If you do not have experience with higher altitudes above 3,500m 12,000 ft, don'tunderestimate it! Collapses of unacclimatized tourists are notunusual. If coming from sea level,stay at medium height ca. 3,000m 10,000 ft for at least one week. Then, altitudesof around 4,500m 15,000 ft should not be a risk, although you still willstrongly feel the height.
See also: Altitude sickness
In Lima ring 105. In Lima and some of the larger cities there is a sort of local police called "Serenazgo": you may ask for help but they have no tourist oriented services.
Be aware of your surroundings and try to avoid unlit or unpopulated areas especially at night. There is a lot of petty crime that can turn violent. Avoid groups of male youngsters since there are many small gangs trying to rob passers-by. If you witness a robbery. be very careful before intervening, since robbers may be armed and are quite prone to shooting if they feel threatened.
Armed robberies of tourists are fairly common.
A dirty old backpack with valuable contents is safer than a new one with old clothes in it. It's often good not to look too rich.
Some travelers don't use wallets, but keep the bills and coins directly in their pocket. Let's say some little bills on the left side and the rest on the right side. Thus, the pickpocket's job gets much harder.
Don't walk around with debit or credit cards in your pocket. Leave them in a safe place when you do not directly need them, because tourists have been kidnapped and forced to take out money each day for a period of a few days.
If you want to take large amounts of cash out with you, a neck wallet is always a good idea - you can hide it under your shirt.
Watch out for false bills. Every bank has posters that explain what to check when getting higher valued bills. The only security element that has not been falsified is the bichrome 10, 20, 50, 100 or 200 now also used on US dollar bills. Don't be shy about checking any bills you receive. Most Peruvians do so, too. You may get false bills even at upscale places or quite unusually, but it's been known to happen banks, so check there too.
Ignore any requests to carry luggage or packages for strangers. There could be illegal items or drugs in there, and you are the one who'll be caught with them and have the problems afterwards.
Small quantities of drugs for personal use or possession up to 2g for powdered cocaine or 8g for marijuana are permitted by law Section 299 of the Penal Code of Peru PROVIDED THAT the user is in possession of only ONE type of drug. However, if you purchase drugs, know your source. It may be inadvisable to buy from strangers or street dealers.
Possesion for personal consumption of Marijuana in Peru in the maximum amount of 8g is legal according to the Peruvian Penal Code article 299. What is considered illegal is the trafficking part, that is: buying, selling or having more than 8g. So be careful who you buy from and do not buy more than 8g per person.
When taking a taxi, take a quick look in the back seat and in the trunk, to make sure there is nobody hiding there. There have been reports of armed robberies/kidnappings taking place in taxis. Afterwards, tourists are blindfolded and driven outside the city and left behind by the highway.
At the border crossing from Ecuador Huaquillas to Peru people have tried to steal passports by acting like plain clothed police officers. They give you another form to fill in which is fake. This has taken place although police and customs personnel have been next to them.
When travelling on buses, it is recommended to keep your backpack under your seat with the strap hooked around your leg.
In all towns and villages that are not too small, it is no problem tofind public telephones for national and international calls. Usually, you find them in bars or stores. Some of them acceptcoins, but watch out for stuck coins or dodgy-looking coin receivers as these might make you lose your money. Don't worry if your 1 Nuevo Sol coins don't get through at first, just keep trying and it will eventually work. Many public phones can be expensive, and an attractive alternative is a Locutorio, or "call-center". Typical rates include .2 Nuevo Sol/minute for calls in the country, and .5 Nuevo Sol/minute for most international calls.
You also can buy phone cards with a 12 digit secret number on it. Using a phone card, first dial 147. When done so, you will be told how much your card is still valid and be asked in Spanish, of course for your secret number. After having typed it, you are asked for the phone number you want to connect to. Type it in. Then you get told how much time you can talk. After that, the connection is tried.
For international calls, it is often a good idea to go to an Internet cafe that offers Internet based phone calls. You find them in the cities. Internet cafes, called in Peru cabinas públicas, grow like mushrooms in Peru and if you are not really on the countryside, it should not be a problem at all to find one. Even in a smaller town like Mancora or Chivay you can still find Internet cafes with 512kbps ADSL. The connection is quite reliable and they are cheap 1.50-3 Soles, US$0.40-0.80 per hour. Just don't expect most of them to actually sell coffee - or anything at all but computer time or services like printing. It is not uncommon to find cabinas that burn CDs directly from SD, CF or Memory sticks. Many internet cafes have headphones and microphones, for free or for an extra fee. See also Online telephone service for travel.
If you have a smartphone unlocked if you bring it from home it can be quite affordable to buy a local SIM card and use the internet from the cellular network pretty good quality 3G most of the time. You can always use your phone to make a Wi-Fi hotspot and share the connection to your computer watch carefully how much you use if you don't want to bust your budget!. Claro seems to have the most extensive coverage.
