Machu Picchu Travel

Colca Canyon Travel Advice

If someone tells you that traveling abroad is as easy as booking a flight and seeing where life takes you, they are lying. Though we, as a travel operator, make it look as effortless as that, there are some special things that you need to consider before venturing out of your country.

Don’t worry, it is totally fine, we don’t mean to scare you off. Instead, we’d like to highlight the reality ahead so you can optimize your time and experience during your vacations. Our goal here is to help you with the frequently asked questions about traveling to Peru and the Colca Canyon.

Peru is the most in-demand travel destination in South America, recognized for its vast cultural and natural diversity, without forgetting about all the history that encloses our lands. The so-called Country of the Incas receives over 4.5 million tourists per year, positioning it as the fourth most visited region in the continent.

Therefore, the country has a great touristic infrastructure with safety measures and compliant worldwide protocols that ensure the integrity of every passenger. However, some things must be done by yourself, and here we’ll tell you all about it.

Is the Colca Canyon safe?

In terms of safety, the Colca Canyon has a controlled touristic infrastructure, with rangers and even policemen. You are more likely to get robbed in any other city of Peru or your home country rather than in the Colca Canyon.

If you’re worried about your integrity along the trail, you should know that the Colca Canyon is a physically demanding trek and will take you to altitudes over 4,000 meters above sea level.

Most travelers visiting the Colca Canyon also stay in Chivay Town, which is considered one of the safest towns in the valley, though it doesn’t mean that you should stroll around with your guard down as petty crimes are a major thing throughout the Peruvian territory.

Pick-pocketing and robberies are very common, be aware of crowds since thieves might create distractions to target you. However, we don’t mean to scare you off by pointing this out but to show you the unfortunate reality when traveling abroad.

That doesn’t mean that it could happen to you or that you’re traveling to a highly unsafe country, on the contrary, these are just precautions. In case of any inconvenience, there are government agencies specialized in tourism willing to assist you with any eventuality, such as the Tourist Police.

The Tourist Police or Policía de Turismo in Spanish, is another wing of national security that assists foreign travelers, though it’s more likely to find them in larger cities rather than the most rural and remote areas of the country.

What are the emergency phone numbers in Peru?

In case of any emergency or eventuality, remember that if you’re traveling with us, you’ll be assigned a travel assistant who can help you 24/7. However, it is worth knowing the national emergency phone numbers in Peru:

- Emergency and security line: 911
- Police station: 105
- Highway Police: 110
- Civil Defense: 115
- Firefighters: 116
- Red Cross: 01 266 0481

Is travel insurance necessary?

It’s better to have it and not need it than needing it and not having it. Although most travelers choose not to get travel insurance, we consider that this should be listed in everyone’s trip planning checklist.

Travel insurance does not only cover medical issues, depending on your plan, it can also include baggage loss, trip cancellations, stolen credit cards and passports, and even repatriation.

For more information about travel insurance benefits, we’ve come up with a blog that may be useful for you. Make sure to read it while you’re here.

Local Currency & Money Exchange

Nuevo Soles is the local currency in Peru, banknotes come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10. Whilst coins come in 5, 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20, and 0,10 units. You can exchange money almost everywhere in Peru, but we recommend you do it in a trustworthy exchange house (ask your travel agent) and avoid street money exchangers since it is not advisable to handle money on the streets.

You can use ATMs all across Peru, most of them accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, with being Visa the most used card in the country. Withdrawing money in Peru is very easy since most ATMs have English-language options. Also, you can withdraw US Dollars and Soles from several ATMs in Peru.

Please note that exchange rates may vary according to the banks in Peru and the one from your home country (transaction fees may apply). US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted in all money exchange offices and banks across the country. However, other currencies may not be accepted, though it is not impossible.

If you wish to exchange a different currency, make sure to do it in Lima or Cusco which have more affluence of foreign travelers. Nonetheless, we recommend you bring US dollars or Euros since they are easier to exchange.

