You might think you know all there is to know about Peru, but you will be surprised by some of the things you are about to read below. This is a country with a vast history, a variety of landscapes, incredible cuisine, and warm-hearted people, and is truly one of the best choices for a trip to South America.
Things to know about Peru
We all know that when we get an idea for a trip to a new destination in our heads, everything else goes out the window. The excitement takes over, so we forget to check important details, which leave us feeling regretful at the moment. The more we travel the more we learn from this, and the more we can get out of our adventures, and that is why each country has a certain list of things to know, to make the trip unforgettable, for the right reason.
We are going to share those with you here, but as well as this, one of the absolute best ways to get the lowdown on any country is to have a Local in-Destination Expert on your side. They can help you create custom trips and more importantly, they are the ones who know their country inside and out.
There are some things to know about traveling to Peru, that might seem like minute details at the beginning, but believe us, these are things you will wish you knew about earlier. You might think you know all there is to know about Peru, but you will be surprised by some of the things you are about to read below.
Tips and tricks for making the trip stress-free.
In Peru, Spanish is spoken everywhere, and is the official language of the country as well as Quechua, Aymara, and various other native languages throughout the country. Peru might welcome many tourists each year, but English is not generally spoken outside of the tourist hubs, so it is definitely worth your while learning a couple of phrases, downloading Google Translate, or getting a pocket phrasebook to carry with you before you go.
The locals always appreciate when travelers attempt to speak their language, just like anywhere in the world, plus it’s a great skill to have.
COSTS & TIPS
How much money will I need?
Peru is a very inexpensive country, in comparison to some other parts of South and Central America, and you can see and do a lot more here on a low budget. Depending on your plans, you can aim to spend about $30 – $40 per day including food and accommodation and local transport, but of course, most of your budget will go on activities such as hiking the Inca Trail, train rides, adventure activities, etc., so plan accordingly.
If you are traveling from North America or some parts of Europe, you might be accustomed to tipping, so it is good to know that in Peru, a tip of around 10% is generally recommended at the end of a final bill. If you are doing tours, always carry some cash to be able to tip your guide at the end of the tour.
It is worth noting too that many Peruvian ATMs can be temperamental and can refuse to accept your cards or even swallow your cards, so be aware of this and always carry extra cash and extra bank cards, to avoid being caught out. This can happen almost anywhere in the world, of course, so it is important to have a backup. The currency is SOL and 1 SOL is equal to around $0.25
Tap water in Peru is not particularly safe to drink, so you will generally find that in your hotel they will provide bottles of mineral water for you free of charge. Always be careful when ordering drinks with ice as well as mistakenly swallowing shower water when bathing, we all know that won’t end well. If you buy fruit from a market, always wash it with bottled water too.
BOOKING IN ADVANCE
Depending on where you are going, always check the time of the year which is the high season for that area, especially for the Amazon, the coast, and of course the mountains which can vary greatly. One thing is that you can prepare yourself for the changes in weather and crowds of people, and the other thing is that you can book your activities well in advance, to avoid disappointment.
If you have wanted to do the Inca Trail your whole life, and turn up in the high season with the idea to book it at the hostel, you will be sadly turned away, because this is of course one of the biggest attractions in the country and people book years in advance. For things such as bike tours or cooking classes, there is definitely a bit more flexibility even in high season, but for the major attractions, tours and activities, always book well in advance. You can thank us later!
Easy and accessible
Great news, for most nationalities there is a free visa on arrival for Peru, making it one of the easiest countries to travel to. Of course, there are some exceptions, so please check this link for more information on visas.
Upon arrival, you will be granted 183 days to explore this vast country, but please note that it cannot be extended within the country, only from your country of origin.
You will just need a passport with a minimum validity of 6 months and citizens from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Columbia, Ecuador, and Chile can enter just with their National ID.
How to prevent
No, you don’t need to climb a mountain to experience this, in fact Peru has an average elevation of 16,738ft (ca. 5,102 m) high, and considering altitude sickness can hit you anywhere beyond 8,200ft (ca. 2,499 meters), if it’s imperative to know this in advance. It won’t affect every one, of course, but it will take the body some time to get used to the thinner air at these higher altitudes.
Some tips on tackling or preventing altitude sickness are to make sure you have some acclimatization days, especially if you are trekking and plan to go high in the mountains, it is important to let your body keep up at its own pace. The locals love drinking Cocoa Tea, something which you will be served with breakfast and during the day almost all the time, so give it a try. An important thing to note is that, although you might take a liking to this tea, don’t attempt to bring any home, as it is illegal in the USA and various other countries.
Some other things that can help are to sleep at lower altitudes, drink plenty of water, have some backup altitude sickness pills, and avoid alcohol, especially when trekking.
Save time and money
Many places are still not connected by air in Peru, and because of the long distances, you might consider taking overnight buses to save time, money and be able to travel from one place to another rather easily. This is a really common way to travel, plus because it is overnight, it saves you a night’s accommodation., so it is a win-win situation.