Spend your next Christmas in Peru

Terra Explorer
December 23, 2021

Although to some, niveous weather is the sustenance of the holiday spirit, to others it is a (sad) reminder that summer is out of the agenda. Is that reason enough to hop on a plane and flight down the Equator? Maybe yes, maybe not. Still, it is fun to muse on the idea of newer warmer iterations of a holiday thought to be static, perennial. 

But why just imagine? After all, millennials coined “you only live once” (read: #yolo) to remind themselves to seize the fresh and the new. Perhaps, there is some wisdom hidden in the overused 2010s hashtag and veering off-piste could, for once, be a good idea? 

Where, then, should you buy the tickets to? Well, at Terra Explorer we might be a little biased, but Peru is a great first choice. This nation has it all: aquamarine beaches, Amazon rainforests, and even cold Andean cities where there is that Christmassy weather—not snow, but enough hail and rain to take wistful minds back to more familiar places.

We listed a few of the reasons to visit this South American gem —there is more to it than faultless weather and ancient citadels— from cuisine to art, to family-friendly outdoor adventures

Surfing Paradise

Yes, we know that the idea of tuning Mariah Carey’s holiday anthem might be, um, a little out of place at the beach—a small concession to be made. But we assure you, it won’t really matter once you’re facing the light-blue waves of Northern Peru. Aware of this, locals (and Google propelled tourists) usually swarm to the better-known destinations Mancora and Zorritos, especially for New Year’s eve. 

As much as we are into the travel-like-a-local mindset. And, as much as we know these spots most likely won’t disappoint you. It is our duty as travel advisors to tell you: Maybe forgo these in favor of less crowded locations if you don’t fancy yourself a party animal. Head to Chicama, instead.

One thing about Chicama: very long waves. In fact, they are the longest left waves in the world. This is an obligatory stop for those familiar with surfing—or familiar with the joy of just laying on a beach chair for hours on end. Either way, when resolving on some summer holidays, Chicama is the way to go. Did we mention that we’re talking about the country housing Machu Picchu? Because if we did not, now you know you can make this a two for one trip. 

 

New flavors

Peruvian cuisine has gingerly but surely climbed up the global gastronomic ladder next to its Italian, Cantonese, and French counterparts. Its chefs and restaurateurs are collecting accolades on top of accolades; mainly because Peruvian dishes are the right mix of a multitude of culinary traditions: Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, and Indigenous. 

Although we could endlessly write on the subject in hand, we want to destine these lines to a more in-theme topic: Christmas banquets. Turkeys are on the holiday menu, too—they have virtually taken over the world. But besides the familiar poultry and the apple sauces, Peruvians tend to be more creative with the “sides of” which vary from household to household. Expect the unexpected: broad beans, avocados, onions, parsley… They are not afraid of vegetables, herbs, or spices.

But what stays the same is the ever-present panettone and hot chocolate—delicious Amazonian chocolate. No matter if you’re in the most rural of hamlets, families will, too, religiously have it for Christmas Eve. What are panettones, you might ask? And aren’t they Italian? Yes, they are Italian, further evincing the melting pot that is Peruvian cooking. And to answer the first question, the jury is still out on whether it is more of a bread or a cake; but it is, for sure, one great use of cured dough, sugar, butter, raisins, and candied fruits. 

Family-Friendly Adventures

Christmas is a time for family and friends, but mostly family. So it would make sense for a late-December trip to be, um, attuned to parenting woes, or shall we say needs. But that shouldn’t be synonymous with restraining from adrenaline-filled activities. Instead, point your party to some age-inclusive adventures through remote landscapes. 

And, yes, rafting could be a little bit reckless for a child. But its more tamed cousin, kayaking, can be the perfect substitute. It surely won’t be as impactful on the nervous system, but it’ll still be a source of great memories. Plus, only in Peru can you have the perfect blend of outdoor activities and more traditional cultural outings

Besides trekking and camping —which can be too much for the little ones— biking and horse riding are great ways of taking in the Peruvian outdoors with the kids.

Artisan & Pottery Galore

Nativity scenes are huge in Peru, in Cusco especially, people go all out. The erstwhile Inca capital is home to some of the most heralded artisan studios in Peru, one of them, Hilario Mendivil. They have a tradition for sculpting religious figures with elongated necks, mimicking the statuesque vicunas which are native to the Andean regions. 

Their shop—and a multitude of other great crafters’ shops—sits along San Blas, a street known for its artists, artisans, and the subsequent bohemian aura they all collectively radiate. There, one can not only observe but learn and take pottery classes from the ones enlivening these traditions, like Julio Gutierrez. He is a living legend among Peruvian ceramists. His work invokes techniques and aesthetics dating back to colonial times, which would be lost without him and his pairs. 

Propelling these artisans: a feral demand for religious figurines on Christmas. And so, days before the 25th, the main square of Cusco turns into a hectic market with the sole purpose of commercializing the props needed for the perfect—and most exuberant—nativity scene. This is a must-see stop if you’re looking for the best of the best, or if you just want to join the local frenzy. The fair is called Santuranticuy, which somewhat translates to “get me a saint”.

Well, there you go, some of the reasons (besides Machu Picchu) to visit Peru on Christmas. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Go dig on our website, get inspired, and let’s start designing your next family luxury vacation to this southern gem.


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