Be prepared for your dream holiday to Peru with our helpful information.
From money advice to visas, from inoculations to which plugs to take, below you’ll find a wide range of travel tips, advice and information that will help you get ready to explore Peru.
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Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.
The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.
The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.
Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.
The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.
The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.
Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.
The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.
The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.
Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.
You can also read about the weather of Peru in our blog.
Peru is located in the southern tropics (latitudes 0º to 18º), but climate varies significantly according to season, altitude and region.
Lima & the coast
From May to October, Lima is often overcast, but with minimal precipitation. There are sunny spells, and it’s a fresh to pleasant 13-20ºC.
At the same time, inland areas and the north coast mid to high 20’s ºC.
November to April is generally warm and sunny and Lima enjoys warm temperature of 19-25ºC, with the coast averaging 22-30ºC.
Climate depends largely on altitude. As a rule of thumb, below 2,000m climate is mild and above 2,000m warm clothing is required for evenings, nights and early mornings.
The Andean sun is very strong.
May to Oct (dry season in The Andes)
Cusco (3,300m): Average max/min temps: 22ºC /2ºC. Average 3 or 4 wet days per month.
Arequipa (2,380m): Average max/min temps: 26ºC /9ºC. Sunny more than 340 days/year with minimal precipitation.
On highland treks: Conditions are generally dry. However, at this time of year, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m, where pre-dawn temperatures can be -5ºC; warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings.
Note that mountain weather can be fickle and localised, and that precipitation is not unknown in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.
In the cloud forest, e.g. around Machu Picchu, daytime conditions are generally warm or hot, and evenings cool.
Nov to March/April (wet season in The Andes)
Cusco: Average max/min temps: 23ºC /6ºC. Average 13 wet days per month.
Arequipa: Average max/min temps: 25ºC /14ºC.
On highland treks: Wetter conditions, with cooler days and milder nights than dry season. Jan-Mar usually the wettest months.
The Amazon rainforest
Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid and there is always the risk of rain
There is a ‘dry season’ in Tambopata and Manu between May and October. The average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. Heavy downpours typically occur every few days.
Around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season Nov-April.
On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).
You will need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.
British nationals do not need a visa for Peru. Fill in a 90-day tourist visa on arrival, and keep the tourist card with you to show at check-in at hotels and for when you leave the country.
Inca Trail trekkers will need to carry their passport, with which the Inca Trail permit was bought, throughout the Inca Trail trek.
Non-UK citizens are advised to contact their Embassy for up-to-date visa advice.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Peru visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
For people travelling to the Amazon/coast below 1,500m north of Lima and regions below 1,500m:
Official name: Republic of Peru
Country population: 27,083,000
Capital city: Lima (8.1 million)
Largest cities: Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará
Latitude/Longitude: 10º S, 76º W
Official currency: New Sol
Major industries: copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Time zone: GMT-5
Games throwing water, flour as well as dance and music.
Location: Highlands and some coastal areas.
Festival: Fiesta de La Candelaria
Culture, music and dancing
Festival: Fiesta de La Vendimia
Wine harvest festival
Festival: Inti Raymi
Independence day – celebration of Peruvian culture – various activities
Location: Country wide
Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.
However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.
On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).
To avoid AMS, you should:
Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers, we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.
International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.
International flights will arrive into Lima. If you arrive in the afternoon, you will most likely need to overnight in Lima before travelling onwards. If you arrive into Lima in the morning, it is possible to make connections to Cusco, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca etc, on the same day. You need to acclimatise in Cusco or a similar altitude (Puno for example) before you start the Inca Trail. Ideally, this will be for three nights, immediately prior to the trek start date.
Please contact us for flight and acclimatisation advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets who are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Andean Trails has 25 years of experience of putting together the best South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
The Lima suburb of Miraflores is a good base for easing yourself into Peruvian culture.
Although a fairly safe district, we strongly recommend taking these precautions in Lima and also throughout the country:
Read some of our blogs about food and drink in Peru:
Main dishes (meat)
Churrasco and Lomo Fillet or rump steak.
Apanado Breaded meat cutlet.
Chorrillana Meat smothered in tomato & onion sauce.
Adobo (Cusco speciality) Chopped, marinated pork in a richly seasoned gravy.
