' I LOVE this experience in chitwan for though short period! '

Xue Ying Fiona Wang

Peru FAQs

Disclaimer: The information given in this FAQ's page is generic. You should verify critical information such as visa-related issues, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities prior to traveling. Please be aware that information given in FAQ's may change at any time. In effect, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. For the latest updates, please contact us or our in-country coordinator(s).

General Information

The founder of RCDP has been involved in volunteer abroad business for the last 10 years. During this time, he has worked with more than 2000 volunteers and more than 200 universities, colleges, and schools groups.

Working with inspiring college students and humanitarian volunteers was very motivating as well as very enjoyable and presented many exciting learning opportunities. This experience encouraged him to start his own volunteer abroad program where affordable prices, premium programs and meaningful contributions to deprived communities would become the key components of the programs.

With this in mind, while setting up volunteer and travel abroad organization, we have selected many safe and culturally rich destinations where volunteers can make meaningful contributions, immerse in local culture, and get enriched from volunteer abroad experience. In each destination, we have carefully selected projects, host families, travel coordinating staff, and placed local support staff. We have provided them with extensive training to manage the program with professional services that will be delivered with care and respect for all volunteers. We are now proud of our coordinators, host families, host projects, and staff as all of them have at least 4 years of working experience with international volunteers. To meet your expectation, they are committed to working hard to meet your expectations, delivering professional services, and turn your volunteer abroad experience into a memorable journey.

In Peru, we operate in Cusco, the capital of the ancient Inca Empire. Our projects are also located in Urubamba, Trujillo, Arequipa, places that are very close to Cusco.

Information on Application

Starting application

There are two options available to those applying for volunteer positions in the Guatemala programs:

  • Apply online (http://rcdpinternationalvolunteer.org/apply.php)
  • Download the application form. Then, fill it out, and mail to RCDP.
After submitting application

Once RCDP receives your application, it will immediately be forwarded to Peru for processing. Our Peru In-Country coordinator will then carefully review your application to ensure you get placed in the project that matches your criteria and your qualifications.

Duration of the application process

Once the Peru In-Country coordinator finalizes and forwards us the detail, we will immediately send it to you. The whole process normally takes 1-2 weeks. However, this can sometimes take longer.

You will also find an invoice requesting you to pay the program fee along with the placement details.

Preparation

Once you receive the placement details, you can even call our Peru office directly and speak to our In-Country coordinator and ask any questions that might prepare you for the trip.

Preparation for a Peru trip includes: reading about Peru, vaccination, Visa arrangement, booking tickets. If you experience ANY problems, please call RCDP office.

Once you purchase air tickets, they should immediately submit the flight details to BOTH RCDP and Peru office.

Information on Airport and Arrival

Arrival Airport

Our volunteer projects are located in Cusco, Peru. Volunteers must fly to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco. You might have to first fly to  Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima, Peru and take a domestic flight to Cusco. Majority of international flights arrive late in the evening or at night in Lima. The Peruvian Airlines flight to Cusco is reasonable. Concierge services at the airport can arrange a taxi to an inexpensive hostel for the night. The cost should be within $25-30 total for both ride and room.

In Cusco, one of our representatives will be waiting for you in the arrival lounge in the airport holding a placard with your name on it. This will happen without fail if you have passed on your travel itinerary to our office. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can call your Peru office and talk to our In-Country coordinator.

Flight Delayed or Missed

If your flight gets delayed or if you miss your flight and book yourself with a later flight, please let us know immediately by either calling our office. You must try to call first and then email the details if possible. Look at your placement details for all the contact information.

If you can not make any contact and no one receives you at the airport, look at your placement details, hire a prepaid taxi and go to the hotels recommended on it.

Let the In-Country coordinator know your whereabouts after your arrive at the hotel or the next day. The coordinator will arrange a pick up later.

Arrival Day

Volunteers are requested to arrive one day before the start of program. If volunteers arrive more than one day earlier or remain after the close of their program, they will be responsible for their own for providing their own accommodation and meal.

Information on Accommodation and Meal

RCDP will manage your entire accommodation, meal and supervision initially in Cusco.

