It’s that time of the month again! The time of month when I round up my monthly travel expenses and share with you just how much it REALLY costs to travel in various places around the world.
This month I’m in Peru… and it’s definitely been one eventful month.
During the first 31 days of the year I…
- Rang in the New Year in Peru’s largest city
- Toured the Santa Catalina Convent
- Scored a free apartment in Arequipa
- Saw giant condors fly across Peru’s famous Colca Canyon
- Spent 3 days climbing a 19,101 foot Volcano
- Witnessed a massive Folk Festival in Puno, Peru
- And found the Gateway to the Gods near the shores of Lake Titicaca
Along the way I’ve been keeping track of every cent I spent… so if you’re curious to learn just how much it costs to travel through Peru for one month’s time, this write up should be of some interest to you.
Food & Drinks: 493.75 Soles ($178.26 USD)
My largest expense this month was food – not lodging. About one-third of my food and drink expenses this month went toward buying bottled water… another third went toward eating out (I probably ate out at restaurants about 15 different times)… and the remaining third went toward food and drinks that I purchased at the supermarket or smaller stores for consumption as either my breakfast, lunch or dinner.
One a side note, I’m having a really difficult time with the food here in Peru. As a vegetarian, there isn’t a whole lot to eat in Peru and the meals that I have eaten at restaurants have been far from stellar for the most part.
There was one new food that I discovered this month that I really, really like. It’s called an Api Moreno (the drink pictured above); it’s made from corn, rice and I’m not sure what else; and it sells for about 1 Sole in several small restaurants in Puno, Peru (and hopefully other cities in Peru as well). It’s a warm drink with a sweet taste and a thick filling texture. For an additional Sole you can get an empanada to go along with your drink (also shown above). If you’re ever in Peru, you should certainly give this drink a try.
Lodging: 250 Soles ($90.26 USD)
My lodging expenses were particularly low this month because of the free apartment I was able to secure in Arequipa – Peru’s second largest city. That deal, and the fact that I spent two nights sleeping in my tent, helped to keep my lodging costs down. I only had to pay for 10 nights in a hostel this month (25 Soles each night)… and that’s why this month’s lodging expenses are less than $100 US Dollars.
Gifts: 245 Soles ($88.45 USD)
One of this month’s biggest expenses were the gifts and souvenirs that I bought for myself and my family back home. I bought a large Peruvian rug (shown above), some small handbags for my sister and mom, a large white llama hair hat, and some other small Peruvian trinkets. Individually, these items were quite inexpensive, but I wanted to buy a lot of stuff because I knew that I’d be shipping it all back home… and the more stuff I could fit in the box – the better!
Postage: 119.40 Soles ($43.11 USD)
Speaking of shipping, the cost to mail home my Peruvian souvenirs set me back nearly $50 bucks. Worst of all, the process of mailing my things home was quite an experience… and even though it’s been more than three weeks since I sent my gifts back to the United States, they have yet to arrive there. My fingers are crossed that my package actually makes it.
Bus Rides: 52 Soles ($18.77 USD)
Traveling by bus is easy in Peru. There are a ton of different bus companies and they go to a number of different locations. This month I took three different buses (2 to get to Colca Canyon and back… and 1 to get from Arequipa to Puno, Peru). The bus rides were long, but the scenery along the way was spectacular and the price was certainly not a bank-buster.
Taxi Rides: 41.5 Soles ($14.98 USD)
I hate traveling in taxis, but here in Peru the taxi cab is one of the basic ways of getting from point A to point B. My longest taxi ride this month was the ride from downtown Arequipa to a small farming village near the base of the El Misti Volcano. That one ride set me back an incredible 30 Soles (more than $10 USD), but the other few taxi rides I took this month were much less expensive.
Santa Catalina Convent Entrance Fee: 35 Soles ($12.64 USD)
In addition to the free things I did this month (like climbing Arequipa’s nearby volcano), I also went to some places where I had to pay a small entrance fee. The most expensive of these places was Arequipa’s Santa Catalina Convent. While the price was high, the place was spectacular and totally worth the money.
