Peru is a spectacular country due to its incomparable cultural legacy, its beauty and geographic diversity as well as its welcoming population.
It is one of the megadiverse eight countries that exist in the world because of its amazing weather and the diversity of its ecosystems in which it is possible to find 84 of the 104 life areas of the planet. Its 60 Protected Natural Areas are the habitat for more than 400 mammal species, 300 reptile species, 1700 bird species and over 50 thousand plant species registered in the world. In its varied geography, we can find: The Andean mountains, with its rivers, lakes, lagoons and waterfalls, deep canyons, numerous volcanoes and steep peaks of over 5000 meters of altitude that make it a true paradise for hikers and mountain climbers. The Amazonic rainforest which is yet mysterious, covers half of the national territory and invites us to have contact with nature thanks to its biodiversity and wide weather variety. The desert coast, one of the most arid ones in the world, borders with the Pacific Ocean and covers beautiful oasis. It is the habitat of a big quantity of marine species, all which are very attractive for nature lovers.
Peru is also proud of its rich cultural legacy. The passionate Inca civilization is the result of a fusion of numerous cultures which thrived throughout many millenniums, before the arrival of the conquerors. The mystery that surrounds these cultures, which did not leave anything written only monuments, textiles, ceramics and magnificent gold, silver and precious stone objects, increases the fascination they evoke nowadays.
In addition to the amazing Inca ruins in the Cusco region and the lost city of Machu Picchu, Peru conserves a great number of important archaeological sites which are legacies of different cultures that lived in them: the Pachamac Sanctuary, the mysterious Nazca Lines, the Chullpas of the ancient Collas, the Chavin de Huantar ceremonial center, the Huacas del Sol y la Luna ruins and the amazing Chan Chan city made out of clay. As well as the most recent discoveries: the Sipan Mochica necropolis, the El Brujo ceremonial center, the spectacular fortresses of Kuelap and Choquequirao, and Caral, the oldest city of America.
Disregarding the Spanish conquer, the ancient Andean culture has maintained itself current and is expressed in its current beliefs and customs which are a mixture of the Andean traditions and the elements imposed by the Spanish conquerors. The richness of its costumes, music, dances, handcraft, gastronomy and native pictures-which decorate the innumerable baroque churches- are original and colorful expressions of this fusion.
Therefore, Peru is a destination with unique attractions; it cordially invites you to share its immense cultural and natural legacy.
It is located in the center western area of South America surrounded by Ecuador and Colombia by the north side, Brazil and Bolivia by the east side, Chile by the south side and the Pacific Ocean by the west side.
A total of 1,285.218 km (496,220 miles) distributed in three major geographic areas: the coast, the mountains and the tropical rainforest.
The Coast: It is a narrow strip that borders with the Pacific Ocean. Its surface is mostly flat; it reaches 3080 km of beaches and cliffs in length and up to 180 km in width (12% of the national territory). It has close to 50 river oasis named Coast Valleys of great agricultural and economic development- formed by rivers that start in the Andean altitudes and lead to the sea. This is the area where most of the population lives at.
The most important touristic destinations in the Coast are: Lima (the capital), Tumbes (Punta Sal), Piura (Mancora), Chiclayo, Trujillo and Ica (Paracas-Nazca).
The Mountains: This region is located in the central area of the national territory and it covers the Andean Mountain range from north to south (28% of the national territory). This is where the rivers start and lead to the Pacific Ocean or the Amazon River. Its surface is complex and is marked by narrow streams, deep and fertile valleys, extensive Andean plains, big navigable lakes and over 12,000 lagoons, as well as mountains with an average height of 3,000 to 4,000 meters although there are some that reach 6,000 meters of altitude.
The most important touristic destinations in the Mountains are: Huaraz, Cajamarca, Ayacucho, Huancayo, Arequipa (Colca), Puno and Cusco.
The Tropical Rainforest: It as an exuberant and extense area of the national territory (60%). Its surface is undulating and it has soft slopes. The tropical vegetation covers the whole Amazonic flat. It is an area with an extraordinary natural richness, extensive forests and serpent rivers that lead to the Amazon, the longest river in the planet.
