PASSPORT, VISAS AND IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS Back to top
While traveling in Latin America you should always carry your passport or a copy of it on your person (e.g. in a money belt). It is a good idea to bring photocopies of other essential documents (e.g. airline tickets, prescriptions) and store them in a separate location from the originals.
- No visa is necessary for citizens of the United States, Western European countries, South American countries (except Chile and Venezuela), Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months upon your return to your home country.
- When you arrive in Peru you will be given a tourist card (Tarjeta de Embarque) by immigration authorities. This tourist card is valid for 90 days. You are required to produce this card when you leave the country and also if you want to extend your visit past 90 days in Peru. So, don’t lose it! .
- Tourist cards can be renewed at prol. España #700, Lima, Cdra. 3 Arica. You can also renew tourist cards in major towns like Cuzco and Arequipa.
- The usual permitted stay for travelers in Peru is 90 days, but it’s not difficult to renew. You can have a maximum of 3 renewals (30 days each), until a total of 180 days in Peru. Then you must leave the country, to return and begin the process again. Each renewal will cost you US$20.
- An exit ticket is officially required to enter Peru.
- There is a US $20 departure tax on all international flights.
- Reconfirm your tickets more then once, because there is a lot of overbooking.
- Always telephone and double-check on entry requirements, since they change frequently. To do this, call the Peruvian Embassy in your country or ask your travel agent.
SAFETY Back to top
Terrorist activity has affected Peru for many years. However, with the re-establishment of military control there has been much improvement. Dangerous zones still remain because of terrorist and criminal activities, but in general it is safe to travel in Peru. Despite this, it is still a good idea to find out the latest political situation in the different areas before traveling to them.
The following is a list of general precautions:
- Don’t walk alone after dark, and if you travel at night, book with a recommended travel company.
- Bag slashing is probably the most common method of stealing. Be aware at markets, in buses, during festivals, etc. Backpacks are especially vulnerable. We recommend that you use money belts, or neck or leg pouches for money and important documents.
- Ignore people who try to divert your attention by spilling substances on your clothes. They are hoping to distract you long enough to steal from you.
- Don’t display your wristwatch, jewellery or other valuables (e.g. expensive camera). When paying for something, just take out the money you need, and do not display all of your money.
- If a plain-clothed policeman asks to see your documents or money, insist on seeing identification. You shouldn’t have to give him your documents unless you are at a police station. He shouldn’t have to see your money at all.
- When dealing with officials, be respectful, but firm with your rights.
- There have been reports of drug planting. If a narcotics policeman wants to take you to the restroom, or something similar to have your bag searched, insist on taking a witness with you. There is a long prison sentence for drug possession in Peru. Peruvian prisons are not a nice place to be.
- Do not accept candy, cigarettes or drinks from strangers. They may be drugged, and it is very possible that you will wake up hours later, robbed of everything you had with you.
- Ensure that your luggage is locked when traveling by bus or airplane. Don’t leave unlocked valuables in your hotel room.
- Be extra careful around bus terminals in Lima. Take a cab to the station.
- Don’t hitchhike and choose only well-known and established bus companies.
CLIMATE Back to top
The climate varies greatly depending on the geographical region. There are 3 geographical regions in Peru - La Costa or the coast, La Sierra or the mountains, and La Selva or the jungle. You can safely assume that when it is winter on the coast (from April until November) it is summer in the mountains and when it is winter in the mountains (late October until early April), it is summer on the coast. When it is winter in the mountains, it is the rainy season in the jungle. Summer in the mountains means that it is sunny and warm during the day but very cold in the evenings. The weather is dry and the sky is blue. Winter on the coast means that it is cloudy and cooler, but not rainy. During the winter, Lima is covered in fog.
HEALTH Back to top
- Before you start traveling ensure that you’re in good condition and that your teeth are okay.
- Never drink tap water (anywhere in Latin America) unless it has been boiled or treated with iodine (although not too much as iodine can be harmful too). A particular tablet that doesn’t leave any flavor is "Micropur", a Swiss tablet available in drugstores. Bottled water is readily available in Peru.
