top of page

Peru: The Perfect 18-Day Backpacking Itinerary

If you are thinking of traveling to Peru, then you probably have already read about the many awe-inspiring places that this country has to offer. But the main question remains is how and what's the best way to see them all in one trip? After months of researching and planning my own visit, I'm thrilled to share with you my perfect 18-day itinerary for backpacking across Peru — the quest of a lifetime!


Day 1: Arrive At Lima & Travel To Cusco

Cusco is the best starting point for your adventure around Peru. Not only will you begin to acclimate to the country's high elevations as soon as possible, but also most of your tours will operate from here, since a lot of the places that you'll be visiting are only a couple of hours away in any of the direction.

Day 2-3: Acclimate

As you arrive to Cusco, it is absolutely essential to dedicate at least 1-2 days for acclimatization before starting any activities. Most of the cities in Peru have higher than average elevations, so allowing your body to adjust to the mountain air to prevent altitude sickness will help you to fully enjoy all the wonderful places this country has to offer. Make sure to have plenty of rest in the first couple of days, stay hydrated, drink lots of Coca tea and stock up a few cans of Boost Oxygen.

Day 4: Cusco

Must Do:

Cuzco, the birthplace and center of the Inca empire, is the oldest living city in the Americas and has been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years. Founded in the 12th century, it was the historic capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Nowadays, the city's spectacular main square, cobbled streets, and houses with terracotta tile roofs will remind you of some ancient European villages.

Day 5: Rainbow Mountain
& Red Valley

Rainbow Mountain, known locally as Vinicunca or the Mountain of Seven Colors, is a spectacular multi-colored mountain in the Andes, just a few hours away from Cusco. This spectacular geological wonder was discovered in 2015, when the snow covering it melted, revealing the natural beauty of the rock beneath. Now, it is the second-most visited attraction in the Cusco region. This place will absolutely take your breath away. Literally! Visitors should be prepared to climb to high altitudes, since Rainbow Mountain stands at 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) above sea level. To put it into perspective, it means you'd be climbing to almost the same altitude as Everest Base Camp that is 5,364 meters (17,598 feet) in Nepal.

Day 6-7: Skylodge & Sacred Valley

Must Do: Via Ferrata

Located in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, Peru, Skylodge Adventure Suites is a transparent luxury capsule that hangs from the top of a mountain, offering you the chance to sleep in a hanging bedroom, and appreciate the impressive views of this magical valley from a condor's point of view. To sleep at Skylodge, you must climb 400 meters (1,312 feet) of Via Ferrata or hike an intrepid trail through ziplines. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Day 8: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was a city of the Inca Empire and is sometimes called the "lost city" since the Spanish were never able to find it when they conquered the Inca in the 1500s. On a continent endowed with magnificent pre-Columbian archeological sites, this ruined "lost city of the Incas" is the supreme showpiece, Machu Picchu's strategic and isolated setting more than 2,377 meters (7,800 feet) above sea level, coupled with its mysterious significance in the inca universe, make this remote site one of the world's most beautiful and haunting destinations. Abandoned by the Inca and reclaimed by the jungle, the 100-acre complex of temples, warehouses, homes, irrigation terraces, and stairs cascades down the mountain. Today Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Day 9-12: Lake Titicaca

Set in the Andes at 3,812 meters (12,510 feet) above sea level, legendary Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and is one of South America’s stunning natural wonders. Across this lake are the mesmerizing islands of Taquile, Amantani, and Isla del Sol which preserve the ancient ways of life and pre-Inca ruins. Lake Titicaca was sacred to the Inca, who believed that Viracocha, the Inca god of creation, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca and created the sun, the moon, the stars, and mankind, ultimately marking the birth of the Inca Empire. Centuries ago, the Uros people abandoned their homes on the mainland to start a new life on floating islands made of reeds. Today resident families welcome travelers to their floating homes.

Day 13-14: Travel To Ica
& Ballestas Islands

The Ballestas Islands, also known as "The Peruvian Galapagos", are a group of rocky islands located off the coastal town of Paracas, 3 hours south of Lima. They are home to thousands of birds and mammals including penguins, sea lions, Inca terns, pelicans, and dolphins, and the only way to visit the islands is to take a speedboat tour from the town.

Day 15: Nazca Lines

Peru's desert coast is the setting for the mysterious, ancient Nazca lines, a collection of giant geoglyphs that are etched into the desert floor and date back from 200 BC to 500 AD. Covering an area of nearly 1,000 sq. kilometers (386 sq. miles), there are about 300 different figures that depict stylized human and animal forms — such as monkeys, hummingbirds, spiders and whales — as well as geometric lines and shapes. More recent research suggested that the Nazca Lines' purpose was related to water, but not as an irrigation system or a guide to find water, instead as part of a ritual to the gods — an effort to bring much-needed rain. The full impact of their expanse sets in only when they are seen from the air, which is how they were discovered in the 1920s.

Day 16: Huacachina

Located just west of the city of Ica in southwestern Peru, Huacachina is a desert oasis, and home to the biggest sand dunes in the continent, making it the perfect place for crazy dune buggy rides and sandboarding.

Day 17-18: Return To Lima & Depart

After weeks of fast-paced adventuring, it certainly is recommended to have at least one day to decompress, look back at the incredible memories you made and beautiful photos you took, book that massage and rest your body and mind before the upcoming flight. You deserve it!


I hope going over this itinerary got you all excited for your own epic adventure across Peru! And if you have any other questions about how to acclimate more quickly, when's the best time to visit to avoid massive crowds of tourists, what's really worth visiting and what isn't, leave a comment below or contact me directly, and we can talk more!



Hey there! I'm Anastasia and I'm 26 years old. I was born in Russia, studied in England and live in US. I've been traveling my entire life and have planned all of my crazy adventures. Planning can be a super exciting, yet equally an overwhelming process to begin. I started this site to help get you started wherever you are in the journey.  

bottom of page