If you are one of the thousands of wanderlust travelers each year that want to experience a Peru holiday with each magical historical site that comes with it, then you need to know a few things.
Peru is one of the few South American destinations that you can enter without a visa if you are a citizen of the United States. Even if you were headed to Brazil, you’d need to go through the hassle of getting a visa.
A passport and indication of your return date are usually all you need and you are free to stay for at least three months if not more.
Say No To Tap Water
In order to avoid traveler’s sickness, steer clear of the tap water in hotels or marketplaces and stick to bottled water of a reputable brand. You can stock up on these from the hotel you are staying at, as well.
A Wave Of Budget-Friendly Locations
Peru has seen a wave of tourism in recent years and there has been a general policy to preserve historical sites and to improve infrastructure around them to facilitate visitors.
This is why Peru is an extremely cost-effective destination at this point in time, especially if you sign up for commercial tour packages which pre-plan accommodation and transport.
Once you’ve made the flight over to Peru, inter-city flights are not pricey especially if you go with a Peruvian airline. When you’re flying over, make sure you use any extra flying miles you’ve got left over with any airline you frequently use.
Another great way to manage your expenses is to allow a budget for the whole experience and make a list of locations you are not willing to miss. Doing some research about hotels in each location and eating expenses will also help you to stay within the mark you’ve set for yourself.
Do Not Miss Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is the hidden city of the Incas, a World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the magnum opus of historical sites in Peru. It is one of the most photographed sites in the world with its ethereal surroundings and larger than life structures that have stood the test of time.
The town of Aguas Calientes is a good and budget-friendly option for an overnight stay so that you can proceed to the site the next day. Machu Picchu is heavily sought after which is why you want to beat the inevitable traffic from Cusco and already mark your place.
They only allow a few hundred visitors each day to maintain the integrity of the site. Your best bet to beat the crowds and get your name on the list is to already been in the locality the night before.
Few trains actually go from Urubamba and Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu so always book in advance. Machu Picchu is best viewed in relative isolation due to the deep spiritual aura that still exists there but a professional tour guide can walk you through the meaning of each structure.
Coca Tea May Do The Trick
Coca tea is a soothing herbal tea that is often offered by hospitable locals to travelers. It is not everyone’s cup of tea figuratively speaking but it can provide a very unique taste experience.
Coca leaves are chewed in their raw form or brewed into a tea mainly for the purposes of dealing with altitude sickness so don’t be surprised if you are offered a cup.
If your stomach upsets easily, steer clear of any herbal mixture you do not consume regularly. Andean mint tea might be a better alternative as coca can have a laxative effect.
Always Ready With Change
There are a few reasons why you want to keep spare change with you since you’ll need it for bottled water, snacks, and roadside souvenirs like handicrafts. Each site you will visit like the Temple of the Virgins, for example, has stalls by locals.
If you visit the famed Uros floating islands you can buy fabric that the locals have weaved and other handicrafts. Don’t expect small shopkeepers to have change for large notes, so always carry your own and reimburse your supply wherever possible.
Visiting the restroom is also charged at most places so avoid an unpleasant situation in case of an emergency.
Historical sites like the Plaza De Armas have Peruvians posing for photographs but as a tourist do not mistake this as a free service. Many locals purposely dress in traditional clothing often with all the props so they can charge tourists for photos.
You may be asked to pay even if you don’t pose with them and only snap photos from a distance. In most Inca sites where locals sell souvenirs, the same rule applies so definitely be considerate and check with them if they are comfortable being photographed.
That being said, tips are a big part of the culture so set aside a small budget to pay the customary 10% at restaurants and for tour guide services.
Travel Insurance In Case
Regardless of whether you are in for a Titicaca retreat or simply want to hike all the way to Machu Picchu or take a boat ride out to any of the islands, travel insurance is a good precaution.
Most tourists aren’t professional mountain climbers or hikers so injuries including unfortunate serious ones are a possibility. Make sure you are insured so you can mitigate the risk. At any rate credit cards are widely accepted at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies so you there is no need to worry about handling too much cash.
If you are more than the average tourist and want to visit traditional Andean villages then a good gesture is to bring small gifts and school supplies. Many of these communities are poor and children suffer the most.
Many international and local charities such as ‘Pack for a Purpose’ operate in this far-flung villages aiming to make a difference however small it may be.
While Peru is phenomenal for its Inca sites, a rich sense of history, scenic backdrops in each city and its inherent sense for the preservation of culture, there is more in it for the kind-hearted. In most of the islands around Lake Titicaca, it is considered good manners for a tourist to buy an item or two from the locals.
Brushing Up On Your Spanish
You could probably get by with English or mere gestures, it is best to learn some basic phrases of Spanish that can help you get around. Tourist agencies, top restaurants, and hotel staff speak English reasonably well but the locals are not proficient in it.
A bit of Spanish is a lifesaver if you plan to visit indigenous communities, islands, and Inca sites which anyone coming to Peru undoubtedly does.
Always Expect To Be Late
Peruvians are not punctual; although they are helpful and friendly. Many aspects of inner-city travel are dictated by the weather as well as frequent earthquakes and landslides. So, wherever you are going, expect to be a little late at all times.
For many tourists, the perpetual lack of punctuality actually instills more patience in them as a whole and richens their experience.