If you do the Inka Trail you will have a number of local porters in your group. They will carry the tents, cooking set... and you may even take a personal porter to carry your rucksack if it's heavy.
Whichever company you choose for the trail, make sure they treat porters right. They do the hard part of the job, and many small companies are reported by treating them like ***, underpaying them and making they work over limits.
Another way to benefit them directly is to give them a good tip after the trail, as this money goes directly to their pockets.
In the pic you can see porters in Ollantaytambo, at the beginning of the trail, waiting to be picked by the tour guides. Many locals from the area come every morning to that point and wait until they are elected... or not.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
- Budget Travel
If you go to the jungle, either near Cuzco or up in Iquitos, you will find many many mosquitos, so you better be prepared, take some repellent and get informed about anti-paludism medicines.
In Iquitos most of the lodges and accomodations use to have mosquito nets, but if you do trips in the jungle, wear long sleeves and take the mosquito spray!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- National/State Park
Cerbatanas are considered weapons
If you visit the jungle and buy one of those souvenir cerbatanas through which indians blow little arrows, PACK IT AND CHECK IT IN when you take the plane. They are considered weapons and won't be allowed in cabin.
I didn't know and had to leave it in the security check at Lima airport (though they said nothing in the Iquitos-Lima flight!).Related to:
- Budget Travel
Inca Trail Words of Advice....Stair climbing!
If you plan to hike the Inca trail, my words of advice to you is to start climbing stairs. I have never seen so many jagged, uneven, steep uphill and downhill stairs in all my life....did I mention steep??? This is not to discourage you, but be prepared. In all honesty, there is no amount of stairs that you could possibly do to train you for this. I think it just becomes a mind over matter situation. But, if you have knee problems or an aversion to thousands of steps, you might want to watch out for this trail!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
As in many Third World capitals, thousands of people from the countryside pour into Lima every year. They come to the big city in search of jobs and opportunities for their children. There is no place for them to live, other than in shantytowns, called pueblos jóvenes ("young towns" in Spanish), set up on vacant lots or the hillsides on the outskirts of the city.
Most of the buildings consist of poorly constructed shacks, made from any materials that the owners can scrounge from the area. They lack basic necessities such as water, sewage, heat, or trash pick-up. Most do have electricity, which is illegally pirated from a nearby electric source.
About half of the population of Lima lives in these pueblos jóvenes. The Villa El Salvador and Comas districts of the city are mostly made up of pueblos jóvenes. Most of the inhabitants are mestizos, American Indians, and blacks who have been migrating into Lima since the 1940s.
Visitors should avoid these neighborhoods, since crime is rampant, and many are controlled by gangs. The most violent crimes, theft, and drug activity in Lima take place there.
When I was in Peru I had the joy of recieving counterfeit money. At first I was pretty mad but then I thought what an interesting souvenir. Here are some ways you can tell if the current issue of Nuevos Soles is a fake. On the front side, right hand side there is the number (value) on it's side, the lines through the number should be crisp even on older worn bills(in the picture you can see the lines look smeared). Another way is in the middle of the bill running from top to bottom there are almost like holographic water drops (that is not exactly it but it is how I can best describe them), If they are not there or are hardly visible ask for a different bill.
Getting into hot water
At the cheap hotel level in Peru hot water is a problematic adventure. You always need to ask, but still you may be disappointed. The electric power may go out or the gas run out, or even water be disrupted. There may be hot water for the earlier birds but none later. Hotels may have hot water but not when you want or need it just as they may run out of water altogether.
Even when there is hot water you may find yourself taking a cold shower. Does "C" stand for cold or caliente? If it stands for caliente what does "H" stand for? And why does it take so long to warmup. Why does the hot water not come on at all? -- look for a second valve. And then there are those head of shower electric water heaters with exposed electric wires. If you are brave enough to step under exposed wires, why is it that the higher you turn on the water the colder it gets but if you do not turn it on enough the heater does not seem to start at all.Related to:
- Budget Travel
For Women Traveling Alone
Be aware and be informed!!!!
Remember that in this culture, you are considered a "loose woman" if you are a solo traveler, and you may get harassed or worse. Don't be paranoid, but use sensible precautions, and do not expect the attitudes of the locals to adapt to your ideas about what they should be.
I found an excellent book that's now out of print, but still useful and still available used from various resources: "A Traveler's Guide To El Dorado & The Inca Empire" by Lynnn Meisch. For me, it had the added advantage of being written by a weaver, as well as a savvy woman who loves to travel in S. America.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Hiking and Walking
We strongly recommend you take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Medical treatment can be expensive and not always available in some parts of the country.
Malaria is prevalent in northern parts of Peru and in Iquitos (Amazon) particularly, where there is risk of flooding during the Peruvian summer months of November to April. Cases of Dengue fever have also been reported in northern Peru.
Movement at altitudes over 9,000 feet (3,000 metres) can be debilitating, particularly upon arrival. Visitors to Cusco and other high altitude areas are therefore advised to take things easy for the first day or two after arrival.
Shaving cream for the innocent bystanders
The tradition used to be water, but at least in Puno and the lake area, spraying shaving cream was popular during the carnaval parades. It starts out friend on friend, and then spreads as one friend ducks and a bystander is lathered. A safe and clean time was had by all.Related to:
Warnings about being in Lima city central
The tourist guide books say not to be out at night in the city of Lima and therefore to stay the night out at Miraflores as its fine and safe out there at night and just travel to and from Lima central during the daylight - friends that had been to Lima not long before my planned dates to be in Lima said the same.
