Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
I have been planning to come back to South America from the second I left back in 2016. Life happened, and turned out this summer was finally my time. After chatting with a few friends, I decided to go for Peru for a total off 23 days. The trip is different this time, because I am travelling both with my mom and a friend, who are both first-timers at backpacking and South America. I built the trip around my friend schedule, who was with us only for the first 10 days. This meant that we had to include Machu Picchu and make our way from Lima to Cusco within that time frame.
After doing some research, it seemed that the most efficient, safe and affordable way to take the Lima-Cusco route was to book a full South itinerary with Peru Hop. The company is relatively news and has been build by travelers for travelers. You will mainly see international tourists and travelers in these buses, not many locals (except the guides!). Our bus ticket included transportation from Lima-Paracas-Huacachina-Ica-Nazca-Arequipa-Puno-Cusco for just under 200US. This also included a few free tours and stops on the way (read more about this in the specific posts for each region), as well as a guide in the bus to tell us a bit more about the area, help us book tours and discounted accommodation, and taking attendance before leaving (making sure you don’t miss your bus). The good thing about being a “Hopster” is that you basically have no end date on your ticket. This mean you can decide the start date and choose how many days you wish to stay in each city based on your needs, desires, time limit, etc. You can also update your ticket and dates up to 24h in advance, to make sure that the bus schedule is updated with your new preferences. The bus was on time most of the time, and we were noticed either by email or phone (at the reception of our hostel) each time there was a delay. They also pick up and drop off everyone at their specific hostel, so you don’t have to worry about getting to a bus terminal at weird hours of the night and pay a cab, etc. Overall, I think the price was really worth it. The suggest a minimum of 7-8 days for the itinerary we took, however, I suggest a good 12-14 days if you are to include the Machu Picchu in there. We did 10 days (8 days up to Cusco + 2 days for Machu Picchu) and we felt tired and too much on the move. My only real downside was the lack of hygiene in the toilet of the bus. They would use the same bus for long trips and pick up new passengers right after, so we were often left with no toilet paper, no soap, often no water pressure, and a quite honestly disgusting amount of used toilet paper coming out of the garbage (seems like some people can’t quite figure out how to use a food pedal to open the garbage bin… so here now you know!).
So anyway – that said, we flew in directly into Lima and stayed at Casa Wayra in Miraflores. The common area was cozy and the room clean. We were a short walk away from the ocean front walk (up on the cliff), so we took our first day to walk around and then explore Miraflores district. We had just enough time to catch a free walking tour of Barranco at 3PM, which we started in Miraflores and bused with the guide to Barranco.
Barranco is the district of the art and a bit the gypsies vibes in Lima. We saw a lot of street art (reminded me a bit of Vila Magdalena in Sao Paulo) and stopped in a small bar for a short lesson on how to prepare Pisco Sour, the typical drink here in Cuzco. I have to say, I do like the taste of the drink, but only in small doses. Guess I can’t get enough of my Ceasars back home (the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary, in case you wondered… however we use Clamato juice instead of only tomato juice!).
We finished our first day with dinner at Tanta, a chain restaurant in Peru that is owned by Peru’s most reknown chef, Gaston Acuri. The food was great, though not cheap, but it was a great introduction to Peruvian culture and a safe option before we started our bus journey the morning after.
My mom and I will be back in Lima for 2 days at the end of our trip, during which we plan to visit the historic enter, eat great good and relax before flying back home.
The next day, we took our first bus with Peru Hop towards Huacachina, an oasis in the desert… stay tuned!