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Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu

Perú has one of the premier travel destinations in the world - the Incan site of  Machu Picchu. That's not the only area of interest though.  Cusco is a small town with colonial and Incan influences and is on the access route to Machu Picchu.  The reed islands of Lake Titicaca are unique and still have indigenous people.  On the east side of the Andes, the Amazon tributary Tambopata River provides a very different experience from the rest of Perú.  The gateway to Perú is Lima, but this is caused by government restrictions that currently prevent international flights from landing elsewhere in Peru.  Specifically Cusco is not currently permitted to land international flights.

Visas:

Most American and Western European countries do not require a tourist visa for visits of under 183 days.  Check your specific country at VisaHQ.  For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.  Make sure your passport is good for six months at the time of entry.  Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile may enter with their valid national identification document.  You can expect to spend a long time at immigration upon arrival, as there is a thorough review of documentation and an Andean Migration Card (TAM) is issued.  This card must be presented at every hotel used in Perú (for tax exemptions) and must also be retuned prior to leaving the country.  Guard it safely like a passport.  There is no requirement for a yellow fever certificate in Perú and malaria medication isn't recommended for the Tambopata River in the Amazon basin of Perú.

Currency:

The currency of Perú is the Neuvo Sol.

Water:

Don't drink tap water anywhere in Perú.  Some documentation indicates it may be safe in some cities, but it is not worth the risk.  Bottled water is readily available throughout Perú, even in the more remote locations.

Toilet Paper:

Perú is one of those countries that doesn't put any toilet paper into their toilets.  This applies in restaurants, hotels and even airports.  It's quite an adjusment for many tourists.  Also, make sure to bring your own toilet paper supply when traveling.  Public toilets often charge a small fee and don't supply paper.

Altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS)

This is an issue for many destinations in Perú.  It can cause headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue and/or nausea or vomiting. Symptoms usually disappear in four days, but in some cases, AMS may be fatal. Generally elevations above 9,000 feet expose you to symptoms.  Try to arrange itineraries so you gradually ascend to higher levels.

PERUVIAN ELEVATIONS
City Elevation (feet) Elevation (meters)
Arequipa 7,700 2,300
Cusco 11,200 3,400
Lima 0 0
Machu Pichhu 8,000 2,400
Ollantaytambo 9,200 2,800
Puerto Maldonado 600 200
Puno 12,400 3,800

Flying directly from Lima to Puno can be a formula for disaster.  For a group of 10 travellers doing this, we found that 4 needed oxygen at the hotel, 3 of those needed a doctor's visit and one needed attention in a medical facility.  Some hotels provide oxygen for visitors and coca tea is a standard offering, either in tea packets or by using coca leaves.  Coca leaves can also be chewed to intensify their impact.  Coca tea is the cure all for everything in Perú, including altitude sickness, stomach problems and energy levels.   Many countries don't allow you to bring coca leaves back from Peru, as the leaves are the starting ingredient for producing cocaine.

Best Time to Visit Perú:

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

 Cusco

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 Lima

 X  X  X                  

 Machu Picchu

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 Puerto Maldonado

             X  X        

 Puno

         X      X        


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