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F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Do I need a visa to travel to Peru?
Visas are not necessary for citizens from most countries in the Americas and Western Europe. Citizens of Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile do not need either a passport or a visa to enter certain regions of Peru. Check with the Peruvian consulate in your country for further information.
Visitors entering Peru for tourism are granted a 90-day stay, which can be extended by the Immigration Office.
Travelers must bear a valid passport or safe-conduct pass issued by Peruvian immigration authorities.

Is it safe to travel around Peru?
Of course, we would say yes, but with an eye on the reality. Visitors will probably have seen on the news, read on websites or in the newspapers about terrorism, crime and political and economic instability in Peru in recent years. But we also know that several years ago Peru managed to put down terrorism, and today the country is at peace. The country is now working hard to build a stable democracy.
All travelers have to do is to take the same normal precautions as when traveling to any tourist destination

In the cities:
Take the normal precautions to guard against purse snatchers.
Carry a copy of identification documents. Keep originals and your valuables in the safety deposit box of your hotel.
Carry valuables discreetly. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Keep an eye on your bags and luggage.
Do not exchange money out in the street.

Tourism by Road:
Always carry your driver's license, a copy of your passport and if the vehicle is rented, the rental contract. International drivers' licenses are valid in Peru for a year, while a license from country of origin is valid for 30 days.
If a traffic policeman signals you to stop, do so. He must be wearing a proper uniform and his ID (his last name must appear on a badge over his chest). Police may not enter your vehicle.
Bear in mind that neither your documents nor your vehicle may be taken, and under no circumstance give money.
In case of an accident or a crash, call a traffic policeman. If the vehicle is rented, also call a representative of the insurance company at the car rental company. Wait at the site. Keep windows closed and doors locked.

Prohibitions:
It is terminally prohibited to photograph airports, military bases, areas near electricity pylons and police stations.

What is the climate like year-round?
Peru is a vast country split from north to south by the Andes, and is covered by the Amazon jungle to the east. Temperatures can vary from one city to another, depending on the time of year.
It almost never rains on the Peruvian coast, and in general, there are two marked seasons: hot and cold. The hot season runs from around mid-November to end-March. The cold weather generally lasts from late April to mid-November, with high humidity.
In the highlands and the jungle, unlike the coast, the rain season is the warmest time of year, lasting from mid-November to end-March. Temperatures are cooler from April to mid-November.

City
Altitude mosl
Max Temp
Min Temp
Arequipa
2335
24º C
5º C
Chiclayo
29
33º C
17º C
Cusco
3395
17º C
(-)2º C
Huaraz
3091
18º C
9º C
Ica
406
30º C
8º C
Iquitos
104
36º C
17º C
Lima
133
25º C
13º C
Piura
29
35º C
16º C
Pto. Maldonado
183
34º C
21º C
Puno
3827
19º C
2º C
Trujillo
34
30º C
16º C
Tumbes
6
38º C
19º C

When is the best time to visit Peru?
Lima is temperate all year so other destinations often are the determining factor. The Amazon is hot and humid all year, with the heaviest rains December through April. Cuzco, at 11,600 feet altitude, and Machu Picchu (at only 8,000 feet) are generally cool to cooler, depending on cloud cover, winds and seasons: on a cloudless day in July, the coldest month, shirt sleeves may well suffice but on a cloudy windy day in January, a light jacket might be needed.

Is de Language a problem?

Yes, but no communication problems. Everybody loves to practice the little English they know. But do not expect everyone to speak English fluently. Use body language! In larger cities, everybody knows someone who speaks a bit of English, at least. In the more remote areas, Spanish is best. French, with a bit of patience, is often understood.
Hotels usually carry at least one TV-channel is English (CNN). Many cable channels broadcast their programs (like American sitcoms) in English with Spanish subtitles. Just learn the two magic words:
Please! Por favor! (easy, isn´t it!)
and
Thank you! Gracias!
No thank you - no gracias
it gets you a lot of friendly smiles.

