PERU TRAVEL INFORMATION
An astonishingly varied country. Peruvians like to say their country consist of three distinct geological areas, coast, highlands and jungle. Its rich history, archaeology, wildlife and enduring indigenous cultures all add up to make Peru one of South Americas most popular destinations.
It lies just below the equator and is the third-largest country in south America, The Andes are the land of the condor, while the Amazonian forest contains a myriad of creatures making up its incredible eco-system, including pink dolphins, spider monkeys and tropical caiman. There is evidence of the ancient tribes and civilisations that lived here – the most famous among these is the Incas.
Peru fast Facts:
- Before the Inca empire many civilisation flourished in Peru. The Moche, Nazca, and the Chimu kingdom are just three examples. It is the Incas, however whose civilisation is best known – their empire through short lived covered the south American Andes from modern day Colombia to Chile.
- Their lands were held together by extensive network of roads, traversed by imperial messengers bearing quipus or knotted string messages.
- The empire was incredibly skilful in its use of dry masonry, irrigation and terraces. The city of Machu Picchu made of large stones interlocked like fingers with no mortar – attests to the technical and aesthetic mastery of this Amerindian empire.
- All that came to an end when in 1532 the Spanish conquistador Pizarro arrived with a small but well-armed force. He captured the emperor Atahualpa and began the destruction of a culture. Today, Peruvians are ambivalent about their past. Pride in the Spanish and Inca heritage mixes with shame over the sometimes brutal actions of their forefathers.
- Peru gained independence from Spain in 1821
- The literacy rate in Peru is 90.9% which is quite impressive for a country with so much poverty.
- Peru’s natural resources are silver, gold, copper, timber, fish, petroleum, coal, iron ore, phosphate, potash hydropower and natural gas.
- Lima’s San Marcos University is one of the oldest in the New World, founded in 1551 70years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.
- The mummy of a young Inca girl found in 1995 on the side of Ampato a 6300m volcano had laid frozen for five centuries before melting ice sent her plummeting down the mountain. Probably left there as a sacrificial offering to the gods. Juanita as she was named was the first female Inca mummy discovered on a mountain top in the Andes.
- Chewing the coca leaf was once a privilege for Incan royalty. However the Spaniards, realising the leaf’s physical effects began to cultivate it and use it to stimulate their workers to labour longer.
- Peru is one of the countries in the world with the largest variety of orchids, 1800 classified and up to 3000 unclassified.
Currency: Nuevos Sol (PEN)
Population: 21.9m (2009)
Languages: Spanish & Quechua officially with many other dialects spoken in the jungle regions. English is spoken in major tourist areas.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic
Time Zone: GMT -5. Peru does not operate daylight savings.
Voltage: 220 volts 60 cycles
Dialling Codes: + 51
Emergency Contacts: Australian Embassy in Peru Av. Victor Andres Belaunde 147, Via Principal 155 Torre Real Tres, Of, 1301, San Isidro Tel: +511 205 400 Fax: +511 205 4012
Power Points: Type A,B & C Electricity: 220V Power points: Japan and Europe We do recommend purchasing a universal adaptor that can fit all electrical sockets.
- Peru’s natural diversity has led to the creation of many different cuisines through its territory. There is a heavy Spanish and European influence on many dishes, but you’ll find historic staples of the country have not changed from the days of the Incas. Once thing to note is that vegetarians will find it difficult in Peru – dishes are heavy on meat. You can find items such as stuffed peppers and baked potatoes but be very careful – small amounts of meat might not be acknowledged.
- If you eat fish then fish soul is usually available, made with salt cod inland and fresh fish on the coast. The high Andes are Home to authentic Peruvian cuisine which is generally cooked simply. Corn and potatoes were hardy staples and are still eaten today along with rice.
Shopping & Souvenirs – Peru
- You can find some regional specialties but generally you will find earthenware, fabrics and basic metal ware all made to traditional deigns. Lima and Cusco are the best spots for souvenir hunters. In Lima head for Miraflores for the best foods, including fabulous silver jewellery from skilled silversmiths. Other regional specialities include from Puno; hand-woven textiles with traditional tapestry and even bowler hats that all women wear.
- Alpaca wool is used to create the very softest sweaters and other garments. Be careful of fakes – there is no such thing as a cheap alpaca garment even in Peru. You can find ancient designs replicated in modern pottery and earthenware, each town has a market and these are great places to browse as much for the foods on sale as the sights and sounds.
- Haggling and bargaining is considered normal practice although penny-pinching travellers in South America draw derision rather than respect for driving too hard a bargain. Keep it good humoured and it will be appreciated. ed.
Currency – Peru
- New Col (PEN: symbol S/.) = 100centimos. Notes are in denominations of S/.200, 100, 50,20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of S/.5,2 and 1. There are 50,20 and 10 centavos.
