In preparation for your trip to Peru, you’ve probably been focusing all of your attention on what to do in Peru, be it researching treks to Machu Picchu, scouting the depths of TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations in Lima, or weighing the pros and cons between a trip to Puno or a few days stay in Arequipa. But, what about those things you shouldn’t do in Peru? Have you researched those too? In this blog post, we share eight things tourists should never do in Peru, because those too are an important piece of the trip planning process.
1. Don’t take cheap buses or unmarked taxis
Between Peru’s mountainous roads, chaotic city streets, and admittedly distracted drivers, it’s best to pay a little more and take a secure bus or taxi, one that’s catered to tourists and/or licensed and reputable. When shopping around for long-distance bus tickets, stick to bus companies like Cruz del Sur and Oltursa. For taxi services, ask your hotel’s reception to arrange the service for you via a reliable local company.
2. Don’t drink the tap water
The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink, meaning you’ll need to be especially careful consuming anything that’s been washed in or contains untreated water. This ranges from smoothies and juices at the market to salads at a restaurant. You’ll even need to use bottled water to rinse our your mouth and your toothbrush after brushing. Fortunately, bottled water is cheap and usually readily available. An alternative and eco-friendly option is to pack water purification tablets or a purification pump for your reusable water bottle.
3. Don’t book a tour without first considering its impact
This means the tour’s impact on the environment and the local communities who call it home. Ask questions when booking your tours and do your research in advance to find out whether the tour operator is operating with the community and environment in mind. Save yourself the headache by booking all of your tours and activities through Explorandes, as operating responsibly is the meaning behind our very mission.
4. Don’t be frugal when it comes to culinary experiences
Peru is a culinary destination and this is a vacation you may never re-live. Splurge a little when it comes to dining out and sampling the local fare during your trip through Peru. There’s no better place to dine on Peruvian cuisine than when you’re physically in Peru, a place where tradition and culinary mastery marry in beautiful and melt-in-your-mouth cuisine regularly.
5. Don´t limit your trip to visiting only Cusco and Machu Picchu
There is so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu and the cobble-stoned streets of Cusco, though both of these spots do belong on your Peru tour itinerary, too. Spend time in the capital of Lima and Peru’s famous “white city” of Arequipa or venture to the Amazon via Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado. Squeeze in a surf trip up north to the beaches of Mancora and Punta Sal or maybe a visit to Kuelap, the ancient pre-Incan fortress of the Chachapoya culture. As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do in Peru beyond what likely put it on your travel radar in the first place.
6. Don’t forget to follow basic security advice
Though Peru is a relatively safe country, it’s always best to heed the security advice given to you by guides and locals. This can range from minding your belongings while weaving through the San Pedro Market in Cusco to avoiding certain streets and areas of Lima. Your gut instincts are also a good tool to keep you safe. Listen to those internal alarm bells when they do ring.
7. Don’t be afraid to haggle
Haggling is part of the culture in Peru. Unless you’re in a supermarket or department store, no price is ever final. The trick is to always ask the vendor’s or taxi driver’s price first, then offer a price slightly lower than the number you ultimately are willing to pay to allow you and the vendor to meet in the middle. Tourists are especially vulnerable to inflated prices, so always remember to exercise your haggling skills to get the fairer price.
8. Don’t take photos without asking first
This tip may sound logical, but it’s often one that tourists forget at their first glimpse of a llama led by a woman in native dress or a spectacular colonial-era cathedral interior. Photos are often more than welcome, but the simple courtesy of asking first will avoid any potential angry shouting and demands for monetary compensation. It’s also important to note that certain sites do not allow photography at all, like the catacombs in Lima’s San Francisco Monastery, for example.