Updated: Jul 25, 2020
I love Perú!
I had the pleasure of spending time in Peru with some close friends who are Peruvian. We had an exceptional, local first-hand experience.
My mom, sister, and I traveled south for about ten days. We flew into Lima, the capital of Peru, which is a massive city on the beach with about ten million people.
Then we ventured further south to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World—Machu Picchu. This ancient city floored me. I also loved the people, the colorful culture, and the food! We tried a Guinea pig!
The best time to travel to Peru is debatable. Lots of blogs will encourage you to visit in Winter (May to October) because it is the driest. But we went in Summer (December – March), and I loved it! It was a fabulous temperature the whole time.
Of course, come prepared to trek Peru. You’ll need full hiking artillery, including hiking boots, raincoats, and LOTS of bug spray. Machu Picchu is in the Amazon Rainforest, and you’ll get Amazon sized bug bites if you don’t spray.
If you ever get the chance, this is a once in a lifetime kind of trip that you’ll never forget. In about ten days, we saw just about everything I wanted to see. Here are some Peru travel tips from my recent trip!
Places to Visit in Peru
Our first stop was in Puno, which is famous for the human-made Uros Floating Islands on the crystal blue water of Lake Titicaca, which straddles Peru and Bolivia. The Urus people have constructed these islands out of reeds.
The native people still live there today, but the islands used to be for protection from their enemies. Now you can go and see the local way of life. Puno itself sits at 12,556 thousand feet elevation, and it was enough to make me queasy. Make sure to get there early to avoid altitude sickness and move about slowly until you adjust.
Cusco is a famous icon because it was once the capital of the Incan Empire, and it is now a gateway city to Macchu Picchu. It is filled with vendors and fancy restaurants, and the town spirals out from La Plaza de Armas. In this city center, there is a beautiful church, the Church of Santa Domingo, which you should definitely tour. This city is central to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and the Rainbow Mountain.
You cannot visit Peru without seeing the iconic Machu Picchu. Hiking the Inca trail to the site is worth all the trouble. Getting into the mountains is quite a journey, and involves quite a bit of backcountry bussing and dizzying twists and turns in the road.
But when you’re at the base of the mountain, you feel like you’re in the jungle book. The Amazon is so rich, green, and lush! And once you are bused up, you have to do at least one hike. We hiked “Montaña Machupicchu” in a few hours, and got to see all of the incredible infrastructure that was built in the 15th century.
Just being in the Andes Mountains, high above the Urubamba River Valley, somehow feels sacred. I’ll never forget the temple of the sun. I felt so much wonder and awe walking around with my face pointed up.
Hanging out in Ollantaytambo, the city below Machu Picchu is also a treat. We enjoyed the mud and brick buildings in earthy colors and beautiful cobblestone streets. We also toured some little city farms, with baby goats, llamas, and guinea pigs. I adore the llamas at Machu Picchu!
Lima is a huge bustling city that just seems never to stop moving. I was really surprised by how big and overwhelming it felt. Our friends took us a to beautiful suburb called Miraflores, which is a popular tourist spot. Here you can walk the coastline, watch surfers and peruse some nice shops.
The downtown area is much less popular, maybe due to some security concerns. But we felt safe the whole time, that being said we were with our local friends. One thing you’ll for sure enjoy is the prices! We were pleasantly surprised by how cheap the food was.
I think the walking tours looked fun, and we saw many out in the Plaza Mayor. The Circuito de Playas is a beautiful stretch of beach to explore as well!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to make it to Rainbow Mountain, also known as the painted mountains Peru. But this mountain has become an Instagram phenomenon in the last year or two! Like Machu Picchu, this view is absolutely striking! If I ever return, this will be at the top of my list.
I would consider myself a “foodie” like every other millennial. But truly, I am super into exotic foods and exploring foreign foods. I was raised to be not-picky, as I was spanked in the case I made a comment. But as a kid, if you served me a guinea pig, you would have for sure gotten a face from me!
In Peru, it is a delicacy, called cuy, pronounced like “kwee.” This has been a staple in their diet for over 5,000 years; I wasn’t going to miss it. Basically, the guinea pigs are cooked whole so you get the whole head, teeth, and ears. The skin is crisp and the meat is very delicate and tasty.
Here’s a great NPR article that talks about how switching from cows to guinea pigs could massively reduce our carbon footprint.
"There's a clear cultural prejudice against eating guinea pigs, and rodents in general, in the United States. But finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint is a good idea, and so is eating small livestock, like guinea pigs."
And lastly, do not leave Peru without getting yourself a refreshing pisco sour! My local friends were raving about them and for good reason. Pisco is a Peruvian liquor and the sour part is in reference to the citrus flavor. The top is foamy and delicious!
Thank you Carol, Marcelo, and Charo! This is a trip we will never forget. ¡Te amamos por siempre!
Planning a trip to Peru? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know if you have any questions.