Black Solo Female Travel Guide: Peru

by Sojourner

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Has it been your dream to solo travel in Peru? Well, if so, you have come to the right place! Peru is a place I learned about my entire life in Spanish classes. And to check it off my bucket list was worth every penny.

The outdoor adventures and Peruvian food culture are one-of-a-kind. To solo travel in Peru is a dream worth saving and not waiting for other people to join you. And I’m pumped to share my experiences as a Black solo female traveler. 

So, let’s get into what to do on a solo trip to Peru in Cusco, Lima, and Puno/Lake Titicaca!

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FAQs about traveling to Peru alone

Is Peru safe for solo female travelers?

Peru is a safe country for solo travelers. While I met a woman who mentioned getting her phone snatched, generally speaking, Peru has few problems with tourists. I would be as alert as you would be in any new country or big city. 

How do you stay safe traveling solo in Peru?

I did nothing out of the ordinary on my solo trip to Peru. I also walked more here than in other South American countries I’ve visited, such as Colombia. Yet, I did not feel I needed to watch my every move. But I kept my phone in my pocket when I was not taking photos to avoid attention, just in case. 

How to travel to Peru

Where to fly into Peru

When solo traveling in Peru, most tourists fly into Lima. Compared to Cusco, which is a bit further south, Lima is more accessible if you come from the U.S. Also, Lima is at sea level as opposed to Cusco, which is over 11,000 feet above sea level. Therefore, if you fly into Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport, you will not need to worry about altitude sickness. I flew Delta Airlines  from Milwaukee to Atlanta, then landed in Lima.

How to travel within Peru

Traveling to various cities within Peru is simple. LATAM Airlines (who I flew) and Avianca (a budget travel airline) are the two most popular airlines. Flights can be as cheap as $70.  However, you can catch buses if you want to travel more responsibly. Just know that your travel time will be longer!

The best time to visit Peru

High/dry season in Peru 

May to October is considered the dry season for solo travel in Peru. This time of year is when most people will plan their trips to the country, with the most people visiting in July and August. Therefore, you must navigate more tours and people because it is peak season. Also, if you want to hike Machu Picchu, you must plan a few months ahead of time to get a permit.

Shoulder season in Peru

Shoulder season is the travel time between their peak season and their off-season. In the spring, March to April is a bit early for the summer crowds but may not be as empty as their off-season. The second time is from late September to October. There are fewer crowds, and there is more possibility for clouds in October, but less rainy than in November. 

Wet season in Peru

November to February is considered the wet season if you plan a solo trip to Peru. I did my solo trip to Cusco, Lima, and Lake Titicaca the second to last week of November. Weather-wise, I did experience some rain and clouds, as well as sunny days. The weather varies more often, so you must be flexible and pack accordingly. However, my tour guides mentioned that February is the worst time, and they don’t recommend visiting then.

Where to stay on your solo trip to Peru

Viajero Kokopelli Cusco

Selina Miraflores in Lima

Miraflores is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in on a solo trip to Lima. For solo travelers who want the social vibe of a hostel with a bit more privacy, I recommend a private room at Selina Miraflores. It is in a prime location to many bars and restaurants and is easily accessible for pickup for tours you may book while on your trip.

Selina Plaza de Armas in Cusco

Plaza de Armas is a meeting point for many tours and activities in Cusco. Thus, staying at Selina Plaza de Armas is a good idea to be central to all the action while traveling solo in Peru. I found myself walking to many restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops only a few steps away. 

Los Uros Floating Village in Lake Titicaca

When many folks think of solo travel in Peru, they may skip visiting Lake Titicaca. Yet, if take the PeruRail train to Puno, you must visit Lake Titicaca. The Uros people, who are Indigenous to Peru, set up rooms in their floating village for tourists to experience their culture. I stayed in Vidal’s place for $40 per night, which I booked on Airbnb, and it was one of the coolest train experiences.

Viajero Kokopelli in Cusco

Viajero Kokopelli is another solid choice for accommodations in Cusco. Their colorful lobby and spacious private rooms (that include breakfast) are comfortable and clean. The location is a bit further from Plaza de Armas but still in a walkable area as nothing in the city center is super far away.

Things to do on a solo trip to Lima

Sandboarding in Huacachina

A day tour to Paracas, Ica, and Huacachina was the number one thing on my Lima bucket list! Tours like this include a boat ride in Paracas to learn about the history of Peru and sandboarding in Huacachina. If you are an adventurous traveler who does mind a full, jam-packed day, this is a must-do day trip in Lima.

Paragliding

Seeing Lima from above is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so go paragliding while solo in Peru. You need to overcome your fear of heights to make this possible. Yet, paragliding over the city will be the most memorable 15 minutes of your life. 

Eating your way through Lima

Peru’s food scene is one you want to take advantage of. Some of the best restaurants in the world are in Lima, Peru. For example, Central’s tasting menu is one of the best in the world and is therefore highly recommended if you want an upscale Peruvian meal. But you also may consider a food tour in Lima to eat with a guide on your solo trip instead.

