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USEFUL TIPS      

   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
   

USEFUL TIPS

 

Useful Tips by Carl & Paula D'Angio

1. Laying over in Lima Airport (Chavez):
In many cases due to international flight arrivals and departures, and connecting internal flights within Perú, it may be necessary to spend many hours at the Lima airport waiting for your connection. In some travel books you will read that the Diner's Club, located on the second floor of the airport, will allow card members to pass the time in their lounge, and for non card holders, a fee of $6.00 U.S. will get you in. This is only partly true. The Diner's Club will allow members only. Non members may not get in at all. This lounge is strictly closed to card members. So if you are not a card member what do you do? If you are traveling with all your luggage, there is a luggage locker at the far left end of the airport that will hold your luggage for about $3.00 U.S. for 24 hours. But be careful. There is a room where many bags are held behind the counter in plain sight. Demand a locker for your bags. Each locker needs 2 keys to open and they are located in the concourse of the airport away from prying eyes. The baggage room attendant has one key and you are given the other. This is still not 100% fail-safe but is preferable to the back room storage. If you have time to spend waiting for your connection and are not a Diner's Club member, there is a pleasant little restaurant/bar located on the second floor all the way to the left of the Diner's Club (above the baggage holding area) with couches where you can stay as long as you want to in relative comfort as long as you eat or drink something there.

2. Money Exchange and Carrying Money: 
When you arrive in Perú, it is best to do so with U.S. dollars. While most western currency can be exchanged for Peruvian Soles rather easily, any shop, restaurant, or business will take U.S. dollars as payment. This cannot be said readily of all other western currency. Be prepared however to receive your change in Soles. It is a good idea not to use bills in excess of $10-$20.00 U.S., as you might find it difficult for the merchant to change anything larger. There are money changing booths almost everywhere in every major Peruvian city in the Plaza de Armas and their hours and rates are usually better than the local banks. But be aware, regardless of what western currency you are carrying you will find that when you exchange it, the money changer will look it over with a fine toothed comb. Not so much to judge its authenticity, but to examine the condition of the bill. You will find it difficult if not impossible to exchange bills, regardless of their authenticity, if they are not in pristine condition. That means no torn edges, no tape, no missing pieces, no writing, and/or no stamp marks on them. Do not take bills to Perú that do not meet these conditions or you will wind up taking them back home with you. When you exchange your money for Soles, tell the money changer not to give you bills larger than 50 Soles as these are sometimes hard to get change for. 10 Soles bills are the easiest method of payment in Perú. If you find it necessary to carry travelers checks, be aware that they are not as easy to exchange and some banks may require a surcharge to change them. Some money exchange locations may not even take them with a surcharge. Carry only as much money as you think you will need for the worst case scenario of your outing. If necessary, go the Plaza de Armas more than once a day to change money as you need it.

3. Taxis as Transportation: 
It is recommended that you have your hotel call a taxi for you when you plan to leave for several reasons. First, all reputable hotels, such as The Orquidea, have a working relationship with at least one radio dispatched taxi company. They know the taxi company and will set the rate for you before you leave. This leaves little chance of being overcharged. Secondly, it is not uncommon, when you just hail a taxi from the street, to have one rate agreed upon, only to find that the rate has changed when you reach your destination, or the driver doesn't have enough change when you get there. Some street taxis may also try to pick up other fares during your trip which you didn't bargain for. While this is not the general rule, it does happen, so let your hotel arrange for your taxi service.

4. Medications and Hygiene: 
Assuming that you are not going into the Amazon tributaries, the altitudes experienced in the Andes may have an adverse effect on you if you are not accustomed to such heights. A visit to your physician prior to coming to Perú is recommended. Diamox is a good medication for altitude sickness. You may also want to discuss with your physician other medications such as antibiotics to take along with you. One recommendation for visitors is to drink bottled water only even for things such as brushing your teeth. One observation regarding Perú is the unavailability of toilet paper in almost all public places. Major hotels and most restaurants will have some, but do not be surprised to go into a public bathroom, such as at Machu Picchu, and find that toilet paper is either unavailable or available only for sale. Bring an ample amount of tissues that you can take around with you on your journeys. If you are going into the Amazon tributaries, it is recommended that you let your physician know beforehand. A current yellow fever vaccination, and anti malarial medications should be discussed. And bring plenty of D.E.E.T. with you. It is probably best to call your State Board of Health for recommendations on medications for the Amazon.

5. Passports and Intra National Flights: 
It will not be unusual for you to be asked for your passport when you are flying even within Perú if you are not a Peruvian national. Even when you check into hotels you will be asked for your passport number. It is a good idea to make a copy of your passport before arriving in Perú just in case. Carry your passport anytime you fly within Perú and of course when you leave. Whether you have tickets in hand or not, it is necessary to have all of your flights reconfirmed prior to going to the airport. The Orquidea, or other reputable hotels will gladly perform this service at no charge. But do not just show up at a Peruvian airport thinking that you will get on a flight that you have a ticket for if it is not reconfirmed in advance. Also be aware that every flight has to be taxed. You will get your boarding pass and then go to a tax booth to pay the airport tax, usually 24 Soles per ticket. Do not try to do this any other way or you may run into trouble, or at least miss your flight.

6. Street Safety: 
One of the things that are immediately apparent upon arrival to Cusco and other major cities in Perú is the plethora of cabs and mini buses. They are small by western standards but can still hurt you if you are not careful. There are some traffic lights and stop signs, but don't expect everyone to use them. These little guys have the right of way at all times and sorry will be the traveler that doesn't recognize it at once. In fact, horns will blow at you if you are just walking down the street on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. When strolling around, especially in the evening, always be very careful at intersections. Many of the headlights don't work and not very many drivers have figured out what a turn signal is or how to use it. It is kind of quirky and adds to the charm of Perú. While we have never experienced anything even resembling a troublesome situation, you cannot help but feel for the little children on the street. When we go to Perú, we bring with us pencils, writing tablets, and little toys such as bubbles, troll dolls, and matchbox cars to give to the children. These gifts are much appreciated and will draw a crowd faster than anything I have ever seen. There is nothing quite so priceless as the face of a child with a new toy they have never seen before. This is preferable to just handing out a few Soles, and will give you something to remember forever.

7. Internet and E-Mail: 
Times have really changed in Perú regarding the ability to communicate with folks back home. 1 year ago, you could find a few internet places with 28.8 modems that would work but would seem to take forever to transmit data out of the country. Today, internet cafes are common and they all seem to have DSL or ADSL fast connections. Explorer, Netscape, and Hotmail are readily available at every internet stop. Expect to pay about 2 1/2 Soles for 1/2 hour of internet time, more than enough to keep in touch with the folks back home on a daily basis if you wish.
First time visitors to Perú will be intoxicated by its beauty and diversity. I have seen no other place in the world with as many natural wonders and treasures as I have found in Perú. From the amazing Amazon and its countless numbers of birds and natural wildlife, to Andean pre colonial cities like Cusco and Arequipa, to the ancient temples of Machu Picchu, to the pristine waters of Lake Titicaca near Puno, to the largest canyon in the world, I can think of no other country that contains as much to see in so small a geographic area. Perú gets into your blood, and once there, you will go back. The people at Orquidea will ensure that your visit to Perú will be customized to your liking and truly unforgettable.
Until next time!
Regards, Carl & Paula D'Angio
 

 

 

 
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