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4.3 out of 5 stars16
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 10 April 2007
In my opinion Rough Guide is the best English language guide on the market. It gives a more balanced and realistic view point, with a great historical and cultural reference section, and is less prone to hyperbole than Lonely Planet. Having taught English in Peru for over six months and having used several guides I would I definitely recommend this for longer stays in the country. It is during longer stays however that you notice some discrepancies between the content of guides and what you experience first-hand, and I have tried to summarise this here.

1) Crime. Reading The Rough Guide advice on crime may make you nervous about coming, especially the advice it gives on Cusco and Arequipa. The book focuses on crime in these tourist hot spots but not, inexplicably, Lima - which is far more dangerous. Although theft can be a problem, normal precautions for travelling in developing countries or big cities apply. There is no need to be overly paranoid about it so long as you keep your valuables discreet (if you need to carry them at all) and don't go exploring any dark alleys late at night. I had no problems with theft over seven months, but I met people who had (but in those instances this was largely due to naivety or carelessness). I think violent robbery on tourists/backpackers is pretty rare.

2) Public transport. The Rough Guide information on long-haul buses is pretty lame. There are a dizzying number of bus companies offering pretty much the same service, and the price is usually negotiable. However, there is only one bus company to my knowledge that offers a direct service to destination, and that is Cruz del Sur. All the others I tried (and I tried many) operated like enormous 'collectivo' taxis that picked up and dropped off passengers wherever they wanted. The buses are often invaded at stops by small armies of peddlers, salesmen, storytellers and beggers. Often we would find, having bought a full price ticket at the bus station, the bus would pull out of the terminal and tout for passengers in the street for half an hour. Local buses in and around Cusco however are efficient and safe, and offer a cheap and effective means of exploring the region. It is not necessary to take a tour to see these sites.

3) Macchu Picchu. All the guide books focus heavily on this, perhaps to the detriment of other sites in the Sacred Valley (i.e, Pisac, Tipon, Chincero, Salinas, Ollantaytambo etc.) which can be reached independently from Cusco. Macchu Picchu suffers from an overload of tourism and hype and can be a let down, especially after the cost of the train or trail, bus to the site, entrance fee and hotel (if you are staying overnight at Aguas Calientes). Expect to fork out around $150 for Macchu Picchu alone - the prices quoted in the guide were quickly outdated and are almost guaranteed to rise again. Of course you are going to go to Macchu Picchu, but don't miss the other sites and villages in the Sacred Valley that offer more opportunities for independent exploration.

4) Food Hygiene. The Rough Guide doesn't make a big enough issue of the terrible food hygiene in Peru. I have travelled widely in the developing world but normal precautions did not prevent some pretty nasty stomach upsets in Peru. There are always some people with the cast iron stomachs that can hack street stall hygiene, but all of my fellow teachers in Cusco were made ill by food at some stage, some of whom had Salmonella and had extended stays in Peruvian hospitals. Take restaurant recommendations from guides and fellow travellers seriously - even an ostentatiously flash, tourist-orientated restaurant can be a risk. Don't be put off eating the raw fish dishes like Cerviche on the coast though - where you will find some of the best, freshest seafood in the world. The fish should have some straight out of the Pacific, and will be naturally cooked in the lemon juice marinade!

5) Desert Coast. Except for Trujillo, Huanchaco, Pisco, Huacachina, Nazca and their surrounding landscapes, there is little to see on the desert coast. It is a poor and industrialised region, and sites of interest are few and far between. For short term trips in the country theses areas are probably not a priority. Some of the Rough Guide's descriptions of the smaller towns were very wide of the mark. 'Chala' for example is described as an attractive little fishing village. It is nothing of the sort. It does get one thing right though - don't under any circumstances go to Chimbote!

6) Jungle. Make sure you pack waterproofs as the tour operators won't advise you to bring them. A torch would be useful too. Don't go skipping around in bare feet and sandles. Small parasites live in the grass and bury under the skin. They then proceed to travel up your leg leaving unpleasant and itchy burrows along the way. This happened to my girlfriend. Literally 'The Green Hell', the jungle is a fearsome but fascinating place, to be taken seriously at all times.

7) LAN airlines. If you are travelling via the States, lock your bag using a TSA-approved padlock. Otherwise lock it anyway. LAN left my bag in Los Angeles and then when it arrived days later there were items missing. This was not an uncommon experience among people I worked with.

That said, it is one of the greatest countries to visit on the planet. Enjoy!
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on 24 February 2005
Having been to Peru, I have several guide books to this wonderful country. This is the one I recommend.

What I like about Rough Guides is that as well as giving you potted information about sights and attractions they are very strong on historical and cultural contexts.
The introduction of the book gives you some 'must sees' and 'when to go' advice. For those interested in the Inca Trail I would recommend going at the end of October/November because this is the end of the high season and is cheaper.
The main part of the book is split up into Peru's different regions. There is a chapter on Cuzco, for example, and the Amazon.
I mainly stuck to the Cuzco section. I used the books recommended trekking agencies for this region and was very
satisfied. At the end of each section there is information regarding train/plane and bus times. I found this essential, and Rough Guides are the best in this respect.
Another reason I liked this guidebook is it's 'reading list' towards the back of the book. In this section, the editor recommends reading material. Using this as a cue I read the Mario Vargas Llosa's brilliant 'Aunt Julia and the Script Writer' which really brought Lima to life.
There is also a short section on Peruvian food and wine. I did not try any of the recipes but I think this is a good idea.

