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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 to remind them of their vacation in Peru. I’ve put together a short list 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’ll see packed in the shops around the Plaza de Armas are mass-produced items, some made in Peru, but most imported from Bolivia where factories mass-produce items just for the tourism market.
Most of the items on offer are low quality and cheap, but there are some bargains to be had and taking your time to look around can land you a wonderful gift that you will treasure for years to come.
From an insider living in Cusco, here are my top 5 tips for a quality alternative gift for your Peru vacation.
1) Alpaca baby clothes
Alpaca wool is mainly used in Peru for the production of high quality clothing and was widely used in the US and Europe before the invention of wool. 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 sellers of alpaca products. Baby Alpaca is the softest material available and is significantly higher in quality than regular alpaca products. Although some clothing is quite expensive, smaller items like gloves and scarves are really quite affordable (US$20 – 30) and make great stylish gifts. Avoid street stalls and smaller shops as they will be happy to claim that the material is baby alpaca (even with labels) when in fact 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 decide if the price they are trying to charge is right or too much. So where do you go for quality jewelry that you know won’t tarnish once you get it home? I recommend that you might want to check out Ilaria, an Italian owned jewelry store that specializes in products made purely from silver. All jewelry items 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 really lovely smaller items such as beautiful rings, earrings and bracelets. I have gotten a really nice piece of jewelry there from about US$30 – US$50. Handmade in Peru by an Italian designer – what could be more beautiful! The flagship store can easily be found in Cusco’s main square or at LarcoMar in Lima.
3) Unique handmade Peruvian pottery
In Urubamba in the Sacred Valley is the family business of Seminario, a Peruvian ceramic company that produces handmade and painted one-off items. Owner Pablo and his wife together have been producing beautiful unique ceramic pieces for the Peruvian tourism market for years, and are now world famous exporting their brightly colored products all over the world. In the main square of Cusco you can go to their flagship store (next to Peru Rail and McDonalds) where you can browse lots of beautiful items for sale. Small gifts cost no more than $15 – $20 and include glasses, plates, picture frames, ashtrays and pitchers, etc. If you want to splurge a little, then $100 will get you a really colorful three-piece wall hanging or maybe a really nice fruit bowl.
4) Ayacucho style knitting
Different regions of Peru specialize in different things! Ayacucho is famous for its style of handmade knitted products, which can make great gifts. Although not the easiest products to find among the mountain of other woven products within the streets of Cusco, it is worth looking around. Ayacucho knits are typically woven from alpaca and regular sheep wool, and feature bright colors that stand proud of the backing material. A pillowcase will set you back $50 – $75, but smaller items like a small purse can be had for $10 – $15. One of the best shops in Cusco that sells these products can be found in the same inner courtyard as the famous Cicciolina restaurant. As you enter the courtyard from Calle Triunfo, head to the right corner.
The ultimate Peru vacation 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 – known as Pisco. Mostly unavailable in North America or Europe, this hard liquor is a perfect gift idea that can easily be found in any supermarket for US$15 a bottle. Impress your friends with the traditional Pisco Sour cocktail, or mix it with a pot of peach 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, please let me know! I am always open to suggestions and great ideas.
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