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Introduction to Peru
Peru is the third largest country in South America, larger than Spain and France combined together, the size of Alaska, with a population of over 30 million.
The capital city is Lima, situated on the Pacific Ocean coast in central Peru. The population of this third-largest city in the Americas (after Sao Paulo and Mexico City) is 9 million people.
Geography of Peru
Peru has three main geographical regions :
● The coast, formed by deserts, beaches and valleys.
The coast covers only 10 % of the territory but is home to more than 50% of the population. Places like Lima, Pisco, Nazca, Trujillo and Chan Chan are located here.
● The mountains, formed by the Andes.
The Andes are the longest mountain range in the world with Mount Huascarán at 22,204 feet as the highest point. Places like Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca are located here.
● The jungle, formed by the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest represents 60% of Peru’s territory. The city of Iquitos is the gateway to the country’s north-eastern part of the Amazon Rainforest, and Puerto Maldonado to the country’s south-eastern part of the Amazon Rainforest.
Transportation in Peru
Travelling around Peru is convenient (some knowledge of Spanish is required). Peru is the tourist capital of South America and as such, it has a plethora of hotels and guest houses, restaurants and cheap eateries, internet cafés, street laundry services (lavanderías) and exchange offices (cambios.)
Public transportation is varied as well, ranging from buses, trains, boats and planes, depending on your packet, time and destination.
● Buses are the main inexpensive method of travelling between cities.
They are operated by various private companies (each with their own bus terminal), and cover most of the country. It is recommended to take a bus with a toilet and fully of partially reclining seats (cama or semi cama bed seats) for longer or overnight trips. Some of the biggest bus companies are Peru Hop, Cruz del Sur, Tepsa, La Linea and others.
● Colectivos and micros are small vans that operate within/out of cities and towns.
They are the most common means of public transportation – they can be flagged down anywhere and disembarked whenever as well.
● Public taxis can also be flagged down in most towns and cities.
They are everywhere, they don’t use a meter, and price and destination have to be agreed on in advance (be prepared to be ripped off). Uber and similar apps (Easy Taxi) usually work only in Lima.
● Tuk-tuks, or mototaxis, are another popular mode of transportation.
Mototaxis are three-wheeled motorcycles with an attached cabin that serve as taxis. They can be mostly seen on streets in smaller towns, jungle areas or on the Altiplano.
● Travelling by boat is the only way to get around Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado, the two jungle towns located in Peru’s Amazon Basin.
Motorized passenger boats locally known as lanchas or peki-pekis provide access to tourist lodges, and serve as a means of exploring nearby rivers and canals.
Lake Titicaca and its islands can be explored on boats, too. Although Titicaca is located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, there is no ferry service between the two countries, and immigration has to be cleared on land.
Peru has only a few train lines that are operated by IncaRail and PeruRail and run between Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Growing in popularity are domestic flights. The country is covered with a network of airports operated by Peruvian Airlines, Latam Peru, Star Peru, Avianca, and a number of smaller regional airlines. Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Iquitos, Juliaca (Lake Titicaca,) Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo are some of the cities that have an airport.
More information on local transportation can be found in individual posts.