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Peru country information

Peru map
Republic of Peru
Area: 1,285,220 sq km
Population: 28,220,764
Population density: 22 per sq km
Capital: Lima
Passport & Visa
Passport Required?
British Yes
Australian Yes
Canadian Yes
USA Yes
Other EU Yes
Visa Required?
British No/2
Australian No/2
Canadian No/2
USA No/2
Other EU No/1/2

Passports

Valid passport required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Visas

Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above, travelling as tourists for stays of up to 90 days, except:
1. nationals of Latvia who do require a visa.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Visa Note

2. A business visa is required for all nationals if the purpose of the visit is business. Any business-related unpaid work can be made on a tourist visa. Upon arrival in Peru, the business visa holder must register at the Dirección General de Contribuciones for taxation purposes. Business visa holders can remain in Peru for 90 days. If wishing to extend the visit, an application must be lodged with the Dirección General de Migraciones.

Nationals applying for a tourist visa require a bank statement showing a minimum balance of 1,000 and a mini statement taken from a cash machine on the date of application. Nationals applying for a business visa require a bank statement showing a minimum balance of 1,000 and a mini statement taken from a cash machine on the date of application.

All nationals are advised to check with the Peruvian Consulate prior to departure to obtain current details of any documentation which might be required. Postal visa applications are not accepted unless submitted through a travel agency.

Types of Visa and Cost

Tourist: 19.50; Business: 22.20. Costs are subject to change according to exchange rates.

Validity

Up to 90 days.

Applications to:

Consulate (or consular section at embassy).

Working Days Required

At least 24 hours; longer if authorisation from the immigration office in Lima is required.
Getting there

Getting There by Air

The principal international airlines are Lan (LP) (website: www.lan.com ) and Taca Perú (website: www.taca.com ). There are no direct flights from London; however, airlines with regular services to Peru include Air Canada, American Airlines, Avianca, Continental, Iberia and KLM.

Approximate Flight Times

From Lima to Madrid is 12 hours and to New York is 9 hours.

Main Airports

Lima (LIM) (Jorge Chávez International Airport) (website: www.lap.com.pe ) is 16km (10 miles) northwest of the city centre (journey time - 25 minutes). To/from the airport: Taxis to the city centre are available. Facilities: Duty-free and handicrafts shop, banks/bureaux de change, left luggage, pharmacy, medical centre, Internet cafe, car hire, coffee shops, bars and restaurants and tourist information.

Cusco (CUZ), located in the central south, receives flights from La Paz (Bolivia).
Air Passes
oneworld Visit South America Pass: valid within Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile (except Easter Island), Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Participating airlines are American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), Cathay Pacific (CX), Finnair (AY), Iberia (IB), JAL Japan Airlines (JL), LAN (LA), Malév Hungarian Airlines (MA), Qantas (QF) and Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ). The pass must be bought outside South America in the country of residence. It allows unlimited travel to 34 cities. Prices depend on the amount of flight zones. For further details, contact one of the participating airlines.
Departure Tax
US$30.25 from Lima's airport. Transit passengers and children under two years of age are exempt. Payment must be paid in cash prior to boarding.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Callao and San Martín. Some international cruises occasionally call at Callao and Trujillo. Iquitos is the main river port and the major water route between Peru and Brazil.

Getting There by Rail

The only international rail service in Peru links the towns of Tacna in southern Peru and Arica, just over the border in northern Chile. The train makes one return trip daily.

Getting There by Road

The main international highway is the Pan-American Highway running north-south through the coastal desert of Peru from Tumbes to Tacna.

Coach: Transport from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela is available through companies like Bus Tas Choapa Internacional (tel: (01) 431 1400; www.taschoapa.cl ), El Rápido and Rutas de América. It is also possible to go from La Paz in Bolivia to Puno on Lake Titicaca (south Peru) by coach.
Cycling & Maps

Cycling in Peru
If you have just entered Peru from Ecuador, the first stretches of road may seem similar, but as you move south you'll soon realise, that Peruvians build their highways with much easier gradients. Doesn't mean to say you wont climb plenty of altimetres in the country, particularly if you intend to visit Bolivia: the almighty Andes runs the length of the country and you'll need to cross it or run the length of it at some stage. While some territory is unpaved and obviously prime candidate for the difficult cycling category, when the road is paved, it is generally good.

The Peruvian Roadwork Department is continually doing its best to improve the condition of their national highways, so roadworks are something you will probably have to contend with enroute. Occasionally roads will only be open for certain times of the day. In general, they usually let loaded cyclists through, but do expect delays with the occasional wait at a road block. On the plus side, they know how to build quality roads in Peru with decent sized shoulders as well, so cycling in the future will be made a lot easier.

It is a pity that the quality of the driving is not up to the same standard. Peruvians do have the tendency to turn into monsters when they get behind the wheel. They drive extremely fast, overtake with great risk and will honk their horns incessantly; so much so, that you never know whether its a "warning" beep, a "friendly hello" toot or a "threatening get outta my way I'm gonna run you over" blast. There are no laws about mufflers on these warning devices either, so expect your eardrums to get a proper beating.

