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Health & safety

Stay safe

Drugs. Drug law enforcement is very severe in Peru - that is, years in prison and no pleasure. Consider that many "long resident tourists" are part of the scene. It is already a felony that you "consider to maybe accept" an offer to buy.

Although Cuzco is, in general, relatively safe, as in any urban area, muggings and petty thefts do occur. Use common sense and you should be fine. Don't wander alone away from the Plaza de Armas late at night. Don't flaunt your valuables around. Be conscious of what is going on around you. For example, be wary if you are approached by people trying to sell you stuff in the streets and try to strike up a long conversation. It's possible that they are distracting you while someone else is pickpocketing you. Only take taxis that are well marked, and if you are taking a taxi alone at night, write down the number and call a friend (or pretend to call a friend if you don't have a phone) saying, so the driver can hear, that you are coming home in taxi #... Also, try not to set yourself apart as a clueless tourist by wearing expensive or flashy clothing or revealing clothing in a particularly conservative region of Peru (the locals do not wear shorts and tank-tops around).

Watch for the feral dogs that hit the streets at night, rummaging through trash. Peruvians love dogs, and most of the time the animals are friendly. Just use common sense and project confidence and you shouldn't be bothered. If you feel threatened let the dogs see you pick up a rock off the ground, or if there are no rocks simply act like you picked one up. The dogs seem to know what this means and they'll slowly back off.

There are a number of beggars in the streets of Cuzco, most of them children. They will tell you the money is for schooling. Giving to beggars is a moral decision each individual can make. If you don't want them to follow you around, a stern 'no' will suffice. Please see the article on Begging.

The US Embassy maintains a Consular Agency in Cuzco. Operating hours may vary but you can call the Agent between 8am and 5pm to schedule an appointment. For true emergencies (arrest of a US Citizen, severe illness/injury, death, etc...) the Agent may be reached day or night on their mobile. Note: The Consular Agency cannot accept credit cards or US Dollars for services, only Nuevos Soles (local currency). Contact Information: Avenida Pardo 845, Cusco, Peru. Phone: +51 84 231-474 Mobile: +51 984-621-369 Email: CuscoACS@state.gov

Stay healthy

For most travelers, Cusco is the highest point on their trip or any trip for that matter and altitude sickness is a big problem for some tourists. Remember on the first day to take it slow and stay away from the bars the first night. Most hotels offer coca tea (coca leaves are the traditional native remedy for altitude sickness) and finding products made out of coca like coca candy is easy to find in Cusco. If you expect to get drug tested upon your return home, however, avoid all products with coca, drink plenty of water and look into Diamox/Acetazolamide (available at a pharmacy) to help deal with the adjustment period.

If you follow the general health advices but still experience any problems with the altitude (or if you have any other health related issues) you can visit one of the many pharmacies in Cusco. Pharmacy El Milagro, in the center of Cusco (Adress: Calle Ayacucho N239 and N318 in Cusco, next to Supermarket Mega, http://pharmacy-elmilagro.weebly.com/), has great English speaking staff. Not just a pharmacist, there is also a doctor available. Next to all basic medication they also offer a wide assortment of travel related products.

There is a clinic called "Hampi Land" on Choquechaka street just a few blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, and about one block away from "Jack's Restaurant".

Should you get sick, there is an excellent private clinic, also advised by locals, called Clinica San Josè, Av. Los Incas 1408-B, Tel. +51 84 253295, providing general and specialist assistance with all the modern medical diagnostic apparels. Usually they provide a private room with two beds, one for the patient and one for an accompanying person but be sure to carry a travel insurance with you otherwise be prepared to pay a lot of money. They'll get in contact with your insurance company to arrange things in order to have the latter paying directly the clinic on your exit. Personnel speaking English is generally available and they are prepared to assist foreigners.

Also available for all travelers is Hotel Doctor Internacional which will dispatch a doctor to your hotel room usually within 10 to 15 minutes. For a very reasonable price the doctor will come equipped with medications and provide the traveler with the proper insurance forms for reimbursement. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week at Tel. +51 17 085586 or by cell phone +51 9953-74658, US tollfree 1-800-869-4713. English and German spoken.

Many 4-star and 5-star hotels in Cusco offer oxygen supplementation or oxygen-enriched rooms as well as some medical services. Some hotels that offer oxygen enrichment include: El Monasterio, Casa Cartagena, Hotel Libertador Cusco, Inkaterra La Casona, Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco, Novotel Cusco, and the Picoaga Costa del Sol.