ESSENTIAL TRIP INFORMATION
PERU CULTURE AND CUSTOMES
Like many other South American nations, contemporary Peru is a rich mix of the modern and the ancient. In the highlands, where most of the population is Quechua or Aymara (descendants of the Incas), people speak their local language, wear traditional clothes, follow Inca traditions and chew coca leaves. Most lead agricultural lives and there is a great deal of poverty.
This is a stark contrast to the European-influenced coast, which is considerably wealthier and mixed with Europeans, Mestizo (mix of Spanish and indigenous), Afro-Peruvians, Japanese and Chinese immigrants. Cultural festivals offer fascinating insights into the ancient customs of Peru that have been carried on from Inca times, with centuries-old food, clothing, song and dance playing an integral role in these celebrations. What unites the country is a reverence for religion and family, as well as a love for soccer.
FOODS TO TRY IN PERU
Peruvians take their food seriously. Whether you’re in a village or a large city, your taste buds will thank you for visiting this South American nation. Peruvian cuisine draws on a mix of Andean, Spanish, African and Asian influences. Stews and soups made with potatoes (Peru grows more than 4,000 varieties), corn and quinoa are common, particularly in the highlands. Japanese-inspired seafood dishes and Chifas (Peruvian-Chinese fusion) restaurants are also popular along the coast.
The cuisine is meat-heavy, but vegetarian options aren’t hard to come by – particularly dishes featuring avocados which grow abundantly throughout the country.
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT IN PERU
Peru is home to a diverse range of landscapes, including parts of the Amazon Basin, the Andean Mountain range and Lake Titicaca. Not to mention areas of tropical savanna, desert, cloud forest and mangroves. Peru also has a long stretch of coast along the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Coast alternates between narrow bands of desert and fertile valleys, while the Andes cut through the center of the country, separating the coast from the jungle. Machu Picchu, Cusco and Puno are all located in the Highlands region.
PERU TRAVEL FAQS
DO I NEED A VISA TO TRAVEL TO PERU?
Peru has visa-free travel agreements with most countries, and foreign nationals including those from the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Canada do not require a visa for tourism purposes. Eligible foreign nationals will be issued a free visitor permit in their passport upon arrival. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it’s important that you check for the latest information.
The duration of a Peru visitor permits ranges between 30 to 183 days, and is normally determined by border officers on arrival. If you’re issued a permit for 30 or 90 days and want to extend your trip, you can request an extension before your initial permit expires. You should also note that you cannot extend a 183-day permit, so if you intend to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for the relevant visa at your nearest Peruvian embassy or consulate before you depart.
If you overstay your visitor permit in Peru, you may be fined when leaving the country. The fine is around US $1.50 per day and must be paid in cash. It’s essential to ensure border officials stamp your passport on arrival, or you might have to go through a potentially long and expensive process to leave the country – either by requesting an entry stamp at the National Superintendent of Immigration in Lima, or applying for an exit order.
IS TIPPING CUSTOMARY IN PERU?
While tipping isn’t mandatory in Peru, it’s customary to add spare change or a small amount to restaurant bills. Although most restaurants and bars may already include a 10% service charge within the bill, feel free to add more if the service is really good. Taxi drivers generally don’t expect tips.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD8-USD10 per person, per day can be used. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
PERU TREKKING – General Tipping Guide:
We recommend you carry the below suggested amounts with you during the trek and that you carry small bills as this makes splitting the tip an easier process. The last day of the trek the tipping will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide.
We suggest a total tipping amount of PEN120 to PEN180 per person (approximately USD 37 to USD 55). This is generally the tipping breakdown:
Porters, cook and assistants PEN 80 to PEN 120
Assistant guide: PEN 12 to PEN 20
Guide: PEN 27 to PEN 40
WHAT IS THE INTERNET ACCESS LIKE IN PERU?
Internet can be accessed at hotels, restaurants and cafes in large cities, but it can be more limited in rural and remote areas. There are many situations where you might want to use your mobile when travelling. It could be to call a hostel to book a room, arrange a meeting point for breakfast with your new travel friends, or contact loved ones in an emergency.
WILL MY MOBILE PHONE WORK IN PERU?
