Peru shelters 13% of the world’s tropical forests, 10% of the plant species, 18% of birdlife and 10% of fish species of the world.
The possibility of marvelling oneself at the colours of three thousand orchid species or 3.500 types of butterflies, feeling the effects of 28 out of the 32 world’s climates, visiting 11 eco-regions, ranging from cold and tropical seas to jungles and tropical forests, across deserts, moorlands, and mountain range can be offered by very few countries.
Peru is one of the most privileged countries of the world. It is the fourth country with the greatest megabiodiversity of the planet, and shelters, together with 11 countries, 70% of the world’s diversity of life.
Life bursts in this South American in many different ways. Marvelled scientists found 5.000 insect species (80% of them were new to science) in one only tree of Madre de Dios, a region in the southern Peruvian forest which is so rich in animal life that 800 bird species can be found in one only square kilometer. This forest is considered by experts to be the world’ “drugstore”, since its 1.400 medicinal plant species (in addition to the 4.400 species used by its population) are a discovery source for modern scientists.
At least 25.000 plant species, that is, 10% of all existing species in the planet, grow in this land. 30% of these plant species is endemic, this meaning that they can only be found in Peru. Thus, this is a marvellous spot for nature observers who can find unique species such as the biggest orchid of the planet, which is 13 meters high and is found in Huachucolpa (Huancavelica). This is why the renowned botanist David Bellamy said, when referring to this country: “Peru is a surprisingly diverse country in biological terms. If we could save it, we could virtually rehabilitate the rest of the world”.
Peru is also the third country in the world with the greatest diversity of amphibians and mammals. A recent study conducted at Yavarí, in the region of Loreto, recorded over 50 species of frogs and toads, 5 of which were new to science. Peru hosts the second largest variety of primates: 34 species, one of them is endemic, the choro de cola amarilla (Yellow-tailed Wooly-Monkey- agothirix flavicans). Moreover, half of the spider species inhabiting in the Neotropical region are concentrated in Peru.
The Peruvian sea -one of the seven fishing marine basins of the world- and the rivers that flow throughout Peru are home to about two thousand fish species, exceeding thus the number of fish species found in the whole Atlantic. More importantly, the Peruvian sea is home to 32 cetacean species and about 400 shellfish. Additionally, its guano islands concentrate the largest number of sea birds of the planet, which are found in millions.
Its geography, thanks to the impressive Andean Cordillera, is also unique. Suffice to say that 84 of the 117 life areas of worldwide renown are found in Peru. Furthermore, 13% of the world’s tropical forests are found in its territory.
The White Cordillera, the highest snow covered cordillera of the tropics, with its nearly 50 snow-covered peaks, rises majestically as a challenge to over 6.000 meters. It also possesses 1.769 glaciers, more than 12.000 lakes and lagoons, and unique spots such as the Colca and Cotahuasi Canyons in Arequipa which are acknowledged as the deepest canyons on earth.
For modern day visitors to Cusco, the city is a beautiful place to explore for a few days, enjoying its centre, and it makes a wonderful base from which to explore the many, many nearby attractions. The city has some fine hotels and good restaurants, and has the best services in the country outside of Lima. It is also a great place to meet other travellers, and there are many fine crafts from the surrounding areas for sale in the city.
HOW TO GET HERE
AIR: From Lima, Cusco is just a 1 hour flight away. There are a few airlines flying the route : LAN Airlines, TACA and StarPeru. LAN has the most amount of flights per day and the rest have around 2 flights. You need to pay a national airport tax of approximately $6 on all internal flights within the airport terminal.
The road is long and winding! It will take you up to 23 hours to reach Cusco using one of the countrys tourist buses that run the route. Best buses are : Cruz del Sur or Palomino.
There are many Banks / ATMs from where you can withdraw both US Dollars or Peruvian Nuevo Soles. If you are thinking of bringing Traveller Checks with you please ensure that they are American Express. Other types are difficult to change. There is a commission charge of around 3% on travellers checks.
MONEY EXCHANGE FACILITIES
There are many places where you can also exchange money of different currencies. Kindly note that when changing US Dollar Notes to Soles or even paying with US Dollars, your notes need to be in perfect condition! They cannot have any rips, tears or holes in them as these are not accepted here in Peru!
In Cusco you will find lodging from Budget-style to Five-Star. There is a wonderful range of hotels to choose from! Please ask us for our Preferred Hotel List to help you select.
Peru has been voted the Best Cuisine in the World twice in a row! You will have the opportunity of sampling delicious varieties of food here! There are plenty of local and tourist restaurants that offer a wide-variety of food; from the delicious grilled-guinea pig (local delicacy), ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon), pollo a la brasa (chicken grilled in a fire-wood oven, served with chips – Peruvian fast food!) to pizza and pasta restaurants.
Popular drinks here are coca tea (tea made from the coca leaf), Inca Kola (soft drink made with lemon grass – only found in Peru!), Pisco Sour (a mix of Pisco, egg whites, lemon, sugar, cinnamon and ice) and chicha (alcoholic drink made from corn).
A great variety of hand-made textiles can be found here; popular buys are alpaca, llama or the high-quality vicuña wool fabrics. There are also beautiful ceramic works and gold and silver jewellery on sale. Most of the best shops are located around the main square (Plaza de Armas) in Cusco, and you will also find many a market stall where you can bargain for great goods!