Luckily, there are shoulders on most major roads, which give you the safety net of staying in your own little domain; and off the beaten track there is usually not much traffic to contend with. In general, truck drivers are probably the most friendly you'll meet anywhere in the world and you'll be given the thumbs up, waved at and saluted for your cycling endeavours throughout your journey.

Some roads are known to be treacherously difficult on a loaded bike, so if you do intend to put your bike on public transport, then this should prove no problem whatsoever. Besides the usual long haul buses, shorter journeys with taxi's or 4-wheel drive utilities are a perfectly viable and affordable option. In 2009, anything up to 200 kilometres cost only 30 soles per person and your bikes and luggage are generally strapped somewhere on the vehicle for free.

Most of the Peruvian rivers and waterways originate from the Andes and there is always a water source fairly close to the road, so for cyclists that's an added bonus. On and around some of the high altitude passes and in some of the more desolate areas, water can be scarce, but you will usually find a source no more than a few kilometres ride away. Still, it pays to keep well stocked at all times.

Another thing to watch out for at lower altitudes and in the valleys is cacti and thorns. Before pulling off for that spectacular panoramic photo-opportunity and when finding a campsite, check the area thoroughly, especially for wattlethorn bush: its dried spikes break off in your tyres and remain there almost undetected, except for that slow persistent leak that hampers your voyage.

The other little menace to deal with in Peru is the dog. They just love chasing bicycles and snapping at the rider's ankles. Most of the time, roaring at the top of your lungs or pretending to throw a stone at them gets them retreating, however a few more persistent mutts may require other tactics. Stopping or getting off your bike, can be annoying, but it is sometimes the only alternative.

The 7000km stretch of the Andes is the world's longest exposed mountain range, extending over seven countries; and the Peruvian section is probably some of the most amazing cycling you'll ever get the chance to experience. You'll find yourself puffing way up and beyond 4000 metres and then plummeting down to below 2000 metres so many times you'll either get dizzy or loose count. The scenery is spectacular and the cycling demanding, especially seeing as a lot of the high altitude climbing is on dirt roads. This will change in the near future, with promises to pave much of the Ayacucho to Abancay run. The Izuchaca to Huanta stretch will probably remain wild and wooly for years to come. So, if you like the challenge of uninhibited cycling in the mountains; wild camping and lots of local smiles, then get to Peru quick: the country is changing rapidly.

The Panamericano on Recumbent is a great website for elevation charts in Peru or The Americas in general.

       

Peru Road Map /
Mapa Vial
by Lima 2000
scale 1:2 200 000

Our experience: maybe not detailed enough for cycle tourers. Scale too large. Does have seperate distance chart.

Peru Map
by International Travel Maps (ITMB)
scale 1:1 500 000

Waterproof

 

GPS Free maps for GPS from http://viajerosmapas.com/
 
Our experiece:
we used the Peru map of Freytag & Berndt publishers... I won't link this company, because as far as we are concerned, this map is rubbish. It is dated, inaccurate in distances as well as names of towns (!) and not even worth the price of the copies we made. Furthermore, the map shows which roads are paved, unpaved or just tracks. Well, they certainly got this muddled up. Very impressive to make that many mistakes in one map.

For a detailed altitude chart from Huanuco to the border with Bolivia, check out www.panamerica.ch

Cost of living
Peru: all prices in Peru Nuevos Soles (PEN)
drinks and snacks

food: local markets; restaurants; and stores

water (drinking)
water (drinking)
juice
juice
cifruit juice
inca cola
soft drink (bottle)
soft drink (bottle)

500ml
2.5 litre
200ml
1 litre
500ml
500ml
500ml
2.5 litre
1.00-1.50
2.50-3.00
1.00
2.40
1.70
1.00-1.50
1.50
4.20+

bread loaf-white
bread loaf-whole grain
croissant-cacho
flat bread- round
sugar empanada
magdalena cake

435g
700g
per 3-5
per 8-10
per 3
250g
4.00
7.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
churros / baked platano
chifa tallarin / chaufa
icecream
comidas tipicas
vegetarian buffet
pizza-8 slices
one serving
one serving
200ml cup
one serving
set meal
familiar (large)
0.50
4.50-6.50
1.00
2.50-7.50
3.00-5.00
20.00+
beer- local
beer- dark
wine - bottle
wine - tetra pack
600ml
620
750ml
1 litre
3.50-4.00
4.40-6.00
11.00+
8.00
tea
coffee (cafe / bar)

Nescafe instant
coffee-ground
25 bags
per cup

50g sachet
250 g
1.70
2 .00

5.20
4.50-6.00
rice (white)
pasta
quinoa seed
eggs
tomato paste

kg
250g
kg
per 4
80g sachet

1.60-2.50
0.80-1.00
8.00
1.00
0.90
soya milk powder
milk
yoghurt / curd
olives - fresh
cheese - local
Magnum-like icecream
120g = 1 litre
1 litre
150g
kg
kg
each

