Peru Travel Guide
Peru is as evocative a place in the world as there can be for ancient culture set as it is with its beautiful lofty Andean heights sloping dramatically down to the Amazon jungle below, it is truly the emerald in South America's crown.
Situated in South America, Peru has the South Pacific Ocean on its Western side, and is bordered by Chile to the South, Bolivia and Brazil to the East and Columbia and Equador to the North. The Cities around Peru especially Lima the Capital City are starting to become ever more upmarket and tourist friendly while still retaining their cultural traditions and immense charm.
Along the south coast during the winter months of June to September there is little rain but it does rain further along the northern coast due to the tropical climate. Temperatures along the south coast are between 15 and 30 *C during the spring and summer months of September to March and 15 to 20*C during the Autumn and winter months of April to September.
In the mountains the months of June to September are often sunny and warm during the day but cold during the night. December to April sees the most rainfall which is often heavy at times. The temperature varies depending on altitude which can be as low as freezing going up to around 18*C. The Amazon Rainforest stays fairly warm and rainy all year round with temperatures averaging between 18 and 36*C with the occasional cold spells between May and September where the temperature can drop to around 15 *C.
Peru Transport Guide
To enter Peru you will need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining on it after your departure date.
Most International flights arrive at Jorge Chavez Airport which is located in Peru's Capital City of Lima. There are several airports situated at many of the Cities around Peru such as Arequipa, Cuzco, Iquitos, Lima, Pisco and Tumbes. Due to the size of Peru travelling between cities by plane is advisable as it will considerably cut down your journey time and in some cases will be far more comfortable as well.
Driving in Peru is considered a bit of a challenge due to the limited road signs, unpaved roads and speed culture.
Cars drive on the right hand side of the road and be aware that highjacking of cars is known so it is advisable to keep your doors locked at all times and do not leave any personnel possessions in the car.
If you plan on staying in one area then hire car may be an option, however if you plan on visiting many areas it can be more comfortable and often quicker to travel in between destinations by plane thus considerably cutting down your travel time and leaving you more time to sightsee.
Taxi's such as Taxi Metro and Taxi Seguro are well known companies to use and where possible book by phone so that you can avoid hailing taxi's off the street.
It is important to ensure that the driver has his licence clearly being displayed and you need to agree your fare before you enter the taxi, once in the taxi it is advisable to lock the door and keep valuables out of reach or hidden away, to avoid any personnel possessions from being snatched from pedestrians outside.
Travelling by bus is often a relatively cheap option with several types of bus available running frequent services both in the major towns and in-between towns.
It is advisable to use the larger busses as they are considered to be safer in the event of an accident and are often not as overcrowded.
Due to many of the roads still being unpaved safety and comfort can be a concern especially on long journey's, in certain locations such as Lima there are now first class busses available which are much safer and are often very comfortable for travelling on long journey's.
If travelling by bus to locations that are prone to mud slides and flooding bus services are often cancelled so it may be better to look for other means of transportation to certain areas during the rainy season.
The main railway lines run from Cuzco through to Machu Picchu passing through Ollantaytambo station which is in the Sacred Valley and there is also a line that runs from Cuzco to Puno and from Lima to Huancayo. There are several types of train that run daily from the city of Cuzco to Machu Picchu, The Local train is a service for Peruvians only and no tourists are allowed onboard. The Hiram Bingham is the luxurious option which has a elegant interior, quality meals, bus return as well as entrance to Machu Picchu often included. The Vistadrome and Expedition trains both offer superb panoramic views through the many windows as well as comfortable seating. The Backpacker train is the budget option which departs from Ollantaytambo and has plenty of room for you and your backpack.
Amazon Basin (Low Basin)
The area of the Amazon Basin takes up well over half of Peru and is still very much untouched and rich in both plant life and wildlife with thousands of species of birds, reptiles, insects, mammals and fish. Visitors to Amazonia will find themselves travelling on the greatest river in the world on anything from a dugout canoe to a river boat, surrounded by the magnificent jungle in all its splendor.
There are a few small villages located within the southern region of the Amazon, which reaches as far as the borders with Brazil and Bolivia.
- The southern part of the Amazon Basin is the least populated area of Peru and can be reached by plane from Cusco which will take you to Puerto Maldonado Airport in order to explore the Tambopata National Reserve which contains its Bamboo Forests and the Tambopata River.
