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Wales to Wherever is a solo travel blog for the adventurous soul with perpetually itchy feet and a “do now, think later” attitude.

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Hi, I’m Rhiannon!

It’s really great to have you here

Originally from a small town in the South Wales Valleys, I’ve been travelling the world mostly solo since I was 18… and I want to help you do the same!

 

From unique destination guides and itineraries to practical tips and advice, here at Wales to Wherever you’ll find everything you need to create the life of travel you’ve always dreamed of.

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Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling (a slightly old-fashioned term)

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2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

by rhiydwi

As a travel blogger, it’s hard to get the right equilibrium between talking about yourself too much and not talking about yourself enough. For me, there’s no bigger turn off in a travel blog (of the informative type, not the personal journal on the Internet type which I very much enjoy, FYI) than 150 pages of “I did this, I ate this, I thought this” without any substance or advice on, you know, how to actually do the stuff. 

Like, I don’t click on a post called “23 of the Greatest Places to see in the entire Universe” to read what you had for breakfast the day before your trip (I had a cheese wrap this morning, in case you were wondering) or what size shoe you wear (UK 4, EU 37). 

But at the same time if I wanted to read something written by a faceless, nameless soul then I’d turn to Wikipedia, everyone’s favourite void on the Internet.

In travel blogging, I find there’s this almost unattainable perfect balance between coming across as narcissistic and sounding like a dictionary.  It’s a balance I really struggle to hit at times, and often read my own posts back and think “Shit, I sound like a right arsehole here – DELETE“.

So, in honour of trying not to sound like an egotistical so-and-so, here is my most self-indulgent, borderline narcissistic post of 2018 – the annual year in review!

(If you’re interested, you can check out my 2016 year in review here and 2017 review right here)

Hahei Beach in New Zealand – a completely unrelated but nice to look at picture

Not only are these some of my favourite posts to write, but I also LOVE reading other people’s yearly reviews! The chances are if you’ve published yours already, I’ve already read it…twice.

There’s just something so bloody lush in having the ability to look back at our lives, actions and decisions and analyse them with clear eyes, empty minds and, of course, the benefit of hindsight. 

The Travels

Although I’ve only visited 2 new countries this year, by the year’s end I will have spent more than 150 days outside of the UK. That’s almost half of the year, which is weird as it definitely doesn’t feel like that long!

Malta & Wales

Despite the blog not really reflecting much in January, I actually enjoyed 2 mini getaways in the first month of 2018! 

The first was a lovely few days spent with family in Talgarth. Non-Cymry readers likely won’t have a clue where I’m talking about right now but Talgarth is a beautiful – dare I say quaint –little market town in Brecon. Its population is less than 2000 and it still has a mill, so gives off very Emmerdale-esque vibes minus the murders, falling chimneys and incest. It’s absolutely gorgeous, though, and definitely worth a stop if you’re planning a Wales road trip!

Unfortunately I spent the majority of this trip frantically tapping away at my laptop as I had a huge freelance deadline to meet, but I was still able to enjoy my auntie’s delicious cooking and nights of board games with the fam. 

The second January trip took me all the way to Malta, an altogether peculiar yet endearing little country in the Mediterranean. I won’t talk too much about Malta as I still have a few half-written posts wasting away in my drafts that I will eventually get around to finishing (a year late isn’t too bad, right?), but let’s just say that it surprised me in all the best ways

New Zealand

I first visited New Zealand in April-May and loved it so much that I decided to up my Welsh sticks and move here semi-permanently! 

It was a huge decision and not one that I took lightly at all.

Moving from Wales to New Zealand is almost the same as moving from Mars to Saturn, they’re that far apart. Except you probably won’t spontaneously combust on arrival at Auckland International Airport. Probably.

This isn’t the first time I’ve moved out of the UK, but unlike the last 2 countries (Spain and Italy) New Zealand definitely isn’t connected to the UK by £20 a pop Ryanair flights. If I want to return to the UK for any length of time I need to first sell all of my belongings to afford the plane ticket, maybe sell a few kidneys for a bit of spending money then take a full 4 days out of my life to travel from A to B.

It’s one hell of an exhausting journey, but New Zealand is so wonderfully brilliant and bold and beautiful (all the B’s) that I definitely made the right decision. It also helps that I have an easy on the eye Indian man over here too

My first trip to New Zealand was a whirlwind.

We managed to visit a lot of the “must-see” places in the North Island including Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Auckland and Bay of Islands.

This time around things have been moving a lot slower, which has made me sort of forget that I am technically travelling right now. I mean, New Zealand isn’t my home after all. 

A few notable trips taken since arriving back in New Zealand in August include a breathtakingly beautiful road trip around the Coromandel Peninsula (including a stop at Cathedral Cove, of Windows XP background fame), a jam-packed few days in Wellington and a few trips to scout out local gems. I also visited a town which is home to 50+ painted cows (blog post coming soon!) so that’s fun.

The beautiful Cathedral Cove feat. my not-so-beautiful model, G.

I haven’t seen anywhere near as much of New Zealand as I would have hoped by now, as G (my boyfriend and driver because LOL still no licence for me) has only just finished college and I work 4 days on 4 days off. Up until now most of our trips have been squeezed into the odd few days we both had off at the same time, but here’s hoping now he’s free from the reins of full-time education that we can really dig our nails into The Land of the Long White Cloud! 

The Blog

Slow and non-existent travel does have its perks, though, and I’ve been able to FINALLY get around to writing up some posts from the archives of my travel life. 

Although this blog has existed since 2013, I only really began writing in it properly in 2016 so any travel tales, tips and tricks from before then are totally absent. And when you think that my life of travel started way back in 2011, that’s a lot of missing stories! Staying in one place has given me a lot more time to rack my brains from years gone by, which is why there’s been a lot of Peru content recently. 

So if you ain’t into World Wonders, cute alpacas and beautiful landscapes then I can only apologise for the Peru-fest that’s been going on here the last couple months.

Colca Valley, Peru

I’m hoping to eventually work my way through all forty of the countries I’ve visited so far, so here’s looking forward to that!

Losing focus

Okay, I’ll admit it: I completely lost focus on what’s important in terms of my blog this year. 

I became so obsessed determined to get this baby on the road to monetisation and the long-term dream of a life of full-time travel that I lost my voice. 

And not in a curable laryngitis kind of way, but in a “Fuck, I sound as boring as a history teacher reciting the dictionary” kind of way (no disrespect to any history teachers, I’m sure you are very interesting!).

I fell into a deep, dark pit of SEO hell which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (good SEO is actually a very, very good long-term blog strategy) except for the fact that I started letting keyword research tools dictate what I wrote instead of writing what I actually want to write.  And that would have been fine and dandy except my writing was starting to morph into a cross between badly written Buzzfeed articles and HowStuffWorks.Com.

I’ve been flinging around adjectives like “incredible” and “amazing” like they’re confetti, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I think I even used amazeballs once. Like, who even am I anymore?! 

The steam is representative of my head exploding every time I use the word “incredible” (location: Crater of the Moon, Taupo)

Until very recently I haven’t sounded like myself and the impact on my page views, bounce rate etc. have definitely reflected that! My listicles and what to do in X, Y or Z were informative enough, but they weren’t engaging. They didn’t keep people on the page wanting more which, ya know, is what you kind of want as a writer of any kind.

It’s only in the last month or so that I think I’ve finally worked out how to write for SEO while still sounding like me and I am SO relieved about it!

The thing is, at some point in the hopefully near-ish future, I do want to take the blog forward. I want to start to monetise it in a sensible and robust way, and not just an arty-farty booking.com referral here, GetYourGuide recommendation there, cross my fingers and hope for the best manner. But I don’t want to sell-out and become an Encyclopedia of facts with zero personality.

I want to be a person with a blog, not a robotic couple of Megabytes on the Internet. Ya get me?

For any non-bloggy people who just read the last few paragraphs, a lot of it might have sounded like nothing but computer-y mumbojumbo. Sorry ’bout that, we’ll go back to English now…

An Internet Phobia

This is going to sound absolutely flipping ridiculous, but this year I seem to have developed some weird phobia of comments.

It’s totally and utterly bizarre and I have zero idea where it came from! A few lovely ladies who I know regularly read my posts will comment their thoughts, or answer my call-to-action (for any non-bloggy people, that’s the little question I often put at the end of posts) and it will literally take me days to pluck up the courage to read what they’ve written. It’ll then take me a few more days to actually respond.

Another pretty beach to look at and give your brain a break from reading

There’s no logical explanation for it, but the same fear translates to when I try and comment on other people’s blogs too. I just can’t do it! I find myself thinking “What if they don’t approve the comment? What if they don’t like what I have to say? What if I come across as judgemental/insincere/downright rude?” It’s almost as if I’m back in my first day of school, trying to make friends but worrying what everyone will think of me.

It’s come out of nowhere and I have no explanations and no idea how to stop feeling like such an arsehole. Probably should work on it in 2019 really…

Some of my favourite posts this year:

A Day in The Shire: Everything You Need to Know About Hobbiton – This was a labour of love born from nowt other than an intense desire to share the delightful abode of the hobbitses with the rest of the world. I absolutely loved writing it, and am shocked and surprised that Hobbiton haven’t whipped me up as a tour guide now I’m living down the road. 

The Perfect 2 Day Udaipur Itinerary – If I write “I love India” on this blog one more time, I’m going to have to trademark the phrase. It’s been over a year since I was last in my heart home, so writing about it felt sort of therapeutic. This was also the turning point in when I finally worked out an ideal balance between writing for SEO and writing for a hopefully engaged audience, so I’m pretty proud of it.

To All the Girls who want to Travel… – Written in the aftermath of Grace Millane’s tragic murder here in New Zealand, I wanted to write an open letter to all the girls who may have been affected by what happened. Although I don’t always travel solo these days, I will always be a passionate advocate for solo female travellers and their rights to feel safe and secure on this planet we call home. 

The Life

I’m delighted to announce that I did not attend one single funeral this year. Hoorah for people staying alive!

If 2017 was the year of death, 2018 was the year of luuurve. *Cough, splutter, wretch*

I was reading my 2017 year in review post a few days ago (to prep myself for this one, of course) and I came across this paragraph towards the end:

“I will achieve so many great things, big and small. I will see so many magical places and make so many memories with loved ones. I will bite the bullet and reach out to meet online friends. I will reply to my emails sooner than I do now (3 months, not good). I will take and publish more photos of myself, and others. I will make the move to the other side of the world to spend some time with my best friend…”

Truthfully, I’d completely forgotten that I made these affirmations but looking at them now, I don’t think I did a bad job!

New Zealand’s government building, The Beehive

At the start of the year I finished a HUGE freelance project that paid for my entire trip to New Zealand (big thing achieved ✔). Throughout the year I’ve also done lots of little tiny things that aren’t really worth mentioning but definitely earned me another ✔ for small things achieved!

If there’s one place on this planet that can be considered magical, I’d go with New Zealand. So while I may have skipped out on the “so many” aspect of that, I can get a big fat ✔ right?

I met the wonderful LC of Birdgehls just a few weeks ago and although admittedly she reached out to me and not the other way round, I still risked death at the hands of an Internet stranger (meeting online friends ✔). As infrequently as they may pop up on the blog, I have started taking and publishing more photos of myself, oddly-shaped head, monster munch feet and all (taking more photos ✔). And moving across the world to spend time with my best friend? Yeah, he’s my boyfriend now (double ✔).

Replying to emails on time will always be a lost cause but other than that, I think I smashed it.

In all, 2018 has been a lot more chilled back and relaxed than its predecessors. 2016 was a year of manic travel and 2017 a year of manic emotions. I do wish I’d squeezed in a bit more travel to new countries this year, but if I had I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy New Zealand as much as I have, or feel as chilled out as I do.

The first couple of months of 2019 will see me pretty stagnant as I have a few pet-sits lined up here in Waikato, which is bittersweet as it means no long trips but also no expenditure and hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of writing in! But I’m so, so, so excited to get back to a life of non-stop travel some time in the Southern hemisphere’s Autumn/Winter, hopping from one place to the next and sipping virgin mojitos on a beach somewhere. Because we all know piña coladas don’t got s%!$ on the minty freshness of a mojito.

I’m planning on going into 2019 full speed ahead, eyes, mind and heart open and 100% focused on my goals and what I want to achieve this year. So who knows – maybe next year’s year in review will be a lot more exciting than this one?!

Happy New Year! Without sounding like a Wotsit (cheesy, geddit?), I hope 2019 brings you everything you dream of.

Goodbye 2019, from the back of my head
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20+ Epic Destinations for Solo Female Travellers

With so many downright incredible destinations around the world, choosing where to go on your next trip is a nigh-on impossible task.

This rings especially true if you’re a solo female traveller having to worry about those extra little things like reassuring your parents you’re not going to get kidnapped and sold into the sex trade, making sure you don’t flash your ankles to poor, unsuspecting male victims in the street and, of course, maintaining a modest and demure demeanour from the moment you walk out of your front door.

We can all sense the bitter sarcasm there, right?

But seriously, picking out your next solo destination can be a bit of a ‘mare. At least if you’re travelling with someone, you have somebody to bounce ideas off, somebody to lay down the law and say “Nah mate, we ain’t going nowhere where they eat bugs for breakfast“.

Travelling alone?

It’s just you and your bright ideas!

Which is where I come in! Or rather, where I and 22 of my wonderful and inspiring fellow female travellers come in.

To save you the hassle of having to decide where to travel in 2019 and beyond, I asked these incredible ladies to give their recommendations and advice on which countries or cities are absolutely perfect for solo female travellers.

From the well-trodden pavements of London and Paris to the backpackers’ haven of Thailand and even some destinations you might not even have heard of before now, there’s bound to be somewhere on this list that gets those itchy travellers’ feet tingling with excitement.

(Psst… don’t forget to check out these gals’ blogs and social media channels for more inspo. They’re awesome!)


Corsica

by Christa of Expedition Wildlife

The visually and historically stunning island of Corsica lies in the middle of the Mediterranean, isolated from mainland France. This isolation, however, has created a wholly unique culture and experience for visitors, whereby the food, music, scenery, and even the language are uniquely Corsican.

Gr20 Valley near Ciuttulu di i Mori © Expedition Wildlife

The larger cities of Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio (Napoleon’s birthplace), and Porto Vecchio are surrounded by arguably some of the best beaches in Europe and the world, boasting wine produced from the nearby hills and food cultivated in the mountains or fresh from the ocean.

Corsica is one of the greatest destinations for solo travellers because of how safe the island is as a whole, hosted by kind and generous Corsicans.

Corsica is also well-known as the home of the toughest long-distance trek in Europe – the GR20 – whereby hikers and mountain climbers from all over the world converge here to undertake the difficult trek through Corsica’s stunning mountainous landscape.

This hiking culture facilitates and encourages solo travellers to visit – on the trail, your hiking companions become your family for a time, where you share bunk rooms or nearby camping spots and sit together for communal dinner in the mountain refuges.  Even day treks into the mountains, such as from the Forest de Poppaghla to Lac de Nino, allow visitors to further immerse themselves in the landscape and see the heart of Corsican culture.

Don’t miss out on this hidden gem in Europe!

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Thailand

by Nina of Where in the World is Nina?

© Where in the World is Nina?

Yes, Thailand, the entire country of Thailand! 

Thailand is one of the easiest places for people to travel solo, period. The biggest two reasons why it’s so great for solo females, is the fact that it’s generally quite safe and it’s incredibly easy to make friends. You almost have to try harder to NOT be social here.

BONUS: It’s also cheap! You can get a private room for $10-$15 a night anywhere.

As someone who has lived in the country for four years solo (particularly in Chiang Mai, Pai and Krabi), I can assure you travelling nearly anywhere in Thailand will instil further confidence in yourself to venture to other corners of the globe, totally solo. This is where I started and had my first solo experience and it has led me to even more ventures around the globe with me, myself and I.

As long as you stay alert and use your common sense, things you should do everywhere around the world, you’ll be perfectly safe travelling around Thailand.

Follow Where in the World is Nina? on Instagram

Cape Town, South Africa

by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World

Cape Town is the most beautiful city in Africa, one that travellers inevitably fall in love with.

Between the mountains and the sea, what’s special about it is that it literally has something for everyone: there are many incredible things to do in Cape Town, indeed!

View of Lion’s Head, Cape Town © My Adventures Across the World

Nature and adventure lovers will find plenty of hiking trails within easy reach. The most famous one is that to Table Mountain, but Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head also offer splendid views of the city. Culture and history lovers will have plenty to explore between the City Bowl and Robben Island, where the former prison where political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela were held has been turned into an interesting museum. Foodies rest assured: the restaurant scene in the Mother City is fabulous, with plenty of good restaurants and budget eats, especially in the V&A Waterfront area. 

The good news for solo female travellers is that the city is particularly welcoming and there are plenty of things to do that don’t require company. People are friendly and always ready to chat; and there are various social spaces where to meet other people, cafés that are good places to hang out, and hostels such as The Backpack that provide a safe haven.

Unfortunately, Cape Town isn’t the safest of places. Whether you are alone or not, make sure not to walk around after dark and download apps like Uber to help you get to places safely. 

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Lesotho

by Jess of Longest Bus Rides

Lesotho is a tranquil country for solo travel. In February (summertime) I rented a car in South Africa and drove into the tiny land-locked country. A verdant mountainous landscape greeted me. Sani Pass is one of the popular places to visit, although it is not very crowded.

Why is Lesotho a good solo destination? The country is very rural and the Basotho people are warm and welcoming. Tours and accommodation are well placed, easy to access and well-priced for budget to high class travellers.

© Longest Bus Rides

I felt safe at all times and in February the other tourists traveling solo or as couples made finding travel mates easy. Plus, accommodation was always available with a day or two advance notice, in case you’re not a pre-planner. The biggest danger is driving because of the livestock on the roads. Be careful on the curves!

English is spoken by people in the tourism industry, making communication easy. Just keep in mind to speak clearly, as it’s often people’s 3rd or 4th language.

As for activities, the outdoors are the highlight! Horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, abseiling, traditional horseracing. There are huge waterfalls and Lesotho’s watershed also supplies SouthAfrica’s population with fresh water. In fact, South Africans come for the winter time ski resort. It even snowed once when I was at high elevation!

The Basotho culture is very interesting, so I recommend taking a tour and learning about the gender roles (girls attend school more than boys), woollen blankets, and food. The hotels are often on beautiful grounds, so it’s also a joy lounging on a veranda or lawn overlooking a gorge and spend the day relaxing. The elevation generally precludes mosquitoes.

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Georgia

by Priyanko of Constant Traveller

© Constant Traveller

From being a vassal state of the gigantic USSR to gaining independence and notoriety for being unsafe to today ranking as one of the top safest places to visit in the world, Georgia’s journey has been nothing short of dramatic.

With more and more places opening up to tourists and a sustained push for global travellers by the authorities bearing fruit, there is no better time than 2019 to plan a visit to one of the earliest adopters of Christianity. Georgia is a curious blend of old traditions and some of the most striking new buildings you’ll see anywhere. It’s a constant clash between old and new that keeps things entertaining across the entire country. 

So whether you’re admiring ancient cave complexes at David Gareja monastery or soaking in the Svan culture up north in Mestia or just enjoying the super food and wine at Tbilisi’s eateries, you’ll find yourself swept in a country that has many facets with each one jostling for attention to be the best. All you need to do is be swept away in the safety of Georgia’s wondrous places.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

by Riana of Teaspoon of Adventure

I would totally recommend Amsterdam as one of the most perfect places for solo female travellers in 2019! I lived in Amsterdam for six months when I studied abroad there in university and it is one of the most charming and fun cities in the world.

Amsterdam has a reputation for being a bit seedy because of its infamous Red Light District and stance on decriminalised drugs, but it’s actually a very safe place. All of these activities are highly regulated, which eliminates a lot of the danger. Not once have I ever felt unsafe in Amsterdam, and everyone speaks English which makes it so easy to get around.

