You will need a valid passport to enter Peru and re-enter the United States, and the passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival to Peru. No visas are currently required if you are from the U.S., Canada, and most western European countries. International airport departure taxes from Peru are approximately $31 per person. Please be sure to have enough cash on hand in dollars to pay these taxes when you depart from Peru at the end of your trip.
For more information, visit the Department of State´s website and choose Peru: http://travel.state.gov/travel/
You will experience a variety of weather during your trip to Peru. The climate varies from place to place, as the geography is incredibly varied, and the seasons are not entirely predictable, so please take the following as a guide and be prepared for changes in climate.
In Cusco and its environs (including Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and the Sacred Valley), the dry season is from May to early November, and the rainy season runs roughly from mid November to mid March. The wettest months are January to March. The tourist high season runs from June to September. The Inca Trail is closed in February but can be hiked at any other time of year. Machu Picchu is at 8,000 feet, and Cusco is at 11,000 feet. At night in Cusco it can drop down into 40s and even 30s during the dry season. During the day temperatures will typically be in the 60s and 70s.
In Lima, the rainy season is from June to September, though in reality it doesn’t often rain. During this same period Lima is often covered in a blanket of mist that is called the “garua.” For the rest of the year Lima is generally sunny and hot.
In the jungle, temperatures are generally high during the day (in the high 80s) and there is almost always high humidity and at least some rain. There is a wet season from November to April, when temperatures also get a bit higher, averaging in the 90s. In the dry season from May to October there will be somewhat less rain and it won’t be quite as hot. At night in the jungle during the dry season it can cool off quite a bit, dropping into the 60s at times.
For more detailed information including up to date weather forecasts in all the major cities in Peru, please visit the following website: http://www.accuweather.com/en/pe/peru-weather
Laundry Service: There is laundry service at nearly all hotels in Peru (but not at jungle lodges).
Other essential gear:
Other useful items:
Medical Kit Suggestions
Photo and Video Equipment
You will receive local contact information, including 24 hour emergency contact numbers, with your Final Itinerary.
U.S. Embassy in Peru Contact Information
Address: Avenida Encalada, Block Seventeen, Surco, Monterrico, Lima
Emergency after-hours telephone: 51-1-618-2000
Vaya Adventures U.S. Contact Information
Phone: (510) 548-8487
Outside office hours: (510) 809-6261
Bringing your smartphone
If you plan to bring a smartphone to use for making calls while traveling, you should contact your carrier prior to travel to let them know and find out if they have any traveler plans that provide discounted roaming rates in the countries you will be visiting. Without some type of discounted plan, roaming fees can be very high, and the phone settings (specifically whether you have the phone set up just for Wi-Fi or also for roaming) can make a huge difference in the costs you will incur. Your specific carrier should be able to give you detailed information about how to avoid costly roaming rates and how to adjust the settings on your particular smartphone.
Local calls: you can make local calls from your hotel or from local telephone calling centers, which can be found in the major tourist areas and larger towns. Hotels can have very high rates, for both local and international calls. One of the best ways to make calls is by using a pre-paid calling card, which you can buy at convenience stores.
The cost of making international calls from your hotel can be very high, often $5 a minute or more. You will get much better rates at the local telephone calling centers (“centro de llamadas” or “cabinas para llamadas internacionales”), which you will be able to find in the larger towns and tourist centers. You can make collect calls back to the U.S. from almost any phone by dialing an international operator. Again, these rates will probably be very high. If you are bringing a laptop or even just a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone, probably the easiest way to call back to the U.S. is via Skype. You should set up your account prior to traveling and be sure you have some credit on it; you can then make calls through any Wi-Fi network. If you don’t have a computer or smartphone with Wi-Fi, probably the best option is to ask at your hotel or in a store where the closest calling center is if you plan to make many international calls. If you speak some Spanish, another good option if you plan to make a lot of international calls is to buy an international pre-paid calling card (rates are generally very low). These can be purchased in many convenience stores or magazine kiosks and then used at payphones to call internationally (though instructions will usually only be in Spanish).
