Peruphernalia- travel essentials to Peru
Peru is host to APEC 2016 and other key international events that started with EITI 2016, the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, among others. In order to make the most of your visit to this empire of hidden treasure and to prepare for probably the most incredible trip of a lifetime, here’s a compilation of useful guide and insider’s tips for you! Know and share.
Watch Peru, Empire of Hidden Treasures. Don’t just watch the movie, live it for real! “Enjoy the highest level of comfort, the most exquisite cuisine, breathtaking landscape filled with magic and fantasy and the entertainment you can only find here. Only in Peru. Empire of the hidden treasures.”
If Peru didn’t exist, travel guide books would have to invent it. It’s a land of lost cities and ancient ruins, brooding Andean peaks, dense jungles, quaint cities, festivals con-celebrating Roman Catholic masses with mysterious Incan rites. It’s like a whole world in a snow dome.- from the Travel Book.
Rich with majestic natural beauty, gracious people, and the legacy of great ancient civilizations, Peru is a country that touches the soul.
When planning to travel to Peru, in order to fully capture its magic and mystique, you need to understand what to expect. Prepare wisely with these important information for what will be one of the most amazing trips of your life.
PERU FAST FAQs(Frequently Asked Questions)
Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased oxygen at high altitudes. Considering varying altitudes of the Andean mountain region destinations (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca), try to go first to the lower ones before ascending to higher altitude cities. It is a slow process that could take place over a couple of days. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.
Altitude Sickness Prevention
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or soroche is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure usually above 2,400 meters (approximately 8,000 feet). The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. When you travel to a high altitude destination, do these to avoid altitude sickness: rest upon arrival, limit any walking or touring activity on your first day, drink plenty of water (or tea – they usually serve mate de coca – coca tea, for soroche), avoid taking alcoholic beverages and only eat light soup for your meal.
Connectivity / Communication
Peru is well connected with telephone landlines and mobile phones, as well as internet/ WiFi connections in most hotels and internet shops (cabinas de internet) in smaller cities and towns.
Currency/Credit Cards/ Foreign Exchange
Peru’s currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.) or Soles (plural). Peru is typical of many South American countries that operates a dual currency system; US$ American Dollar and the local Sol. In the provinces, credit card facilities may be limited only to major establishments. Travelers’ cheques are not common, so have cash preferably in Soles on hand as foreign currency exchange is limited. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are mostly available only in the main cities.
Health/ Medical/Travelers Common Illness
To avoid any illnesses or travelers’ diarrhea, take care when eating raw or exotic foods. Drink bottled or boiled water and take precautions when buying/eating street food/beverages. Hospitals and clinics provide adequate services, especially in Lima and the other main cities and can contact health care insurance directly.
The official languages are Spanish (80% of the population), Quechua(Andean and highland regions), and Aymara (in the region of Puno high plateaus). It is generally easy to communicate in English with tourist service workers such as tour guides, travel agency employees and hotel staff in general, however it is very handy to know and practice a few basic phrases in Spanish. Besides, it also projects you as a savvy traveler, not to mention an educated one!
Please know the baggage limit, number of pieces and weight allowed by domestic airline to your destination. Most domestic airlines have lesser baggage allowance (usually max. 10 kilos) than the international airlines (usually max. 23 kilos). In case of multiple destinations, it is advisable to travel light and bring only the essentials.
If you are going to Machu Picchu, please take note that Peru Rail has imposed luggage limitation on the train to Aguas Calientes. Peru Rail Luggage Transport is a maximum hand-carried allowance of only 5 kilos/11 lbs. and measuring not more than 62 inches/157 cm (height, length & width) per passenger. Your heavier and bigger baggage may be transported in another train at an extra cost (US$1.80/kilo, one way, maximum 10 kilos) or may be left for storage at Peru Rail’s Luggage Storage only in Ollantaytambo Train Station at US$5.00/day.
It is important that you take common sense precautions when visiting Peru, just like in any major destination in the world, such as taking extra care of your belongings in public places or avoiding deserted places at night. The following are recommended as precautionary measures:
- Secure electronic copies of your passport, airplane tickets and credit cards. Leave all your travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel vouchers etc) in the hotel safety deposit box and take only electronic copies with you.
- Know the unsafe areas of the city/destination and avoid visiting them, especially at night. If you must exchange money, do so authorized money changers and exchange bureaus, or in banks. Avoid doing this in plain sight.It may not necessarily an immediate threat to you, but you should always be extra careful in crowded places such as busy avenues, airports, markets and tourist sites.
- Try to learn a few key phrases in Spanish before you go, if not to help yourself get by, then at least to make the locals think you can speak the language and thus make you a more conscientious traveler who is careful and prepared.
It is recommended to buy a travel insurance to provide you general coverage in case of emergency or medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, lost tickets, baggage or damage, etc. This way, for any unforeseen event or circumstances, you have an insurance to fall back on.
Vaccinations and/or Medications
It is recommended that you take the proper measures to protect yourself, specially from mosquito bites, in order to prevent infection from, among other diseases, yellow fever (vaccination) and malaria (repellant and medication). Consult your doctor before traveling.
Potable water is limited in some areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and do not buy from street vendors or hawkers.
Weather/What to Wear
The Peruvian Coast is hot and sunny (northern area) or very humid (raw or damp, in Lima). Generally light comfortable clothing and footwear during the day and a light jacket for cooler nights.
At the Peruvian Andes, rainy season is between November and March, so best to bring water proof windbreaker or parkas. Temperatures drop dramatically at night, thus one should always prepare warmer clothes to layer. The Peruvian Jungle is hot, with a tropical climate, so we suggest light, (neutral-colored, khakis or forest green) cotton to wear; however certain times of the year, the jungle experiences “friaje” or cold front. It has daily temperatures averaging the 30°C and night temperatures could drop to cold 15°C so bring warmer clothes to layer. For more accurate information, please check your favorite destination weather website for forecast prior to travel.
Take a PERU DREAM TRIP by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, or contact SSTDI.
Photo credits: all photos via Visit Peru.