Q: What is the name of the local currency?
A: Nuevo Sol (For example; 1 Sol, 2 or more is called Soles)
Q: Can I use Euros in Peru?
A: Yes, you can change it for local currency or US dollars in "Casa de Cambios" (Exchange houses)
Q: What is the approximate exchange rate with the American dollar?
A: 3.15 Soles = USD$1. You may notice the little red-or-blue-or-black-or-simply-multicolored stamps put by money exchange offices and 'cambistas' to indicate real bills as apposed to false ones. Some bills have three or four of them. Ensure that the bills that you bring into the country are in perfect condition, or else they may not be accepted. For example, no writing ink, no small tares, and old condition.
Q: What is the official language of Peru?
Q: What is the highest Andean mountain peak?
A: Huascaran at 6768m
Q: Am I able to access the Internet?
A: Yes, it is possible to use internet in practically every city and town that you visit. It can be expensive in more remote locations.
Q: Is it safe to take a taxi in Lima?
A: Upon arrival to the airport in Lima you can arrange for a registered taxi to take you either to downtown Lima, or to Miraflores for 45 Soles (USD$15 approx). It is unadvisable to leave the departure building to organise transport. Alternatively, it is recommended to ask your hostel or hotel to arrange your transfer for you direct to their door. In general, beware of unofficial taxis. Do not allow extra passengers on your journey. Take taxis who are registered with a company displaying a sticker on the front window, or a sign on top of the roof.
Q: How much money would I need for a day’s expenses and what's the best way to access my funds?
A: It is possible to live off as little as USD$10 if you’re travelling on a shoestring. Otherwise, anything from USD$30-60 is highly likely, for accommodation, transport, food and sightseeing. ATMs are recommended for the best exchange rates; followed by traveller's cheques with a lower exchange rate; it's best to carry a small amount of USD for emergencies. Also look into ‘currency cards’ which are cards that just carry money on them but are not bank accounts themselves; you top it up from your bank account as and when you need and use it like a debit card. UK residents can get currency cards provided by Caxton FX, the Post Office and O2 among others.
Q: What is the population of Peru?
A: About 45% of Peru's population is pure indigena (indigenous). They are Quechua speaking and live in the highlands, whilst a smaller amount speaks Aymara and live in the region of Lake Titicaca. In the Amazon, 6% of various indigenous groups speak a number of other languages. Afro-Peruvians, Asians and other immigrant groups make up 3%. The rest of the population are whites and fair skinned mestizos, who are a mix of Spanish and indigenous decent.
Q: What's the weather like?
A: On the coast in Lima the weather is generally fine, with high temperatures 79 F / 27 C from December through to May. After this month it begins to cool and in winter the temperature drops to around 55 F / 15 C. There is little rainfall on the coast. In the mountains however, such as Cusco, temperatures vary from 68 - 64 F / 20 - 16 C during the day and fall to 40 - 32 F / 7 - 0 C. Rainfall is practically nonexistent from the months May to August, whilst December to April you may need a raincoat.
Q: How much will it cost me for a hotel room for the night in Lima?
A: Hotels and Hostels can vary greatly in price. Budget accommodation starts at as low as USD$3.50 in the centre of Lima, and USD$4 in Miraflores. Good, clean and friendly rooms can be found for USD$8 or more. The prices from there rise up to more than USD$200 per night. Take your pick!
Q: Is the water safe to drink and clean teeth?
A: It is advisable to drink and clean your teeth with bottled or purified water, as the bacteria can make you ill.
Q: Can I buy 35mm film and is it possible to download photos from my digital camera?
A: There are many local services where you can purchase 35mm film, as well as services that will download images from digital camera to CD from your flashcard, or memory card.
Q: I heard that it is necessary to travel with my own roll of toilet paper. Why?
A: Virtually no public restrooms provide loo paper. You must carry toilet paper and you may need to pay 50c to use the facilities. Also, did you know that Peruvian toilets do not like paper thrown down them? It's true! The plumbing system is not designed to take this kind of waste, therefore, when you come to visit you must put you paper in the bins provided.
Q: Which vaccinations do I need to travel to Peru?
A: The only required vaccine for Peru is yellow fever, and that's only if your arriving from a yellow fever infected country in Africa or the Americas. The following vaccines are recommended; chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, rabies, tetanus/diphtheria, typhoid and yellow fever.
Q: Are there many pharmacies where I can get my doctor's prescription filled?
A: Bring sufficient quantities of your prescription drugs and if necessary have the repeat filled before arrival. Although there a great number of pharmacies here, it is necessary to know the name and content of the drugs you wish to purchase.
Q: I've heard that eating on the street is not advisable. Is this true?
A: After you have been travelling for a while, your body will probably have adjusted to the different bacteria in food. If you wish to eat on the street from a vendor, just be careful and make sure that the food looks fresh and that their kitchen is clean. Eat at your own risk!
Q: Can you get around if I speak only English?
A: Yes it is possible, however, you may want to organise a lot of your trip via email directly with hotels or tour operators, or travel with an organised group. Most popular cities and towns such as Lima, Cusco and Arequipa have hostels, hotels, restaurants and tour operators whose employees speak English. It is a little more difficult to find these kinds of services in more remote areas.
Q: How long will I spend in customs at Lima Airport upon arrival?
A: Generally from the time that you step off the plane until the time that you leave the airport, will be approximately one and a half to two hours (1 and half to 2 hours).
Q: What should I do if I get altitude sickness from flying or travelling too fast up into the mountains?
A: Prevention of altitude illnesses falls into two categories, proper acclimatization and preventive medications. Below are a few basic guidelines for proper acclimatization.
- If possible, don't fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and walk up.
- If you do fly or drive, do not over-exert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours.
- If you go above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), only increase your altitude by 1,000 feet (305 meters) per day and for every 3,000 feet (915 meters) of elevation gained, take a rest day.
- "Climb High and sleep low." This is the maxim used by climbers. You can climb more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.
- If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease ("Don't go up until symptoms go down").
- If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!
- Keep in mind that different people will acclimatize at different rates. Make sure all of your party is properly acclimatized before going higher.
- Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 3-4 quarts per day). Urine output should be copious and clear.
- Take it easy; don't over-exert yourself when you first get up to altitude. Light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These depressants further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of the symptoms.
- Eat a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.
- The acclimatization process is inhibited by dehydration, over-exertion, and alcohol and other depressant drugs.
Q: What is the national beverage?
A: Pisco, a grape brandy. If you ever get your hands on it, or decide to take some home, here's the recipe for Pisco Sour:
- 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 parts pisco
- Sugar to taste
- 1 teaspoon egg white (for frothiness)