We can also find the Transit Areas which landscape, surface, flora and fauna characteristics change according to its closeness to the Andean Mountain chain or the Amazonic flat.
The most important touristic destinations in the Amazonic flat are: Iquitos (Loreto), Pucallpa (Ucayali) and Puerto Maldonado, Tambopata, El Manu (Madre de Dios).
The main tourist destinations located at Transit Areas are: Chachapoyas and Kuelap (Amazonas), Chanchamayo Valley (Junin), Kotosh and Tingo Maria (Huanuco), Tarapoto and Moyobamba (San Martin), Machu Picchu and Choquequirao (Cusco).
28’220,764 inhabitants of Indo-American, European, Eastern and African ancestry.
In Lima: 7’605,742 inhabitants.
Spanish is spoken by the 80% of the Peruvian population. Quechua is mainly spoken by the Highland population. Aymara is spoken among populations around the Lake Titicaca. The natives from the Amazonian area speak different languages and dialects.
There is freedom of worship. However, the 90% of the Peruvian population are Catholics. Other religions: 10% of the population.
Peru is a Democratic Republic where the President and Congressmen and Congresswomen are elected each five years.
New Year: January 1st
Easter: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (movable feast)
Labor Day: May 1st
Inti Raymi: June 24th (in Cusco only)
Saint Peter and Saint Paul: June 29th
Independence Day: July 28th and 29th
Santa Rosa de Lima’s Day: August 30th
Naval Combat of Angamos: October 8th
All Souls’ Day: November 1st
Immaculate Conception: December 8th
Christmas: December 25th
February – Fiesta de la Candelaria (Puno). A religious festival for the anniversary of the patron saint of Puno (Virgen de la Candelaria / Virgin of Candlemas). Central Date: February 2nd. For a whole week, more than 80 groups of dancers and folk music bands parade through the main streets of the city, giving the best of Puno folklore: Dances such as La Diablada, Morenadas and Sicuri.
February – Carnivals (movable feast) Celebrations in Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Colca and Iquitos.
March/April (Movable feast) – Easter (From Thursday to Sunday). A religious feast celebrated in all Peru. The most attractive feast is the one in Ayacucho. National Holiday.
April (movable feast) Lima – Exhibition and Contest of Caballo Peruano de Paso (Peruvian Paso Gaited Horse)
May (2/4) Puno - A craft festival of Las Alasitas (miniatures)
May (2nd and 3rd) Fiesta de la Cruz in Cusco, Puno, Porcon (Cajamarca), Muruhuay (Tarma)
May 14th in Huaraz - Fiesta de la Cruz (Fiesta of the Cross)
May 15th in Colca - Fiesta of Saint Isidore
May (Movable feast) Cusco: Lord of Qoyllur Ritt’i in Ocongate
June (first Sunday of June) Cusco – Corpus Christi
June 24th in Cusco – Inti Raymi – Holiday in Cusco
June 24th in the Amazonian Jungle - Celebration in honor of Saint John the Baptist
June 29th Ports and Small Bays – Fiesta de Saint Peter and Saint Paul – National Holiday
July 16th Paucartambo / Cusco – Celebration in honor of Virgen del Carmen
July 25th Taquile/Puno and Valley of Mantaro/Huancayo – Fiesta of Saint James
July 25th Motupe/ Chiclayo – Fiesta de la Cruz de Chalpon – (2 weeks of celebrations)
July 28th and 29th – Independence Day – National Holiday
August 15th – Arequipa – City Anniversary – Holiday in Arequipa
August 28th – Colca/Arequipa - Fiesta of Virgin of the Assumption
August (last week) Cañete/Lima - Tourism Week and Festival of Afro-Peruvian Art
August 30th – Lima - Fiesta of Santa Rosa de Lima – National Holiday
August 30th – Oxapampa/Pasco: Tourism Week
September 8th – Cocharcas/ Andahuaylas: Fiesta of Virgin of Cocharcas
September 14th – Monsefú/Chiclayo: Fiesta of Señor Cautivo
September 22nd / 30th – Trujillo: International Spring Festival
October 4th / 13th Ayabaca/ Piura: Fiesta of Señor Cautivo
October 13th /21st – Ica: Fiesta of Lord of Luren
October 18th and 28th – Lima: Fiesta of Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles)
October 31st – Lima: Fiesta of Cancion Criolla (Creole Music – Peruvian Coastal Music)
November 1st: All Souls’ Day – National Holiday
November 3rd/9th – Puno: Jubilee Festival – Holiday in Puno
December 25th – Religious Festival – National Holiday
Valid passport and visa for citizens of some countries.
