Peru FAQ - MEDLIFE
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Frequently Asked Questions

Travel Tips

  1. Is it safe to travel to Peru?
  2. Are there any specific health precautions I should take before traveling to Peru?
  3. How does MEDLIFE handle medical emergencies during trips in Peru?
  4. Does MEDLIFE provide travel insurance for volunteers going to Peru?

When To Go

  1. What is the best time of year to volunteer in Peru with MEDLIFE?
  2. What is the typical weather like during MEDLIFE's volunteer seasons in Peru?

Readings

  1. What are some books that are recommended for me to read before I volunteer in Peru?

Money

  1. What is the currency used in Peru, and where can I exchange my money?
  2. How much money should I budget for daily expenses while volunteering in Peru?
  3. Does MEDLIFE provide any financial support or stipends for volunteers during their stay in Peru?

History

  1. What is the historical significance of Peru’s ancient civilizations like the Incas?
  2. How did Spanish colonization impact the culture and society of Peru?
  3. How has Peru's history influenced its current healthcare and education systems?
  4. What historical resources or local museums would you recommend to volunteers interested in learning more about Peru’s history?

Getting Around

  1. What are the most reliable modes of transportation in Peru for MEDLIFE volunteers?
  2. What safety tips should I follow while using taxis or rideshare services in Peru?
  3. What should I know about traveling in Peru's rural areas?

Facts

  1. What is the official language of Peru, and what other languages are commonly spoken?
  2. What is the population of Peru, and how is it distributed across the country?
  3. What is Peru's national dish, and what are some other traditional foods?
  4. What is the significance of Machu Picchu and other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Peru?
  5. What wildlife can be found in Peru, particularly in the Amazon and Andean regions?

Attractions

  1. What are the top must-visit attractions in Peru for first-time visitors?
  2. How can MEDLIFE volunteers incorporate visits to cultural sites into their trip itinerary?
  3. Can you provide information on sustainable tourism practices at popular attractions in Peru?
  4. What are some safety tips for visiting busy tourist spots in Peru?

Environment

  1. What are the major environmental issues currently facing Peru?
  2. How can MEDLIFE volunteers contribute to environmental conservation efforts in Peru?
  3. What are some eco-friendly travel tips for volunteers visiting Peru?

Culture

  1. What are the key elements of traditional Peruvian culture that volunteers should know about?
  2. What are some common cultural etiquette tips that volunteers should follow while in Peru?
  3. How can volunteers learn about the indigenous communities in Peru during their service trip?
  4. How can volunteers contribute to preserving cultural heritage during their stay in Peru?

Packing List

  1. What are some packing essentials for visiting Peru?
  2. Do I need a power adapter?

Cancellation Policy

  1. What is MEDLIFE's cancellation policy for Service Learning Trips to Peru?

Cancellation Policy

  1. What is the SLT Cancellation Policy?

Travel Tips

  1. Is it safe to travel to Peru?

    Yes, Peru is a safe and stable country. However, exercising caution like any other country is a strong recommendation. MEDLIFE ensures the safety of its volunteers by providing detailed pre-trip information, safe transportation, and support throughout the trip. Always exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, and follow safety guidelines provided by MEDLIFE and local authorities to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience.

     

  2. Are there any specific health precautions I should take before traveling to Peru?

    Before traveling to Peru, it’s common to ensure you’re up-to-date on routine vaccinations and consider vaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid, which are recommended due to water and food safety concerns in the region. Consider consulting with a travel health specialist at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to ensure complete protection. For further information, check the CDC website for their recommendations for your specific SLT destination.

     

  3. How does MEDLIFE handle medical emergencies during trips in Peru?

    MEDLIFE prioritizes the safety of all volunteers, employing a detailed emergency response plan for each trip to Peru. Our local staff are well-prepared to manage medical emergencies effectively. We maintain close relationships with reputable local hospitals and clinics to ensure immediate medical attention when necessary. Additionally, all volunteers are briefed on safety protocols and emergency procedures at the beginning of their trip.

     

  4. Does MEDLIFE provide travel insurance for volunteers going to Peru?

    Emergency medical insurance is included in the cost of your trip but trip cancelation insurance is not included. We highly recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance, which will allow you to cancel for any reason. You can contact [email protected] for more information about our insurance options.

     

When To Go

  1. What is the best time of year to volunteer in Peru with MEDLIFE?

    The best time to volunteer in Peru with MEDLIFE is during the dry season, from May to September, when weather conditions are most favorable for travel and outdoor activities. This period offers clear skies and milder temperatures, ideal for participating in community projects and exploring the region. However, MEDLIFE offers volunteer opportunities year-round, allowing you to experience the diverse climates and cultural events that occur in other seasons.

