Understanding The Keys of Peruvian Culture: Landscape and Diversity

Why Peru? Why EdOdyssey?

Peru has become one of South America’s most popular countries to visit because of its unique, natural beauty and cultural diversity. As you consider places to study, or travel, in South America then you might ask yourself: what makes Peru worth exploring? Why study abroad with EdOdyssey?

Mountain & River Landscape - Peru

First off, we come from teaching backgrounds as bilingual and trilingual educators and we’ve all enjoyed our own experiences both studying and working in Peru ourselves. Furthermore, our desire to share Peru’s allure with the world comes from our own life-changing experiences there because we believe that it will change yours too. Through our customized study exchange programs, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on learning both from EdOdyssey staff comprised of both internationals and locals with whom we’ve developed relations over five years of existence.

Based on our collective experiences, we want to give you a sense of the country’s temperate climate and diverse landscape to best prepare you for your time abroad. From beautiful beaches to high mountains, you’ll have the opportunity taste some of the most delicious food from both the land and the sea.

Additionally, you’ll get to collaborate with locals at Peruvian schools and participate in cultural activities across the country. Our study abroad exchanges goes at capturing the heart of Lima, Cusco, and places in between as we first help you get a better idea about what type of weather you can expect while in Peru!

Climate in Peru

In general, the Peruvian climate tends to be temperate, especially along the coast. More specifically, Lima has high humidity which can make the temperature reading deceptively low or high depending on the season. Additionally, when it “rains” according to people in Lima, it tends to be more of a light shower or a mist with some clouds.

Along those same lines, these the clouds can be more transparent and feel brighter at times. For instance, if you read the weather report for Lima and go outside, you will probably either be slightly warmer or slightly colder based on clouds, rain and breeze from the ocean. The differences of seasons in the southern hemisphere tend to be opposite of our seasons (American winter = Peruvian summer) but we want to explore the different seasons so you can know what to expect in Peru so check out the graphic and in-depth explanation of the seasonal differences below!

Climate in Peru

First off, the Peruvian summer (December - February) in Lima has temperatures that go above 80ºF (26ºC) but tend to not go much higher. There tends to be less cloud cover so definitely bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock if you go to the beach. Remember, you’re closer to the equator so the sun feels stronger than what you probably feel back home!

Later on, the fall months (March - May) feel like an enjoyable transition with cool temperatures and an enjoyable breeze. When temperatures go below 60ºF (18ºC), Peruvians start wear sweaters at night after the sun goes down.

Afterwards, Peruvian winter (June - August) typically doesn’t go below 50º F (10º C), but temperatures can feel colder than listed on weather reports. In Lima, there tends to be some high level of moisture and cloud cover to go along with a breeze and “rain”, or mist, that tends to be lighter but can change.

Toward the end of the year, during Peruvian spring months (September - November), the weather transitions slowly from winter to summer. Along the coast, the clouds and coldness dissipate with the rain as the months on but the humidity and moisture remain strong factors that dictate the feel of the weather. A light jacket can never hurt as the breeze, humidity and sun dictate the type of temperature that you’ll feel at any given time of day.

Andes Mountains - Peru

Please remember, the weather patterns described previously mainly describes Lima but the other two other main regions in Peru follow a similar, general weather pattern from the Pacific Ocean to the western side of the Andes. There are the highlands in Andes mountain range and the jungle that’s location more inland on the eastern side of the Andes. In Cusco, the capital of the Incas, you’ll see what it’s like to live in the highlands, and although the weather follows the general trends, but it tends to be chillier with less humidity due to high altitude.

Located in the highlands, Cusco and its altitude takes you to over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) above sea level, according to Britannica. Fun fact: that’s basically twice as high as Denver aka “The Mile High City”! We recommend drinking plenty of fluids and getting a good night sleep ahead of time. When you travel with EdOdysssey, we take our time the first day that we arrive into the city so that everyone can adjust to the altitude and absorb the cultural and physical differences between the two major Peruvian cities!  

Cultural and Physical Landscape

You’ll get the opportunity to explore the coast and the highlands so that you can gain see some of the best that Peru has to offer to enjoy an unforgettable time abroad!  Peru’s diverse landscapes and populations make it stand out amongst the other South American countries.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Andes mountains, EdOdyssey will take you on a journey to see Peru’s mixing pot of cultures from all around the world. Immigrants have flocked from Asia and African to live and join local populations, especially in Lima, while the indigenous tribes have continued their ancient traditions in the highlands near Cusco.

