Posts on Peru by Kyle the Vagabond:
Mighty land of the Incas, Peru is a fascinating nation that is struggling to exist somewhere between 1st world modernity and 3rd world antiquity. The arid deserts of the north are a surfer’s and fisherman’s paradise, while history buffs can wander amongst the Moche temples of Trujillo or the Incan ruins of Cuzco’s Sacred Valley.
Those needing to tap back into modern conveniences can lounge in Lima’s trendy Miraflores district with a Starbucks or a burger from Chili’s, or you can sample an alpaca burger or guinea pig (cuy) at the base of a mountain pass in the Andes.
There’s also a little area known as the Amazon where you can pass some time, or desert junkies can choose to sandboard down massive coastal sand dunes along Peru’s expansive coastline. Moderately cheap and brimming with adventure, Peru is one of those places you’ll need to visit multiple times to even try to get it all in. You always need to start somewhere though…
Peru Nuevo Soles; Exchange Rate: $1 = 2.82 PEN (May , 2011). For more currency info visit xe.com
When To Go:
If you’re wanting to trek in the Andes or head to Machu Picchu, September-October is doable, November is pushing it, and December-February is asking to get soaked. the Inca Trail isn’t even open in February, and virtually all tour operators stop running trips until the rains subside. That being said, anytime from May-August is meant to be spectacular, but it also brings the crowds.
All tours are cheaper when booked in the actual city (ie booking Mach Picchu in Cuzco). Speaking of Machu Picchu, don’t feel like you have to wake up at 3am to climb from Aguas Calientes to get your Huayna Picchu ticket. Be on the first couple of buses out of town and you should be fine, minus the 90 minute climb up nature’s stairmaster. Also, take the risk of altitude sickness seriously and be sure to take the recommended 1 day of rest for each 1000m (3,300 ft.) of altitude you gain.
The Vagabond’s Top Picks for Peru:
1. Relax and surf in Mancora
About the only place in Peru you can surf without a wetsuit, relax with some ceviche and cheap beer in this watersports oasis in the desert
2. Visit the Temples of Trujillo
The “Huaca de la Luna” dates back to the Moche of 1500 years ago, while sprawling Chan Chan was the largest pre-Incan civilization in South America
3. Explore the Moray and Salt Mines of Cuzco’s Sacred Valley
Discover ingenious farming techniques of the Inca and the backbreaking reality of life in a salt mine
4. Trek to Machu Picchu
Choose from either the Inca, the Salkantay, the Lares, Inca Jungle, or simply the trail from Aguas Calientes. Magical scenery, but be prepared for the crowds at Machu Picchu
5. Stand on the Floating Islands of Uros
Islands made of reeds that are literally anchored to the lake bottom, these traditional turned tourist trap islands are a unique peek into the region’s past.
6. Eat huge plates of ceviche in Huanchaco
Spicier than the Ecuador ceviche, heaping plates of fish and aji spice are always the right meal decision.
7. Go sandboarding
Whether on a dune outside Trujillo or Ica, this warm-weather cousin to snowboarding is user friendly and a tremendous workout