Peru had long been near the top of my list of travel destinations because of its amazing history, incredible landscapes and warm-hearted people. Late last year, as I began planning for a special family vacation to celebrate our oldest son’s graduation from high school, I zeroed in on Peru as our target. Then in December, citizen protests broke out there related to the president’s removal on corruption charges as well as differing opinions regarding the future path for Peru’s leadership, and tourism ground to a halt.
ACIS groups destined for Peru in Spring 2023 were either postponed or moved to new destinations, and plans for our vacation began shifting in other directions. Those new plans never fully materialized; however, and in early April I found myself thinking about Peru again. I reached out to our supplier based in Lima to ask about conditions on the ground there. Mariana, our main contact, ensured me that the demonstrations had ceased and that a family trip was very much doable this summer.
With that on-the-ground input, we began planning our vacation for late June. Our confidence about the trip was further bolstered when the US State Department adjusted its travel advisory for Peru on June 1 down to a Level 2 (the same advisory currently in place for Costa Rica, France, Spain and Germany). We did choose an itinerary that steered clear of the Lake Titicaca region in the south, where the protests had been most widespread, figuring a cautious approach made sense. Otherwise, we booked a trip that closely resembled ACIS’ Culture and Community in Peru educational travel program and took off on June 21.
The ten days that followed exceeded our expectations in every possible way. We felt safe in every place that we visited and were greeted by guides and tourism providers that were genuinely ecstatic to see us after having lost almost all of their international visitors in three of the last four years (two due to Covid and one because of the protests). In Lima, we witnessed two small and completely peaceful gatherings outside of government agencies – nothing different than I would see on the streets on any given day during the four years I lived in Washington, D.C. – and outside of the capital we encountered no protests or signs of protest whatsoever.
What we did see was a country that is rightly proud of its past and focused on how to make its future even better. The consensus in that regard seemed to be a focus on strengthening access to education and encouraging civic engagement. Amen to that.
Our days spent in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cuzco and Rainbow Mountain were magical and provided our two teenagers with a chance to experience a new culture, practice their Spanish and even hang out with their parents a bit. Crowds were sparse, with some signs that international tourism was taking root again. Having experienced it myself with my most cherished people, I can say enthusiastically that nothing should stand in your way of returning to Peru ASAP if you’ve been thinking about a trip there with your students or family.
Muchas gracias to Mariana and Harold (our trip organizers), Sheyla, Breytzi and Jonatan (our primary guides) and Max (our driver extraordinaire) for the trip of a lifetime. I’m certain the same awaits you once you head to the land of the Incas as well!