- By Oliver
- On Mar 27, 2019
- North America
- Travel Tips
Peru is an awe-inspiring South American country known for its Amazon rainforests, Inca trails, and archaeological sites. However, there’s more to this country than meets the eye. This post will touch on the important aspects of Peru, such as the climate, culture, attractions, activities, warnings, and more - that’ll assist you in a smooth adventure of the country.
- Know Your Regions & The Best Time to Visit
Peru has 3 distinct geographic regions with their own unique climates. Along the Peruvian coast, it’s mainly desert, with a dry hot climate year round. In this region, temperatures can reach up to 45 °C (133 °F) from December to April. Overall, the country has mild weather, meaning there’s not much heavy rainfall in the winter or overheating in the summer. The next geographic region is the Andes Mountains region. This long stretch of mountainous land separates the Peruvian Coast and Amazon forest. Furthermore, there are two seasons: wet season from December to March and dry season from April to November. Not to mention, the climate of Andes can also range, depending on the varying altitudes of the mountains - with snow being present at 5,000 meters (16,500 feet). In addition, the region’s weather can change based on hour. Usually, it’s cold at dawn and onward and hot at noon. As a result, visitors are recommended to wear easily removable clothing that’s also waterproof. Last but not least, is the tropical jungle region of Eastern Peru. The climate in this region is humid year round, with heavy rains and humidity from December to March.
With all of this in mind, the best time to visit Peru depends heavily on a variety of factors like money and weather. For example, during the dry season there’s hardly any rain present. Correspondingly, the weather is nice and more appealing to tourists than the heavy rains of the wet season. For this reason, dry seasons have more crowds, which also means increases in lodging prices throughout the country. In the end, it boils down to what you prioritize more.
- Visas & Passports
In regard to tourist visas, it isn’t required for citizens of most countries in America and Western Europe. As a matter of fact, citizens from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela don’t need a passport or visa to travel to Peru. Under those circumstances, the legally approved duration of stay is 90 days. Although, it can be extended by Immigration authorities. For more information, contact your country’s Peruvian diplomatic representation.
Peru’s currency is sol. Moreover, Peru utilizes a decimal system with 100 cents = 1 sol. Peruvian coins contain values of 5 cents up to 5 soles. Furthermore, paper bills start at 10 soles and go up to 200 soles. Usually, hotels and commercial establishments accept US dollars, but for exchanges we recommend going to a bank or hotel reception. Also important to mention, is that reputable international credit cards like American Express, Mastercard and Visa are accepted by most establishments.
There are two official languages of Peru: Spanish and Quechua. At the same time, English is spoken in 4 to 5 star hotels and popular tourist shops.
There’s no specific tipping structure in Peru, as it depends on the quality of service and the establishment. Usually for restaurants, you don’t have to tip unless the service was good or if it’s an upscale restaurant. Sometimes upscale restaurants might include service charges ranging from 10 to 15%, so make sure to check your bill. In terms of taxi drivers, unless they were helpful by carrying your bags, then you could tip 1-2 soles, but in most cases you don’t need to tip. On the other hand, you should always tip your tour guides and hotel bellhops. For tour guides, relative to tour duration, 10-50 soles is fine. However, if you’re with a group of 5 or more people, 100 to 150 soles, as a whole, is acceptable. For Hotel bellhoppers, 3-6 soles per bag for 4-5 star hotels. For cheaper hotels, 1-2 soles is fine.
- Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine is one-of-a-kind, with many dishes that can be on the spicy side. One of the signature dishes of Peru is Ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in citrus juice and chilli spices. It’s a dish prepared differently around the country. Another example is Ají de Gallina, a popular dish made from shredded chicken and cooked in a sauce consisting of milk, bread, and chilli. It’s typically eaten with rice.
Peru and other countries in Latin America have a distinct plumbing system. That is, the plumbing is designed for human waste only. Please don’t try to flush down toilet paper. Generally, there’s a trash bin on the side of the bathroom where used tissues can go.
- The Main Attraction
There are many gems in Peru, however the biggest attraction is none other than the famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Located on Andes mountains, the Inca citadel contains centuries-old architecture and breathtaking views. In terms of how to get to the archaeological site, they’re a few options of trails to choose from. For example, visitors can take the Inca trail, a four-day trek on stone stairways, passing abandoned villages and fields.
On the topic of amenities, nearly all hotels and restaurants offer WIFI connection. Likewise, the electrical supply in Peru is 220 volts. Hence, It’s important to make sure your appliances can handle that voltage. For example, if you’re from the USA, you need to be cautious as the USA transfers electricity ranging from 110 to 120 volts. In that case, you have a couple of options: ask the hotel or building if they have a 110 volt outlet, buy a voltage converter, or leave the appliance at home. People coming from countries with electric supplies between 220 and 250 volts, can safely use their appliances in Peru.
If you’re heading to the Andean region, be wary of the high altitudes. We recommend, adequate rest and light meals on your first day in the region. If you have any heart conditions or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before travelling to this region. Also, it’s extremely recommended not to drink the tap water in Peru. Drinking the tap water, may result in parasites, stomach bugs, bacteria, etc. Therefore, you need to stock up on water bottles and make sure the tops are sealed.