The 13 Unique & Unmissable Souvenirs to Buy In Peru

29 Jun
Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru
Thursday June 29, 2017 - Posted by to Shopping, Travel Tips

The 13 Unique & Unmissable Souvenirs to Buy In Peru

Peru might be best known for its world-class Inca ruins and picturesque colonial towns, but it’s also a haven for shoppers hoping to find a unique – and affordable – souvenir to take back home. Check out here where to find The 13 Unique & Unmissable Souvenirs to Buy In Peru.

Traditional Peruvian markets and souvenir shops in cities as far ranging as Lima , Cusco , and Arequipa are excellent places to pick up an all-important keepsake or unique gift for loved ones at home who didn’t have the luck of joining you on your trip.

From traditional Andean textiles to totora reed ornaments, and even a bottle of Peru’s famous brandy liquor, an overwhelming array of Peruvian souvenirs are available. Let us help you narrow down your options with our list of our ultimate favorites.

1. Traditional Alpaca wool clothing

When you first step foot in a Peruvian market, these are likely the thing that immediately catches your eye: elaborately spun textiles made from Alpaca wool dyed in a splendid kaleidoscope of colours.

Everything from sweaters to wool hats, sock and scarfs are available in all shape, sizes and hues and it’s understandable why they’re the most popular souvenir gifts to buy in Peru. Not only are they pretty, practical and affordable, but they also help keep you warm on your journey through Peru. What’s more, they’re beloved by the locals; notice how many ladies in the market are wearing thick, woollen socks and heavy, warm hats.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


Coming in all variations and typical Andean knitting patterns, these traditional Peruvian clothes offer the perfect gift to take back home. Find the biggest range in Pisac Market or some of he cheapest prices in Arequipa, where many of these traditional Peruvian handicrafts are manufactured. You’ll also find boutique clothing shops in many cities – although prices will reflect the quality of the items.


  • TIP #1 Buying Baby Alpaca in Peru?
    Don´t get scared if a vendor offers you textiles made
    from “Baby Alpaca”. No little alpaca had to die for your
    sweater. This expression just means that the wool
    is the first cut of an Alpaca, so it is is even softer tham normal
    – and therefore more expensive! However, be aware
    that from tourist markets or street vendors, you’re
    unlikely to get real. High-quality Baby alpaca wool – many are
    made from synthetic fibres in China. Don´t be fooled: read
    our guide to souvenir shopping in Peru for more practical tips.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


2. Peruvian quinoa

If you spent much time in and around Cusco or other mountain regions in Peru, you probably ate quinoa in plenty of meals.

One of the most typical Andean products, this grain-like crop has extensive health benefits and is also easy to use in a variety of different dishes. It also doesn’t weigh very much and is considerably cheaper to buy in Peru than other parts of the world. Expect any friends with culinary ambitions to be particularly impressed by such an authentic present from your journey.


  • TIP #2 Always be sure to rinse quinoa well
    before cooking it. It’s not unusual for tiny stones to
    be buried between the grains – and you certainly don’t
    want to end up biting down on one!


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


Coca candies

These slightly sweet and slightly bitter Peruvian candies make great souvenirs as they’re compact and easy to take in your suitcase.

Made from coca, a plant that was sacred to the ancient Incas for its medicinal uses, these candies also serve well for helping combat altitude sickness – you may have even used them as alternatives to the coca tea or “mate de coca” that is widely drunk in Peru.

They’re certainly an acquired taste but make for a fun gift from South America. You can also buy coca tea bags to use as an infusion when you’re home.


  • TIP #3 Planning on buying coca leaves in Peru?
    Be aware that you may not be allowed to enter your country
    with coca leaves; check your country’s restrictions before
    attempting to do so. If you’re still unsure, it’s far better
    to buy the coca tea bags rather than the leaves.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


Maca powder

Have any foodie friends who just love the latest trends? Maca has hit national headlines in the last few years for its health benefits . However, the ancient Peruvians were far ahead of the time, as this plant has long been used as a natural energizer by people in the Andes.

Mostly sold in powder form, maca is not only rich in minerals and vitamins, but it is also known as a “natural Viagra” for its aphrodisiac powers. However, a small spoon of maca powder daily can also be the perfect natural supplement to make you feel more refreshed and fitter and makes for a great addition to your porridge or smoothie. It also has a balancing effect on the nerves and the human hormone balance, which helps to prevent, fatigue, stress and even depression.

A packet of maca certainly makes a unique souvenir gift.


  • TIP #4 Taking Peruvian maca with you?
    Remember you not allowed to export roots or living plants
    from Peru. Ground Maca is okay, however .


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


5. Peruvian pisco

Starting to wonder how much you’ll miss a fruity pisco sour when you’re finally back home? Why not take a bottle with you and prove to your friends at home that you know a thing or two about
Peruvian cocktails!

Even if you’re not heading over to Pisco, the home of the eponymous, 38-48% spirit, you can still pick up a bottle in most supermarkets around the country or even in duty free in Lima airport.

Give as a gift to a loved one or buy a bottle for yourself and use it as an excuse to invite them over for a “Pisco Sour Night” and show off your pictures of your Machu Picchu tour.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


  • TIP #5 Buying pisco as a souvenir?
    Be aware that some countries impose restrictions on
    the number of litres that you can take back with you.


6. Toros de Pucará

Another popular gift to take home with you from Peru is a Toro de Pucará, or Pucará Bull. These small, ceramic bull figures normally stand sentinel over rooftops in houses in Peru, but can also be used as ornaments inside the house.

Consider buying one for a friend who’s just moved: these bulls are usually a present to new home owners as they’re supposed to bring luck and prosperity. Make sure you select the correct
colour: white represents protection and peace, black signifies wisdom and spirituality, red brings love and romance and yellow is for money.


  • TIP #6 The Toros de Pucará are a gift usually bought
    in pairs, so make sure you pick your two favorites!


7. The Inca Cross

The shape of the Inca Cross (also known as the chakana or la Cruz Andina) is a recurring symbol on any trip in Peru and you’ll likely have noticed this geometric shape, designed like a cross with three steps on both sides and a hole in the center, carved into plenty of ancient Inca ruins.

The Inca Cross symbolizes the belief system at the heart of the Inca culture. The hole in the middle represents the central point of the empire, Cusco. The three-stepped sides have several interpretations, although the most common is that they represent the three stages of Inca life, which include the lower or underworld, Uqhu Pacha (normally represented by the snake), the middle of human world, Kay Pacha (depicted by the puma) and the upper world of the gods, Hanan Pacha (shown by the condor).

You can find this mystical symbol in everything from weaving patterns in Peruvian textiles, paintings and even beautiful jewelry.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


  • TIP #7 Don´t get fooled by street vendors
    or at the markets into paying a high price for jewelry.
    Vendors might tell you what they are selling is “real
    silver”- however, most likely it is not. If you are
    going for a real quality product with silver or gold,
    take a look at a real jewelry shop and don’t buy it
    off the street.


8. Tortora reed ornaments

A trip to the Uros Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca wouldn’t be complete without taking home a totora souvenir; an ornament made from the reeds with which the islands themselves have been built. You’ll notice that on all of the islands that you visit, the indigenous residents have turned to crafting delicate miniature boats and other handicrafts, which can be bought for only a few soles.

Not only do these make for an original souvenir to buy in Peru, but they also help the islanders eke out a living through tourism – something that enables them to continuing living their unique way of life.


  • TIP #8 The islanders also make vibrantly-colored
    textiles that couldn’t be more different in style than those
    on Isla Taquile (see below). Make sure you check out both for
    an introduction to Peru’s jaw droppingly-diverse weaving tradition.


9. Traditional textiles

Few countries have quite the same weaving tradition as Peru, making this South American country the ideal place to buy textiles. Some of the most famous are those from the weavers of Isla Taquile, one of the islands in Lake Titicaca, whose expertise and textile culture dating back thousands of years have led to the island being included on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

It’s hard to find their chumpis (wide belts woven to narrate the island’s history), chullos (knitted hats with earflaps) or their numerous other woven items outside of the island, so make sure you plan a visit to Lake Titicaca before you leave.

In the city of Ayacucho further north – the self-proclaimed capital of crafts – other fascinating Peruvian textiles can also be found. Some of the most captivating are those with “3D” designs,
where the pattern looks as if its escaping from the material – a technique only found in this region.

You can visit the weavers’ workshops and even a museum about this almost 3,000-year-old tradition by walking over to the Santa Ana neighborhood in the southeast side of the city.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


  • TIP #9 Aim to buy directly from the weavers
    themselves to ensure that you’re getting authentic items – not knockoffs
    made somewhere in China. It’s also a great opportunity to speak to the
    artisans and learn more about the incredible weaving processes.


10. Intricately carved gourds

For a truly unique Peru handicraft souvenir, get your hands on an intricately carved gourd, an art form that’s thought to date back a whopping 4,000 years . Their principle purpose of carving was to narrate a story and you can see tales of festivals, romances and folklore depicted in minute detail, all of which is carved by hand using delicate tools to etch out the design.


Top 4 Best Souvenirs to Buy In Peru


Although the best examples of this ancient Peruvian art form are found at the Feria Achkamarca in the village of Cochas Chicos near Huancayo (where you’ll also see the female carvers working on new ones), you can find them popping up in most Peruvian markets around the country.


  • TIP #10 The price of the gourds is dependent
    upon the intricacy of the detailed carved into them and the most
    delicate can sell for over a few hundred dollars. You can expect
    to pay upwards of around 15 soles for most.


11. Decorative retablos

Another seriously must-have souvenir from Peru is a retablo , a decorative wooden box filled with miniature people and objects that was originally placed above an altar and used to depict
religious themes.

Nowadays, they scenes shown inside narrate Peruvian folklore or celebrations and the level of detail and patience that goes into shaping the internal figures is outstanding. You can find them
around the country in more expensive souvenir shops, although they’re originally from Ayacucho, where they’re sold for upwards of 50 soles in the local markets.


  • TIP #11 No one makes retablos quite like
    Silvestre Ataucusi Flores who operates the renowned workshop,
    Casa del Retablo in Ayacucho. You can even join him in his
    workshop to see him modelling the figurines, which are made
    from a mix of gypsum and cooked potato!


12. Pink salt from the Maras Salt Mines

If you visited the Maras Salt Mines (Salinas de Maras) in the Sacred Valley, you’ll likely have come across the region’s special pink salt. Using evaporation, the salt is harvested from these magnificent white pools, a technique that has been used since pre-Inca times.

Although there’s no specific health benefits that you can expect from eating the Maras salt, you can entertain and amaze your loved ones at home by seasoning their food with some pretty pink grains. Prices are cheapest in the shop at the salt mines, but you can generally find it in markets around the country too.


  • TIP #12 Take a tour to the Maras Salt Mines
    and make sure to wander down between the pools (watch your step!)
    for a true sense of their enormous scale and how they’ve been carved
    into the mountainside.


13. Llama dolls

If you loved getting a llama selfie at the top of Machu Picchu or with one in the streets of Cusco, then you’ll love the idea of investing in a llama souvenir. Wow your friends and family with just how cuddly these little creatures are (they are made from real wool, after all) and be sure to buy a couple of keychains for yourself too.


  • TIP #13 Don’t be ashamed to haggle over prices
    if you’re buying more than one llama doll. Of course you don’t
    want to drive prices down too hard (the seller deserves to earn
    a profit on the items) but it’s part of the market experience
    in South America to try your hand at haggling.
    Are you preparing a trip to Peru?


Are you preparing a trip to Peru?

Dos Manos Peru Travel Agency is specialized in Tours en Treks in the Cusco area,
including trips to Machu Picchu Tours and world-renowned treks such as the Inca Trail.
We also lead tours in the undiscovered north of Peru, the coast (Ica, Nazca, Pisco),
Lima and into the Amazone, plus plenty more destination. Get in contact Dos Manos Peru Travel
our trip advisors can help you with any questions you may have.




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