Travel Guide South America Peru



Gourd carving,

Gourd carving,"Mate Burilado"

© marlis

Peru's irresistible attraction is impossible to pinpoint: with its stunning Andean landscapes, large slice of tropical untouched rainforest and breathtaking remnants of one of the oldest ancient civilizations, it really does have it all and is spectacular. Indeed, the amazing Incan ruins of Machu Picchu are almost enough incentive for any trip to Peru. Considered one of the forgotten wonders of the modern world, the city was built in the sixteenth century as a holy city on the mountain of Machu Picchu by the Incan emperor. Overlooking the Urubambu River and the formidable Andean ranges, travellers to the city will undoubtedly find it a surreal destination.

That said, Peru's array of attractions ensures that travellers will find themselves in the pleasant dilemma of picking which one to focus their attention on.



Brief History

Some of the oldest civilizations appeared circa 6000 BC in the coastal provinces of Chilca and Paracas, and in the highland province of Callejón de Huaylas. Over the following three thousand years, inhabitants switched from nomadic lifestyles to cultivating land, as evidence from sites such as Jiskairumoko, Kotosh, and Huaca Prieta demonstrates. The first more familiar cultures are the Norte Chico civilization, from c. 3000 BC, and the Chavin culture, which emerged c. 900 BC. The Paracas culture emerged on the southern coast around 300 BC. Coastal cultures such as the Moche and Nazca flourished from about 100 BC to about 700 AD.

The Incas created the vastest dynasty of pre-Columbian America. The empire reached its greatest extension at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It dominated a territory that included from north to south Ecuador, part of Colombia, the northern half of Chile, and the north-west part of Argentina; and from west to east, from Bolivia to the Amazonian forests and Peru. The empire originated from a tribe based in Cuzco, which became the capital.

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom. In 1532, they arrived in the country, which they called Peru. At that moment, the Inca Empire was preoccupied by a five-year civil war between two princes, Huáscar and Atahualpa. Taking advantage of this, Pizarro c.s., on November 16, 1532, while the natives were in a celebration in Cajamarca, in a surprise move captured the Inca Atahualpa during the Battle of Cajamarca. When Huascar was killed, the Spanish tried and convicted Atahualpa of the murder, executing him by strangulation.
A census taken by the last Quipucamayoc indicated that there were 12 million inhabitants of Inca Peru; 45 years later, under viceroy Toledo, the census figures amounted to only 1,1 million Indians.

Lima was established as a center for many political and administrative institutions. In 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was built to unite Spanish royal authority over its vast territories across South America that includes Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and half of Venezuela.

Jose de San Martin of Argentina proclaimed the independence of Peru in Lima on July 28, 1821 as a result of many uprisings towards independence. But it was only in 1879 when Spain finally recognized Peru’s sovereignty. Soon after, Peru engaged in many intermittent territorial disputes conflicts with its neighbors such as Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador. Political and economic stability were attained during the early 1900s, after the Pacific War was over and the government begun initiating numerous social reforms.

After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency. President Alberto Fujimori's election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity.
The presidential election of 2006 saw the return of Alan Garcia who, after a disappointing presidential term from 1985 to 1990, returned to the presidency with promises to improve social conditions and maintain fiscal responsibility




Peru has 3 main geographical regions: the coast, the Andes mountains and the jungle around the Amazon River. The weather and landscape varies distinctly because of this clear division into 3 regions.

The coastal strip is a dry and relatively cool area, especially when you consider that it is actually in the tropics. But the cold Humboldt Current means that cold air, which is heavier than warm air, stays below the warm air. It is also drier, which means less rain fall, so some areas don't see more than about 50 mm of rain a year, sometimes less, although foggy and cloudy days are much more common. Nothing much grows here, nor in the Andes or Amazon areas. Instead, there is a fertile zone in between the coastal area and the Andes, where weather conditions are fine enough to grow crops and raise some stock. Behind this zone the Andes towers up to over 6,700 metres, one of the highest mountain ranges in the western hemisphere. Then the land drops dramatically again towards the low-lying area of the Amazon basin, where tropical rainforest and rivers are the norm - and roads, people and bearable temperatures are not. Peru shares international borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile.

