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Peru Travel FAQs

Peru Travel FAQs

  • Is it easy to get around the city?

    The airport is about 6km south of the city center. The local bus lines: Imperial and C-4M (cost about .70 centimos and run every 20 minutes) run from Avenida El Sol to just outside the airport. A taxi between the city center and the airport costs around 5 soles. An official radio taxi from within the airport costs around 10 soles. With advance reservations, many hotels offer free pickup.

    Local rides on public transportation cost only .70 centimos though often, it´s easier to walk or just take a taxi than to figure out the local bus routes. There are no meters in taxis but there are set rates. At the time of research, trips within the city center cost 4 soles and to destinations further, such as El Molino around 7 soles.

    You can check with your hotel whether this is still correct. In taxis, rather than negotiate, simply hand the correct amount to the taxi driver. He is unlikely to argue if you seem to know what you are doing. Official taxis, identified by a lit company telephone number on the roof are more expensive but safer. Before getting into any taxi, take note of the registration number.

  • Before departing, you have to pay an airport tax. For domestic flights its $11 USD (about 28 soles). Pay that after getting your boarding pass.

  • Eating: Cusco´s location in the Andes gives it access to a wide range of produce, including potatoes, quinoa, coca, avocado and ají picante (hot chili). Few food stores in the world offer the variety on offer in Cusco´s humblest street market.

    The local food scene has taken off over the last decade as incoming influences from all over the world have seen local products combined in ever fresher ways. Cusco has everything from cheap street snacks to the world class quality and prices of its top restaurants.

    Drinking: Clubs open early but get going from 11pm. Happy hour is available almost everywhere and generally entails two for one beers or certain long drinks. In popular clubs, (known in Peru as 'discotecas' but beware because the word “nightclub” is often used in Peru to indicate a brothel), men and women alike should beware of drinks being spiked.

    Cross Keys, Norton Rats and Paddy Flaherty´s are good places to watch soccer matches with satellite TVs permanently showing sports channels. The tried and true stops on the big night out in Cusco are discotecas: Mythology Inka Team, Temple, Ukuku´s, and Mama Africa.

    Shopping:  San Blas (east of the Main Square) offers Cusco´s best shopping. Good spots are San Blas Square, Cuesta San Blas, Carmen Alto and Tandapata. San Blas is the artisan quarter packed with the workshop and showrooms of local craftspeople. Some offer the chance to watch artisans at work and see the interiors of colonial buildings, while hunting down that perfect souvenir. Prices and quality vary greatly, so shop around and be prepared to barter except in the most expensive stores, where prices are often fixed.

     

  • Travel Agencies are always willing to help out with travel arrangements but they obviously charge a commission. The following independent tourism information centers are recommended: DIRCETUR (located on Mantas Street 117), and the official provider of Cusco tourism information; iPeru. iPeru is more informative, and is located in the Main Hall of Cusco Airport.

  • The City of Cusco is located in the Southeast Andes of Peru at 3350 meters above sea level.

  • Some people who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500m (8100ft) can develop high altitude sickness. This includes Cusco (3350m) and Machu Picchu (2400m). Being physically fit offers no protection. Those who have experienced high altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents, higher altitudes and greater exertion. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia or loss of appetite. If symptoms are more than mild or persist for more than 24 hours, descend immediately by at least 500m and see a doctor.

  • There are lots of ATMs around the Plaza the Armas and also at the airport, Huanchaq Train Station and the bus terminal. All accept Visa, most accept MasterCard and many will allow you to withdraw from a foreign debit account. There are several big bank branches on Avenida El Sol to go inside for cash advances above daily ATM limits. Casas de cambio (foreign exchange bureaus) give better exchange rates than banks. There are lots of these around the main plazas and especially along Avenida El Sol. Moneychangers can be found outside banks but their rates are not much better than casa de cambio and rip-offs are common.