What about altitude?
When you arrive in Cusco, or when hiking the Inca trail, the altitude can be felt in the form of a mild headache or, more rarely, altitude sickness. When arriving in Cusco, take time to rest, and walk more slowly. Eat plenty of carbohydrates, and avoid heavy meals, drinking and smoking. Coca tea, offered in most hotels and restaurants, helps combat mild altitude sickness.
After a few hours you should be accustomed to the altitude.

Will my credit cards, ATM card, and traveler's checks work in Peru?
The most widely accepted credit card in Peru is Visa. Mastercard is also popular, but American Express and Diner's Club are not that widely accepted.
I find ATMs the best way to get money. Most of them work on the Plus system, although you can find ATMs that accept Star, Cirrus and Interlink. The downside of credit and debit cards is that stores, hotels and restaurants will sometimes add an 8% commission to the final bill. Your best bet is to take money from the ATM and pay for your purchases in cash. Traveler's checks are usually good to take as "insurance", but they are often difficult to change and the exchange rate is not as favorable as if you used cash.


INCA TRAIL FAQ

I heard rumours that they were closing the Inca Trail. Is it true?
The Inca Trail will be closed during the month of February each year. The last group will depart on 31 January and the next group will start on 01 March. The closure is to allow conservation projects to take place, give an opportunity for camping facilities to be improved and to allow the vegetation to grow back. February is also the height of the wet season so you shouldn't miss too much. The shorter 2-day trek will remain open since this trek follows a different route. The ruins of Machu Picchu will remain open as normal as will the train services between Cusco and Machu Picchu.
During February some tour companies are offering an alternative 4 day trek.
This trek starts at km82 but instead of climbing the valley to Wayllabamba the alternative route follows the Urubamba River until km104 where it climbs up to Wiñay Wayna and then on to Machu Picchu. (ie two days walking along the Urubamba river before joining the shorter 2-day trek). This trek is fairly picturesque but does not include visits to the Inca ruins at Runkurakay, Sayacmarka or Phuyupatamarca. Ask the tour operator to clearly describe the trek itinerary.

Can I trek the Inca Trail alone without a travel operator?
No. As from 1st January 2001 trekking independently has been prohibited. The regulation, however, was not enforced until early 2002. Trekkers now have to trek using the services of a licensed tour operator or directly employ the services of a professional guide (about US$50 per day plus expenses).
Walking on your own is now an expensive option. However, if you can get a few friends together then the cost per person drops quickly. If you employ a guide directly you can't have more than 7 persons in your group and the guide must be officially qualified. Trekkers using the services of just a guide are not allowed to employ other services such as porters or cooks so you'll have to carry all your equipment and cook for yourselves. The entrance tickets for the trail MUST be bought in Cusco well in advance. They cannot be purchased at the start of the trail.

Should I make a reservation for the trek in advance or wait until arriving in Cusco?

Because the numbers of persons permitted on the trek has been dramatically reduced it is advisable to make a reservation at least 7 to 8 weeks in advance. This is particularly important if you are planning on arriving in Cusco during the peak season (June-September). However during the quiet months of December, January and March it should be possible to just turn up in Cusco 5 or 6 days before you want to do the trek and make a reservation

When is the best time to go?
The dry season from April to October is probably the most comfortable period as far as the weather is concerned. Even during these months you can still get a little rain. Ideally the month of May is perfect since there is little rain but the vegetation is still rich and lush. June, July and August are the 3 busy months and the numbers of trekkers has been limited so book in advance. Although the weather is sunny during these months the temperature at night can drop considerably, falling to below freezing so be prepared.
The months of November and December can still be very enjoyable with fewer trekkers. Expect at least one day of rain during this period. January and March can be wet - very wet at times. However most of the rain falls late in the afternoon and at night so ensuring you have a good waterproof tent is all important. These months also correspond to Summer in Peru so the sun can be very strong and the nights generally mild. The government has stated that the 4 day trek (at least from km82 or km88 until Wiñay Wayna) will be closed for the entire duration of February.