Fax machines are generally available at hotels and businesses. Just ask at the hotel for the closest available fax.
Internet access is readily available in Peru in all the tourist areas and larger population centers and at some hotels. The best rates are often at internet cafes rather than in hotels.
The most common ailment to affect travelers to any destination in South or Central America is traveler’s diarrhea. The best way to avoid it is to be careful about what you eat. Some basic rules to follow are:
For additional information about health issues in specific places, including recommended vaccinations and inoculations, you can visit www.tripprep.com, a non-governmental site that contains health related information for travelers. Another site with health information for travelers is www.mdtravelhealth.com. And a governmental option is the website of the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov. The CDC errs on the side of caution, and you should consider that there may be varying opinions on the need for specific vaccinations and inoculations in specific areas. The standard immunizations for hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio are generally recommended for travel to South and Central America. You may already have received these shots or boosters and don’t need them. If you have any doubts, you should visit a travel health specialist and begin to have all of your vaccinations recorded on an International Health Certificate.
IMPORTANT - The Amazon: You should make the decision whether to take anti-malarial medication several weeks before you travel, as some versions of it are to be taken starting 3 weeks before you arrive to the rainforest. (Some people take it; some people do not.) To minimize mosquito and other insect bites, you should use a Deet based insect repellant (30% strength is generally sufficient), and be sure to wear full length pants and shirts (generally cotton) and socks whenever in an area with biting insects (especially the Amazon). You should not wear short sleeves or short pants in the jungle.
Altitude sickness: the altitude in Cusco and any other area of the Andes can cause some problems for people, though typically the problems are minor and subside after a day or two. Symptoms can include headache, lethargy, dizziness, and lack of appetite. If the symptoms are mild, the best thing to do is just take it easy, drink a lot of liquids, and not overexert yourself.
We strongly recommend that all of our travelers purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance can help cover many things, including baggage loss, missed connections, trip interruption, and medical emergency (including medical evacuation costs), resulting from a wide variety of circumstances, including illness or extreme weather that results in the cancellation of your trip. It can also help protect you in the event of loss of non-refundable trip deposits and payments that result from cancellation or trip interruption. Families traveling together, in particular, can benefit from traveler’s insurance, due to the high investment in the trip and the increased risk of one person’s illness resulting in the entire trip being cancelled. There are many companies that provide trip insurance. We offer insurance through Allianz, and their most popular plan is the Classic Plan. You can view details of this plan by clicking on this link: Allianz Classic Plan, or by visiting the Allianz website at www.allianztravelinsurance.com.
In restaurants, a 10% tip is customary. Cabs do not generally expect tips, but rounding off fares upward is fairly typical.
Guides/drivers: If you have a private guide for a full day, an average tip would be somewhere in the range of $10-$15 per day, per person. It can be less, it can be more, but this is a typical range. If you go on a shorter trip of a half day, the tip would basically be proportional to what proportion of the day you spent with the guide. If half a day, $5-$8 per person would be a typical range. If there are additional people involved, drivers, crew of a boat, etc., you may want to give them something as well. About 1/3 of what you give the guide himself would be an appropriate benchmark for each of these individuals. For families with children, we suggest giving 50% of the normal per person amount for each child. This is completely at your discretion and you should give what you feel comfortable giving.
For drivers who do airport transfers or other short rides, you shouldn’t feel the need to tip every single time you are getting out of a vehicle. It’s not the case that drivers are expecting a tip every time they take you somewhere. If you have a driver in a city who takes you to and from the airport and you have the chance to give him or her a few dollars (maybe $2 per ride) at the end of the last ride, that’s great and will be appreciated.
If you stay at a place where all meals are included, you may also want to leave some type of tip at the end for the service staff (they often have some type of tipping jar or other way to give a tip to the waiters and other staff). Approximately $5 per person per day is a suggested amount. These types of tips are totally discretionary and you should give what you are comfortable with.
Conquest of the Incas, by John Hemming. Recommended. This is considered the modern classic account of one of history’s most amazing stories: the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores to Peru and their confrontation with the Incan empire. Finishes with the story of Hiram Bingham’s discovery of several “lost” Incan sites, including Machu Picchu.