Like most of South America, the official language of Peru is Spanish.
English might be understood by youth in Lima and to an even lesser extent in tourist centres like Machu Picchu. Outside of that, you'll need Spanish. Like every other Latin American country, Peruvian Spanish replaces vosotros and its 2nd-person plural conjugations with ustedes 3rd-person plural. For example: ¿Cómo están? instead of ¿Cómo estáis?. Peruvian Spanish likes diminutives gringuito is more affectionate than gringo.
If you learn languages easily, try to learn Quechua, the language of the Incas. It will be highly appreciated in the countryside of the Sierra, where many indigenous speak it as a first language, though most also speak Spanish. On the Altiplano, the language Aymara is widely spoken. Aymara was the language of the Tihuanacu culture.
This government tourist office has a presence in most cities that are popular with tourists, and is helpful with information. They also keep tabs on businesses and log complaints, so you can check out tour operators, etc before you confirm. Their services are free.
Don't use the word "indio", although it's Spanish. For locals, it's very much like the deeply offensive English word "nigger" since it was used by Spanish conquerors. The politically correct way of speaking is "el indígena" or "la indígena" - although, like "nigger", very close people inside a circle of friends can get away with it. Another word to be careful with is chola/cholo or cholita, meaning indígena. This may be used affectionately among indigenous people it's very common appellation for a child, for instance but is offensive coming from an outsider.
Even if you have about 20 "No drugs" T-shirts at home, accept that especially people from the country side chew coca leaves. See it as a part of the culture with social and ritual components. And keep inmind: Coca leaves are not cocaine and they are legal. You can try them to experience the culture. If you don't like to chew them, try a mate de hojas de coca. Also quite effective against altitude sickness. However, the use of coca leaf tea may lead to testing positive on North American drug tests within the next few weeks.
Officially, most of the Peruvians are Roman Catholic, but especially in the countryside, the ancient pre-Hispanic religiosity is still alive. Respect that when visiting temple ruins or other ritual places and behave as if you were in a church.
Tourist police are dressed in white shirts, instead of the usual green ones, and normally speak English and are quite helpful to tourists. The common police officer does not speak another language but Spanish but normally will try to help. DO NOT get in an argument with police, since they may forget about your needs and feel insulted.
Dealing with the police can take a lot of time. In order to get a copy of a police report you need to go to a Banco de la Nación and pay PEN3. Without this the police won't give you a copy, and obviously you can only arrange this during working days.
Tourists from North America, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the European Union and many others, check with the nearest Peruvian Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] for most updated information, although in Spanish receive a visa upon arrival for up to 183 days.
When entering the country, you need to pass the immigration office inmigración. There you get a stamp in your passport that states the number of days you are allowed to stay usually 183 days. You can no longer get an extension, so make sure that you ask for the amount of time you think you'll need. When those 183 days are up and you would like to stay for longer, you can either cross the border to a neighbouring country Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia or Chile and return the next day and obtain another 183 days or simply overstay and pay the fine when you exit. The overstay fine is only USD1 per day overage, so if you stay 30 days longer it's USD30. Many people do this, since it's much cheaper than leaving the country and returning.
You will receive an extra official paper to be kept in the passport make sure you don't lose it!. When leaving, you need to visit the emigration office migracion, where you get the exit stamp. Imigracion and migracion are found on all border crossing-points. Travelling to and from neighbouring countries by land is no problem.
food and drink
If you stay in good hotels you may be able to avoid catching diarrhea, otherwise you might. Just don't worry too much about. There are some rules that could avoid the worst:
Avoid unboiled tap water, if possible. This can be difficult; If you eat a salad or drink some fruit juice, it will probably be prepared with tap water. Avoid ice in drinks if you can.
If you must drink tap water, use some purification like mikropur.
Don't eat food prepared in the street if you can resist it.
When going to cheap restaurants, first have a smell and listen to what your nose says.
In some areas, refrigerators are rare. Just go to the meat section of a typical market hall and take a smell, you will understand. If you would rather eat vegetarian food, it can be hard to find. Chicken is worth a try, since they are mostly fresh.
Don't eat unpasteurized milk products.
Since Peru is close to the equator, the sun can become dangerous foryour skin and eyes. Especially in the Sierra, the strong UV radiationdue to the height in combination with the rather cold air may burnyour skin before you notice it. Sun-blockers are easy to get indrug stores boticas. If your eyes are sensitive to light, better bring goodsunglasses from home. Of course, you can buy sunglasses in Peru, too, but you should really be sure that they block the whole UV spectrum,otherwise, they might be worse than none.
