Before your trip
Passport and Visa
- Passports must be valid for at least 6 months behind the return date of your trip. Enough blank visa pages are required for entry and exit stamps. Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense.
- U.S. Resident Aliens need both passport and Alien Resident Card for re-entry to the United States.
- Carry emergency contact person’s name, address and telephone number with you.
- Keep travel documents, passport, personal necessities and valuables with you at all time. Leave a copy of the important documents to your family or pack another separately from the original itself. We suggest you scan and email a copy to yourself for easy online access. This will help speed up the replacement process.
- Be sure you have all the necessary documents and money before leaving home for the airport.
- For U.S. citizens, the entry into Peru and Brazil does not require a tourist visa for a stay of up to 183 days (Peru), 90 Days (Brazil). For non-U.S. citizens and for the latest Peru and Brazil visa requirements please check their Embassy website:
- www.embassyofperu.org, http://cgwashington.itamaraty.gov.br
- Although Argentina is not included in this tour, on Day 6 of the tour our passengers will have the opportunity to view the Iguassu Falls from both sides of Brazil and Argentina. No entry visa is required for US passport holders visiting Argentina for tourism travel of 90 days or fewer. For non-US passports, please check with local consulate about the tourist visa requirement.
The US Department of State provides Country Specific Information Sheets for every country in the world, as well as Travel Alerts and Warnings. Find this information by calling 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444, or online at www.travel.state.gov.
- Baggage charge and insurance are at the owner's responsibility. Baggage allowance varies by airline and is subject to change at any time. For up to date baggage allowance restrictions and fees, always check with the appropriate airline before traveling.
- It is recommended that all checked luggage has a lock (TSA approved combination locks are recommended) and use Peony Tours’ red luggage tag. These brightly colored markers help identify you and your luggage quickly.
- DO NOT pack medicine, valuables or other personal necessities in checked luggage. Keep them in carry-on bag.
- Consider packing one change of clothing, one set of underwear and toiletry in your carry-on bag to avoid inconvenience caused by delayed or lost luggage.
- Consult www.tsa.gov for USA restrictions on baggage and TSA approved locks.
- Travelers are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance prior to departure for your own protection.
- It is important to familiarize yourself with any potential health issues or concerns related to your destination, and so we strongly recommend consulting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for up-to-date information on required and recommended vaccines and medications. Visit them online at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel or call 800-232-4636.
- Plan to visit your doctor or local travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before departure to allow time for any vaccinations to take effect or to fill any prescriptions. Consult your doctor for suggestions on prevention and treatment.
- If you are taking prescription medication, ensure it is legal in Brazil and Peru. Pack in your hand luggage sufficient quantity for the duration of the trip and make sure it is fully labeled in original packaging with doctor’s prescription.
- Though vaccinations are not required for travelers coming directly from the U.S. to Brazil and Peru, the U.S. Department of State recommends travelers to receive yellow fever vaccine prior to traveling to South America countries, as local supplies are limited. It is also recommended to carry the proof of yellow fever vaccination throughout. Please note that, the yellow fever vaccine should be administered 10 days prior to travel in order for it to be effective.
- It is not unusual to suffer from altitude sickness in the Andes or tummy problems, despite South America’s wonderful culinary reputation. While food-borne, as well as mosquito-borne infections, happen in South America, many of these illnesses are not life-threatening. However, they can certainly ruin your trip. Besides getting the proper vaccinations, it’s important that you take insect repellent and exercise care in what you eat and drink.
- During your trip, if you have any medical or health problems, please feel free to notify your tour guide as soon as possible.
- Use a website such as www.weather.com to find average temperatures and rainfalls during your travel times.
- Peru: Being such a geographically diverse country within the tropical belt, the weather in Peru is determined both by altitude and season. However, it also means that there is almost invariably sunshine somewhere in Peru! Central and Southern Regions (Lima): Two well-defined seasons, winter between April to October, Summer between November to March. Highlands (Cusco): Two seasons, dry season between April to October, and rainy season between November to March.
- Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, the 2nd largest city in Brazil, has a tropical climate. Most of the year, the climate is warm and humid. Occasionally temperatures can reach a high of 104°F, but mostly they hover around 86°F.
