Know before you go
Before embarking on your adventure, here are some key details about how to prepare and what to expect on your expedition.
Getting to Perú:
Commercial flights to Lima, Perú’s capital, are available from most major hub airports in North America, Europe and other South American countries. From Europe, it’s most affordable to travel through London, Madrid, Paris and Frankfurt. From North America, it’s easiest to travel via New York, Atlanta, Miami and other hub cities.
Getting to Huaraz:
Huaraz is a 6 to 8 hour bus ride from Lima. It’s a relatively long but really fascinating journey, including the huge sand dunes of the coast desert and the changing mountain scenery. Huaraz does have a small airport, and there are flights once every couple of days to Lima. If you would prefer to fly this journey, let us know and we can help arrange this. Many of our expeditions can include airport pickup, accommodation in Lima and transport from Lime to Huaraz. Likewise, we can also help you do this independently.
Getting to Cusco:
Cusco is a 24 hour bus journey from Lima. One option to break up this journey is to stop off in Arequipa on your way. Alternatively, it is a short flight from Lima to Cusco. Most of our expedition in the Cusco area do not include transport from Lima, but rather begin in Cusco. However, we will happily assist you in organising you travel, or simply point you in the right direction.
Visas and documents
If you are coming from the US, UK or Canada, you do not need a pre-arranged visa. If you are coming from another EU states, such as France, Germany, etc. please check with the appropriate authority in your country prior to booking. Most nationalities are lawfully allowed to stay in Perú for 180 days, however, if you intent to stay longer that 30 days it is recommended that you make this known to Peruvian customs officers when you arrive in the country. If you do not ask, they may stamp your passport with only 30 day and you will be liable to pay a fine (for every day overspent) when you go to leave the country.
As with most international travel, your passport must be current and valid for at least 6 months from the date of your departure.
Money and budgets
Perú uses the Peruvian Nuevo Sol usually called simply the “sol”. As of January 2016, there is approximately 3.4 Soles to every US dollar, 3.7 to every Euro, and 4.9 to every UK Pound.
Traveling with money, ATMS, etc.
Traveling with large amounts of cash in Perú is not recommended. In Huaraz, Cusco and other provincial cities, there are numerous ATM machines which accept debit cards, VISA and Mastercard. Travelers Checks are another option, though you are limited to where and when you can cash them. Most of the expeditions promoted on our site include all expenses while in the wilderness, however, it is never a bad idea to have some cash on you, and when in town responsibility for your meals and other costs is yours.
Insurance and liabilities
We recommend participants on all high altitude climbs, treks and courses have both personal travel and high mountain insurance. Please make sure you print out your insurance documents or bring necessary membership cards with you.
Travel insurance is widely available and easy to obtain. This will cover you in any event related to your travel to and from Peru as well as your entry into the mountains. In the UK, we recommend the The Post Office but there are many other options.
High Mountain Insurance:
Insurance for climbing and trekking at high altitudes can be acquired from a number of mountaineering councils and other similar bodies. This insurance covers most mountaineering and some restrictions may apply at elevations higher than 6,000 meters (19,680 feet), so check your insurance carefully. Bodies offering this insurance include the Austria Alpine Club UK, the British Mountaineering Council, Dogtag and other. Please note that you must bring physical evidence of your insurance (such as a membership card or print out) with you.
Operators and Guides Insurance:
Project Cordillera promotes local guides and operators, both of whom have their own liability and insurance.
Health and vaccinations
Staying healthy in Perú is usually as easy as following common sense. It is recommended that you only drink bottled water, that you are vigilant as to where and what you eat and that you wash your hands very frequently. If you have specific health concerns please let us know. Most expeditions require a completed medical form, but please make us aware if there are any further issues or concerns.
You should check this with your doctor prior to leaving for Perú. It is also recommended that you find out as much as possible from the appropriate authority in your country. In the UK, this is the National Travel Health Network and Centre. Please note that most of our expeditions are at high altitude, therefore eliminating many of the infectious diseases found lower down in the Amazon jungle or else. Despite this, it is still recommended that you bring mosquito repellent as well as being mindful of other health related issues.