  • Cusco offers an official boleto turistico (tourist ticket). It costs adult/student under 26 with ISIC card 130/70 soles). This ticket is valid for ten days, and covers:

    • Entry to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay, (right outside Cusco):
    • Entry to the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and Moray (in the Sacred Valley)
    • Entry to the ruins of Tipon and Piquillacta (in the south).
    • The Popular Art Musem (Museo de Arte Popular),
    • The Regional History Museum (Museo Historico Regional)
    • An evening performance of Andean dances and live music at the centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo
    • The archaeological museum at Qoricancha (but not Qoricancha itself)
    • The contemporary art museum (museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo)
    • The Pachacutec monument near the bus terminal.
  • For many travellers, markets are the highlight of South America and Cusco offers some excellent markets. Do not bring valuables and make sure to take care of your personal belongings, as pickpockets are usually at work.

    'Mercado San Pedro' is Cusco´s central market. There, you can find pig heads for caldo (soup), frogs (to enhance sexual performance), fruit juice, roast lechon (suckling pig) and tamales, among many other products. Around the edge of the market are typical clothes, incenses and other random products. Another market that has fewer tourists and is also very interesting is the 'Mercado Modelo de Wanchaq'. It is the local destination of choice for breakfast, the morning after, specializing in ceviche and chicharrones. 'El Molino' is a market just beyond the bus terminal and is Cusco´s answer to the department store. Even more congested than San Pedro, it is the place to bargain hunt for clothes, housewares, bulk food, alcohol, electronic goods, camping gear and pirated CDs and DVDs.

  • Around the Plaza de Armas (main square), you can find everything, including clothes, ornaments, toys, candles, jewelry, art, ceramics and handbags. It is all handmade and fair trade.

  • Cusco and its surrounding highlands celebrate many lively fiestas and holidays. In addition to national holidays, the following are the most crowded times, when you should book all accommodations well in advance:

    • The Lord of the Earthquakes (Señor de los Temblores): This procession on the Monday before Easter dates to the earthquake of 1650.
    • Crucifix Vigil: On May 2nd to 3rd, a crucifix vigil takes place on those hilltops with crosses.
    • Qoylloritti: This is a festival less well known than the spectacular Inti Raymi. It is held at the foot of Ausangate, the Tuesday before Corpus Christi, which falls in late May or early June.
    • Corpus Christi: Held on the ninth Thursday after Easter, Corpus Christi usually occurs in early June and features fantastic religious processions and celebrations in the Cathedral.
    • Inti Raymi: Cusco´s most important festival. It is the festival of the Sun and is held on June 24th. It attracts tourists from all over Peru and the world, the whole city celebrates in the streets. The festival culminates in a reenactment of the Incan Winter Solistice Festival at Sacsayhuaman. Despite its commercialization, it is still worth seeing the street dances and parades, as well as the events at Sacsayhuaman.
    • Santuranticuy: An artisan crafts fair in the Plaza de Armas on December 24th (Christmas Eve).
  • The beautiful Urubamba valley, popularly known as 'Valle Sagrado' (Sacred Valley), is about 15km north of Cusco. The star attractions are the Incan citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, which preside over its undulating twist and turns but the valley is also packed with other Incan sites, as well as markets and Andean Villages. It is famous for some high adrenaline activities, such as rafting, trekking and rock climbing. Most activities can be organized in Cusco or at a hotel in Urubamba.

    A multitude of travel agencies in Cusco offer tours of the Sacred Valley, stopping at markets and the most significant archaeological sites but even if you only have a day or two to spare, it is immeasurably rewarding to explore this peaceful, often overlooked corner of the Andes at your own leisure. Visiting the archaeological sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero requires a 'boleto turistico', which can be bought directly from the guards at the sites.

  • Tipping the guide and cook should be dependent on the quality of the service that you received. If their tips are consistently poor then they will soon get the message that they need to improve. The amount you pay depends on you but as a guideline, we recommend that each porter in your group take home an extra 30-35 soles (a combined tip from everyone in the group). Try to take plenty of small change so that you can give the tips directly to the porters. This is much better than giving the money to the cook or the guide to be divided up later amongst the porters as often the money is unfairly distributed.