Common medicines, like antibiotics, can be bought in pharmacies farmacias or boticasquite cheaply and without restrictions. However, make sure the expiration date has notbeen reached. Pharmacists are mostly very helpful and can be consulted if needed.For less serious illnesses, they may replace a doctor.
vaccinations and prophylaxis
Vaccine requirementThe quantity and type of vaccines necessary to travel to Peru depend on several factors, like medical antecedents and locations included in the trip. The most habitual vaccines needed to travel to Peru are against tétanos, diphtheria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, yellow fever it is obligatory to present the certificate of vaccination against yellow fever to enter in some countries of Africa, rabies and meningitis.Some of these vaccines require more than a dose or a major time to be effective. For that reason, it is recommended to inquire on necessary vaccines with an advance of 6 to 8 weeks before your trip. The CDC also has these recommendations for vaccines and staying healthy when traveling to Peru.
Hepatitis A Recommended for all travelers.
Typhoid fever Recommended for all travelers.
[Yellow fever]Vaccination Center Perú (http://www.gipeit.com.pe) The government of Peru recommends the vaccine for all travelers who are going to visit forest areas Amazonia below 2,300 m 7,546 ft. Travelers that only visit Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu do not need vaccine for yellow fever.Vaccine for yellow fever is also required for all travelers who arrive from other countries infected with yellow fever in Africa and America.In recent years, there has been reported yellow fever in Cusco Concepcion 2007, San Martin, Loreto, Pasco, Amazonas, Ancash, Ayacucho, Huánuco, Junín, Madre de Dios, Puno and Ucayali.
Hepatitis B For Travelers who could have sexual relations with local people, especially if the visit is by more than 6 months. Rabies For travelers who could have near contact with animals and have not get access to medical services.
Measles, Parotiditis, Rubella SPR If they have not been vaccinated before, two doses for all travelers are recommended.
Tétanos - diphtheria Recommended re-vaccination every 10 years.
What should I take in the suitcase?It is recommendable to travel with a small medical kit Traveler Kit that includes some basic medicines like antacid, analgesic pills, NSAIDs and antihistamine drugs. Also it is necessary to take some dehydrated solutions for oral hydratation in case of severe diarrhea. Also, It must include first aid articles as sterile strips, antiseptics and bandages. Do not forget to put some antibiotic against severe diarrhea or dysentery and other infections, as well as sterilized needles because they are difficult to find in some isolated zones.Finally, you must put into your luggage scissors, clamps, a thermometer, lip balm, a suntan lotion, purifying water tablets and cleanliness equipment. If you use contact lenses or glasses, take an extra pair. You must also carry a small flashlight and a Swiss Army knife.The Traveler Kit must be prepared by your physician according to your health and destination.
MalariaMalaria is a disease that can be fatal and is transmitted by mosquitoes. This mosquito specially pricks by night. If you are going to travel to Peru, it is very important to know what areas present a high prevalence of malaria.
The prevention of the disease is made through a medication against the malaria prophylaxis and the protection against the punctures of insects.
There are many antimalarial medicines. The optimal choice depends on the characteristics of the trip and the traveler. So, it is important to have some medical advice about the advantages and disadvantages of each medication.The more effective drugs are:
MEFLOQUINE LARIAM: very extended use. Side effects include visions, and more serious neurological reactions. Those people with psychiatric and neurological problems must not take this medication.
DOXYCYCLINE: Side effects include cutaneous reactions by contact with the sun or the risk of fungal vaginitis in the women.
MALARONE: highly effective, few side effects, expensive and difficult to obtain in Peru, only in specialized Travel Medicine CenterTravel Medicine Peru (http://www.gipeit.com.pe)
CHLOROQUINE: low risk of side effects and the most useful until years ago. Nowadays, they only have 50/60% of effectiveness for malaria in Peru specially for the south zone where malaria falciparum has not been reported.
Whatever your choice you need to take antimalarial medicine if you are going to travel to a zone affected by the disease, and continue with the medication beyond your return. The risk of malaria, or any other disease in Peru, is much greater for a tourist than for local people. Do not suspend your medication before the indicated period.
In Peru there is no risk of malaria in the big cities. No risk in Lima and surrounding areas or in areas above the 1500 m 4,921 ft. There is a risk: On the coast north of the country Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque. In the Amazon region: Loreto department Iquitos with 97% of cases of falciparum country, San Martin, Ucayali, Just as Amazon chachapoyas, Cajamarca Jaen.It was also reported cases of vivax malaria falciparum not in Cuzco Department Province of Concepción away from the tourist area of Machu Picchu and Madre de Dios.
It is recommended that: The precautions to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes are essential especially in the evening and night especially when visiting rural or peripheral.Use a repellent on exposed skin containing DEET N, N-diethylmetatoluamide to 30% -50% are effective for several hours or Picaridina 7-15%.
