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Peru

Peru (Spanish: Perú) is without a doubt one of the most captivating countries in South America. Famously home of the epic lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the mindblowing Nazca Lines, this country's unique past awakens the adventurer in travellers of all sorts. Its awe-inspiring scenery varies from the wild Amazon jungles to vast coastal deserts and the icy peaks of the Andes. In it, Peru hosts a biodiversity rarely seen within the limits of a single country, with a list of spectacular wildlife far beyond the well-known llamas and circling condors. On top of all that, Peru's friendly, multi-ethnic people are a cultural treasure on their own. The enchanting mix of dozens of distinct indigenous groups and mestizos, all with their own colourful traditions and food delicacies, is an encounter you won't easily forget.

In short, this is a country of unimaginable extremes where choosing your trip destinations may prove a true challenge. Whether you decide to go off the beaten track, follow in the footsteps of thousands of visitors before you who took the Gringo Trail along some of the best highlights, or go experience the jungle through a relaxing multiple day Amazon boat trip - Peru is likely to amaze you in everything you do.

Regions

Cities

  • Lima
  • Arequipa
  • Ayacucho
  • Cajamarca
  • Chiclayo
  • Cuzco
  • Iquitos
  • Puno
  • Trujillo

Other destinations

  • Chan Chan — impressive set of ruins of an ancient Chimor mud city, and a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Chavín de Huántar — UNESCO World Heritage Site from the pre-Incan Chavin culture of around 900BC
  • Huascarán National Park — high mountain park in Cordillera Blanca range
  • Lake Titicaca — considered to be the highest commercially navigable body of water in the world
  • Machu Picchu — this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world
  • Manú National Park — one of the most diverse areas in Peru
  • Nazca lines — world famous for its geometrical figures and giant drawings in the desert sand
  • Paracas National Reservation — a popular nature reserve on the Southern Coast
  • Río Abiseo National Park
  • Máncora — small beachtown with the best beaches and great surf, turns into a real partytown on weekends and holidays

Understand

Despite 23.9% (2014) of the population (mostly Amerindians in rural areas) living under the poverty line, most Peruvians are nationalists and will talk with love and pride about their country. For many of them government, police and political affairs may be distrusted and criticized, as corruption and scandals are all around. However, that is not what makes up their beloved state of Peru. It's the rich natural resources and strong history as the centre of the ancient pre Inca cultures, Inca Empire, and later colonial Spanish colony that inspire their nationalist sentiments.

You'll often encounter the term gringo, which originally referred to all white people who don't speak Spanish. Now, many people use it for Americans or American look-alikes only, but it's typically not meant to offend. Peruvians will not hesitate to greet you with "¡Hola, gringo!", especially if you're blond.

As in many South-American countries, efficiency or punctuality aren't among Peru's many qualities. Go with the flow and don't expect things to be exactly on time or precisely as planned. Take into account that outside of the main tourist spots people will often not speak English, and -trying to be helpful- might give wrong or inexact advice. For some general advice, have a look at our Tips for travel in developing countries.

Electricity

Electricity in Peru is 220 Volts and 60 Hertz. Exceptions are Talara, where a mixture of 110 V, 60 Hz and 220 V, 60 Hz is used, and Arequipa with 220 V, 50 Hz.

Two types of electrical outlets are used: one accepts two-pronged plugs with flat, parallel blades, the other one accepts plugs with two round prongs. Many, but not all outlets accept both. Grounded outlets exist but are uncommon. If you want to use a 110V device, make sure to check if it can take 220V, as you'll otherwise risk breaking your equipment. If not, bring a power adapter. It's not recommended to adapt a three pin plug for use in a two pin outlet.

Time Zone

Peru Time (PET) is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT). There's no daylight saving time.

History

Peru's oldest complex society called the Norte Chico civilization flourished in 3,000 BC. Early developments were followed by ancient cultures such as Cupisnique, Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca, Wari and Chimu. In the 15th century, the Incas emerged, becoming the largest civilized empire in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish conquistadores conquered the Incan Empire in the 16th century, but while they wiped out the aristocracy, the peasantry, who spoke Quechua and Aymara, are very much alive today in Peru and neighboring Andean countries.

Get in

Visas

Tourists from North America, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the European Union (and many others, check with the nearest Peruvian Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for most updated information, although in Spanish) receive a visa upon arrival for up to 180 days.

When entering the country, you need to pass the immigration office (inmigración). There you get a stamp in your passport that states the number of days you are allowed to stay (usually 180 days). You can no longer get an extension, so make sure that you ask for the amount of time you think you'll need. When those 180 days are up and you would like to stay for longer, you can either cross the border to a neighbouring country (Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia or Chile) and return the next day and obtain another 180 days or simply overstay and pay the fine when you exit. The overstay fine is only US$1 per day overage, so if you stay 30 days longer it's US$30. Many people do this, since it's much cheaper than leaving the country and returning.

You will receive an extra official paper to be kept in the passport (make sure you don't lose it!). When leaving, you need to visit the emigration office (migración), where you get the exit stamp. Inmigración and migración are found on all border crossing-points. Traveling to and from neighboring countries by land is no problem.

By plane

The capital city of Lima has the Jorge Chávez International Airport with frequent flights to/from all over the world. The major airlines at Lima's Jorge Chávez International Airport are Air Canada, Aeromexico, Aerolineas Argentinas, American Airlines, Avianca Holdings, Copa, Delta, Grupo Latam (formerly Lan & Tam Airlines), Gol, Iberia, Copa Airlines, United Airlines, Viva Colombia among others. There are non-stop flights to Lima from Antofagasta, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Caracas, Santiago, La Paz, Sucre, Guayaquil, Quito, Buenos Aires, Saltos, Rosario, etc. in South America; from Toronto in Canada with Air Canada; and from several cities in the U.S. with American, Delta, United, Spirit and Jetblue. There are five additional airlines that offer non-stop service to Europe. In the future there may be non-stop flights from Oceania or Asia but for now travelers usually connect through Los Angeles (non-U.S.-citizen have to pass immigration even for transfer, consuming 1-2 hours - so ensure your stop-over is long enough!) or through Santiago de Chile.

The city of Cuzco has direct flights to La Paz, Boliva with Peruvian Airlines and Amaszonas

For example, Iberia flies directly from Madrid to Lima, the trip lasting around 13 hours. However LAN and KLM flights are much better in quality. LAN and Iberia often fly in code share mode (1 plane, 2 flight codes) meaning if you are on a LAN flight, you may have to check in at Iberia service desk or the opposite way, sometimes they send you from one to the next and back, so just queue at the shorter service desk. There is an internal flight tax, around US$6, same conditions as the international one.

When booking domestic flights, there are several Peruvian travel agencies that can get you your plane tickets for the "Peruvian price" for a fee of about US$20, you'll notice that the prices can vary by several hundred dollars for the SAME flights when looking at LANs Peruvian site and the USA site. You can purchase flights online. The same for Avianca or LC Perú.

Make sure to confirm your ticket 72 hours in advance, as you'll risk being bumped off your flight if you don't. Most travel agencies can do it for you, if you want.

For current airline information see the site of the International Airport Jorge Chavez

From Ecuador

As Ecuador neighbors Peru to the north, it is easy to find cheap flights connecting Guayaquil and Quito to Lima, (the hub for inner cities of Peru). Or you can travel to Piura or Tumbes by bus and take a flight to Lima.

By boat

The city of Iquitos in the Amazonas region has connections by boat to Leticia in Colombia and Tabatinga in Brazil (about 10 hours). There are also a little bit expensive cruceros by Amazonas River to enjoy the manificent of the peruavian-brazilian joungle.

Get around

Times and Distances

Almost all of the cities outside Lima had a flight time between 1 hour and 1 hours and a half. It is recommended to use airlines. For example, from Lima to Zorritos in Tumbes (beautiful beach with modern resorts), the travel by bus is 21 hours.

  • Yurimaguas-Iquitos(water): 2.5 days
  • Quito-Lima(bus): 27 hours
  • Lima-Cuzco(bus): 21 hours
  • Lima-Cuzco(plane): 1.30 hour

In cities and around

Inside the cities, there is usually no problem getting around on city buses or taxis. Buses cost between 0.70 and 1.50 Soles (US$0.20-0.40) inside a city, taxis between 7 and 8 soles (US$2-2.60) in Lima, normally less in other cities. "Taxi" does not necessarily mean a car; the term also refers to bicycles, motor rickshaws, and motor bikes for hire. Taxis are divided between "formal" taxis, painted and marked as such and have a sticker with SOAT, and informal ones, that are just cars with a windshield sticker that says "Taxi". The last ones are better left to the locals, especially if you don't speak Spanish. Apart from the more upscale radio taxi (also the more expensive ones), the fare is not fixed or metered, but it is negotiated with the driver before getting into the vehicle. Ask at your hotel or hostal about the rate you may expect to pay to ride to a specific location to have a point of reference. There is no tipping at taxis.

"Micros" (from microbús), "combis" and "coasters:. They have bus stops. The direction is shown by boards in the windscreen or painted on the side. If you want to take a bus, just give the driver a sign (raise your hand similar to hitch-hiking) to stop. If the bus is not completely overfilled (and sometimes when it is, too), it will stop to pick you up. During the ride, the ticket collector will ask you for the fee or, if there is not a ticket collector, you pay the driver when you get off (this is more common when taking longer trips where most people are going to the last stop, for example from Ollantaytambo to Urubamba). If you want to exit, you should press the button or just say loudly "¡Baja paradero!" (BAH-ho), and the driver will stop at the next paradero. They are cramped and dirty, and not helpful unless in small towns or during off peak hours. They also stop in the middle of the road, so be careful when getting down.

Please note: Micros are very common but known for being quite dangerous, and different government programs are trying to reduce the number of micros. It is advised to not take a micro.

By plane

Because of the distances involved and the conditions of the roads in some remote locales (or lack of) it may be better to fly, which most people do, especially in getting between Lima and Cuzco. To some places such as Iquitos flying is the only way possible due to the lack of roads and limited number (or the lack) of river boats plying the waters to get there. Beware some major airlines such as LAN and Avianca have a dual pricing system in which foreigners pay more than residents of Peru. Currently the following airlines offer domestic service within Peru:

  • Avianca Peru (formerly Taca Peru). Is the other major carrier offering both domestic and international services to other parts of South America. International flights to/from North America typically connect through El Salvador, Colombia or Costa Rica and to/from Europe via Avianca Colombia.
  • LATAM (LAN Peru), (Miraflores Sales office) Av. José Pardo 513-Miraflores;, ? +51 1 213-8200. Operates as the 'national legacy' carrier with both domestic and international services to other parts of South America and beyond.

The following are smaller carriers that operate mainly within Peru:

  • LC Peru (formerly LC Busre), (Miraflores Lima sales office) Av. Jose Pardo 269 - Miraflores /, ? +51 1 204-1313. Plans are underway to offer international services to/from Boliva, Ecuador and U.S. (Miami).
  • Peruvian Airlines, (Mega Plaza Sales office) Av. Alfredo Mendiola 3698, Mega Plaza Shopping Center - 2° nivel; (Miraflores Sales office) Av. Jose Pardo 495 Miraflores, ? +51 1 716-6000.
  • Star Peru, ? +51 1 705-9000.

Most of the airlines operate on a hub and spoke paradigm via Lima rather than point to point. So to get from one city such as Iquitos to Cuzco, one my find him/herself flying to Lima to change planes, even if Lima is off in a different direction from the two cities the traveller is traveling to and from.

By bus

Some main roads, especially along the coastal strip, are paved, but there are still a lot of dirt roads in very poor condition. In the rainy season, landslides may block even major roads.

Inter-city travel is mostly by bus, and some cities have train connections. In contrast to colectivos, buses, and of course trains, start from fixed points, either a central bus terminal (referred to as Terminal Terrestre or Terrapuerto) or the bus companies have their own separate terminal(s) in different locations. It is a good idea to buy your ticket one day in advance so that you can be relatively sure of finding a seat. If you come directly before the bus leaves, you risk finding that there are no more seats available. In most bus terminals you need to buy a separate departure tax of 1 or 1.5 soles.

If you are so unlucky as to be taller than 1.80m/5 ft 11 in, you will most likely be uncomfortable on the ride since the seats are much tighter than in Europe or some parts of North America. In this case, you can try to get the middle seat in the rear, but on dirt roads the rear swings heavily. In older buses, the seats in the first row are the best, but many buses have a driver cabin separated from the rest of the bus so that you look an a dark screen or a curtain rather than out the front windshield. In older buses, you can get one or two seats beside the driver, which gives you a good view of the passing landscape.

First-class express buses, complete with video, checked luggage and even meal service, travel between major cities, but remember to bring ear plugs as the video on these buses may be played extra-loud for the majority of the trip. You may need to present a passport to purchase a ticket.

Make sure that your luggage is rainproof since it is often transported on the roof of the bus when travelling in the Andes.

Avoid bus companies that allow travellers to get into the bus from alongside the road, outside the official stations. They are normally badly managed and can be dangerous, due both to unsafe driving practices and/or to highway robberies, which are unfortunately not uncommon. This should be heeded especially by female travellers going on their own or anybody traveling overnight. There are many shoddy bus services in Peru, and it's best to go with one of the major companies such as Cruz del Sur, Oltursa or others. Get information at the hotel, hostel or tourist information booth before catching a ride. The following are the major bus companies traveling around through much of the country, that are more reliable (addresses given are their Lima terminal in/around San Isidro and La Victoria):

  • Cial, Av. Republica de Panamá 2469-2485, La Victoria, ? +51 1 207-6900.
  • Civa/Excluciva, Paseo de la República 575, La Victoria (Corner of Paseo de la República & Av 28 de Julio), ? +51 1 481-1111. They also have another terminal for their 'Excluciva' brand at Javier Prado Este #1155
  • Cromotex, Av. Paseo de la Republica nro. 659, La victoria, ? +51 1 424-7575. Travels between LimaArequipaTacnaCusco and Trujillo. They also have another Lima terminal at Av. Nicolás de Arriola nro. 898 urb. Santa catalina, La Victoria
  • Cruz del Sur, Av Javier Prado Este 1109, La Victoria (Javier Prado Este & Nicolás Arriola in La Victoria), ? +51 1 311-5050, +51 1 431-5125, toll-free: 72-0444 or 0801-1111FORMATNOCC. Serves ArequipaIca, Cuzco, PunoChiclayoTrujilloPiscoArequipaTacna, Cuzco, La Paz, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Cali, Nazca, Guayaquil, Quito, Bogotá and Máncora.
  • Transportes Flores, Paseo de La Republica 627 & 688, La Victoria (Paseo de La Republica & Av 28 de Julio), ? +51 1 332-1212, +51 1 424-0888. They also have another station at 28 de Julio No 1246.
  • ITTSA, Av. Paseo de la República 809, ? +51 956 487-989. Goes from Lima only to ChimboteChiclayoPiuraSullanaTalara and Trujillo in the northern regions of the country
  • Movil Tours, Paseo de la Republica 749, La Victoria (Frente al Estadio Nacional. Front of the National Stadium), ? +51 1 716-8000. They also have another station nearby at Javier Prado Este 1093, La Victoria in front of the Clinica Ricardo Palma & next to a KIA car dealership.
  • Oltursa, Av. Aramburú 1160, San Isidro (SE of the intersection Av Republica de Panama next to the Derco Center car dealership.), ? +51 1 708-5000.
  • Ormeño, Av. Javier Prado Oeste Nº 1057, La Victoria - Lima 13, ? +51 1 472-5000, +51 1 472-1710.
  • TEPSA, Av Javier Prado Este 1091, La Victoria (west of the interesection of Javier Prado Este & Paseo de la Republica.), ? +51 1 617-9000, 990 690-534NOCC.

