My first country to visit in South America is Peru. South America is captivating, when I was in Peru, I wanted to go to Chile and hike the Patagonia. People asked me, why South America or why not Central America, precisely why Peru? Well the answer I’m going to give is because of Machu Pichu, it is going to be my first new 7 wonders of the world. I know Mexico has got the Chichén Itzá, but that can wait. Well, it is not just because of Machu Pichu.
1) Learn some basic Español
When I first landed in Lima, the capital of Peru, the airport was pretty good with some English translation on directions boards and stuff. Pretty much, people in Lima speak minimal English, basic words here and there but it is good if you know some basic Spanish. I tried ordering some food from Subway in Lima and I encountered some difficulty in getting my order across to the crew. Fortunately, one of the guy working there know some English because my Spanish vocabulary is not that good when it comes to food. The further you travel away from Lima, the chances of people not speaking English falls greatly.
2) Bring enough Peruvian currency (Peruvian Sol)
Peru has sol as their currency, some places accept USD. But things are cheaper when paid in Soles and easy to negotiate. The issue about exchanging local currency is that the money changers only accept near perfect condition bills. I encountered some problems with that but thankfully I had enough bills with me. Small denominations are also preferred, 20 dollar bill will be good in this case.
3) Peru is not just about Machu Pichu
I did the 3 days lares trek, but it is not a trek to Machu Pichu, The trek that leads to Machu Pichu is the Inca trail via the sun gate. Peru is a great place to hike and bike. I biked the Sacred Valley and it was awesome, even though I had a bad fall from the downhill biking. I kayaked Lake Titikaka, the world’s highest navigable lake. I really felt the effects of kayaking at such high altitude. There are many outdoor activities that are waiting for outdoor enthusiasts in Peru.
4) Drink more coca tea
Most places in Peru are high in elevation, which means people who are not used to high altitude will get uncomfortable easily. Coca tea will help but take note that drinking too much will actually have traces of cocaine in your body. My advice is that if you are doing the Inca trail, fly to Cusco and stay for a couple of days. Make sure you get use to the altitude before doing the hike.
5) Try the local Peruvian dishes
Peruvian dishes are getting famous all over the world and the best place to have it is none other than Peru itself. A popular seafood dish called Ceviche is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. I also tried alpaca meat, yes alpaca, the cute little animal you see in pictures that look like a fluffy camel. Guinea pig is tasty. I thought it tasted just like chicken. Peruvians actually treat it as a local delicacy and it is not cheap!