Hiking the Santa Cruz trek in Huaraz, Peru doesn't have to be expensive. You can do it without a guide and have way more fun for less money if you follow our simple steps including a budget, itinerary, and advice.
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Whether you have two days or two weeks to travel, our Huacachina city guide covers the must see sites, local food recommendations, where to stay, how much the city will cost, an example itinerary, and how to get around the city - including how to get to and from the bus terminal in Ica.
You don't have to fork over hundreds in order to see Peru's exciting historic site of Machu Picchu. Transportation to the lost city takes less than a $20 bill and requires merely a sense of adventure.
When busing through Peru, Mancora is your first stop from Ecuador, but the town is struggling with two apparent problems: mass tourism and unresolved crime. Our advice on how to stay safe while traveling through Mancora, Peru.
Home to one of The World's Great Wonders, Peru is so much more than Machu Picchu. It's jungles of the Amazon Rainforest, glaciers in Huaraz, deserts of Ica, lake Titicaca bordering Bolivia, the beaches of the the Pacific coast and the presence of the native Quechan people. Whether it’s rallying the tastebuds over ceviche, jumping dunes in Huacachina, swimming in the ocean near Mancora, partying all night in Lima or witnessing the buzzing vibe in Cusco, Peru is a must see.
Why Travel To Peru?
Peru is a unique spot along the backpacker trail—very much on the trail. Because of Machu Picchu, Peru is certainly a well visited country by citizens all over the world, meaning it is well developed and fitted for tourists in the areas of interest to tourists. Places like Cusco have the unique architecture, structure and buzz of a fun city. But much of Peru is underdeveloped and a bit more raw than we expected. For this reason we loved and struggled with it. We loved witnessing Peru outside of its postcard perfect structure. We loved seeing the Quechan people in small towns rather than exploited in big cities. But we also felt the poverty and frustration of the Peruvian people.
The Nitty Gritty About Peru
32.2 million people live in Peru 8.47 million of them live in Lima, the capital.
The National currency of Peru is the Peruvian Soles (SOL).
There are 3 official National Languages in Peru: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara.
Peru has officially been a country since 1821.
Peru grows more than 55 different varieties of corn and over 3,000 different varieties of potatoes.
Guinea Pig is a delicacy in Peru.
Peru is home to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigational lake in the world.
Mancora — Huaraz — Cusco — Aguas Calientes —Huacachina — Paracas — Arequipa
8 weeks traveling by planes, buses, vans, taxis and walking over mountains
Transportation is marginally public. Long-haul routes between the north and the south of Peru are affordable and common. The buses are quite comfortable. We took Oltursa as much as possible as they offered comfortable seats, entertainment, and meals all for a very affordable price.
South America is largely an overland commuter continent. There’s no standard recipe or consistency for airline tickets like there is in Europe and Southeast Asia, so the most popular way to travel is by bus.
Bus Companies include:
Cruz Del Sur (Most popular for backpackers)
Airlines for Peru include:
The Rugged Budget
Transportation from A — B is roughly $2.10USD/1mile
Taxis usually picks up at 3.5PEN ($1.07) and is then calculated as roughly $2/mile
500ml beer is roughly 5PEN ($1.52USD)
Accommodation in a mixed 8 bed hostel from $8USD — $22USD/ night
Peru From The Scratch My Pack Lens
Helpful Hints For Traveling Peru
Bring the bug spray, the sand flies in Peru are eager for foreign skin.
Don’t travel to Mancora—too many people have been robbed in Mancora for us to recommend it to future travelers. It’s a popular beach town to stop at in transit to/from Ecuador to break up the long journey between countries, but crime rates are high and authorities are doing little to minimize the risk.
Take the time to learn or explore some of the Quechuan culture. The Andean people have a very unique existence among the traffic of Westerns. Taking a guided tour in either the Sacred Valley or Colca Canyon is a unique way to ask questions and explore more of how powerful the relationship between the people and pachamamma is.
Ceviche is fresh and among the best in the world in Peru (Lima invented ceviche), so give it a shot.
Peru supports the two prong and three prong power plugs mainly used in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.
The voltage used in Peru is 220—240 V so the US, Canada and most South American countries require a voltage converter for charging electronics.
Some Fun Stuff To Keep You Busy
Rainbow Mountain, Cusco: 100 SOL ($30USD)
A beautiful mountain top that is naturally colored like a rainbow. A four hour hike to reach the top.
Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes: 137 SOL ($42USD)
It's Machu Picchu, what else is there to say other than it is a MUST-DO, but if you're in Peru I am sure this is one of the main reasons why. You have a few options for seeing it. You can see the Inca City Of Machu Picchu and hike Montaña Machu Picchu for $42 or see the Inca City Of Machu Picchu and hike Huaynapicchu for $45. Both of these hikes lead you to a great viewpoint of the ancient city of Machu Picchu. There are also many Jungle Treks that take 2-6 days to complete with your culmination of the trek ending at Machu Picchu. These treks cost more money and there are tons of tour companies that offer the package at varying prices.
Santa Cruz Trek, Huaraz: 98-325 SOL ($30-100USD)
This is the most famous 3 day trek in Huaraz. The peak is at 15,500ft and overlooks a glacier and lake. We only paid $30 because we did not go with a tour company and carried our own tent, food, and supplies. If you take a tour, the our company will carry everything for you, but you on a time schedule. We prefered to be on our own time schedule and set up camp wherever we wanted.
Sandboarding & Dune Buggy Tour, Huacachina: 81 SOL ($25USD)
This is a great full day activity. Take the dune-buggy and cruise around the dunes and stop at the biggest dunes to sandboard down.
Santa Catalina Monastery, Arequipa: 40 SOL ($12USD)
A beautiful and old 16th century monastery just recently opened to the public. It's huge and is a photographers paradise.
Colca Canyon Trek, Arequipa: 100 SOL ($31USD)
This is a great 2 day trek that takes you past the Cruz Del Condor and through a canyon 1,200meters down to an oasis where you stay the night before you take the trek up the next morning during sunrise. Lots of tour operators offering this tour; make sure to barter your price.
Where Did We Stay (Accommodation We Recommend)
Mancora: Misfit Hostel ($8/night)
This is one of our favorite hostels in Peru, solely because of the owners and the atmosphere they create. This is a simple hostel located on the beach, literally 10 meters from the waves of the ocean. The hostel has a very relaxed vibe (where you grab your own beer from the fridge and write it down in a notebook to keep track) and an atmosphere that will make you extend your stay over and over and over again.
Huaraz: Alpes Huaraz (8.50/night)
This is a nice hostel located right in the city center of Huaraz. This is a city you come to if you plan on doing some trekking around the area. Huaraz is known for its famous treks. The hostel is clean, has plenty of bathrooms and showers, the beds are comfortable, the wifi works great and the price for a bed per night is attractive.
Supertramp Hostel is a newly remodelled hostel right in the center of Cusco. The beds are pod style and are very comfortable. Each pod includes a privacy curtain, light, locker and outlet within the pod. The staff were very friendly, the location was close to everything you would want to do in the city and the free breakfast was a nice touch.
Intro Hostel was our favorite hostel between the two of these. The hostel unlike Supertramp is in an old building (an old mansion actually) and has lots of character. The stone building includes beautiful wood floors, and outside fire pit, a fun bar, free breakfast, comfortable beds, huge lockers, and has a great location.
Huacachina: Banana's Adventure ($27/night - Includes free activities)
This is the famous hostel in Huacachina. There are only a handful of hostels in this small desert town adventure oasis, but this is the one everyone wants to be in and/or comes to for a party. The hostel is more expensive than others but that is because it includes adventure activities you would otherwise pay for if you stay anywhere else. You can go on a dune-buggy tour and go sandboarding down the sand dunes, go on a wine or pisco (the national liquor) tour, or partake in a killer BBQ buffet at the hostel. The hostel features a pool, pool bar, free breakfast, comfortable beds, a great staff, and awesome tours. If you are going to Huacachina, this is the only place you should stay.
Paracas: Kokopelli Paracas Hostel ($10/night)
We lived and worked at this hostel for 2.5 weeks. However this is the hostel to be at in this tiny town. Paracas literally consists of 2 streets and there is only so much to do in the town. This hostel however has a great vibe, the best bar in town (seriously, locals come to the bar because it's that awesome), an awesome pool, lots of bathrooms, super awesome staff, and is located right on the beach. The beds are pod style and are very comfortable. Each pod includes a privacy curtain, light, locker and outlet within the pod. The best place to stay in Paracas. Other hostels are only a couple dollars cheaper than this one, but you get so much more for your money when you stay here.
Itching For More Information About South America?
We’ve had weeks full of excitement and some days riddled with difficulty. We’ve done our best to make it look easy, a seamless journey cross-continental, but the truth is that it’s hard work to travel. We’ve been sick, we’ve been broke, we’ve been covered in bug bites, robbed and thrown from a bus over the course of a year, but we’ve also uncovered a life time of beauty just by taking a chance.
Travel can be hard work, but it’s a life we’re truly grateful to live. We had an incredible year full of travel and now half way across the globe we’re promptly at the start of 2017— still on the road.