The sierra and the jungle are hot and dry from April to October; here, November to April is the wet season. The opposite is true for the coast, where it’s hot and dry from December to April, with cooler conditions May to November. June to September are the best months for trekkers.
Lima Airport (LIM) is 10km from the city. There are no direct flights to Peru from the UK. You can fly from London to Lima via Madrid with Iberia, AirEuropa and LAN or via main US hubs with several American carriers. Flight time is approximately 18 hours; return fares start from £600.
Bus services on paved roads are generally good. Many small towns are served by combis (minibuses or share taxis known as colectivos) on journeys of up to three hours, leaving when the vehicle is full. Trains connect Cusco to Machu Picchu and Puno on Lake Titicaca, and the high altitude Ferrocarril Central Andino runs between Lima and Huancayo between April and October. Domestic flights in Peru are an option but services come and go, and are frequently cancelled at the last minute. Driving and cycling can be a hassle thanks to poor road conditions and speeding drivers.
Places to stay vary from top-class hotels in Lima, Cusco and other tourist hubs, to smaller, family-run hospedajes and pensiones. There are few campsites or B&Bs.
Peru rightly holds the crown for the gastronomic capital of South America, with innovative fusion cooking, often incorporating Andean ingredients and recovered recipes. Seafood dishes dominate on the coast, with delicious ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice, onion and hot peppers) the national dish. Highland cooking is largely based on corn and potatoes – try papa a la huancaína (potatoes topped with a spicy sauce) or tamales (boiled corn dumplings filled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf). Pet lovers should avoid cuy (guinea pig) which is popular throughout Peru. Vegetarians won’t have too many problems, especially in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco.
Visit your GP or travel health clinic well before departure to check that your jabs are up-to-date and whether you’ll need malaria prophylaxis. Bring your yellow fever inoculation certificate to Peru. Wear DEET repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Protection from the sun is essential. Altitude sickness is a risk in the mountains, even for visitors to Cusco – try to acclimatise slowly. Drink bottled or purified water. The main places to guard against opportunistic crime are bus stations, unlicensed cabs, markets and when leaving clubs.