- You can alternatively fly to Boca Manu Airport in order to explore Manu Biosphere Reserve with highlights such as visiting the very special Macaw and Parrot Clay Licks in order to witness many species of Parrots and Macaws enjoying the clay deposits along the riverbank.
The northern part of the Amazon runs all the way to the borders with Colombia and Brazil and has the major port and town of Iquitos as the starting entry point, which can be easily reached by plane from Lima.
- Many of the tour's that operate the Amazon start from Iquitos and explore around 600 miles of Amazon river and its tributaries such as Maranon and Ucayali allowing you to get a real feel for the river and jungle and seeing many rare animals like the unusual Pink Dolphin and timid Capybara as well as plants such as the Giant Water Lily which can be a good 5 to 6 feet in diameter
- Another must for the area is to go up and experience the famous Amazon Canopy Walkway which extends over many of the forests largest trees and is around 115 feet up in the air and 500 meters in length, giving you a totally unique view and experience of this great emerald forest.
The villagers in the Amazon are known to be hospitable and friendly and on many tours you'll get the chance to interact with them and often see them fishing on the river as well as farming and hunting. It is worth knowing that most flooding occurs from December through to May and is often referred to as the rainy season with the dry or lower water season being between June and November when the waters start to rise again sometimes quite dramatically.
The Andean Mountain Ranges
Peru's Mountain ranges are some of the most spectacular in the world and beautifully separate the amazon basin from the coastline which is roughly only 100 miles away from the mountain ranges at any one point and which run along the full length of Peru and beyond and contain several scattered remains of the Inca empire situated within, most impressively the city of Machu Picchu and the dramatic scenery that can be found along the Inca trail. The Andean mountain ranges have many unique mountain area's that are filled with many rare and beautiful plants and animals such as Andean Condors and Hummingbirds as well as glaciers, snow capped mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and canyons that are all breathtaking in their own right.
Peru's coast offers an excellent variety of beach activities such as surfing, swimming, windsurfing and also dune bugging and sandboarding in the desert. Although the coast is surrounded in many areas by arid desert there are many archaeological wonders and ancient sites such as that of Arequipa which is also called the 'white city' due to many of the buildings being made out of white volcanic rock. There are also the well known Nazca Lines which were famously left in the ground by the Nazca people and are spectacular when viewed from the air. And the ruins from the Paracas Necropolis are also well worth a visit.
The sea is teaming with marine life and and is well known to be one of the best fishing areas around with local fishermen regularly going out in boats which are still traditionally made of a reed called Totora along with larger modern commercial vessels going out from ports such as Callao which also has a great deal of navy history stored in the popular Museo Naval. The area of Ica also known as Huacachina is popular for its stunning lagoon, exhilarating dune buggy trips and especially for sandboarding which takes place on the very large and steep sand dunes which are located all around, if you are after a little bit less of an adrenaline rush then there is also the Regional Museum of Ica.
Cities, Regions and Areas of Interest
There are 25 regions or districts within Peru, each with its own city, sights and attractions for in depth exploration of the country. The main city is Lima which is the capital of Peru... More about the Regions Of Peru
There are plenty of quality handmade products to be found all over Peru with many of them available in the city of Lima and Cusco. There are also many traditional markets such as the large one at Pisac, just outside Cuzco which draws in a huge crowd for its Sunday Market where you can have a go at haggling to purchase a wide range of goods such as woven tapestries, alpaca garments, musical instruments, necklaces, decorative masks, jewelry, silver wear and home wares such as several wonderfully decorated ceramic vases and bowls.
For those seeking boutiques and slightly more upmarket shops and small malls then head to Miraflores, just outside Lima which is well known for its more luxurious hotels and shops and also for its beautiful beach. If you are after top quality Alpaca clothing, antiques and galleries then head to Arequipa and if you are after some beautiful hand painted pottery and exquisite jewelry with silver and gold filigree work then Catacaos in Piura will not disappoint.
Peru Flora and Fauna
The Amazon region has well over 2,500 species of fish, more than 1200 species of birds, around 300 species of reptiles and several species of mammals.
- The Coast
is rich with marine life with species such as Black Marlin, Crabs, Sea Bass, Flounder and Yellow Fin Tuna.
- The Andean Mountains
The Andean Mountain ranges offer many more mammals and birds in particular the Andean Condor, Hummingbirds and mammals such as the Andean Fox, Alpacas and Llamas.