    If you want to help the porters more than leaving a sensible tip then contribute to one of the existing porter welfare projects in Cusco.

  • Basic Basicos
    ENGLISH SPANISH
    Hello/Good morning/Good evening Hola/Buenos días/Buenas noches
    Please/Thank you/You're welcome Por favor/Gracias/De nada
    Please give me. Dame, por favor.
    Where is …? Dónde está … ?
    Is there a bathroom here? Hay baños aquí?
    What time is it? Qué hora es?
    How much/many? Cuánto?
    I don't understand. No entiendo.
    Do you speak English? Hablas inglés?
    I don't speak Spanish. No hablo español.
    Please repeat. Por favor, repite
    I don't know. No sé.
    Excuse me. Perdona.
    I'm sorry. Lo siento.
    ACCOMMODATIONS ACOMODACIONES
    ENGLISH SPANISH
    I'd like to make a booking. Quisiera hacer reservar
    How much is it per night? Cuanto cuesta por noche?
    EATING & DRINKING COMIDA& BEBIDA
    ENGLISH SPANISH
    I'd like …Please Quisiera por favor
    That was delicious! Estaba buenisimo
    Bring the bill/ Check, please La cuenta, por favor
    I'm allergic to… Soy alergico a…
    Chicken Pollo
    Fish Pescado
    Meat Carne
    EMERGENCIES EMERGENCIAS
    ENGLISH SPANISH
    I'm ill. Estoy enfermo
    Help! Socorro
    Call a doctor Llama a un medico
    Call the police! Llame a la policia.
    PLACES LUGARES
    ENGLISH SPANISH
    I'm looking for (a/an/the). Estoy buscando..
    ATM Cajero automatico
    Bank El banco
    Embassy La embajada de
    Market El mercado
    Museum El museo
    Restaurant Un restaurante
    Toilet Los servicios
    Tourist office Oficina de turismo

Lima Travel FAQs

  • To get to and from the airport, there are two main options. You can take a taxi or you can take a local bus.

    Taxis:

    Lima Airport has an official taxi service, located on the right-hand side before you leave the airport building. It is recommendable to use official taxis or arrange pick-up with your hotel. Using local taxis will not always save you money, and safety (robberies) can be an issue.

    In a private taxi, allow at least an hour to the airport from San Isidro, Miraflores or Barranco.

    Combis:

    The cheapest way to get to and from the airport is via the combi company known as "La S", which costs 3-4 soles per person. These combis have a giant letter "S" in the front windshield. This service runs various routes from Callao Port (where the airport is located) to Miraflores and beyond.

    From the airport, these combis can be found heading south along Av. El Mer Faucett. For the return trip to the airport, La "S" combis can be found heading north along Avenida Petit Thouars and east along Avenida Angamos in Miraflores. The most central spot to find these is at the bus stop ('paradero') on Avenida Petit Thouars, just north of Avenida Ricardo Palma. Expect to be charged additional fares for any seats that your bags may occupy. Note: that combi companies change their routes regularly so confirm the route before boarding.
    By combi, expect the journey to the airport to take at least two hours with the combi making lots of stops en route. Traffic is lightest before 6:30am.

  • If you visit Lima in winter (April to October), you are likely to find it in a constant fog known as 'garua'.

  • There are plenty of banks in Lima and most have 24 hour ATMs, which tend to offer the best exchange rates. Many of the big supermarkets also have ATMs. Use caution when making withdrawals, especially late at night.

    Lima's casa de cambio (foreign exchange bureaus) usually give similar or slightly better rates than banks for cash (although not for traveller's checks). There are several casa de cambios downtown on Ocoña and Camana, as well as along Avenida Jose Larco in Miraflores. It is possible to exchange money on the street but examine your bills closely as counterfeits are a problem. Those around Parque Kennedy in Miraflores are generally the safest option.