Amsterdam canals © Teaspoon of Adventure

Amsterdam is a great city for solo travel because it has lots going on, but it also has a great mellow vibe. You can fill your days with all the Amsterdam “must-do’s” like the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum and a canal boat ride, then if you’re feeling a bit lonely in the evening, you can easily meet people at bars or hostels if you’re feeling lonely. Plus, Amsterdam is an awesome travel hub – Paris is only three hours away by train!

To me, the best part of Amsterdam is just ambling along the canals, admiring the skinny houses, browsing the independent shops and sitting in the many cafes – a great part of solo travel is learning to enjoy your own company. Strolling through the picturesque streets of Amsterdam is the best place to do that!

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New York City, USA

by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear

What better place to travel solo than the city that never sleeps? New York City is one of the best cities to visit as a solo female. The city is always hustlin’ and bustlin’ so you never truly feel alone.

Hoof it across the Brooklyn Bridge, explore Central Park, see the city from above at the High Line Park, peruse beautiful art at The Met or Museum of Modern Art, walk with dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. There is so much to do in Manhattan, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

New York City skyline at sunset

Foodies will delight at the delicious food options throughout the city from Japanese ramen to Spanish paella, Chinese cold noodles, and Halal Guys. There are so many different types of cuisines and cultures you can try just in one city.

There is so much to do in the city there is a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s an amazing place to visit especially for travellers who are just starting out their solo adventures.

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Luang Prabang, Laos

by Matilda of The Travel Sisters

Luang Prabang, Laos is one of the most charming and delightful cities in Southeast Asia.  Full of Buddhist temples, the entire old town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Luang Prabang is a great destination for solo female travellers. It has a laid-back vibe, friendly locals and is safe and easy to explore – I always felt safe walking around alone even at night. There are plenty of hostels suitable for solo travellers and good street food so you don’t have to eat alone in restaurants if you don’t want to.  Luang Prabang is a popular destination so it is easy to meet fellow travellers if you decide you want some company.

Luang Prabang © The Travel Sisters

One of the top things to do in Luang Prabang is to visit the nearby Kuang Si Falls,where you can take a dip in beautiful turquoise pools of water. Another popular activity is climbing the stairs to the top of Mount Phoosi, a hill located in the center of town, to take in panoramic views especially during sunset or sunrise. Wake up early to eat at the morning market and see orange-robed monks walking around town collecting alms at dawn.  In the evening, the main street has a night market, which is a great place to shop for souvenirs and clothes with little haggling and enjoy local street food.  Other things to see and do in Luang Prabang include temple hopping, taking a cooking class, and cruising on the Mekong River during sunset. 

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London, UK

by Maura of Camera & A Canvas 

My first solo travel experience was going to London, and I’ll just say upfront that I had such a great time I can’t wait to go back again! All the things I worried about: public transportation being confusing, feeling alone, or uncomfortable walking around by myself, were never issues! 

On Public Transportation there: it’s super easy! I did a little research beforehand and purchased a Visitor’s Oyster Card, which works for all subway(tube), buses, and trains. There are refilling stations inside tube stations, so it’s also no problem if you need to put more money on your card. The signage was excellent. I was worried on having to stop, take out a map and figure out which way I was going when getting on/off the tube, train, or bus but the signs were almost always right there in front of you! I didn’t even have to stop walking!

London Eye © Camera & A Canvas

On my week there, I bought a London Pass and hit up all the main tourist attractions. Do you like incredible views from above? Check out the Shard, the London Eye, or the free Sky Garden. History or amazing architecture? The Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, or the British Museum are just a few places you must see. And of course there’s Tower Bridge-with the cool glass walkway above the Thames, and Buckingham palace to see the changing of the guard (or you can watch the Horse Guard change instead). I even thoroughly enjoyed simply walking around the parks in the city, or going to Camden Market for a huge variety of cultural foods and crafts.

And lastly if you’re there, be sure to take a cruise down the Thames river-getting to see all the landmarks from both sides of the river was super cool! There was simply so much to see and do, I was going from sun up to sun down, and there were still so many places I didn’t have time to see in a week. I never got bored or felt alone or unsafe. That being said I did use common sense and did my research ahead of time to know where I was going to go for the day, but I was able to make changes here and there on the spot too.

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Oman

by Rahma of The Sane Adventurer

Oman is one of the very few countries considered as safe to travel for solo female travellers in the Middle East. Unlike some of the other countries in the region, Oman is a very hospitable and welcoming country for women travelling alone.

Royal Opera House, Muscat © The Sane Traveller

As the country has now finally started to make its mark on the world tourism map, tourists are visiting  Oman in huge numbers and therefore the country is becoming accustomed to seeing more and more foreigners.

The crime rate in Oman is nearly zero as the country bears severe punishments for the smallest of the crimes, which makes it very safe to travel for a solo female traveller. Moreover, Omanis are known for their hospitality and kindness towards strangers and they are always eager to help when seeing a foreigner in need of assistance. The women in Oman are highly respected irrespective of what they are wearing or if they’re being accompanied by a man or not. It is more than safe to travel alone in all the major cities and popular tourist destinations within Oman. Al-Shatti beach, Bimmah Sinkhole,and the Wahiba Sands Desert are some of the best places to visit in Northern Oman when travelling solo. Though Oman is an Islamic country, it has a modern approach towards women, however, it is recommended to wear clothes covering shoulders to knees in public places as a sign of respect towards the local culture.

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Medellin, Colombia

by Harri of Hats Off World

Medellin – otherwise known as the City of Eternal Spring – is packed full of culture, parks, incredible views, kind people, and a whole lot of fun. As a female digital nomad, it’s been one of my favourite cities to live in and it may surprise you but I never once felt unsafe.

There’s obviously a big stigma around Colombia with the popularity of Narcos, and especially Medellin because it’s where Pablo was from. However, the locals are doing everything they can to shift this and if you even mention Narcos to a local, you’ll most likely get a disdainful look. They want their home country to be seen as the arty, modern, and incredible place that it is – not shadowed by history which is now in the past.

Editor’s note: If you are planning a trip to Medellín and want to learn about the history of Escobar in a respectful way, definitely consider taking the Pablo Escobar Tour run by Paisa Road

Medellin city view © Hats Off World

El Poblado is the most touristy area where most Westerners live. Located in the south of the city, it’s always buzzing with cafes, restaurants, and bars. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more Colombian but still quite popular amongst other digital nomads – Laureles is a great alternative that’s in the West of the city. Wherever you stay, it’s easy to find accommodation; just join the housing groups on Facebook and you’ll see rooms available.

There’s heaps to do in both the day and night. Make sure you book the free walking tour of the city (it’s fascinating), explore some of the best views overlooking the valley, and try some salsa! And you can easily take a weekend trip away to the nearby towns of Jardin or Salento, or take a short flight to experience island life in Cartagena or even San Andres.

With weather that’s generally pretty good all year round, a low cost of living, and lots of entrepreneurs – it’s no wonder it’s such a popular city for digital nomads.

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Cuba

by Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic

Many people are hesitant to visit Cuba because so much is unknown about the country, especially with the US embargo. Yet year after year it is recognized as one of the safest countries to travel in Latin America.

Fusterlandia art installation, Cuba © Bacon is Magic

Although many travellers see the classic cars and describe it as a country frozen in time, it is really so much more of incredible history and culture like no other. Travellers are not cut off from the outside world as wifi in Cuba is available in hotels and public parks. Not all of the cars are old, and Cuban mechanics are renown around the world for being able to fix anything. 

But most importantly, for women it is a safe country to travel. You can walk the streets of Havana and while you may encounter some men commenting about your appearance, it is a comment and nothing more. 

A first trip to Cuba is not complete without staying in Havana. Casa particulares are like Cuban bed and breakfasts where you can inexpensively stay with a family. There is an unofficial network so if you want to take a tour to the tobacco plantations in Vinales or the colonial city of Trinidad they can help arrange it for you. 

And as an island there’s no shortage of beaches from Playa del Este just outside Havana to the famous cayos a short flight away. 

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Paris, France

by Sierra of Free to Travel Mama

When I think about my favorite place to travel solo, I always come back to the magical city of Paris. Safety is typically of high priority and Paris has very low rate of violent crime. You must be aware of scams and pickpockets, but should feel comfortable with personal safety as long as you are mindful of keeping your belongings tucked away securely.

Paris © Free to Travel Mama

The museums available are extensive and you will be free to choose from the Louvre Museum, Rodin Museum, or Museum of Arts and Measures, just to name a few. If you would prefer a relaxing day, seek out an idyllic bench with a book in Tuileries Garden or a crepe from the stand at Luxembourg Gardens. If climbing the Eiffel Tower is on your agenda, head over early and take the stairs if you are up for it to best take in where you are.  

There is so much to do in Paris as a solo female traveller, that you need only bring a list, but not a schedule. Wake up each morning and decide where you would like the day to take you. The metro is easy to use and quite effective at taking you where you would like to go. Although, I would highly recommend walking instead. Take a self-guided walking tour that includes some of your must-see places and meander down every small street and stop at every cute café that catches your eye along the way. This is the true essence of Paris!

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Uzbekistan

by Kamila of My Wanderlust

Uzbekistan © My Wanderlust

Until recently it was quite difficult to visit Uzbekistan –  the complicated and expensive visa procedure kept tourists away. Fortunately this process changed in the summer of 2018 and now you can easily organise your own trip to Uzbekistan.

The country, famous for its Silk Road cities and stunning architecture, is really safe and definitely worth your time. Local people are very friendly and hospitable. Since there are still not so many independent tourists around, locals are curious of those they do come across and will very quickly start chatting with you, asking where you are from and trying to help you as much as they can.

English is spoken a little bit in Uzbekistan but I recommend learning at least a few words of Uzbek or Russian so you can engage in the conversations.

When visiting Uzbekistan don’t miss the biggest attractions of the country: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva as well as its capital Tashkent. During my time in Uzbekistan the only time I felt a bit annoyed but not fully unsafe was when dealing with taxi drivers. Everything else was more than fine and I can definitely recommend visiting Uzbekistan to every solo traveller.

Now is the best time to go as it’s a matter of time the world learns how great a destination it is!

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Melbourne, Australia

by Toni of Enchanted Serendipity

Unlike metropolises like New York and London – Melbourne is a walkable city, but also has an accessible public transport network of trains, trams and taxis/ubers – so getting around on your own is so easy. Plus trams are free in certain parts of the CBD!

No place is off limits to a solo female traveller in Melbourne, with so many attractions to see and enjoy on your visit.

Must stop attractions to get a feel of the city include the many street art precincts of Hosier Lane, Union Lane and ACDC Lane; The State Library of Victoria – and the La Trobe Reading Room; Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne Central for all your shopping needs. There is always a sport to attend too – with AFL (Australian football), Soccer, Rugby, Golf, Horseracing and Tennis major draw cards.

Melbourne at night © Enchanted Serendipity

The best photo opportunities can be found at Flinders Street Station and along the Southbank precinct. Nightly from 6pm the gas brigades fire show takes places hourly outside Crown Casino – this is a must. 

For all the foodies out there, a self-tour of highlights across the city is a fun way to “taste” the city. Start off at Duke’s Coffee Roasters fora latte, then head over to Hu Tong Dumpling Bar for the city’s best Asian food,and to finish it off, take in a dessert at Hopetoun Tea Rooms – an historical icon in the famed Block Arcade. End your night at any of the amazing rooftop bars – Rooftop Bar, Goldilocks, Good Heavens, QT or Loop Roof. 

All in all, there is so much for a solo traveller to take in in Melbourne.Whether it’s with new friends or on your own; this is one of the best cities any female traveller can explore.  

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Portugal

by Alya of Stingy Nomads

Portugal is an amazing country to visit for solo female travellers. It’s a great place for outdoor adventures, city breaks, gastronomic tourism or a beach holiday. I’ve travelled Portugal twice on my own and it never even crossed my mind that I wasn’t safe; going out at night in Lisbon or hiking on my own along the coast. I met great people, both locals and foreigners, in hostels and on the tours and always had an amazing time. Portuguese people is one of the reasons I love this country so much, they’re very friendly, welcoming, ready to help and always have time to stop on the street and explain how to get somewhere. Food is another great thing about Portugal my favourite places to try local food are bustling weekend markets where you can grab a plate with local delicacies and a glass of wine and stand around or sit down (if you’re lucky to find a spot)enjoying delicious food, live music, nice weather and good vibe.

Portuguese culture heritage is another reason to visit the country, places like Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, Santarem, Algarve, countless smallish cozy towns and fisherman villages – there is so much to explore here!

Porto, Portugal © Stingy Nomads

Portugal offers a great variety of outdoor activities and a good thing there are no dangerous animals on the land or in the water no need to worry about sharks,bears or lions while hiking, surfing or diving. There are some amazing long hiking routes in Portugal; Rota Vicentina – 450 km hike along the coast in Southern Portugal; Portuguese Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage route from Lisbon or Porto to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. As well as several several hiking routes around the Azores islands. I met quite a few girls hiking solo in Portugal, there are always people on the routes, trails are well-marked and well-maintained. For water sport lovers there are some great spots for surfing, kitesurfing or sea kayaking with many schools where you can learn how to do any of these activities. Algarve is the main region for water activities; warm sea, sandy beaches, nice weather and great holiday vibe.

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Canada

by Kristal of Adventure Dawgs

Emerald Lake, Canada © Adventure Dawgs

Canada is an ideal place for the solo female traveller.  The people are legendarily polite (we’re sorry but not sorry about that) and as the second largest country by area, there is something for everyone.

First of all, I should explain that I travel everywhere with my dogs and only my dogs.  Our little pack has driven from one side of the country to the other so as a woman travelling alone, I can speak from experience.  

There are truly world-class cities from bustling Toronto to stately Ottawa to historic Quebec City.  Not only are there high-end restaurants but a vibrant wine industry and an exploding craft brewing trend provides great places to stop and explore.

If the Great Outdoors are calling to you,there is an extensive network of provincial and national parks all across the country in every terrain imaginable from sites perched over the ocean to fences that keep the herds of bison roaming Grasslands National Park at bay.

While some cultures make it difficult for a woman to travel alone, there is no such limitation on women in Canada.  In fact, you may end up invited to join a party already in progress especially on the east coast where there’s a strong chance that someone is going to break out a fiddle.

If English isn’t your first language, Canada is officially a bilingual country although French speakers are predominantly in Quebec and New Brunswick.  

As a proudly multicultural country, all visitors are welcome here.

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Scotland

by Helena of Through An Aussie’s Eyes

My solo trip to Scotland is easily one of my favourite trips, not just because it is a great country but because travelling solo was just so easy there. The Scottish people are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet and they will go out of their way to help you. I had offers to stay for lunch at small local companies and even for a bus drivers to go off route to get me a little bit closer to a destination. There is never a shortage of different activities and a lot of them are either free or a small admission price.

© Through An Aussie’s Eyes

If you are a history fan than this country is for you. Wherever you go in Scotland, it feels like you are stepping in to history, you can even spend the night in a castle. Some of my more memorable moments are being able to climb inside cairns (tombs) with Maeshowe (you are able to see Viking graffiti scratched into the walls) being one of the most mysterious. Stand in the middle of a Standing Stone circle and bring out your inner Outlander. Look at Neolithic structures such as Skara Brae and understand how people lived thousands of years ago. Stand on the ruins of Urquhart Castle and look for the elusive Nessie among the calmness of Loch Ness.

Some of the other places that you must check out is Edinburgh (recommendation is Mary King’s Close which is under the Royal Mile), Isle of Skye and both the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

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Hong Kong

by Rachel of Rachel’s Ruminations

Hong Kong cityscape © Rachel’s Ruminations

I loved travelling solo in Hong Kong. It’s a compact, clean city, and there’s a lot to see; I’d suggest planning to stay for a week or so. Within the city itself you should see Victoria Peak and Hong Kong Park, enjoy the air-conditioned shopping malls, and make sure to eat some dim sum. But make sure to venture outside the city as well. I’d recommend visiting, for example, Tai O, which is a fishing village on stilts; Lamma Island for some tropical greenery; and Lantau Island for a cable car ride up a mountain to see the Big Buddha.

When I was there by myself, people left me alone and I never felt unsafe. If I needed directions, people seemed happy to help, and usually spoke English. For the most part I found it easy to find my way around because public transportation is well-organised and the signs are in English. I loved when I could take a ferry instead of a metro or bus! I stayed in an Airbnb in a non-touristy neighborhood, but there, too, I felt safe and the local restaurants were always interesting. Hong Kong is a great destination for a newbie solo female traveller!

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Merida, Mexico

by Julien of Cultures Traveled

Modern meets traditional in this bustling Mexican city that has a lot to offer solo travellers. Merida, Mexico is one of the safest cities in North America, but that does not equate to a lack of liveliness.

Mercado San Benito is the perfect place to get lost in the bustle of everyday life. For a peaceful afternoon, wander Merida’s neighborhoods to admire the historic homes. If you need a break from the sun, dip into one of the city’s varied museums or relax in a park – ideally with gelato in hand.

Weekends start early with the Thursday evening Yucatecan Serenade, a 40-year tradition of music and dancing. On Fridays, the history of the region is told through vivid images projected onto Merida’s main cathedral. On Saturdays, competitors recreate the ancient Mayan ball game, Pok Ta Pok, using only their hips to keep the rubber ball in play. The weekend rounds out with a Sunday morning bike ride along Paseo de Montejo  – a historic avenue inspired by the Champs de Elysses in Paris. 

Merida is the cultural hub of the Yucatan Peninsula. The city’s schedule of ongoing free weekly events means you’ll never feel bored or alone. Peaceful and historic yet lively, Merida has everything I need to bring me back for another visit.

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Dubai, UAE

by Arzo of Arzo Travels -“Eat well, dress up, and travel!”

Many people seem surprised when I say how great the United Arab Emirates, and especially Dubai, are for solo female travellers. Some assume that an Islamic state cannot be a great place to travel solo…but after endless solo trips I can assure you: Dubai, and the UAE in general, is great to visit in 2019.

La Mer Beach, Dubai © Arzo Travels

First of all, Dubai is safe. It is probably one of the safest cities in the world. You should exercise common sense, but in general, you don’t have to be afraid of pickpocketing, robbery, harassment or things that travellers and especially female travellers might have to deal with in other countries. This makes it also possible to be out late – there are no extra precautions to take when strolling the downtown at night (a bit more caution when you walk in Dubai Deira, the old town of the city).

Also, “Ladies Night” is big in Dubai – females get access to many bars, pools etc for free on almost all days (just check which places offer what on which days). 

With all the things to do in Dubai, you will not get bored. You can do many things easily by yourself – including visiting the tallest building in the world, go on a desert safari or enjoy a day at the beach (my favorite is La Mer Beach).

Tip: No, you don’t have to cover up – you don’t have to wear a scarf and you can wear a bikini at the beach (there are some dress codes for malls – and of course if you visit religious sites – so always bring a scarf which you can use to cover up your shoulders).

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Alaska

by Jennifer of National Park Obsessed

©  National Park Obsessed

The state of Alaska is larger than many countries.  Its sites can intimidate many travelers but the state offers an amazing range of outdoor adventures and tours for the solo travelers. The advantage of being a solo traveler means it is easy to plan your adventures and find last-minute spaces on many activities.  It is recommended you use a guide for most outdoor adventures in Alaska. 

The state has eight National Parks along with countless national forests, preserves, and refuges.  There is plenty of wilderness to explore.  Access to many of these places requires either air, boat or bus. There are tour operations all over the state. They can arrange for you to join a week-long backpacking trip above the Arctic circle in Gates of the Arctic National Park or a bus trip into Wonder Lake for the best views of North America’s tallest mountain in Denali National Park.  You can fly out to Katmai National Park’s Brooks Falls to the Alaskan Brown Bear fishing.  If you are into salmon or halibut, you can try your luck fishing in Alaskan waters.

Alaska is perfect for the outdoor solo to get out and explore while making a few new outdoor adventure friends.  

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Has your credit card survived this post intact or have we all maxed them out buying flights to some of these incredible cities and countries?

