Travel Tips for the Quest
For information about Peru, check out this website produced by the Peru Tourism Bureau - www.visitperu.com
Travel Agents & Online Bookings
All conference participants are responsible for arranging their own air travel. For online bookings of discounted air tickets, useful websites include www.kayak.com, www.orbitz.com, and www.cheaptickets.com.
Telephones and International Calling
The international country code for Peru is +51.
To call Peru from the U.S., just follow these dialing details:
1. First dial 011 – the U.S. exit code.
2. Next dial 51 – the country code for Peru.
3. Finally the phone number – 6/7 digits.
How to call United States from Peru:
Dial 00 + 1 + The Telephone Number
US electrical sockets and appliances run on 120 volts, while those in Peru are 220 volts. If you want to use a 110-volt appliance in Peru, you’ll need to buy a power adapter.
There are two types of electrical outlets in Peru. One accepts two-pronged plugs with flat, parallel blades, while the other takes plugs with two round prongs. Many Peruvian electrical outlets are designed to accept both types (see image below).
If your appliance has a different plug attachment (such as a three-pronged UK plug), you’ll need to buy a plug adapter. Plug adapters are used for dual voltage appliances (such as most mobile phones and laptops) that are designed to run on either 120 or 220 volts.
Universal plug adapters are inexpensive and easy to carry around. It’s a good idea to buy one before you go to Peru (most major airports have a store selling plug adapters). Some international plug adapters have a built-in surge protector, providing an extra layer of protection.
Identification & Visas
Peru: You don’t need a visa to enter Peru as a US citizen. According to the US State Department website, you just need a valid passport and evidence of onward or return travel, so no one-way tickets. You’re usually allowed to stay for 90 days at a time. If you’re within six months of your passport expiration date, renew it before you leave—nearly expired passports are not strictly banned, but they make immigration officials anxious, and may cause you problems.
Tourist (or landing) cards, distributed on arriving international flights or at border crossings, are good for stays of up to 90 days. Keep a copy of the tourist card for presentation upon departure from Peru (if you lose it, you'll have to pay a fine).
Bolivia: A travel visa will be needed for U.S. (and some other) nationals. More information can be found on our Bolivian Travel Tips page.
Immunizations & Health
Machu Picchu is at an altitude of 7,972 feet. Cusco is at an altitude of 11,152 feet. Lake Titicaca is at an altitude of 12,507 feet. People unaccustomed to high altitudes may experience fatigue and dizziness. This tour is not recommended for anyone with a heart or respiratory ailment or any condition that may be exacerbated by high altitudes. A moderate amount of walking is required. Participants are held responsible for being in sufficiently good health to take the trip.
There are also a number of recommendations that can help with the transition to a higher elevation and minimize soroche, or altitude sickness. The best piece of advice is to take it easy: don’t overdo activities, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol or cigarettes. Go slowly, as you’ll feel more tired than usual. Mate de coca, or coca tea, supports breathing and is the traditional Andean remedy for altitude sickness (it is also available as dried leaves or gum for chewing). Coca tea, as well as oxygen, is available at the airport and in most hotels. Soroche pills are also available at Peruvian pharmacies.
Alternatively, acetazolamide is an altitude sickness pill available by prescription (under the name Diamox); it’s important to consult with your doctor beforehand if you are interested in this pharmaceutical option.
No vaccinations are required to visit Peru, and we will only be traveling in areas considered to be of low to no risk of malaria or yellow fever; however, you may want to check with your healthcare provider’s recommendations for you.
One important note:
Remember to bring any necessary prescriptions or over-the-counter medications in their original containers, and in your carry-on bag!
Visitors should drink only sealed, bottled, water, which is widely available. Do not drink nor brush your teeth with tap water, even in major hotels. Try to avoid drinks with ice. Agua con gas is carbonated; agua sin gas is still water.
To minimize the risk of gastrointestinal ailments in a new environment, it is wise to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of bottled water, to eat and drink (coffee, tea, alcohol) in moderation only, and to wash hands often with soap and water. It also may be helpful to travel with lactobacillus acidophilus capsules, which enhance beneficial intestinal flora and can be a preventative measure against digestive upsets.
It is also useful to avoid any raw or unpeeled fruits and vegetables (anything that may have been washed in tap water); cooked or peeled ones should be fine.
