Peru, South America: Final Thought
When travelling in general many people aren't researching or even thinking about the different culture and traditions of the location their travelling to. Personally, I'm huge on research before I go: Read multiple blogs, articles, news, travel magazines, watch plenty of videos on YouTube. This will give you a better idea of what you’re in for. It will give you tips on places to experience, traditions to try and people to meet.
When travelling to Peru I watched many lengthy videos of people doing the Inca Trail and hearing about their success and struggles along the way. Having done Everest Base Camp and attempted Kilimanjaro summit in the past, I've experienced the worst of what the Inca Trail could throw at me. By watching and reading other’s experiences you can go prepared for what may eventuate.
Here are a list of things I would recommend trying while travelling throughout Peru.
Throughout Peru the dominate language is Spanish. So attempt to learn a few basic words and phrases before you go to help you get by.
Hello - Hola! Morning - Mañana Good morning - Buenos Diás! - Till 12pm Good afternoon - Buenas trades! - 3pm - 7pm Good night - Buenas noches! - From 7pm Nice to meet you - Mucho gusto Sorry - Lo siento Excuse me - Perdon - Begging pardon Excuse me - Discúlpeme - Attention Please - Por favor Thank you - Gracias Fine - Bien You're Welcome - De nada Bye - Adiós or Chio Milk - leech
How are you? - ¿Cómo estás? I'm well thank you - Estoy bien gracias
Can I please get some milk? - ¿Puedo por favor deje un poco de leech?
(Complimentary coffee is normally served black with no option for milk.)
Peru is a very multicultural destination and very proud of their history.
Our first week of travelling along the west coast of Peru was very long. Distances may seem small on the map but in real life, when a bus is limited to a speed of 50 or 80 kilometres per hour it can take a while for you to get places.
Peru is not only a multicultural destination but also a multiclimatic destination. Peru has the highest amount of micro climates in the world. So in your travels it may be a hot dry day, hot humid day, wet or cold. Be sure to check out the weather before travelling and pack accordingly.
As I mentioned before Peru is full of history and they are proud to tell you all about it. Along our travels we had some extremely informative guides who you could tell loved what they do.
When travelling the world and experiencing other cultures, one thing in my travels I try and see is at least one traditional dance night. Many of these are included in tours. You’re likely to experience them in a small town one night over dinner. You will see traditional dancing, dress wear and also hear the local music.
When you’re travelling on a tour, like us, you will get to see local life in small towns and large cities. Be sure to get out and see it. Talk to locals, view their goods and taste their food. Life is different from town to town.
If you’re into trying out traditional foods from other countries, Peru has a lot to offer.
Fruit of the Prickly Pear (Opuntia) - The fruit has hard edible seeds inside and can be found growing on the Prickly Pear Cactus which the locals grow to produce Cochineal, which is the red dye mostly used to create the red colour in red velvet cakes.
Sancoya - A fruit commonly used in one of the local drinks in the Colca Valley called Colca Sour. The drink uses the juice of the fruit. They create an alcoholic drink and a non-alcoholic version of the drink by mixing Pisco (if alcoholic), simple syrup, sancoya juice, egg white, a few sprinkles of Angostura bitters and ice.
Coca Leaf - There are a few ways your able to try the Coca Leaf. You can eat the actual leaves themselves like tobacco. You can have it at as a tea but it doesn’t have much of a taste, it's more like drinking a cup of grass clippings in hot water. Throughout Peru many hotels will have this tea available for you to drink. It is the easiest way to get warm and help with any altitude sickness. Just as a disclaimer it doesn’t cure altitude sickness but can help prevent it. Another way to try Coca Leaves is in lolly form. This is readily available at any store and tastes more like a Barley Sugar. A must try even if it's just once.
Guinea Pig - Guinea pig in Peru is a traditional dish and you're mostly likely to try it on one of your day trips where lunch is a buffet, other then ordering it direct from the menu. It is very much like eating pidgeon, lots of bones and fiddlery to eat but in flavour it tastes like beef.
Alpaca - Alpaca is another meat you're likely to try for the first time on a buffet. This meat was by far my favourite. It comes in many different forms, slow cooked stew, steak, small slithers, just depends on how you would like to eat it.
Maize - Maize, also known as corn, is very sweet in flavour and, like many others throughout Peru, can be tried in many different forms. It can be a side dish with a beer, like nuts at a bar, you can have them steamed, boiled, roasted, salted, unsalted, flavoured or just fresh.
Trout - If you're going to be doing a day trip on Lake Titikaka you will most likely be offered to try fresh trout for lunch on Taquile Island. It is, to be honest, probably the best fish lunch I have had. It’s a must try.
Peruvian Chocolate - If you have a sweet tooth, like myself, try and grab some local Peruvian chocolate for your travels. It comes in many different sizes and flavours. If your go to the Salinas de Maras (Maras Salt Mines) out of Cusco, grab a block of pink salt and dark chocolate. It was the favourite in my family even though Mum hates dark chocolate.
Starfruit (Carambola) - We tried this while in The Amazon at our eco-lodge where they grow the fruit and vegetable on site. The Starfruit were literally falling off the trees. The taste is much like a papaya (pawpaw).
Maracuyá - It’s related to the passionfruit but just larger in size. Full of edible seeds that you can spoon or, like my Dad, just slurp it straight out of the fruit.
When you're travelling throughout Peru I would advise you to try the following drinks, even if it's just once.
Coca Leaf Tea
Fresh Mint Tea
Chicha - Corn Beer it can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
I will leave you with some completely random knowledge about Peru in general.
Why are so many of the buildings unfinished? It's so they can avoid paying little to no government taxes. The tax is only paid on completion.
Why is there so much construction in and around Cusco? This is due to the selling off of locals land to build a new international airport. Payments vary between $200,000 and $3 million Peruvian Sol.
Why do they drive so slowly? All their roads are bumpy. Total max speed, that I saw, on the highway was 80km/h, most speeds are 50km/h. There are randomly placed speed humps on the highways to slow the traffic flow down.
When you're travelling be sure to carry your passport with you at all times. You never know when you need it. Every hotel will take a copy on check in and many bus companies want to see them.
When is the best time to do a tour and should I do a private tour? The earlier the better in the day and if you're going through an agent, like ours, some of the tours are private tours or with a group of people. If you can prebook your tours ahead of time it is advised.
Can you create shampoo from crushing leaves? Yes. When we were on the island of Taquile, on Lake Titikaka, a local showed us how they crush the leaves of the Chukjo Plant for an hour, before using it as a detergent to clean dish or clothing and also used as a shampoo to wash their hair. On the mainland Peruvians grate the root vegetable Quillaja saponaria root in water.
Overall this is the best place to adventure to if you get a chance to travel the world.