Peru’s Best Beaches

Despite the great expanse of ocean to its west, Peru isn’t well known for its beaches. Most of its 1,800-mile coastline is strewn with desert, which, although pretty in its own right, isn’t exactly the country’s strong suit. If you’re after sun and surf, its neighbors Colombia and Ecuador are much better choices.

That being said, Peru isn’t completely stripped of sand. The northern regions have some very decent beaches, stretching from the uppermost point, Putumayo River, to about midway down the coastline. Even Lima, the capital, has a few stretches of sand that get filled with locals and tourists on weekends.

If you feel like venturing out of Lima, most experts agree that Trujillo, Tumbes, and Piura are among the best spots. Here the beaches boast wide sandbars and gentle to moderate waves, perfect for a day of surfing or swimming. Not all of them offer child-safe swimming, though, so make sure to check ahead.

Close to the Ecuador border, about an hour’s drive from Tumbes, is arguably one of the best beaches in the country. Punta Sal offers scenic views and abundant sun, but also a wealth of activities, including scuba diving, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing, on top of the usual swimming and beach volleyball.

A close contender to Punta Sal is Mancora Beach, about a thirty-minute drive away. Surfers flock to Mancora to ride its powerful waves, which sometimes reach 6 feet tall. It’s also a popular stop for people fresh off the Inca Trail hike—who wouldn’t want to crash on a beach after walking for days?

Both beaches are a long way from Lima, so if you don’t want to go too far from the capital, Piura may be a better option. The city is just a two- to three-hour drive up north. Some 30 miles outside the city proper is La Tortuga Beach in Paita, which boasts some of the best sunsets and relatively calm waters.

The South American summer is from January to March, so plan your visit accordingly. December may be a better month for surfing, though, as the waves are more pronounced. The other months are prone to rain and crisp weather—perfect for a refreshing hike to the ruins, but just a tad too cold for a swim.

If you’re strapped for time and want to hit the beach right away, head south—that’s where the best urban beaches are. The neighborhoods of Barranco, Miraflores, and Chorrillos offer quick access to the beach, with a lively nightlife to boot. Señoritas, El Silencio, and Caballeros are among the most popular.

Safety Tips for Peru Travelers

Visitors should always keep a vigilant eye when visiting in Peru.  Although tourist spots are generally safe, street crime is rampant, and tourists, with their pricey gear and often cash-loaded purses, are a popular target.

The most important piece of advice is to blend in, and not to wear anything that even remotely suggests you’ve got money on you. If you must bring something valuable with you (travel documents, IDs, and credit cards should be on your person at all times), bring them in a pouch that slips easily inside your shirt. If possible, keep them on your chest—this will ward off pickpockets.

Plan to pay with credit cards for most if not all of your transactions, and bring only a little cash for emergencies. If you need to withdraw money, find an ATM in a bank and do so in broad daylight, preferably with a companion.

Crowded areas are particularly tricky as one can easily hide in the crowd to avoid being caught. Keep an eye open in public markets, train stations, and outdoor shows. Instead of putting your wallet in your pocket, wear a money belt. It’s much harder to access without being noticed.

Cab drivers around the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima have been known to rob their fares, targeting Western visitors in particular. If you have to take a taxi straight from the airport, have one of the staff direct you to one endorsed by the airport itself.

The risk is lower in the rural areas, although Cusco and Puno, where the biggest tourist sites are, can still attract the occasional bad guy. Never lower your guard just because you’re heading out of the city—it’s the kind of mindset that gets most visitors in trouble.

If you’re traveling by car, make sure to look up road conditions ahead of time and to lock all doors. Travel with a local you trust if possible. Road bandits have been reported in some areas, particularly the more remote ones. Avoid detours and stay on the main roads as much as possible.

The U.S. government warns visitors, especially women, never to travel alone in Peru. According to them, statistics show that young female tourists seem to be thieves’ favorite targets. Those carrying backpacks (which are easy to steal from unnoticed) and staying in low-cost lodging (where there’s less security) are also more at risk. Finally, travel with a large group if possible—there’s always safety in numbers.