You can also find more information on BusPortal.pe that compares the diverse number of companies.

By train

Even when going by train, it's best to buy the ticket in advance. Buy 1st class or buffet class (still higher), or you risk getting completely covered by luggage. People will put their luggage under your seat, in front of your feet, beside you and everywhere where some little place is left. This makes the journey quite uncomfortable, since you can't move any more and the view of the landscape is bad.

There are five rail lines in Peru:

  • Cuzco - Machu Picchu — For more information on [trains to Machu Picchu], go to PeruRail's web site.
  • Cuzco - Juliaca - Puno
  • Arequipa - Juliaca — Service has been suspended as of early 2007.
  • Lima - Huancayo — The Ferrocarril Central Andino the line joining Lima to Huancayo is the second highest railway in the world and the Highest in South America. The Journey on board of the Train of the Andes, through the heart of Peru is simply breathtaking. It is an 11 hour experience where the train reaches an altitude of 4781m.a.s.l (15,681 ft) and goes through 69 tunnels, 58 bridges and makes 6 zigzags. In 1999, the company was privatized, in 2005, Ferrocarril Central Andino renovated their passenger wagons in a Luxurious and comfortable way which puts the railway in the list of the most famous trains along with the Orient Express and the Transsiberien. Unfortunately the service is irregular. You can check in the web site
  • Huancayo - Huancavelica

By foot

Beside the famous Inca trail to Machu Picchu, you can do a lot of more hikes all along the Sierra, preferably in the dry season. The hiker's Mecca is Huaraz, where you can find a lot of agencies that offer guided tours and/or equipment to borrow. The thin vegetation in the higher Sierra makes off-trail hiking easy. Good maps are hard to find inside Peru. It is better to bring them from home. Make sure you have enough iodine to purify your drinking water. When hiking in higher altitude, good acclimatisation is absolutely necessary. Take a good sleeping bag with you, since nights in the Sierra may become bitterly cold (-10°C in 4,500 m altitude are normal, sometimes still colder). Beware of thunderstorms that may rise up very suddenly. Rapid falling temperature and hard rain falls are a serious danger in higher altitudes. Don't forget that the night lasts for 12 hours year-round, so a flashlight is a good idea. When hiking on higher, but not snow covered mountains, water may be rare. Getting alcohol for stoves is easy: Either buy the blue colored alcohol de quemar or, better, simply buy pure drinking alcohol. You can get this in every town for about 3 Soles (US$0.85) per liter. (Don't even think about drinking it). It won't be so easy to find special fuel for gasoline stoves. Gasoline for cars can also be found in many hardware stores (ferreterias) sold by liters, but you can actually buy it directly on gas stations, provided you bring your own bottle.

By car

It is also possible to tour the interior of the country by car. This gives you a chance to get "off the beaten track" and explore some of the areas that haven't been transformed by tourism. An international driver's license is needed for driving in Peru.

Peru has three main roads which run from north to south: the fully paved Panamericana Sur/Norte (PE-1S/1N) which passes through the whole country; more to the east there are the partially paved Longitudinal de la Sierra Sur/Norte (PE-3S/3N), Interoceánica Sur (PE-26) as well as the Interoceánica Norte (PE-5N). Most parts of these roads are toll roads in the direction from north to south. The main roads are connected by 20 streets from west to east.

Beware that, aside from a few major roads which are in good condition, most roads are unpaved and your speed on them will be severely restricted. For these roads a 4WD is necessary. This is especially true during the rainy season from November to April. You should travel very well informed about your route. Take a good road map with you (e.g. Waterproof Peru Map by ITMB). On the web, cochera andina provides useful information about road conditions, travel times and distances for more than 130 routes in Peru.

Be sure to bring plenty of gas, as gas stations in unpopulated areas are very rare and will oftentimes be closed. Purchasing gas late at night can be an adventure all its own, as even in more populated areas gas stations tend to close early and the pumps are locked. The owner of the station sometimes sleeps inside and, if you can rouse him, he will come out and let you fill up. Be aware of the higher gasoline consumption in the mountains which often increases to more than 20 l/100 km (12 MPG) (5 gal/62 mi).

The traffic regulations are almost the same as in Europe and the U.S. But locals tend to interpret them freely. You better honk in unclear situations, e.g. in curves and at crossings to indicate the right of way. Also note that traffic checkpoints tend to be scattered throughout the country and the police may try to extract bribes from foreigners for passage. It would be wise to travel with a native speaker who can navigate the roads and deal with law enforcement.

Touting

Like in most countries, also in Peru there is a vast crowd of touts hanging around the airports and bus stations or bus terminals. It is any travellers' wise decision not to do business with the people that are trying to sell you their stuff on the street/bus station/airport. First of all, if they would have a decent place, they wouldn’t have to sell it to non suspecting tourists trying to drag them off from wherever they can find them. More important, it really is not a good idea to hand out money to the first person you meet upon arriving somewhere.

TIP: When you arrive in any town, be sure to have already decided what hotel you will be going to. Don't mention this or any other information to the touts awaiting you. They will use whatever you tell them to construe lies to make you change your mind and go with them. If you’ve already picked a reasonable hotel chances are that you will be OK there and they will have any (extra) information you’d be looking for, like bookings for tours or tickets.

Talk

See also: Spanish phrasebook

The official language of Peru is Spanish, as in many South-American countries. It's worth getting familiar with some basic Spanish words, as you'll need them to make your way around outside the main tourist centres. Although English is spoken by an increasing number of young people in Lima and to a limited extent in the most popular tourist spots, you'll find English far less commonly understood than you might expect in a country where tourism is such a big industry.

Especially when you're making your own way around, learning some Quechua or Aymara may open doors, as indigenous people will highly appreciate your effort. Quecha is the language of the Incas and the first language for many indigenous in the countryside of the Sierra. Aymara was the language of the Tihuanacu culture and it's widely spoken on the Altiplano. In both cases however, people will generally speak English too.

See

Forgotten temples in dense Amazon jungles, lost Inca cities, fabulous wildlife and extra-ordinary folklore. Peru holds all the stuff adventure movies are made of.

Many of the best Inca sites are in the Inca Highlands, around the beautiful city of Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire and now a World Heritage Site itself, as well as a bustling city. Book at least half a year in advance if you want to walk the famous 4-day hike Inca Trail, which commonly starts at the 15th century Inca dwellings of Ollantaytambo. Your imagination must be on its A-game to see past the large crowds at the end destination, Machu Picchu, but it's worth your trouble. Wait for the biggest crowds to leave, find a quiet spot away from the tourist hassle and contemplate your view of one of the most famous and spectacular archaeological sites in the world. Many other sites are in the neighboring Sacred Valley.

The list of great Peruvian ruins from Pre-Columbian times is long, and not all of them are of Inca origin. A World Heritage Site, the ancient adobe capital Chan Chan, built by the Chimú culture, was conquered in the 15th century. Other popular sites are the tombs of Sipán, the ruined fortress of Kuelap, the pre-Incan burial grounds of Sillustani, and Caral, the most ancient city in the Americas. Particularly well-known are the spectacular Nazca lines, which you should see from the air, even if it'll take some haggling to get your ticket for the right price.

Natural attractions

Home to 84 out of the 104 recognized ecological zones in the world, Peru is incredibly rich in biological diversity. Benefiting from a broad array of landscapes and ecosystems, this country is a Valhalla for anyone who loves wildlife. It's condors, llama's and jaguars that Peru is famous for, but almost a third of the bird species in the world and no less than 4000 butterflies live here too.

One of the best places to see all of this natural beauty is Manú National Park. This World Heritage Site boasts over 15000 plant species, a 1000 different birds and some 220 mammals, including pumas, Giant anteaters and many monkeys. Disputably called the "world's deepest canyon", the stunning Colca Canyon is Peru's third most-visited destination, just a stones-throw out of the beautiful city of Arequipa. Get close to the celebrated Andean Condors as they fly along the high canyon walls or buy a colourful handmade souvenir from one of the indigenous people that populate the picturesque Colca Valley. Of all the peaks in the Peruvian Andes, the 6768m Huascarán in Huascarán National Park is the highest of all. This 3000 km² World Heritage Site holds 663 glaciers, 296 lakes and 41 tributaries of three major rivers. The large city of Iquitos is a popular starting point to discover the mystic Amazon River, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It's also the capital city of the Charapa culture. Just a few other great picks out of the long list of protected areas in Peru are Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Rio Abiseo National Park and Cutervo National Park (with many caves).

Folklore

The diversity of Peru's people and cultures is reflected in a rich tradition of festivals, dance and music. In the Andes, the plaintive wail of the flute and beat of the drum accompany songs depicting indigenous life while dancers masked as devils and spirits are a marriage of pagan and Christian beliefs. In the jungle, ceremonial music and dance are a window into tribal life. And along the coast, a blend of elegant Spanish sounds and vibrant African rhythms reflect the Conquest and later slave labor of the New World. One of the shows you can not miss it is the Caballo de Paso Peruano in Lima and the north coast of Peru. The Concurso del Caballo de Paso Peruano is in april and it is a mix between the caballos and the dance called "marinera" which is the coastal cultural expression in Peru.

Other highlights

Make your way to the blue waters of Lake Titicaca for an enchanting, high altitude encounter with local peasant women wearing bowler hats and join in the celebrations of their ancient communities. Puno is a good place to start, also for a laid-back boat ride to the various islands and Altiplano towns on and around the lake, all with their own character and historic remains. If you're craving perfect beaches and a sunburn, head to the crowded sands and resorts of Piura/Tumbes. Spend a day in one of the many excellent museums in Lima and dance until the morning in one of the cities popular clubs. Buy shamanistic herbs at the market of Chiclayo and see the dozens of tombs around it.

Do

Trekking is a great way to see the country. The most widely known route is the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Other popular routes include Cordillera Blanca, Colca Canyon, Ausangate Trek and Salcantay (also spelt Salkantay) Trek.

Trek prices can vary considerably between companies, as can their respective porters' working conditions (no pack animals are allowed, hence equipment is carried by human porters). Although there is a minimum porter wage (42 Soles/day, about US$15) and maximum load porters can carry (25 kg/55 lb), not all companies keep to their claims!

Buy

The currency of Peru is the sol (ISO code: PEN), symbolised as S/. It has been one of the more stable currencies in South America over the last few years.

Coins are available in five, two and one sol, and in 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 centimo. 5 and 1 centimo coins are not normally accepted outside of big supermarkets or banks, so avoid them (or bring them home for a collection or to give to friends). Notes are available in 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles denominations; 200 soles notes are uncommon and - just like large bills in other countries - will not be accepted in many places.

ATMs are available in big cities, upmarket hotels, and touristic areas. With a Cirrus or Maestro sign on it, you can withdraw cash easily. The exchange rate is the same as credit cards but fees are much lower. Some banks charge a fee for getting cash from their ATM's, with BBVA Banco Continental reportedly charging excessive fees without telling you in advance. Make sure to carry sufficient cash when visiting smaller towns, as your credit card or traveler checks might not be accepted there.

Credit cards and travelers checks are common. Although cash has a ca. 2% better change rate, you are strongly advised not to carry large amounts of cash on your journey. The Banco de Credito (BCP) gives good rates on traveler checks. Rates in change offices are often somewhat worse. It's always worth comparing them before changing your money. When changing your money in change offices, check their calculations. Most of them make calculations on the fly for the amount you want using an electronic calculator in plain view, even showing you the process step by step (unless they are brutally obvious, like changing tens or hundreds). If they don't show, keep the money in your pocket and find someone that does.

Always keep in mind that counterfeiting is a big problem in Peru: make sure to get familiar with the money and do not hesitate to reject any note or coin (especially the 5 sol coins) that look suspicious, just like any Peruvian would do. In other words, if you want to look like a savvy foreigner, take 10 seconds to check any paper note you get, even at a bank. All bills have a watermark and security stripe, and the large number on the extreme right denoting the denomination of the bill will change from purple to green when viewed at an angle. Don't take any note that is ripped; you won't be able to use it anywhere else but a bank.

If you are stuck with a counterfeit coin or note, if you try to use it at big stores they may want to confiscate it. Don't accept damaged or ripped bills, since you will have to take them to a bank in order to change them into new ones before you can spend them. Be especially careful when exchanging money with money-changers on the street (a common way for counterfeit money to enter the money supply) or at the border (notably the one with Ecuador).

Typically, small bills are very helpful to carry around. Change large bills into small ones as often as possible. If you only have 50 and 100 soles notes on you, consider changing them at a bank. Local merchants and taxistas often claim to not have any change on them, forcing you to wait in public while they search for some (potentially dangerous) and sometimes with the hope that you'll grow impatient and let them keep the change.

In Peru, it's not as common for US$ to be accepted in transactions as in other countries (such as Ecuador), but some nice, new 10 or 20 US dollar bills can be helpful in some situations. Often in small towns, local shops will change money for you. If so, it will be clearly marked.

Costs

If you're on a budget, you can get around well for US$50 a day. Basic hotels or hostels (hospedajes) are available everywhere, with dorm beds in youth hostels typically costing US$8-15. You'll find plenty of very cheap restaurants (US$0.50-1.50) but for slightly more (US$2-3) you'll get an often much better lunch or dinner at better restaurants. Fancy restaurants are available in every city, with menus starting from US$20.

Buses are a fairly cheap way to get around. A 10-hour bus ride in a normal bus (not "Royal Class" or something like that) will set you back about US$20. If you can afford it, the more luxurious seats go for about double the price but will make a great difference in terms of comfort. Avoid bus companies that allow travellers to get into the bus outside the official stations. They are often badly managed and can be dangerous, due both to unsafe practices or to highway robberies, which are unfortunately not uncommon. This should be heeded especially by female travellers on their own. Your hotel, hostel or a local tourist information booth can point you to the better options.

Trains (except the ones for Machu Picchu, which are relatively expensive) run for similar fees.

Don't forget to retain your exit fee of US$30.25 They accept US dollars or soles for the fee. Be sure to pay the exit fee before you get in line for security checks or you'll get to wait again.