What about theft?

Many guide books make out the Inca Trail to be a haven for thieves and bandits with tents being slashed in the night and trekkers robbed at gun point. I'm glad to say that these are exaggerations and theft is now quite uncommon on the trail provided that you take basic precautions. Don't take any valuables with you that you don't need for the trek. Leave jewelers, large sums of money in your hotel safe (However you need to take your passport on the trek). Take plenty of plastic bags to wrap smelly socks, boots, underwear and wet clothes in. Don't leave them outside your tent at night or they may not be there in the morning. Carry your valuables in a money belt or neck pouch and keep items such as cameras with you at all times especially at meal times.

What do we do for drinking water?
You'll come across a small stream or mountain spring every 1½ hours along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. Take a bottle of at least 1½ liter capacity per person.
Although the water is clear always use sterilizing tablets and follow the instructions. The sterilizing tablets 'MicroPur' can be bought in most pharmacies in Cusco (the further away from the plaza the cheaper they are).
With these tablets you have to wait 40 minutes before drinking.
If traveling in an organized group boiled water should be available at meal times. Bottled mineral water can also be taken from Cusco, bought at km82 and km88, just before Wayllabamba and at Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu. If you are employing the services of a porter you can afford to take the extra weight of a few bottles of water.

What are the toilets like along the trail?
Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have toilet blocks with flush toilets and running water. On the whole they are kept pretty clean. If you do need to go the toilet between campsites then defecate well away from the trail and water supplies; dig a hole, or cover your aces with a rock, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way. There are hot shower facilities are Wiñay Wayna on day 3, although they are usually pretty unclean.

Do I need to be fit to do the Inca Trail?
Yes you do. It is a common misconception that because many people do the Inca Trail then it must be easy ... it isn't. The trail is 45km (26 miles) long and involves great physical exertion to complete. On the second day you climb nearly 1200m (about 4000 ft) in the morning. Combined with high altitude (lack of oxygen) and extreme weather (you can easily burn in the high altitude sun during the day and temperatures can drop to below freezing at night) the trek can be hard work for many. However all this suffering can make the final arrival at Machu Picchu all the more enjoyable. In general if you take regular exercise and spend a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the altitude you shouldn't have to suffer too much.

We've heard a lot about exploitation of the porters. How can we avoid it?
See our page about Porters welfare

How much should I tip?
Deciding how much to tip the porters, the cook and guide is always a difficult moment at the end of the trek. Some nationalities such as the North Americans are accustomed to tipping while others (name no names) will only find the extra money if the service has been absolutely exceptional.
Generally speaking if all the group have been pleased with the service then try to ensure that each porter takes home an extra US$6, the cook US$10, the guide US$20 and the assistant guide about US$15. A typical group of 14 persons with 12 porters (12 x 6 = $72), 1 cook ($10), 1 guide ($25) and 1 assistant $15) would receive a total of $122, which works out at a tip of about $9 per person. If you have employed a personal porter then you will have to pay his tip yourself.

Remember the above figures are just a guide line. If the food that the cook served up was inedible and you couldn't understand what the guide was talking about then don't tip them. They'll soon get the message and hopefully improve their services. Don't, however, take you dissatisfaction out on the porters who were probably working hard throughout the trek.

About us

 
Peru Travel Vacations SAC is a licensed travel agency who offers a variety of tour packages in Peru with exciting itineraries designed to appeal from the most visitor's budgets to deluxe, adventure and cultural tours. You will be able to choose the itinerary that suits you best with hotels from two to five stars. But if you don't find a program to suite your needs we are also specialist on Taylor Made programs offering you the best facilities to organize your package.Site Meter

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