GETTING AROUND: LANGUAGE AND CURRENCY IN Peru
We're always keen for our customers to do plenty of exploring on their own. We don't think you want every minute of every day planned out for you - much better to have some time to wander around and find the unexpected places and people that make a holiday something special. Obviously, two things will really come in handy for this: having the money to get to these places, and being able to speak to people when you get there!
As part of our service, we give all our customers our special "Peru Pack" before they leave - it's full of useful information about Peru including maps of the cities you're visiting, hints on where's good to eat, where to change money and also a small phrase section featuring key Spanish phrases we think will come in handy. For the moment, have a look at our quick guide to Peru's money and languages. As always, just get in touch if you want to know more.
¿Habla ingles? Language in Peru
The official languages in Peru are Spanish and Quechua but Spanish will be your most useful language, even in the highlands. The Spanish spoken in Peru is almost identical to the Castilian Spanish of Madrid, albeit with slightly different pronunciation and a few vocabulary changes. In the high Andes, particularly around Cuzco and Puno, many people still speak Aymara or Quechua (the language of the Incas) as a first language, although almost all will also speak Spanish. The good news is that in most places like restaurants, hotels, etc., there is usually someone who speaks English - and, of course, all our representatives and guides speak both English and Spanish.
If you do speak some 'Spanish' Spanish then you shouldn't have too many problems in Peru. The major difference in accent between Peruvian Spanish and Castilian Spanish is that the letters c and z are pronounced like the English s rather than the traditional th. In general, Peruvian Spanish is a little slower and less heavily accented than most Spanish you would hear in Spain - the exception being taxi drivers in Lima who are as difficult to understand as any cabbie anywhere!
Using and changing money in Peru
Peru is typical of many South American countries in that it effectively operates a dual-currency system. Both the US dollar (dólares) and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (soles) are in circulation and although recently there has been a move towards using soles a bit more, many sizeable purchases are still made in dollars: maybe a meal in a nice restaurant, likely an internal flight ticket, definitely a car, for example. The Nuevo Sol is perfectly stable so you don't have to worry about inflation problems during your stay!
As far as changing money goes, the exchange rates you get when withdrawing from cash machines are good and so this is the approach we usually recommend. Cash machines dispense both dollars and soles and most accept the major UK debit cards - check with us before travelling if you're not sure. If you want to change dollars or euros into soles then you can either go to a bank or use one of the street money-changers. This may sound like a recipe for disaster but in actual fact it's very safe and a lot quicker than waiting in line at the bank.
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