Peru is home to jungle, desert, coast and mountains, as well as a great variety of wildlife and insect life. These geographic conditions can present threats that many toursits disregard. Here is some useful advice covering the Peruvian sun, mosquitos and altitude sickness.
The Sun – a silent enemy in all of Peru
Regardless of the differences that occur in each of the above mentioned regions, there is something that each of the regions have in common and that connects all of Peru, and that is the SUN. The sun in this former Inca Empire is very intense and has changed travel plans for many a tourist. The question of sunlight and its effect on the human body is very often underestimated by travellers and should be treated very seriously. Applying 40+ SPF to your exposed skin several times per day, and at least 20 minutes before being outdoors, is a must! This is key even when it is rainy or cloudy. The sun not only damages skin but also weakens our bodies and reduces energy levels, especially in a high-altitude environment.
Be sure to have with you the following: Good quality sunglasses, a sun hat, and WATER!
You should also take into consideration the various types of INSECTS and ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Mosquitos & Insects in the Peruvian Jungle
In the case of mosquitos and INSECTS, they are a fact of life when you visit the jungle. Unfortunately it is not possible to always avoid the large tarantulas that lurk beneath the canopy, but with proper precautions you can avoid the biting mosquitoes and ensuing diseases they carry.
Mosquito Prevention: Always wear long pants, blouses or jumpers with long sleeves – preferably in two layers, avoid being outdoors at dusk, and carry mosquito spray with at least 40% DEET.
If you would rather walk through the jungle in shorts and a t-shirt then you can, but like many other tourists you will return with a multitude of red bites that will continue to itch for several days. But, you can be in luck during certain times of the year! There are less mosquitoes between April and October and more between the months of November and April.
Altitude Sickness in the Andes
Besides the sun and mosquitoes, there is another potential danger awaiting travellers. What is it? Common for the Peruvian Andes – ALTITUDE SICKNESS.
This is definitely a topic that should not be ignored. Many people think the altitude will not impact them, or will only make it slightly more difficult to breathe when walking uphill, however precautions do need to be taken. Cusco is located 3,400 meters above sea level – over 11,000 feet! During the first 1-3 days many people who had been previously at low altitude environments have a difficult time adapting.
Common Side Effects from the Altitude: Nausea, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and being out of breath when you are walking or even when laying down or talking!
Solutions: Lots of rest, lots of water, chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea (available at many hotels, hostels and stores), and taking any medications specifically for high altitude. With time, the bad feelings should pass as your body gets acclimatized to the higher altitude.
Sightseeing in the Land of 12-Hour Daylight
This may not seem like key information at first, but sunrise and sunset does impact your schedule as a tourist as daylight hours defines the hours for tours, shopping, and walking or trekking.
While planning your trip to Peru, you should be aware that sightseeing possibilities will depend on the duration of the day. After sunset it will be rather hard to explore new places and so knowing that the day in Peru begins at 6am and ends with sunset at 6pm is important to know. This means there are 12 hours of activity each day!
If you wish to see a lot then you need to become an early bird!
Of course, there is a lot more important information that the Peruvian traveller ought to know, such as more information about the rainy season, safety, etc. But that is another blog post! 🙂