Best times to visit Peru
The weather varies according to the area you visit. On the coast, summer runs from December through April, approximately. During this period, the entire coastline is bathed in sunshine, making it an ideal time for the beach no matter where you are. From June to September is winter, though it is not a severe winter. During the day, the temperature normally reaches 20˚C (68°F), although it can get as cold as 10˚C (50°F) at night. This makes it possible to visit Nazca, Ica, the Ballestas Islands and Lima all year round.
In the Southern Andes (the area we specialise in), we only experience two seasons: the dry and the wet season. The dry season runs from April to October and you’ll generally find clear, warm days that rapidly cool at night, with temperatures dropping as low as zero in July and August. In the rainy months (November–March, but particularly January and February) it doesn’t get too cold around 18°C (64°F) during the day and 15°C (59°F) at night, but it does get rainy. May through October are probably the best months to visit Cuzco and Lake Titicaca. The wet season can make travelling in the Andes more difficult but the rewards can be greater and prices more appealing.
Passport & Visa
Peru. With few exceptions (some African, Asian and communist countries) visas in Peru are not required for tourism. However, it’s important to note that passports should be valid for at least six months from your departure date. Upon entry to Peru, you’ll receive a tourist stamp valid for 30 days or a 90-day stamp if you say you’re planning on staying longer than a month.
Coping with altitude
- Altitude sickness is often the result of ascending rapidly to altitudes greater than 2,500 meters! Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, malaise and loss of appetite. We recommend that you drink a lot of water, eat light meals, avoid overexertion, and abstain from smoking or drinking alcohol.
- We suggest the use of acetazolamide (Diamox) especially if you fly directly from Lima to Cusco. Take 125mg or 250mg twice or three times daily starting 24 hours before ascent and continuing for 48 hours after arrival.
- Acetazolamide should not be given to pregnant women or anyone with a history of a sulpha allergy. An alternative is 4mg dexamethasone taken four times daily upon arrival at altitude.
- Dexamethasone should not be given to diabetics because it is a steroid.
- Local people in Peru chew coca leaves, and a good alternative for tourists is to drink lots of mate de coca (coca tea).
- The ideal way to acclimatise would be to spend a couple of days in Arequipa (2,335 meters or 7,661 feet) before visiting Puno or Cusco.
- Recommended vaccinations:
There is no compulsory immunization required to travel to Peru. However, we recommend visiting your local doctor or a specialist in a travel clinic before setting off. At Peru InsideOut, we suggest you are immunised against:
- Hepatitis A
In addition to these common immunisations, some medical professionals also recommend that you be inoculated against Hepatitis B.
If you are planning to go to the Amazonian area of Peru, anti-malarial precautions and yellow fever should be taken into account (though they are not compulsory). Discuss it thoroughly with your local medical advisor.
- Medical kit:
- Antibacterial for cuts and abrasion
- Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude sickness
- Anti-diarrhoea medication (Loperamide) and an antibiotic for diarrhoea (Norflozacin, Ciprofloxacin or Azithromycin)
- Anti-inflammatory medication (Ibuprofen)
- Insect repellent
- Sun block
- Oral rehydration salts
- Physical fitness:
- Our trips do not require a particularly high level of physical fitness. We suggest you train a little bit before coming, to be able to walk for an average of 30 minutes.
- We recommend you let us know in advance of medical conditions or illnesses you have experienced before coming to Peru. This will give us the necessary information we need to take extra care of you during the trip.
- Trekking: if you are thinking of trekking intensely in Peru (and we can organise this for you), your level of fitness should be very good.
Food & Water
- Food – We only use restaurants with an uncompromising level of hygiene. We have already eaten at and visited all the restaurants you will visit. Nevertheless, during your free time, or if you are tempted to try food locally, we strongly suggest you always eat cooked meals or peeled fruits and vegetables. In our own experience, salads are the most likely to give you stomach problems. If you decide to eat uncooked salads, always ask for them to be washed in boiled water. But we recommend that you avoid them as a measure of safety, as the duration of your visit is not normally long enough to allow you to acquire resistance to these bacteria. So, with a little care, you should enjoy a trouble-free visit.
- Drinking water – We recommend that you drink only bottled water. We will help you with this. To reduce the amount of waste we produce, we buy and share very large bottles (which are difficult to carry) of water and divide the contents into 1 litre or half-litre bottles, that each traveller can then carry.
- Peru is generally safe. There are a few problems with muggings here, as there are elsewhere in the world – New York, Paris, Rome, and so on. As a matter of common sense, we suggest you take extra care in busy areas such as airports and bus stations. During our escorted tours we generally provide you with an extra layer of safety. We will be there for any questions or concerns you may have before and during the entire trip.
