Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Peru

MONEY BASICS

CASH:

  • Only bring new crisp DOLLAR bills without any writing or small rips. Anything else will not be accepted. The sole bill may be old or slightly ripped.
  • Let me repeat this again. DO NOT BRING BILLS THAT ARE EVEN SLIGHTLY RIPPED. Not the tiniest of tears will be accepted. 
  • This is a cash society. The banks make it very hard for local businesses to take money out. They give you a small limit to withdrawal per day. Expect agencies to ask for your balance in CASH. Even in the thousands. This is normal here.

CREDIT CARDS AND ATMS CARDS:

  • Don’t expect to use your credit card as often as you may like. Many restaurants, hotels, and especially tour agencies DO NOT accept credit cards. Cash is most effective in Peru.
  • ATMS will allow you a VERY SMALL withdrawal amount, like 200-400 soles or 60-120 USD and they will charge you a HUGE fee plus your banks fee. If you don't want to carry cash expect to pay large service fees for small amounts of cash. Everyone will ask for cash so expect it!
  • ATMs are easy to find in Lima and Cuzco; however, many small towns do not have a single ATM.
  • Do not rely on ATMs, especially since many people forget their bank cards in the ATM and lose them. Have a backup method for cash, and ALWAYS bring two ATM cards.
  • Call your bank and credit card company to tell them you will be in Peru. Otherwise they will see it as fraud and block your card.
  • If you accidentally type in the wrong pin for you card it will automatically get shut down.
  • Cards often get cloned, atm cards and credit cards alike. Always check your statements while traveling and bring more than one atm and credit card.

MONEY EXCHANGE:

  • When exchanging money, ALWAYS ask for a “sello” (say-yo,) make a sign with your hand as if you were stamping something if they don’t understand what you are asking for. With this stamp, if you are given fake money you can go back and exchange it. Fake money is a common problem here in Peru. Also, always check that the exchange rate was multiplied correctly and that you got the correct amount by re-counting after given the money.
  • There are money exchange places all over in Cusco. However, in smalls towns they are hard to find.
  • Expect to use the local currency of the SOL. The only people who will want US dollars are your tour agencies. 

TRANSPORTATION

Taxis

  • A taxi from or to the airport will run you between 10-15 soles (you may get it for less but I would not count on it). You must go outside of the airport onto the street to get a good price. “Official” taxis inside are 30-60 soles.
  • Taxis inside of the city will run about 4-5 soles.
  • Every car is basically a taxi in Cusco BUT NOT IN LIMA. Use offical taxis in Lima from your hotel.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Is altitude sickness really something to worry about?

Cuzco is 11,000 ft. About 50% of our guests suffer from feelings of illness from the altitude. The problems are mostly headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, and a general feeling of discomfort. Vomiting is common as well.

What should I avoid or do to help with the altitude?

Avoid large amounts of physical exertion, like lots of walking or hiking, the first day or two. Avoid things that will dehydrate you like coffee and alcohol. Drink lots of water. People claim that aspirin helps, and there is also high altitude medication called Diamox. Eat lightly the first day.

What happens if I get sick and miss my tour?

No agency will refund you your money. Bring a trip/travel insurance that will refund you the cost of the tours you miss out on. They are inexpensive and actually work.

What do I do if I need a doctor?

Call Dr. Eduardo Luna 984 761277 and refer that you were sent by Bill and Nicole Koch.  

WEATHER BASICS

  • It does not matter what time of year you come: it is ALWAYS hot if you are in the sun, and COLD COLD COLD when you are not in the sun.
  • Dress in layers. Avoid getting caught after dark without a jacket or warm sweater. The temperature drops as soon as the sun drops. Vests are a great option for staying ahead of the constantly changing weather.
  • In Cuzco, there is no such thing as central heating. We dress for the occasion and use warm blankets. I recommend warm pyjamas and wearing socks at night. A scarf is a very nice accessory all year long. Do not ask your hotel/airbnb if they have heat. They do not. They may have a small space heater but they do not have heat as you know it. Dress correctly inside and outside and you will be fine.
  • If you are very concerned about the temps at night while you sleep, book a place that is made out of adobe and not cement. Ask your airbnb what material is the house or room where you will sleep. Cement is FREEZING.
  • I highly recommend you do not wash your hair at night if it will not dry quickly. Sleeping with wet hair will make sleeping hard and uncomfortable.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Should I buy travel insurance?

YES! Peru is well known for strikes by the people. It will shut everything down and no one will refund you anything as everyone has disclaimers on this. It happens often. You WILL NOT be able to get anywhere, not Machu Picchu, not the airport etc. You will loose your tour for the day or worse your flight! 

YES! If you get sick and miss your 2000 dollar trip to the jungle...if you miss your 300 dollar day trip to Machu Picchu....they will repay you the money lost!

YES! What if you get sick? You know it is very common for people to get altitude sickness and also more common for people to get food poisoning here. If you wake up for your 5 day 1000dollar trek to Machu Picchu and can't go due to food poisoning. 

