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We have made such a beautiful trip through Peru and Bolivia. You can find our beautiful backpacking route with as many highlights as possible here. Fully mapped out including transport and hostels. If you have questions about this 3 to 4 week itinerary, please leave a message below.
Below is a map with our travel itinerary Peru and Bolivia. It is possible to start in Bolivia as well, but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the possibility of altitude sickness.
The recommended hotels are for two people, unless stated otherwise. Prices are the highest in high season. If you travel in a different period, the prices can be lower! This is our day-to-day itinerary:
The time has come. Your journey starts today. You will travel to Peru. Vaccinations are recommended for Bolivia and Peru.
We arrived late in the evening in Peru. The easiest and most expensive way to get from the airport to your hostel is by taxi. The official taxi service ‘Taxi Green’ is reliable and is best arranged at the airport itself (on the leftside before leaving the airport terminal). The prices are fixed. We paid 55 soles and reached our hotel within 30 minutes. The Miraflores district is a 45 minute to 1.5-hour drive from the airport and costs around € 17 (60 Soles). A random ‘local’ taxi is not recommended due to safety!
Another option is the bus. Airport Express Lima is a reliable service – with ‘very important’ Wi-Fi on board – from Lima airport to Miraflores. A single ticket costs $ 8 and the bus runs day and night! Although you should not have to search for your hostel at night. View the website of Airport Express for current travel times and the nearest bus stop.
The districts Miraflores and Barranco are the best. There are many nice restaurants and bars. Because we only had one day in Lima, we wanted to stay close to the old centre. However I advise you to choose the Miraflores neighbourhood. From there you can walk to the beach and possibly take a taxi to the old centre. We only stayed in Lima for only one night.
This is a great hotel near the historic centre. So it’s not located in the beloved neighbourhoods of Miraflores or Barranco, but close to the beautiful square Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor). For € 25 / $30 a night you have a small clean room and a private bathroom. Other guests rate this hotel with an 8, it’s very good! View Hotel Paris Lima here.
Altitude difference Lima: 0 to 1550 meters
The next morning we decided to explore Lima for a bit. We took a taxi to Miraflores (takes 15 minutes and +/- 3 euros) and explored the cosy coastline. In the afternoon we took the bus to Ica and then to Huacachina.
Every day there are a lot of buses that go to Ica. Ica is less than a 10-minutes drive from the desert village of Huacachina. Two reliable coaches are PeruBus and Cruz del Sur. Practically every hour of the day a bus departs from Lima to Ica and the journey takes 4.5 to 5.5 hours. A ticket costs € 13 / $16. We bought our tickets at the Cruz del Sur bus station. The bus of 3:30 pm was already packed so we had to wait one hour for the next bus. It’s best to order the tickets from Cruz del Sur in advance and online to make sure that you have a seat. We arrived in Ica at 8:45 pm. At the bus stop you will immediately find taxis that will take you to Huacachina. A taxi to Huacachina costs € 2 (8 Soles).
We decided to stay one night in Huacachina (pronounced Waka-tsjiena) and that one night was enough to satisfy us. Huacachina is tiny, within half an hour you have already seen the whole village.
I love guest houses! When it comes to the location, you are always in a good spot. Huacachina is so small that you can do everything by foot. This guest house is not expensive at all (for South American standards) and has a good rating. A double room with private bathroom costs € 28, – / $34 including breakfast. A bed in the dormitory costs only € 9 / $11 a night and the shared bathrooms are super clean. Wild Olive guest house has been rated with an 8.4.
If you decide to spend the night here, you can sleep in a tent in the desert. It’s no surprise that it’s very noisy but, it’s quite the experience. Desert nights Ecocamp is also in Huacachina, has a swimming pool and is rated with an average of 8.8.
Huacachina altitude: 440 meters
Because we took the bus to Arequipa in the evening, we could spend a full day in Huachachina. There are different tours available in Huacachina. But of course, we did a dune buggy + sandboard tour for 40 soles a person (from 4 pm to 6 pm). You can book this tour anywhere. It is highly recommended, we had a blast!
The bus and the plane are pretty much the only good means of transportation in Peru and Bolivia. In the evening we took the night bus from Ica to Arequipa. It was a long journey of 11 hours. To give you an example, Cruz del Sur leaves Ica at 9 pm and arrives in Arequipa the next day at 8:30 am. A ticket costs € 25 / $30 – or € 35 / $42 for VIP – with seats that can recline 160 degrees. Excluciva is another luxurious night bus you can take. Sleep tight!
