No inoculations are currently required for Peru, but it’s a good idea to check with the embassy or a reliable travel agent before you go. Your doctor will probably advise you to have some anyway: typhoid, cholera and yellow fever shots are all sensible precautions, and it’s well worth ensuring that your polio and tetanus-diphtheria boosters are still effective. Immunization against hepatitis A is also usually recommended.

Yellow fever still breaks out now and again in some of the jungle areas of Peru; it is frequently obligatory to show an inoculation certificate for yellow fever when entering the Amazon region – if you can’t show proof of immunization you’ll be jabbed on the spot. Rabies still exists and people do die from it. If you get bitten anywhere in Peru by a dog or vampire bat (only likely in some parts of the Amazon region), you should undergo a series of injections administered to the stomach (available in most Peruvian hospitals) within 24 hours. This is the only cure, unless you have been inoculated in advance with one of the new anti-rabies jabs.

Malaria is quite common in Peru these days, particularly in the Amazon regions to the east of the country. If you intend going into the jungle regions, malaria tablets should be taken – starting a few weeks before you arrive and continuing for some time after. Make sure you get these, or whatever is recommended by your doctor, before leaving home. The prophylactics most commonly recommended against Peruvian malaria tend to be a combination of Paludrin and Cholorquine tablets. Few people who have to spend a lot of time in the rainforest regions use prophylactics, preferring to treat the disease if they contract it, believing that the best prevention is to avoid getting bitten if at all possible, by wearing long sleeves, long trousers, socks, even mostquito-proof net hats, and sleeping under good mosquito netting or well-proofed quarters. There is more information on this issue at www.cdc.gov/travel/tropsam.htm

Diarrhoea, dysentery and giardia
Diarrhoea is something everybody gets at some stage, and there’s little to be done except drink a lot (but not alcohol) and bide your time. You should also replace salts either by taking oral rehydration salts or by mixing a teaspoon of salt and…
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Water and food
Water in Peru is better than it used to be, but it can still trouble non-Peruvian (and even Peruvian) stomachs, so it’s a good idea to only drink bottled water ( água mineral), available in various sizes, including litre and…
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The sun
The sun can be deceptively hot, particularly on the coast or when travelling in boats on jungle rivers when the hazy weather or cool breezes can put visitors off their guard; remember, sunstroke is a reality and can make you very sick as well as…
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Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness – known as soroche in Peru – is a common problem for visitors, especially if you are travelling quickly between the coast or jungle regions and the high Andes. The best way to prevent it is to eat light meals, drink…
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Insects
Insects are more of an irritation than a serious problem, but on the coast, in the jungle and to a lesser extent in the mountains, the common fly is a definite pest. Although it can carry typhoid, there is little one can do; you might…
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HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS (known as SIDA in Latin America) are a growing problem in South America, and whilst Peru does not have as bad a reputation as neighbouring Brazil, you should still take care. Although all hospitals and clinics in Peru are…
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Contraception
Condoms ( profilacticos) are available from street vendors and some farmacias. However, they tend to be expensive and often poor quality (rumour has it that they are US rejects, which have been sold to a less discriminating…
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Farmacias
For minor ailments you can buy most drugs at a farmacia without a prescription. Antibiotics and malaria pills can be bought over the counter (it is, however, important to know the correct dosage), as can antihistamines (for bite…
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Traditional medicines
Alternative medicines have a popular history going back at least two thousand years in Peru and the traditional practitioners – herbaleros, hueseros and curanderos – are still commonplace. Herbaleros sell…
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