1.90
2.50
1.00
4.50-6.00
15.00
3.00

potatoes
onions
tomatoes
carrots
brocolli
aji [chilli pepper] - fresh
kg
kg
kg
kg
kg
kg
1.00
3.50
2.00
1.50
5.30
3.00
chips
cassava chips
salted peanuts
pecan nuts
sultanas
dried peaches
90g pack
40g
250g
125g
250g
100g
2.20
1.10
4.20
5.90
2.00
5.80
apples-small local
peaches
oranges
bananas
granadilla
maracuya
kg
kg
kg
6-10
per 4
per 5
2.00
5.00
3.50
1.00
1.00
1.00
cornflakes
chocolate-sublime
museli bars
biscuits-plain
biscuits-chocolate
200g pack
36g block
3x35g bars
220g pack
6 x 43g pack
5.30
1.00
2.90
2.90
3.30
pineapple (can)
oil (corn)
560g can
500ml
4.40
4.00
peanut paste
jam
honey
250g bag
100g sachet
500g
4.30
1.00
9.50
 
accommodation personal
budget city hostal

budget city hotel
10.00+ per dorm bed
15.00+ double share bathroom
20.00-35.00 double with ensuite

deodorant - roll-on
soap
shampoo
toothbrush
toothpaste
disposable razor
toilet paper

65g
175g bar
200ml
each
75ml
each
each-small

5.10
1.50
1.50+
6.00
2.40
1.00
0.50

camping

wild camping is possible in the more rural/remote areas, but it is advisable to remain out of sight.

internet 1.00-2.00 per hour

* tba = price to be announced
* October 2009: at time of writing 1.00 USD = 2.88 PEN
all prices have been taken from internet resources such as wikitravel, hostel world, leading supermarket chains, travel blogs, forums and of course our own travel experiences and purchases of everyday products in food markets, bazaars and local shopping facilities. They are only an indication and designed to give you a general impression of the cost of living in Peru. Items are geared towards the budget conscious traveller with an occasional craving for a bit of luxury.

A couple of extra tips:
*
Bargaining is common place in markets, at souvenir stalls and especially when buying in bulk.
*
Tipping is discretionary. Leaving 1 or 2 soles or your small change behind is perfectly acceptable in most small eateries. In the more touristy areas, up-market places will most likely add an automatic 10% service charge to the bill. It is therefore, not necessary to add any further tip.
*
Taxi and motor-kar [tuk-tuk] drivers do not expect tips and when a meter is not used, the fare should be negotiated before entering the vehicle.
*
Top up the first aid kit, stock up on prescription drugs and any cosmetic-personal hygiene products in Ecuador. Peru is very expensive when it comes to purchasing these necessary travel items
*
If you are camping and have a multifuel stove, stock up with petrol in Ecuador or even Bolivia. The petrol (benzine) in Peru is extremely dirty.

*

Bare in mind that the electrical current in Peru is 220 Volts, contrasting from Colombia and neighbouring Ecuador which has 110 volts.
Accommodation
Though they have a star system in place, accommodation in Peru is not exactly standardised and for the same price, one night you can be in luxoury and the next in a hovel. For the budget traveller however, there are plenty of options available in big cities and small towns. Quite a number of villages will even have some form of basic hospedaje or hostal, though you cannot expect more than the bare minimum and often it is your only choice.

In 2009, three star hotels usually started around 30 Soles, but could go as high as 60 Soles. For this you can expect a clean room with decent bed, hot running water in your private bathroom, towels, soap, toilet paper, cable television, the occasional wifi access and if you are really lucky a continental breakfast thrown in as well.

Anything below three stars, or not rated can be hit and miss, so shop around if you have that option. Most places supply you with a towel, soap and toilet paper, though they are not always forthcoming in offering these to you. So, don't be afraid to ask. In villages and out of the way places, don't assume that because there are two taps in the shower that there is hot water available. The same applies for light switches and electrical points. They are quite often just decoration.

And for those of you who like a bit of television at the end of the day, beware that the advertised cable television does not automatically mean that English stations will be available. It always pays to ask.

Camping
Camping is not really well practised by Peruvians, though there are a few random camping areas to be found throughout the country. If you book on any number of the treks on offer, then you will most likely pitch in places pre-arranged by your guide or tour organiser. Wild camping is not difficult in the less populated areas as there are an abundance of wonderful opportunities and especially if you follow the Andes through the country. One thing to consider, is the altitude. Nights can reach sub-zero temperatures and the weather can change from blue sunny skies to a monster storm within minutes during the day. Carry clothes and equipment for all conditions.

Parts of Peru are extremely populated and these areas prove more of a problem for finding suitable campspots. It is advisable, to practice your stealth when camping and pitch your tent well away from the road. Another thing to consider is while you won't have a problem with insects at high altitude, down in the valleys could be a different story. Sandflies and mosquitoes can turn your perfect campspot into a nightmare: pack the repellent and coils for peace of mind.

