The Best 1-Month Peru & Bolivia Itinerary

Backpacking through Peru and Bolivia is a great ideas for many reasons. First of all, you get to see two of South Americas best sights: Machu Picchu and the Salt Flats. Second, it’s one of the most efficient travel routes through South America as the routes are straightforward and crossing the border is easy. Here’s the perfect one month backpacking itinerary for Peru and Bolivia to help you plan your next trip.

Contents

How To Spend 1-Month In Peru & Bolivia

Here is a quick summary of this one-month itinerary for Peru and Bolivia: 

Weeks 1-2 - Peru

  • Day 1-2 – Lima
  • Day 3-4 – Paracas
  • Day 5-6 – Huacachina
  • Day 7-11 – Arequipa / Colca Canyon
  • Day 12-16 – Cusco / Aguas Calientes & Machu Picchu

Weeks 3-4 - Bolivia

  • Day 17-19 – Copacabana
  • Day 20-21 – La Paz
  • Day 22-24 – Amazon
  • Day 25 – La Paz
  • Day 26-28 – Uyuni Salt Flats
Is Lima Worth Visiting 3

Day 1-2 - Lima

Your first activity in Lima is a walking tour of the historical centre. The walking tour will take you around the highlights such as San Martin square and the Santo Domingo Church, and like any excellent walking, they will also take you to the Chocomuseo for a taste of Peruvian chocolate.

 

After seeing the historical centre it’s time to head to Miraflores. This is the preferred area for tourists and travellers with an abundance of trendy cafes and great restaurants all situated amongst the seafront parks and boardwalks.

 

On day 2, head to the bohemian district Barranco. Barranco is one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods with colourful street art, mural-covered buildings, and hidden coffee shops all set within an old colonial-era mansion-style district.

 

Barranco is also the best area to get your first taste of one of Peru’s popular dishes – ceviche. La Canta Ranita is one of the best places to try ceviche in Lima, and that will become obvious from the queue that’s constantly outside this quaint little cantina.

 

After ceviche, why not head to one of the Barranco mansions turned resto-bar for Peru’s most popular cocktail – the Pisco Sour. Ayahuasca, set in one of the 19th-century style mansions is the best bar in the area and they are well known for their cocktail-making skills.

Our full Lima backpacker guide has everything you need to know:

 

 

Not convinced by Peru’s capital? It isn’t as backpacker friendly as Cusco so have a read of the post below to see if you should save days here and spend longer in Cusco:

 

 

Paracas Backpacker Guide 3

Day 3-4 - Paracas

Paracas is Peru’s desert where rolling dunes and jagged cliffs meet the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. The entire area is a national park, and this untouched natural landscape is perfect for backpackers looking for adventure.

 

You can explore the park by bicycle, ATV or guided tour but I would personally recommend either bike or guided tour. By bike you are free to explore all day but a tour is watching the sunset.

 

Another great thing to do in Paracas is visit the Ballestas Islands. These islands are often referred to as the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’. You can find cheap tours to visit the islands from Paracas via boat but you still see loads of wildlife – hence the nickname!

All the information you need is for visiting the park can be found below:

 

 

Huacachina Guide 6 2000.1333

Day 5-6 - Huacachina

Visiting the desert oasis of Huacachina is a necessary stop on any backpacker’s journey through Peru for several reasons: flying across the desert in sand buggies, sandboarding down the massive dunes (not for the fainthearted) and partying the night away in the crazy backpacker hostels.

  

Top Tip – stay at Banana’s Adventures Hostel. They offer a free activity every day to backpackers staying there, and one of them is the sunset buggy tour. 

This 2-day Huacachina itinerary has all the information you need:

 

 

Is Arequipa Worth Visiting 7

Day 7-8 - Arequipa

Arequipa is an underrated gem of a city bursting with beauty and charm.

 

With tranquil cobblestone streets, fantastic local cuisine, and great rooftop bars, all surrounded with a backdrop of picturesque volcanoes – the city has much to offer backpackers.

 

On top of this, this will be your starting point for adventures and trekking into Colca Canyon – the second deepest canyon in the world. 

 

The walking tour will take you around the main sights of the city including Plaza de Armas and many other hidden gems you wouldn’t find by yourself. Then afterward you should stop off at the ice mummy museum.

 

Museo Santuarios Andinos is home to the mummy of a young girl, known as Juanita, who was sacrificed to the Incan gods over 500 years ago. She was found after the mountain ice where she was buried melted and exposed her remains.

 

Her well-preserved body is on permanent display at the museum and is one of the only ice mummies on display in South America – the others being found in the Northern Argentinian city of Salta.

 

Slightly macabre but if you’re into that sort of thing, then it’s a fascinating experience.

 

In the evening, head to the Yannahuara Viewpoint for incredible views of Volcano Misti or to a rooftop bar if you prefer a view with a beer. 

