South America: FAQ
When is the best time to travel to South America?
Peru consists of three broad geographic regions (the coast, the sierra, and the jungle). Many of the most popular attractions in our tours are located in the sierra, which experiences its dry season from May to September. This is a good time to travel but is also the tourist “high season” and some tourist sites may be crowded, particularly in the peak months of July and August. The period from December to March is “summer” on the coast and the warmest and sunniest time of the year in that area. However, it also coincides with the rainy season in the sierra and there is a possibility that the weather may restrict some tourist activities, notably trekking. In general, the “shoulder” periods of April-May and September—October are good times to get the best of both worlds.
What kind of clothes will I need during my journey?
What clothes you need depends on what area you are going to visit and what kind of activities you are planning to do. In general, you should wear light, comfortable layers. In most of our tours you will visit mountainous areas, where temperatures may be very low during the nighttime. Therefore it is recommended that you bring a warm sweater, fleece, and/or jacket.
You should bring walking shoes with a strong sole, which as well as being required for any trekking you do, will be useful in the cities on the sometimes uneven or slippery road and pavement surfaces. Depending on the season there may or may not be precipitation but it in any case it is recommended to bring a wind and rain resistant jacket. The sun in Peru is very strong, especially at high altitudes, so bring a hat and/or cap, UV-protecting sunglasses and plenty of suncream.
How much money will I need during my stay?
The amount of money you need per day depends on how much you want to spend on gifts and souvenirs. In Peru for instance gold and silver jewelry is very cheap, and there are many bargains to be found such as high-quality alpaca clothing, ceramics and weaving. In general, costs for everyday items and groceries are lower than they are in Europe or the United States. Only cosmetics should be purchased before the journey since they are more expensive in Peru.
The average amount you will need for food, cabs or other expenses is about $20-30 USD per day
How do I get cash during my journey in South America?
The official currency of Peru is called Nuevo Sol (S/.). In large cities $USD are accepted in some stores, bars and restaurants. However, for the majority of purchases you will need to pay in soles.
It is possible to exchange money in many exchange offices or banks, which is much safer than changing money on the street. In most hotels you will also be able to change money.
Creditcards like Mastercard, Visa, American Express or Diners are accepted in some restaurants, hotels and shops in tourist areas. Most ATMs accept common credit or debit cards like Maestro and Cirrus. In larger cities and in almost every touristic place. It is cheaper to get cash (local currency or US$) with a debit card (PIN required) than with credit cards. Make sure that there is a maestro, cirrus or other symbol related to mastercard on your debit card.
As at 2013. the exchange rate is approximately $1 USD = S/. 2.50 or €1 = 3.20 (daily exchange rates http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic)
Which vaccinations are required South America?
There are no regulations considering vaccinations for the immigration to Peru.
It is recommended to be vaccinated against the following: tetanus, polio, typhus, diphtheria and hepatitis A. In some cases it is recommendable to be vaccinated against rabies as well.
A valid yellow fever immunization is recommended for journeys into the Amazon Jungle and is required when emigrating from yellow fever regions such as Bolivia.
It might be reasonable to have a prophylaxis for malaria when traveling the Amazon.
Please make sure to consult a doctor before traveling.
What documents do I need to enter Peru?
Citizens of the United States, from Canada or from countries belonging to the EU do not need a visa to enter the country for touristic purposes. In order to enter Peru the only thing you need is a valid passport (not to be expired less than 6 month after entering the country) Entering as a tourist you are allowed to stay in the country for 90 days.
Entering the country coming from areas with a high risk of yellow fever you might be asked to show a valid certification of yellow fever immunization.
Plesae keep in mind that airport taxes (30$) are to be paid when leaving the country by plane. You will have to pay this fee in cash!
How is the health care system in South America?
Health care in Peru is not up to the standard of the United States or Europe. Moreover most of the doctors do not speak English very well. Quicker service in better conditions can be obtained from private clinics in the larger cities. You should ahave travel insurance that covers medical treatment while you are travelling and transportation back to your home country if necessary.
It is worth taking a small first-aid kit containing pills for nausea and diarrhea, painkillers, repellent, aspirin, simple bandages, blister plasters and so on. However, it is worth noting that medicines for treating many common health problems can be obtained cheaply over the counter at pharmacies in Peru.
How safe is travelling in South America?
During the 1980s and 1990s conflict and social unrest resulted in a drop in tourism to Peru. Nowadays however the country is stable and Peru is considered to be less dangerous than most of the Latin American countries. A journey to Peru is no longer a risk. If you follow certain rules it is no problem to stroll along the streets.
-Be careful when withdrawing money from an ATM. Use ATMs only during daytime.
-Don't wear obvious jewellery or carry around other valuables that are clearly visible.
-Carry your money, camera and other valuables close to you (money for instance in a money belt)
-Make a copy of your passport and leave the original document in a secure place during excursions.
-Be careful walking around at nighttime and stick to the main streets.
-Use registered cabs only. Ask in your hotel for safe taxi companies.
-Please keep in mind that taking pictures of airports, military facilities, pylons and police stations isstrictly forbidden.
Should I be careful with the food?
Peru has a varied and delicious cuisine and has received world recognition You should be careful eating raw fish. The tipical dish ceviche (raw fish with limejuice and onions) is in fact delicious but may cause stomach problems if you are not used to it.
You may want to take care eating salads or any uncooked, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, especially during the first week or so while you get used to the environment. If you eat meat it's safer to eat it well done than medium rare.
Tap water is generally safe to drink in most cities and towns. However, if you prefer, bottled water can be baught almost everywere.
What are the customs regulations entering South America?
You are allowed to take following items with you (duty free):
400 cigarettes or 50 cigarres (>18 years);
3 bottles or 2.5 litres of liquors (>18 years)
newly purchased items such as gifts with a total value less than 300 US$
Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness?
Many of the places we visit are located at altitudes that visitors not used to. You may notice some symptoms a few hours after arriving at a higher altitude, including headache, nausea, dizziness and general tiredness.
Our tours are planned in a way that you will be able to gradually adjust and acclimatise to higher altitudes. You are recommended to take it easy during your first few days at altitude, drink plenty of water, and avoid drinking alcohol to excess. If you experience any symptoms, these can be alleviated by drinking coca tea or other herbal preparations. Let your guide know if you are feeling bad.