Peru Basic Information
If you experience the cheerful ‘¡Hola, gringo!’ greeting in Peru, try not to take offence, it’s not intended as a racial slur but rather an ordinary term encompassing all white people who don’t speak Spanish - although it’s typically reserved for Americans, so politely make the distinction if you must. For more info to know before you go, read on.
Australians do not need a tourist visa to visit Peru – just a valid passport and a return ticket to be presented on arrival and you may stay for up to 183 days. All travellers are given an Andean immigration card upon arrival, which must be presented prior to departure from Peru. Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of Peru. If you have visited Peru in the last 6 days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Peru.
Peru uses the Peruvian Nuevo Sol. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (translation: ‘new sun’) changes constantly so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Nuevo Sol when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Peruvian cuisine is made up of a mix of influences from indigenous Incan cuisines to modified traditional dishes from its Spanish, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese and African immigrants. The staples of Peruvian food are corn, potatoes and peppers along with some interesting delicacies – suri and cuy. Suri is not only the name of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s child, it’s also the name of the local Amazonian grub a.k.a. the larvae of the palm weevil – a delicious and nutritious snack. As for cuy? Let’s not labour under any false pretence – it’s a guinea pig, and in the Andes they’ve been raised as a food for the last 7,000 years. These little guys are celebrated in both casual and fine restaurants. Peru is also great for street food – try the black clam ceviche, a true Peruvian delicacy. Don’t forget to sample some homemade chicha, a traditional drink typically make from fermented fruits and available in non-alcoholic or alcoholic form from markets.
It’s no surprise that the big nightlife in Peru goes down in the nation’s capital, Lima. Here, immigrants from around the country bring a distinguished international flavour. Lima is the most progressive city in the country with plenty of gay- and lesbian-friendly clubs. It’s South America after all, meaning dancing is a big part of the culture here so get grooving to jazz, Latin or rock music – there’s something for everyone. Just be sure to keep an eye on your drink when you’re on the dancefloor as drink spiking has been an unfortunate issue in Peru. The places to be seen in Lima are Miraflores or Barranco, an artist and writer community that’s sleepy by day and wild by night. Rumour has it Lima is South America’s new hipster hangout. Must be all the ponchos and bowler hats.