Peru Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: Sol (PEN)
🕙Time Zone: -5 GMT
📞Phone Code: +51
🌐Language: Spanish (Peruvian dialect)
✈️Best time to visit: April to October
🍴Eat: Pollo a la Brasa (Grilled Chicken)
🍷Drink: Pisco Sour / Chicha Morada
🗺️Don't miss: Machu-Picchu
🗺 Menu of Contents:
Peru is well positioned on the maps of many travellers to South America, because it holds the treasures of the pre-hispanic cultures, with Machu-Picchu being the highlight of any traveller's itineraries to Peru. The country also offers fine beaches, soaring peaks, ancient ruins, remote jungles and colonial towns that still preserve traditional cultures, which add to the mystery and excitement of visiting Peru.
As mentioned, big adventure travellers should not miss the 'Lost City of the Incas', Machu Picchu, or sail the world's highest lake, Lake Titicaca. They can also venture to the lush and steamy Peruvian Amazon, which is home to an incredible amount of biodiversity. Visitors can expect to see anything from tropical flowers to monkeys, or majestic jaguars. Typical tours can be arranged to eco-friendly jungle cabins from Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado, which offer many activities and are also key points for tourism.
Other sightseeing spots, visitors should include, are the mysterious Nazca Lines, in the desert of Nazca, the impressive Colca Canyon and the wildlife-rich Ballestas Islands.
Cities are also well worth visiting for their culture and getting a true understanding on how the Peruvian people live in the cities. The capital, Lima, boasts some fine Spanish-colonial architecture and a very good cuisine recognition. Other cities to discover are Arequipa, Trujillo, Piura and naturally Cuzco, from where to start the tour to Machu Picchu!
Arriving to Peru is becoming easier now thanks to an increase in air travel to and from the country's main gateway, Lima. Also it means fares have become cheaper as a host or European and American airlines fly there on a daily basis. Peru has many domestic airports but Lima will be your starting point for any journey.
Arriving in Lima's Main Jorge Chavez Airport is simple, however if you have a domestic connection, you will need to clear immigration, exit arrivals and then re-enter security to access the domestic flight gates.
Obviously travelling by air is the main way of transportation within the country, Peru has no official airline as during the decades a number or airlines have failed to secure funding and remain competitive. However Lan Peru, now forming part of LATAM group is a major player in the country and flies to both international and domestic destinations.
Other airlines in Peru operating domestic routes mainly are Star Peru orViva Air Peru.
Within the country, ground transportation is done mostly by busses. They provide cheap and comfortable journeys with semi-bed or full bed seats for most connections to major cities. However this option is not so recommended if you are travelling International. Journey's can be several days long, poor road infrastructure and often pickpockets operate on busses making it not a secure mode of travelling, specially at night. The trip by bus to Cuzco or along the coast of Peru are the more popular routes and the safest.
✔️Tip: Travelling by taxi or Uber is often the best option when arriving to any airport, as there is limited public transport from the airports to the city centres. (except Lima).
Be aware that for tourists, taxi drivers will increase the prices dramatically so always agree a price before getting in. On average a trip from/to the airport should not cost more than 50 soles, ($15) to/from city centre in Lima.
Peru is a safe country to visit overall, however the bigger cities pose a threat to any visitor who might get pickpocketed or scammed. The usual sensible precautions should be enough to keep travellers safe. Travellers should be especially cautious in crowded areas, on public transport, at bus and train stations, and in the centre of Lima at night.
Visitors should take extra care in Lima and Cuzco, where there's a risk of street and violent crime, including attacks with fire weapons.
Foreigners have also been reported to be confronted and attacked while trekking in the Huayhuash region near Huaraz and should seek safety advice before setting out.
Women in particular should only take taxis that have been pre-booked by a hotel or an official company. Travellers arriving at Lima International Airport should be wary of thieves posing as taxi drivers or tour operators.
Visitors should avoid all political gatherings and demonstrations, as these have the potential for violence.