You will be able to use your mobile/cell phone while in Peru, but only if you have activated global roaming or purchased a local SIM card. If you choose to activate global roaming, don’t forget to check with your provider as to what costs will be incurred to avoid any unwanted surprises when you get your phone bill – it’s often painfully expensive! You should also make sure you check that your phone is unlocked before leaving home or the local SIM may not work overseas.
Many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card instead of a roaming plan as it works out much cheaper. You can buy a SIM card at most airports and phone retail shops in the bigger towns and cities. There are several carriers to choose from in Peru, with both prepaid and postpaid options available. Though postpaid is slightly cheaper, it may require a minimum commitment period, so you might be better off going with the prepaid option. As far as carriers go, Movistar, Entel and Claro are some of the biggest and will offer you decent coverage, though it may be poor or cut off completely in more rural or mountainous areas like the Andes.
WHAT TO WEAR IN PERU
There are a few things to bear in mind no matter where or when you’re going, though. Dressing in layers is key, as you’ll need to layer up and down as the weather changes throughout the day. Wear clothes made of natural, breathable fabrics like linen, cotton (although cotton doesn’t dry well in high humidity) or merino wool; merino is particularly good for hiking as it wicks away moisture and regulates body temperature. Sportswear is also a good shout for hot weather as it’s lightweight and quick-drying.
At higher altitudes, in places like Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, the temperature can plummet at night, so you’ll also need a warm, waterproof jacket, thermals and a beanie, especially if you’re travelling in the winter months from April to October. Casual, comfy attire is the go in Peru, but you may want to dress up a bit if you plan on hanging out in bars and restaurants in Lima, think a t-shirt with jeans or a skirt… nothing too fancy. It’s not essential, but you might feel more comfortable, especially if you visit any up-scale restaurants.
Peru is generally safe for travelers, but you should avoid wearing expensive jewellery and branded clothing. Flashy attire can unfortunately make you a target for thieves.
In terms of footwear, runners and/or sandals made for walking are a must for anyone travelling in Peru. You’ll spend a lot of time exploring the country’s historical sites on your feet. Plus, pathways at historical sites are often rocky and uneven, and cobbled footpaths in the main cities aren’t much better.
CAN YOU DRINK TAP WATER IN PERU?
Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Peru or anywhere else in South America – but it’s generally considered safe to drink tap water that has been boiled or filtered. There’s no need to worry about keeping your mouth closed while you shower, but if you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you may wish to use boiled or filtered water to brush your teeth or wash fruits and vegetables.
When ordering cocktails or smoothies, try to avoid drinks with ice. You can always ask the waiter or vendor if they use filtered water to make ice, but if you’d rather not risk it, just order your drinks ‘without ice’.
Single-use water bottles contribute to a huge environmental problem, so your best bet is to bring a portable water filter or water purifying tablets, and a large reusable bottle to refill at canteens or hotels. Brands like Steripen sterilise water using UV, while bottles from Sawyer remove most bacteria through an in-built foam purifier.
ARE CREDIT CARDS WIDELY ACCEPTED IN PERU?
Most hotels, large retailers and tourist attractions accept credit cards but will usually charge a fee (about 5%) for using them. Make sure you carry cash for when you’re dealing with small vendors, family-run restaurants and market vendors. ATMs can be found in most of Peru’s major cities and tourist areas. ATMs are far less common in rural areas and small villages so have enough cash to cover purchases when travelling away from the larger cities.
DO I NEED TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE BEFORE TRAVELLING?
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Andean Great Treks are required to purchase travel insurance before the start your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH INFORMATION
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. For the safety and wellbeing of yourself and others, if you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements.
When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the assessment of our group leader or local representative a traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements in their original packaging as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. If you are carrying medication, ensure you check your government’s foreign travel advice for any local restrictions or requirements.
DO I NEED ANY VACCINATIONS BEFORE VISITING PERU?
No vaccines are required in order to enter Peru but some are recommended for protection against disease. Visit your doctor or travel clinic for advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
Recommended travel vaccines for Peru:
- Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Yellow Fever (transmitted by mosquitos): This vaccination is recommended if you’re visiting Puno or the Amazon. Some countries require a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate for entry after visiting Peru. Do your research before leaving home to see if you require this vaccine.
