Here are some details for travelers on the Women’s Adventure in Peru in January 2019.


What dates should I plan to travel?

Week One

Arrival Day: Monday, January 7, 2019 (before 6pm) * your flight may depart the day before

Departure Day (without Lake Titicaca): Sunday, January 13, 2019 (any time)

Departure Day (with Lake Titicaca): Thursday, January 17, 2019 (any time)

Week Two

Arrival Day: Monday, January 21, 2019 (before 6pm) * your flight may depart the day before

Departure Day (without Lake Titicaca): Sunday, January 27, 2019 (any time)

Departure Day (with Lake Titicaca): Thursday, January 31, 2019 (any time)

I set the arrival day on a Monday in hopes that most people will actually be able to arrive on Saturday and acclimate to the altitude for a day or two. If several people are arriving early, I will come to Cusco and make myself available for the weekend. I can recommend several hotels there (Tierra Viva San Blas is my favorite, but I also love Apu Huascaran and it’s slightly cheaper). If there are enough of us interested, I can rent a three-bedroom apartment for us and we can split the cost.

What will the weather be like in January?

Peru in August: Cold, dry, dusty & arid (but still beautiful!)
Peru in January: Lush, green & full of wildflowers!

Nicer than home, I’ll bet. 😀

I chose January for this trip because it is one of the most beautiful months in the Sacred Valley. January is the peak of summer in Peru, and the height of the rainy season, but neither of those things delivery what you might expect.

The Sacred Valley has a very dry climate overall (you will see lots of cactus there). During the dry season, the land can look brown and parched.  But in January, all the flowers will be in bloom, and the hillsides will be lush and green. January has an average of 16 days of rain in this area, so expect a little rain every other day or so. Typically it rains lightly for about an hour in the afternoon and the rest of the day is sunny and lovely. Only occasionally is there a real downpour, and those rarely last more than a few minutes. You will want to bring a light rain jacket, and perhaps a small folding umbrella.

Although it’s summer, the weather is still cool at this altitude with highs averaging about 70˚F and lows in the upper 40s at night. Because the air is so thin, the temperature changes quickly throughout the day; you’ll feel surprising hot hiking in direct sun, but if a cloud appears you’ll feel chilly. Dress in layers and bring a lightweight day pack so you can always have layers with you. Warm pajamas are important, as night temps are cool and most buildings (including our house) don’t have heating systems.

How safe is Peru?

I consider the places we’ll be visiting to be among the safest in the world. (Although some areas of Peru are a bit sketchy due to lingering political differences and drug trade, we will be nowhere near those areas.) The U.S. State Department agrees, placing Peru in the Level 1 category (safest countries to visit).

Cusco is full of tourists year-round (although January is much less crowded than other months). Like any tourist city in a poor country, it’s best to keep your phone and valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings in Cusco, but I’ve never felt unsafe there.

Do I need a visa?

U.S. citizens can stay up to 90 days in Peru without a visa. You do need a passport that is at least 6 months away from expiration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, e-mail me and I’ll help you research your situation.

Do I need shots? Are there mosquitos?

There are almost no mosquitos in Peru outside the jungle areas, which we won’t be visiting.  Machu Picchu is at the edge of the jungle, so it’s a good idea to bring some repellent there just in case. I suggest we buy one bottle of repellent as a group and share it, since we’ll only need it for one day. We can buy this in Peru. The CDC specifically mentions that all the highland areas of Peru, including Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca, are believed to be free from malaria risk. (I think mosquitos don’t like altitude.)

There are no vaccines that are required for the parts of Peru that we’ll be visiting. The CDC and WHO recommend the following for travelers to Peru:

  • Typhoid.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Rabies.
  • Routine Vaccines.

Since nothing is actually required, it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what’s right for you. Dogs are common and often semi-feral in Peru. I find them unpredictable and tend to avoid even making eye contact with them after being snarled and snapped at a few times. If you cannot resist interacting with the dogs, I highly recommend the rabies vaccine for you.

