Peru is located in the central western part of South America and has a surface area of 1,285,215.6 km2.The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, Ecuador to the North, Brazil to the East, and Bolivia and Chile to the South. The Andes cross the country from north to south dividing it into three strips. The coast occupies a strip, which is approximately 3,000 km (1,863 miles) long, with beautiful beaches and cliffs bathed by the Pacific Ocean.
At its widest point, it measures approximately 185 km in the North and 40km in the South, with altitudes ranging from 0 to 650 meters (2,132 feet) above sea level. These coastal regions, where the largest cities are located, consist of arid, desert lands, although the river estuaries create fertile valleys.
The Sierra (Spanish for “mountain range”), includes the whole Andean mountain range that crosses the country from North to South. Most of the rivers whose waters flow to the Pacific Ocean rise from this region, creating a hydrographic basin, such as the Amazon River.
The relief of the land is very rugged, which give way to vast plains, called altiplanos or punas, and more than 12,000 pools and lakes, some of which are navigable, such as Lake Titicaca. The average altitude is 3,000m (9,842 feet), although greater heights are reached in the snow-capped Andean mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, such as the Huascaran which stands 6,768 m tall (22,204 feet).
The Forest starts on the eastern slopes of the Andes. The vegetation is typical of a tropical rainforest and the flora and fauna is rich and varied. Its main feature is the mighty Amazon River, the longest river in the world. Its source lies in the snow-capped mountains of the Andes, in the Tambo and Urubamba rivers of the sacred valley of the Incas, near Cuzco; downstream it forms the Ucayali and then the Amazon. Another important river is the Marañon, which rises in the central Sierra and later crosses into Ecuador.
The wildlife in Peru is incredibly diverse. Its distribution depends on the conditions of the surroundings that go from an arid coast with almost no rain, to an exuberant and hot jungle with high levels of rain.
Marine life is mainly composed of fish anchovies, bass; marine mammals such as dolphins, whales; mollusks, guanera birds such as piquero, pelican, guanay and others. The coast also offers other land fauna such as doves, sparrow and white heron, reptiles such as iguana, small lizard land mammals such as fox, muca and taruca among others.
In the Andes you can find birds such as hummingbirds, and mammals such as zorrillo (small fox) and also the taruca (Andean red deer).
On the rocky parts, where there is more vegetation you can see eyeglass bear and the pumas.
In the plains of the Andes you Hill find the domesticated auquenids like the llamas and the Alpacas, as well as the semi-domesticated ones: vicuña and guanaco. There are also land rodents, such as chinchillas and the vizcacha. Finally, the higher Andean plains are home for the Condor, the sparrow hawk and the hawk.
In the jungle you will find a great variety of birds where the tunqui or rooster of the rocks is the master. We also find river fauna, such as the boquichico and the síbalo among others. It is also territory for the shushupe, a type of snake.
Is in the Amazon basin where the abundance of species is best seen, which is due to the different ecosystems that the region has. In its rivers we find the Paiche, the world’s biggest sweet water fish.
We can also find in this region, the otter, the anteater, the ronsoco, maquisapa and sachayaca, native and unique species of the Peruvian Jungle.
This portion of the jungle is the home for the guacamayos, parrots, toucans and woodpeckers. Here the reptiles acquire greater size and you can find many on the surface of the waters. The most common reptiles are lizards, the yacumama, the anaconda and the electrical eel.
During the months of May to August, the hills take advantage of the morning fog. The most famous hills are Atiquita in Arequipa (South) and Lachay in Lima.
During the beginning of the year, there is some light rain in the coast and a lot of sunshine. These conditions define the vegetation such as: manglares, chaparrales, ceibales, carob trees and sapotales, all of which become trees because of the strategy that they develop to capture water. The manglares develop in the estuaries in contact with sea water, while the carob trees grow deep roots that capture their food way below the surface.
In the Andes the most representative bushes are called “tola” and for the grass “chilihuial” as well as the world acclaimed “ichu”, a very strong type of grass with great capacity to adapt to humidity. At 4,000m (13,123 feet) we find the highest bushes in Peru, the “quinuales” that grow on the rocks and serve as refuge for animals. Its wood is often utilized by the natives. The cetaceous are abundant in the Central Sierra. In the Northern Sierra other plants can survive, such as el pasayo, el molle, el ceibo, la cabuya, el mito, el guayacón, among others because of the altitude and rain.
The eastern slopes of the Andes determine a continuous variation of vegetation; the low and high Jungle, each one with each own unique characteristics.
The high Jungle has a hot and humid climate with abundant rain and diverse vegetation represented by native trees, such as ishpingo, zapote and palm trees like aguaje, la pala de aceite and some other water plants like toro, urco, gramalote and elephant’s ears.