The Northern Coast is characterized by having a vastly different climate and geography than the rest of the country. This is brought by the famous El Niño phenomenon during the summer months, December to April. Moving east the shift from subtropical desert to tropical dry forests is noticeable. These are composed of shrubs, trees, ferns and wildlife contains crocodiles, reptiles, iguanas, boa constrictors, anteater and sloth.
The use of land is primarily forests and woodland, while permanent pasture falls short next to permanent crop and arable land. The country faces many natural hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, and mild volcanic activity. As the largest portion of land in the country is dedicated forests and woodlands it is no surprise that illegal deforestation is one of the primary environmental issues. Overgrazing cattle is a problem that in the last few decades, has become paramount. This leads to desertification, air pollution, and pollution of rivers, and ground water. Because of these environmental concerns, and municipal and mining damage, the country has signed the climate change protocol, the Kyoto Protocol.




The following is a list of geographical regions and the 25 administrative regions plus a province (Lima) they are divided into. There is also a administrative region, called Lima, so it gets confusing sometimes.

Central CoastLima Region, Lima Province, Callao
Southern CoastArequipa, Ica, Moquegua and Tacna
Northern CoastAncash, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura, Tumbes
Southern SierraAyacucho, Apurimac, Huancavelica
Cordillera BlancaHuanuco, Pasco, Junin
Northern SierraSan Martin, Cajamarcas
AltiplanoCusco, Puno
AmazonasLoreto, Amazonas
Central EastMadre de Dios, Ucayali





  • Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and sits beneath the stunning El Misti Volcano. Known as 'The White City' due to the fact that many of the cities buildings are made from a white volcanic rock, it lies at approximately 2,300 metres, giving it a pleasent year round temperature. It is also the gateway to the Colca Canyon. The historic centre of Arequipa was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
  • Cusco is the 'capital' of the Incas and the most famous city in Peru.
  • Huaraz is a base for trekking and climbing the Andes, with the Huascaran the being the biggest challenge.
  • Iquitos is the largest city in the world which you can not reach by road, only by river or air.
  • Lima is the capital and biggest city along the Pacific coast.
  • Nazca is famous for the Nazca Lines.
  • Pisco was the center of a horrible earthquake a few years ago and the access point to the poor man's galapagos
  • Puno is gateway to Lake Titicaca.
  • Tacna is the southermost city, right on the border with Chile
  • Trujillo is on the north coast and has stunning beaches with great surfing.



Sights and Activities

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

© shinenyc

Main article: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu does not need a real introduction, since it's one of the most famous attractions in Peru, South America and the world at large. Not known to the outside world until about 100 years ago, when it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, this former Inca city can only be reached by train or by a multi day hike on the Inca Trail.

Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is a very spectacular landscape in the south of Peru and although it can be done as a daytrip from Arequipa, it needs at least several days to explore, both by car and on foot. The deepest part of the canyon reaches a depth of over 3,000 metres and travelling to the canyon will mean you have to travel by car up to 4,800 metres. This can be literally a breathtaking experience. You will be rewarded with magnificent views and great wildlife, like vicunas (wild relative of llama and alpaca) and the mighty Andean condor. For the adventurous types there are multiple day hikes, with camping en route.

Huascarán National Park

Peru offers one of the most scenic mountain ranges in the continent and Huascarán National Park in the Cordillera Blanca is probably the most spectactular. Mountains to be climbed include Mount Huascaran (6,768 metres above sea level) and it is best to base yourself in the town of Huaraz first. The Huascaran National Park is on the Unesco World Heritage List.

Manu National Park

A Pair of Red-and-Green Macaws

A Pair of Red-and-Green Macaws

© evilnoah

Manú National Park is a very large park and is located in the south of Peru, north of the city of Cuzco. The park ranges in elevation from 150 to 4,200 metres above sea-level, meaning high biological diversity in this area and is therefore on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Over 850 species of birds call this park home and species like the giant otter and the giant armadillo also live in this great park. Even jaguars are often sighted in the park. The park is most easliy reached by a 45-minute flight from Cusco.

Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are located in the south of Peru, about 400 kilometres south of the capital Lima and represent one of those almost unearthy experience you can have on our planet when you fly above them.

The Humming Bird

The Humming Bird

© bruntonal

You will discover lots of carvings on the ground representing living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long. They were probably created some 1,500 to 2,500 years ago.

Historical cities

The historical cities of Lima and Arequipa are both on the Unesco World Heritage list and represent one of the finest examples of colonial building styles in the country. Arequipa is one of the most favorites cities amongst travellers in Peru with its integration of European and native building techniques and characteristics.

