Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world – and that’s a fact. Home to 84 out of the 117 ‘life zones’ existing on earth and 28 of the 32 different types of weather there is no better place to experience the wonders Mother Nature has thrown our way.
With its intriguing history and well preserved monuments, there’s a great deal to gaze at and ponder. But it’s not all rainforests and history lessons, oh no, there’s so much more to Peru and we’re aiming to give you some nuggets of new information that may make you look at this magnificent country in a whole new light.
10 Interesting Facts About Peru
1. Surf’s Up!
While it’s true that Peru is widely known for its rich history and awesome mountain treks, what is less known is that it’s also a pretty incredible place to surf. Home to one of the most consistent surfs in the world and with 3080kms of coastline there’s plenty of places to catch a wave. The best surfing beaches are Chicama in the North, which is famous in surfing circles for having the longest left hand wave in the world, Punta Rocas, the site of one world qualifying Series surfing tournament and Pico Alto, whose waves are compared to those in Hawaii. The best time to surf is October to March so don’t forget to pack your baggies!
Did you know Peru has some of the world's best surf? Image courtesy of surfglassy
2. Potato, Potato, Potaaaaato
Potatoes have been cultivated in the Andes for at least 7000 years and over 4,000 native varieties are known to exist in Peru. Potato is a staple ingredient of Peruvian cooking although don’t expect to come across any chips and ketchup once dinner time rolls around.
Random potato fact alert: The world’s largest potato pie was created in Callao in the mid west of the country in 2004 weighing 5.37 tones. How do you like that Ireland?!
Meeting the local women of Peru is a highlight for travellers
3. The Capac Nan Circuit
This network of roads crossed the entire Incan empire, which included parts of six modern South American nations and stretches 30,000km – 40,000km. There are plenty of treks across many sections of the network, but one of the coolest takes you to the town of Lares. The 4 day route connects different small communities where you can meet their inhabitants, who still dress and act as their ancestors did hundreds of years before.
4. Generous Mother Nature
Peru shelters more than 70% of all living species on the planet in its jungles. You can visit the various national parks and reserves to mingle with close to 2,000 species of birds, hundreds of mammals including pumas, jaguars and bears and an abundance of other animals and marine life. So whatever you do – don’t forget your camera!
Some of the unique wildlife you can encounter in the Amazon rainforest
5. The Oldest City
About 100km north of Lima the city of Caral has pyramid remains that predate the Inca civilisation by around 4000 years and were flourishing for a century before the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, dated to between 2000 and 2600 B.C. This means Caral is most probably the oldest city on Earth!
6. (Sand) Castles In The Sky
Peru’s Cerro Blanco sand dune in Nazca’s Sechura Desert is considered to be the world’s highest sand dune. Measuring 3860 feet (1176 m) from base to peak it makes an exhilarating challenge for thrill seeking sand boarders.
7. Hidden Treasures
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest with a population of 406,340 and the largest city in the world which cannot be reached by road, with the only entry points being via airplane or boat.
Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world with the floor touching a depth of 3.4km. From here you can marvel at the world’s largest flying bird – the condor – flying overhead. Maybe don’t look up for too long just incase…
9. The Pisco Party
Every February 8 is the National Day of the Pisco Sour. The national drink is made from locally produced Pisco (or grape brandy) with added lemon or lime juice, egg white, angostura bitters and ice. Peruvians celebrate an annual Pisco Festival in March too – you can bet there’s one heck of a hangover the morning after these parties!
10. Enchanted Andes
The Sacred Valley supposedly has ‘perfect’ weather, so much so that it is said that ancient dwellers of what is now Peru used to travel to these parts in order to be cured of their respiratory diseases. From November to April the rains cause the surrounding mountains to turn an intense shade of green and during the dry season the cloudless sky offers a spectacle of stars.