The White Rock, An Exploration of the Inca Heartland, by Hugh Thomson. An entertaining travel narrative that describes the author’s journeys through many of the most important Incan sites, giving background history and colorful anecdotes along the way.
The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics, edited by Orin Starn. An anthology of articles and primary materials that relate to Peru. Comprehensive and highly informative about many aspects of Peruvian society and culture. Only downside is that it’s heavy.
Peru, the Ecotraveller’s Wildlife Guide, by David Pearson and Les Beletsky. A guide to the flora and fauna of Peru, with a special emphasis on the diversity of life in the Peruvian Amazon. Whether you take this book or another nature guide, it is great to have at least some nature guidebook on Peru with you, particularly if you are traveling to the Amazon. There is a vast amount to understand and appreciate about what is going on in the Amazon and a good nature guide can be very helpful.
Insight Guide Peru. This volume contains numerous essays on a wide variety of topics in Peruvian life, society and history, all written by experts in their field, and contains hundreds of outstanding photographs.
Lost City of the Incas, The Story of Machu Picchu and its Builders, by Hiram Bingham. The first hand account by the man who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911. Also contains many photographs of Machu Picchu when first seen by Bingham.
Death in the Andes, by Mario Vargas Llosa. An excellent short novel by Peru’s most famous author that helps shed light on the plight of the indigenous populations in Peru and some of the forces at work in the rise of Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path). The same author has written many excellent novels that help explain Peruvian society.
Tropical Nature, by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata. A series of engaging essays by two field biologists that cover different topics relating to the ecosystems of the Central and South American rainforest. A well written introduction to the topic.
Art of the Andes, from Chavin to Inca, by Rebecca Stone Miller. A concise and informative summary of Andean art and architecture, covering a variety of different civilizations in Peruvian history.
1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles Mann. A former best-seller that covers the recent and surprising theories among anthropologists and archeologists on the size and nature of pre-Columbian societies in the Americas.
Numerous civilizations have risen and fallen through thousands of years of history in Peru. Independent of any contact with populations in Europe or Asia, many of them achieved great advances in architecture, agriculture, the arts, and social organization. One of the highlights of any visit to Peru is the opportunity to consider some of these extraordinary civilizations.
The First Inhabitants
The earliest inhabitants of Peru descended from the people who crossed the Bering Land Bridge that once connected Asia with the North American continent approximately 15,000 years ago. There are signs of human habitation in Peru dating from around 4000 B.C. These were largely hunter gatherer type societies, subsisting mainly on fishing and living along the coasts. Cultivation of crops began with these early inhabitants of Peru. In these coastal settlements and in a few other sites in northern Peru near Trujillo, one can observe the gradual progression of pottery and textiles to higher and higher levels of refinement over these earliest centuries of human habitation.
The Chavin culture, which developed roughly from the 9th century BC to the 4th century BC, was one of the most influential, if not the most influential, in Peruvian pre-Columbian history. The styles of ceramics can be seen in several subsequent cultures extending over a large part of Peru. The Chavin disappeared mysteriously in about 300 BC. After their decline, several different more localized cultures developed and prospered for the next several hundred years. Among the most well known of these is the Paracas culture that existed on the coast south of Lima. This was a society that lived off an oasis in an otherwise extremely harsh desert environment. They cultivated cotton and became known for creating what are considered the finest textiles in the pre-Columbian Americas. You can see some examples of these dyed cotton textiles in the museums in Lima and in Ica (near Paracas and Nazca). They are extraordinarily beautiful.
The Classic Period
From early in the first millennium AD up until about the 8th century AD, isolated regional societies in Peru began to make significant advances in the arts and sciences, including the beginning of metalwork. The Moche built massive temples to the Sun and Moon near Trujillo, and the people of the Nazca culture etched their famously enigmatic designs into the surrounding desert. Due to the great advancements in culture and social organization during these years, they are known as the Classic Period.
