Visiting Peru - central Andes

US citizens traveling to Peru
  • Visa not required for stay of up to 90 days. 
  • A valid U.S. Passport is required
  • As you go through the immigration check point in Lima, a small piece of paper (approx 3" x 4") will be slipped into your passport. Keep that paper in your passport.  You will need it when you leave the country.  

About Chavin de Hauntar
Visit  Chavin for information as well as a map of Peru locating Chavin.

Hotel check in
If Cielle or Jeffrey are not able to meet you at the front desk, please check yourself in. We will make your reservation. You will pay for your room.
  • Couples will share a room
  • Participants traveling without a partner will have private rooms

Breakfast and Lunch: on the days we have ceremony, eat a light breakfast; we will not eat lunch. 
Dinner is included on the nights we have ceremony.

You will buy your own meals on the days we do not have ceremony.

You will want Peruvian soles for buying meals in Chavin.  The restaurants in Chavin are not likely to accept dollars or credit cards. There is an ATM machine in the bank on the Plaza de Armas, a 2 min walk from our lodging, so you will be able to use a debit card to withdraw soles.  Most ATM machines in Peru charge about $7 for each transaction so it is best to plan ahead rather than withdraw funds frequently. To plan for this expense, count up the number of meals you are likely to eat, in light of your arrival and departure plans. Our itinerary page will help you determine the days we will not have ceremony.  Those are the days you will want to eat out.



The Peruvian currency is the ‘Sol’. The current exchange rate is (as of January 2016) approx. 3.2 soles per 1 US dollar. There are many ‘cambios’ or money changing places in the Lima airport. We find the exchange places in the Lima airport offer good exchange rates.

At various and unpredictable points in your journey you may encounter local people offering handcrafts, textiles and simple jewelry.  If you want to make a purchase from them, you'll need to bring extra soles along to make your purchase. 


Options for obtaining Soles or exchanging Dollars into Soles

ATM machines - We strongly recommend that you bring a debit card with you. ATM machines are found in most cities and are an easy way to obtain Soles. Exchange rate is generally good. No lines, 24 hour availability.  Clearly marked machines are even sometimes available at open air markets. You will probably be charged the equivalent of $7 per transaction. You will be able to withdraw either US dollars or Peruvian Soles from an ATM machine.  We recommend that you withdraw Soles for use in Peru.  If you withdraw US dollars you will then have to find a "cambio" to exchange them to Soles.

Please let you bank know that you will be traveling in Peru.  If they do not know this ahead of time they may put a block on your account when they see credit or debit card use happening abroad.


  • In larger cities, such a Lima, some restaurants, stores, etc accept US dollars as long a your bills are as new and unblemished as possible.  Not all vendors accept US dollars.
  • Some open air vendors will accept unblemished US bills. In addition to bargaining the price of something you buy from an open air vendor, you will also have to negotiate the exchange rate should you pay in US dollars.  Obviously this only becomes a major concern for fairly high-value purchases.
  • Banks accept US dollars as long a your bills are as new and unblemished as possible and will exchange them for Soles.  There may be a small charge for this. Peruvian banks frequently have very long lines.
  • In large cities you may also encounter street side money exchangers who will exchange Dollars for Soles.  Their rates tend to be OK. No lines.   We generally feel uncomfortable doing money exchange in such a public way where by-standers are able to see the transaction.

Travelers checks – very safe but it can be very difficult to find a place that accepts them. Generally only exchangeable at a bank. This is time-consuming as there are frequently very long lines at banks and banks are not always open. You will probably pay a 1% commission to your US bank to purchase travelers checks as well as a commission to exchange them. We do not recommend travelers checks as your primary means of funds.

Expect to bargain the price of almost everything from cab rides to souvenir purchases.


We have not found mosquitoes to be a problem even in the wettest month of the year. We will be visiting in the dry season. We did not encounter any in the Chavin area.


Do not drink the tap water in Peru. 

Please pack a refillable water bottle.   


In addition it is best to:

  • Brush your teeth with bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes
  • Avoid fresh fruit juices. Juices in Peru are often freshly made by blending fresh fruit and water.  Although delicious, the water used may not have been filtered.

A great alternative to buying bottled water daily is to bring a small water-purifier with you. There are many of these available, usually from suppliers of backpacking gear. What we use is a small battery-powered device called a “SteriPEN”. It takes 90 seconds to sterilize a liter of water. You will need a wide mouthed bottle for use with a SteriPEN.

