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Travel Tips

CURRENCY
The official currency is the Nuevo Sol (1 US$ = 2.60 NS/.). American dollars are accepted in the whole country but it is recommended to have small bills $10.--, $20.--, and $50. --. Changing dollars at a bank always gives a lower rate than at casas de cambio (exchange houses).
In Lima and many other cities, euros are as acceptable as US dollars for changing into soles. Other currencies carry high commission fees.


To keep in mind:  No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in any way damaged or torn.


CREDIT CARDS & TRAVELLERS’ CHEQUES
Visa (by far the most widely-accepted card in Peru), MasterCard, American Express and Dinners Club are all valid and you can withdraw cash at most ATM’s all over the country. There is often an 8-12% commission for credit card charges. Credit cards are not commonly accepted in smaller towns so go prepared with cash.

 

Some banks and most exchange places accept traveler’s Cheques (American Express, Visa and Citicorp) and the exchange is in soles (lower rate than cash) or if required in dollars (1-4% commission).


VISAS, PASSPORT & DOCUMENTS
No visa is necessary for citizens of Western Europe, Asia, North or South America, the Caribbean, or citizens of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. You must have a valid passport (valid for at least 3 months after the visit). On your entry into the country you must fill in an immigration form. This is a very important form that you will need in order to leave the country after your trip (staple it to your passport!!!).

 

We recommend you make 2 sets of  colored photocopies of your documents before traveling, one left at home and the other one separate from the originals in your luggage (in case of loss). A travel insurance policy is indispensable. Ask your travel agent for information.


TAXES
The general sales tax in Peru is 18%. This amount is normally included in the product cost already. Some services like hotels or restaurants may charge this tax additional though. For international flights Airport taxUS $ 28.00


HEALTH QUESTIONS
Due to the high altitude of many of our tourist sites (Cusco, Puno are above 3300m/12000 ft) some passengers experience altitude problems (soroche/altitude sickness = tiredness, low blood pressure, upset stomach, headache, dehydration and agitated heart beat). We recommend that you take two days to acclimatize before any physical effort, drink a lot of water, eat light and control your alcohol intake. People with heart problems should consult their doctor.

 

For our tours that include hikes: all our equipment is carried by porters and pack mules. Despite this it is important that YOU physically prepare yourself for the trip (especially legs, lungs and heart) and if you buy new equipment be sure to test it out before beginning the tour. We recommend bringing your own first aid kit.

 

The tropical sun might feel very gentle but it can burn you easily. Ultra-violet rays are particularly powerful at high altitudes: wear a brimmed hat as well as sunglasses and use a high-factor (50 + factor) sun screen.


To keep in mind: It is extremely important that you inform us before the trip about any health problems, allergies, and prescribed medicines.

 

VACCINES
Vaccines are not required to enter Latin America but for rainforest visits it is necessary to carry a yellow fever certificate of vaccination. Malaria can also be a problem in this region (consult your tropical specialist about the best prevention according to your personal needs), consult your doctor about Malarone. Bites can be minimized by using long sleeved clothes and an effective repellent.


PRECAUTIONS & DIETS
The best way to enjoy a trip is to begin it rested and in good health. The most common health disorders are upset stomachs caused by unwashed or uncooked food. For this reason be careful buying food from street vendors and stay away from unpeeled fruits/vegetables and drinks that contain ice. In case you have an upset stomach it is important to drink a lot of water (coffee, tea and alcohol do not help) and wash your hands regularly with soap and water before every meal. Tap water should not be drunk anywhere unless it has been boiled or treated with iodine. Bottled water is available throughout Peru. Further to the general advice about altitude sickness, note that when walking in high altitude, the body needs sugar, which can be carried conveniently in the form of a block of crystallized pure cane sugar, called chancaca. High humidity dehydrates the body: drink plenty of liquid and add salt to your food.


TIPS & GIFTS
The salaries in Peru are generally very basic and it has become customary to give tips for good service. In some restaurants and hotels a 10% Service Tax is already included (not in all of them). We recommend tipping bell boys and waiters directly.

 

Unfortunately it is also very common to see children asking for money. We ask you not to give them money or candies (children do not enjoy very good dental hygiene), but we recommend to bring small gifts such as, toothbrushes, pens, notebooks  or other things that can be used for their studies. On some of our hikes we visit rural schools where these kinds of gifts are very much appreciated. There are social projects that we organize in order to benefit local communities and if you want to cooperate, please, do not hesitate to contact us.


