Peru People & Culture

Peru Government 
Peru is run as a democratic republic with a multi-party system. The president acts as both head of state and head of government, and power is distributed between the government, the courts, and congress. The country is divided into 26 administrative regions, which further divide into 180 provinces and 1747 districts.
 
The most recent presidents were Alberto Fujimori (1990-2001), and Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) and Alan Garcia (2006-). Of the three, Alberto Fujimori’s reign and subsequent legacy created the most sensation. He was popularly referred to by the masses as “El Chinko”, despite his Japanese heritage. He was credited with the restoration of Peru’s Macroeconomic stability, but was widely criticized for his authoritarian style. After mounting allegations of corruption and human rights violations, Fujimori sought political asylum in Japan in late 2000. He was detained by Chilean authorities at the end of 2005 when traveling in the country, apparently hoping in vain to run in Peru’s April 2006 elections. He was released in mid-2006 on the condition that he remain within Chile. Peru’s government requested his extradition in the beginning of 2006.
Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:32 PM. Contributors:
Iquitos, Amazon Basin, Peru
Bring your cameras to take lots of photos. Do NOT buy travel packages or book lodging with street guides. Go to the local government managed tourist information office located at the main plaza (plaza de armas)
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Peru Economy 
Hello! My name is James Brown! My sister's name is Delila Brown! She loves you! Bye Peruvians!The Peruvian economy benefits from a number of natural resources including abundant minerals found in the mountains, enormous fish populations on the coast, and large crude oil deposits.
As such, Peru is also a major producer of Petroleum, and a major exporter of fish. However, Peru’s unique geography and climate, and notable lack of well-irrigated flatlands, leave less than 6% of the country’s surface area suitable for agricultural use. This is the reason the Incan people constructed farming terraces on the steep mountain hillsides across the Andes. It is also the reason that modern Peru must import grain and other basic food items from countries such as Canada to feed its population.
 
Poverty in Peru is very high, with over 54% of the population living below the poverty line. Regionally, poverty in Peru is concentrated in the rural areas of the country where basic living infrastructure such as running water and electricity are rare. The average yearly income for Peru’s 9 million working citizens is approximately 25,000 Sols ($7700 USD). This translates into average daily wages about 100 sols ($30 USD). However, large economic disparities in Peru mean that a significant portion of Peruvians are either unemployed, or make less than the equivalent of $2000 USD per year.
 
Up until recently, Peru’s economy stagnated over the past 25 years largely due to political turmoil and internal struggles against rebel movements such as Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). However, Peru’s recent economic performance has improved, with over 4% growth per year from 2002 to 2005. Nevertheless, unemployment and poverty remain high, particularly in the rural regions of the country.
Last edited Dec 10, 12 9:35 AM. Contributors: Contributors: James B.
People in Peru 
The Peruvian people are made up of 45% Amerindians, 37% mestizos (people of mixed European and Amerindian descent), 15% white (mostly “criollos” – the relatively unmixed descendants of the Spanish colonizers) and 3% black, Japanese, Chinese and other. While the white population is concentrated mostly within urban city areas, the Amerindians live mostly in rural areas.
 
