As a traveler, you can do a lot to help ensure that tourism in Peru remains a positive experience for everyone. The following guidelines offer suggestions for low-impact and culturally sensitive travel in Peru:
Respect Endangered Species – We ask you not to purchase endangered flora and fauna products that may be offered for sale. In many cases wildlife products that are offered for sale in popular tourist locations cannot be taken through customs on your return home. Avoid contributing to illegal or detrimental trade in wildlife by not purchasing:
- Sea turtle products (shell or meat)
- Macaw feathers or handicrafts made with anything from the Macaw
- Animal skins or any handicraft related to the death of animals
- Sea shells- which may have been taken from the sea while still inhabited by living animals
- Musical instruments made from animal products (ie armadillo shells)
- We also ask you not purchase original Inca pottery, textiles or artifacts. Replicas can be found in throughout the markets in Peru
Litter and Waste – Pollution and waste management is a serious problem in Peru. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for many things; don’t be shy in suggesting that it isn’t needed. Even though locals may not use rubbish bins in the street because they know that someone else who’s job it is to clean the street will pick it up, please set an example by disposing of rubbish into the bins. In some places bins are scarce, and rubbish may have to be carried with you until a suitable disposal opportunity. Many locals are unaware
or ignorant of the implications of littering. Our aim is to educate by example, rather than through lecturing.
Bottled water is safe in Peru, and the locals find many ways to re-use and recycle the bottles. Instead of putting these in the bin, leave empty bottles in a convenient place for someone to collect and re-use.
Protect local water systems – Use only biodegradable soaps and shampoos while camping. Never throw trash or waste into rivers or lakes, as these are main sources of water for local communities.
Respect Cultural Differences – Local customs and traditions may be different from your own. Take the time to learn what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Things are done differently in Peru, which is why we love it! Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences and not try to change them for your own benefit or comfort. The traveler who wishes
to have a happy and successful trip in Peru should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Demanding impatient tourists do not earn respect. Patience, courtesy and smiles are virtues that open many doors.
Etiquette – There are a few general codes of behavior that apply in Peru.
-When introduced to someone it is polite to at least shake hands. When greeting someone you are already familiar with, it is customary to shake hands (man to man) and to ‘kiss’ – ie touch cheeks on the right hand side, and make a kissing noise (man to woman and woman to woman). When saying goodbye to a friend the kiss is less customary unless it is a farewell.
-When joining a queue (often seen just as a crowd of people), ask who is last in the queue by saying “Ultimo?”. The person who is last in the queue (before you) will raise their hand. When the next person arrives to join the queue they will also ask “Ultimo?”, and you should raise your hand and say “Yo!”, to indicate that you were the last person to join the queue before they arrived.
-Use pleasantries such as ‘por favor’ and ‘gracias’ when you feel appropriate.
-If they are in good taste, accept ‘piropos’ (compliments given by strangers in the street) by ignoring or by saying ‘gracias’ rather than feeling threatened or reacting with scorn.
Take Photos with Care – Always ask permission to take photos of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. If you do take a photo, offer to send copies back to them and make sure to follow through with your promise. If your subject wants immediate compensation in return for the photo taken, offering a piece of fruit or bread, or a souvenir from your home are ways to do it.
Learn a few phrases – Learning about the customs and a few local words and phrases can go a long way and is appreciated by the Peruvians. It also makes your interactions more meaningful and memorable.
Giving gifts – We discourage offering money to people begging on the streets. This promotes further dependency and encourages the practice, which will in turn lead to unpleasant experiences for other travelers. Instead, we would suggest offering a piece of bread or fruit. Perhaps you could offer postcard from your home, or a small pin etc. Often time children in rural communities are less fortunate than those in the city. We recommend you bring small toys, dolls, jump ropes etc not to exceed usd$5.00 in value.
Support local artisans – Support local artists and artisans by purchasing locally made goods. Many communities sell handmade crafts that you may purchase while on tour. You may also ask your Tour Leader for recommendations about where to find local markets, stores and cooperatives.