Five Things You Should Know Before You Travel to Peru


I was wondering where you were :) Good for you! Welcome home.

'low-rent Anthony Bourdain.' ha! No one should eat guinea pig, ever. blech
Hmm.. I was in Peru just a month before you.

Here are my thoughts:

I opted for Manu Biosphere over the Inca Trail. Both involve a 4-day time investment and roughly the same amount of money. In some ways I wished that I had done the Inca Trail instead, but there's nothing quite like seeing the most biodiverse land area on Earth, even if most of the animals are hiding from you.

Lima is dirty, and it's also huge. I would add that it is difficult to navigate and relatively expensive for Peru. Taking a rickety taxi through the slums along Morales Duarez was quite an experience. I've seen plenty of poverty in Asia and the North America, but it felt different there. Perhaps it was the sheer number of vacants and dilapidated buildings that struck me. Overall, I can see why people love Lima, but the city is a pretty tough sell for short-term tourism.

Cuy (guinea pig) is a delicacy. Did not have it, because the value seemed really poor. I did eat alpaca, however. Not bad.

Whatever anyone tells you, coca tea is a poor cure for altitude sickness. Unless you're going through an acute crisis, the best bet is to grin and bear it until you adjust.

Aguas Calientes was better than expected. That's not to say that it is nice, just nicer than expected.
Eh. The Rockies are pretty high. For someone from Seattle where you live at sea level, I can see adaptation problems. You might want to prepare by skiing or snowboarding - this will get your legs in shape for the climbs and make it easier to cope with the higher elevation.

Fermented shark = guinea pig. Sheep head = llama. Skip the former.
did you drink Inca Cola?
I love taxis in Peru. Some of the best/funnest times ever was barreling down their roads weaving in and out of traffic.
I agree – Peru is a great place to visit. Claire and I spent little time in Lima and flew straight up to Cuzco instead. We then took a long taxi ride along the Urubamba river to Ollantaytambo, where we stayed for several days while exploring. Aguas Calientes (and Machu Picchu) were easy to get to on PeruRail, although it would have been great if we could have taken the Inca Trail.

We did not find cuy on the menu where we ate, but we did have trucha (a type of trout) and local veggies that were really good! We had coca tea a few times too.
Inca Cola! Love that stuff, and there's a place at The Market that sells it by the six-pack.

What I miss is the little Peruvian restaurant in Ballard, at 15th and about 65th. They made a good Pisco Sour. Sigh...
Actually, guinea pig is quite tasty.
Peru is a very diverse and engaging country. I spent two months kicking around there in 2006 and dug the shit out of it. Compared to Nicaragua, where I had just spent two years, it was a remarkably functional country with a lot going for it.

While Machu Picchu itself is magical, and Cuzco is a lovely city, the tourists/locals choque de cultura made it a tense and unpleasant experience on the streets for me, at least. But the urban form of the place? Damn.

When I think of all the knowledge we lost when the Inca were conquered, I wanna weep into my pisco sour.
You should have tried the cuy, it's pretty tasty. I remember Lima to be dusty, huge, crowded and overall a pretty sad place. Glad you got out of there...

And @3, the Rockies may be high, but they are *nothing* compared to the Andes. The scale of those mountains is unbelievable, with vast areas above the altitude of the tallest Rockies peaks. Until you seen them/been there, they just can't be appreciated - the Rockies are puny in comparison.
Oh Jesus, I took a bus from Mendoza over the Andes to Santiago. The driver frequently had both hands off the wheel, was turning around to talk to passengers, and watching tv. I thought for sure I was going to die.
FWIW nowhere on the Inca trail is higher than Mount Rainier. 13,860 feet is the highest point on the inca trail whereas Mount Rainier is 14,410.
Paul - how many people were on your tour?
I lived in Peru for 3 months. Lima is a grey dirty city, but the surrounding towns are quite nice and the majority of the country is gorgeous.

And, fwiw, the issue is not did you eat guinea pig (seemed ok, but a rare exceptions in decades of vegetarianism, so I don't have much to judge on), but did you drink chicha?
@ 14

Chicha is awesome. Drank much of it (and pisco).

Not for everyone, though.
And don't forget the fanous Inca Trail:…
And don't forget the famous Inca Trail:…