Travel Tips

Munich Airport, terminal 1, module D: By Takeaway (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Weather in Peru

Click here for average temperatures, rainfall and sunshine across Peru

Click here for current conditions

 

Reading

You will appreciate the land and peoples of Peru much more profoundly if you read from a variety of materials before you arrive. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Thoughts on the Inca road system, an extract from The White Rock, by Hugh Thomson
  • Peru This Week, an online English-language news service about life in Peru
  • Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times, an English-language news magazine by a family-run publishing house of longstanding
  • Peru has produced some brilliant poets and novelists, one of the most notable being Nobel-prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. Read one of his Peru-based novels for a nuanced insight into the Peruvian psyche and culture.

 

Language and Culture

Familiarize yourself with Spanish and/or Quechua and your efforts to converse with Peruvians in their first language will be much appreciated. Many Peruvians do speak English, but why not take advantage of being immersed in another linguistic environment to learn a few words and phrases? 

  • A bit about Quechua, the language of the Inca
  • "How to Peru" is an interesting web site with an eclectic assortment of facts and thoughts about Peru

 

Peruvian Cuisine

In recent years Lima has become an international capital for food lovers, with Cusco not far behind. The flavours of Peru are fresh, diverse, and delicious. From the classic Pisco sour cocktail, to never-ending variations on ceviche, and hundreds of varieties of native vegetables like potatoes and corn, you are sure to fall in love with the food. On our treks you will be amazed at the skill and care of our accompanying chefs. Do some research on your personal food favourites but here are a few articles to get you started:

 

What to Bring

The following lists are offered as a starting point for you when planning what to bring, in order to travel lightly but be comfortable. Note that if your tour involves camping you can be assured of comfort: we provide 2-person tents for singles, and 4-person tents for couples. Also included are inflatable sleeping pads and pillows. Meals are served in a dining tent at a table with chairs. Our cooks are artists and the food is fresh, plentiful and delicious! We happily accommodate your dietary needs (gluten free, vegatarian, lactose free, etc.)

For the Traditional, Alternative and Lima Tours:

  • refillable water bottle
  • comfortable walking shoes and sandals or another change of shoes
  • light clothing and layers
  • sun hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses
  • binoculars, camera
  • snacks like chocolate, hard candies, energy bars, nuts
  • American dollars are widely accepted; get Peruvian nuevo soles as well (for smaller towns and purchases)

For the Adventure Treks:

  • refillable water bottle or hydration pack (1.5 - 2 liters)
  • sleeping bag suitable for the time of year (or you can hire one from us)
  • hiking poles (with rubber tips for Inca Trail, or you can buy them at the trail head)
  • sturdy walking shoes or light hiking boots and sandals or another change of shoes
  • light clothing and layers (vest, fleece jacket, rainproof jacket, long underwear, etc.)
  • sun hat, warm hat, scarf, gloves
  • a comfortable daypack
  • sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses
  • personal toiletries, hand sanitizer, and medical needs (your guide will carry a first aid kit)
  • flashllight or headlamp with spare batteries
  • binoculars, camera
  • portable charger for any rechargable electronics (tablets, cell phones)
  • snacks like chocolate, hard candies, energy bars, nuts (some snacks are provided on the tour)
  • American dollars are widely accepted; get Peruvian nuevo soles as well (for smaller towns and purchases)

For the Jungle Trips:

  • refillable water bottle or hydration pack (1.5 - 2 liters)
  • sleeping bag suitable for the time of year (or you can hire one from us)
  • walking stick
  • sturdy walking shoes or light hiking boots and sandals or another change of shoes
  • quick drying, light clothing in dark colours and layers (vest, fleece or sweater, rainproof jacket, etc.)
  • sun hat, warm hat, scarf, gloves
  • a comfortable, waterproof daypack
  • bathing suit
  • sunscreen, insect repellent (with minimum 40% Deet), sunglasses
  • 'Bite Away' (for the topical treatment of insect bites and stings)
  • personal toiletries, hand sanitizer, and medical needs (your guide will carry a first aid kit)
  • flashllight or headlamp of at least 200 Lumens, spare batteries
  • binoculars, camera
  • portable charger for any rechargable electronics (tablets, cell phones)
  • snacks like chocolate, hard candies, energy bars, nuts (some snacks are provided on the tour)
  • American dollars are widely accepted; get Peruvian nuevo soles as well (for smaller towns and purchases)