Check this blog for more information about the local currency in Peru and other details regarding money exchange and counterfeit money.

What to Pack for the Colca Canyon?

We have prepared this packing list so you don’t forget the most important things to carry for your adventure. Make sure to include these items in your Colca Canyon packing list:

- Trekking Poles. For long and demanding hikes, make sure to bring these with you.
- A Water Resistant Backpack. This could be more useful during the rainy season.
- Raincoat or Poncho. An unmissable item in every trekker’s backpack.
- Sun Protection. Make sure to bring a high SPF sunscreen, a sunhat, and sunglasses with you for this adventure.
- A Reusable Water Bottle. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the trek. Some trails, like the Salkantay trek, take you to altitudes over 4,000 meters, so make sure to drink enough water to fight any altitude sickness symptoms.
- Warm Clothes. Especially for the cold nights since you’ll be camping in the mountains.
- Passport. Always take your ID with you.
- Insect Repellent and After-bite. These and sunscreen will be your best friends during the trek.
- Altitude Sickness Medicine. Make sure to bring diamox or soroche pills just in case.
- Camera. Please, don’t forget about this. Keep in mind that professional cameras need a special permit for their use in the archeological site. Please, consult your travel agent.

Quick Tip: There’s so much to know before joining this adventure. Make sure to read this blog for more information about what to bring to Peru.

Dealing and Preventing Altitude Sickness

The Colca Canyon will take you over 4,000 m.a.s.l. which is why it is usual to see travelers experiencing dizziness, tiredness, headaches, and shortness of breath upon arrival, particularly if flying from low-altitude destinations. Make sure to follow these recommendations that will surely help you avoid and deal with altitude sickness:

- Keep yourself hydrated. Water is the best ally to fight and prevent this condition.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking at all costs. Alcohol is dehydrating, and smoking can worsen or cause shortness of breath.
- Eat a light but high-calorie diet. High altitude increases the need for fuel since you get dehydrated and burn carbs faster.
- Drink Coca tea or chew Coca leaves. This is a medicinal plant of the Andes, known for helping to ease any altitude sickness symptoms and improving acclimatization.
- Take it easy. Don’t commit to a physically demanding activity on the first 2-3 days upon arrival.

Some medicines can help with any altitude sickness symptoms. You can find Diamox or Soroche Pills in almost any drugstore in Peru, nonetheless, we highly recommend consulting with a doctor before taking any of these medications.

Plan your trip according to your interests...

As aforementioned, the Colca Canyon is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in Peru, therefore, it would be wise to plan your trip ahead so you can do as many things as you’d like without any eventuality. However, you must be aware of the travel seasons in our country so you can have an optimal experience.

- High Tourist Season. It takes place between May and October, basically during the dry winter in Peru. Accommodation options, tours, treks, and others tend to sell out very quickly, which is why we recommend you take precautions and organize everything in advance.

- Low Tourist Season. It starts in December and finishes around April, it takes place between the rainiest months of the year. However, due to the low demand for tourism infrastructures, you’ll be able to find more affordable prices in hotels and excursions.

If you’re looking to do the Colca Canyon with fewer crowds and a beautiful flourishing green landscape then the low tourist season is the most suitable for you. On the other hand, the weather won't be a problem if you travel between May and October.

We are aware that there’s so much to keep in mind when traveling abroad, but if you want to make things a lot easier, then hiring a travel operator can be the solution. Leave your trip in the hands of specialists who are willing to take care of every single detail of your journey.

A travel agency will certainly relieve the weight off your shoulders, we are here to provide everything you need to have an authentic experience through Peru. We help you organize the perfect customized travel itinerary so you don’t have to worry about anything else, except having fun.

Viagens Machu Picchu cares to ensure safety and comfort throughout your trip. You lay back and relax while we take care of all the logistics involved during your journey. Start planning the vacations of your life with us! Learn more about our travel packages here.