suitcase
- Taxis: there are NO metered taxis. Crazy huh? Before you even get in a taxi you need to negotiate a price. Question – how do you know how much a ride should cost? Well, that’s why you should download Uber. I prefer to take Uber anyways so that I don’t have to pay in cash.
- Fake Taxis: real taxi have the license displayed in the front window and the registration number on the rear doors both inside and outside.
- Taxidatum – I used this website for many of my transfers. They were on time and prices were fair
- Taking photos with the natives: you should negotiate a price first. Typically you just tip them 1 sol.
- Always remember to lock your suitcases while traveling via bus, plane, etc.
- Print your train tickets and your ticket for the entrance to Machu Picchu
- Cars don’t really stop for you so be careful when you cross the street
- Do not bring coco leaves home
Taxis: NO TIP
Tour Guides: 20 – 35 soles ($6USD – $11USD)
1 USD = 3.30 Peruvian Soles
Always pay in local currency. If you try to pay in USD they always round to the nearest dollar so the exchange rate is horrible. I usually say the best thing to do is to withdraw soles from the ATM machine, but in this case it’s better to bring money to exchange. Reason being that the max I could withdraw from an ATM machine was 400 soles at a time. And not only that, I got charged a $6 USD transaction fee each time!!! On top of that one of the ATM machines ate my friend´s debit card.
Upon arrival at Lima airport the booth was “sold out” of SIM cards. The big networks you should get are “CLARO” and “Entel.” I went with Claro and got a 3Gb SIM card for 30 PEN ($8.88 USD). Just make sure that your phone is unlocked.
Apps to Download Before Coming:
- Google Translate
- Uber: save time and save the haggling for shopping
- XE Currency: exchange Rates
- Splitwise: keep track of all your expenses on this app.
- TripIt: best app to organize flights and AirB&B stays.
What To Pack:
- Your usual clothes and shoes for hiking (temperatures may vary). It can be nice and sunny during the day and then very cold at night.
- Hiking shoes: sure you can do it in sneakers…but when it rains it can be very slippery and dangerous.
- Swimsuit: there is a hot spring in Aguas Calientes
- Poncho: Weather in Machu Picchu can be extreme and the last thing you want is to be drenched while hiking.
- Mosquito repellant
- Sunscreen: when taking malaria pills your skin may be extra sensitive to sunlight
- Altitude sickness pills
- Allergy meds: for llama and alpaca encounters
- LOCKS: remember to lock up your suitcases, especially while traveling via plane/bus
- Sunglasses: for sand boarding and if you want to bring a bandana to protect your mouth from eating sand
- Wall outlet adapter
- Power converters
- Plan on doing laundry? The Tide sink packets work great. And for places that have no dryers I’m bringing a portable clothesline.
LATAM Airlines Route:
LAX –> LIM (Direct)
PIO –> CUZ (Direct)
CUZ –> LAX (with 4hr layover in LIM)
Total: 53,092 points using Chase Ultimate Reward Portal. I paid $0 out of pocket for this and saved $829.00
LATAM Airlines allows 2 checked bags for FREE! 4 out of 8 of us are Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card holders so we hit up the airport early to enjoy our meal at PF Changs ($30 credit – don’t forget to tip) and pre-partied at the Korean Air Lounge before our red eye flight.
Day 1 (November 6th)
Upon arrival no customs form is needed unless you are declaring something. We arrived early morning and the AirB&B host was nice enough to let us check in early.
TaxiDatum from airport to AirB&B for 8 people: 105 soles ($31 USD)
AirB&B in Miraflores: $146/night
Things To Do:
- Must eat at La Mar. They close at 5pm. This was the highest reviewed and best restaurant we went to in all of Peru. Can’t stop talking about how delicious the ceviche and pisco sours were.
- Barra Maretazo Restaurant – affordable and cool vibes
- CondorXtreme – 11am – 3pm
Whatsapp: +51 947 392 102
I went paragliding down by the beach. I researched a lot of companies and they were quoting about $80 per person. This particular company charges 170 soles ($50 USD) if there are 2+ people that want to do it. They charge an extra 5% if you charge it on a cc.
