1. How does Amazon Tours Perú work?
• Call to Amazon Tours Perú, fill out one of our online forms, or email a request. We will pair you with your personal travel advisor within 24 hours.
• Once you are happy with your travel itinerary, simply confirm with 30% as a down payment.
• You will receive full confirmation for your trip approximately 3-4 weeks after booking. We will coordinate everything from planes and trains to busses and tours.
• Your travel advisor will remind you about your trip balance one month before your trip.
• Amazon Tours Perú will send reservation requests to all of the hotels on your preference list, but normally the hotels take one week or more to reply. We also confirm hotels that you did not request, in order to have a back-up hotel just in case your requested hotel is already fully booked. We will always make sure that the backup hotel is of the same quality as your preferred choice. All of our hotels are handpicked to ensure your quality and comfort.
2. Lima Airport information
• Airport lockers: Lockers are near the domestic departure exit. The airport staff will point you in the right direction. Lockers cost 7 soles per hour and 28 soles for the whole day. There is also a left-luggage area where you can leave your suitcase for 3.50 soles per hour per piece or 14 soles for the whole day per piece.
• Money Changers & ATMs: Open 24 hours, fair rates, and easily accessible in the airport.
• Going through customs in Lima: Domestic flights customs are a breeze. For international flights between the United States & Lima: avoid packing liquids, gels, drinks, shampoo, sun block/suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel, hair spray, & liquid cosmetics in your carry-on bag. Put them in your check-in luggage. To bring medicines, you need a prescription.
• Departure taxes: For all flights from Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, passengers must pay a domestic or international flight departure tax. Most international departure taxes are now included in the ticket price. A domestic departure tax of $5-10 USD, depending on the airport, is not always included in the ticket price and must be paid before boarding. This is payable at the airport payment teller window located right before you pass through security. This will mean lining up twice, which is a good reason to arrive early although the process is rather quick.
• Our booking: Airlines are subject to change and we’re one step ahead. If by any chance your flight is delayed or cancelled, you are automatically on the next flight and we will coordinate everything from there. Our team also confirms your flights for you so you don’t need to bother with the details.
• Always informed: If there are any changes, you will be notified wherever you are by our representative in each destination.
• E-ticket flexibility: We arrange everything via e-tickets so there is maximum flexibility for you. We put you in the airline’s system so you simply breeze through the check-in counter and get your boarding pass(es).
• Frequent Flyers: Pass us your frequent flyer numbers so we can automatically credit your miles with participating airlines in South America.
3. Do I need a visa to enter Perú?
With a few exceptions, visas are not required for travelers entering Perú. Tourists are permitted to stay in the country up to 183 days on a tourist visa upon arrival, which is stamped into their passports and onto a tourist card, called a Tarjeta Andina de Migración (Andean Immigration Card), which you must return upon leaving the country. The actual length of stay is determined by the immigration officer at the point of entry. Be careful not to lose your tourist card, or you will have to line up at the oficina de migraciónes (immigration office), also simply known as migraciónes, for a replacement card. It’s a good idea to carry your passport and tourist card on your person at all times, especially when traveling in remote areas (it’s required by law on the Inca Trail). For security, make a photocopy of both documents and keep them in a separate place from the originals.
4. Money in Perú
Where to change currency: You can change your money in Peru or in your home country. Many banks will exchange large amounts of money at no charge, but require several business days. You can also change money at the airport in Lima (open 24 hours) and the rest of it at your other destinations as needed. There are casa de cambio (money exchange offices) in all major cities, generally easily accessible.
The most secure and easiest places in Peru to exchange your US dollars are at the airport or at your hotel, but you will easily find places to change money in most cities. Make sure you know the official exchange rate, as not all places offer the same rates. You can also use ATMs to withdraw money throughout Peru (but not in very remote areas like Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, or the Titicaca Islands). Keep in mind that when you travel to more remote areas of the country you should have plenty of small bills or coins in Peruvian currency on hand.
Are American dollars readily accepted? Yes, US dollars are widely accepted in Peru. You can use them in most of the hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants, but please carry Peruvian currency with you for remote areas or for shopping in small shops.
Large bills (soles): Avoid paying with or carrying around large bills. Many merchants can’t or won’t change them, and finding someone to provide change can be a hassle (this is particularly true for taxi drivers, who almost never have – or claim not to have – sufficient change).
Other currencies: It is easier to use US dollars, as larger stores and hotels readily accept them and it may be difficult to find places that will change your Canadian dollars outside banks and official currency exchange houses. However, you are still likely to get a better currency exchange rate in Peru than in Canada.
