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Backpacking Peru: The ultimate backpacking guide 2023

Tierras Vivas Travel > Backpacking Peru: The ultimate backpacking guide 2023

Backpacking Peru: The ultimate backpacking guide 2022

Peru is a travel goal for millions of backpackers. A country topographically plentiful, culturally abundant, and full of opportunites for unexpected exploits! Peru is immersed in the enigmas of the Incas and other prehistoric cultures. With beautiful landscapes and foreign mountain ways, Peru carries the fantasy of the backpacker far far away!It presents economical travel with memorable adventures from the Selva, an abundant region of subtropical uplands which is situated amid the rocky mountainous summits of the Andes and the jungles of eastern Peru and the mysterious dry lowland deserts.

Apart from a variety of marvelous Incan architecture, Peru also offers all the regular adventure sports, such as surfing, kayaking, horse-riding and deep sea fishing. There is a big social scene as well with plenty of bars, clubs and casinos in touristic parts mixed with the ancient culture that you still see today.

You need to spend a sufficient time in Peru to fully enjoy it. The country is big and it takes a while to explore. There is so much to see and do, if you have time I reccommend at least a couple of weeks.

  • Currency: Nuevo Sol = 100 centimos, $1= 3.70 s, 1 B.P.S=4.68 s, 1 euro=3.80
  • Language: Spanish and Quechua (the native language)
  • Emergency numbers: 011 or 5114

Peru Backpacking

What are the costs of backpacking in Peru?

There are no upper limits, but if you want, you can travel through Peru very cheaply. You can get a shared room in a hostel from twelve dollars per person, and a meal in a restaurant only costs five to seven dollars.


Eating in street restaurants is even cheaper. Here you can eat delicious Lomo Saltado and other Peruvian delicacies for only four to five dollars. Within the country, you can fly relatively inexpensively or travel from place to place by bus. (Peruvian food near me)


The flight network within Peru is well developed. A flight costs around U$ 100 dollars per person. You can even get to Iquitos in the Amazon just by plane or by slow cargo ship. You can travel cheaply by bus. However, you must allow at least one night’s travel time.


The cost of a bus ride is around 25 dollars, depending on the route and class. On the other hand, these intercity buses are usually very comfortable and, in addition to soft, spacious seats, also have a film program and snacks. A good company for backpackers is the bus company Cruz del Sur.


There are also costs for shopping and excursions. The most expensive are probably the hike to Machu Picchu, train from Cusco to Machu Picchu and the entrance fee. A 4 day Inca Trail trek including admission to Machu Picchu costs around U$ 680 dollars. Those who do not hike pay the equivalent of about U$ 62 dollars for the entrance fee to Machu Picchu, students pay U$ 32 dollars. In addition, there are U$ 24 dollars for the shuttle to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail Backpacking Peru

Peru Weather

This depends in what region you are in. Temperatures vary from sub tropical in the jungle areas in the east to moderate in the Andes. Night time in the mountains is very cold so make you have warm clothing or you can buy the lovely and cosy alpaca jumpers, fleeces, hats etc, which are so popular with the tourists. On the coast its summer from October to April, which is when the rainy season is in the mountains. The best time to visit the Andes is between May and September.


Travel Tips for Backpacking Peru


Tip 1: Learn the language – at least a little bit

Hello, como estás? Como te llamas? Cuanto cuesta? A few phrases in Spanish and a travel dictionary are useful, even in times of smartphones and the internet. In tourist areas around Cusco, Arequipa and Machu Picchu, people still speak English. Off the tourist trail, it becomes more difficult to get along without Spanish.

Backpacking Peru

Tip 2: Plan enough time for your trip

Peru is the third largest country in South America. So it takes time to get from A to B, especially if you are traveling through Peru overland. Prepare for seemingly endless hours on the bus, but with plenty to see of the country. The bus network is very well developed in Peru. The buses are very comfortable, offer snacks and TV entertainment. The Cruz del Sur bus company is recommended. Those who only have two weeks to travel in Peru should prefer domestic flights.


Tip 3: Acclimate yourself, especially in high areas

Many places in Peru like Cusco and Puno are over 3000 meters above sea level. Cusco is at 3430 meters above sea level, Puno on Lake Titicaca at over 3800 meters. You should not underestimate these heights, even if you hike often and are fit. Prolonged stay at these altitudes puts a heavy strain on the body, especially if you hike daily and visit a lot of sights.


Quite a few tourists suffer from altitude sickness if they do not acclimatize. With this disease, the body is no longer supplied with sufficient oxygen and reacts with headaches or dizziness. Rarely, severe symptoms can occur that you should take seriously.


It is best not to start your journey at Lake Titicaca and confront your body with almost 4000 meters of altitude. Instead, you can first acclimatize in Arequipa at 2300 meters above sea level before continuing on to Puno, Cusco or the Cordillera Blanca.


Tip 4: Let yourself be carried away, because things don’t always go according to plan in Peru

In Peru, the clock sometimes ticks a little differently. The inhabitants of the country do not know foreign punctuality. If you want to backpack Peru overland, you should be patient.


If the bus is late or a tour changes at short notice, this is part of the Peru experience. Don’t fret, just let yourself drift. Things may be different than expected, but you will still have unique experiences. Or at least be able to tell an exciting story after your trip.


Tip 5: Multi-day hikes are among the highlights of every trip to Peru

Multi-day hikes are among the highlights of a trip through Peru. The five-day hiking tour over the Salkantay Pass at 4500 meters to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. When backpacking Peru, the Salkantay Trek leads through a breathtaking mountain panorama with snow-capped mountain ridges and past ice-cold mountain lakes. An easier alternative is the Inca Trail, which leads to Machu Picchu in a four-day hike. However, this easier trek is also much more popular with tourists. Multi-day hikes can also be undertaken through the Colca Canyon and over the Cordillera Blanca.