  • Named the Gastronomic capital of the continent, it is in Lima, that you will find some of the country’s best food. Lima has everything from simple cevicherías (ceviche counters) and street corner anticucho (beef heart skewer) stands, to extravagant haute cuisine restaurants. Lima's prime location on the coast gives it access to a wide variety of fresh seafood. While its status as a centralized capital means you can find lots of regional specialties from around Peru. Highlights include ají de gallina (a nutty chicken stew from Arequipa) and Chiclayo style 'arroz con pato' (rice with duck), slowly simmered in cilantro, garlic and beer. Lima has such a vast assortment of cuisine, in fact, that it is possible to spend weeks in the city without beginning to taste it all.

  • Lima offers places to drink to suit anyone's taste. There is everything from rowdy beer halls to high-end lounges to atmospheric old bars. In downtown, you can get a drink for about 10 soles. Further south-to San Isidro, Miraflores and Barranco and the prices steadily climb. Trendier lounges will generally charge between 15 to 20 soles a cocktail. There are many bars that offer a wide range of cocktails, including the typical Peruvian cocktail 'Pisco Sour'.

    • Explore the city´s colonial heart, at the Plaza the Armas, which is bordered by the stately Cathedral and the Government Palace.
    • Visit the Church of Santo Domingo, where Peru´s most revered saints are entombed.
    • Visit the centuries-old catacombs at the Monastery of San Francisco.
    • Visit the Church of the Merced, home to awe-inducing baroque altars.
    • See Chancay pottery inside a pristine historic mansion at the Museum of Andres del Castillo.
  • The city´s historic center generally offers the best deals on accommodations and proximity to some of the best attractions. Traffic starts to be noisy early so select your hotel (and your room) accordingly. Also, note that although the security situation in downtown has improved greatly in recent years. At night, it is advisable to take taxis and not to display expensive camera gear or jewelry. The Plaza de Armas and the Plaza San Martin are well policed and are great spots for an evening stroll.

  • Cycling: Popular excursions from Lima include the 31 Km ride to Pachacamac, where there are good local trails open between April and December. Expert riders can inquire about the downhill circuit from Olleros to San Bartolo, south of Lima. For organized cycling tours from abroad, see international tour companies.

    Paragliding: It is possible to paraglide off the Miraflores cliff tops. Flights take off from the cliff top 'paraport' at the Parque Raimondi and start at about $50 USD for a 15-minute tandem flight. Paragliding companies do not have offices on site so if you want to fly, make a reservation in advance.

    Swimming & Surfing: Despite the newspaper warnings about pollution, Limeños hit the beaches in droves during summer (January to March). Playa Costa Verde in Miraflores (Nicknamed Waikiki) is a favorite of local surfers and has good breaks year-round. Barranco´s beaches have waves that are better for long boards. There are seven other beaches in Miraflores and four more in Barranco. Serious surfers can also try Playa La Herradura in Chorrillos, which has waves up to 5m high during good swells. Do not leave your belongings unattended, as theft is a problem.

    Scuba Diving: There is reasonable deep-sea diving off Peru´s southern Coast. There is an excellent dive shop owned by Luis Rodriguez, a PADI-certified instructor who sells gear and arranges certification and diving trips, including regular excursions to Islas Palomino of the coast of Callao, to see a year-round sea-lion colony.

  • The district of Miraflores contains most of the hotel infrastructure of Lima. It is in this area, that you are most likely to easily meet other travellers.

  • Lima is like any US or European city, where you can find everything you need, including supermarkets, transportation and hotels.

Cusco Travel FAQs

  • The airport is about 6km south of the city center. The local bus lines, Imperial and C-4M (.70 centimos, every 20 minutes) run from Av El Sol to outside the airport. A taxi to or from the city center to the airport cost 5 soles. An official radio taxi from within the airport costs 10 soles. With advance reservations, many hotels offer free pickup.