A few of the places mentioned above are already on my 2019 travel wishlist, but my own personal recommendations would be Peru or New Zealand. Peru is the first place I ever visited solo, and it’s somewhere I would recommend to every woman and her dog as a friendly, safe and fun-filled destination to visit alone.

And New Zealand? 

Well, New Zealand is just pure lush. 

Don’t believe me? Check out these pictures.

I hope you were able to get a bit of inspiration from this list! Have you been to any of these places already? Is there anywhere not mentioned that you’d recommend as a great place for solo female travellers? Let me know in the comments!


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My 2019 Travel Bucket List

I love this time of year.

Not just Christmas, but the whole run up to the New Year and this elusive “fresh start” everyone talks about. 

I don’t buy into the new year, new me bull but I do like to think of the New Year as the perfect opportunity to set goals and rekindle the aspirational side of myself that unavoidably falls down the side of the sofa with my spare change around half way through the year. 

A new year is like opening a new notebook and making sure that the writing on the first page is absolute perfection. I used to have a minor obsession with notebooks as a kid and remember that one time I actually cried when I spelt a word wrong on the first page. 

Every year for as long as I’ve been travelling, I’ve written a wish list of places I wanted to visit in the coming year. Some of them are on this blog, others are on a piece of scrap paper that might still be hiding under my bed back in Wales. I like to think that writing my plans out in black and white will somehow help them to manifest into reality. And half of the time they do. The other half of the time they get put on the back burner because real life shit happens like death and what-not. 

So just like every year for the past 7 years, this is a list of places I want to visit in 2019. I’m trying to be more realistic this year, though, taking into account my current geographic location as well as my poor-person bank account. I’ve only listed places there’s at least a microscopic chance of me seeing – so Antarctica is out! 

There’s also the fact that I’m facing a new challenge in my travel life.

I have a boyfriend now. And, what’s more, I have a boyfriend with a third world passport, which is gonna make thing just that little bit trickier for these size 4 itchy feet. Trying to find countries that accept both our passports without too much effort is like trying to play the Sims without using Motherlode: definitely achievable but also inherently annoying and a wee bit of an inconvenience.

Not that he has to accompany me on every trip, but it would be nice as he has a driving licence and I can just about manage a bicycle.

The ideal scenario for this year would be to hide out in the Southern Hemisphere for a while and then follow the sun north in a few months. In other words, I just want to chase summer all year. Because I’m a cold weather Grinch and I’ve grown fond of not wearing socks. 

Disclaimer: This post uses stock images because obviously I haven’t been to most of them yet, and the ones I have been to my photos are probably awful. 

New Zealand’s South Island

After spending the last 4+ months slowly making my way around New Zealand’s gorgeous North Island, I’m more than ready for pastures new and to make my way down south! 

Prior to coming here in April, my geographical knowledge of New Zealand was non-existent beyond knowing that Auckland was not the capital city (that accolade goes to little old Welly). 

I don’t think I even knew it was 2 different islands?! 

Fortunately since arriving I’ve had the chance to not only brush up on my Aotearoa education but also find out things like you have to get the ferry from one island to the other (or fly, but you can’t drive), the ferry can be expensive and the South Island is the one with the pretty views

Road leading to Mt Cook, New Zealand’s South Island

Honestly, the North Island does have its fair share of knock you off your chair bloody beautiful views too so don’t let that put you off visiting, but all the whimsical ones are down south. The never-ending roads with a horizon of snow-capped mountains, the tiny little mountain peaks that have about 1000 people queuing to get the perfect Insta-shot and that lonely old tree in the middle of the lake? All down south.

I’ve been hoping to build up my hiking stammer (current level of fitness: -1,012) before heading down south, but I think the longer I put it off the less likely it is to actually happen. I think I’ll just have to bite the bullet next time I have a significant amount of time off work and just go

What is it they say?

The mountains are calling and I must go

– John Muir

Fiji

Pretty sure Fiji was on my list last year too, but now I can’t seem to find that list to check it. I guess I thought I would have been there by now but lol, no, I’m still living my life completely Fiji-less. 

If you Google “reasons to visit Fiji”, the top 4 results tend to be diving, river and cave safaris, Fijian nannies (the kind that look after your kids, not the Gramma Tala variety) and fire-walking. 

Take babysitters out of the equation for this childless wench and could you think of a better list of activities?! I’d probably sit on the sidelines and enjoy a cultural fire-walking show from afar as opposed to literally walking on hot coals but the rest of it is enough to make me cry at the realisation that I’m not in Fiji right now. 

© Martin Valigursky / Adobe Stock

Fiji comes with the added bonus of being a country with incredibly lax visa requirements, meaning neither British Me nor Indian Boyfriend require visas. We can just waltz on in with a wave of a return ticket and latest bank statement. 

I also really like hammocks, and Fiji apparently has a lot. 

Niue

Have you heard of Niue? 

I hadn’t until I went to Auckland Zoo last May in an attempt to pass some time before my flight home and got really mad that the South Asian elephants were put right by the “African Savannah”. It irked me as people were obviously going to assume they were African elephants, and in my eyes that’s akin to calling a guinea pig a rabbit – they’re not the same. 

I read the information plaque just to double check that they were, in fact, Asian elephants (FYI, they’re from Sri Lanka so it’s a big yes). On the plaque it said something like “thank you to the people of Niue” because they’d let them keep the elephants there in quarantine so as not to infect the people of New Zealand with something or other.

Intrigued, I immediately got on Google and searched for Niue, thinking it was maybe some small little Kiwi town I hadn’t heard of off the mainland somewhere way up north. 

Nope, Niue is actually one of the smallest countries in the world. 

And it is BEAUTIFUL!

Limestone cave and saltwater pool on a coral reef, Avaiki, Niue 
© Karen / Adobe Stock

At first it looks incredibly similar to a lot of the other Pacific Island nations, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find out that because there’s no lakes or rivers on the entire island (all 261.5 km² of it…), the ocean is so incredibly clear that visibility is sometimes up to 100m. ONE HUNDRED METRES OF VISIBILITY UNDER THE SEA. Imagine that!

Aside from incredible snorkelling opportunities (not really sure why I’m excited about that as my last foray into snorkelling gave me nothing but extreme sunburn and memories of accidentally punching a shark in the face), Niue has coves and caves and coconuts and nice weather. And to top it all off, its population is less than 1,700 people. My tiny little hometown in the South Wales Valleys has twice as many people as that. 

In short, Niue looks like an absolute dream and has quickly worked its way to the top of my bucket list. 

Australia

It’d just be wrong to live in New Zealand for so long and not hop across the Tasman to Australia, don’t you think?

Honestly, Australia hasn’t ever appealed to me for much beyond Neighbours and Steve Irwin’s Zoo. Aside from a brief few months of contemplating whether to apply for a Working Holiday Visa or not, I’ve never considered flying all the way across the planet just to see Australia as something I want to do. 

But now that I’m right next door, it’d be a shame to miss out.

Australia (and visiting it) has also grown on me considerably since learning all about how fond they are of really big things.

United Kingdom 

Every year I say that I want to see more of my own country. Every flippin’ year! And every year I instead choose to spend my money flying off to the far corners of the world where they eat pies for every meal and say “sweet as” instead of “no problem!”

That makes it sound like I resent all the trips I’ve taken, but to be clear, I absolutely do not. I couldn’t be more grateful for the places I’ve seen and the opportunities that have arisen as a result of travel, but being away from Wales only intensifies my love for that adorable little pig-shaped country I call home.

Somewhere in the Cotswolds (Stock image obviously, I’ve not been there yet)

Then there’s the rest of the UK – Scotland (a country so close but yet apparently too far for me to have bothered to take a trip there in the last 26 years), Northern Ireland (again, somewhere I’m yet to visit!) and England, the last of the lot and probably the least exciting to me but still somewhere I’d like to visit because The Cotswolds and Cornwall look pretty jazzy. 

At some point this year I will go back (ideally with the boyfriend tagging along, visa-dependent) and I swear to the Heavens, I know I’ve said this every year for the last I don’t know how many, but I will explore my own backyard.

Italy and maybe France or Slovenia? 

This is probably the biggest reach of them all! 

I lived in Italy for 6 months as part of my studies back in 2013-14 and have been dying to return ever since! My Italian is getting way too rusty for my liking, and I think it’s about time I dusted off the old vocabulary by ordering way too much fresh penne arrabbiata and pizza napoletana. 

Living in the tiny little city of Forlì, just outside of Bologna, meant I was incredibly well-connected to most of the country and was able to see most of the main tourist spots (Rome, Venice, Pisa etc.), but I really want to go back and explore “off the beaten track”. 

Enter Traverse 19!

This awesome travel blogging conference (I say it’s awesome but I haven’t actually been before, just going off other people’s recommendations!) is going to be held in beautiful Trentino in June and I’ve managed to secure my ticket well in advance. I’m thinking a week for the conference and then an extra week or two exploring a bit more of Italy.  

So I haven’t quite worked out the logistics of this one yet, as if everything goes according to plan I should still be in New Zealand come June. At the moment I’ve got my eye on return flights to Rome for just over £500 (it’s almost too cheap for me to believe, and has part of me thinking I’ll end up in a very Lost-esque situation on a desert island somewhere) but there’s also the question of getting a Schengen visa for the boyfriend. 

If we’re going through all the effort of applying for a Schengen (and it’s a lot of effort – we actually have to book things in advance which is almost enough to give me palpitations), we may as well make the most of it. Perhaps a little road trip through Slovenia or France?  

India

Oh, India. Will there ever come a day when you’re not on my ever-expanding list of desired destinations?

I think not.

I’ve been writing a lot about India recently, reminiscing about past trips and tentatively planning future ones, and it’s just making me really, really, really want to go. Like, now. At least once a day I turn to G and announce that “I really want to go to India” or “I really like India”, and as much as I’m sure he appreciates his girlfriend’s fondness of his home country, I think he kind of wants to sew my mouth shut at this point. 

A friend of his is getting married this time next year and we’ve both received a verbal invitation in passing, which could obviously be revoked at any time but I’m taking it as absolute gospel and have already got my sari on order. 

If I do make it to India in 2019 then I’d want to branch out a bit from my previous Indian explorations and see some of the country I haven’t been to yet. As much as I adore Kerala and Rajasthan (Goa, Mumbai and Agra not so much), I definitely want to give the rest of the country a bash. The ultimate dream would be to see the whole of India on the back of a motorbike, but I’d probably need a bit longer than a few weeks squeezed in for that.


There are a few other places I’m keen on getting to in 2019 – Singapore and Cook Islands if I have to name names, but remember when I said I’m trying to be realistic? To visit just one of the places on my list would be an absolute dream come true, so here’s hoping 2019 is going to be a fun and travel-filled year!

Where are you hoping to travel next year?
I’m a sucker for nosing at other people’s plans so let me know!

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To all the girls who want to travel…

I lay awake until about 5am last night, just thinking.

Thinking about all of the places I’ve travelled alone, of all the times I’ve felt unsafe as a solo female traveller.

Nepal 2012, the time I was coerced into a van by a man wielding a gun and driven to the middle of nowhere. India 2012, when a member of hotel staff entered my room and tried to force himself on me

Venezuela 2013, a man in my hotel lobby said he wanted to exchange some money with me (the black market got you a way better rate!) and took me into a lane behind the hotel. He drew his handgun out of his pocket as a precaution when somebody rounded the corner. It was the first (and only!) time I’ve ever seen a handgun that close, and as somebody from a country with gun control so good you almost have more chance of seeing a spotted elephant in the wild, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t using it as a weapon, its presence alone was enough to terrify me. 

Colombia 2013 when, after enjoying tea and snacks with a friend’s neighbour and his wife, I was told he was once an associate of Pablo Escobar. It’s worth mentioning that this was pre-Narcos and before I’d actually read into Escobar’s life, so I wasn’t aware that a lot of his associates weren’t exactly willing participants in his program of terror. But still, it chilled me to the core.

Mexico 2016, heading back to my hotel in Mexico City late at night after going to the shop for some snacks. The shop was only at the end of the street, so I didn’t question my safety once. A man started chasing after me. Like, he was actually running! I started to quicken my pace, not wanting to break into a sprint, just in case it startled him and he ran faster. Just as I was about to turn off into my hotel, he caught up with me. He held his hand out, a bunch of notes clutched in his fist. I’d left my change in the shop and he just wanted to return it to me. 

India 2016, walking down from a small hill in a quite secluded area after enjoying the view over Jaipur, an Indian man followed me, asking me personal questions and insisting on selfies and exchanging numbers. I’m normally pretty good at refusing strange men’s requests in India, but we were so secluded that I couldn’t help but think if I said no, what would have happened? So I stood there awkwardly while he squeezed my shoulders and told me to smile. I gave him a fake phone number, but he called to check it straight away, so I had to give him my real one which was then promptly blocked from my WhatsApp as soon as I was off the mountain.

Fortunately I lived to tell the above tales, and in hindsight the situations don’t actually seem so scary after all. But if something were to have happened to me in Nepal or India or Mexico or South America, do you know what people would say?

“What did she expect? She was travelling alone.”

Because girls? They shouldn’t travel alone. Just like they shouldn’t flash their ankles. Just like they shouldn’t say no to sex when their partner wants it. Just like they shouldn’t make eye contact with a strange man because it might provoke him. Just like they shouldn’t wear sexy underwear UNDERNEATH THEIR CLOTHES because that’s “asking for it“. 

Bull. Shit. 

I don’t know if it’s her being British in New Zealand, her travelling alone or a combination of the two, but I’ve found myself overly-sensitised to the tragic case of Grace Millane.

Before the police announced that they were treating it as a murder investigation, before they released the sad news that they’d found what was very probably Grace’s body, I couldn’t help but look for her everywhere. 

I’m staying more than 100km from where she was last seen, yet since the day they announced her disappearance I’ve still found my eyes scanning the streets for her face. I’ve seen police cars speeding past, sirens blaring and wondered if they found her. I’ve heard helicopters overhead and assumed they were out looking for her (actually I live about 5 minutes from a hospital with a helipad so there’s a more simple explanation). She has, quite frankly, been all I’ve thought about.

I’ve cried for her and I’ve cried for her family.

I didn’t know Grace. But in a way, I did know Grace.

Because we are all her.

She wanted to see the world. She took that chance and she went. She did something unimaginably brave, something that most girls wouldn’t dare dream of doing, and she did it alone. That’s not something we should lambaste her for, but something we should be proud of.

What happened to Grace was not her fault, and anybody who so much as hints that it is deserve to be force fed to a pen of starving alligators. 

It’s almost 2019 and women should be able to traverse the globe solo without worrying about being raped, attacked or murdered. Women should be able to go out at night without having to carry mace or a rape alarm. Women should have the same freedom as men do, because women are not the problem.

I didn’t know Grace, but for her to have done what she did, set off around the world completely alone for a whole year, I just know that she was strong, she was brave and she was somebody that we should all aspire to be like.

I’m in a few Facebook groups for backpackers in New Zealand and in the past few days have seen quite a few messages in there from people (mostly girls) who are now hesitant to come and enjoy the wonders of this beautiful country, who think it’s not safe anymore and that they should change their plans. 

So to those girls, and to all the girls who want to travel…

Please, don’t be scared

It’s true, the world is a scary place and horrific things do unfortunately happen. But the world is also a shining light. There are good people everywhere, and they far outweigh the bad, I can promise you that! For every bad person I’ve come across during my travels, I’ve met at least ten more who drown them out with joy, laughter and love.

The outpouring of love and grief from each and every community in New Zealand is demonstration enough of that.

Since I tweeted out about the news of Grace absolutely devastating me as a Brit in New Zealand and a solo female traveller, I’ve received umpteen private messages offering me a safe place if I’m ever visiting the area. Manawatu, Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown and more – women (and some men) from all corners of New Zealand have reached out to send arohanui and reassurances that what happened doesn’t define New Zealand, that they will look after us. 

New Zealand <3

A quick scroll through the #HerLightOurLove hashtag will show New Zealand’s true feelings. They are appalled at what has happened in their country. They are ashamed that it was (unconfirmed) one of their own who did this. They are apologetic to Grace’s family and friends that they weren’t able to keep her safe.

There are bad apples everywhere, but they don’t ruin the whole tree. Don’t let one tragic incident cloud your judgement of an entire nation, or indeed an entire way of life.

You are brave

The fact that you’re even considering travelling alone is commendable, whether or not you end up going through with it. You are so fucking brave, honestly. I don’t know you but I am SO proud of you!

I remember the first time it truly hit me that I was going through with it, that I was travelling alone. I was 18, already on my American Airways flight halfway to Peru via Miami. We had to make an emergency landing in the Bahamas because of a hurricane (welcome to the tumultuous world of travel!), and while they were passing out some drinks the nice Irish lady two seats over turned to me and said “If my daughter were doing what you are, I think I’d have a heart attack. God bless you, love.

Chichen Itza – my 6th out of 7 World Wonders, most of which were visited completely solo

Until that point I hadn’t really grasped the magnitude of what I was doing. There and then it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was doing this. I was flying to a whole other continent where they speak a completely different language to spend 6 weeks entirely alone. 

My level of badassery peaked that day. 

Whether you’re choosing a weekend in Paris, a summer in America or a whole year in Australia, you are brave. Just remember that. Whenever you’re having feelings of self-doubt, whenever you think “I can’t do this“, whenever you miss home, channel your inner Merida and remember that you are brave

You are not alone

So yeah, you might be travelling alone but trust me, you are not alone.

There’s a whole army of female travellers out there who have your back. There are tons and tons of great Facebook groups there to give you any advice and support you need: Girls vs Globe, Girls Love Travel and Global Girls United to name just a few. There’s also destination specific groups, depending where you plan on going. I’m in a few for Peru and New Zealand, and it’s just like having your own little online club. If I ever need anything, I ask in the relevant group and a flurry of advice will come in, from something as small as which bus is the best to “I’m in desperate need of a ride, help me out“. 

The backpacking community can seem pretty huge, but it’s actually tiny enough and you’ll come to know that. Don’t be scared to rely on strangers for help and advice, but be cautious always. 

India – where strangers quickly become unexpected friends for life

Then there’s me. If you ever (and I mean EVER) need any advice, words of encouragement or just somebody to moan to, send me a message. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email – choose your poison and I promise I will listen, and I will help as much as you can. If you plan on coming to New Zealand and need a friendly face, for as long as I’m here I’d be happy to meet you. 

You are not asking for danger

Please, don’t listen to the naysayers who won’t hesitate to tell you that travelling to India alone is asking to be raped, or going to Central America is asking to be kidnapped. These people have probably never ventured beyond a lads’ weekend in Maga and mostly see women as objects to be wolf-whistled and cat-called. 

Naturally there are more precautions you need to take when travelling to foreign countries, to places where you’re not familiar with the customs, culture and expectations of you as a foreigner. But in travelling to India, that’s not announcing to the world that you’re open to the prospect of being sexually assaulted. In backpacking Latin America, that’s not inviting somebody to bundle you into the back of a car and whisk you off to become a slave to the drug trade in some back alley motor garage (I clearly watch too many action movies).

Tikal, Guatemala. That cheesy ass smile says it all. Definitely not asking for danger.

Simply in choosing to travel, you are not inviting danger into your life. You are not “asking for it“, whatever “it” may be. 

In choosing to travel you are, in fact, opening yourself up to a life of adventure, a life of opportunity and new discoveries. You’re opening yourself to a world full of new places to explore and interesting people to meet. You are doing something that most people would only dream about! 

Be respectful

Read up on the country’s cultures and customs before you go and do everything you can to respect them. 

Don’t be confused in thinking that covering your shoulders in India is letting the patriarchy win. It’s not. Instead, it’s showing respect for a centuries old culture with traditions and beliefs that, as an outsider wanting to be welcomed into this new and exciting place, you need to adhere to. Feminism exists everywhere, but there are different ways of showing it.

Be open

Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new experiences, new flavours and new people. The connections made on the road are part of what makes travel so great. Don’t restrict yourself to hanging around with your fellow backpackers. Ask your taxi driver how is day was, ask your waiter if he has any local recommendations, play catch with the little girl in the street.

These moments, these incidences, are what will turn a great trip into a life-changing trip. Don’t shy away from them.