Tip 6: Dare to eat street food

Peruvian cuisine is delicious and inexpensive – if you dine like the Peruvians. There are numerous street restaurants with delicious delicacies on the streets and in the markets of Peru. Don’t miss dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado and aji de gallina. Ceviche is raw fish marinated in lime juice. Lomo Saltado are strips of beef fried with onions, tomato and cilantro. Aji de Gallina is delicious chicken with Peruvian chili peanut sauce. The Cuy dish is only for brave backpackers and not for vegetarians. This is nothing more than roasted guinea pig. Delicious!

Backpaking Adventure Peru Tours

Tip 7: Stay alert, but don’t get suspicious

Much is said about Peru – how dangerous it is and how many raids happen. The Foreign Office warns of robbery and theft. Even the Peruvians have one or the other horror story in store. However, don’t let that put you off. Few of the country’s more than four million tourists actually have bad experiences.

Most of the time, pickpocketing happens in tourist areas. So don’t be too suspicious when Peruvians greet you nicely. When it comes to safety, pay attention to your gut feeling: Neither in Lima nor in other country should you go for a walk in dark alleys at night.


Tip 8: Pack a little

As a backpacker, you should pack as little as possible. Bring clothes for about a week. Dirty laundry can be washed on site. Forgotten everyday objects can be bought inexpensively in supermarkets. Think carefully about whether you absolutely have to take your laptop and expensive camera with you on the trip. The fewer valuables you carry with you, the more relaxed you can travel.


A few more tips:

  • Don’t overpack.
  • Remember you will be carrying your baggage so just take the essentials. You can buy more stuff in Peru if you want. Its cheap and cooler to have local clothes.
  • Have clothes for all conditions. The Andes can be very cold and coastal and jungle regions hot, humid and sticky!
  • Travel in mid-range to top-end buses. They are far safer.
  • Get yourself a guidebook. You don’t have to stick to it religiously, but it can be useful if you don’t know anything about where you are.
  • Learn a little Spanish. You will have a much better and easier time if you know the basics.
  • Learn a bit about the history and culture. It will make your experience more interesting.
  • Take your time. There is so much to see and do in Peru. I reccommend at least 2 weeks.
  • Always be attentive to your environment. Most of the crime that happens is opportunistic and can be avoided. Be wary of over-friendly stangers.


Travel Safety Tips

Peru is not an awfully unsafe place, but you will hear some horror stories. You just need to be careful and aware. If you keep the following in mind you´ll be fine.

  • Keep your valuables out of sight. Don’t flash your cash around and keep jewelrey to a minimum. Money belts are handy if your pockets are unsecure. Just carry the amount of money that you need. Leave your passport at the hostel.
  • Be cautious with your camera. Don’t walk around with your camera around your neck. Be wise with who you pick to take a photo for you. (not someone who looks like they can run faster than you!)
  • Dress casually. Prevent unwanted attention by wearing plain clothes.
  • Use cash machines in broad daylight. For obvious reasons, it is safer to withdraw money in the day than late at night, preferably one inside a bank.
  • Only take official taxis. Very important. Official taxis are marked with digits 6 or 8 digits long with letters and numbers in big black letters. Try to make a mental note of the number.
  • Don’t walk around alone in the poorer areas. (especially with valuables)
  • Be social
  • Make the effort to talk to your fellow travellers. They want to make friends too!
  • Choose hostels with a kitchen and/or common area. This is the best opportunity for communicating with other backpackers.
  • Book a tour. This is a great chance to meet like minded people and have a great experience.



There are many inexpensive hostel in Peru. You don’t need to book in advance, unless you’re arriving late at night. If you are looking for economy, the hostels that are not in the guidebooks are less expensive. Go to the main plaza, ask some locals and walk around till you find one. A cheap hostel costs 20 soles or 30 for a double (more in Lima). If they ask for more you should always try and negotiate them down. This is normal and expected in Peru.

If you find yourself in the Sierra (mountains) in the winter (July, August), it will be cold! Try and get a small and cosy room, with hot water (always check!), buy some candles, use at least 3 blankets. There will be no heating in the inexpensive hostels.


Backpaking Adventure Tours – Peru

  • Inca Trail Tours
  • Sacred Valley Tours
  • Machu Picchu Tours
  • Maras, Moray and Salineras Tours
  • Chachapoyas Tours


What to pack for backpacking Peru?

If you want to backpack Peru, it’s better to pack too little than too much. Everyday items and cosmetic items can easily be bought on site. A backpack of 45 to 65 liters and clothes for a week is sufficient.


You should definitely take these things with you on your backpacking adventure:

  • Backpack with 45 to 65 liters and rain cover
  • Daypack up to 25 liters for hiking
  • Lock to lock luggage
  • Enough clothing for a week including rain jacket, fleece jacket, rain trousers, functional underwear, socks, trousers and t-shirts
  • Waterproof hiking shoes for planned trekking tours
  • Light sneakers and flip flops
  • hut sleeping bag
  • drinking bottle
  • Hygiene items, cosmetics and sunscreen
  • travel pharmacy
  • Smartphone, camera, flashlight and charging cable
  • Important documents such as passport, international student card, tickets, hotel reservations and international health insurance
  • Travel guide and Spanish dictionary
  • You can have your clothes washed in local launderettes at low cost – simply drop them off in the morning and pick them up again in the evening.
  • If you are planning multi-day hikes on the back of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range or to Machu Picchu, don’t forget to pack warm clothes as well.


Best Backpacking Tours to Machu Picchu

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Tickets in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.


When is the best time to hike to Machu Picchu?

The best season is during the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes.

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