- Check out Parque Kennedy at nighttime
- Circuito Magico Del Agua – Entry fee 4 soles
Day 2 (November 7th)
We took an early morning 4 hour bus ride from Lima to Ica for only $7 USD!!
Buy your bus ticket here: Cruzdelsur.com.pe – Tip: change the language to Spanish and you will see the special prices pop up. I give it an A+ for service! They passed out earphones along with a breakfast sandwich and coffee and there is a USB charger.
Departure Station Address: Javier Prado Este No. 1109-Urb. El Palomar
AirB&B in Ica: $85/night. 8 people, 1.5 baths – NO PROBLEM! This place was a 7 minute walk from the bus station.
Grab a taxi from Ica to Huacachina for no more than 10 soles.
Dune bug and sand boarding – There are many companies that offer these activities. I chose SandPeru because they use real snowboards/skis and snow boots as opposed to sliding down on a piece of cardboard. This tour starts at 4pm but come early for shoe size and board fitting. Cost: $49 USD and we had a 20% group discount.
Location: Inside Hotel Desert Nights
Boulevard Balnerario Huacachina 139
Have more than 1 day here? The famous Nazca lines are not too far. The best way to see it is to fly in an airplane which costs $260 per person. If you got the moola then you can book a private tour here.
Ballestas Islands Boat Tour: where you can see penguins, sea lions, and several sea birds. This tour starts around 7:40 am for pick ups and then hotel return around 12:00 pm. Price is $30 USD excluding 13 soles entrance fee. You can book it here.
What To Eat:
Desert Night Restaurant – If you have time to kill before your excursion have a bite to eat here!
El Cordon y la Rosa: great restaurant known for their meats and soups.
Day 3 & 4 (November 8th – 9th)
Instead of driving 4 hours back to Lima airport, I saw that LATAM operated out of Pisco (1.5 hour drive from Ica) and does direct flights to Cusco on Tuesday and Thursdays. I arranged a 20 passenger van to drive us to the airport for 350 soles ($104 USD)
Flavio +51 947 547 944
LATAM was pretty strict on the carryon policy so be ready to check it in. There is also a security guy there that opens up your checked luggage to search for anything prohibited. Good news is that they didn’t charge us to check in our bags which saved us $25. Pisco airport is brand new so there are no restaurants inside. There´s a restaurant down the street called Ases Del Mar which is about a 9 minute walk.
After arriving at Cusco airport I arranged TaxiDatum to pick us up and drive us to our AirB&B for 50 soles ($15 USD)
AirB&B Cusco: $191/night – We spent 2 nights here. The ride to town (Plaza De Armas) only costs 5 soles with Uber.
Things To Do:
- Free walking tour in Cusco starting at 10am
- Plaza De Armas
- 12 Angled Stones: across the street are souvenir shops that will dress you up for free!
- ChocoMuseo: the spicy chocolates are so good!
- San Blas Temple
- Avenida El Sol: go shopping down this street
- San Pedro Market
- Cristo Blanco: quite a hike
- Get a massage for about 30 soles!
Organika: one of the best meals on this trip. The gnocchi and the shrimp salad were bomb!
Per.uk: Try Alpaca meat if you dare!
Day 5 & 6 (November 10th – 11th)
We decided to spend 2 nights in Aguas Calientes (the nearest town to Machu Picchu) because we didn’t want to feel rushed and wanted to be well rested.
Train to Aguas Calientes: I searched on PeruRail.com and I noticed that the cheapest train option departs from Poroy Station which is 40 minutes from Cusco. For the return the train dropped us off in the Sacred Valley called Ollantaytambo (2 hours from Cusco airport). Keep in mind that NO LARGE suitcases are allowed on board. Carryons are okay just as long as you email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Snacks and refreshments are available for purchase (cash only).
