We thought we would make a page for travel tips for each of the countries we are visiting. If you have any burning questions about anything feel free to drop us a line and we will do our best to help you. We are looking at all your comments and questions so keep ’em coming!
TOP TIPS FOR PERU
1. Try to get as much small change as possible. Shop keepers never have change and are of the opinion that the customer should pay the exact amount. Strange but true.
2. Most shop keepers will say their garments are made from baby alpaca, which is a finer wool than alpaca. Check labels to ensure you are not paying too much for what some cynical locals call “maybe” alpaca.
3. In the off season you should be able to negotiate anywhere between 30-50% off the marked price. Buying goods directly from communities rather than at big tourists markets is of course always cheaper.
4. Try alpaca steak and guinea pig. They are yummy!
5. Altitude is a tricky thing. Leave yourself several days to acclimatize. They say you should drink an extra liter of water for every 1000 meters above sea level. Drinking alcohol is a killer so prepare for a hangover if you must drink.
6. Coca leaves are amazing against altitude sickness. For the best result chew the leaves and spit out after 30 minutes. Tea made directly from the leaves is great too… don’t even bother with pre-made tea bags as they are ineffective.
7. Bring plenty of electrolyte powder for your time in Peru. It is difficult to find and stomach issues are very common.
8. Antibiotics for stomach bugs proved to be very handy as a bug is very difficult to shake once it is in your guts. Ask your doctor.
9. If you are planning to hike, make sure you bring enough clothing. No matter what time of the year, once you hit around 4000 meters it gets very very cold very fast. Thermals are recommended and down jackets which can be packed down tightly.
10. Sunscreen is a must at altitude. The sun is brutal… yes, even worse than the Australian sun!
11. When in jungle areas, cover up and use a strong insect repellent (we had 80% deet). Itchy bites can last up to 2 weeks! Ouch
TOP TIPS FOR CUBA
1. Best currencies to bring are Euros, Canadian dollars and US dollars. Note that US dollars will incur an 11% tax and that Australian dollars are not accepted anywhere. Use banks not ATMs as they have a reputation for ‘chewing’ cards. Make sure you have your passport with you when withdrawing money.
2. Make sure you have a tourist Visa before entering the country. I know it’s obvious but I need to mention it.
3. Do not drink the water, you will get sick! Also worth noting that bottled water is very high in sulphur so be aware if you are allergic or have a sensitivity.
4. Try to learn some very basic Spanish before you come as most people outside the major centres do not speak any English.
5. Remember that all businesses, be it hotels, restaurants or car rental are ALL government owned. Try to support the locals by staying in ‘casa particulares’. It is much cheaper and you will have a better experience.
6. Couples, if you tend to argue about navigation when driving, Cuba in relationship suicide. There are very few road signs, if any at all and basic navigation skills and a compass are handy. Allow double the amount of time for driving to a destination than you would usually expect. Even roads that look major on the map may be in very bad shape and even the freeways are full of potholes.
7. If near the coast, try the seafood, lobster in particular is very fresh and cheap. Try to eat home cooked food as it far outshines anything you would find in a restaurant or hotel and is far better value for money. Most ‘casas’ will offer you dinner for a small extra fee.
8. If you are near the coast, beware the sand-fleas that come out at dusk. They are vicious and will make you itch for days.
9. ‘Peso pizza’ is a great snack and can be found in most towns. It’s cheap and usually pretty good
10. Cuba is very difficult for vegetarians, if not impossible. Pork, chicken and beef are central to almost every meal. Be prepared to live on rice and beans and peso pizza during your stay.
11. Internet is not widely available. It is expensive (usually 6 CUC per hour) and you will need to show your passport to get on.
12. If you are in the mood for cigars, try some that are made by local farmers, particularly in Vinales and around tobacco plantations. They are lighter, easier to smoke and can be bought on the cheap.
13. Keep an open mind. It is a very different system to that of a democracy.