Not the most flattering pictures I’ve ever taken, but but this was the day I accidentally opened my own day care on the Great Wall of China

Be safe

Choosing to travel is not welcoming danger into your life, but it’s inevitable that danger is everywhere and you do need to be careful.

Take the same precautions you would at home, but add a few extra in to be safe, especially in the more “unsafe” countries out there.

Buddy up with a new hostel friend, avoid walking around late at night in an unfamiliar location and always let somebody know your plans. Keep your family updated on your life (bit rich coming from me, somebody who can’t even remember the last time I checked in with my stepdad!), let your friends back home know how you’re doing, start a blog if you want to.

You’re no more in danger travelling than you are in your own hometown – just try and remember that.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. 

Your life will change

After your first solo travel experience, your life will never be the same.

Travelling alone is electrifying. It’s like a drug – after your first taste, you need more. You need to feel the adrenaline of facing new challenges alone pumping through your veins just one more time.

You’ll dream of dancing on the beaches of Costa Rica, watching the sun rise over the Taj Mahal, trekking with gorillas in Uganda and drinking fresh mint tea with a Moroccan market vendor.

Meeting the real life Simpsons (alone) – an absolute dream come true. 

Your pockets will forever be weighed down with loose change in currencies you’ll never use again, but you can’t get rid of because of the memories they hold.

Your feet will forever be restless, just itching to fly off and explore the unknown.

One adventure will never be enough and you’ll always crave more.

To  the girls who want to travel…

You can do this. And what’s more, you deserve it.

You deserve for all of your dreams to come true. You deserve to be able to see the world and what’s more, to be safe while doing so. You deserve the right to travel alone and not be questioned. You deserve it.

The world is yours and it is waiting for you. 

So please, go and grasp every opportunity as tight as you can. Buy that flight ticket, book that tour, rent that car and just drive to your heart’s content. If you’ve always wanted to hike the Inca Trail, just go. If camping in the Outback is your thing, Australia is waiting. If you want to go and see the orangutans in Borneo, make it happen.

Just promise me this – don’t ever let fear stop you from travelling. I know it’s terrifying. I know that the world can seem big, scary and full of darkness. I’ve been in your shoes before, I’ve felt the exact same way you have.

But I can promise you no matter what happens, you won’t ever regret taking that chance.

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What to Pack for Peru: The Only Peru Packing List You’ll EVER Need!

Peru was the first country I ever visited solo. Do you remember what you packed for your first ever solo trip abroad? 

I remember mine so vividly that I could probably list everything I packed off the top off my head here and now! It would be called “The longest and most ridiculous Peru packing list that ever existed” because OH MY WORD it was atrocious! I had no idea what to pack for Peru and was so nervous about taking the wrong type of clothes, not having enough socks, not being able to charge my iPad and so many other silly thoughts that I would have packed the kitchen sink if it would have fit! 

And it probably would have, actually, as I had SO MUCH LUGGAGE. I had a Vango 60+10 backpack that was absolutely bursting at the seams, it was so full, and on top of that I also had a 10Kg holdall as hand luggage to keep my electronics, books and 3 changes of underwear “in case my luggage got lost”. This was all for just a 6-week trip, FYI!

Stock image but just look at the pretty!!!

My Girl Scout level of preparation came in handy, though, as my luggage did get lost and those 3 pairs of underwear saved me during my first 3 days in Peru waiting for LAN to rescue my backpack from Chile. 

As a somewhat seasoned traveller now, I look back and cringe at all the useless crap I packed for Peru. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t even bother searching online for Peru packing lists or consulting with my Lonely Planet guide about what sort of things I would need to pack for Peru. I just went with the flow, and that flow very nearly

Still, you live and you learn, right?

I’ve returned to Peru twice since that first journey as a pack mule, and like to think that in that time I’ve perfected the art of the Peru packing list. You won’t catch me packing 14 pairs of socks anymore (for real, I did that and I’m hanging my head in shame!).

So to save you having to lug around a bunch of useless crap, I’ve put together everything I’ve learned about what to pack for Peru (and more importantly, what NOT to pack for Peru) into this useful little (okay, not so little…) post.

You might want to grab yourself a cup of coffee as it’s a bit of a long one, but I want to not only tell you what you need to pack for Peru but also to explain WHY it’s an integral piece of your Peru packing list. If you don’t feel like reading it all, you can click here to download our FREE printable Peru packing checklist.

What to Pack for Peru

Peru packing list essentials

So before you starting packing for your trip to Peru, you’re going to need something to put all of your lovely new goodies into.

We’re talking backpacks, people!

Seriously, unless you have major back problems I’d definitely consider leaving the wheely suitcases at home. The streets of Peru aren’t exactly suitcase friendly, and it’s much easier to just pop your backpack on your back and take off running after that bus that’s left you behind. 

Originally I was using a Vango 60 + 10 women’s backpack but that was actually too big for even the longest of my trips! 

In advance of my 9 month trip around the world (including a few weeks in Peru!), I purchased the Quechua Forclaz 50L backpack (pictured) and I haven’t looked back since!

I find it the perfect size for any trip, and have used it for trips as short as 2 weeks up to as long as 9 months. My stepdad also borrowed it for a weekend-long music festival and said it was absolutely perfect for that! 

Day pack

If you’re planning on hiking in Peru, you’re also going to likely need a good day pack. 

What is a day pack?

Pretty simple, really. A day pack is a smaller backpack designed to carry a day’s worth of gear. They’re especially useful for when you’re doing one-day hikes (of which there are plenty in Peru!) or going on any of the country’s wonderful day trips.

My favourite brand of day packs are Osprey as they’re specially designed to sort of mould into your body, making them all the more comfortable to lug around all day. Day packs are typically small enough that they can also double up as your hand luggage for the plane. 

IMPORTANT: When purchasing a backpack (especially for the first time!) it’s extremely important that you get one that fits your body type. Carrying the wrong size or type of backpack could really cause some damage, especially if you’re carrying out long-term! I always find the best deals for backpacks online, but before purchasing I make a note of the name and brand and pop into an outdoors store to ask them to check the fit.

Other bags 

The ladies in particular may want something small and lightweight just to carry around your phone, money and bits and pieces while meandering around Peru. A bit like a handbag, you say? Yes, exactly! 

Well, take my advice and don’t bring one to Peru

Did I really just say that?

Yes, I did! The markets of Peru have so many beautifully crafted bags of all shapes and sizes – leave your boring Louis Vuitton at home and buy one from the local market. Not only practical, but also doubles up as a fab souvenir!

Or something you can offload to your little sister later on….

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are either going to be your best friend or your worst enemy. 

I’ve tried them and at first, I didn’t get them. They seemed to make my backpack lumpy and bizarrely I ended up being able to pack less things while using them.

But then I realised I was using them wrong. And it turns out even if you buy a pack of 6, you don’t have to use all 6 at the same time! Who knew?! 

Packing cubes are great for compartmentalising your things and keeping your luggage neat and tidy – a nigh-on impossible task while backpacking! I predominantly use mine to keep my dirty hiking shoes away from my nice clean clothes, and to keep my socks and underwear all in one place. But they’re incredibly versatile, so you could use them however you see fit! 

Now we’ve sorted where you’re going to keep everything on your Peru packing list, let’s work on filling those shiny new backpacks up! Before we move onto the fun stuff like clothes and electronics, these are a few useful bits and bobs that I would definitely recommend packing for your trip to Peru!  

Water filter bottle

Tap water in Peru is not considered safe to drink, so to avoid speeding up the end of the world by investing in an innumerable amount of single-use plastic bottles, and save money at  the same time (kaching!) make sure to invest in a good quality refillable filter bottle before you go.

Alternatively you could get those weird tablet things, but I much prefer a filter bottle such as the LifeStraw Go (pictured) or BRITA Fill and Go.

Sleeping bag liner

I don’t know why these little packages of goodness aren’t featured in more travellers’ packing lists but trust me when I say that you NEED to pack one for Peru. You can thank me later.

Sleeping bag liners are great for SO many reasons! First up, hygiene in some hostels can be… questionable… and a sleeping bag liner is the perfect way to guarantee you don’t catch cooties from your fellow travellers. I’ve also used mine to sleep on buses and trains and to cover myself up while changing clothes on transport.

Because sitting in the same clothes for 72 consecutive hours is almost as grim as getting changed in a bus toilet). I always go for the more expensive silk liners, but there are some excellent quality more affordable cotton liners that work just as well.  

Trekking poles

Obviously these are only required if you plan on doing some kind of at least semi-hardcore trekking or hiking.

I haven’t actually done that much trekking in Peru, but I did spectacularly fail at hiking Mt Misti once and boy, do I wish I had my own trekking poles! They were essential for the hike and as I didn’t have my own had to rent some from the company.

The ones they provided weren’t adjustable AT ALL and I’m quite short so they ended up being much more of a hindrance than a help.

LED headlamp

Growing up in a former mining community, I always thought headlamps were reserved for going down the mines and exploring caves. Nope, as it turns out headlamps are SO useful as a traveller!

Get one of these beauties and you’ll be sorted for LIFE! I’ve used mine to find my way around the Amazon in the dead of night, while hiking Mt Misti, to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise and just fumbling my way to the toilet in an unfamiliar hostel.

Travel games!

If you’re travelling solo this could be one of the most important things to pack for Peru!
Having a pack of cards or other travel game with you is a surefire way of making friends at your hostel, bus, train or wherever you are.

These days you can get a portable version of almost every game out there, but I especially like the look of Backpacker as it’s a game but with a twist of travel.

Peru Guidebook & Phrasebook

As much as I do love getting all of my information from blogs, nothing can beat flicking through a guidebook on your way to a new destination.

I swore by my Lonely Planet Peru guidebook on all three of my trips to Peru, and it’s been read so many times that the pages are starting to fall out!

Another essential for your Peru packing list is a Latin American Spanish phrasebook. I have a degree in Spanish yet even I struggle sometimes, so it’s always reassuring having a pocket-sized fountain of knowledge to hand when I need it.

What to wear in Peru

Deciding what clothes to pack for Peru is a bit of a nightmare. 

Trust me on this one. 

Before my first trip to Peru I packed and unpacked my backpack every Sunday from February until I left at the end of June. I took out a pair of jeans, put in 2 pairs of leggings. Added a hoodie and took out a pair of flip-flops. It was never-ending. 

Packing for Peru is particularly difficult when compare with other countries as Peru has so many different climates to prepare for. 

Excuse the awful quality, but can you believe these 2 photos were taken IN THE SAME COUNTRY less than a week apart?!

When you’re planning what to pack for Peru you have to consider that you’ll likely be visiting tropical rainforest, Mediterranean-esque coastal regions, at times freezing cold Andean highlands and the rest! Packing for Peru is like trying to pack for Antarctica and Antigua at the same time.

Seemingly impossible, right? 

Actually, it’s not impossible as long as you know what you’re doing. And just keep reminding yourself that when it comes to Peru and it’s many climates, layering is key! Follow this Peru packing list to the tee and I promise, you’ll be fine. 

Shoes

Hiking shoes

If you’re planning on doing any sort of hiking in Peru, you’re going to need to pack a good quality pair of hiking shoes.

You can’t hike Peru in flip-flops or cheap-ass running shoes – trust me on that. 

My go-to brand are Merrell as I find them to be great quality and affordable for someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortunate on hiking shoes but also doesn’t want to die slipping over the edge of a volcano.

I personally prefer low-rise hiking shoes in an athetlic style as opposed to boot, but that’s just because I have weird shaped ankles that get stuck in high-rise shoes. Same thing goes for hiking shoes as with the backpack – get properly fitted!

Flip-flops

An absolute essential for your Peru packing list especially if you plan on spending any length of time in hostels. Because shared showers are gross!

I used to be a budget 99p pair of cheap as chips flip-flops from Primark kinda gal. And then my sandal broke on Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil. Of course, with it being Brazil there was a Havaianas store right there. I bought a pair of Olive Oyl adorned flip-flops and the rest is history!

Moral of the story?  

Don’t be a cheap ass and make sure you invest in good quality flip-flops, preferably Havaiianas because they’re ace!

Comfortable day-to-day shoes

You’re going to want a pair of shoes to wear just while out and about. Not doing any strenuous activities and not lazing around the hostel, but for when you’re doing some non-hardcore exploring.

When planning what shoes to pack for Peru (or any country!) think about what you would wear at home. What kind of day-to-day shoes would you wear to the supermarket? The park? Wandering around  town?

Chances are they’re also suitable for Peru! In my case these are either going to be Vans or Converse, the only 2 brands I tend to wear on my feet. 

Other shoes 

Honestly, I only ever pack the above 3 shoes on any trip I take. Occasionally I’ll add a pair of decent sandals if I’m heading somewhere hot, but that’s it.

Think about what else you plan on doing in Peru. If you know you’re going to be eating at expensive restaurants and maybe going out dancing, you may also want to pack a pair of fancy pants shoes for the occasion. Or if you’re into salsa, maybe a pair of salsa shoes? I mean, if salsa even needs a separate pair of shoes? 

Clothing

A rainproof jacket

Believe it or not, it does rain in the Southern Hemisphere. This was a shock to me when I first visited Peru as I was convinced rain only happens above the equator? Apparently not. 

If you’re planning your trip to Peru on a shoestring budget you’re going to be tempted to forgo a decent quality, reliable rain jacket in favour of a £5 jobby that fits in your pocket. Don’t do this.

On every one of the trips I’ve taken in the past, I’ve done this. And I’ve always ended up soaked to the skin because apparently there’s a difference between rainproof and showerproof.

For my current trip to New Zealand, I finally splashed out on a decent Trespass jacket (similar to the different brand pictured) and OH MY DAYS it is SO good.  

Not to be dramatic or anything but packing a good rainproof jacket might actually save your life.

Fleece pullover

For most warm clothes such as jumpers, fleeces, hats and scarves etc., I’d recommend waiting until you’re in Peru to buy them from the markets. However, one thing that you should definitely include on your Peru packing list no matter which parts of the country you plan on visiting is a fleece pullover.

Zip off hiking trousers

Do they have to be zip off? Not really. You can go for straight down hiking pants if you prefer, but there’s something oh-so satisfying about undoing that zip and ripping off half of your trousers!

These are great not just for hiking, but also for spending time in the Amazon. You can even get insect repellent trousers for the latter, which absolutely blows my mind!

If you’re not planning on doing any major hikes in Peru, hiking trousers are still a good idea as it’s what most people wear and I mean, you want to blend in, right?!

Other essential clothing items for your Peru packing list

  • A lightweight down jacket – one more time for the guys at the back: it can get suuuuper cold in Peru!
  • 1 pair of jeans – mainly for the cities and if you plan on having a night out with all your new hostel friends
  • 2 pairs of leggings – great to layer up when cold and also for the less demanding hikes that don’t require full on hiking gear. Not sure what the men’s equivalent of leggings are though?
  • 1 pair of loose trousers – think floaty cotton-type stuff. If you’ll be spending more time in the Amazon consider packing more than 1 pair!
  • thermal base layer (top and bottom!) – again, it can get pretty darn chilly in Peru, so these are perfect for layering up with the rest of your clothes
  • A couple of tank tops – again, layering is key in Peru and these can be worn under things, over things or on their own
  • 3-4 lightweight t-shirts – a mix of long and short sleeves are good. If you’re going to the Amazon, take more long-sleeved as the mosquitoes are a bitch!
  • 1 dress – so this one is evidently aimed at the ladies (no judgement if any men are considering it, though!) but for a nice night out in Cusco or Lima, or even for just a day spent wandering around a city a dress can be perfect! It’s also nice to have something feminine – you know, just in case! For the guys I guess this would be a nice shirt and trousers?
  • Enough underwear for 1 week max. – no matter how long you’re going for, 1 week’s worth of underwear is enough as Peru has plenty of launderettes to help you clean your literal dirty laundry as you go.
  • 3-4 pairs of good quality, thick socks – think of all the exercise your feet are going to be doing. Don’t you want them to feel good? If you’re going to be hiking a lot, look into specially designed hiking socks
  • For the ladies: a sports bra! Actually, make it two. Some of the activities you’ll be doing in Peru are kinda high impact so you want to protect your gals. Also, ya know, a couple normal bras wouldn’t go amiss
  • 1-2 swimsuits. Unless you’re planning on spending most of your time in Peru on the beaches, you won’t actually get much use out of your swimsuit. But to enjoy the country’s various hot springs as well as the Amazon river, you’re going to need one!
  • A sunhat or one of those cool wide-rimmed outdoor hats that hikers and fishermen wear. If you’re one for the latter, you may want to hold off until you get to Peru as they sell them EVERYWHERE! I wish I’d bought one with a little embroidered Machu Picchu on it, but I didn’t, and that is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.
  • A light scarf that can double up as a sarong. Girls will know what I mean when I say that these things are INCREDIBLE. I use mine to cover my shoulders when entering places of worship, for a bit of added warmth on buses and to sit on whenever there’s no seat.

More important things to pack for Peru

Safety

First aid kit

One of the most important things you can pack for Peru, and something that’s too often left off of other packing lists is a well-stocked first aid kit.

Not to point out the obvious, but carrying a first aid kit could, like, literally save somebody’s life. Sure, most guided tours and treks you go on will have one but for peace of mind I always carry my own.

And it’s come in handy more times than I care to count! Contrary to what most believe, first aid kits don’t have to be bulky. I mean, you’re probably not a paramedic and we’re not expecting you to carry a defibrillator everywhere you go

First aid kits don’t have to be bulky. For my first trip to Peru I purchased a mini first aid kit which I still use today! Although obviously I’ve restocked it since then.

Money belt

If you’re a bit of a worrier you may want to consider a hidden money belt as a way to keep your valuables safe. I only ever packed one during my first trip to Peru, as I felt incredibly safe from then on and carried my belongings the same way as I do back home. However, I do know plenty of people who have been pick-pocketed or robbed on a bus in Peru. Perhaps better safer than sorry?

Toiletries

As well as the usual suspects you’d pack for a trip anywhere (toothpaste, soap etc.) there are a few extra things you should pack for Peru that you may not have thought about before.

  • Sunscreen – I know I’ve droned on about how cold it can get in Peru but it can also get bloody hot. And even when it’s cold the sun still burns. Sunscreen can be expensive in Peru, so it’s better to bring some in if you can.
  • Mosquito repellent & anti-itch cream – those itchy buggers aren’t just resigned to the Amazon and you’ll find yourself being bothered by some critter or another almost everywhere.
  • Hand sanitizer – I don’t think this really needs an explanation, right?
  • Toilet paper/tissues – in most bus stations in Peru you have to pay extra for a few sheets of toilet paper, so it’s worth bringing your own. I mean, you don’t have to transport it all the way across the world with you and could buy it in Peru but ya know, it’s important.
  • Medication – as well as any regular medication you take, you’ll also want to bring anti-sickness tablets, anti-diarrheal tablets, anti-histamines and regular old painkillers. All the anti’s, basically.

And of course, to keep everything together you’re going to need a toiletry bag. Hanging toiletry bags are great for travellers, as you can take them into the shower with you instead of having to leave it out by the sink.

Electronics

Camera, kindle, charger: the 3 electronics I always take with me on any trip. I obviously also take my phone (duh!) but that’s always in my pocket so don’t even have to think about it!

Camera – You really, really really DON’T want to leave your camera behind! And Peru is so photogenic you’re going to want more than your old 16 megapixel point and shoot Fujifilm (trust me, lol). If you’ll be doing more adventurous things you might want to go so far as to get a GoPro. I don’t have one yet but it’s on my list for next year!

Kindle – I’m a lover of books so never thought in a million years I’d be a Kindle convert, but ever since my stepdad got me one for Christmas a few years ago, I’m in love! Of course I still buy paperbacks, but when you travel as much as I do a Kindle can be invaluable for keeping your bookworm identity.

Portable charger –As well as a regular old iPhone charger, I also try to make sure I always have a portable charger with me if I’m heading anywhere for a considerable amount of time, as you never really know where and when your next opportunity to use a plugpoint will be. These are especially handy if you travel mostly overland!

