Region: South America & Central America
As is common with most Latin American countries, over 90% of the population in Peru professes Roman Catholicism. In the older towns, remarkable colonial Catholic churches may be found. The indigenous population tend to blend Catholicism with their own more ancient and traditional beliefs.
Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara are the official languages. English is not widely spoken.
Area (sq. km):
1,285,220 square meters
The climatic regions of Peru are diverse and are defined by land elevation or by the blockage of weather patterns by the Andes. Average annual temperatures vary from 19° to 22°C on the coast, to 1° to 14°C in the Andes, and to 24° to 35°C in the eastern forests. Precipitation is heaviest in the east (1900mm to 3175 mm) and very low (50 mm) in the arid western coasts. The line of permanent snow varies from 4,480 to 5,000 metres.
The most popular time to travel to Peru tends to be June to August, however, anytime of year is good time to go to Peru. Please keep in mind that the main Inca Trail route is closed for cleaning for the month of February, but alternative routes can be taken.
Jorge Chávez Lima-Callao International Airport is located 16 kilometres (10 miles) northwest of Lima. Taxis are available at the airport; it is recommended that passengers use the services of one of three official taxi companies located directly outside the arrivals hall, this will cost you approximately US$20 to US$25. The centre of Lima can also be reached by bus. Alternatively combis (minibuses) run to/from central Lima, stopping along the main avenues in the city (Abancay, Tacna and Wilson Avenues). No buses enter the airport grounds; the nearest stop is on the main avenue that leads from the city centre to the airport.
The international dialling code for Peru is +51. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Latin America. Most countries in the region operate on the 1900 Mhz system. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
The electricity supply in Peru is rated at 110/220 volts, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round two-pin plugs are the most common types in the region. Adaptors can be purchased prior to departure or in Latin America.
Peruvian food is determined by the geography of the country, its climate and the customs of their people. The majority of ingredients found in Peruvian dishes are rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, lamb, and fish. Most of these meals include one of the different kinds of 'aji' or Peruvian hot pepper, which mainly are yellow aji pepper, red aji pepper, red rocoto pepper. Lunch is the main meal of the day and dinner is usually served from about 8pm. Vegetarian options are limited as most if the food is meat based. Whilst in Peru, make sure you try the following dishes: Rocoto Relleno: Typical dish with meat, onions, peanuts, milk and eggs, everything baked inside of the delicious rocoto (pepper), with potatoes and cheese. Arroz con Pollo: Boiled chicken seasoned with a green sauce. Served always with green rice (rice cooked with albahaca) Seco de frejoles: Boiled beans with a lamb stew in green sauce, always served with white rice and raw onions seasoned with lemon and aji. Ceviche: Fish or mixed shrimp with lemon. The seafood is cut into small pieces and then mixed with lemon juice and left to sit for 1 hour. It is then mixed with onions, celery, coriander, salt and black pepper. The dish is served cold. Lomo saltado: chopped steak fried with onions, tomatoes and potatoes, served with rice Palta a la jardinera: avocado stuffed with cold vegetables and mayonnaise.
Peru has an excellent domestic air service and most regions are well serviced by buses. The city of Iquitos in the heart of the Amazon is only accessible by air or by riverboat.
There are many attractive good, cheap and varied Peruvian handicrafts such as alpaca and llama rugs and alpaca wool sweaters, weaving, Indian masks, jewellery and much more. Galleries and handicraft shops abound in the Miraflores, Pueblo Libre and downtown districts of Lima. Handicrafts markets are located in Miraflores (Petit Thouars Ave, blocks 52 to 53) and Pueblo Libre (La Marina Ave, blocks 8 to 10). Bargaining is an expected practice in smaller shops and markets.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Peru. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Cut Stones and Crossroads - R Wright Exploring Cusco - P Frost The Incas and Their Ancestors - M Moseley