WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PERU ?
The most frequently asked question by people who are planning a trip to Peru is when they should visit. Perú is not far away from the equator, so the weather is basically stable and divided into just two seasons:
- The dry season is April to December: Although it can rain at any time of the year, it is driest between May and October. Eight months of the year, the Andean Sierra will show you beautiful blue skies during the day and bring low temperatures during the night. On the coast near Lima, it is humid with sporadic drizzle all year round, and on the North Coast there is sun throughout the year.
- The rainy season is January to March: The rains start in November and continue until April, with the rainiest months usually being January to March. In the Andean Sierra, it rains heavily and constantly during these months. There can occasionally be problems with erosion, but the tourist circuits are well designed and drained to allow tourists to visit all year round. We don’t recommend cross-country activities or camping during this time. It’s better to head to the coast to enjoy these summer month and warm waters which come from the equator.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE ?
- A bilingual guide for all the tours described in the itinerary. The guide will carry a first aid kit.
- All flights within Peru.
- All ground transportation during the trip.
- The entrance costs for all the tours/sites mentioned.
- All hotels (double beds, with continental breakfast).
- All the meals mentioned.
- An additional room can be obtained at the client’s request.
- Transportation (e.g. international flights) to and from Peru.
- Lunch and dinner in cities (aside from those specifically mentioned).
- Hiking boots and personal equipment.
- Personal costs (tips and gratuities, alcoholic beverages, travel/medical insurance, medical costs, laundromat charges, airport taxes, etc.)
WHAT ARE THE LUGGAGE WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS ?
Your luggage is hand-carried at various stages in the trip. We strongly recommend you limit your luggage weight to 23 kilos (50 pounds) per person. If you are visiting other destinations in Peru or South America that require different kinds of clothing, you can always pack separate bags and safely leave them at our offices in Cusco or Lima on the first day so we won’t be carrying them around needlessly. Your bag will be waiting for you at the airport on the day you leave.
On the train to Machu Picchu, just bring your hand luggage (5kg / 11lb).
For the Inca Trail, 7kg (15.4lb) of personal gear. Your extra luggage will go straight to Aguas Calientes (the town at Machu Picchu), with previous coordination with your guide.
For other treks, your luggage weight depends on the number of hiking days.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK ?
CLIMATE & CLOTHING – The trail has a large temperature range, so layering is the best system. At night and in the early morning it is cold (0-5 C), while in the daytime it is warm (approx. 18-22 C). Please be prepared for this by bringing layers of clothes that you can put on and take off as the temperature changes. Don’t forget your waterproof jacket, even if in the dry season. Your clothes should be comfortable to walk in and, if possible, quick-drying (made of synthetic material). A comfortable pair of hiking boots, with ankle support, are essential for this trail. The path is surfaced in places with Inca stonework, but it is uneven and has a lot of steps. It is important that you break in your boots if they are new; do not come with previously untested boots!
WATER – We provide purified drinking water for you along the trail; however, when you leave Cusco please fill your water bottle before you go! You will have a chance to refill at lunchtime and at the campsites. There is water along the trail if you need it, but you MUST purify it. It is not safe to drink straight.
CASH – There is not a lot to buy along the trail, but when you arrive in Aguas Calientes you may feel you deserve a drink or a cake to celebrate. You may also need cash for tipping your porters and guide. (See Tipping below) There are no ATMs in Aguas Calientes, and the exchange rate for dollars to Soles is always bad. We recommend that you bring money in a mixture of dollars and Soles ($50.00 US Dollars per person should be plenty).
PASSPORT – The Inca Trail is a national park, and entry to the sanctuary is strictly controlled to protect the environment. We pre-register each client, and you will be checked on entry to the park. For this you will need your passport or a legalized copy. (This is a photocopy of your passport, which has been checked against the original by a notary. This is a common practice in Peru for many documents. If you do not wish to carry your passport on the trail then please contact our Cusco office, which, for a small fee, will obtain a legalized copy.)
TIPPING – It is usual practice to tip your guide, porters and cook. Please do not feel pressured into this, as we pay each member of the team. However, if you are happy with the service then a tip of about s/.30.00 per porter between the whole group is usual.
The equipment list is divided into two parts, essential items first. If you are missing any of these items or are unsure about them, please contact us. The second part is a list of non-essential items, which we leave to personal preference. We provide tents, cooking equipment, plates etc. Our trails, almost without exception, are all supported with personal porters. This means someone to carry your main backpack while you are walking. There are strict weight limits on the amount a porter can carry, and we allow 7kg (15.4lb) per person (including the backpack itself). Please keep this in mind when packing. If you feel that you need an extra weight allowance, contact us in advance and we can arrange this for you.
Your Cusco hotel should be able to store the items you are not taking for you. If you have any problems, contact our Cusco office.
You will need the following items for the Inca Trail:
- Sleeping Bag
- Water Bottle
- Sun Hat
- Insect Repellent
- Waterproof Jacket
- Torch (flashlight or headlamp)
- CASH (US Dollars + Soles)
- Hiking Boots (ankle support strongly recommended)
- Lightweight trousers for hiking (nylon or spandex tights are best – NOT JEANS!!)
- ONE complete change of clothes
- Warm Hat and Gloves
- Water purification Tablets or Iodine
- Any personal Medicine for the duration of the hike + some extra days’ worth.
