Peru Facts & Information
Peruvian territory covers 1,285,216 km2 (496,225 sq mi). Peru borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, southeast Bolivia and Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
- Population: About 30 million
- Capital: Lima
- Official Language: Spanish and Quechua.
- Currency: Peruvian Soles
- Time: GMT – 5
- Electricity: 220 volts AC, 60Hz. (110 volts AC is available in most 4- and 5-star hotels.)
WHEN TO GO
Peru’s climate has two main seasons: wet and dry. The climate varies according to the region throughout the country. Peru has 24 cities that have different climates and has three natural regions: The Coast(areas near ocean), Andes(mountains) and Amazon(jungle).
Peru is very rich in many varieties of things and each of these regions has its own traditions and its own gastronomy. Examples of particular gastronomic dishes being as followed:
- CAUSAS: Potato dishes come in all manners of scrumptious forms in Peru, but none as well sculptured as these incredible potato salads, constructed in a rainbow of colors with vegetables, seafood or chicken.
- CUY: The Andes most famous contribution to the world of animal protein: the guinea pig! It’s small and flavorful with just the right amount of fatty crispness. Cusco would be the perfect place to try cuy
- PISCO SOUR: The national drink of Peru, which is a cocktail composed of pisco sour and lime juice.
- CEVICHE: A dish composed of raw seafood , fish or both cooked by the natural acids in lime juice. There are many varieties of ceviche throughout Peru. It is tasty and great after a couple of drinks.
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO EAT! We are always wanting to update this info with suggestions from travellers so please let us know your recommendations!
RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS we have a full list in our Cusco office
A couple of Tips for arrival to Cusco!
Due to the altitude you should only eat light foods for your first meal. Vegetable soups nothing too heavy and no alcohol. You should ensure you rest for at least 1 and a half to 2 hours on arrival otherwise you will find the alitude affects them more and this is usually with a bit of a tummy upset and headaches. Always have a coca tea on arrival and go and rest. Good to end off a meal with a mate (herbal tea) Manzanilla is camomile.
International travellers are strongly advised to take out full health insurance and should be prepared to pay up front for medical services.
* Yelow Fever Vaccination is recommended for travellers visiting jungle areas below 2,300m (7,546ft). Such as Puerto Maldonado Travellers who are only visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu do not require a vaccination.
GETTING TO AND FROM
Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Cusco, Iquitos, Juliaca, Piura, Pucallpa, Puerto Maldonado, Tacna, Tarapoto, Trujillo and Tumbes. Peru’s major international airlines are LAN Peru and Taca Airlines. The international departure tax is $31 USD and the domestic tax is about $6 USD, which is now included when you purchase tickets.
In Peru, it is possible to travel by land or air. Peru has good airline companies such as LAN Peru and Taca Airlines that cover trips through the Peruvian Andes, a good infrastructure in terms of land and a railway operated by Perurail that goes to and from Aguas Calientes( the town Machu Picchu is in).
Important!: From the city of Cusco, there are a variety of routes you can take to Machu Picchu.
The routes to Machu Picchu are:
- By train via Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu Full day tour.
- Inca Trail Tour: 4 days / 3 nights.
- Inca Trail Tour: 5 days / 4 nights.
- Short Inca Trail 2 Days / 1 Nights
- Salkantay Trek: 5 days / 4 nights.
- Lares Trek: 4 days and 3 nights.
- Salkantay & Inca Trail: 7days / 6 nights.
- Vilcabamba Trek: 5 days and 4 nights.
- Ausangate Trek: 5 days and 4 nights.
- Choquequirao Trek: 8 days / 7 nights.
- Choquequirao Trek: 4 days and 3 nights.
Be prepared before your departure to ensure you have the most memorable experience abroad.
Citizens from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union do not require a visa to visit Peru. However, all travellers are required to hold a passport valid for at least 6 months after entering the country.
Currency New Sol (PEN; symbol S/.) = 100 céntimos. New 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, if not with any small tears. While effectively interchangeable, 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.
