Peru is often described as a travel destination for comfortable budgets. Is this true?
Peru, an immense country
First, you have to locate Peru regarding its size and different climates.
Peru spans more than 2,400 kilometres along the Pacific coast and it also has 5,500 kms of accumulated internal borders. Its surface is 2.5 times the size of France, but with a population 2 times less which equals just about 30 million of people. 10 of these 30 million are concentrated around the capital, Lima.
The country has a variety of climates that can be summarized in three main areas:
On the coast live about 60 % of the population in 10 % of the national territory. This is Lima’s fault, of course, but also Trujillo, Chiclayo and Piura including the north.
Then you have the mountains, which is approximately 30 % of the surface, and that gather 30 % of the Peruvian population.
And finally the Amazon jungle, a huge space that represents 60 % of the territory, but receives only 10 % of the population.
Peru is the country that satisfies the most demanding of us in terms of history and archaeology, but also nature: the rivers, one of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world allows to be located between the 17 countries with mega biodiversity. Thus, thousands of species are found only in Peru. The Amazon rainforest brings together most of these habitats, but the rest of the country is not an exception, especially our Northern Peru.
Accommodation in Peru
As everywhere in the world, staying close to tourist sites can quickly increase your budget.
Lima is the capital and as any capital, this is the place in the country where rates are higher. AirBnB exists today in Peru and for those traveling with family it can be interesting.
Accommodation and food in Northern Peru
Why not try other adventures a little further north.
We are in Chachapoyas, capital of the Amazon region. Here for example, a simple backpacker style accommodation in the city costsr 10 USD per person, including breakfast.
Also one can stay in the countryside in the rural communities, in the house of local people, near tourist attractions, for about 6 or 7 USD per night, breakfast included.
Meals in our town and cities here are between 5 and 10 soles, or between 1.70 and 3 USD. This is for a starter + main course and fresh fruit juice. And I assure you, the portions are generous, some people I know are satisfied with breakfast and one meal a day. At night something light and off you go !
Well yes, let me add all of this together: for one night and a full meal this gives 10 USD + 2 USD = 12 USD per day and per person. This is alright, no ?
Prices of tourists sites in Northern Peru
Northern Peru has an impressive number of tourist attractions in the most varied fields.
Let’s talk about Kuelap in Chachapoyas, presented as the Machu Picchu of the North. However, it is more than 800 years old as the later. The entrance to the site is 20 soles or 6 USD. This is far from the 55 USD of Machu Picchu (the best price, but many websites charge 80 USD) !
You want to visit the mausoleums of Revash or the famous sarcophagi of Karajia? Each site charges 10 soles or 3USD for adults as entrance fee.
Want to visit waterfalls among the highest in the world such as Yumbilla or Gocta? Another 10 soles per person.
Then, of course, if you take a horse or private guide, there is some additional cost, but it usually doesn’t exceed 10 USD.
On the coast, where you want to follow the pre-Inca civilizations. You want to visit the extraordinary adobe city of Chan chan? 20 soles. The temples of the sun and the moon? 15 soles. The fabulous Royal Tombs Museum? 10 soles.
In summary, for the price of Machu Picchu, you can visit 10 different archaeological and natural sites in the north.
Travel in Peru
Your biggest investment in terms of time and money in Peru is getting around ! As I have written earlier, the country is immense and the Andean routes, magnificent. However, they do not allow us to travel at very high speeds. Tourist attractions are sometimes a little distant from each other.
A day-tour with a serious company in Chachapoyas costs about 20 USD or a little less. I am talking about a serious travel agency with trained people, no crazy drivers and bad cars… these ones are less expensive.
To travel between major cities in the North, some examples: public transport in the style of the bus company Movil Tours, reputable company that departs from Chachapoyas, capital of the Amazon region. The cost is 55 soles (16 USD) and 9 hours in economy class to go to Chiclayo. 75 soles (22 USD) and 12 hours to go to Trujillo. 150 soles (45 USD) and 23 hours to go to Lima. You always have your meal included with this company.
Yes, we have already written, the distances are not measured in kilometres in Peru, but in hours. No matter if it you are 500 km away from Chiclayo, 720 km from Trujillo or 1,200 km from Lima. Calculated to the kilometre, the price seems rather reasonable, no?
Others prefer to use the airway. Departing from Lima, you take flights to Chiclayo or Trujillo along the coast. Or towards the jungle, to Tarapoto, next to the region Amazonas, to visit the wonders of the North. A round trip with LATAM, the best company, costs around 230 USD Lima- Tarapoto for example. Well, yes, it is much more expensive to travel fast. You certainly can find cheaper companies, but their service is a little lower and you might have the risk of a cancellation or any other unforeseen problems.
You also have the possibility to travel by bus or combis (Vans). And then for those who want to manage their time, it is possible to take a driver and private transport.
Private transport for perfect freedom of movement
You have to count a minimum of 150 soles per day or 44 USD, for a driver in the Northern regions. This of course includes the car, right? Further south, it will be more expensive. However, if you need a driver and his car for several days, you have to add several various expenses, such as accommodation, food and regional taxes (in case you move to another region) as well as the time of this person that will go with you everywhere for a few days. Prepare your travel route and get some quotes.
Often these drivers also give excellent suggestions and know beautiful places that are not necessarily on your itinerary. Of course you have to choose a trustworthy person with a new car in good conditions. The Andean routes are demanding. But what a pleasure to be able to stop where you want, just after any curve where the landscape is the most spectacular !
Some agencies have references from people they work with. Wouldn’t that be something for you? The cost of a driver divided by 2 or 3 people, quickly gets interesting.
Car rental doesn’t exist yet here in Northern Peru and if you had to systematically return to your rent starting point, this would quickly get complicated.
Conclusion : Peru, an expensive country?
So in conclusion, can you enjoy travelling in Peru for a reasonable cost?
The answer is clearly yes!
In order to get the most interesting rates, you might want to travel “off the beaten path”, like in many destinations around the world. Don’t hestitate to ask other people who know for advice, travellers, professionals.
Community tourism offers great opportunities. And even if the services sometimes still lack accuracy, in terms of exchange, it is just great!
So, Peru is a destination for everyone?
The answer is yes again. For those who want to discover a upmarket and luxury Peru, there also exist exclusive and classy hotels and restaurants. Peru has all that kind of places.
And for visitors attracted by simplicity and exchange with rural and artisan communities, Peru has a wide range of attractions and sites at different prices to meet their expectations. For sure!
So, what are you waiting for?
Come to Peru and you will always come back.