YES! You are going biking...Zip Lining....trekking.....in a Latin American country with NO REGULATIONS!

BUY IT!

FOOD SAFETY

 

  • Even though you want to try everything, avoid cheap street meat. Trichinosis is common here in Peru and there are no regulations on these vendors.
  • Avoid lettuce or you are surly bound to fall ill at some point (high end tourist restaurants will most likely wash the lettuce correctly and you may eat it, but be cautious.)
  • Any fruits or vegetables you would like to eat raw should be washed in water with bleach — soak everything in one drop of bleach per liter of water. Then you can eat apples, pears, grapes, etc.
  • I recommend washing peelable fruit as well, since you will touch the outside of the fruit while peeling, and you also touch the inside with those same hands. You can also use alcohol (in gel form) to wash your hands after peeling it and before eating it.
  • If you would like to use lettuce (which is best avoided for short trips), you must not only soak it in water but also wash each leave individually by hand, getting the bleach water into all the wrinkles. AVOID LETTUCE it is hard to wash. 
  • DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER

Bottled water and plastic in general:

Peru has a HUGE plastic bottle problem. We do NOT recycle here. Every bottle you buy will remain in Peru forever. Bring a water bottle with you to re-use. If you can swing having your own filter that is even better. Your footprint will really make a difference here. We recommend either a STERI-PEN: An ultra-violet light that sterilises the water and really works. We have three for travel or a SAWYER filter as it also works incredibly well. 

If you can not bring a filter, buy the largest bottles on the market of water to re-fill your bottles. 

EATING OUT

  • Eat cooked foods or, if ordering a salad, ask if the raw salad was washed with bleach (otherwise known as “Cloro” in Peru).
  • Avoid fresh fruit juices where the fruit may not have been washed properly and where also the blender is often rinsed with tap water and not dried leaving about an inch of water that you will drink with your juice.
  • Don’t drink the tap water (duhhh…).
  • Avoid pig meats and alpaca unless you are at a trustable tourist restaurant. I can recommend reliable restaurants when you get here.
  • Wash your hands constantly.
  • Often you will not find either toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms of Peru. Carry some kind of tissue or toilet paper with you.

TRAVEL MEDICATIONS

Often your travel clinic will recommend a day or two of meds...however....

  • If you have something more than “just adjusting to the food” (like salomonella, typhoid, E.coli, shigella, etc.), 1-3 days will only make it resistant and it will come back with a vengeance.
  • This has not only happened to my husband and I on separate occasions, but also to the travelers who have come through.
  • Take a whole course or, better yet, get a cheap lab analysis in Peru before you take anything. Be sure of what you have — you may not need anything other than rest and rehydration drinks. Let me know right away if you feel sick and are contemplating taking medication.

Some Travel Meds to consider...

  • Diamox for altitude sickness: Although I’m not into medications, every traveler who has taken this medication has had no altitude problems whatsoever and even go hiking and biking in the first few days. I am quite impressed with it. Don’t use it like an over the counter drug since it is not good for certain people, especially people with diabetes and you CAN NOT take this pill with cipro
  • Antibiotics especially if you will be trekking. Don't get caught out on a 5 day trail far from a clinic with out antibiotics

Some natural remedies to bring....

  • Carbon or activated Charchol is great for stomach troubles.
  • Ginger is very helpful for both indigestion and car sickness (especially when taking a bus).
  • Vitamin C is always helpful here
  • Pro-biotics will help with digestion and good gut health 
  • Oil of Oregano also helps here

SUNNY CUZCO

The sun can be very overwhelming here in Cuzco. Sun hats and sun glasses are extremely useful. Sunscreen should be used liberally.

MACHU PICCHU TICKETS AND TRAIN TICKETS

I highly recommend you to have both tickets before hand unless you are traveling through South America for an extended time and do not have set dates.

  • I have seen people buy train tickets then go to buy MP tickets and they are ALL sold out. You are then stuck with changing the train tickets for another day and all that hassle.
  • The train has limited seating and often you can only get certain hours. You may get stuck sleeping in Aguas Calientes an extra night, or train tickets that allow you to see MP for only a few hours, etc. It is best to get them beforehand.
  • If you do not have the tickets printed out and in your hand, do not believe that you have booked them properly. We have had many people arrive with confirmation numbers only to find out they don’t actually have a reservation. The reservations are only held for 2 hours online.
  • If it is easier for you, we can buy train tickets and MP tickets for you and can have them waiting for you in Cuzco when you get here. Send us an email to hakuexpeditions@gmail.com

Collectivos

There is another type of taxi called “collectivos,” which are cars that are shared. They are usually vans and can take you places a little further away than taxis will go.

  • To Moray/Maras Salineras, from calle Pavitos: 6 soles
  • To Pisac, from calle Puputi: 6 soles
  • To Mollepata, Salkantay Trek, Arco Pata: 11-15 soles @ 5:30am
  • To Ollanta (for the train to MP or ruins)) 10-15 soles on Pavitos
  • From Ollanta to Cusco 10-15 soles outside of train station