Tip 1: Do not choose seats that are above the wheels of the bus…
Tip 2: Book your bus tickets to your next destination as soon as you arrive at the Arequipa bus station.
From the bus station in Arequipa to the centre will cost you about 8 to 10 soles (taxi, 10 minutes).
We are only staying in Arequipa for one night. That is quite a short amount of time. If you do have the time, you might want to stay here for two nights. There are many nice ho(s)tels in Arequipa to stay.
Do not let the word “hostel” put you off. We chose a nice double room with private bathroom. This hostel is located at the centre of Arequipa and it is close to the lively square. There is a nice roof terrace and the breakfast is delicious. The rooms are alright, from € 18 / $24 with a shared bathroom to € 23 / $28 with a private bathroom. A bed in the dormitory will cost you € 8 / $11 a night! More than 500 other guests rated this hostel with an average of 8.3.
If you are looking for a more luxurious place to stay and like sleeping in hotels, you should consider Casona Plaza Hotel Arequipa. This four-star hotel is located only three blocks from the Plaza and the hotel rooms look very neat. You pay around € 58 / $71 a night to sleep here. This hotel scores an average of 8.3 on Booking.
Altitude Arequipa: 2300 meters – My complaints: little headache
Actually, we should have an extra day in Aerquipa, but it is possible to see the highlights within 1 day. Arequipa is a wonderful city and there are a lot of nice restaurants to eat at. The city lies at an altitude of 2300 meters so, if you end up staying for an extra day, you also have more time to get used to the altitude.
We spend the entire day strolling around in Arequipa and have some dinner at the restaurant ZigZag (recommended! But a little more expensive: 165 soles for 2 people.).
We will not go to the Colca Canyon at 3 in the morning… We are going to the Colca Canyon at our own pace and by ourselves. It actually is possible to do the Colca Canyon without a tour! Most of the organized tours from Arequipa go no further than the Cruz del Condor view point, do a short walk of 2 hours and then spend the night in Chivay (3600m high). However, Cabanaconde is the best place for visiting and doing independent trekking to the Colca Canyon!
Cabanaconde lies at 3300m altitude and is a small village, very close to the canyon. From Arequipa it is at least a 3-hour bus ride to Chivay. From Chivay it will take another 2 hours to reach Cabanaconde. We took the REYNA bus at 11 AM and arrived in Cabanaconde around 4 PM. In reality, we arrived at 5:20 PM (the journey took 7 hours). Costs 17 soles per person. You can purchase the tickets at the bus station of Arequipa.
We stayed here for two nights and one of those nights we slept somewhere in the canyon!
Homestay Pachamama is being praised all over the internet and I can confirm that it is justified. They provide you with very good information and a map with different trekking routes through the canyon. Even if you are not staying at Pachamama Homestay you can buy a map. If you stay overnight in the Canyon, you can leave your backpack in this guest house. A double room with private bathroom costs € 37 / $45 a night including breakfast. A budget double room with shared bathroom costs about € 25 / $29. The restaurant of this guest house is also very good and has fresh pizza! The average rating of this place is 9!
Oooh! This hotel is very nice and super cosy. The rooms are nicely decorated and all have their own bathroom although, you will also have to pay a bit extra. A room will costs €59 / $72 a night and the hotel is well rated with an 8.5.
Altitude Cabanaconde: 3300 meters. My complaints: headache, but easily resolved with an aspirin
At 7 AM, we went from Cabanaconde to the Condor spot to see these giant birds (tour takes 2 hours for 20 sol a person and was arranged via Homestay Pachamama). Although we could only see a few from a distance, it was really great and fun experience!
At 11 AM we started our trek to Llahuar. Llahuar is less touristy and there is a hot spring! It took about 5.5 hours to get there. The trip was amazing, definitely my highlight!
Personally, the Colca Canyon was the absolute highlight of Peru! It is amazing and so beautiful! You can easily walk the canyon without a guide. There are several villiges in the Colca canyon, such as Llahuar, Sangalle, San Juan de Chuccho and Tapay; where you can sleep for a few bugs. The hike to Sangalle and back to Cabanaconde can be done within 1 day. You have to start in the morning, walk to Sangalle within 2.5 hours (or 5 hours with a detour) and return around 2 PM. The way back to Cabanaconde takes about 3.5 hours uphill. Renting a donkey costs 150 soles, but you can also stay the night in Sangalle.
