Our unique expeditions allow you to experience the finest aspects of each destination has to offer. We also aim to provide you with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the places you will visit and the people you will meet. Enjoy our Peru travel tips.
Useful Peru Travel Tips
The country is divided in three main natural regions: the Coastal Zone, an arid and hilly region situated between the Pacific shore and the Andes; the Highlands consisting of two parallel ranges with peaks rising over 20,000 feet and valleys wedged into them, where the majority of Peru’s population lives; and the Eastern lowlands, a dense tropical rainforest. Peru’s climate is mild, warm and damp, with an average year-round temperature of 130C during the day. Peru experiences two very distinct seasons, wet and dry-terms that are more relevant than “summer” and “winter.” Peru’s high season for travel coincides with the driest months: May through September, with the most visitors in July and August. May and September are particularly fine months to visit much of Peru. Visitors are advised to dress according to season.
Peru is in the same zone as U.S. EST, which is 5 hours behind GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Peru does not observe daylight saving time.
Passports & Visas
Passports: For international travel, a U.S. passport valid for at least six months from date of departure, containing at least two blank pages is necessary. Bring a copy of the picture page of your passport to carry in your wallet in case your passport is lost.
Visas: No visa is currently required of U.S. visitors for stays of less than 90 days.
Important: Please check your passport before you submit it for your visa to insure that:
• Your passport is valid for at least six months after the date of travel.
• You have sufficient blank pages for visa stamps that will be added as you travel in and out of various countries.
Please Note: Pages reserved for amendments & endorsements cannot be used for visas.
Keep the International Embarkation / Disembarkation Card you receive on arrival, as it must be returned when leaving the country. If you do not have it, you may be assessed a fine.
Airport Departure Tax: Currently, all passengers must pay a departure tax: $31 for international flights and about $6.00 for domestic flights. Tax must be paid in cash before boarding. All fees are subject to change without notice.
Duty Free: The following items may be imported by visitors over 18 years of age into Peru without incurring customs duty: 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; alcoholic beverages not exceeding 2.5l; a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use; gifts or new articles for personal use up to a value of US$300; 2kg of processed food.
Prohibited: The export of artistic or cultural articles is prohibited.
Note: If importing sausages, salami, ham or cheese, a sanitary certificate from the manufacturer is required.
Returning U.S. residents are allowed to bring back $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. There are limits on some items. For more information you can write U.S. Customs Service at Box 7407, Washington, DC 20044, or check the Customs and Border Protection homepage at www.cbp.gov
International travelers should be in generally good health. Talk with your personal physician about any shots or boosters recommended depending on your personal health profile and your itinerary. Tetanus and polio vaccines should be up to date. Be prepared to take precautions against sunburn with sunscreen and lip balm.
Yellow Fever: Yellow fever inoculation is required if one of the following applies:
• If you are coming from any area other than the United States, Europe, or Canada.
• If you are traveling between countries, and one of those countries have areas where Yellow Fever can be found.
Yellow fever may be required for traveler visiting the jungle regions. Travelers arriving from non-endemic zones should note that vaccination is strongly recommended for travel to areas within the Amazon Basin. Check with your local public health department.
Malaria: Is prevalent in northern parts of Peru and in Iquitos (Amazon) particularly, where there is risk of flooding during the Peruvian summer months of November to April. Insect bites may be a problem in the jungle and the highlands. Insect repellent and long layers for the evening are recommended.
Cholera: A cholera vaccination certificate is not required for entry to Peru.
Typhoid: Immunization against typhoid is recommended. A polio vaccination certificate is required for children aged between three months and six years old.
Other Risks: Hepatitis A occurs, and hepatitis B and D are a risk in the Amazon Basin. Dengue fever outbreaks are common in the Amazon Basin. In April 2005, there were reported cases of dengue fever in the northern outskirts of Lima, isolated parts of the jungle provinces of Loreto, San Martin and Ucayali and in the northern coastal area between Tumbes and La Libertad. Rabies is present. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay.
Altitude Sickness: Can be a problem if visiting areas such as Cuzco (11,150 feet) and Lake Titicaca (13,000 ft). Visitors should take time to acclimatize and avoid doing too much strenuous exercise on the first day. Signs of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, racing pulse, headache, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue and nausea. Most symptoms develop the first day at high altitude, though, occasionally, travelers have delayed reactions. The best advice is to rest on your first day in the highlands. Drink plenty of liquids, including the local remedy, coca-leaf tea. Avoid alcohol and heavy foods. Talk to your physician about your risks and possible remedies.
Please Note: If you are on medication, be sure to bring enough for the duration of the trip. Prescription medicines should always be carried in their original containers in your hand luggage. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, we suggest you bring an extra pair and cleaning fluid.
Health insurance is essential for any foreign travel
Check the latest regulations with your local health office or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or their main telephone number in Atlanta, 404-332-4559. To receive these documents, call 404-332-4565 and follow the prompts. You can also get information on the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov
Additional Peru Travel Tips
Insect bites may be a problem in the jungle and the highlands. Insect repellent and long layers for the evening are recommended. For higher altitudes, mid-weight fleece or wool sweater, fleece pants or tights, mid-weight thermal underwear tops and bottom, synthetic or wool, hiking pants, hiking shorts, long-sleeve shirts, T-shirts, underwear and casual socks, hiking socks, liner socks, swimsuit, sun hat, bandana, wool or fleece gloves, rain poncho. For those considering hiking a part of the Inca trail, sturdy hiking boots are a must.
