Home » What I wish I knew before my Intrepid trip to Peru

What I wish I knew before my Intrepid trip to Peru

written by Katie Lockhart March 18, 2018
Peru travel tips

Standing at the top of the guardhouse at Machu Picchu looking out over the ancient ruins and the misty mountains behind them, I couldn’t help but think ‘wow, my neck is getting burnt’!

When you’re taking precious time off of work for a bucket list adventure like Intrepid’s 9-day Classic Peru trip, being prepared can make all the difference. Whether it’s simply packing more sunscreen with you for your time at Machu Picchu or brushing up on altitude sickness, these eight tips will help you make the most out of your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

8. I wish I’d known I would fall in love with Cusco

Flying into this city nestled between the mountains was surreal. Once I got over the altitude, I was stunned by its Spanish architecture, walkable layout, ancient ruins and incredible Peruvian food. Grab some local pisco or a coca tea on any of the balcony restaurants in the famous Plaza de Armas and people watch over the town square. After, head to the San Pedro market to try a fresh fruit juice and some local cheeses.

Peru travel tips Cusco

Plaza De Armas, Cusco from above


7. I wish I’d prepped better for altitude sickness

At an altitude of over 11,000 feet, stepping off the plane in Cusco, Peru can feel a bit like floating. I’ve never been close to that high up, so I had no idea how the altitude would affect me. Being one of the lucky ones, I just had a slight headache. Not everyone in my tour was as fortunate, so those altitude sickness tablets came in handy.

Our Intrepid guide, Daniel also warned us against having too much to drink, as that can make it worse. Instead, bring lots and lots of water to drink and your body will naturally adjust.


6. I wish I’d brought more bug spray and sunscreen to Machu Picchu

The weather in Machu Picchu is extremely unpredictable, until you get to the top. We ventured to the top in November, during their rainy season but instead of showers and wind we got sunshine. I was not prepared for how hot it would be, although it’s lucky they do have a place to check extra bags and coats at the entrance.

Peru travel tips Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is incredible, no matter the weather

They didn’t, however, have a place to buy sunscreen or bug spray so bring your own, because no matter the weather, you’ll need at least one.


5. I wish I’d known how quickly the weather changes

The weather in Peru is truly unpredictable. When our group first arrived to Cusco in November, it was warm and sunny. We went into a restaurant for an hour to have lunch and when we looked outside it was hailing the size of golf balls with wind, thunder and lightning! Although it was their rainy season, this was still an extreme case because it made the national news.

Regardless, be prepared for hot sunny days and cold nights, and maybe a bit of hail too.

Peru travel tips Cusco selfie

My group and I had an amazing time in Cusco despite the weather!

4. I wish I’d brought more cash for markets

Peru is known around the world for its handmade goods that include woven alpaca sweaters, socks, blankets and more. We visited several different markets in small towns scattered throughout the Sacred Valley, but there was always a noticeable lack of ATMs.

So if you plan on shopping – which you should – keep the equivalent of 20 USD with you in case you spot a custom piece you just can’t live without.

Peru travel tips Cusco market shopping

An Intrepid traveler shopping in a Cusco market

3. I wish I’d known to never stop drinking water!

Taking a flight, in general, dehydrates you. But taking two flights and a seven-hour bus ride within nine days will definitely drain you of fluids. Not to mention all the exploring and walking around Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. It’s not difficult, but when you add high altitude, you’ll need to double your water intake. Always keep an extra bottle of water on hand, because you can’t drink out of the faucet in Peru.


2. I wish I’d researched more local restaurants

Lima is one of the food capitals of the world and, of course, there’s delicious food scattered throughout the entire country. If you’re into food like me, you’ll want to brush up before you arrive and book reservations way in advance. For the number 5 restaurant in the world, Central, try to make a reservation at least two months prior.

Thankfully, our Intrepid guide was a foodie and could direct us to some amazing local ceviche spots like Cevichería Bam Bam Y Sus Conchas Negras.

Peru travel tips ceviche

Ceviche recommended by our Intrepid guide

However, it’s still nice (in my opinion!) to have a list of recommended eateries so you don’t get stuck eating at the closest chain restaurant.

(To help, here are some starting tips for what to do in Lima and what to eat in Lima!)

1. I wish I’d known how beautiful the landscapes would be

I was expecting the big attractions like Cusco and Machu Picchu to be picturesque, but I was shocked when the entire country was like a painting – especially the incredible sunset we saw over Lake Titicaca during our homestay.


Peru travel tips Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

I was so glad I charged my camera every night because there was always a beautiful vista or charming village to capture.

During our train journey to Machu Picchu and our seven-hour bus ride to Puno I didn’t want to fall asleep because there were simply so many stunning mountainous landscapes to look at.

To check out the trip this writer journeyed on, check out Intrepid’s 9-day Classic Peru tour.

To see more of Intrepid’s trips in Peru, click here

(Image credits from top to bottom: Intrepid Travel x2, Katie Lockhart x2, Intrepid Travel, Katie Lockhart x2.)

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Anonymous September 25, 2018 - 1:35 pm

I drank the Coca Tea faithfully, never got altitude issues , lucky maybe , age 64, climbed Huyana Picchu,
Read “” The Enigma of Macau Picchu by Oscar Medina before You go , ( but on Amazon.com )

Anonymous September 24, 2018 - 10:50 am

Do it this way, Sacred Valley, Machu Pichu then Cusco, Lake Titicaca. That was how our tour was organized. You gain elevation slowly. Drink lots of water and coca tea. Love, love, love Peru.

Robin August 3, 2018 - 6:57 pm

I have been several times. Start Diamox(acetazolamida in espanol) RX from MD in US or in Lima or be sick and puke your guts out for a couple of days from altitude sickness(soroche) if you fly to Cusco or Titicaca 10-13000 feet high! Or ascend very slowly via Nasca and Arequipa over several days to adjust. Amazing beautiful journey do not forget trip insurance protect passport & valuables with a money belt worn to the front under clothing.

Anthony Maw July 30, 2018 - 7:11 am

Don’t forget to get that anti-diarrhea vaccination (some markets called “Dukoral”) before you leave or else you may find yourself inconveniently looking for a toilet all the time especially in countries like Peru where food sanitation and hygiene isn’t up to western standards.

kay March 28, 2018 - 11:04 am

Can you recommend an altitude sickness tablet??

Mig March 28, 2018 - 1:42 am

I think you meant ‘Coca’ tea….(instead of cocoa tea)

Sam March 25, 2018 - 9:22 am

I hiked the Inca Trail 30 miles three nights. I wish they would have fed me more. I lost 12 lb. So ask your trekking Company how much you’re going to eat or bring your own extra food.

H August 1, 2018 - 8:52 pm

3days hiking !!
Which travel company pls

Robert Ybarra March 22, 2018 - 2:06 am

Can you tell me if I can just go on the spur of the moment and still have a good time at machu pichu? Or do I need an itenerary?

rick be March 18, 2018 - 1:34 pm

My bus ride to Puno was overnight so I missed some sights.

Eldon Albertson March 18, 2018 - 1:17 pm

If you are in New York City, take the Metro over the 59th street bridge to, if I remember correctly, Greensboro Plaza, and eat at the House of Thai at 2501 40th Avenue in Queens. My friend Marguerite and I have eaten there on both of our trips to NYC in the past 3 years. Excellent authentic Thai food. Tell them Marguerite and Eldon recommended that you to eat there. We know the owners.


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