Planning a trip to Peru? Here are three things you should definitely consider that you probably can’t find on the internet.
1. Altitude. Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, and Puno, home to the Uros floating islands are both very high. Un-medicated, most people suffer symptoms of altitude sickness that range from a splitting headache to an upset stomach.
Whenever possible, you want to plan your trip to move from lower to higher altitudes so that you can acclimatize as you go. For example, you might start at sea level in Lima, then travel to Cusco before continuing to Puno.
You should also plan a couple of days to hang out in Cusco before doing a trek in the surrounding area. Even the relatively easy Lares trek involves summiting a 14,000 foot pass. Whereas the Inca Trail involves summiting two.
2. Weather. The rainy season in Peru, typically December through the early part of March, can bring torrential rains that cause flooding and mud slides in the Andes. This can result in being trapped by closed roads and trails. In fact, in January 2010, the Peruvian Army had to airlift tourists out of Machu Picchu when sections of train track washed away.
In contrast, Lima can be a simmering hot dust bowl.
The best time to visit Peru is April through November. And, the best time to trek is April through October.
3. Transportation. Peru is a big country and sometimes getting from here to there involves quite a bit of zigzagging. For example, there are flights to many of Peru’s smaller cities. But, many of these flights pass through Lima. This means you can spend an entire day traveling what seems like a very short distance. So make sure to plan enough time to account for what may be unexpected travel time.
Also, some roads in Peru are great while others are downright white-knuckle rides. Even the locals don’t like taking the bus between Lima and Cusco. Between the poorly maintained roads and the poorly maintained buses, it’s a recipe for discomfort at best. So, make sure to research your route and the best way to travel it. And remember, not all bus companies were created equal.
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