Organise and plan an amazing adventure with this descriptive Peru 2 week itinerary. From sand dunes to rain forests, wild oceans to ancient Incan citadels, modern cities to indigenous villages; Peru has more than enough to create an incredible jam-packed 2 week itinerary.
Peru was a massive highlight of our six months in South America – we would even go as far as to say that it’s one of our favourite countries in the world. With friendly people, incredible sights, affordable prices and diverse landscapes, it really does offer something for everyone.
In total, we spent over a month in Peru and loved every minute of it. We were fortunate to have so much time though and we certainly appreciate that not everyone does.
Although we’d recommend you aim for 3 weeks (or even better, a month), a Peru 2 week itinerary will get you seriously excited about this incredible country.
It’s for this very reason that we’ve filtered out the real Peruvian highlights into this manageable and action-packed Peru 2 week itinerary.
With all that said, let’s get right into organising your own Peru 2 week itinerary.
Just remember though, we can’t promise you won’t be booking a return trip before you’ve even had a chance to leave!
The Highlights of Peru: 2 Week Itinerary
The cultural capital of Peru, if there’s only one part of the country that you visit, this is it. With exciting adventures and incredible history, all right on your doorstep, Cusco packs a punch.
Though people often travel to Cusco to access Machu Picchu, this ancient city offers plenty in and of itself. Ideally give yourself a few days to explore local highlights (even more works too though, we spent about three weeks there in total!)
Natura Vive Via Ferrata and Zipline
With ladders reaching 300m up the cliff-face and ziplines racing you back down to earth, this makes for an awesome day of adventure!
Natura Vive will pick you up from Cusco and take you out to the incredible Sacred Valley. Once there, you’ll receive a full safety briefing and will be connected onto the via ferrata. The next few hours will be spent climbing, clambering and zipping both up and down the cliff-face.
Is it scary? I guess that depends. For sure though, it’s incredible fun and totally manageable for those with a thirst for adventure and a courageous spirit.
This is something we 100% recommend including in your Peru 2 week itinerary!
A full (and very early) day trip from Cusco, Rainbow Mountain provides striking scenery and a genuine hiking challenge.
Located at altitude significant altitude, Vinicunca (or Rainbow Mountain as it’s known to tourists) is a part of the Willkanuta Mountain Range (which is found within the greater Andes Mountains). This hike has a starting altitude of 4,326m and finishes up at 5,200m above sea level.
If you’ve never hiked at altitude, be ready to feel short of breath, potentially nauseous and to experience pins and needles in your hands and feet.
Because most tours operate on a limited timeframe, you may like to hire a horse (and local helper) to help get you nearer the top of Rainbow Mountain. This way, you’ll limit the chances of altitude sickness (which is made worse by exercise) whilst ensuring you make it to the top in time to enjoy the scenery. It’s important to note though that, even by horseback there is still quite a hike in a couple of places, and you will need to get yourself back down. Though a horse makes the journey much easier, it’s not a walk in the park by any means.
For views like these though, it’s totally worth it!
A slightly easier hike, Laguna Humantay is another fantastic excursion able to be booked from Cusco.
This hike begins at 4,200m above sea level and to get to the top takes between 1 and 2 hours. You’ll start on a beautiful grass hill before heading into the more mountainous part of this hike.
At the top, your efforts will be rewarded by the incredible Laguna Humantay. A sacred spot, swimming isn’t allowed there but it’s not a bother – the serenity and photographs you’ll snap will make the hike more than worth it.
If you decide to hike the Salkantay to Machu Picchu, you’ll enjoy this incredible mountain lake as part of your journey.
Accommodation in Cusco
Onwards travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu
The way in which you get to Aguas Calientes (and in turn, Machu Picchu) will depend on the type of tour you choose. You’ll find plenty of information on potential options in the next section.
Machu Picchu (3 nights)
For most, Machu Picchu is the main reason to visit Peru. This ancient Incan citadel is every bit as amazing as you might expect and really is worth the time/effort/money to see. In our opinion, no trip to Peru is complete without paying homage to this incredible historical site!
The Inca Jungle Trek
The most fun you can possibly have getting to Machu Picchu, we highly recommend the Inca Jungle Trek for those with a sense of adventure!
Picking you up bright and early from Cusco, you’ll take on downhill mountain hiking (on an old highway), white water rafting and ziplining. This is along with a visit to naturally-fed hot pools, a day spent hiking on the original Inca Trail and of course, a visit to Machu Picchu (including a guide), via Hidroelectrica (where you’ll walk along the train tracks) and Aguas Calientes. Transport there and back is also included, as are meals.
Depending on which provider you go with, there may be some additional fees (so be sure to check and shop around).
