Dream Vacation in Peru on Points and Miles

Amazon wildlife, Inca heritage, rainbow-colored mountains, and perfect surfing spots. All in one place—Peru.
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Destination: Peru

Peru is unique in its diversity. Everyone can find something there to suit their taste. But at the very least, all visitors must explore the Inca trails and tropical jungles. To help you plan your trip, first, check out our short guide, based on the experience of 681 travelers. Then use our free travel search tool to get to Peru on points and miles.

Seasons, activities, and places to visit

  • April—October (dry season). Good for Inca trails, the Amazon Rainforests, Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Titicaca National Reserve, surfing camps.
  • November—March (rainy season). A good time to visit Colca Canyon and Puno, the Huacachina desert oasis, the cities of Ica and Lima, and the beaches. Also a good season to visit the Ballestas Islands or the Galapagos. Note: January and February are the rainiest months.
  • April is the best month for visiting any region in Peru. The weather is perfect and there are no crowds.

Discoveries and hacks

Altitude sickness is a great fear of all those planning to visit Peru. Its symptoms varies from light dizziness and insomnia to nausea, severe headache, and even an inability to walk. And no age, sex, or level of fitness or experience can guarantee you physical wellness in the mountains. Hearing this, you may feel quite hopeless.

But the real facts are soothing. Yes, altitude sickness is caused by thin air and may occur above 8,000 ft (2,440 m), where many popular tourist destinations in Peru are located.

Machupicchu Sunrise Cusco Peru

Still, upon reading the reviews of  681 hikers in the Peruvian mountains, only eleven complained of altitude sickness and only ten mentioned shortness of breath. These symptoms were discussed in reviews of:

  • Mount Huascaran, Cusco region; Elevation: 22,205 ft (6,768 m).
  • Ausangate, Cusco region; Elevation: 20,944 ft (6,384 m).
  • Cerro Colorado Vinicunca, Cusco region; Elevation: 20,932 ft (6,380 m).
  • Humantay Lake, Cusco region; Elevation: 17,956 ft (5,473 m).
  • Laguna 69, Ancash region; Elevation: 15,092 ft (4,600 m).
  • Huayna Picchu, Cusco region; Elevation: 8924 ft (2,720 m).
  • Winay Wayna, Amazonas region; Elevation: 8,694 ft (2,650 m).
  • Machu Picchu, Cusco region; Elevation: 7972 ft (2,430 m).

That’s not so bad, right?

Checklist for a better experience

Microclimates

Ignore weather forecasts when planning your trip to Peru. No matter what you prepare for, it’s sure to feel different when you get there. Peru is famous for its diverse microclimates on the coast, in the highlands, and in the jungle. You’ll need strong sunscreen, sunglasses, a light hat, clothing layers, a rain poncho, waterproof hiking boots, and a warm jacket. ALL of these are essentials!

And yes, while in the highlands (in any season) or in Lima during the summer, use sunscreen even if it looks cloudy. Otherwise you’re likely to get a sunburn.

Planning your time in the jungle or on the coast, remember that you will encounter numerous biting insects. Be sure to use bug spray and layer your clothes for proper protection. You may also need antimalaria medicine.

Altitude sickness

When planning your trip to the mountains, remember that starting at 8,000 feet above sea level, there is a risk of altitude sickness due to thin air. You cannot predict to what degree this will affect you, so just be aware that you may need some extra time to adapt to new conditions. If you don’t feel well, avoid intense physical activities and drink more water.

To ease altitude sickness, locals use coco tea (made from cocaine leaves). Its effect isn’t proven, so don’t drink more than 4-5 cups a day and don’t drink it before sleeping, since it’s a strong stimulant.

Plumbing

You cannot drink tap water in Peru, so make sure you always have bottled drinking water with you. Water is very important on hot days and may ease your altitude sickness.

Also note that toilets in Peru are extremely vulnerable to flushed toilet paper. (Even if there are no warnings posted.) Also be sure to carry hand sanitizer.

Morning sun rising at Plaza de armas, Cusco, City

How to get to Peru for free

For a round-trip ticket and with $2,500 average monthly spending, you need a sign-up bonus from only one credit card and 2-3 months to earn the required rewards:

  22.5K Flying Club Miles with Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® (20K-mile sign-up bonus), flight by Virgin Atlantic;
  20K Mileage Plus Miles with UnitedSM Explorer Card (40K-mile sign-up bonus), flight by United;
  30K SkyMiles with Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card (35K-mile sign-up bonus), flight by Delta.

For customized results, use our award flight search tool on your own. Upon entering your average monthly spending and loyalty program balances, you’ll find the best options available to you. In this context, “best” means “fastest.”

The bottom line

We recommend Peru as a long-stay vacation destination with a great deal to offer. Remember also that in some places it may take time for you to adapt to the high altitude and feel well. The best overall month for visiting is April. To get a round trip to Peru on points and miles, you’ll require one credit card welcome bonus and at least two months of regular spending with that card. Use our award flight search tool to find the option that best suits your needs.

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