Most travelers come to Peru to visit Machu Picchu and perhaps hike the Inca Trail or they come to see some of the local landmarks, historic churches, museums, and the majestic Andes, its valleys, canyons, and breathtaking snow-capped peaks. What many travelers to Peru fail to do is engage and connect with the locals who live just a few steps off the beaten tourist trail. This is an unfortunate tourist misstep that happens all too often.
With Kuoda we make sure our guests don’t miss the opportunity to get to know the heart and soul of Peru through not only its stunning attractions but also through its spirited people. No vacation in Peru would be complete without both elements.
Below we share a few tips for travelers wishing to mingle with the locals in Cusco, the ancient city on everyone’s Peru itinerary.
Get outside of the main tourist areas. That’s where you can witness local life at its most authentic.
Look for the red flags or red plastic bags protruding from doorways for a chance to sample chicha, a popular Peruvian beer made from fermented corn.
On a Sunday, head up to the Christo Blanco statue and its environs for a glimpse into how the locals spend their downtime. We’ll bet you’re going to see more than one pachamanca in progress.
Take a few Spanish or Quechua lessons and try your skills at one of the local markets.
Grab a seat at the juice stand and converse with those around you, a favorite pastime of the locals.
Hop in a local bus or combi to explore a new neighborhood outside the tourist center, but remember to check with your guide to find out which neighborhoods are considered safe for you to visit.
Take part in a local community project, from volunteering at a local school to helping out at an animal shelter.
Grab a bite to eat from a street food stand and practice your Spanish with the “caserita” (street vendor) or the other locals joining you.
The wonderful thing about Peru, and especially Cusco, is how warm and inviting the locals are. They are usually very curious about tourists and appreciate your show of effort to get to know them on their turf. So, don’t be shy. Strike up a conversation, go where the locals go, and join the soccer game. This is how you make your Peru travel experience magical and absolutely unforgettable.
For more information about planning a tailor-made Peruvian vacation, speak with a Kuoda Travel Designer today.