Peru has a great variety of geography and landform and a climate to match. The great chain of the Andes runs through the country, more or less parallel to the Pacific coastline and divides Peru into three broad sections. The coastal plain is relatively narrow (between 30 and 60 miles wide) and consists mainly of dry desert, which is only farmed where irrigation is possible. The largest cities and much of Peru’s industry is concentrated on this coastal strip. The Andes, which rise to well over 6000 metres / 19000 feet, are divided into a number of ranges, or cordillera, of which the most continuous and most well known from a mountaineering standpoint is the Cordillera Blanca. Huascaran is the high point of this range, at 6768 meters / 22199 feet. In the high valleys of the Cordillera Blanca, the neighboring Cordillera Huayhuash and in the Cordillera Vilcabamba which lies to the south, the Indian descendants of the Incas continue to farm the land as they have done for centuries, growing crops such as corn and potatoes and herding cattle. On the east side of the Andes is the lowland forest and jungle of the Amazon Basin, which stretches for over a thousand miles into Brazil.
Electric Supply and Plugs
Peru's electricty supply is generally at 220v and 60Hz (50Hz in Arequipa). Plug sockets are mostly 2-pronged either 'Continental' style with parallel round pins or 'American' style with parallel flat pins.
The time in Peru is GMT - 5 hours.
The national language of Peru is Spanish. Few people speak English and it will pay dividends if you learn some phrases before you go. Spanish is an easy language to learn and its all part of the fun to try out your vocabulary during the trip. We recommend you take a pocket phrase book with you on the trip.
The Southern Hemisphere winter season of April through to October is the optimum period for trekking in this part of Peru. We can expect the days to be warm and generally sunny, with temperatures between 12 and 20°C (54 – 68°F). Above c. 3500m. / 11,000ft. during this season, the night-time temperatures will fall below freezing. At our highest camps we might experience night-time temperatures as low as -5°C / 23°F. Even though this is winter, Lima is only 12 degrees south of the equator, and the daytime temperatures in the capital will be 20 – 25°C / 68 – 77°F, with quite cool nights.
The unit of currency in Peru is the Nuevos Soles. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com. There is no need to purchase local currency prior to travelling. It is possible to withdraw your money in local currency from ATMs in Lima and Cusco. If you are bringing your travel money with you we recommend you bring it in the form of cash US dollars as this provides for the easiest exchange and in emergency can even be used to purchase goods. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and to pay for meals in Lima and in Cusco. For clients on our Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash trips, please be aware that it is more difficult to change money in Huaraz (and especially difficult to change travellers cheques).
Nationals of European Union countries and nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa need only a valid passport for entry into Peru. A Tourist Card valid for a 90 day stay is issued on arrival (this will normally be in Lima). Nationals of other countries should contact the High Commission of Peru in their own countries for further information.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A’. Malaria prophylaxis is not required for trips which spend all of the time on the Altiplano such as on the Inca Trail, unless you intend to visit the rainforest as an extension to your trip. A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Trekking and Climbing in the Andes. (Globetrotter Adventure). Val Pitkethly and Kate Harper.
Backpacking and Trekking in Peru and Bolivia. Hilary Bradt.
South America - Lonely Planet Guide.
Peru - A Travel Survival Kit. Rachowiecki.
Eight Feet in the Andes. Dervla Murphy.
Trails of the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash - Jim Bartle.
Flight of the Condor - Michael Andrews.
The Conquest of the Incas - John Hemming (MacMillan).
The South American Handbook.
The Andes - Time Life Books.
The Andes are Prickly - Martin Slessor.
The Trekkers Handbook. Tom Gilchrist.
Exploring Cusco. Peter Frost (available in Peru).
Peru. 1:1,500,000. ITMB Publishing.
Cordillera Huayhuash Map. 1:50,000. Peaks & Places Publishing, 2004.
Inca Trail – Machu Picchu. 1:50,000. Editorial Lima 2000
Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com
Rough Guides - www.roughguides.com