Recycling projects are just beginning to be initiated in Peru. If you don't bring a small water purifyer, it is best to bring a refillable water bottle that you will fill from larger bottles rather than to purchase several smaller bottles of water each day.  

Digestion - food

Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables that you cannot peel unless you trust the source of raw produce to have been handled with proper hygiene.

There are a number of restaurants in town serving good, relatively simple meals. The dinner we will have on ceremony nights is soup, bread and coca tea. We won't eat lunch on ceremony days. The idea is that we eat simply to allow very little "stimulation" from complex foods to allow maximum effect from the medicine.


As with any international travel, your body will encounter unfamiliar foods. Consider packing digestive aids such as pro-biotics, digestive enzymes and diarrhea medication. You may want to bring charcoal capsules available in whole food stores.  At the first sign of digestive upset, take one of these capsules.  The charcoal neutralizes toxins and changes the pH of your digestive tract and will frequently avert indigestion and diarrhea.

Accommodations in Chavin
Our lodging in Chavin is simple yet comfortable. All rooms have private baths. Towels and linens will be exchanged upon request. 
Ceremony nights we will sleep on sacred groundThere are several simpe traditional shelters ("chosas") at the ceremony grounds. Some of us may need to bring a sleeping bag, mat and tent; when this is necessary, we'll have details in advance.


no wi-fi in Chavin. 

Internet is available at several small stores. It tends to be slow.  About $1 per hour.

Cell service is good.

Weather in Chavin

Being only slightly south of the equator, the temperature is fairly consistent and pleasant year round.  June is during the dry season.  We are unlikely to have rain that time of year but it is still possible.

Daily high in October is 85 Fahrenheit

Night time low in October is 65 Fahrenheit

Sun hat and sun screen are recommended


The altitude is about 10,430 feet above sea level.  For those who know that they have difficulty adjusting to altitude we have several recommendations.

  • Upon arrival at high altitude rest and refrain from eating but keep hydrated.  This is especially important if you are tired from traveling.
  • Chlorophyll drops - This helps build red blood cells to increase oxygen pick up and transfer in the body.  Best to start with 1 full dropper full in water 3 times a day 3 week before reaching high altitude and continued at high altitude.  You can also find this product in gel caps.
  • Alka-Seltzer (original formula) can help with the effects of altitude
  • Coca tea and Coca leaves - Most restaurants in the Andes will have coca tea on their menu. The coca tea is very good for adjusting to altitude.  Another tea that we consider second best for altitude is Munya tea (probably spelled with a Spanish "n" will a "tilda" over it). Chewing coca leaves is also very good.  Jeffrey can help you find a storethat sells the leaves. 
  • Prescription medication - some prefer to bring high altitude prescription medication with them
  • Acclimatizing at a lower altitude of 7,000-8,000 for 3-4 nights before traveling up to Chavin.  Jeffrey and Cielle have suggestions for this if you are interested.


 Your most important resource, and your gift to those around you. Advance preparation encouraged ... trust and commitment essential.

What to bring

Keep in mind that we are likely to be in places with stairs, cobble stone roads, etc. In other words, areas where wheeled suitcases will need to be carried. Best to pack lightly as there may be times when no one can help you carry your bag. Keeping "light packing" in mind, start with whatever you'd usually take on a trip away from home: Your personal clothing, toiletries, writing paper and pen, etc.

On ceremony nights we will spend the night on Jack's property.  Jack has many inflatable sleeping pads and lots of heavy wool blankets.

Our sleeping options will include:

  • by the fire, under the stars
  • under the covered dining area
  • in a small straw "hut" - Jack has about 6 of these.  Couples can easily share one.
  • in your own tent - you are welcome to bring your own tent if you prefer.

Here are items specific to this area and this trip.

  1. Refillable water bottle 
  2. Flashlight. (You'll need a light to move around at night)
  3. Light-weight shirts
  4. Long pants
  5. Jacket for cool nights
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Light-weight hat for protection from sun
  8. Comfortable closed shoes for mountain walks and hikes
  9. Sleeping bag
  10. Sleeping pad (if you will bring your won tent)
  11. Extra batteries for your flashlight
  12. optional - high altitude remedies (see suggestions above)
  13. optional - small water filter or SteriPen
  14. optional - camera
  15. optional - bathing suit - there are thermal baths in Chavin
  16. optional - musical instrument, rattle or drum (later in the night of ceremonies you may want to share some music with us)
  17. optional - sacred medicine bundle, mesa or sacred objects

Telephone service

There's no phone service at the hostel.

