If this is your first time visiting Peru just like it was mine, there are quite a few things you must take into account to stay safe, healthy and get the most out of your time in such a great country.
The water in Peru is definitely not considered potable water and only bottled or treated (disinfected) water should be ingested by visitors. Some people take this advice to different extremes and might obsess over it or throw caution to the wind. While you might not catch a deadly disease or infection form consuming tap water in Peru, you might be spending a couple days attached to a toilet.
During our time in Peru we where pretty strict with ourselves on sticking to only to bottled water bought at stores and while it was an extra expense it wasn’t horrible. I will say I did brush my teeth using tap water which I later found out was rather risky but I never thought about and luckily came out unscathed.
Mosquito Repellent and Deet
I thought I was used to mosquito bites and would be ok with just some regular Off spray from the store, but BOY WAS I WRONG! To this day I have never been bitten so badly or been covered in so many mosquito bites so quickly. This isn’t an issue in Cusco since it is at such a high altitude you tend to be OK. The narrative quickly changes when you go to lower altitudes and these little flying needs come for you.
Everyone in our group seemed to be covered all over their legs in small bites and regular Off Mosquito spray just didn’t seem to cut it. We ended up0 having to switch to Off Deep Woods repellent which seemed to work quite well. My favorite mosquito repellent though was one my friend bought at REI called Jungle Juice! Now this stuff is not a joke and its extremely concentrated deet but it works!
My advice would be to pack some long pants or leggings to avoid having to put so many chemicals on your skin throughout your trip.
Spare Change and Loose Bills
While most places will accept Visa across the country even in remote villages and rest stops. Loose change and coins are still a necessity for a lot of the small shops across the cities. On top of this none of the taxis that I took accepted a card so change became extremely valuable when traveling inside a city.
Lastly while Visa works in most places I would still stick to using loose bills and coins when it come to shopping in small rest stops across the Inca Jungle Trail to make sure no funny business happens with your card info. I mostly stuck to using my card at restaurants in the cities.
Machu Picchu Permits
While you dont need a permit to enter Machu Picchu the two big summits of Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu do require a daily permit. I put these two as big tips for everyone, since the permits do sell out fast and sometimes weeks in advance. While I did not climb Huayna Picchu, I can say that Machu Picchu Mountain was a spectacular hike that I recommend highly.
Yes, I am listing toilet paper as a tip for visiting Peru, something I never thought I would do for a country. While there is general plumbing, albeit not the best, toilet paper seems to be shockingly absent in most places. Now I don’t mean the fancy ceviche restaurant wont have toilet paper, but if you are on the Inca Trail chances are you will find yourself most often than not needing your own toilet paper.
I am glad this was something I heard of before flying down to Peru and embarking on our trip. I recommend the brand above off amazon or heading to your local REI for some camping/travel toilet paper rolls. I essentially was carrying toilet paper without the cardboard center roll. While you can make this yourself, I tend to be lazy with the at home DIY sometimes.
I cannot stress this enough, since the rolls I bought online ended up being used by my entire group since no one else thought it would be necessary. If you are anywhere used to using toilet paper, especially as a female, please BRING SOME ROLLS!
Have you been to Peru? Any must have items you would take next time?
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