Electricity in the South America area is 220 volts AC 60 cycles. Some hotels have 110 volts AC or adapters. Travelers are advised to bring international converter and adapters for the trip.
Clothing / Things to Bring
- Daytime attire: Pack comfortable, casual clothing in natural, breathable fabrics. Temperatures will change as altitudes and time of day change, so it’s best to bring shorts as well as long trousers and clothing you can layer.
- Evening attire: Somewhat smarter clothing is appropriate for evening dining in city restaurants. Formal clothing is not necessary.
- Comfortable, walking shoes with low or no heels.
- Sweater or lightweight jackets.
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho.
- Swimming suit, slippers.
- Sunglasses, sun block, and a sunhat.
- Mosquito repellent.
- Lightweight binoculars (optional)
- Simple first-aid kit.
- Prescriptions and medications (We recommend you carry these in their original bottles and/or packaging.)
- Chargers and cables for electronics.
- Voltage converter and adapter plugs.
- Note: Laundry service is available at your hotels.
Arrival Airport Information & Customs
At most international airports, passengers cannot be met inside secured areas. This includes Immigration, Customs halls and Baggage Claim. Your Peony Tours local representative will greet you as you exit these restricted areas; look for the person holding the distinctive Peony Tours signboard.
- The official language in Peru is Spanish. Quechua is the second official language, and is widely spoken in the sierra (highlands).
- The official language in Brazil is Portuguese.
- English is spoken widely in major cities and tourist areas in South America countries.
Peruvian time is similar to the Eastern Standard Time in the United States (except when the U.S. goes on daylight savings time from March to November). Brazilian time is 3 hours ahead. At 8:00 a.m. in Peru, it is 11:00 a.m. the same day in Brazil.
Currency & Credit Cards
- The official currency in Peru is the Sol (S/) and the currency code is PEN. The official currency in Brazil is the Real (R$), also denoted by BRL. As of October 2019, the exchange rate applies: (subject to currency exchange rate fluctuations)
1 USD = 3.35 PEN
1 USD = 4.04 BRL
- There is no restriction on the import and export of foreign and local currency for Peru and Brazil, but the amount higher than 10,000 must be declared in Brazil.
- Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels and exchange only what you think you will need during your trip. In Peru, the Casas de Cambio (foreign-exchange bureaus) are fast, have longer hours and often give slightly better rates than banks. Ask for small bills, as S100 bills are hard to change in small towns or for small purchases. Do not accept torn money as it will likely not be accepted by the locals. Save all receipts from any currency transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
- The US dollars may be accepted in many places, however, expect the price of your purchase to go up. Be wary, as there is a large amount of counterfeit US currency in circulation.
- We suggest traveling with some US dollars to be exchanged for local currency and at least two major credit cards. If you have a “Chip and PIN” card, be careful to shield your number from view while entering it on a keypad; never disclose your PIN verbally. Notify your credit card company of your travel plan and to confirm your credit line prior to your departure in order to avoid any fraud concerns.
- Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard (Discover, American Express less so) are widely accepted in urban areas. When visiting rural areas you should ensure that you have enough cash to last you until you arrive in a larger city.
- ATM access is limited to the larger cities. Banks/ATMs will allow cash withdrawals on Visa or MasterCard. Try to use only ATMs located in banks during the daylight hours if possible.
- We do not recommend traveler’s checks as today they are not so widely accepted as before.
Food & Drink
- Do not use tap water for drinking or brushing teeth. Evan “purified” water in open containers should be avoided. It is always preferable and safer to use only bottled or canned water.
- Drinks are usually not covered in paid-for meals so you may have to pay for it separately.
- Regardless of precautions, changes in water and diet can result in mild abdominal upsets and nausea. To prevent serious illness, avoid suspect foods such as uncooked vegetables, peeled fruits, unpasteurized milk, and milk products. Beware of any food or drink sold by street vendors.
- Most guests enjoy the chance to purchase items that reflect their destination, and so as a courtesy, your guide may recommend a particular shop or arrange a shopping visit. Please note, however, that these recommendations should not be taken as Peony Tours’ endorsement of the shops, merchandise and/or pricing. You assume all responsibility for any transactions that take place, including shipping arrangements that are made.