Cuzco and the Sacred Valley

If you are into Inca culture and history the city of Cuzco and the nearby Sacred Valley is the place to be, with small cities like Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Puno and Lake Titicaca

Although Puno itself is not of particular interest, it is a perfect base to explore Lake Titicaca and its islands, including the floating Uros Islands. Although the latter ones are relatively touristy it nevertheless is worth visiting. Other islands including the Isla del Sol, Isla Amantani and Isla Taquile. One also glimpses the historic churches of the colonial period, which become the meeting sites of some of the largest annual celebrations and dances.

Rio Abiseo National Park

The Rio Abiseo National Park is located in the San Martín department of Peru. UNESCO pronounced it as Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity (World Heritage Site) in 1990. The park is home to a large number of species of flora and fauna, as well as the location of over 30 pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Since 1986, the park has not been open to tourism due to the fragile nature of both the natural and archaeological environment. The yellow-tailed woolly monkey, Oreonax flavicauda, previously thought to be extinct, is known to live in the park and appears to be endemic to the region. It was mostly due to this monkey's critically endangered status that the area gained national park status and was placed on the list of World Heritage Sites in 1983. Many other animals inhabit the park including the elusive jaguar, but also spider monkeys, King vulture, Spectacled bear and the armadillo.


Like many other countries in the Amazon Rainforest, Peru offers the opportunity to travel along the mighty Amazon river from Pucallpa all the way to the border with Brazil and Colombia. There are some fine opportunities to base yourself in forest lodges from the city of Iquitos in the northeast of the country, the largest city in the world only to be reached by boat or plane. This area contains the lowest pass route of the Andes to arrive at the Pan-American road system.

Hiking and Mountaineering

Huaraz - View at sunrise

Huaraz - View at sunrise

© Helmutkam

Peru offers one of the most scenic mountain ranges in the continent and Huascaran National Park in the Cordillera Blanca is probably the most spectactular. Mountains to be climbed include Mount Huascaran (6,768 metres above sea level) and it is best to base yourself in the town of Huaraz first.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Volunteer opportunities are easy to find in Peru. They range from multi month commitments to just being able to pop in and build houses for a couple of days at places like Pisco Sin Fronteras in Pisco. As one of the most popular countries for international volunteers, it's no wonder there are numerous volunteer organizations in Peru.
  • Food is an important part of a trip to Peru and is one of the few places in the world where it is easy to Guinea Pig and Llama.
  • Surfing can be found on several places a long the coast. Even in Lima it is possible to take surfing classes.
  • Horseback Riding can be arranged in several cities including cities like Cusco and Arequipa.
  • Rock Climbing can be found throughout the mountains of Peru.
  • Para Sailing has become popular and is a bit expensive although possible in several cities.
  • Sand Boarding has exploded in recent years especially in cities like Huacachina outside of Ica.
  • Ayahuasca has become one of the countries largest attractions in the last two decades, popularized by many celebrities as a healing shamanistic therapy. Peru is one of the few places in the world that features this kind of tourism.



