Perusing Peru

Peru is a country that is extremely dear to my heart. Its magnetism keeps drawing me back and since my first visit at the age of 14, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve returned.

Peru is a country of contrasts, which is immediately visible when looking at the land itself: ‘la costa’ (the coast), ‘la sierra’ (the mountains) and ‘la selva’ (the forest). As well as sunning yourself on the beach and surfing, you can also hike and rock climb in the Andes, as well as explore the rainforest.

I remember our first trip as if it were yesterday. It included a stay in Lima, visits to Cusco, the Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman and a very unique stay in the rainforest, complete with insects, wildlife and sleeping in a scientific research centre in the middle of the jungle.

Other times, I’ve travelled around the country both solo and with friends or family. One of those times was focused on alpaca and vicuna farms and their sheering, gaining an understanding of the wool sales and entire commercial process.

I’m also fortunate enough to have a solid network of friends in Lima and I’ve been back often to see them get married and generally spend some quality time together.

Something that I truly love about this country is the people and the way in which they make you feel welcome. They are so proud of sharing their culture with you and wholeheartedly want you to leave with the best memory possible. And speaking of culture, Peru’s history is incredibly rich and filled with artefacts, monuments and museums reflecting the impact of the Incan Empire and showing just how developed it was for its time.

As well as the classic tourist spots of Cusco and Lima, I recommend heading to Lake Titicaca where the altitude will knock you for six, but witnessing its beauty, the floating homes on the lake’s surface as well as visiting the islands, is worth it. Also don’t miss the Colca Valley where you could be lucky enough to watch the condors fly above you. Make sure to get yourself to Arequipa where I can guarantee that you will fall for the architecture and religious buildings and if you like the weird and wonderful, pay a visit to Juanita, a preserved ice mummy at the Museo Santuarios Andinos.

Lastly, don’t leave Peru without sampling as much cuisine as possible: ceviche, anticuchos de corazon (heart meat skewers – delicious!) and if you’re curious, try ‘cuy’, which is Guinea Pig meat (not my favourite, but interesting nonetheless). Don’t forget to accompany your meals with drinks, such as Pisco sour or ‘chicha’, which is a type of maize beer.

One thing’s for sure, you will leave Peru with starry eyes, a full tummy and the urge to return as fast as you can.