Our experience:
In general Peruvians were amazingly friendly, especially in the southern Andes and Altiplano regions. Even when we were unable to move far enough from the road to be out of sight of an evening, we received nothing but welcoming waves and toots from passersby. This is not to say that problems don't exist in the country and we did experience some slight untoward behaviour in a few isolated areas. Use gut instinct and move on from these parts, but don't be afraid to camp wild in Peru.

There are an abundance of water supplies along the road, but it does pay to make sure you are well stocked before searching for a campsite. Some of the passes are completely dry, as well as a few of the not so populated areas. Villages always have a water supply somewhere close to the road. Treat or filter the water in Peru: it is not always safe to drink.

Gas [petrol] is extremely poor grade in Peru and if you have a multi-fuel stove, you will undoubtedly experience some problems, especially at altitude. Ecuadorian petrol is much higher quality, so stock up there if you are entering from the north. And from the south, even the petrol in Bolivia seems to be much cleaner. White gas is difficult to find, though a few ferreterias [hardware stores] in Cusco stock 1 litre bottles. You might also like to try your luck at some of the paint shops too.



Acommodation we used while in Peru October / November 2009): (prices based on two people sharing)
Star system explained: from 0 to ***** where 0 is a total disaster and ***** is luxurious (and out of our price range)
         
City / town: Name accommodation: Our experience: Price: Stars:
         
Abancay Hotel Imperial good facilities, WiFi, breakfast 60 Soles ***
Aguas Calientes Cuzco Aguas Calientes hot springs basic, cool location, clumsy staff 14 Soles *
Ayacucho Hostal Florida bargain, clean, friendly, WiFi 40 Soles ***½
Ayavirí Hotel Lumonsa too expensive, old, WiFi 45 Soles
Bagua Grande Hotel Iris big, bright room; bit pricey 35 Soles **½
Bellavista (San Martin) Hotel Casa Blanca modern, clean, well looked after 30 Soles ***½
Cerro de Pasco Hostal Santa Rosa cheap skates, but friendly 20 Soles *
Chincheros Hotel El Paraiso big room, plenty of blankets 30 Soles **
Cuzco Hospedaje Estrellita basic, relaxed, incl. breakfast 30 Soles **½
Huancayo Hotel Agape great find, bargain, WiFi 40 Soles ***
Huanta Hospedaje Los Andes dark, dirty and dingy 25 Soles *
Huánuco Hostal Huánuco friendly, nice decor 30 Soles ***
Huariaca Hostal Rosa Nautica tiny, noisy and uninterested 20 Soles ½
Juli Hostal Los Angeles basic, new, adequate 25 Soles **
Juliaca Hostal Luquini should have looked further 60 Soles *
Junin Hostal Orbel spanking new, bright, good deal 25 Soles ****
La Oroya Hospedaje El Viajero old, falling apart, expensive 30 Soles *
Moyobamba Hotel Rocio nice, clean, modern 30 Soles ***
Nambella Hostal above ferreteria decent, own bath, cleanish 20 Soles
Neuva Cajamarca Hotel Chota uninterested, unclean 25 Soles *
Pedro Ruiz Hospedaje Nafre bit grotty, water supply failed too 15 Soles *
Puno Hostal Qoñi Wasi very friendly, decent room, WiFi 30 Soles **½
San Ignacio Hospedaje Morales very friendly & clean, small 15 Soles **
Talavera Hotel El Emperador clean, modern, friendly 35 Soles **½
Tamborapa Hostal Leon dump: no water, no electricity... 10 Soles 0
Tarapoto Hotel San Antonio good deal, ground floor 30 Soles **½
Tingo Maria Gran Hotel no fan, no power point 25 Soles
Tocache Hospedaje Sol y Luna musty, damp, but cheap 15 Soles *
Food & drink

For all walks of life, eating out in Peru is common place, so there are an abundance of cheap restaurants, often serving a daily set menu for lunch and dinner for as little as 3.00 Soles (2009). And as far as the vegetarian is concerned, Peruvian cities will be a culinary haven. Vegetarian restaurants are plentiful and soya replacement products are readily available on the supermarket shelves as well.

Another surprise for vegetarians is the choice of Chinese restaurants available. And it is not surprising since in the mid 1800's, about one hundred thousand Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru. While the Chifa [from Mandarin meaning: to eat food], only really became a hit with all Peruvians in the latter half of the 1900's, it is now a very popular eating place.

A word of advice though for the non-meat eater, it is better to try and find a more upmarket Chifa; the set menu places, more akin to a fast food joint, often have difficulty getting their head around making a dish without meat. Quite ludicrously, you'll end up ordering pollo con veduras sin pollo [chicken and vegetables without the chicken]. You will also end up paying the same price for your dish as everyone else who orders one of the set dishes including soup.

Next stop is the pizzeria: always having one, if not more choices of vegetarian pizzas on the menu. Obviously the establishments with a wood oven are the best, not only for the pizza, but the ambience. Still, wherever you eat, compared to local standards, pizza is expensive in Peru. In 2009, the average cost of a familiar [large-8 slice] pizza was 25 soles.

For listings of restaurants in most major cities see the HappyCow website.

