ACSP Peru 2016 -Travel
This file can be downloaded below.
The ACSP 2016 Cusco 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 Cusco.
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”. You will be given a small sheet of paper with your information on it when they return your passport. You will need to present this sheet upon departure from Peru, so keep it with your passport. They may also ask you how long you plan to stay in Peru. They will give you a visa for however long you indicate, so make sure that you tell them long enough. 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. After you pick up your bags, they will be x-rayed before you leave 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 more than one computer per person, 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 without further question.
Hotels / Lima / flights to Cusco: You will need to make arrangements depending on when your flight arrives to either catch a flight directly to Cusco, or to stay overnight in Lima. You can purchase flights that go all of the way to Cusco from the US, but these flights can be more expensive. Note though, that you will pay extra for luggage for the in-Peru flight if it isn’t part of your full itinerary. Please email your flight information to ACSP firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to connect people who will be traveling on similar schedules.
If you need to stay a night in Lima, there are a number of hotels in Lima that we regularly use which have airport pickup. If you need to get a taxi, there is a stand immediately outside the doors from customs where you can hire a taxi. The first taxi stand is more secure (before you actually leave the secure area), but more expensive. If you step outside into the throngs, you can get a taxi for less, but be sure that you get a legitimate taxi and not a pirate. Have the address and phone number of your hotel written down in case the taxi driver isn’t familiar. Better yet, print out a map from the hotel website.
Arrival in Cusco: The Cusco airport is relatively tame. After collecting your baggage, you will head outside and walk to the left where there will be taxis waiting. Let us know when your flight arrives and we can organize a pickup from the airport. There will be a person holding a sign with your name on it and they will take you directly to the hotel.
Safety in town: Petty theft is the biggest concern especially in Lima and Cusco. 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 Cusco 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 Hotel San Blas near downtown Cusco. Rooms have private baths and we will put people together in rooms to reduce the costs. Breakfast is provided and coffee and coca tea is available all of the time. Laundry service is available almost anywhere in nearby areas, though you should shop around as prices can vary drastically. The hotel has wifi, although it isn’t extremely reliable. 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). 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 3.5:1 (check for current rates at the time of your trip). In 2014, the approximate rates meant that a 20S bill = $7, a 100S = $28.5. 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.