Catholicism is now practised by 80% of the population, although it is very much interwoven with the Quechua and Aymara Indian religious practises. Pachamama, the Earth Mother goddess, is still evoked at special occasions.
The currency is the Nuevo Sol (PEN), which comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1, 2 and 5 PEN coins and 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 PEN notes. The Euro and US dollar are accepted in most restaurants and some shops. Visa is the most accepted credit card both in restaurants and shops and at ATMs. Increasingly, however, Mastercard is accepted. If unsure, you can check the location of Mastercard and Visa ATMs before you arrive. If possible, travel to Peru with US dollars in small denominations (new and preferably undamaged). Watch out for fake US dollar notes; it is preferable to accept new notes as change during transactions. Bank opening hours are variable, but they are all open from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. The website www.editoraperu.com provides more information on exchange rates.
Flying is a good way of saving time on long distances. A one-way ticket from Cuzco to Lima will set you back about US$150. You should definitely experience a train journey in Peru, especially from Puno, on lake Titicaca, to Cuzco, or from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. The easiest way to travel anywhere in the country is by bus: there are many cheap services, although the journey times are often unpredictable. For example, Arequipa-Cuzco is a 12-hour, 320 mile journey costing US$10. Travellers intending to drive must first obtain an international driving licence. There are plenty of car rental agencies in cities, but the very bad condition of the roads makes driving the hardest way to get around Peru. 4 x 4's are the only vehicles recommended for exploring Peru independently. Watch out for car robbers; it is absolutely necessary to leave your vehicle in a secure garage in the big cities.
Vaccinations against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A and B are strongly recommended. For travellers going to the Amazonian rainforest, a course of anti-malarial treatment is recommended, although there is no risk of malaria at altitudes above 6,561 ft. Only drink bottled water (including when you brush your teeth!). Many visitors to Peru suffer from "soroche" or altitude sickness when they first arrive. The symptoms are strong headaches and a feeling of nausea that can develop into pulmonary oedema. Make sure that you take it easy and drink plenty of water the first few days, and chew on coca leaves like the locals: it is the only effective remedy.
52, Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9SP. Tel.: + 44 (0) 20 7235 1917Its art and culture department provides information fortourists.
52, Sloane St, London, SW1X 9SP.
Tel.: + 44 (0) 20 7235 1917
For further information, visit the website of the Commission for the Promotion of Peru. ("Promperu"): www.peru.info(in English).
Peruvian Tourist Office
537, Avenida San Martin in Miraflorés, Lima.
Tel.: 444 39 15 or 447 95 39.
Avenida Jose 1301, Larco, Miraflores, Lima.
Tel.: 221 78 +51 (0)1 617 3000.
Commission for the Promotion of Peru: Promperu
Calle Uno Oeste n°50
Pisos 13 y 14, San Isidro, in Lima.
21 55 79.