- The Rain Forests
The rain forests are where a large proportion of the animals are to be found, including some very rare and endangered species such as the Wooley Monkey, Giant Otters and the Spectacled Bear.
Other animals of interest are the Andean Cat, Jaguars, parrots, Macaws Capuchin Monkeys, Crocodiles, Pink and grey Dolphin, Capybara, Tapir, Marmoset, Pythons, amphibians and several species of Insects.
- The Flora
There are also thousands of types of trees and species of plants throughout Peru, amongst them are several species of Orchids, the famous Puya Raimondi which can grow up to 12 meters in height and the Encarnada Cantuta. Fruit trees such as the Moriche Palm (Aguaje) and Matisia Cordata are abundant.
Peru Travel Attractions Guide
Peru has a colourful history with many ancient civilizations leaving their mark, one of the most well known attractions in Peru is the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu and once you start exploring you will find many more ancient treasures along the way. The country also offers plenty of museums and rare artefacts as well as some breath taking scenery and unbeatable flora and fauna.
- Machu Picchu
The mysterious lost city of the Inca's is one of Peru's most famous and visited landmarks which stands high up above the Sacred Valley on top of a ridge within the Andes Mountain range. This immense city has many interesting structures and terraces such as the The Temple Of Three Windows and Nusta's Palace, which are surrounded in all directions with magnificent scenery adding to the beauty of this remarkable Inca city... more about Machu Picchu
- The Inca Trail
The well known Inca trail follows a small part of the ancient Inca Road System that leads across one of the most spectacular trails in the world passing several Inca ruins, stunning scenery and many species of flora and fauna along the way, ending up at the incredible sacred city of Machu Picchu... more about The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- The Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are another Peruvian mystery, why and exactly how they were built and what there intended purpose was is yet to be fully understood. They are however magnificent when viewed from above and there shear size and accuracy cannot fail to impress... more about the Nazca Lines
- Chavin de Huantar
The ruins of the Chavin cultures main ceremonial and religious site was known as Chavin de Huantar and contains the famous monolith The Lanzon... more about Chavin de Huantar
- Chan Chan
Chan Chan was the capital city of the Chimor Empire who constructed a vast city that covered around 18 square kilometers, much of which still remains today, such as many of the large walls that divided the city still clearly showing the carvings of animals such as birds and fish as well as structures, ramps and courtyards that help to give you an idea of the complexity of the site... more about Chan Chan
- National Parks
Peru is filled with many places of natural beauty with the Huascaran National Park, The Rio Abiseo National Park and Manu National Park all on the UNESCO World Heritage List and who's natural habitats and future are now protected as well as the Tambopata National Park which is also under protection and offers careful eco friendly tourism to the area... more about the National Parks of Peru
- The Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley of the Incas also goes by the name of the Urubamba Valley due to the Urubamba river that runs through it, the valley itself is home to numerous important archaeological Inca Sites such as Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Puca Pucara Fortress, the ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Valley is filled with beautiful scenery and leads towards Machu Picchu which is positioned high above the valley floor within the mountain range... more about The Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Lake Titicaca
Situated high up in the Andes mountains the lake and its many islands offer magnificent views, Inca ruins and traditionally made hand crafts as well as allowing you the opportunity to enjoy some of the small villages and their inhabitants who live on the islands, around the lake and and on the floating Uros Islands which are still traditionally made from reeds and allow visitors the chance to venture onboard and experience first hand the culture of the local inhabitants and their unique way of of life and incredible hospitality... more about Lake Titicaca
The capital city of Peru is a vibrant and colorful city that has many wonderful areas and attractions within it from the magnificent fountains in Park of the Reserve to several museums and galleries that are bursting at the seams with artefacts and artwork... more about Lima
The city of Cuzco has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere that is filled with excellent cuisine, shops, stalls and great markets where you can pick up many Alpaca garments, jewelry and ceramic items. Cuzco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and the remains of many of ancient Inca ruins are still visible both within the city such as the Temple of the Sun and in the surrounding areas such as at Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Ollyantaytambo, Pisac and of course the famous lost city of Machu Picchu... more about Cuzco
- Bruning Archeological Museum
The Bruning National Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico Nacional Bruning) is a modern building which is filled with artefacts from cultures such as the Mochica, Sipan and Chimu cultures and has many priceless items of gold treasure... more about the Bruning Museum
- The Royal Tombs Of Sipan Museum
The Royal Tombs Of Sipan Museum is an incredibly modern and well thought out museum that is based on three floors and houses the most superb collection of the Moche civilization that is focussed around the archaeological finds of Tomb of Lord of Sipan which has amongst its many finds several intricate pieces of gold jewelry... more about The Royal Tombs Of Sipan Museum
Peru Adventure Travel Guide
Peru has plenty to offer the adventurist as well as the popular Inca Trail the countries beaches, sand dunes, rivers, mountains and valleys will also keep you entertained regardless of where you are.
