A to Z: Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Peru
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A to Z: Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Peru

A collection of Peruvian quirks and attractions from A to Z to give you a window into life in Peru….

Alpaca. Alpaca everything, everywhere. Alpaca socks? You bet. Alpaca leggings? Of course. Alpaca steak? Even better. A common cuisine in the High Andes, alpaca is similar to buffalo in taste.

Backpacking. A backpacker’s destination, Peru is divided into three zones (the coast, highlands, and jungle) that offer inconceivable diversity. From glacial treks in the Cordillera Blanca of Huaraz to surfing the longest left wave in Chicama to Amazon exploration, Peru just won’t quit. On a budget? No worries. Safe, diverse, and chock-full of rich history and culture, this place is more than alright.

Ceviche. the infamous seafood dish of the Peruvian coast. You can’t get the flavor of the country without tasting ceviche. Ceviche is raw fish marinated, or cooked, in citrus. Along the Peruvian coast, this dish is a universal sign of buenas vibras.   

Dogs… in particular the Peruvian Hairless.This particular breed dates back to pre-Incan times. Once looked down upon, it is now believed the Peruvian Hairless has medicinal properties, aiding in the fight against asthma, body pains, and alleviating symptoms of diabetes.  

Economy. Peru has one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the world. Peru’s main exports are gold, copper, zinc, and textiles. The largest industry in Peru is mining, but this isn’t such a good thing…

Floating Islands: Uros. The floating islands consist of Aymara villages living on reeds on Lake Titicaca for hundreds of years, dependent on fishing and now tourism.

Guinea Pig. The filet mignon of the Andes, saved for special events like weddings and birthdays in rural Peru. Cuy, or guinea pig, is a staple meat in the High Andes. ‘Tastes just like chicken’ is only somewhat relevant in this case; it is gamier and closer to rabbit in taste.   

Huayno music (why-no). The music of the Andes, but not the traditional pan-flute music you may be thinking of. Best described as a pop urban dance music meets traditional rural folk music and high pitched vocals. Check it out for yourself, but you are warned- it is something you must learn to love.

Inti Raymi (Quechua), Fiesta del Sol (Spanish), Festival of the Sun (English). Inti Raymi is a celebration in honor of Inti, the Incan Sun God, or the most important deity in the Incan Empire. Inti Raymi falls on the Winter Solstice in June.

Jungle, or la selva, the Amazon to be specific. Piranhas, jaguars, macaws, monkeys, caymans, and the list goes on. Scattered by indigenous tribes surviving on hunting and fishing, the Peruvian Amazon is equally as diverse in regards to wildlife, people, and animals.

Keiko Fijimori, a presidential candidate for 2016. Daughter of Peruvian ex-president, Alberto Fijimori, Keiko became the youngest first lady of the Americas when her parents were divorced. Keiko is running for president in the fuerza popular political party, and is currently a member of the Peruvian legislature.

Longest left wave in the world in Chicama, Peru. The ride is just over a mile long, for those who can hang-ten for that long. Along with this natural phenomenon attracting surfers from around the world, the North coast of Peru is known for beautiful and untouched beach towns.

Machu Picchu. One of the seven new wonders of the world, and it truly is a wonder. The citadel of the Incan empire stands high above the town of Aguas Calientes. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, but the true magic of the wonder remains a mystery.

Nazca Lines. One of the greatest archaeological mysteries on the globe, the Nazca lines are a series of figures etched out of one continuous line. Indistinguishable from the ground, the beauty and mystery of these 70 animals and plants, 300 geometric figures can only be achieved from air. Monkeys, lizards, and condors, oh my!

Ollantaytambo. Intricate Incan ruins stand guard above this small village of the Sacred Valley. With a bustling handicrafts market and the Urubamba River coursing through it, this village dotted with ruins and hints of colonization is a must-see.  

Potatoes. Nearly 4000 species of potatoes are indigenous to Peru. One of the few crops that prospers in such extreme elements in the Andes.


Quechua. The Quechua are the largest indigenous group in Peru. Subsisting primarily on agricultural, the Quechua people also preserve traditions through handicrafts, textiles, and the quechua language. While many Quechua traditions have died out in urban areas, Incan traditions continue high in the Andes.  

Recoto Relleno, a dish common in Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. A pepper ten times hotter than jalapenos when raw is stuffed with ground beef, cheese, and hard boiled egg to create this popular dish.

Sunday, the day of rest. Unofficially known as the unproductive day, it is difficult to achieve much when everything is closed. If you can’t beat it, join it; Sundays are made for relaxing, being with friends and family, and reflecting on our priorities.

Textiles. One cannot visit Peru without being awed by the colors and intricacies of the textiles. With designs unique to varying villages, the styles and weaving patterns are another way of preserving the Incan culture.

Urubamba River, known as wilkamayu in Quechua. A beautiful and sacred river to the Andean folk, this river weaves through the Sacred Valley. The quechua people still farm the verdant quilted farmland along the river.  

Valle Sagrado or the Sacred Valley, which runs from Pisac to Aguas Calientes, this boundless patchwork of abundant farmland is divided by the meandering course of the Urubamba River.

Watering the sidewalks; another mystery of Cusco. Why store owners scrub the sidewalks every morning to create a slip and slide remains a mystery. In the mean time, take care walking on the sidewalks.

Yellow, or the color of Inca Cola. A favorite of some, hated by others, this Peruvian soda reminiscent of bubble gum yields a strong opinion.

Zampoña, or the pan flute of the Andes. The folk sounds of the pan flute is ubiquitous through the Andes.  

About the Author

Rachel Levin

Brand Engagement Manager

Rachel joined Rustic in 2013 and led programs for three summers in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ghana. She’s also led programs in Fiji and Tanzania. A graduate of the University of Vermont with degrees in sociology and Spanish, Rachel focuses her love for travel, writing, and her unquenchable curiosity of our natural world as Rustic’s Brand Engagement Manager. Based in Tahoe, CA, Rachel is a talented ceramicist and lover of the outdoors.