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Peru essential info

The Inca left their mark on Peru, but there's more to the country than Machu Picchu. Hike Andean trails, take boats through the Amazon, and surf Pacific rollers

Travel in Peru: vital stats

  • Capital of Peru: Lima
  • Population of Peru: 29.5 million
  • Languages in Peru: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
  • Time in Peru: GMT-5
  • International dialing code for Peru: +51
  • Voltage in Peru: 220V 60Hz AC
  • Visas for Peru: Peru visas
  • Money in Peru: Nuevo Sol (S). US dollars are about the only thing accepted by currency exchanges. ATMs are common. Be on the lookout for fake notes and don’t leave a shop, bank or money exchange without checking each note carefully.
  • Peru travel advice: Foreign & Commowealth Office
  • Peru tourist board: PromPerú
  • When to go to Peru

    The sierra and the jungle are hot and dry from April to October; here, November to April is the wet season. The opposite is true for the coast, where it’s hot and dry from December to April, with cooler conditions May to November. June to September are the best months for trekkers.

    International airport

    Lima Airport (LIM) is 10km from the city. There are no direct flights to Peru from the UK. You can fly from London to Lima via Madrid with Iberia, AirEuropa and LAN or via main US hubs with several American carriers. Flight time is approximately 18 hours; return fares start from £600.

    Getting around in Peru

    Bus services on paved roads are generally good. Many small towns are served by combis (minibuses or share taxis known as colectivos) on journeys of up to three hours, leaving when the vehicle is full. Trains connect Cusco to Machu Picchu and Puno on Lake Titicaca, and the high altitude Ferrocarril Central Andino runs between Lima and Huancayo between April and October. Domestic flights in Peru are an option but services come and go, and are frequently cancelled at the last minute. Driving and cycling can be a hassle thanks to poor road conditions and speeding drivers.

    Peru accommodation

    Places to stay vary from top-class hotels in Lima, Cusco and other tourist hubs, to smaller, family-run hospedajes and pensiones. There are few campsites or B&Bs.

    Peru food & drink

    Peru rightly holds the crown for the gastronomic capital of South America, with innovative fusion cooking, often incorporating Andean ingredients and recovered recipes. Seafood dishes dominate on the coast, with delicious ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice, onion and hot peppers) the national dish. Highland cooking is largely based on corn and potatoes – try papa a la huancaína (potatoes topped with a spicy sauce) or tamales (boiled corn dumplings filled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf). Pet lovers should avoid cuy (guinea pig) which is popular throughout Peru. Vegetarians won’t have too many problems, especially in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco.

    Health & safety in Peru

    Visit your GP or travel health clinic well before departure to check that your jabs are up-to-date and whether you’ll need malaria prophylaxis. Bring your yellow fever inoculation certificate to Peru. Wear DEET repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Protection from the sun is essential. Altitude sickness is a risk in the mountains, even for visitors to Cusco – try to acclimatise slowly. Drink bottled or purified water. The main places to guard against opportunistic crime are bus stations, unlicensed cabs, markets and when leaving clubs.

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