Preparing for Peru & Packing List
This packing list should be used as a guide only. Any other items that you wish to pack are at your own discretion.
Citizens of North America only require a valid passport to enter Peru. As we pass through immigration in Lima, immigration officials will normally give you a 30-day stay in Peru; both your passport and the tourist/visa card (obtained when we land in Lima) are stamped and you will receive a copy of the tourist card to keep. DO NOT LOSE IT as you must hand it back to immigration when leaving the country.
When traveling between towns, keep your passport close at hand since legally you have to have it ready for inspection at all times. In the cities it is probably best to leave it at Healing House and carry a photocopy of your passport with you. It is also a good idea to make photocopies of any other important documents and to keep a note of your traveler's checks, credit card account numbers and emergency phone numbers.
Time Difference. During March-November (Daylight Savings), the U.S. East Coast is 1 hour ahead of Peru.
Currency. The local currency is Nuevo Soles, and it is preferred over credit cards. Credit cards are only accepted in high-end restaurants and shops. If you are planning to use your credit card, please inform your bank or credit card company that you will visiting Peru. If you don't it is possible that your cards won't be accepted. Keep a note of emergency numbers in case you lose your card.
Debit Cards. by far the best way to withdraw money from an ATM is by using a debit card. You may find, however, that you may be limited to the amount you can withdraw each day and whatever fees your bank charges per withdrawal. Cusco has numerous ATMs, so withdrawing cash is easy.
Casas de Cambio. These 'exchange houses' can be found on most main streets and are legitimate and safe places to change money. They're often open all day and the exchange rate is usually better than the banks. Make sure that the dollars you bring from home are in excellent condition. Even the slightest rip will make exchange almost impossible. Try to get the new style dollars with watermarks and metallic strip embedded in the note as you're less likely to end up with a counterfeit note.
Telephone. When dialing Peru from overseas, dial your country's international access code (U.S. is 011) followed by the area code, followed by the number. But the best way to communicate with family and friends overseas is through Skype or WhatsApp (Healing House has free wifi)
Language. Until 1975, Spanish was the official language of Peru but since then Quechua, the main language of the highland Peruvians, was also made official. In most large hotels, airline counters and tour companies, English is generally understood.
Electricity. The supply is 220 volts AC, 60Hz-twin flat blade (as used in the U.S. and twin round pin plugs (as used in continental Europe) are both standard here. If you travel to Peru with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 60Hz then you will need to bring a voltage converter. Many electrical devices such as battery chargers, shavers & laptops are multi-voltage but it is always best to check the device BEFORE plugging it in.
Toilets. Toilet doors are marked with "bano", "S.H." or "SS.HH" which is an abbreviation for Servicio Higienico. In some of the cheaper hotels and many restaurants, toilet paper is not always provided so carry a roll with you. Toilet paper should not be thrown into the toilet but placed in the adjacent basket otherwise to avoid clogging the pipes. This applies throughout Peru even in 5-star hotels.
Water. Tap water is NOT potable in Peru. Healing House has filtered water for you to refill your bottles with, and you can buy water in any shop.
The key to packing for a trip to Peru is to pack for a variety of conditions while keeping the weight to a minimum. The best way to deal with the extreme temperatures is to dress using several layers rather than one thick coat or sweater. If you forget something, don't worry, as most items can be purchased in Cusco, including excellent (and inexpensive) alpaca (wool) sweaters. Laundry services are available across the street from Healing House and reasonably priced (about 4 soles, or $1.25, per kilo) and takes about a day.
- 2 pairs long trousers (lightweight)
- 1 pair of jeans
- 4 short-sleeved T-shirts
- 3-4 Tank tops
- Underwear and socks
- Thermal underwear is highly recommended, being light, warm and makes good nightwear on cold nights
- Fleece jacket
- Hat or cap to protect from the sun
- Warm slippers or boots with rubber soles
- Backpack / Day pack
- Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support
- Towel, lightweight bathrobe, shower items
- Sunblock, lip salve, sun glasses
- Small flashlight
- Basic first aid kit
- Money belt
- Camera, battery charger, spare battery and plenty of memory
- Flip flops-useful for hanging out at Healing House and in the shower
- Pack of cards, a good book
- Water bottle (mineral water can be bought throughout Peru)
- Wi-Fi enabled device (iPad, laptop, iPhone) and the necessary chargers/cords. There is wifi at Healing House and Skype or WhatsApp is the easiest way to communicate with family and friends back home.
- Poncho or Raincoat
- Bug spray for Machu Picchu