Peru – The Traveler’s Ideal

7 Jan

The View from Machu Picchu

Within every region of the world, countries are known for different things, and staggeringly diverse Latin America is no exception. In Latin America, Brazil is known for its party culture. Costa Rica is known for its accessible natural beauty. Bolivia is known for its indigenous culture. Overall, It’s not always the case that, to a traveler, a country seems to have just about everything a traveler could want. But it’s exactly the case with Peru. If a god could design a country to be interesting and ideal to travelers, there’s a decent chance that country would look something like Peru.

Since December 12, I have been exploring this incredible country. I had my first impressions of the country in Lima, where I visited Huaca Pucclana Pyramid and tried some fine Ceviche. Afterwards, I took an overnight bus to Arequipa. Arequipa is a high-altitude city at the foot of El Misti, a large volcano whose famous snows sadly disappeared five years ago due to Global Warming. From Arequipa, I took a 3 day trekking tour into Colca Canyon, one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth. It is the world’s biggest canyon, home to Condors and various types of Cacti. Indigenous people live in villages in the bottom of the canyon, where local tour groups stay overnight between hiking days. After I got back from Colca Canyon, I took a six hour bus ride over to Puno. Puno is not a particularly pleasant town, but it’s a good place to spend a few days in, as it is the base for seeing the Uros and Taquile islands. Then I took another 6 hour bus ride, this time to Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, now known for its blend of Spanish and Indigenous culture. I went on the Salkantay trek, a longer but less pricey alternative to the Inca trail. Afterwards, I took a wildlife tour to the Amazon, specifically the edge of the Manu reserve. The wildlife is breathtaking. There’s a staggering variety of species. The most memorable to me were the bullet ants, the monkeys, and the macaws.

Peru does culture and sights, and it does those very well. No other ruin in the Americas is as famous as Machu Picchu. Peru is also home to other ruins, such as Huaca Pucllana in Lima and Kuelap in the north. Peru has great food too, from Alpaca steaks in the mountains to Ceviche on the coast. Peru also is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. The coast, amazon, and andes all have incredible landscapes and opportunities to experience nature. The tourism infrastructure for trekking and other types of tours is well set-up.

Peru’s cuisine is very good. It isn’t as renowned as that of the French of Chinese, but a trip to Peru is a far greater culinary experience than say, a trip to Ireland or Poland. You have to try Cuy (guinea pig). it’s expensive and there isn’t much meat, but it’s very tasty!

Peru’s culture has a fascinating blend of indigenous and colonial influences. There are three languages: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. While Spanish is spoken almost everywhere, adventurous travelers can try out speaking a bit of Quechua in the Andes region. The indigenous peoples of Peru, in some places at least, still wear traditional clothing which varies from village to village.

Peru is also relatively safe compared to its northern neighbors, such as Ecuador and Colombia. There is a far lower violent crime rate, and the worst that happens to many travelers is being pestered by unprofessional tour guides in one of Cusco’s squares. You still should be careful though.

Peru was my first time in South America (the last inhabited continent I had left to set foot on), and it did not disappoint. I’d highly recommend it for any adventurous traveler!

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