Do not take photographs of anything to do with the military. Visitors should avoid wearing any native Indian clothing as this will be seen as insulting, regardless of intention.
Peru is famous for its ceramic products. Crafts, as well as textiles such as scarves, ponchos, cushions or belts, bags and tapestry are characterized by the topical regional patterns. Furthermore, silver jewellery is cheap. Best places to go shopping are the traditional Indian markets as well as specialized shops.
The authentic local dishes of Peru are the national dish, “ceviche”, raw fish with lemon juice and onions.
“Anticuchos” (beef skewers), “Rocoto Relleno” (stuffed, tasty peppers) and “La Ocopa”, cooked potatoes accompanied by a sauce made of cheese and nuts. Another local speciality is “cuy” (guinea pig). Lovers of sweets should try the “Mazamorra morada” (thick custard-based dessert made of maize) or “Picarones” (Peruvian doughnuts).
Pisco is a clear spirit made from grapes, dating back to the 16 century when the Spaniards brought the grape to the Peruvian region from Europe. The King of Spain banned wine in the 17th century and the locals, not wanting to go thirsty, created a different kind of alcohol from the grape. Pisco is mixed with lemon or lime juice, egg whites, sugar syrup and bitters to make a refreshing drink called Pisco Sour.
For Lima and the coast area bring summer clothes for the warmer months and a thin sweater or coat for fresh evenings. For the Amazon region (Puerto Maldonado/Iquitos), long-sleeved light clothing preferably cotton, raincoats, tight shoes, hat and sunglasses as well as sun protection are appropriate during the whole year. During the stay in the highlands (Cusco/Puno/Andes), you should bring warm clothes including a fleece jacket, hat and sunglasses as well as sun protection and also medicaments against altitude sickness.
There are two main seasons in Peru – the wet season and the dry season – and three main climatic zones: the tropical Amazon jungle in the east; the arid coastal desert to the west; and the Andean mountains and highlands in the middle of the country. Essentially, while the weather varies from region to region the temperature is mostly influenced by elevation: the higher you go the cooler the weather.
Rain is common year-round in the Amazon rainforest, however the wettest months are mid- November to March and even in the wet season it only rains for a few hours at a time. The rainforest also enjoys quite hot weather ranging from 26°C to 40°C, with the cooler months from April to November.
The coastal region is where the locals head during the hottest months from mid-November through to the end of March. Rain is most likely to fall along the coast between June and October, however is infrequent. The cold weather along the coast generally lasts from the middle of April until November. Temperatures along the coast are pleasant (14°C to 28°C).
The highlands are cool, averaging between 9°C and 18°C because of the altitude, but can be visited year round even during the wet season which falls between December and March.
Business hours can vary but are usually from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Banks and selected businesses open until 12noon on Saturdays. Some businesses can close for siesta from 1pm to 3pm. Most shopping centres and markets are open seven days a week (including holidays) from 9am to 8pm. While prices in major stores are fixed it is acceptable to bargain with street, market and beach vendors on the price articles.
The electrical current is 220 volts, 60Hz with a two-pin, flat blade and round plugs are standard. Most 4 and 5-star hotels have outlets equipped for 110 volts. It is recommendable to bring an adapter.
Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol. Currency can be exchanged at all banks and casas de cambio (foreign exchange houses), and at most hotels, restaurants and shops. US dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and many restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities will accept US dollars for payment. It is recommended you avoid accepting torn money as it may not be accepted again when you go to spend it.
Major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Diners and American Express) are accepted, however, Visa is the most widely recognised.
Cajeros automáticos (ATMs) are also available throughout Peru, so long as you have a four- digit PIN to access your account.
Travellers Cheques (cheques de viajero) can be exchanged in major cities but it may be more difficult in small towns and villages.
Australian Nationals don’t require a visa to enter Peru for stays of less than 90 days for tourism purposes.