DO take altitude sickness precautions. I cannot stress this enough: Altitude Sickness Is Real. So real, that I fainted from it twice, and puked once. So real, that I was winded, shaky and tingly most of my trip, even after I was (supposedly) ‘acclimated’. I don’t care how far away your trip is, start taking these now:
DON’T bother checking the weather, just dress for any occasion. The weather was so consistently wrong on our trip, it was almost laughable. DO bring rain gear no matter what time of year you visit. *Click hurr for my packing guide to Peru
DO book rainbow mountain alternative route. It’s still breathtaking, but less of a trek, more remote, and less touristy.
DO book a tour guide for Machu Picchu, you really need a guide to learn about the history, navigate the site and get your best photos. We used Jonathan, and he was exceptional. His whatsapp is +51 997 282 617. He came as a recommendation and I’m happy to pass his info along!
DO ride Inca rail over Peru rail. It’s a more elevated experience, with nicer train cars and better service. The Belmond also has its own luxury rail system that’s worth mentioning.
DO try a pisco sour, corn beer and local wines (Might I suggest spending ample time at my favorite watering hole, the Pisco Museum)
DON’T eat the guinea pigs, that’s just straight up disgusting. DO eat vegan at Qura and Vegan Temple. Plant based is part of the culture, and there is no where I’ve been that has more complex and nutrient dense vegetables, grains and fruit than Peru. DON’T think that means I’m suggesting you also don’t indulge regularly in pisco sours and ceviche.
DO carry loose change to have your photos taken with baby llamas and goats. Also nice to have some for kiddos.
DO let a crystal speak to you. I found my favorite crystal stands in the Chinchero flea market.
DO take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Peruvian cuisine.
DO take a yoga class, soundbath or sign up for private reiki at the Healing House in Cusco.
DO hike up to Sacusayaman in Cusco to see the ruins and the best view of the city. (But don’t feel like you have to take a guided tour). DON’T feel ridiculous referring to the previous as ‘sexy woman’ when asking directions – everyone will understand.
DO visit Cusco Market for a fresh squeezed juice, or to buy a branch of ayahuasca, whichever.
DO bring a pack lunch for Machu Picchu, there’s no food for purchase inside the gates.
DON’T bring heels, you’ll roll an ankle on the cobblestone streets and hilly terrain. Sneakers and sandals will fair you fine.
DO practice your Spanish before you go – I was shocked by how much I relied on mine!
DO book the afternoon opening for visiting Machu Picchu if you’re not planning on doing an in-park hike. Then you can walk the last part of the Inca Trail for four hours (very strenuous) to reach the base of Machu Picchu. It’s very rewarding without being too time consuming.
DO book your Machu Picchu tickets far in advance. I suggest adding on a hike if you’ve got the time and agility. The mountain hike affords better views. But DO know you’ll get the most iconic views from simply inside the main entrance of Machu Picchu, no hiking required.
DO visit the Maras to see the salt pools and Morays to learn about alien invasions in Peru (or about innovative farming techniques, whatever)
DO book a ziplining tour in the Sacred Valley.
DO let yourself immerse into this incredible culture. Put your phone and camera down, get lost in the winding streets of Cusco, chat with locals in the Sacred Valley, and connect with Peru on a spiritual level. This can be one of the most healing and humbling trips of your life, if you let it be.