Important Travel Information before going to Peru
Visiting Machu Picchu? Navigating Lake Titicaca? Flying over the mysterious Nazca Lines? Your visit to Peru is going to be a wonderful experience: lost cities, the driest desert in the world, geoglyphs, the majestic Andes (which are second only to the Himalayas in height), as well as the deepest canyons in the world! You don’t want to overlook things when planning for such an adventurous trip.
Visa requirements to go to Peru: Check your passport to ensure it hasn’t expired!
Many travellers may find it surprising, but to visit Peru as a tourist is easy! There is no need to acquire a visa before coming to Peru. Peru is a very open country, and aside from a very few countries, travellers from around the world are granted a visa upon arrival at the airport – from 30 days up to 183 days.
The only requirement is that you check your passport expiration date. It is required, in fact, that your passport be valid passport for at least six months following your departure date. So, please check your passport before your trip to Peru- and if you need to renew it, don’t delay. Think a few months ahead, not a few weeks, to allow time for renewal.
When you arrive in Peru, you will be handed a TAM (Tarjeta Andina de Migracíones); it’s an official card – not unlike an index card. You carry it with you throughout Peru. Please take care of it because you will be asked for it before leaving the country. Also, please note that the presentation of the TAM means you won’t pay the 18% VAT (tax) when you stay in hotels in Peru.
Return plane ticket
You may be asked to present a valid return ticket – by the airlines in your country or at the airport in Lima (though Peruvian officials seldom do this!). If you don’t have one, please show that you are going to continue on your trip to other South American countries, for which you have a valid ticket. If this is not the case, simply prove that you have sufficient funds to live in Peru (your credit card will be guarantee enough).
Health and vaccination information: Yellow fever and malaria
Generally speaking, vaccinations are not required for travel to Peru. That is, no particular vaccinations are compulsory. A few important points must be made, though. See below.
(For those of you residing in the U.S., the best source for information on vaccinations and your health while travelling in Peru is the CDC website (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/peru.htm).
Considering an Indiana Jones type of exploration in the Peruvian Amazonian jungle? Exploring the Amazon river perhaps? Sailing the Madre de Dios River? Visiting Tambopata Park to spot caimans at night or capybaras along the banks of Tambopata River?
Well, in that case, a yellow fever vaccination is a must. Yellow fever can be lethal and you don’t want to take chances. According to the World Health Organization, yellow fever is still present in Peru. The good news is that in 2011 only 13 cases were registered. So, if you’re travelling to Peru, please be inoculated for yellow fever.
Anti-malaria precautions must be taken into account before travelling into the Amazon rainforest. This is particularly true if you are planning to venture up the Amazon or travel to Iquitos. If you go instead to the south, to the Amazonian jungle reserves of Manu Biosphere Reserve (http://peruinsideout.com/wp/destinations/peru/manu-national-park/) and Tambopata Park, there are fewer cases of malaria and precaution becomes a personal choice.
The most common form of prevention is Malarone, which seems to have fewer side effects than Doxycycline. Please, before leaving your country, consult with your personal physician or a local public health agency. Many of the public health agencies run Travel Clinics, where travel/health information is available and immunizations are administered.
Other recommended vaccinations
Six weeks prior to your trip to Peru, consult with your doctor(or public health agency) to ensure you have the correct vaccinations – for example: Hepatitis A/B, typhoid, polio, tetanus-diphtheria and measles, etc.
We also recommend bringing a good sun-blocker/sunscreen due to exposure to the sun at exceedingly high altitudes in the Andes (3,000 meters+, or 10,000 feet+), as well as mosquito repellent.
For other health requirements, you may want to check our Key Travel Information section: http://peruinsideout.com/essential-info/key-travel-information/.
Please be advised that in Peru, the most interesting cultural sites are located at very high altitudes. The Amazon basin and coastline of Peru aside, once you travel into the Andes you may rarely be below 3,000 meters above sea level (10,000 feet). So, how does this impact your visit to Peru?
Altitude sickness may sometimes be the cause of nausea, a bit of vomiting, headache, loss of appetite. This happens primarily when you ascend rapidly above the 2,500 meters (8,200 feet).How do you avoid this?
First and foremost, you should ascend in to the Andes gradually. A good plan to adopt is to acclimate at a lower elevation before heading to Cusco or the Colca Canyon. Good choices include the Sacred Valley and Arequipa, both located at around 2,400 meters (7,800 feet). A two-day layover is what you need. Local herbs, brewed in a tea, such as mate de coca or chewing coca leaves will help.
Other suggestions for combating altitude sickness: take it easy, don’t run, don’t rush, and do not eat like you’ve never seen food before. (That last recommendation may be difficult considering the world-renown cuisine of Peru.)
To more aggressively avoid altitude sickness problems, it’s suggested that you take acetazolamide (Diamox) 24 hours before you head to high altitude–and for 48 hours after your arrival. If, despite precautions, you still feel uneasy, remain calm, rest, and the next day you will feel much better.
Today, Peru is a very safe country. If we exclude average criminal activity (experienced in every large city around the world), tourists travelling in Peru enjoy a very safe and comfortable trip. Peru has experienced some problems with drug trafficking in certain areas near the Amazonian jungle but this doesn’t represent any real problems whatsoever for tourists.
It is advisable to buy travel insurance before coming to Peru. This will protect you in case of delays, flight cancellations, strikes, or injuries. The best healthcare in Peru is found in private-care facilities, as opposed to public hospitals.