8 mistakes to avoid when visiting Peru
Peru is one of the most visited nations in South America. It is home to a portion of the Amazon rainforest as well as Machu Picchu. With its great cuisine, unique culture, and stunning natural vistas, Peru should be on everyone’s ultimate travel bucket list!
When travelling there, there are a few common mistakes that travellers make and you should steer clear of them for sure! So, here are the 8 mistakes to avoid when visiting Peru:
1. Not learning Spanish before arriving.
While most tourist destinations in Peru will have English-speaking staff, don’t expect this to be the case everywhere. Learn some basic Spanish phrases before travelling to Peru; you’ll need them. Plus, not being able to actively communicate with locals, takes a little away from the cultural experience.
There are many apps that can help you learn the language. Or you could take up a crash course from a tutor if possible. Spending some time everyday before your trip will be of great help.
2. Not booking tickets in advance.
It is critical to book your tickets in advance if you want to visit famous places in Peru.
To secure a permit to enter Machu Picchu, one of the world’s seven wonders, you must book at least 3 months in advance. This also applies to the Inca Trail hike, especially in peak season. Because these two tours are undoubtedly one of Peru’s highlights.
3. Going on a hike without proper preparation
You should be well prepared for your trip by bringing everything you will require. On hikes, bring water purification tablets with you. I did the Salkantay trek, purchasing water, cost nearly 6 soles per bottle. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but when you’re buying at least 2L per day, the cost adds up.
Remember to layer your clothing as well. While it will be hot and humid during the day, it will become quite cold once the sun sets.
Take mountain sickness seriously and keep mountain sickness medicines on hand. On one of my hike days, I also got mountain sickness and had to ride a horse. It cost me 130 soles to get up the mountain and needless to say, took precedence over my hiking experience.
4. Not knowing how much to tip.
Remember that the average monthly salary for a resident in Peru is $400 to $500 USD. And a good tip in Peru is usually 15% of the cost of service, though I’m pretty sure I paid more than that at times.
Furthermore, because the Peruvian currency is very favourable in comparison to the USD, many tourists end up tipping much higher at times.
5. Not booking a good flight carrier.
It is preferable to book a reputable carrier like LATAM airlines or similar for the domestic circuit. Booking with a low-cost carriers can lead to cancellations and they sometimes also have ambiguous policies, for baggage weight and payments when you buy flight tickets through aggregators. Unless you check every aspect of your baggage allowance and booking inclusions, it may just be better sticking with the known names.
6. Not carrying cash
When you’re travelling through Peru, credit cards are not accepted everywhere; they can only be used in major cities.
In fact, many establishments in Peru only accept cash. Cash should be in the form of US dollars or Peruvian soles. In smaller towns, it is also difficult to withdraw from an ATM. If you’re especially heading for one of the famous hikes, or up towards Macchu Picchu, withdraw money from your bank in advance.
7. Drinking the tap water.
The water in Peru is not always safe to drink, so drink only bottled water or use water purification tablets or filter bottles.
8. Just going to Machu Picchu
Many visitors to Peru come solely to see Machu Picchu, and while there is nothing wrong with that, if you have the time, do explore more of the country. To complement your time in the Andean highlands, visit a coastal city and the Peruvian Amazon.
Peru’s three geographical regions (coast, highlands, and jungle) each have their own distinct character and culture. Lima is another fantastic tourist destination with fantastic museums and excellent dining options.
Have you already visited Peru? Tell me in the comments if there are any other mistakes one must avoid!