Travelling couple Doug and Ann-Marie are currently venturing through parts of Peru, Bolivia and Chile for two months. They’ve granted Lonely Planet access to their spending diary, including the costs of six days spent acclimatising in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley before embarking on the Lares Trek, ending in Machu Picchu. 

The total cost added up for each day is for two people. 

Pre-trip spending

Total: 249 soles ($75.35)

A woman walks down a cobblestone street, surrounded by white walls. The mountains are in the distance.
Calle Carmen Alto © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

Transport: The overnight bus (Cruz del Sur) from Arequipa to Cuzco cost S/.154. You could spend more and do the VIP option, but we found the standard seating to be more than comfortable (and less motion-sickness inducing!)

Accommodation: Our main hostel, Hostel Cuzco International was in the San Blas district (S/.85s per night for a double room including private bathroom and breakfast) and was a short taxi ride from the bus terminal (S/.10).

Total: S/.249 ($75.35)

On the ground

Day one
Total: S/.190.5 ($57.40)

After checking in and dropping off our bags, we hit up LʼAtelier Café, just a few steps from the hostel, boasting a balcony seat with a great view down Calle Carmen Alto. We had two different European style breakfasts, one with granola, toast and coffee and the other with Peruvian avocado on toast, coffee and a juice (S/.42).  

Bananas, bread, coffee, granola, butter and jam on a wooden slate.
A good breakfast is absolutely necessary while backpacking © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

We wandered down the street and popped into one of the many craft shops selling all kinds of llama and alpaca-themed goods, then escaped into Jacks for a hot chocolate and juice (S/.9.50). 

Afterwards, we braved Plaza de Armas and its army of ticket sellers, shoe polishers and massage shop promoters. Escaping this, we strolled through San Pedro market where among many things, I saw a great variety of traditional flutes and whistles. I wanted to find one that was made in Peru, which was a challenge. Eventually we came across some music stores outside of the market and I picked up a flute (S/.20) – but I still can’t play it! 

Stopping for a simple lunch – an omelette, a chicken sandwich and two juices for S./40 – we headed back to the hostel for a rest. 

On the left, two beers, potato wedges and dips. On the right, a colourful rice and veg bowl
Doug had no complaints with dinner at Morena © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

As we had already been travelling on a budget for a few weeks, we decided to try some upmarket Peruvian cuisine for dinner and went to a restaurant called Morena Peruvian Kitchen. The food served up was presented beautifully and tasted equally amazing! Ann-Marie had Andean roasted trout sitting on a bed of quinoa and native potato. I had seafood and rice and washed these down with Cusquña beer (S/.119). 

Day Two

Total: S/.129 ($39.04) *not including the Lares Trek fee which would bring it to S/.4396 

We had breakfast in the hotel (included in the price) and then headed out on a morning of light admin to try sort to a yellow fever card (apparently necessary for when you cross the border into Bolivia). After much drama, we stopped for empañadas and soothing tea in a cafe called Valeriana (S/.31).

Cuzco lit up at night
Cuzco lit up at night © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

Getting back into tourist mode, we ventured to Qorikancha / Santa Domingo (S/.10 per person). Qorikancha (The Incan Temple of the Sun) is regarded by some as the most sacred temple in the Incan empire. Today the church and convent of Santa Domingo sits on top of its remains. 

A big part of this trip was to take on one of the many hikes that ends at Machu Picchu, so we booked the 4 day/ 3 night Lares Trek with Sam Travel Peru, (S/.4267 for two people, including all food, tents, porters, cooks, train & entry to Machu Picchu and an awesome guide named Manuel Paco who kept us all safe). 

For dinner, we felt like trying one of the many vegetarian options in Cuzco and headed to the Green Point Vegan Restaurant, where we had a korma and pad thai for mains with a Cusqueña for myself and a red wine for Ann-Marie ( S/.88).  

A woman sits sipping a juice on a rooftop terrace overlooking Cuzco.
A quick rest stop © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

Day Three

Total: S/.568 ($171.81) 

After getting some tips from the iPeru office in the Plaza de Armas, we headed to the Sacred Valley. Failing to find the cheaper combi van option, we used a taxi to get to a cross roads near Maras (S/.30s) and then hired one of the waiting taxi drivers there who took us around Maras, Moray and the Salt Mines for a bargained down S./70

To enter Moray we bought the ‘Boleto Turístico del Cuzcoʼ (S./260). There are other options available, but we bought the full 10 day version as we were planning to visit several sites over the next few days. To enter the Salt Mines was another S./10 per person. Ann-Marie bought two bags of herbal bath salts (S./1 each) and, as the heat was rising, we bought ice creams for ourselves and our taxi driver (S./9). 

On the left: three bowls of salt and one empty bowl laid out on a purple cloth. On the right, the author looks over the salt mines, aiming a photo with his camera
Herbal salts for sale, while Doug takes a moment to capture the mines on camera © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

The taxi driver dropped us back to the crossroads where we caught a passing combi van to Urubamba (45 min journey, S./6s per person). We checked into Bull House hostel (off peak rate of S./40 per night for a private room with ensuite!!) and then ventured into the town. 

