Dear Peru Traveler,
Congratulations on registering for a Four Winds Expedition or considering one! The following are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about trip logistics to assist you in your preparation for this exciting journey.
A valid passport is required for entry into Peru, and a ninety-day visa is given to US citizens automatically upon entry. For US Citizens, you can go to the US web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html to renew your passport. All participants should carry a second form of photo ID, such as a driver’s license, as well as a photocopy of the personal data page of your passport. A copy of your passport is the easiest way to prove your identity if you happen to lose your passport.
If you are traveling with a passport from a different country other than the USA, please call the Peruvian Consulate nearest to you and find out if there are any visa requirements. In the USA, their number is 1-202-833-9860. You can also check the requirements for each country by logging onto www.peru.embassyhomepage.com . Upon entering Peru you will receive your visa. It is a small piece of paper, which you can keep inside your passport. Please be careful to SAVE this paper as you will need it when you exit the country.
2. Booking Your Flight
You are booking your own international flights to Lima, Peru and from Lima to Cusco. Most individuals fly from their home city to Lima, Peru and then from Lima to Cusco, Peru. If you arrive before the starting date of the trip, you will be responsible for your own taxi transfer, hotel accommodations before the trip starts, and transportation to wherever the group is meeting.
For your internal flights we suggest you get your internal Peru flight options BEFORE booking your international flight, as flight times within Peru are limited. Once you have your internal flights set it will be easy to backtrack and find the most convenient and inexpensive international flight (to get you to Lima). You may have a long layover in between your flight to Lima and your flight from Lima to Cusco. If so, you may decide to book a hotel room overnight in Lima to sleep and shower. Because it would be an additional cost and requires hauling your luggage from place to place, some travelers just “rough it”, waiting in the airport in between flights.
Once you have your flight information, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. This way we will be able to track your flights.
- Amazon, only: Take an international flight to Lima, Peru. From there: Lima/Puerto Maldonado/Lima
- Salkantay, only: Take an international flight to Lima, Peru. From there: Lima/Cusco/Lima
- Via Illuminata or Advanced Shamanic Initiation, only: Take an international flight to Lima, Peru From there: Lima/Cusco/Lima
- Salkantay + Amazon, only: Take an international flight to Lima, Peru From there: Lima/Cusco/Puerto Maldonado/Lima
3. Extra Nights:
If you decide to arrive one day early or if your flight schedule requires you to stay in Peru one or more extra day or extra nights, we recommend:
Option #1: Ramada Costa del Sol at the International Airport Jorge Chavez, in Lima, Peru.
Reservation Phone is #011-51-1-711-2020 or 011-51-1-711-2000.
“The Four Winds Society” Special Rates.
Email is: email@example.com
Option #2: Sonesta Hotel El Olivar at the Fierro Street #194, San Isidro – Lima, Peru.
Reservation Phone is: #011-51-1-7126060. Online reservations: http://www.sonesta.com/Lima/
Email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonesta Hotel Cusco at the Av. El Sol 954, Cusco, Peru.
Reservation Phone is #011-51-84-581200
Email is: email@example.com
Online reservations: http://www.sonesta.com/Cusco/
4. Herbs and supplements:
Bring your daily supplements if you take any. If you are experiencing sleeplessness, you might be dehydrated and will need to drink more water immediately! Emergen-C Packets (containing vitamins and electrolytes) and simple Electrolyte Packets can be added to bottled water for keeping hydrated and rejuvenated. Hydration is the key to avoiding altitude sickness. We recommend you drink two full liters of water per day. Drinking wine or beer will dehydrate you, so limited consumption is strongly advised. Arnica cream or comfrey might be helpful to rub on sore muscles or rashes. Ginger, chamomile, or licorice can calm a stomach that’s been exposed to spicy foods. Peppermint essential oil is also great for a multitude of things – including bug bites, nausea and altitude sickness.
** For those who use a Naturopathic doctor – you may want to ask for a homeopathic or tincture for altitude sickness (prevention) as well as for prevention of possible intestinal challenges.
5. Food and Water:
Drink only bottled water. Most illnesses while traveling are caused by contamination of food or water. We recommend that you use hand disinfectants often and avoid eating “hand-to-mouth” foods like nuts, trail mix or granola. Use bottled water for brushing your teeth. It is easy to purchase. Do not use ice cubes unless you know them to be safe. Freezing does not kill bacteria. Do not drink from the streams.
