8 ways to explore Peru on a budget

by Larry Read

There is so much to do and see when travelling around Peru. Lucy Woods looks at some of the best activities to do on a budget.

For young whippersnappers and seasoned voyagers alike, Peru is fast becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in South America. Its success is reflected in the ever-increasing influx of tourists (growing annually at a rate of 25 per cent since 2008), eager to sample the delicious melting pot of different cultures, cuisine, landscapes, and archaeology.

Peru is most famous for its ancient civilisations, in particular the Inca. Few tourists would consider a trip to Cusco without wishing to visit the formidable Machu Picchu. There is also the inevitable flight over the Nasca Lines and even perhaps a voyage through the Amazon Rainforest.

However, these trips are usually planned well in advance, as tours can be booked from the comfort of your own home or through a travel agent. They may be a little costly, but are certainly worth spending on if you can afford it. Flights to Peru can also be painfully steep, particularly if you are coming from Europe.

With this in mind, by the time tours have been booked and flights paid for, travel budgets are often on the lower end of the scale. Fortunately, Peru is not an expensive country in terms of accommodation, coach travel, and for the most part, activities. Don’t fall into the trap of booking everything in advance online, as you will end up spending more than necessary. With just a little planning and a keen eye, there are some fantastic things to do and see in Peru that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

To help give you some inspiration, we present eight of our favourite budget activities in Peru:

Barter at the markets in Lima

“Love at first sight” is not a phrase often associated with the capital city of Lima. The weather is often drab and the air polluted, making this concrete jungle seem rather grey. However, the city is a stopover for international flights, so it is likely you will have to spend some time here. Fortunately, there is plenty of colour to be found at the Inca Market in Miraflores, where you can do a spot of souvenir shopping and make the most of Peru’s bartering-culture.

Bartering in the markets can be quite the challenge, and there are few things more rewarding than striking a good deal. On top of this, it’s a great excuse to start up a rapport with some of the locals. There is always a temptation just to socialise with fellow hostel-goers, which is fine, but you will probably find your experience of Peru is much-enriched if you get to know some of the people who actually live there.

Have a giggle at the Larco Museum

Another popular attraction in Lima is the Larco Museum, which has an absolutely fabulous collection of pre-Columbian art. Located in the Pueblo Libre District of the city, the museum showcases over 4,000 years of Peruvian history. The collection is both vast and varied, with cases and cases of ceramic figurines partaking in huge range of ritual and domestic activities. There is even a ceramic vessel depicting a man picking his nose!

The most popular aspect of the museum is the gallery of Moche erotic art. The Moche produced some of the finest examples of pre-Columbian pottery, and also the sauciest. Phallus-shaped vessels, masturbating skeletons, and some truly unabashed sexual acts are all depicted in impressive detail. I challenge anyone to walk through the exhibition with the straight face.

Entrance: 30 PEN (less than US$10)

Go horse riding in Arequipa

Arequipa, also known as the ‘White City’ is located in the southern region of Peru, and is a popular destination for travellers due to its vibrant culture and stunning countryside. Most of the hostels advertise horse riding trips on the outskirts of the city, providing the perfect excuse to partake in a little budget adventure.

Trips last a couple of hours, and previous experience with horses is not required. You will get the chance to ride across the stunning countryside in full view of Mount Misti, a volcano with a height of almost 20,000 feet. Paths tend to be a little off the beaten track, thus providing a sense of adventure while avoiding any real danger.

Chill out with the condors at Colca Canyon

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