Other electronic equipment to pack for Peru:

  • Universal plug adaptor
  • Tripod (especially if travelling solo!)
  • Laptop if you need it – I work remotely so this is a must for me
  • Unlocked mobile phone and charger
  • Whatever electronics you take, make sure you have a waterproof bag or case to keep them in

What not to pack for Peru

Now you know what clothes to add to your packing list, let’s talk about what you should leave behind.

Short shorts. There won’t be any call for them. I had a pair during my 2nd trip to Peru but only wore them once while sand-boarding in Huacachina, which turned out to be an awful idea as #sandburns.

Hat, scarf and gloves. I see these on EVERY Peru packing list but seriously, unless you want some super incredible gear endorsed by Bear Grylls and Levison Wood, wait until you’re in Peru. Knitted gear is Peru’s jam and you’ll be able to find some decent stuff in the market that can then double up as souvenirs.

Microfibre towel. I might be in the minority here, but I HATE these guys! I find that they take so much longer to try than a normal towel, which is odd as they’re supposed to be quick-drying and boy, do they STINK. Also, my hair is beyond waist-length and it does absolutely nothing to dry it! I much prefer to take a medium-sized “normal” towel with me. It doesn’t take up much more room than microfibre, and I find it saves me so much time post-shower.

Mosquito net. The only place I probably could have done with one of these was the Amazon and honestly, as long as I stayed in my sleeping bag liner I wasn’t bothered. Mosquito nets can be bulky and a bit of a nightmare to squeeze into your already full backpack, so I don’t bother these days.

Expensive bling. This is self-explanatory and the same goes anywhere in the world really, but if you look like a rich tourist, people might just try to rob ya! A few bits and pieces are fine, but if you have really expensive or sentimental pieces of jewellery you’re best off leaving them at home.

A few things to remember before you go

Aside from everything listed above, you’re also going to have to consider other things you may wish to pack for your trip to Peru. I’m never without a notebook and pen to jot down bits and pieces as I traverse through a new country. I know some people take sleep spray or lavender sachets to combat difficulty sleeping in a new environment, but these are all personal choices.

One thing that you shouldn’t leave the house without under ANY circumstances is travel insurance. I’m not going to do the influencer thing here and recommend a company I’ve never actually used just for the commission, but as somebody who works in the travel insurance industry I cannot stress enough just HOW important a good quality travel insurance is.

It’s more than just protection for your valuables, it’s protection for yourself. So do shop around to get the best deal, but make sure you understand what coverage you’re getting before you commit. Call up and speak to somebody if you have to, but don’t just pay for something based on recommendations of a stranger on the Internet without looking into it yourself first.


Hopefully this packing list for Peru has given you all the inspiration and advice on what you need to pack! The items listed above will cover you for most areas of the country, but obviously for the Amazon you’re likely to need a few extra bits and bobs (gumboots if your lodge doesn’t offer them, a penknife if you fancy yourself the next Bear Grylls and a rainproof backpack cover, just in case). 

For more tips and advice for your Peru trip, check out these articles:

Or check out my Peru archives.
One more thing… if you found this post useful and want to download a printable Peru packing list, just pop your details in the box below and it’s all yours!

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What is the Cusco Boleto Turistico and why do you need it?

Everything you need to know about the Cusco boleto turistico (Cusco tourist ticket), why you need it and how to get your hands on one.

There’s no question about it, if you’re planning a trip to Peru then you’re going to be spending at least a day in Cusco. And if you’re not then man, what are you doing with your life?! 

The birthplace of the Inca Empire and epicentre of all things tourism in Peru, Cusco is Peru’s second most visited city. Spend just one hour there and you’ll understand why! I’m yet to meet someone speak a bad word about Cusco, which is a rarity for a South American city.

Central square In Cuzco, Plaza de Armas. Peru.

As well as just being a pretty fantastic city overall, Cusco and the surrounding area is home to a vast array of historically important Inca ruins and interesting museums, all of which can be reached within an hour or so. 

There is a catch, though.

If you want to visit them all, you’ll need to purchase Cusco’s Boleto Turistico.

What is the Cusco Boleto Turistico? 

The Boleto Turistico is a one-size-fits-all type pass that grants you access to 16 of the most interesting archaeological sites and museums in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, valid for up to 10 days, depending which ticket you purchase. 

The literal translation of boleto turistico is “tourist ticket”, but in this case it’s more commonly known as the Cusco Tourist Ticket or the Boleto Turistico de Cusco.

It’s important that you know and understand the purpose and permissions of the boleto turistico before you head off on your exploration of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, as you don’t want to find yourself showing up somewhere and being refused entry for having the wrong ticket. 

Which sites can I visit with the Boleto Turistico?

The 16 archaeological sites and museums you can visit with the boleto turistico are:

  • Sacsayhuaman
  • Q’enqo
  • Puka Pukara
  • Tambomachay
  • Tipon
  • Pikillaqta
  • Pachacuteq Monument
  • Qosqo Native Art Centre
  • Pisac Ruins
  • Ollantaytambo Ruins
  • Moray 
  • Chinchero
  • Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Cusco)
  • Museo de Arte Popular (Cusco)
  • Museo de Sitio Qorikancha
  • Museo Histórico Regional de Cusco

The full boleto turistico grants you access to all of the above, once per site, across 10 days. Then there are three different boleto parciales (partial tickets) that allow you to access a select few of the sites, organised by area, across a shorter time period. 

Inca’s ruins of Q’enqo near Cuzco, Peru.

Why is there more than one type of Boleto Turistico?

To put it simply: not everybody is lucky enough to spend 10 full days in Cusco! 

In fact, many people only spend a quick day or two in Cusco, and simply don’t have the time to visit every site they want to. Which is why the fantastic people over at the Comité de Servicios Integrados Turísticos Culturales del Cusco came up with the brilliant idea to offer smaller, more compact versions of the boleto turistico, enabling you to almost pick and choose which sites you really want to see.

What are the different types of Boleto Turistico?

There are two different types of boleto turistico – the boleto turistico general and the boleto turistico parcial.

Boleto Turistico General (Main Cusco Tourist Ticket)

The main boleto is called the Boleto Turistico General (BTG – also known as the boleto integral), and this is the big guy, the jefe, the Don. This is the Golden Ticket that gives you 10 days to visit all 16 of the sites mentioned above. Whether or not you choose to visit all 16 is up to you, but even if you only intend on hitting up a few of the sites, it can work out a lot more cost efficient to simply buy the main Cusco tourist ticket.

Boleto Parcial (Partial ticket)

As well as the Boleto Turistico General, there are also three different boleto parcial (partial ticket) that grant you access to a select few of the sites, with each ‘circuit‘ focusing on a different area. 

Circuit I (BTCPI) – Sacsayhuamán

Validity: 1 Day
Sites: Sacsayhuamán, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara, Tambomachay

Circuit II (BTCPII) – The City & South Valley

Validity: 2 Days
Sites: Tipón, Pikillaqta, Pachacuteq Monument, Qosqo Native Art Centre, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Cusco), Museo de Arte Popular (Cusco), Museo de Sitio Qorikancha, Museo Histórico Regional de Cusco

Circuit III (BTCPIII) – The Sacred Valley

Validity: 2 Days
Sites: Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Moray

Each circuit is designed, and the sites selected in a way that makes it easier for you to hit them all up. 

Moray Inca terraces near Cusco (Peru)

How much is the Boleto Turistico?

As of 2018, the cost of the full Boleto Turistico General is S/130.00.

Children aged between 10-17 and students under the age of 25 of any nationality who present an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) are eligible for an almost 50% discount, with the price of a ticket being S/70.00

There are no concessions for students over 25, the elderly or those with disabilities. Children under 10 are free. 

The cost of each boleto parcial is S/70.00 and there are NO discounts or concessions on the partial tickets. So, if you’re a French student with an ISIC you’ll still have to pay the same as that 50 year old Australian. Sorry, dude.

Peruvian nationals get discounted tickets no matter which ticket they buy.

Where can I purchase my Boleto Turistico?

The boleto turistico (both general admission and partial tickets) can be bought at the entrance of any of the sites it’s valid for! Which is great, as it just means you can rock up to whichever one picks your fancy and go from there. 

If you’re not sure which awesome attraction to start with, you can also pick up a ticket from any of the three authorised vendors in Cusco:

COSITUC Administrative Office
Calle Arequipa A-2 (behind the Colegio Inca Garcilaso de la Vega)
Business hours: 8am-4pm

Dircettur Tourist Information Office
Calle Mantas 117-A
Business hours: 9am-1pm / 2pm-5:30pm Monday to Saturday

Counter Galerias Turisticas
Av. El Sol 103
Business hours: 8am to 5:30pm Monday-Saturday, limited hours on Sundays

It’s important to note that as well as the actual sites, these are the only three official vendors of the Cusco Boleto Turistico. A lot of tour agencies around the Plaza de Armas will claim to be able to get one for you for even cheaper than the advertised price, but this is a scam, and you should politely decline.

Also, tickets cannot be purchased in advance and your time starts ticking the day you buy it.

However, sometimes if you purchase one of the partial tickets later on in the day, they will validate it from the next day. This happened to me when I rocked up to Sacsayhuamán at 4:30 in the afternoon and bought one of the partial Cusco tourist tickets. Sacsayhuamán is included in the Circuit I ticket, which is valid for just one day. The guide did something (not sure what!) that made my ticket start the next day, which gave me extra time to check out the other three sites included in the ticket. 

With that being said, I don’t think this is the “done thing” and is entirely at the discretion of whoever sells you your ticket. If I were you, I wouldn’t risk it, so make sure you start early!

Chinchero ruins

Which ticket should I buy?

When deciding which of the Cusco tourist tickets to buy, first ask yourself two questions. 

  1. How long do you have in Cusco?
  2. What do you want to see? 

If the answer to question 1 is 3 days or more then you should definitely go for the full Boleto Turistico. Even if you only end up seeing 3 or 4 of the sites and museums, you will have definitely got your money’s worth! 

If you only have a limited amount of time in Cusco, that’s where it gets tricky to decide! 

If you don’t want to stray too far from the main city itself, or think of yourself as somewhat of a museum buff, Circuit II is the one you want. As well as 5 incredibly interesting museums right in the heart of Cusco, it also gives you entry to some of the most underrated ruins just outside of Cusco: Tipón and Pikillaqta

Pikillacta (Pikillaqta) © vadim_petrakov / Adobe Stock

For those who really want to dive into the history of the Inca Empire and check out some incredible ruins, Circuit III (The Sacred Valley) is for you. This ticket lasts for 2 days, so you could easily combine a trip to the four sites (Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Maras) with some more of the fantastic things to see and do in the Sacred Valley

And lastly, Circuit I. The Sacsayhuamán circuit. In all my travels around Peru, I’m yet to meet somebody who bought the Circuit I boleto for any reason other than Sacsayhuamán. Which is fair enough, as Sacsayhuamán is an incredible piece of history that is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Cusco (you can read more about it here). So if one of the main things you want to see in Cusco is Sacsayhuamán (perhaps you’ll be there for the Inti Raymi festival?) and you’re not bothered about much else, try Circuit I.

If there’s some inner turmoil going on right now and you can’t quite decide which sites you want to prioritise, just relax, take a breath and do the only thing that makes sense… buy the full boleto turistico! It’ll inevitably end up working in your favour as you’ll be able to visit so many incredible sites in and around Cusco that you otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with.

What are the best places to see with the Cusco Tourist Ticket?

Would it be an absolute cop out for me to say all of them?!

My personal favourites are Pikillaqta, everywhere in the Sacred Valley and the Cusco Native Art Centre. But if you want one quintessential
cusqueño experience then you really can’t miss a trip to Sacsayhuamán!

Cusco city and Sacsayhuaman ruins (Peru)

What Cusco sites aren’t included with the Boleto Turistico? 

Basically, if it’s not mentioned above then it ain’t included. 

A lot of first-time visitors from Peru get easily confused with the conflicting information available online about what does and doesn’t need the Cusco Boleto Turistico to enter. 

These are a few of the most frequently visited sites in and around Cusco that are not included with the Cusco Tourist Ticket:

  • Salinas de Maras – a popular site to visit when coupled with a trip to Moray (which is included in the boleto turistico de Cusco), the Maras salt mines are not included. To visit these you will need to pay at the entrance (it’s normally between 10-15 Soles).
  • Cusco Cathedral – an impressive example of colonial architecture with an incredibly beautiful interior, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin is definitely worth a visit if you’re into that kind of stuff, but it’s not included in the Boleto Turistico. You can purchase tickets to the Cathedral on the door for 25 Soles.
  • Santo Domingo Church – I’m guilty of this one. Although entry to the Museo Sitio de Qorikancha is included with the Cusco Tourist Ticket, the actual church built on the foundations of Qorikancha itself is not. Entry is S/15.00, payable at the door. 
  • Temple of the Moon – situated near Q’enqo, the Temple of the Moon isactually free to enter with or without the tourist ticket.
  • Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu isn’t in Cusco. It’s nowhere near Cusco, so it beggars belief that some people actually think that entry to Machu Picchu is included in a $40 Cusco tourist ticket. I don’t think it’s a common mistake, but I’ve witnessed this myself (at the gates of Machu Picchu, would you believe?!) so yeah, Machu Picchu is not included in the boleto turistico.
Santo Domingo – not included with the boleto turistico

How does the Boleto Turistico work?

 Okay, so we’ve gone through what it is, where to get it, what’s included and what’s not. Now I bet you’re wondering how does  the boleto turistico even work?

How do they know which ones you’ve been to and which ones you haven’t? How can you keep track yourself? I mean, there are a lot of Quechua names included that are very confusing to keep up with! Do the guards scan your fingerprints? Eyeballs? Do they quiz you on your way in like you’re at Immigration Control?

It’s actually a lot simpler than that. 

Two words: hole punches.  

Yep, just like the not very jolly train conductors on First Great Western trains, at each site you enter the guard will punch your ticket. Each of the 16 sites (or however many are included if you get the partial ticket) has its own little colour-coded section on your ticket. When you visit the site, the guard will punch a hole in this section to show that you’ve already visited and can’t come back until you have a new ticket.

Cusco tourist tickets are non-transferable, and when you purchase them you will be expected to write your name on the back.

Make sure your name matches your passport, as it could causesome problems otherwise!

When I purchased the boleto turistico the first time, the guard asked to see my passport and then wrote my name down himself. This would have been fine if it weren’t for the fact that my name (Rhiannon) is somewhat of an anomaly outside of the UK and Fleetwood Mac fanbase. Because of this, a lot of people especially in the Spanish-speaking world choose to call me Sarah (my middle name) instead, this guard included. So, he wrote down “Sarah Surname” and handed it back. I didn’t check it until I showed up at the next site, they asked for my ticket and passport, and then questioned why the name wasn’t the same.

After about 10 minutes of back and forth they let me in without having to pay for a new ticket. But the moral of the story is a) spell your name right and b) always take a copy of your passport as the entrance guards at all sites may ask for it.

Incan wall of Pukapukara fortress near Cuzco, Peru

How to make the most out of the Cusco Tourist Ticket

Nobody likes paying full price for something and only getting minimal use out of it! If you’re particularly short on time but really want to get the most out of your Cusco boleto turistico, you may want to consider an organised tour.

These are a selection of the best organised tours that cover some of the sites on the boleto turistico (you will still need to purchase the boleto in addition to the tour):

And if you have some extra time in Cusco after seeing everything you can with the boleto turistico, you might want to check out these unmissable day trips from Cusco for a little bit of added inspiration!

If you have any questions about the Cusco tourist ticket, any of the sites or just Cusco or Peru in general, let me know in the comments!

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The Perfect 2 Day Udaipur Itinerary

It’s no secret that I love India. I mean, I really love India. If I had to choose just one country to move to tomorrow, I’d be booked on that Air India flight faster than you can say gajar ka halwa without looking back for a second.

Despite having spent most of my time in India in God’s Own Country aka Kerala, my favourite part of India is actually Rajasthan. Although I only spent 2 days in Udaipur, 5 days in Jaipur and a manic day of rushing around trying to source a Rabipur injection in Ajmer, I fell head over heels with the state.  

Rajasthan is everything I’d always imagined India to be, but which Mumbai, Agra, Kerala and Goa just didn’t serve up. It’s colourful, it’s dusty, it’s bloody hot and the food is out of this world! 

Udaipur is a particularly enchanting little city, and definitely worth adding to your Rajasthan itinerary! Even if you only have 2 days in Udaipur, there’s so much to see and do there that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Disclaimer: This post features a mix of my own photography and stock images, simply because I can’t remember where I stored most of my Rajasthan photos. Dropbox? iCloud? External drive? Who knows?!

2 Day Udaipur itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: Udaipur City Palace Museum – boat ride on Lake Pichola – Jag Mandir – Jagdish Temple – Saheliyon-ki-Bari – Bagore-ki-Haveli
  • Day 2: Ahar Cenotaphs – Eklingji Temple – Monsoon Palace for sunset
  • Alternative Day 2: Take a day trip to Kumbhalgarh Fort but make sure to be back in time for the unmissable sunset at Monsoon Palace

Best Places to Visit in Udaipur in 2 Days

As with most cities in India, you could spend an entire lifetime in Udaipur and still be surprised when you find some hidden gem you haven’t come across before. It’s for this reason that planning a trip in India can be so overwhelming! To help make the most of your trip, these are the 10 best places to visit in Udaipur in 2 days.

Lake Pichola

Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes because it’s surrounded by a total of 7 stunning lakes, with 5 of them contained in the city itself. Although one of the smallest lakes in the area, Lake Pichola is certainly the most well-known and frequently visited. Its strategic positioning means that most of the main places to visit in Udaipur are located around the lake itself, making your 2 day trip to Udaipur all the easier! 

Udaipur’s other notable lakes: Fateh Sagar Lake, Jaisamand Lake, Rajsamand Lake, Udai Sagar Lake


Udaipur City Palace Complex

No matter how short your trip to Udaipur is, make sure you squeeze in a visit to the Udaipur City Palace. I always find myself marvelling at Indian architecture, and the palace was no exception! It took almost 400 years to build this masterpiece, and just one look at the intricacies will tell you why. Not all of Udaipur City Palace is open to the public, but the main part of it doubles up as a museum, and for ₹300 you can enter (as a foreigner, Indians are cheaper) and explore to your heart’s content! I can’t tell you if the museum is worth the price as I was too busy panicking over my monkey bite to go in, but just a walk around the open part of the grounds is enjoyable enough. For the best view of the entire City Palace, take a boat out into the middle of Lake Pichola and look back. It’s incredible. 

Opening times: Every day 9:30am-5:30pm. Sometimes the palace is rented out in its entirety for a function, so it’s worth checking the night before. 


Jag Mandir

Unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at the luxurious Jagmandir Palace Island Hotel, the only way to get to Jag Mandir is as part of a boat trip on Lake Pichola (more on that later!), but a visit to this serene little island in the middle of the lake is a must for your 2 day trip to Udaipur! 


Jagdish Temple

One of the main Udaipur attractions (especially for Indians), Jagdish Temple is a Hindu place of worship located right outside the City Palace Complex. The largest temple in all of Udaipur, and dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Jagdish Temple has been in continuous worship since its original inception in 1651. Visitors are welcome but photography is prohibited inside the temple, although the outside is fair game. Unless Udaipur was your first stop in India, the chances are by the time you get here you’ll be all templed out – but do visit Jagdish Temple if you get the chance. It’s an incredible piece of architecture and to visit around prayer time is an experience worth having. 

Opening times: Every day approx. 4:30am-10:30pm. It’s worth remembering this is a place of worship so timings could change in line with festivals and other holy days. 


Monsoon Palace

Perched atop a hill overlooking Udaipur, take one look at this palatial structure and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to Europe with all its lavish castles and palaces. This is the run-down but still stunning Monsoon Palace, formerly known as Sajjan Garh Palace, and is the best place to visit in Udaipur if you’re after stunning views! The palace itself doesn’t offer much, but trust me when I say the views are worth the 80 Rs. entry fee – especially if you go there in time for sunset.