Handicrafts

Peru is famous for a lot of different, really nice and relatively cheap handicrafts. Keep in mind that buying handicrafts support traditional skills and helps many families to gain their modest income. Look for:

  • Pullovers, and a lot of other (alpaca-)woolen products in all the Sierra. Puno is maybe the cheapest place.
  • Wall carpets (tejidos).
  • Carvings on stone, wood and dried pumpkins.
  • Silver and gold jewellery.
  • typical music instruments like pan flutes (zampoñas), skin drums.
  • many other

Do not accept any handicrafts that look like (or actually are) pre-Columbian pottery or jewelry. It is illegal to trade them and there is the possibility not only of them being confiscated, but of being prosecuted for illegal trading, even if the actual artifacts are copies or fakes. Dealing with the police from the criminal side is messy and really unpleasant.

Buyer beware: Watch out for fake (Bamba) Alpaca wool products many items sold to the unsuspecting gringo are actually synthetic or ordinary wool! That nice soft jumper in the market for USD8 or so is most certain to be acrylic. Even in places such as Puno there is no easy way to tell if it is made from Alpaca, sometimes it might have a small percentage of Alpaca mixed in with other fibres. Baby Alpaca is not from baby animals but the first shearing and the fibre is very soft and fine. Generally Alpaca fibre has a low lustre and a slightly greasy hand to it and is slow to recover from being stretched. Shop and compare.

Bargaining

Bargaining is very common. If you are not used to it, respect some rules. If you intend to buy something, first ask the price, even if you already know what it actually should cost. Then check whether everything is all right. (Does the pullover fit you? Do you really want to buy it? Is the expiration date on the cheese exceeded? etc.) If the price is OK, pay it. If not, it's your turn to say a lower price, but stay realistic. First get an idea about how much you would expect to pay. Then say a price about 20-30% lower. It's always good if you can give some reason for that. Once you have said a price, you cannot give a lower one later. This would be regarded as a very impolite behavior. If you feel that you can't get your price, just say "No, gracias." and begin to walk away. This is your last chance. If you are lucky, the seller will give you a last offer, if not, say "No, gracias." again and go on walking. Realize that most of the products in touristy markets (i.e. the market in Pisac) will be sold in nearly every other market throughout your travels in Peru and South America, so try not to worry about never again finding that particular alpaca scarf.

You have a way for bargaining without saying an exact price, and it's saying "¿Nada menos?", then you will be asking just if they can lower a bit the price.

Keep in mind: Never begin to bargain if you don't really want to buy.

Coca

DO NOT BRING COCA PRODUCTS HOME.

Coca leaves and derived products (unless decocainized) are illegal in the vast majority of countries, under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Even just bringing home a box of coca tea may subject you to very severe drug trafficking laws. Also, while coca is legal in Peru, buying or selling cocaine is illegal.

Decocainized coca products are not generally available in Peru, and vendors may assure you that processed coca products (like tea) are fine to bring home, but this is wrong. It is legal to purchase and consume coca products in Peru (other than cocaine), and it is likely legal to purchase decocainized coca products (like Coca-Cola, or decocainized coca tea) in your home country, but importing coca products is illegal.

Instead of coca tea, consider emoliente, a traditional herbal tea of coastal regions, widely available in Lima.

While in Peru, in addition to coca tea and coca leaves, you may also find coca candies, coca beer, etc. The Museo de la Coca in Cuzco sells a wide variety of coca products.

General notes

Supermarkets can only be found in cities and are somewhat expensive. In every town, there is at least one market place or hall, except Lima that has a dense concentration of supermarkets, malls and department stores. In cities, there are different markets (or sections of one big market) for different articles.

Stores with similar articles tend to be grouped in the same street. So, if you once know the appropriate street when looking for something special, it shouldn't be no more problem to find it quite soon.

Giving tips in restaurants (at least when basic or middle-range) is not very common but 10% for good service is polite. In the cities, you will always find some beggars, either sitting on the streets, or doing a musical number on the buses. Many of them really need help, especially the elderly and handicapped. Usual donations are about S/0.10-0.20 (US$0.03-0.06). This is not much, but some unskilled workers don't get much more than S/10 for a hard working day. Whether you want to give money to child beggars or not is your decision. But consider that doing so may make it more attractive for parents to send their children begging in the street instead of sending them to school. Buy them food instead, they do need it.

Eat

Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied in the world. Not only does the country grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, but it does so throughout the year. Peruvian geography offers at least 8 different climates (desert along the coast, steep and high mountains, the Amazon basin). In Lima, due to its history as an important Spanish colonial port, the dishes are a mixture of amerindian, Spaniard, African, Asian and even Italian influences that contribute to the ever changing platos criollos (creole dishes). Rice is the staple foodstuff, and expect many dishes to include rice, in the Siera it's corn and potatoes, and in the Jungle yuca. Meat is traditionally included in most Peruvian dishes. Chicken (pollo), pork, sheep and beef are common. Alpacas are actually kept for wool, not for meat. Mostly, you will find that alpaca meat is rather tough. An Andean delicacy is guinea pig (cuy). Peruvian cuisine includes dishes which use various organs, including anticuchos, a kebab made from very marinated and spicy beef heart, and cau-cau (sounds like cow-cow), made from cow stomach served in a yellow sauce with potatoes. Anticuchos are a standard street stall food, but be careful with it.

Fish can be found along the coast (of course), but also in the jungle area since the rivers supply fresh fish (but beware of contamination in the area known as high jungle or selva alta, where most of the cocaine is made and strong chemicals get dumped into rivers; mining is a minor source of pollution in this area). In the Sierra, trout (truchas) are bred in several places. A very common fish dish is ceviche, raw fish prepared by marination in lime juice. Popular variations of the dish can include shellfish, and even sea urchin. The exact recipe and mode of preparation of ceviche will vary from region to region. Definitely worth a try, especially in summer, but cleanliness and sanitation make all the difference. Use care when buying from street vendors and remember that it is often served spicy.

Throughout Peru there is a wide variety of potato dishes (papas as in Spain), the traditional Andean vegetable. Papa a la Huancaina is a tasty dish of potato slices and diced boiled egg topped with a thin, creamy yellow sauce, and usually includes a lettuce leaf and an olive or two. (A similar green sauce, called Ocopa, can be served over potatoes or yuca.) Papa rellena is mashed potato reformed into a potato-like shape, but with meat, vegetables, and other spicy filling in the middle. Aji de gallina is shredded chicken in a thick, spicy, cheese-based sauce over sliced potatoes, often with an olive and slice of hard-boiled egg. Causa is mashed potato layered with mayonnaise-based tuna or chicken salad mixed with hot peppers.

Many Peruvian dishes can contain strong condiments and be heavy, so if you have a weak stomach, proceed with caution.

Nowadays, the transport routes from the flat jungle areas are good enough to supply all the country with vegetables and fruits. Nevertheless, vegetables still have the status of a garnish for the meat. Vegetarian restaurants exist in all cities, but are relatively rare. In most areas, there is a rich offering of tropical fruits and fresh squeezed juices.

The natives typically eat in small restaurants or Chinese eateries ("chifas"); a menu there costs 5-8 Soles and includes a soup, a choice of main dish, and a drink.

Peruvians are quite proud of their desserts, especially in Lima. Try them with care, since they tend to be extremely sweet and loaded with sugars, eggs yolks and similar ingredients. Try mazamorra morada, or purple custard, made from the same purple corn used for chicha morada drink; together with arroz con leche (rice with sweetened condensed milk) is called a combinado (combination). Picarones are a sort of donut, made from fried yams dough and served with chancaca, a very sweet sugarcane syrup. And the sweetest dessert suspiro a la limeña is perfect if you are in sore need of a high-calorie glucose shock. Panetón is a type of sweet bread with dried fruit. It is usually served for breakfast around Christmas with a cup of hot chocolate. They used to come in big boxes only with huge panetóns inside but now they also sell personal portions. Chocotón is variety of panetón that replaces the fruit with chocolate bits. The bread is very light and sweet. Because Christmas is the hottest time of year, people often replace the hot chocolate with coffee or a drink that's served cold.

Drink

The Pisco-Nazca area is famous for wine cultivating. Their more expensive vintages compare favorably against Chilean imports. Beer is nice, stronger than American brands but less full bodied than European ones. Most of Peruvian beers are made by Backus, which is owned by SAB Miller.

When drinking at bars and/or restaurants, be aware that Peruvian "Happy Hour" is a little different than in most countries. Prices for drinks will usually be posted on the walls and be a little cheaper than normal. The real differences is that you will be served 2 drinks, instead of one, for the listed price -- giving a new meaning to the term "half price." This can be a great way to save money (if you are traveling with a group) or to meet locals (if you are traveling alone). It can also lead you to get completely falling-down-drunk by accident, so be careful.

  • Caliente is a hot alcoholic drink served during celebrations in Andean towns such as Tarma. Its basically a herbal tea with white rum for that added kick.
  • Chicha de Jora, A cheap traditional alcoholic drink made from corn that is fermented and rather high in alcohol content for a non-distilled beverage. Not normally available at formal restaurants and quite uncommon in Lima outside of residential areas. Places that sell chicha have a long stick with a brightly-colored plastic bag on it propped up outside their door.
  • Chicha morada, not to be confused with the previous one, is a soft drink made from boiled purple corn, with sugar and spices added (not a soda). Quite refreshing, it is widely available and very recommendable. Normally Peruvian cuisine restaurants will have their freshly made supply as part of the menu; it is also available from street vendors or diners, but take care with the water. Bottled or canned chicha morada is made from concentrates and not as pleasant as freshly-boiled chicha.
  • Coca Tea or Mate de Coca, a tea made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is legal to drink this tea in Peru. It is great for adjusting to the altitude or after a heavy meal. It may be found cold but normally is served hot.
  • You can find many places that serve fresh fruit drinks. Peru has a wide variety of fruits since its natural variety, so if you get a good "jugueria" you will have lots of options to choose from.
  • The Peruvian amazon cities offer some typical drinks too as: masato, chuchuhuasi, hidromiel and others.
  • Coffee. Peru is the world's largest producer of organic coffee. Ask for 'cafe pasado', the essence produced by pouring boiling hot water over fresh ground coffee from places like Chanchamayo.
  • All of Peru's wines are inexpensive. Tacama, Ocucaje and Santiago Queirolo branded wines are the most reliable.
  • Emoliente. Another popular drink in Peru, often sold in the streets by vendors for 50 centimos. Served hot, its flavor is best described as a thick, viscous tea, but surprisingly refreshing - depending on what herb and fruit extracts you choose to put into it, of course. Normally the vendor's mix will be good enough if you choose not to say anything, but you're free to select the mix yourself. Normally sold hot, is the usual after-party drink, as a "reconstituyente", but it can be drunk cold too.
  • Inca Kola. The Peruvian equivalent of Coca Cola in the rest of the world, which has been purchased by Coca Cola yet retains its unique taste. It is bright yellow and has a unique flavor. It tastes like Hierba Luisa.
  • Pisco Sour. An alcoholic drink with an interesting ingredients list, such as egg whites, that is the main drink in Peru and is available in most places. It is made from Pisco, a Peruvian kind of brandy that is worth a try; it is a strong drink as pisco is over 40% (around 70-80 proof) spirit, and the sweet taste can be deceiving. Since Chile registered the brand Chilean Pisco for commercial purposes in some countries, Peruvian producers decided to defend the denomination of origin (Pisco is a very old city in Peru) by being very strict about the quality standards. Be sure that you will find a very high quality product in any brand of Pisco made in Peru.

Beer

Some large towns have their own brand of beer which is hard to get elsewhere in the country. Cusqueña is one of the most popular beers while Cristal is known as the beer of Peru, both can be found nation-wide.

  • Arequipeña
  • Brahma
  • Cristal
  • Cusqueña
  • Franca
  • Pilsen Callao
  • Pilsen Trujillo

Sleep

Hotels in Peru are very common and fairly cheap. They range from 1 - 5 stars. 5 star hotels are normally for package tourism or business travel, and very common outside of Lima for most visited touristic attractions such as Cuzco/Machu Picchu with amaizing landscapes, Paracas (to flight over the Nazca Lines), Tumbes with great beach resorts, and of course in Lima with international and peruvian companies. All of them under international standards and expensive, but really worthwhile to try them. 4 star hotels are usually a bit on the expensive side (>US$80 per night) and common in the large cities. 3 star hotels are a good compromise between price and quality and usually US$30-50. 2 and 1 star hotels are very cheap (<US$30), but don't expect hot water or a particularly safe neighborhood.

In many cities there are hotels in residential areas, but they are not tourist hotels but "couples" rooms for lovers. They are usually signed as "Hostel", which can confuse the unaware traveller thinking it was for backpackers. Lately there have being a huge development of guesthouses, backpackers lodging, bed and breakfast, and also vacation rentals (apartments for short term rent). So, the offer for lodging now is more varied.

Learn

Peruvian Spanish, particularly in the coast, is clearer than European Spanish and Spanish from other Latin American countries, especially México, Colombia and Chile. People don't tend to speak too fast, although in some areas, people speak considerably faster than in other areas, and they also use slang quite liberally. On the whole, Peru is a good and cheap place to embark on Spanish courses (once you are there).

Some slang terms:

chévere, bacán, cool.

chela (Cerveza), a beer.

Me da cólera, Me llega, it pisses me off.

Ya, right, sure (sometimes "ok" or "yup").

Loco, crazy person. Usually said in a friendly manner, also means "mate, friend, buddie"

Tombo means "policeman" (and policemen don't like hearing it).

Chibolo(a), a kid.

Bamba/pirata fake, counterfeit goods & products

Money is often referred to as plata (as in silver). Mucha plata = too much money ("that's expensive!").

Some slang terms come from Quechua:

Que piña: means 'what bad luck' even though 'piña' in Quechua means 'coraje' or in English 'infuriating'.

Tengo una yaya: means 'I'm injured'. In Quechua, 'yaya' means injury. And 'yawar' means blood.

Arranca arranca no mas: means 'get the hell out'

Work

While there a very limited options for unskilled work and local wages are very low, teaching English or other language tutoring is an option.

Avoid paying for volunteering. Simply contact a bunch of international NGOs and let them know you are interested in working for them. Sometimes you can also get a paid job after doing some volunteer work. Just be clear that you are able to stay a fixed amount of time for unpaid work, and that you would need some money to continue your work.