Events and Festivals

  • One of the biggest events in Peru is Inti Raymi which takes place in Cusco. Inti Raymi is a celebration dedicated to the sun and takes place every year on the 24th of June. On the days before Inti Raymi there are daily parades in the city centre of Cusco.
  • La Virgen de la Candelaria - Folk music and dance celebrations, most notable around Puno. Starting on Feb 2nd and lasting for around 2 weeks. This festival is set yearly to honor the patron saint of the city of Puno, in central Peru. It s among the three largest festivals in the country.
  • Carnaval - This starts on the last few days before Lent (Feb/March) and coincides with the big Carnaval in Rio. Be prepared to get wet as this is often celebrated by weeks of water fights.
  • Semana Santa - This is celebrated the week before Easter Sunday and consists of dramatic religious processions almost daily. The best places to witness these processions are in Ayacucho, Arequipa and Huaraz.
  • Corpus Christi - Held on the 9th Thursday after Easter, these processions are especially dramatic in Cusco.
  • Fiestas Patrais - This is Peru’s national independence day and therefore celebrated nationwide on 28th and 29th July. During the month of July you'll be hard pressed to find a building without the national flag being displayed.
  • El Senor de los Milagros - Otherwise known as ’Lord of the Miracles’. This is a religious procession celebrated in Lima on October 18th where everyone wears purple.
  • Fiesta de la Purisima Concepcion - Another national holiday held on December 8th. Celebrated with religious processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
  • San José Festival - A Peruvian patronal feast held in the resort Las Delicias at Trujillo city for one week. Traditionally the local housing will become decorated with the national colors, and proves to be a sight. THe event starts with a procession of characters for the patron saint Joseph, and bull fighting sessions throughout the week.
  • Lord of Huaman Festival - One of the countries oldest festivals, also a patronal feast, celebrated annually. Taking place in the town of Santiago De Huaman. The festival is held during the middle of May, and the main festival celebration takes place on the 17th. On the main procession day, special celebration include flag hoisting, a large solem festival-wide mass chaired by the current archbishop of the local town of Trujillo. Afterwards the fest begins and the traditional food of the alfajores are sold around the festival.
  • Trujillo Book Festival - Lasting from one to twelve days, this international literacy festival, held at the historic centre in Trujillo, has been active since 2003. Seeing participant numbers in the hundreds of thousands take part in tributes, lecture circuits, presentations, and various readings.
  • Competition of Paso Horses in Trujillo - The Paso horse is considered to be at the forefront of the Nation's heritage. The competition is aligned with many of the city of Trujillos festivals and includes the Capital of Marinera dance, one of the most important symbols of the nation.
  • Selvámonos Festival - Held in Parque Nacional Yanachaga-Chemillén every June, the Festival Selvámonos is fast becoming one of Peru’s most talked-about festivals since its appearance in 2010. It’s a great showcase of Peruvian contemporary music: in case you thought it was all Andean pipes, get ready for innovative new rock, electronica, reggae and whacky takes on cumbia . It’s also a force behind simultaneously run semana cultural where various musical/cultural events occur in towns hereabouts.




Generally, Peru has a dry and cool season from June to September and a wetter, warmer season from December to February. But both temperature and rainfall (or snow in the mountains) vary enormously according to elevation or the geographical zone it is in. For example, rainfall is almost non-existent along the coastline and Lima has very little rainfall a year. South from Lima, the Atacama desert goes years without a single drop of rain at all. Temperatures in Lima are consistent throughout the year, with January to March a bit warmer with temperatures during the day around 25 °C. Nights don't cool off as much in Lima as they do in places like Arequipa, which is a bit cooler during the day but has night temperatures close to 0 °C, which is basically a consequence of its elevation of 2,300 metres. Higher, at 3,300 metres, Cusco has even colder temperatures with nights below zero in July and August and a distinct rainy season from December to March. The Amazon basin has its own climate, with high rainfall every month (although December to March are particularly wet) and temperatures of 30 °C or more during the day and barely below 20 °C at night.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice

© all Peru



Getting There

By Plane

The Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima is the most important international airport. It has direct flights from several cities in the USA, like Miami, and from Europe (Amsterdam and Madrid). It has also good connections with main cities in South America, including Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, La Paz, Santiago and Quito. A rather alternative way of leaving the country is by water plane from Iquitos to the triple frontier with Brazil and Colombia in the Amazon.

Other airports with some international connections include the airport in Iquitos and direct flights from Bolivia and Argentina to Cusco International Airport (CUZ).

By Train

The only possible way of entering Peru by train is from Chile. There are several trains a week from Arica, Chile to Tacna in Peru.

By Car

Crossings are possible to and from Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. Crossings to Brazil are quite difficult and require a 4x4 vehicle. Have your documentation and insurance and driver's licence in order.

By Bus

Peru has good bus connections with neighbouring countries and even beyond to countries like Colombia. Daily connections link La Paz in Bolivia with both Puno and Cusco in Peru. Also, buses make their way from Lima south and north along the Panamerican Highway towards Santiago de Chile and all the way north to Quito and on to Bogota.

There are not many border crossings in the Amazon but from Puerto Maldonado you can take buses to the border of Brazil, where you have to cross the river by foot and take buses from there onwards. Crossing the border actually can be done on foot or by boat and is between Inapari (Peru) and Assis Brazil (Brazil), from where it is a further 4.5 hours to Rio Branco.