Things to do on a solo trip to Cusco

Take a Peruvian cooking class

An easy way to immerse yourself in a new location as a tourist is through a cooking class. During this Peruvian cooking class on my solo trip to Peru, I visited a market where Jesus explained a bit about Peruvian food culture before the class. We made a few dishes and drinks that are traditional to Peruvian culture, such as chicha morada, causa, stuffed tamales, and pisco sours. But he also added his spin on them and I recommend this experience for any solo female traveler in Peru! 

Hike Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist attraction in Peru, and there are many ways to reach the top. Some travelers take the train; others do the Inca Trail or Salkantay Treks. Then there are people like me who got the best of all worlds with a one-day hike plus train rides. No matter your fitness level, it is possible and a must-do when you solo travel in Peru.

As a solo traveler, I decided to do my hike with Alpaca Expeditions. They are an Indigenous-owned tourism company with various hiking, train, camping and luxury options to go to Machu Picchu. I loved my tour guides, Alex and Alex, and would highly recommend them. 

Ride the train to and from Machu Picchu

You also have options for solo travelers in Peru who want a quicker and more luxurious Machu Picchu experience. One is taking a day trip tour on the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train to Machu Picchu. The Belmond is one of the most luxurious trains in the world. You can also take the more cost-efficient Voyager train on the Inca Rail or upgrade to the PeruRail Vistadome with or without the observatory. 

I took The Voyager on my hike with Alpaca Expeditions. We rode the train for about an hour before we started hiking. However, on the way back, I upgraded to the PeruRail Machu Picchu train with the Vistadome. I recommend upgrading for more space, giant windows, and better views.

Enjoy traditional Peruvian food and drinks

To solo travel in Peru and not eat the food is criminal. Some dishes and drinks to look out for are chicha morada, guinea pig, causa, ceviche, and pisco sours. Also, it is not the most vegetarian or vegan-friendly country, so be aware of that if you have dietary restrictions.

Hiking Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake is another day trip tour option to take from Cusco. A special bonus is if you take the Salkantay Trek up to Machu Picchu, Humantay Lake is a side trek option through most companies. The views are stunning, but be warned that it is almost 14,000 ft above sea level so altitude sickness is possible.

Drive ATVs to hike Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain is another top attraction to add if you solo travel in Peru. Due to the altitude, the red and blue-colored mountain is one of the most challenging hikes, even harder than Machu Picchu! The hike can be strenuous, but you can ride up via horse or motorcycle.

However, take it further by doing an ATV tour instead of taking the bus. I did this on my trip, which became a highlight of solo traveling in Peru. I booked mine on Airbnb Experiences. However, here is a slightly cheaper option on Get Your Guide if you want to save some coins.

Take the Cusco to Puno train on PeruRail

The PeruRail Titicaca train is a luxury train ride that should be on your Peruvian bucket list. The price is currently $275 for a one-way ticket, which includes a three-course lunch. Breakfast is separate; you can order a full breakfast with eggs and meat or drinks.

Walk around Cusco

One of the best things about Cusco is its walkability. Though the altitude would affect your pace, Cusco is easy to navigate. Hop around to the plazas, do some souvenir shopping, or sit on a bench to enjoy your alone time in Peru.

Advice and tips for traveling alone in Peru

Acclimate to the altitude

You should pay attention to the altitude as you are in Peru solo traveling. While Lima is at sea level, other sites, such as Cusco, Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, etc., are not. You can take altitude medication and drink tea with coco leaves to help that is provided by many accommodations upon arrival. Also, arrive at least two days before your activities in Cusco so your body can adjust.

Bring cash 

The currency you would use traveling solo in Peru is Peruvian soles. They do take credit cards, including American Express, in many places. But I recommend having cash on hand for tips. Some restaurants also offer discounts if you use cash versus a card. Cash is also good to have for souvenirs and necessary for places like Puno and Lake Titicaca to pay for transportation.

The Peru Rail Titicaca train ends in Puno

If you decide to travel solo in Peru and do the Titicaca train ride, you need to plan a bit. The PeruRail train begins in Cusco at the Wanchaq Station and ends in Puno, not Lake Titicaca. You must arrange a taxi to your hotel if you are staying in Puno proper, as there is no Uber.

However, if you plan to visit Lake Titicaca, you must coordinate a boat ride. I stayed in the floating village with a member of the Uros people. Vidal, my Airbnb host, helped me coordinate all my post-train transportation. And remember, you will need cash! It was roughly 60 soles for the taxi and ferry to and from Puno, which is $16. 

There is no airport in Puno

Once it is time to leave Puno, your options are limited. While the train ends in Puno, there is no airport. The nearest airport is an hour away in Juliaca. I booked a transfer on Get Your Guide that picked me up from a port in Puno (where my Airbnb host dropped me off). It was $50, and the Juliaca airport is small and easy to navigate.

