Every time I travel somewhere new, there’s always things I wish I would have known. Travel guides are good and all, but there’s so much you just don’t know until you know it, you know what I mean?
Here’s 10 things I wish I would have known about Peru before my trip there last month:
- The Museo Larco (Larco Museum) in Lima is one of the most beautiful museums I have ever seen. Like seriously, the bougainvillea there are incredible and totally unexpected. I wish I could have spent more time there.
- Always carry tissues with you. Toilet paper is not guaranteed. And be prepared to not flush any toilet paper for your entire trip. This is unfortunate if you have digestive issues, like I did.
- If you’re in an area where the tap water isn’t safe to drink (most of Peru), it can sneak into things you may not expect. I think I got sick from some gelato where the ice surrounding the containers was melting into the food.
- Some businesses will accept US dollars, but not as many as the guide books lead you to believe even though many ATMs offer US dollars. If you do want to exchange your dollars at a bank, they will often will refuse to take any bills with marks or even small tears. Bring your nice twenties.
- When you do get Peruvian soles from the ATM, you’ll get big bills when a lot of things cost only a few soles like the bus, a bottle of water, etc. Hoard that change and put it to good use.
- Never buy any souvenirs in Aguas Calientes (the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu). The guide books warn you that everything’s overpriced and better quality elsewhere, but it’s so hard to resist. Especially when there’s not much else to do here. But seriously, just get what you like in Cusco. There’s so much great stuff there in the markets and shops.
- An important Spanish phrase to learn would be “Excuse me, does your bus feature lights that flash with the beat of the radio?” It would have really made sure I got the most from the the bus experience around Lima.
- Bring lots of layers. The weather isn’t really described at seasons, as much as “rainy season” versus “dry season.” In the mountains, the temperature can vary by 30 degrees from day to night. In other words, when the sun is out it’s hot, when it’s not, it’s cold. That alpaca wool that’s in every shop comes in handy.
- Altitude sickness is real…and awful. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The biggest thing I would have done differently is stay longer in the highlands around Cusco, not only to see more but try to adjust to the altitude and not feel nauseous and light headed all the time. The struggle is real, folks.
- People in Peru really want you to enjoy your time there and like it as much as your do. So enjoy the pisco and the chicha morada, the stories, the pride, and all the other wonderfulness that is Peru.
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Filed under: Travel