Founded in 1535 by the Spaniards, Lima, Peru's capital city, has approximately eight million inhabitants and accounts for 70% of the country's GDP. Other important Peruvian cities include Arequipa, Cuzco, Puno and Tacna in the south, Trujillo and Chiclayo in the north, and Iquitos and Pucallpa in the east.
Getting to Lima
The Jorge Chávez International Airport is located in the port city of Callao, about 10 miles from downtown Lima. In rush hour, it is a 45 minute drive from the airport to urban hotel areas (i.e., Miraflores and San Isidro.) The official airport taxis will charge $20 - $40 for the trip to the main residential and commercial areas. For information on flights visit http://www.lap.com.pe.
Many government buildings are located in downtown Lima, as is the Presidential Palace, located at the main square, Plaza de Armas. Most financial institutions and foreign embassies are located in the upscale neighborhoods of Miraflores, San Isidro, and Surco. Public ground transportation is not recommended due to a high incidence of traffic accidents in Peru, frequently involving mini-buses and buses. Taxis are abundant and not metered, so fares must be negotiated before getting into the cab. Taxis provide an inexpensive way to get around Lima; however it is recommended to arrange these services with the hotels or call a radio taxi company. Given traffic conditions and security concerns, it is advisable that business travellers contract hourly taxi service or hire cars with drivers instead of renting a vehicle. Tips are not expected for short rides. If you lease a car with a driver, a tip is common.
Business and government office hours in Lima are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, with an hour break for lunch. Bank hours vary by season. Most are open on Saturday until noon. Major stores are open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Major hotels offer long-distance, fax and Internet services. Direct-dial pay phones accept coins or telephone cards, which can be purchased at shops and news kiosks. Internet cafes offer a cheap way for international calls and web access.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Local currency can be obtained in the main banks or at casas de cambio. Some banks and ATMs give cash advances on major credit cards. Be careful when entering your pin number. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted and used too.
Visitors should drink bottled water and avoid street vendor food. If travelling to the jungle, visitors should be vaccinated against Yellow Fever 10 days before traveling. They should also take precautions against Malaria and Dengue. We advise these travelers to avoid heavy meals, smoking and drinking alcohol, and to rest and drink lots of water in order to avoid "Soroche" or altitude sickness. In the lowlands, health risks include cholera and hepatitis.
Visitors are strongly advised to carry identification with them at all times and to stay alert, as muggings and street crime are common, including incidents of armed robbery.
The climate is very mild in Lima and known for its drizzle, or "garua", during the winter months when temperatures can drop to the 50s. In the summer months, the temperatures rise to the upper 80s.
Know Before You Go
The government of Peru prohibits the export of ancient Indian objects and colonial art. Travelers who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should buy only from reputable dealers and should insist upon documentation from Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC) showing that the object is a reproduction and may be exported. Peruvian customs authorities may retain articles lacking such documentation and forward them to INC for evaluation. The US government supports this policy.
For more information about Peruvian customs regulations, visit http://www.aduanet.gob.pe.