Larger style supermarkets are only really in the bigger towns and cities and the prices differ little from the local convenience store. In general, if you are looking for bargains, you'll pay much less for all products at the central market area and they are easily found in even the smallest of villages.

Naturally, the Chifa cuisine reflects a fusion of products brought by the Chinese and those that they found in Peru, hence shops and marketplaces have plenty of oriental ingredients to choose from as well.

So, if you are self catering, you'll do well to spend time at the market place buying up on some of the local specialties. As well as Peru boasting 35 varieties of corn, 15 kinds of tomatoes and over 2,000 types of potatoes and sweet potatoes, there are delicious cheeses to taste; top quality olives and bountiful quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables.

 
VEGETARIAN TALK - Spanish
Soy vegetariano/a = I am vegetarian m/f
No como...ni... = I don't eat...nor...
Yo como...y... = I eat...and...
No quiero...o... = I don't want...or...
carne = meat
cerdo or puerco = pork
pollo [poh-yo] = chicken
pescado = fish
huevos = eggs
leche = milk
lácteos = milk products
queso = cheese
chuño = freeze-dried potatoes


veduras = vegetables
frutas (fresca) = (fresh) fruit
Quiero... = I want...
Quisiera un plato que lleve... =
I want a dish containing ...
por favor = please
gracias = thank you
de nada = you're welcome

Peruvians also have a sweet tooth and the resident panaderia [bakery] or dulceria [cake shop] is bound to have at least one delicious snack just right for you. Bread of all assorted size and types is also available in the larger towns. In the more rural villages however, you will most likely only find small ciabata type rolls, which do not travel well, so eat them while they are fresh.

And last but not least, helados [ice cream] is as popular in Peru as anywhere in the world, though they have a few unusual flavours that you may not have tried yet: guaraná, for example is a great pick me up at any time of day or even tuna, which actually the name for the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. Another all time favourite is the exotic and native to Peru lúcuma fruit. And with a flavour combination of maple syrup, sweet potato and nuts, it is no wonder.

Water is not safe to drink in rural areas and many of the small villages and towns. You should be especially wary of fresh mountain water too, as both pesticides and animal feces could have contaminated it. Some of the larger cities have treated their supplies, so ask first at your hotel if their water is potable or not. If in doubt, treat or filter it yourself or purchase bottled water, which is readily available throughout the country.

Chicha morada is a pleasantly refreshing fruity beverage made from boiling purple maíz and then adding pineapple, sugar and ice as it cools. You will find it served in most restaurants and from street vendors, as well as in tetra packs on the supermarket shelves. Be careful though, not to confuse this non-alcoholic drink with the other well-known drink: chicha de jora: this maíz beverage is fermented; flavoured with aromatic herbs and generally consume in and around regions of the Andes.

And while on the subject of alcohol, a visit to Peru would not be complete, without trying Pisco. This distilled beverage made from grapes is very similar to brandy and makes a wonderfully zingy cocktail and the national drink: the pisco sour. Good wine is not readily available unless you want to fork our a fortune. Most restaurants serve reasonably drinkable table wine or sangria: wine mixed with fruit juice and spices.

Cerveza [beer] is as popular in Peru as anywhere in the world and there are several varieties to choose from though the largest brewery in peru, Backus and Johnston produces most of them: Pilsen- Callao and Trujillo; Cristal; San Juan and Arequipeña are a few of the more common brands you'll find in restaurants, bars and on the supermarket shelf. And just for a pleasant change, Cuzqueña and Polar, also owned by Backus, not only produce a lager but a dark beer as well.

Why not try these for starters?
Papa a la Huancaína
This famous Peruvian dish of boiled potatoes topped with a with a spicy, but creamy cheese sauce is usually served as an appetiser or side dish. For the vegetarian however, it can make a great meal accompanied with some steamed rice, though you might like to ask for it to be heated up, since it is traditionally eaten at room temperature.
Chupe de Habas
Chupe [soup] is a big favourite in Peru and most varieties are unsuitable for the vegetarian diet. Chupe de Habas [broad bean soup] on the other hand, is quite often prepared without animal stock and is a tasty way of filling that afternoon hunger hole.
Torrejas de Yuca
Not to be confused with torrija [a fried slice of bread], torrejas are quite similar to croquettes. A deep fried mix of cassava and vegetables fried in a round pattie until golden brown. These are often served in the front of restaurants as a quick snack. Just check that they don't contain any meat as the recipe can vary from vender to vender.
Humitas
Traditionally humitas contain lard, but today however, vegetable oils and fats are often substituted. Still, it pays the vegetarian, to ask before purchasing one of these all-time favourite street snacks. In the Central Andes region of Peru, humitas can be steamed, boiled or placed in a pachamanca [earth] oven. The savoury version is prepared with fresh corn, and queso [cheese] and sometimes flavoured with anise. Humitas dulce, the sweeter variety combines fresh corn with sugar, cinnamon and raisins.
Quinua Guisada
Quinua or Quinoa is a vegetarian or vegan's dream. Having a similar nutty flavour and texture to couscous, it is gloriously high in protein. It is the seed that is shaken from a green leafy plant, native to the Andes and closely related to spinach or chard. While you can also find galletas de quinua [quinoa biscuits] and torta de quinua [quinoa cake] in supermarkets and bakeries, another dish popular in Peru is Quinua Guisada, a stew of this light, chewy grain with potato, feta cheese and most commonly served with rice and salad. A deliciously hearty protein overload.
Chuño
More interesting for the self caterer to experiment with, chuño translates as frozen or wrinkled potato and is exactly what these little white or black potatoes are. Traditionally produced on the Altiplano by Quechuan and Aymaran communities of Peru and Bolivia, the process involves exposing a frost-resistant potato to the icy temperatures of night followed by the intense sunlight of day for a period of five days.