- Ask your doctor which vaccinations are necessary for travel in Peru. Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A are present, as is Cholera. Those who follow proper food and drink precautions should not be at risk of Cholera. Rabies is also present, so make sure that you have a check up if bitten by a dog or other animal.
- In the mountains, be prepared for altitude sickness (especially if you have travelled from the coast). You may experience headaches and shortness of breath, especially during the first few days.
- If you are going to the low jungle areas such as Iquitos or Pto. Maldonado, bring anti-malarial pills. Malaria mosquitos only bite at night, so bring a mosquito net.
- There have been reports of Tuberculosis epidemics, so avoid all unpasteurized dairy products.
- Be careful when bathing in rivers and pools in the Amazon area. Wash and dry your hands before eating.
- Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled before eaten. Be especially careful in cheap restaurants when you’re not sure if the salad has been properly washed.
- Avoid ice, ice-creams (if it is a packaged brand it is probably okay), shellfish, mayonnaise, raw or half-cooked meat and any re-heated food.
- Juices are very good, but ensure that they aren’t mixed with tap water.
- If you require medical attention, we can make arrangements for you in Huancayo with excellent dentists and doctors who charge very low prices. .
ELECTRICITY Back to top
220 volts AC. 60 cycles throughout the country (except in Arequipa: 50 cycles). The plugs are similar to the USA; other countries ought to bring an adapter. Some major cities may have special 110-volt outlets.
TIME Back to top
Five hours behind GMT.
RELIGION Back to top
Mainly Roman Catholic, however the constitution allows any religion. The Indians often blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs.
PEOPLE / POPULATION Back to top
- The population is 25 million, of which 3 million are indigenous and include approximately 70 - 80 ethnic groups.
- Literacy rate is 85.1%. Approximately 8 million Indians speak Quechua, the language of the INCAS. Incas del Peru offers classes in this language.
MAIL Back to top
- The mail service is good but expensive, and sometimes takes a while.
- For an extra expense, letters can be sent "con certificado" which is recommended.
- Sending parcels abroad is expensive. Post Office staff assists with all checking.
- Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to pay excess baggage charges for all of your souvenirs rather than send them home by post.I
- f you need to send parcels by post to Peru, taxes to be paid by the receiver can be up to 20% extra of the value of the parcel’s contents.
AIR 1ra CLASS
REST OF THE WORLD
REST OF THE WORLD
|NOTIFICATION OF RECEIPT S/. 14.40
|RETURNED PACKAGE OR ADDRESS CORRECTIONS S/. 6.80
|CUPONES DE RESPUESTA INTERNACIONAL S/. 4.6
TELEPHONE AND FAX Back to top
- Faxes can be sent and Collect Calls can be made to most countries via the Telefonica del Peru offices. Otherwise you can call 108 and talk to an International operator, who can arrange Collect and Trunk calls.
- You can buy phone cards for International and Long Distance calls at the Telefonica del Peru offices.
- Public phones work with coins and phone cards. The phones only accept one sol coins.
- Faxes are available at many locations and hotels. Incas del Peru offers telephone / fax services as well as reception of messages.
- Many internet cafes have phones for international calls. You pay the cashier when you have completed your calls.
TIPPING AND RECEIVING Back to top
- Major Hotels: 10% in addition to the 10% on the bill.
- Restaurants: Service is included in the bill.
- Cheap Restaurants: Tips aren’t included in the bill. If you want to tip the waiter, give the tip directly to him/her. Do not leave it on the table.
- Taxis: No tips. Ensure that you always agree to a price before you get in. Bargaining: Ask for a "descuento", which is often given.
- “Yapa”: When buying food and drinks in the marketplace, ensure that you ask for your “yapa” – that little bit extra for the price that you paid.
MONEY AND FINANCES Back to top
- In 1991 the Peruvian currency "INTI" was replaced by the new "Sol" (S/.).
- In more expensive establishments, some prices are quoted in US Dollars.