During volunteer period, you will stay with a host family where you will be served three meals a day and have to share the bathroom. Volunteers working in an orphanage will mostly stay inside the orphanage’s compound and you will be provided with a separate room. You can find details of the room/food accommodations in the placement sheets for your project.

Our staff will visit volunteers in Cusco every seven to fourteen days. If volunteers are in Urubamba, Trujillo and Arequipa, our staff will contact you by phone or through email.

Information on Visa

You can get a tourist visa upon arrival for 90 days. You are warned though that applying upon arrival can sometimes take a long time. It is better to arrive with the visa and avoid the hassle of waiting in a long queue to apply for the visa in the airport and having to fill up the form. During application, you may have to submit a copy of placement details RCDP provide you. Therefore, please do not forget to carry the original and the photocopy of the placement details with you. You may also have to submit the document that you have been vaccinated against Yellow Fever.

Other documents required during visa application (general):

  • Original passport valid for at least six months
  • Correct visa fee
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Duly completed application form

Information on Health and Safety

General Health Tips for Volunteer in Peru
  • In most of Peru, drinking water is very safe. However, in rural areas, drink only bottled, boiled water or carbonated drinks of cans and bottles. In the beaches, tap water is not considered clean.
  • Buy bottled water from proper outlets. Be wary of fake bottled water which are available everywhere. Always make sure the seal is not broken and the cap not tampered with.
  • Avoid eating food from road side stalls/vendors. Don't eat unpeeled fruits or fruits that have already been cut by unknown handlers on the street. If you are forced to eat food at a place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot.
  • If you require any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of your stay in Peru. They will need to be carried in their original prescription bottle and the prescription must be in your name.
  • Please carry a small health kit which should include medicines for upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, hydration powder, deer mosquito repellant, sun block, band aids, etc.

Information on Vaccinations

Please visit Center for Disease Control's website ( www.cdc.gov )  for traveler's health recommendations. Your travel doctor will be knowledgeable about current epidemics and should be consulted.

Required Vaccination:

While traveling to Peru, the danger of yellow fever exists and volunteers are advised to vaccinate against it. You may also have produce a certificate stating you have been vaccinated against the disease.

  • For detailed information, visit: Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements
  • Also, find the nearest center in: authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to South America including Peru. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: if you are traveling to a malaria-risk area in this region, see your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to South America and Peru .
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors 
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.

Information on Monetary Issues

Currency

Peruvian currency is “Nuevo Sol (S/.)”

Exchanging

There are no restrictions for changing currency in Peru. US Dollars are commonly accepted in most hotels, stores and supermarkets in Cusco and in the main cities in the country. Volunteers are advised to exchange money in banks because they offer more security and guarantees.

Avoid street money changers as they cannot be fully trusted. Visitors are also warned that other than US Dollars, it is difficult to change other currencies.

ATM/Debit Card/Debit Card/Travelers Checks

ATM machines are available at various regions throughout Peru, especially in Cusco and the airport, where the option to take out US dollars or Shelling is available.

Do not arrive in Peru without any cash as ATM machines may not be working properly or fail to accept your card. Check with your bank to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are acceptable at major stores. Travelers' checks are exchanged at the banks. In most locations, you won’t be able to exchange them. Debit card is the best way of getting the money out and ATM vendors are available through urban areas in Peru. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in large stores and hotels in larger cities.

Budget

You can get by with $15 a day provided you are careful in taking your money out. Accommodation and meal during your project is free but if you want to explore Peru and shop, budget accordingly.

Information on Field Support and Supervision

We keep in touch with our volunteers. Our staffs visit volunteers every 2 weeks. You are encouraged to contact us if you want to speak to us about anything. You will be provided with all the contact information.

Information on Communicating

Internet cafes are available in Lima and Cusco and costs about $1 to surf the net.

You can also use international phone cards to call home. You will be provided with full contact details of our office in Peru. You are encouraged to call us if you want to discuss anything. In addition, our program staff will visit you regularly to check your progress.

