• Heather Jasper

The Hidden Costs Of Travel To Peru During Covid

Updated: Jun 2

International travel has changed in just about every way since the WHO declared a global pandemic in March 2020. This is a brief outline of some of the hidden costs of traveling to Peru and some resources to help you plan your trip.

Masks are required in Machu Picchu
Masks are required in Machu Picchu

Not all hidden costs are financial. When you’re on vacation, with only having a certain number of days, spending time getting tests, filling out paperwork, and the possibility of quarantine are all high costs to pay.


While there is a lot to consider, this blog will help you understand the steps to take while planning your trip before you leave home and once you arrive in Peru.


Planning: Why Should You Come To Peru?

The most popular tourist destination in Peru is outdoor areas: archeological sites, jungles, mountains, beaches, and open-air markets and plazas. These are all very safe places to visit, and many have significantly reduced capacity during the pandemic, decreasing the crowds even more.

A Covid prevention sign in Machu Picchu, Peru
A Covid prevention sign in Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is open, with Covid regulations in place to keep visitors and staff safe. Social distancing is now the norm and Peruvians are very aware of government regulations for preventing the spread of Covid-19.


Peru is a wonderful destination during the pandemic because citizens are taking restrictions very seriously and many cities have earned Safe Travel certifications.


El Peruano, the Peruvian government’s official news source reported that Cusco received the Safe Travel certification.

Many other destinations in Peru have received Safe Travel certifications.


What Should You Do Before You Leave Home?

Before you leave your home country, you will need to have two doses of any Covid-19 vaccine at least two weeks before your departure. You must also complete the online Health Affidavit on the Peruvian government website.


You will not be allowed to board a flight to Peru without having completed the affidavit. Regulations on testing change frequently, so be sure to check the websites listed below in resources.


It used to be so easy to travel spontaneously, finding accommodation after you arrived and going wherever struck your fancy. Traveling during a global pandemic is a bit different and I recommend reserving a hotel or hostel before you arrive in Peru.

Social Distancing sign in Peru
Social Distancing sign in Peru

Whatever booking service you use, contact the hotel before you book and double-check that the hotel is open for the dates that you have booked.


Lots of hotels closed in 2020 and not all booking services guarantee that their listings are current. It’s best to contact the hotel or hostel and check both their availability as well as their location. Many hotels that didn’t close moved locations as other hotels closed and better (or sometimes cheaper) properties became available.


Call the hotel again a few days before you arrive in Peru. If a Covid case is detected amongst the staff, or the guests, a hotel could be shut down until a thorough disinfectant process is completed.


Don’t forget to check your home country’s requirements for re-entry. Many countries required a negative Covid test completed in Peru 72 or even 24 hours prior to departure from Peru. Covid tests are readily available in all cities in Peru.

Personally, I’ve had three Covid antigen tests in Peru and each time have gotten the results in less than half an hour. Costs for an antigen test range from s/50 PEN to s/100 PEN, which is about $12.50 USD to $25 USD. PCR tests are called “Prueba molecular” in Peru and they can cost up to s/200 PEN, about $50 USD.


Be sure that you have a few masks with you on the flight. While masks are readily available in most shops in Peru, flights landing in Peru require double masking. If you are not asked to wear two masks on the flight before you arrive, you will be asked to double mask upon arrival.


Having two masks with you is much easier than trying to buy one in the airport before you go through customs.


What Do You Need To Do Once You Arrive?

After all the planning, when you finally arrive, you have a few more steps to take before you can set off for Machu Picchu. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be screened for symptoms of Covid.


If you have a fever or other symptoms, you may be required to quarantine or to get another test immediately. Regulations for this change frequently, so be sure to check the links in the resources below.


Keep your vaccination card with you and photos of it on your phone. Restaurants, grocery stores, and other indoor establishments are required to ask for proof of vaccination to enter.


Depending on where you are, individual places may be more or less strict about this. Most restaurants have created or expanded outdoor seating and may not require a vaccination card to eat outside.


While you are in Peru, check local news and your embassy’s website for updates on restrictions and regulations. Also, ask the staff at your hotel when you check in what the local regulations are.


Different regions of Peru may have different restrictions depending on the number of daily infections or the severity of any current outbreaks. The Peruvians who live in the city you’re visiting will be able to tell you what the current situation is.


Be aware that masks are required at all times in Peru, even if you are outside. There are no exceptions for vaccinated individuals. Also, some places may have additional requirements. For example, the two offices where you can buy Machu Picchu tickets in Cusco require double masking to enter the office.

"In Cusco, we will beat you Coronavirus!"
"In Cusco, we will beat you Coronavirus!"

I have been in Cusco since Peru went into lockdown and quarantine on March 15th, 2020. I stayed in Peru except for three weeks in August 2021 when I went on a vacation to the US. I have seen all the changes wrought on this beautiful country by the pandemic and am so relieved that it has remained a safe place for me throughout this period of history.


I hope you can visit soon!


Resources:

Peru’s official tourism posts for Covid updates

https://uk.usembassy.gov/covid-19-coronavirus-information/

Lima airport Covid regulations

UK government advice on traveling to Peru during the pandemic

Peru’s government airline travel regulations (including testing regulations)

 

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