Peru Facts and Information

QUICK FACTS

Peru territory covers 1,285,216 km2 (496,225 sq mi). Peru is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, southeast Bolivia and Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

  • Population: About 30 million
  • Capital: Lima
  • Official Language: Spanish, Quechua.
  • Currency: Peruvian Soles
  • Time: GMT – 5

WHEN TO GO

Peru climate has two main seasons: wet and dry. The climate varies according to regions. Peru has 24 cities that have different climates, and has three natural regions: coast, Andes and Amazon.
Peru is very rich in many varieties of things and each of these regions has its own tradition and its own gastronomy.

  • CAUSAS: Potato dishes come in all manner of scrumptious form in Peru, but none as well sculptured as these incredible potato salads, constructed in a rainbow of colors and stuffed full of vegetables, seafood and chicken.
  • CUY: The Andes most famous contribution to the world of animal protein: the guinea pig. It's small and flavorful, with just the right amount of fatty crispness. Cusco is the place to try cuy.
  • PISCO SOUR.
  • CEVICHE.

GETTING THERE AND AWAY

From Lima Airport 'Aeropuerto Internacional de Jorge Chávez', the principal domestic destinations are Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Cusco, Iquitos, Juliaca, Piura, Pucallpa, Puerto Maldonado, Tacna, Tarapoto, Trujillo and Tumbes. Peru's major international airlines are LAN Peru and Taca. The international departure tax is US$31 and the domestic tax is about US$6, which is now included when you purchase tickets.

GETTING AROUND

In Peru it is possible to travel by air or land. Peru has a good airline companies such as LAN Peru and Taca covering the Peruvian Andes, and good infrastructure in terms of land and railway operated by Perurail that goes to and from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu).s

 Important!: From the city of Cusco there are a variety of routes you can take to Machu Picchu.

The routes to Machu Picchu are:

  • By train via Sacred Valley of the Incas: Full day tour.
  • Inca Trail: 4 days / 3 nights.
  • Salkantay: 5 days / 4 nights.
  • Lares Trek: 4 days and 3 nights.
  • Salkantay Inka Trail: 7days / 6 nights.
  • Choquequirao: 8 days / 7 nights.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Be prepared before your departure to ensure you have the most memorable experience abroad.
Citizens from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union do not require a visa to visit Peru. However, all travelers are required to hold a passport valid at least 6 months after entering the country.

MONEY

The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol. In Cusco it is possible to change money of various forms, including travellers checks.

MAJOR FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

JANUARY

Peru's climate is formed mainly of two seasons; the wet season and the dry season. This being said, weather varies greatly from region to region. In the highlands, January is the middle of the wet season while the coast enjoys its dry summer.

  • AÑO NUEVO. (NEW YEAR): Partygoers wear yellow (including underwear) to ring in the New Year.
  • FIESTA DE LA MARINERA: This national dance festival held during the last week of January is especially popular in Trujillo. The marinera (sailor dance) is a synchronized choreographed dance between a man with a straw hat and a woman with a handkerchief. They seductively step around each other without ever touching.

FEBRUARY

In February, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is closed for its annual clean up.

  • VIRGEN DE LA CANDELARIA: This highland fiesta (February 2nd) is particularly colorful around Puno, where folkloric music and dance celebrations last for two weeks.
  • CARNAVAL: Carnaval is held on the last few days before lent (February/March), and is often celebrated with weeks of water fights, singing, dancing and parades. It's especially popular in the highlands.

MARCH

The Inca Trail is open once again, though the weather is still rainy.

  • FIESTA DE LA VENDIMIA (Wine Festival): March is the perfect time to sample local piscos and wines in Ica. The festival is held in the second week of March when you are likely to see fairs with floats, musicians and beauty queens stomping grapes.

APRIL

Holy week is a major event, so book a hotel and transportation in advance.

  • EMANA SANTA (Holy week): While Easter itself is a solemn event, the week prior to it is celebrated with almost daily spectacular religious processions all over Peru.