After the Classic Period, the biggest advances in Peru came in the way of social and military organization rather than in the arts and sciences. The Wari were the first tribe in Peru to become expansionist conquerors, and they subjugated numerous Andean tribes from about 700 AD to about 1100 AD. They inherited many of their skills in social organization from the Tiahuanaco civilization that prospered in Bolivia near Lake Titicaca, and would subsequently pass these skills onto the Incas.
During the period of the Wari, other cultures in different parts of Peru were also prospering. The Chimu people established a kingdom in the area of Trujillo, with its capital the massive adobe city of Chan Chan, known as the largest adobe city in the world. Another influential culture during this period was the Chachapoyas in the Amazon region. The Chachapoyas people built the remarkable fortress of Kuelap.
The Rise of the Incas
The Incas started out in about the 12th century as one of several different Andean tribes that gradually grew in power and influence. The name “Incas” actually applies only to the leaders of these people. In the Incan mythology, the leaders were considered descendants of the Sun. The first of the Incas was named Manco Capac, and he is said to have arisen from the waters of Lake Titicaca and to have chosen Cusco as the place to establish his kingdom by driving his staff into the ground where the city now lies. Throughout the first 300 years of their reign, the Incas ruled only over the area near Cusco and the Sacred Valley. They built impressive palaces in Cusco and gradually improved their skills in administration, governing, and warfare.
Pachacutec and the Inca Expansion
In the first half of the 15th century Pachacutec, the ninth Inca, came to power. He assumed the role of Inca ahead of his older brother due to his extraordinary accomplishments on the battlefield. Under his rule, the Incas quickly set out to conquer and subjugate neighboring tribes. The succeeding Incas continued his policies of expansion, and in less than a hundred years, the Incas ruled over an empire that stretched from southern Colombia all the way down to central Argentina. It was one of the largest empires in world history.
How the Incas Maintained Their Empire
The Incas maintained order across their kingdom by building a vast network of stone-paved roads, estimated at about 20,000 miles in all. The roads ran over extremely difficult terrain, much of it straight up and down the Andes. Numerous large suspension bridges were built across powerful rivers such as the Apurimac and the Urubamba. The Incas also had an efficient system of relay runners called “chaskis” that delivered messages across the territories via the highways at previously unheard of speeds, allowing for greater communication and administration of the far flung empire. They imposed their language, Quechua, and their religion of worshipping the Sun on all of the peoples they conquered. Difficult tribes were sometimes broken up and relocated to different areas to reduce their threat. Vast storage houses and imperial outposts were built. The Incas were not known for significant advances in the arts and sciences from what the earlier Peruvian societies had achieved, but their advances in political and military organization were stunning.
Ruins of the Incan fortress of Sacsahuaman, above Cusco
The empire did not last for long though. When the Spanish arrived to the New World at the end of the 15th century, the single most destructive thing they brought with them was their diseases. Before the Spanish ever made it to Peru, these new illnesses spread down across the lands of South America, sowing disorganization and death. The last Inca to rule over a completely united empire, Huayna Capac, is said to have died of smallpox. Before he died he divided his empire between two of his sons, Huascar and Atahualpa. Huascar was to rule over the southern half from Cusco, while Atahualpa was to rule over the northern half from Quito.
The Civil War and the Arrival of the Spanish
The plan to split the empire had disastrous consequences. Civil war ensued between the two brothers in the 1520s, not even a century after Pachacutec had begun the great period of Incan expansion. The Spanish had already conquered the great civilization of the Aztecs of Mexico, and they were gradually making their way down through Central America and starting to explore the northwest coast of South America into Columbia.
Francisco Pizarro was one of the conquistadores who first began exploring this area, and upon rumors of a great civilization to the south, he organized and set off on several different exploratory sailing expeditions down the coast of Colombia towards Ecuador. At some point, these conquistadores came into contact with people under the rule of the Incas, far up in Ecuador, and over a thousand miles from Cusco. They began to understand that this was the northern border of a vast and powerful empire, and they went ashore with a group of a few dozen armed men on horseback to explore inland.