The two major ethnoliguistic groups found in Peru are the various Quechua-speaking populations, and the Aymara, living mostly in the Andean highlands in and around lake Titicaca. In addition to this, there are at least 53 different tribes and cultures found in the Loreto region of the Amazon basin, including the Chayahuita, Cocama-Cocamilla, Jivaroan, Urinara, and the Yora.
Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:22 PM. Contributors:
Machupicchu, Cusco Region, Peru
Without climbing onto Wayna Picchu... it is not the same! It’s the big mountain behind the Machu Picchu complex that gives the character to the whole archaeological site. Although the access is a little bit difficult, the view that you have from the top of the mountain is incredible and it’s worth the effort to climb it. It is a place that you won’t want to miss and will make an unforgettable memory of the citadel for you. After entering the Machu Pichu Citadel you will have to climb for a very narrow and steep path, it will take you 60 minutes to 1 ½ hour to complete it and you will arrive to a place where you will see and amazing landscape of Machu Picchu. You have to enter the Wayna Picchu before 2 pm, and leave it before 4 pm.
Only 300 people per day are allowed to climb on it. So if for example at 10 am 300 people went trough they close the entry!
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Lima, Lima & Surrounding Region, Peru
For a fun shopping day:
The street Jr. de la Union connects the two main squares Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin.
It is a pedestrian zone with shops, restaurants, fast food, cinemas and lots of people! PS: There is good shopping oppurtunities in Lima. Nice stuff for good value!
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Iquitos, Amazon Basin, Peru
Beautiful jungle city which is more like a sprawling town. Very humid and hot. Don't expect a clean, modern city. It is a jungle city, lots of mud, lots of mosquitos. Beautiful people though. Very freindly and eager to please.
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Callao, Lima & Surrounding Region, Peru
Small port city outside of Lima. It is a relatively dangerous place and you should not travel around at night, especially alone. There are maybe 1 or 2 sight seeing areas, but only go in daytime and with people. Watch for muggers at all times.
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Isla Taquili, Lake Titicaca & Surrounding Region, Peru
This island is very nice, you have a very nice walk to do around the island. People ae very friendly, even it s "very" touristic. And the Titicaca Lake...amazing!!!
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Peru Culture 
Modern-day Peruvian culture is a rich and wonderful fusion of Spanish, Creole, Andean, and other indigenous ways of life. With over half the population living in the highland regions, Peru’s magnificent Andean civilization whose legacy has left us vast archeological treasures remains the dominant influence. In addition, jagged mountainous terrain has barred the integration of these highland dwellers into a single society. The result is an amazing regional diversity of localized Andean cultures that have maintained a great deal of their distinct identities throughout the centuries. These cultural identities express themselves most visibly through the bright homemade costumes, hearty meals, traditional song and dance, agrarian activities, and incredible craftsmanship that permeate the daily life of the Andean people. Less visible is a complex system of self-organization for extended families (the Ayllu) dating from before the Incas that was designed to facilitate land ownership, marriage, and reciprocal work exchange. As for the costal regions, the elite, relatively unmixed descendants of the Spanish colonizers are concentrated mostly in Lima and other coastal cities. Here the Spanish influence is stronger, as reflected by the architecture, food, song and dance, and numerous cathedrals, monasteries, and other Catholic landmarks of the area. Less than 5% of Peru’s population lives in the Amazon basin. Some of Peru’s numerous Amazonian tribes still live as hunter-gatherers and retain most of their cultural identity, while others have grown increasingly dependant on tourism and trade with other regions of Peru.
Last edited Jul 19, 08 10:23 AM. Contributors:
Puno, Lake Titicaca & Surrounding Region, Peru
A cute little town with a good nightlife, but not too much to keep the traveller there for a long time. The Islas Los Uros (aka Islas Flotantes) although very touristy, are well worth a visit as they are so unique. I have heard stories about the other islands we missed saying that the homestay situations can be awkward cause they try to get you to dress in traditional clothes, in a dress like Snow White in Disney land sort of thing and is detrimental to the culture. We did go to Isla Del Sol off Copacabana and it was absolutely amazing. Hiked the whole island and definitly reccomend it. If you want a splurge you can get to Cuzco via several ruins with a guide on a plushy tour bus for $25. Colectur takes you quite reasonably to Copacabana through the border. You have to pay 1 Boliviano to get into Copacabana, but nothing to the border gaurds when you are crossing.
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Trujillo, Northern Coast, Peru
The town of Trujillo: Trujillo is a pretty city placed on the dry desert coast of Peru. In the center of the city close to "la plaza de armas",the city square, there are many colonial buildings. There are some dicoteques - personaly I've only been to La Barra once, really shortly, so I cannot tell much about the place. Whereas I've been to "El Mecano" several times. In "El Mecano" they play reggatón, salsa and latin pop and they have decorated the place in a nice formel one style. In the center there are several shopping centers with all kinds of cheap clothes, jewlleries of e.g. silver which is a lot cheaper than in the Western World, teddy bears, ect. Arqulogical cites outside the town. If you go on trips just outside Trujillo there are many beautiful arquelogical places to visit, especially the moon temple or, "la huaca de la luna" as it is called in Spanish, is an amazing ruin which maintains its coloured and figurative decorations. Chan Chan on the way to Trujillo's beach Huanchaco, is the largest Pre-Columbian city in Southamerica. It is very interesting, but hire a guide, because without the background history it might just seem like uninteresting huge sand walls. Bring sunblock, because the sun is very strong and you easily get burned if you don't take care. Food: Personally I strongly recommend the homemade burgers of Trujillo. You can get them with all sorts of dressing and especially with a lot of chilly(called aji) they taste amazing; pineaple(piña), "papitas"(chrisps) and guacamole are also recommended along with traditional dressings as kechup and mayonnaise. Besides burgers taditional fish dishes as cebiche/ceviche, and all the dishes of "pescado frito", fried fish are great in Trujillo as it is near the ocean. Rice with chicken/duck,"arroz con pollo/pato" is also aleays nice as well as a stuffed potato, "papa relleno", or sticks with spiced cow heart,"anticucho". Take care: Many of these dishes can e bought in the street stalls and personally I really like the culture of eating in the street, but if you eat e.g. ceviche be carefull and eat a proper place with pices not below 5 nuevo soles. Do not eat in the stalls in the markeds if your stomach is not very used to peruvian food - even many peruvians say it is disgusting ind would never eat there. Take special care with pizza, as many people, my self inculded, have had food poisoning from pizza.
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Huaraz, Huaraz Region, Peru
Visit Chavín de Huaraz. Small village near the famous ruins of Chavin - Peru's oldest major culture.
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Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru
From Cuzco to the Machupichu, do not take the train from Cuzco. Take a local bus Cuzco - Pisac - Urubamba -Ollantaytambo then the train to Agua Caliente In Picas you have the Sacred Valley (nice small trek) In Urubamba you have a a nive view on the valley and the salt culture.
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Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru
The city of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, was placed on the World Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 1983, and is without a doubt one of the most important destinations in Peru. There are Incan buildings waiting for you to discover them among its cobble-stoned streets, ones like the Koricancha and the palace of Inca Roca as well as Andean Baroque structures from the Colonial Period like the Cathedral and the Church of the Company of Christ. In addition, you can visit the picturesque neighborhood of San Blas where the best artisans in the department have set up their workshops. This magical city also has an exciting nightlife with cafes, restaurants, and bars for all tastes. Just ten minutes away from the city, there are the massive walls of the Sacsayhuamán fortress, and a few kilometers from there, you find the archeological sites of Qenko, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay, Incan buildings constructed completely with stone.
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Peru Religion 
Roman Catholicism dominates Peru accounting for 81% of the population. While the Church’s power in Peru has diminished since the time of the Viceroyalty, catholic traditions, morals, values, and ceremonies remain strongly embedded in Peruvian culture. This is evidenced by the fact that every village and town in Peru has an official church or Cathedral, patron saint, and specific religious holidays.
 