- Try to break down large notes when you can due to a shortage of change. Taxi drivers are notorious for this, often telling their customers that they don’t have any change to give you for your larger note (often untrue). You do not have to accept this excuse.
- Traveler’s checks can be changed into Soles and into US Dollars at banks. In Casas de Cambio, they will rarely change them into US Dollars.
- You can change US$ into Soles at banks (bank-rate), Hotels (often charge a high commission) and Casas de Cambio (sometimes better rates then in the banks, but be aware of fake currency). You can also change US$ at the airport in Lima, 24 hours per day.
- Examine your dollar bills carefully. Banks and exchange offices (Casas de Cambio) will not accept damaged notes. Occasionally exchange offices will change it for less than its original value. Occasionally a circulation of false dollars or soles exists, so be careful! .
- Credit cards like Visa (most common), Diners Club and MasterCard are widely accepted in the main cities, though often with a surcharge. Cash can be withdrawn from ATM’s with your credit card or cashpoint card (Cirrus and Plus systems) at some banks in US$ or in Soles.
BUSINESS HOURS Back to top
- Shops are open from 9 or 10am until 12.30pm and from 3 or 4pm until 8 or 9pm. In the main cities, supermarkets do not close on Saturdays but most are closed on Sundays.
- Banks are open from 9am until 12.30pm and from 3pm until 6pm. They are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Offices are open from 8.30am until 12.30pm and from 3pm until 6pm. (Some are open from 9am until 5pm).
- Government Offices: January - March: Monday to Friday from 8.30 until 11.30am. April - December: Monday to Friday from 9am to 12pm and from 3 until 5pm. This changes frequently! .
- Many of the Embassies are only open in the mornings.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS Back to top
February - March
March - April
28 - 29 July
18, 19 & 28 October
|New Years Day
Festival of the Sun
St Peter and St Paul
Independence Days (all prices go up)
Santa Rosa de Lima
Battle of Angamos
El Señor de los Milagros
All Saints (Day of the Living)
All Souls (Day of the Dead)
Eveything closes on New Years Day and Christmas Eve. On these days, expect prices for transportation to rise. In July and August, when Peruvians have their annual vacations, everything is a little more expensive too. Sometimes when a public holiday falls on a weekend or in the middle of the week, it may be moved to the next Monday to create a long weekend. In the Andean region, especially in the Mantaro Valley where Huancayo is located, there are so many festivals that it is impossible to list them all. Every other day there is always some kind of celebration in one of the villages.
WHAT TO BRING TO PERU Back to top
We recommend that you bring the following:
FOOD Back to top
- Lightweight, layerable clothing
- Jacket or sweater
- Bath towel
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Rain jacket
- Small daypack
- Tampons (expensive, if you can find them at all) and contraceptives
- Roll of toilet paper (many restaurants and hotels won’t have any in the bathroom)
- Camera and extra film
- Money belt
- Insect repellent with DEET
- Small alarm clock
- Walkman (if you like music)
- Medical supplies (for minor ailments, headaches and stomach upsets)
- Spanish dictionary
Typical Peruvian dishes are tasty, varied and regional. The main meal of the day is lunch (almuerzo), breakfast is often minimal and dinner is not usually taken before 8pm. In the Andean mountains it is not recommended to eat a lot at night, as digestion is very slow due to the altitude.
Some typical Peruvian dishes are:
Some typical Peruvian dishes are:
- Ceviche - raw fish, shrimps etc ... marinated in lemon with onions and red peppers.
- Parihuela - Popular bouillabaisse with yuyo de mar (a tangy seaweed).
- Papa a la Huancaina: potatoes in a sauce made of milk, cheese and yellow chilies, usually served with a boiled egg and olives.
- Chupe de Camarones- shrimp stew.
- Causa and Carapulcra - potato dishes.
- Olluco con Charqui - a kind of potato with dried meat.
- Caucau - tripe, potatoes, peppers, and parsley served with rice.
- Anticuchos - heart kebab of beef with garlic, peppers, cumin and vinegar.
