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peru

Peru is a geographically diverse county.  When you think of Peru you think of the Andes Mountains, but many of Peru’s major cities lie in the country’s desert, including its capital Lima.  The National Geographic Society splits the coastline of Peru into two deserts: the Sechura Desert from the northern border to the inland city of Nazca and the Atacama Desert which connects it to the Northern border of Chile. Lying at the core of the Andes and the Atacama in Southern Peru is Arequipa, the “White City”.  It is surrounded by beautiful hot springs and the deepest desert canyon on Earth, the Colca Canyon.  In sharp contrast to the deepest canyon, at an altitude of over 12,500 feet, magnificent Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water in the world.  Situated between Bolivia and Peru. a visit to the lake is a memorable experience for anyone.

what to buy

  • Ponchos and Alpaca clothing

  • Traditional Peruvian textiles

  • Dried sweet corn

  • Friendship bracelets

  • Chullo hat

  • Andean artwork

  • Inca Cross

  • Andean and Alpaca Dolls

  • Painted wooden bowls

  • Peruvian spices

what to do

  • Visit a desert oasis

  • Fish for piranhas in the Amazon

  • discover ruins along the Inca Trail

  • Meditate at the Rainbow Mountain

  • Spend a night under the Sacred Valley stars in a hanging hotel

  • Visit one of the world’s deepest canyons

  • Take a boat ride on Lake Titicaca

  • Meet the Animals of the Andes

  • Sample Traditional and Modern Cuisine in Lima

  • Horseback riding in the Andean foothills

  • Cycle the coastal paths of Lima

  • Splash about in the hot pools in Cañón del Colca La Calera

what to eat

  • Aji de Gallina

  • Anticuchos

  • Arroz Con Pato

  • Causas

  • Ceviche

  • Cuy

  • Lomo Saltado

  • Jungle Fruits

machu picchu

The highlight of any trip to Peru is a visit to Machu Picchu.  This ancient Incan citadel lies high in the Andes Mountains.  TIt was built in the 15th century and is believed to be a religious site for Inca leaders. The majestic fortress spans a spectacular 5-mile distance. Despite its remote location, Machu Picchu attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.  Watching the sunset over the mountains is something you will never forget.  

Getting to Machu Picchu can be a challenge.  There is no airport and no roads from Cusco.  How do you get there? You need to go to Cusco city or Ollantaytambo and board the train to Aguas Calientes.  From there buses and cabs are available to take you to the citadel.  A private driver and guide will allow you to arrive before the hoards of tourists descend on the site.  

 

For the more athletic and adventurous, you can hike the Inca trail. The Inca Trail is the most well-known trek in South America. Many rate it among the top 5 treks in the world. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by the combination of breathtaking mountain scenery, lush cloud forest, subtropical jungle, and the must-see,  Inca paving stones, ruins, and tunnels. The highlight of the trail is the exhilarating view of Machu Picchu, the enigmatic “Lost City of the Incas”. It normally takes trekkers four days and three nights to complete the 26-mile “Classic Inca Trail” There are also daily bus services or taxi cabs between Cusco and Ollantaytambo. You can also find bus services between Machu Picchu Town (Aguas Calientes) and Machu Picchu Inca citadel on the top mountain.

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If you plan to visit Lima, check out our blog post about things to do in Peru's capital city

practical guide

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Climate

In Peru, a country located just south of the Equator, there are three climate zones: a desert coastal strip (called la Costa), with a mild climate, cloudy and foggy in winter and pleasantly warm in summer; the Andean zone (la Sierra), more or less cold depending on altitude, and finally the large eastern area covered by the Amazonian forest (la Selva), with a hot and humid climate throughout the year.

safety

For general emergencies requiring police assistance, such as theft, minor traffic accidents, drug-related crimes, or acts of violence, dial the country's central emergency number at 105.

Most Peruvian drivers do not give way to pedestrians, particularly in the cities so be very careful when crossing streets.

Money

Many top-end hotels and shops accept tarjetas de credito (credit cards) but usually charge you a 7% (or greater) fee for using them.  US dollars are accepted by most tourist-oriented businesses, though you’ll need Nuevos soles to pay for local transportation, most meals etc. Paying in nuevos soles can be a time-consuming hassle at some mid range hotels and many top-end establishments. ATMs are a convenient way of obtaining cash, but rates are usually lower than at casas de cambio. Both US dollars and nuevos soles are readily available from Peruvian ATMs.

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