    Local rides on public transportation cost only .70 centimos, though it´s easier to walk or just take a taxi than to figure out where any local bus is headed. There are no meters in taxis but there are set rates. At time of research, trips within the city center cost 4 soles and to destinations further afield, such as El Molino, where its 7 soles, check with your hotel whether this is still correct and rather than negotiate. Simply, hand the correct amount to your ride. He is unlikely to argue if you seem to know what you are doing. Official taxis, identified by a lit company telephone number of the roof, are more expensive but safer. Before getting into any taxi, do as savvy locals do and take conspicuous note of the registration number.

  • Before departing, you have to pay an airport tax. For domestic flights its $11 USD (about 28 soles). Pay that after getting your boarding pass.

  • Eating.- Cusco´s location nearly dropping off the eastern edge of the Andes, gives access to an unbelievable range of produce. The Incas had it figured out, working the precipitous altitude changes for all they were worth to create terraces. Where stodgy highlanders such as potatoes and Quinua grew practically on top of colorful jungle delicacies such as coca, avocado and aji picante (hot chili). Few food stores in the world offer the variety in Cusco´s humblest street market.

    The local food scene taken off over the last decade, as incoming influences from all over the world have seen local products. Many of them not available outside Peru. Combined in ever fresher ways. Cusco explodes with taste sensations from cheap streets snacks to the world-class quality and prices of its top restaurants. If you like to eat and are prepared to try something new, you will need to loosen your belt a notch after a few days in Cusco.

    Drinking.- Clubs open early but crank up a few notches after about 11pm. Happy hour is ubiquitous and generally entails two for one on beers or certain mixed drinks. In popular discotecas (beware the word nightclub it is often used in Peru to indicate a brothel), especially right on the plaza de Armas, both sexes should beware of drinks being spiked.

    Cross keys, Northon Rats and Paddy Flaherty´s are good places to track down those important soccer matches with satellite TVs permanently tuned into sports. The tried and true stops on the big night out in Cusco are discotecas: Mythology Inca Team, Roots, Ukuku´s, and Mama Africa.

    Shopping.- San Blas, cuesta San Blas, Carmen Alto and Tandapata, east of the Plaza offers Cusco´s best shopping. It´s the artisan quarter packed with workshops and showrooms of local craftspeople. Some offer the chance to watch artisans at work and see the interiors of colonial buildings. While hunting down that perfect souvenir. Prices and quality vary greatly so shop around and expect to bargain, except in the most expensive stores, where prices are often fixed.

  • Travel Agencies are always willing to help out with travel arrangements but they obviously charge a commission. The following independent tourism information centers are recommended: DIRCETUR (located on Mantas Street 117), and the official provider of Cusco tourism information; iPeru. iPeru is more informative and is located in the Main Hall of Cusco Airport.

  • The City of Cusco is located in the Southeast Andes of Peru at 3350 meters above sea level.

  • Some people who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500m (8100ft) can develop high altitude sickness. This includes Cusco (3350m) and Machu Picchu (2400m). Being physically fit, offers no protection. Those who have experienced high altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents, higher altitudes and greater exertion. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia or loss of appetite. If symptoms are more than mild or persist for more than 24 hours, descend immediately by at least 500m and see a doctor.

  • There are lots of ATMs in and around the Plaza the Armas and also at the airport, Huanchaq Train Station and the bus terminal. All accept Visa, most accept MasterCard, and many will allow you to withdraw from a foreign debit account. There are several big bank branches on Avenida El Sol to go inside for cash advances above daily ATM limits. Casas de cambios (foreign-exchange bureaus) give better exchange rates than banks. There are lots of these around the main plazas and especially along Avenida El Sol. Moneychangers can be found outside banks but their rates are not much better than casa de cambio and rip-offs are common.