Incan traditions, beliefs and practices have shaped the unique expression of Catholicism in the rural areas of Peru, especially where native cultural traditions are strong. This is largely due to the methods used by the Spaniards in converting natives to Catholicism, following the strategy of syncretism used throughout the Americas. This strategy involved substituting Christian saints for local deities by building churches directly on temple sites and holding celebrations of these patron saints on harvest days as clear reinterpretations of Incan harvest rituals. These Christian saints essentially replaced the local deities in the minds of the natives, but not without acquiring something of the deities in the process. As such, the native population still holds animistic notions regarding spirits and forces found in natural settings, and many rituals practiced before the conquest remain in practice today, such as the sacrifice of llamas and spillage of alcohol on sacred ground.

Peru has produced two saints: Santa Rosa de Lima, and Santo Martín de Porres.

Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:24 PM. Contributors:
Peru Arts & Recreation 

While recreational activities vary widely among the people of different regions, ethnicities and socio-economic classes, virtually all Peruvians share two pastimes. The first is watching football (soccer), Peru’s most popular spectator sport with the vast majority of the country following their national team’s soccer matches on television. The second is fiestas – elaborate celebrations of religious and secular events involving large meals, song and dance, and lots of social interaction.

Other spectator sports, enjoyed primarily in Peru’s large coastal cities, include bullfighting, basketball, horseracing and cockfighting. Movies are also a popular form of entertainment in Peru’s urban areas. With less going on in the rural areas, people mostly enjoy drinking and dancing.

