When to go & weather: The Andes and the Amazon both have two distinct seasons – dry from May to October, and rainy from November to April. Most of the rains fall in January and February and during these months treks in the Andes can be very muddy (the Inca Trail is closed in February), and it can be harder to see wildlife in the Amazon. In the high Andes (Cusco and Puno), temperatures are at their most extreme in the dry season and can reach 25 degrees in the midday sun, and plummet to below freezing at night. During the rainy season it is more temperate ranging from around 8 degrees to 20 degrees. In the Amazon temperatures average 25 to 35 degrees year-round and humidity is always high.
The Peruvian Coast has very little rain and seasons are summer (November to March) and the rest of the year. Lima in particular enjoys temperatures of around 30 degrees in summer, but is covered in a gray fog for the rest of the year and although temperatures rarely drop below 15 degrees, the humidity is high.
Documents: Make paper and digital copies of all your travel documents before leaving home. Do the same for any documents that you pick-up along the way (eg. Any tickets you buy locally and Immigration cards which you will be given upon entering most countries.) Having a copy of your lost or stolen documents will make it much easier to replace them.
Visa requirements: British passport holders can enter Peru as tourists for stays of up to 183 days without a visa. You may be asked to show proof of onward travel so keep a copy of your flight or overland transport booking confirmation with you while travelling. Upon arrival you will complete a Tarjeta Andina de Migración (Andean Immigration Card), make sure you keep your part of this document as you will need to present it with your passport when leaving the country. Make a copy or take a digital photo of this card and store it with your copy of your passport.
Travel Insurance: You must take out an appropriate Travel Insurance policy to travel with Discover South America Ltd. Make sure you are covered for medical expenses abroad and repatriation should it be necessary. If you plan to carry out any adventurous activities such as multi-day treks at altitude (whether as part of your Discover South America tour, or independently) make sure your policy covers you. Most insurers will include cover for specific activities at a premium if those activities are not included as standard. We can advise upon suitable policies.
Money: The currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (referred to just as sol), although in main tourist destinations, US Dollars will often be accepted. ATMS (cajeros automaticos) dispense Dollars and Soles and are normally open 24 hours. Visa, Cirrus and Maestro cards are widely accepted at ATMs. For safety reasons, use ATMs inside banks with security guards, preferably during daylight hours. Make sure you tell your bank or card provider before you travel if you are planning to use your card abroad. Take care with US Dollar bills as only immaculate dollar bills will be accepted – even tiny tears or wrinkles will render your money worthless in Peru. US Dollars and Euros can be exchanged for soles at Casas de Cambio which are plentiful in all cities.
Before you go: Visit your GP at least 8 weeks before departure, so that any vaccinations you may need have become fully effective before you travel. Many UK surgeries have travel clinics and will advise you on the specific requirements for the countries you are visiting. To visit lowland jungle areas you should have a yellow fever vaccination, and some sources recommend malaria prophylaxes. Check the NHS Fit for Travel website for more information: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
While you are there: Do not drink the tap water anywhere in Peru, you may even want to use bottled water to clean your teeth. Bottled water is available cheaply and plentifully (about 80p for 2.5 litres). Stay away from food sold at street stands and in markets. Salads and unpeeled fruits should be fine to eat in tourist restaurants. Keep your hand sanitizer in your day pack and use it sparingly.
Safety: Unfortunately, pick pocketing and distraction theft occurs in cities all over South America, particularly in places frequented by tourists such as bus terminals. Common sense is often your best defence – do not wear flashy jewellery or display valuable objects in poor areas and big cities. Your local guides will advise you on the safe areas to walk around independently, and any areas to avoid. If travelling independently before or after your tour, or if you do not have transfers included, make sure you always use a registered radio taxi in cities, identifiable by their plaques. Hotels will always be happy to call a trusted taxi company for you.
View our destination guide for Peru.