At dawn, a woolen-clad man paddles out from his floating house on Lake Titicaca to begin his day of fishing. Hundreds of miles away, a boy tends his sheep amid the rolling pastures of the Sacred Valley. Down on the coast, fishermen bring in their catch, while dozens of frigate birds and pelicans wheel. Inland, schoolchildren set off to walk in unruly gaggles to their local school. In the capital, Lima, a chef tops and tails fresh ingredients as he begins his day conjuring some of the finest flavors one can enjoy in Latin America. There are a hundred ways to greet the dawn in Peru. Each is different. All are exciting. Sleeping in is not an option…
The Andes chain of mountains courses Peru’s entire length, bulging to some 400 kilometers in places, and soaring over 7,000 meters in others. The mountains divide the country into three parts, with the coastal deserts to the west and the headwaters of the Amazon to the east. Its cultural heritage is as diverse as its physical geography, its history dating back over 13,000 years to the earliest civilizations in the Americas, its natural bounty mind-boggling.
Peru is a traveler’s paradise. It offers the curious adventurer a bottomless wealth of possibilities – from the northern desert beaches to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, from the jungles of the Amazon to the citadels lost in the cloud forests, from the lines of Nazca etched across the sands to the amazing trails of the Incas – it is one South America’s most exciting and varied nations.
Meet the people, experience the adventure, live the traditions, delight your palate, encounter the past, embrace nature, feel the mystery… Peru: an intense discovery.
Gastronomic Experiences & New Sensations
The bustling capital of Peru is the gateway to the country and home to some of the best hotels, museums and shopping that the country has to offer. The city was established by conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Today, Lima is a modern city with a population of over eight million, and the colonial city center has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. In Lima’s dynamic modern districts, one finds a wealth of distractions, and above all, great food – the capital’s chefs are world-renowned for their creativity and flair, while their patrons are renowned for knowing how to enjoy their food in style.
The Capital of the Inca Empire
When the conquistadors arrived in Cusco, they were stunned by the city they encountered. To the Incas, Cusco was more than just the empire’s capital. It was the symbolic heart and navel of their world. From it radiated the four quarters of Tawantinsuyo, imaginary lines coursing from the main square for hundreds of miles. It’s a great city to explore on foot, dipping into colonial churches built atop Inca ceremonial temples, ambling the cobbles, exploring the surrounding Incan ruins, making discoveries. A wonderful hybrid of Incan and Spanish, Cusco is not to be missed.
A Paradise to be Discovered
A mere hour’s drive from Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas (the valley of the River Urubamba) is home to picturesque communities, impressive terraces and several important archaeological sites. In Inca times, the valley was the breadbasket of the Empire and it’s still important for agriculture, as farmers plant the same fields that they did in Inca times with the same crops! Its mild weather, beautiful countryside and particular geography make it ideal for outdoor sports.
The Inca Royalty and Its Sanctuary
It is impossible to overstate the sheer breathtaking beauty of Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. The citadel was the private retreat for the Inca nobility. A jewel of architecture and engineering, it astounds every visitor with its palaces, temples and observatories. Millions voted for Machu Picchu in 2007 as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and it is easy to see why. Machu Picchu is Peru’s “must-see” destination.
Amazonian Havens to Spot Wildlife
Iquitos is a city submerged in the Peruvian Amazon Region which, when seen from the air, spreads out like a huge, green and seemingly endless cloak. Connected to the world only by air and by the Amazon River, Iquitos is Peru’s most important city on the banks of the Amazon River. It is also home to one of the largest hydrographic system in the world – the Amazon Basin.
PUNO AND LAKE TITICACA
The Culture’s Cradle
High in the windswept Andes, frosty Lake Titicaca is one of Peru’s most fascinating destinations. It is the highest navigable lake in the world and the source of many legends, such as the Incas’ own creation myth. The lake still shelters ancient cultures today, like the Uros communities who inhabit floating islands made of reeds; and the Quechua people who live on Taquile Island and who still keep their traditions alive. Titicaca offers a unique experience, a fascinating blend of nature and living cultures.
NAZCA & PARACAS
Treasures & Mysteries
Around 600 A.D., the people of Nazca etched enormous designs and figures into the dry flatlands of coast: drawings of a hummingbird, a monkey, a spider, among many others. These can only be seen properly from the air. How these lines were drawn and their meaning and purpose are still mysteries today. Close-by, the Paracas National Reserve with its Ballestas islands make up a great coastal wildlife haven, while Ica produces Peru’s best Pisco, the liquor used to prepare Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink.
AREQUIPA & COLCA
Site of Contrasts, Site of World Records
The White City of Arequipa is filled with beautiful convents, temples and grand old colonial houses, most of them made of sillar volcanic stone, which gives the city its particular sheen and character. The scenery of the city is simply amazing, surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes and impossibly blue skies. Arequipa is also well known for its incredible cuisine. Nearby lies the Colca Canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, where majestic condors soar and many traditions live on in the high Andes.
