Practical info for your visit

Honor the Kaypacha!  Even if your objectives in visiting the Sacred Valley are all about spirituality, "ya gotta bring the body along", so to help you maximize your

enjoyment, here are a bundle of tips about everyday matters.

 

Water

 

Do not drink the tap water in Peru. 

 

Drinking more water than usual is recommended at the altitude of the Sacred Valley.    For the most part we will be staying at altitudes of about 8000 feet above sea level. Please pack a refillable water bottle. You can buy 2 liter bottles of filtered water through out the Sacred Valley and use them to refill your bottle. Recycling projects are just beginning to be initiated in this Sacred Valley.  Therefore it is better to bring a refillable water bottle that you will fill from larger bottles than to purchase several smaller bottles of water each day.  A great alternative 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.

 

In addition 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.

 

Digestion

 

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

 

We recommend you bring charcoal capsules available in whole food stores.  At the first sign of digestive upset, take one of these capsules.  The charcoal changes the pH of your digestive tract and will frequently avert indigestion and diarrhea.

Consider packing digestive aids such as pro-biotics, digestive enzymes and diarrhea medication.

 

Altitude

We are planning our itinerary so that most of the time will be spent in the Sacred Valley of the Inca South of Cusco.  The altitude in the Sacred Valley is about 8,000 feet above sea level.  Most people will notice the effects of this altitude with shortness of breath and possible headaches but more serious effects are rarely noticed at this altitude.

 

remedies

 

  • Two herbal teas that help with altitude are Mate de Coca and Mate de Muna. (pronounced “mah tay day co cah” and “mah tay day moon yah”)
  • Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and as such help counter act some of the effects of altitude (please note: tylenols do not offer this anti-inflammatory benefit.)
  • caffeine also helps with the effects of altitude as helps dilate and is also a diuretic and help avoid water retention.
  • Sirojchi Capules, available at pharmacies (botecas) in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Taken 2-3 times daily 8 hours apart. Approx. $13 for a box of 20 capsules.  Most botecas will open a box and sell just a few capsules if you want to give them a try.
  • Cell Food.- This is the brand name of a liquid dietary supplement that you can purchase in health food stores in the US.   A small bottle costs about $25.  It can be used to supplement over 25 quarts of water. The dissolved oxygen that it contains helps deliver oxygen to the cells to counter act the effects of less oxygen at higher altitudes.
  • One of our friend who make frequent trips to Peru, never goes without the following supplement to aid her in dealing with the high altitude: Cataplex E2,  available from www.NationalDiscountVitamins.com or 1-888-884-8845.
  • Mama coca. This is the indigenous response to altitude. The most potent way to get coca´s wonderful effects is by chewing the leaves. They are available at most public markets. Along with the leaves you would get a little chunk of "Ilipta", which helps with the release of the alkaloids into the bloodstream. I (Jeffrey) found that this allowed me to do hours of heavy labor at 11,500 feet!

 

Good physical condition is no guarantee against altitude sickness. Symptoms vary from dizziness, headaches, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, and shortness of breath, to the more severe and dangerous symptoms of high altitude -pulmonary or cerebral edema. Anyone with a history of lung or heart disease, other serious medical problems, or a history of severe reactions at high altitudes should consult his or her doctor for recommendations before departing.


What to bring

Peru is south of the equator so our summer is their winter but Peru is fairly close to the equator so there this not a big climate change from summer to winter. Days will generally be in the 60's-70's.  Due to the high altitude, as soon as the sun sets (close to 6pm) the temperature will drop.  Lows at night in the 40's.