For more on Arequipa, check out the full guide that has everything you need to know.

 

 

Colca 4 Ways Hero 3200.1000

Day 9-10 - Colca Canyon

All trips to Colca Canyon start from Arequipa and take 2 days in total.

 

Trekking down into the second deepest canyon in the world is an experience like no other. You’ll spend most of your time in awe of the canyon’s vastness.

You spend one day working your way into the canyon, exploring its beautiful green slopes dotted with remote traditional villages and terraced farms.

 

Then one night at the oasis in the centre, before trekking up and out on the next day.

 

The night at the oasis is one of the best parts as it will be pitch black and there’s zero light pollution. This will be one of the clearest views of the night sky in the world.

If trekking isn’t for you then a single-day tour where you visit the canyon viewpoint might be better. I’ve listed that and one other way to visit the canyon in the post below:

 

 

How Many Days Do You Need In Cusco 3

Day 11-13 - Cusco

Once you reach Cusco, start with a free walking tour to get a good idea of the city. Again, the company Inkan Milkyway will be your friends here.

 

Then in the afternoon, you have lots of activities to choose from. Visit one of the many chocolate museums in town for a tasting session. Or you can go for a massage. They’re super cheap in Peru and start at around $10 for an hour-long session – perfect after all the trekking you’ve been doing.

 

Your other days in Cusco should be spent getting out into the Andes. The Rainbow Mountain day trip is the perfect activity for getting out of the city.

 

The short but challenging trek up to 5,200m to see Peru’s famous new attraction is a fantastic experience if you think you can stomach the altitude. This is a full-day tour starting at 5 AM and ending at around 6-7 PM back in Cusco, so make sure you’re prepared.

For more information on Cusco, the backpacker guides below have everything you need to plan your time there:

 

 

How Many Days Do You Need In Cusco 9

Day 14 - Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes is the town closest to Machu Picchu and the hub for travellers before they start their trek up to the mountain.

 

There’s two ways of getting there: train or bus.

 

The train is a bit more expensive than the bus, but the journey is packed full of beautiful sights along the way as the train goes through the Sacred Valley. If you take the bus, it will take around 8-9 hours but its cheap so great if you are travelling on a budget.

 

When you arrive in the town of Aguas Calientes, find your hostel and check in. I recommend Super Tramp Hostel as one of the best backpacker hostels here. However, you will also find lots of small hotels and BnBs that are affordable too.

For more information on how to book the train and prices:

 

 

 

If you want to save money and take the bus, then we’ve outlined that here as well:

 

 

Day 15 - Machu Picchu

Early on the morning of day 15, it’s finally time to climb the 1,600+ stairs up to Peru’s most popular tourist attraction.

 

This is the ultimate highlight of many people’s trips to South America. Visiting the marvelous citadel of the Incas, hidden amongst misty valleys, and set high above the clouds, truly feels like you are walking back through time.

 

You have several options for the day:

 

  • Wake up at 4:00 AM and trek to the top for sunrise.
  • Wake up a little later and take the bus to the top to beat the crowds.
  • Have a lazy morning and trek up in the afternoon.

 

When you need to leave depends on what time ticket you purchased. However, I would recommend trying to get a 6:00 AM ticket which is the earliest entry possible.

 

This will allow you to miss most of the crowds and catch the sunrise!

How Many Days Do You Need In Cusco 6

Day 16 - Cusco

After Machu Picchu it’s time to head back to Cusco for some rest and recovery.

 

You will want an extra day planned in after visiting Machu Picchu for several reasons: general rest and recovery, a massage, and travel admin such as washing your clothes and repacking before heading on to your next destination – Bolivia.

 

For an evening meal, try Limbus Resto Bar for the best view in Cusco along with great food and cocktails.

Another great experience is a night out in town. The backpacker hostels are wild and bars and clubs that line the main square are filled with people every night of the week:

 

 

Once you are done in Cusco, it’s time to take the 9-hour bus from Cusco to Copacabana to start the second part of this Peru and Bolivia backpacking itinerary.

 

The bus takes 8 hours so try to take the earliest one on day 17 so you can have some time in the evening to explore Copacabana.

How Many Days Do You Need In Cusco 5

Day 17-19 - Lake Titicaca & Copacabana

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,810 metres above sea level. Half of it sits in Peru, the other half in Bolivia. The town of Copacabana on the Bolivian side is a small but pretty place filled with local markets and artisan restaurants, but it’s the lake itself that is the must-see.

 

Fun activities include walking up to the summit of Cerro Calvario to get beautiful views of the lake and taking a boat tour to Isla del Sol, the largest island on the lake.

 

You can easily arrange tours through your accommodation or head down to the pier to book.

