6 things you need to know before you go to Peru
The original ‘gap yah’ destination, Peru is a must-visit on any South America adventure.
With historical cities, majestic Andean mountains and some serious culinary appeal, Peru offers something for all kinds of travellers on almost any budget.
Though Machu Picchu is an inevitable necessity, the country has plenty more to offer.
Here are six things you should know before you go.
You don’t have to hike the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu
The Inca trail involves four days of fairly intensive hiking through a high-altitude mountain pass.
It’s a fantastic, if challenging, experience, but it’s not the only way to see the famous ruins.
For those who like a more off-beat option, you can elect to hike the Salkantay trail, which takes longer, peaks higher, and visits other ruins along the way, while still ending at Machu Picchu.
And for those a tighter schedule, or have a peculiar allergy to strenuous exercise, you can always get the train up to Aguas Calientes, and visit for the day from there.
And FYI: don’t try to do the Inca Trail in February: it’ll be closed.
Machu Picchu isn’t the only ancient ruin
The Kuelap ruins, near Chachapoyas in the country’s north, are also well worth a visit.
Similarly constructed with slabs of solid stone, Kuelap was the work of another ancient people, the Chachapoyas – distinct from, and indeed around before, the Incas.
It’s much less visited and pretty impressive in its own right.
It’s actually a pretty large country
The distances between key places in Peru are fairly significant and bus journeys may take up a significant proportion of your trip if you’re not careful.
The bus journey from Lima to Cusco, for instance, lasts about 21 hours, and can sometimes stretch to over 24 depending on the state of the road.
For this reason, people often opt for short flights instead.
They have some interesting food options
Cuy – a kind of large guinea pig – is often cited as a must-try in Peru, particularly in Cusco where it is most famous.
Served whole, head, tail and all, it looks a bit gruesome but reportedly tastes a lot like chicken.
But there are other intriguing options on offer too: anyone up for a bite of llama or alpaca?
Both of these are served in some upmarket city restaurants, and are honestly delicious if you can stomach the thought of chowing down on one of those cute fluffy creatures.
And some delicious ones too
Ceviche is practically a reason to visit Peru in itself .
Seafood lovers will be in heaven: ceviche is an amalgam of fresh fish and other seafood, usually served cold and marinated in citrus juices.
It’s cheap, too, and a staple dish particularly in coastal areas.
And they also invented a pretty great drink
If you’re visiting Lima, you need to try Pisco sours.
Made with Pisco, lime, egg white and sugar syrup, these are a popular tipple, particularly in the capital where they were invented.
Walking tours will often involve sampling these, but otherwise they aren’t difficult to find in local bars.