By Boat

Lake Titicaca has some expensive options for getting to Peru from Bolivia or the other way around. A more realistic option of leaving Peru by boat is from Iquitos to the triple frontier with Brazil and Colombia, travelling the mighty Amazon river. This takes about 10 hours by fast boat and 2 days by slow boat. There also is a crossing in the extreme southeast (close to Bolivia) where you can cross the Rio Acre by ferry from Inapari to Assia Brazil. Finally, there are even possibilities to get a cargo ship to Ecuador about once every 10 days.



Getting Around

By Plane

There is a good internal flight network operated by LAN Peru among others. You can fly to all major cities in Peru from Lima and many of the flights have several stops (for example Lima -> Cusco -> Juliaca (Puno) -> Arequipa -> Lima) so it is possible to travel between these cities without returning to Lima. This doesn't apply to all cities though and although there are plans for direct flights between for example Cusco and Iquitos, it still involves flying to Lima first. Domestic destinations other than those mentioned above include Andahuaylas, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Huánuco, Piura, Pucallpa, Puerto Maldonado, Tacna, Tarapoto, Trujillo, Tumbes and other cities. Other carriers include Star Peru, TACA Peru, Aero Condor Peru and LC Busre.

By Train

It is possible to Travel between Cusco and Machu Picchu and Cusco and Puno by train. Check the Peru Rail website for more information. There are also tourist service on renovated trains between Lima and Huancayo, usually twice each month. This spectacular route is the second highest railway in the world after the railway in Tibet was completed recently. For more information regarding schedule and prices, including buying tickets, check the Ferro Carril Central website.

By Car

The Pan American highway runs through (or at least nearby) to all the major cities close to the coast. Heading inland and into the Andes roads between major cities are largely in good condition and mostly tarmac. However straying from these roads will usually involve travelling on dirt tracks of varying grades, during the rainy season road travel can take considerably longer and some roads may be impassable. Roads in the Amazon are particularly perilous and ideally you would want a 4x4. Places like Iquitos aren't even accessible by land so need to go here.
To discover Peru by car is a comfortable way and highly recommendable, but for travelling securely you should observe two things: take a good road map with you and travel well informed about your route. If you want you can rent cars in major cities and airports from companies such as Hertz and Avis. The minimum age to rent a car is 18.

By Bus

Peru has and an excellent and cheap bus network that runs between all the major towns and tourist attractions. They range from the cheap and crowded local buses to the air conditioned first class inter city buses with tvs, reclining seats and hostess services, but even these are cheap compared to other countries. Longer trips often have overnight buses available and if you buy one of the better class tickets you will easily be able to sleep. There are numerous companies and one of the biggest and most reliable is Cruz del Sur. Also, Ormeno is recommended for being punctual and has reliable and frequent services between most major cities and towns. For an overview of schedules and connections, also international ones, see

By Boat

Travelling by boat in Peru usually is a good way to get around in the Amazonian area. There are services between Pucallpa and Iquitos, taking 4 days downstream and up to week upstream. From Iquitos, you can travel further to the border with Colombia and Brazil at Tabatinga, taking 1 or 2 days on a slowboat, much less on one of the regular fast boats. There are also boats on Lake Titicaca, if you want to visit several islands (including the floating islands on a tour) from Puno. Finally, you can get to several of the islands off the coast of Peru, including tours to the Ballestas Islands, where there is an abundance of wildlife waiting for you.

Postcard shot of Mt. Huayanay

Postcard shot of Mt. Huayanay

© tommydavis



Red Tape

Tourists from North America, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and the European Union receive a visa upon arrival for up to 180 days. Chinese (including Macau) and India citizens holding US, UK, Canada, Australia, Schengen countries' visas or permanent residence receive a visa upon arrival for up to 180 days (check with the nearest Peruvian Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for most updated information, although in Spanish).

When entering the country, you need to pass the immigration office (inmigración). There you get a stamp in your passport that states the number of days you are allowed to stay (usually 180 days). You can no longer get an extension, so make sure that you ask for the amount of time you think you'll need. When those 180 days are up and you would like to stay for longer, you can either cross the border to a neighbouring country (Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia or Chile) and return the next day and obtain another 180 days or simply overstay and pay the fine when you exit. The overstay fine is US$1 per day overage, so if you stay 30 days longer it's US$30. Many people do this, since it's much cheaper than leaving the country and returning.

When leaving, you need to visit the emigration office (migración), where you get the exit stamp. Inmigración and migración are found on all border crossing-points. Travelling to and from neighboring countries by land is no problem.