Music & Dance

There are many different styles of music and dance in Peru, representing the myriad of diverse cultures making up the country’s population. At a basic level, these various styles can be classified into three broad categories: Andean, Spanish, and Mestizo (styles with Spanish and Andean influences). The most common instrument used in performing music in Peru is the charango, a 10-stringed instrument resembling a miniature guitar that is technically part of the mandolin family of instruments. Before the arrival of European and African instruments accompanying the Spaniards, the natives used a myriad of flutes, pan flutes and other wind instruments, as well as several types of drums of various sizes. The Spaniards introduced Peru to a number of small to medium-sized string instruments including guitars, lutes, harps and violins, from which the natives of the Andes fashioned their own string instruments, such as the charango mentioned above.

The most authentic forms of Andean music can be found in the rural highland areas of Peru. While these styles of music would have originally been confined to native wind instruments and drums, nowadays it may also be performed on charangos, accordions or other post-conquest instruments. In the larger towns such as Cusco, Puno and Apurimac, Andean music may even be accompanied by violins. Native Andean dance styles accompanying Andean music are typically tied to agricultural work, hunting, war, and specific rituals. The llamerada, for instance imitates the llama’s walk, while the chatripuli imitates Spanish soldiers. 

Mestizo music comes in hundreds of different forms, some more strongly influenced by Spanish styles than others. Mestizo bands, usually comprised of 4-6 musicians playing various pan flutes, guitars, lutes, mandolins, and Andean drums, often play in markets, town centers and other open areas frequented by large crowds throughout most of Peru. The most popular form of mestizo music is the huayno style, also one of the most popular forms of music in all of Peru. Huayno music is typically performed on flutes, harp, panpipes, accordion, charangos, lutes, violins and guitars. It is danced in couples. This style has been popularized outside of Peru by Simon & Garfunkel’s version of the nostalgic Huayno song “El Condor Pasa”.

Another popular style of mestizo music in peru is the Chicha style (named after the fermented maize beer described in the food section below). Chicha music would be best described as huayno style music fused with cumbia (Peruvian servions of the Columbian dance) and rock music. It is typically performed on electric guitars, bass, congo drums, timbales and one or two singers. Other mestizo styles include the melancholic yaraví style of the Arequipa region and uplifting huaylas style of the central Andes. 

The spanish styles of music and dance performed in Peru, are those with a predominantly Spanish or Latin influence. Salsa and Merengue, for instance, are popular in Lima and Callao. But most styles blend Spanish music and dance with Gypsy and African influences, collectively referred to as musica criolla, the most popular form of music in coastal Peru. One type of musica criolla is landó, a form of Peruvian-style blues. Another would be festejo, a highly festive style often performed with a large chorus of men playing cajón drums. The most representative dance in peru is the Marinera Nortaña. It is danced in couples and beautifully represents the love and courtship between a man and woman.

An even wider variety of music and dance is available in Lima and other coastal cities. Most young urban Peruvians listen to reggaeton, a form of dance music that blends Jamaican reggae and dancehall with Latin American bomba and plena and North American hip hop. European and North American pop music can also be heard on radio stations in Lima and Arequipa. Finally, music from the north coast of Peru has its own distinct form of musica creolla meet mestizo styles such as the cumanana and tondero styles of music and dance.



Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:28 PM. Contributors:
Lima, Lima & Surrounding Region, Peru
After enjoying luke warm asparagus soup and homemade bread stay for the festivities. Just after sundown a fountain is lit up to the sound of the police band. They play nearly every night and feel free to dance to the music it is absolutely wonderful.
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Lima, Lima & Surrounding Region, Peru
The best address in Miraflores for Salsa is "El Son de Cuba" in the Street of Pizza aka La Calle de las Pizzas. On weekends, you can listen to live music - if you can sit still and if you find a place to sit.
Have an eye an your belongings, as always. You will find some foreigners here and many friendly Peruvians!
Have fun!
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Manu, Amazon Basin, Peru
In 2004, I wanted to go into the Amazon, but how to get there. The obvious route is to fly into Manaus, Brazil. The problem is that, although it sits on the center of the Amazon, it has a population of a million, and you have to travel nearly a week from there to get into wilderness.

