Located in western South America, the Republic of Peru is the third country in this part of the continent by surface area, 1,285,220 square kilometres. It has about 29 million inhabitants, and its capital is Lima, the largest city in the country, with 8 million inhabitants. The official language is Spanish. Since 2002, Peru is divided into 25 regions, which are themselves divided into provinces.
Language: The official languages are Spanish and Quechua (Inca language); however, many other languages are spoken, such as the Aymara (language of the region of Puno).
English is used in hotels in large cities such as Lima, Arequipa and Cusco
The months between April and November are the best time to visit Peru. Peru’s climate is marked by two seasons (dry and wet), with large variations from one region to another (coast, mountain and Amazon).
The desert coast is arid. In summer time (from December to April, 20 to 30 degrees), the sky remains cloudy, with hot and sweaty weather. The rest of the year (12 to 20 degrees), you experience the garúa (grey coastal fog), which often hides the sun.
As soon as one enters the Andes (10 to 25 degrees), it really has alternating seasons, dry (from April to October) and wet (December to March). In the dry season, days are bright and sunny and the nights are cold. On the contrary, during the wet season, there may be some rain during the afternoon.
In the Amazonian (22 to 32 degrees), the heat and humidity rise during the wet season (from November to April) with heavy rain at any time.
In Peru, there is no time change (summer / winter).
Having a visa is not required for stays of less than three months. You must have a valid passport for at least six months after your date of international return.
The Peruvian currency is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). There are notes of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles, and coins of 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1, 2 and 5 soles. Do not pay for small services with large bills because money is a problem, especially in small towns. The U.S. dollar (USD) is by far the easiest currency to change. It is well accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops in major cities.
The exchange rate in November 2017 was approximately 1 USD = 3,23 Nuevos Soles (PEN) / 1 EUR = 3,83 PEN
Change: It is not advisable to change money on the street.
Peru is not only the country of sun, permanent snows, rain forest and desert. It is also the country of gastronomy. Nowhere else in Latin America you will find such a varied and tasty cuisine, the happy result of mixing different cultures: the indigenous, Spanish, African and the Chinese.
On the coast, you will taste the various fish from the Pacific and the ceviche, sea fish served raw, chopped, soaked in lime juice and accompanied with raw onions and sweet potato.
In the mountains, you can enjoy dishes made from potatoes like Carapulcra or the ají de gallina, split chicken served with a cheese sauce and sweet pepper.
You can also taste the famous « cuy” (roasted guinea pig) … if your heart tells you to!
There are two types of chicha: chicha morada, made from red corn and non-alcoholic fruit and simple chicha, from fermented corn and therefore alcoholic.
The beers are light and of good quality. Among the best known brands you will find Cristal, Arequipeña or Cusqueña (the sweetest of the three).
Otherwise, the Peruvian cocktail of choice is the Pisco Sour, eau de vie of grape juice mixed with lime juice, cane sugar syrup, ice and egg white.
Vaccines: No vaccination is required. However, the vaccine against yellow fever is strongly recommended for visiting the Amazon.
Other recommended vaccinations: tetanus, typhoid, polio and hepatitis.
Water: It is not advisable to drink tap water because even if it comes from a processing plant, the existing standard of purity in Peru is not necessarily comparable to that in the countries of our customers. You can buy Agua Mineral (bottled water), agua con gas (carbonated water) or agua sin gas (still water) in shops.
Peru is deemed to be a relatively safe country for travellers. However, it is necessary to take the normal precautions peculiar to any destination:
– Handbags or backpacks closed
– Do not change, take or leave the money in public places with high density,
– Avoid showing off your valuables: cameras, jewellery, and so on.
Important notice: in case of theft in a hotel, it will only cover, if necessary, a burglary within its walls, with evidence of tampering. So remember to use good security lockers for your important personal documents (money, passport, plane tickets, etc.).
There are public phones, but most people use « »Locutorio » » a sort of public telecommunications facilities, often open 24/24. It is possible to call abroad or across the country from any payphone or « »Locutorio”.
To call from abroad, you must dial the country code: +51, then the code of the province’s national community that you want to join.
If you want to receive calls from your country, it must be 00 + 51 (Peru code) + the city code + the number of the caller. Some indicatives of Peruvian cities: Lima: 1, Ica/Nazca: 56, Arequipa: 54, Puno: 51, Cuzco: 84, Puerto Maldonado: 82, Trujillo: 44, Chiclayo: 74 and Iquitos: 65.
Service and taxes are included in restaurant bills. Therefore, there is no requirement that would be a subjective assessment of the quality of the given service.
Regarding the enforcement staff (porters, bellhops, waiters, drivers…), given that salaries are generally quite low, a small gesture is always really appreciated.
In the case of hotel or restaurant, it is customary to leave a tip of 5 to 10% depending on the nature of the service.
Amount of a tip reference for the porters at every In and Out: 0.5 USD / bag.
Amount of a tip reference for drivers: 1 USD / day / person.
Regarding the ongoing tour guides, they are all paid pretty decently by our company and do not expect tips for their living. We work, wherever it exists, on the basis of fee schedules from official guide associations.
However, during excursions, it is customary to tip: here again the amount depends on the quality of service, but a reference amount is $ 2 per person per day for the guide.
The presence of the guide is also an important element for the success of the tour: the amount of reference here would be $ 1 / person / day for him or her.
Under tourism laws in force in Peru and to contribute to the harmonious development of tourism, in each region (Lima, Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco) it is compulsory to hire the services of carriers and tourist guides from each area visited. Thus, apart from exceptional circumstances, you must change your vehicle and guide according to the stages of the tour as vehicles and guides need special permits to travel and guide.
• In Lima and from Lima to Arequipa: 52 seats maximum (but of course we prefer not to have full buses for the convenience of customers).
• In Arequipa: 45 seats but if the visit of Colca is included two buses are preferable because the road is bad.
• Puno and Puno / Cusco: 45 seats.
• Cusco: 45 seats, but:
• if it must descend to Maras (salt on the mountain side), the road (trail) is too narrow and steep and it is imperative to use two smaller buses
• the circulation standards in Cusco’s historic centre (where are all the hotels) prevent the entry of these large bus for transfers and IN and/or OUT of the city and for the city Tour and/or 4 ruins, we also usually splits buses. Same for the access to the neighbourhood of San Blas where the streets are very narrow and therefore high-capacity vehicles cannot travel.