Public lavatories (baños públicos) are rarely available except in railway stations, restaurants, and theaters. Public restrooms are labeled WC (water closet), DAMAS (ladies), or CABALLEROS or HOMBRES (men). Toilet paper is not always provided, and when it is, most establishments request that patrons throw it in the wastebasket rather than the toilet, to avoid clogging. Carrying your own paper is recommended.
Travel insurance is required for our time in Peru and/or Bolivia; you’ll need to submit proof of this prior to beginning your travels with us. A comprehensive policy (covering personal accident, accidental death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation) will protect you in the event of unexpectedly having to cancel or change your travel plans either before or during our conference, losing your luggage, if the program is affected by circumstances beyond our control, or if any medical assistance is needed.
Policies vary, depending upon the degree of coverage desired, and include options such as “Airline Ticket Protector” plans. It’s also wise to verify your chosen airlines refund policy, as they too vary, and at times offer ticket reimbursements where travel insurance may not.
Peru's official currency is the nuevos sol (S/), divided into 100 centavos. Coins are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, and bank notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 soles. The U.S. dollar is the second currency; many hotels post their rates in dollars, and plenty of shops, taxi drivers, restaurants, and hotels across Peru accept U.S. dollars for payment.
Exchanging Money You'll avoid lines at airport ATMs by exchanging at least some money -- just enough to cover airport incidentals -- before you leave home (though don't expect the exchange rate to be ideal).
Peru is still very much a cash society. In villages and small towns, it could be impossible to cash traveler's checks or use credit cards. Make sure that you have cash (both soles and U.S. dollars) on hand. If you pay in dollars, you will likely receive change in soles, so be aware of the correct exchange rate. U.S. dollars are by far the easiest foreign currency to exchange. Currencies other than U.S. dollars receive very poor exchange rates.
Counterfeit bank notes and even coins are common, and merchants and consumers across Peru vigorously check the authenticity of money before accepting payment or change (the simplest way: hold the bank note up to the light to see the watermark). Many people also refuse to accept bank notes that are not in good condition (including those with small tears, that have been written on, and even that are simply well worn), and visitors are wise to do the same when receiving change, to avoid problems with other payments. Do not accept bills with tears (no matter how small) or taped bills.
Making change in Peru is often a problem. You should carry small bills and even then be prepared to wait for change.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are the best way of getting cash in Peru; they're found in most towns and cities, although not on every street corner. ATMs allow customers to withdraw money in either Peruvian soles or U.S. dollars. Screen instructions are in English as well as Spanish. Some bank ATMs dispense money only to those who hold accounts there. Most ATMs in Peru accept only one type of credit/debit card and international money network, either Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) or PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com). Visa and MasterCard ATM cards are the most widely accepted; Visa/PLUS is the most common.
Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. At some ATMs, your personal identification number (PIN) must contain four digits. Note: Remember that many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they're rarely more than $2). In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Also, note that many credit and debit cards now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).
Please remember to advise your bank that you will be traveling, since many banks will err on the side of caution and assume your debit or credit card has been stolen and might suspend it temporarily.
Most people leave about a 10% tip for the waitstaff in restaurants. In nicer restaurants that add a 10% service charge, many patrons tip an additional 5% or 10% (because little, if any, of that service charge will ever make it to the waiter's pocket). Taxi drivers are not usually tipped unless they provide additional service. We will take collections for tips for our tour guides and bus drivers.
Spanish is the official language of Peru. The Amerindian languages Quechua (recently given official status) and Aymara are spoken primarily in the highlands (Aymara is mostly limited to the area around Lake Titicaca). English is not widely spoken but is understood by those affiliated with the tourist industry in major cities and tourist destinations. Most people you meet on the street will have only a very rudimentary understanding of English, if that. Learning a few key phrases of Spanish will help immensely. We suggest DuoLingo a free language learning program.
Due to the elevation, Cusco’s climate is cool and remains steady throughout the year. Cusco’s temperature ranges in August between 69°F to 37°F, so it is important to pack layers and other warm clothes.
The average high temperature in August in The Sacred Valley is 68°F with a low of 37°F. The average temperature is 54°F. There is usually an 11% chance of rain in the Valley.
Please check out our suggested packing list found HERE.
Peru is in the Eastern Standard Time zone (EST), five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Peru is on the same clock as New York City, except during Daylight Saving Time, when New York is one hour ahead.