Here are some of the things that I learned and that I recommend to anyone planning to spend some time in that beautiful country. These tips are probably useful for all.
Bring a travel guidebook
Buy one before you go, as you won’t find any in English once you get there. Make sure that it is current as these can become obsolete rather quickly. These guides are great for getting referrals on places to visit, eat, or stay. They usually have great advice for travelers. And they make great reading material while you are traveling.
Bring ear plugs
These will help you drown out the early wake-up calls from taxis in the morning as well as the usually obnoxiously loud movies that they show on the long bus rides. I like the cheap foamy earplugs that you can get at the drug store. I recommend buying a big box of 20 or so. At least they are light to carry.
Do you really want to lug around all that stuff? You’ll be much happier having less weight to carry with you.
Riding the buses
Most Peruvians commute between cities by bus. In fact, on the roads connecting the cities, you hardly see any personal vehicles. Only buses and cargo trucks.
There are several bus lines in Peru and they are double-decker size. The lower level is considered first class. The seats are bigger, there are only about 10 seats, and the bathroom is closer. Like maybe $5 cheaper. The problem with the upper level is that it can be noisier (babies or the man snoring next to you) or smellier (men with cheap cologne) or too intimate (people next to you falling asleep and using your shoulder as a pillow).
If the bus ride is a long one, I prefer splurging on the first class seat. If you are really feeling adventurous, and the bus is going down the Andes to the coast, I recommend the seat directly above the driver in the first row. There is a window view of the trip down the mountain which is exhilarating. But there is also a curtain in case it gets too scary.
States? No matter what city I was in, the cab drivers drive fast, rarely use signals. It’s like a secret Morse code for taxistas. The good news is, I didn’t see a single car accident when I was there. I think the Peruvian taxi drivers are tapping into the Force to maneuver themselves.
That concept simply does not exist in Peru. Pedestrians have the right to get out of the way of oncoming traffic because it’s not going to stop for you. I’d be walking on the sidewalk in a smaller city.
Going to Cusco
The bus ride to Cusco is about 24 hours. We were the first ones there (coming down the mountain) and the bus driver decided to try to drive the bus over the rocks! Since that almost got us killed, he stopped the bus and we all got out and helped remove rocks from the road for a couple of hours.
However, if you take guided tours in Peru, you will be instructed of the specific weather to expect at specific regions and at specific times of the year.