Places to go, see, and things to do in Peru

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ruins at Karajia

Chachapoyas is pretty much the first city of significant size once you cross the boarder from Ecuador to Peru. Its a nice city, a good base camp for going out and doing other activities. The third highest waterfall in the world is not to far away plus there are some neat caves and ruins fairly close and you can book tours to all of these place for not to much right in Chachapoyas. We had a splendid time trekking through the caverns of Quiocia exploring the neat formations of the rocks of what looked like rocks but felt like porcelin. The ruins at Karajia were really cool but look alot bigger in the pictures.

Things to do in Chachapoyas:


-Explore nearby ruins

-Travel to over places from here


Cajamarca is one of the bigger cities in northern Peru. Like most big city’s down here it is flooded with beautiful, very old churches, and stores where you can pretty much find anything, from local touristy crafts to everyday living things. But nearby and outside of cajamarca there are many opportunities to visit ruins and even soak in the Baños del Inca (hot springs).
If staying in the area around the main plaza there is a lovely walk up to a large white cross and the view is most spectacular, it looks over most of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Things to do Cajamarca

The city of Cajamarca

The city of Cajamarca

. Cumbemayo Archeological complex
. Walk up to the white cross near the main plaza
. Shop around and find many local crafts
. Windows of Otuzco
. The baths of the Inca
Hot springs with a temperature of no more than 72 degrees Celsius and the waters posses therapeutic properties for the treatment for bone and nervous system disorders!
. Porcon farm
Where you can experience farm life first hand
. Stroll the city admiring the beautiful historical churches

IMG_1800After leaving Ecuador and spending so much time at the coast there, we had no intention of going to the coast in Peru. But the ocean called! Huanchaco a very cute beach town with opportunities to surf and see some awesome ruins near by. Huanchaco is right by Trujillo which contains most of the near by ruins and from Trujillo you can easily get buses to anywhere else. Huanchaco is supposedly now considered one of the top five surf spots in the world. Their coast has two areas for surfing, one for beginners and one for the more advanced surfer. Surf board rentals are available and coast around 15 soles for the day and include a wetsuit.


Chan Chan ruins

Things to do in Huanchaco:
-Learn to surf or take a crack at it on your own.
-visit the local ruins, our personal favorite are the chan chan ruins
-take a boat ride on one of the boats Huanchaco is known for

Huaraz is a gorgeous mountain town surrounded by snow capped mountains and hundreds of hiking and trekking opportunities. It is a great base camp for heading out on day hikes or multi day treksThe only problem is that a lot of the hiking trails are a couple hours away from town so taking a tour may be easier but also more expensive. Pretty much all the trails you can get local transportation for.


Laguna 69

Top hiking in Huaraz
-the famous Laguna 69 (a must see!)
-lake churup
-the Santa Cruz trek (3-4days)
-And many others

Things to do in Huaraz
-Visit the nearby ruins
-Take a day hike or multi day trek
-Soak in the hot springs (not as great as the ones in Baños Ecuador)
-Take a stroll through town and the local market where you can pretty much get anything you desire, including any part of an animal your stomach craves!
-Relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air


Paracas is a very tiny town and pretty much the only reason to visit here is the Ballestas Islands. These islands are known as the poor mans Galapagos because they are home to many bird species including the blue footed booby and penguin. They also serve as a resting place for seals and other marine wildlife. Boat tours to the islands are around 35 soles for two hours. The animals you see on the tour are very beautiful in their natural habitat and sometimes even appear to be posing for pictures!

Paracas national reserve

Paracas national reserve

Another beautiful place to visit while in paracas is the Paracas national reserve. It is absolutely beautiful. It is filled with rolling sand dunes and breath taking beaches on its edges. You can either take a tour here or do what we did and rent bicycles and ride around the park all day!

Blue footed boobies

Blue footed boobies



Things to do in Paracas:
-Take a boat tour to the Ballestas islands
-Bike ride or take a tour through the Paracas national reserve






Huacachina oasis

Huacachina oasis

Huacachina is a town that you would pretty much only go to just to sand board, and ride in the dune buggies. It’s very touristy and pretty expensive, compared to other parts of Peru but it is a beautiful little oasis that should not be missed. It’s a town that you only imagine going to in your dreams, because it is unlike any other place! Huacachina is literally in the middle of the dessert surrounded by massive sand dunes. The town is placed around a naturally occurring lake and makes for a perfect resting place

Sand boarding and dune buggy riding in the dunes!

Sand boarding and dune buggy riding in the dunes!