     

  2. What is the typical weather like during MEDLIFE's volunteer seasons in Peru?

    During MEDLIFE’s volunteer seasons in Peru, the weather can vary significantly depending on the region. In the Andes, including Cusco and surrounding areas, the dry season from May to September is cool and dry, perfect for outdoor activities. The coastal regions, like Lima, experience mild temperatures and less humidity during these months. However, in the Amazon rainforest, expect hot, humid, and wet conditions year-round, with heavier rainfall from December to May.

     

Readings

Money

  1. What is the currency used in Peru, and where can I exchange my money?

    The currency used in Peru is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). You can exchange your money at currency exchange offices (casas de cambio), banks, and some hotels. However, rates at banks and hotels may be less favorable. For convenience and better rates, it’s advisable to exchange a small amount at the airport upon arrival and then use local casas de cambio in larger cities. Always ensure you have some cash, as not all places accept credit cards, especially in remote areas.

     

  2. How much money should I budget for daily expenses while volunteering in Peru?

    When volunteering in Peru with MEDLIFE, budgeting around $20 to $30 per day for daily expenses is advisable. This estimate covers basic meals, local transportation, and small personal purchases. Costs may vary depending on your personal spending habits and the specific region of Peru you are in. Dining at local eateries and using public transportation can help keep your expenses lower. Be sure to also factor in extra funds for any additional travel or special activities you plan to enjoy.

     

  3. Does MEDLIFE provide any financial support or stipends for volunteers during their stay in Peru?

    MEDLIFE does not typically provide financial support or stipends for volunteers during their stay in Peru. However, MEDLIFE ensures that volunteering opportunities are structured to be as cost-effective as possible, and we assist with logistics to help manage and minimize out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers. We encourage volunteers to fundraise to cover their costs.

    As for food, meals are provided Monday-Friday of the Service Learning Trip. Volunteers are responsible for financing their meals on weekends.

     

History

  1. What is the historical significance of Peru’s ancient civilizations like the Incas?

    Peru’s ancient civilizations, particularly the Incas, are renowned for their advanced architectural, agricultural, and societal developments. The Incas built a vast empire that extended across western South America, centering on the Andes mountains. Their achievements include Machu Picchu and a complex network of roads and bridges, showcasing their engineering prowess. The Incan civilization significantly influences Peru’s culture, traditions, and the global understanding of pre-Columbian history.

     

  2. How did Spanish colonization impact the culture and society of Peru?

    Spanish colonization profoundly impacted Peru’s culture and society, introducing European elements that fused with Indigenous traditions. The Spanish introduced new languages, religion, and legal systems, significantly altering the social fabric. This period also led to the creation of a racially mixed society, though it was marked by exploitation and drastic demographic changes due to disease and conflict. The blend of Indigenous and Spanish influences is still evident in modern Peruvian culture, architecture, and cuisine.

     

  3. How has Peru's history influenced its current healthcare and education systems?

    Peru’s history has deeply influenced its healthcare and education systems. Historical inequalities, rooted in colonial times and exacerbated by economic disparities, have led to uneven access to these services across different regions and communities. Rural areas, often inhabited by indigenous populations, typically experience lower healthcare and educational resources compared to urban centers. Efforts to reform and improve these systems continue, with a focus on increasing accessibility and reducing inequities.

     

  4. What historical resources or local museums would you recommend to volunteers interested in learning more about Peru’s history?

    For volunteers eager to delve into Peru’s rich history, the Museo Larco in Lima is highly recommended for its extensive pre-Columbian art collection. The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History offers insights into Peru’s ancient civilizations and colonial past. In Cusco, the Inca Museum provides a deep dive into Incan culture and history. Additionally, the Casa de la Moneda in Lima displays the economic history and minting processes critical to understanding Peru’s colonial economy.

     

Getting Around

  1. What are the most reliable modes of transportation in Peru for MEDLIFE volunteers?

    For MEDLIFE volunteers in Peru, the most reliable modes of transportation are organized group travel arrangements provided directly by MEDLIFE, which ensure safety and punctuality. In cities, regulated taxi services like Uber are commonly used. For travel to remote areas, MEDLIFE coordinates private vehicles or minibuses. We recommend always using services vetted by MEDLIFE to ensure reliability and security, especially when traveling to and from project sites. MEDLIFE does not recommend using public buses unsupervised.