There are dozens of languages in Perú. Spanish is by far the most widely spoken, with Quechua still spoken high in the Andes and Aymara spoken in the Amazon Rainforest.
There are many people who travel in Perú without Spanish skills and get by, but it will only enhance your experience in the country to understand a few Spanish words and try to communicate with the local people. You can expect English speaking guides and staff when finding and organising your adventure through Project Cordillera. Quechua is spoken widely in many Andean regions. Many guides speak quechua too, and we can also arrange interpreters and translators.
Altitude is one of the major things to consider prior to taking on a high mountain expedition. The effects of altitude on the body and mind, differ a great deal from individual to individual, and are often extremely difficult to predict. The best advice about altitude is to always acclimatize slowly and fully prior to going even higher, to consider the body’s hydration paramount, and to be very aware of what the symptoms of altitude sickness are, both in relation to high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). To learn more, please get in touch and we’ll recommend some useful resources for better understanding this important subject.
Weather and seasons
Perú: Generally, the seasons in Perú are as follows: the cooler, dryer winter runs from May to September, with the hot, wet summer running from December to March. This affects different areas of the country in different ways.
Huaraz season: The dry season in Huaraz takes place between May and September. Outside of these months mountaineering it is no longer recommended. Trekking can continue to take place year round, however, especially between December and March, you can expect rainy afternoons and much more cloud cover during these months. From May to September the climate is surprisingly predictable. In the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, you can expect temperatures between about 2ºC (36ºF) at night and 20ºC (60ºF) during the day, with very occasional rain. Being at relatively high altitude, however, the wind can make it feel much cooler after dark and the midday sun is very strong. In the mountains and at higher altitude, temperatures – both hot and cold – can be extreme.
Expedition climbs and treks usually run with groups of between two and six; guide to client ratios depend upon specifics of the trip, including the difficulty and complexity of expeditions. However, guide to client ratios for high mountaineering expeditions are usually 1:2. Alpine courses usually have between four to eight students – although some times this can be more. Please note that numbers depend on demand and capacity, therefore they are difficult to predict until near the expedition start date. Customized expeditions can be arranged for individuals as well as larger group bookings.
Reaching the summit
The guides, instructors and operators promoted by Project Cordillera have undergone extensive skills and emergency training, and have been hired for their impeccable safety records and attention to your well-being. They will act conservatively in the interest of safety over the desire to get to the top of something. As experienced guides, they will never take unnecessary risks in the high mountains. However, as passionate guides and lover of the mountains, they will work with clients to problem-solve in attempting to successfully reaching each objective, including summits.
Safety and cultural sensitivity
In general, Perú is a stable and safe place for foreigners to travel to. As a foreign traveler, however, you may attract attention. You should be alert at all times, watch your luggage and keep your valuable items (cameras, wallets, phones, etc.) on your person and be as discreet as possible. You don’t want to wander around alone at night, and make sure to keep your important documents, cards, and cash with you or locked up in a secure place. Like anyway in the world, it pay to be vigilant and streetwise, and not to make careless decisions – especially if on your own or at night.
Culture sensitivity: By and large, the people in Perú are warm and friendly, and if you are culturally sensitive and interact with empathy to those you meet, you will have friends wherever you go. When traveling in remote high mountain areas, bear in mind that you are guests in the ancestral homelands of communities who have been there for thousands of years. People in the Andes are usually remarkably welcoming as long as the are given respect and met at an equal level. Both male and female travelers should be considerate of how they dress, including being mindful not to appear immodestly.
We employ porters who are given a fair wage and are highly respected members of our expeditions/courses. Usually they are employed for straightforward “access” sections of our expeditions. We aim to respect dignity and human rights with all those we work with.
Although we will have pack animals along on some of our activities, you can expect to be carrying a 20 to 30 kilogram (44 to 66 pound) pack during our treks and climbs. We use donkeys and/or llamas to transport all other gear and food. There is a long history of working animals in the Andes and all our partners use pack animals with the utmost respect and care.
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