Just as Pizarro was arriving in northern Peru with his men, Atahualpa was winning the decisive battles of the civil war. His soldiers had recently captured his brother Huascar outside Cusco. In 1532 Atahualpa was in Cajamarca, an Incan city in northern Peru at the time, resting after the long military campaign and preparing to begin his march south to assume power. The empire was undoubtedly greatly weakened by the fact that it had just undergone a long and very bloody civil war, and this fact played directly into the fortunes of the Spanish conquerors.
Atahualpa was apparently aware of the Spanish presence throughout these few years prior to 1532, but he was caught up and distracted by the civil war. With the war over, these strange newcomers began to attract much more attention. They rode on huge animals never before seen, and had beards and wore armor from head to toe. Though small in number, they were certainly impressive. Pizarro, as the leader of these new arrivals, requested a visit with Atahualpa in Cajamarca. For reasons that are not entirely understood, the Incan ruler agreed, allowing the Spanish horsemen to ride into the city center without even giving up their swords and other weapons. Perhaps he thought that with such a relatively small army they could not pose a serious threat and would never be so foolhardy as to engage the Inca’s troops in battle.
Pizarro and the rest of his men arrived in Peru with one main goal, and that was to obtain as big a fortune as they possibly could, whatever the means. Their goal was not to make peace with this new empire, but to conquer it. Given this extraordinary opportunity to get all the way to the leader of the empire, they did not squander it. Upon meeting with the Inca they were awed by the grandeur and ceremony that surrounded him. However, in secret they had made plans to offer the Inca the chance to accept their Christian religion, and if he did not, they would attack and take him prisoner. The Inca found the Spanish inquiries about Christianity offensive to his beliefs in his own religion, and he threw down a Bible that had been given to him by one of the Spanish missionaries. Upon this, the Spanish gave the agreed upon signal to attack. This marked the beginning of the Conquest.
The Inca is Taken Prisoner
On horseback, fully covered in armor, and with the finest steel swords in the world, the Spanish were virtually invincible in battle with the soldiers of the Incan empire, who fought with clubs and sticks and had no armor. In a single battle, a Spanish conquistador on horseback could defeat literally dozens if not hundreds of Incan soldiers. It was a short lived and bloody rout once the fighting started, and the Spanish took Atahualpa prisoner.
Atahualpa said that he would pay a ransom of an amount equal to filling three rooms with gold and silver in order to secure his release, and the Spanish heartily agreed, with no real intention of ever letting Atahualpa go once the ransom was collected. Eventually, the Inca realized that the Spanish would not let him go, and after handing over a massive fortune in silver and gold pieces, ordered the ransom collecting stopped. He still held huge authority over his people even while captured. The Spanish feared that he would try to incite a rebellion against them, and now that he was no longer cooperating with the ransom, the Spanish mercilessly executed him.
The Spanish then marched south towards Cusco to finish the conquest. They engaged in various battles along the way, though they were often seen as liberators by local tribes that had only recently been conquered by the Incas. Pizarro arrived to Cusco in November of 1533. A puppet Inca, Manco, who was a relative of Huascar, was put on the throne. Eventually, however, he came to understand that the Spanish only intended to take as much from the Incas as they could. Manco escaped from Cusco, raised a massive army of tens of thousands of men, and laid siege to Cusco to try and drive out the Spanish. The rebellion was nearly successful, but even though greatly outnumbered, the Spanish were victorious. The final dramatic battle occurred at Sacsahuaman, the giant fortress overlooking Cusco.
Manco, having failed in the rebellion, retreated first to the Sacred Valley, where he made one successful stand against the Spanish at Ollantaytambo (an impressive set of ruins that you can also visit), before finally retreating into the jungles of Vilcabamba (past Machu Picchu). He set up an exile kingdom in that region that lasted for several decades, in an inhospitable region that the Spanish considered nearly inaccessible. However, the Spanish persisted, and in 1572 they eventually succeeded in capturing and executing the last Inca ruler in Vilcabamba, Tupac Amaru.
Spanish Rule in Peru
Over the years, the Spanish consolidated their power along with the collaboration of a string of puppet Incas, and began the “encomienda” system that essentially put the Indians into a form of slavery for the next several hundred years. The Spanish needed a capital close to the sea, and they established it at Lima. Lima became by far the wealthiest and grandest city in South America, and probably in all the Americas for the next two hundred years. Unfortunately, it was almost completely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1746, and never regained its glory.