Peru’s Protected Areas Boost Tourism Industry

The Machu Picchu remains the country’s icon for tourist activity, but Peru’s numerous protected areas—currently a hundred strong, including privately owned and locally administered ones—are contributing just as much to national tourism. Traffic to these areas is growing by about 18% every year, according to local journal El Comercio.

Sernanp, Peru’s national agency in charge of protected areas, currently oversees 71 sites deemed to require government protection. There are 11 more overseen by the regional administrations and 31 that are privately owned, according to Sernanp specialist Juan Carlos Heaton. They cover roughly14.5% of Peru’s land area.

Of these, only about 15 are open to tourism, but all may possibly be developed into tourist sites down the road. Among the most visited in recent years are the Huascaran National Mark Tingo María, Pacaya-Samiria, Tambopata, Paracas, and the Titicaca National Reserve.

Heaton expects some 870,000 tourists to visit these sites this year, up from about 749,000 last year and from 630,000 in 2009. Revenue from these visits will help raise funds for further maintenance and improvement of the sites, as well as the economy of small neighboring towns, he added.

Sernanp promotes the protected areas and ensures the safety of locals and visitors largely with funding from Peru’s Ministry of Environment. It also works with regional tourism groups, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police, and PromPerú, the country’s tourism and export promotion agency.

To keep the tourist traffic from leaving too big a footprint on the local environment, Sernanp has put plans in place to control tourist use and impose regulations on both visitors and tourism companies. Specialists are assigned to each site, where they will plan preservation measures according to particular visitor types and the area’s specific needs.

Peru has long set the example for the conservation and management of protected sites in South America, along with its neighbor Brazil. Since the 1960s, says Heaton, the country has imposed controls on biodiversity conservation and the reduction of environmental footprints, all while continuing to attract visitors and stimulate international tourism.

Natural protected areas were first designated in the Constitution of Peru in 1993, during which a map of 63 naturally, historically, and culturally significant sites was laid out. The list has since grown substantially, and Peru is now known as one of the world’s most megadiverse countries (those that hold a large part of the earth’s living species).

Peru Treks – What to Expect

For the traveller who is looking for a great trekking holiday that features both the beauty of nature as well as spectacular ruins from ancient times then a Peru Trek may be just the type of holiday you are looking for.  Before you make the decision to go and book a trek in Peru it is important that you do a little research on the country and the area that you plan on visiting so that you will know what to expect before and while you are trekking in Peru.   The following is some important information about what to expect while trekking anywhere in Peru.

Trekking in Peru is done through many different terrains and involves both steep climbs and also steep descents over what can be considered very rocky ground.  It is not necessary to be super fit to do these types of treks however many of the trekking tours require participants to have some fitness and be able to walk for long periods of time such as 2 – 3 hours with rests.

The water in Peru is only drinkable after boiling for approximately ten minutes and many treks are set up to provide water to fill bottles before each section of the trek.  Some of the towns along the way also have bottled water available.

The weather in Peru can vary greatly depending on where you are and the altitude that you are at.  The temperatures can vary from around 25° Celsius in the middle of the day to approximately 5° Celsius at night time.  It is important to pack the right sort of clothing for the area and the altitude that you will be trekking.  It is also important to know that if you are trekking in some of the high altitude areas they receive snow so it is important to have the right winter gear.

The Altitude of many of the treks in Peru is also something that anyone visiting the area should be aware of.  Altitude and altitude sickness can affect people in different ways and for some the symptoms can be quite severe.  Many trekking companies factor in extra days on a trek to become acclimatized before moving up to higher altitudes.

When trekking in Peru it is important to remember that Peru is quite a poor country which means that the camping areas for many of the treks are quite basic.  Most treks involve sleeping in tents and roughing it a little however for many this is all part of the amazing experience.

The Northern Ruins and Peru’s Tourism vs. Conservation Battle

The Machu Picchu’s reputation does it justice—the kingdom that once ruled from its heights was every bit as grand as we now imagine. But other Peruvian ruins are getting far less attention than they deserve.

Just outside Trujillo, a city some 350 miles north of Lima, lies the ruins of Galindo. At first glance it’s little more than a mound of earth, but it used to house a central structure to the Moche, one of the most complex and mysterious civilizations to have risen in Peru.