- The political outlook of the country is very stable and its economy has registered in recent years the highest growth rates in all of South America. In case you have heard otherwise, terrorist activities in Peru ceased over 15 years ago.
Within Peru, we advise you to use the main airline in Peru, LAN (a Chilean company), which is part of the OneWorld alliance with British Airways, American Airlines, and others. They operate a fleet of modern aircraft (Boeing and Airbus planes) and have excellent standards of service and reliability. Taca (a Brazilian company) and Sky Airline (a Chilean company) are also good airline companies.
Internationally, we find that LAN from Madrid, KLM from Amsterdam, or Air France from Paris are very reliable and offer a very good quality of service to Lima. From Sydney, LAN flies to Santiago de Chile via Auckland and Qantas directly to Buenos Aires.
We ensure that buses, mini-buses, trains and boats we will be using during our trips are the safest possible here in Peru. Whenever we use public transportation, we trust only the best national providers: Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, Peru Rail and Inca Rail. The boats for Lake Titicaca have already been audited and as a matter of security we check every single boat prior to the trip. The safety of our travellers is paramount!
- Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers while on tour with Peru InsideOut. Clients are responsible for ensuring that they have adequate coverage for the full duration of the tour in respect to medical expenses, injury, death, repatriation, cancellation and curtailment.
- We do not compromise on quality. On our organised tours, accommodation are all three- and four-star. All the accommodation we use during our trips have been inspected personally. We have visited and checked accommodation at all our destinations – every single one!
- When it comes to customised tours, we can offer you the widest range of accommodation, including the Orient Express Company, Libertador, Sonesta, and Casa Andina. We can also provide you with modest but clean hostels.
- Peru runs on a 220V, 60Hz AC electricity supply. Two-pronged outlets accept both flat (North American) and round (European) plugs. Electronic devices built for lower voltage and cycles (110V to 120V North American appliances) must be used with a converter to avoid damaging them.
- The Peruvian currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN). USD dollars are widely accepted in Peru, so it’s a good idea to carry some change and small denomination notes with you ($10, $20). Take note: USD bills need to be undamaged, clean and unmarked. They’re very strict about this. Folded, mutilated, dirty, or wrinkled bills are oftentimes refused when attempting a transaction.
- Credit cards are also widely accepted: mostly Visa but increasingly MasterCard, Amex and Diners Club. Expect to pay 8–10% commission on credit card transactions. It’s usually better to withdraw some cash and use that for payments. You can use your credit card to withdraw cash. ATMs dispense in both USD and local currency PEN.
- The exchange rate is around: USD $1 to 2.70 PEN, GBP £1 to 4.20 PEN, and EUR €1 to 3.50 PEN (this last one, due to the economic turmoil in Europe, has been fluctuating more than USD dollars and the UK Sterling).
- Bank branches are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; they are also open on Saturday mornings. The banks accept major credit cards; therefore, you won’t have a problem.
- What a delight! The Peruvian cuisine will surprise you as it surprises all newcomers to Peru. There are many exquisite and unusual ingredients for western consumers, such as chirimoya, maiz morado, maracuya, quinua, tuna, and chuño, as well as the humble potato (potato was introduced to Europe after the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire).
- Among the more typical Peruvian dishes we suggest you try are:
- Ceviche: mixed seafood marinated in lime juice, chilli, and onions, served with sweet corn and boiled sweet potato (camote). Peruvians consider ceviche apart of their identity and have declared it to be their national dish!
- Lomo saltado: chopped steak sautéed with onions, tomatoes and potatoes, served with white rice.
- Lomo de alpaca: lomo saltado, as described above, with the variation of using alpaca, which has half the fat of beef. This dish is very typical of the Andes. It can also be accompanied with quinoa cream (cooked quinoa mixed with milk and cheese).
- Rocoto relleno: spicy bell pepper stuffed with vegetables, typical of Arequipa.
- Adobo de Chancho: Pork, aji (hot pepper), ground garlic, onions, vinegar and salt.
- Chicharron de chancho: fried pork with choclo (enormous maize from the Valle Sagrado), typical of Cusco.
- Trucha (typical fish that can be found in Andean lakes): fried, served with white rice, chuño (desiccated potato), typical of the Titicaca Lake region.
- Cancacho: roasted pork or lamb marinated in aji (hot pepper) and oil.
- Cuy chactado: guinea pig, pan fried under a flat, heavy stone (this one may not be for the faint-hearted, though!), typical of Arequipa.
- Peruvian cuisine is becoming more and more appreciated, thanks also to Gaston Acurio Jaramillo, a Peruvian chef and now ambassador of Peruvian cuisine. He also has 31 restaurants worldwide promoting Peruvian food. His Lima flagship “Astrid & Gastón” is #42onS. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best .
- Promotion of Peru as a country and its cuisine was the centre of a very original advertising campaign, “Marca Perú”.
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