In Peru, white chuño or papas secas are achieved by washing the freeze-dried potatoes in river pools and then left to dry in the sun. Black chuño however goes through a different process altogether. It doesn't come in contact with water once the potato begins the traditional course of freezing, trampling, and subsequent refreezing. Lastly it is thoroughly sun-dried.

In order to prepare a dish with this unusual potato form, you have to soak them over night or for a decent period of time before boiling in water. Shaving pieces off the hardened foam like texture can decrease the waiting time.

Suspiro Limeño
You cant get much sweeter than this condensed milk custard, flavoured with vanilla and topped with whipped cinnamon meringue and port wine syrup. When asked what inspired the name, the Peruvian poet José Gálvez, who named this classic criollo dessert, replied: "because it is soft and sweet like the sigh of a woman". All the more reason to order one.
Tejas
Delectably sticky and sweet, this sugar shelled dumpling filled with manjar blanco [rich milk caramel] fruit and or nuts is ubiquitous to Ica, just south of Lima. The chocolate coated types are appropriately known as chocotejas and an assortment of either variety is rumoured to be the perfect partner with a shot of fine pisco.
Aguaje
Peru has some wild and exotic fruits on offer, but none so special as the Aguaje, a yellow-orange fleshy fruit containing up to five times the amount of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) normally found in carrots and spinach. It is also rich in Vitamin C.

The moriche palm grows in the tropical wetlands of South America and fruits from June to December, bearing inflorescence chestnut coloured cones covered with tiny scales. Inside the edible flesh surrounding a hard seed is not only used to produce juice, jam, ice-cream and fermented to make palm-wine, but buriti oil is extracted and used for the treatment of burns. The tree's fibres are also fashioned into thread and cord and it is a source of food for regional wildlife.

You are most likely to see aguaje sold on street corners peeled ready to eat; just as it is or in the form of a milky orange coloured juice; which on a sticky humid day is one of the most wonderfully refreshing pick-me ups you could possibly ask for.

Inca Kola
The golden kola of Peru is a national icon and consumed in enormous amounts. Tasting typically like a cream soda, it is sold in an array of glass or plastic bottles everywhere from local stores, to restaurants and major supermarkets. It's worth trying this golden yellow liquid at least once, though the fruity bubblegum flavour is not for everyone's palette.
Pisco Sour
Made in the same tradition as the whiskey sour, this cocktail fashioned from the Peruvian brandy known as Pisco became a favourite of locals in the 1920's when Victor V. "Gringo" Morris of Lima's Morris Bar invented the drink for the first time. It soon became an international hit and is now the national drink of not only Peru but Chile as well. Perfect relaxant after a hard day of sight-seeing.
Licor de Coca
Coca leaves are not only chewed by the Andean population at high altitudes to suppress hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue, but this mild stimulant is used to make Mate de Coca [coca tea] and a the much stronger drink: licor de coca [coca liquor].

After some of the leaves have been soaked in Pisco for 3 days they are drained and boiled. Sugar is added via a second boiling process and the licor is then left to cool, strained and served. On all accounts it's an excellent digestive.

Bike shops
   
Arequipa Team Bike
Psje. Santa Rosa 207-A
Arequipa
Tel: 054 204462
Mob: 958 951853
   
Cuzco / Cusco Russo Bike **
Avenida Tacna 218-B
Cusco
Tel: 084 221560
Mob: 984 628191
  Our experience: pretty decent bike shop with loads of components, especially the crankset/cassette section. Bit low on brake pads and good tyres. Very cheap labour...
   
Cuzco / Cusco Team Bike **
Calle Tullumayo 438
Urb. Centro Histórico
Cusco
Tel: 084 224354
  Our experience: stocks decent parts, but shelfs look rather empty, so not too much choice. Stocks Shimano, Mavic & Maxxis. But Russo is first choice in Cusco.
   