Arrange transportation 

Aside from the transportation tips above, you should also look for transportation on your tours. Many of the tour companies in Peru do offer transport to and from experiences. However, to be sure, you want to read the fine print of any of the ones you book.

Tips to enjoy solo female travel in Peru

Brush up on your Spanish

Peru‘s primary language is Spanish. Though Indigenous languages are spoken in Peru, most people speak Spanish. Therefore, you should brush up on keywords and phrases before your trip. And even though the tour guides will also know English, the other people you meet at restaurants or on the street will not. Never assume someone will accommodate your English 100% anywhere!

Get a lot of sleep

While traveling alone in Peru, I quickly learned that all the tours were early. My Rainbow Mountain tour started at 3:30 in the morning. My Machu Picchu tour was also early, around 4:30 am. Though you can nap in the shuttles and vans on the way to the experiences, get as much sleep as possible the night before to be ready for your adventures! 

Book experiences before you go

Though you can book your experiences for your solo trip to Peru when you get there, I recommend planning ahead. If you want to visit Machu Picchu you need a permit, which can be coordinated through your tour company but takes a few months. Also, if you visit during the peak season, many places may be fully booked  so it’s best to book what you want to do the most before you go.

Buy travel insurance

Since this is an adventurous itinerary, invest in travel insurance. You want to be protected just in case anything happens. As a solo traveler and remote worker, I use Safety Wing for my travel insurance, where you can pay by the day.

Be confident as you travel

My solo trip itinerary to Peru included a lot of new experiences. I was scared to hike Rainbow Mountain, and even Machu Picchu, due to not knowing how my body would respond to the altitude. I took all the precautions, especially drinking lots of coco leaf tea. 

But, when solo traveling in Peru, you must be confident in your skills and abilities. Even if you’re nervous, have a positive mindset as you will be supported by the guides and people on your tour. And knowing your limits will make it more enjoyable and feasible. Always listen to your body; don’t feel you need to prove anything to anyone!

Top five items to pack when  traveling alone in Peru

Layers

Layers are a good idea year-round in Peru. While it may be hotter in some months and colder than others, the variance in altitude and climate is indisputable. The higher the altitude, the colder it can be, so pack accordingly. Many small shops also sell outdoor gear in Peru, especially Cusco, if you forget to pack something.

If you solo travel in Peru during the fall or winter months, wearing thermal leggings, casual leggings, shirts, fleece, hiking socks, and a jacket is typical. I also packed a lot of wrap shirts! You may need a fleece pullover for the higher hiking points at other times of the year. But all of it depends on your itinerary for Peru and how long you plan to be outdoors.

Hiking boots

You may own hiking boots if you are an outdoor adventure solo traveler. But they will be necessary if you plan to do any of the Peru hikes. I bought these Merrell Moab waterproof hiking boots, which were so comfortable for all the hiking I did while in Peru as a solo female traveler.

Raincoat 

Depending on when you travel to Peru for your solo trip, you may need a raincoat. I went in November, and it rained briefly on my height to Machu Picchu. Therefore, if you are going in October, November, December, or any part of the wet season, you should pack a raincoat. You can buy one when you make it to Peru because many places in Cusco sell outdoor gear.

GoPro Adventure Camera

An adventure camera is a necessity for an adventure trip! I brought my GoPro Hero 9 on this trip and it came in handy. I recommend also purchasing some of the mounts such as the chesty which was perfect for my ATV ride.

Backpack/day packs

Any of the activities on a solo trip to Peru requires a backpack! I would recommend a smaller daypack if you travel light. However I’m somewhere between a minimalist and maximalist and I preferred my eBags Motherloder Jr. for my Machu Picchu hike and my carry-on. My checked bag was my Eagle Creek Caldera Convertible International Carry-On and for Rainbow Mountain I opted for my BEIS Sport Pack.

What it’s like being a Black solo female traveler in Peru

As a Black solo female traveler, I mostly enjoyed my solo trip to Peru. Everyone on my tours was super friendly. My tour guides were accommodating, and like most trips, they wanted to make sure I was comfortable since I was traveling alone.

There was an incident with someone at a hostel where I was charged extra because I wore makeup, and they said it was a stain. Therefore, I had to pay for it. While it was not communicated to me beforehand that my makeup as a Black woman would be considered stained since it’s darker than many other travelers they serve, I was upset. However, I did not let one trivial incident ruin my entire trip.

Aside from that, I had no issues traveling in Peru. I would return one day to visit some of the other places I missed and return to Lima for longer. However, if you were looking for other Black travelers in Peru, I met a few, but not many!

Final tips for solo traveling in Peru

If you want to solo travel in Peru, be ready for an adventure! It is one of the most outdoorsy, adventurous, and solo travel trips I have taken thus far. The beautiful views of Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, the train ride, and Lake Titicaca were bucket list experiences I will cherish forever. So yes, book that solo trip to Peru ASAP.

Need more help planning your solo trip? This guide will help you solo travel like a pro.

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