South America Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Chile, Peru, Central America and Antarctica
PERU INFORMATION AND PACKING LIST
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS
A passport, current for six months beyond your return date, is required for travel to Peru. It is recommended that all travelers have their own passport. If you are traveling with a minor, you will need written authorization from both parents for him/her to leave the country. US and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to visit Peru as tourists staying for up to 90 days. Travelers of other nationalities should contact a Peruvian Embassy or Consulate for their requirements. More details about entry regulations can be obtained at www.peruvianembassy.us/do.php?p=102. There is a departure tax, but this is usually included in the taxes and fees of your international ticket. Local airport tax, usually $US6, is paid at the airport. Visitors to Peru are permitted to bring in typical amounts of duty-free cigarettes, alcohol, electronics etc. Please note that although strictly speaking personal items in excess of the approved dollar limit are supposed to be owned by you for 12 months prior to arrival, this is not a problem unless you’re carrying suspicious quantities.
LUGGAGE AND PACKING
First and foremost – pack light! Most people take far more than they need. If you’re an experienced traveler, you’ve probably met someone whose luggage went missing, so they had to buy things for their trip at their destination. Invariably they buy very little, but have as great a vacation as everyone else. There’s a lesson there! Most everywhere you stay have laundry facilities. Just using this once on the trip can saves a week’s worth of clothes. The key to light packing is layering and multi-use. Two normal shirts = one thicker shirt; the outer one will be available for later use without washing. This idea is especially useful if you are combining temperate areas with hot ones – say the Amazon and Machu Picchu. Nights can be cold in the high Andes in winter, near freezing. However, even at altitude days are usually warm to hot. If you expect to be on the water – rafting or boating - remember wet cotton will make you colder, not warmer – so have a synthetic material top for warmth. Take a small ziplock bag of detergent with you – this can also be used for your smalls in the hotel room.
Please ensure that valuables, medicines, etc are in your carry-on, not your checked luggage. We suggest packing about a week before you leave, and a few days later carry your bags around the house, upstairs and down. Then look at what you can remove, do so, and re-pack - the maxim to follow is “when in doubt, leave it out.” If it’s heavy to handle at home, it will be even more so while traveling, especially with the addition of souvenirs. In some lodges and hotels luggage service will not be available, so you may be toting your bags yourself to your room. You will also need to be handling them yourselves at airports, so please be sure that you have packed appropriately. It’s often said to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost. While this is not necessary for most destinations, if you are traveling directly to Punta Arenas or other more remote areas, this can be a wise precaution.
Depending on your itinerary you may need a towel for
the beach, river or other water area. As these are bulky, buy one
there – either to bring home as a souvenir, or a cheapie to
Don’t put your home address or phone number on your outside luggage tags; use a work one, as you don’t want to alert anyone that your house will be empty for some time. Put your work phone number and address inside each of your bags, as well. If they are lost, and the outside tag is missing, the airlines can still track you.
FREQUENT FLIER & SEAT REQUESTS
Lan has a frequent flyer partnership with American Airlines, and your ticket may allow you to gain miles. Other airlines may also have such partnerships. Please check with your ff program to determine coverage, as alliances change. If we are ticketing your travel we will include your ff number in your air record if requested; but please retain all boarding pass stubs in case mileage is not credited – we or our partners are not responsible for accreditation. If you lose your boarding pass stubs and need ticket copies to establish mileage there will be a fee charged. Seat requests will be made by us for you, but cannot be guaranteed as it is under the control of the airlines and may be changed without notice.
Chile operates on 220VAC, and utilizes a two prong flat plug, the same as the US. Some 4 & 5 star hotels run a dual system with 110V and 220V. Many small appliances, such as phone and camera chargers, can operate at 220V or 120V – check for a switch on the unit, move it to 220/240 and tape it in place before you leave. It won’t hurt if you forget to switch it back when you return, but you will smoke it if you do so on arrival, when you’ll be tired. If there’s no switch, read the instructions to see if it auto-senses voltage. If it has neither, then you’ll need an inverter (transformer) as well as the correct adaptor. Many complete kits come with this. Many jungle lodges only offer generator electricity for a few hours per day, often not in the rooms, and may not have any charging facilities.
Peru runs from the Equator to about 18oS, so is squarely a tropical country, but also has mountains over 20,000 feet high. It also ranges from steamy tropical jungle to dry high barren ridges and chaparral along the coast. Hence, while the weather is very dependent on where you are, almost everywhere days are warm to hot. People are surprised to be basking in near 70oF sunshine in winter, at 8000ft. Even Cusco is usually in the mid sixties, 4000ft higher. Nights can get cool in winter, below freezing on cold nights in Cusco. Higher elevations, such as Lake Titicaca at over 13,000ft, are naturally cooler. Despite its tropical location, the Pacific coast can be cool in winter due to fogs and mists, dropping down to the low 50s. Seasons are the opposite of the US, with a December to February summer and mid-year winter. There is a little variation between areas on which mid-year month is coolest.
Chile is in the same zone as Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5h), and does not have daylight saving.
Chile has a decimal Nuevo Sole (S/.) based system, with 100 céntimos to the nuevo sole. Banknotes are S/.200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Smaller amounts are coins – S/.5, 2 & 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 céntimos. US dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas, but in remote areas can be difficult for locals to exchange for their own use. Part of the joy of travel is the differences, not the sameness, so get and use local currency to enhance your experience. Although credit card acceptance is common, at least in the cities and larger towns, many places will not accept them for small payments, and in remote areas it is cash only. If such areas are in your plans, make sure you have small notes, as shops may not have sufficient change for the larger ones, even if they are small for us. You should also advise your credit card company(s) that you are traveling abroad, otherwise the sudden change in spending patterns could trigger a card alert and charge denial. Most places take Visa and Mastercard, and many take American Express and Diners, but none take Discover. Most debit cards which utilize Plus or Cirrus systems (there’ll be a logo on the back of the card) can be used at foreign ATMs, with the usual charge. Many credit card companies are charging a 3% fee for international credit card transactions; but given the bulk exchange rate they utilize, this is still usually cheaper that purchasing local currency. However, you may wish to check and use a fee-free card, especially if you intend to make expensive purchases. We always purchase a small amount of cash at the airport for taxis, snacks etc; the sometimes slightly higher rate there is inconsequential for amounts under $100, and you may need some cash straight away. Use an ATM if there’s one.
Please be aware that exchange rates fluctuate continuously. You should also be aware that the exchange rate posted in the papers and on the web is the bulk bank rate, and not a retail conversion rate. You can expect to pay up to about two cents more per dollar for cash exchanges, plus conversion fees. Our experience has been that it is cheaper to exchange in the destination country rather than here at home.
The price you see on goods is the total price, and includes all taxes. Haggling is as foreign down there as here, however in markets a little negotiation is sometimes possible. Most hotels discount the 19% hotel for foreign travelers, but always check; you may have to show proof of foreign residency. A 10% gratuity is usually added to the bill in restaurants and bars; leave a few soles in small cafes that do not.
Peru is a metric country. To convert, use the following approximations:
Add 2 to the US size, so an 8 in the US is a 10 in Peru.
Shoes : Try ‘em on because the sizes have no
exact match, but this guide will help: