Plan Your Trip

This is a brief compilation of travel tips, for a complete description visit Wikitravel – Peru.

Entry Requirements – Visas

Most citizens of the Americas, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand do not need a visa to enter Peru. For more information, consult your nearest Peruvian diplomatic representative. To find the address or phone number you can visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://www.rree.gob.pe Peruvian (it is in Spanish). You can receive up to 90 days with a tourist visa. However, if you need this amount of time because the officials will not be given automatically for entry. If you want to stay longer, you can apply for a month extension at an immigration office or leave the country and receive another 90 days.

Language

Peru has two official languages: Spanish and Quechua. Basic English is widely spoken. Spanish is also relatively easy to learn and many people opt for a week course in a Spanish language school to give them the ability to communicate a bit.

Time Zone

Peru has the same time as the Eastern Standard Time of the United States. Peru is 5 hours behind GMT – Greenwich Meridian. Peru has no daylight saving time.

Vaccines

A yellow fever vaccine is not required any more, although it is advisable if you travel to areas around the jungle. We suggest that if you travel to areas around the jungle you should talk about protection against malaria with your medical center.

Electricity

The voltage in Peru is 220 volts, 60 cycles. In most hotel rooms, there is a 110 volts electrical outlet for electric shavers, for irons or hair dryers.

Coin

The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol. At the time of writing the exchange rate was 3.35 soles per dollar, but this is likely to change. When you change money, try to get small notes as larger notes are difficult to change. US Dollars are welcome in some high class shops, restaurants and gas stations at the current exchange rate. The most expensive restaurants and hotels that cater to travelers accept major credit cards, including Visa, Master Card, Diners and American Express. The use of traveler’s checks is restricted and generally when you change them you receive a lower rate than for cash.

It is not recommended to change money on the streets.

ATMs are now common in big cities and generally gives you the option of making your withdrawal in soles or dollars.

InfoPerú

InfoPerú is a travel assistance service to help tourists. This service has a 24-hour telephone line. For assistance call from Lima 421-1227. Outside Lima, mark 01 first.

Security Advice

While “out and about” we suggest you leave your passport and most of your money, credit cards, etc. in the safe of your hotel. Just carry with you the money you plan to spend. Bring a photocopy of the image page of your passport for identification purposes.

Internet Access

There is no internet access at every corner in the main cities of Peru. The price is usually 1 sol of one hour or USD0.30. Many booths now have software to make very cheap international calls over the Internet (the quality of this service varies). In smaller towns, there are no phones and much less internet!

Taxis

There are plenty of taxis all over Peru in major cities with very affordable prices. Because no matter the reason, we recommend that you check the probable rate with the hotel and negotiate a price before (never after) accepting a ride. In Lima, it is recommended that your hotel staff write down the taxi plate number before leaving.

Tips

Gratuities varies and depend on the satisfaction of the traveler with the quality of service provided. In most tourism oriented restaurants a 10% tip is much appreciated. These people generally earn very low rates of payment and for that tip really helps. Also, if you take photos of the Indians working as “photographic models” in tourist areas, either negotiate a price beforehand or tip generously afterwards! Deciding how much to tip the doormen, the cook and guide is a difficult time at the end of the hike. Generally speaking, if the whole group has been satisfied with the service and then try to ensure that each muleteer takes home an extra USD5, the USD10 cook, the USD15 assistant guide and the USD20 guide.

Toilets

Public toilets are rarely available, except at bus stations, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc. Public toilets are labeled WC (toilet), Damas (ladies) and Caballeros or Men (men). As not always provides toilet paper so you should bring your own! All of Peru, regardless of the level of the hotel or restaurant, should throw the paper in the wastebasket instead of the toilet or it will create an unpleasant obstruction problem.

Be Acclimatized and Prepared

Prepare yourself well for the altitude by spending at least several days in a high place (Cusco, Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca) before departing (from 3 to 4 days is ideal). Fitness and acclimatization are two completely different things! You may be in very good physical condition but still suffer from altitude. Also, you may have been at a high altitude before and have not suffered the effects but then feel them the next time. We truly recommend acclimatization, even to accustom your lungs to breathing less dense air. If you have a regular physical condition then you should have no problem to do our trekking, just take it easy. If you are not in good physical condition then it would help you do some trekking before leaving the house.

