Is it safe to travel to Peru?

Currently Peru has a stable government and tourism has boomed in recent years becoming one of the most important activities in the country with the added tourist dollars, the government has made a concerted effort to keep travelers and their valuables safe.

Nevertheless, travelers should take the usual precautions that they would in a major US or European city. Pay attention to the advice of your guide and hotel reception staff and take common-sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar and not touristic areas alone and keep a close eye on your personal belongings.

How far in advance do I need to book my trip?

You can book your Peru tour at any time but the well in advance you book, the better.

For classic packages an early booking is always recommended (3/4 months) especially for those during the high season (May to September and Christmas Holidays). For those that include excursions such as Inca Trail, Huayna Picchu Hike, Amazon Lodges or luxury trips with Hiram Bingham trains, should be reserved earlier, as the entrances or departures are limited and sold quickly but usually we are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well.

Important information: According to a statement issued on April 27th, 2017 from July 1st 2017, and for a period of two years, the entrance to the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu will be in two shifts. A first shift from 06:00 am, staying in the citadel until 12:00 hours, and a second group that will enter from 12:00 and can stay until 17:30 hours. In addition, this new regulation indicates that all visitors who enter Machu Picchu must carry their entry ticket, their official identity document and must be accompanied for a GUIDE OF TOURISM, who will be the one in charge of enter and exit together with the tourists.

How many people can join a tour?

There is a difference between FIT (Fully Independent Tour or private) and SIC (Seat in Coach) service.

In the case of a FIT/private service, you will have your own professional tour guide speaking English (other languages upon request) and a private air-conditioned car/van/coach with your private driver at your service during your stay, from meeting you at the airport or train/bus station upon your arrival, showing you around, till seeing you off at the airport or train/bus station for your next destination. If you take our private package tour, you will not be mixed with other tourists when sightseeing and transferring and the number of participants will be the one you have made the reservation for. This is popular for individuals, families or any groups who wants to explore on their own as per their individual preference and schedule.

SIC tours stands for Seat-in-Coach Tours, which means you will share an air-conditioned coach or van with other tourists and you will have a Spanish/English speaking tour guide to take you to all the scenic spots listed in the Itinerary of that day. In this case the number of participants may vary from 10 to 20 per tour.

Compared with FIT/Private tours, SIC tours are usually less expensive but Private tours are much more flexible.

Note: If you have 5 or more people in the group, we recommend you take our private package as the price gets very close to that of SIC.

What are the age restrictions?

To travel independently you must be at least 18 years of age. There are no upper age limits for most of our tours and people can travel with children aged between 5 and 17 years of age. We often encourage families traveling with young children to book private departures. Children (under 11 years old) who share a bed with an adult will probably receive a discount depending upon the trip and the particular hotel policies. We advise you to consult with our experts on this point so that they can guide you in the best way possible.

Best time of the year to visit Peru and Machu Picchu

Travelers can visit Peru any time of the year but as it is a large and geographically diverse country, including Andes, Amazon rainforest and the arid Pacific coast – each one with its own climate, flora, fauna, and weather conditions, it is difficult to determine the best time to travel as temperatures may vary significantly at any point of the year by region and altitude and you can experience all four seasons in a single day.

THE ANDES
Dry season in the Andean highlands starts in the second half of April and lasts until November. Daytime temps are consistently moderate with little or no rainfall, hours of uninterrupted sunshine, and great views of the jagged peaks, however nighttime temperatures are cooler and can drop below freezing. June, July and August are the most crowded months. The wet season from December to March experiences much more precipitation, however the rains generally come and go and there are also sunny days. If you don’t mind the rain, this time of the year offer lush green countryside, colorful orchids and wildflowers in full bloom, and much smaller crowds at popular sights.
Perhaps our favorite time to visit Peru are the shoulder seasons from April to June and September to November when you the weather is fairly dry and visits aren’t at their peak.

THE AMAZON JUNGLE
Although the Amazon jungle is consistently humid and tropical with significant rainfall year-round, the best time to visit it is during the dry season (May to October). Temperatures stay constant throughout the year, averaging 80s Fahrenheit, while humidity is high all year. During the rainy season, from November to April, it rains heavily and almost daily, making a less desirable time to visit this part of the country because the slippery soils and making difficult the navigation.

THE COAST
The Peruvian coast is predominantly arid and mild, summer along this desert coast is between December and April (especially in the north) reaching 77° to 95°F. In winter (May to November) the sun is rarely seen, temperatures are much cooler with a frequent hazy mist and high humidity.

