Last night my wife reminded me that there is one very important, money saving tip that I need to share with everyone, so I have decided this morning to put together a few tips for those of you that may be planning a trip to Peru, I have thrown in a few random photos as well.
First and most importantly is, if you are going to be taking any flights within or originating in Peru, Check Star Peru’s website for their rates as you won’t find them on most of the booking sights like Orbitz. A few years back there was a push to promote local travel, several of the airlines (like Lan and Taca) adopted a two tier pricing system, with non-residents paying a lower price than the tourists. For an example, a round trip ticket from Lima to Cusco and back on Lan, will cost a tourist between $350.00 and $600.00 while a resident will only pay about $125.00. As Star Peru did not adopt this pricing, their price is the same for everyone and you could expect to pay around $150.00 for the same Lima/Cusco ticket. Not many tourists seem to know about this Lan always seems to have a long line of tourists waiting to check in.
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol. American dollars and Euros are widely accepted in the whole country but it is recommended to have small bills, keep in mind: No one, not even banks, will accept dollar bills that look “old”, or are in any way damaged or torn, so carefully check any bills you intend to bring. Money can be changed at banks or casas de cambio (exchange houses), we recommend the change houses as they tend to offer a better rate than the banks and it can provide a little security against bad bills. When you change money at a casa de cambio, you will notice that they stamp the bills with a small symbol, this is an indicator of where the bill came from, so if you end up with a bill that looks suspicious or a business says is bad, the Casa de cambio may exchange it for another if it has their stamp.
Due to the high altitude of Cusco (3400m/11,200 ft.) some visitors experience altitude problems (tiredness, low blood pressure, upset stomach, headache, dehydration and agitated heart beat). We recommend that you take your time to acclimatize before any physical effort, drink a lot of water, eat light and control your alcohol intake in the beginning of your visit. People with heart problems should consult their doctor prior to visiting. One additional effect of the high altitude is that the ultra-violet rays are particularly more powerful: we recommend wearing a brimmed hat as well as sunglasses and use a high-factor (45+ factor) sun screen.
One final note, the best way to enjoy a trip is to begin it rested and in good health. The most common health disorders are upset stomachs and diarrhea caused by untreated water and unwashed or under cooked food. For this reason be careful buying food from street vendors and stay away from unpeeled fruits/vegetables. Tap water should not be drunk anywhere unless it has been boiled or treated with iodine. We have always carried iodine tablets for treating tap water, which we would usually use in the room for brushing our teeth and washing off fruits, we usually buy bottled water for drinking.