Information on Weather

Peru is a treat for anyone wanting to experience diverse climate. From hot deserts, dry forest, humid savannas, rainforests to cold plateaus and icy mountains where snow remains all year, Peru’s got everything that nature throws at us.
Typically though, the coastal regions are hotter, while Andean mountain region are mostly cooler.
For more detail, visit:

Information on Materials to Bring

  • Camera
  • Mobile phone (you can use mobile phones after changing sim cards)
  • Sleeping bag (only if you want to camp outside)
  • Mosquito repellents
  • Insect repellents
  • Sun block lotions
  • Volunteer hat (if you are joining conservation or construction project)
  • Some books of Peru
  • Map of Peru
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kits
  • Flash light
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking shoes (for work and travel)
  • Towel

Information on Bringing Gifts for Project

It will be a nice gesture if you bring items like books, pencils, color pens, toys and games, especially if you are volunteering in schools and orphanages.

You can also bring things like chocolates, CD, T-Shirts to the host family.

More Information on Peru

Geography

The coastal zone

The Cost is an arid, misty hilly region between the Pacific shore and high cliffs and the Andes in the farther east. In the north, it is characterized by a low, extremely faulted plateau, a substantial part of which is an almost flat, arable land where water for irrigation is available. Because of the nature of the terrain and its aridity, settlement is almost entirely confined to river valleys and small sections of the coast, mostly near the mouths of rivers.

A narrow coastal mountain range rises steeply just behind the Pacific shore in the southern part of the Peruvian coastal zone. It is composed mainly of a very rugged surface, much of which is covered by bare hard rocks with deeply incised narrow gorges.
Trough like basins running parallel to the rugged surface range separates the coastal region from the Andes. These flat-bottomed basins are covered with a thick mantle of sediment in which rivers have cut deep valleys. Agricultural settlements that irrigate and cultivate small areas of these valleys are actually oases in this desert like environment. Unlike other parts of the coastal belt, most of the population in the south resides along its eastern margins, away from the coast and close to the foot of the Andes.

Andes the Highlands

The highlands in Peru are generally considered to consist of two parallel ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental, extending in a northwest to southeast direction. Valleys and basins, which follow the same direction and in the south broaden into the Altiplano (with lake Titicaca and a few smaller lakes), are generally cited as the structural features that separate the western range from the eastern one. Both the western range and eastern ranges, with peaks rising over 20,000 feet are not continuous, which are in most cases arranged in echelon. The high peaks and slopes are permanently snow-covered, with some remnants of glaciers. Volcanoes, active and dormant, are confined mainly to the southern part of the highlands.

The basins and valleys wedged high between the Peruvian Andes are an integral high level surface over which, historically, the majority of Peru's population has been concentrated. Most of them, which lie at altitudes between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, are broad and covered with a mantle of sediment washed down from the neighboring mountains. They are crossed by rivers whose sources are in the Cordillera Occidental or in the basins them selves and which are, in fact, the tributary headwaters of the
Amazon River.

The Altiplano of the southern Peruvian Andes (which extends into Bolivia) is made up of some basins and valleys of the high level surface, including Peru's share in Lake Titicaca, with its densely inhabited environs. Only the lower basins and valleys of the high level surface are climatically within the zone suitable for agriculture. The altitude of most of this surface is outside the limit of cultivation or is marginal for some crops, such as potatoes, barley and corn. Much of the high level surface is used mainly as pasture for sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas.

The Eastern lowlands

The eastern lowlands are generally divided in the selva alta, the higher hilly areas at the foot of the Andes, and the selva baja, the lower areas farther east (especially in the northeast) that slope toward the boundaries of Colombia and Brazil. The selva alta is dominated by low, gently sloping eastern spurs of the Andes (1,200-3,000 feet) with broad valleys that have potentially arable land. There is a gradual transition to the selva baja, a much lower undulating plain where the relief is dominated by a dense network of rivers and river terraces. It slopes gently northeastward from approximately 1,200 feet to 300-400 feet. The eastern lowlands are covered with dense tropical rain forest. Over large areas the forest is so dense that access is possible only via the rivers. The eastern lowlands of Peru are, in fact, part of the western margin of the huge Amazon plain.

