Things to know before visiting Peru

Things to know before visiting Peru

I visited Peru last summer and there is a lot of things I wish to know before I even started thinking about going. Besides Peru is a big country, so you might want to know different information regarding where exactly you are going. So it is good to have an itinerary! Anyway, I tried to make most of my things to know before visiting Peru relevant for everyone.

It can get cold

Getting cold up there

I think this was one of the first things that strike me. It can get very cold. In most of the guides, you will find that it is best to visit Peru in June, July or August. Well, what you should know before visiting Peru in these months is probably the fact, that it is going to be winter there. That is actually something I was aware of. What I didn’t know is the fact that it means that you should probably dress up. Especially if you are going to the mountains.

Overall, the temperature during the day could be very nice and even suitable just for a t-shirt. It will get more tricky once the sun will set. That is where in some parts you can easily get under zero degrees. So be prepared and get proper clothes. Or buy some, they have a lot of sweaters.

Booking ahead

View from bus
Views from buses can be stunning

Everything that you are thinking of should be probably booked ahead. Especially Machu Pichu. In fact, it is probably better to buy tickets to Machu Pichu before you buy flight tickets because the government decided to limit numbers of tourist on Machu Pichu.

Other than Machu Pichu, book hotels, especially in main season it is not possible to just wander around the city, hoping some place will have a free room. They might, but it will probably cost twice as much.

Another good thing to book before visiting Peru is probably bus tickets. Overall they might be the last issue, but if you want to travel with a nice company and in time that suits you, book it in time. This might be fine if you want to travel during the day, but if you want to book overnight buses, definitely book ahead.

Cheap flight tickets

Before visiting Peru - cheap flights

This is a big plus especially for those who are not amazed by cheap bus tickets around Peru. Sure they are cheap, but at the same time, you will spend hours in them and sometimes is just easier to fly. Well, good news. Flight tickets around Peru aren’t the most expensive either. Of course, depends when you are going.

For example, my flight ticket from Cuzco to Lima cost only 50 dollars, which isn’t too bad and I didn’t have to spend 16 hours on a bus. The only thing that sort of bugged me was the fact, that the flight was delayed. But hey, it all cannot be just plus. So this is definitely something good to know when planning your itinerary before visiting Peru.

All kinds of nature

Huacachina oasis in Peru
Good thing to know before visiting Peru is that you can visit all kinds of nature

Peru is a big country. Well, for someone who is living in Denmark anyway. But what surprised me was the fact how diverse the Peruvian nature is. Sure you can go to Machu Pichu, but you can also see Peruvian desert and it’s a little oasis, or if you go north, you can see Amazon forest. And those who love mountains will too find something to do.

But because of this diversity, don’t forget to pack properly. Surely you would take different clothes to the mountains with an altitude of 3600m and something different to the desert.

Either way, it is important to know what you want to experience in Peru. Because of this variety, it is easy to find a lot of activities that fit you. But then you need to know where to go. If you go north, there won’t be too many tourists, and you will find beautiful beaches and the Amazon forest. However, you can have a different experience when going to the south, where are mountains and more of the Inka history sights.

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness

One of the least fun things in Peru. It is something that you need to take to count before visiting Peru. Ask your doctor, what he thinks about it, see if you need a medicine for it. Personally, I have never tried it, but I wish I would, because I did get sick, and it is not fun.

What you need to know before visiting some places in Peru is the fact, that altitude sickness can strike you when you are over 3000m. It might and it might not. Generally, if you are more fit, you are more likely to get it. It also depends, on which altitude are you used to. In case you feel sick, don’t move anywhere higher before getting used to it, altitude sickness isn’t fun and can be very dangerous!

In case you are like me and didn’t bring any medicine from your own country, don’t get scared. You can also solve this issue by visiting the local pharmacy. Ask for something on altitude. I got some sort of nature pills with ginger, coca and some more herbs, these worked just fine. Coca tea is also quite helpful. Only one warning: if you do coca tea or any other product, you will have a hard time to pass any drug test in the next half year. The test will show cocaine even though you didn’t take any.

Trips and tours

Trips in Inka valley

If you expect that backpacking around Peru is the same thing as it is in Southeast Asia, there is something you need to know before visiting Peru. It is not. When I traveled around Sri Lanka, I got to hop on a bus with locals and visit three big sites on that bus, by myself. Just for one day. Well, this is very different in Peru. Someone might like it more, some won’t. But if you want to visit more things in one day, you need to get a tour.