- Sand Boarding
The Huacachina Oasis is the place to go for sand-boarding where you can experience steep sandy slopes which you travel down at great speed.
- Sand Buggy
The other popular sport in the area is to ride in a sand buggy where your driver will give you an adrenaline charged drive over some of the fantastic dunes in the area, just remember to hold on tight.
- River Rafting
Rafting is another popular way to enjoy some of the rivers such as the Apurimar River which is excellent for white water rafting and the Urubamba River which can also be combined with a trip to Machu Picchu.
- Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a great way to travel along the Sacred Valley and the Colca Canyon in particular and enables you to cover plenty of ground and take in some fantastic scenery along the way.
Peru is known for its surfing and for its incredibly long and consistent waves which are suitable for beginners and for the more experienced surfers. Good surfing locations along the south coast can be found at San Gallan Beach and Santa Rosa Beach and further North there are beach's such as Huanchaco, Puemape, Organos beach, Mancora beach is good for beginners, and Panic Point Beach which is for experts only, the beaches to the North are often far less crowded than of those in the south but with equally long and perfect waves.
is a great way to explore Peru especially with so many scenic places to explore such as the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and National Parks, with plenty of tours available that will guide you around many stunning locations. Peru is known for its excellent fishing opportunities with areas such as the Amazon Rainforest where you can catch Peacock Bass, The coast where it is possible to catch Black Marlin and the mangrove swamps where you can catch Sea Bass, and in the Andean Mountains you will find that Rainbow and Brown Trout are abundant.
is one of the most popular sports in Peru and the Peru National Football Team has taken part in the many International competitions such as the FIFA World Cup with the team wearing red and white colours to match the Peru Flag.
There are several religious and cultural festivals held throughout the year all over Peru. Festivals such as the International Spring Festival, La Vendimia Wine Festival and the Inti Raymi Festival are a few of the many festivals which are rich in colour, history and often the scene of much celebration. Other popular events are the National Marinera Contest and the International Surfing Tournament in Huanchaco.... More about Peru Festivals
Peru cuisine is a wonderful blend of color and flavour with several regions each having their own speciality dish. Traditional foods often blended together ingredients such as potatoes of which there are several varieties and are also indigenous to Peru, several different types of hot peppers, garlic, peanuts which are also indigenous to Peru, lemons and rice.
One drink that is special to the area of Pisco where it first originated from is Peru's National drink called Pisco which is a Peruvian Brandy which also makes up a well known cocktail called Pisco Sour. The drink called Inca Kola which was first introduced in 1935, is a soft drink that is popular all over Peru and is yellow in colour with a sweet fruity flavour.
- Coastal Cuisine
There are several seafood restaurants along the coast, with popular dishes such as Ceviche served just about everywhere. Ceviche contains raw fish prepared into small cubes which are then marinated with chilli peppers, onion and lime juice and then traditionally served with potatoes and corn.
Another popular dish is Cau Cau which is Tripe stew that is served with rice and often has potatoes, tomatoes and onions added to it.
- Mountain Cuisine
The mountain ranges are known for there Papa a la Huancaina which is a dish containing boiled potatoes, a boiled egg and a turmeric and cheese sauce. The dish called Anticuchos which are skewered chunks of just about any meat that is available is also popular and another great dish is Aji de Gallina which is a combination of shredded chicken served on rice with a a thick sauce made of cheese, chillies, walnuts and garlic.
Stuffed red peppers known as Rocoto Relleno are also incredibly popular.
The rare dish called Pachamanca uses a variety of meats, herbs and vegetables such as potatoes which are placed together to slowly cook underground with the use of very hot stones.
- Jungle Cuisine
The Jungle is well known for a dish called Inkicapi which is a soup that consists of chicken, peanuts and yucca. There are also many trees that produce edible fruit such as Chirimoya, Aguaje and Lucuma.