This is our top 10 list of things to DO in Peru. We have a separate list for things to SEE in case you were wondering why the hell Machu Picchu wasn’t on here. That’s why.
I’ll be honest, food is a pretty common thing that we recommend in different countries we’ve traveled to, but I must stress the importance of trying everything in Peru. According to National Geographic (and us), Peru’s eclectic cuisine has earned them acknowledgement for being some of the world’s finest. The ceviche is so full of flavour, there are so many types of seafood, guinea pig is a national delicacy (cuy), and they have some seriously spicy peppers. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I ate just about everything. The peppers rocked me, but the guinea pig was really tasty and I just couldn’t get enough of the lemon and onion ceviche (fish). One of more challenging dishes, however, was sheep’s head soup. It was exactly what it sounds like. I wouldn’t have eaten it normally, but the guys twisted my arm. It tasted like what sheep smell like; which isn’t very appealing. But ridiculous and frightening nonetheless.
We had never been introduced to high altitudes before, but heading on this trip, we were warned about how it might make you feel. We knew that you might feel out-of-breath, and that there’s literally less oxygen in the air, but experiencing it first-hand was quite something. We went up to 5 thousand meters in altitude at one point, and decided to have a push-up contest. After 30 or 40, we were just toast. Not only that but a few minutes later, Ryker and I had a foot race down the road and back. Ryker won, but both of us were seriously out of breath and panting like crazy. We could barely even get a full sentence out. It was quite comical. But be warned, altitude sickness is a real thing and can leave you feeling very ill, so don’t take it lightly unless you think you can handle it. That’s where coca leaves come in handy.
Coca is known throughout the world for its psychoactive alkaloid: cocaine. The alkaloid content of coca leaves is very low, so chewing the leaves or drinking coca tea does not produce the same intense effects as cocaine. The traditional use of coca is to battle fatigue and hunger, but it’s also a helpful tool for battling altitude sickness. Since Peru has such a wide range of mountains and valleys, it’s obviously quite popular there. You don’t really feel any different after chewing it, but you can expect your mouth and tongue to go numb pretty quickly. It’s definitely a strange experience, but still very common, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Peru has some deep connections to its ancestral people: the Incas, and for that reason, there are many traditional ceremonies to take part in. The one in which I’m sharing is the spiritual offering to the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). We were guided through the ceremony by a shaman who prayed, meditated, and asked for blessings for everyone in the circle. He walked around to each person and blessed them with flowers. I wish I could tell you more about the meaning behind it all, but it was difficult at times. English was not spoken throughout the ceremony.
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic beverage made from several different plants in and around the Amazon. It is an extremely powerful concoction that gives the user an altered state of mind for hours and causes strong hallucinations. Many people who have tried ayahuasca claim to have had spiritual revelations, answers to life questions, and even communication with god. It is not meant to be a recreational drug, and it can be very dangerous if taken in the wrong atmosphere. In Peru, there are experienced shamans that will lead you through the process or ceremony and help you in any time of discomfort. We never took part in ayahuasca, mostly because we didn’t feel that we were with the right people, or in the right location, or at the right time. It is not something that you should decide at the drop of a hat. Read more about ayahuasca here.
Being that Peru in located on the edge of the Pacific ocean, you can bet they have a bunch of cool surf spots to hit. When we got to Lima, we took a walk down to the beach and met some guys there that offered surfing (lessons too if we wanted). I’ll be honest, we were pretty inexperienced surfers, but the price was right and we decided we had to give it a shot. It seemed to be a popular spot, there were lots of other people doing it there too and we were glad to have done it. We even went back a couple days later to do it again! Lima was the only place along the coast that we visited so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you any other good places in Peru, but the waves are great nonetheless.
These animals are native to South America, and in particular; Peru. They’re part of the Camelid family (yes, like camels) but won’t be found anywhere else in the world. They are all similar-looking, but llamas and alpacas are covered in wool, much like sheep, that people collect and make clothing out of. They live in the wild and are also domesticated animals. My personal favourite characteristic about these animals is that they spit. They spit a lot! (Vicunas not included.) Ryker got into an argument with an alpaca while we were there and things got ugly… In seconds, both of them were spitting at each other, trying to stand their ground. Unfortunately for Ryker, an alpaca can spit way more, and way farther than he can, so he had to admit defeat. Watch the video here.
Cuzco is home of the highest bungee platform in all of South America. It is both impressive and frightening. Looking down from the platform was probably the scariest thing we did in Peru. But the best part about the bungee there was the other option they offer: Slingshot. Essentially it’s reverse-bungee. You start off on the ground, attached to a cable attached to the platform. The platform starts on the ground and raises up, pulling the cable taught until it reaches a certain height. Then when you’re ready, they pull the rope and you go flying into the sky! It actually shoots you up higher than the platform itself. We had never seen that option before anywhere else, so half of us did bungee, and half of us did slingshot. Greatest. Experience. Ever.
They didn’t offer much for fishing while we were there, but Max took his fishing rod along with him traveling, so we went out to the Amazon River and fished. Obviously. They had two main types of fish (that we noticed at least): catfish and dickfish. The dickfish is our nickname for the Candiru fish (also known as Vampire fish). The Candiru is the fish whose babies will swim up your urethra if you pee in the water around it. Super freaky being around the water knowing these things live there, but sitting in a boat and fishing for them was quite a thrill. We had a guide lady with us who told us everything we needed to know about fishing and the different fish there. Although we only really caught a couple different types, there are tons of creatures in that water, and if you have any interest whatsoever in fishing, you must do it here.
Alright look, this isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay, but we had the opportunity to drive tuktuks ourselves to our next destination, and naturally, decided to film something along the way. So we raced them! It wasn’t like a street race with cars or bikes; they were old, slow and hardly dangerous at all. Except for maybe breaking down here and there… So we took the opportunity to make a game out of it and raced em down the street. I think the most exciting part was watching Max and Ryker stall them every two kilometers, but the competition was on and nobody was giving up until the race was over. In the end… you know what, I won’t tell you. You’ll have to watch the video 😛 You can watch it here.
Watch the video!