10. Don’t skip your vaccines or fail to fill your stomach prescription. The water is roughhhhhhh.
9. Bring 100 SD cards. Oh the pictures you will take!
8. Use Isango! or Viator to book taxis before you go. You’ll get a better price and won’t get tricked (particularly in Lima).
7. It’s not that hot. Bring a rain jacket, fold-able sweater, and hiking boots (that’s right not sneakers!). But also sunscreen and an awesome hat. Peru has that whole scorching sun – cold mountain wind thing going on.
6. Machu Pichu must be done at dawn. Sorry.
5. Don’t miss the Amazon. So many people skip the Amazon because they expect it to be a terrifying adventure in the wild. Tambopato is very well-organized and there are a ton of reserves you can stay at. I wouldn’t show up unplanned or camp though… never camp… (We stayed at Inketerra Amazonica).
4. By the time you arrive in Peru your information will be outdated. Things are changing in Peru by the second. They are currently building an airport near Cusco that will render everything I’ve written useless (should take about five years). I did my research before this trip and spoke to people who had already been – everything is different. Prepare for the worst in amenities, food, and health care – things aren’t that bad but it varies greatly by region and it’s better to be prepared.
3. Bring a Spanish guidebook. Unlike in Spain, Spanglish won’t get you far in Peru where most people speak a blend of Spanish and Quechua. Sometimes pointing to a word in a guidebook is more effective than trying to say it – even if you speak fairly good American-University Spanish.
2. Think of prices as suggestions, you can haggle and your provider (taxi or hotel) can change the price on a whim. Just because you spent 2 soles to get to the market doesn’t mean it won’t be 14 to get back.
1. Get soles before going to Peru. The idea of wandering around with $1,000 is daunting, particularly in Peru, but getting small bills in Peru is nearly impossible and many businesses won’t take larger bills. A taxi ride may be 2 soles (50 cents) but it will cost you the full 100 soles (50 USD) if you don’t have change. Many places also take American dollars if you ask. Also use your credit card whenever possible and save those bills you do have! For the most part banks in Cusco are ATMs without humans and ATMs give out 100s which is a huge amount in a country where your average meal will cost you 7 soles.
This is Post 1 of my Peru:2014 Series.