Horseback riding in Peru

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Equestrian tours in Peru

Peru Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

South America doesn't get much more evocative of generations gone by than peru.3 Its mix of ancient civilizations and dramatic archeology, set among some of the most extraordinary landscapes on the planet, means few destination have as much to offer cultural visitors.

The old Inca settlement of Machu Picchu, now said to be the most visited site on the entire continent, is just the poster-child - it's utterly magnificent, of course, but it's just one of many highlights served up by the country. From mountain range to jungle, beach to desert, colonial town to cosmopolitan city, it's a truly wonderful place to travel.

The coastal capital, Lima, can seem chaotic at times, but scratch the surface and you'll unearth some great museums and nightclubs, not to mention some of the region's best food and drink - from ceviche (raw fish in citrus) to cecina (dried pork) and from Peruvian wine (yes, really) to pisco sours.

But the country's real appeal lies outside the capital. Contrasting beautifully with Lima is the ancient capital of Cusco with its winding cobbled streets and 1,000-pluis years of history. It's the gateway for visitors to unmissable Machu Picchu, as well as those walking the Inca trail, but it makes for a colorful destination in its own right. There's no better place to learn more about the country's earlier times and the upheaval of the Spanish conquest.

Elsewhere in the country, the Nazca Lines, the beautifully excavated ruins of Chan Chan and the Chachapoya fortress of Kuelap boggle the mind. These extraordinary complexes are all set amid stunning landscapes.

But Peru doesn't solely involve rushing up and down mountains or traipsing around ruins. If you're searching for a relaxing beach destination, head to Mancora, which is popular with sun-seekers and surfers. A little more subdued, but no less beautiful, is the quaint coastal town of Huanchaco, where you can sit on the beach and watch fishermen ply their trade on traditional reed canoes. It's a far cry from the lofty Andes and a testament to Peru's staggering diversity.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

For British and US nationals to enter Peru, a passport valid for the duration of the stay is required. Canadian and Australian authorities recommend passport validity for six months from your planned date of departure from Peru.

Visas

Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above travelling as tourists for stays of up to 183 days.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Visa Note

A business visa is required for all nationals if the purpose of the visit is business. Any business-related unpaid work can be made on a tourist visa. You have to complete a form from the Peruvian tax authority, which you can obtain from the embassy in advance or fill out at the airport on arrival.

Nationals applying for a tourist visa require a bank statement showing a minimum balance of £1,000 and a mini statement taken from a cash machine on the date of application. Anyone applying for a business visa must prove their company is solvent.

All nationals are advised to check with the Peruvian Consulate prior to departure to obtain current details of any documentation which might be required.

Types of Visa and Cost

Tourist/business visa: £24.60. Costs are subject to change according to exchange rates.

Validity

Up to 183 days, but you must ask for this and the discretion lies with the officer. Stamps have been issued for as few as 30 days. You can extend your visa in Peru.

Applications to:

Consulate (or consular section at embassy); see Contact Addresses for details.

Working Days Required

At least 24 hours; longer if authorisation from the immigration office in Lima is required.

 

Money

Currency

Nuevo (new) Sol (PEN; symbol S/.) = 100 céntimos. Nuevo Sol notes are in denominations of S/.200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of S/.5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 céntimos.

Note:
US Dollars are also in use and accepted for payment, particularly in tourist areas. While effectively interchangeable, it is best to use local currency wherever possible, and it is always good for tourists to have some local currency in small denominations, to pay for buses, taxis and goods in some small establishments.

Currency Exchange

Only a few bureau de change in Lima and Cusco will exchange currencies other than US Dollars. Outside Lima, it is virtually impossible. US Dollars can be exchanged everywhere and banks, hotels and many shops also readily accept US Dollars (although very old, torn or damaged notes are usually rejected). It is not recommended to exchange money from street vendors.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

All major credit cards are accepted, but usage may be limited outside of Lima. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted. It is also sensible to carry some cash rather than rely on cards. ATMs are now regarded as one of the best ways to obtain money in Peru. They are found almost everywhere, including in small towns, although when travelling in remote places it is best to have some cash just in case the nearby ATMs are not working or have run out of money. In bigger cities, use ATMs inside banks for greater security, especially at night. Many banks have gun-carrying security guards.

Traveller's Cheques

Banks will exchange traveller's cheques although it can be a slow process outside Lima. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars. The ability to use traveller's cheques is also quite limited in some areas so you should check whether or not they will be accepted in the area you are visiting prior to travel. The use of ATMs is generally preferable, but if you do decide to ring traveler's cheques, the best currency to bring them is in US dollars.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1300 (may vary during the summer).

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

S/.4.52

$1.00=

S/.3.23

€1.00=

S/.3.97

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Sometimes*

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

Sometimes*

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

* Vaccination is recommended for travellers visiting jungle areas below 2,300m (7,546ft). Travellers who are only visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu do not require a vaccination.

Food and Drink

Drink only bottled water, and take purification tablets in case bottled water is unavailable. Pasteurised milk is widely available, but if you are staying in mountain towns you will also find that unpasteurised milk is often sold in shops, served in plastic bags. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from unboiled milk.

Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. You will find that there is plenty of street food available in stores and at markets, and you should try to ensure that what you buy has been heated properly and not been left out. In particular, you will find lots of ceviche, a cold seafood dish made using raw fish, which is practically the national dish. It is heavily acidic, which must kill some bacteria; nevertheless be aware that unless the fish is very fresh the potential for food poisoning is high. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other Risks

Dengue fever outbreaks are common in the Amazon Basin. Altitude sickness can be a problem if visiting the highlands. Visitors should take time to acclimatise. Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended, for those who are planning to stay in Peru longer than six months or who could have sexual relations with the local population. If you do require vaccinations for your trip, ensure they are administered sufficiently in advance of your trip.

Health Care

International travellers are strongly advised to take out full health insurance and should be prepared to pay up front for medical services. Bear in mind there is much scope in Peru for taking part in extreme sports activities, and you should ensure that your insurance covers you for this.

If choosing to take part in an adventurous activity, such as a multi-day hike over 4,000m (13,000ft) or a night-climb of a snowy mountain above 6,000m (19,700ft), you will find there are many tour companies. In the interests of your own safety, it is wise to ask other travelers for up-to-date recommendations of reputable tour operators. Check for yourself any equipment provided in advance. Be aware of your own limitations: it is very tempting to scale a mountain but if you've never done anything like it before you many end up being airlifted off a peak.

The emergency telephone number all over Peru is 105, but if you have a medical emergency it is quickest to ask someone to drive you to the nearest hospital, particularly if you are in a very rural area, as waiting for an ambulance could take a very long time.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The principal international airlines is LATAM (www.latam.com).

Approximate Flight Times

To Lima: from London- 12 hour 30 minutes; New York - 8 hours.

Main Airports

Lima (LIM) (Jorge Chávez International Airport) (website: www.lap.com.pe) is 16km (10 miles) northwest of the city centre (journey time – 25 minutes). To/from the airport: Taxis to the city centre are available. Facilities: Duty-free and handicrafts shop, banks/bureaux de change, left luggage, pharmacy, medical centre, Internet cafe, car hire, coffee shops, bars and restaurants and tourist information.

Cusco (CUZ), located in the central south, receives flights from La Paz (Bolivia).

Air Passes

oneworld Visit South America Pass: valid for travel to more than 60 destinations within Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile (except Easter Island), Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. You must buy the pass outside South America in your country of residence and you must book a minimum of three flights; prices depend on the amount of flight zones. For further details, go to www.oneworld.com.

Departure Tax

Included in the air fare.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Callao and San Martin. Some international cruises occasionally call at Callao and Salaverry (Trujillo). Iquitos is the main river port and the major water route between Peru and Brazil, for travel through the Amazon Basin. 

Getting There by Road

The Panamerican Highway and two other main roads located further inland run from the north to the south of the country. There are buses from every town or city in the neighboring countries which take you across or to borders, from where you can catch another at the other side.

Getting There by Rail


Revived in 2016 after four years out of service, the only international rail service in Peru links the towns of Tacna in southern Peru to Arica, just over the border in northern Chile. The train takes daily journeys and takes approximately 90 minutes. Taking a collective (shared taxis which leaves regularly from the bus station) is quicker and more flexible.

Rail note: As there are few rail routes in Peru, you should try and book your train tickets the day before you travel, or earlier if possible. As always, keep an eye on your belongings.

 

Climate

The weather in Peru varies according to area- the changes in altitude are so extreme that the climate goes from freezing snow in the mountains to boiling sun on the coast. Likewise, the coast covers such a large stretch of longitude that the temperature changes dramatically as you head further south.

On the coast winter lasts from June to September. The weather tends to be overcast and slightly damp at this time, but rarely very cold. It hardly ever rains in Lima nor most of the coast, except for Tumbes and Piura, which have tropical climates.

During June to September, the mountainous areas are often sunny during the day but cold at night. This is high tourist season and the best time to visit most regions. Rainy season in the Andes starts in September and peaks between January and March, and this is a dreadful and occasionally dangerous time to be hiking.

Heavy rains in the mountains and jungle last from December to April. It is rainy and hot for most of the year, but between March and September there are occasional cold surges which might require a jumper.

Required Clothing

For traveling in Peru, a variety of clothes are necessary. You will need very lightweight clothes for summer on the coast, and thermals, hats, gloves, and ski jackets for winter up in the mountains. It can become freezing at night at altitude and remain hot and sticky through the nights in the jungle. Waterproof clothing is thoroughly recommended for the rainy season, because the heavens open very suddenly, and then it pours.

If you are traveling to the jungle you'll need something protective and waterproof for your feet. For any mountain hiking you'll need proper, supportive boots. If you're spending time along the coast you'll need sandals or flip-flops.

Contacts

Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of the Republic of Peru in the USA
Website: 1700 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Telephone:
(202) 833 9860.

Website:
http://www.embassyofperu.org

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

Embassy of Peru in the UK
Address: Knightsbridge, 52 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9SP
Telephone:
 +44 20 7838 9223. 

Website:
http://www.peruembassy-uk.com

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0930-1230 and 1500-1630.

British Embassy in Peru
Address: Avenida Jose Larco 1301, Miraflores, Torre Parque Mar (22nd Floor), Lima, 15074
Telephone:
 +51 1 6173000. 
Website: http://www.gov.uk/government/world/peru
Opening times:
Mon-Thurs 0800-1300 and 1400-1700; Fri 0800-1300.

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