Traveling in Peru can be an adventure to always remember, but unexpected turns of event can make it a nightmare that you wish you could forget! While there are always things that can go wrong on a trip, a little bit of forethought and pre-planning can make your trip unforgettable. Here then, is a list of ten travel tips to keep in mind as you’re traveling in Peru.
1) The northern coast of Peru is close to the equator, and the sun there, as well as in the jungle and up in the mountains, can be fierce. Even cloudy Lima can surprise you with the strength of the sun when it makes its way through the fog. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and a good pair of sunglasses. A hat with a visor is also a good choice.
2) When you travel to high altitudes, for example to Cusco, you may find that you suffer from soroche, or altitude sickness. If possible, a slow ascent is best. If the symptoms of soroche affect you, it helps to drink mate de coca – a brew made from the leaves of the coca plant – to help you adjust. However, remember that it can cause positive results on a drug test. If that may be a problem for you, there are also pills available in pharmacies and at the airport to help prevent soroche – it’s best to start taking them at least a day in advance.
3) In the mountains, the lack of oxygen and strong sun will dry your skin rapidly. Make sure to pack some hydrating creams or lotions, and don’t forget a good lip balm.
4) If you’re planning a trip to the jungle, it’s mandatory that you take a good repellent for gnats and mosquitoes. Try to find one made of natural ingredients.
5) Always carry medications, personal documents and any other item of importance in hand luggage or a backpack, never in checked luggage. And speaking of hand luggage, backpacks or bags that cross over your shoulder are the safest to carry. Don’t leave backpacks dangling off one shoulder – it’s best to wear them backwards, resting on your chest, while walking through any crowded marketplace or city center.
6) The temperature can vary widely from morning to noon to evening, so it’s a smart idea to dress in layers – t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater or jacket. It’s especially practical if you plan on being out all day.
7) Remember that when you buy artisanal products and local goods, you’re helping the local economy. While prices in Peru for these items are much lower than what you might find at home and bargaining is expected, don’t insult anyone by asking for too low a price.
8) When traveling through rural communities, you’ll find that people will be very warm and friendly, and you may even be invited into their homes. It’s considered bad manners to show up at someone’s home empty handed, but it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Candies for the children, cookies or fruit are always welcome.
9) Making calls directly from your hotel room can end up being much more expensive than you expected. Most local bodegas or stores will carry international phone cards that have very good rates, and there are also many call centers (called locutorias) where you can make inexpensive calls.
10) Before leaving home, send yourself an email with all information that you consider important – passport number, phone numbers, reservation numbers, insurance policies, credit card information etc. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen, you’ll have a simple way of recalling the necessary information. Additionally, if your hotel has a safe deposit box, leave your passport there and simply carry a photocopy of the picture page around with you.