Will I have time to spend on my own?

This is your vacation so you can decide to add a free day in town just to relax, to shop or simply enjoy the hotel facilities! We can customize the trip as you decide.

How difficult and flexible are trip activities?

The activities are flexible and the degree of difficulty depends of the tour. You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to enjoy our trips. We’ll adjust distances and levels of difficulty up or down according to your abilities and desires.

Do all hotel rooms have private toilets in the accommodation you offer?

Yes, they do. We usually use the tourist superior hotels that have comfortable, clean and good restrooms, with hot water, amenities and some of them with a nice bath tub. If you would like to know more about them, send us an e-mail and we will give you more details.

What kind of transportation is used?

You will travel in clean, comfortable vans/car, first class tourist buses, canoes, etc. We provide our travelers the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (rickshaw, bicycle taxi, local buses, etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor.

What do prices include/exclude?

Although most tours include your accommodation, transport and breakfast, each tour is different with regards to meals and activities that are included. Please check the itinerary to see what is included or contact us. Items of a personal nature, such as laundry, phone calls, tipping, optional excursions, wine & beverages, etc are not included in our tours. Tour prices also exclude international departure taxes, customs and immigration fees and medical insurance.

Do your tours include pick up at the Lima airport upon my arrival?

We don’t use to include the transfer in/out in Lima on our tours but you can request them for an extra cost.

Are there any hidden charges that are not included in the cost of your itineraries?

All what is included is clearly specified at the bottom of each tour package. However, if you have any questions, regarding this issue, please do not hesitate in sending us an e-mail with your enquiries. We will be very happy in answering all of them.

Do your tours include international airfare?

It is not possible to include international airfare in our prices because travelers arrive from all over the world to begin our tours. We have also found that it is usually less expensive for our customers to book them separately and it also allows them to earn miles.

Are meals included in the package?

Breakfast is included every morning (if you leave after breakfast time initiate, if you leave before, then you can ask the hotel the night before to have a boxed lunch) at the hotels and are usually buffet style so you can choose what you like. Lunches and dinners (except in some hotels that includes a half or full board) are not included in the trip costs. You will want to put aside money for lunches and dinners ranging from $15.00 for lunches up to $20-$30 for reasonable dinners. If you are a vegetarian, you will have plenty of alternatives to choose from, just let us know. There are excellent restaurants in the hotels and nearby to explore. We recommend you to bring your favorite snacks, but you will also find excellent choices in Perú too.

There are tour packages that include all meals like the Amazon trips, some treks, etc. In your quote you will be able to verify which foods are included and which are not.

Should I need VISA/passport to entry into Peru?

A passport valid at least six months after departure date, with at least 2 free pages in the visa section is enough to get a Tourist Visa (actually it’s only an entry stamp) directly at the border or the airport. Children should travel on their own passport with photo. Below listed countries can get a tourist visa at airport immigrations or any other Peruvian border without applying for it at an embassy or consulate.

  • North America: Citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico
  • Central America: Citizens of most Central American countries (exception Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic)
  • South America: Citizens of all South American countries
  • Europe: Citizens of all countries within the European Union and Switzerland
  • Africa: Citizens of South Africa
  • Asia: Citizens of Brunei, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
  • Oceania: Citizens of Australia and New Zealand

The maximum period of stay granted by the authorities is 183 days per year (cannot be extended). For longer periods of time for other purposes (business, study, work, etc.) it is necessary to apply for the corresponding visa at a Peruvian consulate.

Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile may enter with their valid national identification document only.

Entry requirements change frequently. It is each traveler’s responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.

Do you offer any travel insurance?

We highly encourages purchasing insurance as the unforeseeable is just that, unforeseeable. We recommend to purchase it in your country of origin and within three weeks after you pay your deposit for the trip in order to get the best coverage (trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc.)

Should I take cash or credit/debit cards?

We strongly recommend to bring a bit of cash when coming to Peru, the most accepted foreign currency are American dollars. You can exchange a bit money (Dollars/Euros) at the Airport or official exchange offices. Consider exchanging $200 -$300 dollars. Also try to get 20-30 coins (soles) and bring 1 and 5 dollar bills to tip the hotel staff, guides or taxis. Take note that the bills must be new dollars with no tears or rips because damaged dollars are not accepted in Peru. As to the credit cards, there are ATM’s available in every city we visit, so it is easy to withdraw soles or dollars. However you should verify with your bank before your departure if your card is accepted in foreign countries. ATM machines are not available at remote areas like Colca Canyon, Titicaca Islands, Inca Trail and the jungle. Traveler’s checks are accepted in very few places so we do not recommend to use it.

