The Ultimate 10-Day Peru Itinerary
Katie here! Founder at Live, Run, Travel. I knew my first trip to South America had to be to Peru. The world-revered culinary scene in Lima and bucket list adventure experiences had the country at the top of my list for years.
This was a unique trip for me as a father/daughter trip with my Dad, his brother and my cousin. I’m writing this to encourage you to gather up your active friends or relatives, and head to Peru! You’ll make memories for a lifetime. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me for help with your planning. [email protected]
The Ultimate 10-Day Peru Itinerary
On our Peru trip we wanted to cover the big ticket items like Lima and Machu Picchu, but we wanted to see so much more of the country while still within the constraints of the 10 day trip. Hey, vacation days are hard to come by!
I wish my Peru itinerary could have lasted a month, but I think we were able to pack in a pretty nice taste of the country.
My Peru itinerary includes:
- Pisco vineyard tour
- Huacachina Oasis
- Ballestas Island (Poor Man’s Galapagos)
- Paracas National Reserve
- Machu Picchu
- Rainbow Mountain
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN LIMA
If you’re flying from the U.S. you will likely arrive pretty late in Lima, so the first day on your Peru itinerary will likely be a transition day to find your hotel and get a good night sleep.
If your flight arrives late, consider booking private transportation to your hotel ahead of time. Live, Run, Travel can help arrange this for you.
I recommend staying in Miraflores for the first night on your Peru itinerary. Miraflores is just south of downtown Lima and a very nice area that is easy to navigate.
DAY 2: EXPLORE LIMA
If you’re anything like me, the best way to experience a new city is to eat your way through it.
I highly recommend adding a food tour through Lima to your Peru itinerary. We booked through The Lima Gourmet Company.
The tour was $135 per person and lasted from 9:30AM until 2:30PM. We started the day at a Peruvian roastery for a cappuccino that looked like it was straight out of an art museum.
We took a walking tour of Lima Centro and Plaza Mayor, before heading to local market for an exotic fruit tasting.
The tour continued with lunch overlooking pre-Incan ruins and ended with a Ceviche & Pisco Sour Class.
Spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the historical center of Lima before ending the day with an evening walk and dinner in the district of “Barranco.” Barranco comes alive at night and is full of vibrant art and unique Peruvian restaurants.
DAY 3: HUACACHINA OASIS & BALLESTAS ISLAND
For our first excursion from Lima we headed south to visit Huacachina Oasis, Ballestas Island and Paracas. You have a couple options here, rent a car and do it on your own, or join a tour group. We booked a private tour.
The drive from Lima to Huacachina Oasis is about 4 hours, but we stopped at a Pisco Vineyard (Caravedo) along the way. Check their website before visiting because tour times vary.
Huacachina is a dessert oasis with a small town and tons of palm trees. You don’t want to miss the dune buggy and sand boarding tours! This was one of our favorite activities of the entire trip.
Spend the night at one of the many hotel options in Huacachina.
DAY 4: BALLESTAS ISLAND & PARACAS
In the morning head to Ballestas Island, also known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” for its impressive wildlife. You’ll see thousands of birds, sea lions and penguins. We chose the 2 hour tour around the island.
Before heading back to Lima make a stop in Paracas National Reserve in Ica.
It’s free to drive though, and the red sand beaches and cliffs are breathtaking. It’s a must-see on your own Peru itinerary!
DAY 5: FLY TO CUSCO
Today is a day of transition. When planning your Peru itinerary, be sure to book morning flights to Cusco so you can get settled for your Machu Picchu Hike with enough time. Most tours will require you to check in the day before your reservation begins.
DAY 6: BEGIN MACHU PICCHU 2 DAY HIKE
There are plenty of tour operators for Machu Picchu with great reviews, but we went with “Llama Path” because of their 2 day option. We chose the 2 Day Short Inca Trail hike because we weren’t interested in sleeping in tents, and my Dad is not an avid hiker. At the same time, we didn’t want to just take the train there and miss out on part of the Inca Trail. This option turned out to be perfect.
The hike was about 6 miles. It started through the Sacred Valley, went through Winay Wayna, and then ended day 1 at the “Sun Gate.” We got to spend about an hour at Machu Picchu before taking a short train ride to the town to check into our hotel.
Early in the morning you’ll take the train back to Machu Picchu for a guided tour.
DAY 7: MACHU PICCHU CONTINUED
You will have to get in line very early (like 3am) to get in line for the trains to get back to Machu Picchu. Our tour guide told us what time to meet him, and he took us on the train ride before leading our guided tour of Machu Picchu. After the guided portion, we were able to spend a couple hours walking around and taking photos.
There was an option to buy an extra hike for Huayna Picchu, but we were just too tired. So we spent the extra time enjoying Machu Picchu itself.
At the end of the day we took the train back to Cusco.
DAY 8: REST
Day 8 on this Peru itinerary is a day of rest, you’ll need it! Your body is still adjusting to the elevation and you need to give your body time to relax before you shock it with more of an altitude change for Rainbow Mountain tomorrow.
DAY 9: RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
Before you make the commitment to put Rainbow Mountain on your Peru itinerary, you need to know the colors are not as bright as they look in pictures. However, it is still a stunning sight and I think worth the visit.
If you want to trek Rainbow Mountain I definitely recommend booking a private tour. The area is very remote, and the elevation is challenging.
The hike itself was fairly flat, but the altitude made it easy to lose your breath. Dress warmly and DO NOT underestimate the elevation. Do plenty of research on the altitude where you live, compared to what you will experience at Rainbow Mountain.
If you’re heading to Peru Live, Run, Travel can help you book a private guide for the day who will provide private transportation from the hotel, a guide for the 3 hour hike, plus breakfast and lunch that the tour guides made fresh on location.
BRING CASH: For about $20 bucks you can rent a horse to take you most of the way I was feeling very nauseous and this was worth every penny.
When we arrived in Cusco the airport was giving out free coca leaves for people to chew on to help with elevation sickness.
At the time, I wasn’t interested. But suddenly being 15,000 feet up, my guide offering coca leaves seemed a lot more appealing. I thought it tasted disgusting, but my Dad said it actually helped with his nausea.
I’m no doctor, so try at your own risk. It is very common to chew on coca leaves in Cusco, we were even given coca leaf tea when we arrived at our hotel.
DAY 10: LIMA
Today you will return Lima and catch a flight home. Pro tip: don’t forget to take the coca leaves from Rainbow Mountain out of your backpack before you hit the airport:)
Night 1: Lima
Night 2: Lima
Night 3: Huacachina Oasis
Night 4: Lima
Night 5: Cusco
Night 6: Machu Picchu
Night 7: Cusco
Night 8: Cusco
Night 9: Cusco
Thinking about taking a trip to Peru? Let us take the planning off your hands. We can customize a Peruvian adventure just for you. Contact me today and we’ll get to work planning your dream vacation: [email protected]