Traveling solo in Peru

Everything you need to know to make the most of this trip
Traveling solo in Peru

Have you ever wondered what your travel dreams are? Yes, when I was a little girl, after seeing an episode of Super Quark: I wanted to fly over the Nazca lines and walk the Inca Trail.



Well, not as bad as you dream, right? Before leaving for Peru everyone told me that it was one of the most expensive destinations you could travel to and I admit that this demoralized me a lot. I waited, I planned, I looked for the best way to go there and then when I took my gap year and decided to stay for 3 months in the Andes I spent a whole month in Peru.

From my experience I can say that it is not an expensive place at all, the main problem is that there are no direct flights from Italy and that in any case it is poorly connected from Europe and this makes the cost of flights quite challenging. Once you arrive on site the cost of living is very low, except for some particular excursions, which in any case have a lower price than our European standards.

During my backpacking trip in Peru I booked almost all the accommodations by walking around the city and seeing them in person (except in Lima), yes that may seem strange to many, but it is a really advantageous way to save on rooms. By booking in person you skip the portal commissions and in many cases you can negotiate on additional services, and it is also an excellent way to avoid surprises. In Peru the average category of accommodation can be much lower than what we are used to in Italy. Obviously, if you want to aim high, these problems certainly won't affect you.



It is safe to travel to Peru

My answer is yes! As always you will find stories of people whose wallets have been stolen, but this happens everywhere, I have traveled almost everywhere in the country and always by public transport and alone and at no time have I found myself in danger. Once I left my reflex in the small bus that crosses the border to Bolivia and I went back about ten minutes later and found the driver having lunch with the family who had put the car aside for me, waiting come back! Truly wonderful.

As in many places in Latin America, the danger revolves around the drug trade, given that in these nations the cost of drugs is decidedly lower than in Europe, many people feel pressured to try them, so that environment is the only one where you may have problems, for example in Lima and Cuzco it is better to stay away from where this trade takes place, especially at night. I know this comment seems obvious, but it's not, it's a stronger temptation than you think.

Traveling solo in Peru

How do you get around Peru?

Peru is a very large country and, as you well know, is crossed by the Andes, so transport is not always easy. Check carefully how many days you have available, so as to understand which routes you need to fly on. For example, if you have to return to Lima from the Amazon, it is better to do so by flying than by 24 hours by bus! But in other cases, consider that traveling by wheel in Peru is really convenient because it is one of the countries with the largest luxury land transport network. Obviously they are private companies and the cost is not always negligible, but by traveling at night you can greatly optimize your travel and save on accommodation. Consider that the transports that are called "cama" (i.e. "bed" in Spanish) are like the 1st class flight, i.e. a huge seat that becomes a bed, meals, wifi and hostess.



Itinerary in Peru and recommended places:

I traveled the part of the country that goes from Lima to Bolivia, unfortunately I totally ignore the north.

Lima it is a very fascinating city, as in all cities in South America I categorically advise against sleeping in the historic center because it is the most dangerous part at night, given that it completely empties. The museums and the colonial part are beautiful, but also the vibe you can breathe in Miraflores with its huge beaches where you can try surfing. I really like the Barranco neighborhood, where I recommend you stay, which is much more bohemian.

Going south along the coast you will find the Paracas Nature Reserve, which honestly didn't particularly surprise me, but if you've never seen cormorants or sea lions it's a great place to spot local wildlife. Nearby, however, is Huacachina, one of the places I loved most, near Ica in the area where Pisco (the typical drink) is produced, it is an oasis in the desert, in the true sense of the word. Palm groves with water in the center and around very high golden sand dunes where many go sandboarding, when I went there there were the world championships and it was a dream. To go sandboarding, just book a tour where they take you to the top of the dunes with a boogie, a kind of open-top car, and then you dive in with a board similar to the one used for snowboarding. Those who already know how to use a board can try to go down standing, otherwise lie down on their stomach (like I did) and it's truly wonderful!


Traveling solo in Peru

With a few hours by bus, you arrive at Nazca, where you can do the infamous overflight. My advice is to fly on the first shift, i.e. around 7.30am, so either travel at night (like I did) or sleep a night on site. The flyover is best booked online some time in advance, although in many cases you just need to go around the companies in the morning and you will almost always find a seat, as long as you are not there in high season. The overflight costs around $150 and lasts less than half an hour, the flight is really very scenic and the plane does enough acrobatics to upset your stomach, I recommend you do it on an empty stomach. The Nazca lines can only be seen from the plane, there is a tower where you can only see a drawing, but it's a real shame! After all, it's one of those things you do once in a lifetime and it's money well spent.


Traveling solo in Peru

Arequipa: one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Peru. Its historical importance is truly mammoth so I recommend you dedicate at least a day to the historic centre, the famous one Convent of Santa Catalina and the Juanita Museum where you can see a perfectly preserved Inca mummy, whose story will leave you speechless. Near Arequipa you can see condors, the largest birds in the world, the best way to fully enjoy this experience is to set off on a multi-car trekking route of what is called the Colca Canyon, try to explore the whole area over several days, both because it is beautiful and because the altitude is very high and you might feel bad doing it in one day.

Traveling solo in Peru

The Cuzco Valley: this is a way, or for some the journey! The Cuzco Valley is truly huge, don't limit yourself to Machu Pucchu, it would be a big mistake and a serious loss. I was there for about 15 days, I know that not many people have this amount of time available, in any case I suggest making a base in Cuzco, which in addition to being beautiful also has a lot of young vibe, and every day, even using public transport go and visit the surrounding towns. My favorite villages were Ollataytambo, Pisac, the Moray terraces and the Maras salt pans and on Sunday afternoon you can go and taste a guinea pig in TipĂČn.

Traveling solo in Peru

inca trail: I did the original one, it was, as I said, the dream of my life. Premise: it is absolutely necessary to book it 6 months in advance, if even earlier even better because there are only 500 departures per day, it is quite expensive, it costs $600 for 4 days. The trekking is quite hard, you walk from 9 to 12 hours a day, uphill and above 4000 metres, it is essential to train before doing it, the service you have, including porters, tents and food is wonderful. If you haven't had the opportunity to book it and don't want to spend that much, I recommend doing the Salcantay trek, it lasts one day longer, the scenery is more varied, you see another mountain, but it's not the sacred route.

Traveling solo in Peru

Iquitos: this place is shrouded in mystery, it is the only place in the world that cannot be reached by roads, you can only get there by flying or by ship along the Amazon River. It is in the heart of the Amazon, a place that centuries ago represented the most fashionable port for travelers taking river cruises, in fact much of the architecture is French colonial and there is also a beautiful monument made by Eiffel. Once you get there, I recommend at least a couple of days in the jungle, to understand what the largest rainforest in the world really means. You can choose to see it in various ways, depending on your budget and what you are looking for, in both cases it is a place that you will not easily forget.

Traveling solo in Peru

Titicaca lake: the views you will never forget! We are at more than 3.800 meters and the lake looks like the south of France. Titikaka is a wonderful place, I recommend visiting its islands fully, walking as much as possible and obviously sleeping with the local people. Being in such a remote area of ​​the world, they have kept their traditions very strong and one aspect that fascinated me very much is how much clothes still have a social meaning. In each island you can tell from the hat or skirt whether the person is married or available or widowed. It is very, very cold at night and obviously the houses are not heated, bring technical clothes and a winter sleeping bag.

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