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 and tourist areas. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted. ATMs are now generally regarded as one of the best ways to obtain money in Peru.
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.
Banking Hours Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1300 (may vary during the summer).
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 4.37 PEN
1.00 USD = 2.84 PEN
1.00 EUR = 3.83 PEN
Currency conversion rates as of 18 April 2010
TIPPING: Service charges of 10% are added to bills. Additional tips of 5-10% are expected in better restaurants, while rounding up the bill or adding a few Soles is appreciated in small restaurants.
Shaking hands is the customary form of greeting. Kissing on one cheek between women and between women and men is common in coastal cities. Visitors should follow normal social courtesies and the atmosphere is generally informal. A small gift from a company or home country is sufficient. Dress is usually informal, although for some business meetings and social occasions men wear a jacket and tie.
The Peruvian economy is divided into two distinct parts: a relatively modern industrial and service economy concentrated on the coastal plain, and a subsistence agricultural economy in the interior. Inevitably, one consequence has been huge migration from the interior to the coastal cities. Most foreign investment is directed towards Peru’s major industry, mining, which accounts for about half of export earnings. Meanwhile, tourism has snowballed and now brings in more than US$1 billion annually.
During the early to mid 1990s, Peru implemented important market-oriented reforms, including privatisation of key industries, trade deregulation and measures to attract foreign investment. The strategy was reasonably successful, and the country’s economy is relatively stable. Foreign investment is growing rapidly in the mining, agriculture and tourism sectors. The unemployment rate was 8.4% in Lima in 2008, but it is estimated that up to 40% of the general workforce are underemployed. Peru’s annual growth was estimated to be 9.2% in 2008. The inflation rate was 6.7%. The passing of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States in January of 2009 is expected to spur considerable growth in the next decade.
- Ancient Culture
- Meet the people
- Enjoy their handcrafts
- Natural Diversity
- Peru cuisine
- Beautiful beaches
- Great drinks
Every place on Earth is fascinating and unique, but Peru is one of those countries that manage to stand above the crowd. This place has so many natural and cultural treasures that have fascinated people for hundreds of years, and still fascinates them today. There are thousands of reasons to go to this great destination, but here are 7 reasons why you should visit Peru!.
1.- To experience its ancient ruins and culture
There is an incredible amount of interesting history easily accessible to any traveller. Whether it is through visiting a museum, wandering around a town or village, or hiking to one of the hidden Incan ruins, you will always be surrounded by the strong presence of history and of their cultural influences.
The ancient Incan ruins are considered to be some of the most beautiful and mysterious sites in the world. Among the most impressive are the ruins at the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu; best experienced when hiking the Inca Trail.
Incan ruins are not the only remains of ancient civilizations within the country of Peru. In the north you can find ancient civilizations in the city of Chan Chan, while in the south, you can find interesting evidence of ancient cultures at the Lake Titicaca, in the city of Puno and at the Nazca Lines.
2.- To meet the people
It’s always interesting to meet new people and to experience new cultures, but Peruvians make this act an even more interesting and enjoyable experience. Many Peruvians still have a direct link with their incan ancestors, which is why conserving the Quechuan culture is so important to Peru’s past.
Most people are hard workers, extremely polite, peaceful, helpful, and curious about the interests of their visitors. Many of them have never travelled out of the country or even out of their cities or villages. Sharing stories with them makes for an interesting learning experience about the country and about their culture.
3.- To enjoy their handcrafts
Where can you find Peruvian history, culture, art, and exceptional skills all into one? The answer is: in their handcrafts.
Textiles are some of the most famous handcrafts you’ll find in any part of Peru. You can see the women weaving those exquisite patterns that make up a decorative wall carpet, scarf, jumper, or anything in between.
Other great artisanal crafts can be found in the form of instruments, wood carvings, canvas paintings, jewelry, and more. Not only do these make great souvenirs and travel mementos, but by buying them you are helping to support their traditions and are giving the opportunity of a decent living to a family.
