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Through the Eyes of Women
|Frequently Asked Questions |
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Peru, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Peru Through the Eyes of Women tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information that you'll need as you get ready for your Peruvian adventure.
Peru is 5 hours behind GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Peru does not observe daylight saving time, so conveniently during the time that we visit, Peru is in the same time zone as New York, and 3 hours ahead of San Francisco.
There are many beautiful things to bring back with you from Peru, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase. You will not need any formal clothing on this tour. Some people do dress up if they are visiting high-end restaurants and bars, but this is optional. You will need comfortable walking shoes on this tour. We will be visiting during Peruvian spring, and the weather in Lima will be warm enough for t-shirts, but once we leave Lima, it will get much cooler due to the high altitude in the Andes. You will need a winter jacket, gloves, hats and scarves (please see the Tour Gallery page to see what other women on this tour were wearing in previous years). If you forget something, you can easily buy a warm alpaca sweater in Peru, as well as gloves, hats and scarves. Since we will be changing hotels often during this tour, your experience will be less stressful if your luggage is not too heavy and easily manageable. In addition to your regular luggage, you should bring a light weight, overnight bag for the night spent at the hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo.
Visitors to Peru require a current passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry and with a minimum of two blank pages. Citizens of the US, Canada, UK and Australia do not require a visa to enter Peru. On entering the country, you will be given an entry document. Please make sure to keep it in your passport, as it will be required to leave the country. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another one in your suitcase.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts and ends in Lima, Peru (airport code LIM).
It starts on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, and we have arranged for individual airport transfers, so you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Lima airport. You may arrive any time during the day, but most flights from the US arrive late at night, so you will probably be departing the US/Canada on the same day, October 20. Since no activities are planned for October 20, it is not necessary to arrive a day earlier, but we can make arrangements for early arrivals if you would like to spend the day at leisure before the tour starts.
This tour ends at 9:00PM on Friday, October 29, 2021 at the Lima airport. You should reserve your return flight for after 11:00PM, and most flights for the US/Canada leave around midnight. If your flight leaves before 11PM, you will be brought to the airport sooner, but you will miss dinner. If you need help with your flights to Peru, please feel free to give us a call.
The Peru group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the Tour Director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the Tour Director. In addition to a professional Sights and Soul Travels' Tour Director, the travelers will be taken care of by private guides and drivers who will accompany the group throughout its entire stay in Peru.
No vaccinations are officially required of travelers to Peru, unless you are arriving from a country that has reported cases of yellow fever, such as Panama. If so, you will be required to show a proof of yellow fever vaccination. As a tropical South American country, Peru presents certain health risks and issues. The most common ailments for visitors to Peru are common traveler's diarrhea and altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS), called soroche locally. Please read this information carefully: Cusco sits at an elevation of about 11,000 ft., and Lake Titicaca sits at 12,566 ft. At these altitudes, shortness of breath and heart pounding are normal, given the paucity of oxygen. Some people experience intense headaches, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, and nausea. Most symptoms develop the first day at high altitude, although occasionally travelers have delayed reactions. The best advice is to rest on your first day in the highlands. Drink plenty of liquids, including the local remedy mate de coca, or coca-leaf tea. (Coca, as opposed to cocaine, is a mild sedative, and it's perfectly legal to consume coca tea or chew coca leaves in Peru, though it's not legal to bring back coca leaves.) Avoid alcohol and heavy food intake. Give yourself at least a day or two to acclimatize before launching into strenuous activities. It's possible to buy cans of oxygen if you are severely affected with headaches and shortness of breath. If symptoms persist or become more severe, seek medical attention. People with heart or lung problems and persons with the sickle cell trait could develop serious health complications at high altitudes, or even die from medical conditions exacerbated by high altitude. You should check with your doctor before taking this trip. You should limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and at high altitudes, from 11am to 2pm. Even though it can be chilly or cold in the Andes, the sun is very strong: the higher the altitude and thinner the air, the more dangerous the sun's harmful rays are. Wear a hat and use a sunscreen with a high protection factor (SPF 30 or higher), and apply it liberally. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious maladies and are not difficult to get if you don't take proper precautions in Peru. Eating shellfish should be avoided by those with weak stomachs. Although ceviche is one of Peru's classic dishes, you should know that the fish and shellfish in it are not cooked, but marinated. That said, most travelers eat it with few or no problems.
Foreign visitors to Peru should drink only bottled water, which is widely available. Do not drink tap water, even in major hotels. Try to avoid drinks with ice. Agua con gas is carbonated water; agua sin gas is still water.
Public lavatories (baños públicos) are rarely available in Peru, except in railway stations, restaurants, and theaters. Many Peruvian men choose to urinate in public, against a wall in full view, especially late at night. Use the bathroom of a bar, cafe, or restaurant; if it feels uncomfortable to dart in and out, have a coffee at the bar. Public restrooms are labeled WC (water closet), DAMAS (Ladies), and CABALLEROS or HOMBRES (Men). Toilet paper is not always provided, and when it is, most establishments request that patrons throw it in the wastebasket rather than the toilet, to avoid clogging. It's a good idea to have a pack of tissues with you. Please keep in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Although most visitors travel freely throughout Peru without incident, simple theft and pickpocketing remain fairly common; assaults and robbery are rare. Most thieves look for moments when travelers, laden with bags and struggling with maps, are distracted. However, in most heavily touristed places in Peru, a heightened police presence is noticeable. You should use ATMs during the day, with other people present. In general, you should not wear expensive jewelry; keep expensive camera equipment out of view as much as possible; use a money belt worn inside your pants or shirt to safeguard cash, credit cards, and passport. Wear your daypack on your chest rather than your back when walking in crowded areas.
