Peru in 9 Days: The Logistics

Peru in 9 days

So you wanna do Peru in nine days and see as much as possible? Well, boy howdy do I have the plan for you!

This trip is very aggressive, and in some points, seemingly impossible. If you do not function well on little sleep, you may want to omit some of these tours or add a couple of days… ’cause you’re going to be very, very tired if you do what we did.

Below is our schedule with links to each of the tour companies we used.

  • Day Zero – Leave LAX at 8:30 p.m.
  • Day One – Arrive in Cusco at 11:00 a.m.; check into AirBnB
  • Day Two – Tour to Lake Titicaca (2.5 day trek)
  • Day Three – Uros Islands and Taquile Island; overnight bus back to Cusco
  • Day Four – Hike to Rainbow Mountain 
  • Day Five –  Sacred Valley tour to  Machu Picchu 
  • Day Six –  Machu Picchu
  • Day Seven – Walk across Inca Bridge 
  • Day Eight – Climb to Sky Lodge; zipline down; return flight home
  • Day Nine – Arrive at LAX at 7:30 a.m. 

Some tours were great. One? Actively conspired to give us Covid. Which one? Well, you’ll have to actually read to find out.

Ah, the suspense! This is also how I force people to read it all.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost:

  • Flight to Lima: $696
  • Hopper Flight to Cusco: $103
  • Travel Insurance: $50
  • AirBnB (per person): $129
  • Lake Titicaca: $277
  • Rainbow Mountain: $79
  • Machu Picchu: $465
    • Sacred Valley: $17.50
    • Lunch Buffet: $11.25
  • Inca Bridge $69
    • Bridge Entrance: $2.5
  • Via Ferrata (Sky Lodge) $139
    • Photo package: $20

Total per person: $2058.25

Other costs:

  • Gratuities for tour guides: See suggestion for tipping. BTW tour guides aren’t like ours in the US where anyone can do it… In Peru tour guides study at university for FIVE YEARS. They are extremely knowledgeable and tours are definitely worth booking.
  • Food: most of our food was included in the tours; however food is very inexpensive in Peru, so you can easily get by with $10-15 per day, depending on how much you eat/drink. This daily price would include the cost of bottled water. Also we weren’t in Peru for the food so if you want restaurant suggestions… I can’t help you. 
  • Souvenirs: Varies. You can get high quality, beautiful items very inexpensively. We got some gorgeous baby alpaca blankets for less than $20. They would have cost $100 here. If I had brought bigger luggage I’d have bought more.
  • Luggage fees: $75-100.  On your hopper flight you will have to check your carry on bag (personal bags are fine). On the way to Cusco we “volunteered” to check our bags at the gate prior to boarding, so there was no cost (if you check ahead of time or if they stop you while you’re boarding, you will have to pay $40). On the way back our fee was $36. This was for a small bag, larger bags will cost more. 

Other Notes:

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That engagement pic where they’re side by side looking at one another, except with an Alpaca

In Peru

  • Don’t drink the water. Or eat fresh veggies washed in the water. This is the one time where salads are not good for you. Also, stay away from ice. You will have a very bad time if you have the water. 
  • Download Whatsapp. They love it there. I used it to communicate with tour guides and with our AirBnB hosts
  • Public Restrooms. Some are free, public toilets like we have in the US. Some have toilet paper but it’s outside the stalls and you don’t know until you’re sitting down. Some you have to pay for and you get two squares of toilet paper with your purchase. Some don’t have toilet seats. Some are flushed by someone dumping water in the toilet after you go. You’re just not going to know until you get there. It’s always a surprise. One thing that IS consistent though, is…
  • Do not put your toilet paper in the toilet–it goes in the trashcan. I was successful in remembering this a solid 60% of the time 
  • Uber works and is probably better than using taxis. Taxi drivers are known to quote you a price and then start adding on fees you didn’t agree to
  • Bartering is a thing here. If you’re like me and you hate bartering, just remember everything is so inexpensive you’d really only be saving a couple of dollars, anyway. Also, if you and a traveling companion double up, you may get a better deal. For example Sharee and I both bought two blankets each which got us a better deal because together we were buying four total. 
  • Baby alpaca wool is so soft! The best way to tell if it’s real baby alpaca is to place your hand in the stack. If it’s cool it’s real. If it’s warm, it’s synthetic. 
  • Tipping: aside from guides, you do not need to tip servers and taxi drivers
  • Animals: Get used to seeing dogs roaming everywhere. Packs of dogs. Dogs in pairs. Dogs wearing sweaters but who do not have owners. Dogs dogs dogs. Also, sheep, alpacas, llamas, cows… we saw a giant pig once… it’s wild, man.
  • Driving is bonkers and people are constantly honking at one another, and pedestrians. Even so we saw no accidents and experienced zero road rage.
  • Bring a bottle of aspirin. Cusco is at over 11,000 feet so you are likely to suffer altitude sickness and we found it hard to get pain killers. Also, they ask you how many you want because they only sell them in packs of two because IDK
  • Coco leaf tea and candies also help with altitude sickness, which can include headaches and nausea. Be careful taking the leaves back, though. Apparently it’s illegal to bring into the US because anyone bringing it back is planning to make cocaine OBVIOUSLY.

A note about phones: I would not rely on Whatsapp only. If you don’t have data, you will need Wifi to use it, which Sharee, my traveling companion, found out about the hard way when she had no way to communicate with people back home unless there was free wifi. Also, many phone carriers don’t work in Peru, even if you were to pay.

