1. When is the best time to go to Peru?
Travelers can visit Peru any time of the year. Dry season runs from May to November and this is typically the time that is most recommended. However, this is also the cooler time of year. Nighttime temperatures can drop to below freezing at the height of the dry season. June, July and August are the most popular months to visit so you will tend to encounter much larger crowds during these months.
In the wet season (December to April), you can expect showers three to four afternoons a week. For travelers that don't mind a little drizzle and muddy trails, this time of year offers smaller crowds and greener hillsides, with wildflowers and orchids often in bloom.
The shoulder seasons, April to June or September to November can often provide the best of both worlds. They typically have fewer crowds and warmer temperatures than the height of the dry season, but still tend to have relatively little rain. For more information, check out our Peru Weather page.
2. What are the accommodations like?
In each location, we use charming accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of the area. They can best be compared to small, family run bed and breakfasts rather than international chain hotels. All of our Peru hotels have private baths, hot water and clean, comfortable rooms. They are located within walking distance of the town center and the reception generally speaks English. For more information, check out our Peru Lodging
3. Are meals included?
We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. For example, tours visiting Lake Titicaca and the Amazon will have meals included on these days. In the major cities, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your tour leader can always recommend some great restaurant options and will usually offer to join any group members who would like to go out to eat together. Your hotel will also provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
4. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Spanish. Most also speak the local language of Quechua. Our tour leaders are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures. For instance, in the past, we have had tour leaders take visiting teachers to visit a local school or doctors to visit a local clinic. Who knows, you may even be asked to visit the tour leader's home for a family birthday party or other celebration!
5. What type of transportation is used?
Our Peru tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/ cars, comfortable tourist buses, flights, canoes, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (rickshaw, bicycle taxi, "chicken bus", etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
6. What type of food is typical of Peru?
Staple foods in the highlands include potatoes, corn, rice, and meat dishes, often with a spicy sauce. In jungle areas, fresh fruits, fried plantains, and other vegetables are also common. Though vegetarians can be easily accommodated in all areas, options typically leave out the meat rather than adding vegetarian mainstays such as tofu, beans, or nuts.
7. Do I need a converter/ adapter for the electricity?
Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type found in the US, though some facilities have been noted to use the 2 rounded prongs instead.
8. Are these trips suitable for kids?
It depends. We have received rave reviews from families visiting the Amazon, Machu Picchu, and even hiking the Inca trail. If your children enjoy wildlife, learning about other cultures, and meeting new people, Peru may be a great choice. Our Family Travel Page
has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation and also has some minimum age recommendations for each tour.
Keep in mind that US food, video games, television, etc. may not be readily available so prepare your kids ahead of time so that they will have reasonable expectations. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential!
9. What is the typical age range for these tours?
We have had travelers age 6-90 on our Peru tours. However, we often encourage families traveling with young children to book private departures so our most common travelers are age 20s-60s. We tend to get a wide variety of ages on most of our departures.
10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Our Peru tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you with a roommate if desired, to save on single supplement costs or you can request a private room if you prefer. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights to South America..
12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. There is a transportation desk inside the airport that can help you arrange an official taxi when you arrive if desired.
13. Are there any discounts available?
We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
14. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide and ~$1-$3/ day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
15. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Peru tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (4 months or more recommended) is especially important for travelers visiting during the height of the dry season, June to August, as many of these departures fill up months in advance. Travelers visiting outside of these busy months can often book a bit more last minute, though 2-3 months notice is still recommended.
Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available.
We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice Amazon lodge may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting! Since Peruvian airlines usually require a passport number to book internal flights, have this number ready to speed up the booking process.
16. Are tour dates flexible?
Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
17. Can I extend or change my stay?
Check out our Peru Extensions
for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in Cusco, the Amazon, Lima, or other areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
18. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the Peruvian climate varies dramatically depending upon elevation and season, it is difficult to offer many generalizations. Comfort is the rule and fancy clothes are not necessary for any of our Peru tours. Peruvians are used to seeing travelers so shorts, sandals, and jeans are perfectly acceptable.
19. How concerned should I be about the altitude?
Altitude affects each traveler differently and until you have visited an area with high altitude, it is impossible to predict how your body will react. For this reason, all of our Peru hiking tours include at least 3 days at high altitude with mild activities before travelers begin hiking. This time allows your body to begin acclimatizing (though full acclimatization would take several months) and provides travelers a good indication of how they will feel once they begin hiking (as altitude symptoms are generally the worst on the first day or two at elevation).
Commonly, our travelers report mild altitude symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or light-headedness during their first day or two at elevation. Many of our hotels at altitude have oxygen available for travelers feeling the effects of the elevation.
Severe altitude sickness is rare. In this case, the best treatment is to go down in elevation as soon as possible. We have never had a traveler that had to be evacuated to low altitude. Many severe cases of altitude sickness are the result of a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by the altitude. It is important to ask your doctor whether or not travel to high altitude is advised, especially if you have a pre-existing heart or lung condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, angina, etc. You might also want to ask your doctor about prescription Diamox, a diuretic that many travelers swear by to help them adjust to the altitude more readily.
20. How safe is Peru?
Peru has a stable government and tourism has boomed in recent years. With the added tourist dollars, the government has made a concerted effort to keep travelers and their valuables safe. There have been no terrorist attacks in Peruvian tourist areas in over a decade and the activities of the Shining Path are generally assumed to be isolated to a remote area of the Department of Ayacucho that most travelers would never visit.
Travelers should take the same precautions that they would in a major city in the US. Pay attention to the advice of your tour leader and hotel reception and take common-sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night.
Petty theft is common in busy tourist areas such as airports, markets, and other tourist sites so be aware of your valuables and don't leave them unattended. Monetary scams also sprout up occasionally so beware of any offers that sound too good to be true. Your tour leader is from the local area and is an excellent source of information and advice. Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information at:
21. What time zone is Peru?
Peru is five hours behind GMT (same as EST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Peru is on CST.
22. What types of planes are used for internal flights?
Most internal flights use 727s or similar size jet planes with a capacity of 80-120 passengers. Manu tours use smaller 10-15 passenger propeller planes typically.
23. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Peru. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don't forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well! Ice is not always made with boiled/ bottled water. Order your beverages without ice ("sin hielo") or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant.
24. Can I use US dollars, or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
Most restaurants, markets, and other service providers readily accept US dollars as long as they don't have any rips. They will generally give you change in local currency. The local currency is the Sol. It is handy to use local currency in markets as you will have smaller denominations to bargain/ tip with and don't need to worry about your currency looking pristine (ripped Soles are common and readily accepted). Check out a Currency Converter like, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
for the latest exchange rates.
25. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a poorer rate or be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
26. Can I use my cell phone?
Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.
27. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Peru. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to the Peruvian Amazon. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in Peru. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. However, those who are only visiting the highlands do not need this vaccination.
Please note that some countries, such as Costa Rica, require a yellow fever vaccination if traveling directly from Peru. Please check with the Center for Disease Control for information for your onward travel from Peru.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended on most of our Peru excursions. Malaria preventatives are also recommended on our Amazon journeys. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site at www.cdc.gov
28. Do I need a visa/passport?
Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Currently, citizens from the US, Canada, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Japan, Latin America, South Africa, South Korea, and the Caribbean (except Cuba) do not need a visa. Australians and New Zealanders do need a visa. Travelers from other nationalities should check with the Peruvian Embassy for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
29. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.