I’ve been talking about going to Machu Picchu for years and finally pulled the trigger on planning this trip. The plan is to start in Cusco, hike the Inca Trail, and stop over in Lima before heading back to Boston. It’s tough fitting everything into just over a week but I’m pretty excited about how this itinerary turned out. Here’s how I booked our upcoming trip to Peru on points and miles.
Here’s how we decided to break up our trip:
- Days 1-2: Fly to Cusco, two nights in Cusco
- Days 3-5: Inca Trail
- Day 6: Machu Picchu, overnight in Cusco
- Day 7-8: Fly to Lima, two nights in Miraflores
- Day 9: Fly home
By starting in Cusco, we will have about 48 hours to get used to the altitude before starting the Inca Trail. We decided to book a 4 day/3 might Inca Trail tour through Alpaca Expeditions since the tour includes a porter. I also liked that this company has satellite phones which makes me feel safer. The price with sleeping bag and sleeping pad rentals was $725 per person. It’s not cheap, but since you need a tour guide to book your Inca Trail permit, it’s hard to avoid paying at least something for the Inca Trail.
There are only 500 permits available per day, and over half of them are used for staff (tour guides, cooks, porters, etc.), so I also recommend booking early if you plan to travel during the dry season (May-September).
It can be somewhat difficult to book tours like these with points. I paid the $400 deposit with my Chase Sapphire Reserve (so it would be covered by trip protection benefits), but it incurred a $22 fee. I do not want to pay a credit card fee on the balance so we will likely be paying in cash. If you don’t mind the processing fee, you could redeem points from Capital One Venture, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, or Bank of America Travel Rewards.
I initially planned to use American Airlines miles to fly to Peru, but availability was atrocious. United’s Excursionist Perk ended up being a good option because we could fly to Cusco and use the free segment to fly from Cusco to Lima.
- Flight 1: Boston to Cusco on Avianca
- Business Saver – 35,000 miles and $20.60 per person
- Flight 2: Cusco to Lima on Avianca
- Business Saver – 0 miles and $4.25 per person
- Flight 3: Lima to Boston on Copa
- Economy Saver – 20,000 miles and $48.61 per person
Total cash: $146.92
Total miles: 110,000
Total value: $2,973.80
Since we will be camping for three nights, I only had to book five nights in a hotel.
- Nights 1-2: JW Marriott Cusco (35,000 points per night plus $35 fee)
- I saw this hotel on the Bachelor so not staying here wasn’t an option. This Category 5 hotel can be booked for 35,000 points per night. There is a mandatory $35 daily destination amenity fee but it includes breakfast, pisco sours, WiFi, coca tea, in-room oxygen, a hotel tour, and a $25 spa voucher among other things. This hotel is worth about $270 per night.
- Nights 3-5: Inca Trail
- No hotel needed, just some good, old-fashioned camping.
- Night 6: JW Marriott Cusco (35,000 points per night plus $35 fee)
- We’ll be staying here for another night because we plan on leaving luggage at the hotel during our trek.
- Nights 7-8: Hilton Lima Miraflores (33,000-52,000 points per night)
- Hilton pricing is dynamic. I booked the first night last summer and it was 33,000 points, but the second night I booked was 37,000 points. When I checked just now, it was up to 52,000 points per night! The value of the hotel right now is about $250, but it only cost $150-170 per night when I booked it, which is the figure I’ll be using to compute my total value from hotels.
Total cash: $105.00
Total points: 175,000
Total value: $1,148.98
When planning our upcoming vacation to Peru, I used 186,000 points and miles and $251.92 for a trip valued at about $4,100. We chose to spend an additional $1450 for our Inca Trail Trek, but there are definitely cheaper options and ways to use points for visiting Machu Picchu if you prefer. While it’s not my most impressive use of points and miles, we’re very excited to visit Peru and Machu Picchu at a fraction of the cost!