Go at your own pace. It’s not a race. Most of our tours have the right time to take things easy along the way. We also think it is more enjoyable to stop and rest frequently and admire the scenery than to get to the camp early and sit in your tent. Everyone has their own style, but try to go uphill giving slow and uniform steps. Make sure your trekking shoes / boots already have some time to use. It is really common sense, but there is nothing worse than walking with shoes that do not fit good or cause blisters. They make every step an agony.

Take “second skin blister protection” and your own medicine cabinet. Our own medicine cabinet is well stocked but does not have “second skin” ampoule protection and you may not have your preferred medicine for blisters.

Extra socks! They do not weigh and are easy to carry and can warm your fingers at night as well as help in case your shoes do not fit you well.

Trekking poles is a personal choice. Some people like them, others do not. They help with balance when going downhill and to rest when walking uphill. In Ollantaytambo you can easily buy colorful sticks.

Sweets and snacks. In addition to what your guide brings, we would recommend having some solid sweets to suck up while climbing sloping trails. They seem to give you energy and distract your mind from climbing.

Consider chewing coca. Again, a personal choice. Departs with the locals and try an ancient Andean tradition that has been somewhat despised for its association with cocaine. It may give you a little push to finish the way but it is a taste to be accustomed to.

Sunglasses. We usually recommend that you wear them. Especially on trips where there is a lot of snow (The Crossing of the Vilcabamba and Ausangate Mountain Range) are a necessity given the risks of blindness caused by snow.

Be responsible. Take the time to review the Inca Porter’s Project and particularly the guidelines for independent trekking from outside Peru with a focus on the well-being of porters.

Degree of Trekking Difficulty

In each page we have tried to classify the degree of difficulty of the trekkings in the best possible way. It is very subjective because it depends on your physical condition, experience and many other factors including your state of health for that day.

Trekking in the Andes is never easy!

The degree of difficulty of trekking is given in relation to one trekking with another not trekking in your country of origin or even in another country. So Ausangate and Vinicunca are considered moderate to difficult but really ALL are challenging!

Most people can do a lot of trekking as long as they have an average to good physical condition and a good attitude. A bit of training before the trek will make it much easier. We highly recommend that if you do not consider yourself in good physical condition (be honest!) Talk to us before doing the trekking. Also, please notify us if you have any medical conditions (back problems, pain in the knees, weak ankles as well as other ailments).

If it does not tell us anything we assume that you are 100% healthy!

We are not responsible for their assumptions regarding trekking or poor / insufficient acclimatization.

Altitude Mountain Sickness

This information is taken, in part, from this site, Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude, written by Rick Curtis, Director of Outdoor Action Program. It should not be considered as medical advice. Since few people have been to such heights, it is difficult to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people suffer from it and some people do not and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can reach up to 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) with minimal effects. If you have never been high up before, it is important to be cautious. If you have been at high altitude previously and have not experienced any problems, you can probably return to altitude without problems as long as it is properly acclimated.

At heights greater than 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 75% of people will experience mild symptoms. The occurrence of altitude sickness depends on elevation, rate of ascent and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 24 hours after they reach the height and begin to decrease in severity around the third day. The symptoms of mild AMS are: headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, sleep disorders and a general feeling of discomfort. Symptoms tend to worsen at night and when the respiratory rate slows. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally disappear after 2 to 4 days as the body becomes acclimated. As long as the symptoms are mild and only a nuisance, the ascent can be continued at a moderate speed. When hiking, it is essential that you immediately report any symptoms of illness to others on your trip.