Piqueo A very spicy stew with meat, onions and potatoes.
Sancochado Lots of meat, vegetables and garlic.
Lomo saltado Chopped meat in a sauce containing onions, tomatoes and potatoes.
Picante de … Meat or fish with a hot, spicy sauce.
Parrillada Grilled beef, sausage and offal.
Chicharrones Chunks of pork, deep-fried with roast potatoes and corn.
Chaufa Chinese-style fried rice.
Cabro or Cabrito Goat meat.
Antichuchos Beef-heart shish kebab.
Pollo a la brasa con papas The ubiquitous spit-roast chicken and chips.
Pachamanca Typical highlands festival/Sunday treat. Meats and vegetables cooked underground on hot stones.
Fish dishes (mainly coast)
Chorros a la chalaca Mussels with tomato and onion sauce (cold starter).
Conchas a la Parmesana Scallops with melted parmesan (hot starter).
Ceviche de pescado/mariscos Marinated fish/shellfish.
Tiradito de pescado/mariscos Marinated fish/shellfish in hot sauce.
Corvina/Lenguado Sea bass/Sole.
Chicharron de Pulpo/Calamares Deep-fried Octopus/Squid.
Jalea Dish of deep fried fish & shellfish.
Sudado de pescado Steamed fish.
Fish dishes (mainly highlands)
Pejerrey a la plancha Grilled fresh-water king fish.
Trucha frita Fried trout.
Chupe de Camarron Rich soup of fresh-water shrimp.
Mazamorra morada Pudding made from purple maize and fruit.
Flan Crème caramel.
Picarones Delicious rings of fried batter served with syrup.
Keke or torta Cake.
Pisco Grape brandy. Very popular as Pisco Sour cocktail, with lemon, sugar and egg-white.
Chicha de jora Fermented maize beer. Integral to many rural celebrations. In Andean villages, look out for houses with bright plastic ‘flower’ tied to a pole above door: this indicates that the householder sells chicha.
Chicha morada A soft drink made from purple maize.
Cerveza Lager-type beer which is very popular. There are several regional brands such as Cusqueña and Arequipeña.
Vino Many local Peruvian wines are very sweet by gringo standards. Tacama and Ocucaje are the best ‘export-quality’ Peruvian wine brands. Good Chilean wines available locally include Undurraga and Casillero del Diablo. Wine is available in smarter restaurants and is served by the bottle (botella) and sometimes by the glass (copa).
Vino tinto Red wine.
Vino blanco White wine.
Agua mineral Mineral water. You need to specify con gas (carbonated) or sin gas (non-carbonated).
Mate Herbal tea. The best known is mate de coca , which is often served to tourists on arrival in Cusco, Huaraz or Puno to ward off symptoms of altitude sickness. Many other herbal teas such as manzanilla (camomile), hierba luisa (lemon grass), hierba buena (mint) and anis (aniseed) are available. Mate is usually served after lunch.
Jugos Fruit juices.
Currency & Money Exchange
Peru’s monetary unit is the “Nuevo Sol” (S/.)
Most of your transactions will be in Soles, but US dollars are often accepted, too, if they are small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills. Try to take 5s, 10s and 20s.
ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in towns and cities.
When changing money, don’t change with street changers (cambistas). Use a bank or casa de cambio (bureau de change). Ask for ‘billetes chicos’ (small notes, i.e. 10 or 20 sol notes) as obtaining change outside towns and cities can be difficult. Count your soles carefully before handing over your US dollars, and look out for forged notes.
Exchange rate: USD 1 = 3.2 Peruvian Soles (approx.), June 2018.
Eating and drinking
Peru has a great culinary tradition.
There are more and more top-end restaurants opening in Lima and Cusco, where you can easily spend more than USD 100pp on food and wine.
Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Peru.
Don’t forget to read out tipping guide to Peru.
Beer/soft drink: USD 2
Menu del dia: USD 3-5
Coffee: USD 1
Tourist style restaurant
Beer/soft drink: USD 2-3
Main dish: USD 10 upwards
Coffee: USD 2
Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.
For background, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6 day 48 hour week. However in many of the lower paid jobs (eg waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced.
This is a rough guideline, based on an approx. rate of USD 1 = Peruvian Soles 3.
