Peru

Peru

*Facts taken from CIA World Factbook

Capital: Lima
Population: 30 million
Languages: Spanish, Chechua, Aymara
Independence: 28 July 1821
GDP per Capita: $11,000
Border Countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador
Religion: Roman Catholic
Highlights: Machu Picchu, Nazca lines, Amazon, Colca Canyon
Cost: Very cheap!

Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world! I’m not just saying that, according to United Nations, it is one of the 17 countries classified as “megadiverse”. There’s so many amazing things to do in this country, you could never be bored and you could never stay long enough. There’s a rich sea life in Paracas, deserts in Ica, and huge ancient Incan glyphs in Nazca. There’s the Andes, Colca Canyon, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca, and that’s just in the South! If you go north you’ll find both the snow covered Cordillera mountain range and the warm, sunny beaches of Mancora. Then of course, there’s the Amazon, dominating the entire eastern coast of Peru; like I said, you couldn’t be bored if you tried.

Peru was my first trip to South America and I visited with Seth for almost 4 weeks in April/May 2013. We started off in Lima and bused our way down the coast before travelling inland through the Andes. We passed through the Islas Ballestas bird sanctuary in Paracas, through breathtaking Colca Canyon and Arequipa, and on to the beautiful Lake Titicaca on the border of Bolivia. After that, we headed back up along the eastern side of Peru to Cusco, the former capital and tourist hub of Peru. We spent two weeks based in Cusco, spending a week hiking to Machu Picchu and a week exploring the Amazon before flying back to Lima to catch our flight home. Flying is definitely the easiest way to get around Peru, although it’s not the cheapest.

The Andes

Most people that visit Peru take flights to every city. You can take buses all around the country; however, it’s very mountainous and the roads are very winding, so it takes a long time to go from city to city. We didn’t mind taking the bus on the way from Lima to Cusco because we stopped in a half dozen places along the way, but even then, we still spent around 40 hours on buses. We also spent another 20 hours to get in and out of the Amazon by bus as well. At the time, we were fresh out on University, so we stuck to buses because they’re very cheap. If I were to return, I would definitely fly (LAN airlines), especially in and out of the Amazon, but if you have the time, you can save a lot of money by busing. In 2013, the local airline was LAN and the bus company we used was Cruz del Sur, it’s not the cheapest, but it’s the safest because it travels direct.

One of the best things about Peru is that it is ridiculously cheap. Airfare is still expensive, but once you get there, everything is a lot cheaper! We stayed in hostels every night, all of which included breakfast, and it only cost us about $11 a night (2013 dollars). Food is also really cheap, we usually spent about $25 each a day on food, which included all our bottled water because it is not safe to drink the tap water in Peru. Food can be expensive if you only stay in the major tourist centres (particularly in Lima), but it gets cheap fast when you leave the main squares.

Machu Picchu

The most challenging thing about Peru is the altitude. Once you leave the coast, you ascend very quickly into the Andes. Cusco is located at an altitude of 3400m above sea level and Puno, the city located on Lake Titicaca, is at an altitude of 3800m. The highest point we passed through on the trip was 4910m, by bus, and we hiked up to 4600m. You definitely need to give yourself at least 5 days to adjust to the altitude, which was how long Seth needed. Unfortunately for me, it took about 2 weeks before I finally adjusted, so it can really vary.

Don’t underestimate altitude sickness. Most people get mild symptoms above 3000m, which can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, or difficulty breathing. I didn’t experience headaches or dizziness, but I found it challenging to breathe when walking on even the slightest incline. It made hiking very challenging and frustrating. Machu Picchu is actually only located at 2400m, so you should be fine there, but if you’re planning to do a trek to Machu Picchu, be prepared for high altitudes.

But altitude sickness aside, Peru is an incredible country that really has so much to offer. There’s lots of amazing places to see and lots of fun things to do! It’s definitely helpful to know some spanish (or to have someone you’re travelling with know some Spanish), but it’s not absolutely essential. The bottom line is that Peru is definitely a place you have to visit at least once in your life and Machu Picchu really is one of the 7 new wonders of the world!

Peru BlogRoll

Exploring the Peruvian Coastline – Peru hasDSC00637 been amazing so far, I don’t even really know where to start! We left around suppertime the day after we finished university, so it was a pretty hectic day and a long overnight flight from Toronto to Lima. It was misty rain and overcast when we arrived as well, which was a little bit anticlimactic and had us wondering… read more

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Traveling Through the Andes – Picking up where I left off in my last blog, we traveled from Paracas to our next destination, Arequipa, by bus. This was the longest bit of driving on the trip, so we decided to take an overnight bus. The main bus company here is Cruz del Sur and apparently they are years ahead of bus systems in the rest of the world, almost to the point… read more

DSC01274Trekking from Salkantay to Machu Picchu – I’m going to postpone writing about lake Titicaca for now as I’ve just spent the last week hiking from Salkantay to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is, of course, one of the biggest attractions in Peru and one of my motivations for wanting to come here. We decided we wanted to trek there to make the experience a little… read more

DSC01589Into the Amazon – After three and a half weeks, we’re finishing up our trip to Peru. We’re flying back to Lima today and then back to Canada tomorrow. It’s definitely been an incredible trip and the longest period of time I’ve spent on vacation! We spent the last week in Manu National Park, it’s located on the eastern side of Peru and is a part of the Amazon… read more

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On the Shores of Lake Titicaca – There’s one last blog that I want to write about Peru. The last big location that we visited was Lake Titicaca. I skipped writing about it in favour of Machu Picchu and the Amazon, but it was a pretty great place to visit as well! Lake Titicaca is located on the southwestern side of Peru and shares a border with Bolivia. Approximately… read more

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