Prevention of altitude sickness falls into two categories, adequate acclimatization and preventive medicines. Here are a few basic guidelines for proper acclimatization:

  • If possible, do not fly or drive toward height. Start below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and walk up.
  • If you fly or drive, do not overexert yourself or climb to an even higher height during the first 24 hours.
  • If you are at a height greater than 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), increase your elevation only by 1,000 feet (304 meters) per day and for every 3,000 feet (915 meters) of elevation gained, take a day off.
  • “Climb tall and sleep low”. This is a maxim used by climbers. You can climb more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) in a day as long as you descend and sleep at a lower altitude.
  • Keep in mind that each person will acclimate at different speeds. Make sure your entire group is properly acclimated before climbing any further.
  • Stay hydrated properly. Often acclimatization is accompanied by loss of fluids, so you need to drink plenty of fluids to stay properly hydrated (at least 3 to 4 liters per day). The production of urine can be copious and clear.
  • Take it easy, do not worry about reaching the altitude for the first time. A light activity during the day is better than sleeping because breathing decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressive drugs including barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These depressants further decrease the breathing rate during sleep causing a worsening of symptoms.
  • Eat a high-carbohydrate diet (over 70% of your carbohydrate calories) at high altitude.
  • The acclimatization process is made difficult by dehydration, overexertion and consumption of alcohol and other depressive drugs.

Information on the Road

Each web page has a specific list of what to bring for your trip. The list provided here may not apply to you. However, remember that the weather in the Andes can be very unpredictable and you have to be prepared for bad weather. Peru is located in the southern hemisphere, which means that the winter extends from June to August. In the summer months the days can be hot and sunny, but the nights can be very cold. During the winter it can be cold and rainy during the day and generally cold at night. The rains are common throughout the year, so we recommend buying a rain poncho in Cusco for around USD2. It is also recommended to wear thermal underwear in order to combat the cold. It is recommended to wear thermal underwear at night and at dawn. When packing try to carry several layers of clothing so that you can remove or add clothing as needed in the ever-changing Andean climate.

What should I bring?

  • Original passport and valid international student identification.
  • Insurance Card. We recommend that you take out travel insurance.
  • A light backpack with change clothes for the entire period of the walk, prepare for a wide range of temperature changes.
  • Clothes for rain (jacket and pants, if available) or poncho for rain.
  • Strong shoes, recommended trekking boots. Additional averages are mandatory.
  • Sandals are also good for giving your feet the opportunity to breathe at night if you want to wear them.
  • Warm clothing, including jacket, polar liners, gloves, scarf and hat. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
  • Sleeping bag (we can rent it in case you do not have it).
  • Headlamp / flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Camera, videos and batteries (batteries are consumed faster under cold conditions).
  • Hat or cap to protect against sun, rain and cold.
  • Sun blocker, after-sun cream or moisturizer for face and body.
  • Insect repellent – recommended minimum of DEET 20% – although no risk of malaria has been reported.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Snacks: cookies, energy bars, chocolate, fruits, granola, etc.
  • No refreshment and water is available for the first morning. We recommend that you bring water sterilization tablets in case you collect water from the streams.
  • Your own medical kit with special medications that you may need.
  • Small towel and swimsuit (if you intend to bathe in hot springs).
  • Cash, enough for what is not even on the last day, tips and souvenirs.
  • Walking sticks.
  • Bottle of reusable water.

Basic Equipment

  • Tents – 2 people in a tent of 4 people – which allows more comfort and also the storage of the backpacks. If you are traveling alone and prefer your own tent, please request. We can usually accommodate individual travelers in a two person tent. If you are traveling in a group of three you may be accommodated in two tents or a tent of 5-6 people.
  • Foam mattress single.
  • Cook and kitchen equipment included.
  • Dining tent. WC tent.

Aditional Equipment Rent

  • Extra mule to take your things on alternative routes. This mule is if you think you will exceed the luggage limit of 7kg.
  • An additional riding mule and mule driver. Included in the price of your trip is an emergency horse. If for some reason you think you are going to need a horse for more than simple emergencies, then it is advisable to have a personal horse (ie for the elderly or young. Some parents like to have a horse for their children). However, the horse can not be used in all circumstances so you have to be in shape.
  • Extra porter to charge your things if you think you will exceed the luggage limit of 7kg.

