PERU USEFUL - TRAVEL INFORMATION

Money

The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol and the exchange rate is approximately 2.6 Sols to US $1. It is recommended that you bring cash in Dollars and/or Euros as both are easy to exchange anywhere in the country. A regular debit card is also advisable for withdrawing extra cash. MasterCard and Visa are both accepted in Peru, with Visa being the most widely used. Note that credit card use becomes more limited outside of the main cities. We recommend exchanging money at exchange houses rather than with street moneychangers.

Airport Taxes

Upon departing any airport in Peru one has to pay a departure tax. This must be done in person and cannot be prearranged with a tour company or airline. The tax for international flights leaving Peru is around US $30 and for domestic flights it varies between US $3.50 and $5.50, depending on the airport. All prices are subject to change.

Tipping

In the high-end hotels and restaurants service charges are often added to the bill, if not around 10% is a good amount. In cheaper restaurants and cafes tips are not generally expected, but are of course gratefully received. For local day guides around US $3-5 per day should be sufficient. Taxi drivers are not tipped and make sure you bargain a price before your journey.

Health

Drinking bottled water and eating well cooked food is strongly recommended. Peruvian water, even in such populated areas as Lima, can contain amoebae and parasites. It!s much safer to stick to bottled, treated or boiled water. Ice along with salads or fruits washed in tap-water should likewise be avoided.

In the Andes altitude sickness (or Soroche as it is known in Peru) can be a common problem. Many people that travel to places above 3000m, such as Cusco, Puno, or the Colca Canyon, may feel its effects. Symptoms can include dizziness, fatigue, nausea and in some cases vomiting. It is recommended that travelers utilize their first day in high-altitude destinations to acclimate. Staying hydrated, eating light meals, and following a very light schedule will all help. Investing in at least a day of rest, more if you are trekking in the mountains, will decrease your likelihood of suffering from altitude sickness. Check with your doctor before engaging in strenuous activity at high altitude.

If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms let us know by calling our emergency number listed at the front of your booklet or by notifying your guide or hotel staff. Many hotels are equipped with oxygen on site and treatment can help enormously. There are also pills such as Diamox, and the local Peruvian version - Soroche pills - that can help treat and prevent symptoms. Consult a doctor before taking any of these medications.

Language

The official language in Peru is Spanish. Although English is taught in most schools, you cannot expect that everyone will be able to speak English. However, at the majority of hotels and tourist sites you will find some staff who do.

Opening Times

Shops are generally open from 10am to 9pm and museums from 9am to 6pm. Although this may vary depending on the day of the week, national holidays and from city to city.

Holidays

The official public holidays in Peru are as follows:

DatesEventDestinations
January 1stNew YearAll
April or MarchEaster WeekAll
July 28th – 31stIndependence DayAll
June 24th Inti RaymiCusco
December 25th – 31stChristmas All

Trekking

If you are planning on trekking at high altitude during your stay in Peru it is best to be well prepared. Read our advice on preventing and dealing with altitude sickness in the !Health" section, as well as our Inca Trail packing suggestions below. Be aware that disruptions such as injury, adverse weather conditions and fatigue are all possibilities in the Andes and one should be prepared for all eventualities.

What to pack?
Temperatures vary greatly on the trail and rain and wind are possible. Days can be very warm in the lower areas, whereas nights at high altitude get very chilly. The best course of action is layering. You will also need good boots, something relatively light weight with ankle support is ideal. Be sure to take your boots for a walk before hitting the trail as blisters will spoil your enjoyment. Below is a list of packing essentials:

* One set of clothes per day (t-shirt, socks, trousers).
* Small daypack with sun glasses, sun hat, sun and insect lotion, camera and water.
* Waterproof pants, water and wind proof jacket.
* Micro-fiber fleece or sweater, winter hat and gloves for colder days/nights.
* Good walking boots, light sport shoes and flip-flops.
* Water canteen (plastic bottles are prohibited on the Inca Trail).
* Sleeping bag (good quality bags and liners are available for hire).
* Flashlight and spare batteries.
* Original Passport.
* Personal medication, toiletries and towel.
* Peruvian currency in small denominations for tips and small purchases.

Safety

Safety is fundamental to the success of any trip and staying alert, not taking unnecessary risks and simply using common sense are the best ways to prevent unwanted situations. Avoid petty theft and pickpockets by not interacting with strangers who seem suspiciously friendly or pushy, as well as anyone trying to get your attention while you are carrying bags or equipment. Don"t draw attention to yourself by flashing money on the street, wearing expensive watches and jewelry or carrying your wallet in a visible pocket. Don"t get into a taxi immediately after going to an ATM and leave your passport in your hotel.

The easiest way to avoid any tricks by street moneychangers is to use a bank or exchange house (Casa de Cambio). If in dire need of changing money on the street then only change the minimum amount that you need for immediate use. The best method is to withdraw soles from your home bank account using an ATM - you will get a good rate and ensure that the notes are not fakes.

In all dealings with the police be formal and polite. Always carry a photocopy of your passport (the document itself is not needed) when walking around a town or city. Make a copy of the front page, your entry visa stamp and the immigration card that you were given at the airport. In some unlikely circumstances a policeman may suggest that you pay them a small fine in order to proceed. Be firm and aware of the fact that they may just be trying to intimidate you and that you are in no way obligated by law to hand over any of your money to local authorities.