City of La Paz and mountain of Illimani during sunset, Bolivia

Day 20-21 - La Paz

Once you reach La Paz you have an endless list of things to choose from such as biking down Death Road, trekking in the Valley of the Moon, or climbing Huayna Potosi.

 

La Paz can be a nightmare to navigate, so a walking tour is a great way to get your bearings and see the highlights.

 

Red Cap offers numerous tours from the standard city centre exploration to foodie tours and even an organised cable car tour if you really can’t be bothered to organise that yourself.

 

Then in the evening, it’s time to go and watch the famous Cholita wrestling. Picture WWE wrestling mixed with the no holds barred style of Mexican Lucha Libre, then replace the male wrestlers with female stars, and you have Cholita wrestling.

 

The stadium will be packed full of locals and tourists coming to see these women duke it out in the ring. And like any staged wrestling, you will see some impressive acrobatics, good vs bad routines and absurd humour.

To see these days planned in more detail, head to the post below:

 

 

 

Bolivia Amazon 3 2000.1333

Day 22-24 - Amazon Tour

The next step on this Peru and Bolivia itinerary is a visit to the Amazon. From La Paz you can catch a 30-minute flight up north to the frontier town of Rurrenabaque where all Amazon tours start from.

 

Visiting the Amazon in Bolivia is much cheaper and easier compared to other countries in South America.

 

The standard Amazon tour is 3 days and 2 nights. On the tour, your days will be spent on a longboat winding through the tributaries of the Amazon searching for caimans, anacondas, and exotic birds.

 

We took a day either side in Rurrenabaque to enjoy the town and rest and recuperate. That’s the beauty of have a 2 months travelling – you can slow down and not worry about rushing everywhere all the time.

Our complete guide to booking an Amazon tour and flying to Rurrenabaque from La Paz can be found here:

 

 

La Paz 1 2000.1333

Day 25 - La Paz

If you prefer to break your long journeys up, then take an extra day in La Paz here. The flight back from the Amazon is short so if you prefer to save the day then you can either hop on another flight down to Uyuni or take the overnight bus which takes 8-9 hours.

 

If you decide to take a day here to rest, then make sure you book yourself somewhere nice. La Paz has a variety of backpacker hostels from budget to luxury.

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Day 26-29 - Uyuni

First, you will want to take a day in the town of Uyuni to book your Salt Flat tour. I recommend Salty Desert Adventures. Booking in town means you can haggle and find the best price.

 

Then on day 25, you will start one of the best tours in South America.

 

The 3-day Salar De Uyuni tour will take you from one unique landscape to the next, starting with the white expanse of the salt flat on day 1, to the high-altitude desert of the Andes on the next.

 

Your mind will be blow by all the incredible scenery and you will leave on a high. The perfect way to end an incredible month in two of South America’s best countries!

 

On day 27, tours can either drop you off at the Chilean border or take you back to the town of Uyuni.

 

As we are at the end of this one-month itinerary, heading back to Uyuni is best for the night so you can return to La Paz to fly home the next day.

The Uyuni guides linked below have all the information you need:

 

 

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How Much Money Do You Need For 1-Month In Peru & Bolivia

Here’s a rough estimate of what you should budget daily and weekly for each country on this six week South America itinerary: 

Week/Country Daily Budget Weekly Budget
Week 1 - Peru
$45
$450
Week 2 - Peru
$45
$450
Week 3 - Bolivia
$35
$350
Week 4 - Bolivia
$35
$350
Total
$1500

 With everything included, hostels, food, and activities, you should budget for $45 a day when in Peru and $35 a day when in Bolivia.

This comes out at a total of $1500 for one month.

 

I personally think it’s better to be on the safe side, so I would add $200 extra for any emergencies or if you just want to treat yourself more than once.

 

There will always be a tour that takes your fancy at the last minute, or an extra night out, or meals out in excellent restaurants. No one wants to eat at markets twice a day for a whole month, no matter how excellent the food is.

 

Tickets to Machu Picchu cost around $50.

 

The Amazon can cost anywhere between $150-300 depending on what deals you can find.

 

A Salt Flat tour can also cost somewhere between $100-200 depending on the time of the year you are visiting and how good you are at haggling.

How Many Days Do You Need For Peru And Bolivia?

The minimum amount of time I would recommend for travelling both Peru and Bolivia is 10 days.

 

10 days will allow you to see the highlights of both countries: Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz and the Salt flats. However, you will feel rushed and may only be able to spend a day in each of these places.

 

Taking two weeks to visit Peru and Bolivia would give you some extra time in each place and will feel less rushed.

 

However, 1 month is  the perfect amount of time to see both Peru and Bolivia. You will get two weeks in each country, feel much less rushed and be able to visit other parts of each country that are popular such as Paracas in Peru and the Amazon in Bolivia.

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Popular South America Itineraries

If you have more than two-weeks to spare then why not check out our other South America itineraries ranging from three weeks to three months:

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