THEFT
As in every other tourist place, theft is a problem. It is much more common in big cities than in the countryside. We recommend you check with your local guide about unsafe places and avoid them. Carry around only the quantity of money you need and don’t use jewelry or other valuable objects unless they are absolutely necessary. We also advise that you change money in official exchange houses or banks rather than in the street.


TYPICAL FOOD
Coastal cuisine: The best coastal dishes are seafood based, the most popular being ceviche. This is a dish of white fish marinated in lemon juice, onion and hot peppers. Traditionally, ceviche is served with corn on the cob, cancha (toasted corn) and sweet potatoes. A big variety of delicious fresh oven baked, fried or grilled fish dishes can be enjoyed all along the coast: Make sure you try the excellent corvina, or White Sea bass. You should also try chupe de camarones, which is a shrimp stew.


Highland cuisine is rich and varied: Corn and potatoes date back to Inca times and are found in a remarkable variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Meat dishes are many and varied: A dish almost guaranteed to appear on every restaurant menu is lomo saltado, a kind of stir-fried beef with onions, vinegar, ginger, chilli, tomatoes and fried potatoes, served with rice. Rocoto relleno is spicy bell peppers stuffed with beef and vegetables; others include fried pork, usually eaten in the morning, chicharrones, deep fried chunks of pork ribs and chicken or fish, and lechon, suckling pig. A delicacy in the highlands is cuy, guinea pig. Very filling and good value are the many soups on offer.


Tropical cuisine: The main ingredient in much jungle cuisine is fish, especially the succulent, dolphin-sized Paiche, which comes with the delicious palmito, or palm-hearts, and the ever-present yucca and fried bananas. Juanes are a jungle version of tamales, stuffed with chicken and rice.


Drink: The most famous local drink is pisco, a clear brandy which, with egg whites and lime juice, makes the famous pisco sour. The best wines are from Ica, Tacama and Ocucaje, which come in red, white and rose, sweet and dry varieties. There is a variety of Peruvian beer and the typical Andean Chicha de jora is a maize beer, usually homemade and not easy to come by, refreshing but strong, and chicha morada is a soft drink made with purple maize.

 

Peruvian coffee is good, but the best is exported. Mate de coca is frequently served in the highlands to stave off the discomforts of altitude sickness.


WEIGHTS & MEASURES
Peru uses the metric system for all weights and measures. Here’s a table to help you convert to the imperial system. 

 

To Convert: Multiply by:
Centimeters to inches 0,4
Meters to feet 3,3
Kilometers to miles 0,6
Kilograms to pounds 2,2


ELECTRICITY
Peru uses 220 volts. The major hotels provide 110 volt outlets in bathrooms for the use of shavers only.


BUSINESS HOURS
Most stores are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday with a long lunch break between 1-4 p.m.


FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Two of the major festival dates are Carnival, which is held over the weekend  before Ash Wednesday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week), which ends on Easter Sunday.
Carnival is celebrated in most of the Andes and Semana Santa throughout Peru.
Another important festival is Fiesta de la Cruz, held on the first of May in much of the central and southern highlands and on the coast.
In Cusco, entire month of June is one huge fiesta, culminating in Inti Raymi, on June 24th, one of Peru’s prime tourist attractions.
Another national festival is Todos los Santos (All Saints) on November 1st, and on December 8th is Festividad de la Inmaculada Concepcion.

Apart from the festivals listed above, the main holidays are: January 1st, New Year, January 6th, Bajada de Reyes, May 1st, Labor´s Day, July 28-29th, Independence (Fiestas Patrias) and December 24-25th, Christmas.


INTERNET
You can find internet access everywhere. Centers with high tourism have internet cafes on every corner and they are incredibly cheap to use (usually less than USD 1.—per hour). Most hotels include free WI-FI.


SPORT & ACTIVITIES
With its many different ecological areas, one of the driest deserts, an incredible altitudinal range (up to 6800 mt/21’900 ft.) and the dense rainforest region, Peru offers an infinity of outdoor activities.


TREKKING AND CLIMBING
The most famous hike in Peru is definitely the Classic Inca Trail to Machupicchu but there are many other beautiful hikes following the over 30’000 miles of street system the Incas have built all over their empire like Choquequirao and Vilcabamba in southern Peru. There is some nice trekking and climbing around Mt. Ausangate in the Cusco department. In Huaraz -the Peruvian Switzerland– there are also some outstanding circuits around the peaks of the Cordillera Blanca with some of the highest mountains in South America (Llanganuco-Santa Cruz, Huayhuash and Alpamayo).


