Hi! I’m very happy to hear you’re considering to travel down to Peru. Here’s a list of questions I often get when close friends show interest in coming down to potato land.
Dude, you just sent me a link here. I don’t even know what’s there to do in Peru.
Glad you asked! Peru is all about adventure. You can sandboard in the desert until you’re tired and have to take a break at an oasis. You can explore a virgin patch of the jungle with a machete. You can visit humble settlements amidst mountains that make skyscrapers look like park trees.
And then there’s Lima, the capital city.
What is there to do in Lima?
Quite frankly? Some walk tours, some other food tasting tours and spend the rest of your time learning spanish. Maybe you’re intense and will try to learn every single detail about the spanish inquisition but if you are all about having a good time what you’ll be hearing from me is go rent a car and take a roadtrip in any direction but west, unless you want it to be over quick. Peruvian countryside has amazing scenery and a unique culture. It’ll be in those places where you’ll feel you’ve entered an alternate reality.
I feel like I haven’t stressed this enough, so I’ll say it again: Lima is all about food. Just come down here to try everything Peruvian food has to offer. It’s amazing and I’m not biased like someone from Russia is going to tell you Russian cuisine is the best one in the world (ew).
What is the best time to visit?
You should aim for the warm months - which if you’re from europe will be all year. If you’re going to the countryside you want to avoid rainy season from October to February. Tourist peak season is between June and August so keep that in mind if you want keep your background pictures. If you can, come at times there are interesting events going on such as Mistura, the procession of el Señor de los Milagros, Peruvian football national team playing qualifiers, or any protest (ask if you want me to keep you posted).
Hold on, what is Mistura?
The best thing to ever come out of Peru. It’s our banner food festival and in Peru that means a lot. I know every country thinks their cuisine is amongst the best one in the world and their mum does the best spaguetti but how many countries have their chefs leading the polls for next head of state? Only Peru. That says more about our political class than our food but I can’t think of a better place to start discovering peruvian culture. After trying an exotic fruit you’ll wonder about the natural landscape capable of producing it, and when trying a fusion between african and japanese techniques on peruvian potatoes you’ll have a better understanding of the kind of society the peruvian one is. If you’re going to travel around the country but don’t know what parts to visit yet, I feel like Mistura will give you a hint of what you’re after.
Alright, how do I move around?
In Lima, you’ll most likely be taking Uber everywhere unless you want to haggle in the street and have a decent chance of being ripped off. What about the bus and metro? Unless you want to experience one the public transport systems in the world, pay your cab fare.
If you’re going to visit other cities in the countryside then you should definitely consider renting a motorbike and do it Che Guevara style. Alternatively, rent a car. People in Lima complain about living in the city but I think we all tolerate living here because the views when driving around this country are simply mesmerising.
All other options are available. You can also try to enter the Amazon rainforest via the Amazon river. You’d have to travel north to Colombia though.
What about Machu Picchu?
You’re asking this so I don’t really need to tell you why you should go to Machu Picchu. That only speaks to how great it really is. It’s a mind blowing ancient city on a mountain peak.
Here’s the deal. You cannot spend the night at Machu Picchu, so you’ll most likely take the bus there from a small town in the valley at the base of the mountain called Aguas Calientes, where you can stay overnight. To get there you need to take a train from Cusco, the nearest city. You are going to need to buy those train ticket ahead of time.
You can also be hardcore and do the Inka or Salkantay Trails, a 4 or 5 day hike from Cusco all the way to Machu Picchu. They involve daily treks 12 to 20 kilometers a day, climbing and descending mountains and sleeping in tents under a mantle of stars. I did it in 2019 and I could not recommend it enough. Here’s some pictures.
I don’t speak spanish. Should I learn some?
Only if you want to get to know locals. Most people can speak english but they’ll be diffident when given the chance to have a conversation. If you want them to open up you should learn spanish to the point that it’s believable that you’ve actually tried learning it and then when people see you bumbling their language they’ll feel better bumbling yours.
For everything else you’ll be fine.
Is it safe to visit Peru?
What I’ll say is that I have managed to pull of a decent record in this country so if you don’t do anything I wouldn’t do you should be alright.
Why is Peru so peruvian?
I’m no expert about peruvian culture so please try not to embarrass me by making any recondite questions like when tourists correct me when I mistake alpacas for llamas.
If you want to start learning about Peruvian culture why not download the new Sid Meier’s Civilization VI which happens to feature the Inca empire. Try playing as the Inkas for 200 years and then let yourself be conquered by Europeans so you know get to really know us (Spoiler alert: it’s not fun).
Jokes aside, I have already said I think our food is the best entry point to our cultural diversity.
Why don’t you stop being lazy and answer my questions in conversation like any normal person?
Please do not let my automated responses demean my excitement of your visit to Peru!