Colca Canyon Entrance Fee: 35 Soles ($12.64 USD)
While traveling to Colca Canyon was essentially free, my travel partners and I were hit up or a 35 Sole fee once we arrived at the Condor look-out point, which is located somewhere near the middle of Colca Canyon. We tried to dodge the fee for a while, but eventually the ticket takers there tracked us down and we were forced to cough up the dough so we could see Peru’s largest flying bird.
Clothing: 24.50 Soles ($8.85 USD)
I also spoiled myself a little this month and spent a couple bucks buying a few llama and alpaca hair clothing articles. I bought a part of rainbow colored socks (shown above), a set of fingerless gloves, and a reversible beanie.
Combi Rides: 12 Soles ($4.33 USD)
In case you don’t know, a “combi” is a small passenger van that is used to transport people in Peru both short and long distances. They’re usually very cheap and very, very crowded.
This month I became an expert on traveling in a combi. I took several combi rides to get to the Gateway of the Gods, and I took several more on the way back. At one point, our small van (which is meant to hold no more than 11 people) had 21 different people and all of their belongings inside the van. It was hot, smelly, and one hell of an experience. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more combi rides to come in future months.
Toilet Paper: 6.5 Soles ($2.35 USD)
In Peru it is important to always have a little bit of toilet paper on you. Most restrooms do not supply toilet paper of any kind, so if you need to use the bathroom, you need to have your own paper. And this month I spent a couple bucks buying a large supply of toilet paper. What a fun expense, right?
Gateway To The Gods Entrance Fee: 5 Soles ($1.81 USD)
One of my major highlights this month was traveling to the Gateway to the Gods (aka “la Puerta de Hayu Marka”). The Gateway to the Gods is a large door-like structure that has been carved into some massive rocks in Southern Peru. I had learned about this place several months before arriving in Peru and it was one of the few places in Peru I absolutely knew I wanted to visit. The trip there was an exciting one, the location was incredible, but I was forced to pay a small 5 Sole entrance fee upon arrival.
Bicycle Taxi Ride: 5 Soles ($1.81 USD)
Tricycle taxi cabs are extremely popular in Puno, Peru. Tricycles are used to transport people from one side of the city to another, to haul goods across town, and as a place on which to cook and prepare local street food.
I wanted to see what it was like to ride one of these impressive tricycle taxis, so I paid a taxi owner 5 Soles to let me ride the trike myself while he sat in the passenger seat. It was a fun experience and certainly worth the small price paid.
Camera Strap: 2 Soles ($0.72 USD)
Another small expense this month was the camera strap I bought for my expensive Canon T2i Digital SLR camera. I met a couple from Belgium while I was traveling in Colca Canyon this month and they told me about how their expensive SLR camera had been ripped out of their hands by someone driving past on a motorcycle and how they had been unable to get their camera back. Their story made me realize that the same thing could very easily happy to me if I didn’t take some safety precautions, so I spent 2 Soles to purchase a small camera strap that I can attach to my wrist whenever the camera is in use. That way, if someone tries to rip the camera from my hands, the strap will ensure that the camera goes nowhere – and that it stays in my possession.
Internet: 0.50 Soles ($0.18 USD)
Finally, I paid a small fee this month for Internet. After spending three days hiking up the 19,101 foot volcano just outside of Arequipa, Peru, I wanted to email my parents and let them know that I had made it down the mountain safely. So after descending down the impressive volcano I crawled inside an Arequipa Internet shop and fired off a quick email to my parents, updated my Facebook account, and paid less than a quarter dollar for my time on the computer.
TOTAL EXPENSES: 1,331.65 Soles ($480.77 USD)
In the end, the first month of the year cost me only $480.77 US Dollars. I traveled to several Peruvian cities, saw some incredible sites, met some extraordinary people, and had some adventures I will surely remember for a very long time. And the fact that I did it all for less than $500 USD makes it all that much more impressive.
I’ll do another wrap up like this next month (I’ll still be in Peru), but in the meantime, let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to ask me about the cost of travel here in Peru, what it’s like to stay in a Peruvian hostel, how to catch a ride on a combi, or anything else you would like to know. Leave a comment below, ask a question, or just say hello.