Budget: Roughly how much do you think we are likely to need for our trip? Numerically, prices in Perú are very much like in the USA. But it’s really a bargain, because in Peru your dollar is worth almost three times what it is in the US. An average good meal in the US is $14-20, and a good meal in Perú is 15-25 soles (under $10 USD). A high-end meal that is $70 in the US is 70 soles (about $20).
Bargaining is also expected when you shop in markets. Always make a counter offer lower than the amount asked. If you plan to make big purchases, a nice high-quality Alpaca sweater can cost around $100, while little trinkets will cost anywhere from 30 cents and up.
How much should one tip in Peru and who? Peruvians generally do not tip well, if at all. From this perspective, you should tip according to how well you were served. Be aware that some restaurants already include a service charge in the bill.
Here is an idea of the usual custom here:
Tour guide - $5 - $10 per person
Waiters in good restaurants - 10%
Waiters in budget restaurants - from nothing to 5%
Drivers/maids - $1 - $2 per person
Bellboys - 1 sol per piece of luggage
Should we tip the drivers who will be transporting us (for example from airport to hotel and back)? Drivers in Peru usually do not receive tips. But at Peru For Less we take a liberal approach and would like to leave it up to you. Tip according to how well you were served. Usually 1 sol should be enough.
Are there any costs that are not included in our tour? Everything is included except lunch and dinner, personal trip costs during your free days such as taxi rides and activities not mentioned in your itinerary, and some airport taxes.
Warning about counterfeit money: Though most travelers report no problems with fake currency, you can avoid receiving counterfeit bills in Perú by using official bank ATMs and reputable currency exchange offices. It is usually relatively easy to tell if you’ve received a counterfeit note.
5. Do you know what voltage the sockets have – 110 or 220? What are the standard plugs?
The voltage in Peru is 220V. Some of your electronics may be able to take up to 220V; just look at the label on the charger. If not, you might want to carry an adapter/converter with you. Almost all of the outlets here accommodate both round and flat prongs (the outlet is a combination of the 2 pictures below).
6. What should we pack?
This will depend very much upon which area of Perú you are visiting. Here is a rough guide to help you decide. The secret, by the way, is layering. Peel off during the warm day, and layer on for cool nights. But pack as light as possible. You don’t want to lug around lots of unnecessary bags during the trip (and you might need room for souvenirs!).
• Sandals with straps (You’ll be given rubber boots at the lodge.)
• Comfortable walking shoes/hiking boots (nothing that you wouldn’t want to get muddy!)
• Loose long-sleeved tops and long pants
• Hat with netting
• Insect repellent
• Hiking boots
• Poncho (December through February)
• Hiking boots
• Walking pole (optional)
• Sleeping bag (you can also rent one in Cusco)
• Comfortable hiking shoes
• Documents: Bring your passport and driver’s license. These documents will be requested at the entrance to the Inca Trail so make sure to carry them with you in order to avoid any problems.
vRecommended Travel Accessories
• Camera & binoculars
• Journal for writing
• Sun block & mosquito repellent
• Sunglasses & hat
• Personal medicines (prescriptions)
Rainy season in the highlands and the jungle: The rainy season in Perú starts in December and continues until March. On the coast, the weather is arid with a warm summer from late December through March. A mist known as garúa covers the central and southern coastal provinces for the majority of the rest of the year. During the dry season it will be warm in the jungle, while it may be hot during the day and very cold at night in the other high regions such as Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno. Lima, Nazca, and Paracas are in between the two.
Altitude sickness recommendations: Cusco is located at about 10,970 feet (3,320 meters), meaning that an adjustment period will be necessary for virtually everyone. Prevention is the best treatment. Before going to Cusco, don’t eat too much. Avoid fatty food and alcohol in favor of easily-digestible food and a lot of water. Once you’re in Cusco, take baby steps as your body gets used to the altitude. If you want to be extra safe you can bring/buy Sorochi or Grovol (over-the-counter medications to be taken 24 hours before). You can get these easily in drugstores found on almost every corner in Lima and Cusco. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before taking these medications. Once you get to Cusco, you can buy muña and coca tea, all natural lung-openers.
Recommended Travel Documents: your passport should be valid for at least six months after the day of your entry into Peru. Carry a copy of your passport at all times.
Should we pack only backpacks to carry with us through the journey or will we be able to bring the roller luggage (carry-on) with us?: A duffel bag with wheels and a lock (for security) is a good option since you will go through some cobblestone roads. Pack a small backpack for short journeys, when on the Inca Trail, or when heading to your jungle trip.
