Peru is without a doubt one of the most captivating countries in South America. Home of the epic lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the mind-blowing Nazca Lines, this country's unique past awakens the adventurer in travellers of all sorts. Its awe-inspiring scenery varies from the wild Amazon jungles to vast coastal deserts and the icy peaks of the Andes. Peru hosts a biodiversity rarely seen within the limits of a single country, with a list of spectacular wildlife far beyond the well-known llamas and circling condors. On top of all that, Peru's friendly, multi-ethnic people are a cultural treasure on their own. The enchanting mix of dozens of distinct indigenous groups and mestizos, all with their own colourful traditions and food delicacies, is an encounter you won't easily forget.

In short, this is a country of unimaginable extremes where choosing your trip destinations may prove a true challenge. Whether you decide to go off the beaten track, follow in the footsteps of thousands of visitors before you who took the Gringo Trail along some of the best highlights, or go experience the jungle through a relaxing multiple-day Amazon boat trip - Peru is likely to amaze you in everything you do.

Despite 23.9% (2014) of the population (mostly Amerindians in rural areas) living under the poverty line, most Peruvians are nationalists and will talk with love and pride about their country. For many of them government, police and political affairs may be distrusted and criticized, as corruption and scandals are all around. However, that is not what makes up their beloved state of Peru. It's the rich natural resources and strong history as the centre of the ancient pre-Inca cultures, Inca Empire, and later colonial Spanish colony that inspire their nationalist sentiments.

You'll often encounter the term gringo, which used to refer to all white people who don't speak Spanish. Now, many people use it for Americans or American look-alikes only, but it's typically not meant to offend. Peruvians will not hesitate to greet you with "¡Hola, gringo!", especially if you're blond.

As in many South American countries, efficiency or punctuality aren't among Peru's many qualities. Go with the flow and don't expect things to be exactly on time or precisely as planned. Take into account that outside of the main tourist spots people will often not speak English, and (trying to be helpful) might give wrong or inexact advice. For some general advice, have a look at our tips for travel in developing countries.

- Wikivoyage
- Image by @jeisonhiguitas

Image by Mesut Kaya

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