Baggage Deposit and Cargo Limits

During the walk we recommend that you store your main luggage at your hotel in Cusco. All hotels or hostels should offer as a courtesy the deposit of your luggage. At the briefing you will be given a small canvas bag to pack clothing for the trip. Please limit your luggage in the canvas bag to a maximum of 7kg (15 pounds) each. The mules will carry these bags along with food and equipment for the trip. The canvas bags are water resistant, but it is advisable to put your things in a plastic bag inside the canvas bag. The approximate dimensions are 60cm x 30cm.

Most people carry their own backpack with a maximum of 5kg with personal things like change clothes and rain gear, etc. However, if you think you are going to have a lot of luggage and want a very light backpack (ex. photo camera, sunscreen and water) then it is advisable to hire an additional mule. Keep in mind that you will not have access to these items until the end of each day because the muleteers travel at a different pace from the group. The sleeping bag is always included in your canvas bag, so you have to consider about 2kg in weight. This still gives you 5kg of stuff that is more than adequate for a multi-day hike.

Horse and Emergency Mule

We send an “emergency” horse or mule on your trips, which will be used in case of emergency, ankle sprain or even if you have been sick and feel weak. If you are walking slowly, your guide may advise you to use the horse for the group to arrive at your camp in a timely manner.

Please use the horse if the guide suggests it!

It is in the best interest of everyone in your group that they all arrive at their camp in a timely manner. Please note that this is not a “horse” in Western standards, it is more like a cross between a mule and a horse and will not be very comfortable to travel for long periods of time. If you think you would need a real “horse” please speak to us in advance. It should also be noted that in a very humid climate, mud conditions and steep roads, sometimes it is not advisable to mount the horse for safety reasons.

The price of your tour includes 7kg (15 pounds) of luggage per person. We give you a canvas bag where you can put your luggage. The reason for this is that the canvas bag fits much better on mules than backpacks or suitcases. Also it is better that our bags become dirty during the trip than yours (also if your backpack has a luxury harness, can be damaged during the trip with the mules). If you think you are going to need more than 7 pounds (plus the things that you carry in your small backpack) then you might consider hiring an additional mule.

Usually each animal can carry approximately 20kg of cargo, which normally are shared between 2 or 3 people. For most people 7kg is more than enough if they pack well or conservatively. We recommend that you leave most of your luggage at your hotel in Cusco – all hotels and hostels should offer luggage deposit as a courtesy service. Included in the price of the trip is an emergency horse.

If you have small children, seniors, people who are not in very good shape or people who have never walked in the mountains before, you might consider paying an additional mule. This is especially if you think someone in your group will use the horse a lot. If you wish to order an additional horse or saddle can be done up to a week before departure, as muleteers live in remote areas and it is not easy to contact them and request the number of mules needed at the last moment.

Water

We usually recommend that you leave Cusco with 1-2 liters of water. You should also bring a refillable water bottle with you. Any bottle you buy in the store will serve, but we recommend a sturdy plastic bottle. During the day, when you are hiking, you can fill your bottle with streams, always following the advice of your guide. You should use purification tablets for this water.

At night, your cook will boil water for your use and you can fill your bottles in the mornings before you leave. As people have different requirements for water (ex. some people drink a lot and some less), it is important that you take responsibility to ensure you have enough water each day. You need to communicate your needs (through the guide) to the cook.

Kitchen and Meals

Our cooks serve hygienically prepared food, based on Peruvian and Western dishes. If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary needs and / or allergies, please specify on your booking form and please remind us at the briefing. Water is boiled for three minutes before being used for cooking and raw vegetables, if any are served, are washed in boiled / purified water.

Bathing

There is little chance of bathing in our walks. However, in the afternoon and morning, please ask your cook to warm up some water so you can wash your hands and face. There are facilities for hot bath in Upis and Pacchanta in the thermal springs.

Hygienic Services

We offer WC tents in each of the camps or you can use existing facilities. During the day, the guide carries a beak or a light shovel. If you need to use them, please ask. Ideally, you should relieve yourself at least 70 feet from any water source and also a good distance from the road. Also remember to carry enough toilet paper, but follow the international rules of not leaving footprints and carry your paper in your backpack.

Please, no white flags along the route!

Medical Doctor

Each trip leaves with a basic medical bar and a bottle of oxygen. We recommend that if you have your own special needs medications, you bring these. Altitude tablets are not included in our bar. Please note that the blisters we have are Peruvian style (bandages and cotton), we do not have second skin or Western style treatments.

