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Facts about Peru
Stuff to See and Do
A friend and I travelling to Chile from Cuso decided to use the Cruz Del Sur bus company (which I would highly recommend for good meals, even a vegetarian option, comfort and service at a decent price) to reach Nazca in the south, where we stayed a night then continued (also using Cruz Del Sur) for about $20 to Tacna, where we took a taxi across the border to Arica (the shared taxi is the best idea with taxi drivers helping you through the process). From Arica straight to Santiago is not a recommended journey, took us around 32 hours!!
Border name: Huaquillas or Aguas Verdes
Closest major cities: Machala, Ecuador and Tumbes, Peru
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $8 for insurance, permit was free
Total time with a car: 1 hour 15 minutes
Date crossed: Thursday August 23, 2012 Border crossing is very convenient as both the Ecuador and Peru immigration desks are in the same building. The Customs desk is located further down the hall, but very efficient.
What to Avoid
Scams & Petty Theft
When travelling through Peru, chances are you might find yourself in a big city. Cities like Lima and Cuzco are notorious for thievery. If you want to keep hold of that precious passport, credit card and other important stuff, consider using the following tips:
- Wear a neck wallet containing your most important documents, especially when sleeping on buses.
- When taking a cab, look for a licensed driver. Lock the doors when driving.
- If you are carrying a lot of cash, consider splitting it up and hiding it in several places. That way, you always have an emergency fund.
- When exploring the city, try going in small groups. When you are by yourself, avoid walking through more secluded areas such as alleyways, staircases, etc. Remember this even during the day.
- Never lose sight of your bag, especially when doing something distracting such as ordering a bus ticket.
- Don't worry too much. When leaving a hostel, just take the essential.
Treat the Lonely Planet as you would the other great Bible, as a guideline and not as the holy grail for it is not infallible nor wholly objective. The Lonely Planet, like the revered Bible, was written by people and people, by our nature, cannot help but be swayed by our own opinions and experiences of things. Not even history books are completely objective. Omission of certain information can be a powerful manipulator of opinion. Just because somewhere has been recommended by Lonely Planet doesn't mean that you have to boycott the really cute place that you yourself have stumbled upon in favour of the endorsed place. It is, after all, your trip. Do not, even if you have the latest edition, take the prices in the Lonely Planet as accurate and proceed to budget according to them for they are rarely spot on. The error may be marginal, but as a dedicated backpacker, alas, there is often not much flexibility in your wallet. Also, take into account that the writer’s experience of a particular place will inevitably be influenced by many factors, such as the weather; their own mood, for let’s face it, even though we are carefree travelers, we are not deliriously happy every single day of our travels ; the service they encounter, which in itself is influenced by many factors and the expectations that they have which may not correspond to your own travel expectations. There are too many variables. Best to make use of the maps and the solid historical and cultural information that it contains and use the rest as guidelines, along with the information that you pick up along the way yourself from other travelers.
Money and Banking
BCP lets you to withdraw the most money (700 soles). All the other ATM machines (e.g. Global Net, Scotiabank) only let you withdraw 400-500 soles. Unfortunately, the Lima airport only has a Global Net ATM machine. In Cusco, the BCP Bank/ ATM machine faces the Plaza de Armas. In Pisac, we found a BCP ATM machine inside the Blue Llama Cafe, which faces the Pisac plaza. Also, if you can bring US dollars, plenty of places will take them.
Phone And Internet
General availability: High
Quality of bandwidth: Medium
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Medium-High
Frequency of internet in hotels: High Internet availability is pretty amazing. Hotels and hostels all have internet. Peru is enough of a tourist destination that unless you are in the middle of nowhere, free wifi is a given. Prepaid Claro modems cost S/119 (USD$45.) and come with 200mb of free time valid for 15 days. There is a deal that if you add a small amount of money to your account you can recharge for another 2 weeks and receive another 100mb for free. Neither Movistar nor Nextel offered prepaid modems. SIM cards for phones cost S/15 through Claro. Calling the US was more than S/2.5 per minute.