Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peruvian territory was home to ancient cultures spanning from the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America.
Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. The Peruvian population is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.
Time zone: The time zone is UTC/GMT -5 hours.
International calling code: +51
Currency: In Peru the local currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN). The Nuevo Sol is not easily found outside Peru therefore it is better to bring U$D or €uro which can be changed easily (be careful not to bring bills that are in some way damaged) or use your credit card to withdraw cash.
Security: In terms of crime Peru is in the Latin American average. However, like anywhere, wherever there are tourists there are pickpockets. Stay alert and do not let your bags and valuables unattended.
Shopping: Peru has a lot to offer; gold and silver jewellery, fashion from fine vicuña wool as well as cultural valuables (art and crafts). There are souvenirs that bring good luck, and others that spread the magic of the Andes. In markets you should always bargain down the often very excessive first price. In shops only major credit cards are accepted and that with an extra charge.
Gastronomy: We recommend dishes, such as Ceviche (a kind of fresh sliced raw fish or seafood (sometimes also meat) marinated in lime juice served with marinated onions), Anticucho (grilled beef heart on skewers), papa a la Huancaina, etc.
Climate: The climate of Peru is very diverse, with a large variety of climates and microclimates, including 28 of the 32 world climates. Such diversity is chiefly conditioned by the presence of the Andes Mountains and the cold Humboldt Current. In general, the climate on the coast is subtropical with very little rainfall. The Andes Mountains observe a cool-to-cold climate with rainy summers and very dry winters. The eastern lowlands present an Equatorial climate with hot weather and rain distributed all year long. The costa has moderate temperatures, low precipitations, and high humidity, except for its warmer, wetter northern reaches. In the sierra, rain is frequent during summer, and temperature and humidity diminish with altitude up to the frozen peaks of the Andes. The selva is characterized by heavy rainfall and high temperatures, except for its southernmost part, which has cold winters and seasonal rainfall. Peru has three main climatic zones: the tropical Amazon jungle to the east; the arid coastal desert to the west; and the Andean mountains and highlands in the middle of the country. In the Andes, which have altitudes over 3500m, average daily temperatures fall below 10°C/50°F and overnight temperatures can dip well below freezing. From June to August is the dry season in the mountains and altiplano (Andean plateau); the wettest months are from December to March. It rains all the time in the hot and humid rainforest, but the driest months there are from June to September. However, even during the wettest months from December to May, it rarely rains for more than a few hours at a time. Along the arid coastal strip, the hot months are from December through March. Some parts of the coastal strip see rain rarely, if at all. From April to November, Lima and other areas by the Pacific Ocean are enclosed in garúa (coastal fog, mist or drizzle) as warmer air masses off the desert drift over the ocean where the cold Humboldt Current hits.
Altitude: To be in top form in high altitude, it is necessary to acclimatize well. Many visitors complain of headaches, fatigue, nausea or loss of appetite because of the altitude – others remain completely unaffected! In any case, it is advisable to plan for an extra few days to get used to the altitude. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before arriving and avoid physical strain upon arrival.
Last but not least...: The unforeseen happens – and nowhere more than in South America - your flight might be late or the bus brakes down! Remember that life works at a different pace here, and people do not have the same sense of timekeeping as at home - people do not expect you to be on time! Try to accept this as part of the charm of travelling in a relaxed country. We always include extra time to allow for these things, sometimes too much and sometimes not enough; in both cases we try to ensure that you have a great trip.