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Peru Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

There are various routes for UK travellers which have stops enroute in either Europe or America. The most popular options are via Madrid with Iberia, Amsterdam with KLM, Frankfurt with Lufthansa or Miami, Atlanta, New York and Houston with a number of US airlines.

Flying times from UK

A direct flight with British Airways will take about 12 and a half hours each way. Flights with a lay-over can take between 16 and 22 hours.

Time Zone

Peru is -5 hours behind GMT.

Visa requirements

Tourists travelling to Peru do not need a visa to travel and they are permitted to stay for up to six months. If you are entering Peru via a land border with Ecuador or Bolivia, make sure that you receive both an entry and exit stamp in your passport.

Do's and don'ts

Do make the effort to learn a few words in Spanish – it will be greatly appreciated

Be prepared to barter for goods – even if you do not, you will probably be getting a bargain compared to UK prices.

Remember to ask permission before taking photos of local people

Do not take an unlicensed taxi and always agree upon a price before you get in.

Money

The currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). You can get Nuevo Soles in the UK before you travel but you will get the best exchange rates in Peru at international airports, hotels and exchange bureaus. There are many ATMs that will accept Visa and MasterCard and these can be found in nearly all major cities and towns through the entire country. Outside of Lima and other tourist locations, credit card usage is limited as Peru remains largely a cash society.

Tipping

Tipping is not a big part of Peruvian culture. There are no concrete rules and whether you should tip depends on where you stay and where you eat. Formal restaurants may include a 10% gratuity on the bill but if you eat an informal meal at a small restaurant a tip will not be expected but would be appreciated. It is not common to tip taxi drivers but if you feel that the driver has gone out of his way to help you then a couple of soles is a nice way to show your appreciation. There are a few situations in which you may be asked for a tip unexpectedly, such as when taking a photo of a local or when asking for directions. Simply hand over a couple of soles for a photo and politely refuse anyone who offers to be your informal street guide. A guideline for tipping your drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

Peruvian cuisine is flourishing with many chefs creating amazing food fusions using indigenous ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. The most popular Peruvian dishes are cuy (guinea pig), ceviche (fish with citrus juice), causa (avocado and sweet potato casserole), lomo saltado (beef stir fry) and anticuchos (marinated meat skewers). The cuisine varies widely from region to region in Peru with cities offering a wide choice of both traditional restaurants and internationally inspired cuisine, while rural regions will tend to provide basic meals of rice or potatoes with meat. You can find a wide range of drinks in Peru including delicious freshly made fruit juices and great local beers such as Cristal and Cusqueña. There is also Pisco, a brandy made from white grapes which can be drunk alone or as the base for a cocktail.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

There are lots of fiestas in Peru throughout the year, beginning with Carnival in February. A colourful celebration, Carnival lasts four to five days and takes place all over the country. There are also a number of religious festivals in Peru, notably the Holy week of Semana Santa during Easter and the Lord of Miracles holiday in October which include dramatic processions filled with Catholic imagery. The Puno Festival in November celebrates traditional Andean culture with vibrant community dances.

Shopping

Peru maintains a strong connection with its Andean roots and this is no more evident than in the country's dazzling range of traditionally made artisan goods. Away from the chain stores of city centres, you will find many market stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery to carved gourds. Some of the most valued Peruvian items are the country's intricately patterned textiles made from alpaca wool. Be prepared to bargain for these goods with the stall vendors.

Suggested Reading

There are excellent travel guides for Peru from Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Bradt. If you are travelling to other South American countries the comprehensive guide to the South American continent with a substantial section on Peru can be found in the ‘South American Handbook’, by Ben Box. There are also many good travel guides with a specific focus on the Andes region of Peru such as ‘Cuzco and the Inca Heartland’, by Ben Box and Sarah Cameron and ‘Machu Picchu Guidebook: A self-Guided Tour’, by Ruth Wright and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra. Other suggestions include:

‘Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time’ by Mark Adams

‘The Inca Trail: Cusco and Machu Picchu’ by Alexander Stewart

‘The Conquest of the Incas’ by John Hemming

‘The Last Days of the Incas’ by Kim MacQuarrie

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. Some towns and cities in Peru are at high altitude so you should discuss with your doctor the effects of altitude sickness. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org. The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Peru the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Peru Holiday Ideas

Peru Holiday Review

We are safely back from Peru and our minds have been blown by this amazing country. Despite our fatigue every part of the journey brought us such extraordinary places to see that it is only now that we need to take time to recover and appreciate all that we have seen.

KJ & DJ - Peru - June 2017

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