ACSP Peru 2015 -General Travel Logistics
The beginning of the ACSP 2015 expedition is coming up soon! Based on FAQ from past years, we have put together a short overview of travel logistics for getting through Lima and to our meeting point in Huaraz. You can also download a copy of this information. peru_general_logistics_2015.docx
Airport: The Lima Airport is fairly straightforward but here are some basic tips for folks who have not done a lot of international traveling. You will need to fill out a customs form which will be given to you on the plane (pack a pen) and hand it over as you go through immigration and customs. The form will ask if you to indicate if you are on business or traveling to Peru as a tourist. Your answer should be “tourist”. After getting your passport stamped, you will collect your luggage. There is an ATM in the baggage area, and you might consider getting some local cash at this point (see the section below on money). Usually it takes a while for the bags to come through, so you may have a few minutes to kill. Once you have your bags, you will get into the line for customs. At the front of the line you will push a button which will cause either a red light or a green light to turn on. If you hit the red light, your bags will be x-rayed and searched if there is anything they think is unusual. In general, anything that you are bringing into the country for your own use is fine. Don’t bring two computers, don’t bring more than one large camera, and distribute your electronics throughout your bags. It is a good idea to put your climbing gear on top of your bag. If customs officials decide to inspect the bag, they will hopefully conclude that you are a climber and just waive you through.
Hotels and Buses: You will need to make arrangements depending on when your flight arrives to either catch a bus directly to Huaraz, or to stay overnight in Lima. Please email your flight information to ACSP [email protected] and we will send around a document with names and travel schedules to make it easier to meet up with other team members traveling at similar times.
You can make your own arrangements for staying over in Lima or have it handled for you. Chris Benway, our logistics manager (La Cima Logistics, Huaraz, Peru), can arrange a hotel in Lima as well as a taxi pickup at the airport upon request. If you arrange for transportation from the airport to your hotel (recommended), there will be a guy holding a sign with your name to collect you outside of customs. If you are making your own way, there is a stand immediately outside the doors from customs where you can hire a taxi. Have the address and phone number of your hotel written down.
Whether you stay over at a hotel or go directly to Huaraz, you will need to make reservations for a bus ride from Lima to Huaraz. The Cruz del Sur bus station is very close to where we stay in Huaraz, so if you get a bus ride on Cruz del Sur, it is likely that someone else from the expedition will meet you at the stop. The Cruz del Sur website is: http://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/. We have reserved online with a personal credit card several times before and never had a problem. A printed copy of your receipt will make checking in easy. We recommend reserving your Cruz del Sur ticket early as this will enable you to choose a good seat on the bus (the upstairs front row provide spectacular views, the ones in the back are a little cheaper). If your total bag weight is more than 20kilos, expect to pay a modest excess luggage fee at the bust station. Moviltours and Oltursa are other bus lines that go to Huaraz. Oltursa drops off near our hotel in Huaraz, Moviltours is further away. Whatever line you choose, plan to arrive at the bus station an hour ahead of departure time. If you are staying overnight in Lima, make arrangements at your hotel that night for a taxi to the bus station the next morning.
The bus ride is usually a fairly uneventful 8 to 9 hours. There is a bathroom on board (number 1 only), and there aren’t any stops along the way. If you are prone to getting motion sick, then you may want to take something, especially once you leave the coast road and start going up (the road goes from sea level to 15,000ft in a few short hours). Food and beverages are served with a fair amount of ceremony and on Cruz del Sur and you will get to play bingo for a free return ticket. Please send your bus schedule to Chris Benway and the ACSP email address. That way we can arrange for other team members to meet you at the station.
Safety in town: Petty theft is the biggest concern especially in Lima (at the bus stations) and in Huaraz as well. There are some basic things you can do minimize the risk of being relieved of your valuables. First, keep an eye (or better a hand) on your belongings at all times. Make a copy of your passport photo page and entry stamp page to carry with you and leave the passport at the hotel. Never carry your wallet in your back pocket or other easy access location. Use ATM’s during the day, never after dark. Don’t store all you cash and cards in one place. Use a passport belt or bag (the kind that fit in your shirt are handy) when traveling. Generally avoid looking like a naïve tourist (i.e., wandering around town wearing shorts and sandals with expensive camera gear hanging around your neck consulting your Lonely Planet guide at every corner). It is best to go around town with someone else so that one person can watch while the other uses the ATM etc. Also note that when we return to Huaraz after trips into the field, it is important to keep possession of everything at all times. When we unload our gear, it is easy to just pile it up on the sidewalk the start hauling it in. It is CRITICAL to have at least one person stay with any bags that can’t be carried in immediately and watch them every moment. We have had bags stolen right in front of the hotel door as we were unloading the van!
Lodging: We will be staying at the Hostel Familia Meza (Lucar Y Torre #530) operated by Chris Benway’s family. Rooms and bathrooms are shared, there is a kitchen, a convenient common area, and the family is wonderful and friendly. Laundry service is available on the same block as the hotel. Café Andino, our favorite hangout and one of the most awesome cafés in Peru (or anywhere) is adjacent to the hostel. There is wifi available at the hostel and Café Andino. As in the rest of Peru, plan for the internet and phone service to go down regularly and don’t expect fast connections. Skype sometimes works, but don’t count on it.
Water and food: Peru has good food and there are many great options for eating near our hotel. But, sanitation is a BIG issue and you need to be very careful in your selection and handling of food and water. If it is not freshly prepared and hot or comes in sealed package, cook it, peal it, or avoid it! NEVER drink untreated tap water anywhere in Peru (unless you want to get sick). We have done water quality work in the valleys where Huaraz’s water comes from and there is a reason that the tap water smells like cow poo. ALWAYS boil or filter the tap water before using it. You can also buy bottled water. There are a number of good grocery stores and bakeries near our hotel. There is plenty of variety from your standard “chicken shack” to pizza to cuy.
Money: The exchange rate for Soles to dollars is about 2.8:1 (check for current rates at the time of your trip). In 2014, the approximate rates meant that a 20S bill = $7, a 100S = $36. You get good exchange rates at ATMs but the fees can reduce the efficiency. Some people take dollars and use money changers. We generally prefer using ATMs rather than carrying large amounts of cash. Remember to let your bank and any credit card companies know you will be traveling if you plan to use your ATM or credit card.