Peru FAQs

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[accordion-item title=”1. What’s the best time to travel to Cusco in Peru?”]

There is no bad time to visit Peru.

Here are some facts:

  • Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in January, February, March and December.
  • Cusco has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September, but it is cold at night.
  • On average, the warmest month is September.
  • The coolest month is January, but rain is inevitable. January is the wettest month.
  • June is the driest month.
  • The months September, October, November and December have a nice average temperature and are my personal favorites.

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[accordion-item title=”2. Do I need a Visa to visit Peru?”]

Citizens of most American and Western European countries are not required to have a Visa to enter Peru. If the purpose of your visit is tourism, the maximum length of your stay will be 90 days. You will receive a Tourist Card (small piece of paper) upon your arrival to Peru – you will need to present this small piece of paper when checking into Hotels and departing Peru, so please keep it inside your Passport and do not lose it.

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[accordion-item title=”3. Is it safe to travel in Peru?”]

Peru has a stable government and tourism has boomed in recent years. With the added tourist dollars, the government has made a concerted effort to keep travelers and their valuables safe. There have been no terrorist attacks in Peruvian tourist areas in over a decade and the activities of the Shining Path are generally assumed to be isolated to a remote area of the Department of Ayacucho that most travelers would never visit.

Travelers should take the same precautions that they would in a major city in the US. Take common-sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night.

Petty theft is possible in busy tourist areas such as airports, markets, and other tourist sites, as it is in any city in the world, so be aware of your valuables and don’t leave them unattended. If you believe the Government warnings and Safety warnings in travel guides, they will scare you into never leaving your home. Just use common sense as you would in New York City.

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[accordion-item title=”4. Do I need any Vaccinations to enter Peru?”]

No Vaccinations are currently required for visiting Peru. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for those visiting the Amazon Jungle. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in Peru. However, those who are only visiting the highlands have no need for this vaccination.

Malaria preventives are NOT recommended as they often have disturbing mind-altering and physical effects. These days, malaria is extremely rare and treated with the same medication used to prevent it.

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[accordion-item title=”5. What Languages do people speak?”]

The official language is Spanish and nearly everyone speaks it. But in the highlands the language the Incas spoke, Quechua, is still widely used. Older people in indigenous communities often don’t know Spanish, but younger generations do. Aymará, a pre-Inca language, is spoken in the towns around Lake Titicaca, and dozens of native tongues are spoken in the Amazon Basin. And a growing number of Peruvians speak English.

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[accordion-item title=”6. Will I have trouble if I do not speak Spanish?”]

No problem. Although it’s helpful to know some Spanish, it’s not a necessity, especially on an organized tour or in tourist areas. There’s a strong push for tourism professionals to learn English, but cab drivers or store clerks aren’t likely to know a lick. We suggest learning a few simple phrases.

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[accordion-item title=”7. Is tap water safe to drink?”]

Nope. But bottled water is cheap and sold nearly everywhere. Drink as much as you can, it’ll help you beat altitude sickness.

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[accordion-item title=”8. Should I worry about altitude sickness?”]

It depends. If you have health issues, you should check with your doctor before heading to high altitudes. You can also consider getting a prescription for altitude sickness medication from your doctor. Don’t worry too much because nearly everyone experiences a little altitude sickness. The lucky ones may have a headache for the first 24 hours, while others may endure several days of fatigue, nausea, and headaches. When up high, lay off the booze, limit physical activity, hydrate, drink lots of coca tea, suck coca hard candy, or chew coca leaves. If the headache persists, take an ibuprofen, hydrate some more, and sleep it off. Some hotels have oxygen, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. Many Hotels offer oxygen enrichment in the rooms to assist with the altitude.

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[accordion-item title=”9. Do I have to pay any fees to enter the country?”]

No. But you pay to get out. The departure tax system (which nearly every South American country embraces) is alive and well in Peru, but the $31 USD fee for international departures from Lima is included in the cost of your ticket.

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[accordion-item title=”10. Are ther any culture sensitive customs I should be aware of?”]

You’ll notice that men and women kiss each other on the cheek when saying hello, and the same goes for women to women. It’s nonsexual and a sign of friendliness. There’s no 6 inches of personal space in Peru, it’s more like 2: people talk, walk, and sit close in general. Peruvians, like many South American countries, are also on “Latin time,” meaning they often arrive late for social engagements, though tours and transportation tend to run on time.

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[accordion-item title=”11. Will I get sick?”]

Stomach bugs are a frequent problem for visitors, but if you avoid salads and only eat fruits that you peel, you’ll reduce your likelihood of suffering from one. Cebiche and other “raw” seafood dishes popular in Lima carry a risk, but are so tasty that it would be a shame to avoid them. Stirring your cebiche a bit and waiting 10 minutes before eating it should allow the citric acid to kill any bacteria. Bring anti-diarrhea medicines and play it by ear, or tummy.

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[accordion-item title=”12. Is it difficult to get around?”]

A growing selection of domestic flights means it is much easier to move about within Peru these days. Almost every worthwhile destination is within a two-hour flight from Lima. Train travel is limited, but fun and easy. Traveling by car is trickier—roads are improving, but signage is spotty. Buses go everywhere, and the most expensive seats are quite comfortable; only travel with big companies such as Cruz del Sur. In cities, cabs are abundant and cheap, but stick to the big companies such as Taxi Satelital, Taxi Seguro, or Remisse. Many destinations in the Amazon Basin can only be reached by river.

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[accordion-item title=”13. Is it worth it to spend one week, or two weeks?”]

The minimum amount of time to experience Peru is one week, but you really should consider setting aside two weeks if you can, because that would allow you to move more slowly and catch a few more of the country’s amazing sights. One week is enough time to get a taste of Lima and complete the Cusco–Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu circuit, either with an Inca Trail trek, or a more leisurely train itinerary. If you don’t mind a quick pace, you could do that circuit in four days, then fly to Puerto Maldonado for a couple of nights in the Amazon rain forest at one of the nearby nature lodges.

A two-week trip allows you to visit more of the sites along the Cusco–Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu route and head deeper into the Amazon rain forest, and either in Madre de Dios, or on the Amazon River itself, or do the Lake Titicaca–Arequipa–Colca Canyon circuit. The Nazca–Paracas trip, south of Lima, can also easily be added to the above in a two-week trip. An alternative to the chilly Titicaca–Arequipa circuit is to return to Lima after Machu Picchu and fly to either Trujillo or Chiclayo: coastal cities that lie near important pre-Incan sites. If outdoor adventure is your passion, you could extend your stay in the highlands for a white-water rafting trip or trekking in either the Cusco region or the Cordillera Blanca.

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[accordion-item title=”14. Is it difficult to get to Machu Picchu?”]

Travel to Machu Picchu is almost too easy. Many people do the trip in a day out of Cusco, but it is worth two or three days, with overnights in Aguas Calientes and the Sacred Valley. The most common method is to hop on a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which is a 20-minute bus trip from the ruins. Or you can do as the Incas did and walk the trail, which is a two- to four-day hike and a highlight for those who do it. Keep in mind that you need to book an Inca Trail trek six months ahead of time.

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