Peru Backpacking Guide!

Updated October 22nd, 2018.

EAT! Choclo, a large kernel corn. This snack is best enjoyed by individually picking off each kernel and eating it with an accompanying bite of soft Peruvian cheese.

DRINK! pisco sour. This delectable cocktail is made of lime, egg whites, and pisco (A local liquor). Be careful these drinks taste like melted key lime pie and I guarantee will make you want to drink far more than your fair share.

BEWARE! Street dogs run rampant in Peru. Most often these pesky guys are more bark than bite, but its never a bad idea to threaten clingers with a rock if you are unsure.

WEAR! A poncho. As much of Peru is covered by the Andes, nights can get surprisingly cold. Your best bet is to do like the locals and get cozy under an oversized poncho.

SANDBOARD! Glide down the enormous sand dunes of Huacachina in Peru for an adrenaline-fuelled experience like no other!

Peru Backpacking Guide

An Introduction to Backpacking Peru!

Red-roofed homes climb up the sides of mountains. Colour explodes from bags of spices and intricately woven textiles decorated with geometric patterns. Verdant mountains hug ancient pueblos in a misty embrace.

Little explored jungles beacon with unrecognizable murmurings. Lakes beg to be sailed and oceans to be surfed. Sprawling cities pulse with an unexpected modernity. Surprises confront even the most informed traveller – the worlds deepest canyon, islands made of floating Totoro reed.

Snow-capped mountains entice with the possibility of reaching opaque blue glacial lakes at their summit. Incan structures constructed with unexplained precision continue to provide the support for the ornate churches of the conquistadores.

Avocado waits to be devoured, guinea pig to be sampled, and Cusquena beers to be guzzled. Welcome to Peru, a country that can’t wait to wonderfully overwhelm you.

White houses with tile roofs, Cusco, Peru
The red rooftops and whitewashed houses of Cusco, Peru.             

Check out our Travel Guides to Peru…

So Much More Than Machu Picchu!

When I say Peru you say… Machu Pichu. For many, this iconic site is the first image to be conjured up in connection with Peru. The ruins truly are a marvel and worth a trip, whether by train or the Inca Trail, but that being said Peru offers much more than just this one stop! Check out our article on the seven different ways to explore Machu Picchu.

A Trekking Group at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu – The reason many people come backpacking to Peru.

Ancient tuins cover Peru, close to any roadside stop you are bound to find a unique glimpse into Peruvian history. Incan ruins abound, but so do remnants from such groups as the Moche, Wari, and Chimu

The Peruvian People

There are three official languages in Peru; Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara.

As diverse as the land itself the cultural variety within Peru is astonishing. In the Amazon alone there are more than 65 different ethnic groups. On the island of Taquile lives an entire population that shares all of their wealth and resources and as a result, has no need for any form of a criminal system.

In the south, meet the farmers of the Colca Canon, a people who often live without electricity and running water. Then, at the opposite end of the extreme, there are the urbanites of Lima and Arequipa, a place where hustle and bustle have become the norm. And, did you know that Lima is home to South America’s largest China town?

In Cusco meet a group of people who worship in Catholic churches but simultaneously uphold the shamanistic practices of the Inca. (Did you know that after India, Peru has the second largest number of shamans in the world?)

The environments direct influence on the people who live here is astonishing and helps to create a dynamic and inspirational backpacking experience.

Peruvian food!

Peruvian cuisine has made a splash, and is quickly becoming recognized as a distinct culinary venture… Don’t believe us? Read our Top 10 foods to try in Peru here!

Ceviche, raw fish cooked in lime and served in clam shells is a refreshing meal. Chicha, a thick corn beer promises to deliver a ridiculously cheap buzz. Palta relleno, avocados stuffed with chicken salad provides a perfect afternoon snack. Mate de coca, a tea made of the native coca leaves will leave your head feeling slightly lighter and will help to warm you up on a brisk day.

Chifa, Peru’s version of Chinese food is a welcomed surprise amongst the multitude of potatoes in Peru’s highlands. (The potato, though often believed to have originated in Ireland, actually comes from Peru. There are over 3,000 varieties to try.)

For dessert why not indulge in Chicha Morada, a sweet pudding made out of purple corn.

All in a Day:

Morning: Wake up early, now is the best time to catch Peru’s markets in full swing. Be prepared to encounter an overwhelming array of everything Peruvian. Roasted guinea pig, sweet bread larger than your face, healthy quinoa soups for less than a dollar, shamanic supplies perfect for communicating with the apus (mountain gods), and colourful masks depicting unflattering caricatures of the conquistadores.

Afternoon: Head out for a hike, Peru is best when explored on foot. Clamber up mountains, stumble upon tiny pueblo villages, and spend a couple soles sampling the many roadside treats that you will encounter along the way.

Evening: Head to San Blas, Cusco’s up and coming bohemian hood. Feast on sumptuous tapas and zingy mojitos at KM 0, then bounce on over to Siete Angelitos for live music, more drinks, and I would presume a spot of dancing.

Written by: Tyler Protano-Goodwin

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