Altitude Chivay: 3600 meters – No more headaches
From Llahuar it is a 7 hour walk back to Cabanaconde. You will have to climb your way back up the mountain again. There is also one bus per day from a village close to Llahuar. This bus drives to Cabanaconde within 2 hours and costs about 10 sol. There is only one road that you can follow, you can stop the bus by waving. Unfortunately, we could not walk the whole way back because of a knee injury and the bus had crashed. Fortunately, the owner of Llahuar lodge had a pick-up truck and was willing to drive us to Chivay within 2 hours. We spent 300 sol (€75) in total.
The last bus from Cabanaconde to Chivay leaves at 8 pm. In the afternoon the last bus will be at 2 pm.
We stayed in Chivay for one night so that we could take the bus to Cusco the next morning.
There are not that many good hotels in Chivay. However, Hotel Nativa was very good! The owner is fantastic and very helpful. The hotel has rooms with a lot of space for only €36 / $40 a night. The hotel is close to the main street of Chivay. Great to spend the night here!
Today we have a long journey ahead. We went from the Colca Canyon to Cusco (and immediately to Ollantaytambo).
There are multiple ways to travel from Chivay to Cusco (Cusco, 3400m altitude). It will be a long trip anyway.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the 4M Express runs directly from the Colca Canyon – the village of Chivay – to Cuzco. The bus leaves at 7 am from Chivay (in front of Hotel La Pascana, main square). You will arrive in Cuzco around 4 pm. A ticket costs $ 65 a person. The bus ride takes a long time but, of course you will also be able to do some sightseeing. The 4M Express makes several stops along the way and because of that you end up in places you wouldn’t normally visit. So I enjoyed this trip very much. Once in Cusco the bus driver arranged a cheap taxi to the departure point of the colectivos (shared minibus) to Ollantaytambo. We paid 10 sol per person and were in Ollantaytambo within 1 hour and 40 minutes. It all went very smoothly.
Tip! E-mail 4M Express for a discount! You can get a $15 discount if you pay cash in Arequipa.
Latam Airlines has two direct flights from Arequipa to Cusco every day. One leaves around 9:00 am and the other around 3:00 pm. A ticket costs around € 125 / $153 and you are in Cusco within 1 hour. That sounds great, right? The only downside is that you have to travel from Chivay back to Arequipa first, which is a 3 hour ride. You must be at the airport at about 1.5 to 2 hours in advance. You could then take the REYNA bus. It leaves from Chivay at 8:30 am and is in Arequipa around 12:30 pm, you should then catch the flight at 3:00 pm. Because of this, the total travel time is also 8 hours.
Depending on your wanderlust and tiredness, you can spend a night in Cusco or travel directly to Ollantaytambo. Here is an option for Cusco, but we went straight to Ollantaytambo.
This new hostel is close to the city centre and the sights in Cusco. You have a room for € 33, – incl. breakfast and private bathroom. This hotel is rated with an 9. There are also cheaper rooms with a shared bathroom. These costs € 24 a night. A bed in the dorm costs € 9. Personally, I did not think the service of this hostel was that good.
This cosy ho(s)tel is located 600 meters from the train station to Machu Picchu. Ollanta is nice and small so, everything can be reached within a few minutes. This hostel also has an excursion desk. You can stay here for €18 in a mixed dormitory, but if you are willing to pay a little more, you can have a deluxe room with private bathroom. Hostal Los Andenes is a great place to stay in my opinion. The hostel is rated with an 8.5.
Altitude Ollantaytambo: 2800 meters
Ollantaytambo is a very nice village in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It was a very important city for the Incas and there are many ruins in the area. Ollantaytambo (Ollanta) is also the nearest train station for the train to Machu Picchu! We have spent the whole day exploring Ollanta.
If you do not travel directly to Ollantaytambo on day 8, it is easiest to take a taxi from Cusco., which costs € 25 / $30. The journey takes 1.5 hours. From Cusco airport, a taxi costs € 30 / $36. It is cheaper to take a shared minibus / colectivo. These leave from Avenida Grau (near Plaza de Armas) and leave about every half an hour (or when they are full). The journey takes 1 hour and 45 minutes and costs € 4 / $6 per person.
Another option is to arrange a private taxi for a tour. You can explore the Sacred Valley from Cusco for 150 soles (€37,50 / $45) and be dropped off in Ollanta. During this tour you can visit Maras, Pisaq, Urubamba etc.
We stayed in Ollanta for three nights.
