KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
GETTING READY TO GO
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
It is each traveler's responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. Please check the information at firstname.lastname@example.org for the specific country/region you are visiting for more details. Passport applications are available at most, your country Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has unstamped visa pages.
Peru - Passport information, is necessary to issue Machu Picchu train tickets. As of November 17, 2016, the National Immigrations Superintendence of Peru is no longer automatically delivering Immigration Cards (TAM) when stamping passports. To make the check-in and check-out process smoother and faster, the hotels during your trip need that Immigration Card (TAM). Please request a printed version of the Immigration Card (TAM) from your border agent when going through Border Control.
ABOUT YOUR TRAIN TO MACHU PICCHU.
Tickets for Machu Picchu will be provided locally. On the day of your visit to Machu Picchu, you will depart by motor coach to the Ollantaytambo station. Your Tour Manager will check that you are carrying your passport which is required to board all Machu Picchu trains. Prior to arrival at the station, you will receive your round trip tickets including seat assignments from your Tour Manager. Passport names and numbers on the tickets must match your passport. You will present your ticket to the conductor prior to boarding the train and departure for Aguas Calientes. You should keep your ticket safely as it will be required for the return journey. Due to very limited storage space, only one small backpack / daypack / handbag per passenger is permitted onboard trains to Machu Picchu. This applies for overnight stays as well. Additional luggage will be transported to and held at your hotel for no additional charge. Passengers who wish to bring extra luggage on the train will be charged an additional fee directly by the train operator; this extra luggage will follow in a separate train.
A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of your country). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Due to security reasons, many museums have restrictions on the size of bags that can be taken inside and backpacks, carry on bags or large purses may not be permitted. It is recommended to bring a small shoulder bag or purse to use in these situations instead. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.
CELL PHONES & CALLING CARDS
You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally. When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.
WiFi access continues to improve, however there are still many 'dead zones'. Moving conveyances such as buses and cruise ships offer the greatest challenge, and many countries are still in early development. WiFi access in hotels and cruise lines often involves a fee, determined by that property. Signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Availability on cruises is also dependent upon its location while sailing through multiple countries. Internet cafes in most cities and other WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops can offer services usually for a nominal fee, and can often be located in advance via an online search.
STAYING HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING
All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.
There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.
Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.
Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.
If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.
Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellant (for both active and warm destinations).
You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like antidiarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.
TRAVEL SAFETY ADVICE
We strongly recommend that tour participants review the destination country's specific information at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html.
Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.
Peru - While no inoculations are required, vaccination against yellow fever is recommended, especially if traveling to the Amazon. For the latest health requirements and recommendations, please visit World Health Organization and also consult with your personal health-care provider.
You may encounter mosquitoes in both urban and rural areas, especially during wet seasons. Travelers are encouraged to bring insect repellant and consider wearing clothing that adequately covers arms and legs.
Traveler’s diarrhea caused by contaminated food or water, often resulting in dehydration, is common. Take care to follow these steps to avoid or reduce the symptoms.
Drink only bottled water.
Avoid unpasteurized cheeses and unpeeled or unwashed fruits and vegetables.
Eggs, meat and seafood should be properly and fully cooked.
Please note that the popular Peruvian alcoholic beverage, Pisco Sour is often made with uncooked egg white.
If you have contracted diarrhea, let your stomach rest. Do not eat for several hours or until you are feeling better.
Drink bottled or boiled water and rehydration beverages containing electrolytes (sports drinks) frequently and in small amounts.
Resume your diet with simple and bland foods, such as crackers, rice, bread, potatoes, or bananas, which usually will help slow diarrhea.
HIGH ALTITUDE ILLNESS:
Altitude illness occurs when there is a lack of oxygen in the air at high altitudes, including Cuzco (11,000 feet) and Puno (12,600 feet). Altitude illness will affect some travelers, with no apparent regard to age, gender or physical condition. Symptoms may include headache, loss of appetite, dizziness and trouble sleeping. For some it will pass within a few hours, however for many the condition if gone untreated may last for several days. We urge you to read and follow these suggestions in order to reduce the chances and/or severity of altitude illness.
Prior to departure, speak with your health care provider. They may recommend the medication acetazolamide (Diamox), which has been found to reduce the symptoms if taken a day or two before you depart.
Stick to a light diet the day before traveling to a high altitude. Foods found easy to digest include fish, chicken and hot liquids. Avoid fried foods, beef, lamb and caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before and during your stay. Many find saline nasal drops/spray beneficial.
