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Money Matters

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory, though it is customary. Guides, porters, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion. It’s helpful to have plenty of small bills/change readily available. Below are some suggested guidelines.

Guides, Drivers, Trekking Porters, Camp Staff:
If you are happy with the service, we recommend you tip:

  • Guides: US $3 – $6 per person per day
  • Drivers: US $2 – $3 per person per day

Camping/Trekking Trips: Guides, Drivers, Trekking Porters, Camp Staff:
Tipping should be based on the quality of service. The amount depends on the number of days, the staff that accompanies you and the size of the party. The following is a sample guideline (amounts specified are per group and applicable for the length of the trip, not per day; trekking staff is generally with you for a minimum of 4 days):

  • Drivers: US $10 – $15
  • Head cook: US $40
  • Camp crew: US $20 (each)
  • Porters / mule drivers: US $10 – $15
  • Adventure or Tour Guides: US $60 – $100

Galapagos Trips:
Again, tipping should be given on a voluntary basis at your discretion and should be based on the quality of service you receive. For the ship crew, there is generally a tip box on board. One suggestion is to tip US $10 (per person) per day to be divided among the crew members and naturalist guides. Or, as is more common, you can tip the crew and the guides separately.

Restaurants:
When you are paying your bill in a restaurant, look for the words propina or servicio near the bottom of the bill. This means the restaurant has added a tip, usually between 5 to 10%. If you think the service is good, you can give the waiter an extra 10%. Cheaper restaurants usually do not include a tip. If this is the case, you might leave the waiter 10%. It is best to give the money directly to the waiter rather than leaving it on the table.

Hotel Porters:
In better hotels, it is customary to tip about US $.50 a bag.

Taxis:
In both Peru and Ecuador, taxi drivers do not expect tips. Taxis are typically not metered so bargain the fare before you get in the car and stick to that price.

Exchanging Money

It is common to exchange money (US dollars and Euros) in the street but it is recommended to make use of the Money Exchange Offices known as “Casas de Cambio” or banks for safety reasons.

The US dollar is accepted in most commercial shops at the daily exchange rate.

To check out today’s exchange rate: www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi

ATM’s & Credit Cards

You will find ATM’s in the bigger cities. Most of them are located in airport, near banks or in major shopping malls. The main credit cards are usable in commercial establishments in Peru, although markets, small shops and “bodegas” will most likely not accept credit cards.

Airport Departure Taxes

Departure and security taxes must be paid at the airport. They can change on a frequent basis so check with us for the latest amounts.

Below are approximate tax amounts (as of September 2008):

Peru
International departures: US $30.25
Domestic: US $5.00 – $6.05 (depending on the airport)

Ecuador
International departures from Guayaquil: US $27.16 to be paid in USD
International departures from Quito: US $40.80 to be paid in USD
Domestic: US $7.60 (generally included in your ticket)
Galapagos: Isabela Airport: US$15 to be paid in USD

Electricity

Peru
The voltage is 220. Usually 4 and 5* hotels also offer electric voltage of 110 volts. Outlets accept the two-prong flat plugs as used in the US.

Ecuador
The voltage is 120 and outlets accept the two-prong flat plugs as used in the US.

Safety

As in most countries where there is a large disparity in income and economic difficulties, visitors should be cautious about crime, especially theft and especially in the urban areas. Take safety precautions as you would in any large urban area and seek advice from your local guides. You can drastically reduce the likelihood of being a crime victim while traveling by following a few basic precautions:

  • Travel with trustworthy companions. The old maxim “safety in numbers” is very valid.
  • Walk confidently with your head up and be aware of what is happening around you. Never stare at the ground, it makes you look nervous and weak, yet avoid making eye contact.
  • Avoid looking lost. Step into a cafe or store to look at your map or guidebook.
  • Only use taxis that are recommended by your hotel and local guide.
  • Like anywhere, find out where the unsafe parts of town are and avoid them.
  • Be wary of people who are too friendly too quickly, or that offer to show you around. Use your judgment and don’t worry about appearing rude.
  • Keep all important documents in a secure place, such as an inner pocket or a pouch that is hidden under a layer of clothing.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of cash.
  • Keep your valuables at home. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or wristwatches. They make you a target.
  • Carry shoulder-bags and purses in front of you to avoid having them snatched.
  • Keep all bags and other valuables where you can see them and preferably strapped to yourself or something in restaurants, train stations, and other public places.
  • Make copies of your important documents, card numbers, etc., and give them to a trusted companion. It’s also a good idea to leave copies of important documents and numbers with your embassy and/or a relative at home, or store them on password protected email account, that you can access from anywhere.