Yellow fever vaccination is required for people who will visit unfrequented and non-tourist areas of the jungle, as well as for passengers who after visiting Peru, will visit other countries which require it…consult each case.
Climate & Clothes
Winter (May/October: Average 14º C – 57ºF)
Minimum warm clothes since the temperature rarely falls under 12° C. Precautions: During the winter, there are high levels of humidity (90%) and intermittent drizzle is possible.
Summer: (November/April: Average 27ªC – 81º F). Hot and sunny. Light clothes.
Winter (June/October-During the day: Temperature ranges between 15°C- 60°F and 20°C-70°F)
In the evenings and in the early morning: Temperature ranges between 4°C-40°F and 10°C-50°F. This is not a rainy season.
Clothes: Pullover/Sweaters, jackets and pants are necessary. Special precautions: During the visit to Cusco, if you go to Machu Picchu you will go from a mountain range region (3,400 m-11,200 feet) to a “rainforest brow” region where Machu Picchu (2,400 m – 8,000 pies) is located. Consequently, you must be prepared for considerable climate changes, as it is quite cold at dawn and during the evenings, whereas it is hot at midday. Therefore, it is advisable to wear clothes which are easy to put on or take off.
Summer (December/March: Rainy season) It is essential to use waterproof clothes.
During all the year: Hot and humid temperature. Average: 27°C-80°F
Abundant rain from December to March.
Required clothes: Light clothes but always pants and long-sleeved clothes made out of light cotton, in order to protect you against insects when visiting the Rainforest.
Do not forget to include in your baggage waterproof boots or water-resistant sneakers, sweat-absorbent stockings, a cap or a hat, raincoat, swim suits, sunglasses, sun block, insect repellent, binoculars, flashlight, water bottles or canteen.
Water and food
Most of Peru’s water is Drinkable but the chemical content is different in each place. Therefore, in order to prevent any problems, we always recommend drinking bottled water.
Peruvian food is very varied and seasoned. Main typical dishes include: Cebiche (raw fish marinated in lemon juice), Ají de Gallina (chicken shredded and cooked in a sauce with milk, bread, and chili), Anticuchos (grilled beef heart kebabs), among great variety. We especially recommend “Pisco Sour”, typical aperitif prepared with Pisco (grappa), lemon juice, egg white, and cane syrup.
Even though we highly recommend trying the delicious local and international food prepared in Peru, well known as one of the world’s best foods, it is important to mention that you may also find the main international fast food chains.
If your visit to Peru includes Andean areas such as Arequipa, Colca, Puno, Cusco, etc. located between 2,500 meters/8,250 feet and 3,800 meters/12,550 feet above mean sea level, do not forget the following precautions: in order to avoid the aches and pains resulting from high altitude, you must drink a hot maté or tea of coca leaves on arrival and rest for some hours. In addition, you must eat frugally; avoid alcoholic drinks and smoking -at least the first day.
Likewise, for a better acclimatization, we recommend you organize your itinerary so that you begin by visiting lower altitude places and then ascend gradually.
Tourists that would like to visit Andean areas and have heart disorders or high blood pressure must consult their doctor beforehand.
Yellow fever vaccine is required for people who will visit unfrequented and non-tourist areas of the jungle. You must receive it at least 10 days before your trip. This vaccine provides protection for 10 years and is valid worldwide.
Entertainment and Shopping
Lima along with the main cities countrywide, offers a large variety of casinos, discotheques, bars, and restaurants which specialize in Peruvian and international food.
The bohemian district of Barranco is perfect to enjoy Andean music, as well as creole music (Peruvian coastal music).
