FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CUSCO & PERU

PERU, CUSCO AND SURROUNDINGS

What is the population of Cusco? What is the city of Cusco like?

Cusco has a population of about 300,000 inhabitants. Cusco is the capital of the Department of Cusco, in the southern part of Peru at about 850 kilometers from Lima . The city center of Cusco is pretty small and there are quite a lot of tourists, especially in high season. On and around the Plaza de Armas, the main square, there are lot´s of nice restaurants, pubs and cafes as well as travel agencies, souvenir shops and Casas de Cambio (to change your money). Outside of the center there are the more residential neighborhoods. There are two universities, three hospitals, a swimming pool, several high schools and primary schools, a theater, and an (international) airport.

What is the weather like? When do you recommend me to go to Peru?

Peru is a varied and diverse country due to the climatic, natural and cultural diversity of its regions: Coast, Mountains (sierra) and Jungle.

Mountains
The rainy season in Cusco occurs from November through March. It's usually clear and dry most mornings with outbursts of heavy rain in the afternoons. The daily temperatures are typically 18°C with only a small drop at night, 15°C . During the dry season, from April to October, the weather is generally sunny with hot, dry days (20- 25°C ) and cold, dry nights, often hovering just above freezing, particularly in June and July. It is recommended you bring a wet weather coat and warm clothes for the nights and inside buildings, as they don't have heating. In the sun it is very hot and you might get burnt easily.

Coast
It is summertime on the coast from December till April , where the weather is hot and dry and ideal for swimming. Temperatures on average range from 25 - 35°C .  From May to November the temperature drops a bit and you'll find blankets of sea mist engulfing the coast from the south right up to about 200 km north of Lima . At this time of year only the northern beaches near Tumbes are warm enough to provide pleasant swimming.

Jungle
The 'dry' season with daily temperatures averaging 30- 35°C is from December till April. However cold fronts from the South Atlantic are common when the temperatures can drop to 15°C during the day and 13°C at night. The dry season is the best time to visit the jungle regions … there are fewer mosquitoes and the rivers are low, exposing the beaches. The wet season takes place from march till November and is hot and humid. You can expect heavy rain at anytime. It only rains for a few hours at a time, so it's not enough to spoil your trip.

On the news I heard that there are a lot of problems in Peru at the moment and that it is a very dangerous country. Is this true?

Our experience is that international news about Peru tends to be exaggerated. Especially Cusco is a relatively peaceful place. If you keep in mind some basic rules (do not carry a lot of cash money with you, do not walk around alone at night), you will usually be safe. Items that are on the news often happen in the country side or in other desolate places, where tourists never visit.

Is it safe to walk on the streets in Cusco?

It is safe to walk on the street during day time, keeping in mind the basic rules mentioned above. You better not go to desolate places out of Cusco (e.g. to do an hike) if you are on your own, but with a guide and a group, there is no problem.
During the nights we recommend you to walk in a small group in the city center, but to take a taxi if you have to go further away. Late at night, when leaving the pubs and discotheques, you always have to take a taxi although your accommodations are only two or three blocks from the square.

Is it a easy to take taxi´s in Peru?

It is easy and cheap but be careful. During the day, normally, it is fine to take any taxi, but please be very careful after sunset. In Lima you have to negotiate the price and, as a foreigner, you will definitely be overcharged. However, it will still be cheap. In Arequipa and in Cusco, for example, there is a fixed rate (3 soles in Arequipa and 2 soles in Cusco ). However, it is not uncommon, when you just hail a taxi from the street, to have one rate agreed upon, only to find that the rate has changed when you reach your destination, or the driver doesn't have enough change when you get there….. If you need a taxi early in the morning, to go to the airport for example, or to the train station, it is recommended that you have your hotel call a taxi for you (or phone one yourself). It is much safer to use those taxi that work with a taxi company.

Is it safe to travel around by myself in Peru?

That is difficult to say as it depends on your way of living while staying in Cusco . Just to give you an idea: Public transport in Peru is very inexpensive. A taxi in Cusco will charge you US$0.60 during the day and US$ 0.90 after 10pm. A ride on a public bus in Cusco costs US$0.20.
An average meal (set menu) in a restaurant will cost you about US$ 2.00. A beer or a coffee in a bar will cost between US$ 1 and US$ 3, depending on where you go.

With a US$ 10 Visitors Ticket (‘Boleto turístico') you can visit the most important ruins, museums and other sites of interest in and around Cusco . A visit to Machu Picchu or to the rainforest is much more expensive. For details, please check www.dosmanosperu.com, the webpage of our travel agency.


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