Upon arrival take it easy. Allow your body to adjust by lying down for 10-15 minutes. Rest as much as possible during the trip. Over-exertion can exacerbate the symptoms.
Oxygen can be beneficial, and is easily found in airports, hotels and pharmacies.
For headaches, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) have been found to be helpful.
Coca tea and wild mint (Munia) may ease the symptoms.
A diet high in carbohydrates, breads, cereals, grains, and pasta can also help alleviate the symptoms.
Once again, we highly suggest you consult your personal healthcare provider before making the decision to travel to any high altitude destination and before choosing any course of treatment.
CLIMA & CLOTHING
We ask tour members to refrain from wearing colognes, perfumes and/or personal products containing excessive fragrance, in respect for other clients on the tour bus who may be allergic.
Additionally, we ask tour members to be considerate of their fellow travel mates and refrain from smoking cigarettes or cigars in the vicinity of other tour members including in outdoor areas where smoking may be permitted but may still affect other tour participants.
Peru - The sun is strong, particularly in the higher altitudes. Please bring a sun hat that has a circular brim all the way around (not a baseball cap) and sunscreen. Bring comfortable, cushioned walking shoes for the hard cobblestone streets, a sweater, clothes you can layer and an all-weather jacket. Remember that during your trip you will be traveling between regions and will need to be prepared for all weather conditions. Please check to which season and region(s) you will be traveling and pack accordingly. Winter months (May – October) are cold. During those periods you will need a warm jacket, gloves, a hat and a scarf. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).
Peru's climate varies by season and region. The coastal region (Lima) has two clear seasons, summer (December - March) and winter (May – October). Summer temperatures in this region can reach 80°F. Winter is generally damp and chilly, with temperatures dropping to 53°F. This region sees little rain, but can see mist and drizzle during the winter. The coastal area of Ica (Paracas, Nazca) enjoys warm dry weather throughout the year, with average temperatures around 75 - 80°F. The highlands region of Peru (Cuzco, Puno, Urubamba, Machu Picchu) has a dry temperate climate that also experiences two distinct seasons. The dry season (May – October) consists of sunny days and cold nights with very little rain. The rainy season in the highlands runs from December to March. Temperatures can change drastically during the day in this region, sometimes varying as widely as highs around 65°F and lows of 35°F during the same day. The jungle region (Amazon River) is tropical and humid. Throughout the year temperatures range from mid to upper 80s during the day and drop into the 70s during the night. The summer months (April – October) are considered the dry season, though despite this name it should be remembered that it rains two-thirds of the year in the rainforest. The rainy season (November – March) sees frequent showers and high river levels.
BOOK & FILM RECOMMENDATIONS.
Many of our guests enjoy reading about their destination - either in advance of their trip or while traveling - as a way of adding context to their visit. Whether reading a traditional guide book, learning about the history and culture, or simply enjoying a fictional novel set in the destination, a good book can add greatly to your experience. Similarly, a good movie set in your destination helps set the mood before you travel. We asked our Tour Managers and staff to recommend books and films which past guests may have enjoyed. The following does not constitute an endorsement of any authors, books or films listed, it is merely a collection of guests’ recommendations.
Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham (1948)
Machu Picchu Sacred Center by Johan Reinhard (2007)
Turn Right At Machu Picchu by Mark Adams (2011)
Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas by Richard L Burg (2008)
Incas: Book 3: The Light of Machu Picchu by A.B. Daniel (2003)
The Steamer Trunk Adventures #2: The Ghosts of Machu Picchu by R.M. Garcia (2006)
GENERAL PERUVIAN LIFE / EXPLORATION:
The Peru Readers by Orin Starn, Carlos Ivan Degregory, and Robin Kirk (2005)
The Art of Peruvian Cuisine by Tony Custer (2003)
Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule in Unknown Peru by Dervla Murphy (2003)
Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa (1975)
Aunt Julia & the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa (1977)
The White Rock - An exploration of the Incas heartland by Hugh Thomson (2001)
The Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming (1970, reprint 2003)
Narrative of the Incas by Juan de Betanzos (originally from 1550s, not discovered and published until 1980s)
The Secret of the Incas by William Sullivan (1997)
Incas: Books 1&2 by A.B. Daniel (2002-2003)
Lost Tomb of Viracocha by Maurice Cotterell (2001)
Temple by Matthew Reilly (2002)
The Secret of the Incas (1957)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969)