The Dos and Donts of Peru: A Cultural Guide to South America

Well concealed within the untold depths of South-America, Peru is one of the continent´s real treasures. Geographically, the country can be divided in three parts. Reaching from west to east they are the following:

The coast/desert
The mountain range of the Andes
The jungle

Each part implies an adventure on its own and makes every trip to Peru a unique, diversified and haunting experience.

But also general conditions indicate why more than 2 million foreign people decided to visit Peru in 2009. With a consistently growing economy, great exports in the fishing industry and vast natural resources, the country is attracting a lot of US-American and European enterprises.

While the tourists wouldn´t be that into those facts, they surely will be able to admire the biodiversity. With more than 1800 different species of birds, Peru is the world´s leader.

As for the cultural part, you can trace the tracks of the Inca around their old capital Cusco and make your way to Macchu Picchu. But you shouldn´t dare to do so without having stopped at the nation´s capital Lima to  wine and dine at the exquisite restaurants.

Yet, most important of all, you´d better not start your trip without taking into account these tidbits of advice:


What TO DO in Peru:

DO  choose the more expensive bus over the cheap one if you care for your belongings.

DO bring your own toilet paper, as many public restrooms in Peru do not have any.

DO expect to pay higher prices than locals in Peru. The prices you will end up paying are still far lower than what you would pay in North America for the same products.

DO pay attention when steering a vehicle and being confronted with animals (especially dogs) lying around on the streets. They won´t get up just for you.

DO prepare yourself if you are planning to go for a longer hike. Your body is not used to the height!

DO look out for the „Menu del Dia“ which is mostly the cheaper and better option at restaurants.

DO get used to the fact that toilet paper belongs into the bin next to the toilet.

DO be careful at cities close to the boarders (especially the one with Ecuador).

DO prepare yourself to pay fees for entering/leaving the country

DO at least pick up a bit of Spanish before heading out. You don´t like tourists in your country that don´t speak your language, either.

DO invest money and time in the whole hiking experience to Macchu Picchu. Totally worth it!


What NOT TO DO in Peru:

DON´T use the words ‘indio or indios” to refer to natives. These words are considered derogatory.

DON´T call someone over to you using an upward curled first finger. Although this is the same gesture that you would use to beckon someone closer to you in North America, in Peru it is considered an insult.

DON´T  go topless in any city, town or village.

DON´T  take pictures of people without their permission.

DON´T  wear jewelry out in public, as this will make you a possible target of crime.

DON´T feel offended if natives intensely stare at you

DON´T think that you could like Ceviche if you don´t like Sushi.

DON`T fall asleep in the bus while travelling alone. You´ll wake up with all your stuff gone.

DON`T book anything online. Go talk to people and you´ll see the prices are better anyway.

DON`T bring any of the coca leaves home with you (although you probably loved them). They are considered a drug in your country!

DON´T hurry too much when travelling into higher areas. You´ll get the altitude sickness faster than you might think.

DON`T argue with the bus-driver when you are seriously afraid of his driving. They always make it.

And Most Important of All:

DON´T miss out on setting foot in this great country and have the chance to mess with these rules yourself (as you can be sure the author wouldn´t know all this if there hadn´t been some crossing of lines).

Felix Jehle Written by:

FELIX JEHLE was born and raised in Freiburg, Germany. Before graduating from High-School in 2010, he has absolved several internships for local newspapers. In his free time he loves to play tennis, read books, or just go outside to meet with friends. With his passion for the Latin language, he has developed a favor for Roman tongues. Trying to add Spanish to his knowledge, he is now working on his 4th language besides English, German and Italian. In August 2010, Felix decided to go on a big trip. With a ‘Working Holiday Visa’ for Canada in the bag, he started off to Montreal, where he spent more than 4 months of his trip. Afterwards, he started a journey through the United States and an extensive trip to South America. Upon his return to Europe, he picked up his studies of Media&Communication in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.