Unless you have an international plan with your cell phone (these are now pretty common), your US cell phone will not work in Peru If you do have an international cell phone, you will probably need to purchase a special Peruvian "chip" or SIM card in order to make and receive calls to and from your cell phone. These chips can be purchased at most cell phone stores in Peru for less than $15. As of April, 2012 you can purchase a Peruvian SIM card for an internationally compatible cell phone at the airport of Lima, close to the entrance of the national terminal by the food court. You may also have to purchase minutes for your phone.

If you buy a SIM card and cell phone minutes in Peru, make sure the shop you purchase it from gets it set up and working, especially if you do not speak Spanish.


We do not recommend renting a phone while you are in Peru unless you plan to make calls to phones in Peru or check that the rental phone is capable of making international calls.  Be sure to check the price of international calls from a rented phone.  They can be very high.

The two cell phone service providers in Peru are Movistar and Claro

Electrical current and outlets

In Peru:

Current is 220 volts opposed to the US where it is 120 volts.

  • The power cords for most laptop computers include a rectangular shaped power supply that accepts voltage ranging from 100-240 volts. The power supply should state the voltage range.
  • You may research and purchase step down converters on-line for under $20. There are a variety of these converters suitable for different types of appliances.

The wall receptacles are generally the same shape as the 2 prong receptacles one finds in the US. 

  • There are rarely 3 prong receptacles (that 3rd prong is the grounding prong). A 3 to 2 prong converter may be useful if your appliance uses a 3 prong power cord. These are readily available in hardware sections of discount stores in the US 
  • Some outlets in Peru, only accept a plug with round prongs. We have purchased adapters for this situation in hardware stores in Peru for very little cost. 


Also recommended is a portable surge-protector; the current is less stable than in the US.

Emergency contact information 

To be posted

While it is true that Peruvians are not big tippers, tipping is a great way to show your appreciation to the people serving you and to have your dollars go straight into the pockets of the people who need it most. A 10% tip will be warmly accepted at any restaurant and will put a surprised smile on a person's face. 

We might decide to leave a group tip for those who have served us on our trip.  We will discuss this as a group.

Taxi drivers do not expect tips. Fares are negotiated prior to initiating the trip. DO confirm the fare when you get in the cab.

Hotel porters and bell boys expect a tip of $1 (3 soles) per bag.

Clean unblemished dollar bills are readily accepted as tips - I generally bring 20 one dollar bills for this purpose

Peru's official languages are Spanish and in certain areas Quechua and Aymara. For many living outside of large cities, Spanish is their second language.

If you have a smart phone there are many good English/Spanish translation apps. We have tried several and one we really like is Jibbigo.  Be sure to get the version that you can use even if you are not on-line. This version costs $5.  It is best to get the version that only translates English to Spanish. Multiple language versions are not a useful.  With this app you will be able to speak into your smart phone and have it translate for you, out load in Spanish. Very handy.  It has helped me out several time when I needed to talk to a hotel clerk who didn't speak English.

Time zone

Peru does not adjust for Daylight Savings. During the months that the US applies Daylight Savings Time , the time in Peru is the same as the Central Daylight Time in the US.  This is the time zone that Chicago is in.

Photographing the People of Peru

Ask permission first and give those you have photographed a tip following taking their photograph. 1 Sol per person is adequate.

Public Restrooms

There is generally a charge of 1 Sol to use public restrooms. Toilet paper is not always available in public restrooms, even in restaurants. It is a good idea to bring some with you.


Airport taxes:

Usually the airport taxes have been added to the price of your airline ticket.

If airport taxes are not pre-paid then you will pay them at the airport. These taxes can be paid in Soles or US dollars at the airport.

Lima to US - $30.

Travel Insurance

You may want to purchase travel insurance before departure. It is perfect protection in case you have to cancel your trip, miss a flight, return home early or need to seek emergency medical treatment while traveling. It must be purchased before you leave for your trip.  I have purchased it in the past from