Top 5 Experiences in Peru

Top 5 Experiences in Peru

Memorable moments from a country full of experiences

Since we’ve returned from Peru, we’ve been asked one main question: What was the best part of your trip? If we had visited just one region I might be able to talk about highlights from within that area, but after spending two weeks exploring distinctly different regions of the country there’s no way I can pick just one thing that stood out.

Instead, I’m going to share a few of my favorite experiences in Peru from the honeymoon (in no particular order), plus a few tips from our time there. I realize that in this countdown my #1 experience from our honeymoon should be (and is) getting to spend time with my new husband but that memory is a) a given, and b) not useful to you in the slightest when it comes to planning a trip to Peru, so let’s disregard that one in this countdown.

Enjoying a first class experience

HIram Bingham Train, Machu PIcchu, Peru

1If you’ve read most of my previous posts and have an understanding of how this blog even started, you know that first class travel isn’t typically my way of life. Not that staying at great hotels isn’t wonderful but I’ve never really had the budget to splurge. I typically would rather spend on exploring two places on a budget than spending everything on one trip (I know for some people it’s not an either/or situation, but for me it has been).

This trip was way more plush than anything I’ve ever experienced. From the first class flight (who knew flying could be so fun?!) to the hotels, I finally began to understand why people spend the extra money on accommodations. Two standout hotels for us: Hotel Monasterio by Orient-Express (read more here) and Starwood’s Tambo del Inka Hotel in the Sacred Valley (read more here).

Entering Cusco

Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru

2Lima was good, but it was like most big international cities: congested and dirty without a ton for us to actually do (except dine). Entering Cusco was like entering an entirely new world; the world that we had envisioned when we had daydreamed about Peru.

Our hotel was superb — and extremely well located, the Plaza de Armas was breathtaking, and the environment seemed more authentically Peruvian than what we had experienced before. A bit of altitude sickness aside, landing in Cusco felt like our trip had truly begun. If I were to go back to Peru, I would bypass Lima and kickstart my experience in Cusco. {With soroche pills for Scott.}

Experiencing Urubamba’s local market

Urubamba, Peru

3Urubamba was a surprisingly wonderful experience for us. I was excited about the Sacred Valley when we entered, but had no idea it would be such an eye-opening and captivating experience (read more here).

Our time in the Sacred Valley was perhaps the most organic of all of our experiences. We planned nothing yet we stumbled into a local market that was one of the more raw and authentic things we had seen. The food, the drinks, the people, the attire… it felt like we jumped into a page of National Geographic. Truly remarkable.

Waking up in the Amazon

Top 5 Experiences in Peru

4Waking up on the Amazon for three days was one of the more memorable experiences I’ll have in my life. Everyday brought a new adventure and there was something exhilarating knowing that no one could ‘plan’ what we were going to see. We followed an itinerary but the jungle would bring us what it wanted each day and we  could gain as much or as little as we wanted from the trip.

Fishing for piranhas, swimming in the Amazon, meeting local river communities and being part of this cruise with so few other people — it was as if we were experiencing something that most people had never seen; something rare, something real, something hidden. Of course this cruise runs regularly and we’re just one couple of many that has done it, but they did a great job of making it feel special.

Seeing the sun rise in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

5How does it get more memorable than this? Waking up to views of Huayna Picchu, heading out to the crisp mountain air and seeing the sun poke its head out behind the Andes — definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

Again, those are listed in no particular order because they’re not comparable experiences. They were all incredibly memorable for their own, unique reasons and I’m eternally grateful that we had such a comprehensive experience. We were really able to see so many distinctly different sides of Peru that one single experience wouldn’t have imparted.  If we were to do it again, we’d probably do it mostly the same way. My biggest takeaway for parceling out your time: skip a couple of days in Lima and add them on to either Cusco or the Sacred Valley.

Have you been to Peru? What were your favorite memories?


Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.