In this security conscious era, airline luggage restrictions may change without notice. Also, luggage limits vary depending on ticket class, plane size, destinations, etc. It is always best to confirm with airlines for specific limitations. Scheduled flights from other countries and within foreign countries generally limit luggage to 44 pounds total, plus one carry-on personal item. Further restrictions may apply for charter flights. This will vary according to destination. We will advise you of those restrictions in your final documents.
PeruRail Embarkation Policies
All passengers must show up at the station at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Each passenger (traveling alone or in groups) must board the train, showing a ticket and proof of identification (copy or original).
Carry-on Baggage Allowance: Each passenger may take 1 bag or backpack must not exceed 5kg/11 lbs and/or 62 inches/157cm (length + height + width)
Please pack light. Baggage that exceed the measurements will not be allowed, but we will try our best to storage extra luggage whenever possible.
Passengers doing the Inca Trail can apply to the Exceptional Flexibility Policy for Luggage on Board, when showing their UGM permission. All luggage which exceeds the dimensions described above, can be transported on a luggage car available at: Up to 10Kg/22 lbs NO CHARGE; from 11 kg/24 lbs US$1.80 (including tax) per excess kilogram/pound.
• BLOCKING EXITS ON THE TRAIN IS PROHIBITED BY LAW.
• YOUR SUPPORT WILL BE APPRECIATED TO GUARANTEE SAFETY AND PUNCTUAL OPERATIONS.
• PERURAIL IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANY LOSSES THAT RESULT FROM FAILURE TO OBEY ALL REGULATIONS.
• ALL THE ABOVE REGULATIONS ARE RELATED TO THE SAFE OPERATION OF THE TRAINS AND INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS.
Currency: Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/), divided in 100 cents. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and S/. Banknotes are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. US dollars are welcome at most shops, restaurant and service stations at the current exchange rate.
Credit Cards: Most establishments accept major credit cards, including Visa, Master Card, Diners and American Express. ATMs are now generally regarded as one of the best ways to obtain money in Peru. No matter where you travel, when using a credit card, make sure you are charged the right amount for your purchase.
Traveler’s Checks: The use of traveler’s checks may be restricted.
NOTE: Do not change money with street changers.
Language: Peru has two official languages: Spanish and Quechua. English is spoken at four and five star hotels and main tourist shops. Aymara is spoken in some areas of the region of Lake Titicaca. Many other dialects exist in the jungle regions.
Mobile phones can be rented in Lima and the main cities. Coverage is sporadic.
Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies.
Public Internet booths and Internet cafes are widely available in cities and most towns.
The electric voltage in Peru is 220 volts, 60 cycles. In most hotel bathrooms there is an electrical outlet with 110 volts for electric shavers but not to be used for irons or hairdryers.
Food & Drink
* Please note that new conservation restrictions have been put in place at Machu Picchu sanctuary regarding plastic bottles. Effective immediately, PLASTIC BOTTLES, including water bottles, may not be brought into the sanctuary area. Only GLASS containers will be allowed.
Do not drink tap water. Drink only bottled water, which is widely available. Do not drink tap water, even in major hotels. Agua con gas is carbonated; agua sin gas is plain. All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. All water used for drinking, brushing teeth, cleaning contacts, or making ice should first be boiled or otherwise sterilized. Even filtered water in more remote areas should be avoided and bottled mineral water should be drunk instead. Avoid dairy products, which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably freshly prepared and served hot. Pork, salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Peruvian cuisine offers a wide range of typical dishes from the coast, highlands and jungle regions. Always ask if dishes are spiced. You may want to try Peru’s world-renowned pisco sour cocktail made with pisco, a grape brandy that is the Peruvian national drink. Chicha morada is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared with purple corn. Chicha de jora is a fermented drink made from yellow corn, and Masato is a beer made from yucca, this drink is typical of the Amazon region.
Note: If you have food allergies or are on a special/restricted diet, please notify our office in advance, so that we may try to comply with your needs. Also, please advise our office if you have any mobility restrictions, so that we may inform our representatives accordingly. They will strive to accommodate you to the best of their ability.
Some restaurants add service charge of between 5% and 10%, which will be indicated by the words ‘propina’ or ‘servicio’ near the bottom of the bill. Even if service charge has been added, the waiter can be offered an additional 10% for exceptional service. This is also the going rate for tipping where service charge has not been added. In hotels, porters expect about US$0.50 per bag. Taxi drivers are not tipped (the fare should be set before departure). Tour guides are customarily tipped. It is customary in many Indian populated areas to give a small tip to the subject of your photographs.
Peru is one of the top shopping destinations in Latin American, with some of the finest and best-priced crafts anywhere. Most shops, malls and handicrafts markets are open every day (including holidays) from 10am to 8 pm. Bargaining for prices is acceptable in most establishments.
Customs In Peru
Shaking hands is the customary form of greeting. Visitors should follow normal social courtesies and the atmosphere is generally informal. A small gift from a company or home country is sufficient. Dress is usually informal, although for some business meetings and social occasions men wear a jacket and tie. Life is conducted at a leisurely pace.