While the Spanish settlers were building Lima, the native population was put to work in the mountains, particularly in the mines, in horrendous conditions. Under the encomienda system, the natives all had to pay regular “tribute” to the Spanish in the form of part of their small earnings or production. Francisco Pizarro and the earliest conquistadores made huge fortunes, but there was considerable fighting between them over who should be entitled to what lands. Pizarro was murdered in Lima in 1541 in connection with these disputes, nine years after first arriving to Peru to begin the conquest.
Tupac Amaru II
The next major native uprising against the Spanish took place in 1780, when Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui raised an army of 60,000 to rebel against the Spanish. He adopted the name Túpac Amaru in honor of the last Inca killed by the Spanish. The insurrection succeeded at first but then was brutally crushed by the Spanish authorities in 1781. The Spanish tortured and executed Condorcanqui and thousands of his fellow revolutionaries. Another rebellion occurred in 1814, but the Spanish again succeeded in suppressing it.
However, opposition to Spanish rule had taken root not just among the indigenous peoples, but also among the native born Creole population. “Creoles” were people of Spanish descent that were born in Peru, and they came to resent their inferior status to those who were born in Spain.
Peruvian Independence From Spain
This resentment on the part of the locally born population against the Spanish was arising in many different parts of South America. The Argentinean liberator Jose de San Martin began the liberation of Peru after liberating Chile. In 1821 San Martin entered Lima, and Peruvian independence was proclaimed formally on July 28, 1821. The Spanish fought to retain their empire, and a series of battles ensued. Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan revolutionary, helped lead the forces against Spain in establishing Peru’s independence.
Not a lot changed after independence for the vast majority of people in Peru. Those of Spanish descent still wielded all the power. The government was rather chaotic for several years as the locally born population began to learn how to rule the country. Good governments have alternated with corrupt dictatorships for many decades and throughout the twentieth century.
Peru’s history is filled with complex economic and social problems. In the 1980s, these problems culminated in the rise of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, a radical liberation movement of the native population that was in many ways similar to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Sendero Luminoso’s leader was a university professor from Ayacucho named Abimael Guzman. He advocated forcibly moving people out of cities and starting society over again based on an agrarian communist ideal. The methods of the Shining Path were brutal, and for many years they committed terrorist attacks against sites throughout Peru. The government responded with harsh measures against the rebels.
Alberto Fujimori gained a great deal of support when the leader of the Shining Path was captured in 1992. Since then, the situation in Peru has calmed down and the Shining Path has all but disappeared. Fujimori was involved in corruption scandals in the 2000 elections, and eventually fled the country. Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s first president of indigenous blood, took office after Fujimori’s departure, but suffered severe unpopularity despite considerable macro-economic improvement. In 2006, Alan Garcia, a formerly disgraced head of state, was once again elected President of Peru, promising to run on a center-left platform.
Approximately 45% of Peru’s inhabitants are of purely indigenous blood.
Girl from the town of Willoc above the Sacred Valley
Many, particularly those in the highlands, continue to speak Quechua (the language of the Incas) as their first language. There are about 100 different indigenous groups living in the Amazon areas of eastern Peru. They speak their own languages and live largely in isolation from the remainder of Peru’s population. Their numbers are dwindling as their lands have been encroached, but some continue to live as they have for thousands of years, subsisting on hunting, fishing and agriculture. About 35% of Peru’s population is “mestizo,” of mixed indigenous and European blood, and about 15% is of purely European descent. The remaining few percent are mainly of African, Japanese, or Chinese descent. There are sizeable communities of Japanese descendents in Peru, the most famous of whom has been Alberto Fujimori. Approximately 70% percent of the people live in urban areas. Many farmers and peasants who have found it impossible to make a living in recent years have moved to the cities, particularly Lima, which now has a population of over 8 million people.