I do have some slight criticisms of the book. It should have a larger section on 'Crimes and annoyances'. People do have problems in Peru, but with common sense you should have a great time. I recommend that you learn a bit of Spanish, do not stand out as a tourist and make yourself aware of scams.
My other criticism is that Rough Guides can sometimes be a bit political and left field. Please, let the reader make it's own mind up!

All in all, I found this guide to be very useful. You can enjoy reading it before your trip to Peru, and as invaluable and entertaining read whilst you are there.

Enjoy your trip!
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on 19 October 2007
I carried both this Rough Guide and the Footprint guide with me on a recent trip to Peru. In comparison, I found that the Rough Guide contained lots of annoying small editorial errors, e.g. a map printed the wrong way up, and was also often factually a bit out of date. However, the descriptions of the sights are covered in much more detail, as is the background info to Peru. It seems to me that the Rough Guide editors have done their homework on Peru, but perhaps not so much "fieldwork", meaning they don't seem to have checked the facts on the ground very thoroughly.

In the end I found it useful to have both guides: the Footprint for accurate travel info and the Rough Guide for more detailed descriptions of the sights.
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on 9 October 2000
I found Rough Guide to Peru to be very useful in my short stay. I stayed in Lima, and went to Cuzco for a few days so i have not used the book to it`s fullest extent. I was staying with Peruvian families while I was there, so I didn't get to check out accommodation over there, but from what other travellers said, the rough guide offers a fairly good description of what most of the hostels are like ( ie, no hot water, uncomfortable beds). One thing I did notice, was that in the guide, when it comes to eating out, the book mentions that for $3 it is possible to eat out and get a three course meal, I managed to get a three course meal for 3 soles, (£0.60) in the back streets of Cuzco, just of the main square in the town centre. This may have been because I was with locals, so i got charged local prices. That's the other thing I noticed about Peru, if you travel around with locals, life is allot cheaper, and also you get treated with allot more respect. Travellers have to pay at least 5 times the price for everything, espeacially taxi`s, hostels and food. The book does not really explain this, I found that allot of travellers stuck out like sore thumbs, because they went round with their back packs and cameras, so they are the first to be attacked, mugged or generally hassled. If you are a traveller, I would strongly recommend finding somewhere to leave your bags, and take a smaller bag out with you to put your camera and guide book in and try and meet some locals especially in Cuzco. This way, you will not only see more of the local sites, but also have a cheaper stay. So over all the rough guide to Peru was very good, and covered most details.
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on 6 August 2005
This travel guide was a great help during my recent stay in Peru. It covers a lot in the way of practicalities, like transport, food and wine, etc. It is also very informative on regions, history and culture. It has a useful reading list for anyone wanting to take further their knowledge of Peru. In actual fact, I think the world of this guide. With one exception. It could include a good section on the language. I tried my Spanish but was not always understood. Particularly in everyday speech they seem to use different expressions. So 4 stars for this guide as it is, 5 if a good language section is added on!
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on 2 December 2009
Many guide books are overly colourful and illustrated,leaving little room for useful information.This one gets the balance right. It is packed with information that you need to know in order to make your trip as safe and pleasant as possible. For example,there is a warning about which areas of Lima to be careful in,especially at night. This information is vital. There are enough illustrations to give you a good idea of what to expect. Nicely laid out text,good pictures,and useful. What more do you need from a guide book? A good buy.
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on 24 April 2012
I am living in the Netherlands and I went back to Peru after 2 years with my boyfriend. Even though I was Peruvian, I decided to take with us a guide in case we needed to book hotels, tours and have maps in the cities we visited. The Maps are very actual (even though the edition is from 2009), the history of the cities and descriptions was also very good. The only thing that I would have chosen for different hotels/hostels and restaurants. But of those you have a lot to chose from in Peru and I would not advise to follow the guide.
For the rest, the prices and recommendations for people who will go to Peru for the first time (regarding security, bargaining, fair prices, etc.) are very good explained. I also compared this edition with a Lonely Planet and the Lonely Planet had the information very dispersed. I am a fan of the Rough Guides and I would recommend it.
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on 5 October 2010
I was very happy with this guide: it contained all the necessary information for three weeks of backpacking (in June 2010) across Peru. All the practical details were very adequate; the prices were up-to-date; the info section on Peru was informative; the restaurants suggested were very good. We also had a Eyewitness guide with us, and while that one was more colourful, the Roughguide is much more comprehensive.
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on 7 November 2010
I bought this book as a gift for my sister as she is travelling to Peru soon. It seems to be a great book, very informative and attractive to look at, and not too big to fit in the luggage! She is very happy with it so far, but it remains to be seen how useful it is whilst she is over there...
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on 7 February 2011
Really useful as it's broken down into regions and easy sections, so the information is really accessible. Unfortunately not very suitcase friendly as it's a bit big.
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