Before you travel to Peru make sure you are well prepared. See here my tips and inspirations that will help you to plan your holiday.
As a Dutch citizen we don’t need to request a Visa, we get one in our passport for 90 days, within any 6 month period when we arrive in the country. You have to prove a onward ticket to leave the country. Please check your visa status when traveling to Peru, each country has different agreements.
Several websites show different recommendations for vaccinations. For Guatemala you are required to have these standard essential vaccinations: Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio vaccine and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. I got an extra shot of Measles because I was not sure I got it in the past and to make sure I was covered I took a shot. Beside these vaccinations I have the recommended vaccinations: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Optional vaccinations are Hepatitis B and Rabies.
I got a 3 days emergency package of Malaria pills with me. Have you been feverish or flu-like in the tropics for more than 24 hours? Keep in mind that it may be Malaria. Go to a hospital to have your blood tested for Malaria. Preferably consult with your travel insurance company about a good hospital on the spot. Does research show that you have Malaria; use the emergency package of Malaria pills (Malarone) as treatment; no need to take the pills during the whole trip. Bring DEET mosquito prevention with you anyway!!
All I heard when I told people I went traveling to Central and South America: “Is it safe?” “A women all by herself!” And all I can say, you have to be cautious and be prepared. I wrote a separate blog on Safety during my travels; Travel Tips to keep Safe. I haven’t felt unsafe for a minute in Peru!
I found it very easy to travel in Peru; tour operators everywhere and transport via large buses and direct to the next destination in Ecuador and coming from Bolivia. So no chicken buses needed here, direct with other tourist in a bus or organized tour. The distances in Peru are long and the roads quite good. But Peru is located in the middle of the Andes so expect winding roads through the mountains and that could get busy with trucks; it will take time and you have to be patient. Just enjoy the scenery passing by or catch up some sleep!
Tip: Book the overnight VIP buses from Cruz del Sur, they are luxurious and comfortable; perfect to sleep which saves you a hotel/hostel booking too.
Cruz del Sur is a well-organized organization, good buses with high safety procedures like, camera surveillance when entering the bus. The VIP or comfort are really good, you get blankets, food and pillows and the seats are huge including private television screen.
From the stations I normally took a taxi to the hotels. I booked organized tours, used collectivos (shared taxis) and arranged Machu Picchu by myself with the train. Internal flights are common in Peru and had no problems at all booking them.
In Peru the local currency is the Peruvian Soles (PEN but S in my blogs). For 1 USD you get ±.3.35S (depending on the rate). At most of the ATM’s around Peru I could only get cash out of the machines with my Credit Card and Maestro Debit card. Be aware that using the ATM cost transaction costs. My American Express and VISA card were widely accepted in all the hotels and restaurants. Compared to Europe, Peru is cheaper but not the cheapest country in South American, compared with Bolivia, Peru is expensive.
The winter period from May to September is the driest season in Peru and for that reason the best period to visit Cusco, Machu Picchu and the rest of the Sacred Valley. I visited Peru in the summer period from December to March and witnessed not much rain at all. While this period is normally warmer and wetter than the winter. Peru is a huge country with all different kind of weather types all year round, the coastal area is mainly desert and has a hot dry climate all year round.
Try to learn the basics in the Spanish language, this could be helpful and this way you make more connection with the local people. Duolingo is perfect for the basis Spanish words and sentences.
You can buy a SIM card for your phone, my SIM card from Claro, but I only used the WIFI at the hotels and restaurants; it’s available everywhere, no need to buy extra data in my opinion.
Before I left to Central America and Peru I already downloaded the app; Maps.me. This is an off-line map provider. You download parts of a country in advance where you intent to go. This was very helpful by walking in the city streets where there was no reception and you still can find your way!
Peru has a very rich gastronomic culture. The food here in Peru is delicious and one of the best restaurants in the world is located in Miraflores, Lima. But check the nice restaurants in Cusco and Arequipa as well and of course eat the fresh ceviche at the coast in Huanchaco and Máncora.