When to go to Peru? What documents are needed? How to deal with altitude sickness? Here's everything you need to know to plan a trip to Peru.
Mythical and legendary land, with a history spanning over a thousand years which increases its charm and magnetism, thePeruit is a country of bright colours, delicate flavors and unforgettable views. If you are thinking of organizing a trip to Peru, know that you have made the right choice! The wealth of emotions that you will bring home will repay you, without a doubt, for all the little hardships you will face on your travels. Because traveling to Peru is beautiful, as long as you go prepared and know everything that I will now show you.
I had the pleasure of visiting the mythical land of the Incas during a project carried out in collaboration withPromPeru and Chaskiventura, excellent local tour operator who gave me assistance in all phases of the itinerary, fromFile to Cusco, passing throughNazca, Arequipa and Puno.
The first thing I advise you to keep in mind if you want to organize a trip to Peru is this: always rely on the advice of those who know this land well, such as a local tour operator, and know how to direct you for travel (you would never know but the distances are immense!), adaptations (never underestimate the altitude) and little information on places to sleep, taxis to take, restaurants to avoid and foods to prefer.
WHEN TO GO TO PERU
Peru is located just below the Equator line and boasts a quite different climate depending on the areas: coast, Andes, Amazon forest. In general, the best period to organize a trip to Peru varies betweenJune July and November December. Personally I opted for November/December and, I must admit, I found a perfect climate in all the areas where I was (warm, sunny and clear skies even at high altitude), even in the Peruvian Amazon where, from December to April, we are facing the so-called "rainy season" (the torrential rains last no more than two or three hours a day).
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To travel to Peru you need to have apassportwith residual validity of at least six months upon arrival in the country. An entry visa is not necessary for up to 183 days of stay. I always advise you, before each departure, to register your trip on the official website of the Farnesina "Where we are in the world".
MONEY AND EXCHANGE
The official currency of Peru is thePeruvian Nuevo Sol(PEN) which is equivalent to approximately 0.27 euros. You can exchange your euros at authorized exchange offices or in banks: never go to street exchange dealers who could give you fake banknotes! If you have an app like "Currency" always check how much the exchange rate is to make sure that you are not being charged exaggerated commissions (usually in authorized exchange offices the commissions are zero). Even in airports you can find "Exchange" offices but be aware that the commissions there are high. If you have any doubts, contact the halls of theyour hotels: the staff is used to it and will give you all the necessary advice. Another option is to withdraw directly from ATMs or ATMs in local currency. In this case, first find out about the commissions applied by your banks.
Peru's time zone is GMT-5. This means that, compared to Italy, there are6 hours less(if in Italy it is 4pm, in Peru it will be 10am).
There is no mandatory vaccination for Peru although, considering the general hygienic-sanitary conditions of the country, it is absolutely necessary to be cautious and take the necessary precautions. Personally, knowing that I would have to stop for several days in the area of Iquitos and the Amazon Forest, I preferred to do theyellow fever vaccine. The official website of the Farnesina also recommends the one forhepatitis types A and B, endemiche nelle zone andino-amazzoniche. In alcune aree vi è anche il rischio malaria, motivo per cui molti viaggiatori optano per la profilassi. Ad ogni modo, il consiglio è sempre quello di stipulare anzitutto un’assicurazione sanitaria che possa coprire ogni eventualità e, prima di prendere ogni decisione, rivolgersi al proprio medico ed alle cliniche specializzate.
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USEFUL TIPS FOR FOOD
Il Perù è uno dei Paesi in cui ho mangiato meglio in assoluto e non è di certo un caso se, per il quinto anno consecutivo, esso è stato premiato come “migliore meta culinaria del mondo”. Al di là di questo, però, se state organizzando un viaggio in Perù dovrete assolutamente tener conto di alcuni consigli che riguardano l’igiene di acqua e cibi:
- Bere solo acqua in bottiglia o bollita;
- Evitare di mangiare cibi crudi (pesce e verdure) se non in ristoranti di ottimo livello;
- Lavare sempre con cura i cibi freschi (frutta e verdura, ad esempio);
- Portare sempre con voi un disinfettante per le mani.
ALTITUDE AND MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
La prima cosa da sapere su altitudine e mal di montagna è questa: non sottovalutate mai il problema! As I have already written, traveling to Peru is wonderful as long as you are fully prepared for what you may encounter. Altitude sickness is most likely one of the least pleasant things. I want to reassure you right away: not everyone suffers from it, the symptoms vary from person to person and the Andean cities (such as Arequipa, Puno and Cusco) are absolutely used to "taking charge" of suffering travellers. Symptoms of altitude sickness includebad headache, difficulty breathing, feeling of nausea, vomiting and tiredness. They are "annoyances" that usually pass within a few days (the time the body gets used to receiving less oxygen) and can be alleviated by some measures:
- If you can, climb up gradually: many travellers, when organizing a trip to Peru, do not consider the enormous differences in altitude and go, with direct flights, from Lima (which is located above sea level) to Puno (3800 metres) or Cusco (3400 metres). It goes without saying that the organism, not being used to it, suffers strong repercussions. Precisely for this reason it would be advisable, when drawing up an itinerary, to always choose intermediate stages such asArequipaor, in any case, plan at least one/two days of adaptation (whether in Puno or Cusco) before each activity/excursion.
- Do some training before leaving: it is always advisable to arrive prepared for high altitude excursions, especially if you are planning a visit to Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain (5200 metres), Macchu Picchu (2800 metres), the Inca Trail or trekking to equally impressive peaks.
- Do not panic: you will not be the first nor the last to suffer from altitude sickness, so the first thing is not to panic. All hotels in Puno and Cusco are equipped with oxygen cylinders and know all the procedures for altitude sickness, which is very common among tourists! If your symptoms are quite serious, contact local doctors who are absolutely accustomed to treating the problem.
- Rely on mata de coca, anise and muna: among the natural remedies most used by locals to combat altitude sickness in a truly effective way are herbal teas based on coca leaves (it is also recommended to chew them slowly), anise and muna, a native plant of the Andes.
Peru's power outlets aretype A(two flat inputs) but, in the vast majority of cases, you will find type A sockets combined with type C ones (the same as Italian ones). You shouldn't have any problems with the plugs although I always recommend bringing adapters. The difficulties could instead concern thevoltage differences(I personally broke a plate!) which in Peru are lower than Italian standards (100-127 volts compared to our 220-240 volts).
CELL PHONES AND WI-FI
It is practically impossible to find free WI-FI in Peru except at Lima airport and in hotels... and very often, even there, it doesn't work very well either. If you need to stay connected throughout your trip I recommend purchasing onelocal sim card con l’attivazione di un piano per i dati. Personalmente ho comprato una sim Claro con inclusi 3 GB al prezzo di 39 soles. Vi informo però che la Claro non funziona (neanche per sbaglio!) nella foresta amazzonica e, in generale, nell’area di Iquitos.