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KML28 Jul 15th, 2011 06:53 PM

Charge cards or cash? All kinds of questions concerning our trip to Peru.
Since this is the first time that we are going to South America, there are a lot of questions that I have concerning our trip to Peru. I could not find answers from travel books or websites, I am confident that some of you would be able to provide me with the answers. We are joining a 10-day trip with Globus from 7/26-8/4. Please help!

1) Everybody said that it warms up during the day in Machu Picchu. How cold is the morning like and how warm does it get in the afternoon in the end of July?

2) How strict are they about overnight bag on the train to Machu Picchu? Would carry-on bags with wheels for flights OK?

3) I read about crime and safety issues from the State Department, and it worries me a lot. Do we really need to put all our belongings (including my purse) in the trunk of the cab to and from the airport? How dangerous is it to carry a purse?

4) If we should not just hail a taxi from the street, where would you get a taxi after you shop?

5) Do most restaurants accept charge cards? Is it safe to charge? If pay by cash, USD or Sol?

6) When people "borrow" oxygen from the hotels, do they use a mask like those in airplanes? Do they get a new mask each time or does the hotel clean them?

7) I read somewhere that you can buy your own oxygen. Is that true? I guess it is difficult to carry it around :).

crellston Jul 15th, 2011 11:44 PM

Firstly, whilst it is right to be prepared, from your post is does seem that you are worrying a little too much.

1. We were there in Aug and Sept when, I believe the weather is similar to July. Temperatures do depend largely on altitude but assuming you are staying in the SV it will be cold at night (i.e. around 0degrees C). Temperatures drop as the sun goes down and rise quite quickly in the mornings. Dress in layers and take sunscreen and good sunglasses as although temps do not rise much above 20c the sun is strong.

2. They are not very strict about baggage on the train (at least that was what we found) - your carry on should be fine.

3. You do need to be aware particularly in Cusco and Lima (more so in Lima IMO). It seems to be the done thing in Peru for taxi drivers to stop and pick up passengers along the way (DO NOT LET THEM!). We would normally put our main bags in the trunk but keep valuable with us but not on laps (on the floor in the middle. Lock the doors all the time. Carrying a purse is not a great idea as bag snatching can be a problem in some areas - don't take any valuables with you. I have a "secret" wallet that attaches to my belt for cash, cards and passport. A seeping generalisation I know, but the warnings from the US State department do often seem to be overkill to Englishmen like myself. Take sensible precautions and I am sure you will travel safely in Peru just like the vast majority of tourists do.

4. Getting a taxi obviously depends on where you are. In Cusco you will probably be staying in the centre and so may not need one. From airports it is best to pre arrange with your hotel (but do keep your wits about you as we did have a couple of instances where rogue drivers had gotten our names from the cards being held up. Pre arrange a meeting point and ask the driver which hotel he is from. Don't let anyone grab your bags until you are 100% sure its the right driver.

5. Only upmarket restaurants will accept cards. If paying by cash New Soles are generally preferred.

6. The masks are similar to those on airlines or sometimes those with two tubes which are inserted into the nostrils. I doubt the former are cleaned and but would hope that the latter uses new units each time!!

7. We even saw a few advertisements for hyperbaric chambers in Cusco and there is one hotel which enriches its rooms with pure oxygen! So I am I am sure you will find somewhere willing to sell personal oxygen supplies probably better just to take it easy for the first couple of days and chew some coca leaves or drink the coca tea. Alternatively hire a friendly Alpaca to carry the tank around !

Have a wonderful time it is a fascinating part of the world

qwovadis Jul 16th, 2011 03:45 AM

Congrats on your trip have found Globus to be very good worldwide Crelleston's excellent posting handled
most of your questions... just a few more links for you.

1) Climate guide Cusco
cold at night but on sunny days it can be short weather in July usually do great with cargo pants that zip to shorts
if trekking

2)worries everyone packs BIG /packs on train including me.

3)Crime petty theft an issue rarely personally travel with a money belt everything of value in there worn to the front under clothing including passport.Room safes are not safe
everyone has a general combo that supercedes yours so be always wise usually Patriot or
Amex for me from $1/da also covers strikes cancellation medical accident.

4)LABELED taxi at plaza or through your hotel best avoid
unmarked cabs very risky.

5) Visa taken widely always use my no foreign fee works everywhere.ATM my soles from
big banks only.Soles taken wisely not USD.Peru #1
for USD couterfeiting in CA/SA $50 $100 not taken
widely.Bring $20 USD new no tears not even small
tears or they will not be taken as backup.Street
money change VERY risky big banks only.

6/7) Cusco 11000 ft easy to get
sick coming from Lima at sea level quickly most do.
Diamox(acetazolamide) best preventive 2 days B4 and
2 days after ascent for me best preventive.Oxygen
is pumped into some upscale hotel rooms can be bought
at airport sort of a scam relieves symptoms but actually
impedes adjustment long term so preventive measures are
best for me.

Peru is a wonderful country but many scams caveat emptor...

Jeff_Costa_Rica Jul 16th, 2011 12:52 PM

For all the strict pubished rules about sizes of bags on the train, nobody abides by them. You won't be let on with a steamer trunk, but a normal size bag will be fine.

Peru is definitely not one of those "everybody takes dollars" places. You should plan on dealing in local currency if you pay in cash.

It's not that MP is hot per se, but you're still only 13 degrees south of the equator and there is little shade up there. MP is also at a lower elevation than Cusco and the Sacred Valley, so if you've come from those places, it will feel warmer by comparison. A hat with a brim and sunscreen are musts.

KML28 Jul 17th, 2011 08:05 PM

Thank you Crellston, qwovadis, and Jeff_Costa_Rica for all your detailed and valuable answers. It helps a lot. I really appreciate it. Also thank Crellston for your good wishes. BTW, my doctor has already prescribed me Diamox for the prevention of altitude sickness. Still need to get RX's for the rest of my family. Just one more question :), do the currency exchange booths in the airport accept $50 or $100 USD bills?

crellston Jul 18th, 2011 12:39 AM

Not sure about the FX booths at the airport accepting $100 bills. Many places around the world will not. I usually take $20s and $50s and have not had a problem. Do makes sure that you get clean and undamaged bill otherwise you risk having them rejected.

lcuy Jul 18th, 2011 12:32 PM

They not only take $100 bills in Lima, they give you a better rate than on $20s. Just make sure you have the new style $100s and that they have no damage.

KML28 Jul 18th, 2011 09:32 PM

Thank you so much, Fodor's community. You taught me so much and I really appreciate it.

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