Climate
climate chart Cuzco Peru climate chart Lima Peruclimate chart Piura Peru
Road distances

Peru road distance chart

         
Detailed distance chart from our trip through Peru - October / November 2009 (km/alti)      
         
  altitude (in metres) in brackets
accomm.:
km
altimeters
  H= hotel / hospedaje . C= camping
         
La Balza (H*) / border Ecuador (820) Nambella (834) H* 7 81
* accommodation on Peruvian side only        
Nambella Linderos (1246)   13 513
Linderos river crossing (1093)   5 --
river crossing Nueva Esperanza (1561)   8 458
Nueva Esperanza top climb (1744)   4 189
top climb San Ignacio (1423)
H
13
135
San Ignacio top climb (1550)
4
142
top climb valley flooor (750)
15
8
valley floor Peurto Ciruelo (705)
H
28
240
Puerto Ciruelo Perico (682) (start pavement)
6
45
Perico Tamborapa (763)
H
18
191
Tamborapa turn-off Bellevista (798) (unpaved)
28
366
turn-off Bellavista boat across Rio Marañón (677)
12
23
boat across Rio Marañón turn-off onto road 5N (822) (paved)
8
159
turn-off onto 5N Bagua Grande (779)
H
22
183
   
Bagua Grande Salao (810)
26
294
Salao Aserradero (950)
12
201
Aserradero Pedro Ruiz (?)
H
29
733
Pedro Ruiz top climb (2281)
29
1013
top cimb Florida Pomacochas (2198)
H
2
2
Florida Pomacochas Puente Vilcaniza (1672)
16
15
Puente Vilcaniza top climb (2222)
22
684
top climb Aguas Verdes (1089)
36
121
Aguas Verdes Naranjos (947)
17
158
Naranjos Nueva Cajamarca (883)
H
32
74
Nueva Cajamarca Rioja (848)
H
21
63
Rioja Moyobamba (862)
H
25
177
Moyobamba Lahuarpia (736)
33
340
Lahuarpia top climb (1064)
18
283
top climb Puente Ecuador (447)
18
30
Puente Ecuador Tabalosos (521)
6
105
Tabalosos Puente Bolivia (263)
7
--
Puente Bolivia Tarapoto (334)
H
34
221
         
Tarapoto turn-off Yarimaguas (282)
5
8
turn-off Yarimaguas Abra Machungo (411)
27
286
Abra Machungo Picota (261)
H
32
110
Picota Bellavista (317)
H
37
124
Bellavista top climb (518)
28
304
top climb Juanjui (364)
H
9
16
         
Below are the approximate distances between towns on the 'road' from Juanjui to Tingo Maria. These figures are a combination of car speedometer readings and map distances. We didn't cycle this. The track between Juanjui and Tocache is atrocious! The car we were in took 6 and a half hours to do the 160 odd km. And the driver was pushing it! It would have taken us at least three cycling days. Don't attempt this stretch in the rainy season (unless you are a fully qualified diving instructor). The road from Tocache to Tingo Maria is slightly better: fully paved out of Tocache (25 km) and after Aucayuca. In between are some horrible pieces of track with football sized boulders and olympic swimming pool sized puddles. The trip from Juanjui to Tocache cost 30 Soles per person inluding the bicycles; from Tocache to Tingo Maria cost 35 Soles p.p. including bikes (3 hours).
         
Juanjui (364) Nuevo Jaen
H
68
Nuevo Jaen top climb (1013)
12
top climb Balsayuca
H
17
Balsayuca Polvora
H
11
Polvora Pizano
H
4
Pizano Tocache (466)
H
51
Tocache Nuevo Progreso
H
46
Nuevo Progreso Aucayuca
H
70
Aucayuca Tingo Maria (672)
H
53
         
Tingo Maria Las Palmas (741)
18
110
Las Palmas Cayumba (790)
H
8
79
Cayumba Chinchao (2000)
32
1210
         
Below are the approximate distances on the road from just beyond Chinchao to Huánuco. These figures are a combination of car speedometer readings and map distances. We didn't cycle all of this. Due to extremely bad weather (it rained almost all day), the everlasting climb and the impossibility to find a hostal or even a camp spot, we decided to stop a car and hitch a ride. They took us all the way to Huánuco.
     
Chinchao (2000) Tunnel Abra Carpish (2640)
22
650
Tunnel Abra Carpish Acomayo
H
10
--
Acomayo Huánuco (1926)
H
18
--
         
Huánuco turn-off Tomayquichua (2039)
H
18
177
turn-off Tomayquichua Ambo (2068)
6
54
Ambo San Rafael (2692)
H
31
649
San Rafael Huariaca (2941)
H
14
262
Huariaca Batanchaca (3116)
H
5
180
Batanchaca Cajamarquilla (3348)
H
7
228
Cajamarquilla Chicrin / Yanapampa (3541)
H
7
196
Chicrin / Yanapampa

Pariamarca (3706)

H
8
168
Pariamarca turn-off Cerro de Pasco (4298)
18
269
turn-off Cerro de Pasco entry city / arch (4350)
2.5
52
entry city / arch Cerro de Pasco (4289)
H
3.5
29
Cerro de Pasco entry main road(4300)
7
102
entry main road Carhuamayo (4074)
H
34
113
Carhuamayo Junín (4106)
H
29
197
Junín turn-off San Pedro de Cajas (4186)
14
133
turn-off San Pedro de Cajas turn-off Tarma (3990)
18
29
turn-off Tarma Paccha (3790)
H
13
10
Paccha La Oroya (3760)
H
9
43
La Oroya San Fransisco (3578)
H
42
130
San Fransisco turn-off Jauja (3447)
H
37
102
turn-off Jauja Sincos (3379)
H
15
24
Sincos El Tambo (3356)
H
25
106
El Tambo Huancayo (3365)
H
4
30
         