Can I book extra nights of hotel accommodation before or after my tour?

Yes, most tours have tour options that allow you to select an extra night in the city of your choice either at the beginning or end of the tour. Please contact a Culturandes specialist to discuss all your possibilities or just send us an e-mail with your request and we will provide you assistance.

What clothing / gear should I pack for this trip?

We always recommend packing as light as possible however the specific requirements for your tour will vary depending on where and when you are traveling.

For the Peruvian coast, you may wear light clothing for the summer season (shorts, T-shirts, sandals, sneakers, swimsuit, sunglasses, sunhat and a light jacket for the night), for the winter season you may wear jeans or comfortable hiking pants, long-sleeved lightweight shirts, warm jacket, boots, etc. During your visit to the Andes we strongly recommend to bring comfortable, layerable and proper warm clothing. You can also purchase good jumpers, gloves, and hats made of Alpaca and Vicuña wool when you are in Peru. They are pretty warm and inexpensive.

For the Amazon do not forget to bring a raincoat, lightweight long and short-sleeved t-shirts, lightweight long and short pants and a lot of mosquito repellent.

Bring one dress, skirt, or nicer clothes for fun if you travel to the city.

Remember that there are inexpensive laundry facilities available at the hotels. Pack what you feel you absolutely NEED.

About the gear don’t forget to bring a small daypack and money belt for cash and passport, your camera, extra memory card, extra batteries, items of a personal nature and medicines.

The sunscreen, lip balm, sun glasses, a hat and a swimsuit are things you couldn’t forget for your trip to Peru.

If you worry about your luggage being lost by the airline (though this is a rarity), you can be a proactive packer. Include in your carry-on bag one full outfit, any small valuables, important documents, and medication. This way, you’ll have everything you need to get you through your first and second day in Peru while the airline locates your luggage, or until you have time to make it to a store to purchase what you need.

We will send you a detailed packing list for trekking programs.

What will the temperature be?

The climate of Peru is very diverse, with a large variety of climates and microclimates, including 30 of the 32 world climates. Such a diversity is chiefly conditioned by the presence of the Andes mountains and the cold Humboldt Current.
The climate on the coast is subtropical and usually hot during the day in summer time (25/28°C / 77/83°F December to April). The winter (May to November) although cloudy, cool and very humid (13°C/55°F).

The Andes highlands observe a cool-to-cold climate. Dry season starts in the second half of April and lasts until November. Daytime temps are consistently moderate with little or no rainfall, hours of uninterrupted sunshine, however nighttime temperatures are cooler and can drop below freezing. The wet season from December to March experiences much more precipitation, however the rains generally come and go and there are also sunny days

Temperature is proportional to altitude, varying from temperate in the low-lying valleys to frigid in the highest elevations.

Although the Amazon jungle is consistently humid and tropical with significant rainfall year-round, the best time to visit it is during the dry season (May to October). Temperatures stay constant throughout the year, averaging 80s F/27° C, while humidity is high all year. During the rainy season, from November to April, it rains heavily and almost daily.

Is it necessary to have some vaccinations for this adventure?

No immunizations are currently required for visiting and traveling in Peru. We recommend the vaccine against yellow fever in case you are traveling to the Amazon just as prevention but it is not mandatory. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, but be administered at least 10 days before your arrival to be effective.

Other types of vaccinations are not required.

If you have a history of altitude sickness you should consult your doctor about altitude medications.

It’s important that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date travel health information for the region you will be visiting. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic

How concerned should I be about the altitude sickness?

As everyone reacts different to altitude it is impossible to predict how your body will react. Commonly, our travelers report mild altitude symptoms such as fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping or light-headedness during their first day or two at elevation.

Severe altitude sickness is rare and is the result of a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by the altitude. If it occurs the best remedy is to evacuate to a lower altitude. If you have a heart or lung condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, angina, etc., it is important to consult your doctor whether or not to travel to high altitude is advised.

For all hiking-intensive itineraries at least 3 days of acclimatization are recommended before beginning your hike, this time allows your body to begin acclimatizing and provides travelers a good indication of how they will feel once they begin hiking.

Many of our preferred hotels at altitude have oxygen available for travelers feeling the effects of the elevation.

Traveler's Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea (TD) is the most common ailment of visitors. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor for an antibiotic specifically for TD, as over-the-counter medicines such as Imodium and Lomotil will only treat the symptoms and not the cause.