Opening times: Every day from 9:30am-7pm

The spectacular view of Udaipur and the lake from Monsoon Palace

Bagore-ki-Haveli

So this is the one thing I didn’t do in Udaipur that I really wish I had! Bagore ki Haveli is an old-time haveli-turned-museum which gives you a unique insight into how life in Udaipur was ‘way back when’. During the day you can enter and enjoy the quirky collection of bits and bobs including my favourite explanation on Trip Advisor, “a creepy doll room”, and at night the Haveli puts on a wonderful cultural dance performance for you to enjoy. Apparently tickets to the night show sell out and you should queue from before 6pm to guarantee a spot (show kicks off at 7pm). 

Entry fee: For the museum, Rs. 100 for a foreigner. For the dance show, Rs. 150 for a foreigner and another Rs. 150 for a camera. 


Saheliyon-ki-Bari

© saiko3p / Adobe Stock

On the banks of Udaipur’s second most impressive lake, Fateh Sagar, the Saliheyon-ki-Bari gardens are a surprisingly green addition to an otherwise extremely arid part of India. One of the most romantic places to visit in Udaipur, Saliheyon ki Bari translates to “Courtyard of the maidens”, and was built in the 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh as a gift for the royal ladies. Although it definitely shouldn’t be on top of your list of things to do in Udaipur, it’s nice place to take an afternoon stroll. In the mornings the gardens also prove a popular place for yoga, so I suppose if that’s your thing you could bring your mat down and do all that stretchy stuff that my body is certainly not designed for.


Ahar Cenotaphs

One of the more unusual places to visit in Udaipur, the Ahar Cenotaphs are where the rulers of Mewar were cremated. There are a total of 250 cenotaphs and 19 chhatris (those elevated, dome-shaped pavilions you can see rising above the rest) to commemorate the 19 maharajas who were cremated at the cenotaphs. Situated in Ahar, the cenotaphs are technically not in Udaipur, but a short 2-3km tuktuk or taxi ride outside of the city. I get that final resting places aren’t everyone’s ideal holiday activity, but much like the Royal Gaitor Tombs in Jaipur, the Ahar Cenotaphs have this peaceful aura about them. If you’re looking for some unique places to visit in Udaipur off the beaten track, definitely check out Ahar Cenotaphs. 

Opening times: Saturday-Thursday (closed on Fridays) 10:30am-4pm


Eklingji Temple

© Uwe Bergwitz / Adobe Stock

As with the Ahar Cenotaphs, Eklingji Temple isn’t exactly in Udaipur. It’s around 22km outside of the city, and takes about an hour to get there but oh my, is it worth the visit! An important pilgrimage site in Rajasthan, Eklingji Temple Complex contains 108 magnificent marble temples, the main one being the two-storied Shiva Temple, which houses the four-faced idol of Lord Shiva. If possible, it’s best to visit Eklingji Temple during aarti to get experience the temple come to life. You can check this website for aarti and darshan timings. If you’re not keen on going out of your way to visit Eklingji Temple during your two days in Udaipur, it’s an easy detour on your way from Jaipur


Kumbhalgarh Fort 

Kumbhalgarh fort tourist landmark in Rajasthan, India

Now, it wouldn’t be a trip to India without a visit to a centuries-old fort, would it?! Kumbhalgarh Fort was “officially” built in the 1500s, but some believe that the fort dates back as early as the 6th Century A.D! As of 2013, Kumbhalgarh Fort combined with the rest of the Hill Forts of Rajasthan are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only is Kumbhalgarh one of the most impressive and impregnable forts in all of India but it’s also the second longest wall in the world (after the Great Wall of China, of course), giving it that added little je nais se quoi that will make you want to add it to your bucket list right now. This is a bit of a cheeky addition to the list as with it being 85km away it’s, uh, not really anywhere near the city, but the sheer size and grandeur of Kumbhalgarh Fort makes it one of the best day trips from Udaipur.

Entry fee: 200 Rs. for a foreigner, 15 Rs. for Indian citizens and SAARC country members


Things to do in Udaipur

Take a boat ride on Lake Pichola

I’ve seen a lot written online about how taking a boat ride on Lake Pichola isn’t worth the Rs. 200 fee. I disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed my ride across the lake from City Palace Complex to Jag Mandir, where we stayed for an hour before heading back. Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes for a reason, so to visit and not enjoy at least one of its lakes up close and personal would be foolish. The ride offers unique views of the City Palace Complex and Udaipur’s ghats, and is a great way to spend a few hours! The best time to take a boat tour on Lake Pichola is first thing in the morning or late afternoon/evening, so as to avoid the hella hot Indian sun. If you go in the evening you’ll also be able to catch the sun setting over the lake, which is a pretty phenomenal sight!

Watch Octopussy on repeat

Whenever India has a claim to fame they will cling on to it and run for dear life! And Octopussy is no exception. This James Bond movie was set in Udaipur, and you could probably say that the Udaipur tourism industry are hella proud of that! The film is played on repeat (seriously, it never stops) in quite a few cafes, restaurants and hotels in Udaipur so if you fancy chilling with a film one night then why not, eh?

© marbenzu / Adobe Stock

Take an art or meditation class

The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Udaipur is that there are advertisements for classes EVERYWHERE! With Rajasthan being very much on the tourist trail I completely understand that they would want to capitalise on all the tourists who flock there and suddenly realise their long-forgotten desire to learn how to paint the animal that adorns their baggy trousers (elephant pants!). However, this inevitably means that there are a lot of classes popping up that are run by instructors who would have trouble drawing a head on a stick figure. As long as you do your research and find a good, reputable instructor, taking an art class would be a unique thing to do in Udaipur. Classes tend to be priced hourly, starting from as cheap as 100 Rs. There are also a lot of meditation and yoga classes available in Udaipur. You’ll probably have better luck not being scammed for these, as India is kind of renowned for the stuff.

Go shopping 

I have it on good authority that Rajasthan is the place to buy fabrics when in India. And by fabrics we’re not talking about a 5m roll of washed out linen you can get in IKEA to make your own curtains, but the kind of fabric that turn Indian women into MMA fighters during a sari sale. There are tons of stalls, shops and vendors hidden among the narrow streets of Udaipur selling everything from hand woven baskets to hand sewn saris. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, the vibrant colours alone make it worth an hour browsing or two. Udaipur is by all means not the cheapest place to buy things in Rajasthan, but it’s still an absolute steal compared to Western prices!

Enjoy the sunset from a rooftop restaurant

Udaipur has many, many rooftop restaurants for you to enjoy, and honestly? Unless you pick one of the mega expensive ones, they’re mostly the same. They’re so similar, in fact, that I went to 2 different restaurants each night I was there but was convinced that it was the same place! I had a 15 minute friendly argument with the waiter about whether he’d served me the night before until eventually he went to the restaurant a few doors down to bring me the waiter and prove they were different places. On the firstnight I had a mutter paneer curry and the next night I had aloo something but I swear, they were the same dish! Same waiters, same decor, same everything. Whether or not the food blows you out of the water, enjoying the views over the city as the sun sets is pretty special. 

So this is a stock image of a rooftop restaurant in Udaipur and definitely not somewhere I dined but man, just look at that view! 

Suggested Udaipur activities

Do you have even longer than 2 days in Udaipur? Check out some of these activities:

Getting in and around Udaipur

Situated in the  southernmost part of Rajasthan, very close to the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, Udaipur is well connected to the rest of India by rail, road and air. The nearest airport is Maharana Pratap Airport, 22km east of the city. 

You can check Skyscanner for all the cheapest flights in and out of Udaipur. I flew from Cochin to Jaipur, then travelled overland from Jaipur to Udaipur and back to Cochin with a stop in Mumbai for 2 days for less than £80 in total. A right bargain. 

If you want to check bus and rail routes, timings and prices in advance, some of the most commonly used booking websites used in India are Make My TripClearTrip and GoIbibo. Long distance buses and trains tend to sell out in advance and are few and far between, but shorter distance journeys (e.g. Jaipur to Udaipur) are incredibly frequent and don’t always require pre-booking. You can just show up at the relevant bus or train station and try your luck buying a ticket on the day. If you’re unfamiliar with the way India works, you’d be better off trying to book in advance online. The official website for train tickets is IRCTC but you can also book through any of the aforementioned sites

Auto-rickshaw in Udaipur (stock image)

You can get an auto rickshaw to Lake Pichola (most hostels and hotels are located around Lake Pichola) from outside the bus stand (I call it a stand but it was just a random stop by the side of a road with some cows and a man selling popcorn) as well as the train station. It’s worth bearing in mind that you may need to pay the “Foreigner Tax” especially if you arrive late at night. Auto rickshaws in Udaipur aren’t metered so make sure to agree on a price before getting in! 

Most of the main tourist sites in Udaipur are concentrated around Lake Pichola and are within easy walking distance of each other so there’s no need to use public transport. If you wanted to visit some of the sites more further afield, you can rent a driver for the day (either taxi or auto rickshaw) either by just asking on the street or asking your hotel/hostel to arrange one for you. 

Where to stay in Udaipur

India is still catching up with the whole hostel craze, but the best (and safest!) Indian hostel chain has finally opened up in Udaipur over the last few years. Zostel Udaipur is one of the most beautifully decorated hostels you will come across in all of India, and what makes it even better is that it’s budget-friendly! You can choose to either live like a king in one of the gorgeous private twin and double rooms overlooking the lake, or save some dosh with a dorm bunk. Oh, and did I mention the hostel has a pug?!

Click to check availability for your dates at Zostel Udaipur

© marbenzu / Adobe Stock

Those with a more mid-range budget should check out Jagat Niwas Palace or Madri Haveli. Both are similarly priced and offer the same in terms of comfort, style and a real Indian experience. For something a little 

Click to check availability for your dates at Jagat Niwas

And finally, if you really want to live like a king (or queen) then Udaipur has an absolute ton of incredible luxury accommodations for you to choose from! If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I’d be torn between a stay at The Oberoi Udaivilas and The Leela Palace. Then of course there’s also the lavish Taj Lake Palace. So many incredible options of places to stay in Udaipur, it’s a shame I can barely afford a bag of carrots right now!

Click to check availability for your dates at Taj Lake Palace

There’s a lot more packed into this itinerary than you may have expected, and you’re probably sat there thinking  “Is it even possible to fit all this into just two days in Udaipur?!” Well I can tell you that yes, it is possible. With a little bit of advanced planning, organisation and a teeny tiny bit of luck that India doesn’t spontaneously decide to shut everything down for the day, by following the itinerary outlined at the top of this post you’re guaranteed an incredible albeit jam-packed 2 days in Udaipur! 

Which tourist places in Udaipur are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments!

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Discover India's White City up close with this complete guide including what to do, where to stay and the best places to visit in Udaipur in 2 days. #Udaipur #India
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I Moved Across the World for a Boy
Yep, I know what you’re thinking… recipe for disaster, right?

In the past, a few of my more personal posts seem to have resonated with quite a few of you, so I’ve made it my early 2019 resolution to get a bit more personal on the blog, inject more of myself into my writing and become something more than just words on a screen dictating all the things you simply must do in X, Y or Z. 

I want to well and truly share my life beyond travelling, warts and all.  

Where better to start than the real reason I came to New Zealand? 

Well, part of the real reason, at least…

New Zealand, my current home away from home. As much as it pains my poor Welsh heart to say it, the views here trump Welsh views by a mile! The greenery and weather are exactly the same, though, so it’s almost as if I never left. 

There are three types of people reading this post right now:

  1. the cynics (and realists, tbf) who already have their head in their hands, gobsmacked at my stupidity simply after reading the title.
  2. the lovers of love, who transformed into real-life representations of the heart eye emoji as soon as they read ‘for a boy’ and just can’t wait to read all about my Happily Ever After.
  3. my brother, who, after finding out about aforementioned boy, straight up asked ‘Is this why you’ve gone to NZ?’

And of course I answered no! Which is why I like to think he’s either spitting out his coffee in outrage right now that his otherwise pretty sensible (according to moi) sister has made such an impulsively stupid decision or scratching his head in confusion at the inconsistency between my answer to him and the title of this post. In reality he’s probably doing neither of the above, and I’ll almost definitely get a text once he’s read this telling me so! 

Anyway, you can rest assured that even in my most emotionally fragile, post Up movie marathon state of despair, I would not up sticks and blindly move my entire life all the way across the world for a boy. 

You see, I don’t have the best track record when it comes to mixing travel with love.

Or rather, mixing travel with almost-love but not-quite-love as it turned out to be.

Case in point: my ex-boyfriend dumped me at the very beginning of what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime 4 month trip around South America together. As if that wasn’t enough, he then brought his new girlfriend to join him at the halfway mark.

I mean, is that not the best plot line for a particularly tragic coming of age romcom featuring Hailey Steinfeld as the incredibly weird but totally relatable protagonist who gets dumped on Copacabana Beach in front of a street salsa class that you’ve ever heard?! 

Hollywood, you can hit me up any time. I am waiting.

On a side note, the true tale of the end of my last relationship is so calamitous it’s actually quite fantastic and one I definitely plan on sharing one day!

Sheep in a green field on a mountain… if it weren’t for the blue sky, this could deffo be Wales, am I right?

Like most solo female travellers out there, there’s also been a mixed bag of near-misses with tall, dark and not-so-handsome strangers met on the road. The most bizarre of them all involved an Israeli ex-soldier who took to softly stroking my arm with a look of such intense pleasure on his face that I fled the hostel that same night. 

So with all tragic and hilarious past experiences taken into consideration, do you see where my trepidation about the whole mixing travel with a love life comes from?

I’ve always been comfortable enough with the thought that I’ll forever be the “Cool Aunt”. The one who spends 90% of the year travelling to exotic places alone, returning only at Christmas, arms laden with unique gifts from far off lands. A boomerang for nephew number 1, a hand-whittled flute for nephew number 2 and a ceremonial knife for the niece who is definitely more of a Merida than Snow White.  The Cool Aunt who, upon reaching the age of 60, still unmarried and childless but about to purchase her 8th budgie (because she doesn’t do cats), would be known forevermore as the Spinster Aunt. 

And then I met J.

(That’s what we’ll call him. Partly to, you know, protect his identity and what-not but mainly because you probably won’t be able to pronounce his name anyway, it’s a bit of an odd one.)

And I’m not saying he completely changed my way of thinking, or my desire to wear floaty skirts, chiffon scarves and 40 bangles on each wrist in true Cool Aunt style for the rest of my life, because that dream is one I’ll never relinquish! But he’s definitely influenced some element of change, minor as it may be.

So in case you haven’t realised by now, these photos are completely unrelated to any of the words on this page! But I wanted to at least give you something pretty to look at while reading all about my love life. And just look at that shade of Grinch green! 

This is where I veer off-topic for a little while just to explain how we came to be exactly that: we. We were friends before anything. And of course we’re still friends now. Because what’s a relationship without friendship, huh? A business agreement, as I was once told by a wise old man with a trophy wife half his age. 

We’d been friends since 2014 or something, but never anything more. Of course we weren’t, as I was well and truly shackled to loved up to a bloke who didn’t like mayonnaise. Looking back, I’m not sure why that didn’t set alarm bells ringing at the very start of our relationship. Who doesn’t love mayonnaise?! Apart from vegans and people with egg allergies. But yeah, I definitely should have run a mile that first time he asked for his KFC burger with no mayo.

Anyway, around the time of the now infamous (in my own life at least) dumping on Copacabana Beach in May 2016, we grew closer . But still, we were friends in every sense of the word and nada más than that. Unshackled from the Mayo Hater, what followed was a year and a half of intense, uninterrupted trans-continental friendship, him in India and me in the UK. Not that I have many real life friends to choose from in the first place, but he quickly became my very best friend who I’d turn to for absolutely anything and everything. He provided an odd sort of long distance emotional crutch after my mother passed away and I proofread his essays whenever he asked. All in all one hell of a mutually beneficial relationship, I’m sure you’ll agree. 

We were friends, and just that, but friends who would set alarms for 3am just to be in the same timezone for a phone call. Friends who would see the same movie, days and continents apart, just to be able to talk about it with each other afterwards. Friends who consciously avoided entering into a relationship with anybody else. But still, just friends. 

And then I went to Goa.
Definitely not New Zealand, this is Goa but look – same kinda green!

Quick pausehave I mentioned he’s Indian? Because that’s quite an important fact for this next bit to make sense. I also feel like I should state that as fond of him as I am, my love for all things Indian actually preceded him by a good 3 years or so. Paneer butter masala has always and will always be my first Indian love, with real street food samosa as a close second and maybe – just maybe – J can come in third. 

Goa was supposed to be a solo trip but he met me there for a few days and, without wanting to make anyone vom up their breakfast, that’s where our story really began. I won’t go into all the sordid details, but I will say that it’s makes me chuckle when I think that my previous relationship came to its car crash-esque end on a beach in Brazil, and this new one began on a much nicer beach in India. What is that thing they say about life coming full circle?

After a week in Goa, I flew back to the UK and he went home to his state. He then moved to New Zealand and, happy to grab any excuse to visit a new country, I went out to see him

As friends, of course. 

But our friendship had moved up to the next level. To the level that involves watching the most gorgeous Indian beach sunsets while making art out of pistachio shells in the sand. The sickly sweet, giggle together at things that aren’t even funny level. The level that is spending about £15 shipping a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk advent calendar to the other side of the world because you don’t want the other person to miss out. I’ve since found out that both Dairy Milk and advent calendars exist in New Zealand, which just emphasises how tragically soppy a tale this really is. 

So yeah, I flew out to New Zealand, and this is the fun part

After spending 3 weeks exploring one of the most visually breathtaking countries I’ve ever stepped foot in together, I’d fallen head over heels. Whether I was head over heels with the human, the country or both, who knows? But the feeling was there, and before my China Airlines flight had even picked its wheels up off the runway, I’d already subconsciously decided to return. 

As wonderful a human as J is, he’ll never live up to the views along the Coromandel Coast in a game of “which one do I want to stare at for the longest?”

The plan has always been to take up the opportunity of a Working Holiday Visa somewhere in the world, and it’s been that way long before J came along. The only problem was I couldn’t decide where. 

Like most travellers out there, I want to go everywhere! So you can imagine how difficult it was for me trying to choose between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. And I mean, I technically could have gone for all 4 as I’ve only just turned 26 and the general rule is you have to be under 30, but that would just be greedy, right

So after those three weeks in New Zealand, I’d sort of come to a decision that New Zealand was the one for me. For the views, for the non-deadly wildlife (as my Waitomo Caves tour guide put it: the only animal that can kill you in NZ is man!), for the friendly people, for the Raspberry Coke, and for the boy who can make me laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever met.

Naturally almost as soon as I’d made the decision in my head, a wave of doubt came crashing down on faster than you can say Aotearoa. A part of me thought that in taking the leap and moving to New Zealand, no matter how temporary that move is, I’d be losing a little bit of myself. I’d be carving out a part of my kidney or spleen or whatever and handing it to this kind and generous boy on a platter, for him to keep and never give back to me. I’d be offering myself up to him as the puppy dog who would quite literally follow him all the way around the world! 

Irrespective of the fact that I wanted to move to New Zealand for New Zealand (with his being here an added albeit very welcome bonus), it felt like I was giving up, that I was sacrificing who I was for a boy, something my mother raised me well enough to know is something I should never ever do. 

I’ve always considered myself a solo female traveller.

Solo, strong and mighty. A bit like King Kong but with better language skills and dexterity in my thumbs. Since the age of 18, with garishly yellow box-dyed hair and a naive belief in people, I’ve traversed this world solo. Of the 40 countries I’ve been to, at least three quarters of them have been alone. Did I really want to throw away this entire identity I’d built up for myself for the sake of a boy? I mean, this whole blog is sort of halfheartedly focused around solo female travel. Would I be able to continue that theme with a boyfriend in tow? Surely I’d be a fraud if I called myself a solo female traveller, but then had this lovely bearded fellow waiting back home for me after every trip?

Waiau Falls – because no road trip in New Zealand is complete without at least seventeen fairytale-esque waterfalls. 