During the shoulder season (when we travelled), we found out that different tour agents often group travellers together. Some on our tour didn’t have rafting/zip lining included (having to pay extra if they wanted to join us) whilst others had different transport (we caught the train part way back, for example, whilst others were put on a mini-bus).
We chose to join the 3 night tour but it’s also possible to do so in 2 nights.
The 3 night trip includes a day walking on the Inca Trail, whereas the 2 night tour sees you picked up by mini-van on the second morning and driven to Hidroelectrica where you will then continue on to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu.
Be sure to think about what has value to you and consider that when booking.
Be warned though, the accommodation on the Jungle Trek is fairly basic. We had hot water two out of three nights and rooms that were comfortable enough bu lacking all mod-cons. You’re there for an adventure though so roll with it!
Alternate Travel Plans: Add a night to Cusco, make Machu Picchu a day trip (by joining a one-day tour from Cusco – be warned, it’ll be a massive day!) and then head to Arequipa for 2 nights. Arequipa was one of our favourite towns in Peru but with less time on this itinerary, we couldn’t include it without cutting something else out.
Looking for a different way to get to Machu Picchu? There are plenty of options…
How To Get to Aguas Calientes, the Gateway to Machu Picchu
There are a number of different ways to access Machu Picchu. The best decision for you will depend on the amount of time you have on your trip, the notice period you’ve got before booking, your budget, your fitness and your sense of adventure!
Potential routes to Machu Picchu
- The Inca Jungle Trek: Our preferred method, this route is all about fun and adventure! Including downhill mountain biking, whitewater rafting, zip lining and more. 2 or 3 nights.
- The Classic Inca Trail: The most recognised hike to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is booked months in advance. If you decide to book this option, you’ll hike across 42km, sleeping in tents as you travel. The hike isn’t for the faint of heart but there’s no doubt that it is a memorable challenge. If you decide to take this challenge on, inquire well before you arrive into Cusco. 3 nights.
- The Salkantay Trek: Covering 74km over five days, the Salkantay Trek is another serious hike to Machu Picchu! We heard the most amazing feedback about this trail but were still happy with our decision to do the Inca Jungle Trek. 4 nights.
- By Train: Inca Rail and PeruRail both offer beautifully scenic rides to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. As many days as you choose.
- By Shuttle and an Easy Hike: The most affordable way to get to Machu Picchu, catch a local shuttle to Hidroelectrica before then walking for a few hours along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes. A minimum of 2 nights.
- A one-day tour from Cusco: Should you be short on time, it is possible to make a day trip to Machu Picchu. It will be a long day and come at a fair cost, but it definitely can be done. 1 day.
From Aguas Calientes, you can either catch a tourist bus up to the entrance of the citadel or you can walk if you really want to stretch your legs.
The hike takes approximately 1.5 hours (less if you’re super fit/running, more if you’re anything like me) and is pretty challenging.
The bus will set you back a hefty USD12 each way. We also suggest you pick your tickets up in town the day before to be safe.
You’ll want to line up for the bus at Hermanos Ayar a / n Avenue bright and early. I’m not kidding, we were waiting from around 3.30am and the line very quickly built behind us!
Onwards travel from Aguas Calientes/Cusco to Puerto Maldonado
The tour/day trip that you organise will take you back to Cusco.
From there, you can organise a night bus to get to the Amazon. The bus from Cusco will depart at 9am and arrive into Puerto Maldonado at 7am. Tickets start at USD15 but do vary depending on availability.
Once in town, Amazon Planet will collect you from the bus station and let you relax until your boat departs for the rainforest. If you’d like, they can even set up a delicious breakfast for you with their neighbours in an orchid growers!
Alternatively, flights are available from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado through LATAM. They fly via Lima and start at USD57, again subject to availability.
The gateway to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, Puerto Maldonado is a must-see stop on every nature-lover’s Peru 2 week itinerary.
With incredible animals and incomparable jungle, a trip to the Amazon Rainforest is a journey into a natural paradise.
Sure, Puerto Maldonado is a bit of a trek to get to, but in our opinion, it was a trip worth making.
Amazon Planet provided the perfect all-inclusive base for us. There, we enjoyed a range of activities (including night-time jungle treks, caiman spotting and a float down the Amazon River), local cuisine and relaxation with newfound friends.
A jungle adventure should be top of your Peru 2 week itinerary list!
Accommodation in Puerto Maldonado
There’s only one place we can recommend in this region, the amazing Amazon Planet!
Onwards Travel from Puerto Maldonado to Huacachina
A car on this route takes 25 hours so for those on a 2 week itinerary, a bus is really out of the question.
That leaves you with one reasonable option; to fly. To fly from Puerto Maldonado to Lima with LATAM, you’ll be looking at USD88+.
Once in Lima, you’ll need to connect via bus. Here, you have two options.
- A public bus to Ica, followed by a taxi to neighbouring Huacachina.