Patacalle is also very nice and cosy. This accommodation has a good location, close to the square and Ollantaytambo train station. A double room with shared bathroom costs €20 / $25. For €30 / $36 per night you have a room with a private bathroom! Other guests rated Ollantaytampu Hostel Patacalle with an average of 8.9.
Yay! Today is the day to visit Machu Picchu! Due to the new rules we visited Machu Picchu in the afternoon instead of in the morning.
The easiest and most expensive way to visit Machu Picchu is by train. We booked via Incarail because they were a bit cheaper than Peru rail. I also thought that the time schedules of Incarail were more favourable. We took the train at 7:20 am, from Ollantaytambo and arrived at 9 am in Aguas Calientes – €64 / $79 per person. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes we also arranged a return bus ticket to Machu Picchu for 78 soles per person! We had breakfast and then got on the bus.
We were at Machu Picchu for about 5 hours. We took the train back to Ollantaytambo in the evening.
If you want to visit Machu Picchu in the morning, it is best to stay in Aguas Calientes. The next morning you have to get up very very early.
This is a hostel with a good rating (8.2). An overnight stay costs € 30 for two including breakfast and a private bathroom.
In the morning we were still in Ollantaytambo and we visited the ruins. We then arranged a tour or private taxi actually (left around 12 pm). For 160 soles we arranged a private taxi that would takes us to the salt flats, Pisac and a market. We were dropped off in front of our hotel in Cusco around 5 PM.
We stayed in Cusco for two nights. Three would be better if you have enough time.
Our choice in Cusco: Andean Soul Hostel
Hostal Wara Wara has a panoramic sun terrace overlooking Cusco. The rooms are also very nice! This hostel is located close to the centre, but to get there you have to climb a few steps. A double room costs € 55 / $67 per night. Other guests are also very enthusiastic about this hostel and rated it with an 8.
Altitude Cusco: 3400 meters
Cusco is often called the most beautiful city of Peru. It was the capital of the Incas and is now on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. This also makes Cusco very touristy. We stayed in Cusco for two days. If you have an extra night, you visit the Rainbow Mountains.
Enough time to discover the highlights of the city and to rest a bit for the next night bus. We took the night bus to Copacabana at 10:00h in the evening.
We took the night bus to Copacabana in Bolivia.
There are several bus companies (such as Huayruro Tours and Trans Titicaca) that travel from Cusco to Copacabana, with a short stopover in Puno. The buses depart between 10 pm and 11 pm and arrive between 9:30 am and 12 pm in Copacabana (local time, it is an hour later in Bolivia). Tickets cost about 70 – 90 soles and it’s best to buy them in Cusco on day 12. On day 14 we arrived early in the morning in Copacabana.
We stayed in Copacabana for one night, close to Lake Titicaca
This hotel is located close to the beach and offers rooms with views of Lake Titicaca. The international bus stop (to La Paz or Puno) is only 150 meters away. Rooms are simple and a bit dated but, fine for one night. A room costs € 30 / $36 per night and the hotel is rated with an 8.
Copacabana is located at an altitude of 3800 meters – No problems with altitude sickness.
From Copacabana we headed to Isla del Sol, a beautiful island within Lake Titicaca. There are several boats to Isla del Sol. For example, the boat from Bolivia Hop. The boat leaves at 1 pm and at 2 pm from Copacabana and returns at 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm (costs € 9). The public boats depart from Copacabana at 8:30 am and 1:30 pm and take 2 hours (really slow). At this moment (April 2018), there is a conflict between the northern and southern part of Isla del Sol. So boat only go to the southern part of the island.
We stayed here for one night, but two would be better!
A very nice hostel with clean and large rooms that come with a private bathroom. To reach the hostel you have to climb up a lot of stairs (but this applies to most hostels). We paid € 32 / $38 for the room. Breakfast was delicious and the view beautiful!
A good alternative. The location is really beautiful, great views, even better than Wara Uta!
We took the boat back to Copacabana at 10:30 am. We arrived at 12 pm. There is also a boat at 4 pm. From Copacabana we continued to La Paz, the capital of Bolivia.
Every hour, between 8 am and 7 pm, a public bus departs from Copacabana to La Paz. Tickets are very cheap, but the journey takes longer and the bus stops more often. There are also tourist buses for € 5 / $7. You can purchase these tickets everywhere in Copacabana. Departure times of the tourist buses:
We stayed in La Paz for two nights.