CHICLAYO & TRUJILLO
An Endless Discovery
The coastal cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo are rich in history and archaeology. New archaeological sites are still being discovered all along this coastal region. These cities are the ancient homes for the Moche and Chimu cultures, predecessors of the Incas and creators of the great Chan Chan citadel and the amazing tomb of the Lord of Sipan. Chan Chan, in Trujillo, is the largest mud-brick fortress in the Americas and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Peruvian Tower of Babel
Known as the “Peruvian Tower of Babel”, Kuelap is an ancient stone fortress that was strategically built by the Chachapoyas (or Cloud People) up on a mountaintop whose western flank is an imposing precipice. The citadel covers an area of around 6 hectares (14 acres) with some 420 circular buildings that include a watchtower and a castle. All of it set amid rolling forested hills and small rural communities. A beautiful, seldom-visited gem in Peru!
The Amazon & Its Enigmas
Puerto Maldonado is the main city of the Department of Madre de Dios and the starting point for jungle trips. Nearby you will find the Manú National Park, Tambopata National Reserve, and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. These are some of the most pristine, primary rainforests in the world and include several oxbow lakes and clay licks, where hundreds of birds (including macaws!) visit in order to feed on the nutritious clay.
Hemingway & Our Sea
The Peruvian northern Pacific coastline features gorgeous white-sand beaches which attract those who want to relax as well as lovers of water sports such as scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and deep-sea fishing. The climate is sunny and warm year-round. There are several excellent hotels and superb seafood restaurants.
Country Name: Republic of Peru
Area: 498,222 square miles (1,285,215 km²)
Population: 30,475,000 inhabitants
Capital City: Lima
Capital Population: 8.000.000
Peru Country Code: (51) Lima (1)
Language: Spanish predominates throughout Peru with 84% of the population speaking the language. The indigenous Quechua is spoken by 13.2% of the Amerindian inhabitants and several other native languages are spoken by the numerous and diverse ethnic groups. English is widely spoken in major hotels and the main tourist centers and facilities throughout the country.
Religion: 82% Roman Catholic; 12.5% Evangelical
Currency: The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol
Time Zones: All of Peru: GMT – 5 (No Daylight Saving Time observed at any time)
Measures System: Decimal Metric System. 1 meter equals to 3.3 feet. 1.6 kilometers equals to 1 mile; 1 Kilo equals to 2.2 pounds and 1 liter equals to 0.26 gallons. Temperatures are measured in Celsius Degrees: 0 Celsius equals to 32 Farenheit and 100 C equals to 212 F.
Passports and Documentation: Valid passports are required for entry into Peru. A visa is not required for visits that do not exceed the 90 day limit. However, we highly recommend you verify this information before travelling. Before landing, your airline will hand you an entry form that will need to be filled out and presented to the immigration officer in Peru.
You will need to take your passport with you on your excursion to Machu Picchu, as this document will be requested at the train stations and at the entrance gate to the ruins.
Immigration Card: Upon arrival to Peru, Customs will provide all foreign travelers with an Andean Immigration Card that should be kept safe throughout your trip, up until you leave the country. This immigration card will make you exempt from the Peruvian Sales tax at hotels. In case of loss, Customs will charge a fee for the card.
Park Fees: Visitors to Machu Picchu, archeological sites, and National Parks & Natural Reserves must pay entrance fees. Such prices will vary and may not be included in tour rates.
Electricity: 220V AC / 60 Cycles. Some hotels have 110 V AC or adapters.
Water: Tap water is not safe to drink, especially for sensitive stomachs, not used to it. The best option is to drink bottled water, available in various sizes throughout the country. In remote areas, boiling water for a few minutes and sterilization tablets are also good alternatives.
Transportation: Peru is easily accessible by its main International Airport, located in the country’s capital city of Lima. Other international, regional and local airports serve all of the country’s geographical regions. Callao, the main sea port, a few minutes west of Lima, is a popular way of access for visitors coming arriving on cruise ships. A good network of roads provides the facilities for land travel in Peru. An ample network of public bus services in the capital; between cities and in the other major cities complement the transportation facilities to move around in Peru.
Communications: Telephone communications for local, national and international calls are available at public cabins and booths, as well as hotels (some surcharges may apply) and other tourist venues. Prepaid phone cards are also available, it is recommended to make sure to use reliable and compatible carriers. Cell or mobile phones are extensively used and can be rented by tourists. Internet services are also widely offered at hotels (usually free for guests); Wi-Fi zones at most tourist venues and on cyber cafes. Peru also offers an efficient postal service.
Opening Hours: Offices are open 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday. Banks open from 09:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday. Some also open on Saturday morning or may have some extended services until 18:00, Monday to Friday.
Currency Exchange, Credit Cards & Banking Facilities: Foreign exchange transactions can be made at banks or authorized hotels, restaurants and clubs. Visitors are not recommended to be tempted by the premiums offered by street black marketers. Purchases and services can also be freely paid for in US dollars, accepted in most tourist venues.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at most tourist locations and facilities. Do check with your credit or debit card companies for details about acceptability and possible restrictions.
