Country Information: Peru has a population of 31 million. The capital is Lima and the official languages are Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua. The climate is varied, with the coast being subtropical and rarely rainy while the mountains have rainy summers and dry winters. The time zone is the same as EST. Roman Catholicism dominates religion in Peru, though some other Christian denominations and indigenous beliefs are popular as well. Its primary exports are copper, gold, petroleum, zinc, coffee, asparagus, guinea pigs, textiles, and potatoes – lots of them! Most people think that potatoes are from the UK, but potatoes were originally grown in Peru. There are almost 4,000 varieties of potatoes grown in Peru!
Jim’s Perspectives: I had an elaborate trip for the family planned in 2014 to the lost Incan cities of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lima, however the day before they were to meet me in Lima, my son got very ill. So, I toured Lima and some cool spots by myself, including taking a flight to see the Nazca lines. Can’t wait to visit Machu Picchu with the family in the future!
Peru also hosts some incredible places to visit. An especially cool place to head to is Cerro Blanco – the highest sand dune in the world! It is located in Sechura Desert near the Nazca Lines and measures 3,860 feet (1,176 meters) from the base to the summit. Also notable – especially for Arizona residents – is Cotahuasi Canyon in the Arequipa region; it’s known as one of the world’s deepest canyon at 3,535 meters (11,597 feet) deep – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. For ocean lovers, Peru is a surfer’s paradise. Chicama has the world’s longest left-handed wave at almost 2.5 miles long (4km), and Mancora nearby has the world’s largest left-handed point-break.
One note to be careful of is the water quality – although opinions on water sanitation in Peru are mixed, travelers should keep in mind that tap water or ice can be from the heavily polluted Rio Rimac and can cause sickness. Many Peruvian families boil water prior to consumption.