See also Money Matters

The local currency is the Nuevo Sol, often written as 'S/'. US dollars are widely accepted and prices for hotels and flights are often quoted in USD. You will not have trouble changing Pounds Sterling or Euros in the cities. All of the tourist cities and towns have cambios where you can change money, and often you will find people changing money on the street sometimes they offer a better deal, sometimes they will rip you off so take care if using the street changers. Try to get your money in the smallest denominations you can (no higher than S/50) or you will find it very difficult to spend the larger notes outside of large hotels or expensive restaurants and you may find yourself standing by a stall for five minutes whilst the owner runs around looking for change.




There are lots of jobs to be had in the mining industries and teaching English. Becoming a translator is also a great way to be employed in Peru. There is also a great tourist scene in Peru, so one could start a service such as providing city tours or making souvenirs to appeal to the tourist crowd. At any rate, the ability to speak Spanish will be very helpful in landing a job in Peru. A standard work week in Peru is usually 48 hours and salaries can range from $200-$300 per month to upwards of $1,000, though the cost of living is relatively inexpensive. One could realistically survive very comfortably on around $500 per month income. Considering the fact that renting an apartment in a cheaper area is right around $100 per month, it's easy to see how one could survive comfortably with a seemingly lower income.

In the second half of 2005 the mining industry began scaling up in a big way and became the largest producer of several mining commodities. The country benefited from these high priced commodities, and the country's economic upturn started here. Nearly 5% of the population is employed by some form of the mining sector.




Peru in one of the best places in South America to learn Spanish and there are many language schools offering Spanish courses. There are quite a few options, with some of the best ones being:




Related article: Spanish: Grammar, pronunciation and useful phrases

Spanish is widely spoken and understood in cities and towns across the country. However further out in the countryside you will hear tribal languages, notably Quechua in the Andes. Especially when you're making your own way around, learning some Quechua or Aymara may open doors, as indigenous people will highly appreciate your effort. Quecha is the language of the Incas and the first language for many indigenous in the countryside of the Sierra. Aymara was the language of the Tihuanacu culture. Though not recognized as an official language, it's widely spoken on the Altiplano.

Latin American Spanish, and Peruvian Spanish, do differ slightly in pronunciation. Also, there is a difference with European Spanish, though it is unlikely that you will not be understood if you are speaking European Spanish. Peru has many schools offering Spanish courses. Some phrases you'll want to learn before your trip, but are considered slang:

  • bacán - cool.
  • Bamba counterfeit goods.
  • Tengo mucha hambre - I'm very hungry.
  • Tengo sed - I'm thirsty.
  • ¿Me puede recomendar un buen restaurante vegetariano? - Can you recommend me a good vegetarian restaurant?
  • ¿Hay un supermercado por aqui? - Is there a supermarket nearby?
  • ¿A qué distancia está? - How far is it?
  • ¿Cuál autobús/camión(MX) va al centro? - Which bus goes to downtown?
  • Aquí me bajo, por favor - I want to get off here, please.

Trying to learn Quechua, the language of the Incas, is highly appreciated in the countryside of the Sierra, where many indigenous speak it as a first language. Here is a list of recommended phrases in Quechua:

  • Rimaykullayk - Hello.
  • ¿Imataq sutiyki? - What is your name?
  • Tupananchiskama - Goodbye.




Peruvian food menu

Peruvian food menu

© Curleys

Peru has a wide range of traditional foods as well as the ever popular pollerias (chicken restaurants). Meals can be had for less than US$1 in many restaurants across the country and eating in one of the most expensive restaurants in town is unlikely to set you back more than US$20.

Traditional meats include Guinea Pig and Alpaca, though by far the most popular meat is chicken. There are many traditional dishes such as lomo saltado (stir fried beef strips, onion, pepper and chips), empanadas (shredded meat wrapped in pastry and deep fried) and ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice - be picky where you eat this as it's particularly susceptible to bugs).




There are many hostels in Peru and they often range in price from US$4 to US$12. It is recommended that you choose an establishment with a safe box or locker. Hostels rand in ranking from 1 - 5 stars, and while they are uncommon outside of the city of Lima. Obviously, the higher the star rating means a higher price, typically between US$ 30 through US$ 50. One star hostels are not particularly bad but there is no hot water, nor might it be in a particularly safe neighbourhood.




Peru is the world's largest producer of organic coffee. Ask for 'cafe pasado', the essence produced by pouring boiling hot water over fresh ground coffee from places like Chanchamayo.

