Now you know a little bit about the “How and Why” of our choice to head to Peru. Beautiful place, plenty to do, great people and food, and very cost effective. That whole “plenty to do” part actually made our trip a little bit tricky as we were planning. Perhaps “plenty to do” really means that there’s just way too much to see and do in one trip (even with two weeks!). But that’s not a terrible problem to have… The main concern was trying to find a good balance between seeing as much as possible while not exhausting ourselves with too much travel and not enough time spent in any one place. In the end, I think that we achieved that goal. We put together a fairly aggressive itinerary to keep ourselves on the move and see a lot, but we never got to the point where we were overly exhausted or running on fumes.
The map above shows our travel route. As you can see, it’s actually quite convenient as we were able to do a loop starting and ending in Lima – where we flew into and out of from Fort Lauderdale. The cities were also nicely situated; most of the bus rides between cities were between 4-6 hours, which wasn’t bad at all. The longest was from Ica to Arequipa (~11 hours) and we actually decided to take the bus through the night and sleep through most of that leg. [Note: The buses are actually quite nice – the seats recline nearly all the way, they provide little pillows and blankets, they have little meals/snacks included, and they show movies. It’s really nicer than almost any normal airline that you will find.]
We planned for about two days in each city, and we gave ourselves about a one day buffer so that we would have a little wiggle room if we wanted to slightly extend a stay, or – more realistically in South America – if we somehow lost a day due to travel complications. [Note: When traveling in South America, sometimes things do happen – there are strikes, routes get cancelled, roads close, etc. You should probably try to have at least some time built in as a buffer, and also go in with the mindset that you need to be flexible and things may shift slightly.] We felt very fortunate in that we did not face any significant travel complications – no missed or cancelled buses or flights (just some slight delays). [#WinningInSouthAmerica] Below is the itinerary of what we actually did; our initial itinerary going into the trip had one extra stop scheduled that we decided not to do when we got down there – again, be flexible and open to some slight shifting here and there based on your energy level to travel, what you hear from others is worth/not worth seeing, and any unforeseeable hurdles along the way.
Could we have squeezed in another place or two? Possibly. Could we have done the same trip in a shorter amount of time? Maybe we could have seen the same places in 11-12 days versus 14, though it would have felt rushed. Could we have spent more time in certain places? Absolutely – we could have stayed another day or more in a couple of different cities. However in the end, we felt like we really got a nice feel for most of the places we visited, and that we got the highlights in those places. Obviously there were restaurants, tours, and sights that we had to miss out on, but I don’t think we regretted anything that we did. We didn’t feel like we wasted any of our days, and we didn’t feel like we went to any places that weren’t worth the trip. So the traveling was about right for us with the above route and above itinerary.
Probably wouldn’t recommend traveling via carriage…