     

  2. What safety tips should I follow while using taxis or rideshare services in Peru?

    When using taxis or rideshare services in Peru, follow these safety tips: Always use reputable taxi companies or well-known rideshare apps. Before entering the vehicle, verify the driver’s identity and the car’s registration matches the app details. Preferably, share your ride details with a friend or family member. Avoid hailing taxis on the street, especially at night, and never enter a cab that already has another passenger. Always sit in the back seat and keep your belongings secure.

     

  3. What should I know about traveling in Peru's rural areas?

    When traveling in Peru’s rural areas, be prepared for less developed infrastructure and fewer amenities compared to urban centers. Roads may be unpaved and transportation less frequent. Always travel with a guide or local who knows the area. Be aware of altitude sickness in high regions and carry necessities like water, snacks, and first-aid supplies. Respect local customs and dress modestly. Connectivity can be limited, so plan ahead for minimal cell service and internet access.

     

Facts

  1. What is the official language of Peru, and what other languages are commonly spoken?

    The official language of Peru is Spanish, spoken by the majority of the population. Additionally, Peru recognizes Quechua, the language of the Inca Empire, and Aymara as official languages in areas where they predominate. These indigenous languages are more commonly spoken in the Andean regions. In total, there are dozens of indigenous languages still spoken throughout Peru, reflecting the country’s rich cultural diversity. English is frequently used in the tourism industry and larger cities.

     

  2. What is the population of Peru, and how is it distributed across the country?

    Peru’s population is approximately 33 million people, with a distribution that varies significantly across the country. The majority of the population is concentrated in urban areas, particularly in Lima, the capital, which alone houses nearly a third of the nation’s inhabitants. Other major cities like Arequipa, Trujillo, and Cusco also have significant populations. Rural areas, especially in the Andean and Amazonian regions, are less densely populated but are home to a diverse array of indigenous communities.

     

  3. What is Peru's national dish, and what are some other traditional foods?

    Peru’s national dish is ceviche, a fresh seafood dish cured in citrus juices and spiced with chili peppers. Other traditional foods include lomo saltado (stir-fried beef with onions, tomatoes, and fries), aji de gallina (creamy chicken stew), and causa (layered potato dish with various fillings). Peru is also famous for its variety of potatoes and corn, which are staples in many dishes. Don’t miss trying anticuchos (grilled skewered meat) and alpaca steak for a complete culinary experience.

     

  4. What is the significance of Machu Picchu and other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Peru?

    Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as a symbol of the ingenious engineering and architectural achievements of the Inca civilization. Situated in the Andes Mountains, it attracts millions of visitors yearly, who come to marvel at its well-preserved ruins and panoramic views. Other UNESCO sites in Peru, like the historic city of Cusco and the Nazca Lines, also hold immense archaeological and cultural significance, showcasing the rich historical tapestry of pre-Columbian and colonial periods in Peru.

     

  5. What wildlife can be found in Peru, particularly in the Amazon and Andean regions?

    Peru is incredibly biodiverse, particularly in the Amazon and Andean regions. In the Amazon rainforest, you can find a variety of wildlife including jaguars, macaws, river dolphins, and countless species of monkeys and birds. The Andean region is home to the iconic llamas and alpacas, as well as the rare Andean condor and the spectacled bear. These areas also host diverse ecosystems with numerous species of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, making Peru a fascinating destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

     

Attractions

  1. What are the top must-visit attractions in Peru for first-time visitors?

    For first-time visitors to Peru, the top must-visit attractions include Machu Picchu, an iconic symbol of Incan heritage and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The historic city of Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, offers a blend of Incan and colonial architecture. The Nazca Lines, mysterious geoglyphs etched into desert sands, provide a unique aerial view experience. Additionally, exploring the Amazon Rainforest and experiencing the vibrant biodiversity is a must for nature lovers. To learn how you can add excursions to your trip, email [email protected].

     

  2. How can MEDLIFE volunteers incorporate visits to cultural sites into their trip itinerary?

    MEDLIFE volunteers can incorporate visits to cultural sites into their trip itinerary by participating in planned cultural days or excursions, which are scheduled during service learning trips. These activities are designed to enhance the volunteer experience by providing a deeper understanding of the local culture and history. Visits to places like Machu Picchu, Cusco, and local markets are often organized by the individual volunteers, to do so, contact [email protected]

     

  3. What are some safety tips for visiting busy tourist spots in Peru?

    When visiting busy tourist spots in Peru, it’s important to stay vigilant and safeguard your belongings, as crowded areas can attract pickpockets. Always use reputable tour companies and stay with your group. Avoid displaying expensive jewelry or electronics conspicuously. It’s advisable to keep copies of important documents like your passport separately from the originals. Additionally, stay informed about local conditions and respect safety advice from your guides or local authorities to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience.