I thought about it long and hard. I’d like to say there were sleepless nights, but I work night shifts so I just sort of thought about it on the job. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the only person who can take away that identity is myself.

There are three things you need to be a solo female traveller and they are to be solo, to identify as female and to travel. Even with a fella, if I were to go on a trip alone then that would still be my identity. And if I took him along, then I’d get a completely different perspective on the places I visit, something I’ve never had before (most romantic places in New Zealand, anyone? *insert shifty eyes here*). 

And the more I thought about it, the more excited I became about the possibilities. I realised that any concerns I had about who I’d be if I moved to New Zealand were completely unfounded. You don’t have to lose yourself to be with somebody you just might love. 

So yes, I moved across the world for a boy.

But more importantly than that, I moved across the world for me. 

I moved as far away from my home and my family as is humanly possible (that’s an actual fact – the furthest point on the globe from Wales is New Zealand) because I wanted to. Because I wanted the experience of living and working in another country – an English-speaking one, for a change. Because I wanted to throw myself in at the deep end. Because I wanted to discover a new country slowly and in-depth. Because I really like The Hobbit and cows, both of which New Zealand is full of! Because I think the Maori language is absolutely beautiful, and the linguist in me is in love with it. 

And lastly, because I wanted to take a leap of faith. Because I wanted to take a chance on a boy.

And you know what? The future definitely might not pan out as I expect, or even hope for. Our cultures, our backgrounds and, at times, our values are so vastly different that it surprises me we’ve come as far along as we have. Just a few weeks ago I spent an hour explaining the importance and relevancy of the Eurovision Song Contest because he’d never heard of it. Would 2013 Rhiannon ever have believed she’d be spending all her time with someone who’d never been blessed by the sweet, sweet sound of Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah?! Absolutely not! And I don’t think J ever thought he could be with someone who doesn’t share his deep-rooted love of biryani, but there we go. 

But if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay.

The worst thing that could happen is I eventually end up back in the UK, single and penniless, but with a belly full of TimTams and Raspberry Coke, a head full of memories and a heart full of happiness. Which doesn’t sound too bad at all. And at the very least, I’ll be able to say I tried. I took a chance, I flew across the world for happiness, and most importantly, I finally got someone to take photos of the back of my head

In hindsight I probably should have at least combed my hair before this photo but LOOKIT, the back of my head. All of my solo travel photo dreams have come true at last. 
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10 Day Trips from Cusco You Just Can’t Miss!

From breathtaking landscapes to ancient ruins, are you ready to discover all the best day trips from Cusco?

More than just the inspiration and namesake of the world’s Disney’s most famous llama, Cusco is one place you just can’t miss during your trip to Peru! And beyond the usual city sightseeing, there’s also a whole array of fantastic day trips from Cusco for you to experience. 

If you’re planning a trip to Peru and aren’t sure where to start, you might want to check out this Ultimate 2 Week Peru Itinerary, 10 off the beaten places in Northern Peru or this list of best things to do in Arequipa for some inspiration.

Cusco is one of my favourite cities in South America, and the home of so many personal firsts!

With the exception of 4 year old me’s Disney World Florida adventure circa 1997, Cusco is the first non-European city I ever set foot in. It was also my first encounter with real life Spanish, the first place I ever stayed in a hostel and the first (and only!) place I ate broccoli on a pizza.

Gross broccoli pizza and nervous Spanish stammering aside, I truly fell in love with Cusco the first…and second…and third time I laid eyes on it.

© jkraft5 / Adobe Stock

The charismatic and colonial city of Cusco welcomes more than one million visitors a year, and for good reason.

Aside from being the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is home to innumerable ancient Inca ruins, year-round cultural festivals and an almost indescribable cuisine. You could easily spend weeks on end getting lost in the cobbled backstreets of this vibrant city, but there are also a number of incredible day trips from Cusco if you wanted to escape the crowds for a while.

Disclaimer: I have used stock images for some of the day trips featured in this post. My first two trips to Peru were in 2011 and 2013 before I even know what a pixel was, and the photos from those trips are definitely not up to standard! All credit has been given where necessary.

10 Best Day Trips from Cusco


1. Rainbow Mountain

by Sam & Natalia from Something of Freedom

If you’re up for the challenge, take a day trip from Cusco to hike Vinicunca – more commonly known as Rainbow Mountain.

Vinicunca, Peru – Rainbow Mountain (5200 m) © mariana_designer / Adobe Stock

The mountain has earned its nickname due to the stripes of colourful sediment that cover its surface. Thanks to the incredible natural beauty of the multi-coloured mountain, Vinicunca is becoming an increasingly popular spot to include on any itinerary of Peru.

Although it is possible to visit as part of a longer multi day hike, the most popular way to reach Rainbow Mountain is on a day trip from Cusco. Trips can be arranged from as little as 70 Soles (approx. £16GBP / $21USD), excluding a 10 Sole fee for hiking in the area. Pick up for tours is around 3am as there is an approximately 3-hour drive from the city to the starting point of the hike.

The trailhead sits at an altitude of 4,326 metres, so it’s important to have spent at least a few days in Cusco adjusting prior to your trip. From this point, it’s a tough trek upwards to an altitude of over 5,000 metres to be able to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of Rainbow Mountain. Although the majority of the hike isn’t too steep, it becomes increasingly more difficult due to the altitude.

Rainbow Mountain © Something of Freedom

That being said, the stunning scenery makes the struggle completely worthwhile. Even if you’re well adjusted to the altitude you may well feel some ill effects the next day, but that’s a small price to pay to see this truly unbelievable landscape with your own eyes!

Click here to book your Rainbow Mountain full day tour from Cusco


2. Humantay Lake

by Jenny & Steven from Tales From the Lens

The Humantay Lake is found at the start of the Salkantay trek, one of the most famous hikes leading to Machu Picchu. This gorgeous clear blue lake is nestled within the high snowcapped peaks and is fed by the glacier dropping out of the Humantay mountain. This is certainly one of the most beautiful mountain lakes you will have the chance to see in South America and the good news is that you can get there as part of a one-day trip from Cusco. 

Humantay Lake © Tales From the Lens

Most people will join an organised tour from Cusco which can easily be booked a day ahead in one of the many agencies found in the city. However, note that to get to the Humantay Lake your tour will pick you up around 4 am at your hotel as it takes about 3 hours to get there.

Once you are dropped off, you will still have to hike for 1.5 hours to the lake.

This is not a very complicated hike, but the end of the trail is quite steep and at this high altitude, it can be challenging depending on your level of fitness.

Make sure to correctly acclimatize before going on this trip – the lake is located at the altitude of 4,200 metres.

Once at the lake, keep walking along the water and climb up the small hill to your left, you will find an incredible point of view of the turquoise lake, the Humantay glacier and the Salkantay valley in the background.

Click here to book your Humantay Lake trek from Cusco


3. Sacsayhuamán 

by James from Travel Collecting

Sacsayhuamán is a former citadel that is very close to Cusco – in fact, it’s situated on the hill directly above the city, which makes it one of the easiest day trips from Cusco. You can easily catch up bus up to the ruins, or alternatively walk if you’re feeling up to it, as there’s a path that goes directly from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas (main square) up the hill to Sacsayhuamán.

I took the bus up and then walked down, which is much easier, since the hill is steep and the altitude high.

 Sacsayhuaman © snaptitude / Adobe Stock

These Incan ruins consist mainly of three spectacular walls in tiers above and below each other, around a lawn. The walls are testament to the Incas’ skills at stonework.

The irregular-shaped rocks used to make the walls are enormous, but they fit together so perfectly that even after hundreds of years there’s not even the tiniest of gaps between them. 

There would be even more of the citadel still standing, except the Spanish took much of it down to make their new city below.  At the top of the hill, there is a small throne or altar that’s worth a quick look. 

However, it is the huge stone walls that really impress.  With its spectacular views of Cusco laid out below, surrounded by the Andes, it’s easy to see why Sacsayhuamán is one of the most popular day trips from Cusco.

Impressive stone walls at Sacsayhuamán © Travel Collecting

Click here to book your Sacsayhuamán day tour from Cusco


4. Tipón

During your time in Peru you’ll come across many an Inca terrace, but I guarantee none will be as impressive as Tipón!

Located just a half hour outside of Cusco, the Archaeological Complex of  Tipón is arguably the best example of the Inca’s irrigation and hydraulic ingenuity still in existence today. Although there is evidence of intricately designed irrigation channels in other Inca ruins that have long since fallen apart, the system created in Tipón is still fully functional today. 

Supplied by a natural spring towards the top of the complex, these incredibly designed water channels feed the entirety of Tipón with fresh water which, as well as preserving the area’s vivid greenery, is an indication that the terraces were certainly built with an agricultural focus in mind. 

© spacaj / Adobe Stock

A sprawling compound covering almost 240 hectares, much like many other archaeological sites in Peru nobody really knows the true origins of Tipón. Even the name is completely made up, and likely to be totally unrepresentative of the true Quechua origin. 

There is one loose indication of the site’s origins recorded by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in his Comentarios Reales de los Incas. After Wiraqucha, the 8th Sapa Inca of the Kingdom of Cusco usurped his own father for the throne, he allegedly ordered a palace be built for his father to reside. The description of this palace’s location is curiously similar to that of Tipón, which leads many historians to believe that Tipón was originally created for this purpose.

However, there is also strong evidence that Tipón was used as a ritual garden, with the water used not only to irrigate their crops but also for ceremonial worship purposes. Whatever the true origins of Tipón, it definitely makes for a nice day trip from Cusco and, as one of the lesser visited ruins in Peru, you’re almost guaranteed to avoid the crowds. 

Tipón can be visited as part of an organised tour (click here to book yours in advance) or individually. Entry to Tipón is included in the Boleto Turistico and one of the partial tickets – however, when I visited we simply paid S. /10 to the entrance guard which I think is illegal but you never know, you could try your luck?


5. Pikillaqta

A great accompaniment for your day trip to Tipón is a stop at nearby Pikillaqta. Contrary to the majority of archaeological sites you’ll come across in Peru, Pikillaqta is not Inca. 

Nope.

Pikillaqta actually pre-dates the Inca Empire, and is a village of the Wari culture, one of the lesser talked about but equally as fascinating pre-Columbian civilizations.

© vadim_petrakov / Adobe Stock

The site was originally discovered in 1927, but it wasn’t until the late 70s that excavation really got underway! To date the site covers around 50 Hectares, but it’s believed that there are many more wonders just waiting to be dug up on site.

Based on the discovery of a large patio-like surface at the centre of the site, and up to 18 ‘halls’, it is believed that Pikillaqta was used as a ceremonial or feasting site, where rulers and their families would dine together, even inviting the leaders of nearby villages and towns. 

Countless skeletal remains have been found at the site, from camelids (most likely alpacas and llamas that are still very much present in Peru today!) to guinea pig, and humans to… dinosaurs.

Pretty cool, right?

The dinosaur skeletons are actually on display at the small museum at the entrance of Pikillaqta, so even if Wari culture isn’t your thing, who can resist a quick day trip to see actual, real-life dinosaur remains?!

Despite its close proximity to Cusco when compared with the rest of the day trips mentioned her, Pikillaqta sees surprisingly few visitors. Apparently it fills up quite considerably with local families on the weekends, but I visited on a Tuesday (maybe a Wednesday?!) and there were only 2 or 3 other people there.  

Like Tipón, entry to Pikillaqta is included in the Boleto Turistico. The site can be visited alone, but I’d highly recommend going as part of a guided day tour from Cusco. I didn’t, and I definitely feel like I missed out on a lot of information as a result! 


6. Moray & Maras

I like to think of Moray and Maras like fish and chips: two completely different and unrelated things that people always seem to pair together.

Moray is an archaeological site that contains rather peculiar Inca ruins that some might mistake for crop circles. In fact, I’m embarrassed to confess that when I visited Moray for the first time aged 18, completely clueless to all things Inca, I actually asked my guide if they were crop circles.

Moray © Allen.G / Adobe Stock

Fortunately my poor Spanish and his non-existent English meant my original question got lost in translation somewhere along the way and he thought I asked “why are they circle?”, but I digress. 

Like some other Peruvian ruins (I’m starting to see a running theme here…) the origins of Moray aren’t crystal clear. While it’s obvious that the site is agricultural, the circular design is unusual for agricultural terraces of the time, which leads researchers to believe that Moray was created as an experiment of sorts. This claim is backed up by soil extracts from the site, which show that soil may have been imported from other parts of the country especially for Moray. 

 A complete contrast to the lush green of Moray, the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt mines) are a mosaic of pale pink and brown hues. 

Salinas de Maras, Pre Inca traditional salt mine in Peru

If I had to describe the workings of these salt evaporation ponds in one word, it would have to be fascinating

The various sized terraces have been in existence, and used in the same way, since even before the Inca Empire. he ponds are fed by a mineral-rich underground stream, which emerges from a  natural spring. 

The water flows through an impressively sophisticated system of natural channels constructed in such way that water gradually runs down into the salt ponds. When each pond is full enough, its keeper will close the notch and halt the flow. 

When the water is naturally evaporated by the sun, what remains are nothing but beautiful crystallised salt extracts on the surface and sides of the pool. The keeper will scrape away the salt, turn the water flow back on and the process begins again. 

Entry to Moray is included in the Boleto Turistico, and the partial boleto. When I visited the Maras salt mines in 2011 and 2013, I didn’t pay anything. However, I’ve since read there is a 10 Soles entry charge, so be prepared. 

Accessing both Moray and Maras alone is a little difficult, so would definitely recommend going with an organised day tour from Cusco or the Sacred Valley, especially if you’re short on time. 

Click here to book your day trip to Moray and Maras


7. Sacred Valley

Tipón, Moray and Maras are not the only sites worth visiting in the Sacred Valley. 

Definitely one of the closest day trips from Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is probably my all time favourite destination in Peru. 

With the winding Urubamba River zigzagging its way through the ominously high mountains, when I first stayed there in 2011, the Sacred Valley reminded me a lot of home. 

So the mountains are a lot more impressive than those in the South Wales Valleys but I mean, a valley is a valley, right? And there’s something about being sandwiched at the bottom of a ravine between two colossal natural peaks that comforts this Valley girl.

Urubamba valley near Pisac (Peru)

Also known as Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley is home to an impressive collection of Inca and pre-Inca ruins, excellent adventure sports opportunities and one of South America’s most famous markets. As well as this, it features a unique blend of the old way of living and the new, modern Peru.


8. Apurímac Canyon

If you want to witness the incredible sight of native Andean condors taking flight but don’t quite have time to take a tour or trek of Colca Canyon, Apurímac Canyon is the perfect compromise. 

The lesser known and subsequently lesser visited little sister of Colca Canyon, Apurímac Canyon is located just three and a half hours drive from Cusco. So yes, that would probably make it one of the longest day trips from Cusco but definitely one worth taking!

Some sources state that Apurimac Canyon is the third deepest in the world, but it’s always worth taking such claims with a pinch of salt, as the true measurements use vary from country to country. Still, it’s an impressive landscape to feast your eyes upon and a great alternative Cusco day tour.

Even if birds aren’t your thing (but honestly, condors are incredible and you should totally try and see them!), the Apurímac Canyon offers breath-taking landscapes, unreal hiking opportunities and a few adrenaline sports (rafting, anyone?). 


9. Q’eswachaka Bridge

Seeing as you’re already heading all the way out to Apurímac Canyon, make sure you don’t miss out on one of the most impressive remnants of the Inca Empire in all of Peru: the Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge.

In Quechua, Q’eswachaka literally means “Braided bridge” with Q’eswa meaning to braid and chaka meaning bridge. And looking at the bridge, it’s not hard to work out where the name came from!

© TravelStrategy / Adobe Stock

Stretching 33 metres across the Apurímac River, the bridge is a true testimony to the ingenuity of the Inca people as well as the strong sense of pride Peruvians have in preserving their history and culture.

Built in the traditional Inca manner, the bridge is made up of a particularly special type of grass, woven together to strengthen the structure. Naturally over time, and being so exposed to the elements, the bridge is incredibly susceptible to wear and tear. However, the special technique used to create the bridge has been lovingly handed down through the locals from generation to generation, so even today the bridge is still standing.

Every year or two in June the communities of nearby Winchiri, Ccolana, Chaupibanda and Choccayhua gather together and help to reinforce the bridge, restoring any faults and generally maintaining this incredible reminder of the past. If you’re lucky with your timing, you can visit the Q’eswachaka Bridge during its rebuilding process, or on the day it’s completed, when the locals dance across the bridge in celebration.

© Mark / Adobe Stock

The Q’eswachaka Bridge is the only remaining example of a traditional Inca hanging bridge today and is definitely one of the most culturally enriching day trips from Cusco.

A lot of the Q’eswachaka Bridge day trips from Cusco also include a visit to the Q’arañahui Caves or nearby Four Lakes.

Click here to book your Cusco day tour to Q’eswachaka Bridge


10. Machu Picchu

And here we are, the pièce de résistance of any trip to Peru.

I mean, did you really expect me to compile a list of the best day trips from Cusco without including this gem?! 

I always struggle to write about Machu Picchu because honestly, no words can do it justice.

Beautiful view of Machu Picchu ruins on sunny day (Peru)

I mean, just look at it?! 

A lot of ill-advised visitors to Peru wrongly believe that you can’t visit Machu Picchu unless you hike one of the multi-day treks which culminate at the World Wonder.

I can promise you this: if that were true, I would not have visited Machu Picchu 2.5 times already! This girl is not built for multi-day treks, I can tell you that for free! 

Visiting Machu Picchu is actually the most popular day trip from Cusco. And although opting to visit Machu Picchu in one day from Cusco does end up being a hell of a long day involving 2 train journeys, a lot of walking and maybe a combi ride or two, it’s definitely worth the effort.

If you wanted to relieve some of the stress of having to arrange everything yourself, why not book a pre-arranged, all-inclusive Machu Picchu one day tour from Cusco?


How to book your day trips from Cusco

Typically, in Peru there are three ways of booking your day trips from Cusco and beyond.

The first is by simply walking into one of the many, many tour agencies in and around the Plaza de Armas and booking in person. If you don’t have a strict schedule to stick to, this is definitely the best way to do it as you can almost guarantee the best prices.

However, this doesn’t guarantee you the best quality! And although most tour agencies in Cusco have English-speaking staff, there’s no guarantee that they’ll understand exactly what you’re after. I actually ended up on a French-speaking tour of Machu Picchu during my first trip to Peru,despite me not speaking a word of French, which was a minor inconvenience to say the least.

Most accommodations are able to book tours for you, and some even have their own in-house agencies, so it’s always worth asking on check-in.

With that being said, some accommodation will say they can book a tour for you and simply charge you a little bit extra for them to walk down the road, into an agency, and sign you up there. I found that it’s mostly mid-range accommodation with no tour booking facilities that do this,with most hostels and more luxurious accommodation being more reliable in the quality of the tours they book you on.

Your final option is to book online in advance. In the past I’ve mostly gone for option 1, walking straight into an agency and booking on the day or the night before, but these days I always use Get Your Guide for my overseas tours. One of my main worries when travelling is “Wait, what if there’s no room for me on the tour?!”

Nobody likes FOMO, am I right?

Booking tours in advance gives me the reassurance and peace of mind that yes, I will be able to see those really old ruins I’ve been eyeing up for years.

Check out some of the Cusco day trips available through Get Your Guide:


Where to stay in Cusco

As the cultural capital of Peru, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to fantastic accommodation options in Cusco for all budgets. 

For the shoestring traveller, Cusco has all the greats including The Point, Flying Dog Hostel and Kokopelli. My personal favourite hostel in Cusco is Pariwana Hostel, which has a great atmosphere and incredibly friendly staff.

If you’re over hostels but don’t want to completely break the bank with your hotel budget, check out Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel. I only stayed for 2 nights back when I first visited Peru in 2011, but the cloud-like bed and fruity breakfast was enough to make me want to come back for me.

Click here to check all accommodation options in Cusco


And that’s a wrap – the 10 best day trips from Cusco.

