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1- Read the Consular Information Sheets for the countries you plan to visit.
2- Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
3- Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen.
4- Leave a copy of your detailed itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
5- When entering the country, you need to pass the immigration office (imigracion). There you get a stamp in your passport that states the number of days you are allowed to stay (usually 90 days). You can get an extension at immigration offices in any major city for $20 USD per month plus 26 soles administration fee.
6- Furthermore, you will receive an extra official paper to be kept in the passport (make sure you don't lose it!). When leaving, you need to visit the emigration office (migracion), where you get the exit stamp. Imigracion and migracion are found on all border crossing-points. Extensions of the time to stay are no problem. Traveling to and from neighboring countries by land is no problem.
7- Please allow yourself and your family extra time to get through security - especially when traveling with younger children.
8- Call your airline or travel agent for their recommended check-in times for your departure airport.
9- Travel with children
* Speak to your children again about the screening process so that they will not be frightened or surprised:
* Tell your children that their bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine and will come out at the other end and be returned to them.
* Let your children know that a Security Officer may ask to see their shoes, but that they will get these back as well.
* You may want to consider asking for a private screening if you are traveling with more than one child.
* Inform the Security Officer if the child has any special needs or medical devices. Please Inform the Security Officer if the child has any special needs or medical devices.
* Ask the Security Officer for assistance during the process by helping you put your and the child's carry-on items on the X-ray belt.
11- Everyone who travels by air goes through airport security checkpoints. These checkpoints are operated by Transportation Security Officers from the Transportation Security Administration.
11- We encourage each adult traveler to keep his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available until exiting the security checkpoint (children are not required to show identification). The absence of proper identification will result in additional screening.
There are four ways to obtain a boarding pass:
* Go to your airline's ticket counter at the airport
* Use curbside check-in
* Use your airline's self-service ticket kiosk in the airport lobby
* Print the boarding pass from your airline's website
12- You can remove metal items at the security checkpoint and place them in the plastic bags offered at several airports or in the bins provided. The bins will be sent through the X-ray machine. You can save time by not wearing metal items or by placing them in your carry-on baggage before getting in line.
13- Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when traveling through the security checkpoints:
* Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties)
* Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs
* Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration
* Belt buckles
* Under-wire bras
* Hidden items such as body piercings may result in your being directed to additional screening for a pat-down inspection. If selected for additional screening, you may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.
* Take metal items such as keys, loose change, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs) out of your pockets.
* Place heavy jewelry and other metal items in your carry-on baggage or in plastic bags if they are offered, until you clear security.
* Pack all your coats and jackets in your baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection. These include, but are not limited to, trench coats, heavy winter coats, suit jackets, sport coats and blazers.
14- Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.
15- Ignore any requests to to carry luggage or packages for strangers. There could be illegal items or drugs in there, and you are the one who'll be caught with them and have the problems afterwards.
It's also illegal to "consider to maybe accept" an offer to buy drugs. If you are offered drugs, be careful: it might easily be a trap from police, and sentences are harsh for drugs. The best thing, if offered, is simply to just say no. Some police officers will tell you that it's legal to hold some amount of marijuana, but well, just don't trust them.
16- International airport tax $28 USD from Lima's airport. Transit passengers and children under two years of age are exempt. Payment need to be in cash prior to boarding.
17- Internal flight airport tax $5 USD. Children under two years of age are exempt. Payment need to be in cash prior to boarding.
18- Prior to your departure, you should register with your embassy or consulate through the State Department's Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency.
19- To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
20- If you get into trouble, contact the nearest embassy.
21- Carry your photo identification and the name of a person to contact with you in the event of serious illness or other emergency.
22- Bring travelers checks, not cash.
23- Use a money belt or concealed pouch for passport, cash and other valuables.
24- Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active (Jungle trips).
25- Don't eat food purchased from street vendors.
26- When going to cheap restaurants first have a smell and listen to what your nose says.
27- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles.
28- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
29- Don't swim in fresh water, except in well-chlorinated swimming pools. Salt water is usually safer.
30- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
31- If you visit the Andes Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude. Symptoms of altitude sickness include insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. If you become sick, descend to a lower altitude if possible.