MAY

In May in the highlands, the rainy season is coming to an end.

  • FESTIVAL OF THE CROSSES: This festival, held on May 3rd, is celebrated most intensely in Lima, Ica and Cusco. During the festivities, people carry crosses of various sizes in processions that lead to churches.
  • QOYLLORITTI: A Christian pilgrimage with ancient overtones is held at the chilly foot of Ausangate, a mountain outside of Cusco, in May or June.

JUNE

It's the beginning of the dry season in the highlands, which naturally coincides with the peak of the tourist season and lasts until august. Reserve hotels and domestic air travel well in advance during this time.

  • CORPUS CHRISTI: This celebration commemorates the holy Eucharist as the body of Christ. It is held on the ninth Thursday after Easter. The processions in Cusco are especially dramatic.
  • INTI RAYMI (Festival of the Incas): Inti Raymi was the Inca sungod. This festival celebrates the winter solstice in his honor on June 24th. It´s the spectacle of the year in Cusco and attracts thousands of visitors.
  • SAN PEDRO Y SAN PLABLO (Feasts of Saint Peter & Saint Paul): Peter and Paul are the patron saints of fishers and farmers, and are honored with a procession to the sea. An image of Saint Peter is taken by a decorated boat to bless the waters for the fishing season.

JULY

The best time to see visit the amazon, as in this period it is drier than at almost other times of the year (although not necessarily dry).

  • LA VIRGEN DEL CARMEN: This holiday (July 16th) is mainly celebrated in the southern Andes, and is particularly important in Pisac and Paucartambo. The virgin is the patron of mestizos (people of mixed indigenous and Spanish background).
  • FIESTAS PATRIAS (National Independence Days): Independence from Spain is celebrated nationwide on July 28th and 29th. It is celebrated with festivities in the southern Andes beginning with the feast of St. James (known as Santiago) on July 25th. It is very difficult to find a seat on a bus or a plane during this time.

AUGUST

August is a popular time for travel in the highlands, so plan ahead.

  • FEAST OF SANTA ROSA DE LIMA: Major processions are held on August 30th in Lima and Arequipa to honor the patron saint of Peru and of the Americas.

SEPTEMBER

Spring begins in the coastal regions.

  • EL FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE LA PRIMAVERA (International Spring Festival): Expect horse parades, dancing and cultural celebrations in Trujillo during the last week of September.
  • MISTURA: Generally held in early September, this annual food festival in Lima gathers Peru´s top chefs, along with invited food connoisseurs from all the over the world for cooking demonstrations, talks and lots of sampling.

OCTUBER

The bullfighting season begins in October and lasts through to November.

  • LA VIRGEN DEL ROSARIO: The patron saint of slaves is honored on October 4th in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. You can expect processions, marinera dance competitions and los diablos (devils) dancing in the streets.
  • SEÑOR DE LOS MILAGROS (Lord Of The Miracles): In Lima, this is a huge religious procession honoring local Christi. The main day of the celebration is October 18th, but there are events throughout the month. In these events, everyone dresses in purple to seek blessings and miracles. There are lots of processions around the country during this time.

NOVEMBER

In November, summer begins along the pacific coast, and the fog known as garúa lifts. In the Andes and the Amazon, the intense part of the wet season begins.

  • TODOS SANTOS (All Saint´s Day): This is the first part of a two-day holiday that begins on November 1st. Families go to mass and then head to the cemetery to spend time with departed loved ones.
  • DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS. (All Souls' Day): The second part of the holiday is more festive. There are with more food gifts, and drink and flowers are taken to family graves.

DECEMBER

The wettest months continue through to March in the highlands, and until May in the eastern rainforest.

  • FIESTA DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN (Immaculate Conception): This national holiday (December 8th) is celebrated with processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
  • CHRISTMAS: Held on December 25th, Christmas is less secular and more religious, especially in the Andean Highlands. Keep an eye out for unique nativity scenes with regional holiday flourishes.