A faster way into the Jungle is to go down the back-side of the Andes through Peru. There are two likely ways – to fly into Iquitos, Peru or go over from Cuzco, down to the River called “The Mother of God” (Madre de Dios). The advantage of going down the Andes at Cuzco is that the Inca ruins are also in this area, and I was able to visit both in one visit.

While I was up in the highlands I visited a number of Inca ruins. At one location I tried to buy something and was told the bill was counterfeit. Now I couldn’t tell a bad bill from the real thing, and paid using a different bill. I had changed my money at the first hotel I stayed at, in Lima, Hotel San AXXXX. So I knew where I got the bill and I had a receipt. The hotel I was at in Cuzco was its sister, Hotel San AXXXX, Cuzco. I went to the desk at my hotel and asked to get change. I was told the bill was counterfeit, and they asked where I got it. I said Hotel San AXXX – LIMA. The person operating the desk acted as though Hotel San AXXX, Lima routinely passed bad paper, and promptly accepted the bad bill and gave me good money.

Along the Madre de Dios is the national park called Manu. Manu was featured in the nature video series called “The Living Edens.” In the park, I stayed with an Amazon tribe – the Machiguenga. There are two basic ways to Manu – air and ground. Peru’s military runs bush plan flights in and out of the area, near the provincial capital called Puerto Maldonado. This wasn’t always a military airstrip. There is a small airplane that crashed in the jungle near the end of the strip. It was being used for drug trafficking. The problem with the flying in or out by air is that there is a restriction of 25 lbs on the weight of your luggage. I had about twice that weight – mostly camera equipment.
So, I decided to go in by ground, but out by air. I figured I could always leave behind my excess baggage. In talking with my tour group I discovered this wasn’t really necessary. I just had to let them know how much excess luggage I had, and the pay $1 extra per pound – NO PROBLEM.

The tour company taking me into Manu was itself interesting – it was founded by a British bird watcher. My guide was also interesting. She was German, and had no background in any sort of wildlife. She was an orphan, about four foot something tall, and left Germany as soon as she could. She followed a Peruvian folk music artist back to Peru, where she need a job, and discovered the British birder, who was giving tours to Germans, and need an interpreter. She not only did a fine job as interpreter, but quickly picked up the information on the local wildlife.
But the point of this blog is to tell you about the overland trip down the back of the Andes. That trip turned out to be especially memorable.

At first you are on the high, dry plains. Then you start dropping in altitude rapidly. The curious thing was the bus. It was designed to be on the streets of Lima, and occasionally the wheels dropped into holes big enough to damage the (apparently) brand new bus. The dirt road is one lane, changing direction every other day, but both ways on Sunday – which would cause significant coordination problems. Any error could put you over the side of the road, leading to a thousand foot drop. As we drove down the one lane, I looked back a couple of times where we had been. The road was, in many places, being undercut by rainwater. I imagine that in the rainy season this road collapses routinely.

On the way down the back of the Andes, we stopped at a small town, and the guide invited us to partake of some Chicha – local beer made of corn (Maize). I was ready for this conversation and declined saying I’d wait for the Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is made from the juice of the vine by the same name. Many vines are good sources of pure water, but this vine’s liquid is used by witch doctors for divination. Think of it as LSD. I think the guide was impressed that I knew about it. She told me she had tried it and later showed me the vine. (She was apparently a wild woman.) As we talked, I asked her about Boca Colorado. Boca Colorado is on the river, near Manu, but populated by gold miners, thieves, rebels, and such. According to my reading, you needed to go in strength and plan on shooting your way out. My guide had been there too. (She was really a wild woman.)

The trip down the Andes, going through the cloud forest, was wonderful. The vegetation, the waterfalls, and the birds were fantastic. I will never forget it -- and, I'll not forget my guide.
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Peru Sports 

Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Peru. While sport stadiums and other sporting facilities are concentrated mostly in the large urban areas of coastal Peru, virtually every town, no matter how small, has at least some kind of make-shift field for residents to play soccer. Other sports having achieved some popularity among Peruvians include taekwondo, volleyball, surfing, sailing, shooting and tennis.

