Currency: Peruvian Nuevo sol
Time Zone: PET/GMT-6
Tipping: In Peru most restaurants and bars do include a 10% gratuity. However it is custom to add a further 10% on if the service has been good.
From hazy Lima with its colonial architecture and world-class Ceviche (a tasty combination of raw, melt-in-your-mouth fish with onion and lime) to the jaguar-clad jungle of the Peruvian Amazon, Peru is a land of great diversity. But as varied as Peru's offerings are, there's only one thing most people come to this country for; its incredible Incan history.
Most escorted Peru tours spend a couple of days at high-altitude Cusco, allowing visitors to adjust to thinner air in preparation for the heady heights that await at Machu Picchu. In addition to it once being the capital of the Inca Empire, this cobbled, bustling hub also boasts a mix of markets, attractive Cathedral, the highest Irish pub in the world and other commercial entities (even McDonalds has found its way here). There are plenty of shops around if you've forgotten to bring your hiking shoes for Machu Picchu, but don't expect to find any larger than a size 6 or so – Peruvians have notably small feet.
Machu Picchu is the biggest draw on escorted holidays of Peru, and rightly so. This incredible 'Lost City of the Incas' was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and the logistics of this ancient metropolis some 2,430 meters above sea level balanced in the Peruvian Andes are mind-boggling. It's hard to put words to the experience of first laying eyes on Machu Picchu, but there is spiritual feel to the place. Your tour guide will explain each 'building' and help you get the most of your visit, where you can marvel at the ruins from the Sun Gate (the point where ancient visitors entered the city) and Temple of the Sun to the Inthuatana, a stone sun dial. Look out for smooth-cut stones fitted neatly together – they represent more important buildings like ones used for religious purposes. For the brave, a taxing hike up Wayna Picchu (the famous hump in the background of postcard shots) is also possible, but queues are likely due to its popularity. To get to Machu Picchu, some travellers trek the popular 4-day Inca trail, but for those looking for minimal exertion there's a railway journey up to the Lost City which happens to offer some spectacular views.
Further South close to Bolivia lies Lake Titicaca, 12,500ft up in the mighty Andes and covering a huge area of 3,500 miles. This is where the Incan civilisation began. The native Uros Indians still live here, where you can take a trip around the floating island and visit their homes of reed, before finishing it off with views of a spectacular sunset.
The 'White City' of Arequipa with its cobbled streets and colonial buildings, Colca Canyon and Nazca for the famous Nazca lines are also popular stops on a touring holiday. You can also head into the Peruvian Amazon, where Boa constrictors, Jaguars and Piranha laden lakes await.
Escorted tours to Peru include return flights from the UK as well as any internal flights or modes of travel. A full itinerary of the key sights is also included, along with a tour guide and local guides to help you get the most from your trip. Accommodation and some meals are also included, allowing holidaymakers to experience the native cuisine should they wish.
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands. However, to help you have an enjoyable holiday in Peru, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
Before leaving for Peru you should check with your GP to see whether you will require any vaccinations or medical treatment before travelling.
In Peru medical treatment can be expensive and is not always available. It is always wise to arrange adequate medical insurance before travelling in addition to ensuring you funds to cover repatriation and medical treatment should it become necessary. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
Parts of Peru are situated at a high altitude (Machu Picchu, Cuzco and the Culca Canyon), but tour itineraries should allow visitors plenty of time to adjust. Always adopt a slower pace when at high altitude and keep hydrated.
In Peru muggings are frequent in major cities, so it's advisable to remain alert and vigilant.
Always buy your own drinks and keep them with you at all times. Tourists have been targeted by bogus taxi drivers, so if you are venturing away from the group, always use registered taxis which have been pre-booked or can be caught from bus terminals.
Public transport can also be risky for tourists as pickpockets often target passports, so always keep them safe, particularly if travelling at night.
Local Laws and Customs
Drug offences can face serious penalties when in Peru and prison conditions are unpleasant. Do not take coca tea or coca leaves outside the country, as it is illegal to bring them into the UK.
Souvenirs made with animal parts (ie. Condor feathers) are illegal but often sold in markets in Cusco to tourists – if you see them, be sure not to buy them.
Carry identification with you at all times, even a photocopy of your passport will suffice. Keep your original document in a safe place.
Avoid taking photos of anything of a military nature, and its courtesy to ask natives their permission if planning to take any photos of them.
When travelling as a tourist you do not need a visa to enter Peru and you can stay for up to 6 months. When entering Peru from Ecuador or Colombia you need to ensure your passport is stamped.
Your passport should be valid for the entirety of your visit to Peru. No additional period of validity is required beyond this.
Emergency Travel Documents from the UK can be accepted for entry and exit from Peru, as well as airside transit.
Never try to enter the UK with more than one laptop. Be aware of customs restrictions when returning home with regards to duty free alcohol and liquids brought in Lima.
Any other nationality looking to visit Peru must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more about Peru you can visit the official tourist board website at visitperu.com
View Peru in a larger map
Obviously when you visit Peru for your escorted tours, you will of course need to see Machu Picchu but there are plenty of other sights to see including:
You cannot visit Peru without seeing the awesome 'Lost City' of Machu Picchu. There are guided walks to join once you have reached a certain point via the narrow gauge railway. You'll have plenty of time to explore the temples and ancient ruins at leisure before you have to leave this mystical city for the journey back to your hotel. Definitely a sight you will not want to miss on your escorted tour of Peru!
Here's your chance to really experience traditional rural life in Peru with a few days in Cuzco. His was once the capital of the Inca empire and was formerly called 'the Imperial City'. Travel deep into the heart of the city where you'll find the Plaza de Armas and its impressive cathedral. See the awesome Temple of the Sun and Moon which was once painted gold. Climb the Sacsayhuaman Fortress for awesome views of the city below or visit the Inca ruins of Tambomachay.
No tour of Peru would be complete without spending some time in its capital city. Lima overlooks the mighty Pacific Ocean and was founded in 1535, the colonial buildings mark this occasion as the majority have a wonderful Spanish feel to them all. There's a variety of wondrous things to see such as stunning squares, traditional churches and magnificent mansions that haven’t really changed since the 17th century. See the amazing arcades and beautiful cathedral of Plaza Major.
A beautiful place located along the shores of Lake Titicaca where you can visit the remote burial site of Sillustani. Not only will you get to see these historic ruins up close, you'll learn about the religious rituals of the pre-Inca Colla people. See the magnificent stone towers where their chiefs and nobles were buried before you travel to Lake Titicaca located 12,500ft in the Andes.