Right from arriving at the airport the guidebooks warn of not catching a bus to your accommodation but to catch a taxi and to be careful what taxi you use - to go to the area in the airport marked as Green taxis and not to use the taxis that are outside the airport.
I found 2 guys at a tour agency booth in the baggage hall and got a lot of help from them with finding accommodation and booking tours - tour buses for tours come right to your hotel and drop you off again at them and all tours need to be booked in advance from an office, not just the driver of the bus and a copy of your passport is required for the booking - and they also confirmed the safest taxis are the taxis in the Green area just inside the exit doors....
With all the warnings I wondered just how my 3 days in Lima were going to be!! My taxi took me to my hotel and the driver rang the bell at the gate in for me...all hotels and houses Id seen so far had high gates and electronic doors!
Great hotel - I asked the receptionist was it really as dangerous to walk around in Lima as my guideboooks suggested and therefore was it going to be okay to walk around with my good and rather huge camera to get good photos - she replied that it would be best to use a small non-expensive camera! I got picked up by a minibus for a tour of Lima city central....the guide told me to be very careful while I was sitting on the bus with the window open as I had asked him if it was okay to have a window seat so i could take photos. When we got into the city I was wondering if I was sadly supposed to put my camera away and miss out on all the good photos I could see around me! The guide then said that really it was fine when walking around in the city to use my big camera and that it was only when on the freeway that its possible that motorbikes might snatch valueable as it went past or if stopped in traffic!
He repeatedly said that really not to worry and that using my camera was fine while walking around in the city centre! There really were some great buildings and interesting people....- I wanted to book a tour for the next morning but wouldnt have got to the nearest office in time so when we were back in Miraflores the guide took me to photocopy my passport and took my cash of which he gave me a receipt for to book the tour for the next morning as he was going to the main office and would book it in for me ( which he did and i went on at tour the next day only that it wasnt the morning one, they didnt see the booking in the system in time so put me on an afternoon tour) he told me it was for sure fine to walk around Miraflores with my camera and fine to walk around prety much anywhere in Miraflores at night. He knew the restaurant that Id asked him was it in a part of Miraflores that was okay to walk to and walk back from in the night...
The next day I went on a Shanty town tour with a different tour company and was taken by the guide to an old part of town between Miraflores and the city that had once been a shanty town and said it was fine to be there with my big camera visible - and also to take photos of the locals - and it was the same when we visited and walked the largest shanty town in Lima...he said he took me to the safe shanty town of 2 million people but that it was not safe to go to the other shanty town.. The next day the same guide came to take me into Lima city - we went by bus from Miraflores and walked through the older streets of downtown Lima to the sights around the centre. He also took me to a hotel that is a tourist attraction in its own right full of amazing antiques and with great views from the roof - and recommends this play to stay at in the centre - he said he didnt believe it was any more unsafe than any other city to be out and about or stay the night in - that things have greatly improved since the guerillas were ousted. We didnt leave until quite late and it was dark by then - we walked quite a long way through the streets to find a taxi to take us back to Miraflores and as experienced its normal to be out and about at night in the city centre these days!Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
Peru is in an earthquake zone and tremors are frequent. The last major earthquake occurred on 15 august 2007 in Southern Peru (8.7 on the Richter Scale).
The rainy season in Peru runs from November to April. Landslides can occur, sometimes causing fatalities and making local travel difficult, particularly in mountainous areas. You are advised to keep up to date with current weather conditions via your local guide, travel agent or tourist information point.
Models expecting tips
Be careful, a hottie with a lama expects a small tip if you take her picture.
I say hottie because Peruvian ladies seem to wear many sweaters on top of one another: I remember, during our train incident (see transportation tips) one grandmother who was shivering under layers and layers of wool while all of us gringos were sweating in our T-shirts.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Problems with currency in Peru
Like many other countries in the world, all bills (US dollars and Soles) that you plan to use in Peru need to be in perfect condition. No rips (not even tiny ones), defacing of the bill or fading of any kind... essentially they only accept mint bills. If they're not, you can almost be sure they'll not be accepted.
The best way to outfit yourself with money in Peru is not hedge your bets on one currency format. I highly recommend having $200.00 US in cash, $200.00 or so in Travelers Cheques and use your bank card for the rest. If you do bring travelers cheques in any other currency than US, don’t expect many banks to cash them. IF they do, they’ll charge you a hefty fee.
One question that is asked a lot in VT’s Peru forum is: Can I use my bank card in ATM’s in Peru? The answer is yes!
ATMs are everywhere in Peru so unless you're planning on spending lots of time in remote areas of the country (Machu Pichu and most typical Peruvian attactions are not remote), you'll have little/no need for travellers cheques. The only piece of advice I’ll give you is to ensure that your PIN code is no more than 4 digits or it may not work in all machines. I changed mine to a four digit and never once had a problem.
Practice caution and be watchful when taking out money in public areas or you may be someone’s next target.Related to:
- Budget Travel
altitude sickness is very real. my guide told me that some of the tourists just pass out after arriving in cusco airport that they have to give them oxygen right away and that some develop fever nausea and vomiting. thank heavens i didn`t have any of those. i had my MD prescribe some diamox pills before going there and i also listened to the advice of fellow travellers who`ve been there........light meals on the first few days or not eat at all, take it easy on the first day( i just slept in my hotel room after the flight from lima) and drink lots of coca tea......... it works!!!!!
We did not stay here, but it was pointed out to us as the hotel used for some of the VIPs that came...more
We didnt really think of coming here until we started mapping out a plan of our independant walking...more
Av. Hermanos Ayar Mz 1 L-3, Aguas Calientes, Sacred Valley, Peru
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