- The US Dollar are in use and accepted for payment, particularly in tourist areas, it is always good to have some local currency in small denominations to pay for taxis and goods in some small establishments.
- ATM’s (Cajeros automaticos are widely found throughout every city and town in Peru as well as major airports and bus terminals. The ATM’s found in Peru are linked to the international plus (visa) and Cirrus (master card), and American express systems. Prior to your departure notify your bank on what countries you are visiting and check if there are any fees involved with using your bank card/credit card in the ATM’s, you will need to have a four digit pin for accessing your money. The ATM rate is usually lower than the Casas de Cambio. ATM’s are generally located in the banks and have security guards present during the daylight hours for your safety.
- Credit cards are usually accepted at high end hotels and shops and will usually charge a 7% or above fee for using them. This does not include any fees your bank will charge you for using your credit card overseas. It’s a good idea to contact your bank and check the exchange rate for your credit card and any fees that will apply for using your card overseas.
Local Etiquette & Helpful Tips – Peru
- Check your bills by holding up to a light. You should see a watermark and a very small strip that says Peru 50 or Peru 20 depending upon the denomination of the bill – Counterfeiting is a problem in Peru
- Don’t throw toilet paper down the toilet, use the bin next to the seat
- Carry some toilet paper with you as many public places and restaurants don’t provide it.
- It is common to be kissed on the cheek by Peruvians when they introduce themselves and when they say farewell.
- Try to remain aware when you’re out and about, there are different tactics among thieves, but their main objective is to divert your attention – staging a fight or accident for example, so they can make their move your you are focused on something else.
- Keep the white entry slip that is given to you by immigration when you enter with your passport as you’ll need to hand it back when exiting.
Getting around – Peru
- Licenced yellow taxis are the only cabs allowed in downtown Lima, although there are many unlicensed taxi companies in operation and visitors are advised to avoid these. They usually have a red and white taxi sign on the windscreen.
- Taxis do not have meters and fares should be agreed before departure (they are relatively inexpensive). Extensive and safe taxi services are available by telephone in the main cities. Taxi fares increase by 35 to 50% after midnight and on holidays – tips are not expected.
- You will need to see your doctor at least 4-8weeks prior to your departure. You will need to speak to your doctor and see if your vaccinations are up to date and if there are any mandatory vaccinations you need to have.
- If you are taking medication while you are overseas, the medication needs to have clear labels and in their original packages along with a signed letter from your doctor detailing your medical conditions and the medications you are taking. If you are taking syringes or needles you will also need to have a doctor’s letter documentation their medical necessity.
- Malaria does exist in Peru however it is not a major problem, it is best to check with your local travel doctor and tell them the areas you are visiting to see if you are at risk. Towns above 2000meters in altitude are no risk. If you are in a mosquito/malaria area it is always best to cover up your arms/legs/feet in the evening and using mosquito spray on the exposed areas of skin. If you do find yourself having flu like symptoms within the first few months you have returned from your trip you will need to consult your doctor immediately and advise them what countries/areas you have been to.
- Altitude; Most itineraries start in Lima so your body can adjust to the altitude, but Places such as Cusco is very high in altitude and your body needs time to adjusts to the thinning air. When you arrive into Cusco make sure you spend at least a whole/day night in your hotel and do as little as possible so your body can adjust. Altitude sickness can affect everyone differently, signs of altitude sickness can be shortness of breath, increased heart rate, headache and feeling nausea. Speak to your local travel doctor on what they will recommend for the prevention of altitude sickness. If you do have these signs the best cure is to descend to lower ground.
- Apart from taking anti altitude sickness tablets it has now become a fact the more fitter you are the less likely you will get altitude sickness (this will vary from person to person), always take short breaks whenever you can , always eat to keep your strength up even if you are not hungry and most importantly drink plenty of water.
While you are in Peru
- The sun is very strong around the equator, to avoid sunburn/sunstroke always use a SFP factor of 30+ and wear a hat and sunglasses. Even in the rainy season, in the mountains or if it’s a cloudy day the sun is still quite strong. Always keep a bottle of water with you especially if you are in the mountain areas where bottled water may not always be available. If you cut yourself clean the area with disinfectant and keep it covered during the day to prevent infections.
Safety in Peru
- Peru is considered a safe country however it is becoming a popular travel destination and is still a developing country and many parts of the country have high unemployment rates. If you are travelling by land expect delays as there are always road blocks. For the most up to date information on safety visit Smart Traveller: www.smarttraveller.gov.au
- The crime rate is an issue in the major cities with pickpocketing and armed robberies, be vigilant when leaving a bank or withdrawing cash out of a ATM, make sure you are in a secured ATM facility and there is a guard present.
Note: Please note that this information is indicative only and subject to change. Travel Just 4U does not accept any liability for incorrect or incomplete information.