Stay safe

In Lima ring 105. In Lima and some of the larger cities there is a sort of local police called "Serenazgo": you may ask for help but they have no tourist oriented services.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and try to avoid unlit or unpopulated areas, especially at night. There is a lot of petty crime that can turn violent. Avoid groups of male youngsters since there are many small gangs trying to rob passers-by. If you witness a robbery be very careful before intervening, since robbers may be armed and are quite prone to shooting if they feel threatened.
  • Armed robberies of tourists are fairly common.
  • A dirty old backpack with valuable contents is safer than a new one with old clothes in it. It's often good not to look too rich.
  • Some travelers don't use wallets, but keep the bills and coins directly in their pocket. Let's say some little bills on the left side and the rest on the right side. Thus, the pickpocket's job gets much harder.
  • Don't walk around with debit or credit cards in your pocket. Leave them in a safe place when you do not immediately need them, because tourists have been kidnapped and forced to take out money each day for a period of a few days.
  • If you want to take large amounts of cash out with you, a neck wallet is always a good idea - you can hide it under your shirt.
  • Watch out for false bills. Every bank has posters that explain what to check for when getting higher valued bills. The only security element that has not been falsified is the bichrome 10,20,50,100 or 200 now also used on US$ bills. Don't be shy about checking any bills you receive. Most Peruvians do so, too. You may get false bills even at upscale places or (quite unusually, but it's been known to happen) banks, so check there too.
  • Small quantities of drugs for personal use or possession (up to 2 g for powdered cocaine or 8 g for marijuana) are permitted by law (Section 299 of the Penal Code of Peru) PROVIDED THAT the user is in possession of only ONE type of drug. However, though possession in these amounts is legal, buying or selling these drugs is illegal.
  • When taking a taxi, take a quick look in the back seat and in the trunk, to make sure there is nobody hiding there. There have been reports of armed robberies/kidnappings taking place in taxis. Afterwards, tourists are blindfolded and driven outside the city and left behind by the highway.
  • At the border crossing from Ecuador (Huaquillas) to Peru people have tried to steal passports by acting like plain-clothed police officers. They give you another form to fill in which is fake. This has taken place although police and customs personnel have been next to them.
  • When traveling on buses, it is recommended to keep your backpack under your seat with the strap hooked around your leg.

Police

  • Tourist police are dressed in white shirts, instead of the usual green ones, and normally speak English and are quite helpful to tourists. The common police officer does not speak any other language but Spanish but normally will try to help.

Dealing with the police can take a lot of time. In order to get a copy of a police report you need to go to a Banco de la Nación and pay 3 soles. Without this the police won't give you a copy, and you can only arrange this during working days.

Natural disasters

Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, earthquakes may occur in Peru. If you're near the coast when the ground starts shaking, beware of tsunamis.

Stay healthy

Vaccinations and Prophylaxis

The quantity and type of vaccines necessary to travel to Peru depend on several factors, including your medical history and which parts of the country you plan to visit. The vaccines most commonly needed to travel to Peru are against tetanus, diphtheria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, rabies and meningitis. Some of these require more than one dose or significant waiting time before they become effective. Therefore, you should inquire about necessary vaccines 6 to 8 weeks before your trip.

Hepatitis A and Typhoid fever vaccinations are recommended for all travellers.

The government of Peru recommends Yellow fever vaccine for all travellers who are going to visit forest areas (Amazonia) below 2,300m (7,546 ft). Travellers that only visit coast or highlands do not need the vaccine for yellow fever.

The vaccine for yellow fever is also required for all travellers who arrive from countries in Africa and the Americas where the disease is endemic.

In recent years, yellow fever has been reported in Cuzco, San Martín, Loreto, Pasco, Amazonas, Ancash, Ayacucho, Huánuco, Junín, Madre de Dios, Puno and Ucayali. Vaccination Center Perú

Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for travelers who believe they might have sex in the country, especially if the visit is for more than 6 months.

The rabies vaccine is recommended for travelers who could have close contact with infected animals while not in range of a hospital, but if you are bitten, get medical help as soon as possible in any case, as the prophylactic rabies vaccine is not sufficient to prevent a rabies infection, which is almost always fatal once symptoms start.

Two doses of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) are recommended for all travellers who have not received this vaccine before.

A tetanus/diphtheria booster is recommended every 10 years.

For more information, see our article on infectious diseases and consult a doctor.

Take a first aid kit, especially if you plan to hike in the countryside during your visit.

Malaria is present in parts of Peru. There is no risk of malaria in the big cities like Lima and surrounding areas or in areas above the 1500 m (4,921 ft). However, you could be at risk: (1) on the coast north of the country (Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque); (2) in the Amazon region: Loreto department (Iquitos), San Martin, Ucayali, Just as Amazon (chachapoyas), Cajamarca (Jaen). There have also been reported cases of malaria in Cuzco Department (Province of Concepción away from the tourist area of Machu Picchu) and Madre de Dios. Take appropriate precautions — and if advised by a physician, prophylactic medications — if you plan to visit these areas.

Food safety Enjoy the food, but be judicious, lest you contract diarrhea, dysentery, or a more serious disease such as a parasitic infestation that could ruin your trip. Thoroughly cooked food is most likely to be safe. Food that's been left out too long or landed on by flies could make you sick. Seafood can go bad particularly easily. Raw fruits and vegetables can be dangerous unless you can safely peel them without touching the pulp inside, or at least wash them in safe (not unboiled tap) water. Bananas and papayas are the safest fruits.

Tap water. Tap water is unsafe to drink or use for brushing your teeth in Peru, unless you boil it. Bottled water is cheap and tastes better than boiled water. Check the bottle to make sure that it has not been opened and refilled. In restaurants, (if you don't trust them) you could ask for the bottle of water to be opened in your presence. Ice cubes are ideally made with purified water, however avoid ice if in doubt.

Insect bites Avoiding insect bites reduces the risk of contracting diseases transmitted by mosquitoes such as yellow fever, dengue fever, leishmaniosis and malaria. Consider wearing long sleeves and read Pests#Mosquitoes for other useful advice.

Rabies There have been reported cases of rabies in Peru, so beware of animals that behave strangely around you and get treatment immediately if you are bitten.

Heat and sun Do not expect to become quickly acclimated to the heat, especially in the jungle. Avoid exhaustion, heat stroke and sunburn by taking sensible precautions, including drinking plenty of safe water and not waiting to feel thirsty before taking a sip.

Accidents and injuries Accidents and injuries produce more deaths of travellers than diseases, so be alert. Aside from normal precautions, you might want to avoid riding a bicycle or motorcycle in Peru if you are not very advanced.

Pharmacies

Common medicines, like antibiotics, can be bought in pharmacies (farmacias or boticas) quite cheaply and without restrictions. However, make sure the expiration date has not been reached. Pharmacists are mostly very helpful and can be consulted if needed. For less serious illnesses, they may replace a doctor.

Diarrhea

Electrolytic drinks help guard against dehydration. You can get powders to dissolve in water in almost every pharmacy. If not, just dissolve sugar and salt in water. But don't forget to use safe water, not unsafe tap water! Bacterial diarrhea can be treated with antibiotics, if it doesn't vanish during a week. Usually, pharmacies are quite helpful.

Altitude

If you do not have experience with higher altitudes above 3,500m (12,000 ft), don't underestimate it! It is not unusual for unacclimatized tourists to faint. If you are coming from sea level, stay at a medium height of about 3,000 m (10,000 ft) for at least one week. Then, altitudes of around 4,500 m (15,000 ft) should not be a risk, although you still will strongly feel the height.

See also: Altitude sickness

Sunburn

Since Peru is close to the equator, the sun can become dangerous for your skin and eyes. Especially in the Sierra, the strong UV radiation due to the height in combination with the rather cold air may burn your skin before you notice it. Sun-blockers are easy to get in drug stores (boticas). If your eyes are sensitive to light, bring good UV-blocking sunglasses from home. Of course, you can buy sunglasses in Peru, too, but you should really be sure that they block the whole UV spectrum; otherwise, they might be worse than none.

Sanitary facilities

Outside of obviously well-set up restaurants and hotels in cities and towns, toilets are often quite primitive and sometimes really dirty. It's a good idea to bring your own paper with you, as Peruvian toilet paper may be too rough as well as being one ply. Toilet doors are marked with "baño", "S.H." or "SS.HH.". The latter two are abbreviations for servicio higienico, which is the rather formal expression. Expect to pay no more than 20 centimos at public restrooms for paper and 50 cents to 1 dollar to enter the bathroom.

In hostels or budget hotels, you cannot rely on having water all the time. In the Andean region, it also can easily happen that showers have more or less hot water only in the afternoon since the water is heated by solar energy only. Electrically heated showers are widespread, but the electric installation is sometimes really dangerous, since the water heater is mostly situated at the shower head. Have a look at it before turning on the shower, especially if you are tall enough that you could touch the cables or other metal while showering and electrocute yourself. Don't be too paranoid, though, as these electric shock is usually painful rather than life-threatening.

As woman, if you use tampons during your period, you should bring them with you from home, because they are not very popular in Peru. In Lima, you'll be able to find them in supermarket chains like Tottus, Wong, Metro, Plaza Vea or at drug stores/chemists, known as farmacias and boticas. When you find them, buy enough for the rest of the trip, as they are virtually unknown in the rest of the country. Alternatively, you could pack a menstrual cup because they are reusable and compact.

Respect

Don't use the word indio, even though it's Spanish. For natives, it's very much like the English n-word, since it was used by Spanish conquerors. The politically correct way of speaking is el indígena or la indígena — although, like the n-word, very close people inside a circle of friends can get away with it. Another word to be careful with is cholo, chola, or cholita, meaning indígena. This may be used affectionately among indigenous people (it's a very common appellation for a child, for instance), but it's offensive coming from an outsider. The n-word is used, but in a funny/playful way, so If you hear it in the street, don't be offended right away.

Even if you have about 20 No Drugs t-shirts at home, accept that people — especially from the countryside — chew coca leaves. See it as a part of the culture with social and ritual components. Keep in mind that coca leaves are not cocaine and are legal. You can try them to experience the culture. If you don't like to chew them, try a mate de hojas de coca (also quite effective against altitude sickness). However, the use of coca leaf tea may lead to testing positive on North American drug tests within the next few weeks.

Officially, most Peruvians are Roman Catholic, but especially in the countryside, the ancient pre-Hispanic religiosity is still alive. Respect that when visiting temple ruins or other ritual places and behave as if you were in a church.

Connect

In all but the smallest towns and villages, one can find public telephones for national and international calls. Most are in bars or stores. Some of them accept coins, but watch out for stuck coins or dodgy-looking coin receivers as these might make you lose your money. Don't worry if your 1 Nuevo Sol coins don't get through at first, just keep trying and it will eventually work. Many public phones can be expensive, and an attractive alternative is a Locutorio, or "call-center". Typical rates include .2 Nuevo Sol/minute for calls in the country, and .5 Nuevo Sol/minute for most international calls.

You also can buy phone cards with a 12 digit secret number on it. Using a phone card, first dial 147. When done so, you will be told how much your card is still valid and be asked (in Spanish, of course) for your secret number. After having typed it, you are asked for the phone number you want to connect to. Type it in. Then you get told how much time you can talk. After that, the connection is tried.

For international calls, it is often a good idea to go to an Internet café that offers Internet-based phone calls. You find them in the cities. Internet cafés, called in Peru cabinas públicas, grow like mushrooms in Peru and if you are not really on the countryside, it should not be a problem at all to find one. Even in a smaller town like Mancora or Chivay you can still find Internet cafés with 512kbit/s ADSL. The connection is quite reliable and they are cheap (1.50-3 Soles, US$0.60-1.20 per hour). Just don't expect most of them to actually sell coffee - or anything at all but computer time or services like printing. It is not uncommon to find cabinas that burn CDs directly from SD, CF or Memory sticks. Many Internet cafés have headphones and microphones, for free or for an extra fee.

Tourist offices

  • iperú, ? +51 1 574-8000, e-mail: iperuiquitos@promperu.gob.pe. This government tourist office has a presence in most cities that are popular with tourists, and is helpful with information. They also keep tabs on businesses and log complaints, so you can check out tour operators, etc. before you confirm. Their services are free.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Nick Stanziano, co-founder of SA Luxury Expeditions and newly minted Peruvian citizen about his new country of Peru. We talk about Lima, Machu Picchu and other well known Peru landmarks as well both ancient and modern.

Hear about travel to Arequipa, Peru as the Amateur Traveler talks to Sam from Indefinite Adventure. Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city after Lima. It is in the south, inland, west of Lake Titicaca and south of Cusco. Sam heard about Arequipa from other travelers and lived and worked there for a month as a temporary local.

If I asked a group of adventure travelers about the highlights of their recent Peru trip, I can guarantee that I would hear a wide array of stories, about views from high mountain passes, to walking under magnificent towering peaks or through steamy jungles and cloud forests. For others it might be the impressive ruins or unique cultural experiences they enjoyed.

The fact is, we all have unique perspectives when we travel, and we all enjoy different aspects of an adventure. So when I say the words "Machu Picchu Trek" to you - what that means may be already imagined in your mind - or it may not yet be defined.

There are so many things to see and do in Peru, and lots of options to choose from, leading to the question "if I want to trek to Machu Picchu, what options do I have for getting there?".

Adventure lovers can have an absolute blast in a land so jam packed full of contrasting landscapes. For many Peru visitors their journey begins in Cuzco, the heart of the Inca Empire where most people spend the first part of their trip hiking past Inca fortresses, over stunning mountain passes on the way to Machu Picchu. Other popular choices include cycling through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where you can get up close and personal with Peruvian wildlife, or sea kayaking across Lake Titicaca to isolated reed island villages, to spend time with indigenous families.

Lake Titicaca Reed Islands

The wide scope of experiences on offer gives you a complete and comprehensive immersion in Peru, and one you’ll never forget!

One very popular trip for people who want to enjoy a full immersion in everything Peru has to offer is the 'Jaguar' trip, run by Active Adventures. The 'Jaguar' has been described by many, as an action packed, multi-activity adventure, including a trek to Machu Picchu. The 'Jaguar' captures everything the stunning and beautiful country of Peru has on offer. You can be sitting on top one of the mountain passes in the Andes one day, and walking through the steamy pathways of the Amazon jungle another.

There are three 'Jaguar' options: 14 days, 10 days and 7 days. Apart from the Machu Picchu Trek, there are other activities that returning guests rave about, including:

  • Hiking in the Amazon jungle
  • Kayaking on Lake Titicaca
  • Staying with a local family on Amantani Island
  • Hiking Sacsayhuaman Fortress
  • Hiking and cycling in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Exploring Cuzco
  • Cycling through Andean villages and La Raya Pass
  • Hiking Amantani and Taquile Islands on Lake Titicaca

Here's a sneak peak at the Machu Picchu 4 Day 3 Night Trek, part of the 'Jaguar' adventure:

Day one: Arrive in Cuzco and hike the Sacsayhuman fortress.

Your days starts in Cuzco, the heart of the Inca Empire. You’ll be greeted by your trek leader with a cup of hot coca tea, a local Peruvian speciality. This warm and soothing beverage will also help your body gently acclimatise to the Andean altitudes.

After lunch, it’s time to set off for a walk around the fascinating ancient ‘mini-metropolis’ of Cuzco. This is the largest surviving fortress city of the Incas, and is a fascinating stop in its own right on your way to Sacsayhuaman fortress.

Sacsayhuaman fortress is a magnificent archaelogical site. Its impressive design was inspired by Jaguar's teeth, which you can make out in the arrangement of its massive and precisely fitted stones, each weighing up to 130 tonnes. This was the place where the Incas made their final stand against the Spanish conquistadores. You can stand here and imagine this scene as you enjoy the view from the fortress overlooking the Plaza and Cuzco valley below.