❗Attention: Discretion is essential to avoid being noted by potential thieves or violent groups. Avoid walking out after sun-set in unless in a bigger group or located in the safer areas of the big cities. (smaller towns and remote communities are often much safer than cities). Also, don't expose belongings like a phone or camera when walking in the bigger cities and dress preferably in darker clothes to go unnoticed.
Peru's climate is very variable depending where you are. At the coast, including Lima, it's mild whilst in the inland it can be very hot or cold depending on the season. Summers are run from December to February where it is often warm and humid. Temperatures on average are 27°C. The best time to visit Peru is April to October for more mild temperatures.
The Andes region is cool, and its wet season runs from October to April. Its dry season lasts from May to September. During the dry season, days in the highlands are clear and sunny, though nights become very cold, especially at altitude, like Cuzco.
The forested region of the Amazon Basin has an equatorial climate, where conditions involve hot weather and frequent rain throughout the year.
The peak tourist season runs from April to October, particularly in July and August, which is the Winter season generally in the country. This season is the best time to walk the Inca Trail, given the wonderful visibility travellers can expect during the clear, sunny days. This is also a good time to visit the jungle basin, as there are fewer mosquitoes.
For mode details on the weather on each region or city, please check the guides below.
Peru's food has an authentic mixture of cultures cuisines, from mild to spicy and hot. Peruvians enjoy a wide variety of fruit and vegetables They use plenty of condiments, ajo and ají (garlic and hot pepper), to increase the flavour of it's dishes. Many restaurants offer a menú del día (menu of the day) which is a combination of dishes for a set price. Cities will be often more expensive than the coastal regions ,where you will find an array of cheap, delicious and varied fruits available from markets.
Popular dishes and products to taste are: Ceviche, raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice, onions and hot chillies. Cuy, roasted guinea pig, served whole, with yucca and potatoes. Causa relleña, potato cakes stuffed with a range of fillings, including chicken, avocado or crabmeat. Tamales, boiled corn dumplings filled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf. Mazamorra morada, a dessert made with purple maize and sweet potato starch jelly cooked with lemons, dried fruits, cinnamon and cloves. Salchipapas, a sausage-and-chips fast-food snack. particularly popular in Chiclayo. Papas a la huancaína, sliced potatoes served on lettuce with a slightly spicy cheese sauce, and either a piece of hard-boiled egg or olives. Pollo a la brasa, chargrilled chicken, served with chips and salad with sauces. Chicharrones, salted pork fried in its own fat, a popular roadside snack.
As for drinks, the national spirit is, Pisco, a clear brandy distilled from grapes. Pisco sour, Peru’s most popular cocktail, a bittersweet pisco-based drink made with lime juice, egg white and sugar. Chicha de jora, a potent maize beer popular in the Andes. Chicha morada, a non-alcoholic purple sweet corn juice that dates back to Inca times.
Inca Kola: The bottled soft drink of choice; sweet, fizzy and bright yellow.
Also Peru is popular for beer, typically light lagers include Cuzqueña from Cusco and Arequipeña from Arequipa.
Peru is a country full of mystery waiting to be discovered. Over the years I have been there, today I can say I have good Peruvian friends and it's a country I will not stop visiting. It's a destination which impresses me each time I go. Big cities like Lima, offer a true vision to a more civilised society trying to progress in what it still a country in development.
Lima might not be the like to everybody by it's loud city centre and impatient drivers. Away from the historic centre, visiting the area of San Isidro or Miraflores, instantanly you will feel safer and can compare it to any modern urbe. Lima would suit only for a quick stopover transit city for most travellers in my opinion as you discover other towns and places of interest.
Peru is so renowned for its beauty, landscape and Inca remains, specially Machu Picchu area. Breathtaking scenery, friendly locals and a moderate climate make it an ideal visit to South America. As well there are many towns like Arequipa, Ica or Trujillo which are beautiful small cities with colonial influence and more calm atmosphere's than Lima.
As I continue to travel to Peru, the guide's will include little by little more cities and places to travel and discover!
(4 times visited)