The Pisco-Nasca area is famous for wine cultivating.

Beer is nice, stronger than American brands but less full bodied than European ones. Most of Peruvian beers are made by Backus, currently owned by SAB Miller. Some large towns have their own brand of beer which is hard to get elsewhere in the country. Cusqueña is one of the most popular beers while Cristal is known as the beer of Peru, both can be found nation wide. You can find breweries in the larger towns, which is the recommended experience. Some of the best known are Arequipeña, Barena, Brahma, Cristal, Cusqueña, Franca, Pilsen Callao and Pilsen Trujillo.

Coca Tea or Mate de Coca is a tea made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is legal to drink this tea in Peru. It is great for adjusting to the altitude or after a heavy meal. It may be found cold but normally is served hot.

Emoliente is another popular drink in Peru, often sold in the streets by vendors for 50 centimos. Served hot, its flavor is best described as a thick, viscous tea, but surprisingly refreshing.

Inca Kola is the Peruvian equivalent of Coca Cola in the rest of the world, which was recently purchased by Coca Cola yet retains its unique taste. It is bright yellow and has its own unique flavor. Some say it tastes like bubblegum.

Pisco Sour is an alcoholic drink with an interesting ingredients list, such as egg whites, that is the main drink in Peru and is available in most places. It is made from Pisco, a Peruvian kind of brandy that is worth a try; it is a strong drink as pisco is over 40° spirit, and the sweet taste can be deceiving.




See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Peru. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Peru. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A and yellow fever (only for the eastern parts in the Amazon) vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B, tuberculosis, rabies and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.

Malaria is prevalent in the country, but only below 2,000 metres in the east of the country and along the border with Ecuador. It is recommended to take malaria pills and take other normal anti-mosquito precautions as well. Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

The Travel Medicine & International Vaccination Center is the first medicine center for travellers in Peru and represents a joint effort of GIPEIT (Peruvian Group for Research in Infectious and Tropical Diseases) and the Tropical Medicine Institute “Daniel A. Carrión” of the UNMSM. This is a center affiliated with the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) through its members. It offers specialized individual attention to travellers, and give direction to companies, public and private institutions through consultancies and conferences.

If you have any medical problems you can visit a pharmacy (farmacia) in most towns and cities who will be able to give you tablets for many problems, eg cipro for a badly upset stomach, or antibiotics for chest infections. Medicine is cheap and the pharmacist will give advice for free. If you need stitching up or want to seek proper medical attention even the smallest of villages will usually have a clinic where you can be seen by a doctor for next to nothing.




See also Travel Safety

There is a high security presence in cities like Lima and Cusco that are popular with tourists and you should safe from any violent crimes in the main areas of these cities. The main problem you will face is pick pocketing, so try to ensure your money/wallet/purse is securely stored and keep your hands in your pockets in high risk areas like markets and bus stations.

You should also try to use only official taxis, which will normally have large stickers on the wind screen and the number plate written on the rearside panel of the car. Still, even in those cases, taxi drivers are sometimes involved in robbing tourists. Don't let any other person in the car with you and preferably call a taxi from your hotel, restaurant or café before. That way the taxi is registrated in the general system.

Try to travel with older equipment, as it will look like you don't have much to take. You should also be aware of pickpockets, and try to make their job harder by carrying a neck wallet, or no wallet and only cash, either in your backpack (carried on you) or in your various pockets.

By Peruvian law, you are able to keep small amounts of drugs on your person, for personal use, and not for sale. This law protects you only as long as you carry only one type of drug. Do not purchase drugs from someone on the street or a dealer. Buying or selling drugs, or carrying more than 8 grams per person is illegal.

If you do run into problems you should seek the tourist police who will be able to help you. However, if you're reporting a theft then it can take hours to fill in the forms as the police are cracking down on tourists making false claims which unfairly make the country look like it suffers from higher crime rates than it actually does. If you need immediate assistance, it is best to locate the police in white t-shirts, instead of the countries green shirts. These usually speak English and can be quite helpful.



Keep Connected


More and more hotels, resorts, airports, cafes, and retailers are going Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), becoming "hotspots" that offer free high-speed Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage. In Peru, by far the easiest way to check your e-mail and surf the Web is to drop in at the Internet cabinas (booths) that can be found in virtually every city and even small towns. Connections are usually fast, and the service is as little as S/2 per hour.
Aside from formal cybercafes, most youth hostels and many hotels nowadays have at least one computer with Internet access.


