If you know what you’re doing, Peru is a fantastic place to buy long-lasting gifts which will be appreciated and cherished by the people you give them to. If you shop in the touristy stores and markets, however, you’re highly likely to get ripped off. Follow this guide to avoid the embarrassment of spending hundreds of dollars on a fake alpaca sweater.
Peru is the world’s second largest producer of silver (after Mexico) and it boasts a long and proud tradition of extremely talented silversmiths. Peru’s largest manufacturer of quality silver jewelry is Ilaria, and has stores through the country and the continent. Ilaria’s range is enormous, and includes everything from traditional Andean pieces to cool contemporary classics.
If you’re after something truly unique you can’t go wrong with Claudia Lira’s (outlets in Lima and Cusco) modern take on classic designs or the pre-Colombian themes which run through Carlos Chaquiras’ designs – find his showroom at Calle Triunfo 375, Cusco.
Alpaca wool products
To the Incas, alpaca wool was considered the ‘fiber of the gods, and it’s easy to see why. It’s softer, warmer and not nearly as prickly as sheep’s wool, and is in an entirely different league to any synthetic textile. Due to the fact that it contains no lanolin, alpaca wool is also hypoallergenic. If it’s good enough for Armani, then it’ll definitely do the trick for you or me.
In the US and Europe, however, it comes with a hefty price tag to match its reputation. In Peru, the source of most of the world’s alpaca wool, you can get excellent quality garments at far more affordable prices. Two upmarket chain-stores with outlets around the country are Sol Alpaca and Kuna (you can’t go wrong at either, and they both have stores in Lima airport’s duty-free) but if you want something absolutely incredible try one of the glitzy boutiques in Cusco – ask your guide for recommendations.
Many visitors to Peru are concerned about the impact their visit could have on widening the wealth gap in what is already a land of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.While most shops claim to give back to the community, some really do. Here are three that stock amazing stuff and will also keep your conscience clear.
in Lima, has an extensive range of Peruvian crafts, textiles and handiwork.
in Cusco is
place to buy traditional Andean textiles.
in Lima: if you can imagine it, they can knit it.
Food and drink
There’s amazing food throughout Peru and although you won’t be able to take a bowl of ceviche or a sack of Andean potatoes home with you, there are a number of things you can safely get through customs.
The Costa Rican chain Cafe Britt (outlets throughout Lima and at the airport) has a dedicated Peruvian range of chocolates and coffees, while Piscos to look out for include Pisco Bianca, Pisco Don Alvaro and Pisco Centenario.