Things to do in Huacachina:
-Sand board down the massive sand dunes (rent a board and go up the dunes on your own or book a tour that takes you up and down the dunes in a dune buggy as well as takes you to great sand boarding locations)
-Take a wild ride in the dune buggies
-Relax and work on your tan by the pool at your hostel


Arequipa is cańon country, if you visit here the nearby legendary cańons are a must see beauty. The volcano El misti, looms over the city at 5,822 meters and can be a fun excursion if you want to climb to the top. Arequipa also has some beautiful church’s that are worth checking out and a classy coffee house with real coffee and wifi!

Things to do in Arequipa:
-Arrange tours or prep for treks in the nearby colca and cotahuasi canons
-Chill out and drink real coffee at Cusco coffee
-Hike to the top of El Misti
-Take a peek at the La catedral (in plaza de armas) which was rebuilt many times, and contains 12 Italian marble columns that symbolizing the 12 apostles. In 1870 Belgium provided the organ which is said to be the biggest in South America, but was damaged in shipping and now has distorted notes. It is also the only cathedral in Peru that stretches the length of the plaza
-Enjoy the city and all the beauty it has to offer

Hiking in Cotahuasi canon
Cotahuasi canon is 3,535 meters deep and is said to be the deepest in the world, but there are

Cotahuasi canon

Cotahuasi canon

some arguments whether colca canon is deeper.
To get to the canon the best thing to do is get a bus from Arequipa to the town Cotahuasi which is about a 10-12 hour bus ride and only half the roads are paved. Once there you can stay at one of the hostels on the Main Street for a pretty cheap price and either take day trips to the canon or attempt a multi day trek. Buses leave from the main plaza daily at 6:30am to sipia bridge which is where most of the day hikes and multi day treks start. There is a map available at the tourist office but it is not very good.
Since cotahuasi canon is off the beaten track there is no park entrance fee and you can supposedly camp almost anywhere.

Sipia falls

Sipia falls

Once at sipia bridge (about an hour outside of town) you can start the hike to sipia falls which is about 2km. Another hour and a half will bring you to Chaupo, an oasis of towering cacti and some pre Incan culture remains. I have read that camping is possible here. From here a dusty trail leads up to either Velinga and other remote communities where sleeping accommodation is available or down to Mallu, which is a patch of farm land at the rivers edge. I have also read that the owner will allow you to pitch a tent and barrow his stove for s/ 10 a night. To get back to Cotahuasi a bus leaves from sipia bridge around 11:30am daily
Although we did not go further than sipia falls we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the canon and hope this little bit of information I have compiled will help you plan your adventure here.

Trekking colca canon without a guide

There are mis-conceptions that Colca canon can only be trekked if you purchase a guided tour. This is not true. Colca canon is such a popular visited canon that they make it very easy for tourists to hike through it on there own. In the canon there are various towns that you typically hike between, and each town offers accommodation and meal options. So really you could hike Colca for 3-4 days with only a day pack, which is what many travelers do because Colca canon is not an easy hike being one of the deepest canons in the world.
When planning your trip to Colca canon you need to decide whether you want to hike from IMG_2101town to town and stay and eat at the hostels there or take your own camping gear and food to save money. If you decide to take your own gear and food, like we did, prepare to be very tired. Lugging a big backpack up and down the canon is exhausting but you get a great work out. The route that we chose, still gave us the option to hike from town to town because the hostels also had camping options that were significantly cheaper.

Our route through Colca Canon:

1. We started our adventure by taking a bus from Arequipa to a town along the canon rim called Cabanaconde, which is where most of the treks start. When we were almost to the town the bus stopped in another canon rim town called Chivay where you could buy your colca canon entrance ticket (you really can’t avoid purchasing it). If you do not get it in chivay then you can purchase it from a park ranger that comes on the bus to check everyone’s tickets. The ticket was S:/70 soles at the time we went.

2. Once in Cabanaconde you can either stay at a hostel and start your trek the next day or head out right away. Almost all the hostels in Cabanaconde will hold your stuff for free if you do not want to lug everything with you in the canon. Every hostel and some convenience stores offer free maps of Colca canon but they are all slightly different, so pick up a few different ones so you have options.

View from the hostel at Lluhar

View from the hostel at Llahuar

3. We took four days to hike the canon. On day one we set out towards a town at the bottom of the canon called Llahuar. To get to the start of this trail is a bit confusing but if you look for a mirador sign you can follow that and when you pass a red bull pen then you know your going the right direction. From there just follow the trail, that can get sketchy, but once you get to the mirador follow the canon rim. It took us about 5-6 hours to get to Llahuar, but that’s with 25-30lbs on our backs and a few breaks.