BIRDWATCHING
The most important sites for bird watching in Peru are: The Tambopata National Reserve, the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Iquitos and Paracas. With nearly 20% of all the bird species in the world and 45% of all Neotropical birds, Peru is a birdwatchers paradise where you can find a wide range of birds from the tiny hummingbirds to flamingoes and the Andean condor. Birding trips are possible during any month as birds breed all year round.


RIVER RAFTING AND BIKING
Some of the best white water rafting in the world is found in the Apurimac and Cotahuasi rivers in southern Peru (class III to V rapids).

There are countless mountain bike routes, some of them off the beaten paths. Mountain bike equipment may be rented, but check well quality of the bikes and if you can bring your own equipment.


SOCIAL WORK
Peru is a rich country in the world, but the inequality way how the wealth is being distribute is a disaster, therefore is a country of need, while coming to Peru, bring clothes for rain and cold, the Andean communities will thank you for this.  Please contact us if you want to bring stuff, so we can assist and direct you .


ECOLOGICAL PROJECTS
We are trying to replant with native trees. In order to protect the ecosystems were the native communities dwelt, ensuring the sources of water for the future.

Bosques para el futuro.com

 

Guidelines for Nature- and Culture Travelers

Before your Trip:

  • Inform yourself before your trip about your destination.
  • Let your travel agent inform you about their concrete actions concerning ecological principles and what conditions await you at your destination.

 

During your trip:

Respect local cultures

 

  • Contract local people as guides whenever possible and consume locally produced products, with the exception of products that are scarce for the locals themselves.
  • Learn a few sentences of the local language.
  • Learn about local behavior in greeting, dining and hospitality. Ask your local guide about customs and how you can thank those who offer you hospitality.
  • Be diplomatic about demands for presents. Just give away presents after having established a connection with the person. Children will always ask you for little presents. We recommend not giving away any sweets but bringing school utensils with you, e.g.: notebooks, color pencils, toothbrushes etc. Clothes you don’t use anymore are very appreciated by the locals too.
  • Try to give an objective view of the more materialistic western culture. Encourage locals to appreciate their own culture and surroundings.
  • Only take pictures of people with their agreement. Respect their privacy. Accept if payment is asked for in exchange for photos.
  • Don’t make promises you may not be able to hold, e.g. sending pictures.
  • Buy souvenirs if possible from the producers themselves.
  • Modesty is adequate in all cultures. Avoid a loud, extravagant and superior impression through your behavior, clothes and equipment.
  • Do not wear local clothes or jewelry if you are not totally familiar with their cultural and religious meaning. Dress conservatively according to your own culture.
  • Visit local cultural shows at your destination.
  • Listen and learn. Don’t criticize cultural practices.

Try to be a discrete observer:

  • Move carefully and quietly in nature areas so you won’t disturb animals or destroy plants.
  • Do not collect natural souvenirs: Respect the integrity of the ecosystem you move in.
  • Avoid recordings, food or noises to attract birds or other wild animals for better views. Do not try to touch or feed wild animals. Keep your distance and use binoculars and telephoto lenses for observation and to take pictures.
  • Consider local rules in protected areas and follow the instructions and recommendations of your local guide.

 

 The best compliment you can make to nature is not to leave any traces of your visit

 

  • Don’t leave any garbage (especially plastic). Pick up left behind garbage of other travelers and locals.
  • Use existing toilet facilities. If there are no toilet facilities available, bury your necessities and burn toilet paper. Do your necessities away from water sources.
  • Use only biodegradable soaps and detergents or avoid their use at all.
  • Don’t give away presents made out of non-biodegradable or breakable materials and objects with non-biodegradable wrappings. Leave extra packaging of film rolls, clothes, toiletries, food etc. back home. 
  • Avoid the use or acquisition of any animal or plant products that come from wild or not controlled areas. In many countries this is illegal anyway.
  • Accept that campfires are not convenient in areas where there is little firewood.
  • Avoid direct contact with indigenous people if you have a contagious illness (e.g. the flu).

After your trip:


Use your experiences and your newly acquired knowledge – become active 

  • Give your travel agent ideas about changes that would have a positive impact on the preservation of nature and culture.
  • Become active or sponsor organizations that protect the environment nationally or internationally.
  • Spread personal information about negative trends you have observed in ecological tourism but also about positive examples of development.

 

CULTURAS PERU S.R.L.
Tandapata 354-A Cusco - Perú
Phone & Fax: +51 84 243629
marco@culturasperu.com
hotel in cusco - hotel san blas cusco