Are we likely to encounter a dress code anywhere we visit on our tour? There are no dress codes, and you are unlikely to offend anybody with your appearance. Peruvians and the Andeans are very open-minded and used to foreign travelers with different types of fashion.
What are the baggage weight limitations on domestic flights? What are the overcharge fees?
The following table represents information regarding domestic LAN flights and is only to be used as a rough guide. If you will be flying another airline, or for the most current information, please check the airline’s website or speak with your Travel Advisor for further details. Note: 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.
Are there any other airport security issues we should be aware of when flying within Perú?
Flight restrictions in Peru are not as strict as in the USA. Whatever you can bring from the US, you will be able to carry on your flights within Peru.
Do we get American Airline miles for LAN Peru plane tickets? You will receive American Airlines miles for your domestic flights with LAN Peru.
What is the best way to make calls to the US? You can make cheap international calls using a calling card. We recommend either 147 or Hola Peru. For 10 soles (about $3.57) you get 48 minutes of call time to the States from a standard land line (pay phones have very high surcharges). Skype is always an option if you have access to a computer.
If we rent an international cell phone will it works in the areas where we are going, or do we need a satellite cell phone? In most of the places you'll be visiting, your international cell phone will work and will be able to get a signal. However, for remote places like the jungle, a satellite phone is best if you wish to keep in touch.
Do you know what the least expensive prepaid SIM cards for cell phones are, if we bought them in Peru? We both have GSM cell phones and might want to buy prepaid SIM cards for one or both of them, depending on the cost. There are two major telecommunications companies in Peru: Claro and Movistar. You can buy a prepaid SIM card for about 15 soles then recharge them depending on your needs in any store selling Claro or Movistar products, as well as in most supermarkets and gas stations. Before buying a SIM card, make sure that your phone recognizes the local networks, as this is not always the case.
8. What is the time difference between the United States and Perú?
Perú is five hours behind GMT (same as EST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), Perú is on CST.
In terms of safety, especially for children, is there anything we should be concerned about, be prepared for, etc.?
Watch what your children eat and drink because they are generally more prone to food sickness. You can rest assured that the food in good hotels and reputable restaurants is safe. For children with asthma, it would be best to consult your doctor before traveling, especially if you are visiting a city at high altitude such as Cusco or Puno.
What are the conditions for personal safety? Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and always keep your belongings close to you. Since you will be traveling with Amazon Tours Peru and your transportation will be arranged for you, you should feel safe. Traveling in a group or with your guides, you can always feel secure. However, as with any crowded area in any city, exercise caution – keep an eye on your bags, don’t put your cameras or cash on display and watch out for pickpockets.
Are shots required before traveling to Perú? Yellow fever vaccination is recommended but not required if you are traveling to the jungle. If you want to be on the safe side, you should get your shots 12 days prior to entering the Amazon jungle.
Should we take any food and drink precautions while in Peru? Drinking only bottled water is a good idea. You’ll find many brands in supermarkets or in little stores called bodegas. Common brands are Cielo, San Antonio, San Luis, and Fresh (lemon infused water). There are two types of water you can buy: sin gas meaning un-carbonated, “normal” water, and con gas which is carbonated. Amazon Tours Peru works with good hotels and the food in these hotels is of high quality. Make sure to eat in good restaurants and buy fruits from quality supermarkets like Vivanda and Wong (found all over Lima) Mega and Orion (found in Cusco . If you buy fruit from a street market, take extra care to wash it very thoroughly before eating it.
Important note: Peruvian tap water is not potable. It is fine to use for teeth-brushing and cooking (provided it is boiled) but should not be ingested directly from the tap.
The weather in Peru varies from region to region and climatic conditions vary depending on the time of year. The weather in Lima is generally pretty mild regardless of the time of year; winters are chilly but not very cold (lows are around 50°F or 10°C), with warm summers. Locations at high altitude are naturally going to be colder than those at low altitudes.
11. Language issues
A sizable amount of the population in Lima and Cusco speaks passable English, but many Peruvians do not. In other areas of Peru, that amount is much smaller. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can probably get by with gestures and a few common English words. Depending on where you plan to go, it may be a good idea to purchase a phrasebook.
Bathrooms in Peru often have the telltale stick figures on the door. If they do not, look for Damas or Mujeres for women, and Caballeros or Hombres for men. Also, SS.HH indicates a restroom. You may sometimes be asked a pay a small charge for using public restrooms.