     

Environment

  1. What are the major environmental issues currently facing Peru?

    Peru faces several environmental issues, with deforestation, pollution, and biodiversity loss being the most critical. Deforestation in the Amazon basin due to illegal logging, mining, and agricultural expansion threatens vast ecosystems. Urban areas grapple with air and water pollution, impacting human health and natural habitats. Additionally, climate change exacerbates glacial melt in the Andes, threatening water supply for millions. Conservation efforts are crucial to addressing these challenges.

     

  2. How can MEDLIFE volunteers contribute to environmental conservation efforts in Peru?

    MEDLIFE volunteers can contribute to environmental conservation efforts in Peru by engaging in sustainable community projects that promote ecological well-being. Volunteers may participate in reforestation initiatives, assist in building sustainable infrastructure, or support water sanitation projects that help preserve local water sources. Additionally, education programs aimed at raising environmental awareness among local communities are integral, where volunteers can teach sustainable practices and conservation strategies.

     

  3. What are some eco-friendly travel tips for volunteers visiting Peru?

    For volunteers visiting Peru, eco-friendly travel tips include using reusable water bottles and bags to minimize plastic waste. Opt for public transportation, biking, or walking to reduce carbon emissions. Support local economies by purchasing from local artisans and eating at local restaurants. Engage in responsible wildlife viewing by keeping a respectful distance and not feeding animals. Lastly, always stick to marked trails to protect natural habitats and avoid using products that could harm the environment.

     

Culture

  1. What are the key elements of traditional Peruvian culture that volunteers should know about?

    Key elements of traditional Peruvian culture that volunteers should know about include its rich indigenous heritage, vibrant festivals, and distinct culinary flavors. Peru’s culture is deeply influenced by the diversity of its people, including Quechua and Aymara communities. Traditional music, dance, and textiles play a significant role in cultural expression. The country’s cuisine, known for dishes like ceviche and lomo saltado, reflects a blend of native and Spanish influences, showcasing Peru’s biodiversity.

     

  2. What are some common cultural etiquette tips that volunteers should follow while in Peru?

    While volunteering in Peru, it’s important to follow these cultural etiquette tips: Always greet with a polite “Buenos días” or “Buenas tardes.” When meeting someone, a handshake is common, and cheek kissing is customary among friends. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas and when visiting religious sites. Show respect when discussing sensitive historical or political topics. It’s also courteous to accept food or drink when offered, as it’s a sign of hospitality. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people.

     

  3. How can volunteers learn about the indigenous communities in Peru during their service trip?

    Volunteers can learn about indigenous communities in Peru by participating in community engagement activities arranged by MEDLIFE. These include cultural immersion sessions, language lessons, and direct participation in local projects alongside community members. MEDLIFE also organizes workshops that explain the history, traditions, and challenges of indigenous groups, providing volunteers with insightful, respectful interactions. Additionally, visits to local markets, festivals, and artisan workshops help deepen understanding and appreciation.

     

  4. How can volunteers contribute to preserving cultural heritage during their stay in Peru?

    Volunteers can contribute to preserving cultural heritage in Peru by engaging in respectful tourism, participating in community-led conservation projects, and supporting local artisans by purchasing their crafts. MEDLIFE encourages volunteers to learn about and respect local traditions and practices. Additionally, volunteers can help document and share stories of Peru’s rich cultural heritage under the guidance of local experts, which aids in raising awareness and fostering appreciation globally.

     

Packing List

  1. What are some packing essentials for visiting Peru?

    Some packing essential for Peru include important travel documents like your passport and visa, travel insurance, flight tickets, and money. Personal items like toiletries, medications, sunscreen, and insect repellent. And travel accessories like a comfortable backpack, and a water bottle. To see the full packing list, click here.

  2. Do I need a power adapter?

    Yes, Peru primarily uses Type A and Type C electrical outlets with a voltage of 220V and a frequency of 60Hz. To use your electronic devices, it’s essential to bring a power adapter that is compatible with these outlets.

Cancellation Policy

  1. What is MEDLIFE's cancellation policy for Service Learning Trips to Peru?

Cancellation Policy

  1. What is the SLT Cancellation Policy?

    You can find the full MEDLIFE SLT cancellation policy here.