Peru, a magical, one thousand-year-old country, has an uncommon diversity and wealth in the world and offers endless alternatives and the possibility of living a unique experience: history, culture, nature, adventure and much more in one destiny. Although the word Peru inevitably and almost immediately brings to mind the images of Machu Picchu and the Empire founded by the Incas, its roads make it possible to get to know the impressive archaeological heritage bequeathed by older civilizations that bear witness to their art, customs, rites and development.
Below is some important and useful information to ensure you have the best journey possible.
It is not required for citizens of most countries in America and Western Europe. However it is always advisable to check with the Peruvian diplomatic representation in your country for current information.
Peru’s huge geographic area justifies its 28 types of climate. It generally has mild weather, without heavy rainfall in the winter or excessive heat in the summer, which means it can welcome visitors all-year round. This is the case of the capital city, Lima, where the mean temperature reaches 25°C in the summertime and winter is characterized by grey, humid and cloudy days, with temperatures ranging between 12 and 15ºC.
Three climatic areas may be distinguished, corresponding to the three geographic areas of the Peruvian territory:
- In the summertime, Peru’s subtropical coast exceeds 29ºC, while winter, spanning from June to September, is humid and rainy with temperatures around 14ºC.
- In the highlands, the climate is cold and dry, and temperature ranges between 9 and 18°C, according to the time of the day: the sun usually shines every morning of the year, but temperatures drop to 5ºC in the evening.
- Inland, Cusco has a mild temperate climate with dry winters and warm summers. Temperature ranges between 18°C in the daytime and 8°C in the evening and early morning.
What to pack
Given the variable weather we’re likely to experience as we travel through Peru you will need clothes for hot weather as well as a warm, waterproof jacket. Pack light, and remember the basic essentials: camera and attachments; a good pair of lightweight binoculars; adaptor plugs; toiletries including insect repellent and sunblock; medications and prescriptions; extra reading glasses; sunhat; and notebook or journal. For the Amazon it’s wise to pack tropical apparel – always wearing long-sleeved lightweight cotton clothes (not to keep you warm but to protect against insects for walks through the jungle along with waterproof boots or sneakers and absorbent socks.
We will be at high altitudes on our journey and you may wish to speak to your doctor about how this may affect any existing medical conditions. You might also want to discuss precautions available to you to avoid the inconveniences that altitude causes to some people. Andean areas such as Cusco, located 3,400mts. /11,200 feet above sea level and Machu Picchu is located at 2,400 mts. / 8,000 feet.
TRAVELLING WITH CPAP OR OTHER MEDICAL MACHINES
- Inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or small cruise ships.
-Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
-Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
-Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
-Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
-Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
Telefónica del Perú (The Peruvian telephony company) offers prepaid telephone service cards with different values that may be acquired at supermarkets and newspaper stands.
Most Hotels and Restaurants have WIFI connection but the reliability can be variable.
Peru has two official languages: Spanish and Quechua. English is spoken in hotels and the main tourist shops. All our guides and representatives are bilingual (Spanish/English).
Peru’s time is -5 GMT. Peruvian time is 2 hours behind that in Argentina and Brazil, and has the same time as Venezuela and the Eastern area of the United States (Miami).
Currency and Money
The Peruvian currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.). As in most cases, this is a decimal system (100 cents = 1 Nuevo Sol). Coins = 10, 20, and 50cents, 1, 2 and 5 Nuevos Soles; the existing paper bills are: 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Nuevos Soles. The exchange rate against the US Dollar varies and most hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments accept US Dollars. If you want to exchange your money for local currency, we advise you to do this at the banks or ask your hotel reception desk. For safety purposes, never exchange with those people who offer this service in the streets. Most well-known international credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and VISA) are widely accepted by most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Gratuities to drivers, guides or rangers etc. Our local travel service providers are paid well and fairly for their work. However, it is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to factor in a contribution of around USD10 per day.
How much money is a very difficult question obviously as all our spending patterns are different but there are a few things to be aware of which will help you decide.
1/ Our hotels will accept credit cards as a form of payment and in many cases will also exchange money for you.
2/ In many small shops or stalls they do not accept cards so some amount of cash is useful if you wish to buy gifts.
3/ We will be able to get you to a bank or money exchange during the trip should you need one. It is easier to get money in Lima and Cusco than it is in Amazonica.
Remember all transport in Peru, all excursions on the itinerary and most meals are already included.
Peru offers a great variety of silver, alpaca and vicuña wool goods, and several pima cotton garments. Peru produces a variety of crafts that are highly valued worldwide. Original antiques (huacos, pottery, Colonial paintings, Inca and pre-Inca textiles, metal artifacts, etc.), which could be considered cultural heritage, cannot leave the country.
Peruvian cuisine is very varied and can be spicy. Some of the typical dishes are: Ceviche (raw fish marinated in key lime juice), Ají de Gallina (shredded chicken cooked in a sauce made with milk, bread and chili), Anticuchos (beef heart and meat brochettes marinated in a spicy sauce), among many other possibilities. Do not forget to drink Pisco Sour, a cocktail drink prepared with Pisco (Peru’s flagship grape brandy), key lime juice, egg whites and gomme syrup. We advise you to make the most of your visit by enjoying the local and international cuisine prepared in Peru… you’re in for many culinary treats!
You should drink bottled water only.
Peru has a 220VAC / 60Hz current across its territory. Most hotels have an 110V plug in the bathroom to use an electric shaver, but not for travel irons or hair dryers.
Safety and Security
As in all large cities worldwide, there is a high pickpocketing rate. For this reason, we advise you to take money and credit cards in belts, preferably do not carry a wallet. Hotels offer a safety box service and we suggest that you put your valuables, jewels (or preferably leave these at home), passports and airplane tickets in them. Be cautious when you carry handbags, cameras, and be extremely careful in crowded places, such as markets, train stations, public squares, etc. If in doubt, ask your guide or at your accommodation for safety guidelines.