Inca Trail (if applicable)
If you are hiking the Inca Trail, you will be supported by a full crew of cooks, porters, waiters etc, and it is a little more complicated to organise in terms of tipping.
We recommend that each client contributes 100-300soles (30-90US) into a pot and following the advice of the guide divide it out between the crew of cooks, waiters and porters.
For tipping the actual Inca Trail guides and assistants we recommend following the advice for specialist guides above.
220 volts (110v in some hotels), 60 Hz.
Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.
Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.
A surge protector is recommended.
Peru has sockets that, in general, take the two pin, round-prong Type C plugs. Some will also take flat-pronged, Type A plugs.
Type C plug
Type A plug
The international code for Peru is +51.
Regions have dialling codes, with a 0 prefix.
Peru’s landlines have 6-7 digits, and to call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digits.
If calling landline to another regional landline/city, start with a 0 then the regional code.
If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Lima (code: 01), dial +51 1 1234567.
Mobile phones start with a number 9, and are 9 digits in length.
If you are dialling a Peruvian landline/mobile to a Peru mobile, simply dial the full 9-digit number from anywhere in Peru.
If using your own mobile phone to call a Peruvian mobile, dial the country code, then the 9-digit mobile number: e.g. +51 999 999 999.
Almost all unlocked phones will work in Peru with a local SIM, however – check with your provider before arrival if your phone will work.
Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.
Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi.
There are plenty of locoturios – internet cafes – offering cheap and good internet in most towns and cities.
Head to the privatised postal service, Serpost.
Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.
Below are some basics to get you started.
Good morning Buenos días
How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good bye Adiós
Most frequently asked questions (theirs):
Where are you (plural) from? ¿De dónde eres (son)?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
Where have you come from? ¿De dónde vienes?
Give me (frequent, unwelcome question) Dáme / regálame
Most frequent questions (yours):
How much is it? ¿Cuánto vale?
What is this place called? ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?
What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you have a map? ¿Tienes un mapa?
In the street / places:
Where can I find a currency exchange? ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?
Where is there a cash machine? ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?
Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?
Where can I find a taxi? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
Where can I find a Supermarket? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde esta el hospital?
Where can I find a restaurant? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?
In the hotel:
What floor am I on? ¿En qué piso estoy?
Where are the elevators/lifts? ¿Dónde están los ascensores?
How do I access the Internet? ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?
How do I call for room service? ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?
How do I call down to the front desk? ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?
In the restaurant:
A table for two/four please Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor
I would like to drink… Me gustaria tomar….
May I see a menu? Puedo ver la carta/menu?
I would like to order.. Me gustaria pedir…
Can you bring me the check/bill please. Me trae la cuenta por favor
I need help. Necesito ayuda.
I have lost my passport. He perdido mi pasaporte.
Someone stole my money. Alguien robó mi dinero
I have been robbed. Me han robado
I need to call the police. Necesito llamar a la policía
I need to call the (country) Embassy Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)
Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.
Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.
We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.
We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.
With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.
Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.
Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:
All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).
We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.
In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.
We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.
We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.
If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.
When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.
Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.
When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.
You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.
Ask a question and our expert in this area will have your answer.
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It was a fantastic experience... for me personally it was so rewarding and a real personal achievement.
The highlight for me...perhaps that iconic initial view down to Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, the whole trip was great.
All our guides were fantastic and passionate and knowledgeable and the porters are incredible.
I would definitely recommend Andean Trails and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help and advice which was so very helpful and glad we took a pair of walking sticks each!
Definitely made me feel restless, a fab memory to share with my daughter and looking forward to the next trip
J Rowlinson, UK, 2017
» 4-Day Inca Trail Hike To Machu Picchu, Peru
We loved the way you arrange our trip to Peru for the kids.
We had so much fun last time in Peru that we trust you completely.
L Silver. Israel, 2017
» Peru Family Adventure Holiday
Students Study Food Insecurity & Climate Change in Peru University of Edinburgh students and teachers report back from Peru, where they learned how traditional farming techniques could help prevent climate change and reduce food insecurity. The team visited coastal Lima, the Cusco Highlands, and the cloud forest. For Andean Trails and our local team, it was a chance to showcase a side of Peru that many visitors may not see when passing through. It went so well that the University has already signed up its team to another Food Security tour in the spring of 2024. Learning About …
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