Travel guide to Peru

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Several different cultures have left their mark on Peru. You can explore colonial cities and experience the Spanish heritage - or alternatively discover the capital of the Incas, Cuzco, where you can also experience the incredble lost city of Machu Picchu.

Facts

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Local name
Republica del Peru
Capital
Lima (7,060,600)
Size
1,285,216 km2
Principal Languages
Spanish and Quechua
Principal Religion
Roman Catholic
Inhabitants
25,232,000 (1999)
Government
Republic
Geography
Peru is, geographically speaking, divided into three zones. Vast areas of desert separated by fertile valleys cover the coastal region. The highland consists primarily of the Andes. The third region is subtropical and stretches from the Andes to the jungles of eastern Peru.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The highland of Peru can be visited all year around, but it can get rather wet during the rainy-season - from January to April. The peak season in this area is from June to August. The coastal region is most sunny from December to March, and somewhat chilly for the rest of the year. The rain falls all year around in the rainforests, but rarely more than a few hours a day, which means that this area can also be visited all year around. The heaviest rainfalls are from December to April.

Literature

Lonely Planet Peru South America on a shoestring Insight Guides Peru

Local conditions

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Currency

Nuevo Sol (S/.)

Net cafes

All major cities in Peru have Internet cafes.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Peru, dial the following numbers: Police (105). Only in Lima. Fire department (116). Only in Lima In the rest of the country, call toll-free at (080042579).

Tipping

You usually give 10-15 per cent in the expensive hotels and restaurants. Tips are not expected in the cheaper restaurants, but appreciated anyhow.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in the UK (summer time), it is 05.00 in Peru. When it is 12.00 in the UK (winter time), it is 06.00 in Peru.

Weight and Measures

The following units of measurement are used in Peru: Length: metre Weight: kilogram

Photography

There are no specific rules concerning photographing, but the local Indians can be somewhat shy, so you should ask before taking their picture.

Drinking water

All water in Peru should be boiled before drinking.

Electricity

The following current is used in Peru: 220V, 60Hz

Behaviour

There are no specific rules concerning behaviour, but you should be careful not to display your valuables, as there have been quite a lot of assaults in the country.

Business Hours

Banks are open 8.30 to 11.30 (Monday to Friday) Shops are open 10.30 to 19.30 (Monday to Friday); many shops are also open during the weekend. Offices are open 8.30 to 17.00 (Monday to Friday).

Food and drink

Peruvians are famous for their excellent cooking, usually with pepper and garlic as well as with a broad selection of other vegetables. By the coast there are many seafood and shellfish restaurants, and further inland they still cook an old Inca delicacy - fried guinea pig. All dishes are usually served with potatoes or rice. The most famous Peruvian drink is pisco sour - which is alcohol made from grapefruit, but you can also get good Peruvian beers and wines.

Disabled travellers

The facilities for disabled travellers are not good in Peru.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1. January International Labour Day, 1 May St. Peter and St. Paul, 29 June Independence Day, 28 July, celebrated on 29 July St. Rosa, 30 August The battle at Angamos, 8 October Halloween, 1 November Conception Day, 8 December Christmas Day, 25 December

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are no official camping sites in Peru.

Hotels

The large international hotel chains are primarily located in Lima, but you can find a hotel in almost all cities, from 3-4-star hotels to cheaper, less luxurious hotels. The standard is generally quite good.

Hostels

There are a good deal of hostels in the major towns, and it is usually not a problem getting a room. The prices vary, though, so you might want to check a few places before deciding.

Local transport

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Planes

Peru has a lot of domestic flights and a lot of airlines to choose from, so the prices vary a good deal. Many routes are fully booked during the tourist season, so you should book in advance. Also be prepared that the system doesn't always work, so you might have to wait sometimes.

Bus

There is bus service between most towns and cities in Peru, and even though it is a cheap way of getting around, you should also be aware that the standard is often quite bad and that it can be a testing way of getting around. Because of the long distances in Peru, the trips can take several hours.

Trains

There are trains from Arequipa to Juliaca and Puno and from Puno there's a train to Cuzco. Sometimes there is train service between other cities, but these are often closed during the winter, so you should remember to check this before deciding to get around by train. There have been a lot of thefts in the trains in Peru, and it is advised only to travel by train during the day.

Taxi

There are taxis in all major towns. The yellow taxis are organized, but there are also many unlicensed taxis. These do not have taxi-meters installed, so you should agree on the price before getting in.

Car rental

You can rent a car in airports or at larger hotels.

Boat or Ferry

There's a ferry between Pucallpa and Iquitos that lasts five days. There is also boat service on Lake Titicaca, where you can also rent a smaller boat yourself.

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