I’ll be honest, writing this post has made me miss Peru so much that I’m already tentatively planning a fourth trip for 2020. Hopefully my bank account will hold out until then, or I find a sugar daddy to fund my life of travel because otherwise the closest I’ll be getting to Peru is the alpaca farm down the road.  

If you’ve been to Cusco already and think I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments below! Or if you’re planning your first trip and have any questions about the best day trips from Cusco, I’d be happy to answer!

And don’t forget to check out the rest of my Peru Articles for more Peru travel inspiration.


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10 Best Day Trips from Cusco - Cusco sees more than 1 million tourists a year, but did you know Cusco is the perfect base for a ton of great day trips? Check out these 10 best day trips from Cusco. #Peru #SouthAmerica #PeruTravel
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13 Awesome & Unique Things to do in the Sacred Valley, Peru

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, otherwise known as Urubamba Valley (or El Valle Sagrado to us hispanohablantes) is the most beautiful and luscious green valley situated just a little way north of Cusco, Peru that you should all go and visit, like, yesterday.

Seriously, it’s bloody lush.

Often overlooked by travellers in favour of the more exciting parts of Peru, or used as nothing more than a 1-day stop-off point en route to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley has so much more to offer and is definitely deserving of a visit in its own right!

Things to do in the Sacred Valley at a Glance

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Aside from those who make a quick 1-day visit to the Sacred Valley en route to Machu Picchu, a lot of other people think of the Sacred Valley as an “add-on” to their stay in Cusco, and opt to take guided full or half-day tours of the Valley.

While this is a great solution if you don’t have much time in Peru, whenever possible I would highly recommend you explore the Sacred Valley in your own time.

From ancient Inca ruins to adrenaline experiences and horseback rides through the mountains, there are so many fantastic things to do in the Sacred Valley all year round, that you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice.

Planning a trip to Peru? Check out some more of my Peru articles for more inspiration: 

I actually lived in Peru for the summer of 2011, and even after spending more than a month there, living and working with the local people (who were the best, FYI), I didn’t experience anywhere near as much of the valley as I wanted to!

Along with my own experiences, I’ve enlisted the help of some fellow travel bloggers to give you the the lowdown on all of the best things to do in Sacred Valley.


Cultural things to do in the Sacred Valley

Known as the Inca Heartland, if you want to experience modern day life in Peru while simultaneously feeling like you’ve stepped back centuries in time, there’s no better place than the Sacred Valley. Here it seems you can’t cross the street without encountering some ancient ruin or another.Check out some of the best cultural things to do in the Sacred Valley:

1. Moray

by Warren from Sling Adventures

Sitting at 3,500m above sea level and about 50km from Cusco lies Moray. Moray is home to the unusual Inca ruin that is made up of an expansive stadium-like depression carved into the landscape to a depth of over 100m.

The incredible crop circle-like Inca ruins at Moray are one of the best things to see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
Spot the tiny human! © Sling Adventures

It is believed that Moray was dug to create a massive open-air greenhouse.

The temperature variance from the bottom to the top is about 15 degrees Celsius, and plants of a varying growing temperatures were grown and cultivated on the individual terraces.

Today it’s simply a sight to behold and to yet again marvel at the engineering expertise of the Incas. Visitors can climb to the bottom of the excavation following the stone stairs embedded into the walls of each terrace.

Stone slabs embedded into the walls at Moray ruins to create crude staircases
Stone stairs embedded into the walls at Moray

To reach Moray from either Cusco or the Sacred Valley, it’s easiest to take a local taxi and agree a price with a driver in advance. The roads twist and turn to reach Moray so it can be a nervous but definitely worthwhile adventure, and the end result is one of the highlights of Sacred Valley.

Entry to Moray is included in the Boleto Turistico (S/.130) and the Boleto Parcial III (S/.70).

Take a peek at Warren’s blog Sling Adventures for more awesome Peru content. You can also follow along on Facebook.

2. Salinas de Maras

by Carly from Flight of the Educator

The Salinas de Maras is a naturally occurring salt repository located in the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

The salt is deposited by a stream that runs through the surrounding area.  Since its discovery, the Peruvians have turned this natural salt stream into a thriving salt farm! They divert the water into numerous terraces to harvest the salt, and it’s a community effort.  When you’re visiting, you’re able to actually get down there and walk around as long as you stay on the path!

I actually tried some of the water that was flowing parallel to the path and can confirm… very salty!  On the way back to the car park, there are several stalls that sell all sorts of salt and accouterments for cooking or relaxing!

the salt mines of Maras are one of the most popular things to do in the Sacred Valley

The Salinas de Maras are typically visited alongside Maras as part of a day trip from Cusco, and entry to the salt mines is not included in the boleto turistico. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t cost more than 10-20 Soles to enter and experience one of the most popular things to do in the Sacred Valley for yourself.

Check out Carly’s post on things to do in Peru besides Machu Picchu for more Peru travel inspiration.

3. Pisac Ruins & Market

by Elisa of World in Paris

Pisac is one of the most interesting sites in the Sacred Valley, mainly for its Inca Ruins but also for its traditional market that take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Pisac traditional market is one of the best things to do in the Sacred Valley

Built by the Incas around the 15th century, the citadel of Inca Pisac was strategically located to defend the south entrance of Sacred Valley. It also controlled the route which connected the Inca Empire with the border of the rainforest.

The ruins are quite interesting and, if you are traveling independently and speak Spanish, I would definitely recommend hiring a local guide in the village. Apart from the houses, the citadel also has military and religious structures as well as the agricultural terraces constructed by the Inca on the steep hillside, which are still in use today. The Inca created these terraces by hauling richer topsoil by hand from the lower lands, which explains how they were able to cultivate at higher altitudes.

A crowd of people exploring Pisac Ruins in Pisac, Peru's Sacred Valley
Pisac Ruins © World in Paris

Inca Pisac, together with Maras and Moray, is a popular day trip from Cusco and all the travel agencies propose the same tour with the same order Pisac – Maras – Moray, and same departure time. If you want to avoid the crowds, share a taxi for the day with up to 3 other people, and visit the three sites starting from Moray to Pisac. In doing this, you’re sure to have the Pisac ruins all to yourself!

Entry to the Pisac ruins is included in the Boleto Turistico (S/.130) and one of the boleto parciales (S/.70).

What is the Boleto Turistico?
The boleto turistico, otherwise known as the Cusco Tourist Ticket, is a “one size fits all” ticket that grants you access to 16 different tourist sites in and around Cusco. Currently the ticket costs S/. 130.00 (approx. £30/$40USD) and is valid for 10 days.If you only want to see a few of the sites, one of the boleto parciales (partial tickets) may be best for you. Entry to Moray and the Pisac Ruins are included in the Boleto Parcial III, which is valid for 2 days and costs S/. 70.00The boleto turistico cannot be purchased online. The only authorised points of sale are directly from the BTC Counter Central, the main Tourist Information Office in Cusco or any of the sites that are included in the ticket.Click here to find out more about the boleto turistico.

4. Chinchero Hand-Weaving Coop

by Becky from KidWorldCitizen

Chinchero is one of the districts in the Urubamba province, and is less than an hour away from Cusco, situated a little higher up in the mountains.

In this picturesque town there are multiple weaving coops. We visited Awana Llaqta Women’s Hand Weaving Cooperative, an impressive coop whose founder has presented at the United Nations in New York City. They showed us the entire process from the raw, baby alpaca wool to the completed blankets and other weavings.

a traditionally dressed Peruvian lady preparing alpaca wool at the Chinchero Handweaving Coop
Chinchero Hand-Weaving Coop © Kid World Citizen

The quality is outstanding!

The women start by preparing the threads, and dying them with insects, plants, flowers. It was fascinating to see the use of a special cactus parasite, which is the basis of the deep red seen in Peruvian weavings.

Then, the women showed us how they spin the thread to make it stronger, and finally how they do the traditional weaving. In fact, we saw many women spinning thread as they walked throughout the town running errands.

With the profits from the weaving, they are able to afford to send their children to school and their quality of life has definitely improved since the initiation of the coop

Chinchero Hand-Weaving Coop © Kid World Citizen

In Chinchero, it’s also worth visiting Incan ruins and the colonial church. There is a colourful market where you can buy all sorts of local crafts, though we preferred to buy our weavings directly from the women who were making them at the coop.

I highly recommend Chinchero as one of the best things to do in Sacred Valley for a peek into the traditional weaving process, and an opportunity to purchase from the women’s coop.

To get there, just hop on on a colectivo heading from Urubamba to Ollantaytambo, and make sure you ask the driver to stop at Chinchero.

If you’re planning a family trip to Peru, Kid World Citizen has some great tips on visiting Machu Picchu with kids . You can also follow Becky’s family adventures on Facebook.

5. Ollantaytambo

by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker

Ollantaytambo makes a great day trip from Cusco or can be a stop-off point in between Cusco and Machu Picchu.  Ollantaytambo archaeological site is certainly worth a visit, as the magnificent construction known as Temple Hill towers over the town of Ollantaytambo in the valley below.

Temple Hill at Ollantaytambo Ruins with the mountains of the Sacred Valley in the background, the ruins are one of the highlights of the Sacred Valley
Temple Hill at Ollantaytambo Ruins © Tales of aBackpacker

The last Inca, Manco Inca defeated a Spanish army here by flooding the planes beneath the temple, so Ollantaytambo is often referred to as a fortress.

Steep steps lead up to the remains of the temples, alongside which the Incas built large terraces where they planted quinoa and other crops, some of which are still in use.

As well as the archaeological site, take time to have a walk around the town, where the irrigation channels built by the Incas still bring fresh water throughout Ollantaytambo.

There is a market close to the Ollantaytambo ruins selling all sorts of handmade goods and souvenirs, and a chocolate museum where you can make your own chocolate or learn to cook traditional Peruvian food.

You can also arrange a visit to one of the local indigenous communities that live in the nearby villages.

Ollantaytambo is close to Moray and Maras salt mines, so you can easily combine a day trip to Ollantaytambo with those sites as well if you are short on time.

The Terraces & Temple Hill at Ollantaytambo Ruins © Tales of a Backpacker

To get to Ollantaytambo there are regular shared taxis (collectivos) which run from Cusco to Ollantaytambo for about $4.50 USD per person, and trains from Cusco running to Machu Picchu also stop off at Ollantaytambo.  Several companies run day tours here, or you could also arrange a taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo for around $55 USD if you prefer.

Entry to the Ollantaytambo Ruins is included in the Boleto Turistico and also the Boleto Parcial III

You can follow Clare (and check out her awesome photos!) on Instagram

6. Spend the day with the Misminay Tribe

by Kaila from Nylon Pink

If you have the opportunity to go glamping with the Misminay tribe, make sure you do it as it really can’t be missed!

It’s located in the Sacred Valley, just 90 minutes outside of Cusco. Sitting high at an elevation of a breathtaking 3700 metres, you get to breathe in clean, fresh air and enjoy the views.

view across the mountains in the Andes of Sacred Valley, Peru

This location is home to the Misminay Andean peoples, and they are unique in that they have preserved their way of life for centuries – and turned it into a business! You get to experience life as they do with this unique glamping experience. It’s definitely one of the most unique things to do in the Sacred Valley!

The tents are nothing short of rugged luxury. You get two large twin beds, cosy sheets, and cute Misminay textile crafts. There are power outlets, rugs, and even a heater in case you get cold. Remember that you’re up very, very high, so be sure to bring warm clothing for the night-time.

the rugged glamping tents available if you spend the day with the Misminay Tribe in the Sacred Valley, Peru
Glamping with the Misminay Tribe © Nylon Pink

Your guides are Maria and Mario, and they’ve been working in the tourism industry for nearly two decades. Prior to working with Qhispikay, Mario was a professional chef.

Chef Mario is happy to teach a private cooking lesson, and you can taste the true flavor of Andean foods. All ingredients are locally sourced, and any other ingredients they can’t get from their own farm come from trade with neighbouring tribes.

After you eat, go take a hike and see the farm animals owned by the Misminay. They are allowed to roam freely, tended to by shepherds. Shepherding is a practice that allows the animals to thrive and produce for the community.

Another great thing you have to try is the chance to learn how to dye and weave the traditional Incan way. It is offered through Qhispikay, so ask about it! Maria is happy to show off her amazing textile collection, which features bright colours and charm in that they are handmade with care.

7. Hunt down all the quotes in Calca

One of the lesser visited towns in the Sacred Valley despite being known as the capital of the Sacred Valley, Calca is my Peruvian home. Situated about halfway between Pisac and Urubamba, not many people stop off here and for good reason… there’s not that much to do in Calca.

Still, it’s a beautiful town and spending a few hours here is one of the best ways to experience Sacred Valley life without the tourists.

Seriously, when I was living there I was like, the only non-Peruvian. There was just the one guesthouse back then, although I think a few more have popped up since then.

Aside from Calca’s pretty impressive puma statue, my favourite thing to do in Calca was go searching for quotes.

These placards are scattered seemingly randomly around the town, each one with a different inspirational (and occasionally nonsensical) quote.

I asked my host family how many there are, and why they’re there, and although they weren’t 100% sure my host mother said it was something to do with literacy and encouraging people to read.

During my time in Calca, I managed to photograph 9 of these signs, although saw at least 8 more! It’s a great little DIY Scavenger Hunt.

Bit o’ Shakespeare for you

Adventurous things to do in the Sacred Valley

Back when I first stayed in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in 2011, it was definitely well known for its incredible Inca ruins and other cultural and archaeological sites, but not so much for its adventure sports.

These days, Peru’s Sacred Valley is an ever-emerging hub for all things adrenaline and adventure. So if you’re looking to give your mother a heart attack, check out some of the most intense and adventurous things to do in the Sacred Valley:

8. Fly through the skies on Peru’s longest zip line

So it’s not the longest zip line in the world as the website claims it to be (that accolade belongs to the UAE… of course) but the Eye of the Jaguar zip line is the longest zip line in Peru and can definitely take home the award for one of the most hair-raising things to do in the Sacred Valley.

 
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With Eye of the Jaguar you can go ziplining and on an ATV excursion for just $50 USD or alternatively you can book online with one of the many other companies offering zip lining in the Sacred Valley.

9. Hike to Huchuy Qosqo

What’s a trip to Peru without a hike, eh?

Huchuy Qosqo is an Incan archaeological ruin situated just above Lamay. It’s also one of the most popular day hikes in the Sacred Valley, and can be part of one of the shorter versions of the Inca Trail.

 
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Although it’s always recommended to use a tour guide when hiking in unfamiliar territory, the journey to Huchuy Qosqo (Little Cusco) is simple enough and can easily be done without a guide. 

10. Go rafting on the Urubamba River

Who knew Peru was such a great white water rafting destination?!

As well as rafting on the Rio Chili in Arequipa , a great option for beginners to test the waters (pun intended!) is the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley.

White water rafting on the Urubamba River is one of the most exciting things to do in the Sacred Valley
Full disclosure: This picture is in Arequipa, not the Sacred Valley

To this very day, not joining my friends on their rafting adventure during my first trip to Peru in 2011 is one of my biggest Peru-related regrets (alongside eating cow heart).

A full-day tour will take you through the basics of rafting through Class 2 and 3 rapids.

That means it’s intense enough to make it one of the most exciting things to do in Sacred Valley but not quite makes you want to hurl your breakfast level of terror, if you get me?

Click here to book your full day rafting experience

11. Horseback riding tour through the Sacred Valley and beyond

by Sam from Honest Explorer

There are many different horseback tours available in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, ranging from half day to 4 days and suitable for all levels.

The tours will take you around the rolling hills with mountain views that really are incredible.

I took a 3-hour tour and we went over beautiful countryside, explored caves and some small Inca ruins. Seeing the Inca landscape from horseback is one of the most unique things to do in the Sacred Valley, and very enjoyable!

Horses grazing on the green mountains in the Sacred Valley, Peru, getting ready for a horseback tour of the area
Horseback riding around Cusco & the Sacred Valley © Honest Explorer

All tours are easily booked with either your accommodation or tour shops in town, and they can pick you up from your hostel or meet you somewhere in town. Either way, it’s pretty easy to arrange!

The tour was very picturesque, and it was nice to experience a different way to explore Cusco & the Sacred Valley. Groups are usually pretty small, and I was just with another couple.

As well as the tour being fun, it was great to have a bit of a canter after not being on a horse for years! The tour companies will cater to different experience levels so there’s something for everyone.

Click here to book your full day Sacred Valley horseback tour

You can find more of Sam’s writing over at Honest Explorer, a site inspiring solo female travel. 

12. ATV Tour

by Cathy from RoarLoud

Peru is a destination with something for everyone: great dining, cultural experiences, wildlife, beach trips and numerous outdoor adventures.

Adventure is our favourite.  From Cusco, we booked an ATV tour that brought us through the Sacred Valley countryside to scenic vistas.

The tour was perfect to help us acclimatise before we started trekking in Peru.  While we zoomed down roads, any altitude issues I was having were left in the dust.

The best part of this tour is we booked right in Cusco, left in the afternoon and were back at our hotel for dinner time.

Click here to book your ATV tour in the Sacred Valley

You can follow along with Cathy’s adventures on Instagram

13. Touch the stars at Peru’s Skylodge Adventure Suites

You know those really crazy accommodation options that are basically just tents perched at the edge of a 25,000 ft cliff?

Well, Peru has one! 

So it’s not quite 25,000 ft up but I imagine when you’re sleeping in nothing more than an oversized tin can suspended 400 metres off the ground, it feels a lot higher!

 
View this post on Instagram
 

A post shared by Skylodge Adventure Suites (@naturavive) on

Located just outside of Ollantaytambo, if you’re looking for one of the most unique places to stay in Peru, you have to check out Skylodge Adventure Suites! This is the one lodging in Peru that I really, really wanted to visit, but at £350 a night it’s a little out of my budget.

Still, I imagine the views alone would be worth every penny!

At around £350 per night it’s a little pricey but I imagine totally worth the money.

Click here to book your stay at Skylodge Adventure Suites (not an affiliate link, I just think if you can then by gum you should!)


Where to stay in the Sacred Valley

Now that you’re convinced there’s enough things to do in the Sacred Valley to make you want to spend more than a day there, you may be wondering where to stay.

The good news is that the Sacred Valley is small enough that you can get from one side to the other in just an hour or two. The bad news is that doesn’t really help you when deciding where to stay, does it?

View of Ollantaytambo town from the terraces in the ruins
A very blurry view of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

The most popular and picturesque town to stay in is definitely Ollantaytambo.

Mama Simona is a great budget option in Ollantaytambo, with a lovely garden and hammocks (plus a fantastic first aid kit if you happen to fall out of the hammock and graze your elbow…). If you’re looking for something a little flashier, check out Sol Natura Hotel.

Click here to check all hotels in Ollantaytambo 

Pisac

If you’d prefer your stay in the Sacred Valley to be closer to Cusco, Pisac is where you’ll want to make your base.

The best budget accommodation in Pisac is Hospedaje Samana Wasi Pisac, which is centrally located and very close to the Blue Llama Cafe, which serves up the best breakfast and pancakes in all of Pisac!

Click here to check all hotels in Pisac

Urubamba

Another popular choice in terms of where to stay in the Sacred Valley is Urubamba. Now, I don’t know why, but Urubamba is full to bursting with more up-market accommodations like the Taypikala Deluxe Valle Sagrado. Even so, it still has some of the old backpacker favourites like a Flying Dog Hostel and Gringo Bill’s.

Click here to check all hotels in Urubamba


Whether you’re already planning a trip to Peru and are wondering if there are enough things to do in the Sacred Valley to warrant a visit, or you’re already set on visiting but aren’t sure how long to spend there, I hope these suggestions come in handy!

As always, let me know in the comments if I missed anything!


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13 Awesome Things to Do in the Sacred Valley, Peru - If you're planning a trip to Peru, you should definitely set aside a few days in your itinerary for the Sacred Valley! As well as incredible Inca ruins there's also a ton of adventure activities in the Sacred Valley. Check out these top 13 things to do in the Sacred Valley. #Peru #SouthAmerica
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