The actual purpose of Sacsayhuaman is still not known, some speculate that it was a sanctuary and temple of the sun, others summise it was a granary, and yet another more gruesome theory is that the old Inca King would play football here with the heads of his enemies. Whatever the truth, you’ll enjoy hearing many legendary stories like this that have intrigued locals and visitors alike throughout the centuries.

After your visit to Sacsayhuaman, you can take a further walk though the streets of Cuzco and absorb all the vivid colors, sights and sounds of the local markets. You can sit and take in the vibrant atmosphere of the town square, or stroll down the many ancient stone-clad alleyways. As you walk, try and spot the animal forms in the architecture of the hand built giant stone 'puzzle' walls. Later, you can meet up with your group for an evening meal.

Machu Picchu Ruins Citadel

Day two: Cycle Sacred Valley, Visit Pisac market and hike Pisac ruins.

Today you will head into the lush green Sacred Valley. Jump on your bike and cycle through this green fertile region enjoying beautiful scenery from local villages, surrounded by the massive green slopes of the Andes. Next is a brief stop in Pisac, a small town that hosts the colourful mercado arsenal, which you'll have time to explore. From here there is a spectacular hike up to the Pisac ruins. The Inca terraces, these ruins look down on, rise up 610 metres (2000 feet) from the river at their base. Yes, it’s a heart pumping hike, but the views of the ancient terraces on the trail, combined with the view of Pisac and the Urubamba valley make it very rewarding! After wandering around this ancient complex, it’s time to make your way down the Inca-built stairs to where you depart for the trip back down the valley to Cuzco. It’s a great warm-up day for the next phase of your trip, the Machu Picchu Trek.

Now is the point where you head off on your trek, having chosen from two options for your route to Machu Picchu, the Inca or Lares Trail.

When booking your Machu Picchu Trek, you can choose from two 4 day/3 night options, the Inca Trail or Lares Trail. Both options will take you through the magnificent Andean wilderness and give you an authentic view into the indigenous Peruvian culture that is still thriving throughout the highlands. If you like ruins, then choosing the Inca Trail has a wide range of structures along the way, if you prefer a closer look into Peruvian culture in the small villages dotted along the trail (and a slightly less physically challenging trip), then you may prefer the the Lares Trail. Many locals along the Lares trail have very little contact with tourists, so you'll get to enjoy the most authentic Peruvian cultural experience with descendants of the Inca! If you are going to choose the Classic Inca Trail, keep in mind, that tickets are very limited, so you will need to book well in advance.

View From Peru Lares Trail Pass

Option One - Machu Picchu Trek via The Classic Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is by far the most traveled route to Machu Picchu. This is probably because of the vast array of ruins you can encounter along this trek. Some say it is a more 'commercial' way to go because locals are so used to seeing tourists. This doesn't mean you will miss out on absorbing the Peruvian culture, but it is justified to say that that the Inca Trail is the most well worn track the Inca literally paved more than 500 hundred years ago, and by western visitors for the next 500 or so years. No matter which route you take, you will leave with a sense of wonder and awe, at the scenery and the ruins, but with an understanding - or curiosity - about the legends and little extra side trips you'll be taken on if you travel with the right guide(s). This adds another complete dimension to your trip.

Day One: Hike through the Sacred Valley Of The Incas

Leaving Cuzco, this leg takes you through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to begin your trek at Piscachucho, otherwise known - by the locals, as Kilometre 82. From this point you follow the Rio Cusichacha river. The river is flanked by huge Andean peaks, Inca ruins and segments of dry forest. You’ll stroll though a couple of small villages along the way, stopping for lunch before making your way to the first camp at Pisonay for a sumptuous feast where you can enjoy a rest in your new surroundings, ready for the next day's adventure.

Day Two: Hike the Inca Trail to Pacamayo

Get ready for an amazing day with a cup of hot coca tea and good hearty breakfast! Today is the day for a challenging but rewarding trek up 914 metres (3000 feet) to reach Warmiwanusqa - or Dead Womans Pass as an altitude of 440 metres (14,435 feet). As the name suggests this is an exhilarating trail that winds its way up through a spectacular mountain pass that rewards you with a magnificent panoramic view of the Andean scenery below. Now is the time to pull out your camera if you are inclined, and capture the expansive view to share with your friends and family back home. Yes its a challenging hike, but the full unobstructed view in all directions makes it worth every step!

After catching your breath and taking in the beauty of the whole region, you will make your way down over 500 year old Inca paved steps to the Pacomayo Valley for another stay and well earned feast after your days walk!

Day Three: Hike the Inca Trail to Winay Wayna

Today Peru ups the wow factor with even more stunning scenery. As you walk down through yet another change of scenery, through humid cloud forest, you will emerge to the captivating sight of several Inca fortresses. As you travel on further you will notice as you pass by many more ancient ruins, the increasing presence of colourful floral blooms on your way to the the next camp. Once again you’ll enjoy stunning views at the last point you will stay at before entering Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate the next day.

Day Four: Hike to Machu Picchu

After breakfast, and before the misty dawn, you hike via the morning light for around an hour to Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate. This is the perfect place to wait for the sunrise, and watch the morning fog lift away for your first peek at Machu Picchu. It’s a special moment in a very magical place to just sit and enjoy, before making your way into Machu Picchu for a day of exploration.

Ceviche Peruvian Food

Option Two - Machu Picchu Trek via The Lares Inca Trail

The Lares trail is less publicised as an alternative trek to the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. It is a trek that takes you on an exploration of the wilderness, and gives you a more immersive experience in the local indigenous culture as you travel through numerous settlements, past lakes, and around the Lares Valley.

It is a physically less challenging trek, and so if you're more interested in the cultural aspects of Peru than the physical challenge its a great choice. That doesn't mean the Lares trail won't also allow you enjoy beautiful landscapes and interesting ruins to take home in your memories. There are still plenty of gorgeous and equally memorable natural and archaeological discoveries to make along the way.

Day One: Hike Lares Trail to Cuncani

Depart from Cuzco and arrive at the town of Quiswarani to begin your hike alongside raging Andean rivers, lined by hillsides dotted with llama stretching up to towering snow-capped peaks. Continuing on you walk up and through the beautiful Hualcajasa Pass then back down to the camp situated in the tiny town of Cuncani. This is just one of many small communities you will visit in the Lares Trail, populated by the descendants of the Inca. It's one of many opportunities you will get to experience the mostly unchanged and unique culture of the people who still continue with many of the same customs as their predecessors did 500 years ago. You'll be greeted with a hot cup of coco tea, as by now you may have guessed, is customary in Peru.

viewperu

Day Two: Hike Lares Trail to Ipsaycocha Lake

Starting your day with a hearty breakfast following your hot cup of coca tea, you'll head off down in to the Chancachaca Valley. On the way down the valley your senses will be treated to picturesque views along the valley floor.

Next is the small village of Huacawasi, a small village where you can stop for lunch, before heading off for a traverse over the Ipsay Qasa Pass. Again this is another place you can enjoy incredible panoramic views, this time looking down over the alpine terrain. From the top of the pass, you can catch your first glimpse of the 5600 metre (18400 feet) high Mount Mantanay. The trail then leads back down via a short hike to Ipsaycocoha lake, where you can have a go at catching local trout to compliment your evening meal.

Day Three: Hike the Lares Trail to Ollantaytambo

From the lake the trail drops down into a gorgeous valley to arrive at the village of Patacancha. In this quaint village you will see children dressed in colorful red ponchos, a traditional style of dress worn with white pants and colourful hats. The children are often seen herding alpacas and llamas around the village.

Next you arrive at Ollantaytambo, where you can't miss the brilliantly engineered and constructed terraces strung along the steep mountain sides, where local farmers grow crops.  The next place you stop is for lunch at either Pallata, or Ollantaytambo, a town with cobbled streets lined with traditional thatched roofed houses. Walking around this town is like  being transported back half a millennium to Inca times.

From here you catch a train to Aguas Calientes, a colorful village with a mild sub-tropical climate. Here you can enjoy a delicious Peruvian meal to replenish your energy store in readiness for tomorrow's big hike up to Machu Picchu.

Children Herding Llamas Peru Ponchos

Day Four: Visit Machu Picchu

Today is the big day, when you walk up to the ancient site of Machu Picchu departing right after a nice early breakfast.

At the site of Machu Picchu you will meet up with your local guide who will be your host showing around this fascinating citadel. They will explain some of the legends and myths surrounding machu picchu carried forward by generations of Inca, as well as some of the later theories from archaeological discoveries made in more contemporary times.

You'll have the chance to explore the many passageways and stone buildings on your own, and if you arrived here via the Lares Trail, you might also like to visit the Sun Gate.

So there you have it - a preview of what you can expect on either the Inca Trail or Lares Trail options on the Machu Picchu Trek section of the 'Jaguar' trip. Of course there is a lot more to see and do in Peru, both destination and activity-wise. Check out some more options here.

If you enjoyed this article or have anything to add, please add your comments below, we'd love to hear your opinion!

ruinds

 

The post 4 Day Machu Picchu Trek: The Ultimate Peru Adventure appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Sometimes surprises when you're traveling can be good--a delicious meal at a local restaurant or a tip from a local leading to a great off-the-beaten-path site, for example. However, more often than not, travel surprises can be nasty--and as much time as you spend preparing for a trip, it seems they're sometimes unavoidable. That said, you should still do what you can to educate yourself before heading out, and we're here to help! That's why we've crafted this list of seven important things to know before visiting Peru.

A few of these tips will help you to avoid disaster while the rest will just help to make things a bit more pleasant during your stay in the country. So let's get to it!

1. Carry Cash... Peruvian Cash

peruvian soles - things to know before visiting peru

Image courtesy of blogs.ft.com.

If you've never traveled to a country with a developing economy before, this might take some getting used to--but for the most part you're going to have to leave the plastic behind. Of course, it's possible to find places that accept certain cards in Lima and in major tourist centers like Cusco--but even in establishments that advertise this, make sure to ask first! It's not uncommon for a store or restaurant to put a Visa sticker on the door without ever accepting Visa cards in the first place. And for your own sake, don't restrict yourself to places that accept cards. You'll end up missing out on most "authentic" Peruvian experiences.

Also, please don't be the kind of person that tries to use currency from his/her home country. Be them dollars, euros, or anything else, this is lazy at best and insulting to Peruvians at worst. "What do you mean you don't want our money?" Once again, this might fly in certain tourist-friendly establishments, but most Peruvians won't think twice about turning down foreign bills, especially in locales off the beaten tourist path.

2. And Speaking of Money, Don't Be Afraid to Haggle!

This won't work in certain situations--for example, don't try to haggle down your restaurant bill or museum entry fee. However, in an open-air market or in many souvenir stores it is entirely acceptable--and expected--that you haggle. As a tourist, vendors will generally start you at a much higher price in hopes that you'll just pay and walk away. Don't fall for it. In fact, it's not uncommon to knock 50% or more off quoted prices, so get to it! Don't think of it as being cheap, but rather as a competitive sport. Have some fun with it.

3. Eat Your Ceviche in the Morning

Remember when we discussed ceviche in another article? Well here's some advice on the best time to eat it! This applies especially to Lima and other towns along the coast, but it's still a good idea pretty much anywhere you go. You see, Peruvian restaurants don't generally buy their fish from wholesalers or the grocery store--they buy directly from fishermen who bring their catch to shore early--and we mean early--in the morning. As such, the sooner you eat it, the fresher it will be--and this is especially important since ceviche is served raw.

4. Go Ahead, Chew Some Coca Leaves

coca leaves - things to know before visiting peru

Yes, coca leaves are an active ingredient in the production of cocaine--but no, they are not the same thing! Coca leaves generally contain less than 1% of the alkaloid cocaine and their "buzz" is similar to that of a good cup of coffee. Coca leaves have been chewed by the indigenous people of the region for centuries and are especially helpful for a bit of energy at high altitudes--besides suppressing hunger and fatigue, they've also been proven to reduce altitude sickness. Especially if you're on a difficult hike, don't be afraid to take the leaves a guide may offer you. Trust us, they're really OK!

5. Peruvian Plumbing Works a Bit Differently

This is actually the case throughout most of Latin America, but if it's your first time visiting then it's important to come out and say it. Plumbing here is designed for human waste and human waste only. That little trash bin off to the side? That's where your toilet tissue will go after use. Yes, perhaps it's a little "gross," but you know what's more gross? A massive clog and human waste backed up all the way to the toilet bowl. Sorry for the imagery... but it's the truth.

6. Know Your Seasons

Peru's climate features a dry season, which runs from April to October, and a rainy season, which runs the rest of the year. There are some obvious ups and downs associated with each of these periods. First of all, the rainy season features a lot of, well, rain. It generally doesn't rain all day, but periodic strong showers occur generally for an hour or two daily. The dry season features hardly any rain at all. However, this makes the dry season much more appealing to tourists, which means more crowds and even increased lodging prices at many places throughout the country. It's up to you to decide what trade offs to make.

7. The Inca Trail is Genuinely Challenging

Inca Trail - things to know before visiting peru

If you're coming to Peru to hike the Inca Trail, please don't take it for granted--even with porters and the nicest of hiking gear, this is still a genuinely challenging physical experience. If you're not in the best shape, don't get discouraged--but please take steps to prepare your body for the trail! If you need advice regarding the necessary physical condition for a visit to Machu Picchu, you can start by taking a look at this article. You might be surprised to find a variety of options appropriate for many different fitness levels.

Finally, it can be a good idea to learn some Spanish before heading down to Peru! Here's a site with some great Spanish-learning tips, though there are plenty of ways to learn out there today.

The post 7 Things to Know Before Visiting Peru appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Sometimes surprises when you're traveling can be good--a delicious meal at a local restaurant or a tip from a local leading to a great off-the-beaten-path site, for example. However, more often than not, travel surprises can be nasty--and as much time as you spend preparing for a trip, it seems they're sometimes unavoidable. That said, you should still do what you can to educate yourself before heading out, and we're here to help! That's why we've crafted this list of seven important things to know before visiting Peru.

A few of these tips will help you to avoid disaster while the rest will just help to make things a bit more pleasant during your stay in the country. So let's get to it!

1. Carry Cash... Peruvian Cash

peruvian soles - things to know before visiting peru

Image courtesy of blogs.ft.com.

If you've never traveled to a country with a developing economy before, this might take some getting used to--but for the most part you're going to have to leave the plastic behind. Of course, it's possible to find places that accept certain cards in Lima and in major tourist centers like Cusco--but even in establishments that advertise this, make sure to ask first! It's not uncommon for a store or restaurant to put a Visa sticker on the door without ever accepting Visa cards in the first place. And for your own sake, don't restrict yourself to places that accept cards. You'll end up missing out on most "authentic" Peruvian experiences.