Huancayo Huayucachi (3260)
H
8
40
Huayacachi Alto de Imperial (3922)
22
653
Alto de Imperial turn-off Pampas (3838)
4
2
turn-off Pampas Nahuimpaquio (3692)
8
--
Nahuimpaquio Acostambo (3664)
H
4
13
Acostambo Izuchaca (2940)
H
24
64
Izuchaca (start unpaved) Mariscal Caceres (2890)
H
11
79
Mariscal Caceres Tayacaja (2752)
H
28
251
Tayacaja La Esmeralda aka Anco (2540)
H
25
199
La Esmeralda Mayocc (2312)
H
35
453
Mayocc Puente Allccomachy (2239)
10
168
Puente Allccomachy Huanta (2720)
H
22
490
Huanta Huayhuas (2978)
8
267
Huayhuas turn-off Huamanguilla (2981)
13
116
turn-off Huamanguilla Huayllapampa (2544)
9
--
Huayllapampa Ayacucho (2748)
H
18
323
         
Ayacucho turn-off Chiara (3450)
22
740
turn-off Chiara turn-off Vilcashuaman (4168)
22
718
turn-off Vilcashuaman Abra Tocctoccsa (4265)
18
209
Abra Tocctoccsa 2nd climb (4199)
19
191
2nd climb Ocros (3288)
29
--
Ocros Chumbes (2943)
H
12
42
Chumbes Puente Pampas (2139)
19
12
Puente Pampas Ahuayro (2245)
H
10
167
Ahuayro Callebamba (2267)
5
56
Callebamba Chincheros (2989)
H
16
697
Chincheros Uripa (3220)
H
9
377
Uripa turn-off low road (3722)
11
491
turn-off low road Abra Soracchocha (4231)
19
526
Abra Soracchocha Talavera (2892)
H
43
31
Talavera Andahuaylas (2920)
H
5
69
Andahuaylas turn-off Pacucha (3318)
9
392
turn-off Pacucha Abra Huayllaccasa (4125)
29
827
Abra Huayllaccasa bridge (3816)
10
4
bridge turn-off Kishuara (3753)
9
76
turn-off Kishuara top climb (3899)
10
169
top climb 1st view Abancay (3680)
13
18
1st view Abancay turn-off Huancarama (2575)
31
32
turn-off Huancarama turn-off Puente Pachachca (2029)
10
14
turn-off Puente Pachachaca Puente Pachachaca (1933)
2
20
Puente Pachachaca start paved road (1961)
2
66
start paved road Abancay (2520)
H
14
629
Abancay Puente Capelo (2844)
6
326
Puente Capelo Abra Saywite (4017)
30
1170
Abra Saywite turn-off Saywite (3758)
8
6
turn-off Saywite Curahuasi (2826)
H
27
37
Curahuasi Puente Huaynarimac (2082)
H
20
86
Puente Huaynarimac Puente Cunyac (1990)
5
27
Puente Cunyac Limatambo (2727)
H
21
737
Limatambo Pampaconga (3398)
15
692
Pampaconga Abra Huillque (3762)
11
364
Abra Huillque Izcuchaca (3428)
H
27
38
Izcuchaca turn-off Urubamba (3569)
11
146
turn-off Urubamba top climb (3750)
7
185
top climb Cuzco / Cusco (3443)
H
8
11
         
Cuzco / Cusco Saylla (3225)
H
17
25
Saylla Oropesa (3170)
H
8
11
Oropesa Andahuaylillas (3190)
H
15
146
Andahuaylillas Urcos (3250)
H
6
93
Urcos Quiquijana (3315)
H
24
292
Quiquijana Cusipata (3420)
H
11
110
Cusipata San Pedro (3574)
H
42
381
San Pedro Sicuani (3646)
H
17
81
Sicuani Aguas Calientes (4092)
H/C
28
489
Aguas Calientes Abra La Raya (4367)
10
275
Abra La Raya Santa Rosa (4000)
H
29
49
Santa Rosa Ayavirí (3917)
H
43
105
Ayavirí Pucará (3878)
H
32
77
Pucará Calapuja (3864)
39
154
Calapuja Juliaca (3838)
H
24
35
Juliaca top climb (4022)
39
243
top climb Puno (3851)
H
4
9
Puno Ichu (3850)
H
14
33
Ichu Chucuito (3868)
H
5
53
Chucuito Ilave (3867)
H
35
142
Ilave Juli (3881)
H
27
140
Juli top climb (3964)
2
98
top climb turn-off Desaguadero (3813)
27
105
turn-off Desaguadero Yunguyo (3836)
H
20
88
Yunguyo border Bolivia (Kasani) (3860)
3
33
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