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 most frequently asked questions about traveling through Peru and Cusco.
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 enclosures 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 counts with a great touristic infrastructure with safety measures and compliant worldwide protocols that ensures the integrity of every passenger. However, there are some things that must be done by yourself, and here we’ll tell you all about it.
The so-called Imperial City of the Incas is one of the most significant regions of Peru due to its historical, cultural and natural heritage. Cusco is considered one of the safest cities of the country, 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.
For that reason, we recommend you to keep vigilant of your belongings and to stay in the cities’ touristy areas where the affluence of travelers is larger and national security is more compliant.
Pick-pocketing and robberies are very common, be aware among 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 an 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 which provides assistance to foreign travelers, though it’s more likely to find them in larger cities rather than the most rural and remote areas of the country.
In case of any emergency or eventuality, remember that if you’re traveling with us, you’ll be assigned a travel assistant that 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 best 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.
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 to 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, being Visa the most used card in the country. Withdrawing money in Peru is very easy since most ATMs machines 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 to bring US dollars or Euros since they are easier to exchange.
For more information about the local currency in Peru and other details regarding money exchange and counterfeit money, please check this blog while you’re still here.
The Cusco region is heavily marked by two stationary seasons, a dry winter and a rainy summer. The weather condition in this part of the country is very unpredictable. If traveling during the rainy season (December - April) make sure to bring these items with you:
- Rain jacket and umbrella. Even if it is a sunny day, keep these in your daily backpack at all times.
- Windbreaker jacket. It tends to be very windy during this time of the year.
- Light and warm sweaters. Although it’s usually warm throughout daytime, it gets chilly when it rains and cold during the night.
- Hiking boots. Designed to fight a meaty puddly and a MUST for those who are planning to do some trekking activities.
- Insect repellent. Trust us, you’ll thank us later.
If you’re planning a full day of activities, check the weather reports and prepare your backpack according to that. It’s worth noting that the weather changes drastically from an hour to another during this time of the year.
Traveling during the dry season? Here’s what you need:
- Warm clothes. Although rain isn’t expected during this period and days are mostly sunny, make sure to keep you warm throughout your stay since temperatures can reach up to 16°C during the day and go lower as 0°C during nighttime.
- Scarves, hats, and gloves. Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring anything from home since you can easily purchase these items in any local market.
- Comfortable shoes. If your plan is to stroll around the historical center and visit a few archeological sites before getting to Machu Picchu, don’t forget to bring a pair of runners or sneakers with you.
If you’re including some trekking activities in your itinerary with overnight camping stays, make sure to pack accordingly for your adventure. Trekking shoes, mosquitos repellent, and warm jackets are a must. Keep in mind that you can rent some trekking gear once you’re in Peru.
Cusco is located at 3,399 meters above sea level, 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.
There are some medicines that can help with any altitude sickness symptoms. You can find Diamox or Soroche Pills in almost any drugstore in Peru, nonetheless, we highly recommend to consult with a doctor before taking any of these medications.
Now, if you're thinking what's the best way for approaching altitude in Peru, here's the best Peru itinerary to avoid altitude sickness.
As aforementioned, Cusco 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 on tourism infraestructures, you’ll be able to find more affordable prices in hotels and excursions.
If you’re looking to visit Cusco’s sights with less crowds and a beautiful flourishing green landscape then the low tourist season is the most suitable for you. On the other hand, the weather situation 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 that 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.