Arequipa and final thoughts on Peru

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

We Said:

A stunning bus ride out of Bolivia through the altiplano (high altitude plains) of southern Peru took us to the charming colonial town of Arequipa. It is known as the "White City" since so many older buildings in the center are built of silar, a pale rock mined from the slopes of the three volcanoes surrounding the town. A colorful and historic convent, delightful town square, tasty restaurants, and stunning mountain surroundings make Arequipa a great place to relax a few days. We spent our time wandering the streets and marveling at the fact that we could walk up a moderate incline without stopping to catch our breath every few paces (Arequipa's elevation is about 4000 feet lower than Lake Titicaca).

Here are a few of our final thoughts and travel tips on Peru:

Traveling in Peru is a relatively easy, culturally rich, and very rewarding travel experience. We felt it offered us incredible sights, rich culture, and memorable experiences with very little hassle. It is an especially great "introductory" destination for those with little or no international travel under their belts.

Logistics-wise, getting around is no problem. Buses and trains are very comfortable and efficient. Larger towns have a centrally located teminal terestre (bus station) that has affordable and comfortable buses to destinations all over Peru. The buses are usually relatively modern with plenty of legroom, and sometimes an attendant serves onboard snacks as well!

If you are going to do the 4-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, you must reserve a spot at least a few months in advance. They limit the number of permits issued each day and the demand far exceeds the supply. So avoid disappointment by booking as early as you can! However, if you are skipping the hike and just taking the train to Machu Picchu, no reservations are needed before arriving in Cusco.

Don't underestimate the effects of high altitude! If arriving in Cusco by air, give yourself a few days to acclimatize before undertaking any heavy-duty hiking!

You do need to understand a bit of Spanish to travel here. Peruvians don't expect you to be fluent but a few phrases and knowing basics like numbers, greetings, and foods is very helpful and appreciated.

It is not super cheap, but still a great value compared to the US or Europe. Our hotels have cost $30.00-$45.00 per night for double rooms with simple en suite bathrooms and A/C. A decent restaurant/café meal costs between $5.00-$10.00 per person. However, if you are traveling in the winter months (May - July), you should be aware that most of the places in the budget to low midrange do not have heating. However, if you want to splurge, most cities have some amazing historic and heritage properties with lots of posh amenities.

The Peruvian people we encountered were friendly, but reserved and soft spoken. People were accommodating and helpful whenever asked. We were never harassed, cheated, shortchanged, or misinformed. Although in bus stations, remember that when you go to a bus company desk to inquire about schedules, they will want to sell you tickets on their busses and might "neglect" to tell you about other companies whose services may be more convenient for you. Shop around.

There are a lot of Amazing sites to see in Peru and we were forced to cut a few out of our itinerary. You could easily spend a month exploring this intriguing and historic nation.
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