Peru has also invented a sport called Paleta Fronton. Paleta Fronton is a tennis-like sport played between two opponents using a special racket shaped like an elongated ping-pong paddle on a court marked with reception zones and a concrete wall 5 meters tall and 6 meters wide. The players both face the wall and ricochet the ball back and forth by bouncing it on the wall.

Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:28 PM. Contributors:
Puno, Lake Titicaca & Surrounding Region, Peru
A cute little town with a good nightlife, but not too much to keep the traveller there for a long time. The Islas Los Uros (aka Islas Flotantes) although very touristy, are well worth a visit as they are so unique. I have heard stories about the other islands we missed saying that the homestay situations can be awkward cause they try to get you to dress in traditional clothes, in a dress like Snow White in Disney land sort of thing and is detrimental to the culture. We did go to Isla Del Sol off Copacabana and it was absolutely amazing. Hiked the whole island and definitly reccomend it. If you want a splurge you can get to Cuzco via several ruins with a guide on a plushy tour bus for $25. Colectur takes you quite reasonably to Copacabana through the border. You have to pay 1 Boliviano to get into Copacabana, but nothing to the border gaurds when you are crossing.
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Huacachina, Southern Coast, Peru
Not entirely sure whether Huacachina is still there after the 2007 earthquake. If it is, then its a great place to chill for a few days. Set in an oasis surrounded by huge sand dunes, there are 2-3 hostel/hotels, mainly frequented by backpackers, two of them have nice pools and there are a couple of good restaurants/bars. Its also close to Ica, where you can do a wine tour and discover how they make Pisco Sour. But the main reason for visiting Huacachina is the sandboarding. You go out into the desert in big Mad Max -style dune buggies (not for the faint-hearted, and wear eye protection and ideally a bandana or something to cover your face), flying over HUGE dunes, and then sandboard down them. You can do it snowboard style (difficult, the bindings aren't exactly quality), or just lie on the board. You'll be spitting up sand for months but its huge fun.
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Trujillo, Northern Coast, Peru
The town of Trujillo: Trujillo is a pretty city placed on the dry desert coast of Peru. In the center of the city close to "la plaza de armas",the city square, there are many colonial buildings. There are some dicoteques - personaly I've only been to La Barra once, really shortly, so I cannot tell much about the place. Whereas I've been to "El Mecano" several times. In "El Mecano" they play reggatón, salsa and latin pop and they have decorated the place in a nice formel one style. In the center there are several shopping centers with all kinds of cheap clothes, jewlleries of e.g. silver which is a lot cheaper than in the Western World, teddy bears, ect. Arqulogical cites outside the town. If you go on trips just outside Trujillo there are many beautiful arquelogical places to visit, especially the moon temple or, "la huaca de la luna" as it is called in Spanish, is an amazing ruin which maintains its coloured and figurative decorations. Chan Chan on the way to Trujillo's beach Huanchaco, is the largest Pre-Columbian city in Southamerica. It is very interesting, but hire a guide, because without the background history it might just seem like uninteresting huge sand walls. Bring sunblock, because the sun is very strong and you easily get burned if you don't take care. Food: Personally I strongly recommend the homemade burgers of Trujillo. You can get them with all sorts of dressing and especially with a lot of chilly(called aji) they taste amazing; pineaple(piña), "papitas"(chrisps) and guacamole are also recommended along with traditional dressings as kechup and mayonnaise. Besides burgers taditional fish dishes as cebiche/ceviche, and all the dishes of "pescado frito", fried fish are great in Trujillo as it is near the ocean. Rice with chicken/duck,"arroz con pollo/pato" is also aleays nice as well as a stuffed potato, "papa relleno", or sticks with spiced cow heart,"anticucho". Take care: Many of these dishes can e bought in the street stalls and personally I really like the culture of eating in the street, but if you eat e.g. ceviche be carefull and eat a proper place with pices not below 5 nuevo soles. Do not eat in the stalls in the markeds if your stomach is not very used to peruvian food - even many peruvians say it is disgusting ind would never eat there. Take special care with pizza, as many people, my self inculded, have had food poisoning from pizza.
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Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Basin, Peru
check out the Market... it has nearly everything for sale from fruits veggies, to meats fishes, to machetes  scalpels, to dvd players and radios. 
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Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru
Stay calm the first day, let your body get used to the altitude (specially if you live in a place close to the sea level), if you are really prone to feel sick try to get an oxygen tank. If you are doing some hiking and feeling a bit dizzy, you will likely find some muña in the wilderness (ask a guide or a local for it) rub it with your hands and take a big whiff and it shall easy the sickness.
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Food in Peru 
Peruvian cuisine is considered to be one of the most diverse in the world, reflecting both the mix of cultures that make up Peruvian society, and the diversity of plant crops and animal species available for use as cooking ingredients. Mostly a blend of Spanish and Andean cuisine, it also benefits from African, Italian, and Asian influences, combining the flavors and traditions of 4 continents. Staple ingredients include corn, tomato, potato, pineapple, banana, cherimoya (a local fruit), mango, limes, avocado, chili pepper, llama, alpaca, cuy (roasted guinea pig) and fish. Spices most often relied on include garlic, oregano, parsley, black pepper, cumin and chili peppers. A subset of Peruvian cuisine is Creole cuisine, similar to Peruvian cuisine, but usually spicier and most commonly found in Lima.
 
