Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. Considering varying altitudes of destinations in Peru, travellers must try to go first to the lower ones before ascending to higher altitude cities. It is a slow process that could take place over a couple of days. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.
Altitude Sickness Prevention
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or soroche is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure usually above 2,400 meters (approximately 8,000 feet). The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. Before your travel to a high altitude destination, avoid eating too much, and on the arrival day itself, eat less also to avoid altitude sickness. If you stay at a high altitude, rest. Limit any walking or activity. You can explore the area, but take it easy, especially on the first day. Drink plenty of water and avoid taking alcoholic beverages.
Communication / Telephone / Internet
Within Peru, when making international calls, dial 00 + country code + city code + telephone number. For inter-city calls: 0 + city code + telephone number. Public telephones accept coins and cards which can be bought in kiosks and supermarkets. Ensure that the card you buy is for the telephone company you wish to use. Peru is well connected to the Internet with connections in most hotels, numerous internet booths (cabinas de internet) in cities and towns and WiFi available in major hotels.
Currency / Credit Card / Foreing Exchange
Peru’s currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/.) or Nuevos Soles (in plural). At the airport, try the Exchange House located on the first floor close to the national arrivals area. If at the end of your trip you still have some Soles you may change this back to US$ at the airport also just before your international flight. If you need to get money from cash machines (ATM) you will find these on the second floor.
One Nuevo Sol is broken down into 100 centimos (cents). Bank notes currently circulating include 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Nuevos Soles, while there are coins for 1, 2 and 5 Nuevos Soles and 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.
Peru is typical of many South American countries in that it effectively operates a dual currency system where the US$ American Dollar has purchasing power. Both the US$ (Dollar) and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol are in circulation and although the government prefers people to use soles, most sizeable purchases are made in dollars. The Nuevo Sol is perfectly stable so you don’t have to worry about inflation problems during your stay.
In the provinces, credit card facilities may be limited only to major establishments. Travelers’ checks may also be difficult to exchange, thus travelers are advised to have cash (in Soles) on hand as foreign currency exchange is limited. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are mostly available only in the main cities. To check currency conversion, go to http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Electricity / Voltage
220 volts. Most 4 and 5-star hotels have outlets equipped for 110 volts, (most electric devices have adjustable voltages from 110 to 240 v). Most sockets are found inside hotel bathrooms, while others, but not all, lend portable electric converters.
Health / Medical / Travellers Common Illness
To keep from getting gastrointestinal infections or avoiding travelers’ diarrhea, we recommend you take care when eating raw or exotic foods. Drink bottled or boiled water and do not eat food/beverages from street vendors/ hawkers. Doctors or medical assistance may be contacted through hotel reception. Hospitals and clinics provide adequate services, especially in Lima and the other main cities and can contact health care insurance directly.
The official languages are Spanish (80% of the population), Quechua (Andean and highland regions), and Aymara (in the Puno high plateau). It is possible to communicate in English with tourist service workers such as tour guides, travel agency employees and 3 to 5-star hotels staff.
Luggage / Baggage Limit
Please know the baggage limit, number of pieces and weight allowed by the airline to your destination. Most domestic airlines have lesser baggage allowance (usually max. 10 kilos) than the international airlines (usually max. 20 kilos). In case of multiple destinations, it is advisable to travel light and bring only the essentials.
If you are going to Machu Picchu, please take note that Peru Rail has imposed luggage limitation on the train to Aguas Calientes. Peru Rail Luggage Transport is a maximum hand-carried allowance of only 5 kilos/11 lbs. and measuring not more than 62 inches/157 cm (height, length & width) per passenger. Your heavier and bigger baggage may be transported in another train at an extra cost (US$1.80/kilo, one way, maximum 10 kilos) or may be left for storage at Peru Rail’s Luggage Storage only in Ollantaytambo Train Station at US$5.00/day.
If you are going to Reserva Amazonica, due to weight and space limitations on the boat, passenger luggage is limited to 10 kg. (22 lbs.) per person. Storage is available at Inkaterra Butterfly House, near the airport in Puerto Maldonado.
Religion / Freedom of Worship
More than 90% in Peru are Catholic and the spirit of tolerance and amity prevails among Peruvians.
Post offices are located throughout all regions of the country though stamps are not easily found in small and remote towns. For more information, go to: www.serpost.com.pe
It is important that you take common sense precautions when visiting Peru, just like in any major destination in the world, such as taking extra care with your belongings in public places or avoiding deserted places at night. The following are recommended as precautionary measures:
- Get a copy of your passport, airplane tickets and credit cards. Leave all your travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel vouchers etc) in the hotel safety deposit box and take only photocopies with you.
- Know the unsafe areas of the city/destination and avoid visiting them, especially at night. If you must exchange money, do so in banks, authorized money changers and exchange bureaus, or in your hotel. Avoid doing this in plain sight. It may not necessarily an immediate threat to you, but you should always be watching out for pick pockets and thieves especially in crowded places such as busy avenues, airports, markets and tourist sites.
- Try to learn a few key phrases in Spanish before you go, if not to help yourself get by, then at least to make the locals think you can speak the language and thus make you a more conscientious traveler who is careful and prepared.
By law (Ley 25357), smoking is generally prohibited in enclosed public areas or inside buildings. In some restaurants, smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas. While traveling, smoking is not allowed inside vehicles or airplanes.
It is recommended to buy a travel insurance to provide you general coverage in case of emergency or medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, lost tickets, baggage or damage, etc. This way, for any unforeseen event or circumstances, you have an insurance to fall back on.
Vaccinations and/or Medications
It is recommended that you take the proper measures to protect yourself, especially from mosquito bites, in order to prevent infection from, among other diseases, yellow fever (vaccination) and malaria (repellant and medication). Consult your doctor before traveling. Yellow fever & malaria vaccination is required for traveling to jungle destinations and must be administered at least 10 days before your trip otherwise it will not be effective.
Potable water is limited in some areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and do not buy from street vendors or hawkers.
The Peruvian Coast is hot and sunny (northern area) or very humid (raw or damp, in Lima). When traveling to the Peruvian Andes, one should expect rain between November and March. Temperatures drop dramatically at night, thus one should always prepare warm clothes or jackets. The Peruvian Jungle is also hot, with a tropical climate, however certain times of the year, the jungle experiences “friaje” or cold front. It has daily temperatures averaging the 30°C and night temperatures could drop to cold 15°. For more accurate information, please advise check respective Peru destination weather forecast in: Peru’s local weather agency, http://www.senamhi.gob.pe and click on current forecast available in English. Otherwise, you may also check in: www.wunderground.com or www.intellicast.com