True, the site has since been extensively studied. Researchers have dug into its grounds and chipped at its walls, revealing tough adobe cores. A deep crater lies where the central structure, a tall, tapered tower, once stood, having crumbled to the ground years before.

Other areas have been explored to no avail—one can tell by the holes, some more than four meters deep, that the researchers had abandoned them for more promising spots. But this doesn’t mean we’ve learned all we can about the Moche culture—far from it.

Huaqueros, or local looters, have run off with many of the artifacts, spurred on by a largely unconcerned government. Because of this, little is left for researchers to draw on about the Moche’s 650-year rule over Northern Peru, until its decline in 700 A.D.

Some 250 historic sites in the country’s northern half have suffered the same fate. Only five sites in the region have been given protected status, which keeps out the looters and ensures the sites’ maintenance.

Looters aren’t the only threat to these cultural treasures. Locals rebuilt their homes using bricks from the ruins when an earthquake struck in 1970, and many are still able to sneak in and take the occasional artifact to sell or display.

Local police are doing what they can to protect the sites. Montes de Oca of the Department of Environmental Protection in La Libertad, is one of three men who have taken up the task, armed with just one truck to patrol the area of about 1 million people.

Professor Ricardo Gamarra is heading the restoration of the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna sites, where the 1970 earthquake hit. They were the Moche administrative centers and once the largest structures in pre-Columbian America.

The offer new clues into how the Moche lived. Gamarra and his team have uncovered friezes of the Moche’s mythical characters, including a Beheading Spider, the God of the Mountains and the Mythical Being, suggesting that human sacrifice played a central role.

Another stylized frieze showed a line of marching warriors with their prisoners, depicting the culture’s triumph against rival civilizations. These clues strengthen theories that the Moche had complex spiritualism and practiced elaborate if brutal ceremonies.

Gamarra is against current plans to develop an access road to the site, which would encourage tourism. He said the Machu Picchu has already been eroded from constant traffic, and the ruins of northern Peru aren’t ready for that kind of commercialism yet.

Peru’s Best Beaches

Despite the great expanse of ocean to its west, Peru isn’t well known for its beaches. Most of its 1,800-mile coastline is strewn with desert, which, although pretty in its own right, isn’t exactly the country’s strong suit. If you’re after sun and surf, its neighbors Colombia and Ecuador are much better choices.

That being said, Peru isn’t completely stripped of sand. The northern regions have some very decent beaches, stretching from the uppermost point, Putumayo River, to about midway down the coastline. Even Lima, the capital, has a few stretches of sand that get filled with locals and tourists on weekends.

If you feel like venturing out of Lima, most experts agree that Trujillo, Tumbes, and Piura are among the best spots. Here the beaches boast wide sandbars and gentle to moderate waves, perfect for a day of surfing or swimming. Not all of them offer child-safe swimming, though, so make sure to check ahead.

Close to the Ecuador border, about an hour’s drive from Tumbes, is arguably one of the best beaches in the country. Punta Sal offers scenic views and abundant sun, but also a wealth of activities, including scuba diving, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing, on top of the usual swimming and beach volleyball.

A close contender to Punta Sal is Mancora Beach, about a thirty-minute drive away. Surfers flock to Mancora to ride its powerful waves, which sometimes reach 6 feet tall. It’s also a popular stop for people fresh off the Inca Trail hike—who wouldn’t want to crash on a beach after walking for days?

Both beaches are a long way from Lima, so if you don’t want to go too far from the capital, Piura may be a better option. The city is just a two- to three-hour drive up north. Some 30 miles outside the city proper is La Tortuga Beach in Paita, which boasts some of the best sunsets and relatively calm waters.

The South American summer is from January to March, so plan your visit accordingly. December may be a better month for surfing, though, as the waves are more pronounced. The other months are prone to rain and crisp weather—perfect for a refreshing hike to the ruins, but just a tad too cold for a swim.

If you’re strapped for time and want to hit the beach right away, head south—that’s where the best urban beaches are. The neighborhoods of Barranco, Miraflores, and Chorrillos offer quick access to the beach, with a lively nightlife to boot. Señoritas, El Silencio, and Caballeros are among the most popular.