Urubamba has one of the largest markets in the Sacred Valley (at least three floors) where you can find for sale all animal parts, fruits, vegetables, more varieties of maize (corn) and potato than we knew existed, as well as small eateries. We spent S./30 on a bunch of snacks including mixed nuts and chirimoya. To celebrate our shopping, we headed up to the top floor for a juice (S./10) and to watch the market in action. Dinner that night was at Restaurant El Huacatay, where we had knochi and grilled trout with a mint lemonade and a juice (S./90). 

A meal of grilled trout and knochi with a green smoothie and a side dish of olives
Dinner at El Huacatay © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

After this was our first stop of what would be many at Pastelerlía Antojitos where we picked up an apple pie and a coconut macaroon (S./1s each). Just before getting back to the hostel, we bought a 1.5l bottle of water (S./3), a price that would keep changing over the next few days seemingly depending on the mood of the shop keeper! 

Day Four

Total: S./149 ($45.09)

As breakfast is not included at Bull House, we went back to the market for food and filled up on smoothies (S./15 each) and also used the bathrooms (S./1). 

As the sun was out, we back tracked to Chinchero via combi van (S./6 each) which we skipped the day before due to the cold and rain. This town is famous for its textiles and for hosting an Incan archeological site. Entry was covered by our Boleto Turistica ticket. The old church located there (no photos allowed!) caught my eye and we were allowed entry to sit down as a small mass was finishing, absorbing the atmosphere and admiring the painted ceiling and altars (S/.5 each).

A view of Chinchero from red rooftops
The view at Chinchero © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

Afterwards, it looked as if a storm was rolling in so we headed back down to the Main Street and went into one of the many local eateries for a menu de dia - set dish made up of a starter, main and drink - which included a vegetable soup, plantain, egg and rice dish and a sweet tea (S./6 each).

After finding a market where they showed us how llama wool was spun and dyed, we thought it would be good to prepare for the Lares Trek and walk as much as possible at this altitude so we kept moving. 

After it got dark, we began to make our way back to Urubamba, but once again couldnʼt find the combi van pickup point so we relented to a taxi (S./30). For dinner we stopped in the restaurant Peru Buen Gusto that was recommend by our host at the Bull House. Ann-Marie had the typical Peruvian dish of lomo saltado and I had grilled trout on rice and beans, we shared a chicha morada (S./43) while watching 'The Simpsons' in Spanish with the owners' children.

Little bowls full of wool, herbs and dye
Material to help llama wool be prepped and dyed © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

On the way back to the hostel, once again we stopped in at Pastelerlía Antojitos for a chocolate brownie and a bon bon (S./6). We also picked up water on the way back (S./5 this time).  

Day Five

Total: S./133.5 ($40.40) 

As I was unwell, Ann-Marie had a day out on her own and went to a local pharmacy to buy some medicine for me (S./1), catching a Moto taxi back (S./2s) . Afterwards, she went to town for breakfast (S./9.5) at Pastelerlía Antojitos of coffee, juice, eggs, cheese, bread, butter and jam. From there she went to the Urubamba Market to gather ingredients to make a smoothie (the hostel provided a blender); spinach, two limes, ginger, a chirimoya and four bananas (S./8) with some pressed apple juice (S./5). Another Moto taxi back (S./2).  

After we had our home-made smoothies, we headed out together to Olantayambo, catching a combi van (S./4). Admission was free with the Boleto Turistica. Although we went at the end of the day, it was still rammed with many large groups climbing and descending the ancient stair ways. 

Dozens of colourful fruit and veg stalls photographed from above
Looking over Urubamba Market © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

Dinner here was at Inti Killa. I had a vegetable soup and Ann-Marie had chicken on cous cous and we both had smoothies (S./76). Back to Urubamba via combi van (S./4 each) for tea and cake at Pastelerlía Antojitos (S./10) and were joined by two very friendly kittens that promptly fell asleep on us. On the way back to the hostel we stopped to buy water, which this time cost S./4

Day Six  

Total: S./245.5 ($74.29)

Breakfast was the last of our home made smoothie. While finishing this off, we finalised our intended walking route to find a nearby waterfall. We stopped off in the market for supplies - mango and grenadina (S./4.5), used the baño (S./0.5) and bought some dried flower sweets (which now cost S./10 instead of 5 like the day before…we need to improve our haggling). Also stocked up on some medicine and the all important wet wipes (S./5) then hopped in a combi van back to Chinchero (S./6)

Once in Chinchero, we walked along the old Inca Trail to Urquillos, admiring the snowcapped mountains and forestry but somehow completely missing the waterfall! After two or three hours we made it to Urquillos where we took a combi to Pisac, which turned into a harrowing ride in an over crowded van on rain soaked slippy roads (S./8).

A woman stands on a bridge taking a picture with her camera, overlooking a river with a mountain covered in mist in the distance
Ann-Marie taking pictures in Urquillos © Doug Rimington/Lonely Planet

In Pisac we stopped for vegetable omelettes and delicious coffee to sooth our nerves (S./33). Finally, we caught a combi to Cuzco (S./8) that was a more sedate ride (we had seats!) back just in time for our induction for the Lares Trek. After the induction we bought a 2l camel pack for water (S./55) and then had dinner (S./43) at a small pizzeria before checking back into Cuzco International Hostel for the night (S./81) ready for a super early rise the next day to join the trek. 

The final tally

S./249 +S./1415.5 = S./1664.5 / $501.88  (excluding the Lares trek which was an additional S./4,267 / $1286.60)

More travel spending diaries:

A long weekend in Brooklyn
A weekend trip to Cologne
A long weekend in Paris

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