I just recently returned on an epic (and I only use that cliche of a word when I’m describing a place that is fitting as such) solo expedition to Peru that YOU and the rest of the Universe needs to know about. I’d been dreaming of a trip to South America for years after my trip to Australia, just sitting there salivating at that picture of Machu Picchu as if it were the last bit of chocolate on Earth and I’d been on some terrible kale diet. Notice how I turned a blog about travel into food? (trust me- I’m a fat girl on the inside)
Anyhow, If you don’t know me, you’ll come to find out, I don’t take a backseat to my dreams for long. I take ahold of the damn wheel and transform my little spark of dreams into reality. But here’s the thing, I always have these travel moments where I think to myself, I wish someone had told me about that BEFORE I left! Therefore, you have this piece, I’m deeming, things I wish I knew before I went to Peru! By the way, if you like this, be sure to bookmark my page because I have a lot of Peru based articles coming out soon. Sharing is caring!
5. Perhaps I am unlucky, but the mosquitos there had a royal FEAST on my body and I had no idea how severely they bites would itch and scab. Plan better than I did! I’ve heard that the best idea is to get 100% DEET repellent. Alternatively, if you do get bitten, eucalyptus oil can do 3 things: repel mosquitos, help with itch, and tend to sunburns.
6. There are so many free/inexpensive things to do in both Cusco and Lima while in Peru! The only thing that makes Peru expensive are the excursions you will want to take such as trekking to Macchu Picchu, going to Arequipa to hike Colca Canyon, or taking an overnight bus to see the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. That’s just a small list of the wide array of activities to do in Peru, particularly from the region of Cusco.
7. Peruvian food is delicious and so ridiculously cheap it turned me into a foodie. It’s cheaper to eat out than to make something and I didn’t even go to the cheapest places! There are plenty of places to grab a 20 soles 4-course meal, (that is $5 American dollars if you’re counting!) or a 3-course meal for 10 soles like pictures below.
8. The number one thing I wish I knew before I went to Peru is to always barter on price when it comes to taxis, and any other goods bought in the streets (the only exception to this would be food) and make sure you settle on a price BEFORE you get in the taxi. Also, the taxis honk at you to see if you’d like a ride, so don’t be caught off guard that you did something wrong. I will be writing a how to see Peru on the cheap post soon so stay tuned!
9. Cusco is a mountain town so unfortunately you are going to have to pack for 2 types of weather depending on the season you go. I went in mid-May and it was very warm when the sun was out, but would get chilly as soon as the sun disappeared.
10. You will need toilet paper for the remote parts of Cusco en route to Macchu Picchu such as Santa Theresa. (or I suppose you can pretend you’re camping–EEK!)
11. The Lima airport has 1 or 2 outlets for charging your phone and is VERY tiny. If you have a connecting flight to Cusco, plan accordingly.
12. Lima can be quite dangerous after daylight, and as such, if you’re a woman traveling alone I would recommend to stay indoors at night. Do not have your phone out when driving or walking near the airport. I was told this by a taxi driver! If you’re a female going solo, I highly recommend you check out my piece on tips for female solo travel!
18. I assumed that wifi might be hard to get, but I didn’t realize to what extent. While the wifi might be a little spotty in your hotels/hostels, and there is certainly no wifi walking around the city, there are definitely quite a few restaurants and pubs that have wifi.
19. While in Cusco, there are actually a plethora of tour groups doing very similar bookings for Machu Picchu and other excursions. Walk around and see who has the lowest price! I can tell you I went with American Inca Trail. They are bar none the BEST when it comes to customer service and organization!
20. Don’t worry about tipping! It’s not necessary. Well, at least a local told me that so I went with it.
21. You will want to get yourself a proper pair of hiking boots before you try to hike Macchu Picchu. Yes, people have walked up there in flip flops, but I refuse to believe they did more than the one day up the mountain. I did the 3 day trek and there is NO WAY I would have survived that in flip flops. Be prepared! Unsure how to pick the right pair of hiking boots? Check out the awesome infographic from Walsh Brothers Shoes below.
Have you been to Peru? If so, can you add to this list in order to help someone else who may be going soon? What do you wish you knew before you went to Peru?