- Carne en Adobo - cut and seasoned steak.
- Chicharron - fried pork.
- Chifa - Chinese food.
DESSERTS AND SWEETS Back to top
- • Mazamorra Morada - deep purple pudding, made of purple corn with lemon, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves etc
• Manjar Blanco - milk, sugar, eggs
• Turron - the Lima tradicional October sweet pastry… with a yellow and golden color covered with hundreds and thousands lolies, also starts and sugar syrup.
• Tejas - sugar candies
Common Fruits: bananas, citrus fruits, avocado, custard apple, egg fruit, papaya, mango, passion fruit and lots of exotic fruits from the jungle.
DRINKS Back to top
• If you like beer, the Cusqueña, Cristal, Pilsen and Arequipa brands are probably the best and most known . Peruvian beer is twice as alcoholic as a standard American beer.
• Pisco Sour - made from the national grape. It´s a mix of 40° Pisco, lemon, sugar, egg white and. It is sweet and very potent.
• Chicha de Jora - corn beer. The Inca´s brew special drink is well boiled and fermented in ceramic vases known as Tinajas… It is not chewed as some guide books indicate…..
• Chicha Morada - soft drink with purple corn.
• Some of the local wines are good to try. the Ica wines Tacama and Ocucaje are the best known.
• Guinda - sweet cherry brandy.
• Aguardiente - sugarcane alcohol.
• Juices of any fruit - be careful that it isn´t mixed with tap water!
• Inca-kola - a golden soda which is the most consumed drink of Peru.
• Avoid ice-cubes in your drink.
• Coffee is often disappointing (usually instant not brewed). BUT you can get some delicious coffee from the cloud forest areas in some good restaurants.
TRANSPORTATION Back to top
- Planes- Aero Continente and Americana are the 2 main flight companies. Competition is hard and discounts are common. Flight schedules and departure times often change and delays between national and international flights are regular. Flights must be confirmed 24 hours in advance, but we recommend 72 hours before and more than once. If you do not confirm your flight you may be dropped from the passengers list. Also remember that twenty minutes before departure, stand-by passengers are allowed to board, taking the reserved seats from those who have failed to show up. Departure taxes are about US $10 for domestic flights and about US $20 for International flights. Sadly, most domestic airlines in Perú are unreliable in meeting their flight schedules. Times are often changed and occasionally are canceled. You often won´t find out until you arrive at the airport.
- Buses- Some of the better bus companies are Ormeño, Cruz del Sur and Mariscal Caceres. These main companies have luxury services (toilet, videos, reclining seats etc) The prices are usually 30% higher than other companies. Some companies have buses that are small, old and crowded. Luggage can be checked in, but it´s your responsibility to watch it when the bus stops. Prices on almost everything, including bus tickets, go up 50 -75% a few days before July 28th, Holy Week and Christmas. Everything will be sold out days in advance.
- Trains- There are some passenger services that are often quicker and more comfortable than buses. You will probably experience some spectacular views! Train schedules are very unreliable during the rainy season. One of the most beautiful train journeys is between Lima and Huancayo, which takes about 10 hours. At present this service is not available, hopefully it will work again soon. Other well-known rail services are: Huancayo - Huancavelica Cuzco - Puno Puno - Arequipa
Cuzco - Machu Picchu (Machu Picchu is a 8 km walk from the station) .
- Taxi Prices are less in the mountain towns than in Lima. Be aware that most cab drivers will try to charge foreigners more. Ask some locals about prices. In the main cities, you may telephone for a cab. It´s a bit more expensive, but reliable and safe. Taxis at the airport are always more expensive. Ask a few people what you should pay.
- Boat There are a few boat services in Peru. Most of them are at Lake Titicaca and in the Amazon area. The boat services at Lake Titicaca are mostly excursion boats to visit the islands, but there is also a Hydrofoil to Bolivia (leaves Puno). Boats on the coast are mostly from the Bay of Paracas to the Ballestas Islands. In the Amazon Jungle, boats are practically the only way to travel. Iquitos, for example, can only be reached by plane or boat.