Peru continues to be a very macho, male-dominated society. Although women are a growing part of the professional workforce and a relatively recent feminist movement is evident in urban areas, women do not yet have the position they do in many Western societies. Still, women should not encounter any insurmountable difficulties traveling in Peru. However, women should not be surprised to encounter perhaps unwelcome attention from men, especially if traveling alone. Many Peruvian men consider gringas, essentially, any foreign women, to be more sexually open than Peruvian women; thus, foreigners are frequently the targets of their advances. Women traveling in a group with other women are less likely to attract unwanted attention from men.
During the Peru Through the Eyes of Women tour, we will travel by a private bus, by train, by plane, by boat and by foot. To be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 4 miles throughout the day, including steps, and quite often on uneven surfaces. You need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. This trip is not strenuous, but you should be of at least average fitness to enjoy all scheduled activities. This tour is busy, and we will be moving a lot from one location to another. You must be prepared for some full days and early starts.
Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are opposite to seasons in North America. Lima has a mild climate that can be classified as subtropical and desert. The hottest months are December and January, and November is considered late spring. There is barely any rainfall in Lima during the summer months, but it has high humidity and is usually overcast. The Andes have their own climatic zone, along with two other Peru's zones: tropical Amazon jungle and the arid coastal desert. In the Andes, with altitudes over 10,000 ft., the average daily temperatures can fall below 50°F and overnight temperatures can dip well below freezing. This is made up by clear, blue skies which are a rarity in Lima.
Peru's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotels and in some public places. Less internet access is available in rural areas. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in Peru's cities and metropolitan areas, although you should expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available. If you have an unlocked GSM cell phone that includes the 850mhz and/or 1900mhz bands, you can purchase a prepaid SIM card once you arrive in Peru to use in your phone. You will be given a local 9-digit mobile number and then will be immediately able to make and receive calls in Peru. Reception is better on the Movistar network, which also includes 3G, while Claro has only 2G service.
Electricity is generally reliable and available throughout Peru. All outlets are 220 volts, 60 cycles AC, with two-prong outlets that accept both flat and round prongs. Some large hotels also have 110-volt outlets. Peru uses the standard North American non-grounded outlet. The # 700 style accepts two prong plugs. This adapter is also known as type A. Peru also uses the European non-grounded outlet. This adapter is also known as type C.
Peru is a multilingual nation. Its official language is Spanish. In the zones where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara and other aboriginal languages, such as the numerous Amazonian languages, also have official status. English is spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Peru's official currency is the nuevos sol (S/), divided into 100 centavos. Coins are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, and bank notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 soles. The U.S. dollar is the second currency; many hotels post their rates in dollars, and plenty of shops, taxi drivers, restaurants, and hotels across Peru accept U.S. dollars for payment. Peru is still very much a cash society. In villages and small towns, it is impossible to cash traveler's checks or use credit cards. Make sure that you have cash (both soles and U.S. dollars) on hand. If you pay in dollars, you will likely receive change in soles, so be aware of the correct exchange rate. U.S. dollars are by far the easiest foreign currency to exchange. Currencies other than U.S. dollars receive very poor exchange rates. With their long lines and extensive paperwork, banks are no longer the place of choice in Peru for exchanging money. The easiest way to get cash are ATMs, although they dispense only about $100US worth at a time. ATMs allow customers to withdraw money in either Peruvian soles or U.S. dollars. Screen instructions are in English as well as Spanish. Money-changers are legal in Peru. They often wear colored smocks with "$" insignias, and can be found in city centers. They offer current rates of exchange, but count your money carefully. Do not accept bills with tears, no matter how small, or taped bills.
All restaurants', guides' and drivers' gratuities are included in the tour price. When you are on your own, most people leave about a 10% tip for the waitstaff in restaurants. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped unless they provide additional service. You should leave about $1 per person, per day for the hotel maid who cleans your room.
Peru is one of the top shopping destinations in Latin America, with some of the finest and best-priced crafts anywhere. Its long traditions of textile weaving and colorful markets have produced a dazzling display of alpaca-wool sweaters, blankets, ponchos, shawls, scarves, typical Peruvian hats, and other woven items. Peru's ancient indigenous civilizations were some of the world's greatest potters, and reproductions of Moche, Nasca, Paracas, and other ceramics are available. In some cities, especially Lima and Cusco, antique textiles and ceramics are still available. Some dealers handle pieces that are 1,000 years old or more. However, exporting such pre-Columbian artifacts from Peru is illegal. Lima and Cusco have the lion's share of tourist-oriented shops and markets, and in Lima you can find items produced all over the country. Locals in Puno and Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca produce spectacular textiles. Baby alpaca and very rare vicuña are the finest woolens and are amazingly soft. In cities, there are scores of general, look-alike artesanía shops, and prices might not be any higher than what you'd find at street markets. At stores and in open markets, gentle, good-natured haggling over prices is accepted and even expected. However, when it gets down to ridiculously small amounts of money, it's best to recognize that you are already getting a great deal on probably handmade goods and you should relinquish the fight over a few soles.