Lima (in Miraflores):
Restaurant Huaca Pucllana
Address: General Borgono, 8th Block
Description: Serving very good contemporary Peruvian and Nuevo Andino cuisine, in a beautiful location overlooking the floodlit ruins of the temple of Huaca Pucllana.
Astrid y Gaston
Address: Cantuarias 175 (in Miraflores)
Description: Generally considered the restaurant that put Peru on the international culinary map, started by a husband and wife team who have gained international recognition; great atmosphere, a very nice bar, highly recommended.
Address: Av. La Mar 770 (in Miraflores)
Description: started by Gaston Acurio (from Astrid y Gaston), this indoor/outdoor place specializes in ceviche and other classic Peruvian seafood dishes.
La Rosa Nautica
Address: the pier in Miraflores
Phone: 445-0149, 447-0057, 447-5450
Description: A great location at the end of the pier in Miraflores, with excellent views of the coast; a lot of tourists go there, but the seafood is very good.
In Miraflores, there are some cafes that are good spots for sitting and watching the locals go by. They generally serve sandwiches and more basic fare, along with drinks and coffee. Two of them are:
Café Café, which has two locations: (1) Martir Olaya 250; (2) Larcomar (the one in Larcomar, which is an outdoor shopping mall, has a view directly out to the ocean).
Haiti Café, which is on the Parque Kennedy next to a movie theater
If you are looking for a VERY local place to have lunch (no dinner served), and you are not looking for fancy but rather looking for authentic and perhaps the opposite of fancy, recommended is a place called the Canta Rana, in El Barranco. They have some excellent ceviche and other seafood dishes.
La Cicciolina: International cuisine with an Andean twist, excellent, colorful atmosphere, highly recommended; address: Calle Triunfo 393, 2nd floor; phone: 084-239-510; reservations recommended.
Inka Grill: Lively, very good food, often has live music, nuevo-andino cuisine, right in the main Plaza of Cusco.
Incanto Ristorante: Serving very good Italian dishes and fusion variations on traditional dishes. Located just off the main square with a massive Incan wall along one side of the restaurant.
Map Café: Set in a pre-Columbian museum in the San Blas neighborhood not far from the Monasterio Hotel; some of the best food in town, nuevo-andino cuisine.
Bagdhad Café: A decent lunch option, less expensive, right on the main Plaza near the Cathedral. Try to get a seat overlooking the Plaza, as that’s what really makes the restaurant worth a visit.
There are many places to shop for textiles and other crafts in Cusco, with the biggest concentration in the San Blas neighborhood.
The place we most recommend is:
Casa Ecologica: this small store sells fair trade crafts that are sourced directly from Andean communities; unique, interesting, high quality items. Located in the San Blas section, Triunfo 393, Cusco, downstairs from the Cicciolina restaurant, also with an outlet in a small courtyard just off the main Plaza, below the Baghdad Cafe. The owner, Franco Negri, is a great guy who does a lot of work with local communities. Telephone: 051-84-255646
Museums: There are some great museums in Lima, two of the very finest being the Archeology and Anthropology Museum and the Larco Museum. Both are well worth a visit if you find yourself with some extra time in Lima. They are about a 15 minute drive from Miraflores. Ask at your hotel for a taxi or we can arrange visits for you. Both house extraordinary collections of pre-Columbian art and artifacts. Another museum worth considering is the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum), which contains a sizeable collection of Incan and pre-Incan gold pieces, as well as a huge collection of armaments and armor from Spanish colonial times.
Lima also has some nice art galleries if you are interested in seeing some contemporary Peruvian art. They are concentrated in the lively, bohemian Barranco District (adjoining Miraflores) on or near Calle Saenz Pena. One of the best is Lucia de la Puente, which has a nice adjoining cafe. If you want to walk around in this part of town, a good option is to start on Paseo Saenz Pena and then head south down San Martin El Libertador towards the Puente de los Suspiros. We can also arrange visits to the studio/gallery of the Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin, in the same part of town. The Barranco is on the gritty side, but it has some beautiful old buildings and a faded charm. The area near the Puente de los Suspiros is very pleasant and a nice place to have a drink or coffee.
Please see our full list of Peru Tour Packages here.