It’s likely you’ve seen photos of Peru’s most well known tourist destination, Machu Picchu. The incredible abandoned Inca city is perched on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
But this South American country is about so much more than just Machu Picchu. Peru is home to diverse and bustling cities, and destinations such as Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa offer glimpses into Peruvian history mixed with modern realities. Lima, the capital city, will host the 2019 Pan American Games, the next country contingent to receive the sporting event after Toronto hosted in 2015.
Nature lovers will revel in the country’s natural biodiversity. From the peaks of the Andes Mountains to the basin of the Amazon Rainforest and Amazon River to the world’s highest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca, Peru offers travellers unparalleled outdoor experiences.
Spanish conquest has created a country that is a mix of Inca tradition and European design. This history has extended to the art, literature, and cuisine of the country, a diverse palette of culture ready to be served to tourists each year. And tourists are coming – Peru is the fastest growing tourist destination in South America, with tourism numbers having grown at a rate of 25% over the past five years.
There are no vaccinations required to enter Peru. Based on personal medical history and advice from the Public Health Agency, the following vaccinations should be considered for travel to the country:
- Hepatitis A– A liver disease spread to humans through contaminated food and water. The vaccination is recommended for travel to regions with risk of hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B– A serious liver disease commonly spread through sexual intercourse, exchange of body fluids, use of an infected needle, or piercing tools.
- Measles– Ensure your measles vaccination is up-to-date before travelling to Peru.
- Rabies– While rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals, there is not a major risk for most travellers. The series of shots is recommended for those taking part in adventure travel and caving, as well as those working in close contact with animals.
- Yellow Fever– Peru does carry a risk of yellow fever, however the vaccination is not required for travel to the country. The shot may still be recommended based on your travel itinerary.
- Malaria– Present in certain parts of Peru, though the risk of contraction is low for Canadian travellers. Visitors to the Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado as well as remote eastern regions should consider taking antimalarial medication.
The climate of Peru differs greatly based on the region you are visiting. Here is what the climate is like in some of Peru’s most popular travel destinations:
Lima has two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Conditions in the capital city are relatively mild due to proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures do not vary dramatically between one season to the next, and the average low in the winter is 14º Celsius with a summer high of 26º Celsius.
Cusco is the starting city for the world famous trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The city generally has pleasant conditions, with temperatures landing throughout the 20º Celsius range. The coolest month is July with an average temperature of 10º Celsius. The wet season in Cusco lasts from December to March.
Arequipa has a semiarid climate with an average of 300 days of sunshine every year. Temperatures generally do not exceed 25º Celsius or drop lower than 5º Celsius.
Climates across Peru are dramatically impacted during El Niño years. The weather phenomenon happens every seven to 10 years and originates on the Pacific coast off of Peru. The last major El Niño event in 1997 left more than $3.5 million in damages as a result of flooding. Emergency officials are currently on the watch for effects that may come from 2016’s El Niño.
The Italian Government has issued a number of regional travel advisories for Peru in the past several years. The government advises against non-essential travel to areas along the Peru-Colombia border due to drug trafficking and armed guerilla forces, and the Peru-Ecuador border because of the risk of landmines.
A money belt may be useful in preventing pickpockets, as will a purse or bag that can be slung over the shoulder. All foreign visitors are at an increased risk of theft, robbery, or mugging since it is perceived they are carrying something of value. Dressing and looking as inconspicuous as possible can be a way to deter potential criminal activity. Thieves are most often on the lookout for electronic items such as cameras, laptops, and smartphones.
Unlicensed taxis can be a danger, especially in Arequipa where taxi kidnappings have been known to occur. You should always take a secure taxi hailed by your hotel or other reliable accommodation.
Always go to a reputable ATM or bank to withdraw of exchange money. There will be many street vendors offering currency exchange, but you are often given counterfeit bills.
In addition to a sturdy pair of hiking boots, guidebook, and any medication recommended by your Passport Health Travel Specialist, here are a few additional items you should consider packing:
- Rain gear: It can get rainy and cold in Peru. Bring your own rain jacket, otherwise rain ponchos can be purchased near major tourist sites, such as in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu.
- Clothes for layering: Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically based on your location in the country. This is especially true if trekking in the Andes Mountains and along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Wear several layers that you can unzip and strip off as the day progresses. Ensure you have a backpack or bag to carry them.
- Altitude sickness medication: Another essential if you plan on trekking. Acute Mountain Sickness, also known as altitude sickness, occurs at elevations above 3,000 metres. Ensure you take time to acclimate while hiking, and be wary of flu-like symptoms, nausea, and shortness of breath. Your Passport Health Travel Medicine Specialist can talk about whether an altitude medication such as Diamox may be right for your trip.
- Long pants and bug spray: Hikers along the Inca Trail have reported several occurrences of biting sandflies and midges. The itchiness can last up to a few weeks, so proactive measures taken to prevent bites are best. Long, loose pants and bug repellant with a minimum DEET content of 50% is recommended to do the trick.
- Toilet paper: Public washrooms will rarely have toilet seats or toilet paper. The latter is often available for purchase outside the bathroom but you’ll save time and money if you bring tissue yourself. Toilet paper should be disposed of in a trash can, not in the toilet. A small and portable over-the-door-hook is also recommended if you have space – it’s ideal if you can avoid putting your bag on the floor of a public toilet.
All Italians visiting Peru should register with the Embassy before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
Italian Embassy in Lima
Av. Giuseppe Garibaldi 298
Jesús María - Lima 11
Tel: (0051-1) 463-2727
24/7 Emergency line: 997.232.073
Visit the Embassy website prior to your departure.
Italian tourists are not required to get a visa when travelling to Peru, however will need a passport that is valid for at least six months past the intended departure date. All travellers must complete a form called the Andean Migration Card upon entering the country. That card will help determine your length of stay, which can be up to 183 days at the discretion of immigration officials.
Travellers must present this card as well as an entry stamp in their passport in order to leave the country. Getting an entry stamp upon arrival is crucial, meaning you might need to track down a difficult-to-find border crossing or wait until the office reopens to receive your stamp. Failure to get a valid entry stamp can mean you have to apply for expulsion to leave the country, a process that can take several weeks and could mean you’re barred from entering the Peru in the future.
If you have any questions about travelling to Peru or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport travel clinic today or call +39 392 0056499.