 

About Placenames

You'll notice a variety of spellings for many local placenames, often reflecting their Quechuan origin, which in Incan times was not a written language, and a phonetic Spanish spelling. For example, there's:

  • Inca / Inka 
  • Cusco / Cuzco / Qosqo
  • Sacsayhuamán / Sacsayhuaman / Sacsahuaman / Saxahuaman / Saqsa Waman (and more!)

Note that many names can be written equally as one word or two.

 

Air Travel

As with most destinations, you can find a huge range of fares for flying to Peru. Many international airlines fly into Lima. Do shop around on the Internet to see what some of your options are, but also consider using a travel agent. They can usually match a low fare or find an even  better one, or better itinerary. And should you need to make changes, or have a problem once your journey has started, a certified travel agent can help you resolve things more quickly than you can on your own.

 

Handling High Elevations and Other Health Preparations

Here's a great article from the New York Times about Staying Healthy While Traveling the Globe.

...more to come...

 

Meet your Porters

The porters who will carry most of your necessities and cook your meals along the Inca Trail are generally indigenous Peruvians -- Quechuan speaking descendents of the Incas -- from small villages in the region. In the past their working conditions have been harsh and unregulated. They often carried huge loads, for poor pay, meagre meals and rough sleeping conditions, while the clients were well fed, warm and comfortable. Recently the Peruvian government has instituted some basic rights for porters, inclduing a minimun daily wage (about US$15) and a maximum load (20 kg or 44 lbs, which includes all their own personal items). Be wary of low-priced tours as there are few ways to reduce fees besides underpaying the porters. Your tips make a significant difference to the porters -- as does your appreciation and interest in them, especially if you can try a few words of Quechua.

To learn more about the life of a porter, consider seeing Mi Chacara, by Jason Burlage. Framed by the seasons, the film chronicles a year in the life of a young indigenous man, from planting to harvest, and a season of work as a porter on the Inca Trail. 

 

Tipping

Like the people back home who are usually paid minimum wage, your guides, cooks and porters depend on tips for providing the basics for themselves and their families. Typically your porters live in small, isolated Andean villages where employment options are few. 

When calculating your tip, consider the person's level of responsibility and planning. Your guide is the supervisor and is in charge of all logistics, thus his/her tip would be the highest. Next would be the cook, who does all the meal-planning and food purchasing. The porters contribute their strong backs and legs to carry your gear, and assist with food preparation. 

The amount of gratuity you give should reflect how pleased you were with the service provided. Also take into account the number of days these people have worked for you (away from their own families), and the number of people in your tour group. The fewer the people the higher per client the tip should be. Tips can be given in nuevo soles or American dollars. You'll never regret being generous!

On many of its tours Inkas Peru Nature provides a questionnaire at the end to request your feedback on the experience.

Here's some advice from Conde Naste Traveler, well-known experts in all things travel related:

At Restaurants: 10–15 percent for the waiter.

At Hotels: Three sols ($1) per bag for the porter, 3–5 sols per night for the housekeeper; tip the concierge only for special favors.

Guides and Drivers: Cabbies don't get tips, as the fare is usually negotiated; private drivers get $5–$10 per day; guides, $10–$20 per day.

P.S. Despite a heavy tourist influx to the Cuzco area, Peru is not a tipping culture (locals don't tip), but hawkers are a common sight, so give a little something if, say, you get your picture taken with a llama.

 

Electronics

The standard in Peru is 220 volts and 60 cycles (50 cycles in Arequipa). This is different than the 120 volts standard in North America. The physical configuration of the electrical outlets is generally different too. However, if you're bringing a laptop, tablet or cell phone charger to Peru they are likely to have an adapter that will be suitable, and your plug may fit. But best to check. For a reference of electrical mains voltages and frequencies around the world check this web site.

 

Peru's Currency

...to come...