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5 Top Gift Ideas For Your Peru Vacation
Most people who travel to Peru will probably want to buy some gifts to take home with them to remind them of their Holiday in Peru. I’ve put together a shortlist of 5 alternative (and reasonably priced) gift ideas you might want to consider.
You will notice when you arrive in the city of Cusco on your way to Machu Picchu that you will be overwhelmed by street vendors trying to sell you all kinds of things. You’ll soon learn to say ‘no gracias’ as you walk the many cobbled streets of the historic centre, with locals approaching you trying to sell you anything from finger puppets to large alpaca rugs.
Many of the goods you see packed in the shops around the Plaza de Armas are mass produced items, some made in Peru but most are imported from Bolivia where factories mass produce items for the tourism market only.
Most of the items on offer are low quality and cheap, but there are some bargains to be had, and taking the time to look around may land you a great gift that you will treasure for years to come.
From an insider who lives in Cusco, here are my top 5 tips for a quality gift alternative for your holiday in Peru.
1) Baby Alpaca Clothes
Alpaca wool is mainly used in Peru for the production of high quality clothing, and was widely used in the United States and Europe before the invention of fleece. Located around the colonial center of Cusco you will find many quality shops selling Alpaca clothing. Stores like Kuna, Sol Alpaca, Galaria Latina and Alpaca Treasure are real retailers of alpaca products. Baby Alpaca is the softest of the materials available and is clearly superior in quality to regular alpaca products. Although some items of clothing are quite expensive, smaller items such as gloves and scarves are quite affordable (US$20 – 30) and make great elegant gifts. Avoid street stalls and smaller shops as they will happily claim that the material is baby alpaca (even with tags), but in reality it is something completely different.
2) handmade Peruvian jewelry
Jewelry is another item you’ll see for sale on almost every street corner in Cusco. The quality of the items can vary greatly, and it is often difficult to determine whether the price they are trying to charge is right, or too much. So where do you go for quality jewelery that you know won’t turn green as soon as you get it home? I recommend you might want to check out Ilaria, an Italian jewelry store that specializes in products made only of silver. All the items of jewelery for sale are handmade in Peru at the Ilaria factory in Lima, and each piece is unique. Although the shop sells very expensive items such as large mirrors and candle holders etc, there is also a selection of very nice smaller items, such as rings, earrings and pretty bracelets. I have picked up a lovely piece of jewelery there from around US$30 – 50. Handmade in Peru by an Italian designer – what could be nicer! The main store can be easily found on the main plaza of Cusco or at LarcoMar in Lima.
3) Unique Handmade Peruvian Pottery
In Urubamba in the Sacred Valley is the family business of Seminario, a Peruvian pottery company that produces handmade and painted one-off items. The owner Pablo and his wife have together produced beautiful pieces of unique pottery for the Peruvian tourist market for years, and are now world famous exporting their brightly colored products all over the world. On the main plaza of Cusco you can go to their flagship store (near Peru Rail and McDonalds) where you can browse through the many pieces of beautiful items for sale. Small gifts cost no more than US$ 15 – 20 and include cups, plates, picture frames, ashtrays and jugs etc. maybe a really nice big fruit bowl.
4) Ayacucho Style Knitting
Different regions of Peru specialize in different things! Ayacucho is famous for its style of hand-knitted products that can make excellent gifts. Although not the easiest product to find among the mountain of other products woven within the streets of Cusco, it is worth the time to look around. Ayacucho knitted products are usually knitted from alpaca and regular sheep wool, and are brightly colored with features that stand out from the background material. A cushion cover will set you back US$ 50 – 75, but smaller items such as a small purse can be bought for US$ 10 – 15. One of the best shops in Cusco can be found that sells the these products in the same inner courtyard as the well-known Cicciolina restaurant. As you enter the courtyard from Calle Triunfo go to the far right corner.
The ultimate Peruvian holiday gift idea is something you may not even have heard of before! Peru, especially the regions of Lima, Ica, Pisco and Arequipa are famous for a type of white brandy – called Pisco. Not widely available in North America or Europe, this strong spirit makes a perfect gift idea and can easily be found in any supermarket for US$ 15 per bottle. Impress your friends with the traditional Pisco Sour cocktail, or mix it with a can of peaches in syrup to create a sweet and delicious party drink.
I hope you like my alternative gift ideas that I have suggested. If you have an idea that you think is better, let me know! I am always open to great suggestions and ideas.
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