4. Once we got to Llahuar, we were lead to the camping area, which was just a plot of grass, but S:/10 a night. We then went to rest our sore bodies in the hot spring right on the river.


5. Day two we were so exhausted from the previous day that we decided to stay in Llahuar one more night.

6. By day three we were still pretty sore but our trek had to go on. We left about 8am in the morning to the oasis, Sangalle, at a different part of the canon bottom. The trail to get here consisted of a windy up hill trail for the first two hours or so then decently flat for a few hours. While we were on the trail there was some construction along the way but you can just go around it and the workers will point you in the right direction. The short cut to get to Sangalle was not safe to hike on while we were there so we were forced to go around through a not so touristy town, adding about an 1-1 1/2 hours to our hike. After passing through the town the hike is pretty much down hill from there to the oasis. It took us about 7 hours to reach Sangalle.

7. Sangalle has multiple hostels so shop around for the best deal. We camped again so we were



shone a plot of grass for S:/15 a night. Many of the hostels offer swimming pools and or hot springs at no additional cost.

8. Day four was probably the tougher day hiking we had because it was all up hill, and to add to that we were really sore. Typically it takes people a little over three hours to hike from Sangalle to Cabanaconde but it took us five. Once at the top of the canon be careful not to get lost like we did, we ended up in the middle of their crop fields trying to get back to town. Luckily one of the local ladies was kind enough to show us the way.

I hope you enjoy your Colca trek as much as we did and that this information will help you plan your trip. Colca canon was the toughest hike we have ever done but we feel stronger from it and now have the confidence to conquer anything!

How to visit Machu Picchu for $100

Machu picchu

Machu picchu

– Round trip bus to Aguas Calientes
-Hostel for one night
– Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
– A two hour tour of Machu Picchu

You must be thinking what?!? How is that possible! Well I will share with you.

When we arrived in Cusco and found our hostel (casa hospedaje sambleña) they discussed with us some options of going to Machu Picchu, and the above list and price is the cheapest option of going to Machu Picchu that they, and pretty much everyone else could offer that we know of.
The only catch is that the above price of $100 is the price if you are a student in possession of an ISIC card (international student identity card). So if you are a student wanting to experience Machu Picchu get an ISIC card, the entrance ticket is half price.
If you are not a student, the above option is still available the price is just $20 more making the price total $120, which still is not bad considering what you are getting.

Machu Picchu

Tour structure:

1. Our tour started out with a 6 hour bus ride to Hidrolectia (unsure of spelling) with a lunch stop along the way!


Hiking up to Machu Picchu

2. Once there we walked along the train tracks for an easy hike, about two hours to the town Aguas Calientes and found our hostel for the night. Later on we found the rest of our group and joined them for dinner.

3. The next morning we woke up at about 4am and left our hostel at 4:30am to start our hike up to Machu Picchu (you can also take a bus up to Machu Picchu instead of hiking but it’s an additional cost). After getting our tickets and passports checked we started the hike up to Machu Picchu, which was all up hill. It took us about an hour to get to the top, getting us there at a little after 6am.

4. Soon after we found our guide and the rest of our group and proceeded to start our tour of Machu Picchu! Our excitement level was over the top!!

5. Our tour guide started off by giving us a little back ground information about Machu Picchu, IMG_2270like how it was discovered, the supposed Incan use for the city, and how no one knows the name of the actual city itself. Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain that the city lies beneath meaning big mountain in the old Incan language. Awesome right? “Machu Picchu” is so mysterious!

6. The tour continued with our guide showing us around the city and describing the Incan beliefs and culture. He showed us the various temples they had honoring the many figures they admired, such as the temple of the condor. The Incans believed the condor carried the dead to the next world. The people greatly honored the different elements of the earth as well, thanking them for providing a sustainable life for them.

IMG_2288Machu Picchu was believed to be a city that the Incan people came to, to learn various admirable professions, such as doctors and priests. There are no grave yards in the city showing that people didn’t grow old and die here unless it was an accident.
The Incans valued knowledge more than anything, as well as building up your community. Machu Picchu was built by the people, this is how they payed there taxes by hard honest work.
There’s a thing or two we can learn from this incredible ancient civilization.

7. After our fascinating tour we had the opportunity to explore the city on our own and take some classic pictures!

8. Once we had our fill of Machu Picchu we started our trek down the mountain and back to where our bus dropped us off the previous day.

Our journey to Machu Picchu was incredible, one we will never forget.





  1. Pingback: Our top 7 Adventures of 2013 | Going Places with Smiling Faces - January 1, 2014

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