Would you like to be part of an international team of primate researchers and get to know the diverse flora and fauna of the Peruvian rainforest? Then join a research expedition to tropical South America! Peru is not only the third largest country in South America, but also has something to offer in terms of its landscape. From beaches through to deserts, rainforests and impressive mountain chains, this country has everything it needs to satisfy your wanderlust.
Peru lies in the west of South America and is divided into three regions – Costa, Sierra and Selva. It is bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. Peru covers 1,285,215 km². It also owns 200 nautical miles in the Pacific and 60 million hectares of the Antarctic. Peru's capital is the coastal city of Lima. While most of the country's population lives in the coastal region, the rainforest remains largely untouched. The varied rainforest region of Selva covers 60% of the country and is an excellent backdrop for your journey. The Amazon winds its way through the area and serves as a transport artery through the jungle.
The Andes as the major geologic formation divide the country in 3 regions. The narrow, 2,300 km long coastal region (Costa) merges into the highland of the Andes (Sierra) that separates the rainforest (Selva) east of the mountain range from the sea. In former times this natural barrier was formed as a consequence of the subduction of the Nazca plate under the South American plate. Due to its position on the so called Ring of Fire in the Pacific, volcanic activities and earthquakes are relatively common in Peru. Peru's highest elevation in the Andes is the mountain Huascarán with a height of 6,768 m above sea level. Over 50 rivers have their origin in the Andes region of which the biggest ones Río Marañon and Río Ucayali join into the Amazon. Lake Titikaka is located in the Andes region as well and can be found in an altitude of 3,812 m above sea level.
The rainforests of the eastern Amazon lowlands are home to numerous species including various snakes, caimans, jaguars, tapirs and countless birds. Besides the tropical forest, also the highlands of Peru are home to various animals like the condor, the spectacled bear and many lama species. Also the coast of Peru is an important habitat. Due to the Humbold current, plankton is brought to the coast in great amounts which is the basis of life for over 1,400 species of fish and with them also for numerous sea birds like albatrosses, cormorants or pelicans. In the projects you will mainly focus on different primate species of which at least 36 are known in Peru.
Even though Peru is located within the tropical zone near the equator, the climate changes from humid, hot conditions in the rainforest to dry, temperate conditions in the highlands and sunny weather in certain regions along the coast. A good time to visit the southern coast is from December to April, whereas hikers should wait for dry conditions from May to September. For travelers with the destination tropical rainforest there is no best time to go, as short, heavy rainfalls may occur throughout the whole year. Moreover the irregularly occurring phenomena El Niño may lead to unusual weather conditions.
Peru has about 30 million inhabitants of which about 47% are of indigenous descent, 37% of Mestizo, 13% of European and 3% Asian and African descent. About 70% of the population lives in cities and the population growth is 1.13% annually.
In general, Spanish and only occasionally traditional languages like Quechua or Aymara are spoken in Peru.
As one of the strongest economies in Latin America, Peru´s most important export goods are coffee, cotton and fish. Besides that, Peru produces rice, sugar cane, fruit, potatoes and also corn and wheat. Moreover the natural resources of the country are a quite profitable sector. Peru exports copper, gold, silver, zinc and oil. Even though its economy belongs to the leading ones in the area, the country still struggles with major problems like unemployment and poverty. As a consequence, a prominent informal sector developed mainly with the cultivation of coca plants.
The presidential republic Peru is divided in 24 sectors and Callao as the government sector. In general Peru is a very save country for travelling. Nevertheless avoid walking around alone in cities after sunset (just to make sure) and always choose officially registered taxis if possible.
In Peru 81.3% of the inhabitants are Catholic and the rest is Protestant or Evangelical.
UTC – 5
There is no daylight saving.
Peru´s currency is called Peruvian Sol (1PEN= 100 céntimos). For the current exchange rate see www.währungsrechner.de.
Peru uses metric units.
The voltage in Peru is 230 V like in Germany, but as the frequency is 10 Hz higher and the plugs are different (3 types), you should bring an adapter.
In general you should keep in mind that not many streets in Peru are asphalted and that landslides can cause problems. Nevertheless the infrastructure is quite stable.
Bus: Bus lines are well established in cities, as well as between cities and in remote areas. They go on a regular basis and the prices are quite reasonable. If you want to travel long distances, the Cama bus can be recommended which is suitable for sleeping.
Trains: There are special trains for tourists that connect common travel routes for reasonable prices. One example is the luxury train Hiram Bingham that connects Poroy and Machu Picchu on a daily basis. The Andean Explorer brings tourists from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca and back.
Taxi: You can get a taxi in front of hotels and the airport. This is a very reasonable way to get around, but before you get into the taxi, you should make sure that it is an official one and negotiate about the price as there is no taximeter.
Rental cars: In general you can rent a car in every big city and only need an international driver’s license if you stay more than 30 days.
Plane: The fastest way to travel long distances in the country is probably the airplane, although prices may vary from company to company and you will miss the country and its people.
As the seventh world wonder the Machu Picchu is probably the best known leftover of the Inka society in Peru and fascinates numerous visitors every year. Moreover the Titikaka Lake, which is the biggest lake in South America, is also worth a visit. Here, especially the islands that the Uros built out of straw are interesting to see. For outdoor adventurers, also the Andes region with the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, glaciers and lakes is perfect for long and peaceful hikes. Iquitos is another highlight in Peru. This city lies within the tropical Amazon region and could be seen as its capital city. Another highlight are the Nazca lines that can be found in Peru's´ landscape. They are estimated to originate from 200-600 AD.