Anyone can say you should visit a particular country in the world, but how do you know it’s for you? Peru is on many a bucket list, for various reasons, ranging from hiking to the ruins of Machu Picchu to exploring colonial Lima. While you might agree that it’s an amazing place, perhaps you need a little more convincing to drop all of your other dream destinations and let Peru take the top spot? You’re in luck: find out everything you’ll want to know to figure out if you should travel to Peru!
Travel to: Peru
|Lima – Cusco||1098 km / 682 mi|
|Machu Picchu – Lima||890 km / 553 mi|
|Lima – Puno||1284 km / 798 mi|
|Cusco – Machu Picchu||78 km / 48 mi|
|Puno – Cusco||387 km / 240 mi|
|Machu Picchu – Puno||446 km / 277 mi|
What kind of traveller is Peru suited for?
Peru is marketed mainly as an adventure destination, mostly due to its mountainous landscape and the famous Amazon Rainforest. There is plenty of hiking involved in many tours (whether they’re multiple-day or single-day expeditions) and plenty of wildlife to see, from llamas to the incredible diversity of the Amazon.
For those not exercise-inclined, there are plenty of options for you, as well. History buffs will love the culture and ruins and those who love souvenirs and wandering towns and cities will take joy in the colourful markets.
Peru is very well suited for budget-conscious backpackers, with plenty of hostels making it easy to find friends to explore the country with. Guest houses are also popular, and an equally inexpensive method for accommodation in Peru. If you’re willing to spend more money, there are a good range of mid-range hotels in Peru for comfortable stays in wild and city locations alike. Because of Peru’s popularity, it caters for any kind of traveller.
When should I visit?
- Most people travel to Peru in the dry season, which is May to October. If hiking is what you’re after, then April, May, September and October are the best months to visit, and if an iconic trip to the Amazon is high on your priority list, earlier in the dry season is ideal.
- Rainy season, November to March, often offers cheaper flights and accommodation and fewer visitors (except during the Christmas holidays). However, weather is far less reliable during this time, with cloudy and rainy afternoons.
How much time do I need in Peru?
How much time to spend in Peru is of course dependent on many factors: where you’re travelling from, what you want to see and how much of the country that covers, plus more.
Peru is a large country and it can be difficult to get from one place to another if they’re far apart. When making your itinerary, make sure to have a look at a map and transport options for where you want to go, as you may have to make adjustments – like sacrificing one place or extending your trip – in order to make the most of your time in Peru.
That being said, when taking into consideration the typical itineraries for Peru, if you’re looking only to do the Inca Trail or similar, 7 or 8 days is doable, but you should be spending a couple or a few days acclimatising to the altitude in Cusco before you start with the trek to Machu Picchu. With more of what the country has to offer added, itineraries can start from 14 or 15 days.
The ideal amount of time would be three weeks, if you want to see Lima, Cusco, do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and visit the Amazon. Each of these places require at least a few days, and adding on acclimatisation and travel time, three weeks should be travel at a comfortable pace in Peru.
What do I need to know before I go?
- Peru is a beautiful country and its culture is fascinating to immerse yourself in, but of course respect must be shown and it’s best to go in with an understanding that a lot of aspects are unlike English-speaking cultures.
- Prepare yourself with some Spanish, as although most touristy areas will have people speaking at least basic English, it’s always a good idea to be able to converse as much as you can, especially if you’re planning on bartering at markets or getting into conversations with locals.
- If you’re exploring the Amazon basin, you’ll need a Yellow Fever vaccine (at least 10-14 days before your trip) and will need to take malaria medication.
- When hiking the Inca Trail or similar, you’ll need a few days to adjust to the altitude in Cusco. Rest for a few hours after you arrive and then take it easy for the next couple of days – you may be fooled into thinking you’re fine and want to get exploring, but you may still be running on sea-level oxygen and it’s best for your health to only exert more energy after you’ve adjusted.
Here some words that you will find useful while travelling in Peru:
- Chinese food or restaurant
- Little passenger bus
Is it safe? Could I travel solo?
As Peru is popular, it is quite safe, but this varies from area to area and between neighbourhoods. For example, in Lima, situating yourself in the Miraflores disctrict will give you a good introduction to Peruvian culture, but in the downtown core, you should keep more alert and ensure you’re not a victim of pick pocketing.
Essentially, if you behave as you would anywhere else and know the customs for the country, you’ll be perfectly safe.
Because Peru has great hostel and cheap transport options, travelling solo is absolutely doable, but unless your Spanish is up to speed, Peru should not be your first solo travel destination.
Activities in Peru
Find Machu Picchu
Whether it’s via the renowned Inca Trail (always remember, permits are limited each year so book early!), the alternative trails such as the Salkantay or Lares Trek, or simply just using Peru Rail to get there, the sight of Machu Picchu may be incredibly famous, but for good reason. See for yourself the secret Incan city that’s astounded people for years.
Explore the Amazon Rainforest
The Peruvian part of the Amazon is perhaps the most diverse of all, with limitless adventure possibilities. Paddle on the Amazon River, watching a range of wildlife from parrots to caiman or venture into the depths of the rainforest on a volunteering project. It’s a truly unique experience you won’t be in a rush to forget.
Hike the Cordillera Huayhuash
Peru is a mountainous country with jaw-dropping hiking options other than the Inca Trail. The Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range is a stunning sight within the Andes, and provides many trails to explore. Take in the views of the San Antonio Pass and you’ll see what we mean.
Spot the Nazca lines
It seems that Peru is a country with an expertise in concealing its mysteries, as the Nazca Lines have baffled experts since they were discovered. Huge geoglyphs of figures like hummingbirds have been etched in the Peruvian desert south of Lima by the Nazca people, who predated the Incas. Take a flight and come up with your own conspiracy theory of how they got there.
Traipse the cities
In the search for adrenaline rushes, Peru’s cities often get overlooked. The capital of Lima is a charm to discover, from the Museo Larco, which houses some of the most important pre-Columbian artefacts (including a racy display of some compromising pottery), Plaza Major and Casa di Aliaga, South America’s oldest house. Outside of the city, there’s also surfing beaches and vineyards waiting to be explored, and a lot less crowded with tourists.
See Also: Everything You Need to Eat in Peru
Taste the cuisine
Peru isn’t only physical adventure; its cuisine is one for the brave. The most strange and famous dish is cuy (guinea pig), which is usually found in the higher altitude towns like Cusco. For those that (understandably) want to pass on that, there is wonderful food to be found all over the country, including fresh seafood, stews and chocolate.