Popular & tasty dishes include ceviche (fish or seafood marinated in lemon or lime juice whose acid “cooks” the flesh without heating it), lomos de saltados (spicy beef strips with tomatoes & onions and fried potato chips), sopa a la criolia (Creole style soup), arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), anticuchos (kabob-style marinated beef hearts), chupe de camarones (shrimp soup made with a thick shrimp stock, potatoes, milk and chili peppers) and pachamanca (an Andean specialty made with a verity of meats, tubers and broadbeans cooked in a stone oven).
 
Peruvian cuisine also offers a great variety of deserts, pastries and sweets. The most common would probably be alfajores, a pastry that comes in different shapes and sizes consisting of two or more layers of baked pastry filled with a milky caramel (dulce de leche) or molasses. Ice cream (Helados) in Peru tends to be made of exotic fruit flavors such as camu camu (a small fruit that grows in the Amazon) and lucuma (a fruit that grows exclusively in Peru’s dry coastal regions). Another tasty desert is picarones, ring-shaped fritters made with a sweetened pumpkin base. Countless other deserts and pastries made with dulce de leche (literally “sweetness of milk), a kind of caramel made by slow boiling evaporated milk and sugar, can be found in virtually all major and minor urban centers of Peru.
 
Peru’s national drink is Pisco, a kind of brandy that tastes more like something between rum and tequila. It is used to make the well-known Pisco Sour cocktail comprising a mixture of Pisco, lemon juice, egg white and sugar. Another interesting and tasty drink to be found in Peru is Chicha (or Chicha de Jora), a thick fermented beverage using maize that has been brewed by the indigenous people of the Andes since before the arrival of the Spaniards. In some areas, a special variety of Chicha is made with quinoa. Chicha typically has an alcohol content of 1-3% that can barely be recognized.
 
Coca leaves are also very popular in the Andean highlands where it is grown. Coca leaves give off small amounts of an alkaloid similar to caffeine delivering mild analgesic effects. It is believed that chewing the leaf provides greater stamina and helps alleviate altitude sickness. The leaves can be chewed or brewed into a tea.
Last edited Jul 19, 08 10:28 AM. Contributors:
Machupicchu, Cusco Region, Peru
If you take the train in, stay in the town of Aguas Calientes the night before you plan to go to Machu Picchu. By staying in the town, you can get to the entrance first and snap some photos of the site without other tourists in your photos!
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Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru
Machu Picchu for less than $80 dollars.
Going to South America? Or travelling Peru? No trip is complete without a visit to the lost city of the Inca's, Machu Picchu. But what if you're backpacking and trying to live on less than a minimum a day? The train from Cusco to Machu Picchu can cost up to $130 for a return (which is a big chunk out of your budget) and that doesn't even include things like accommodation, food or other transport. But as always, there's a way around (literally this time). I have to admit, it takes a bit longer but that doesn't mean a day wasted. It takes you over mountain roads and through lush green valleys, you'll pass scenic villages and sandy lost towns, you'll encounter some landslides and very steep cliffs. Even that would be worth the trip.

