Important Side Notes for Your Next Trip to Peru
Going on a trip implies doing research on the country you are about to visit as well as making arrangements for a comfortable and safe stay. In the past years, Peru attracts more and more travelers worldwide not only for Machu Picchu and gastronomy, but also for history, culture and nature. In order to fully enjoy your stay, please take into consideration the following side notes for your next journey.
Peru is a republic located on the western side of South America. Population reaches 31.2 million in an area of 496 000 square miles (about 1.3 million km2). Peruvian territory includes coast line, the main part of the Andes range and part of the Amazonian jungle. The capital city is Lima, built in the central coast and having around one third of the total number of residents.
This trip destination has a very wide mixture of races and cultures, including Andean, Amazonian, European, African, Asiatic, among others. Official language is Spanish, however southern highland regions have Quechua, the original tongue of the Incas, as a daily life language and it is recognized as co-official with other Amazonian tongues. One extra side note, the most professed religion is Christianity, albeit with a great degree of religious syncretism.
Due to the great range of altitudes and geographical conditions, weather is also highly variable too. Lima most of the coastal region has a warm and humid climate with no rain. Northern coast, Piura or Tumbes, has very high temperatures during summer. The mountain regions have two season mainly, rainy season from November to March and dry season from April to October, preferable for trips to the Andes. The Amazon presents heavy rain and very high temperatures most of the year.
Food and beverages
Peruvian gastronomy has been recognized in recent years because of variety and intensity. Each region has different sets of food, being fish and seafood the main for the coast, potatoes and meat in the highlands and fruits and fish in the jungle. Top-notch restaurants in main cities offer tasting menus to have a bite of each region while traditional and touristic restaurants are convenient to taste typical courses. Touristic cities also offer international cuisine and fusion style food.
An important side note. Mistura gastronomic fair is held in Lima once a year, and showcases several restaurants from all the country being a great opportunity to taste all the flavors in just one place. All cities have farmer markets, making available fresh greens, local meet and all the ingredients for travelers who prefer to make their own food.
Transportation during your trip
The main international airport is Jorge Chavez Airport in Lima (LIM), and domestic flights are operated in other 20 airports. You can also enter the country by car from Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia or Chile.
Public transportation include taxi cabs and buses, in addition ride-hailing companies are also available. Small towns have mototaxis (tuk-tuk) as their main transport.
Roads in the coast line are straight-forward, meanwhile in the mountain regions feature lots of curves and climbs. Traffic signs are not very developed in the roads, furthermore some ways can be affected by extreme climate conditions like floods or mudslides. Important side note, destinations in the northeast jungle like Iquitos are not reachable via ground transportation but only by airplane or fluvial transport.
In order to drive in Peru, you only need your passport, your driving license and car insurance in case you bring your own vehicle.
Side notes on security
Identify police stations and tourist information centers in the cities you visit. It is important to know your rights as visitor in Peru. Commuting by Peru is safer than other countries in the region, however caution is always advisable. Ride only authorized taxi cabs.
Bring your documentation with you and write down important numbers like embassy, police, hospitals, travel agents, and local friends.
Check out all the bills and coins received in transactions. Electronic payments should be done by typing your PIN number of your credit card.
In case of extreme sports tours, you must check the accreditations of the operators issued by authorities.
Taking care of your health
Do not forget to bring with you sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, long sleeved clothes and insect repellent to prevent intense sunlight damage and mosquito bites depending on your destination.
Tap water is edible in most big cities, however boiling or filtering procedures are recommended as well as bottled water.
Destinations in the eastern jungle like Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado require a yellow fever vaccine. Important side note, talk to your doctor before your trip about how to prevent diseases like hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, malaria and rabies.
Peruvian Spanish is arguably the most standardized in Latin America, considered easy to hear and understand. If you have taken European Spanish lessons, you will be understood with almost no confusion.
In case there is no Spanish speaker in your group, take in consideration that most touristic establishments and touristic information centers have English spoken staff. Other languages like French, Portuguese, and Italian can also be found with less frequency. Interpreters can be hired in advance in specialized companies or travel agents otherwise volunteers can be recruited in language schools. Most popular destinations have signs, flyers, documentation and menus in English.
Important side note: other options include phrasebooks, point and show books, online translating services or taking Spanish lessons during your trip.
Indigenous language skills like Quechua are not required unless direct communication with highlanders in experiential tours.
Peru is one of the top countries in biodiversity and there are laws enacted for its preservation. Be conscious of prohibitions in campsites and national protected parks like setting fires, camping, taking live animals or plants.
Archaeological sites, churches and museums have strict rules for visiting. Ask your tour guide if taking pictures or videos, touching the stones, sitting or entering is allowed.
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other rights are guaranteed by government, and western culture has a big influence in Peruvian society, however there is a chance of having culture shock with some aspects of daily life. Mutual respect is the key in your trip.
Peru welcomes visitors from every corner of the world. Booking vacations in the land of the Incas will be an unforgettable trip having all those side notes in mind. Anyways, View Latin America is ready to help you out to solve any question you might have. We are waiting for you!