Source: (http://www.ddg.com/LIS/aurelia/pergeo1.htm)

Cuisine

Peruvian cooking differs by region. All over potatoes, corn and rice are still the staples of everyday cuisine; the three varying climates each have their own influences on what is cooked.

Along the costal region, as one might expect, the concentration is on seafood and shellfish with other favorites being kid and chicken. In the central highlands, a more substantial style of cooking prevails: meat served with rice or potatoes being the mainstay of the diet. In the Amazon jungle regions, the diet consists mainly of fish such as river trout, supplemented with tropical fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and plantains. Wild boar, turtle, monkey and piranha fish are some of the more exotic ingredients used.

A common ingredient used throughout Peru is Ají, a hot chili pepper which is used to spice up many dishes.

Source: (http://www.recipes4us.co.uk/Cooking%20by%20Country/Peru.htm)

People and Lifestyle

Most Peruvians are very busy simply doing the necessary things to survive and earn their keep. That does not leave much time for travel. Many have not seen more than the surrounding villages or the next city over. There are very few Peruvians that ever have left the country (although the rich often go to Miami for shopping), although many have relatives living abroad. This may explain why Peruvians tend to be quite curious about other countries and lifestyles. And don't be too astonished when you are asked where in the US Germany is located. Ideas about the rest of the world are often interesting.

Generally, people are very friendly, peaceful and helpful. When in trouble, you mostly can rely on getting help. But as with any setting, it is always good to watch out for yourself and try to avoid bad situations. If you get into an argument, it is a good idea to remain amicable, but firm. Most of the time, you can find a compromise that satisfies everyone.

Source: (Let's Go Peru)

Culture and Religion

Peruvian society is divided into three categories, the wealthy, the working class and the poor. A huge portion of the population still lives in poverty. Small villages pop up overnight on government land. Here the people have banded together to build small houses of brick and metal, some use branches and grasses. These homes have no electricity nor windows nor facilities. Often they are no more than dirt floors, open fire pits for cooking, and very primitive construction. Families also unite to put a roof over their heads and live as many as seven or more in small apartments. Parents, their children, and their children's children share rooms and facilities and hopefully one or two of the adults will have a regular job that will pay the bills. Working class Peruvians get low wages that allow minor luxury which isn't more than a decent furnished home. The wealthy is not more than 3% of the population and mainly lives in luxury areas of Lima.

Peru is rich in traditional dress, dance and music. Almost the entire population is Catholic and the family structure is well maintained and respected. Peruvian culture is on display more in the rural regions like in the Andes where traditional dress is maintained over the jeans and shirts you'll witness in the cities. In the mountains women wear billowing skirts of many colors with their dark hair kept neat in braids. The men where thick, well worn pants with brimmed hats and their faces show the generations of hard work that is a part of their traditional dress.

History

Peru's history begins long before the Incan Empire though it is the most significant society of Peruvian history. The Incan Empire ruled for just barely a century but left a lasting legacy with archeological ceramic and architecture, style and color of dress, rituals and beliefs. The Incans are remembered as an innovative Native American people who designed a highly accurate calendar, tracked the seasons and the sun and were able to conquer many lands and bring people under a unified rule.

The Incans fell to a Spanish conquistador plot though they fought to regain their Empire, they never did recover it after the assassination of their ruler and the establishment of Spanish rule. The Spaniards took the capital of Peru to the sea side and founded Lima in 1535. Peru remained under Spanish colonial rule until Independence in the mid 1800's.

What followed was a series of dictatorships and revolutionaries in the early years of contemporary government. Alberto Fujimori became president during an active terrorist campaign that was plaguing the country during the 1980's and early 1990's. He succeeded in ending this campaign and catalyzed much social and political change. He was seen by some as a corrupt leader but he had the backing and was popular with a large majority of the population. Government in Peru proceeded as a constitutional republic and after Fujimori, another president elect was designated to run the country. Peru maintains its Republic with democratically appointed presidents.