How much money should I bring?

Please review what is included in your trip in order to estimate what you should bring. Along the way you can buy snacks and souvenirs, mostly at comfortable prices. Finally, bring money to tip your staff and their guides. Gratuities vary and depend on the satisfaction of the traveler with the quality of service provided. Although we paid our staff fair prices, above local industry rates, and covered all your meals and transportation, they appreciate the tips.

Tipping also provides incentives for staff to work harder. Deciding which tip to give porters, the cook and the guide is a difficult time at the end of the hike and can be made more difficult when group members have different cultural concepts about tips. In some countries tipping is normal, in others not. In general terms, if the group has been satisfied with the service, try to ensure that (at least) each of the porters / muleteers takes home an additional 10-15 soles per day of walking, the cook 20-25 soles and the guide as you feel it is appropriate. (These amounts are distributed among all members of the group and are not individual tips).

If your trip is 6 days, the group should give a tip of 10 soles x 6 days. Even if the muleteers were only for 3 days on the shorter hikes, please calculate your tip based on the duration of your trip. Follows a recent and highest estimate: between USD10 – USD20 per day for guides, between USD5 – USD10 per day for cooks and drivers and USD3 – USD5 per day for muleteers Once again, the tip should be divided among all in the group, it is PER PERSON, and multiplied by the duration of your tour

Finally we believe that the tip for the guide and the cook should depend on the quality of the service you received. No way should you feel obligated to tip!

Security

Walking in the Andes in general is quite safe. Theft cases are minimal, sometimes on the most touristy routes. Be careful, do not be paranoid! We recommend that you always sleep with your valuables (ie, money, passports, etc.) near your head or sleeping bag. The camera and your luggage for the day must be stored between the members of the group or near their heads, never near the entrance of their tent. Shoes should be stored inside the tent.

The weather you must expect during your trekking

As locals say, the weather in the Andes is always difficult to predict! Check Wunderground Cusco Weather page to see a detailed forecast for Cusco and Ausangate Weather Forecast to see a detailed forecast for your hiking in Ausangate.

Cusco is located at 3,300 meters above sea level, an altitude similar to that of many camps. For taller camps you could expect the temperature to drop by 5°C. This is just a guide. You can never predict the weather in the Andes!

General Season Information

The high season of travel for tourists is greatly determined by the weather. Peru has two very different seasons, rainy and dry instead of “summer” or “winter”. The high season of travel for Peru coincides with the driest months (but the coldest ones): from May to September.

June, the month of Inti Raima in Cusco, and July are considered high season. May and September are particularly good months to visit much of the country with fewer tourists but with a little rain. It depends on the season and your luck. December, January and February are very rainy, particularly in the mountains – however the number of tourists is lower and the routes for trekking less congested.

We have done a lot of trekking in these months (since it is the ‘quiet’ season!) And even though we sometimes get wet we have had really pleasant moments. Reasons not to hike during the rainy season include slippery roads, mud, mountain collapses, fog (which diminishes visibility in the mountains), snow and floodwaters, if there are no good bridges it can be difficult to cross.

If you have a specific date on which you want to view the weather history, we suggest Wunderground, search for Cusco and you will get the forecast for this week. If you are interested in the history of a certain month go down until you find Detailed History and Climate

Visit Cusco in February

We firmly believe that February is the time of year to be in Cusco – and here’s why:

  • It’s the warmest time of the year, which means you will not have to use flame blankets around your waist as your new style of attire.
  • The carnival in Peru is celebrated by perfect strangers attacking each other in the street with water pumps, foam, eggs, etc. It is assumed that anyone who dares to leave home is “playing” – there are no rules, except that their attacks should be directed at a person of the opposite sex.
  • February is one of the best times to appreciate the natural beauty of Cusco. The valley becomes a lush green and due to the sunny moments and the intermittent torrential rain, there is a very high probability of appreciating some impressive rainbows over the Imperial City of Cusco. Just remember to bring your raincoat.
  • The low season means that the tourist can find many bargains, impressive discounts on lodging and food.
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