- Join the hop-on/hop-off tourist bus service; Peru Hop. They will take you directly to Huacachina and allow time for you to complete your activities. We really recommend Peru Hop as this itinerary will see you short on time – yes it’ll cost you a little more to join the tour but without much spare time, having everything figured out for you can make a big difference. They offer everything from a single day trip right through to a three-day visit, should you have extra time.
Built for fun, Huacachina is a favourite amongst backpackers and adventurers!
This little tourist town is build around South America’s only desert oasis and it’s a sight to behold.
By day, it’s a great place to relax and unwind but come mid-afternoon, the desert comes to life.
Join a Desert Tour
Whilst in Huacachina we highly recommend joining a desert tour. Together you’ll jump into a specially made dune buggy and zip your way through the dunes. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself top of the biggest sand dune around, preparing to slide your way right on down!
Doing so is massive fun but to ensure you’re comfortable on the trip, you’ll want to wear/have the following items:
- Closed-toe shoes (as you’ll dig your toes into the sand to slow yourself down whilst sandboarding)
- Long pants if possible, but certainly pants you don’t mind getting ruined. Both Nathan and I wore little holes though the thighs of our pants – those sand dunes are serious business!
- A hat
- Bottled water
Following on from your sandboarding adventure, you’ll climb to the top of another sand dune and enjoy the sunset before making your way back to town.
Though you don’t need a lot of time in Huacachina (we only spent one night there), it really was one of the most memorable towns we visited in Peru.
Even having spent two years living in the UAE, Huacachina was unlike anywhere else we’ve ever visited!
Accommodation in Huacachina
Onwards Travel from Huacachina to Lima
Though you’re able to organise a private taxi back to Ica and then a local bus from there, we’d suggest using Peru Hop as you’ll be tight on time on this Peru 2 week itinerary.
Lima, the capital of Peru, is a beautiful seaside city. With its tall cliffs, crashing waves and modern malls, this is the perfect place to spend a night or two amongst the busyness of this Peru 2 week itinerary.
There are two districts in Lima that are particularly suited to tourists; Miraflores and Barranco. These neighbouring areas are safe and appealing and will likely be where you spend your time.
Jump on a Walking Tour
Barranco is an intriguing suburb rich in history. With beautiful architecture, interesting citizens and incredible street art, it’s worth jumping on a free walking tour to really understand this part of town and everything it has to offer.
Hit the Skies – Paragliding in your Peru 2 week itinerary
From a lookout at the top of the cliffs, you’ll notice local paragliders offering tandem flights. If you’re after an urban adrenaline rush, this is a real highlight of Lima!
Accommodation in Lima
Onwards travel from Lima to Huaraz
Buses travel from Lima to Huaraz right through the day and night. We chose to catch a night bus to maximise our time in Huaraz (and to give our bodies the rest of that initial day to relax and acclimatise to the higher altitude). The journey takes approximately 8 hours and tickets start from USD9.
The hiking capital of Peru, Huaraz is a little off the main tourist trail but it was a definite favourite of ours so we couldn’t help but include it in this Peru 2 week itinerary!
Hike Laguna Churup
A great ‘acclimatisation’ hike, Laguna Churup is spectacular and unique.
With a pretty persistent uphill track and sections of free-climbing (where you’ll be aided by coated ropes), it wasn’t exactly the ‘easy’ hike that we were hoping for but it sure was memorable.
Take plenty of snacks and hike slowly; you’ll want to save your energy for Laguna 69. Don’t for a second think that Laguna Churup is secondary though – it stands very firmly on its own feet.
When you see the lake at the top, you’ll know exactly why!
Take on Laguna 69
The most famous of all of the Huaraz day hikes, Laguna 69 is everything you’ve imagined and more!
Though it’s a fairly big day trip and hike, Laguna 69 amazes at every turn. We had of course expected the lakes at the top to be impressive (you really can’t take a bad photo there), but we were surprised by just how spectacular the scenery on the way up was.
With waterfalls cascading throughout the valley and everything from lush fields to mountainous terrain as you climb ever higher, this is a beautiful hike throughout.
Hiking at altitude is challenging and there’s no doubt that this isn’t an easy hike but if you take your time and drink plenty of water, it’s absolutely achieveable.
For us, this was one of the highlights of our entire six month South American trip!
Accommodation in Huaraz
Isn’t it Time You Locked Your Trip in and Made Use of Our Peru 2 Week Itinerary?
Hand-on-heart, we believe Peru is one of the very best countries in South America.
With such incredible diversity in a relatively small country, there’s something for everyone. From the iconic, historic Machu Picchu to the madness of Huacachina, and everything in between, Peru is a must-visit country for all types of travellers.
Planning your visit to Peru? Pin this Peru 2 week itinerary!