TaxiDatum for 8 people from Cusco to Poroy Station: 70 Soles ($22 USD)
PeruRail Train from Poroy to Aguas Calientes: $65 USD
PeruRail Return train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo: $55 USD
AirB&B Aguas Calientes: $104/night – short walking distance from the train station
If you want to ride a luxurious train the Hiram Bingham train can cost up to almost $400 for a one-way ticket!
After the 3 hour train ride we arrived in Aguas Calientes. There are no taxis. I recommend going to buy your bus ticket for the following day to Machu Picchu. It’s $24 USD round trip. You must have your passport with you and you can’t purchase this ticket online. Credit cards are accepted. I looked on google maps where the office is but I remember it was different when I went in person. It’s a tiny town and there are signs to the ticket office so I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding it.
We hired a guide ($10 USD per person) and he met us at the hotel and were out the door by 6:30 am heading to the bus pick up location. Buses run from 5:30 am until 3:30 pm. In the busy months the line for the bus wraps along the river, but when we went in November we waited only about 10 minutes before boarding the bus. Then it’s a 30 minute ride up the windy road. Be sure to bring your passport and use the toilet (2 soles) before entering Machu Picchu because there are no bathrooms inside. Our guide was very informational and showed us the best places to take photos and then we were off on our hike around 10:30 am. At the entrance you are assigned a number with your name so they can be sure that everyone made it out. It took the group about 45 minutes to reach the top (with breaks). I recommend hiking shoes as it is very slippery when it’s wet. On the way down you do have to go through a narrow cave. When you exit Machu Picchu get your passport stamped and be patient waiting in the long line for the bus down.
Note: Technically you’re not supposed to bring plastic water bottles in, however if you keep it inside your backpack it will be fine. They are just trying to reduce the plastic waste.
Things To Do:
- “Los Jardines de Mandor” Waterfall hike
- Hot Springs: It was pretty disappointing so save your 20 soles.
- Get a massage for as low as 40 soles ($12 USD)
Where To Eat:
When walking down the main road in Aguas Calientes you will get bombarded with people trying to get you in for drink specials. The drinks are weak and the food is mediocre but it’s perfect for budget travelers.
Day 7 (November 12th)
The next morning we took a 2 hour train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, also known as “The Sacred Valley”, where we stayed for one night. Our AirB&B was about a 9 minute walk and the room was spacious!
AirB&B Ollantaytambo: $115/night. Certain parts of the year you can hang out with the llamas and alpacas here on property.
Picuylluna: You can hike this ruin for free. Opens from 7am until 4:30 pm, however I heard that if you tip them, they will let you in after closing time. The first 15 minutes is super steep and strenuous. The first part that you reach is the granaries (storage area), and if you hike longer you will reach the main ruins.
El Albergue: farm to table food. We went during their lunch special and the club sandwich was amazing.
Apu Veronica: Their special includes drink + appetizer + main course for 17 soles ($5 USD)
Day 8 (November 13th)
Last day! I arranged a taxi pickup for us at noon. Our flight wasn’t until 8:12 pm so we had a lot of time to kill. Our driver took us to Salineras De Maras which is about a 1 hour drive. It’s a gorgeous place to take photos and they have a bunch of stands selling all sorts of different salts and chocolates.
Then we went to Centro Textil Urpi which was free of charge (30 minute drive). They showed us how they use organic things to get the beautiful colors and how things are woven. A “for sure tourist trap” but if you want photos with the alpacas this is the place to go. I ended up buying a shawl here for $10 USD.
Last stop was the airport which was another hour. Too bad the 2 lounges were under renovation during our time there. For our 4 hour layover in Lima we went to La Bonbonniere Restaurant for our $27 credit per person and then freshened up in the massive Hanaq VIP Lounge. Please note: before boarding this LATAM flight they had people at the gate checking for bottles. No bottles with liquids over 3 Oz (100 ml) are allowed on the flight (even if you just bought it next to the gate).
Estimated Total Cost Breakdown – Please note that AirB&B’s and taxis are split between 8 people.