Two Weeks in Peru: The Itinerary and Budget

Budget and Itinerary for Two Weeks in peru

In just under a week, Darren and I will spend two weeks traveling around Peru. About half of our time will be spent hiking and glamping the legendary Inca Trail, culminating in an early morning descent into the one and only Machu Picchu. However, we’ve also planned another week’s worth of adventures that we are equally excited about (okay I lied- perhaps not equally excited, but it looks and sounds promising nonetheless) that includes a visit to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca and an excursion through the vast Colca Canyon. Darren and I will be traveling with two other friends for the entire two weeks, and our group for the Inca Trail includes an additional four friends that we are thrilled to be sharing this experience with. A lot of forethought and planning went into making this trip happen, which we began booking five months ago, and we’re hoping that sharing our itinerary and budget with you will help ease the stress that comes all too often with big travel.

Since the Inca Trail is a planning beast of its own, we’ll cover the planning, packing, and other goodies in a separate post. Oh, and we’re planning (as usual) to fit everything that we need into carryons, so we’ll share our packing list in –you guessed it-  a separate post.

Please note that as this trip hasn’t actually happened yet, we cannot attest to the quality of each of the vendors we are using for our lodging and excursions. We’ll review and revise our recommendations as needed upon our return, but until then, rest assured that we did spend many hours combing through forums and reading reviews to ensure the best experience and value possible. I’ll go through the itinerary first, followed by a few extra tidbits of information and the estimated budget.


Day 1- Sunday, 8/4

Travel: IAD >>CUZ
4:32 PM – 8:22 PM IAD >> PTY
9:04 PM – 12:34 AM (+1 day) PTY >> LIM

Day 2- Monday, 8/5

Arrive in Cusco, Explore
9:04 PM – 12:34 AM (+1 day) PTY >> LIM
5:20 AM – 6:45 AM LIM >> CUZ

Pickup at airport via hostel.
Overnight: Cusco
Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta
Jiron Pumacahua 160
Tahuantinsuyo, Cuzco

  • Early morning: Arrive in Cusco
  • Drop off bags at hostel
  • Explore Plaza de Armas, City Center
  • Nightime: Paddy’s Pub

Day 3- Tuesday, 8/6

Overnight: Cusco
Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta

  • AM briefing w/ Wayki Treks for Inca Trail
  • Hike to Cristo Blanco
  • Get a massage

Day 4- Wednesday, 8/7

Inca Trail, Day 1
Overnight: Huayllabamba

  • Patallacta archaeological site

Day 5- Thursday, 8/8

Inca Trail, Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Overnight: Pacaymayo

  • Climb Warmiwañusca and Dead Woman’s Pass

Day 6- Friday, 8/9

Inca Trail, Day 3: Pacaymayo to Winaywayna
Overnight: Winaywayna

  • Runkuracay ruin
  • Climb Abra de Runkuracay pass
  • Sayacmarca ruin
  • Phuyupatamarca ruin and pass

Day 7- Saturday, 8/10

Inca Trail, Day 4: Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Cusco
Overnight: Cusco
Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta

  • Trek to Sun Gate/Descend to MP
  • 3 hr MP tour
  • Bus to Aguas Calientes
  • Return to Cusco

Day 8- Sunday, 8/11

Travel: Cusco to Juliaca, Puno

7:25 AM CUZ >> 8:50 AM LIM
9:35 AM LIM >> 11:15 AM JUL
Overnight: Puno
Quechuas Backpackers
Calle Santiago Giraldo N 177

Other travel options to get to Puno from Cusco:
Option 1: PeruRail Train ($255, 10 hours)

  • “Luxury” option. Has dining car & includes 3 course lunch & afternoon tea. Open air observation car. Runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only
  • Option 2: Inca Express Bus ($55, 9 hours)
    • Cheaper option. Follows parallel to the train for a good portion, but at a faster pace. Several stops along the way + lunch included.
  • Option 3: Flight from CUZ >> JUL
    • Fastest option. Skips out on scenery of Altiplano region.
  • Hike Condor Hill (Mirador de Kuntur Wasi)
  • Puno Catedral

Day 9- Monday, 8/12

Lake Titicaca
Overnight: Puno
Quechuas Backpackers

  • Tour Uros and Taquiles Islands

Day 10- Tuesday, 8/13

Travel:  Puno >> Arequipa (via 4-M Express bus)
Overnight: Arequipa
Colonial House Inn
Calle Puente Grau 114.Cercado

