Tips for Travel
TIMES TO VISIT
Travelers can visit Peru any time of the year, but because of the country´s geographical diversity, local weather patterns can vary greatly. Peru experiences two very distinct seasons, wet and dry (rather than summer and winter). In the highlands and mountain areas, such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, the dry season runs from May to November and is marked by sunny days, cold nights and lack of rain. During the wet season (December to April), there are frequent showers, but the benefits are greener hillsides, blooming wildflowers and fewer crowds. The tropical Amazon is hot, humid and wet year round, with average daytime temperatures of 30- 32ºC. The desert coast, meanwhile, is dry, and the best time to hit the beach is from January to March, when the sky is clear and the sea warm. This is also when surfers take to the waves.
LANGUAGE & CULTURE
Peru is a nation of two official languages, Spanish and Quechua, but there are also several regional languages. The population is a mix of European descendants, Mestizos, Amerindians, Afro- Peruvians and Asian immigrants and their descendants. The largest group, Amerindians, consists primarily of Quechuas and Aymaras, indigenous peoples with long- held traditions. While no one expects foreigners to be able to converse in native languages such as Quechua or Aymara, a few words in Spanish will be very well received.
Local time is GMT -5 hours. Peru does not observe daylight saving time.
PASSPORTS & VISAS
A valid passport is required to enter and leave Peru. Visitors are normally allowed to stay for up to 180 days and require a passport with at least six months´ remaining validity at the time of entry. Currently, British and American citizens do not require a visa to enter Peru as tourists. Other nationalities are advised to check with the Peruvian Embassy in their home country for pertinent visa information. Entry requirements are subject to change, so make sure you have the latest information before your travel.
Passengers are strongly advised to take out travel and luggage insurance when booking holidays.
Peru´s official currency is the Sol (S/), which is divided into 100 cents (céntimos). The US dollar is the effective second currency and is accepted in many shops, restaurants and other businesses (at the current rate of exchange). Some hotels post rates in dollars. Major credit cards can be used, most frequently in cities and larger restaurants, hotels and shops; Visa is the most widely accepted credit card. ATMs are available in larger towns and cities for local currency withdrawals (most ATMs allow customers to receive money in Peruvian soles or US dollars, and screen instructions are in English and Spanish). Travelers´ cheques are not widely accepted.
Peru is celebrated for its expertly handmade goods, which include ceramics, alpaca and vicuña textiles and knitwear, silver, leather and gold. In major cities and rural artisans´ markets, the offer of goods is difficult to resist –the biggest problem most travelers have is how to get it all back! However, visitors are not allowed to take original artifacts or antiques, including pre- Columbian ceramics, textiles and paintings, out of Peru.
Peru does not require immunizations for entry, although vaccination against yellow fever is advised if you plan to travel to the Amazon region, in which case you should also take a course of malaria tables and carry insect repellent. Visitors to high- altitude destinations (including Cusco and Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca/Puno and Colca Canyon) may find that it takes two or three days for some to acclimatize; check with a doctor in advance if you have any health concerns.