Shopping and Souvenirs: There are several shopping areas in Lima and other major cities. Most shops open Monday to Friday from 09:00 or 10:00 am until up to 21:00 pm. Some stores may close for lunch between 13:00 and 15:00. Peruvians express their artistic sensibilities and creativity through a wide variety of products. Among the most popular, sought by visitors, are the clothing garments made of fine cotton and warm alpaca and vicuna knits; jewelry in gold and silver made with ancient techniques and diverse decoration handicrafts and artistic objects. These articles can be acquired at modern stores and shopping centers. However, many visitors particularly enjoy shopping for handicrafts at the artisan or Indian Markets.
Tipping: As is the case for many places, gratuities are customary but are entirely up to the guest’s discretion. Guidelines for tipping will be found in the “Welcome Kit" that you receive upon arrival.
Restaurants and bars add 10% to the bill. However, waiters will usually expect a 10% cash tip, in addition.
Airport Tax: For Lima, Cuzco & Arequipa taxes are already included in the international & domestic air ticket. For the rest of the domestic flights, clients will need to pay directly and we cannot include them in our service as they varies all the time. This is approximately $4.00.
Sales Tax: Sales tax (IGV) on goods and services in shops and restaurants is 18%, and is generally included in the prices shown. At hotels if you travel on your own or extend your stay, you can omit paying the sales tax by presenting a photocopy of your passport.
SAFETY AND HEALTH
Security, Valuables: Just like anywhere in the world, normal precautions to be taken are not to venture alone or even in couples into solitary, marginal or poorly illuminated areas; not to accept offers, gifts or unrequested assistance from strangers and not to carry flashy objects such as jewelry, electronic gadgets and others that might tempt thieves. In wild or nature areas, the main hazard is getting lost if walking or hiking alone. The company of a certified and reliable guide, ranger or similar is recommended and, otherwise, to advice the nearest authorities or your lodging place what your exploration plans are. Your valuables are best kept at the hotels and lodgings’ safety boxes. A photocopy of your passport or other photo ID is useful to carry handy with you.
Health and Medical Facilities: Lima, the capital, as well as other major cities, do have high-level hospitals and medical facilities. The major hotels offer on-call medical assistance on the main cities and in the most developed tourist centers. Travelers are suggested to seek the advice of their physicians prior to travelling for dietary restrictions; altitude precautions; vaccines, etc. The local tour operator should be informed in advance of dietary restrictions and medical conditions which might require special care.
Altitude Sickness (Soroche): To help prevent altitude sickness the best measure is to acclimatize for at least two days with limited activity, eat light meals, drink lots of water and abstain from alcohol. Altitude sickness begins affecting people who quickly ascend to altitudes over 8,100 ft (2,500 m). Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and loss of appetite. Risk of altitude sickness increases with higher altitudes, faster ascents more physical exertion and severe cases include fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or swelling of the brain (high-altitude cerebral edema) and can only be treated by descending immediately. Being physically fit does not necessarily mean you are free from risk of altitude sickness.
Immunization: If you plan to travel to the rainforest, the administration of a Yellow Fever vaccine 10 days in advance is strongly recommended. People with heart conditions or high blood pressure should check with their doctors before travelling to high altitudes. It is advisable to bring a small personal first aid kit with you.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Climate and weather conditions vary widely according to seasonal factors; regional and ecological characteristics; altitude and other elements. Thus, it is recommended to look for specific advice regarding climate, weather and appropriate clothing, depending on the places you are planning to visit and the time of the year your trip is being planned for. Please ask us for details.
GASTRONOMY AND CUISINE
Peruvian cuisine has become famous and recognized around the world as one of the most varied, sophisticated and creative in modern gastronomy. Great restaurants, awarded several forks, reflect the diversity of a nation which has blended its native traditions and ingredients with those of Europe, Middle East, China, Africa and Japan. The result is a unique mix of flavours of the highest international quality. Peru has become the South American beacon of fusion cuisine, using the most varied elements of sea, land and poultry, along with the varied supply of fruits and vegetables which can be found on the vast Peruvian territory. A new generation of Chefs, who have achieved global recognition and awards, use traditional ingredients and recipes, along with haute cuisine techniques.
To be on the safe side, travellers are recommended to avoid eating from street vendors or in places where good health conditions are not guaranteed.
The country’s flagship drink, also famed and drank as a popular aperitif worldwide, is the Pisco Sour, a white grape brandy served with lemon juice, egg white and powdered sugar.
Lost City of the Incas, The Story of Machu Picchu and its Builders
By Hiram Bingham
The Incas, People of the Sun
By Carmen Bernard
The Incas and their Ancestors, The Archaeology of Peru
By Michael Moseley
Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary
By Peter Frost & Jim Bartle
By Peter Frost. Nuevas Imagenes, Lima, 1999.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu
By Barry Walker
Machu Picchu, the Sacred Center
By Johan Reinhard
A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru
By James Clements • Noam Shany • Dana Gardner
TRIP PLANNER PERU
With Peru, the problem is not finding things to see and do, but rather trying to fit everything in! Any itinerary should include archaeological sites, charming colonial cities, breathtaking nature, traditional communities and the fine cuisine for which Peru is renowned.