32- Mountaineers should learn about the symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema, a condition that is fatal unless remedied by immediate descent.
33- In a car, keep doors locked, windows rolled up and valuables out of sight. A common trick is for a thief to reach through a car window and grab a watch from a person's wrist or a purse or package from the seat while you are driving slowly or stopped in traffic.
34- When you leave your car, try to find a guarded parking lot. Lock the car and keep valuables out of sight.
35- When walking, avoid marginal areas of cities, dark alleys and crowds. Do not stop if you are approached on the street by strangers. Be aware that women and small children, as well as men, can be pickpockets or purse snatchers. To guard against thieves on motorcycles, walk away from the curb, carrying your purse away from the street.
36- Use official taxi stands rather than cruising taxis. Illegal taxis can be decoys for robbers.
37- Whenever possible, do not travel alone. If you travel in isolated areas, go with a group or a reputable guide.
38- Toilet doors are marked with "baño", "S.H." or "SS.HH.". The latter two are abbreviations for servicio higienico, which is the rather formal expression. Expect to pay no more than 20 centimos at public restrooms for paper.
39- Be cautious when taking pictures. Some local authorities in South America countries consider all airports, police stations, military locations, oil installations, harbors, mines and bridges to be security-related. Tourists have had their film confiscated and have been detained for trying to take these types of pictures. When in doubt about whether you can take a picture, ask first.
40- Any citizen interested in plan to adopt a child from a country in South America is encouraged to contact either their embassy in your country.
41- Don't use the word "indio", although it's Spanish. For natives, it sounds like "nigger" since it was used by Spanish conquerors. Another word to be careful with is chola/cholo or cholita, meaning indígena. This may be used affectionately among indigenous people (it' a very common appellation for a child, for instance) but is offensive coming from an outsider.
42- Officially, most of the Peruvians are Roman Catholic, but especially on the country-side, the ancient pre-Hispanic religiosity is still alive. Respect that when visiting temple ruins or other ritual places and behave as it were a church.
43- COCA LEAVES it as a part of the culture with social and ritual components. And keep in mind: Coca leaves are not cocaine and they are legal. You can and should try them to experience the culture. If you don't like to chew them, try a mate de hoja de coca. Also are quite effective against altitude sickness.
44- For INTERNATIONAL CALLS, it is often a good idea to go to an Internet cafe that offers Internet based phone calls. You find them in the cities.
45- In all towns and villages that are not too small, it is no problem to find public telephones for national and international calls. Usually, you find them in bars or stores. Some of them accept coins. Don't worry if your 1 Nuevo Sol coins don't get through at first, just keep trying and it will eventually work.
46- Digit secret number on it. Use a phone card first dial 147. When done so, you will be told how much your card is still valid and be asked (in Spanish, of course) for your secret number. After having typed it, you are asked for the phone number you want to connect to. Type it in. Then you get told how much time you can talk. After that, the connection is tried.
47- Some main roads, especially along the coastal strip, are paved, but there are still a lot of dirt roads in very poor condition. In the rainy season, landslides may block even major roads.
48- Inter-city travel is mostly by bus, and some cities have train connections. In contrast to colectivos, buses, and of course trains, start from fixed points, either the central bus terminal or the court of the appropriate bus company. It is a good idea to buy your ticket same days in advance so that you can be relatively sure of finding a seat. In most bus terminals you need to buy a separate departure tax of 1 or 2 soles.
49- First-class express buses, complete with video, checked luggage and even meal service, travel between major cities. You may need to present a passport to purchase a ticket.
50- Make sure that your luggage is rain proof since it is often transported on the roof of the bus when travelling in the Andes.
51- Travel by train by train, it's best to buy the ticket in advance. Buy 1st class tickets, there are three rail lines in Peru:
Cusco – Machu Picchu – Cusco see time table:
Cusco – Puno – Cuso
Puno – Arequipa - Puno, this train is used only to transport diesel, minerals, and other resources.