- Special Diets: Please bring any extra food you might need to accommodate any special dietary requirements you may have (such as gluten or lactose intolerance, etc.).
- Vegetarians: If you are a vegetarian, you will have plenty of food options to choose from. The Peruvian food is very pure and natural.
- Menus: Breakfasts are included with the hotels and are usually buffet style so you can choose what you like. Lunches and dinners are NOT included in the trip costs except in the jungle and the camping portions of the trips. There are excellent restaurants in the hotels and nearby to explore. Bring protein bars and any other of your favorite snacks.
- Safety: Eat only cooked foods, since lettuce and other foods might be washed in non-bottled water. Eat only fruits with peels for the same reason. If you want to experiment further with salads and fresh fruits, eat small portions the first day and see how you feel from there. Many breakfasts include granola, cereals, yogurt, bananas, oranges, scrambled eggs or omelets, and breads. All of these foods are safe. Many lunches might have hot vegetable soups, breads, potatoes, and simple avocado sandwiches. Many dinners will include trout, hot cooked main dishes, soups, so there is an abundance of foods that are easy on your stomach. Avoid food from sidewalk vendors. Our hotels all have excellent hygiene and food preparations.
6. Travelex Insurance:
If for some unforeseen reason you must cancel your journey, your deposit is non-refundable. The Four Winds Society STRONGLY recommends that you purchase travel insurance. One option is Travelex Insurance, which offers Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Trip Delay and Baggage insurance. We suggest you purchase travel insurance within three weeks of your initial trip deposit for the best coverage. For complete details, please visit: www.travelexinsurance.com or call customer service at 1-800-228-9792 Monday – Friday 8am – 7pm CST. Please refer to Location 44-0014.
Consider exchanging $200 – $400 dollars at the airport, as well as get a roll or two of small coins (soles). Also bring one and five dollar bills to tip the hotel staff and taxis. There are several types of ATM Machines in Peru: ATM Global and Banco de Credito. You will want to call your bank ahead of the trip to make sure that you have access to ATMs in a foreign country and which ATMs will work for your cards. Traveler’s checks are only accepted in some places. When you bring dollars into the country of Peru, they must be new dollars with no tears or rips. Damaged dollars are not accepted in Peru.
Breakfast is included every morning at the hotels. You will want to put aside money for lunches and dinners ranging from $15.00 for lunches to $20.00 for dinners. If you eat in the hotel these can be charged to your room and paid by credit card when you check out. Most days we will be hiking during the lunchtime, and a light snack lunch will be provided. The hotels can sometimes prepare a box lunch for you, too. All three meals are only included in the Amazon and the camping portion of the Salkantay and Advanced Shamanic expeditions.
9. Tips and Despacho Ceremonies:
We collect tips for our guides, bus drivers, and porters as part of the culture. We ask for $10 per day and this is collected by a volunteer to be given as a group at the end of each trip. Please bring $100 dollars for these gratuities/tips. On the journeys, the shamans do optional blessing despacho ceremonies for individuals. Bring an extra $150 for any healing sessions you may want to participate in.
10. Airport Taxes:
All Peruvian airports charge “Exit Taxes.” Please budget $34 one way internationally, and $6 for each internal flight including Lima to Cusco, Lima to Puerto Maldonado, Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, and Cusco back to Lima.
Some of you have asked about bringing gifts for Peruvian children you might meet along the way. Peruvian children love pads of paper, pens, pencils, magic markers, crayons, as they are always appreciated. Your presence with them in Peru is the best gift you could give them.
You can visit the CDC web site for US government information about traveling to Peru. See www.cdc.gov/travel/tropsam.htm . Keep in mind that Four Winds cannot make a recommendation as to what each traveler should or should not pursue for preventative medicine. It is best that you consult with your primary care physician, who knows your medical history and can better advise you. Mosquitoes can be a challenge in the jungle and at lower elevations, so bring your favorite bug repellents with you. Mosquito coils also work well in your jungle cabins.
If you take any prescription medicines, be sure to bring enough for your travels, containers should be clearly labeled with prescription forms to avoid problems at Customs. A standard first aid kit is advisable, as well as bringing your own favorite personal “remedies” for the common possibilities. These might include a remedy for headaches, bacterial infections, stomach, colds, and dehydration. Remember, you are responsible for your own health. Since we are hiking during the day, consider bringing moleskin, just in case. The local pharmacies are well stocked with some common pharmaceutical products.
- Should you require it, medical attention from the medic at the hotel will be available at an additional $50 charge.