First, take an (early) bus to Ollantaytambo, 1.5 hours. Here you'll find the best remaining example of the planning of an Inca town. A little walk outside the town will bring you to ruins, a nice first stop. From the main square you'll need to catch the (big red) bus to Santa Maria. This ride takes about 3,5 hours and brings you up to about 4000 meters and then back down into the heat. During rain season (oct-apr) there are many landslides on the road. It's safe to drive there, though it might take a little longer because the men on the bus need to jump off to take away the rocks. In Santa Maria you haggle over a taxi that takes you through Santa Teresa, all the way up to the Hydroelectrica. This shouldn't cost more than 3-5 dollar. The road follows the river and goes along some really steep cliffs, don't sit at the window if you suffer from vertigo. You'll be dropped off at the Hydroelectrica, which is, apart from being a hydroelectrica, the train station at the end of the train track. The part from Aguas Calientes to Hydroelectrica wasn't in use for a couple of years but is used again. Here you can choose whether you want to take the train or walk along the train tracks. If you decide to walk, be careful and listen if you can hear the train coming. You'll hear it from quite a distance though. Don't forget to bring a flashlight since you'll have to go through a tunnel. It will take about 4 hours to walk, the train will get you there in about 30 minutes and costs $8. Either way, you'll end up in Aguas Calientes where you spend the night. It's best to buy your entrance ticket that day in Aguas Calientes to skip the queue at Machu Picchu ($20/$40 student/adult). There's two ways of getting to the archaeological site, by bus or by foot. The walk is quite tough, all uphill for about an hour. I would say, save your energy and take the bus so you can climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain towering over the lost city. The bus costs $7 and takes 40 minutes.
Then, enjoy!
For the way back, you can take exactly the same way. Unfortunately the train to Hydroelectrica only leaves at 7.00 and 12.00 am. This would mean a short visit to Machu Picchu if you want to climb the mountain as well. Though the site opens at 6.00 am so you should be able to catch the 12.00 am train (allow 2 hours for the mountain). Otherwise you can stay an extra day or take the train directly to Cusco or Ollantaytambo. If you're in the train to the Hydroelectrica, try to find some tour guides that go back to Cusco. They'll take you for about $15.
Adding up all the costs will leave you spending:
1. Cusco - Ollantaytambo: $4
2. Ollantaytambo - Santa Maria: $5
3. Santa Maria - Hydroelectrica: $4
4. Train to Aguas Calientes (x2): $16
5. Hydroelectrica - Cusco : $15
6. Bus to Machu Picchu : $14
7. Accommodation: $6
8. Food: $15
Total: $79
You can skip numbers 4 and 6, saving you another 30 dollars.

Welcome to Machu Picchu poor backpackers!
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Cusco, Cusco Region, Peru
Try to get an accommodation in San Blas. For headaches, try Mate de Coca, helps a lot!
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Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Basin, Peru
Avoid the hideous shopping centre! If you're just stopping over on your way further south or before heading accross to the national parks, you would do better to stay in Puerto Varas.
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Machupicchu, Cusco Region, Peru
Without climbing onto Wayna Picchu... it is not the same! It’s the big mountain behind the Machu Picchu complex that gives the character to the whole archaeological site. Although the access is a little bit difficult, the view that you have from the top of the mountain is incredible and it’s worth the effort to climb it. It is a place that you won’t want to miss and will make an unforgettable memory of the citadel for you. After entering the Machu Pichu Citadel you will have to climb for a very narrow and steep path, it will take you 60 minutes to 1 ½ hour to complete it and you will arrive to a place where you will see and amazing landscape of Machu Picchu. You have to enter the Wayna Picchu before 2 pm, and leave it before 4 pm.
Only 300 people per day are allowed to climb on it. So if for example at 10 am 300 people went trough they close the entry!
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Peru Language 
Spanish – the language of the Spanish conquistadors that conquered the Incas and subsequently founded and populated Lima.
 
Quechua – spoken mainly by the descendants of the Incas found mostly in the highlands of Peru.
 
Aymara – spoken by the Aymara Indians found mostly in the southern highlands of Peru in and around Lake Titicaca.
Last edited Oct 11, 07 12:30 PM. Contributors: