The following quotes about Peru come from a wide range of sources, from acclaimed literary figures to famous fashion photographers and even a few fictional characters.
These quotes aren’t the insipid kind of shtick you’ll find on inspirational images stuck up on Facebook. Most are positive, but don’t expect a procession of glowing reviews of Peru or Peruvian food or Machu Picchu.
And some people quoted here, including Charles Darwin, didn’t seem to like Peru much at all…
Quotes About Peru
“Of course, tourists traveling in their comfortable rail coaches could only glean the vaguest idea of the conditions in which the Indians live, from the fast glimpses they catch as they speed past our train, which has stopped to let them pass. The fact that it was the U.S. archaeologist Bingham who discovered the ruins and expounded his findings in easily accessible articles for the general public, means that Machu Picchu is by now very famous in that country to the north and the majority of North Americans visiting Peru come here. (In general they fly direct to Lima, tour Cuzco, visit the ruins and return straight home, not believing that anything else is worth seeing.”
— Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries
“Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.”
— Hiram Bingham
“A prophet once said ‘Don’t tell me what a man says, don’t tell me what a man knows. Tell me where he’s traveled?’ I wonder about that, do we get smarter, more enlightenment as we travel? Does travel bring wisdom? I think there is probably no better place to find out than Peru.”
— Anthony Bourdain
“After seeing the ruins at Machu Picchu, the fabulous cultures of antiquity seemed to be made of cardboard, Papier-mâché…”
— Pablo Neruda, 1954
“I cannot say I enjoyed the very little I saw of Peru: in summer, however, it is said that the climate is much pleasanter.”
— Charles Darwin, Journal 1832–6 (Darwin was in Lima at the time)
“The only way to handle a Peruvian is to agree with his pessimism.”
— Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express, 1979
“For more than half the year Lima has a peculiar climate. It is never cold enough to have a fire, but usually cold enough to make you wish for one. It never rains, but is never dry; that is to say, it is not wet enough to make one hold up an umbrella, yet wet enough to soak one’s clothes.”
— James Bryce, South America: Observations and Impressions, 1912
“Going to Peru is, well, if you ever have an opportunity in your life to go there, you should do it because it is absolutely mind boggling.”
– Dean Stockwell, actor
“Calica keeps cursing the filth and, whenever he treads on one of the innumerable turds lining the streets, he looks at his dirty shoes instead of at the sky or a cathedral outlined in space. He does not smell the intangible and evocative matter of which Cuzco is made, but only the odor of stew and excrement. It’s a question of temperament.”
— Che Guevara, in a letter to his mother from Cusco in 1953
“I had the right amount of detachment to go back and really appreciate what I had grown up with. There’s a particular style that is very Peru that you don’t see anywhere else; it’s got so many different imprints. When you mix Incan minimalism with the heavy, ornate Spanish Baroque, it is very interesting.”
— Mario Testino, Peruvian fashion and portrait photographer
“Am going to cross Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea Islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come? I guarantee nothing but a free trip to Peru and the South Sea Islands and back, but you will find good use for your technical abilities on the voyage. Reply at once”
— Thor Heyerdahl, from an advert placed by Heyerdahl looking for people to join him on his voyage
“Each crisis seems final, simply because it is new. We are told that the oldest inhabitants in Peru do not cease to be agitated by the earthquakes, but they probably see beyond each shock, and reflect that there are plenty more to come.”
— George Eliot, Middlemarch
“I can never see fashion models,
lean angular cheeks, strutting hips
and blooming hair, without thinking of
the skulls at the catacombs in Lima, Peru.”
— Naomi Shihab Nye, from her poem Morning Paper, Society Page
“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there — with your eyes open — and lived to see it.”
— Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits
“Separating fact and fiction in Inca history is impossible, because virtually all the sources available are Spanish accounts of stories that had already been vetted by the Inca emperors to highlight their own heroic roles. Imagine a history of modern Iraq written by Dick Cheney and based on authorized biographies of Sadam Hussein published in Arabic, and you’ll get some idea of what historians face.”
— Mark Adams, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
“Being Peruvian means to come from the farthest place possible to get to Europe. Peru is the land of the Incas. It was the capital of South America; it was where the Spanish founded their empire and took over the Inca Empire and made it into a colony of Spain.”
— Mario Testino, fashion photographer
“I am humbled beyond belief by the reception here in Lima, Peru, and also by the ongoing welcome. For me, it is incredible – once more. If Chile, Argentina and Brazil are as giving, I shall ask no more and die happy. Peru, Peru – my heart’s lighthouse.”
— Morrissey (just days before being struck down with severe food poisoning in Lima, forcing him to cancel his South American tour)
“The world of cuisine was looking for diversity and they discovered Peru as the country with the most diversity. People wanted to taste what we have in Peru and it was then we decided to become a movement for this change and after a couple of years we came up with a strategy. We decided we will cook as Peruvians to put a value on our own ingredients, culture, traditions.”
— Gastón Acurio, Peruvian celebrity chef and ambassador, in an interview with The Daily Meal.
“Have you ever been to Mexico City and haggled with the locals over souvenirs? Well, in Peru, you had to negotiate like that to get the freshest fish at the market.”
— Nobu Matsuhisa, celebrity chef and restaurateur known for his Japanese-Peruvian fusions.
“There aren’t many of us left where I come from.”
“And where is that?” asked Mrs. Brown.
The bear looked round carefully before replying.
— Paddington Bear
“Since it is impossible to know what’s really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary.”
— Mario Vargas Llosa
“Machu Picchu – A relic of a civilization long gone. But humanity survived, and grew. Was this what Arion had in mind for Metropolis? Paris? Tokyo?”
– Superman, Superman Vol 1 667 (November 2007)
Do you know any other famous quotes about Peru?
If you do, please share them in the comments section below. Thanks!