How will I receive my travel documents?

All documentation is sent electronically by email.

After making your confirmed booking we will validate the availability of all hotels, flights, and guides for your selected travel dates. Within 48 – 72 hrs we will then send you written confirmation of your tour, along with an invoice for payment. Upon receipt of your 20% deposit we will then move forward with purchasing your tickets, entrances, and reserving the hotels.

If you choose to make a tentative booking you will have 3 days to contact us and transfer it to a confirmed booking. If you fail to contact us within the given period your reservations will be automatically removed from the system.

Can I cancel my booking if I decide I cannot make it?

Once total deposit is made (30 days prior to your arrival), and we reconfirm your booking, it is non-refundable as all the hotels and services will be already paid. If you cancel your booking within 60 days of departure, the penalty is the 50%, and if it is before 60 days, the initial deposit of 20% is non-refundable. For the Inca Trail and other trekkings, cancellation policies are different so please ask our experts. For this reason, we highly recommend taking out a comprehensive insurance policy, so you know your investment is secure!

Is tipping included and if not, how much should I budget?

Tipping is not mandatory but customary in South America. The recommendation for private guides is between USD 10-20 per full day of guiding per person and USD 3-5 for private drivers per full day per person. This is simply a guideline and it is Culturandes’ hope that you use it only as framework and tip appropriate to the level of service you feel you received.

How can I prevent altitude sickness?

If you are arriving to the highlands we recommend you to not push yourself too much in the first hours. You should spend one additional day of acclimatization per each 1000m (3300 feet). We also recommend you to eat light food during the first days because the digestion gets slow until the body becomes acclimated.

One of the most common symptoms for climate changes is a strong headache so you need to bring medicine for it.

Here are some tips that can help you:

Take a good rest: One way to battle the altitude sickness is take enough rest. National and international journeys may alter normal sleep patterns. This can induce fatigue and dehydration which increase the risk of altitude sickness.

Get Infusions:If you travel to the highlands, you should drink infusions such as tea, camomile, mate de Coca, mate de Muña (native herb of Perú).

Drink a lot of water or sport drinks:The dehydration reduces the capacity of the body to acclimate to news altitudes. Drink 2 or 3 liters daily, starting one day before traveling. Avoid drinking alcohol, wine, coffee or black tea, these will make your muscles weak and relaxed and your body dehydrated and also avoid smoking because it will be more difficult for your body to get oxygen and you will not have enough energy for the activities.

Can I drink the water in Peru?

Tap water in Peru is generally not safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available in everywhere. Ice is not always made with boiled/bottled water, although it is commonly at hotels and good restaurants. Order your beverages without ice or ask your guide if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant.

Baggage limit for the train to Machu Picchu

On the train to Machu Picchu, only 5kg (11lbs) of luggage per person is allowed. You can leave your larger suitcases at the luggage storage room of the hotel in Cusco, before embarking on the train to explore Machu Picchu.

Baggage limit for jungle adventures

It is not allowed to carry the larger suitcases to the lodges in the jungle, therefore, we recommend to prepare your luggage one day before with the necessary for your stay. The larger luggage will be left in the luggage storage room of the offices in Puerto Maldonado and picked up on the way to the airport.

Where to leave the baggage

Every time you have to spend a night or two outside your hotel and as long as you return to it, you can leave your larger suitcases in the luggage storage room and pick them up on your return.

If you have some free time at the airport between connecting flights, you can leave your suitcases at the luggage storage room for minimum amount that will be informed at the airport.

Are power adapters/converters needed?

The electric current outlets in Peru are 220 voltages. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110-volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2-pronged flat type, however if you have some electronics with three prongs, it would be wise to bring an adapter just in case. If you can, bring extra batteries.

Who will be in charge of the group during our trip?

The group is accompanied by one professional native guide, born and bred in the region and fluent in English or in the language you request, who is also a group Tour Leader. Our group leader job is to take the hassle out of your vacation and assist you during your trip. They are very knowledgeable about the regions, better than anybody, and offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating places and introduce you to local friends or take you to colorful local markets.
Also you are fully supported every day by our team from Lima and the team from every destination you may visit.

The drivers are also responsible to arrive early to your pick up and transfer you to the places at time.

What time zone is Peru in?

Peru is five hours behind GMT (same as EST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during April through October Peru is on CST.

Can I use my cell phone while travelling in Peru?

Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.

Almost all hotels and restaurants offer free wi fi service, it is a good idea to disconnect yourself enjoying your trip and only use the phone at certain times.