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Seniors, Tour Peru while you still can!

Author: Dr Alex Cullison
Date of Trip: September 2016

We just completed a 13 day trip to Peru (September 2016). The trip took us to Lima, Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Iquitos. At Iquitos, we took a 4 day Amazon cruise on the Delfin II.

Planning Notes for Peru /Amazon Trip

• Identifying where you want to go in Peru and what cruise company to use for a trip down the Amazon
• Identify tours related to what you want to see – how long a trip?
• Nazca lines – plane tour – not recommended due to safety issues. Poorly maintained planes tend to crash.
• A tour company in Peru – who can you trust? Paid with check to avoid 3% credit card sur charge.
• Money / cost? We spend about $7,000 each, but we took private tours and a cruise.
• Flight arrangement – direct flight to Peru – no issues with visa, but if you stop and change planes anywhere else in South America, Visa required
• Shots – Yellow Fever and typhoid – $300 each person at health department – not covered by insurance company
• Malaria pills – Malarone, only needed if you are going on the Amazon River. Two pills before the Amazon, pills during the Amazon, and six days after the Amazon. Pill cost varies DRAMATICALLY from pharmacy to pharmacy – compare prices before you submit your prescription! Walmart pharmacy was the least expensive in Fairfax, VA. (prices vary from $1.50 a pill to $5+ a pill).
• Get a shot card
• Make a copy of the main page of your passport, in color, and laminate it. Carry it with you for daily trips. Maybe hang it over your neck with a lanyard?
• Biggest problem in Peru is with pick pockets. Carry money in front pocket. (we experienced no problems though)
• Wear tropical weight cotton clothes – long pants and long sleeve shirts, in the Amazon (because of mosquitos) Clothes are very cheap in Peru. Pack light, buy there!
• Buy Picaridin mosquito spray 20%. It is as effective at DEET, but isn’t greasy and doesn’t stink or stain clothes.
• Don’t drink tap water. Do buy drinks with ice. Brush your teeth with bottle water. Be careful of most all uncooked foods. Remove skin from fruit and rinse with bottle water. Be wary of bread products unless baked on the premises.
• When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. If you find a restaurant in Peru that offers all those Western foods that North Americans eat, there is no telling how long it has languished in a freezer waiting for some Yankee to order it. Check out what the locals are eating and order that. May be not exactly what you wanted, but it most likely will be fresh. Tourists typically don’t go to Peru/Amazon for the food. Be prepared for a big surprise. Peruvian food (fusion with other types of food) was outstanding! Oh, they eat guinea pig (cuy).

In Lima, we stayed at a hotel in Miraflores (Casa Andina Private Collection). We toured the city (museums, parks, churches, etc) and the local ruins. Notable was the Magic Water Park with 12 beautiful fountains. At night there is a laser light show that was spectacular!

At Cuzco we visited the Sacred Valley, many more ruins and temples, took a city tour, and much more. Cuzco has the highest altitude and takes getting used to. (Even higher than Machu Picchu) Coco leaves, coco leaf tea and candy can help with altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water and don’t eat heavy meals. Oh, don’t bring coco leaves back to the US. It is frowned upon.

Most people take the train to Machu Picchu. It is a beautiful ride. Machu Picchu didn’t see that many tourists until 2007, when it was declared a man-made wonder of the world. Now millions of tourists visit every year. There is no accommodation for those with any health challenge. Hopefully the weather will be nice for you. We had perfect weather! The views were amazing.

We then ventured to Iquitos, where we drove to our river boat, the Delfin II. For four days we sailed the Amazon, went on many interesting and exciting excursions, and ate gourmet food every day.

Rainforest Cruises planned our trip for us. Jeremy was our booking agent. This is a reliable, professional, and trustworthy travel agency.

At trip end, no one got sick or hurt. No bad experiences. A vacation like this changes you though. Seeing the history, the people, and a new country is life changing! If nothing else, you will never look at a guinea pig the same again!

We will try to post a few of the best pictures from our trip. Here are some tips, factoids, and last thoughts about our vacation to Peru.

Bring binoculars
We never saw any locals smoking cigarettes.
No one tried to sell us drugs.
No welfare in Peru – work or don’t eat.
Toilet tissue goes into trash receptacle – not flushed down toilet
Prostitution is legal for you “buy-sexuals.”
Better food than expected.
Economic classes are defined “A” the richest, to “E” the poorest
The Peruvian people love to party and celebrate – anything!
Avoid rainy season – mosquitoes and hard to climb
Amazon not “teaming” with wildlife like we expected
They have casinos – mostly slots
We felt safe. They have special tourist police looking out for you
Female cops views as most honest, strict, and professional
Inca artisans satire the Spanish (subtly) in their art
Lots of earth tremors. Earthquakes every 300 years
Lots of parades and fireworks – they like to celebrate!
Children live with parents for a LONG time
Our tour guide in Lima made $300 a month
Peruvian people tend to be short, so you can see over the crowds 🙂
A lot of men wear leggings
They drive modern cars. Crazy driving but not as bad as Cairo.
Street vendors like to negotiate
A good place to by Alpaca clothes. I never saw locals wearing Alpaca though?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Happy trails!

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