Our travel agent provided well thought and thoroughly weighed itinerary for our trip based on our wishes and criteria. He also provided good advice on packing and tipping and detailed answers to our numerous questions about what to bring, what to pay attention to, how to protect against high altitude and other risks. The only thing that he missed was to warn us that the entire country of Peru does not have a water purification system, so you cannot use tapped water for as much as rinsing your toothbrush. Unfortunately, this cost us acute gastrointestinal infection (with both parasites and bacteria) with several forced emergency doctor visits and significant out of pocket expenses. Hence I am deducting one star. Nevertheless, we didn't allow these mishaps ruin our vacation, and overall the trip was great and exceeded our expectations. Most local excursions were organized and carried out by a local tour company and we had good experience with them.
Definitely the unique nature and natural diversity of Peru were the highlights of the trip. Getting acquainted with the Peruvian culture and cultural heritage was also very rewarding and unforgettable. The last but not least, Peruvian cuisine was also a big enjoyable part (though it could be much better have we not had gastrointestinal problems noted above).
We would be definitely much more careful about the water we drink and use for personal hygiene, and use hand sanitizer at every occasion. We would not take so many warm clothes (been scared by trip reports mentioning how cold it is in the highlands in August-September - it was not cold at all). We would probably try to stay even longer and cover a couple of additional areas that we couldn't visit this time (such as Colca Canyon and Nazca lines).
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Thank you for your in depth review of your recent trip to Peru. We are glad to read that you had a good time and that everything went to plan. Of course we are sad to hear that you picked up a stomach bug whilst on your trips. Peru is still considered a third world country, and the quality of the water coming out of the taps is much lower than that of perhaps some first world countries. Water purification systems do exist in Peru, and indeed many of the hotels that were used in your trip also have secondary filtration systems for the water. Bottled water in Peru is easily available, and a half liter bottle costs around 1 Sole (US$ 0.30), so it makes sense to always use bottled water. As a long time resident of Peru (who over the years has had his fair share of stomach related issues), I would say that it is okay to use the tap water to clean your teeth, but not to drink. However, for tourists who are visiting Peru for just a few days it makes sense to use bottled water for everything; why run the risk? The tap water in Peru is highly chlorinated, so the likely hood of picking up a bug from the water is actually very minimal, and it is most likely that you picked up something from poorly prepared food, which of course is harder to control. For this reason we always recommend to our clients that eating in high quality restaurants is always advisable.
Our guides are trained to advise our clients about general health issues and water, but to make sure that are up-to-date we shall review our standard procedures, and also update our travel documentation for clients.
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