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Peru – Highlights & Tips

All told, Peru engaged us for 23 days in September 2009. Our first stop on our world tour was a splendid ice breaker. We spent time with Peruvian families, imbibed on unique drinks, and saw much of what this proud country has to offer.

- See & Do

Lake Sandoval & Amazon Rainforest1) Amazon – the sights/sounds/smells were incredible!

2) Mach Picchu – 4 days of hiking makes you appreciate the remarkable Inca empire

3) If time permits – Lake Titicaca & Colca Canyon

4) Peru is not your “beach vacation” – activities are dominated by hiking and lots of walking.

- Transportation

1) Air – LAN Peru (impressive service & planes) covers much of the country and you can save big $$$ by using the Peru version of the site. Star Peru is a low cost carrier and has decent coverage.

2) Bus – You can go almost everywhere in Peru via bus if you have the patience and time. Opt for the “luxury” buses as they are more reliable, have sober drivers, and are quite comfortable. The extra money is well worth it… trust us.

3) Taxis – Negotiate cheap fares to/from bus terminals and airports. Also widely available in cities. Be sure to get a legit taxi as stories of baggage theft/robbery are rampant.

- Food

1) Greg enjoyed the saltado (alpaca, fries, onions, rice).

2) Ash became quite ill from something or other, so she relied on pasta, pizza, and wrapper type food much of the time.  A diet light on alpaca to be sure. 

3) Soup – they love their soups flavored with a bone, though it is quite bland.

4) Most Peruvian food is laced with salt, watch out!

5) Avoid buffets like the plague.

- Drink

Pisco Sours v11) Pisco Sour (the national drink) – tastes like a margarita, but made with egg white. Captain Ron would be proud!

2) Cusquena – this beer is everywhere and is usually served warm. Opt for the “grande” and share the $$$ saved with a friend. Greg enjoyed many of these.

3) Coca Tea – a classic in the higher elevations. It does wonders for symptoms of altitude sickness.

4) Chicha – consumed for hundreds of years in the Andes. It is a fermented maize drink that only the daring travelers will try… it will reek havoc on the weak’s stomach.

- Culture & Citizens

1) Attire – Regardless of tourism, the friendly people wear the traditional dress.  Women: a blouse with colorful accents, black shahs to cover their head, heavy/colorful skirts, a sash, thick tights, and sandals.  Men: colorful ponchos, dark pants,sandals, and a chullo (beautiful alpaca hats that tie under their neck).  Some men are transitioning to a look more familiar to the West. 

2) Mix of Spanish / Inca heritage– the celebration of these two cultures is equally celebrated.

3) Family – large family units with literate children (Spanish & English) and strong values.  Many young mothers and it seemed every family had a baby.

4) People – incredibly friendly, trusting, and welcoming.  We can’t say enough how much we enjoyed the Peruvians with which we interacted.

- Safety

1) Don’t be a fool – simple rules apply as petty crime is present. Don’t wear jewelery, stash your wallet, and be vigilant.

2) Lima – fly in, then get out! We spent 1 day here and that was plenty. One gets an uneasy feeling in the capital city for good reason. We met a German couple that was held up a gunpoint in broad daylight. Stay in well populated areas and never walk alone.

3) Cusco – the main tourist city (near Machu Picchu) had a fantastic vibe at night with a heavy police presence. We felt very safe here.

- Costs

1) Lodging – when in doubt, pick a hostel near the Plaza de Armas (main square in each city). Dorms range from $6 – $10 and privates from $8 – $12 per person.

2) Food – Breakfast is generally included with your hostel, lunch $4 – $6, and dinner (entre & beer) $7 – $9 per person. Cooking at the hostel will cost you about $4 per person + strange conversations.

3) Transportation – Flights between cities cost between $75 and $125 per person. Buses range from $8 for a “local” to $30 for a “luxury” liner for distances of 6 – 10 hours.

4) Excursions – The Inca Trail fills up months in advance and the price continues to climb. Most trekking operators charge between $450 and $550 for the 4 day / 3 night hike to Machu Picchu. Overnight Amazon tours run in the $130 – $190 range while excursions to Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon are about $20. Every excursion except for the Inca Trail is negotiable – don’t spend a penny more than you must!

Plaza de Armas Fountain & Peru FlagLooking back, we covered lots of climates, cities, and sights in just over 3 weeks. Perhaps we were giddy and traveled a bit fast as this was our first month. Only 2 days were spent to rest and that clearly is not sustainable. Peru is an inexpensive country for the necessities of life, but the costs add up quickly when embarking on the tantalizing excursions. Peru has so much to offer… incredible sights and even better people.

- Greg & Ash

  • ryansweeney

    Rick Steves would be proud of Peru description.

  • fofs

    Ryan – I shall go by Steves Rick and author “South America Through the
    Backdoor”.

    - Dietz

  • Mark S. Waligora

    This was a great post guys. Very helpful. Seems that the Alpaca is very important part of the Peruvian diet and culture. It makes sense, they have such beautiful fur. I'm thinking of buying one, using it as a pet for two days and then sustaining myself on it for the next 28 days. If anyone could provide some feedback on what the IRS allows on Alpaca depreciation periods, I'd really appreciate it.

    Also, good to see that Greg finally got to live out his lifelong dream of being a falconer.

  • fofs

    Mark – It was either joining the circus or becoming a falconer. Twas
    a difficult choice indeed.

    - Greg

  • fofs

    Mark – It was either joining the circus or becoming a falconer. Twas
    a difficult choice indeed.

    - Greg

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