Basic cares about hygiene and foodIt is difficult to guarantee the security of food and drink, specially in developing countries. Nevertheless you may continue enjoying local meals, this is part of the pleasures of an international trip. Be selective. The diseases that you could get go from a small diarrhea or dysentery, to one more serious disease eg. Parasitic infection that could ruin your trip. Therefore you should take certain precautions:Try to eat only cooked foods Avoid buffet or any other food that has been reheated and exposed to the contact with flies Avoid seafood in unknown places Crude fruits and vegetables are very difficult to sterilize: do not eat them unless you have the security that they have been washed in drinkable water or if they are possible to peel without touching the pulp. In the tropic the safest fruits are bananas and papayas. Be careful, you could reject any food you consider not safe, if it is necessary, ask for cooked food specially for you. Do not eat any food that offers few guarantees to you.
Tap water.Drink water only when you are certain it is safe. Don't drink tap water. If you are using tap water to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth, spit as much out as possible. Tap water can be made drinkable by boiling it bringing it to boiling point in a kettle should be sufficient or by purification methods such as iodine tablets or UV light. Bottled water is cheap and tastes better than boiled water. Check the bottle to make sure that it has not been opened and refilled. In restaurants, if you don't trust them you could request the bottle to be opened in your presence and never take ice in your drinks ice cubes are often made with tap water. Remember, alcohol does not make tap water drinkable!
Insect bitesAvoiding insect bites reduces the risk of contracting diseases transmitted by mosquitos such as yellow fever, dengue fever, leishmaniosis and malaria. Wearing long sleeves is a good idea. Use insect repellent that contains DEET. Directly apply it to your skin and clothes. Use a mosquito sleeping net impregnated with repellent, as well as other anti-mosquitos stuff in your room or tent spirals or electrical mosquito repellents at night.
RabiesIn Peru there have been reported cases of rabies in animals even in small zoo parks, so you should avoid to touch or to play with any type of animal. Rabies is not only transmitted through biting, but also by scratches and licks. In case of wound, it is necessary to clean it with an antiseptic lotion. If the wound is deep it is recommendable to examine it by a doctor. Take some advice about anti-rabies vaccines before starting off, mainly if your trip is long.
Heat and sunDo not expect to become quickly acclimated to the heat specially in Amazonia. It will take at least 3 weeks to obtain it.During this period, avoid physical fatigue, use fresh clothes, mainly during the warmest hours of the day. Avoid direct exhibition to the sun.Use a solar cream and a hat.
Thirst is a very poor indicator of the amount of water that human needs. It is very important to take a sufficient amount from liquid not alcohol, coffee or tea, because they are diuretics and causes a greater loss of water. The best probe that you are well hydrated is when your body produces clear abundant urine.
AIDS and other diseases
As in any another country, please take the necessary precautions to avoid HIV infection and other sexual diseases.
Accidents and injuriesAccidents and injuries produce more deaths of travellers than diseases.Please be in constant alert.
Do not drive in bad illuminated streets by night.Do not drive a bicycle or a motorcycle.Do not drive in a drunk condition and moderate your speed. If you take a taxi, ask the driver to go slowly. Use the security belt and, if you travel with children, use an adaptable chair Take a small medicinal kit: small wounds can become infected very easily. If the wound is deep it is recommendable to examine it by a doctor.
Back to homeIf you have contracted malaria or another tropical disease, it is possible that the symptoms do not become evident until much after your return to home and you may not even associate them to your trip. Visit your physician and remember to tell him about your trip to Peru.
Outside of obviously well-set up restaurants and hotels in cities and towns, toilets are often quite primitive and sometimes really dirty. It's a good idea to bring your own paper with you,as Peruvian toilet paper maybe too rough as well as being one ply. It's usual. Toilet doors are marked with "baño", "S.H." or "SS.HH.". The latter two are abbreviations for servicio higienico, which is the rather formal expression. Expect to pay no more than 20 centimos at public restrooms for paper. You will find it handy to keep a roll of toilet paper and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack.
In hostels or budget hotels, you cannot rely on having water all the time. In the Andean region, it also can easily happen that showers have more or less hot water only in the afternoon since the water is heated by solar energy only. Electrically heated showers are widely spread, but the electric installation is sometimes really dangerous, since the water heater is mostly situated at the shower head. Have a look on it before turning on the shower, especially if you are tall enough that you could touch the cables or other metal during showering which can electrocute you. Don't be too paranoid though, an electric shock is mostly painful.
As woman, if you use tampons during your period, you should bring them with you from home, because they are not very popular in Peru. In Lima, you'll be able to find them in supermarket chains like Santa Isabel or Wong or at drug stores / chemists, known as farmacias and boticas. When you find them, buy enough for the rest of the trip, they are virtually unknown in the rest of the country. Alternatively you could pack a menstrual cup because they are re-useable and compact.