I have Google Fi (YES, Google is a provider, just like Verizon or T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.) as my carrier and I have texting and data (not voice but I’m an elder millennial and we don’t call people anyway) in every country I’ve gone to without having to pay extra. I tell people about Google Fi all the time and they just ignore me and I’m like “Have fun having crappy, expensive coverage you dummies.” 

Anyway, click here  for my referral code and $20 off if you switch. Google supports Android and iPhone so there’s honestly no reason not to… unless you really DO enjoy your crappy, expensive coverage. 

Flying Notes:

  • Bring paper copies of your tickets because they won’t let you into the airport in Cusco without it
  • You have to go through passport control both coming and going to/from Peru (this confused everyone on the way out)
  • You will have to claim your baggage and go back through airport security in flights to and from Cusco
  • Your baggage will be hand searched in both Cusco and Lima, right in front of you.
  • You can bring water into the airports
  • You cannot bring water on the plane from Lima to LAX, as US customs will not allow even bottled water because of… reasons??? Wish we’d known that before spending $12 on water to have it thrown out 10 min later. Peru is cheap but airports in Peru are like airports anywhere… expensive. So you better savor your thimble-sized cup of water you get every six hours from Latam, because that’s all the hydration you’re getting
  • Download the passport app for customs. Gone are the days of the paper form and trying to borrow a pen from someone. Also gone are the days of going through customs at all, which was pretty rad. You still have to go through passport control, though.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… COVID

If you’re post Covid:
Hey, man… what’s it like? Is it rainbows and butterflies? Is your skin soft now that you don’t have to bathe in bleach every day? How is it seeing more than ⅓ of people’s faces? I bet it’s real nice over there ::stares off into distance::

If you’re not post-Covid:
Whoa, me too! Here’s what you have to worry about:

  • Double masks on planes!
  • Mask and face shield on buses like the one from Lake Titicaca AND the train to get to Machu Picchu. We used these ones. Fun fact, there are TWO sets of film on these bad boys which we figured out after suffering through two trips of looking through a perpetual fog. 


  • Testing:
    • To get into the country: at the time of this writing, you need a PCR test to get into Peru. Keep your eye on this page because requirements change a lot. For example, at first a vaccination was fine (I’m fully vaccinated), then three days before we left it wasn’t fine, you needed a PCR test, antigens weren’t good enough. And don’t expect your airline, Latam, to keep you up to date, because they literally could not care less about you (more on that later).

      You also have to fill out this declaration form which is buggy and is in half Spanish, half English. Can’t find the United States on the drop down? That’s because it’s listed as EE.US (abbreviation for Los Estados Unidos in Spanish). Also it’ll require phone numbers that are eight digits even though ours are seven digits, so we added a random number because IDK what’s happening RN. Get used to that feeling because you’re going to IDK what’s happening RN a lot when it comes to traveling and Peru in general.
  • To get out of the country: Remember when I said “More on that later” with Latam? Well, guess what, it’s later.

    First, domestically they do not care about testing, so our flight from Cusco to Lima was fine.

    However getting on the plane in Lima was a WHOLE THING.

    At the time of this writing the US requires antigen or PCR tests. We used the Ellume at home test which is an antigen test done by nasal swab. It’s super easy to use and only takes 15 minutes to get the results. But because it does not have the word “antigen” in the results they email you, the staff at Latam would not let us board the flight. It didn’t matter how many times we showed them the FAQ page that explained it was an antigen test–they did not care. And I really mean they DID NOT CARE about us.

    We spent TWO HOURS being bounced from person to person while they all took pictures of the results, sent it to some supervisor we never saw, and then played on their phone or talked to their friends and ignored us as we stood tired and afraid we’d never make it out of South America. After about an hour and a half, we asked if there was an in-airport testing facility and the Latam ticket agent said yes, but it had closed at 10 p.m. It was 10:30. 

    Out of desperation, we went to the United Airlines desk and asked them if they would accept the Ellume test. They said they would absolutely accept it, and did not understand what Latam’s problem was. But United does not have direct flights to LAX United also told us the on-site testing facility was actually open until 11:00 p.m. but it was 10:56 by the time we learned this fact. If Latam had told us at the beginning the on-site testing was an option, we would have had it resolved in 30 min. and had enough time to have a birthday drink and meal. United was more helpful than our own airline. Great. 

    Meanwhile, back at Latam, asked to talk to a supervisor and stood for 20 minutes while no one ever came over. We were treated as if we were just a bother and  not one of the customer service people even TRIED to come up with a solution for us. In fact, when we asked for a refund, we were told “We’re the only ones that fly from Lima to LAX, you do not have any options.” 

    Yet, they did nothing to help us. 

    When I say Latam does not care about you I really, truly mean they do not care. At all. Not even a little bit. 

    Finally, I was able to get in front of an actual supervisor who had just come on shift. I politely showed her my results and clicked on the part that said it was an antigen test. She said “oh yes, this works, I don’t know what the problem is” and took us to the counter where we were able to check in for our flight. 

    I could have cried. I wish I’d gotten her name but we were in such a frazzle we just wanted to get on the plane. Thank you, female supervisor. I love you, and you’re my for forever and ever.

    So my advice? Just get a test at a clinic. Apparently there are multiple ones that are 24 hrs in Cusco. If we hadn’t had four hours for our layover we’d never have made the flight and I would probably just have given up and accepted my life perpetually living in an airport. 

    P.s. It was my 40th birthday that day. Great job Latam.

    Also, to enter the US you need to sign a health declaration form. Not having access to a printer, we’d actually begged a local hotel to print them for us, only to find that they had the forms in the airport ready to go. 

Okay, so I think that’s all I have about getting to and from Cusco. What do you do while you’re there? Check out Part 2 and Part 3.

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