Peru is one of those countries in South America, where everybody wants to go at least once in his/her life. The main reason is that Machu Picchu, the sacred city of the Incas, one of the New 7 Wonders of the world is found there. Nevertheless, Machu Picchu won’t be the only spectacular destination during your travel to Peru, and you will remember many other things from this wonderful country. During your travel to Peru, you will have the chance to know some of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America (Cusco and Arequipa for instance), to visit impressive ruins of ancient civilizations and you will get to know the fascinating culture of the Quechua people. In addition, Peru is also very rich in natural rights: in this country you will find part of the Amazon Rainforest, sand and stone deserts, some of the deepest canyons of the world, the mountain chains of the Andes and the highest navigable lake in the world.
In order to help you with the preparation of your travel to Peru, we prepared you this brief travel guide with lots of useful tips.
How to organize your travel to Peru
Although it might not seem to you from the map, Peru is a huge country with important distances to cover. Therefore, it is important to plan your itinerary before you travel there. The most important thing that you will have to take into account when you travel to Peru is the altitude of certain places. Many of the sights you will visit are at a quite high altitude (Cusco lies at 3.400 m, whereas the Titicaca Lake is at 3.800 m above sea level) and planning your trip is essential in order to avoid altitude sickness. You have to give you some time to acclimatize in these places, if you don’t want that your trip to Peru turn into a nightmare. Hence, when you plan your itinerary, you have to count with a couple of days of rest in these places.
When to travel to Perú
The climate in Peru varies a lot between different parts of the country. Apart from the size, the altitude also makes a difference. The best time to visit the coast is during the summer of the Southern hemisphere, nevertheless, it rains a lot during those months in the rest of the country. Since you will probably spend most of your time in the higher part of the country, the best time to travel to Peru is between May and September, when the climate is drier there.
Visa for your travel to Peru
The citizens of the European Union and most Western countries don’t need a Visa to travel to Peru as tourists. You need to have a passport valid for 6 months, and after filling in the immigration form your passport will be stamped, which will give you permission to stay in the country for 90 days.
When you travel to Peru it’s also important to have a good travel insurance. The most common cause for travelers to need medical attention is some form of altitude sickness.
Vaccines and medicaments for your travel to Peru
There’s not any obligatory vaccine to have, if you want to enter Peru. However, if you travel to the Amazon rainforest, it’s very important to get vaccinated against yellow fewer and also to take precautions against malaria. Just as in the case of other countries, in order to find it if there are other recommended vaccines, the best you can do is to ask for information in a travel clinic in your country, where they will provide you with all the necessary information.
As we already mentioned before, in Peru you will have to cope with difficulties caused by the high altitude. It is essential that when you arrive in Cusco and other places, which are at 3.000 m above sea level, you take things easy. You will need some time for acclimatization, and you will see that at the beginning even walking with your backpack will be hard. Apart from getting some rest, there are certain things you can do to avoid altitude sickness. You have to drink a lot of water, eat things that energize you, but can easily be digested, and if you want, you can eat coca candies or drink coca tea, which you can buy everywhere. You can even chew coca leaves as locals do that; these leaves don’t have a very pleasant taste, but we can confirm that they are very effective.
In Peru health care is quite decent in most of the bigger cities, but in smaller, less known places you will have a harder time to get proper medical attention or to purchase medications. It’s important to have a complete first aid kit with you.
Peru is situated in the UTC-5 time zone.
In Peru the official language is Spanish. English is not well spoken at all, hence it is highly recommended to take a basic Spanish course before you travel to Peru. In the mountains, most of the indigenous population also speak Quechua, and in certain areas it is not so surprising to find people who only speak Quechua and don’t speak Spanish at all.
The local currency in Peru is the. The current exchange rate is 1 euro = 3.6 Sol, on xe.com you can find that updated rates. In major cities and around tourist attractions you will not have a hard time finding ATM machines, and most banks don’t apply any local commission.
You will find free Wi-Fi in most of the accommodations in Peru. According to our experience in the mountain regions the connexion is quite slow in most cases.
Peru has a quite mixed reputations from this point of view. For us and other travelers we talked to, Peru seemed to be a calm and safe country, but we were quite surprised how often our local friends complained about security in their cities. In Lima there are several neighborhoods, which are quite dangerous at night, but in the areas frequented by tourists, it is very improbable that something happened to you. Unfortunately kidnapping is quite common in certain places, try to avoid taking a taxi, which seems suspicious to you. Pay attention to your belongings, since smaller thefts are quite common in urban areas. Nevertheless, a little bit of common sense and minimal precautions should be more than enough.
Where to sleep in Peru
In Peru there’s an ample offer of accommodation for all kinds of budgets in touristic areas. In many places it is pretty cold out there, so we would recommend you to look for a room with some kind of heating.
How to get around in Peru
During your travel to Peru, most of the times you will travel by bus to get to one point from another. There is train service in certain places, such the train to Machu Picchu. However, the prices are exorbitant, hence you can’t permit that if you travel to Peru on a budget. Buses (especially minivans) aren’t always very comfortable, but it’s the only cheap option to travel in the country. We advise you to take a night bus for longer journeys, hence you will save some money on accommodation.
Flying in Peru is neither convenient, nor cheap. First of all, you will always have to fly through Lima, and there are no low cost companies in the country. Sometimes you can find offers, but be careful, because certain fares are only for local citizens.
In Lima public transport is quite chaotic. It is worth taking buses that cover long distances, since they have their own bus lanes, for shorter distances you’d better take a taxi. They don’t use taximeter, so you have to bargain the price before getting in the car.
Gay and Lesbian Travel
Fortunately, in Peru there are more and more places that welcomes gay travellers. For an example, check out the best gay pars in Lima.
Where and what to eat in Peru
Peruvian cuisine is probably the best in South America, and the price-quality ratio is excellent. It is very easy to find local restaurants to eat a nice set meal for a couple of euros, and in local markets it is possible to eat well for even less. You can’t travel to Peru without trying the Peruvian-style roast chicken. It is really exquisite and it’s not expensive at all.
Budget for your travel to Peru
We spent 22 € each per day in Peru with food, transport, accommodation and activities included. The biggest expense was the visit to Machu Picchu, since the entrance fee is quite substantial. You can save money on the way of getting there. The cheapest way is to take a minivan or a few consecutive local buses to get to Hidroelectrica, and then walk from there to Aguas Calientes. In general, we always looked for the cheapest accommodation and we ate in local restaurants to stay on a budget.
We hope that our short guide will help you to organize your travel to Peru.
Useful tools to organize your trip
– ZZZ… BOOK YOUR HOTEL IN PERU – find the best hotel for you.
– WOW… EXCURSIONS, CHEAP GUIDED TOURS
– BRUM BRUM… RENT A CHEAP CAR FOR YOUR TRIP AROUND PERU – find the best car for you.
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