Peru Fun Facts
By ~ Eric-Sheets
If you are considering a family trip to Peru, you are most likely seeking Peru fun facts to pique the interest of the youngest travelers in your group. Peru’s incredible topographical diversity, its rich variety of flora and fauna, exquisite cuisine, and preserved ruins are renowned worldwide. Though these types of accolades are enough to convince most travelers of Peru’s placement as a top tourist destination, kids traveling to Peru may need more convincing.
Share the following Peru fun facts with your family and discover new points about one of the most popular Latin American destinations for multigenerational families.
What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?
While traveling through the highlands of Peru, it is quite common to spot llamas and alpacas though, at first glance, it is not so easy to tell the difference between the two camelids. When trying to discern which species you are looking at, consider three key characteristics: size, face, and ears.
Llamas are about twice the size of alpacas, hovering around 5 feet tall and weighing up to 420 pounds. Alpacas, averaging between 2.5-3 feet tall, don’t have the long faces characteristic of llamas, however, they do sport a playful fringe of hair near their foreheads. As well, you will note that llamas have long ears to match their face shape while alpacas have short and pointy ears.
Who were the Incas?
Based in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, the Incas were a civilization made up of indigenous Quechua people. There are many myths concerning their origin, adding to the mystique of this powerful group. What we do know is that from the 15th to 16th centuries, before having been conquered by the Spanish, the highland tribe was able to expand into what is today northern Ecuador all the way down to Chile.
Though the Inca Empire did not last particularly long, they furthered the knowledge of pre-existing ancient Peruvian cultures in areas of agriculture, astronomy, engineering, textiles and more. Today, the Inca culture lives on in the Cusco region through Quechua-speaking descendants, ancient traditions, and outstanding archaeological sites.
Why is Machu Picchu such a fascinating piece of Inca history?
Built around 1450 AD, Machu Picchu is a testament to the advanced architecture and urban planning of the Incas. The ancient citadel, whose name means ‘Old Mountain’ in the indigenous Quechua language, is located at an altitude of 2430 m and consists of over 150 stone buildings.
Because the Incas did not have a system for writing, it is difficult to know exactly for what purpose Machu Picchu was built. However, because Spanish conquistadors were never able to find it, the UNESCO World Heritage Site continues to inspire with its amazing stonework and showcase of Inca cultural values such as astronomy, agriculture, and engineering.
Do people really eat guinea pigs in Peru?
While not all Peruvians eat guinea pigs (or meat, for that matter), these little creatures have been considered a delicacy in Peru since the time of the Incas. Known as ‘cuys’ in the Spanish language, guinea pigs are typically deep-fried until crispy and served alongside potatoes and a simple salad. This dish is typically found in highland regions such as Cusco and Puno.
What fun water-based activities are there in Peru?
Western Peru is hugged by the Pacific Ocean, resulting in prime surfing opportunities whether you are staying in the capital city of Lima or in the pristine beaches of the north. In fact, some credit the small beach town of Huanchaco’just outside of Trujillo’ to be the birthplace of surfing.
Don’t forget that the largest river in the world, the Amazon, starts in Peru and can be explored by kayak or cruise. As well, in southern Peru is found Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.