4.- To see firsthand its natural diversity
Peru counts with 28 individual climates. This creates a diverse ecosystem and natural variety, all in one country. You can see snow in the Andes, and not far away you can sandboard in the desert of the Huacachina Oasis. You can see penguins at Ballestas Islands next to the dry and desert like town of Paracas, and you can row peacefully in the Amazonian jungle rivers. You can hike up to a summit in the Andes, or you can go down to the deepest canyons in the world – Cañón del Colca and Cañón del Cotahuasi.( The Colca Canyon and the Canyon of Cotahuasi)
The varieties and combination is unlimited. Peru makes it perfect to do many short budget trips that will allow you to experience this natural variety.
5.- To indulge in their cuisine
It is said that Peru has one of the best cuisines in South America.
Peru not only holds a variety of ethnic mixes, but also a climatic variety of 28 individual climates as said before. This mixing of cultures and variety of climates differ from city to city, thus creating a varied cuisine across the country.
Dishes like Lomo Saltado( beef stir fry), Ceviche Mixto(mixed raw seafood cooked in lime juice), Empanadas (mini pies made out of chicken, meat , or vegetables), Tiradito(peruvian sashmi in lime juice), Butifarra(meat and salad roll), and Chicharrón (fried pork skins with pork meat) are some of the must-try dishes in Peru. If you’re curious in trying an Andean delicacy, try guinea pig meat. It’s juicy and tender but not for the weak stomach. In general, Peruvian meals tend to be spicy and heavy, but yet so delicious.
6.- To enjoy their beaches
Peru is well known for its beautiful beaches and it is no secret that this is a paradise destination for surfers. Top surfing spots are the beaches of Herradura, Costa Verde, and Punta Rocas – all located to the south of Lima, Peru’s Capital. For a good time in the sun, sand, and crystal waters, you can go to popular beaches like El Silencio, Punta Sal, Punta Hermosa, Pucusana, and Santa María.
7.- To enjoy their drinks!
Great drinks must accompany great food. Right? Peru makes sure that’s the way it’s done. Whether you prefer the bubble gum tasting Inca Kola or the variety of strong beers, Peruvian drinks will make you addicted to them.
Some of the local drinks you will find (and love) are the famous wines from the Ica region, the pisco sours (a sweet, lime tasting, but strong drink containing egg whites – check out this post to learn how to make it), the emoliente, and the coca tea (perfect to prevent altitude sickness).
If you’re like me and love to drink Coca Cola, then you’ll taste the best Cokes in the world while here. They are sweetened with real sugar!
Peru’s climate is formed by two seasons; the wet season and the dry season. This being said, weather varies greatly from region to region. In the highlands, January is the middle of the wet season while the coast enjoys its dry summer.
AÑO NUEVO. (NEW YEAR): Partygoers wear yellow (including underwear) to ring in the New Year. Yellow is considered a lucky color.
FIESTA DE LA MARINERA: This national dance festival held during the last week of January is especially popular in Trujillo. The marinera (sailor dance) is a synchronized choreographed dance between a man with a straw hat and a woman with a handkerchief. They seductively step around each other without ever touching.
In February, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is closed for its annual clean up!
VIRGEN DE LA CANDELARIA: This highland fiesta (February 2nd) is particularly colorful around Puno, where folkloric music and dance celebrations last for two weeks.
CARNAVAL: Carnaval is held on the last few days before Lent (February/March), and is often celebrated with weeks of water fights, singing, dancing and parades. It is especially popular in the highlands.
The Inca Trail is open once again, allthough the weather is still rainy.
FIESTA DE LA VENDIMIA (Wine Festival): March is the perfect time to sample local piscos and wines in Ica. The festival is held in the second week of March when you are likely to see fairs with floats, musicians and beauty queens stomping grapes.
Holy week is a major event, so book a hotel and transportation in advance.
