Amazing Facts About Peru
Peru is country filled with rich history, mystery, beautiful landscapes and adventure around every corner. Whether you’ve visited the country before or not, there’s always something new to learn about this vibrant location. Here are some amazing Peru facts that make this country as unique as they come. How many do you know?
Peru Facts: The Tallest Sand Dune in the World
Located in the Sechura Desert on the southern part of Peru rests Cerro Blanco. This sand dune measures 3,860 feet at its highest peak, towering over the little town of Huacachina, making it the tallest in the world.
Tourists can enjoy riding dune biggies across its sandy landscape, but the best adventure is sandboarding down the slope into the town below.
Home of the Potato
While many correlate Ireland with the potato, an interesting Peru fact is this vegetable actually finds its roots (pun intended) in Peru. There are over 3,000 different varieties the grow in the fields here, and many are grown using ancient planting methods. Citizens who are proud of their heritage are often quoted saying, “I am more Peruvian than the potato!”
There’s a common misconception that Spanish is the only Language spoken in Peru. Truth be told, there are three: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. If you head east of the Andes, however, you’ll find an additional 13 indigenous languages that are all used today.
One of the most famous landmarks in Peru is the Lost City of Machu Picchu, which became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2017. This city of ruins was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a professor, and archaeologist.
Once an Incan civilization, the city now rests on a mountain ridge roughly 8,000 feet above sea level. It’s incredible to think this site was built by hand, considering the only way into Machu Picchu is on foot through mountainous trails. If you’re planning a trip to the country, then this is a must-see location.
Birds of Prey
Within the Colca Canyon, which sits in the Andes Mountains, you can find everything from volcanoes to grazing llamas. This area is also home to the Giant Andean Condor, whose wingspan is an astounding 14-feet wide. Weighing in at 27 pounds and standing four feet tall, this is the largest flying bird on Earth.
Lake Titicaca rests between the border of Bolivia and Peru. It isn’t large by any means, but it is the highest elevated lake in the world. While that fact alone is impressive, even more so are the ancient ruins that lie beneath its surface.
Discovered by Jacques Cousteau, this underwater temple is thought to be around 1,000 to 1,500 years old. It was one of the first Incan civilizations in existence, with many of their myths stating that life began at the lake. You can still find decedents of this ancient civilization, the Quechua People, living on islands in the lake today.
Stranger than Fiction
Peru is also home to one of the most mysterious finds in human history, the Nazca Lines. These are a collection of over 70 human and animal figures formed into the landscape. With over 10,000 lines, some of which is 30 miles long, it remains a mystery as to how these symbols came to be and what their purpose was.
The country of Peru has the second largest bird population in the world, containing over 1,800 species. Nearly half of these creatures migrate across the country at some point in the year, giving birdwatchers a breathtaking view when migration patterns combine.
Head to the northern coast, and you’ll find a beachside paradise where the waves are begging to be surfed. The sport has been practiced here for 2,000 years with archaeological digs uncovering ancient boards. Boasting both the longest left-handed wave and largest left-handed point break, this is one spot you won’t want to pass up if you love to surf.
Here’s one of the fun Peru facts. The country’s national drink is called the Pisco Sour. It is made from a combination of grape brandy, lemons, sugar water, egg whites, and bitters. While there are several variations of this cocktail, it has been a hands-down favorite since the early 1920’s.
Traditions Remain Strong
Despite being modernized, Peru still holds on to ancient customs due to the beneficial yet straightforward ways in which they work. Salt mining, for instance, is done exactly how it was in pre-Incan times.
Water pools into an area called Maras from an underground stream each spring, where it is then directed into an intricate system of channels that allow the water to flow down into pools. As the sun heats the water, salt deposits begin to form on the outer rims of these natural pools where it can be harvested. Each pool is family owned and has been passed down for thousands of years.
The Incas used a unique system to record events, never having developed a writing system. They would hang vertical strings from a horizontal one, trying different knots to represent crop yields, crimes, and significant events. You can still find these unique “calendars” hanging inside the homes of indigenous peoples.
A Diverse Ecosystem
You probably know that Peru is home to various geographical landscapes and marvels, but did you know that it contains 90 different micro-climates? As one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet, Peru is home to 25,000 species of plants and roughly 5,000 different types of animals. In fact, this location ranks:
- 1st in the world for most species of fish
- 2nd for species of birds
- And 3rd for both amphibians and mammals
With so much cultural history, the country is home to dozens of regional delights. However, one of the most traditional dishes found during festivals is the Cuy (Guinea Pig). It is spit-roasted and served whole on a plate with mixed vegetables. While it might not look appetizing, this meal happens to be a healthy alternative to llama meat.
Rainbows in the Earth
Vinicunca Mountain has quickly become a tourist hot spot for its rainbow coloring. Sediments are released during rainfalls, giving the sides of its high-altitude peaks a rainbow of colorful lines. It is one of the few mountain ranges where this natural phenomenon occurs.
Hikers beware, though! The climb is an intense trip and not for the inexperienced. Rainy weather can make the trails hazardous, so be sure to hire a guide before you set off for Rainbow Mountain.
The Boat Ride of a Lifetime
Do you enjoy kayaking? While you surely know that the Amazon river is the longest in the world, very few know that you can head on high-speed kayaking adventure through this river during the rainy season. The forest floor floods as the rains pour down, sending you winding through trees and wildlife in a heart-stopping experience.
While in Peru, you will eventually come across plants as tall as three humans combined. They are called bromeliad and are strangely enough related to the pineapple. If you catch them at the right time of year, each plant blooms up to 8,000 white flowers that look similar to lilies. Each bromeliad only blooms once in its lifetime, dying shortly after.
India holds the record for most practicing shamans in a country, but did you know that Peru is the second? Shamanism has been alive and well in the country for over 3,000 years with citizens lacking access to healthcare often turning to these wise men for aid. Their practices are ancient, plant-based, and often incorporate mind-altering substances.
You Can Find Penguins
Yes, you can find penguins hanging out on the beaches of Peru. The best place to spot them is on a boat ride to the Paracas marine reserve. The species that live here are thought to have gotten lost during migrations from Antarctica and decided that warm beaches were better than the freezing cold.
Coffee Isn’t Cheap
While you can certainly find a cheap cup of coffee in Peru, you can also find the world’s most expensive cup of java. The beans come from the Peruvian Coati Dung, partially fermented thanks to the coati’s digestive track. If you can believe it, people are more than willing to pay upwards of $65 for a cup.
You Can Eat Coca
The coca plant has been used for thousands of years in the Andes mountains to treat everything from fatigue to altitude sickness. It isn’t uncommon to find individuals munching on these stimulating plants for a quick boost. The plant has earned a bad name since the late 20th century, however, because it can be used to make cocaine. Don’t worry, Peru is graciously narcotic free.
The Wonders of Peru
From the amazing to the slightly odd, Peru is filled with astounding facts surrounding its geographical location and vibrant culture. Hopefully, you’ve found these Peru facts entertaining and insightful. It’s amazing what you can learn about just a single area.