Also, please don't be the kind of person that tries to use currency from his/her home country. Be them dollars, euros, or anything else, this is lazy at best and insulting to Peruvians at worst. "What do you mean you don't want our money?" Once again, this might fly in certain tourist-friendly establishments, but most Peruvians won't think twice about turning down foreign bills, especially in locales off the beaten tourist path.

2. And Speaking of Money, Don't Be Afraid to Haggle!

This won't work in certain situations--for example, don't try to haggle down your restaurant bill or museum entry fee. However, in an open-air market or in many souvenir stores it is entirely acceptable--and expected--that you haggle. As a tourist, vendors will generally start you at a much higher price in hopes that you'll just pay and walk away. Don't fall for it. In fact, it's not uncommon to knock 50% or more off quoted prices, so get to it! Don't think of it as being cheap, but rather as a competitive sport. Have some fun with it.

3. Eat Your Ceviche in the Morning

Remember when we discussed ceviche in another article? Well here's some advice on the best time to eat it! This applies especially to Lima and other towns along the coast, but it's still a good idea pretty much anywhere you go. You see, Peruvian restaurants don't generally buy their fish from wholesalers or the grocery store--they buy directly from fishermen who bring their catch to shore early--and we mean early--in the morning. As such, the sooner you eat it, the fresher it will be--and this is especially important since ceviche is served raw.

4. Go Ahead, Chew Some Coca Leaves

coca leaves - things to know before visiting peru

Yes, coca leaves are an active ingredient in the production of cocaine--but no, they are not the same thing! Coca leaves generally contain less than 1% of the alkaloid cocaine and their "buzz" is similar to that of a good cup of coffee. Coca leaves have been chewed by the indigenous people of the region for centuries and are especially helpful for a bit of energy at high altitudes--besides suppressing hunger and fatigue, they've also been proven to reduce altitude sickness. Especially if you're on a difficult hike, don't be afraid to take the leaves a guide may offer you. Trust us, they're really OK!

5. Peruvian Plumbing Works a Bit Differently

This is actually the case throughout most of Latin America, but if it's your first time visiting then it's important to come out and say it. Plumbing here is designed for human waste and human waste only. That little trash bin off to the side? That's where your toilet tissue will go after use. Yes, perhaps it's a little "gross," but you know what's more gross? A massive clog and human waste backed up all the way to the toilet bowl. Sorry for the imagery... but it's the truth.

6. Know Your Seasons

Peru's climate features a dry season, which runs from April to October, and a rainy season, which runs the rest of the year. There are some obvious ups and downs associated with each of these periods. First of all, the rainy season features a lot of, well, rain. It generally doesn't rain all day, but periodic strong showers occur generally for an hour or two daily. The dry season features hardly any rain at all. However, this makes the dry season much more appealing to tourists, which means more crowds and even increased lodging prices at many places throughout the country. It's up to you to decide what trade offs to make.

7. The Inca Trail is Genuinely Challenging

Inca Trail - things to know before visiting peru

If you're coming to Peru to hike the Inca Trail, please don't take it for granted--even with porters and the nicest of hiking gear, this is still a genuinely challenging physical experience. If you're not in the best shape, don't get discouraged--but please take steps to prepare your body for the trail! If you need advice regarding the necessary physical condition for a visit to Machu Picchu, you can start by taking a look at this article. You might be surprised to find a variety of options appropriate for many different fitness levels.

Finally, it can be a good idea to learn some Spanish before heading down to Peru! Here's a site with some great Spanish-learning tips, though there are plenty of ways to learn out there today.

The post 7 Things to Know Before Visiting Peru appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Just like Peru is a land of diverse and delicious cuisines, the country also has a wide variety of characteristic beverages for you to try during your trip! From the official national cocktail to ancient indigenous concoctions to burgeoning craft beer scenes in Lima and Cusco, there are tons of Peruvian drinks that might tickle your fancy.

If you're headed to Machu Picchu or even trekking the Inca Trail, you may or may not pass through Lima on the way. Surely, though, you'll be spending some time in Cusco, one of the country's most vibrant cities that combines a degree of urban sophistication with the most traditional aspects of Andean highland culture. What this means is that you're sure to find every drink on our list within the city, and so--if you want--you'll have the opportunity to try them all.

Though covered in another article, we're going to give an honorary #1 spot to Inca Kola, Peru's iconic soft drink. Now that that's out of the way, let's continue with the rest of our list!

inca kola - Peruvian drinks

Cocktails

2. Pisco Sour

pisco sour - peruvian drinks

Image appears courtesy of www.travelandescape.ca.

The pisco sour is Peru's national cocktail. And this isn't a figure of speech to express how popular the drink is--we mean it literally! In fact, Pisco Sour Day is celebrated annually in Peru on the first Saturday of February.

But let's take a quick step back, what exactly is a pisco sour? Well, as you might guess, the base liquor at work is called pisco. Originally distilled by Spaniards during the 16th Century, this grape-based brandy is today Peru's most popular spirit.

Using pisco as his base, an American bartender working in Lima invented a cocktail called the "pisco sour" in the early 1920's. The drink's popularity quickly spread and other bars began to experiment with their own versions. By the end of the decade the modern pisco sour was born, combining pisco with lime juice, sweet syrup, ice, egg whites, and bitters. Nowadays, the pisco sour is without a doubt the most iconic of all Peruvian drinks--or at least the alcoholic ones.

Beers

3. Cusqueña

Cusqueña - Peruvian drinks

Not technically a beer but rather a whole "family" of beers, most Peruvians and in-the-know visitors seem to agree that the Cusqueña name is the way to go for a high-quality, widely available "macro-brew" in Peru.

For an easy to drink, lighter beer, the Cusqueña Premium is the best option (pictured above on the left). But if you're a bit more adventurous with your beer drinking, make it a point to try one or more other beers from the Cusqueña clan. They make an above-average wheat beer, a decent red lager, and a dark schwarzbier (also pictured above, on the right). Some or all of these beers should be available in just about all Peruvian dining establishments, and they're all significantly tastier than the wide variety of bland light beers that will probably be offered alongside them.

 4. Norton Rat's Tavern Micro-brews

Though we generally shy away from recommending places that cater strictly to tourists/foreigners, if you're looking for a fine micro-brew in Cusco, Norton Rat's is without a doubt the place. Ignore the ridiculous name and head to the second story of a building right on the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco. Here you'll find one of the city's finest views, some okay food, and some truly excellent beer brewed in-house.

Whether you're into pale ales, porters, brown ales, or something else, Norton Rat's is brewing some of the most interesting craft beer coming out of Peru today. If you're a beer fan, you can't miss it!

Teas

5. Mate de Coca

mate de coca - Peruvian drinks

One of the most traditional of Peruvian drinks, mate de coca is quite literally tea brewed with the infamous coca leaf. Many foreigners assume the coca leaf to be synonymous with the drug cocaine, but as we explain here, this is far from the case. Coca leaves have been used for their medicinal properties safely and responsibly by the indigenous people of Peru for thousands of years, providing energy and helping to combat the effects of altitude sickness.

Mate de coca is found primarily in the Andean highlands of Peru, the ancestral homeland of the Inca people and modern-day home to Cusco and Machu Picchu, among other locations of interest to tourists. A slightly bitter but by no means unpleasant taste is a small price to pay for the jolt of pleasant energy a warm cup of mate de coca will give you.

Chicha

If you've never heard of chicha before, don't feel bad--this is another traditional indigenous drink that's hardly known outside of the region. Generally associated with homemade drinks made from fermented corn, the term chicha is actually used by different cultural groups to mean entirely different things. We're going to look at the two most popular chichas, and two of our absolute favorite Peruvian drinks:

6. Chicha Morada

chicha morada - Peruvian drinks

Image appears courtesy of www.mamaslatinas.com.

A non-alcoholic chicha for the whole family to enjoy, chicha morada ("purple chicha") is one of the most popular traditional Peruvian drinks. The base for this one is purple corn, which gives the drink its namesake color and acts as the focal point of its distinctly sweet taste. To complete the mix, one normally adds cinnamon, sugar, lime juice, and other fruit, most typically pineapple. Though the finer details can change from one chicha-maker to the next, this drink will always come out near the top of the list of fine Peruvian drinks.

7. Chicha de Jora

chicha de jora - Peruvian drinks

Image appears courtesy of latinos.it.

Rounding out our list is another classic Peruvian chicachica de jora. Unlike in chicha morada, the yellow corn that goes into this drink is in fact fermented, meaning that this is another alcoholic drink to finish things up with. The indigenous people of Peru have been enjoying this one for centuries, and we highly suggest you get in on the action. Foreigners often compare the taste to alcoholic apple cider, but the description doesn't quite do it justice. You'll just have to try it our yourself and see.

The post The 7 Peruvian Drinks You Can't Miss on Your Trip appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Exploring the ancient streets of Cusco, trekking the Inca or Lares Trails, taking in the sight of Machu Picchu for the first time--these are all magical moments. If you're planning a trip to Peru, you're truly lucky. Most people don't get to have these sorts of experiences during their lifetimes. However, even the luckiest of people sometimes experience a bit of misfortune during their travels. Most of the time, these problems are minor--food that doesn't agree with your stomach or a scraped knee, for instance. But every once in a while, something goes seriously wrong.

Though very rare, tourists to Peru do sometimes experience serious medical problems. The most tragic part of this is that many of these problems would have been avoided if the victims had simply taken a few precautions before heading out on their adventure! Though as of the time of writing Peru doesn't require you to show proof of any vaccinations to enter the country, it's still a good idea to get certain vaccines before your Peru trip. That's why we want to offer you this simple Peru vaccinations and medical checklist, with all the information you'll need on the subject in one place.

Before we begin, please let us stress that we are not doctors! Though this information is accurate and up-to-date as best as we can understand, remember that it's always best to consult with a medical professional before making any medical decisions. Now that that's out of the way...

Peru Vaccinations

Peru vaccinations and medical checklist

There are a number of vaccines recommended for travelers to Peru, but don't worry--smallpox isn't one of them!

Routine Vaccinations

There's not that much to say here, but the routine vaccines that you should have anyway should certainly be administered before a trip to Peru. These include measles/mumps/rubella, tetanus, chickenpox, polio, and a flu shot. If you're coming from a developed country, there's a good chance you already have these knocked out and even if you weren't headed to Peru, it would still be a good idea to get these done!

Hepatitis A

When most people from developed countries hear of "hepatitis," the thoughts that come to mind include drug addicts sharing needles or sexual transmission of disease, but these images relate to other hepatitis viruses, namely B and C!

Hepatitis A, on the other hand, is spread primarily through contaminated food and drinking water. You might be shocked to find out that in the developing world, due to inadequate sanitation and poor access to drinking water, infection rates for Hepatitis A reach between 90 and 100 percent. Children are affected primarily, and much like chickenpox, one infection guarantees lifetime immunity after recovery.

If you've never contracted Hepatitis A, now's not the time to do it. Two weeks to several months of fatigue, fever, nausea, yellowed skin, and further symptoms is not how you want to remember your Peru vacation, and though most healthy adults do eventually make a full recovery we recommend getting a simple vaccine instead.

Typhoid

This is another vaccine recommended for all travelers to Peru, regardless of region. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States specifically recommends this vaccine for travelers headed to smaller cities or rural areas and to--and we quote--"adventurous eaters." If you're anything like us, you probably fall into one or both of these categories, so make it a point to get your typhoid vaccine!

Typhoid is a bacterial disease transmitted by infected food or water with symptoms including fever, headache, cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and potential serious health complications. Trust us, you want to avoid all of this.

Rabies

The vaccine for rabies, a viral disease transmitted through bites or scratches from infected animals, is recommended to travelers who will be involved in outdoor activities in remote areas of Peru--such as trekking the Inca or Lares trail, perhaps? Though it's incredibly unlikely that you'll have an experience like this and the rabies vaccine is very much a preventative measure, it might be a good idea if you're already going to be visiting the doctor anyway.

Yellow Fever

Listen up: the yellow fever vaccine is only recommended for travelers to certain regions of Peru--regions that you might not be visiting! The CDC specifically states that the vaccine is not generally recommended for travelers to CuscoLima, Machu Picchu, or the Inca Trail. This is because yellow fever is caused by mosquito bites, and mosquitoes in Peru are confined solely to low-lying, humid areas. Of course, if you plan to venture off the beaten path to any places that might fit this description, you should talk to your doctor about the yellow fever vaccine.

Medical Checklist

Peru vaccinations and medical checklist

A full-blown first aid kit might seem like over-preparedness to some, but when traveling to isolated locales it's a good idea to be prepared!

Now that you've got all your vaccines out of the way, you're totally done! Or wait... not quite. There are a few more medical concerns to take into account. Below, we've included a short list of the medical supplies you ought to have with you while you journey through Peru. Most of them, quite frankly, are pretty obvious--but it's still a good idea to double and triple check, making sure you're totally prepared. If you're joining an reputable adventure tour group your guide will carry a full medical kit at all times, so you will be able to discuss with them whether you need to carry these things as well.

1. Anti-diarrheal Drugs

There's no two ways around it--especially if you're taking advantage of Peru's fantastic native cuisine, you're probably going to get sick to your stomach at some point. Make sure to bring something for that.

2. Acetaminophen or Aspirin

3. Anti-inflammatory Drugs

4. Antihistamines

These are particularly important if you've got any known allergies. But even if you don't, you could be exposed to new allergens in Peru that your body isn't used to. Still a good idea!

5. Antibacterial Ointment

6. Bandages/Gauze

7. Insect Repellent

Once again, this is more important if you're going to be visiting any of Peru's tropical lowland regions during your trip. Besides simply being a bother, insects here can transmit diseases including malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, so take precautions!

8. Sunblock

9. Iodine Tablets

These can be used during emergency situations to help purify water coming from dubious sources. Though it's generally recommended to stick to bottled water during your trip to Peru, these can help you out in a pinch.

10. Altitude Sickness Medicine

This one is especially relevant for travelers heading to the Andes region, especially to participate in treks like the Inca Trail! For mild cases of altitude sickness, we recommend the simple and safe traditional remedy of chewing some coca leaves or drinking some mate de coca. However, if for whatever reason you're not comfortable with these, pharmaceuticals such as Acetazolamide or diamox will also do the trick.

11. Your Prescription Medications

We hope this one would be obvious to you, but this is just a friendly reminder!

12. Antimalarial Medication

This is a sticky subject, so that's why we've saved it for the end of our list. First of all, this will only be a consideration if you're traveling to parts of Peru where malaria is a threat--that means not the Andes! Additionally, there are a wide variety of antimalarial options with an even wider variety of positive and negative attributes. This is something that you absolutely need to converse with a doctor about--internet research, as much as it pains us to admit, is not your friend here.

So that's it for our Peru vaccinations and medical checklist! If you have any questions, comments, or further ideas, feel free to share in the comments section below. We'll do our best to help you out in any way we can.