Local buses stop way too often so it would take you too long to get even to the first sight, or they stop way too far from the sights.

On the other hand, this way you will even get a guide and most of the time the tours aren’t too expensive. But of course, it is not as free traveling as you would expect.

Paying

Pictures can get expensive

Well, here it is something similar to in every poorer-ish country. Do you want to take a picture of someone in traditional dress? Cool, give them money. Do you like something on a local market? Bargain for it. Otherwise, it will get too overpriced.

Especially if you don’t look like you fit in Peru, you are more likely to pay more for things and pay extra to locals. I guess it just comes with traveling, but sometimes it is surprising, where else you need to pay extra money just to take a picture.

The best practice is always to ask whether you can take a picture, and how much would it take. Some of the families don’t have another source of money. When it comes to a bargain, try to not to push it too far. Even though it is something hard to do as someone from the country where you don’t bargle at all.

Before visiting Peru for solo female travelers

Before visiting Peru as solo female traveler

As someone traveling to South America for the very first time, I was kind of scared to travel that far. I have heard a lot of stories about the violent kidnapping of busses and drug cartels. However, these seem to be rather rare. Either way, I have never felt in danger when traveling in Peru. If you are afraid there are some guidelines.

Don’t travel during dark. Or plan your arrival to be during the day. I traveled once overnight by bus. But I planned it the way that I would arrive at my destination during daylight.

Book the hotels ahead and check if they really exist. It happened to me twice that I booked a hotel that didn’t exist. And they were even on booking. So try to write them a message, ask if they can pick you up at the station or send a taxi to you.

When it comes to taxi, the once in Peru can be a bit scammy, so it is better to always ask for a taxi at your accommodation, someone who they trust. You will probably pay less that way.

Also, learn some basic phrases in Spanish, and you will be fine. Traveling around Peru isn’t generally too difficult. Just be aware of your surrounding.

 

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Before visiting Peru

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15 Replies to “Things to know before visiting Peru”

  1. I still need to visit Peru! Glad to hear you felt safe there. I will be sure to book Machu Pichu and buses in advance, thanks for the tips.

  2. I have always heard about altitude sickness in Peru and think it’s very important for travelers to know this as it can easily be looked over. Glad to hear you also felt safe there as a solo female traveler 🙂

  3. Wow I have never been to Peru, so all of these tips are super helpful! I had no idea that flights within the country are so cheap!

  4. Peru sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to see Machu Pichu. Also can’t belive the many different climates.

  5. These are great tips. I felt a lot of the same insecurities when I visited Ecuador for the first time. But it was a magical trip and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  6. Articles like this are so helpful because it’s things you need to know but maybe didn’t get around to researching. Will certainly be saving this as we plan to visit next year.

  7. So cool! I’ve never been to Peru but a lot of these tips apply to other places in South America. Altitude sickness is the worst and there are so many mountainous regions in Peru that you can get it at. Love that photo with the hawk!!!

  8. I’m still to visit Peru, but I feel more prepared after reading this. I know I’d suffer from altitude sickness, so really appreciate the tips! Hoping I get to go one day soon!

  9. Very informative post and great tips! Peru is really high on my list, I would have expected backpacking there to be similar as in South East Asia! While you always need to careful anywhere it’s nice to know you felt safe as a solo traveller.

  10. The diversity in climates surprised me when we visited Peru as well. I did love the different landscapes and people. Paying for pictures in Cusco is quite common, but I was uncomfortable doing it. Not sure how you felt. Great tips about booking ahead, especially for Machu Picchu. Great article with great resources.

  11. I just got back from Peru and can relate to a lot of this. The paying for pictures was a bit weird, but it’s a service so you just need to decide how much the picture is worth. I also felt very safe, I think it’s a great place for females to travel, just be smart and safe.

  12. Okay, you lost me at the temperature. IT GETS COLD????? I guess that makes sense though with the altitude, but that is definitely good to know before my trip!

  13. Your tips are really great. I have not been to Peru yet, but I am starting to explore South America with Colombia soon. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Peru is one of my fave countries. I highly agree with all of these tips. I found Uber to be super useful to get around when I was unsure about taxis.

  15. Great guide! I’ll have to remember about this post and check back later as I’m hoping to visit Peru next year! I bet it’s scary as a solo female traveller as I’ve heard lots of stories about it being dangerous there!

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