Peru

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Logistics, Peru, South America, Summaries | 0 comments

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After spending nearly two weeks in Peru, I feel like I’ve seen only a tiny sliver of the country. I can now check Machu Picchu off the bucket list (albeit sans the Inca Trail), but I have yet to see Nazca lines, Amazon rainforest, and a slew of other sights that Peru offers.

After Colombia, Yus and I met in Lima. I flew in, and he arrived overland via Equador through Piura. His way was much cheaper, but took more time, but that is a constant trade off in South America. Below is a list of places we saw along with some hopefully helpful logistical information.

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Lima–stay in Miraflores and make sure to try some Peruvian delicacies such as ceviche
Cusco and the Sacred Valley–acclimate to altitude and begin exploring ancient Incan ruins
Machu Picchu–self-explanatory
Arequipa— enjoy spicy Andean cuisine in the White City and explore the two deepend canyons in the world nearby
Colca Canyon–hike the second deepest canyon
Lake Titicaca–get to know the indigenous cultures and ancient Incan ruins on the highest navigable lake in the world

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Transportation
Main cities are served by the major airlines. Check out local airlines such as Star Peru, Sky, Peruvian, and Amazonas for better deals.

Buses connect all cities you would want to visit, especially anything in the well-established gringo trail. They are often cheaper than flying, and the quality is pretty good although not quite at Chilean and Argentine standards. The companies we heard most recommended are Cruz del Sur (pricey), Oltursa (can vouch for good quality on overnight trip), and Ormeno. Some bus companies (flotas) have websites that show you the buses, the nicer ones have meals and wifi. You can’t always find schedules online, but typically overnight buses cover the longer routes. Arequipa to La Paz departs at 1am, I believe, to hit the border after sunrise (you don’t want to be there at night). I would always suggest asking hostel for bus recommendations, as certain routes (to La Paz, for instance) are advised over others. The journey to La Paz takes less time via Desaguadero, but is safer via Copacabana, so the trade off might be worth it. Another bus service I’ve heard travelers use is Green Toad Bus, which is more expensive than sorting everyone on your own, but you communicate with the agency over email and have bus tickets waiting for you at the station.

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Hostels
Lucky to say I didn’t have any bad experiences in Peru. Some hostels are obviously better than others but with hostelworld, hostelbookers, tripadvisor and the like, I think everyone knows what she/he is getting into upon booking. Having said that, here are some chains and personal recommendations.
Pariwana-Lima and Cusco. Great locations, fun bars, super comfy beds. Cusco has plenty of coca de mate any time of day, which was a welcome sight.
Wild Rover–known as party hostel in Cusco, Arequipa and La Paz. If you stay in more than one, you get a free drink at the next. If you stay at all three, free shot and tshirt, but you will probably pay with the cost of your liver.
Loki–didn’t stay but the chain is in Lima, La Paz, Cusco, and now Salta. Also a party hostel but you’re guaranteed a great location and meeting a fun crowd (the Salta location is 20min away from town though).

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Food
Lima is full of famous eateries like Astrid & Gaston, La Mar, etc so you can choose how much to stretch your budget. In Cusco, step away from main plaza and prices plummet. You can get a 2-3 course meal for 5 soles, 13 soles, and up; it’s just a matter of getting away from the crowds. The set menu might not be the best food, but it’s always a bargain. Prepare to eat lot of maize, quinoa and potatoes. Yay starch and carbs!

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