By the way, please feel free to download or share the image and PDF versions of this list below:

PDF File Peru Vaccinations List

Peru Vaccinations List

The post Peru Vaccinations and Medical Checklist appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Exploring the ancient streets of Cusco, trekking the Inca or Lares Trails, taking in the sight of Machu Picchu for the first time--these are all magical moments. If you're planning a trip to Peru, you're truly lucky. Most people don't get to have these sorts of experiences during their lifetimes. However, even the luckiest of people sometimes experience a bit of misfortune during their travels. Most of the time, these problems are minor--food that doesn't agree with your stomach or a scraped knee, for instance. But every once in a while, something goes seriously wrong.

Though very rare, tourists to Peru do sometimes experience serious medical problems. The most tragic part of this is that many of these problems would have been avoided if the victims had simply taken a few precautions before heading out on their adventure! Though as of the time of writing Peru doesn't require you to show proof of any vaccinations to enter the country, it's still a good idea to get certain vaccines before your Peru trip. That's why we want to offer you this simple Peru vaccinations and medical checklist, with all the information you'll need on the subject in one place.

Before we begin, please let us stress that we are not doctors! Though this information is accurate and up-to-date as best as we can understand, remember that it's always best to consult with a medical professional before making any medical decisions. Now that that's out of the way...

Peru Vaccinations

Peru vaccinations and medical checklist

There are a number of vaccines recommended for travelers to Peru, but don't worry--smallpox isn't one of them!

Routine Vaccinations

There's not that much to say here, but the routine vaccines that you should have anyway should certainly be administered before a trip to Peru. These include measles/mumps/rubella, tetanus, chickenpox, polio, and a flu shot. If you're coming from a developed country, there's a good chance you already have these knocked out and even if you weren't headed to Peru, it would still be a good idea to get these done!

Hepatitis A

When most people from developed countries hear of "hepatitis," the thoughts that come to mind include drug addicts sharing needles or sexual transmission of disease, but these images relate to other hepatitis viruses, namely B and C!

Hepatitis A, on the other hand, is spread primarily through contaminated food and drinking water. You might be shocked to find out that in the developing world, due to inadequate sanitation and poor access to drinking water, infection rates for Hepatitis A reach between 90 and 100 percent. Children are affected primarily, and much like chickenpox, one infection guarantees lifetime immunity after recovery.

If you've never contracted Hepatitis A, now's not the time to do it. Two weeks to several months of fatigue, fever, nausea, yellowed skin, and further symptoms is not how you want to remember your Peru vacation, and though most healthy adults do eventually make a full recovery we recommend getting a simple vaccine instead.

Typhoid

This is another vaccine recommended for all travelers to Peru, regardless of region. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States specifically recommends this vaccine for travelers headed to smaller cities or rural areas and to--and we quote--"adventurous eaters." If you're anything like us, you probably fall into one or both of these categories, so make it a point to get your typhoid vaccine!

Typhoid is a bacterial disease transmitted by infected food or water with symptoms including fever, headache, cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and potential serious health complications. Trust us, you want to avoid all of this.

Rabies

The vaccine for rabies, a viral disease transmitted through bites or scratches from infected animals, is recommended to travelers who will be involved in outdoor activities in remote areas of Peru--such as trekking the Inca or Lares trail, perhaps? Though it's incredibly unlikely that you'll have an experience like this and the rabies vaccine is very much a preventative measure, it might be a good idea if you're already going to be visiting the doctor anyway.

Yellow Fever

Listen up: the yellow fever vaccine is only recommended for travelers to certain regions of Peru--regions that you might not be visiting! The CDC specifically states that the vaccine is not generally recommended for travelers to CuscoLima, Machu Picchu, or the Inca Trail. This is because yellow fever is caused by mosquito bites, and mosquitoes in Peru are confined solely to low-lying, humid areas. Of course, if you plan to venture off the beaten path to any places that might fit this description, you should talk to your doctor about the yellow fever vaccine.

Medical Checklist

Peru vaccinations and medical checklist

A full-blown first aid kit might seem like over-preparedness to some, but when traveling to isolated locales it's a good idea to be prepared!

Now that you've got all your vaccines out of the way, you're totally done! Or wait... not quite. There are a few more medical concerns to take into account. Below, we've included a short list of the medical supplies you ought to have with you while you journey through Peru. Most of them, quite frankly, are pretty obvious--but it's still a good idea to double and triple check, making sure you're totally prepared. If you're joining an reputable adventure tour group your guide will carry a full medical kit at all times, so you will be able to discuss with them whether you need to carry these things as well.

1. Anti-diarrheal Drugs

There's no two ways around it--especially if you're taking advantage of Peru's fantastic native cuisine, you're probably going to get sick to your stomach at some point. Make sure to bring something for that.

2. Acetaminophen or Aspirin

3. Anti-inflammatory Drugs

4. Antihistamines

These are particularly important if you've got any known allergies. But even if you don't, you could be exposed to new allergens in Peru that your body isn't used to. Still a good idea!

5. Antibacterial Ointment

6. Bandages/Gauze

7. Insect Repellent

Once again, this is more important if you're going to be visiting any of Peru's tropical lowland regions during your trip. Besides simply being a bother, insects here can transmit diseases including malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, so take precautions!

8. Sunblock

9. Iodine Tablets

These can be used during emergency situations to help purify water coming from dubious sources. Though it's generally recommended to stick to bottled water during your trip to Peru, these can help you out in a pinch.

10. Altitude Sickness Medicine

This one is especially relevant for travelers heading to the Andes region, especially to participate in treks like the Inca Trail! For mild cases of altitude sickness, we recommend the simple and safe traditional remedy of chewing some coca leaves or drinking some mate de coca. However, if for whatever reason you're not comfortable with these, pharmaceuticals such as Acetazolamide or diamox will also do the trick.

11. Your Prescription Medications

We hope this one would be obvious to you, but this is just a friendly reminder!

12. Antimalarial Medication

This is a sticky subject, so that's why we've saved it for the end of our list. First of all, this will only be a consideration if you're traveling to parts of Peru where malaria is a threat--that means not the Andes! Additionally, there are a wide variety of antimalarial options with an even wider variety of positive and negative attributes. This is something that you absolutely need to converse with a doctor about--internet research, as much as it pains us to admit, is not your friend here.

So that's it for our Peru vaccinations and medical checklist! If you have any questions, comments, or further ideas, feel free to share in the comments section below. We'll do our best to help you out in any way we can.

By the way, please feel free to download or share the image and PDF versions of this list below:

PDF File Peru Vaccinations List

Peru Vaccinations List

The post Peru Vaccinations and Medical Checklist appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

The smartphone has quickly evolved into one of the most useful travel tools you will ever have in your traveling toolkit, from finding great restaurants to figuring out how to navigate the Buenos Aires subway. Unless you’re planning on trekking through the remoter parts of the Amazon or taking a road trip down Argentina’s desolate Ruta 40, you’ll find mobile data available pretty much across South America.

Worried about high data roaming costs? Don’t be. That is so 2012. Today, local data plans are easy and affordable. Just purchase a local SIM card and pop it into your phone.

You’ll just want to make sure that your phone SIM is unlocked and that it’s compatible with your host country’s network. So now that you’ve got your smartphone up and running in South America, you will want to put it to good use. Before you hit the road, be sure to download these six must-have travel apps.

6 Travel Apps You Absolutely Need When Traveling in South America

Woman using travel app in Peru.

iXpenseIt

When it comes to planning the perfect trip, budgeting is absolutely key. After all, you wouldn’t want to make it all the way to Cusco only to find out you’ve run out of cash and can’t pay for that train ticket to Machu Picchu, would you? Luckily, this handy finance app makes budgeting on the road easy. You can easily visualize your expenses versus your monthly budget with its handy graphics. There is also a world currency list with a built-in currency conversion utility, which makes it especially useful for global travels.

Tripadvisor City Guides

Where’s the best place to grab some dinner in Lima’s Miraflores district? The hottest place to party in Bogota’s vibrant La Candelaria neighborhood? The trendiest place to grab a cocktail in Buenos Aires’ scenic Recoleta? Tripadvisor City Guides makes it easy to figure all of that out. You can check out reviews of popular destinations and even follow self-guided tours created by experts. The best part? These handy guides are available offline. Finding gems like Bogota’s Armando Records or Lima’s La Victoria Bar has never been easier!

Tappsi

There is no denying it: from Bogota to Lima to Santiago, getting around South America’s major metropolitan areas can be quite a feat. Lima’s bus system is nothing short of chaotic, even for locals, and you’re probably going to battle crowds for at least half an hour to board Bogota’s Transmilenio. Though some South American major cities do have good subway systems, such as Buenos Aires, in most places public transportation proves to be a major hassle. You’re better off taking a cab. But it isn’t a wise idea to just hail any cab from a street corner — you’re not in New York City. In many countries, taxis are poorly regulated and very often unsafe, especially for tourists. While not totally common, taxicab robberies and kidnappings are a risk. That’s where Tappsi comes into play, letting you order a safe and secure taxi from your smartphone with just two clicks. Using your phone’s geo-location capabilities, this app locates you and sends a taxi directly to your location. When you need to get from your beautiful bed and breakfast in the bohemian Barranco all the way across the city for an exhibition at the Museo de Arte de Lima (Lima Museum of Art) in Lima’s historic center, Tappsi is your go-to app. Launched in 2012 in Bogota, the service now has over 1 million users. It is available in cities across Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

AllSubway

For those cities that do have subways, All Subway is an absolutely must-have travel app. Navigating a city’s subway system is never easy, especially when everything is in another language. AllSubway boasts clear and easy-to-read maps of subways in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Medellin, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, and Sao Paulo. The maps are available offline, and you can easily plan your route ahead of time to figure out how to get exactly where you’re going. Get all subway at Apple store or Google Play Store

You’re trying to exchange currency with a money exchanger in Lima’s Parque Kennedy, the clerk is trying to convince you that the exchange rate is 2.8 soles to the dollar, but you could have sworn it was actually 2.95. Is he trying to rip you off? To find out, all you need to do is whip out your smartphone and check XE Currency. This handy app displays the day’s currency exchange rate for virtually all of the world’s currencies. You can even display up to 10 currencies at once!

iConcertCal

There is nothing quite as amazing as seeing Manu Chao in Lima’s Parque de La Exposición or seeing a live Jose Gonzalez concert in a bohemian bar in Buenos Aires. This free iTunes plugin for iOS devices generates a personalized calendar of upcoming concerts in your target city based on your iTunes library. What could be better than seeing one of your old-time favorites in a brand-new city?

Of course, if you’re the type of traveller who prefers to distant themselves from email, Facebook and all the other reminders of normal day to day life, taking a smartphone may not be the best idea. Another great way to tap into local knowledge, travel safely and stick to budget is to join a guided adventure trip. Pay before you go, happy in the knowledge that your food, accommodation, transport and guiding is already sorted, and that all you need to do is arrive at the airport with a smile on your face! If you decide to take this approach, look for a company that employs local guides, has great reviews and is contactable over phone or email.

Must have travel apps for Peru

Must have travel apps for Peru

If you have stumbled upon any other great travel apps, you'd like to add to this list, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

The post 6 Travel Apps You Absolutely Need When Traveling in South America appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

There is no place quite like Peru. And no, we’re not just talking about the ancient Inca ruins, the beautiful Andean scenery, and the staggering biodiversity of the Amazon. We mean the gastronomy. Peru is a hotspot when it comes to international cuisine, the center of a gastronomic revolution. With some of the best fusion cuisine in the world, in Peru you will find Andean delicacies and criolla traditions with unique Asian and European twists. Where are the best places to go to check out the action? Take a look at our list of some of the best restaurants in Lima and Cusco.

Download this list of restaurants in Best Restaurants In Peru (PDF)

Gaston Acurio - World's Top Class Chef - Socialphy

Gaston Acurio World Class Chef - Image courtesy of Socialphy

Astrid y Gaston, San Isidro, Lima.   Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio is internationally renowned for his unique ability to serve up delectable fusion dishes. His restaurant empire stretches across three continents, but his Lima flagship restaurant (regularly named as one of the world’s best) is right at the center of the action. You will find a range of flavors at this novoadina-meets-French-cuisine hotspot. However, the highlight of the menu is arguably the Peking guinea pig, which offers a unique French twist on an Andean classic.

 

Charming restaurant near main square of a href=

Charming restaurant near main square of Cusco. Image courtesy of Tripadvisor.com

 

Cicciolina, Piso, Cusco.  If you want an authentic Andean cuisine experience, this is the place to get it. This high-end restaurant is all about authentic flavors. Cicciolina only uses the freshest vegetable and herbs and locally sources much of the menu from the Sacred Valley. One of Cusco’s most beloved restaurants, you will definitely want to stop in for a meal.

 

Chica Por Gaston

A restaurant with food to delight your gastronomic senses in Cusco. Images courtesy of www.chicha.com.pe

Chicha, Cusco.  Another Gaston Acurio restaurant, Chicha serves up traditional Andean dishes, like tacu tacu, lomo saltado, and ceviche. However, menu highlights include the river prawns and tender Alpaca burgers. The best part? It is set in a gorgeous colonial building and the service is truly fantastic.

 

La Lucha a href=

Image courtesy of elcomercio.pe

La Lucha, MirafloresLima.  La Lucha serves up one of the best criolla sandwiches in Lima. It's set right across from Parque Kennedy in the heart of Miraflores. We recommend the pollo con pina.

 

Matsuei Sushi Restaurant Lima

Matsuei Sushi Restaurant Lima www.matsueiperu.com.pe

Matsuei. San Isidro, Lima.  Lima is every seafood lover’s paradise. There is a special place in this city for sushi lovers. A hearty population of Japanese immigrants along with a steady supply of high-quality fresh catch (Peru is home to one of the world’s biggest fishing industries) means that great sushi abounds in the Peruvian capital. Matsuei is one of the best sushi joints in the city. Make sure you try the acevichado roll!

 

Tio Mario Restaurant a href=

Stunning decor, amazing food! Image courtesy of jama.pe

Tio Mario’s, Barranco, Lima  Anticuchos are a true Peruvian delicacy. Essentially skewered cow heart marinated in vinegar and spices, this simple dish has ancient origins, dating back to the Incas. Your Peruvian adventure is not complete without a skewer of these, and Tio Mario’s is arguably the best place to find them. An added bonus? The restaurant is situated in a beautiful blue house in the historic and bohemian Barranco. After dinner, you can take a stroll through the beautiful plaza and admire the Republican-era architecture.

 

Wa Lok Restaurant a href=

Mind blowing delicious Chinese food. Try their spring rolls! Images courtesy of www.absolut-peru.com

Wa Lok, Historic Center, Lima  No trip to Peru is complete with sampling some chifa, a unique Peruvian-Chinese food fusion. Wa Lok, set in the heart of city’s bustling Chinatown, is the place to check out the chifa action. You will find dumplings, skewers, stir fries, and the signature chaufa rice.