APPEARANCE Back to top
Please be aware that Latin Americans have a natural prejudice towards travelers who appear dirty and unkept, or who look like a "hippie". Army surplus clothing is a "no" throughout the country. Shorts are only appropriate for the beach or jungle.
MEDICATION Back to top
Keep all medication in their original packaging and carry prescriptions if possible. People who roll their own cigarettes are often suspected of carrying drugs.
COURTESY Back to top
Latin American officials know more English than you think. Always be polite even to the point of going a little overboard. Do not criticize by facial expressions or gestures in public. If you have a business card, hand this over. Always be prepared to shake hands with men and women and always say "Buenos dias" before mid-day or "Buenas tardes" after mid-day and wait for a reply before proceeding. DO NOT rush anyone!
PHOTOGRAPHY Back to top
The following areas are off-limits to all photographers: mines, civilian airports, railroad stations, military barracks, military instruction center, naval bases, air bases, police stations, water and energy plants, oil wells and petroleum refineries. When in doubt, we advise you to seek permission first. For those travelers wanting to take photographs of local people, it is common courtesy to pay your “social dues” first. Smile, engage in conversation and ask the locals questions. Ask if they would mind having their photograph taken, and upon taking it, thank them. Cuzco is infamous for locals asking for tips for having their photograph taken. Unfortuantely this is due to the heavy effects of tourism in the area. We advise against tipping people for photos. An exchange of social etiquette is far more beneficial and it does not encourage begging.
CULTURAL IMPACT Back to top
Traveling overland can bring on exhilaration and despair, which are perfectly normal reactions for most travelers to unfamiliar cultures. Exhilaration is easy to handle, but despair can become a genuine trip spoiler. Learning as much as possible about the culture beforehand will help prevent culture shock. Above all, remember, as you begin your trip, to think of the normal sort of traveler discomforts such as a cultural jet lag. Relax, give it some time and it will disappear.
MINIMUM IMPACT Back to top
Much more important than the impact of the varying cultures on you is the problem of your impact on their culture, particularly that of the Andes. As traveling becomes increasingly popular in South America, travelers must develop an awareness of their effect on the environment both that of the landscape and the local people
LITTER Back to top
Unfortunately, "Gringos" (as travelers are called by the locals) can be accused of dropping most of the litter in rural areas because the "campesinos" have so little to throw away. Cigarette packets and sardine tins are the only offerings of the campesinos. Gringo litter is much more conspicuous - brightly colored paper, cans, dried food packets, film cartons and aluminum foil.
Away from the mountains, the quantity of waste matter dropped on highways and byways is horrifying. In this situation, the local people are the worst culprits, but visitors follow soon after! There is no need to follow the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" - well, at least not in this matter!
BEGGING Back to top
Before you offer a child sweets or money, reflect on the consequences of your actions. You are giving the child a taste for sweets which they would never have otherwise acquired, and which they can only satisfy by begging. You are teaching children that begging is rewarding, and that they can, after all, get something for nothing. If you want to give something to children, please give it to their parents or teacher. They will thank you, and the child will still receive the item, but this avoids a Dependant relation with gringos.
Hilary Brandt writes Back to top
"There are so many ways of interacting with children. I’ve watched a trekker sit down with a group of kids and draw pictures for them. They reciprocated with some charming illustrations in her diary. Cat’s cradles is a good game to teach rural children. Most can get a hold of a piece of string, and the variations are endless. A Frisbee also gives a lot of pleasure. The idea that gringos are so rich that they can simply give valuable things away fosters deceit and perhaps robbery. Reciprocity is the foundation of village life; presents and labour are exchanged, not given. Give a smile and greeting instead." We suggest that you try to think about locals and their needs in order to learn what to give and how to share. Local peasants would find enjoyment if a tourist shared coca leaves or INCA cigarettes, the brand that people smoke in the small villages.Basically our message is, please don’t create new needs for the locals, remember that poor isn’t the one who has less, but the one who needs more.