Very roughly speaking Peru is divided into three geographical regions running north and south. The western third sits against the Pacific Ocean and is desert. The middle third is the Andes mountains and the eastern portion is the Amazon jungle.
The earliest archeological evidence of humans in Peru is about 11,000-years-old. Many cultures flourished throughout pre-written history in the desert portion. These societies were based on fishing and agriculture and became quite adept at irrigation techniques.
Population – 32,678,000
Money – Sol (as of Feb 2020 US$1 = s/3.33; current rate available at XE.com)
Language – Spanish
Religion – 93.8% Christian (81.3% Catholic)
When to go – May-Sept is the dry season (their winter)
World Heritage Sites – 12 – Andean Road System, Arequipa, Caral-Supe, Chan Chan, Chavin, Cuzco, Huascarán, Lima, Machu Picchu, Manú, Nasca Lines, Río Abiseo
Country formed – Independence from Spain declared on 28 Apr 1821
In the 15th century AD the Inca society rose from the Cusco area to become the largest pre-Columbian empires in the Americas. The Incan demise came as a direct result of the Spanish conquistadors conquering the capital and capturing the emperor in 1532.
Even though wars of independence were being waged throughout South America, Peru was the last stronghold for Spanish loyalist. In fact, it was leaders from outside of Peru that cause the country to be independent in 1821. Since that time, Peru has had periods of strife and other periods of stability. As of right now 25% of the 31 million people live in poverty.
In June of 2015 I had a two-week window that charters did not fill up, so with two-weeks’ notice I booked a flight and spent 10 days exploring Peru. I started by boarding a bus called Peru Hop and saw Paracus National Reserve (where I saw sea lions and penguins), Huacachina (a desert oasis), and Nazca (I took a flight and looked down on the shapes and animals carved into the desert floor). After this I flew to Puerto Maldonado and spent two nights at a resort in the Amazon jungle where we took daily hikes into the rain forest and saw some amazing wildlife. I capped my trip off by flying to Cusco and taking a cab and train to Machu Picchu, where I hiked for a day before flying back to the boat to finish out the last month of the charter season.
In October 2019 I was invited back to Peru for a week to explore Lima, which is the capital and largest city. This city is a mixture of pre-Columbian, Spainish, and post independence historic sites, but hindered by unbelievable growth starting in the 1940s and becomeing an unabashed urban sprawl.
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
While my trip was spurred with a desire to see Machu Picchu, I am so glad I saw everything else. The penguins at Paracus were adorable. Huacachina was everything I thought a desert oasis should be. The Nazca lines were stunning in their size and that they were forgotten for a thousand years. I did not know what to expect in the jungle, which was a great thing. It was such a great experience and my guide was fantastic. And then there is Machu Picchu, which met and exceeded my expectations. Once you get above it and see how this town was built on the top of a mountain you are left in awe. While there I even tasted alpaca, and loved it so much I went back the next night. Then there is the week in Lima for my second trip that was great.
I only had two dislikes in Peru. One was the lack of time on my part, which made me have to skip Lake Titicaca (I will return to see the manmade floating islands). The second was in the sake of experience. You see I tried guinea pig, which I found to be greasy and disgusting.
I highly recommend using the Peru Hop, as they are inexpensive, offer you convenient transportation, and have several interesting tours already set up saving you time and money. Second, book your ticket to Machu Picchu in advance and try to get one with the hike up Hauyna Picchu included (they sell out quickly and well in advance).
Below you can get even more helpful hints by watching the travel videos I made for Peru. Also, you can read what all I did there in my blog posts located below the video.
All Blogs From Peru
Since I rented a VRBO in Peru I went to the grocery story to stock up on some food. In the produce area I saw fruit I knew and liked,…
Pucllana is a great adobe pyramid located right in the middle of Lima, Peru. It is built as seven staggered platforms and served as an important ceremonial and administrative center…
Pachacamac is a religious city that was first settled around 200 AD and flourished for about 1,300 years until the Spanish invaded. It was named after the “Earth Maker” creator…
Basílica y Convento de San Francisco is the Spanish name for Saint Francis Monastery found in the World Heritage Site listed city center of Lima, Peru. The church and monastery…