ENCOUNTER PERUAuthentic South American Voluntary
Brightly colored textiles, dancing devils, llamas, pink dolphins, coca leaves, Inca ruins, colonial cities, huge snow capped mountains, long winding rivers, surf filled beaches and of course delicious food! And that’s not even close to describing this fascinating country.
Peru is the third largest country in South America and one of the most geographically diverse. With the Andes running down the middle and the Amazon basin and desert Pacific coastline on either side, Peru boasts an exciting mix of glaciated mountains, steamy jungles and sandy beaches that are just begging to be explored. Although often known as the land of the Incas, there are so many more ancient civilizations. The wealth of archeological sites dotted all across the country is truly mind blowing. From Machu Picchu to Chan Chan, from Kuelap to the tomb of Lord Sipan – there is just so much to learn about! And don’t forget the colonial legacy that can be seen in much of the architecture throughout the country.
And we have to mention the food! This is a topic that Peruvians will never tire of talking about and you will understand why once you have tucked into your first ceviche, lomo saltado, ají de gallina, arroz con pato or tacacho con cecina…you get the idea – the food is mouthwateringly good! And we haven’t even started on the pisco sours…
From trekking to sightseeing, from adventure sports to lying on a beach, from ruins to rainforest – there is something for everyone in Peru, and so much to choose from that you might just have to plan a second visit!
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BEST TIMES TO
Due to Peru’s dramatic landscapes, it has different temperatures and climates depending on where you are traveling to, so the weather you’ll experience really depends on where you want to go! In general terms we could say that it is best to visit the mountains and jungle between May and November because this is the driest season. The coast has its summer between November and May, but in most destinations there is sun all year round. We have included specific information on each destination in our travel guides, so make sure you check those out for more details to help you plan your trip.
AT A GLANCE:
SEASONS & PEAKS
Summer (Dec-Feb) – Hot & Sticky – Avoid the North Side, flooding.
Autumn (Mar-Apr) – Fewer Crowds – Great time to go. See Wineries!
Winter (Jun-Aug) – Icy and Snowy – Ski lodges are open.
High season: Late Nov-Feb & July – Peak Pricing
Shoulder season: Sept-Nov & Mar-May
Low season: June & August – Low Pricing
Currency: Soles (PEN$ 3.50 to US$1.00)
The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/) and the exchange rate is approximately ~ S/ 3.30 to US$1.00. It is recommended that one brings cash in Dollars as these are easy to exchange anywhere in the country. MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express and Visa are all used in Peru, with Visa being the most widely accepted one. Do not accept torn bills as it will likely not be accepted by Peruvians and ask for ‘billetes pequeños’ (small bills) as S/ 100 bills are hard to change in small towns or for small purchases. The Foreign Exchange Bureaus are efficient and have longer hours and slightly better rates than banks which mean there’s no reason to take the risk of changing money on the street where counterfeits are a problem. We recommend visiting the website XE Currency Converter to get current exchange rates.
We recommend visiting the website XE Currency Converter to get current exchange rates.
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Peru is generally safe but there are pickpockets, especially in the bigger cities. Be sensible, as you would anywhere in the world. Remember you’re foreign and so will stick out already. Keep a close eye on your belongings and don’t wear lots of eye catching jewelry or flash expensive cameras, laptops or iPhones around. Don’t venture into unsafe areas. If travelling by bus, don’t leave belongings unattended.
Vaccinations: No mandatory vaccinations are required to visit Peru. We do recommend visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to make sure everything is up to date. Make sure to take precautions against altitude sickness if you’re traveling to the highlands.
Nationals of the USA and the EU do not require a visa to enter Peru and are granted a 183 day travel visa upon arrival. Citizens of other countries may require a visa to enter Peru and it is generally advised that they contact the Peruvian embassy in their home country for information. The Wikipedia Visa Policy of Peru is a great starting point to begin exploring whether or not any particular nationality might need to obtain a tourist visa to visit Peru.
Electricity in Peru runs at 220 Volts, so transformers may be necessary for tourists from the USA. Just be sure to check your item’s label before plugging it in. If you are planning to use anything with a three-prong plug, bring an adapter, as some establishments only have two-prong outlets. If you’d like to learn more about the types of plugs in Argentina, check out the website What Plug Info – Peru.
FAMILY TRAVEL IN PERU
Many of us here have families and young children and we travel with them all the time, but you do need to plan carefully. The long distances between places, the high altitudes and subsequent risk of altitude sickness, and the possibility of getting an upset stomach, all need to be taken into consideration. However, Peru is a great place for kids with plenty of opportunities for them to explore the authentic culture of Peru and interact with the locals. We’re great at offering assistance as many of us here have already done it ourselves with our families. For example, take a look at Bart and Karin’s Machu Picchu with Kids post that tells of their visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu with their small daughter. Whether exploring the narrow waterways of the Amazon, visiting a traditional market in Cusco or, climbing to the ancient Inca Citadel and World Wonder of Machu Picchu; there’s something here for all ages.
GETTING AROUND PERU
Peru has such a variety of terrain that it’s not always that easy to navigate on your own! It is also a pretty big country and so to get from place to place quickly we recommend flying with LATAM and Taca Airlines who both offer very good and reliable services. For shorter trips by bus, we suggest using Cruz del Sur Bus Company and while it’s more expensive than some other bus companies, we really believe it’s worth paying extra to ensure safety and comfort. If you need to travel independently in the cities you can use combis and micros (buses) but bear in mind that they are run by private companies and their ideas of how to drive differ from other countries. Taxis are another option but try and take cabs from our recommended taxi companies as an extra precaution.
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