What to Expect in Peru

Traveling anywhere new comes with the added task of getting to learn about and experience a new culture.


If you're headed to Peru on our Machu Picchu Trek, check out our advice and packing guide for your expedition to the Lost City of the Incas

Traveling in Peru

When arriving in Peru at the airport, there will be a Choose a Challenge In-Country Operations staff member there to greet you and bring you to your accommodations. It is important to remember (whether arriving for the first time, or if you elect to travel on your own in Cusco before or after your Challenge) that traveling in the developing world is not the same as traveling as you're used to it. Having a bit of patience, your wits, and a plan is always advisable to make sure you get wherever you're going successfully. 

Spanish Crash Course:

Spanish-speaking countries are very polite societies and you must always be courteous and say “hello” and “how are you?”. Don’t worry about making mistakes, as they will try their utmost to understand you and to make sure you understand them. Just try your best and they will be happy to help you.

Good morning – Buenos días (bway nos  dee ahs)

Good afternoon – Buenas tardes (bway nahs  tar days)

Good evening – Buenas noches (bway nahs  noh chayss)

Hola (oh  lah) is “hi” and you can say that with people you know.

¿Cómo está? (coh moh  es tah) is “how are you?” if you don’t know someone and ¿Cómo estás? (coh moh  es tahs) if you do know them.

If they ask you how you are, you can say “good, thank you” – “bien, gracias” (bee ayn, grah cee ahs) because you, too, are a polite person.

Don’t ever forget:  Please – Por favor (por  fah vohr) – and Thank you – Gracias (grah cee ahs).  These are VERY IMPORTANT words in Spanish.

When you are introduced to someone, you say “Mucho gusto” (moo choh goos toh) and they will say the same thing back to you.  It means, “nice to meet you.”

¿Habla inglés? (ahblah  een glays)? – Do you speak English?  While it is never correct to assume that someone speaks English, you can ask if they do and they will like you so much better for asking in Spanish.

You can go far with some very easy-to-remember words and phrases. You can always use “I want,” “I like,” “Do you have…?” and if you don’t know the noun, you can simply point at the object.

I want, I don’t want – Yo quiero, yo no quiero... (yoh  kee ayr oh,  yoh noh  kee ayr oh)

I would like (more polite) – Me gustaría... (may goo stah ree ah)

Where is – ¿Dónde está...? (dohn des tah)

How much does it cost – ¿Cuánto cuesta...? (cwahn toh cways tah)?

What time is it? – ¿Qué hora es? (kay orah ess)?

Do you have? – ¿Tiene...? (tee ayn ay)?

I have, I don’t have – Yo tengo.., yo no tengo... (yoh  tayn goh,  yoh  noh tayn goh)

I understand, I don’t understand – Yo entiendo, yo no entiendo (yoh  ayn tee ayn doh,  yoh  noh ayn tee ayn doh)

Do you understand? – ¿Entiende? (ayn tee ayn day)?

Cultural Advice

The culture of the Andean peoples (the Quechua) who live in the region surround Cusco and in the High Andes where you'll be traveling is much different from the western culture of Peruvian cities. Cusco is a mixing pot of these two cultures as it is a city within the High Andes. It is important to consider someone's cultural background before addressing them or judging them for their clothes & actions in Peru as well as anywhere you may go. We encourage you to ask questions and be open to new experiences, ideas, and cultures while on your trek so you can gain the best experience immersing yourself in Quechua culture.

Check out our recommended packing list below. Click to enlarge and read or print it out to use as a checklist!

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