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6 Things I Wished I Knew Before Visiting Peru

machu picchu

Have you ever had your mind-set on a travel destination, booked a flight, packed, and off you go? Without doing any type of research whatsoever? Going with the flow may work out great for some people but for me, it was a total culture shock. So after being in Peru for 2 weeks, here are 6 things I wished I knew before visiting.

1. EVERYTHING IS PRETTY CHEAP

From food to shopping, things are inexpensive there. For 10 sols which equivalents to about $3, you can get a pretty decent meal. Good food, cheap price. What a win. If you want to splurge on a mid-range restaurant, you can still get away with paying under $20. Some places do accept USD but I would convert my money to SOL because some locals will try to get you to pay more since you’re a foreigner with American money.

2. ALTITUDE SICKNESS IS A REAL THING

If you decide to hike high up– let’s say to Machu Picchu, you will have trouble breathing. Since you’re almost 8,000 ft. high, your lungs will result in a shortage of oxygen. I immediately felt exhausted and nauseous. Although I didn’t feel great, the breathtaking view was worth it. Breathtaking. Heh. Pun intended. If someone tries to sell you this drink in a tiny bottle and says that will help cure altitude sickness, don’t buy it. Don’t even take a sample to drink  drink it. I drank a sample and it straight up tasted like alcohol. It did not make me feel any better.

3. YOU WILL SEE STRAY DOGS EVERYWHERE

This was probably the most heartbreaking and saddest part during my trip. Anywhere you go from the busy towns to small villages, there are stray dogs everywhere. The dogs seem pretty harmless as they walk through the streets looking for food through the garbage. Some dogs are just laying on the ground but who knows if they’re alive or passed away. If you decide to feed or play with the stray dogs, they will become attached to you. I don’t blame them. My friend was playing with a stray dog and kept following us back home. The stray dog looked so sad when my friend left.

Panoramic view of Plaza de Armas with Inca fountain, Cathedral and Compania de Jesus Church - Cusco, Peru

4. IT’S GETS COLD AT NIGHT

If you’re like me who under packs when it comes to these type of trips, you’re screwed. I went to Peru during the end of August and underestimated the mid 60 degree weather. All I packed was a very thin jacket, 2 thin sweaters, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, and a dress LOL. Bring a lot of warm sweaters and layers! It gets hot sometimes during the day, especially if you hiked a lot. But its freezing cold at night. I definitely got a cold throughout the trip. It was not fun.

5. THE ROADS AND DRIVERS ARE INSANE

Pretty sure subconsciously, I was praying to Buddha that we would get to our destination safely, The taxis played American music which was pretty cool. But other than that, I feared for my life. The roads and vehicles are poorly maintained. It didn’t look like there were any lanes. Everyone was free to go wherever they want. The cars are very close to one another and they won’t hesitate to cut in front even when there’s barely any space. If you’re planning to drive in Peru, DON’T. It’s not worth it.

6. BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER OR ELSE YOU HAVE TO BUY IT

This was such a struggle. Most public restrooms didn’t have toilet paper so you’re left with the alternative– asking your friends to find napkins or walk in your wet undies. I discovered in some areas, they sell toilet paper before you go. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Nope, not happening. My friends and I made sure to always carry napkins in our bags just in case but sometimes we just forget.

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