WILL I EXPERIENCE ALTITUDE SICKNESS IN PERU?
Most people can start to feel the effects of altitude at over 2000 m (6561 ft) regardless of age, gender or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. It’s important to take it easy, drink plenty of water and speak to your group leader at once if you feel unwell.
Before your trip:
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip:
While our group leader or local representative have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leader or local representatives. The aim of the group leader or local representative is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Andean Great Treks provides the services of an experienced group leader or local representative however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your group leader or local representative is new to a particular region or training another group leader or local representative.
Your group leader or local representative will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Andean Great Treks we aim to support local guides who have specialized knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your group leader or local representative can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
ABOUT MY BOOKING
HOW DO I CANCEL MY BOOKING?
If you need to cancel your booking, please let us know as soon as possible. This is required in writing and you should refer to the booking conditions with regards to any cancellation charges that may apply. Normally, if you cancel before the final balance is due, the deposit is non-refundable, but we can usually hold your balance for you to use on a future trip. Please contact Andean Great Treks for further details. Once your final balance has been paid, there is a sliding scale of charges, outlined in the booking conditions.
If you wish to transfer your booking to a different tour or traveler, you should contact us before the final balance is due for your existing tour. Changes are, however, subject to any additional fees charged by local suppliers or airlines. Transfers after the final balance is due are classed as a cancellation and re-booking. For cancellations or transfers, please contact by email.
HOW DO I PAY MY BALANCE?
The balance payment must be made upon arrival in the city of Cusco, in our office located at 250 Marques Street, second floor, office.02. We are open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 18:00 pm. Payments will preferably be made in cash (American dollars or euros). If you are paying by card, be it Visa, Mastercard or another, there is a 5% charge. Payments are not accepted at the time of pickup, since the staff (guide, drivers) are not authorized to collect the remaining balance. Once payment of your remaining balance has been completed, it is no longer possible to request cancellation of the tour, since all expenses will have already been incurred. Any questions or clarifications about payments can be made through our email.
When you have received your confirmation, please check the information carefully to make sure that we have booked the arrangements you requested. If there are any inaccuracies, please contact us so that we can make the necessary corrections.
FOOD AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS
While travelling with us you’ll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule, our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There’s no obligation to do this though.
Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.
Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.
More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.
For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets, we understand your dietary requirements are important, however, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. We recommend researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home.
SAFETY IN PERU
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Protests and demonstrations usually occur in all regions of Peru. But since December 2023, violent demonstrations, such as blocking roads, railway lines, and airports, are completely prohibited. These legal provisions now make visits to Peru very safe.
Street crime, including muggings and thefts, is a significant problem in Lima. Be vigilant in public places and when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night. As with travel across the country, you should remain aware of your surroundings and avoid wearing or displaying expensive items. In the event of a robbery, do not attempt to resist attackers or take any action that puts you at greater risk.
Tourists have been the targets of robbery by bogus taxi drivers. Do not hail taxis on the street and instead only use licensed telephone or internet-based taxi services whenever possible, or ask your hotel to book one for you. Be particularly careful when arriving at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima and only use one of the official taxi companies located at desks directly outside the arrival hall.
Tourists are sometimes offered ‘spiritual cleansing’ programs in the Amazon area, Northern Peru and Cusco. These are sometimes called Ayahuasca or San Pedro and typically involve the consumption of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an hallucinogenic drug. These practices are not regulated and people have suffered serious illnesses and in some cases death after participating in these ceremonies.
HIKING IN PERU
In accordance with local laws governing tourism in Peru, trekking groups of up to and including 8 trekkers must be led by one local guide. The evacuation of an injured traveller in normal conditions may take more than 8 hours. For your own safety, it’s crucial that you adhere to the local guide’s safety instructions, particularly in regard to how to prevent trekkers getting separated or lost. Your leader will also conduct a safety discussion before our trekking activities.
Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You’ll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 20kg for check in luggage.
AMAZON JUNGLE PACKING LIST
– Long, light coloured, tight-weave cotton shirts and pants
– Comfortable shoes or sandles for wearing on boardwalks or around the lodge
– Long, thick socks to wear with the rubber boots provided by the lodge
– Rain jacket or poncho
– Tropical strength insect repellant
– Small denomination bills for incidental purchases (eg drinks)
– Head torch or flashlight (optional, smartphone torch sufficient)
– Binoculars (optional)
Tents are provided for the duration of your Peru trek.
At the pre-trek briefing you will be given a small duffle bag to pack your clothes for the trek, please note there is a 5kg limit, this includes your sleeping bag.In addition to the general packing list, please ensure you bring these items if you are trekking in Peru.
You MUST take your passport, a photocopy is not sufficient. It’s important the passport matches the details your provided us when booking this trip (Keep it in a plastic bag in case of rain)
You will need a good warm sleeping bag for the trek. Sleeping bags can be hired for US20-25, please let your Tour Leader know at the trek briefing. A four season (or -10) bag is recommended especially for the winter months. At other times you will probably be fine in a 3 season (or -5) bag although this depends on how much you feel the cold and is given as a guideline only.
Silk sleeping bag liner:
Especially recommended if you plan to hire a sleeping bag but can also give your own bag added warmth.
Pillows are not provided on the trek and it’s your personal preference if you wish to bring one along. If you decide to bring a pillow then we do suggest packing a travel friendly option, something that can be easily packed into your small duffle bag.
Trek poles are not required, it’s a personal preference. We recommend hiring these at the pre-trek briefing for approximately US$10 per pole as it will save you carting them around for the remainder of your travels.
A day bag that has easy access to water bottles (external side pockets) or a day pack with a built in hydration bladder. This bag only needs to be large enough to hold the few things you need during the day (hat, water, camera, snacks, rain jacket etc)
You should be carrying at least 2 litres of water daily, while trekking. Depending on whether you have a hydration bladder in your bag or not we recommend bringing two (1 litre) bottles that can be refilled on the trail with boiled water, which will be supplied daily.
Waterproof, well worn-in walking boots:
Good quality, comfortable footwear is essential. Whatever you wear on your feet the most important thing is comfort. It is vital to ensure your boots are well worn in and lightweight. Ankle support and waterproofing is recommended but if you already have something comfortable with good grip on rocks then don’t go rushing out to buy new boots – you are better off with your well-worn in pair!
Walking clothing in layers:
(E.g. zip off trousers, fleece, T-shirts). It’s a personal choice as to how many items you bring however, please remember there’s a 5kg limit. We recommend the following:
- 2 Pairs of long Walking Trousers (Zip off are a very hand
choice but not a necessity)
- 2 T-shirts
- 1 Pair of shorts
- Rain Jacket or Poncho (Poncho can be purchased locally
for a $2-3)
Warm clothing for night time:
Fleece, long pants, woollen hat, gloves.
Thermal wear is highly recommended, being light, warm and will keep you warm at night.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat
Personal medication and basic first aid kit:
Band-Aids, Imodium, Panadol, rehydration sachets.
Camera and spare batteries, memory cards or film:
Please note: there are no electrical outlets on the trek so make sure you fully charge and or have spare batteries.
Chocolates, chips, biscuits, energy bars. Snacks are provided during the trek but you may like to bring one or two extras just in case. If you have a dietary requirement then be recommend bringing some suitable snacks from home. We will accommodate you for Breakfast, lunch and dinner however for snacks it’s recommended to bring some just to be safe.
Head torch or Standard Torch (flash-light)
(Very Important) and spare batteries.
Tropical strength insect repellent.
Antiseptic hand gel.
Flip-flops / thongs / sandals:
If you wish to have a shower on the third night and to wear around camp after a long day of trekking.
In case your tent ‘roomie’ is a snorer.
To keep your belongings and clothes dry (wrap everything in plastic bags).
Most important! Also small plastic bags or zip lock bags for rubbish which can then be thrown in the main rubbish bag provided by the porters. Please don’t dispose of your toilet paper on the ground!
Wet wipes and or Face wipes:
These are an essential and will come in handy after a long day of trekking and no showers.
Small towel and basic personal toiletries:
On the third night of both the Inca Trail and the Inca Quarry there is an opportunity to have a shower so bring travel size shampoo and shower gel if you would like.