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Useful information on hiking in the Andes and traveling through Peru

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Peru (Republica del Peru)

peru-flag

Time: Local Time = UTC -5h

Country Calling Code: +51

Capital City: Lima: Metropolitan area has a population of 8.5 million.

Government:

  • Type: Constitutional republic.
  • Independence: 28 July 1821.
  • Constitution: 31 December 1993.

Geography:

Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador.

Area: 1.28-million km², third-largest country in South America.

Terrain: Varies widely between western coastal plains, central Andean highlands, and eastern tropical lowlands in Amazon Basin.

Climate: Arid and mild in coastal area, temperate to frigid in the Andes, and warm and humid in jungle lowlands.

People: Nationality: Peruvian(s).

Population: 30.5 million

Ethnic groups: Indigenous (45%), mestizo (37%), European (15%), African, Japanese, Chinese, and other (3%).

Religion: Roman Catholic (90%).

Languages: Spanish is the principal language. Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages also have official status.

Natural resources: Copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas.

Agriculture products: Coffee, cotton, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, oranges, coca; poultry, beef, dairy products; fish.

Industries: Mining and refining of minerals and metals, petroleum extraction and refining, natural gas, fishing and fish processing, textiles, clothing, food processing, steel, metal fabrication.

Currency: Nuevo Sol (PEN) Currency exchange agencies are regularly open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, from Monday to Friday, and half day on Saturdays Most cities in the country have ATMs connected in most cases to Plus (Visa), Cirrus (MasterCard/Maestro), American Express and other networks. You may withdraw Nuevos Soles or US Dollars, although the exchange rates tend to be less favorable than at the exchange agencies.

 

Areas for Traveling Though Peru

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the famous Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, rising high above the Urubamba River valley. The citadel was constructed by the Inca in the 15th century and later abandoned. It was not until 1911 that this “lost city” was made known to the outside world by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham. It’s renowned for its architecture and sophisticated dry-stone walls that utilize huge stone blocks to form magnificent structures, without the use of mortar.

Machu Picchu is a Unesco World Heritage site that houses nearly 200 structures. Located on a steep ridge, which is crisscrossed by stone terraces, the citadel is an outstanding display of religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural sectors. To this day, many of Machu Picchu’s mysteries remain unsolved with many opposing views on the role that it played during the Incas reign.

In 2007 Machu Picchu was voted to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and those that are fortunate to have the opportunity to visit and tour through its magnificence are soon to understand why it has gained such recognition.

Cusco

Cusco was the capital city of the Inca people, as well as the political, economic and cultural center of the Americas. With the Inca Empire stretching from as far South as Argentina and North up to Colombia, they were the greatest and most advanced civilization to appear in South America.

Today Cusco displays the finest Inca and Spanish colonial architecture ever built and is well known for its archaeological ruins. The beauty of the city amazes visitors, as does the quality of engineering that went into the construction of the many sites in and around Cusco.

Many of the ancient Inca palaces are now home to museums, hotels and restaurants. Cusco is made up of an interesting mix of both Inca and Colonial architecture that stand alongside one another.

Cusco’s many cathedrals, temples, fortresses, monasteries and Inca ruins make for wonderful tours where you can be assured to learn how the history of the Incas and Spanish formed what is today’s city. Cusco is the gateway to the Andes and a great city to explore while you are acclimating to its high altitude (3400m) prior to beginning multiday treks through the Sacred Valley and into the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is a region in Peru’s Andean highlands. Along with the nearby city of Cusco and the historic citadel of Machu Picchu, it formed the heart of the ancient Inca Empire. Nearly 60 kilometers in length, it’s comprised of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages.

Today the Sacred Valley is an important agricultural zone where a wide variety of crops continue to be grown on terraces above the Urubamba River. The Sacred Valley is home to many pre-Inca and Inca sites along with quaint local villages, including, Pisac and Ollantaytambo and Chinchero, with the citadel of Machu Picchu being at its end at the beginning of the tropical rain forest.

 

Food and Water When Traveling Through Peru

Guiding Peru’s chefs accompany every group on all of our multi-day itineraries. Most of our guests comment that our food is one of the highlights of their journey and are amazed at the variety and quality of the meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites. Vegetarian meals are also available upon request. Other special dietary requests will be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.

Chef cooked breakfasts may include; Granola, porridge, scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, fruit, bread all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee.

Chef prepared lunch may include; Vegetables, fruits, soups, potatoes, rice, chicken, fish, pasta salads all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee.

Chef cooked dinner may include; Vegetables, fruits, soups, potatoes, rice, pasta, beef, chicken, fish, all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee. Followed by a desert treat: fruit, puddings, jello, and cakes.
Daily snacks are available to our guests, including, Candy, cookies, granola bars, chocolate, popcorn, fruit.

Occasionally there will be places to purchase bottled water along the trails from the local people. We recommend that our guests bring their own refillable bottles to limit plastic waste. Our porters will insure the water we provide on the trails is boiled and then filtered. Purified water will be available every morning to fill your bottles and reservoirs for the days trek and will accompany every meal.

 

Machu Picchu Weather

Peru Weather

*Temperatures listed in degrees Celcius

  • The months September, October, November and December have comfortable average temperatures.
  • Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in January, February, March and December.
  • Machu Picchu has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September.
  • On average, the warmest month is September.
  • On average, the coolest month is January.
  • January is the wettest month.
  • June is the driest month.

 

Peru Recommended Vaccines

There are no mandatory vaccines for entry into Peru. Consult with your physician or local travel clinic regarding current vaccine recommendation for traveling through Peru. Currently the CDC and WHO recommend the following: Routine vaccines, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, Rabies and depending on your region of travel in Peru you may consider Malaria and Yellow Fever prevention.

 

High Altitude and Sickness

The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen than at sea level and forces your body to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. Over several days at high altitude, your body eventually adjusts to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. This is why at Guiding Peru we recommend that our guests spend at least two days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before the start of your trek.

With altitude sickness, you may first feel like you have the flu or the discomfort of a hangover. This may include: headache, tiredness, and loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, or trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe, please contact our office or discuss with your guide on your tour and we will help you get to a doctor.

Guiding Peru staff is trained in how to recognize your symptoms and assist with your recovery. We always recommend easing into activity slowly, allowing your body to adjust. Do everything slowly; there is no race, and no winner for the fastest to complete the trek. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or coca tea.

Coca tea has been used since ancient times to help prevent altitude sickness. Leaves from the Coca Plant contain alkaloids, which helps bring oxygen into your blood, helping your body avoid the effects of altitude sickness.

Avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol and coffee. They will cause you to urinate more often and become dehydrated. Avoid smoking as its use makes it more difficult for your body to get oxygen.

Avoid sleeping pills, as these create shallow breathing at night, making it more difficult for your body to absorb oxygen while you sleep.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines (Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone) to help prevent altitude sickness. Follow your prescriber’s guidelines for use, with our suggestion being: to begin taking the medicines 2 days before you get to a high altitude and continue taking while you are at high altitude.

 

Peru Entry Requirements

Visas/Passports

Peru is considered a safe country and one of open doors. The entry into Peru for citizens of most American and Western European countries does not require a tourist visa. The maximum period of stay granted by the authorities is 183 days and this cannot be extended. For longer periods of time for other purposes (business, study, work, etc.) it is necessary to apply for the appropriate visa at a Peruvian consulate.

In order to enter Peru it is mandatory to carry a valid passport. Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile may enter with their valid national identification document.