Traditional Attire - Cusco, Peru Region

In addition to having you see more of Peru’s native population in Cusco, you’ll enjoy learning about how local people in Lima have fused aspects of different cultures. Immigrants who have come to Peru and now call it home, have incorporated African, Asian and European cultures into Peru’s indigenous culture. As centuries have passed, the country has formed its special cultural identity that has evolved and created it’s unique music, gastronomy, and culture as it is today. As these cultures have come, they’ve needed to learn and adapt to the local languages.


Peru’s Languages

Spanish is the official language that is spoken in the vast majority of the country with over 25 million speakers. Peru is one of the over 20 countries that speak Spanish but outside of the major metropolitan areas, and more inland, Peruvians also speak Quechua and Aymara.

Quechua is an indigenous language in the southeastern portion of Peru with over three million speakers, according to The Economist. The tribes in the area surrounding Cusco speak Quechua, and there’s recently been a government push to keep the language alive and to spread it with a news channel in Quechua that first aired in December 2016.

Aymara is the language of various indigenous tribes across southern parts of Peru as well as parts of Chile and Bolivia with over a million speakers, according to Britannica, and had its first broadcast air in April 2017.  

Major Events

Mistura is one of the biggest culinary festivals in all of South America. In Lima, during beginning of September each year, the city hosts over one hundred venders from across South America, and a few from around the world, that put their best food and drink for consumption. This gastronomic spectacle invites and includes everyone from chefs to farmers, and customers, to embrace food from around the world. These vendors sell typical Peruvian drinks, such as their world-famous pisco, and almost any type of seafood, meat, vegetable and fruit with intriguing combinations that focus on citrus, sweet, sour, spicy, and rich flavors or combine these flavors with homemade ingredients from across South America, and the world.  

Woman in Traditional Outfit - Peru

Fiestas Patrias take place July 28th and July 29th to commemorate the country’s shift away from the Spanish Empire. The first day, July 28th, pays tribute to both José de San Martin and Simon Bolivar who were both Latin American liberators in the mid-19 century. The next day, July 29th, celebrates the official separation of Peru from the Spanish Empire and the official establishment of the Republic.

World Cup Trophy - Soccer Ball
World Cup Match

Sports

Without a doubt, and to no surprise, soccer reigns as Peru’s most popular sport. Their rival against their neighbor, Chile, seems like a competition against brothers who want to show who’s the best on the Pacific coast of the South American continent.

Peru’s qualification for the World Cup inspired a country that saw their first qualification for the big tournament after a thirty year absence. In Moscow, the site of the games, they joined one of the toughest brackets that included top-ranked Denmark and France. Although they competed hard and showed tremendous heart from the start, both respective matches were close loses for the white and red as they lost each game 1-0. Despite an inspired victory against Australia that they won 2-0, they got cut going into the second round of the tournament.

Although competitive on a national level, locals enjoy playing for fun as well and you’ll get a chance to play against locals! As a part of your trip with EdOdyssey, you’ll get a chance to play soccer against local volunteers as a part of EdOdyssey’s Day of Service that offers volunteering at a local orphanage in Lima’s metropolitan area.  

Playing The Cajón

Music

In Peru, there is a unique combination of percussion, string and wind instruments that indicate different parts of Peru’s roots that go from indigenous to both European and African influences as well. The percussion instruments, such as the cajón (see to the right), played a major role in focusing on the power and rhythm of music that the African slaves brought with them to Peru. The European-style string instruments that the Spanish brought with them highlighted more melody and harmony that you can see in The Peruvian National Anthem. The wind instruments, such as the Andean flute and panpipes, show the variation of both soothing and sharpness of Peru’s indigenousness music that students learn about in school.

In the past, we’ve gone to a local elementary school in Lima to learn how Peruvians learn about their rich musical history. Beyond music theory, we’ve seen how they learn through experiential learning and actually learn through playing musical games to work on their rhythm. In the school, the students play eventually play songs on instruments like the cajón, and we want you to learn about it and feel it.

As you consider our programs, and an exchange in Peru, we invite you to join our family. We’ve come together to share what we love about this beautiful country with you. We believe that travel brings people together and changes them for the better, and ultimately, those people go on to change the world.

Please fill out an application so we help get you on your way to seeing what Peru has to offer you!


Sources:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Aymara.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 10 June 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/Aymara.

“Independence Day Peru: Everything You Need to Know.” Peru Hop, 12 Sept. 2018, www.peruhop.com/independence-day-peru/.

Mistura Fair Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary In The Historic District of Rimac . Mistura, www.mistura.pe/english-info-mistura-2017/

“Peru's Indigenous-Language Push.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 26 Aug. 2017, www.economist.com/the-americas/2017/08/26/perus-indigenous-language-push.

“Peruvian Music.” Customized Peru Packages - MachuPicchu.org, www.machupicchu.org/peruvian_music.htm.

“Peru.” Republic of Peru, One World Nations Online, www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/peru.htm.