SEMANA SANTA (Holy week): While Easter itself is a solemn event, the week prior to it is celebrated with almost daily spectacular religious processions all over Peru.
In May in the highlands, the rainy season is coming to an end.
FESTIVAL OF THE CROSSES: This festival, held on May 3rd, is celebrated most intensely in Lima, Ica and Cusco. During the festivities, people carry crosses of various sizes in processions that lead to churches.
QOYLLORITTI: A Christian pilgrimage with ancient overtones is held at the chilly foot of Ausangate, a mountain outside of Cusco, in May or June.
It’s the beginning of the dry season in the highlands, which naturally coincides with the peak of the tourist season and lasts until august. Reserve hotels and domestic air travel well in advance during this time.
CORPUS CHRISTI: This celebration commemorates the holy Eucharist as the body of Christ. It is held on the ninth Thursday after Easter. The processions in Cusco are especially dramatic.
INTI RAYMI (Festival of the Incas): Inti Raymi was the Inca sun god. This festival celebrates the winter solstice in his honor on June 24th. It´s the spectacle of the year in Cusco and attracts thousands of visitors.
SAN PEDRO Y SAN PLABLO (Feasts of Saint Peter & Saint Paul): Peter and Paul are the patron saints of fishers and farmers, and they are honored with a procession to the sea. An image of Saint Peter is taken by a decorated boat to bless the waters for the fishing season.
The best time to see visit the amazon, as in this period it is drier than at almost other times of the year (although not necessarily dry).
LA VIRGEN DEL CARMEN: This holiday (July 16th) is mainly celebrated in the southern Andes, and is particularly important in Pisac and Paucartambo. The virgin is the patron of mestizos (mixed people of indigenous and Spanish backgrounds).
FIESTAS PATRIAS (National Independence Days): Independence from Spain is celebrated nationwide on July 28th and 29th. It is celebrated with festivities in the southern Andes beginning with the feast of St. James (known as Santiago) on July 25th. It is very difficult to find a seat on a bus or a plane during this time.
August is a popular time for travel in the highlands, so plan ahead.
FEAST OF SANTA ROSA DE LIMA: Major processions are held on August 30th in Lima and Arequipa to honor the patron saint of Peru and of the Americas.
Spring begins in the coastal regions.
EL FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE LA PRIMAVERA (International Spring Festival): Expect horse parades, dancing and cultural celebrations in Trujillo during the last week of September.
MISTURA: Generally held in early September, this annual food festival in Lima gathers Peru´s top chefs, along with invited food connoisseurs from all the over the world for cooking demonstrations, talks and lots of sampling.
The bullfighting season begins in October and lasts through to November.
LA VIRGEN DEL ROSARIO: The patron saint of slaves is honored on October 4th in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. You can expect processions, marinera dance competitions and los diablos (people dressed in native devil costumes) dancing in the streets.
SEÑOR DE LOS MILAGROS (Lord Of The Miracles): In Lima, this is a huge religious procession honoring local Christi. The main day of the celebration is October 18th, but there are events throughout the month. In these events, everyone dresses in purple to seek blessings and miracles. There are lots of processions around the country during this time.
In November, summer begins along the pacific coast, and the fog known as garúa lifts. In the Andes and the Amazon, the intense part of the wet season begins.
TODOS SANTOS (All Saint´s Day): This is the first part of a two-day holiday that begins on November 1st. Families go to mass and then head to the cemetery to spend time with departed loved ones.
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS. (All Souls’ Day): The second part of the holiday is more festive. There are food gifts, drinks and flowers that are taken to family graves. Similar its Mexican counterpart.
The wettest months continue through to March in the highlands, and until May in the eastern rainforest.
FIESTA DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN (Immaculate Conception): This national holiday (December 8th) is celebrated with processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
CHRISTMAS: Held on December 25th, Christmas is less secular and more religious, especially in the Andean Highlands. Keep an eye out for unique nativity scenes with regional holiday flourishes.