Arriving into Lima, Peru
Here at Peruvian Secrets we understand the importance of our guest’s arrivals, your first impression will carry on throughout the tour and influence your enjoyment. The international flight to Peru is a long haul, having done this so many times even I arrive feeling “that was a long time in the air”, the last thing you need at this point is to have problems to deal with in Lima airport. The arrival process is relatively easy, you will need complete a customs declaration so having a pen handy is useful. The fist counter is Peruvian immigration, there are a lot of booths, so the waiting time is not too long, you need wait for your luggage anyway. All UK passport holders do not require a visa prior to entry into Peru, you just hand over your passport and they will stamp it with your visa, you then proceed through to the baggage claim area to collect your luggage. Should your luggage not arrive (It does happen) there is a desk for you to report it to, this takes time but don’t worry our driver will still be waiting for you so just do what you have to, to gain your lost luggage. Continuing to customs you will hand over your customs form and put your luggage through the scanner, you can then proceed into the arrival’s hall. This is a very busy place with barriers around and lots of people looking for arrivals, your driver will be there with a board and your names clearly displayed, its best to wait in clear view so they can spot you but you should see the driver who will be smartly dressed, looking for you too.
Transfer to hotel
Your driver will first need to pay the parking so will ask you to wait outside for just a moment, then you will board our vehicle for the 40-minute drive to your hotel. Your driver does have some English so feel free to chat if you wish, he is not a guide or does not know anything about your tour, we do not give briefings in vehicles. Arriving to your hotel you will meet your Tour Controller; he oversees your tour while in Peru and is there to welcome you and set you off on your way. After checking into your room to freshen up you will be asked to return to the reception and your tour controller will give you the first part of your briefing. We check you in for your next domestic flight and present to you the boarding passes, this makes the whole process easier for you and ensures you have seats together.
Most flights arrive late afternoon and it’s the evening before you have your free time, most will just decide to return to their room and enjoy the hotel, if you are feeling excited and not ready to sleep, your tour controller will be happy to escort you to a restaurant or just a nice walk to help you settle into Peru.
Starting the adventure
Here again careful planning can make a big difference, what may look like a good option on paper may not in practise be the ideal. Many agencies offer a 09.00 flight to give you a full day in your first destination, what they fail to point out is the time required beforehand to meet that flight, work backwards and you need be at the airport 2 hours prior (07.00) then at this time of day it can take an hour to reach the airport) to be ready for the drive at 6am you will need to be out of bed by 5am and maybe not even get to enjoy breakfast. This for us is not the perfect start to your Peru adventure, we select a midday flight, so you have time to wake up, enjoy the breakfast and prepare for the coming adventure.
Your first destination Arequipa
Many of our tours will start in the southern city of Arequipa, there is a particularly good reason for this which will help you continue to enjoy the Andes and heights you will reach. Arequipa is at 2,300 m.a.s.l. which is the start of noticing the altitude, especially coming from the coast, by arriving in the afternoon you can settle into the altitude and take it slowly, you do not want to arrive early and join a city tour as this could result in altitude sickness.
Once into your hotel our local guide will visit to give you a welcome to their city, they will give you all the information on your tours and any additional local tours you can book directly with them, this gives you the freedom of choice knowing the services will be excellent. Your hotel will be ideally located for you to venture out and explore for yourself, here you will really feel you are in Peru, local traditional dress is still common and the way of life is very different from Lima. There are so many restaurants for you to choose your first experience of Arequipa cuisine or just small cafes offering anything you may wish for. Alcohol and Altitude do not mix well, at this point I would avoid even a small glass of wine or beer for your first night until you have started to acclimatise.
So much to see and do in Arequipa
Known as the “White City” due to the white volcanic stone used in it building the main Plaza de Armas is the social centre surrounded by restaurants and shops, it is a great place to start exploring. Away from the centre you will discover small shops selling just about everything, the most popular are the Alpaca garments, as it gets cold in the Andes at night, a warm alpaca jumper is a good souvenir that will keep you snug throughout your tour and when back home. With so many things you can see and do from horse riding to a cooking experience you are best to discuss these options with your guide on arrival into the city, we include a further free day for you to acclimatise and explore before stating the next adventure into the Colca Canyon.
Part 3 to follow; Into the Colca Canyon and beyond