As to shopping: Peru has an excellent textile tradition. Peru offers a large number of fine modern and youthful clothes made out of pima cotton and alpaca and vicuna wool. In addition, beautiful jewelry, gold and silver objects, and lovely handcrafts can be found.
Be careful if you are planning to buy original antiques (pots, ceramics, colonial paintings, Inca textiles, objects made of different minerals, etc.) as they are considered cultural heritage and cannot be taken out of the country.
Craft fairs and some shops within shopping malls open every day, Sundays inclusive.
A Nuevo Sol is equivalent to 100 cents. There are bills of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Nuevos Soles, coins of 5, 2 and 1 Nuevos Soles, as well as coins of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 cents.
American Dollars are accepted in most of the cities.
Traveler’s checks and American Dollars can be changed for local currency at hotels and banks. The exchange rate is variable. We suggest you ask our representative, at your hotel reception or at some bank about it; use small-denomination bills to make transactions easier. As a safety measure, please do not exchange money with people offering said service on streets.
Exchange of other currencies: Other currencies can be only changed at premises specialized in Currency Exchange and at some banks.
There are ATMs located in strategic places where you can withdraw local money or American Dollars in cash with the main international credit cards. If you go to withdraw money from any ATMs, try to take worldwide suggested security measures.
Credit Cards accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops are: Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Diners Club.
Fees and Airport Use
All airports in Peru charge for right to use. The amounts vary, so we recommend you to ask in each case.
Decimal Metric System
Time in Peru is -5GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
220 volt, 60 hertz
Four and Five Star Hotels generally have outlets for 110 volts
Telephone and Internet service
There are public booths for Telephone and Internet service with World Wide Web in Airports, central areas and shopping centers of the main cities of the country.
There are also prepayment cards of different values for telephone service by mobiles or cell phones of the different companies offering such cards (Movistar, Claro, Nextel). Cell Phones can be rented in the airport of Lima and cards can be purchased in self-service stores and newsstands.
To call from Peru to abroad, you have to do the following:
1.- Dial the area code: 00
2.- Dial the country code: XX (see table)
3.- Dial the city code: X
4.- Dial the phone number you want to call: 1234567
Long Distance Nationalwide Calls
1.- Dial the area code for long-distance call: 0
2.- Dial the city code: XX (see table)
3.- Dial the phone number you want to call: 1234567
(Telephones in Lima have 7 digits and the ones in provinces have 6)
Area codes to call Peru and its different cities:
PERU COUNTRY: 51
LA LIBERTAD: 44
LIMA Y CALLAO: 1
MADRE DE DIOS: 82
SAN MARTÍN: 42
Taxi and Public Transportation Service
Public transportation is provided by buses, minibuses or vans, whose fares depend on routes (around half dollar)
It is recommended to take cabs of recognized companies, since they are the safest. You can ask for one of those taxis at the hotel reception.
A lot of independent taxis operate in all the cities of Peru, whose fares are quite acceptable, since you can bargain with drivers over the fare, given the fact that taximeters are not used. It is important to make this bargain before beginning the route. We recommend you ask at the hotel reception the rough fare for certain routes.
We also suggest you take yellow cabs displaying the driver’s and cab’s registration cards inside the vehicles. Remember to carry local currency in order to pay for this service.
As in all the big cities around the world, there is a high crime rate in Peru, but if you take the necessary precautions and follow some security advice, incidents can be avoided. Therefore, we recommend you carry your money and credit cards in belts or hidden pockets, not to wear eye-catching or expensive jewelry and preferably not to carry purses unless necessary. Handbags, cameras and movie cameras must be carefully carried, especially in crowded places such as markets, bus or train stations, main squares, and so on. Avoid taking walks through deserted and dark places at night.
The main hotels have safe deposit boxes. We suggest that you use them in order to store your valuable belongings such as jewelry, cash, credit cards, passport, etc.
When you go sightseeing in the city, you can carry a photocopy of your passport. However, if you travel to other cities, it is essential that you carry your original passport for boarding planes, trains, buses and for hotel check-in.