Before you head to Peru, there are a number of helpful hints that can make your trip more pleasant, including information on currency, climate, ID requirements, and travel safety specifics.
When to Visit Peru
Peru has two distinct seasons – wet and dry – and most tourists choose to visit in the dry months of May through October, winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Europeans and North Americans tend to visit in July and August, making it the most crowded season. Airfare and hotels are at their most expensive during this time and at the December holidays.
Temperature wise, May and September are the most pleasant and are perfect for those who want to take advantage of outdoor pursuits, such as mountain climbing or hiking the Inca Trail.
Visa Requirements for Entering Peru
If you are visiting Peru from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, it is not necessary to obtain a visa to enter the country. A valid passport is sufficient. However, travelers heading to Peru to study or to conduct business will need a visa, which can be obtained at that country's embassy or consulate. Those arriving on international flights will receive a “landing” card, which is good for a stay of up to 90 days. Keep a copy for departure.
Peruvian Currency and Costs
Those accustomed to international travel will find that visiting Peru is actually quite inexpensive as compared to traveling in Europe or North America. Expect to pay more in the urban areas and during the peak travel seasons.
The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol. Paper money comes in 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles denominations. Coins are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos. The U.S. dollar is accepted at some establishments, particularly in the larger cities of Peru.
Peru Seasonal Climate
Peru has two seasons – dry and wet. The dry season is Peru's winter, spanning from May to October. January through April are the wettest months and the torrential rains often make travel impossible in many areas.
Temperatures will depend on which region you're visiting – desert, highlands, or jungle. Summers at the desert coast can be hot and humid and winters pleasant. May to October are the nicest months in the highlands, with daytime temperatures averaging around 75 degrees F (23 C). The jungle is almost always hot and humid with frequent rain.
Health and Immunizations
No immunizations are necessary to enter Peru. However, those traveling to the jungle areas may want to consider a Yellow Fever vaccination as a few outbreaks have been experienced in the last few years. It also may be prudent to consider taking anti-malarial medications before a jungle visit.
Finding clean drinking water can be a concern in Peru, so most travel agencies recommend consuming only bottled water, even if you're staying in a large luxury hotel. Fruits and vegetables should also be washed in purified water if possible and avoid drinks with ice.
Many travelers who are unaccustomed to high altitudes may suffer from a bout of altitude sickness when visiting places like Cuzco (elevation 11,000 feet) for an extended period of time. Common symptoms are headaches, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, and nausea. Drink lots of water, refrain from alcohol, and do not participate in strenuous activities until after your body has become acclimated to the altitude.
Safety in Peru
Street crime is not unusual in Peru's larger cities. Pickpockets often target tourists, so it's best to try to blend in with the locals as much as possible. Taxis shouldn't be hailed off the street but should be dispatched through a phone call so as to avoid a potential problem.