Peru: landed in Lima, took Taxi Green (airport taxi, one can be arranged at the stand located in the terminal which you’ll arrive in) to Pariwana hostel in the touristy but comfortable Miraflores area. Our hostel arranged a taxi back to the airport for us.
Flight —> Cusco
—> stayed at Pariwana hostel in Cusco, we liked it a lot! Did laundry there & got everything back in great condition. Also the food isn’t bad & there is a fun community vibe. We went out to a bar in the main square called Mushrooms. The San Pedro market great & is walking distance. There is a great mural on Ave El Sol http://www.phenomenalplace.com/2013/08/cusco-mural-by-juan-bravo-shows-amazing.html
—> take a free (aka donation only) walking tour http://www.fwtperu.com/index.html
there is one tour leaving from the Plaza de Armas and another from Plaza San Francisco, I recommend doing both (we did)
—> we took a Peru Rail train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calintes). There is a “Colectivo” mini bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo which is cheap, leaves at least every hour & takes about an hour (google map: “Pavitos Colectivo” for location which is at the intersection of Pavitos & Calle Belen). Another option is to arrange a trek with a tourist company in Cusco. We met others who did this but I’m not sure of which companies they used…
To go to Machu Picchu:
We stayed in a private room at New Day in Aguas Calientes (at the base of M.P.) for one night then woke up at 4am to climb the mountain up to Machu Picchu. There is a bus up the mountain but I would highly recommend the EARLY climb. Its a good experience starting in the dark, when it is cool, and arriving at the top when the sun comes up!! The crows from the buses really start to fill the place by 9:00. One night is all you need in this tourist trap town! Leave in the afternoon after visiting the mountain.
To get to Huacachina, take a bus from Lima (the miraflores station, Soyzu is the cheap & local option but makes many stops, there are also express buses which are a bit more $ but have the conveniences of, say, an airplane: snacks, bathroom, movies, direct route) to Ica then a taxi from the bus stop there to Huacachina (note: be cautious about finding a driver you feel is trustworthy). You must stay at Banana’s Adventure 1-2 nights & do the sand dune buggy day tour.