Planning & Information – Peru
Where: Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca lines, Cusco, Sacred Valley (Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo), Machu Picchu, Arequipa
Transport: Airlines, Car, Train, Bus
When: July 2016, for nine days
Who: Three backpackers
Currency: Peru Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Nine days in Peru is not long enough to see a lot in this magnificent country. The landscapes, the culture and the food will make you experience everything this country has to offer. Covering south of Lima is what I did in this trip, but northern Peru offers many sights as well.
- Roads in Peru are not the best ones in Latin America, but the cities are clean and well-kept.
- Public transportation in big cities are abundant and cheap.
- Spanish is the main language, but a lot of people speak basic English, especially in cities.
- Food comes cheap and delicious. Peru is a culinary heaven for not just meat-eaters, but for vegetarians as well.
A lot of countries have an option of visa-upon-arrival, but it’s best to check their website and apply for a visa well in advance as the consulate may take anything between 1 to 4 weeks. Also, the visa upon arrival may be applicable to citizens of certain countries with different rules, based on the pre-existing visas or residency levels in the country you’re living. Visa are given typically for 30 days.
I required a tourist visa to Peru which has to be applied in advance. Having a consulate in my home city, it was an easy process to apply and it took them 4 working days to grant a 1 year, multiple entry visa costing $30.
Peru’s currency is Nuevo Sol (New Sol), just referred to as Sol. The Sol is sub-divided in to Centimo. The abbreviation PEN or ‘S/.’ is used everywhere and the exchange rate was USD 1 = ISK 3.30 at the time of the trip.
|IMPORTANT NOTE on Currency Exchange in Peru
Most exchange centers around the country offer a good rate, but the banks offer the best exchange rate. There are a lot of Peruvian and foreign banks everywhere, but the best exchange rate is offered by the Peruvian banks.
Current exchange rate:
Currency exchange rate is provided ‘as is’ and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and may be delayed. © Yahoo! Finance
Here are some tips that I experienced on my trip to Peru:
- Cash or cards – You will see ‘credit card payments accepted’ signs everywhere, but that does not mean they honor it. While most restaurants, hotels and businesses accept credit cards as payments, not everyone does. Paying by cash will be more acceptable and some businesses will offer you discounts for that; or perhaps charge a fee if you’re paying by credit cards. Unlike U.S., rather similar to European and other nations, you will need your PIN to use credit card (the restaurant waiters will bring their machines to you to swipe your card, as opposed to taking your cards inside as done in US).
- Buses – Some towns have city or government run buses that serve nearby towns or cities. Other than that, private companies like Peru Hop offer routes between all tourist towns and cities.
- Towns like Cusco and Aguas Calientes have guesthouses and hostels at every corner, and in between! If you plan to drive around the country then make sure to ask the hotels about parking spaces.
- All the hotels accept credit cards as payments, except if you purchase water bottles from them then you have to pay in cash.
- For really late arrivals, make sure to call the hotel during the day informing them about your arrival time.
- Breakfast and linens/towels/soap are always included in the price.
- And they are quite cheap compared to Brazil or Argentina.
- Cleanliness – Peruvians must be proud of the cleanliness across all cities and towns. The streets are out of road-side trash and people ensure make use of the trash bins around the city.
- Utilities & others
- Tap water is unsafe to drink in Peru. One litre bottle of water from a local market will cost PEN 2.
- Wi-fi – This is available in all hotels and restaurants, although may not work all the time.
- Mobile services – For $50, you can purchase a SIM card from any Claro store (at the airport right next to the baggage claim) and use it for data-only of 2GB. The validity is 15 days and you can recharge at most groceries stores around the country.
|Offline maps & directions
If you are using a smartphone, then you know how expensive international data plans can be. And if you find yourself lost in a place, then using the device for maps and directions can sometimes be a life-saver. But with no data to find directions in an unknown city can be frustrating.
So while you are at your hotel where you have wifi access, open the maps app and point it to the address or area in the destination town or city. Then zoom-in and zoom-out around the area, or around the entire town if it’s a small one. This time the app will load all the maps and places in cache (memory). That’s it. When you arrive at the destination, just open the maps app and you will still be able to browse around without any data.
Just make sure not to remove the app from the memory (kill it entirely).
I booked hotels before traveling to Peru, which are required to be shown when applying for a visa. These were booked after reviewing them on Google, TripAdvisor, booking.com and WikiTravel.
|Lima||Hotel Miraflores Lodge||$158.40||Two nights. Triple bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|Huacachina||El Huacachinero||$90||One night. Triple bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|Cusco||El Huacachinero||$90||One night. Two rooms, each double bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|Aguas Calientes||Varayoc Bed & Breakfast||$106.20||Two nights. Triple bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|Arequipa||Casona Terrace Hotel||$140||Two nights. Triple bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|Lima||Hotel Continental Lima||$78.30||One night. Triple bed. Ensuite bathroom.|
|LAX-PTY-LIM||Copa Airlines||$524.40||Return flight. Economy. CM362 (LAX-PTY), CM761 (PTY-LIM), CM338 (LIM-PTY), CM360 (PTY-LAX)|
|CUZ-AQP||Lan Airlines||$154.15||One-way flight. Economy. LA2091 (CUZ-AQP)|
|AQP-LIM||LC Peru||$75||One-way flight. Economy. W42144 (AQP-LIM)|
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = PEN 3.30 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.
|International Flight||$524.40||LAX-PTY-LIM. Return flight on Copa Airlines.|
|Domestic Flights||$229.15||See the list and costs above.|
|Accommodation for all days||$220.97||See the list and costs above.|
|Tourist Visa||$30||Multi-entry, one year tourist visa.|
|Total Costs||$554||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,004.52||Per person|