Pretty amazing by Santy_Claus
I just got back from a 5 week trip here.
After spending so much time there I’m at a bit of a loss for how to explain it. The Incan ruins were fantastic, as was Machu Picchu, of course. There is easily enough here to see to fill up two months, especially since the north feels like a different country from the south.
Peru is a good country to visit if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path (note: this does not apply to the Machu Picchu area, which I’m pretty sure has more tourists than Peruvians). But, it does have a decent amount of tourists, too many for my taste in some spots. The result is that tourists don’t feel out of place, have a decent place to stay, but still are able to experience a different culture. The north has much fewer tourists than the south and I highly suggest taking the time to visit Iquitos and the Amazon.
I didn’t plan anything or book any tours before I left. In order to hike the Incan trail you have to book at least 6 months in advance, so we couldn’t do that. We showed up in Cusco and booked a Lares valley trek, an alternate to the Incan trail, with Llama Path. It was a wonderful trek (but very hard), and I recommend them. We also booked a jungle trip with Muyuna in Iquitos. I recommend them also; we say all sorts of wildlife (dolphins, sloths, monkeys, some sort of huge rodent, caiman).
As a warning, no one in Peru speaks English. No one. That said, I know very little Spanish, but the bit I did know got us by. At least learn how to say numbers and a few simple phrases before you leave. It will help immensely.
Also, I am vegetarian and didn’t have much of a problem with it. But, be prepared to eat pizza and pasta every day. In Iquitos there was so little that we could eat that we ate pasta for breakfast. In my opinion though, Peru doesn’t have very good food. I found it bland.
Prices for Peru weren’t incredibly cheap, but pretty reasonable. We paid $10-15 a night for a double hotel that usually had hot water and was pretty clean. You can definitely get a cheaper one though. Meals were about $5, but again, if you eat meat they can be much cheaper. A domestic flight is $100, and I recommend paying a little more to fly LAN Peru because the others are also delayed and the planes shake like they’re going to fall apart.
Okay, well that’s pretty much everything I wish someone would have told me before I went. I didn’t really get sick, despite drinking all sorts of fruit juice with local water in it and doing all sorts of other, not recommended, risky behavior. In a nutshell, if you want to some real life-changing things—poverty, kids begging on the street and whatnot—Peru probably isn’t your best bet. But, it was different, fun, and was some pretty hardcore traveling.