  • Cusco offers an official boleto turistico (tourist ticket). It costs adult/student under 26 with ISIC card 130/70 soles). This ticket is valid for ten days and covers:

    • Entry to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay, (right outside Cusco):
    • Entry to the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and Moray (in the Sacred Valley)
    • Entry to the ruins of Tipon and Piquillacta (in the south).
    • The Popular Art Musem (Museo de Arte Popular),
    • The Regional History Museum (Museo Historico Regional)
    • An evening performance of Andean dances and live music at the centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo
    • The archaeological museum at Qoricancha (but not Qoricancha itself)
    • The contemporary art museum (museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo)
    • The Pachacutec monument near the bus terminal.
  • For many travellers, markets are the highlight of South America and Cusco offers some excellent markets. Do not bring valuables and make sure to take care of your personal belongings, as pickpockets are usually at work.

    'Mercado San Pedro' is Cusco´s central market. There, you can find pig heads for caldo (soup), frogs (to enhance sexual performance), fruit juice, roast lechon (suckling pig) and tamales, among many other products. Around the edge of the market are typical clothes, incenses and other random products. Another market that has fewer tourists and is also very interesting is the 'Mercado Modelo de Wanchaq'. It is the local destination of choice for breakfast, the morning after, specializing in ceviche and chicharrones. 'El Molino' is a market just beyond the bus terminal and is Cusco´s answer to the department store. Even more congested than San Pedro, it is the place to bargain hunt for clothes, housewares, bulk food and alcohol, electronic goods, camping gear and pirated CDs and DVDs.

  • Around the Plaza de Armas (main square), you can find everything including clothes, ornaments, toys, candles, jewelry, art, ceramics and handbags. It is all handmade and fair trade.

  • Cusco and its surrounding highlands celebrate many lively fiestas and holidays. In addition to national holidays, the following are the most crowded times, when you should book all accommodations well in advance:

    • The Lord of the Earthquakes (Señor de los Temblores): This procession on the Monday before Easter dates to the earthquake of 1650.
    • Crucifix Vigil: On May 2nd to 3rd, a crucifix vigil takes place on those hilltops with crosses.
    • Qoylloritti: This is a festival less well known than the spectacular Inti Raymi. It is held at the foot of Ausangate, the Tuesday before Corpus Christi, which falls in late May or early June.
    • Corpus Christi: Held on the ninth Thursday after Easter, Corpus Christi usually occurs in early June and features fantastic religious processions and celebrations in the Cathedral.
    • Inti Raymi: Cusco´s most important festival. It is the festival of the Sun and is held on June 24th. It attracts tourists from all over Peru and the world, the whole city celebrates in the streets. The festival culminates in a reenactment of the Incan Winter Solistice Festival at Sacsayhuaman. Despite its commercialization, it is still worth seeing the street dances and parades, as well as the events at Sacsayhuaman.
    • Santuranticuy: An artisan crafts fair in the Plaza de Armas on December 24th (Christmas Eve).
  • The beautiful Urubamba valley, popularly known as 'Valle Sagrado' (Sacred Valley), is about 15km north of Cusco. The star attractions are the Incan citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, which preside over its undulating twist and turns but the valley is also packed with other Incan sites, as well as markets and Andean Villages. It is famous for some high adrenaline activities, such as rafting, trekking and rock climbing. Most activities can be organized in Cusco or at a hotel in Urubamba.

    A multitude of travel agencies in Cusco offer tours of the Sacred Valley, stopping at markets and the most significant archaeological sites, but even if you only have a day or two to spare, it is immeasurably rewarding to explore this peaceful, often overlooked corner of the Andes at your own leisure. Visiting the archaeological sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero requires a 'boleto turistico', which can be bought directly from the guards at the sites.

  • Tipping the guide and cook should be dependent on the quality of the service that you received. If their tips are consistently poor, then they will soon get the message that they need to improve. The amount you pay depends on you but as a guideline we recommend that each porter in your group take home an extra 30-35 soles (a combined tip from everyone in the group). Try to take plenty of small change so that you can give the tips directly to the porters. This is much better than giving the money to the cook or the guide to be divided up later amongst the porters as often the money is unfairly distributed.
    If you want to help the porters more than leaving a sensible tip then contribute to one of the existing porter welfare projects in Cusco.

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