52- It also possible the tour the innards of the country by car (4x4). This gives you a chance to get "off the beaten track" and explore some of the areas that haven't been transformed by tourism. Be sure to bring plenty of gas, as gas stations in unpopulated areas are very rare and will often times be closed. Purchasing gas late at night can be an adventure all its own, as even in more populated areas gas stations tends to close early and the pumps are locked. It would be wise to travel with a local English speaker guide who can navigate the roads and deal with law enforcement.
53- English speaking staff is available in high class hotels, reputable travel agencies, air companies, tourist information (IPERU), banks, some bus station, train station staff, reputable restaurants, etc. If you intend to visit other sites, especially in the countryside, you'll need contract an official English speaking guide.
54- If you should be one of the lucky ones that learn languages very easily, try to learn Quechua, the language of the Incas. It will be highly appreciated in the countryside of the highlands, where some people (especially the elderly) still speak little Spanish.
55- The currency of Peru is the NUEVO SOL. $1 USD is worth 2.84 Nuevo soles (March 2010). Coins are available in five, two and one sol, and in 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 cent. 5 and 1 cent coins are not normally accepted outside of big supermarkets or banks, so avoid them. Notes are available at 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles denominations; 200 soles notes are uncommon and will not be accepted in the same places, because sometime is hard to find change.
56- Don't accept damaged bills, since you will have to take them to a bank in order to change them into new ones before you can spend them. Be especially careful when exchanging money at the border.
57- Travelers checks or credit cards are usual. Although cash has a ca. 5% better change rate, we strongly advice to change dollars in banks or change offices. ATMs are available in big cities, super markets, gas stores, big pharmacies, airports, bus and train station, hotels and touristic areas. Make sure nobody is trying to see your PIN code. The exchange rate is the same as credit cards but fees are much lower.
58- Watch out for false bills. Every bank has posters that explain what to check when getting higher valued bills. The only security element that has not been falsified is the bichrome 10,20,50,100 or 200 now also used on US Dollars bills. Don't be shy about checking any bills you receive. Most Peruvians do so, too. You may get false bills even at upscale places or (quite unusually, but it's been known to happen) banks, so check there too.
59- In smaller towns, it can happen that there is nobody who will accept your credit card, traveler checks or dollars. For this case, you should have taken care that you have enough cash with you. Soles bills (not too high,10 or 20 soles bills are fine) can help.
60- Peru is famous for a lot of different, really nice and relatively cheap handicrafts. Keep in mind that buying handicrafts support traditional skills and helps many families to gain their modest income. Look for:
* Pullovers, and a lot of other woolen products in all the Sierra (South American Camelids). Puno is maybe the cheapest place.
* Wall carpets (tejidos)
* Carvings on stone, wood and dried pumpkins
* Silver and gold jewellery
* Typical music instruments like pan flutes (zampoñas), skin drums
61- DO NOT accept any handicrafts that look like (or actually are) pre-Columbian pottery or jewelry. It is illegal to trade them and there is the possibility not only of them being confiscated, but of being prosecuted for illegal trading, even if the actual artifacts are copies or fakes.
62- Tourist police are dressed in white shirts, instead of the usual green ones, and normally speak little English and are quite helpful to tourists. The common police officer does not speak other language but Spanish but normally will try to help.
63- Dealing with the police can take a lot of time. In order to get a copy of a police report you need to go to a Banco de la Nacion and pay 3 soles. Without this the police won't give you a copy, and obviously you can only arrange this during working days.
64- Check the address of your country's embassy or consulate before you go. If you're planning a lengthy stay it's also a good idea to register with your country's embassy.
For more information about the embassies and consulates in Peru, CLICK HERE.
Many of the aforementioned countries also have consulates in other major cities. See their websites for more details.
65- For most South American countries, the following vaccinations are recommended or necessary: Polio - Tetanus - Typhoid - Yellow Fever - Rabies - Hepatitis A Take care of vaccinations at least 2 month before your journey starts since most vaccination schemes need time.
66- Malaria is a risk outside of the coastal and Andean region; an appropriate course of anti-malaria should be started prior to arrival - consult a doctor. If you should catch malaria, you can find treatment centers in all jungle towns.
If planning on camping, don't forget: Use close-meshed mosquito nets!

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