  • Layered clothing is important.
  • A light weight yet warm fleece is a good idea.
  • The sacred sites we will visit are outdoors - long pants are recommended because when we sit down to talk, it will be on the ground.
  • High altitude means stronger burning rays from the sun - long sleeves and a cap are good protection from sun.
  • We will be there in dry season but in case of showers a light weight rain jacket or even a disposable plastic rain poncho is a good idea
  • Comfortable walking shoes with good traction.  Lots of cobblestone, stairs  and unpaved streets..  Longest walk we will take is one day our site will be about an hour's walk from the road.  Doable but comfortable shoes a must.
  • Small day pack to carry your water bottle, camera, sunglasses, rain poncho, etc highly recommended.
  • Best to pack light.  Even if you have a wheeled suitcase, you will frequently end up picking it up as wheels don't work so well on cobblestones and stairs.
  • We also suggest that you bring gifts suitable for the children of Peru. We will give these to our spiritual guide, Puma, who will distribute them in his village. Things you might consider to bring are:
    • paper, pens, pencils, markers
    • warm jackets and sweaters. Good condition second hand is fine. Thrift stores will often let you take a bag of these for free if you explain that you are taking them for the children of Peru.
    • One person asked her dentist to donate toothpaste and tooth brushes.
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 www.travelguard.com


Time zone

Peru does not adjust for Daylight Savings. During the months that the US applies Daylight Savings Time (Sunday, March 14, 2010 - Sunday, November 7, 2010), the time in Peru is the same as the Central Daylight Time in the US.  This is the time zone that Chicago is in.


Money

The Peruvian currency is the ‘Sol’. The current exchange rate is (June '10) approx. 2.8 soles per 1 US dollar. There are many ‘cambios’ or money changing places in the Sacred Valley. You can also change money at the airport and sometimes at your hotel, but the hotel usually offers a little less advantageous rate.

 

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

 

Options

Travelers checks – very safe but it can be difficult to find a place that excepts them. Generally only exchangeable at a bank. This is time consuming as there are often long lines at banks. 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 are you primary means of funds.

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 even sometimes available at open air markets. You will probably be charged the equivalent of $3-$4 per transaction.

Cash – readily exchangeable as long a your bills are as new and unblemished as possible.  Open air vendors will accept unblemished US bills. In addition to bargaining the price or 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.


Language
Peru's official languages are Spanish and in certain areas Quechua and Aymara.

Quechua is the language that is spoken in the areas that we will be visiting. Spanish is taught in the schools in these areas. So those that go to school, will know some Spanish too.  If you speak Spanish fluently, be sure to speak slowly and simply as Spanish is a second language for these people.

The population of Lima is fluent in Spanish. In Cusco, the navel of the Sacred Valley, most people have gone to school and have a great grasp of Spanish.

There are dozens of languages spoken in the Peruvian Amazon region.



Tips

It is true that Peruvians are not big tippers, however, 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 that need it most. A 10% tip will be warmly accepted at any restaurant and will put a surprised smile on a person's face. Your meals are included on this trip. If you want to leave a tip at restaurants, you are welcome to do so.

Tour bus driver. At the end of our trip, you are welcome to give the tour bus driver a tip.

Taxi drivers do not expect tips. Fares are negotiated prior to initiating the trip.

Hotel porters and bell boys expect a tip of $ 1 per bag.

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


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 - even restrooms at sacred sites where there is an admission fee. Toilet paper is not always available. It is a good idea to bring some with you.

 

Airport taxes:

Sometimes airport taxes have been added to the price of your ticket. If this is the case, a stamp or sticker will be attached to your boarding pass when you check in. 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

Lima to Cusco –approx. $6

Cusco to Lima – approx. $6

Lima to US - $30.

 

Fitness

Our trip will include visiting many sacred sites. Although we will not do a lot of walking, your visit to Peru will be more enjoyable if you prepare for it by doing a little bit of walking each day.  Even 5-10 minutes per day in the weeks before your trip will be worth the investment.  When you have a choice, climb stairs daily in preparation for the inevitable stairs you will find here. Many of us drive to school or work and sit at a desk most of the day.  As you prepare for your trip, plan to park a few minutes farther from work or school than you usually do.  An extra 5 minute walk each day can make a big difference. The better shape you’re in, the better time you’ll have.
 
More questions?
We invite you to direct your unanswered questions along these lines to us. Send them to jeffreyandcielle@gmail.com.

Comments