Download this list of restaurants Best Restaurants In Peru in (PDF)

 

Best Restaurants In Peru

Print out this handy list of restaurants to visit in Peru

If you have any favorite Peruvian eateries to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section below. We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

The post The Best Places to Eat in Peru appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Lonely Planet Peru (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

# 1 best-selling guide to Peru *

Lonely Planet Peru is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Trek the ancient Inca trail, puzzle over the mystery of the Nasca lines, wander the stone temples of Machu Picchu or indulge in local delicacies in Lima; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Peru and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Peru:

Color maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, cuisine, music, the arts, nature Over 70 color maps Covers Lima, Amazon Basin, Huaras, Cordilleras, Central Highlands, Chan Chan, Cuzco & the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Canyon Country and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Peru, our most comprehensive guide to Peru, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less traveled.

Looking for just the highlights? Check out Discover Peru, a photo-rich guide to the country's most popular attractions.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Peru. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA.

Frommer's EasyGuide to Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu (Easy Guides)

Nicholas Gill

Frommer’s books aren’t written by committee, or by travel writers who simply pop in briefly to a destination and then consider the job done. Frommer’s author Nicholas Gill has been covering Peru for over a decade and this book hits all the highlights, from iconic Machu Picchu to Lima's vibrant dining scene. He's checked out all of the country's best hotels and restaurants in person, and offers authoritative, candid reviews that will help you find the choices that suit your tastes and budget, whether you’re a backpacker or on a splashy honeymoon. Most importantly, he’s not shy about telling readers what to see, and what they can skip without regret.The book includes a fold-out map, plus detailed maps throughout the guide, exact pricing, opening hours, and other important details that will make your trip smoother and less hectic. It features smartly conceived itineraries for travelers of varying types, along with savvy, sometimes sneaky, tips for saving money in ALL price ranges, whether you need to pinch pennies or are able to splash out a bit. This book has it all from budget to luxury and everything in between.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru is your indispensable guide to this beautiful part of the world.

Explore Peru region by region, from local festivals and markets to day trips around the countryside and a journey to Machu Picchu in the Inca heartland.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Fodor's Peru: with Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Travel Guides

Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for 80 years. Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Inca, and the Nazca lines are among the most-visited and awe-inspiring archaeological sites in the world. Bursting with beautiful full-color photos, Fodor's Peru provides expert insider advice on everything from the best guides to the Inca Trail to how to experience native cultures on Lake Titicaca.This travel guide includes:· Dozens of full-color maps · Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· Multiple itineraries to explore the top attractions and what’s off the beaten path· In-depth breakout features on Peruvian cuisine, The Sacred Valley, and Nazca Lines· Coverage of Lima, The Southern Coast, The Southern Andes and Lake Titicaca, Cusco and The Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, The Amazon Basin, The Central Highlands, The North Coast and Northern Highlands, and Bolivia

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Mark Adams

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!What happens when an unadventurous adventure writer tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu?In 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer’s perilous path in search of the truth—except he’d written about adventure far more than he’d actually lived it. In fact, he’d never even slept in a tent.Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Adams’ fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world’s most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?

Peru: Peru Travel Guide: 101 Coolest Things to Do in Peru [Booklet]

101 Coolest Things

Congratulations! You've Found the Ultimate Guide to Peru Travel!You are super lucky to be going to Peru, and this guide will let you know all of the coolest things to do, see, and eat around the country, in places like LimaCuscoTrujilloIquitos, the Andes, and Machu Picchu.Why You Need 101 Coolest Things to Do in PeruThis Peru guide will give you the lowdown on:the very best things to shove in your pie hole, whether that’s traditional street eats from Peruvian alleyways, or plates of roasted guinea pigthe best shopping so that you can take a little piece of London back home with you, whether that’s from traditional weavers in the mountains, or from Pisco distilleriesthe most thrilling outdoor activities, such as trekking the Inca Trail, or even riding a buggy over undulating sand dunesthe coolest historical and cultural sights that you simply cannot afford to miss like ancient Inca Ruins and contemporary art museumswhere to party like someone a true Peruvian and get down with the localsand tonnes more coolness besides!GET Your Copy NOW!Tags: Peru Travel Guide, Travel to Peru, Peru Holidays, Backpacking Peru, Budget Travel Peru, Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Trekking Peru, Hiking Peru, Adventure Travel Peru, Peru Accommodation, Peruvian Food, Peru Restaurants, LimaCuscoTrujilloIquitos, The Andes, Inca Ruins, Peru History, Peruvian History, Ancient Peru, Peru Museums

The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The Latin America Readers)

Orin Starn

Sixteenth-century Spanish soldiers described Peru as a land filled with gold and silver, a place of untold wealth. Nineteenth-century travelers wrote of soaring Andean peaks plunging into luxuriant Amazonian canyons of orchids, pythons, and jaguars. The early-twentieth-century American adventurer Hiram Bingham told of the raging rivers and the wild jungles he traversed on his way to rediscovering the “Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu. Seventy years later, news crews from ABC and CBS traveled to Peru to report on merciless terrorists, starving peasants, and Colombian drug runners in the “white gold” rush of the coca trade. As often as not, Peru has been portrayed in broad extremes: as the land of the richest treasures, the bloodiest conquest, the most poignant ballads, and the most violent revolutionaries. This revised and updated second edition of the bestselling Peru Reader offers a deeper understanding of the complex country that lies behind these claims.

Unparalleled in scope, the volume covers Peru’s history from its extraordinary pre-Columbian civilizations to its citizens’ twenty-first-century struggles to achieve dignity and justice in a multicultural nation where Andean, African, Amazonian, Asian, and European traditions meet. The collection presents a vast array of essays, folklore, historical documents, poetry, songs, short stories, autobiographical accounts, and photographs. Works by contemporary Peruvian intellectuals and politicians appear alongside accounts of those whose voices are less often heard—peasants, street vendors, maids, Amazonian Indians, and African-Peruvians. Including some of the most insightful pieces of Western journalism and scholarship about Peru, the selections provide the traveler and specialist alike with a thorough introduction to the country’s astonishing past and challenging present.

Peru - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

John Forrest

Peru is associated with ancient civilizations, awe-inspiring Inca cities, ruthless conquistadores, spectacular Andean scenery, astonishing biodiversity, and colorful woven textiles. All true—but visitors will find a great deal more to Peru than this. The two distinctive cultures that first encountered each other five hundred years ago have, progressively, integrated. This process of mixing, however, raises questions about Peruvian identity. Peruvian society is divided between the wealthy, Westernized, coastal urban populations and the poorer, traditional, indigenous peoples, many of whom have migrated from the Andes to the cities. Since the flight of the discredited President Fujimori in 2000 there has been a surge of economic growth and development, and continuing social inequality. Peruvians are increasingly embracing consumerism, but for their happiness they still depend on each other, and the family is paramount. This new, updated edition of Culture Smart! Peru charts the rapid changes taking place in the country, including the election in 2011 of the left-leaning President Ollanta Humala, the third democratically elected president in a row. It describes how history and geography have shaped contemporary Peruvian values and attitudes. It provides insights into religious and public life, and reveals what people are like at home, in business, and in their social lives. Most Peruvians are laid-back and surprisingly calm and carefree, given the many uncertainties they face. They are outgoing and sociable. Get to know them, and they will respond with warmth and generosity.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Terrorism

There are continuing concerns about a possible resurgence of terrorist activity by subversive groups, including remnant members of the Shining Path. Isolated incidents have occurred in remote areas and cities within the departments of PunoPiuraLambayeque, La Libertad, Junin, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Ucayali, San Martín, HuanucoHuancavelica and Apurímac. Incidents include robberies, temporary takeovers of small villages, and, although rare, violence (including bombings) or threats of violence against local security forces or community figures. Overland travel in these regions can be dangerous.

Crime

Violent crimes such as carjacking, assault and armed robbery are frequent. When arriving at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, use a secure taxi service to go into the city, and exercise particular caution en route to your hotel. Further information on registered taxi companies is available on the Lima Airport Partners website. Attacks and robberies on vehicles occur regularly along the route from the airport, and even upon a taxi’s arrival at the hotel.

Remain vigilant due to the threat of express kidnappings, in which victims are usually abducted for a few hours and forced to withdraw money from automated banking machines (ABMs). Most express kidnappings take place at night, but cases also occur during daylight hours. Kidnappings sometimes involve taxi drivers. Kidnappers tend to select victims according to outward signs of affluence, such as their clothing, vehicle or place of work. Travel in groups at all times throughout the country, do not accept transportation or guide services offered by individuals seeking clients on the streets, and book a secure taxi from a reputable company.

Criminals have been known to throw objects in front of oncoming traffic in the hopes that cars will stop. If this occurs and you need to stop, do so only in a safe location, such as a gas station.

Theft on intercity buses is also common, particularly when travelling after dark, when armed gangs have been known to stop buses to rob travellers. Thefts on boats by river pirates have been reported along rivers in the Amazon jungle.

If you are stopped by police or security forces, ask to see official identification. Record the officer’s name, badge number and district. Thieves have been known to pose as police officers in order to gain the confidence and cooperation of their potential victims. Petty crime is prevalent in Lima and other cities. Purse snatching, pickpocketing, theft and break-ins occur, even during daylight hours, in crowded public areas, on micro-buses, and while hailing taxis. Thefts also occur frequently in hotels and restaurants. Avoid showing signs of affluence. Avoid carrying unnecessary credit cards and large amounts of money. Resisting a robbery can lead to further violence. While driving, keep your vehicle locked and keep your personal belongings in the trunk of the vehicle as criminals have been known to shatter windows or attempt entry at the sight of merchandise.

Incidents of sexual assault including rape have been reported in the cities of Lima, Cuzco, PunoPucallpa and Arequipa, and in many isolated areas elsewhere in the country. Female travellers should exercise caution at all times.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations, protests and national strikes are commonplace throughout the country. Avoid large crowds, political gatherings and active demonstrations. Strikes may cause disruptions to air travel, public transit and on roads. Protests in the area of Puno can sometimes result in the closure of the border crossing with Bolivia. You should monitor local media reports for up-to-date information.

Road travel

Poor road conditions and a lack of traffic signs are common. Mountainous roads can be particularly dangerous. When renting a vehicle, always purchase insurance. When travelling by car, keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times. Travelling in groups is recommended.

Only use reputable transportation companies. You may check with travel agencies which intercity bus companies are recommended. The Peruvian Ministry of Transportation (in Spanish) publishes a list of the intercity bus companies with the highest rates of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injuries. Avoid travelling by road outside of major cities after dark. Intercity bus travel can be dangerous. Bus accidents are frequently caused by excessive speed, poor vehicle maintenance and driver fatigue.

Do not hail taxis on the street. Reserve a taxi by calling a reputable taxi company or use taxi services associated with major hotels. Agree to a fare prior to departure, and do not pay until you have reached your destination.

Police spot checks are common and can cause delays. Carry identification and vehicle registration at all times.

Air travel

There have been a number of recent incidents involving small aircraft in the area of the Nazca Lines. On February 8, 2012, an aircraft transporting ten tourists encountered technical problems at landing. On October 2, 2010, four British citizens died when an Air Nazca plane crashed while flying over the Nazca Lines. On February 25, 2010, seven tourists died when their plane crashed in the Nazca desert. Also, on April 9, 2008, five French nationals were killed when an Aero Ica plane crashed. Ensure that your airline has a good record and appropriate safety measures in place.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Adventure Travel

If you intend to trek:

a) never trek alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
f) register when entering national parks;
g) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
h) register with the Embassy of Canada in Peru; and
i) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out. Treks and hiking excursions should be undertaken in groups, with experienced tour guides only.

Each year, several hikers and climbers are victims of serious accidents in the Andes, some of which are fatal. Climbers should be well informed on the possible hazards and exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. Exercise extreme caution while climbing the Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu, as serious injuries and deaths have occurred. Assaults have also been reported along the Inca Trail and in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca mountains. A detailed travel itinerary should be left with a friend or family member.

Contact the Peruvian National Police’s High Mountain Rescue Unit (USAM) before visiting mountainous areas in Ancash (tel.: 51-1-575-1555, fax: 51-1-575-3036, email: ceopol_diravpol@hotmail.com).

Swimming in jungle lakes and rivers can be dangerous due to the presence of parasites and wildlife. Strong currents exist in the Pacific Ocean and in rivers. Seek advice from local residents before swimming and consult local authorities about recent weather and white-water rafting conditions.

Emergency services

Dial 105 for emergency assistance. For tourist assistance and information, contact IPERU (tel.: (01) 574-8000, email: iperu@promperu.gob.pe).

The Peruvian government has opened tourist police offices in most tourist destinations. The telephone numbers for the tourist police in Lima are 51-1-423-3500 (Lima North) and 51-1-243-2190 (Lima South). There are also tourist police offices in 15 other cities, including all major tourist destinations, such as Cuzco, Arequipa and Puno.

Tourists may register complaints on a 24-hour hotline provided by the National Institute for the Defence of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI). INDECOPI operators speak English (tel.: 224-7777 in Lima; 01-224-7777 outside Lima; or toll-free 08-004-4040 within Peru). In Lima, the INDECOPI office is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (there is an answering machine after business hours). The office at the Jorge Chavez International Airport operates 24 hours a day.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and AsiaMeasles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Private hospitals and clinics in urban centres are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical care.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences, regardless of the amount of narcotics seized at arrest.

Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Do not carry anything through customs for anybody else.

Prison conditions in Peru are poor.

Laws

Foreigners are required to carry identification at all times. Be cautious when you carry your passport, especially in entertainment venues. A photocopy of your passport -- specifically the information, visa and entry stamp pages -- is generally acceptable. However, police may require that you produce the original. Failure to show identification could result in detention and police questioning at the nearest station where fingerprints would be taken.

Peruvian law strictly prohibits the export of antiques and artefacts (huacos) from pre-colonial civilizations. Travellers who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should buy only from reputable dealers and should insist upon documentation from Peru’s National Institute of Culture showing that the object is a reproduction and may be exported.

The export of coca tea bags is prohibited and it is illegal to remove certain fauna and flora items from Peru.

An international driving permit is recommended.

Money

The currency is the Peruvian nuevo sol (SOL). The US dollar is widely accepted. Credit cards are widely accepted in Lima, but less so outside major cities. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted. In small towns, automated banking machines (ABMs) may not be readily available. ABMs accept international credit cards only.

Avoid moneychangers on the street, as they may carry counterfeit currency or work with pickpockets. Bystanders have been injured during violent robberies targeting these individuals.

Climate

Seismic activity

Peru is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes. If you are indoors when an earthquake strikes, make your way to a safe zone. These are usually marked in public buildings with an “S”, which indicate where the structural pillars are located. If you are outside, keep away from buildings and other areas where objects could fall.

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from November to May in the Peruvian Andes. Heavy rains, flooding, landslides and corresponding transportation delays are likely to occur. During flooding, transportation, utilities, emergency and medical care, as well as food, fuel and water supplies, may be disrupted. Water-borne and insect-borne diseases may also become a threat. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.