You may find the following items useful or personally necessary:
- Change of shoes (trainers or sandals) for the campsite
- Extra Socks
- Extra change of clothes
- Waterproof Pants (if hiking during the rainy season)
- Personal Toiletries
IS THERE ELECTRICITY ON THE TRAIL ?
There is no electricity at the camping sites. There is electricity at the hotels: 220 AC – 60 cycles. Contact the guide to arrange extra charging for batteries, cell phones, cameras, etc.
HOW DO YOU PROVIDE WATER ?
We provide natural spring water 24 hours per day. Please use the water wisely. We advise you not to drink the water from the river, lake or any of the taps. Potable water can be found throughout the hotels from many dispensers and pitchers as well as a variety of other beverages available. All the water that we provide is purified. We also suggest that you use this water to brush your teeth. Please turn off the water while soaping up to reduce unnecessary water usage.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE HOTELS ?
We normally work with 3- to 5-star hotels, with spacious rooms, restaurant service, laundry facilities, safes (either in-room or at reception), WiFi, and 24-hour reception.
IS THERE A PHONE ON THE TREKS ?
In case of emergency, we have a satellite phone or Spot Messenger. These are for emergency use only, not for personal calls. On the trek, only a few points have cell signal.
WHAT VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR PERU ?
While Peru is an incredible place to visit, make sure you are well prepared by packing efficiently and getting the recommended vaccinations. Before you travel to the rainforest or other places in the Peruvian Amazon, visit a health care provider specializing in Travel Medicine who can tell you which vaccinations are recommended based on your health and vaccination history. It is best to see this physician 4-6 weeks prior to your trip to allow time for the vaccinations to take effect. You should mention each country you will be visiting on your trip in order to receive appropriate advice for all of your travel destinations. While there are no required vaccinations for travel to Peru, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following recommendations:
- Hepatitis A: Vaccination is recommended to all travelers to Peru.
- Hepatitis B: Vaccination recommended to all travelers to Peru, especially those who may have exposure to blood or body fluids through the giving or receiving of medical care, drug injections, tattooing, or sexual contact with the local population.
- Typhoid Fever: Vaccination is recommended to all travelers to tropical South America, especially those who may be staying in rural areas where exposure through food or water could occur.
- Yellow Fever: Vaccination is highly recommended for travel to Amazonia and the Southern Amazon basin. The shot should be given at least 10 days before your arrival and at 10 year intervals if you decide to stay.
- Rabies: Vaccination is ONLY recommended to travelers with an increased risk of exposure, including: long-term travelers living in an area that poses a high-risk of exposure, travelers working in occupations who will have direct contact with bats, stray dogs and cats, or other mammals such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals or researchers.
IS LAUNDRY AVAILABLE AT THE HOTELS ?
Typically yes; please ask for the rate at the reception desk.
IS SMOKING ALLOWED ?
Smoking is not allowed in closed and public places. Please do not smoke in your room.
WHAT ARE THE MEAL TIMES ?
Breakfast time depends on your scheduled activity but starts from 6:00am onwards. Lunch is served at 1:00pm and dinner is served at 7:00pm. Please let us know if you are vegetarian or have any special dietary needs. We do offer a special menu for children.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY ?
In case of emergencies we have a first aid kit that is equipped to deal with most cases that could reasonably arise. Our guides are all certified by the MITINCI, which means they are prepared to deal with foreseeable emergencies (broken bones or snake bites, for example) but not complex emergencies (such as an appendicitis). In case of evacuation, we will need to travel by car to Cusco. In Cusco there is access to a state clinic.
IS LEISHMANIASIS OR MALARIA PRESENT ?
Leishmaniasis is present throughout the rain forests of southeastern Peru. It is a skin lesion caused by a protozoan transmitted by a certain kind of small biting fly. There is no vaccination against it but it is curable in every case. The selected cure, injections of pentavalent antimony (Glucantime), is uncomfortable. Leishmaniasis is also very easy to prevent by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and repellent on exposed skin at all times, and sleeping under mosquito nets. If you are interested in receiving complete information on leishmaniasis, contact us before your trip. Malaria is present but extremely rare. If you wish to take medical precautions against malaria, consult your physician or a specialist in tropical medicine.
IS THERE A SAFE IN THE HOTEL ROOMS ?
We ask you to keep your valuable belongings and documents in the safe. Do not leave them in plain view. Do not leave them outside. This way you will avoid attracting “insects and other animals.” Ask the hotel manager or guide to inform you about the proper use of the safety box.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN PERU ?
Peru is not far enough south of the Equator to provide a cooler, drier winter season between May and October. The general weather conditions are dry in the highlands and humid on the coast. The rainy months are December through April; during these months, be prepared for heavy rain that can continue for hours.
CAN I USE CREDIT CARDS ?
All major credit cards are accepted in Peru, but accepted brands will vary from business to business.
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE SPOKEN IN PERU ?
- Officially Spanish.
- Quechua, the language of the Incas, has finally received some official status and is widely used in the mountains. Aymara is the language of the mountain people of Lake Titicaca and Bolivia. The jungle tribes have their own dialects.
- English is generally understood.
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT LIKE IN PERU ?
Democratic elections every 5 years.
WHICH RELIGIONS ARE IN PERU ?
Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, but there is complete religious freedom.
WHAT ARE THE MONEY-CHANGING FACILITIES ?
- Av. La Cultura N° 1318 Wanchaq, Cusco.
- +51 84 233451 (Cusco)
- +51 1 2241816 (Lima)
Our hours are in Peruvian time (GTM -5)