Safety Tips for Peru Travelers

Visitors should always keep a vigilant eye when visiting in Peru.  Although tourist spots are generally safe, street crime is rampant, and tourists, with their pricey gear and often cash-loaded purses, are a popular target.

The most important piece of advice is to blend in, and not to wear anything that even remotely suggests you’ve got money on you. If you must bring something valuable with you (travel documents, IDs, and credit cards should be on your person at all times), bring them in a pouch that slips easily inside your shirt. If possible, keep them on your chest—this will ward off pickpockets.

Plan to pay with credit cards for most if not all of your transactions, and bring only a little cash for emergencies. If you need to withdraw money, find an ATM in a bank and do so in broad daylight, preferably with a companion.

Crowded areas are particularly tricky as one can easily hide in the crowd to avoid being caught. Keep an eye open in public markets, train stations, and outdoor shows. Instead of putting your wallet in your pocket, wear a money belt. It’s much harder to access without being noticed.

Cab drivers around the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima have been known to rob their fares, targeting Western visitors in particular. If you have to take a taxi straight from the airport, have one of the staff direct you to one endorsed by the airport itself.

The risk is lower in the rural areas, although Cusco and Puno, where the biggest tourist sites are, can still attract the occasional bad guy. Never lower your guard just because you’re heading out of the city—it’s the kind of mindset that gets most visitors in trouble.

If you’re traveling by car, make sure to look up road conditions ahead of time and to lock all doors. Travel with a local you trust if possible. Road bandits have been reported in some areas, particularly the more remote ones. Avoid detours and stay on the main roads as much as possible.

The U.S. government warns visitors, especially women, never to travel alone in Peru. According to them, statistics show that young female tourists seem to be thieves’ favorite targets. Those carrying backpacks (which are easy to steal from unnoticed) and staying in low-cost lodging (where there’s less security) are also more at risk. Finally, travel with a large group if possible—there’s always safety in numbers.

Peru’s Protected Areas Boost Tourism Industry

The Machu Picchu remains the country’s icon for tourist activity, but Peru’s numerous protected areas—currently a hundred strong, including privately owned and locally administered ones—are contributing just as much to national tourism. Traffic to these areas is growing by about 18% every year, according to local journal El Comercio.

Sernanp, Peru’s national agency in charge of protected areas, currently oversees 71 sites deemed to require government protection. There are 11 more overseen by the regional administrations and 31 that are privately owned, according to Sernanp specialist Juan Carlos Heaton. They cover roughly14.5% of Peru’s land area.

Of these, only about 15 are open to tourism, but all may possibly be developed into tourist sites down the road. Among the most visited in recent years are the Huascaran National Mark Tingo María, Pacaya-Samiria, Tambopata, Paracas, and the Titicaca National Reserve.

Heaton expects some 870,000 tourists to visit these sites this year, up from about 749,000 last year and from 630,000 in 2009. Revenue from these visits will help raise funds for further maintenance and improvement of the sites, as well as the economy of small neighboring towns, he added.

Sernanp promotes the protected areas and ensures the safety of locals and visitors largely with funding from Peru’s Ministry of Environment. It also works with regional tourism groups, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police, and PromPerú, the country’s tourism and export promotion agency.

To keep the tourist traffic from leaving too big a footprint on the local environment, Sernanp has put plans in place to control tourist use and impose regulations on both visitors and tourism companies. Specialists are assigned to each site, where they will plan preservation measures according to particular visitor types and the area’s specific needs.

Peru has long set the example for the conservation and management of protected sites in South America, along with its neighbor Brazil. Since the 1960s, says Heaton, the country has imposed controls on biodiversity conservation and the reduction of environmental footprints, all while continuing to attract visitors and stimulate international tourism.

Natural protected areas were first designated in the Constitution of Peru in 1993, during which a map of 63 naturally, historically, and culturally significant sites was laid out. The list has since grown substantially, and Peru is now known as one of the world’s most megadiverse countries (those that hold a large part of the earth’s living species).

Peru Treks – What to Expect

For the traveller who is looking for a great trekking holiday that features both the beauty of nature as well as spectacular ruins from ancient times then a Peru Trek may be just the type of holiday you are looking for.  Before you make the decision to go and book a trek in Peru it is important that you do a little research on the country and the area that you plan on visiting so that you will know what to expect before and while you are trekking in Peru.   The following is some important information about what to expect while trekking anywhere in Peru.

Trekking in Peru is done through many different terrains and involves both steep climbs and also steep descents over what can be considered very rocky ground.  It is not necessary to be super fit to do these types of treks however many of the trekking tours require participants to have some fitness and be able to walk for long periods of time such as 2 – 3 hours with rests.

The water in Peru is only drinkable after boiling for approximately ten minutes and many treks are set up to provide water to fill bottles before each section of the trek.  Some of the towns along the way also have bottled water available.

The weather in Peru can vary greatly depending on where you are and the altitude that you are at.  The temperatures can vary from around 25° Celsius in the middle of the day to approximately 5° Celsius at night time.  It is important to pack the right sort of clothing for the area and the altitude that you will be trekking.  It is also important to know that if you are trekking in some of the high altitude areas they receive snow so it is important to have the right winter gear.

The Altitude of many of the treks in Peru is also something that anyone visiting the area should be aware of.  Altitude and altitude sickness can affect people in different ways and for some the symptoms can be quite severe.  Many trekking companies factor in extra days on a trek to become acclimatized before moving up to higher altitudes.

When trekking in Peru it is important to remember that Peru is quite a poor country which means that the camping areas for many of the treks are quite basic.  Most treks involve sleeping in tents and roughing it a little however for many this is all part of the amazing experience.

The Northern Ruins and Peru’s Tourism vs. Conservation Battle

The Machu Picchu’s reputation does it justice—the kingdom that once ruled from its heights was every bit as grand as we now imagine. But other Peruvian ruins are getting far less attention than they deserve.

Just outside Trujillo, a city some 350 miles north of Lima, lies the ruins of Galindo. At first glance it’s little more than a mound of earth, but it used to house a central structure to the Moche, one of the most complex and mysterious civilizations to have risen in Peru.

True, the site has since been extensively studied. Researchers have dug into its grounds and chipped at its walls, revealing tough adobe cores. A deep crater lies where the central structure, a tall, tapered tower, once stood, having crumbled to the ground years before.

Other areas have been explored to no avail—one can tell by the holes, some more than four meters deep, that the researchers had abandoned them for more promising spots. But this doesn’t mean we’ve learned all we can about the Moche culture—far from it.

Huaqueros, or local looters, have run off with many of the artifacts, spurred on by a largely unconcerned government. Because of this, little is left for researchers to draw on about the Moche’s 650-year rule over Northern Peru, until its decline in 700 A.D.

Some 250 historic sites in the country’s northern half have suffered the same fate. Only five sites in the region have been given protected status, which keeps out the looters and ensures the sites’ maintenance.

Looters aren’t the only threat to these cultural treasures. Locals rebuilt their homes using bricks from the ruins when an earthquake struck in 1970, and many are still able to sneak in and take the occasional artifact to sell or display.

Local police are doing what they can to protect the sites. Montes de Oca of the Department of Environmental Protection in La Libertad, is one of three men who have taken up the task, armed with just one truck to patrol the area of about 1 million people.

Professor Ricardo Gamarra is heading the restoration of the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna sites, where the 1970 earthquake hit. They were the Moche administrative centers and once the largest structures in pre-Columbian America.

The offer new clues into how the Moche lived. Gamarra and his team have uncovered friezes of the Moche’s mythical characters, including a Beheading Spider, the God of the Mountains and the Mythical Being, suggesting that human sacrifice played a central role.

Another stylized frieze showed a line of marching warriors with their prisoners, depicting the culture’s triumph against rival civilizations. These clues strengthen theories that the Moche had complex spiritualism and practiced elaborate if brutal ceremonies.

Gamarra is against current plans to develop an access road to the site, which would encourage tourism. He said the Machu Picchu has already been eroded from constant traffic, and the ruins of northern Peru aren’t ready for that kind of commercialism yet.

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