- We recommend purchasing Emergency Evacuation Insurance from Travelex or any other Traveling Insurance Company.
13. Packing Tips
Luggage: We urge that your daypack or fanny pack be your airplane carry-on. Everything else should fit inside your main, checked suitcase, preferably a soft duffel-like bag. Also remember to leave some “holes” in your main bag (or bring an extra bag) for souvenir purchases. You have to maneuver your own luggage at the airport, from your rooms, and to the buses so keep this in mind as you pack.
IMPORTANT for Salkantay and Advanced Shamanic Initiation: Please pack in SOFT DUFFLES. Luggage with wheels cannot be carried by horses and porters for the camping portion of the trip. Extra bags can be left at the hotel while you are on the mountain.
For the Amazon: You will leave your larger luggage at a safe storage area near the airport. Bring a SMALL SOFT DUFFEL for the boat up the Madre de Dios River. You may bring two bags total plus your backpack/or fanny pack.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Sunglasses & sun hat & sunscreen – the sun can be very strong at high altitudes. A #30 or #45 screen will be needed for the first days. Don’t forget to put lotion on the back of your neck, hands and ears.
- Lightweight hiking boots (Gortex or water-resistant w/ankle support are best)
- Tevas or strapped hiking sandals (optional). Thongs are great for the shower and to walk to and from breakfast.
- Emergen-C (electrolyte) packets & snack foods (protein or granola bars).
- Water bottles
- Layered clothing for day hiking. Zip-off pants are great. Ideally you could wear all your clothes layers at once if needed (tank under button-down hiking shirt under fleeced under rain gear, etc., like a Russian nesting doll).
- Blue jeans or comfortable hiking pants. You only need 3-4 pair of pants total.
- Fleece jacket.
- Cotton socks or good hiking socks (2 extra pairs in case they get wet).
- 2-3 Long-sleeved lightweight shirts (the ones that wick away moisture are worth the extra expense).
- Daypack or waist pack. Money belt for cash and passport is useful.
- Warm jacket for nighttime.
For the Camping Trip:
- Long underwear, yoga pants or tights for layering. (The polypropylene kind for the mountain journeys work well.)
- Rain gear (a hooded plastic poncho or longer one would work well).
- Pocketknife (for fruit, etc.)
- Small flashlight with extra batteries is handy.
- Camera, film, digital cards and extra batteries (they are expensive in Peru).
- Items of a personal nature & toiletries. Bring Kleenex, wet wipes and zip lock bags for day hikes – as with everything, what you carry IN on a hike – must be brought OUT and disposed of properly. Ladies, be prepared with feminine hygiene products as well.
- Headache medicine like Advil or Bayer aspirin.
- Two Nalgene water bottles that can hold hot water (you will insert these in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night to keep toes warm!)
- Bug spray/mosquito repellent – especially for the Amazon.
- Bring one dress, skirt, slacks, shirt, or nicer clothes for fun or evening ceremony.
- If you are on our camping journey (Salkantay and Advanced Shamanic Initiation) please get yourself a warm, 4-season sleeping bag that will work well in sub-freezing temperatures (which can drop as low as 0).
- You’ll also need a lightweight camping mat (inflatable is best).
- A winter hat, fast-drying gloves, waterproof over-pants and extra socks are advisable.
- If you need camping gear and do not have a local store, try www.REI.com or www.backcountryoutlet.com/outlet
- You will want lighter weight hiking clothes for this environment. Bring long sleeves and long pants for bug protection. The jungle can be cold, so include a lightweight pair of long underwear and/or some fleece for layering.
- One pair of shorts.
- A pair of waterproof hiking boots for hiking in the rainforest.
- Rubber boots are available at the lodge.
- Plan to “layer” your clothes. The heat rises during the day, and you shed layers bit by bit, putting them into your daypack as the day progresses. Late afternoon and early evening, you pull them out again.
- Jungle – sea level, humid, low 90s day, low 80s night.
- Cusco – 11,400-foot elevation, high 60s day, low 50s night.
- Sacred Valley – 8,500-foot elevation, high 60s to 70s day, high 40s to 50s night
- Camping for Salkantay – 50s to 60s day, 20 or below at night.
Please pack with care. There are laundry facilities available at the hotels in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. They are quite good at getting your clothes back to you quickly. Remember for the mountain journeys, horses will be carrying our soft duffel bags and they will need lighter packs. You will be able to store your other items in your second suitcase at the hotel.
Pack what you feel you absolutely NEED…but LESS IS MORE!