- Quinua is a Peruvian high protein cereal with 25 varieties.
- Olluco is a Peruvian tuber with over 30 varieties.
- The potato is originally from Peru and we produce over 90 varieties.
- The Tomato is originally from Peru, and it is a close relative of the Potato.
- The corn from Peru is a variety with the biggest kernels in the world amongst 32 others produced. Corn is originally from the Americas, including Peru.
- The Avocado is originally from Peru and we produce the softest variety.
- Peruvian food has 468 different registered typical dishes (Guinness world record)
- The finest cottons in the world, Pima and Tanguis are Peruvian.
- The weeping willow is originally from Peru and it produces the base for the ASPIRIN.
- Tara is a Peruvian tree from which the tanine for the production of dyes.
- Yacon, a tuber similar to the yucca (cassava,manioc), original from Peru is the base for the insulin.
- Maca, a Peruvian root, known as Huanarpo Macha is from where viagra is made, and has been in use in Peru for hundreds of years.
- The Plaza de Acho is amongst the oldest bull rings made in the world. It was built in the days of viceroy Amat in 1766.
- The oldest newspaper in South America is El Peruano, founded by Simon Bolivar in Lima in 1825.
- The deepest canyons in the world are Cotahuasi with 3600 meters (11,810 ft ) and Colca with 3400 meters (11,150 ft ). Both are in Arequipa, the second most important city in Peru.
- The Andes mountains in Peru have :
- 50 peaks over 6000 meters ( 19,685 ft ).
- 1769 Glaciers
- 12000 lakes and lagoons of different lenghts and depths
- In Peru, you can find 1701 species of birds, making it the most in any country in the world.
- Mejia lakes in Arequipa are the habitat of thousands of migratory birds. More than 150 varieties come each year, 50% of which are permanent residents and the rest come from all parts of the world.
- Peru is second in the world with 34 species of primates, third with 361 species of mammals, fifth with 297 species of reptiles and 251 amphibious.
- Peru has 84 of the 103 ecological zones in the world.
- In the central and western part of South America facing the Pacific Ocean on the West.
- A total of 496,220 square miles, divided into three main geographic areas: the Coast, the Highlands and the Jungle.
- 26.5 million of the following ethnic groups: Europeans, Oriental, African, Indoamerican.
- In Lima: 7.5 million.
- GMT-5 hours (No change during the Summer).
- Spanish with 80% literacy rate. Quechua is also an official language. Aymara is spoken by people around lake Titicaca and dozens of languages are spoken by the native inhabitants of the Amazon basin.
- Roman Catholic: 95%. Protestant and others: 5%.
Winter (May-October) average: 14ºC / 57ºF Summer (November-April) average: 27ºC / 81ºF
Temperatures range from 18ºC / 64ºF during the day to 3ºC / 37º F at night. The rainy season lasts from December to March.
Hot and humid, with sporadic rains all year round.
- The official currency of Peru is the Nuevos Soles (S/.) which is divided into 100 cents.
- US Dollars are accepted in most commercial establishments, restaurants and service stations, at the current exchange rate.
- Credit cards widely accepted: VISA, Diners, Master Card, American Express.
- Travel cheques may be cashed in main hotels. US Dollars exchange can be made at hotels and banks and also in our company.
- Visas are not usually required for citizens of most countries in the Americas and Western Europe – in these cases they are authorised to stay up to 90 days. Enquire with the Peruvian consular representation in your country if you need further information.
- Yellow fever inoculation required for those visiting some areas of the Amazon basin. Passengers travelling through Peru to Brazil also require yellow fever vaccine.
- Present to the Immigration officer the International Embarkation / Disembarkation Card (given to the traveller in the airplane or at the Immigration Stand in the border area you are coming through). Keep the card, since you will have to turn it in when you leave the country. If you lose it you will have to pay a fine equivalent to US$ 4,00.
- 220 volts.
- Major hotels have 110 volts outlets.
- Telephone: International and long distance national calls can be made from public pay phones. Country and city codes are normally shown in the telephone booths.Public phones take coins as well as cards, which are sold in stands and supermarkets. Make sure you are buying the card corresponding to the telephone company of the phone you want to use. No collect calls can be made from pay phones.
The main cities in the country do have public Internet booths.
- Only drink bottled or previously boiled water.
- Be careful with raw vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid eating from street vendors.
- Rest on the first day of your arrival to the Highlands, and consume light meals to prevent altitude illness (soroche). Drinking “coca tea” is recommended.
- If you travel to the Highlands or to the Jungle, make sure to carry insect repellent and a raincoat.
- To obtain medical services, contact the staff of your hotel or ourselves.
- Banking hours in Peru are normally from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, most banks open for the public half day on Saturdays.
- In the streets of the main cities there are teller machines installed by the different banks.
- New Years day, January 1
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- Labor day, May 1
- Inti Raymi, June 24, (Cusco only)
- St. Peter and St. Paul, June 29
- Independence day, July 28 and July 29
- Santa Rosa’s day, August 30
- Battle of Angamos, October 8
- All Saints, November 1
- Immaculate Conception, December 8
- Christmas day, December 25