Peru is a diverse land—with the Amazon rainforest to the north, the vast Pacific Ocean to the west and the high Andes Mountains running through the central region. It is a country that has been shaped as much by its land as by its long and rich history. A visit to Peru has much to offer travellers—stunning landscapes, important ancient Incan sites situated in dramatic mountain locations, the wilds of the Amazon, high-altitude lakes that seem to touch the sky, diverse wildlife and friendly locals. Having the opportunity to meet local Peruvians adds another layer of meaning to a visit to this beautiful country. Below are a few tips for connecting with locals on your next trip to Peru.
Tip #1: Learn some Spanish
Knowing a few words of the local language, Spanish, makes it easier to communicate with locals and also demonstrates to them that you are curious about their culture and customs. Speaking a little Spanish and having a big smile can go a long way in opening doors and beginning conversations. Even a few simple words such as hola (hello), adios (goodbye), ¿cómo estás? (how are you?) and gracias (thank you) are great ways to connect with locals and show them genuine interest in learning about their country. Add in a big, warm smile and it’s a sure way to get to know someone.
Tip #2: Book a Homestay
Homestays with a Peruvian family are a wonderful way to get to know a local family and experience traditional customs. Travellers can live like a local and can get an inside look into daily life. Staying with a family can be arranged before departing your home country or once in Peru and can be done throughout Peru. Lake Titicaca is a common homestay location. Visitors can spend time living in one of its many island communities. Situated high in the Altiplano region of the Andes, Lake Titicaca is bordered by the rugged mountains of Peru and Bolivia. Here, locals still live in traditional ways—wearing colourful traditional clothes, farming the rocky soil and living in simple mud-and-straw adobe buildings. A homestay with a local family in one of these small villages is a unique way to get a very intimate experience of Peru’s traditions, many of which go back hundreds of years.
Tip #3: Pack photos of family and friends
Pack a few photos of family and friends to share with locals you meet during your travels. It’s a lovely icebreaker, and way to find common ground. Peruvians value family deeply and enjoy talking about their loved ones. Whether sitting around your homestay family’s kitchen table, talking to a server at a coffee shop or chatting with a shopkeeper at a local market, pull out those photos of your loved ones and share stories about your family back home. Pretty soon you may find your new Peruvian friend chiming in with their own stories in return. It is a great way to open up a conversation and make a real connection.
Tip #4: Attend a festival
Festivals in Peru are colourful affairs, many dating back to the Incan times. Lively cultural celebrations like Fiesta de la Cruz, El Senor de Los Milagros, Inti Raymi and many other festivals are times for family and friends to get together and celebrate important traditions. Become a temporary local and join in the fun!
Tip #5: Hire a knowledgeable local guide
Hiring a local guide is like exploring a city or country with a knowledgeable friend who is showing you around their home. Local guides work in tourism because they love sharing their culture and country with travellers. Exploring a part of Peru with a great local guide can help you to better understand Peruvian culture and custom and gain an insider look at cities and towns, as well as help you connect more extensively with locals. They can show you where the locals love to eat, spend time and hang out in the cities and towns.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Peru encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.