See also International Telephone Calls

Peru's country code is +51. Emergency numbers include 105 (Police), 117 (Ambulance) and 116 (Fire).

In all towns and villages that are not too small, it is no problem to find public telephones for national and international calls. Many public phones can be expensive, and an attractive alternative is a Locutorio, or "call-center". Typical rates include .2 Nuevo Sol/minute for calls in the country, and .5 Nuevo Sol/minute for most international calls. Phone cards are cheap and easily available from shops or vendors who hang around pay phones. You'll often see people with a bundle of mobile phones who act as pay phones, they'll be shouting 'llamadas'. Telephone booths are primarily used for making local calls. Calling to other countries from Peru is expensive.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can buy local SIM cards. Movistar and Claro are two of the phone companies in Peru. You can buy your sim card from these companies and buy a phone card also.

Your best, cheapest bet for making international calls from Peru is to head to any Internet cafe with an international calling option. These cafes have connections to Skype, Net2Phone, or some other VoIP service. International calls made this way can range anywhere from 5¢ to $1 per minute -- much cheaper than making direct international calls or using a phone card. If you have your own Skype or similar account, you just need to find an Internet cafe that provides a computer with a headset.


Check the Serpost website, the national postal service (a private company), for more information about prices and options regarding the sending of postcards, letters and parcels. The post service is relatively efficient and post offices can be found in most cities and (larger) towns. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday and some are open on Sundays from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Postcards are available from street vendors and shops at any touristy area, and stamps are generally available as well, though sometimes only at the post office itself. It takes at least 10 days to send a postcard to North America and prices start at S/5.5. To Europe it is S/7.8 and it takes even a bit longer, around 2 weeks. For little extra money, you can choose 'expresso' services. For large parcels and quantities, you can use both Serpost or companies like DHL, UPS, TNT or FedEx, which are faster and offers the same prices, though it is still relatively expensive.


Quick Facts

Peru flag

Map of Peru


Local name
Spanish: Perú, Quechua: Piruw, Aymara: Piruw
Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Christianity (Catholic)
Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Calling Code
Time Zone


as well as GAdventures (10%), alsalis (5%), Lavafalls (5%), dr.pepper (5%), Peter (4%), JeremyPeru (2%), mirapat (2%), Hien (2%), DonPeru (1%), charapa3 (<1%), Corinna26 (<1%), sethnmon (<1%), JoshMa (<1%), gipeit (<1%), Sam I Am (<1%), davidx (<1%)

Peru Travel Helpers

  • Sander

    I explored a decent part of Peru during a month-long visit. Did the classic gringo trail (Lima, Arequipa (+ Colca Canyon), Puno, Cuzco (+ Inca Trail to Machu Picchu), and then went up north to Caraz to do some hiking in the Cordillera Blanca.

    Ask Sander a question about Peru
  • luisjesus

    Hello friends!!

    All about Places, ruins, food, discos, guides, buses, prices, hotels, flights, restaurants, tickets, museums, beaches, Spanish classes, city tours. All the information you NEED to know about Peru.

    I am Luis from Peru, and I can help you. I have been travelling around my country, and I would like to share my experiences, and advices to make your trip safe and unforgettable.

    Enjoy your trip

    Ask luisjesus a question about Peru
  • katyinperu

    Well, i traveled almost all Peru and Bolivia and i can share with you all the great experiences i had in this last years travelling in both countries. Also i work as a tour operator, so i have a extensive knowledge about trips in Peru and Bolivia and hotels.
    Any advice you would like to receive i will be happy to help you.

    Ask katyinperu a question about Peru
  • areinstein

    I was born in Lima, Peru and I moved the United States in 1990. I travel to Peru often since my brother and sister still live there. I can give you advice and some helpful hints about where to stay and where to go, the good, bad and ugly. But all and all, it is a great place to visit and if you can go to Macchu Piccu, it is worth the additional few days. I did the Inka Trail in 2002, great experience!!

    Ask areinstein a question about Peru
  • cbr600

    I spent a couple of months travelling around Peru in 2008 and I returned here in 2011 and am still here, working voluntarily with an organisation dealing with marine conservation. I am currently based in Lima, spending a lot of time working out of the port of Pucusana.

    Ask cbr600 a question about Peru

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