  • 6:15 AM- Pickup from hostel (Quechuas Backpackers)
  • 12:15 PM- Drop-off at hotel in Arequipa (Colonial House Inn)
  • Santa Catalina Monastery
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Santo Domingo Convent

Day 11- Wednesday, 8/14

Colca Canyon, Day 1
Overnight: Colca Inn (arranged by SAS Travel Peru)
Colca Canyon Trek – SAS

  • Chucura volcano
  • Thermal baths

Day 12- Thursday, 8/15

Colca Canyon, Day 2
Overnight: Arequipa
Colonial House Inn

  • Cruz del Condor
  • Return to Arequipa from Colca Canyon around 5 PM

Day 13- Friday, 8/16

Travel: AQP >> WAS
8:00 PM AQP >> 9:30 PM LIM
11:50 PM LIM >> 6:20 AM (+1 Day) IAH
7:35 AM IAH >> 11:42 AM BWI

  • El Misti volcano

Day 14- Saturday, 8/17

Travel: AQP>>WAS
11:50 PM LIM >> 6:20 AM IAH
7:35 AM IAH >> 11:42 AM BWI

Using Points to Book Flights

Over the past year, I have amassed a small arsenal of United and Chase points. My point hoarding tendencies finally came to fruition as we set off to plan this trip. In order to preserve the integrity of the Inca Trail and prevent over-tourism, the Peruvian government limits the total amount of hikers on the Inca Trail to 500 people per day and requires that all hikers travel under the auspices of one of the 150 or so authorized Inca trail tour operators. Of the 500 people allowed on the trail, approximately 250-300 consist of tour guides and porters. The best (and most expensive) time to hike the Inca Trail is during Peru’s dry season from June- August. Given the limited hiking spots and high demand for hiking the trail (especially during dry season), the first step in planning your trip to Peru is to book the Inca Trail 4-6 months in advance, and plan airfare and other travel around when your hike takes place. As we began coordinating travel schedules with our friends, it rapidly became apparent that flight costs would add up quickly- tickets to Cusco alone were approximately $800; combined with the other regions we wanted to visit, flights added up to around $1500-$1800! No bueno.

Enter points. When I booked our flights in March, a large number of award seats at United’s saver economy/business award level were available. For our specific dates, only saver business seats were available for the IAD >>CUS and CUS>>JUL legs. Saver economy seats were available for the return flights, so we pounced on those. The total cost? 75,000 United points per person. I should note that I spotted plentiful saver economy award seats for all legs of our trip later in August, which would run you 50,000 United points. We’ve got eight flight legs, so I was more than willing to spend an extra 25,000 points for added comfort on 5 of those flights. Had we followed this flight itinerary and paid with cash, the total cost (in all economy) would have run us approximately $1850. Calculate in the value of business class seats, and I think we got a pretty decent bargain. If you are willing to spend extra time and effort to collect points, they can save you a ton of money. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you don’t already, The Points Guy and Frequent Miler are two of my favorite points-gaming blogs and have greatly helped Darren and I on our travel escapades.

Other points to note: there are no direct flights to Lima from the DC area, and most international flights to Cusco route through Lima. We’ve got a lovely 5 hour layover in Lima in the wee hours of the morning and will be using Priority Lounge passes to rest and freshen up at the Sumaq lounge before our arrival in Cusco. Thank you again, points.

Booking Hostels

We used to book our lodging. The most important factor for us was safety. During our Inca Trail and Colca Canyon hikes, we won’t be able to bring all of our luggage with us and will therefore depend on the hostel that we stay at prior to and after the excursions to store our luggage. It was therefore imperative that we find a place we would feel comfortable leaving our (padlocked) luggage at. Other important factors included hot water (not a given by any means in Peru), proximity to city center, and ensuite bathrooms (sharing is not caring, in this instance). Google ‘hostelworld coupon code’ before booking for a potential discount code. You pay 10% of the cost online and pay the remainder in cash at the hostel.


Please note that our budget does not contain flight costs (as we booked using mileage points), food, or any hiking/equipment necessities. That being said, we were pleasantly surprised when everything else added up to under $1,000- it wasn’t our goal, but we certainly did try to keep costs down while planning this trip.

Estimated Costs for Two Weeks in Peru- Budget by Darwin, Discovered

We’ll refine our itinerary as we go along our journey but wanted to share the main jist of our travels. Friends and readers, if you’ve been to Peru- any other suggestions of must see/eat/do places?

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