5 Things You Should Know About Peru (Before Coming)

machu-picchu-peru

I recently spent just over 2 weeks in Peru before moving onto Ecuador (where I am now), and like Bolivia previously, I was met by many surprises – mostly good I’m pleased to say. With that in mind I thought I’d share with you 5 things you should know about Peru before coming here. I hope you find it helpful should you ever come to Peru!

Diverse Landscape

Peru has an incredibly diverse landscape for any traveller to explore. You’ll find mountainous areas, volcanoes, grand canyons, ancient historical sites, pretty city architecture, desert, rugged coastline, good surf beaches, Amazon rainforrest, the list goes on… I think overall what I was met with when I left the country yesterday was that I didn’t have nearly enough time to see and explore everything I wanted to. 2 weeks just wasn’t enough and it also didn’t help that I had injured my foot in the middle, leaving me unable to walk for 4 days and struggling for a further 2. However, even without my injury I still would not have had enough time to see it all and so the best advice I could give you if you are planning on going to Peru is to take at least a month to travel here. You may be able to rush it and do all the main sites in less time than this, but trust me, you’ll want to take your time and really see the place. There is some incredible natural landscape and scenery here as well as the great indigenous historical sites of the land. You don’t want to have to miss out some place when this may be the only time in your life you’ll ever really travel.

Inca Kola is IRN BRU!!!!!!

inca kolaPhoto credit; Markus Leupold-Löwenthal

Those who have never been to Scotland will probably have no idea what I’m on about right now, but as a proud Scot I have to officially out Inca Kola (the Peruvian soft drink) as being a carbon copy of Irn Bru. Or rather a cross between Irn Bru and Barr’s Ice Cream Soda. Irn Bru for those who don’t know is the most popular soft drink in Scotland outselling both Coke and Pepsi in its homeland. We consider it to be the national drink of Scotland after Whisky. I’ve literally searched the world over for something that could match Irn Bru (as both a hangover cure and just a rather tasty beverage) but found absolutely nothing until discovering Inca Kola here in Peru these past few weeks. The colour may be bright yellow – as opposed to Irn Bru’s bright orange – but it tastes almost exactly the same. It’s also just as bad for you with around 43 grams of sugar per can, but I must say it was a welcome surprise to find it here in Peru! I’ve been missing some home comforts of late what with the run up to Christmas, so it was nice to taste something that reminded me of home. Anyway, to any Scots in Peru reading – get yourself a can of Inca Kola! It’s (almost as) phenomenal as the real stuff.

It’s not that dangerous

Just prior to my trip to South America there was a big news story running in the UK about two young girls from Scotland and Northern Ireland who had been arrested for drug smuggling in Peru. Their story was that they were threatened by local drug gangs into smuggling high class drugs from Peru into Spain. Their families thought they were both still in Spain when they found out in the news that their daughters had been jailed on remand. Needless to say are now in a Peruvian jail cell (having been caught at Lima Airport) and are awaiting what is most likely a lengthy jail term that won’t see them out of prison until they hit their 30’s.

I could honestly wax lyrical about my thoughts on the case and whether or not I think their story is true (I see too many holes in it), but regardless of whether you think them guilty or not, I have to admit it was frustrating to see these images plastered across national news screens prior to my trip. I knew immediately what the reaction would be from people who had never travelled before. There’s one scare story in the news about two ‘innocent’ young girls getting caught up in drug smuggling and suddenly there are people declaring the entire country unsafe for visitors – which is just stupid. It’s annoying, frustrating, and completely debased of facts or opinion based on any kind of experience. First off, this case was unusual. That’s why it made the news in the first place!!! Secondly, what were they doing mixing with drug dealers in the first place? It is highly unlikely you just randomly meet these people unless you’re either taking or selling drugs to start with.

Stories like this in the news really piss me off. They are never balanced with anything good about the country or anything which points out how unusual it is for young girls (late teens/early 20’s) from Europe to get caught up in stuff like this unless they’re already fraternising with drug dealers. Having been to Peru now myself I can tell you that it’s absolutely fine. I mean, I’m not going to lie and say everywhere in the country is 100% safe. Heck, there are places in MY country (namely Glasgow) that I wouldn’t go walking alone around at night. You always need to be careful, vigilant, and sensible wherever you are in the world, but there are over 2 million international visitors annually to Peru and very rarely do you hear of any scare story incidents like this! Get my point?

Peruvians are friendly

Peruvian people as a general rule are quite friendly. I honestly think Latin American people are some of the friendliest in the world and Peruvians are no different in this case – which makes it a good place to learn Spanish as most people seem quite open to a random conversation with a stranger when you need to practice your speaking.

It’s cheap as hell

Whilst Peru did initially seem expensive coming straight out of Bolivia (South America’s cheapest country), the truth is Peru is actually very cheap. The average price of a hostel dorm bed in the country for me was around 26 Peruvian Soles per night (£6 / $9.66 / €7), and even then it was a bit cheaper in cities like Arequipa and Cusco where there is a lot of competition for hostels. A large beer was around 7 soles (£1.53 / $2.51 / €1.82). That said, Machu Picchu is incredibly expensive and there is no way of getting around it if you want to visit the ancient site. If you do want to get there in the cheapest way possible though here’s how.

– So these are the 5 things you should know before you come to Peru. I hope you found it helpful! 🙂

2 Responses to “5 Things You Should Know About Peru (Before Coming)”

  1. Great article!! Inka cola really is the drink of choice, I didn’t particularly like it- but cream soda lovers should give it a try!

  2. Raffaella says:

    Great overview & helpful starting point. I have a friend who spent some time in Peru years back and totally loved it – I have yet to hear a first-hand experience that was so bad it put me off trying Peru entirely.

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