I will do my best to help you avoid restaurants and foods that might make you ill in Peru. The locals in Urubamba consider their water much better than most of the country, since it comes straight from the glacier. However, traveler’s diarrhea is common in Peru. You might want to bring some Immodium and perhaps a “just in case” antibiotic from your doctor.

What about altitude sickness?

Actual “altitude sickness” is very dangerous, even potentially fatal. Luckly, it is not at all common among casual tourists like us (it’s a problem for mountain climbers who are ascending rapidly while overexerting themselves), but nearly everyone is affected to some degree by the altitude.

If you are in reasonably good health, but not accustomed to altitude, you can expect to have a slight headache and feel very low-energy for the first day or two. (I remember that brushing my teeth made me so exhausted I had to lie down on my first day there!). Walking downhill isn’t much of a problem, but it’s best to take a taxi back up for your first couple of days. It’s also good to avoid alcohol, not smoke, rest often while walking, and drink plenty of water.

How well you’ll recover your strength depends mostly on your health and genetics. People who regularly exercise to the point of breathing heavily and getting their heart rates up usually do very well. People who are somewhat sedentary but in good health usually do fine. If you’ve never been at altitude, though, you can’t be sure how it will affect you since genetics play a factor. Don’t worry, we will take it easy for the first few days and make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves.

Your doctor can prescribe medication that might help with altitude if you want it. Ibuprofen is very helpful for some people. Staying hydrated and replacing electrolytes is helpful. The locals swear by drinking coca tea or chewing coca leaves, which are widely available, quite popular, and surprisingly mild.

If you are a heavy smoker, very sedentary, carrying a great deal of extra weight, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, or have other lung or cardiovascular issues, you could be at risk of having real problems and this trip might not be suitable for you. Consider a trip where you stay at a hotel in Cusco, with access to oxygen and immediate medical care in case of a problem, rather than this one where we’ll be in the countryside.

How do payments work?

Once you register, I’ll send you a link to a payment page. You’ll have several options for payments.
(if you’ve already registered and didn’t get the link yet, don’t worry. I’ll have it up by the end of July!)

  1. Deposit Pay a $200 deposit to secure your space. I’ll send you an invoice for the balance, due 30 days before your trip begins. You’ll be able to pay on that invoice in part or in full as you wish.
  2. Installment billing (no extra charge for this) Your bank account or credit card will be billed automatically in even installments every month.
    Sign up in July, pay six installments of $182.50*
    Sign up in August, pay five installments of $219.00*
    Sign up in September, pay four installments of $273.75*
    Sign up in October, pay three installments of $365*
    *slightly higher if you add on the Lake Titicaca option, of course 

Flight advice

According to industry research, the ideal time to buy an international flight is between 5 1/2 months and 90 days before you fly. The ideal time to buy a domestic flight is much closer to the flight time, between 3 months and 7 weeks before you fly. Personally, since I don’t live near an airport that flies regularly to Peru, I like to purchase my international flight first, from any departure point where I can get a good deal, and then buy the flight to that departure airport later. That lets me shop for the best deals, and also spreads my airfare out over 2 months so I don’t have to pay for it all at once.

Kiwi.com is my favorite tool for shopping for flight deals, because it will let me assemble flights using unrelated airlines. However, in recent months their customer service hasn’t been the best, so I suggest  using the site to find the best flight combinations and then buying the flights directly from the airlines. If you buy through Kiwi, make sure you also connect directly with the airlines to confirm your flight and learn about luggage costs, meal service, etc. before you fly.

If you haven’t flown recently, you should be aware that luggage — even a carry on bag — is often NOT included in flight prices now. It’s frustrating, but you really have to research those costs before you buy a ticket.

Any other questions?

Drop me a note at Lauren@Laurenhaas.com

 

Author

Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer. She has been traveling the world, living out of a backpack, since May of 2013. Lauren has written regularly for CBS Local, WebPsychology, Hipmunk, and Hotelplanner, and has also been published in The Culture-ist, Matador, and other online and print publications.

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