PERU, Things to Know Before You Go

Peru is a country in South America that’s home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains.  The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites.  On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art.

Peru inspires wonder, from the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu and the mysterious Nazca Lines to the Cordillera Blanca’s soaring peaks and Lake Titicaca’s floating islands.  Stroll Cusco’s cobblestone streets and take in stunning Inca and colonial architecture or visit an Andean community where daily life remains rooted in tradition.  Savor intriguing flavors:  the country of pisco sours and ceviche is now a hotbed for fusion food.  Surfing, trekking, and bird-watching satisfy a thirst for outdoor adventure, and world-class hotels offer creature comforts.

Visa Regulations and Guidance
Peru is basically a country of open doors.  The entry into Peru for Citizens of most American and Western European countries does not require a tourist visa.  The maximum period of stay granted by the authorities is 183 days (cannot be extended).  Nationals of other countries must check the list of visa exempt countries to see if they need to apply for visas. 

As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport.

Currency/Credit Cards
Peruvian currency is the Sol.  US dollars are widely accepted in Peru and you can easily withdraw US dollars from many Peruvian ATM’s.  One Peruvian Sol is $0.31 US.

Visa is the most widely accepted card (tarjeta) in Peru, and nearly all ATMs accept visa for cash withdrawals.  You will also find some ATMs that accept MasterCard, but Visa is the most common.

Tipping
Most restaurant and bar bills include a 10% gratuity.  It’s customary to add an extra 10% if the service has been satisfactory.  Most Peruvians only tip one or two Soles at small “mom and pop” restaurants that do not add a tip to the bill.

Health and Medical Information
Vaccines for Peru are based on your specific itinerary.  The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO have recommended that travelers receive (1) Yellow Fever (this vaccine may be required based on your travel itinerary), (2) Typhoid, (3) Hepatitis A, (4) Hepatitis B, (5) Rabies and up to date on routine vaccines.  It’s always advisable to travel with mosquito repellant.            
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Peruvian cuisine is often made spicy with aji pepper, a basic ingredient.  Peruvian chili peppers are not spicy but serve to give taste and color to dishes.  Rice often accompanies dishes in Peruvian cuisine, and the regional sources of foods and traditions give rise to countless varieties of preparation and dishes. Peru does not have water sources as pure as those in North America.  While in-country, avoid tap water and ice.  Consider purchasing bottled water or other drinks in the area or bringing a water filter.

Climate and Weather
The climate on the coast is arid and semi-arid with high temperatures and very little rainfall.  The Andes mountains observe a cool-to-cold climate with rainy summers and very dry winter.  The eastern lowlands present an Equatorial climate with hot weather and rain distributed all year long. February is the hottest month in Lima with an average temperature of 74 F (24 C), and the coldest is August at 63 F (17 C) with the most daily sunshine hours at 7 in April.  The best month to swim in the sea is in February when the average sea temperature is 73 F (23 C).
Electricity and Plug Standards
Peru’s electricity operates at 220 volts and 60 hertz.  Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices.  Plugs are typically the 2-pronged flat type found in the US, though some facilities have been noted to use the 2 rounded prongs instead.