- The decision to shop while traveling is a personal choice and shopping is never compulsory. If at any point during your journey you feel pressured to shop or make purchases, please contact the tour leader or our local representative immediately.
- Prices at hotel shops and tourist shops are generally fixed; however, when shopping at the local markets, bargaining is expected.
- To avoid disappointment, we suggest the following guidelines:
- Compute the exchange rate and thoroughly review credit card receipts before signing.
- Take your purchases home with you whenever possible. Airfreight can take many months and actual shipping charges can be excessive. Customs delays, fees and regulations can further complicate the issue. If you choose to ship purchases, we suggest taking a picture of the item(s) and/or marking them in some way to ensure you receive what was purchased. For example, you could write your name on the backside of a rug. Determine if your shipment will be delivered door-to-door or to the nearest customs facility, as is often the case. Most goods shipped from other countries to the United States are subject to Customs duty.
- Duty taxes, if applicable, are paid as you re-enter the United States. Regardless of assurances by merchants, these cannot be prepaid on your behalf. In Peru, each person is entitled to an $800 duty-free exemption, however, may only bring one liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes, and 100 cigars. The total value of goods a traveler imports into Brazil should not exceed US$500 if arriving via air or sea or US$300 if arriving via land.
- Keep all sales receipts for items purchased throughout your trip and try to pack all the items that you will need to declare together. This will ease the Customs process upon re-entry into the U.S.
- Consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at http://www.cbp.gov for more details
Contact your cellular telephone provider to determine if your phone operates on the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and what, if any, activation may be required. If your phone is not GSM-enabled, you may find that renting a phone specifically designed for use overseas is the most practical option. For Peru and Brazil, the international access code is 00, Peru’s country code is 51, Brazil’s country code is 55.
Most hotels offer complimentary wireless internet services in all areas as well as a business center. Consult the front desk for specific details on each property.
Photography and Etiquette
- Unless you are shooting a crowded public scene, it is considered courteous to ask permission before taking pictures of local people, especially small children. Please be respectful of local people who do not wish to be photographed.
- Photography is not permitted at some locations, which may include government buildings, museums, art galleries, private houses, etc. These areas are usually clearly marked. Do not photograph church interiors while there is a service in progress. If in doubt, please ask.
- Be sure to pack ample amounts of batteries and memory cards or film for your camera and video equipment, along with the appropriate charging cables. A dustproof case of sealable plastic bags and lens brush is also recommended.
Gratuities are not included in your tour cost. They are customary, and their purpose is to encourage and reward quality service. Our tour managers, local guides, drivers, hotel porters, and other service personnel do their utmost to make your trip smooth and pleasant. Gratuities are a way of showing your appreciation. However, tips are NEVER mandatory. Peony Tours suggests tipping in the following manner (per guest per day in USD):
Peony Tours Manager: US$5
Local Guide: US$5
- Respect other group members, your tour guides and drivers. Refrain from talking when the tour guide is speaking.
- The safety of travelers has always been our number one concern. For your safety, you should notify the tour guide ahead of time if you plan to go out at night or roam in the free time alone.
- Always be cautious when staying at a hotel. Never allow strangers into your room. Keep doors locked at all times.
- Use the safes where available in your accommodations to secure your valuables, especially passports, medications, jewelry, money, and electronics. If you must carry valuables, keep them on your person at all times. Be mindful of your surroundings and take extra caution in crowds.
- Note: On the train journey to Peru’s Machu Picchu, you will be limited to one piece of luggage weighing no more than 11 pounds and a total dimension (length + width + height) of 62 inches. Please follow the rule.
- For the protection of your own interests, read carefully your itinerary and hotel information prior to the tour. Leave a copy to your family or friend.
- A nice and smooth trip counts on every group member's high cooperation. It is important to follow the indicated meeting time and meeting point. Use the red round name badge provided by Peony Tours for easy identification. To make your trip as enjoyable as possible, allow enough time for flight check-in, security screening, and boarding: 2 hours for US domestic travel, 3 hours for international travel. In case of an emergency, please contact Peony Tours immediately.
USA / During Office Hours (Mon-Fri, 9 am – 5:30 pm)
Los Angeles Office 626-289-1010
San Francisco Office 650-259-9983
New York Office 212-973-1998
USA / After Office Hours 626-592-8448