Unfortunately, Hostel Rendezvous was fully booked when we got there. My cousin and his wife recommend this hostel. The hostel is located near Sopochachi and is half an hour away from the historic centre by foot. A room costs € 34 per night. The hostel is rated with an average of 9.4!
We loved this place! Comfortable fully-equipped remodeled apartment, with minimalist style. Everything is new and modern.
Get €30 discount on your first AirBNB booking.
Altitude of La Paz: 3700 meter
You have a full day in La Paz. Time to explore the city! Do you feel like going on an adventure? Overcome your fears and go mountain biking on the Death Road.
Our holiday is almost over and I secretly don’t mind it that much because it means that we go to Uyuni!. The beautiful salt flats!
You can take the night bus from Todo turismo to get to Uyuni. A ticket costs 250 Bob / € 32 per person. You’ll leave around 9 pm and arrive around 7:30 am in Uyuni. You can arrange a tour to the salt flats for the same day. However, the best tour operators are usually already fully booked. I also received a good price from Salty Desert Aventours by email.
A taxi to El Alto airport in La Paz costs about € 9 and takes 40 to 60 minutes to get there. We chose to travel by plane. Amazonas has a direct flight from La Paz to Uyuni at 7:15 in the morning and at 7:15 in the evening (+/- € 70 p.p.). We took the early morning flight and arrived in Uyuni at 8.15 am. We started the Uyuni 3-day tour that same day! The airport is only a 5-minute-drive from Uyuni town.
I can fully recommend Salty Desert Aventours. A three-day Salar de Uyuni tour costs 850 Bolivianos / € 108 (with a Spanish guide) and 1200 Bolivianos / € 155 (with English speaking guide) per person.
This does not include 186 Bob / € 24 entrance fees and possibly a surcharge of € 20 p.p. for a private double room. The tour starts at 10.30 am with max. 6 tourists and a good driver. You will sleep in a salt hotel and get a double room with a shared bathroom.
Day tour is also an option!
You can also make a day tour to the salt plains. You’ll leave around 10.30 am and return to Uyuni the same day around 6 pm. During a day tour you only visit the salt flats and you miss the beautiful lagoons and flamingos! Costs 200 Bob / € 26, -.
Uyuni altitude: 3700 to 5800 meters – take aspirins with you
On the second day of the tour you get up early and go to different lagoons, hot springs and other beautiful landscapes. You’ll sleep in a shared room this night. If you prefer a double room like us, you pay a surcharge of € 20 a person.
The last day of the tour. Today we were treated with some breath-taking landscapes but, this day is mainly focused on driving back to Uyuni. You can choose to travel directly to Chile as well. We went back to Uyuni. We arrived around 5 pm in Uyuni and then slept in a hostel.
We got up early and traveled to our final destination: Santa Cruz. If you can skip Santa Cruz, do it! Santa Cruz is a big city but, there is not that much to see or do. We flew back home from Santa Cruz. In retrospect, we would’ve only spent 1 night in Santa Cruz and not two.
We took a taxi to the airport and took the plane from Uyuni to Santa Cruz (Viru Viru airport). Amazonas has one direct flight at 08:40 in the morning (+/- € 110 a person). The flight takes an hour, so we had the rest of the day to explore Santa Cruz.
We stay in Santa Cruz for two nights.
This hostel looks so nice! It’s too bad that you have to share the bathroom with other guests, something that I don’t prefer. But, for two nights it does not matter that much. There is a swimming pool and the rooms look good too. Rated with an 8.3 and staying overnight costs € 27 a night. It is slightly further from the historic centre of Santa Cruz. View the hostel here.
Also nice: Bed & Bar Backpackers
Rooms are fine! A double room with private bathroom costs € 30 a night. This accommodation is located in the centre of Santa Cruz and is rated with an 8.8.
Altitude Santa Cruz: 400 meters.
Our day in Bolivia! What do we do? Chilling in the pool! It is hot in Santa Cruz and there is not that much to do. We visited Gúembé Biocentro & Resort :-).
We packed our bags and went to the airport (Santa Cruz Viru Viru International airport). It’s time to go home again!
Have you already been to Peru or Bolivia? What do you think of this backpacking route? Let me know and leave a comment below!
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The cost of this trip are variable and depending on the price of the flight, rental car and hotels of your choice.
Santa Cruz (Bolivia) or La Paz
Trekking Colca Canyon, Machu Picchu, Titicaca lake and Uyuni salt flats
Around €1900,- / $2115 p.p. (based on 2 persons). Or €1850,- if you choose low budget accommodation and transportation.