Everyone’s first thought at the mention of Peru is Machu Picchu. That historic Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains is an awe-inspiring, intriguing fortress that has been drawing visitors from near and far for centuries. We agree – Machu Picchu is a must see. However, Peru has so much to offer in addition to Machu Picchu, which is why we suggest at least a week stay in that beautiful southern country.
First of all, it’s pretty easy to get to Peru from Houston. You can take a 6-½ hour direct flight from Houston to Lima, where you’ll arrive late in the evening. Lima is a large, typical Latin American city with an interesting old town and amazing food. Three of the top 50 restaurants in the world are in Lima! We definitely suggest you spend some time in this city. Try the food, explore the old town, visit Larco Museum, as well as some interesting archaeological museums, and spend some time in the Miraflores area.
From Lima, you’ll take a short 1-1/2 hour flight to Cusco where you’ll transfer to the Sacred Valley. It’s important to spend at least a few days in the Sacred Valley so that you can adjust to the altitude. You don’t want to travel all the way to Peru just to get altitude sickness when you’re headed to Machu Picchu. Not to mention, this lovely mountainous area is absolutely beautiful. The towns exude a wonderful local culture, and you’ll meet many local Andean people. You’ll also meet plenty of alpacas and llamas! They may even let you take a selfie with them. Fill your days with great local shopping, ruins, salt mines, and unique Mother Earth ceremonies. For those active travelers, enjoy rafting, hiking biking, paragliding and more!
After you’ve spent some time in the Sacred Valley, head to the pièce de résistance – Machu Picchu! You’ll take a quick bus ride up the windy roads to get to the historic fortress. Once there, you’ll spend at least half a day exploring the ins and outs of these beautiful ruins. If you allow yourself more than one day there, you can hike to the sun gate or up Machu Picchu Mountain or Huaya Mountain. For those who have a longer stay and are avid hikers, there are 3- and 4- (even 5) day hikes through the Sacred Valley and up to Machu Picchu.
Once you’ve had your fill of picturesque views, llamas, and exploring the ruins, head back to Cusco. This time around, stay and enjoy the charming colonial town that the Incans made their capital. Explore the wonderful markets and old town, or venture a bit outside of town if you’re in the mood for more ruins. Unless you have a bit more time to extend your stay into Lake Titicaca, this fun, boutique little town is where you’ll end your trip.
Whether you’re looking for highly acclaimed restaurants, history, culture, or an adventure-filled trip, Peru has something for everyone. It’s a great family destination, and is a phenomenal way for kids to see history right in front of them. The best time to visit is May through November. For those of you with kids in school, you may even be able to fit it in over Thanksgiving break! If Machu Picchu has always been on your bucket list, or your interest in Peru has just been piqued, give your West University Travel advisor a call to start planning your own trip to this beautiful country!