Top 9 Annoyances of Holidays in Peru in a Joyful Way
Although most vacations in Peru go smoothly, there are some annoying things that can bother you from time to time. I am not referring to security as such, since in general Peru is really very safe. I mean those little things that, as a foreigner, you don’t even consider could happen.
I have been living in Peru for several years and overall I really enjoy living here. Some cities and regions in Peru are more developed than others and some, you might think, are 20 years behind in modern times.
Parts of Lima, for example, are quite advanced. They have large modern malls with designer stores. There are supermarkets that have all kinds of food products available (even good quality British cheddar cheese!). Then there are some places that are the opposite. In general, the things that are annoying are probably the cultural differences between what we are used to and what is the norm in Peru. But, I guess for most Peru vacation trips you’re probably looking for that authentic experience, not modern life as you know it.
Here are my top 9 Peru vacation annoyances, not in any particular order:
1) stray dogs
It is not true for all cities in Peru, but there is a real problem with dogs on the street. There are two types of stray dogs. The former actually have owners and roam freely, the latter type are stray dogs. The main reason to have a dog in Peru is to protect your property. Not so much to fight off would-be intruders climbing your walls and stomping on your roses, but rather to act as a kind of canine alarm system. It is quite acceptable to allow your dogs to roam freely in the neighborhood. Dogs that bark, dogs eat trash, make a mess, and sometimes hostile dogs can be a real nuisance. Interestingly, in Lima’s Miraflores district (where most of Peru’s vacation hotels are located), you won’t find a stray dog! There is hope!
2) Bad driving
This must be my number one annoyance for a Peru vacation. In Peru (and Latin America) in general, you will see very few female drivers. This is because driving is a man’s thing. It seems that when a Peruvian gets behind the wheel of a car, he gains a whole new level of confidence. Perhaps this is something macho that seems less evident in western countries. This, combined with rough and windy roads at times, can lead to some pretty gruesome driving. The worst culprits for this are taxi drivers. They seem to be in a rush to get you to your final destination as quickly as possible; even a nanosecond faster if possible. The combo drivers (local buses) are pretty horrible too. Pulling off from a standstill into the center lane of a busy highway is perfectly normal, even if it causes all cars behind to come to a sudden stop. Of course I am a great driver in Peru, only the rest of them are not.
3) Street vendors
An unavoidable part of traveling to any major tourist destination is the onslaught of street vendors. Peru is no different. The colonial center of Cusco is where most of the vendors congregate, waiting in anticipation for the next gullible tourist. Surely a little finger puppet is what you have always dreamed of buying in a cold corner at 11.30pm. Or maybe that alpaca baby hat (which doesn’t actually have a single alpaca fiber) is perfect to wear out to the pub when you get home, so you can tell everyone you’ve just returned from a vacation in Peru. We have a more serious note; street vendors are just trying to make a living. When you have gone home, there are thousands more tourists to replace you, so they will continue to sell their products to whoever they can. So, be nice and say no thanks (potentially 7 times).
4) Bad service
The service is something western, which simply has not become fashionable in Peru. Even with the promise of a potential tip, the service doesn’t seem to improve. Try not to set the bar too high for excellent service and you won’t be disappointed. It’s okay for meals to appear one at a time in a restaurant, often with 10-minute intervals between them. Consider it okay to go to a bar and not be served, until you wave your arms like an enraged orangutan. And don’t be disappointed when you order something from a store and get a direct ‘NO’ followed by a blank stare. This may seem a bit harsh, but it happens. In successful restaurants and hotels, etc., you will find that the staff have been trained in the art of service and are much better prepared to assist you. But don’t get your hopes up, they can still have a bad day!
5) Credit / debit cards blocked
At home, there is nothing worse than finding out that the ATM has swallowed your card. It’s even worse when this happens while on vacation in Peru. Be sure to inform your card provider before you travel that you are going to Peru and that they should expect transactions from abroad. It’s possible to get your card back, but make sure you have an hour or so to spare, as Peruvian banks are busier and busier than the highway that runs through your hometown.
6) Get scammed
You’ve probably worked hard to save for your Peru vacation, but in the eyes of local vendors, you’re rich! Therefore, it is commonly accepted that you will be overcharged for anything you buy. This could be said from a pack of cigarettes to a woolen hat that you are buying from a street vendor. If you look foreign, it is very likely that you are paying too much. The first time I arrived in Peru, I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. It cost me 20 soles. Later I found out that the trip should only have cost me 3 soles. Shop around, ask multiple vendors for a price, and don’t be afraid to haggle.
In Peru the sun can be very strong, especially in the Andes where the air is much dimmer. Make sure you are prepared with the necessary protection, such as sunscreen and a sun hat so you don’t look like a ripe tomato. Remember that there is a mountain of pharmacies where you can buy sunscreen, and there is a still large mountain of street vendors waiting to sell you a hat!
8) bug bites
Make sure you are prepared for your Peru vacation with a good quality insect repellent. In the highlands (such as Cusco and Puno) you will not need to use insect repellent as insects do not like the weather. But for your day in Machu Picchu, make sure you are fully protected, as insect bites are quite common. Take a look at the thread on Trip Advisor about Machu Picchu bug bites. This is probably the most talked about topic of any topic.
Finally, on a more serious note, I want to mention the misdemeanors. This advice is no more relevant in Peru than it is in your home country, it is more important as you don’t want to ruin your Peru vacation. Remember that Peru is a safe country, probably the best of any country in Central and South America. However, from time to time, things happen. Be careful when walking late at night, when withdrawing money, and when using taxis.