The low Jungle and the Amazon basin present a variety of plants that have to support the hottest extreme conditions. In it we find representative varieties of trees, such as the mahogany and the cedar. In the shades of the trees there are climbing species, such as ayahuasca and sebo vegetal and aquatic species, such as Victoria regia and jatusisa.
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.), nevertheless, the US dollar is openly accepted as currency almost everywhere. US dollars can be exchanged to Nuevos Soles at local banks, hotels, currency exchange outlets and Peru’s traditional informal street exchange services, which includes people exchanging the money on many street corners. It is recommended to change currency in banks or at the currency exchange outlets.
Nowadays, the Nuevo Sol is a quite stable currency with a moderate inflation and has a more or less steady exchange rate with the US Dollar.
VISA, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are widely accepted.
The ATMs are also a fast option to get cash; the GlobalNet network of ATMs accepts the majority of the worlds debit and credit cards.
To check the official current Exchange rate click on the following link:
Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions, though it has also been influenced by various African, Asian, and European ethnic groups. Peruvian artistic traditions date back to the elaborate pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculptures of Pre-Inca cultures. The Incas maintained these crafts and made architectural achievements including the construction of Machu Picchu. Baroque dominated colonial art, though modified by native traditions. During this period, most art focused on religious subjects; the numerous churches of the era and the paintings of the Cuzco School are representative. Arts stagnated after independence until the emergence of Indigenismo in the early 20th century. Since the 1950s, Peruvian art has been eclectic and shaped by both foreign and local art currents.
Peruvian cuisine blends Amerindian and Spanish food with strong influences from African, Arab, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese cooking. Common dishes include anticuchos, ceviche, and pachamanca. Peru’s varied climate allows the growth of diverse plants and animals that are good for cooking. Peru’s diversity of ingredients and cooking techniques is receiving worldwide acclaim.
Peruvian music has Andean, Spanish, and African roots. In pre-Hispanic times, musical expressions varied widely in each region; the quena and the tinya were two common instruments. Spaniards introduced new instruments, such as the guitar and the harp, which led to the development of crossbred instruments like the charango. African contributions to Peruvian music include its rhythms and the cajón, a percussion instrument. Peruvian folk dances include marinera, tondero, zamacueca and huayno.
In general, Peru has a temperate climate, without great stormy weather in winter nor excessive heat in the summer, allowing tourism any time of the year.
In Lima, the country’s capital, the average temperature is 25 °C (77°F) during summer; during winter, the days are grey, soggy and foggy with a minimum temperature of 12°C (53°F) to 15°C (59°F)
Temperatures and weather conditions in Peru (Southern Hemisphere):
– Summer: December 22 to March 21
– Autumn: March 22 to June 21
– Winter: June 22 to September 22
– Spring: September 23 to December 21
Three different climate zones can be distinguished matching three geographical areas in the Peruvian territory:
– In the subtropical coast, the summer heat will reach the 29°C (84°F) while the winter being soggy and foggy, has temperatures no higher than 14°C (57°F).
– In the Andes, the weather is cold and dry and the temperature fluctuates between 9°C (48°F) and 18°C (64°F) degrees according to the time in the day. The sun can be shining all day long, but when the night falls, the temperature will be down to only 5°C (41°F).
– In the Jungle, the climate is considered tropical, hot and humid being the average temperature between 25 °C (77°F) to 28 degrees (82°F)
In the Andes and the Jungle the rainy season always starts in December and ends in April.
Citizens from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union do not require a visa to visit Peru. However, all travelers are required to hold a passport valid at least 6 months after their expected visit.
For more information check with your local embassy.
Peru is visited most between the months of June and August, as it is the dry season in the Sierra and it is summer in the northern part of the country. Nevertheless, any time of the year is ideal to visit Peru, since depending on the season, there are mini climate variations that do not affect your stay in the country.
The warmest months are from December to March in which you can enjoy the beautiful coastal beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Any of the cities along this side of the coast can be visited any time of the year.
Many of the important festivities are celebrated during the rainy season (January to June). The jungle has a tropical climate all year long but it’s from December to April that there are heavy rain downpours, but this does not seem to bother any tourists since the rain normally lasts just a couple of hours during each day.
COAST: always carry sunblock of your preference (international brands can be found in the main supermarkets and convenience stores.
SIERRA: be aware of altitude sickness. As soon as you arrive to Andean cities take a cup of coca mate and rest for at least 4 hrs before starting any physical activity.
JUNGLE: Yellow fever vaccination is recommended, but not mandatory, if you plan to visit the eastern slopes of the Andes or the Amazonian Basin.
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